Read: The Compilation of Compilations vol II


The Compilation of Compilations, Volume II


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This etext is based on:
"The Compilation of Compilations Prepared by the Universal House of Justice 1963-1990, Volume II"
Copyright 1991 Baha'i Publications Australia
ISBN 0 90991 55 3
Printed by Australian Print Group
Maryborough, Victoria, Australia

Availability of this etext in no way modifies the copyright status of the above publication.
This etext is freely available through anonymous internet file-sharing.
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Compilation of Compilations, Volume II

CONTENTS
Page

Living The Life .......................................1
Local Spiritual Assemblies............................29
The Local Spiritual Assembly .........................39
Teaching The Masses ..................................61
Music ................................................73
National Spiritual Assembly ..........................83
Opposition ..........................................137
Peace ...............................................151
The Power of Divine Assistance ......................201
Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude ......225
Prohibition -- Drink ................................245
Prominent People.....................................257
Radio ...............................................281
Significance of the Formative Age ...................285
Guidelines for Teaching .............................295
Trustworthiness .....................................327
Women ...............................................355
Writers & Writing ...................................407
Youth ...............................................415
Preserving Marriages ................................441


<p1>

Living the Life

1266. How often the beloved Master was heard to say. Should each one of the friends take upon himself to carry out, in all its integrity and implications, only one of the teachings of the Faith, with devotion, detachment, constancy and perseverance and exemplify it in all his deeds and pursuits of life, the world would become another world and the face of the earth would mirror forth the splendours of the Abha Paradise. Consider what marvellous changes would be effected if the beloved of the Merciful conducted themselves, both in their individual and collective capacities, in accordance with the counsels and exhortations which have streamed from the Pen of Glory.

(From a letter dated 12 January 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Persia - translated from the Persian)

1267. The wish of 'Abdu'l-Baha, that which attracts His good pleasure and, indeed, His binding command, is that Baha'is, in all matters, even in small daily transactions and dealings with others, should act in accordance with the divine Teachings. He has commanded us not to be content with lowliness, humility and meekness, but rather to become manifestations of selflessness and utter nothingness. Of old, all have been exhorted to loyalty and fidelity, compassion and love; in this supreme Dispensation, the people of Baha are called upon to sacrifice their very lives. Notice the extent to which the friends have been required in the Sacred Epistles and Tablets, as well as in our Beloved's Testament, to be righteous, well-wishing, forbearing, sanctified, pure, detached from all else save God, severed from the trappings of this world and adorned with the mantle of a goodly character and godly attributes.

First and foremost, one should use every possible means to purge one's heart and motives, otherwise, engaging in any form of enterprise would be futile. It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom. Moreover, the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay impossible, for any enterprise to prosper and develop when deprived of divine bestowals and <p2> confirmation. One can hardly imagine what a great influence genuine love, truthfulness and purity of motives exert on the souls of men. But these traits cannot be acquired by any believer unless he makes a daily effort to gain them...

It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God is bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad-tidings are clear, evident and complete. For unless some illustrious souls step forth into the arena of service and shine out resplendent in the assemblage of men, the task of vindicating the truth of this Cause before the eyes of enlightened people would be formidable indeed. However, if the friends become embodiments of virtue and good character, words and arguments will be superfluous. Their very deeds will well serve as eloquent testimony, and their noble conduct will ensure the preservation, integrity and glory of the Cause of God.

(From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the East - translated from the Persian)

1268. The chosen ones of God . . . should not look at the depraved condition 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 dated 30 October 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Teheran)

1269. It is our duty and privilege to translate the love and devotion we have for our beloved Cause into deeds and actions that will be conducive to the highest good of mankind. (From a letter dated 20 November 1924 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p3>

1270. If you read the utterances of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha with selflessness and care and concentrate upon them, you will discover truths unknown to you before and will obtain an insight into the problems that have baffled the great thinkers of the world.

(From a letter dated 30 January 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1271. 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 dated 14 February 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1272. If we Baha'is cannot attain to cordial unity among ourselves, then we fail to realize the main purpose for which the Bab, Baha'u'llah and the Beloved Master lived and suffered.

In order to achieve this cordial unity one of the first essentials insisted on by Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha is that we resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own. 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 <p4> to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.

On no subject are the Baha'i teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from faultfinding 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 dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1273. As to the question whether it is right to tell an untruth in order to save another, he feels that under no condition should we tell an untruth but at the same time try and help the person in a more legitimate manner. Of course it is not necessary to be too outspoken until the question is directly put to us.

(From a letter dated 21 December 1927 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1274. We should not, however, forget that an essential characteristic of this world is hardship and tribulation and that it is by overcoming them that we achieve our moral and spiritual development. As the Master says, sorrow is like furrows, the deeper they go the more plentiful are the fruits we obtain.

(From a letter dated 5 November 1931 written on behalf of Shoghi
Effendi to an individual believer)

1275. In the "Bayan" the Bab says that every religion of the past was fit to become universal. The only reason why they failed to attain that mark was the incompetence of their followers. He then proceeds to give a definite promise that this would not be the fate of the revelation of "Him Whom God would make manifest", that it will become universal and include all the people of the world. This shows that we will ultimately succeed. But could we not, through our shortcomings, failures to sacrifice and <p5> reluctance to concentrate our efforts in spreading the Cause, retard the realization of that ideal? And what would that mean? It shall mean that we will be held responsible before God, that the race will remain longer in its state of waywardness, that wars would not be so soon averted, that human suffering will last longer.

(From a letter dated 20 February 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1276. Every day has certain needs. In those early days the Cause needed Martyrs, and people who would stand all sorts of torture and persecution in expressing their faith and spreading the message sent by God. Those days are, however, gone. The Cause at present does not need martyrs who would die for the faith, but servants who desire to teach and establish the Cause throughout the world. To live to teach in the present day is like being martyred in those early days. It is the spirit that moves us that counts, not the act through which that spirit expresses itself; and that spirit is to serve the Cause of God with our heart and soul.

(From a letter dated 3 August 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, quoted in "Baha'i News", 68, (Nov 1932), p. 3)

1277. He sincerely hopes that, through these sacrifices, that edifice will be completed and become a focal centre for the spirit and teachings of the Cause in that land; that from it the light of guidance will spread and bring joy and hope to the heart of this depressed humanity.

If you study the history of Nabil you will see how the Faith has been fed by the constant sacrifices of the friends. Under hardships, persecutions and constant worries has the Message of Baha'u'llah been established throughout the world.

(From a letter dated 30 November 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1278. The advice that Shoghi Effendi gave you regarding the division of your time between serving the Cause and attending to your other duties was also given to many other friends both by Baha'u'llah and the Master. It is a compromise between the two verses of the "Aqdas", one making it incumbent upon every Baha'i to serve the promotion of the Faith and the other that every soul should be occupied in some form of occupation that <p6> will benefit society. In one of His Tablets Baha'u'llah says that the highest form of detachment in this day is to be occupied with some profession and be self-supporting. A good Baha'i, therefore, is the one who so arranges his life as to devote time both to his material needs and also to the service of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 26 February 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1279. I need not tell you how grievously he deplores the fact that there are so many negative forces prevailing in Baha'i gatherings and particularly in such an important meeting as the Convention. The oft-repeated words of the Master concerning unity and harmonious co-operation among the friends should be carefully and thoughtfully remembered now more than ever. Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than discord and strife, which are the inevitable outcome of selfishness and greed. Pure detachment and selfless service, these should be the sole motives of every true believer. And unless each and every one of the friends succeeds in translating such qualities into living action, no hope of further progress can be entertained. It is now that unity of thought and action is most needed. It is now, when the Cause is entering a new phase of development, when its Administration is being gradually consolidated amid the welter and chaos of a tottering civilization, that the friends should present a united front to those forces of internal dissension, which, if not completely wiped out, will bring our work to inevitable destruction.

(From a letter dated 24 September 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1280. He, indeed, highly deplores the fact that the representatives of the highest administrative institution in your country have permitted such differences and misunderstandings to assume such a proportion, especially when the principles and laws of the Administration have been each and all clearly and emphatically stated by him in so many communications and ever since the passing of the Master. Such difficulties, if not checked immediately and vigorously, can do incalculable harm to the body of the Cause, and may retard not only the flow but also the effectiveness of its spirit in the world. If deeply and dispassionately examined the source of all these troubles and disputes is <p7> to be found invariably in feelings of egotism and selfishness. And unless these poisonous feelings are fully overcome there can be no hope for the effective working and progress of the administrative machinery of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 9 May 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1281. While he would urge you to courageously meet and overcome the many obstacles that stand in your way, he would at the same time advise you that in case of failure and no matter what befalls you, you should remain radiantly content at, and entirely submissive to, the Divine will. Our afflictions, tests and trials are sometimes blessings in disguise, as they teach us to have more faith and confidence in God, and bring us nearer to Him.

(From a letter dated 28 April 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1282. Has not Baha'u'llah assured us that sufferings and privations are blessings in disguise, that through them our inner spiritual forces become stimulated, purified and ennobled? Remain, therefore, confident that your material hardships will, far from hindering your activities for the Cause, impart to your heart a powerful impetus to better serve and promote its interests.

(From a letter dated 22 November 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1283. Personal effort is indeed a vital prerequisite to the recognition and acceptance of the Cause of God. No matter how strong the measure of Divine grace, unless supplemented by personal, sustained and intelligent effort it cannot become fully effective and be of any real and abiding advantage.

(From a letter dated 27 February 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1284. Such hindrances, 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. <p8> For have not Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha both repeatedly assured us that the Divine and unseen hosts of victory will ever reinforce and strengthen those who valiantly and confidently labour in their name? This assurance should indeed enable you to overcome any feeling of unworthiness, of incapacity to serve, and any inner or outer limitation which threatens to handicap your labours for the Cause. You should therefore arise, and with a heart filled with joy and confidence endeavour to contribute any share that is in your power toward the wider diffusion and greater consolidation of our beloved Faith.

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.

(From a letter dated 6 February 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1285. The greater your trials and sufferings, the stronger should wax your attachment and devotion to the Cause. For only through repeated tribulations and trials does God test His servants, and these they should therefore view as blessings in disguise, and as opportunities whereby they can acquire a fuller consciousness of the Divine Will and Purpose.

(From a letter dated 23 February 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1286. The course on character building to be given by Miss Flora Hottes, the Guardian feels, is particularly important and should be given due emphasis and studied carefully and thoroughly, especially by the young believers in attendance at the school. These standards of Baha'i conduct, which he himself has set forth in his last general epistle, "The Advent of Divine Justice", and which it should be the paramount duty of every loyal and conscientious believer to endeavour to uphold and promote, deserve serious study and meditation, and should constitute the main central theme of this year's programme at all the three Baha'i Summer Schools in the States.

(From a letter dated 20 May 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p9>

1287. Regarding ...'s appeal: the Guardian feels the best course of action in this matter is to ask both of the believers concerned to forgive and forget the entire matter. He does not want the friends to form the habit of taking up a kind of Baha'i litigation against each other. Their duties to humanity are too sacred and urgent in these days, when the Cause is struggling to spread and assert its independence, for them to spend their precious time, and his precious time, in this way. Ask them, therefore, to unite, forget the past, and serve as never before.

(From a letter dated 22 July 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)

1288. 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 fully draw on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith. He would advise you to leave your friend ... to herself for the time being, and pray for her. As she does not at the moment wish your help you can only help her inwardly.

You have rendered the Cause many valuable services, and are still doing so, and this should be your greatest consolation...

(From a letter dated 8 May 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1289. The friends must be patient with each other and must realize that the Cause is still in its infancy and its institutions are not yet functioning perfectly. The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Baha'i community at large.

(From a letter dated 27 February 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1290. We must realize our imperfection and not permit ourselves to get too upset over the unfortunate things which occur, sometimes in <p10> Conventions, sometimes in Assemblies or on Committees, etc. Such things are essentially superficial and in time will be outgrown.

(From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi
Effendi to an individual believer)

1291. 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.

(From a letter dated 14 October 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1292. You have complained of the unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in the ... Baha'i Community; the Guardian is well aware of the situation of the Cause there, but is confident that whatever the nature of the obstacles that confront the Faith they will be eventually overcome. 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 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 [a] 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 dated 23 August 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p11>

1293. These, indeed, are the days when heroism is needed on the part of the believers. Self-sacrifice, courage, indomitable hope and confidence are the characteristics they should show forth, because these very attributes cannot but fix the attention of the public and lead them to enquire what, in a world so hopelessly chaotic and bewildered, leads these people to be so assured, so confident, so full of devotion? Increasingly, as time goes by, the characteristics of the Baha'is will be that which captures the attention of their fellow-citizens. They must show their aloofness from the hatreds and recriminations which are tearing at the heart of humanity, and demonstrate by deed and word their profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race.

(From a letter dated 26 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1294. We must always look ahead and seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past. Failures, tests, and trials, if we use them correctly, can become the means of purifying our spirits, strengthening our characters, and enable us to rise to greater heights of service.

(From a letter dated 14 December 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1295. Regarding the points you refer to in your letter: the complete and entire elimination of the ego would imply perfection -- which man can never completely attain -- but the ego can and should be ever-increasingly subordinated to the enlightened soul of man. This is what spiritual progress implies.

(From a letter dated 14 December 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1296. He was very pleased to hear that the Convention was so well attended, and the believers enthusiastic and united. One of the most paramount needs of the Cause in ... is that the friends should unite, should become really keenly conscious of the fact that they are one spiritual family, held together by bonds more sacred and eternal than those physical ties which make people of the same family. If the friends will forget all personal differences and open their hearts to a great love for each other for the <p12> sake of Baha'u'llah, they will find that their powers are vastly increased; they will attract the heart of the public, and will witness a rapid growth of the Holy Faith in... The National Spiritual Assembly should do all in its power to foster unity among the believers, and to educate them in the Administration as this is the channel through which their community life must flow, and which, when properly understood and practised, will enable the work of the Cause to go ahead by leaps and bounds.

(From a letter dated 26 October 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1297. Ultimately all the battle of life is within the individual. No amount of organization can solve the inner problems or produce or prevent, as the case may be, victory or failure at a crucial moment. In such times as these particularly, individuals are torn by great forces at large in the world, and we see some weak ones suddenly become miraculously strong, and strong ones fail -- we can only try, through loving advice, as your Committee has done, to bring about the act on the part of the believer which will be for the highest good of the Cause. Because obviously something bad for the Cause cannot be the highest good of the individual Baha'i.

(From a letter dated 17 December 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1298. The thing the world needs today is the Baha'i spirit. People are craving for love, for a high standard to look up to, as well as for solutions to their many grave problems. The Baha'is should shower on those whom they meet the warm and living spirit of the Cause, and this, combined with teaching, cannot but attract the sincere truth-seekers to the Faith.

(From a letter dated 18 December 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1299. Regarding your question about the need for greater unity among the friends, there is no doubt that this is so, and the Guardian feels that one of the chief instruments for promoting it is to teach the Baha'is themselves, in classes and through precepts, that love of God, and consequently of men, is the essential foundation of every religion, our own included. A greater degree of love will produce a greater unity, <p13> because it enables people to bear with each other, to be patient and forgiving.

(From a letter dated 7 July 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, quoted in "Baha'i News", 173, (Feb 1945), p. 3)

1300. He hopes that you will develop into Baha'is in character as well as in belief. The whole purpose of Baha'u'llah is that we should become a new kind of people, people who are upright, kind, intelligent, truthful, and honest and who live according to His great laws laid down for this new epoch in man's development. To call ourselves Baha'is is not enough, our inmost being must become ennobled and enlightened through living a Baha'i life.

(From a letter dated 25 August 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Louhelen School Youth Session)

1301. So many misunderstandings arise from the passionate attachment of the friends to the Faith and also their immaturity. We must therefore be very patient and loving with each other and try to establish unity in the Baha'i family. The differences ... which you describe in your letter he feels are caused by the above and not by enmity to the Faith or insincerity.

(From a letter dated 17 October 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1302. He was very happy to hear from you, and to learn that Green Acre this year was pervaded with a love and harmony that was instrumental in confirming many new souls in the Faith. This love amongst the believers is the magnet which will, above all else, attract the hearts and bring new souls into the Cause. Because obviously the teachings - however wonderful - cannot change the world unless the Spirit of Baha'u'llah's love is mirrored in the Baha'i Communities.

(From a letter dated 27 October 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1303. Indeed if the friends could seek, and exert themselves, to become 100 per cent 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 <p14> 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 coloured people. When the 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 dated 23 January 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1304. Indeed when we see the increasing darkness in the world today we can fully realize that unless the Message of Baha'u'llah reaches into the hearts of men and transforms them, there can be no peace and no spiritual progress in the future.

His constant hope is that the believers will conduct themselves, individually and in their Baha'i Community life, in such a manner as to attract the attention of others to the Cause. The world is not only starving for lofty principles and ideals, it is, above all, starving for a shining example which the Baha'is can and must provide.

(From a letter dated 22 February 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1305. The need is very great, everywhere in the world, in and outside the Faith, for a true spiritual awareness to pervade and motivate people's lives. No amount of administrative procedure or adherence to rules can take the place of this soul-characteristic, this spirituality which is the essence of Man. He is very glad to see you are stressing this and aiding the friends to realize its supreme importance.

(From a letter dated 25 April 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1306. 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, and particularly the National Spiritual Assembly to <p15> 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 dated 13 May 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)

1307. Most important of all is that love and unity should prevail in the Baha'i Community, as this is what people are most longing for in the present dark state of the world. Words without the living example will never be sufficient to breathe hope into the hearts of a disillusioned and often cynical generation.

(From a letter dated 20 October 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1308. Since you have turned to him for guidance, he will very frankly give you his opinion.

He feels that the present inharmony prevailing amongst you ... is very detrimental to the advancement of the Cause, and can only lead to disruption and the chilling of the interest of new believers. You ... should forget about your personal grievances, and unite for the protection of the Faith which he well knows you are all loyally devoted to and ready to sacrifice for. Perhaps the greatest test Baha'is are ever subjected to is from each other; but for the sake of the Master they should be ever ready to overlook each other's mistakes, apologize for harsh words they have uttered, forgive and forget. He strongly recommends to you this course of action. Also he feels that you and ... should not remain away from the meetings and Feasts in ...; you have now got an enthusiastic group of young Baha'is in ..., and you should show them a strong example of Baha'i discipline and the unity which can and must prevail amongst the Community of the Most Great Name.

(From a letter dated 18 December 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p16>

1309. 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 dated 12 March 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1310. You may be sure he will pray for the unity of the ... believers, as this is of paramount importance, and upon it depends the development of the Cause there, and the success of every teaching effort. The thing the friends need -- everywhere -- is a greater love for each other, and this can be acquired by greater love for Baha'u'llah; for if we love Him deeply enough, we will never allow personal feelings and opinions to hold His Cause back; we will be willing to sacrifice ourselves to each other for the sake of the Faith, and be, as the Master said, one soul in many bodies.

(From a letter dated 5 September 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1311. He heartily agrees with you that unless we practise the Teachings we cannot possibly expect the Faith to grow, because the fundamental purpose of all religions -- including our own -- is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be over-emphasized.

(From a letter dated 6 September 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1312. The fact that you had a course on 'Baha'i character' pleased him very much, as he considers one of the greatest obligations of your generation of believers is to live a Baha'i life; you must demonstrate, by your high moral standards, your courtesy, your integrity and nobility, that our Faith, is not one of words but truly changes the heart and conduct of its adherents.

(From a letter dated 19 September 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Louhelen School Junior Youth Session, U.S.A.) <p17>

1313. He feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify a Baha'i life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners -- the Baha'i young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Baha'i youth to furnish it.

(From a letter dated 19 September 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Green Acre Summer School)

1314. The friends must, at all times, bear in mind that they are, in a way, like soldiers under attack. The world is at present in an exceedingly dark condition spiritually; hatred and prejudice, of every sort, are literally tearing it to pieces. We, on the other hand, are the custodians of the opposite forces, the forces of love, of unity, of peace and integration, and we must constantly be on our guard, whether as individuals or as an Assembly or Community, lest through us these destructive, negative forces enter into our midst. In other words we must beware lest the darkness of society become reflected in our acts and attitudes, perhaps all unconsciously. Love for each other, the deep sense that we are a new organism, the dawn-breakers of a New World Order, must constantly animate our Baha'i lives, and we must pray to be protected from the contamination of society which is so diseased with prejudice.

(From a letter dated 5 February 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Atlanta, Georgia)

1315. The Cause in ... is growing very rapidly, and the more it spreads the more the attention of the public will be fixed upon it. This imposes a heavy responsibility on the believers, as they must show forth such a spirit of love and unity among themselves as will attract the hearts of others and encourage them to enter the Faith in large numbers. We must always remember that the Teachings are perfect, and that the only reason more of our fellow men have not as yet embraced them is because we Baha'is, the world over, are ourselves not yet as selfless and radiant mirrors of Baha'u'llah's Truth as we should and could be! We must constantly strive to better exemplify His Teachings. <p18>

(From a letter dated 18 February 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1316. We must concentrate on perfecting our characters as individual Baha'is, and on maturing our still embryonic, and as yet improperly understood, World Order; on spreading the Message, according to the provisions of the Divine Plan; and on building a tightly knit world-wide Baha'i Community. We are relatively few in numbers, and have such a precious, unique and responsible task to carry out. We must concentrate our full forces upon it.

(From a letter dated 9 May 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1317. It is upon the individual believer, constituting the fundamental unit in the structure of the home front, that the revitalization, the expansion, and the enrichment of the home front must ultimately depend. The more strenuous the effort exerted, daily and methodically, by the individual labouring on the home front to rise to loftier heights of consecration, and of self-abnegation, to contribute, through pioneering at home, to the multiplication of Baha'i isolated centres, groups and Assemblies, and to raise, through diligent, painstaking and continual endeavour to convert receptive souls to the Faith he has espoused, the number of its active and whole-hearted supporters; the sooner will the vast and multiple enterprises, launched beyond the confines of the homeland, now so desperately calling for a greater supply of men and means, be provided with the necessary support that will ensure their uninterrupted development and hasten their ultimate fruition ...

(From a letter dated 21 September 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1318. 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 <p19> 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.

Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly and noble side of our selves. 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 dated 10 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1319. It is the quality of devotion and self-sacrifice that brings rewards in the service of this Faith rather than means, ability or financial backing.

(From a letter dated 11 May 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)

1320. 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 weaknesses 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 dated 19 September 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1321. It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Baha'is, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Baha'i children who see these things practised in the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. Baha'u'llah would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realize their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even <p20> though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer.

(From a letter dated 16 March 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1322. ...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 dated 5 August 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1323. He was grieved to hear of some of the things you describe. It shows great spiritual immaturity on the part of some of the Baha'is and an astonishing lack of understanding and study of the teachings. To live up to our Faith's moral teachings is a task far harder than to live up to those noble principles the Moral Re-Armament inculcates, fine and encompassing as they are! Every other word of Baha'u'llah's and 'Abdu'l-Baha's writings is a preachment on moral and ethical conduct; all else is the form, the chalice, into which the pure spirit must be poured; without the spirit and the action which must demonstrate it, it is a lifeless form.

He judges, from what you say, that the friends have not or at least many of them have not, been properly taught in the beginning. There is certainly no objection to stressing the "four standards" of the Moral Re-Armament -- though any teaching of our precious Faith would go much more deeply into these subjects and add more to them. When we realize that Baha'u'llah says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife -- so grievous is it -- and that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects. You must not make the great mistake of judging our Faith by one community which obviously needs to study and obey the Baha'i teachings. <p21> Human frailties and peculiarities can be a great test. But the only way, or perhaps I should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations, is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. Now that you have seen, and remedied, a great fault in your own life, now that you see more clearly what is lacking in your own community, there is nothing to prevent you from arising and showing such an example, such a love and spirit of service, as to enkindle the hearts of your fellow Baha'is.

He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Baha'is who are anxious to do so, the deeper teachings of our Faith, and through example, effort and prayer, bring about a change.

(From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1324. Without the spirit of real love for Baha'u'llah, for His Faith and its Institutions, and the believers for each other, the Cause can never really bring in large numbers of people. For it is not preaching and rules the world wants, but love and action.

(From a letter dated 25 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1325. However, he feels very strongly that if ... is in the state your letter would seem to indicate it is certainly conducting its affairs in the wrong way. This does not mean the Assembly, it means everyone. For where is Baha'i love? Where is putting unity and harmony first? Where is the willingness to sacrifice one's personal feelings and opinions to achieve love and harmony? What makes the Baha'is think that when they sacrifice the spiritual laws the administrative laws are going to work? . . .

He urges you to exert your utmost to get the ... Baha'is to put aside such obnoxious terms as "radical", "conservative", "progressive", "enemies of the Cause", "squelching the teachings", etc. If they paused for one moment to think for what purpose the Bab and the Martyrs gave their lives, and Baha'u'llah and the Master accepted so much suffering, they would never let such definitions and accusations cross their lips when speaking of each other. As long as the friends quarrel amongst themselves their efforts will not be blessed for they are disobeying God. <p22>

(From a letter dated 24 February 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1326. 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 dated 16 April 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1327. ... We must reach a spiritual plane where God comes first and great human passions are unable to turn us away from Him. All the time we see people who either through the force of hate or the passionate attachment they have to another person, sacrifice principle or bar themselves from the Path of God.

We must love God, and in this state, a general love for all men becomes possible. We cannot love each human being for himself, but our feeling towards humanity should be motivated by our love for the Father Who created all men.

(From a letter dated 4 October 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1328. He urges you to do all you can to promote unity and love amongst the members of the Community there, as this seems to be their greatest need.

So often young communities, in their desire to administer the Cause, lose sight of the fact that these spiritual relationships are far more important and fundamental than the rules and regulations which must govern the conduct of community affairs.

(From a letter dated 4 October 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1329. The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual <p23> 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 dated 5 October 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, quoted in "Baha'i News" 241 (March 1951), p. 2)

1330. 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.

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 dated 16 February 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1331. The Guardian feels sure that the contribution which has been made by your friend who has not been active in the Cause for a short time will be the means of stimulating her to renewed service. 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 dated 12 July 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p24>

1332. 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 dated 20 October 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1333. 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 links in the mighty chain that now girdles the globe. He it is who serves as one of the multitude of bricks which support the structure and ensure the stability of the administrative edifice now being raised in every part of the world. Without his support, at once whole-hearted, continuous and generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the Body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs is foredoomed to failure. The World Centre of the Faith itself is paralysed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking. The sustaining strength of Baha'u'llah Himself, the Founder of the Faith, will be withheld from every and each individual who fails in the long run to arise and play his part.

(From a letter dated 20 June 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1334. 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 <p25> 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. Thus you might look upon your own difficulties in the path of service. They are the means of your spirit growing and developing. You will suddenly find that you have conquered many of the problems which upset you, and then you will wonder why they should have troubled you at all. 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 dated 6 October 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1335. The road is stony, and there are many tests; but as you say, if the friends will learn to live according to Baha'u'llah's teachings, they will discover that they work indeed in mysterious and forceful ways; and that there is always help at hand, that obstacles are overcome, and that success is assured in the end.

(From a letter dated 23 April 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1336. The individual alone must assess its character, consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path, mix, in obedience to the counsels of the Author of His Faith, and in imitation of the One Who is its true Exemplar, with men and women, in all walks of life, seek to touch their hearts through the distinction which characterizes his thoughts, his words and his acts, and win them over, <p26> tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully and persistently, to the Faith he himself has espoused.

(From a letter dated 19 July 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1337. He was very sorry to learn of the inharmony amongst the friends there; and he feels that the only wise course of action is for all the believers to devote themselves to teaching the Faith and co-operating with their National Body.

Often these trials and tests which all Baha'i communities inevitably pass through seem terrible, at the moment, but in retrospect we understand that they were due to the frailty of human nature, to misunderstandings, and to the growing pains which every Baha'i community must experience.

(From a letter dated 25 November 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1338. He is very happy to see that you have put into practice one of the most encouraging precepts of 'Abdu'l-Baha in which He said that we should try and make every stumbling-block a stepping-stone to progress. In the course of your past life you have all stumbled very gravely; but, far from being embittered or defeated by this experience, you are determined to make it a means of purifying your natures, improving your characters, and enabling you to become better citizens in the future. This is truly pleasing in the eyes of God.

(From a letter dated 26 March 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Kitalya Farm Prison)

1339. ...the Baha'is must, in view of the condition of the world today, stand forth firmly and courageously as followers of Baha'u'llah, obeying His Laws, and seeking to build His World Order. Through compromise we will never be able to establish our Faith or win others' hearts to it. This involves often great personal sacrifice, but we know that, when we do the right thing, God gives us the strength to carry it out, and we attract His blessing. We learn at such times that our calamity is indeed a blessing.

(From a letter dated 5 May 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believer) <p27>

1340. It is not enough for the friends to make the excuse that their best teachers and their exemplary believers have arisen and answered the call to pioneer. A "best teacher" and an "exemplary believer" is ultimately neither more nor less than an ordinary Baha'i who has consecrated himself to the work of the Faith, deepened his knowledge and understanding of its Teachings, placed his confidence in Baha'u'llah, and arisen to serve Him to the best of his ability. This door is one which we are assured will open before the face of every follower of the Faith who knocks hard enough, so to speak. When the will and the desire are strong enough, the means will be found and the way opened either to do more work locally, to go to a new goal town within the United States, or to enter the foreign pioneer field...

Not only must your Body provide the encouragement and leadership required, and stimulate the friends to arise and play their part, but the Local Assemblies must likewise do everything in their power to help the friends to go forth and attain their objectives. Each individual Baha'i must likewise feel that it is his personal duty to the Cause at this time and his greatest privilege, and must ask himself what he can do during the coming six years, beginning now, to hasten the attainment of the goals of the World Crusade. 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."

(From a letter dated 21 September 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

Revised July 1990 <p29>

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES

(Based on extracts of communications from the Universal House of Justice)


I. The Importance of the Local Spiritual Assembly

1341. "As the Baha'i Administrative Order rapidly expands throughout the world it behooves everyone associated with it to familiarize himself with its principles, to understand its import and to put its precepts into practice. 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 dated 11 August 1970 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

1342. "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.

"Strengthening and development of Local Spiritual Assemblies is a vital objective... Success in this one goal will greatly enrich the quality of Baha'i life, will heighten the capacity of the Faith to deal with entry by troops which is even now taking place and, above all, will demonstrate the solidarity and ever-growing distinctiveness of the Baha'i community, thereby attracting more and more thoughtful souls to the Faith and offering a refuge to the leaderless and hapless millions of the spiritually bankrupt, moribund present order.

"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. <p30>

"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 fellow-men and conforming their lives to its benevolent rule."

(From a letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to the Baha'is of the World)

1343. "The institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly is of primary importance in the firm establishment of the Faith, and we hope that you will give particular attention to ensuring that as many as possible, and in increasing numbers, are, in the words of the beloved Guardian,'broadly based, securely grounded' and 'efficiently functioning'."

(From a letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

1344. "...the one vital activity which will enrich the quality of Baha'i life is the strengthening of Local Assemblies, for in this institution, operating at the first level of human society, rests the greatest opportunity to foster the sound and healthy growth of the Baha'i community. In other words, however efficient the National Assembly and its staff may be, and however diligently the national committees may function, it is only when the Local Spiritual Assemblies begin to operate vigorously that a firm home base can be provided from which to carry the Divine Message further afield."

(From a letter dated 3 April 1974 to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa)


1345. "It is becoming increasingly understood by the friends why ... such great emphasis upon the firmness of the foundation and the efficiency of the operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. This is very heartening, for upon the degree to which the members of these Assemblies grasp the true significance of the divine institution on which they serve, arise selflessly to fulfil their prescribed and sacred duties, and persevere in their endeavours, depends to a large extent the healthy growth of the world-wide community of the Most Great Name, the force of its outward thrust, and the strength of its supporting roots."

(From a letter dated 25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies) <p31>


II. The Development of the Local Spiritual Assemblies:

1346. "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....

"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.... "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. "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 dated 30 July 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia)

1347. "The time has come, we believe, when increasing numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies should assume responsibility for helping the <p32> teaching work of groups, isolated believers, and other Spiritual Assemblies in their neighborhood. 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 dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

1348. 'We long to see every Local Spiritual Assembly either spontaneously adopt its own goals or warmly welcome those it has been or will be given by its National Spiritual Assembly, swell the number of the adherents who compose its local community and, guided by the general policy outlined by its National Spiritual Assembly, proclaim the Faith more effectively, energetically pursue its extension teaching and consolidation goals, arrange the observances of the Holy Days, regularly hold its Nineteen Day Feasts and its sessions for deepening, initiate and maintain community projects, and encourage the participation of every member of its community in giving to the Fund and undertaking teaching activities and administrative services, so as to make each locality a stronghold of the Faith and a torch-bearer of the Covenant."

(From a letter dated 25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

1349. "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 dated 24 December 1975 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Reunion)


III. The Supporting Role of the Auxiliary Board Members and their Assistants:

1350. The National Spiritual Assemblies in consultation with the Counsellors should avail themselves of the services of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who, together "...with the travelling teachers selected by the Assembly or its Teaching Committees, should be <p33> continuously encouraged to conduct deepening courses ... and to make regular visits to Local Spiritual Assemblies...."

The visitors, whether Auxiliary Board members, their assistants or travelling teachers "...should meet on such occasions not only with the Local Assembly but, of course, with the local community members, collectively at general meetings and even, if necessary, individually in their homes." The subjects to be discussed at such meetings with the Local Assembly and the friends should include among others the following points:

1. the extent of the spread and stature of the Faith today;

2. the importance of the daily obligatory prayers (at least the short prayer);

3. the need to educate Baha'i children in the Teachings of the Faith and encourage them to memorize some of the prayers;

4. the stimulation of youth to participate in community life by giving talks, etc. and having their own activities, if possible;

5. the necessity to abide by the laws of marriage, namely, the need to have a Baha'i ceremony, to obtain the consent of parents, to observe monogamy; faithfulness after marriage; likewise the importance of abstinence from all intoxicating drinks and drugs;

6. the local Fund and the need for the friends to understand that the voluntary act of contributing to the Fund is both a privilege and a spiritual obligation. There should also be discussion of various methods that could be followed by the friends to facilitate their contributions and the ways open to the Local Assembly to utilize its local Fund to serve the interests of its community and the Cause;

7. the importance of the Nineteen Day Feast and the fact that it should be a joyful occasion and rallying point of the entire community;

8. the manner of election with as many workshops as required, including teaching of simple methods of balloting for illiterates, such as having one central home as the place for balloting and arranging for one literate person, if only a child, to be present at that home during the whole day, if necessary;

9. last but not least, the all-important teaching work, both in the locality and its neighbouring centres, as well as the need to <p34> continuously deepen the friends in the essentials of the Faith. The friends should be made to realize that in teaching the Faith to others they should not only aim at assisting the seeking soul to join the Faith, but also at making him a teacher of the Faith and its active supporter.

"All the above points should, of course, be stressed within the framework of the importance of the Local Spiritual Assembly, which should be encouraged to vigorously direct its attention to these vital functions and become the very heart of the community life of its own locality, even if its meetings should become burdened with the problems of the community. The local friends should understand the importance of the law of consultation and realize that it is to the Local Spiritual Assembly that they should turn, abide by its decisions, support its projects, co-operate whole-heartedly with it in its task to promote the interests of the Cause, and seek its advice and guidance in the solution of personal problems and the adjudication of disputes, should any arise amongst the members of the community."

(From a letter dated 2 February 1966 to all National Spiritual Assemblies Engaged in Mass Teaching Work)

1351. "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 dated 17 November 1971 to the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

1352. The aims of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, stated previously in relation to the services of the assistants, "...should be to <p35> activate and encourage Local Spiritual Assemblies, to call the attention of Local Spiritual Assembly members to the importance of holding regular meetings, to encourage local communities to meet for the Nineteen Day Feasts and Holy Days, to help deepen their fellow-believers' understanding of the Teachings,..."

(From a letter dated 7 October 1973 to the Baha'is of the World)

1353. 'We are confident that the institution of the Boards of Counsellors will lend its vital support and, through the Counsellors' own contacts with the friends, through their Auxiliary Boards and their assistants, will nourish the roots of each local community, enrich and cultivate the soil of knowledge of the teachings and irrigate it with the living waters of love for Baha'u'llah. Thus will the saplings grow into mighty trees, and the trees bear their golden fruit."

(From a letter dated 25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)


IV. Suggested Goals for Local Spiritual Assemblies:

1354. "Any plan must have a term and specific goals, expressed preferably and if possible in numbers. For a Local Spiritual Assembly it would be better, at least in the early stages of its development, to have a term of nine months to a year. Of course it is also quite possible to have a series of plans of very short terms of say two to three months each, throughout the year.

"The examples of local goals listed below are in the form of questions which each Assembly could put to itself, or may be directed to it by the National Spiritual Assembly. The questions are meant to lead to the adoption of a specific goal. An explanatory note follows items which may need clarification or comment.


A) Teaching

1. How many new believers? (The Plan calls for a "great increase in the number of believers" and confirming individuals "from every stratum of society". The ideal is for each local community to double itself every year, since every believer should, in accordance with the wish of the Master, guide one soul to the Cause of God every year. In some areas this may be an ambitious <p36> project at the beginning, and at the outset a more modest goal could be adopted.)

2. How many firesides? (Shoghi Effendi urged the friends to hold one fireside every nineteen days in their homes. The friends willing to respond to this wish, could give their names to the Local Assembly.)

3. Can a pledge be made to have extension teaching activities outside the local area of jurisdiction? (Obviously only strong Local Assemblies can sustain such a goal.)


B) Proclamation

4. Are mass media facilities such as radio, television, and the press available to the Local Assembly? Can a goal be adopted for such activities?

5. Can public meetings be anticipated? If so, how many?

6. What methods can be adopted for the dissemination of Baha'i literature, such as distribution of books to local libraries, etc....? Can this goal be expressed in a challenging form?

7. Can the local community participate in the social and humanitarian activities of the society of which it forms a part? Could a modest step be taken along this line?


C) Consolidation

8. Can the attendance of the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts be improved upon? What about the Anniversaries? Can the increase in attendance be expressed numerically, such as in terms of the percentage of those attending?

9. Can regular meetings for the benefit of the local friends be held? If so, how often and when? (In the recent compilation on "Meetings" released to all National Spiritual Assemblies,'Abdu'l-Baha exhorts the friends to hold such meetings as a "constant" activity, and praises weekly meetings. He repeatedly counsels the believers to read and recite the Holy Word in such meetings and deliver speeches on the teachings, the proofs and the history of the Faith.)

10. Can daily early morning prayer sessions be held? If so, where and when? (If this is not feasible every day, an effort could be made to hold such sessions less frequently. At such devotional meetings <p37> not only prayers, but suitable selections from the Sacred Writings could be read. Baha'u'llah has pointed out that upon the Word of God "must depend the gathering together and spiritual resurrection of all men", that "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such potency as can instill new life into every human frame", and that were man to "taste the sweetness of the words which the lips of the All-Merciful have willed to utter, he would, though the treasures of the earth be in his possession, renounce them one and all, that he might vindicate the truth of even one of His commandments". It is because of such considerations that the Five Year Plan calls for the friends to memorize selections from the Writings. If a believer finds it difficult to memorize, he may be encouraged to make for his own use a selection of extracts, however brief, which he could reread and enjoy at his own leisure, to satisfy his inner soul.)

11. Can youth activities be encouraged? If so, in what way?

12. Can activities and classes for children be established? If so, could a specific goal be adopted?

13. Can youth activities be maintained? Could this be expressed in the form of a goal?

14. Is the community strong enough to establish a local Haziratu'l-Quds?

15. Can a local endowment be acquired and maintained, and possibly used as an investment for the community?

16. How can local contributions to the local Fund be encouraged? Can a target be adopted?

17. Can the local community serve as host to a district conference of neighbouring communities and localities?

18. Can the Local Assembly issue a regular Newsletter?

"When the goals are finally decided upon, it is important that they should be announced to the friends. It should be borne in mind that Shoghi Effendi longed to see every believer involved in Baha'i service, so that universal participation may be achieved. It would be most effective if the Local Assembly, prior to such an announcement, would appoint local committees, to each of which a branch of activity or one or more of the local goals could be assigned. Such committees need not consist of <p38> many members. When the committee appointments are made, the Local Assembly will be fully prepared to announce its goals and its committee appointments to the community at a Nineteen Day Feast or a specially called meeting of the community."

(Prepared for inclusion with a letter dated 24 December 1975 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Reunion)

Revised July 1990 <p39>


I. Establishment and Station:

1355. ...The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Baha, and should it exceed this number it does not matter. It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth....

(Baha'u'llah, cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 21)

1356. 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. 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 - provisional translation)

1357. 'Abdu'l-Baha is constantly engaged in ideal communication with any Spiritual Assembly which is instituted through the divine bounty, and the members of which, in the utmost devotion, turn to the divine Kingdom and are firm in the Covenant. To them he is whole-heartedly attached and with them he is linked by everlasting ties....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), p. 89)

1358. 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 <p40> direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions.

('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By"; rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 332)

1359. ...it is of the utmost importance that in accordance with the explicit text of the "Kitab-i-Aqdas", the Most Holy Book, in every locality, be it city or hamlet, where the number of adult (21 years and above) declared believers exceeds nine,[1] a local "Spiritual Assembly" be forthwith established. To it When the number of believers is exactly nine, they constitute themselves as the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. All local matters pertaining to the Cause must be directly and immediately referred for full consultation and decision. The importance, nay the absolute necessity of these local Assemblies is manifest when we realize that in the days to come they will evolve into the local Houses of Justice...
[1 When the number of believers is exactly nine, they constitute themselves as the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration.]

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 37)

1360. Let us recall His explicit and often repeated assurances that every Assembly elected in that rarefied atmosphere of selflessness and detachment is in truth appointed of God, that its verdict is truly inspired, that one and all should submit to its decision unreservedly and with cheerfulness.

(From a letter dated 23 February 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" p. 65)

1361. Designated as "Spiritual Assemblies" -- an appellation that must in the course of time be replaced by their permanent and more descriptive title of "Houses of Justice," bestowed upon them by the Author of the Baha'i Revelation; instituted, without any exception, in every city, town and village where nine or more adult believers are resident; annually and directly elected, on the first day of the greatest Baha'i Festival by all adult <p41> believers, men and women alike; invested with an authority rendering them unanswerable for their acts and decisions to those who elect them; solemnly pledged to follow, under all conditions, the dictates of the "Most Great Justice" that can alone usher in the reign of the "Most Great Peace" which Baha'u'llah has proclaimed and must ultimately establish; charged with the responsibility of promoting at all times the best interests of the communities within their jurisdiction, of familiarizing them with their plans and activities and of inviting them to offer any recommendations they might wish to make; cognizant of their no less vital task of demonstrating, through association with all liberal and humanitarian movements, the universality and comprehensiveness of their Faith; dissociated entirely from all sectarian organizations, whether religious or secular; assisted by committees annually appointed by, and directly responsible to, them, to each of which a particular branch of Baha'i activity is assigned for study and action; supported by local funds to which all believers voluntarily contribute; these Assemblies, the representatives and custodians of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, numbering at the present time, several hundred, and whose membership is drawn from the diversified races, creeds and classes constituting the world-wide Baha'i community, have, in the course of the last two decades, abundantly demonstrated, by virtue of their achievements, their right to be regarded as the chief sinews of Baha'i society, as well as the ultimate foundation of its administrative structure.

(Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By", p. 33

1362. That the Spiritual Assemblies of today will be placed in time by the I louses of Justice, and are to all intents and purposes identical and not separate bodies, is abundantly confirmed by 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself. He has in fact in a Tablet addressed to the members of the first Chicago Spiritual Assembly, the first elected Baha'i body instituted in the United States, referred to them as the members of the "House of Justice" for that city, and has thus with His own pen established beyond any doubt the identity of the present Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies with the Houses of Justice referred to by Baha'u'llah. For reasons which are not difficult to discover, it has been found advisable to bestow upon the elected representatives of Baha'i communities throughout the world the temporary appellation of Spiritual Assemblies, a term which, as the <p42> position and aims of the Baha'i Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice....

(Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", 2nd rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982) p. 6)


II. Membership - Qualifications, Election:

1363. If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Baha'i Assemblies ... we are filled with feelings of unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we rise to play nobly our part every deficiency in our lives will be more than compensated by the all-conquering spirit of His grace and power. Hence it is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience....

(From a letter dated 3 June 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the delegates and visitors at the convention of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 88)

1364. 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 judgement is defective. For as 'Abdu'l-Baha has repeatedly emphasized Baha'i Assemblies are under the guidance and protection of God. The elections, especially when annual, give the community a good opportunity to remedy any defect or imperfection from which the <p43> 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 dated 15 November 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1365. ...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. We should refrain from influencing the opinion of others, of canvassing for any particular individual, 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 dated 14 May 1927 written by Shoghi Effendi to a Local Spiritual Assembly, published in "Baha'i News" 18 (June 1927), p. 9)

1366. These local Spiritual Assemblies will have to be elected directly by the friends, and every declared believer of 21 years and above, far from standing aloof and assuming an indifferent or independent attitude, should regard it his sacred duty to take part, conscientiously and diligently, in the election, the consolidation, and the efficient working of his own local Assembly.

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 39)

1367. ...the elector ... is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold....the practice of nomination, so detrimental to the atmosphere of a silent and prayerful election, is <p44> viewed with mistrust inasmuch as it gives the right to the majority of a body that, in itself, under the present circumstances, often constitutes a minority of all the elected delegates, to deny that God-given right of every elector to vote only in favour of those whom he is conscientiously convinced are the most worthy candidates....

(From a letter dated 27 May 1927 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 136)


III. Taking Counsel Together - Functions:

1368. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God ... commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive!

(Baha'u'llah, cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 21)

1369. 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...

Teaching the Cause must be viewed according to the conditions of the age and of the times so as to see what course is deemed proper to take. Other matters also should be dealt with in like manner. They must, however, take care that nothing doth take place contrary to the divine verses sent down in this glorious Manifestation, inasmuch as naught but that which hath been prescribed by the True One -- exalted be His glory -- would serve the interests of His servants. He, in truth, is more merciful to you than ye are unto yourselves. He, verily, is the One Who knoweth and is well informed of all. 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... <p45>

(Baha'u'llah, provisional translation)

1370. The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Baha shall be vouchsafed to them. In this day, assemblies of consultation are of the greatest importance and a vital necessity. Obedience unto them is essential and obligatory. The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion a decision be carried unanimously, well and good; but if, the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail.[1]
[1. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sections 43 and 44, p. 87]

('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 21-22)

1371. ...Whenever ye enter the council-chamber, recite this prayer with a heart throbbing with the love of God and a tongue purified from all but His remembrance, that the All-Powerful may graciously aid you to achieve supreme victory: "O God, my God! We are servants of Thine that have turned with devotion to Thy Holy Face, that have detached ourselves from all beside Thee in this glorious Day. We have gathered in this spiritual assembly, united in our views and thoughts, with our purposes harmonized to exalt Thy Word amidst mankind. O Lord, our God! Make us the signs of Thy divine Guidance, the Standards of Thy exalted Faith amongst men, servants to Thy mighty Covenant, O Thou our Lord Most High! Manifestations of Thy Divine Unity in Thine Abha Kingdom, and resplendent stars shining upon all regions. Lord! Aid us to become seas <p46> surging with the billows of Thy wondrous Grace, streams flowing from Thy all-glorious Heights, goodly fruits upon the Tree of Thy heavenly Cause, trees waving through the breezes of Thy Bounty in Thy celestial Vineyard. O God! Make our souls dependent upon the Verses of Thy Divine Unity, our hearts cheered with the outpourings of Thy Grace, that we may unite even as the waves of one sea and become merged together as the rays of Thine effulgent Light; that our thoughts, our views, our feelings may become as one reality, manifesting the spirit of union throughout the world. Thou art the Gracious, the Bountiful, the Bestower, the Almighty, the Merciful, the Compassionate."

('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 20-21)

1372. ...The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly freed from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be non-existent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that assembly be brought to naught. The second condition: they must when coming together turn their faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm of Glory. They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one's views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden. The honoured members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another, nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth, and should differences of opinion arise a majority of voices must prevail, and all must obey and submit to the majority. It is again not permitted that any one of the honoured members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced. In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of <p47> estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness.... If this be so regarded, that assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation that proceed from the Evil One....

('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 22)

1373. Discussions must all be confined to spiritual matters that pertain to the training of souls, the instruction of children, the relief of the poor, the help of the feeble throughout all classes in the world, kindness to all peoples, the diffusion of the fragrances of God and the exaltation of His Holy Word. Should they endeavour to fulfil these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that assembly shall become the centre of the Divine blessings, the hosts of Divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of Spirit.

('Abdu'l-Baha, cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi) to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 22-23)

1374. A perusal of some of the words of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha on the duties and functions of the Spiritual Assemblies in every land (later to be designated as the local Houses of Justice) emphatically reveals the sacredness of their nature, the wide scope of their activity, and the grave responsibility which rests upon them.

...

The matter of Teaching, its direction, its ways and means, its extension, its consolidation, essential as they are to the interests of the Cause, constitute by no means the only issue which should receive the full attention of these Assemblies. A careful study of Baha'u'llah's and 'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets will reveal that other duties, no less vital to the interests of the Cause, devolve upon the elected representatives of the friends in every locality. It is incumbent upon them to be vigilant and cautious, discreet and watchful, and protect at all times the Temple of the Cause from the dart of the mischief-maker and the onslaught of the enemy. <p48>

They must endeavour to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause. They 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. 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.

...

They must undertake the arrangement of the regular meetings of the friends, the feasts and the anniversaries, as well as the special gatherings designed to serve and promote the social, intellectual and spiritual interests of their fellow-men. These rank among the most outstanding obligations of the members of every Spiritual Assembly....

(The first paragraph is from a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" p. 20)

(The rest is from a letter dated 12 March 1923 also written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 37-39)

1375. ...he feels that you should turn to your Local Assembly, in the strictest confidence, and seek their aid and advice. 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 dated 28 September 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p49>

1376. 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.

It is to unity that the Guardian has been continually calling the friends. For where a united will exists, nothing can effectively oppose and hamper the forces of constructive development....

(From a letter dated 17 November 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assemblies of Evanston and Wilmette, Il. U.S.A., published in "Baha'i News" 190 (December 1946), p. 1)

1377. The members of these Assemblies, on their part, must disregard utterly their own likes and dislikes, their personal interests and inclinations, and concentrate their minds upon those measures that will conduce to the welfare and happiness of the Baha'i Community and promote the common weal.

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 41)

1378. Let us also remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom to declare his conscience and set forth his views....

And 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 our Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced. To this voice the friends must heartily respond, and regard it as the only means that can ensure the protection and advancement of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 23 February 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 63-64) <p50>

1379. Baha'is are not required to vote on an Assembly against their consciences. It is 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 dated 19 October 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 202 (December 1947), p. 3)

1380. 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 judgement and directions of the majority of their fellow-members.

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

1381. 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 <p51> deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances.

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

1382. 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 dated 20 November 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1383. He ... pointed out to them that the attitude of "all for one and one for all" was very incorrect. An Assembly constitutes within its area of jurisdiction the Trustees of the Faith. Its members must at all times put the interests of the Faith above personality and impartially go into any matter brought to its attention. Theoretically it is always possible for a member of an Assembly to be unworthy or insincere. To take the attitude that any blame cast upon or any charge made against an Assembly member is a charge against the body itself is very wrong. An Assembly must protect the Faith and neither blindly accuse nor blindly defend one of its members....

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 Nineteen 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 interests of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing.

One of the healing remedies Baha'u'llah has given to a sick world is the Assembly (which in future will become a House of Justice); its members have very sacred and heavy responsibilities, its power to steer the Community, to protect and assist its members is likewise very great. <p52>

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


IV. Attendance and Resignation

1384. ...it is only too obvious that unless a member can attend regularly the meetings of his Local Assembly, it would be impossible for him to discharge the duties incumbent upon him, and to fulfil his responsibilities, as a representative of the community. Membership in a Local Spiritual Assembly carries with it, indeed, the obligation and capacity to remain in close touch with local Baha'i activities, and [the] ability to attend regularly the sessions of the Assembly.

(From a letter dated 16 February 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Principles of Baha'i Administration: A Compilation" 1st Indian ed. (New Delhi: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 51)

1385. ...it is establishing a dangerous precedent to allow Assemblies to put a time limit on non-attendance of their members at meetings of the S.A., 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, published in "Baha'i News" 208 (June 1948), p. 7)

1386. 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 <p52> 'Abdu'l-Baha has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and Divine guidance revealed....

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

1387. The remedy to Assembly inharmony cannot be in the resignation or abstinence of any of its members. It must learn, in spite of disturbing elements, to continue to function as a whole, otherwise the whole system would become discredited through the introduction of exceptions to the rule.

(From a letter dated 20 November 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


V. Assembly- Relation to Believers

1388. 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, candour and courage on the other.

The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. 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, 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 should serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must at all times avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the <p53> atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations. They should, within the limits of wise discretion, take the friends into their confidence, acquaint them with their plans, share with them their problems and anxieties, and seek their advice and counsel....

(From a letter dated 23 February 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 63-63)

1389. 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 dated 30 August 1930 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1390. 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 a firm determination to act with justice in all the cases which are submitted to them for their consideration.

(From a letter dated 9 March 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1391. There is no task more urgently necessary than the assurance of perfect harmony and fellowship among the friends, especially between the Local Assemblies and 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 cooperation can the institutions of the Cause effectively and permanently function. While obedience to the <p54> Local Assembly should be unqualified and whole-hearted, yet that body should enforce its decisions 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 dated 28 October 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


VI. Believers - Relation to Assembly

1392. ...It is incumbent upon everyone not to take any step without consulting the Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise every person will act independently and after his own judgement, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the Cause.

('Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932"p. 21)

1393. ...all matters without any exception whatsoever, regarding the interests of the Cause in ... [a] locality, individually or collectively, should be referred exclusively to the Spiritual Assembly in that locality, which shall decide upon it, unless it be a matter of national interest, in which case it shall be referred to the National Body....

(From a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 23)

1394. In order to avoid division and disruption, that the Cause may not fall a prey to conflicting interpretations, and lose thereby its purity and pristine vigour, that its affairs may be conducted with efficiency and promptness, it is necessary that everyone should conscientiously take an active part in the election of these Assemblies, abide by their decision, enforce their decree, and co-operate with them whole-heartedly in their task of stimulating the growth of the Movement throughout all regions....

(From a letter dated 12 march 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and <p55> Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 41)

1395. I fully approve and whole-heartedly and unreservedly uphold the principle to which you refer that personalities should not be made centres around which the community may revolve, but that they should be subordinated under all conditions and however great their merits to the properly constituted Assemblies. You and your co-workers can never overestimate or overemphasize this cardinal principle of Baha'i Administration.

(From a letter dated 11 April 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Principles of Baha'i Administration: A Compilation", p. 58)

1396. 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 Guardian meant was that the personality and the 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 Law of Baha'u'llah.

(From a letter dated 12 August 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Principles of Baha'i Administration: A Compilation, p. 19)

1397. 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 <p57> 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 dated 17 October 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 177 (November 1945), p. 2)

1398. 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 dated 13 March 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1399. One of the fundamentals involved in our Administrative Order, which we must 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 dated 30 June 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)

1400. 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 dated 28 October 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p58>

1401. 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 letter dated 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1402. What the Master desired to protect the friends against was continual bickering and opinionatedness. A believer can ask the Assembly why they made a certain decision and politely request them to reconsider. But then he must leave it at that, and not go on disrupting local affairs through insisting on his own views. This applies to an Assembly member as well. We all have a right to our opinions, we are bound to think differently; but a Baha'i must accept the majority decision of his Assembly, realizing that acceptance and harmony -- even if a mistake has been made -- are the really important things, and when we serve the Cause properly, in the Baha'i way, God will right any wrongs done in the end.

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

1403. Just as the individual believers a[re] bound to support and sustain their Local Spiritual Assembly, for the preservation of the unity of the Faith and the strengthening of its as yet embryonic World Order, so must the Local Assemblies obey and sustain their national representatives. The closer the co-operation between Local and National Assemblies, the greater will be the power and radiance which can and must stream forth from these institutions to the suffering ranks of humanity.

(From a letter dated 29 July 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Bombay)


VII. Prospects of the Future

1404. The administrative machinery of the Cause having now sufficiently evolved, its aim and object fairly well grasped and understood, and its <p59> method and working made more familiar to every believer, I feel the time is ripe when it should be fully and consciously utilized to further the purpose for which it has been created. It should, I strongly feel, be made to serve a twofold purpose. On one hand, it should aim at a steady and gradual expansion of the Movement along lines that are at once broad, sound and universal; and on the other, it should ensure the internal consolidation of the work already achieved....

(From a letter dated 11 May 1926 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 109)

1405. 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 re-form 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 just beginning to grasp and practise 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 14 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1406. Ours, dearly-beloved co-workers, is the paramount duty to continue, with undimmed vision and unabated zeal, to assist in the final erection of that Edifice the foundations of which Baha'u'llah has laid in our hearts, to derive added hope and strength from the general trend of recent events, however dark their immediate effects, and to pray with unremitting fervour that He may hasten the approach of the realization of that Wondrous Vision which constitutes the brightest emanation of His Mind and the fairest fruit of the fairest civilization the world has yet seen.

(From a letter dated 28 November 1931 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the West, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 48) <p60>

1407. And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centres of activity, upholding and promoting their interests with complete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding, genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigour. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountain-head from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must ultimately rest....

(From a letter dated 24 September 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America)

Revised 1990 <p61>

March 1968

EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE AND THE GUARDIAN REGARDING TEACHING THE MASSES


When the masses of mankind are awakened and enter the Faith of God, a new process is set in motion and the growth of a new civilization begins. Witness the emergence of Christianity and of Islam. These masses are the rank and file, steeped in traditions of their own, but receptive to the new Word of God, by which, when they truly respond to it, they become so influenced as to transform those who come in contact with them. God's standards are different from those of men. According to men's standards, the acceptance of any cause by people of distinction, of recognized fame and status, determines the value and greatness of that cause. But, in the words of Baha'u'llah:'The summons and the message which We gave were never intended to reach or to benefit one land or one people only. Mankind in its entirety must firmly adhere to whatsoever hath been revealed and vouchsafed unto it." Or again, "He hath endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God. How could He, otherwise, have fulfilled His testimony unto men, if ye be of them that ponder His Cause in their hearts." In countries where teaching the masses has succeeded, the Baha'is have poured out their time and effort in village areas to the same extent as they had formerly done in cities and towns. The results indicate how unwise it is to solely concentrate on one section of the population. Each National Assembly therefore should so balance its resources and harmonize its efforts that the Faith of God is taught not only to those who are readily accessible but to all sections of society, however remote they may be. The unsophisticated people of the world -- and they form the large majority of its population -- have the same right to know of the Cause of God as others. When the friends are teaching the Word of God they should be careful to give the Message in the same simplicity as it is enunciated in our Teachings. In their contacts they must show genuine -and divine love. The heart of an unlettered soul is extremely sensitive; <p62> any trace of prejudice on the part of the pioneer or teacher is immediately sensed.

When teaching among the masses, the friends should be careful not to emphasize the charitable and humanitarian aspects of the Faith as a means to win recruits. Experience has shown that when facilities such as schools, dispensaries, hospitals, or even clothes and food are offered to the people being taught, many complications arise. The prime motive should always be the response of man to God's message, and the recognition of His Messenger. 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. After declaration, the new believers must not be left to their own devices. 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 dated 13 July 1964 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

From reports and minutes we receive from various National Spiritual Assemblies, it is evident that your efforts to attract a greater number of receptive souls to the Cause of God, to open new areas for increased teaching activity and to consolidate the work so far accomplished are dependent upon more local travelling teachers and pioneers being assisted by the Fund to spend more of their time in Baha'i teaching services under your direction. There is a danger in this situation which must be avoided at all costs. Despite the pressing requirements of the Nine Year Plan, no Baha'i <p63> teacher anywhere should consider himself as permanently employed by the Faith. We do not have in the Cause of God any paid career open to Baha'i teachers.

The beloved Guardian elucidated this basic principle of Baha'i Administration through his repeated letters to National Assemblies from which we quote:

At present it would be quite impossible to spread the Cause if those who arise to serve it as teachers or pioneers were not given financial assistance. All must realize, however, that the monies they receive are only to enable them to fulfil their objectives, and that they cannot consider themselves permanently entitled to be supported by the Cause.

(From a letter dated 12 August 1944 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India and Burma)

Likewise travelling teachers should be assisted financially to carry out the "projects" assigned to them. The friends should not for a moment confuse this type of support with the creation of a paid clergy. Any Baha'i can, at the discretion of the NSA receive this necessary assistance and it is clearly understood it is temporary and only to carry out a specific plan.

(From a letter dated 29 May 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

Each National Assembly, through its auxiliary Teaching Committees, should be able to so plan the time and efforts of its band of subsidized travelling teachers that no impression of permanency is given. As far as possible each "project" must be definite in objective and in duration. Likewise, when pioneer projects are envisaged, it must be made clear to the pioneer that he must make every effort to establish himself in some position in his pioneering post and thus become freed from the necessity of drawing further on Baha'i funds. Experience has shown that the observance of these principles is essential for the rearing of healthy communities; wherever they have been ignored difficulties and complications have arisen. In the application of these principles, if you have any difficulty, you should feel free to consult with us. Also, if you have found any particular scheme proving to be <p64> successful without violating the above principles, you are welcome to send the details to us so that we may share your methods with other National Assemblies and enable them to benefit from your experience.

Another problem closely linked with the above and which directly affects areas where mass teaching work is being carried out is the extent to which the local believers contribute to the Fund. As you note, one of the objectives of the Nine Year Plan is universal participation in Baha'i community life. This can be possible when each believer understands that his personal spiritual life will be enriched and universal blessings will descend only if each Baha'i participates in contributing, however poor he may be, however small the contribution, and in whatever form it is offered. Your Assembly must devote enough time at each meeting to consider carefully this basic process. We must be confident that the principles laid down in our Writings are not only workable, but are the only solution to the ills of mankind. With such confidence in their hearts, the members of each National Assembly faced with this stupendous problem must deliberate, and within the framework of the social and economic conditions of the communities they are serving, they must find ways and means that would gradually, yet positively, help in realising this purpose.

(From a letter dated 25 June 1964 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in teaching work among the masses)

It has been due to the splendid victories in large-scale conversion that the Faith of Baha'u'llah has entered a new phase in its development and establishment throughout the world. It is imperative, therefore, that the process of teaching the masses be not only maintained but accelerated. 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 highly meritorious activities started by the native ... travelling teachers, ... <p65> who, as the mighty task progresses, must increasingly bear the brunt of responsibility for the propagation of the Faith in their homelands."

While this vital teaching work is progressing each National Assembly must ever bear in mind that expansion and consolidation are inseparable processes that must go hand in hand. The inter-dependence of these processes is best elucidated in the following passage from the writings of the beloved Guardian: "Every outward thrust into new fields, every multiplication of Baha'i institutions, must be paralleled by a deeper thrust of the roots which sustain the spiritual life of the community and ensure its sound development. From this vital, this ever-present need attention must, at no time, be diverted; nor must it be, under any circumstances neglected, or subordinated to the no less vital and urgent task of ensuring the outer expansion of Baha'i administrative institutions. That this community ... may maintain a proper balance between these two essential aspects of its development ... is the ardent hope of my heart...." To ensure that the spiritual life of the individual believer is continuously enriched, that local communities are becoming increasingly conscious of their collective duties, and that the institutions of an evolving administration are operating efficiently, is, therefore, as important as expanding into new fields and bringing in the multitudes under the shadow of the Cause. These objectives can only be attained when each National Spiritual Assembly makes proper arrangements for all the friends to be deepened in the knowledge of the Faith. The National Spiritual Assemblies in consultation with the Hands of the Cause, who are the Standard-Bearers of the Nine Year Plan, should avail themselves of the assistance of Auxiliary Board members, who, together with the travelling teachers selected by the Assembly or its Teaching Committees, should be continuously encouraged to conduct deepening courses at Teaching Institutes and to make regular visits to Local Spiritual Assemblies. The visitors, whether Board members or travelling teachers should meet on such occasions not only with the Local Assembly but, of course, with the local community members, collectively at general meetings and even, if necessary, individually in their homes. The subjects to be discussed at such meetings with the Local Assembly and the friends should include among others the following points:

1). the extent of the spread and stature of the Faith today; <p66>

2). the importance of the daily obligatory prayers (at least the short prayer);

3). the need to educate Baha'i children in the Teachings of the Faith and encourage them to memorize some of the prayers;

4). the stimulation of youth to participate in community life by giving talks, etc. and having their own activities, if possible;

5). the necessity to abide by the laws of marriage, namely, the need to have a Baha'i ceremony, to obtain the consent of parents, to observe monogamy; faithfulness after marriage; likewise the importance of abstinence from all intoxicating drinks and drugs;

6). the local Fund and the need for the friends to understand that the voluntary act of contributing to the Fund is both a privilege and a spiritual obligation. There should also be discussion of various methods that could be followed by the friends to facilitate their contributions and the ways open to the Local Assembly to utilize its local Fund to serve the interests of its community and the Cause;

7). the importance of the Nineteen Day Feast and the fact that it should be a joyful occasion and rallying point of the entire community;

8). the manner of election with as many workshops as required, including teaching of simple methods of balloting for illiterates, such as having one central home as the place for balloting and arranging for one literate person, if only a child, to be present at that home during the whole day, if necessary;

9). last but not least, the all-important teaching work, both in the locality and its neighbouring centres, as well as the need to continuously deepen the friends in the essentials of the Faith. The friends should be made to realize that in teaching the Faith to others they should not only aim at assisting the seeking soul to join the Faith, but also at making him a teacher of the Faith and its active supporter.

All the above points should, of course, be stressed within the framework of the importance of the Local Spiritual Assembly, which should be encouraged to vigorously direct its attention to these vital functions and become the very heart of the community life of its own locality, even if its meetings should become burdened with the problems <p67> of the community. The local friends should understand the importance of the law of consultation and realize that it is to the Local Spiritual Assembly that they should turn, abide by its decisions, support its projects, co-operate whole-heartedly with it in its task to promote the interests of the Cause, and seek its advice and guidance in the solution of personal problems and the adjudication of disputes, should any arise amongst the members of the community.

(From a letter dated 2 February 1966 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in mass teaching work)

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. 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 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.... It might be useful to share with the friends extracts from the writings of the beloved Guardian, such as the two passages we quote below:

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 dated 17 July 1937 written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India and Burma)

The institution of the National Fund, so vital and essential for the uninterrupted progress of these activities must, in particular, be assured of the whole-hearted, the ever-increasing and universal support of the mass of believers, for whose welfare, and in whose <p68> name, these beneficent activities have been initiated and have been conducted. All, no matter how modest their resources, must participate.

(From a letter dated 8 August 1957 written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Central and East Africa)

We feel that each National Assembly should carefully and regularly consult on this vital aspect of the education of the friends, spare no effort and lose no opportunity in bringing to their attention the needs of the hour. For example, where land is difficult to obtain, or where funds for the purchase of endowments are not available, the friends should be appealed to in a dignified and effective manner to donate from their own land for the use of Baha'i institutions. In the construction of local Baha'i centres, the National Assembly should carefully devise methods of appealing to the friends to contribute manpower or local materials for the construction of such buildings. If ready cash is not available for contributions to the Fund, the National Assembly should guide the friends in ways they could raise funds by a collective effort to cultivate a piece of land, by contributing cash crops, livestock or home-made dishes, sweetmeats, or handicrafts. Special meetings could also be arranged for the sale of such contributions in kind. 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 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 dated 9 February 1967 written by the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies)

Many National Spiritual Assemblies in carrying out their plans for expansion and consolidation have found it necessary to select a number of believers for service as travelling teachers. While we appreciate the valuable services these travelling teachers have already rendered we are <p69> nevertheless deeply conscious of the problems facing your National Assemblies in your desire to carry out your teaching programmes with as much dispatch as possible. The purpose of this letter is to draw your attention to the fact that these problems could well be minimized if the selection of such teachers were done with great care and discretion.

It must be realized that people who are mostly illiterate cannot have the benefit of reading for themselves the written word and of deriving directly from it the spiritual sustenance they need for the enrichment of their Baha'i lives. They become dependent, therefore, to a large extent on their contacts with visiting teachers. The spiritual calibre or moral quality of these teachers assumes, therefore, great importance. The National Spiritual Assembly or the Teaching Committees responsible for the selection of these teachers should bear in mind that their choice must depend, not only on the knowledge or grasp of the teachings on the part of the teachers, but primarily upon their pure spirit and their true love for the Cause, and their capacity to convey that spirit and love to others. ...What wonderful results will soon be witnessed in the areas under your jurisdiction if you devise ways and means to ensure, as far as circumstances permit, that the travelling teachers you are encouraging to circulate among the friends will all be of the standard called for in these quotations -- pure and sanctified souls, with nothing but true devotion and self-sacrifice motivating them in their services to God's Holy Cause....

(From a letter dated 26 October 1967 written by the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in mass teaching)

The paramount goal of the teaching work at the present time is to carry the message of Baha'u'llah to every stratum of human society and every walk of life. An eager response to the teachings will often be found in the most unexpected quarters, and any such response should be quickly followed up, for success in a fertile area awakens a response in those who were at first uninterested. The same presentation of the teachings will not appeal to everybody; the method of expression and the approach must be varied in accordance with the outlook and interests of the hearer. An approach which is designed to appeal to everybody will usually result in attracting the middle section, leaving both extremes untouched. No effort must be spared to ensure that the healing Word of God reaches the rich and the poor, the <p70> learned and the illiterate, the old and the young, the devout and the atheist, the dweller in the remote hills and islands, the inhabitant of the teeming cities, the suburban businessman, the labourer in the slums, the nomadic tribesman, the farmer, the university student; all must be brought consciously within the teaching plans of the Baha'i Community.

Whereas plans must be carefully made, and every useful means adopted in the furtherance of this work, your Assemblies must never let such plans eclipse the shining truth expounded in the enclosed quotations: that it is the purity of heart, detachment, uprightness, devotion and love of the teacher that attracts the divine confirmations and enables him, however ignorant he be in this world's learning, to win the hearts of his fellowmen to the Cause of God.

(From a letter dated 31 October 1967 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

The growth of the Cause in India during the past several years has been vast and awe inspiring, and it is quite natural that this growth should have been accompanied by problems and responsibilities that taxed the administrative experience and capacities of your National Assembly to the utmost. ...Travelling teachers and foreign pioneers could doubtless stimulate the friends and assist them in the teaching work, but essentially, the progress and growth of the Cause in India depend upon the services of your own people, and, to this end, a concerted effort should be made to integrate the friends in India into the work of the Cause in all its aspects, to assure universal participation that will result in winning even greater victories for the Cause. In this connection, your idea of engaging a number of well trained travelling teachers in India is, in principle, correct. You have various Teaching Institutes and a number of devoted, well-informed teachers at your disposal for this service. One of the most important duties of such travelling teachers should be to develop nuclei of devoted and active believers in the many centres who would inspire and assist the friends in active participation in the work to be done in their villages and towns. A plan should be developed to enable such travelling teachers to spend more time in fewer places instead of making brief visits in numerous centres. This would enable them to, in turn, train resident teachers in the various localities to spearhead the work of <p71> expansion and consolidation in their areas. The names of the believers thus trained should be given to the administrative bodies in charge of teaching. Teaching Institutes, Summer Schools, Conferences, etc. should be utilized to provide further encouragement and training for those believers whenever such opportunities arise.

In all your training programmes, the Baha'i Administration should have special attention. The believers should know that our administration is part of our religion. For this reason, not only should you patiently and lovingly train the believers, but should also strive to attract to the Faith individuals who possess qualities and capacities that will add to the administrative strength of the Community as a whole. The beloved Guardian has stated: "There is no doubt that the poorer classes should be taught the Cause and given every opportunity to embrace it. More especially in order to demonstrate to people our cardinal lack of prejudice... However, he feels that the great point is to confirm people of true capacity and ability -- from whatever social stratum they may be -- because the Cause needs now, and will ever-increasingly need, souls of great ability who can bring it before the public at large, administer its ever-growing affairs, and contribute to its advancement in every field." We note with deep satisfaction that the Message of God is being given to a cross section of all the people of India, as evidenced by your success in attracting a large number of college students to the Faith, as well as others representing various classes of people.

(From a letter dated 15 February 1968 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India) <p73>


COMPILATION OF EXTRACTS FROM THE BAHA'I WRITINGS ON MUSIC

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah: 1408. Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 295)

1409. We have permitted you to listen to music and singing. Beware lest such listening cause you to transgress the bounds of decency and dignity. Rejoice in the joy of My Most Great Name through which the hearts are enchanted and the minds of the well-favoured are attracted.

We have made music a ladder by which souls may ascend to the realm on high. Change it not into wings for self and passion. I seek refuge in God that you be not of the ignorant.

("Kitab-i-Aqdas" - Provisional translation from the Arabic)

1410. Blessed is he who directeth his steps towards the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar at the hour of dawn, communing with Him, attuned to His remembrance, imploring His forgiveness. And having entered therein, let him sit in silence to hearken unto the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Almighty, the All-Praised. Say, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is in truth any House raised in towns or villages, for mention of Me. Thus hath it been named before His Throne; would that ye know it. And those who chant the verses of the Merciful in most melodious tones will attain thereby unto that with which the kingdoms of earth and heaven can never compare. And they will inhale therefrom the fragrance of My realms which none discerneth in this day save those who have been granted vision by this sublime Beauty. Say, verily, the verses of the Merciful uplift the stainless hearts unto those realms of the spirit which cannot be described in words or expressed in symbols. Blessed are they that hearken!

("Kitab-i-Aqdas" - Provisional translation from the Arabic) <p74>

1411. Teach your children that which hath been sent down from the heaven of majesty and power that they may recite the Tablets of the Merciful in the halls of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkars in most melodious tones. Verily, he who hath been drawn by the magnet of the love of My Name, the Merciful, will recite the verses of God in such wise as to enrapture the hearts of those who are fast asleep. Well is it with him who hath quaffed the choice wine of immortal life from the utterances of his Lord, the Lord of Mercy, through the power of this exalted Name whereby every high and lofty mountain hath been reduced to dust.

("Kitab-i-Aqdas" - Provisional translation from Arabic)

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

1412. This wonderful age has rent asunder the veils of superstition and has condemned the prejudice of the people of the East.

Among some of the nations of the Orient, music and harmony was not approved of, but the Manifested Light, Baha'u'llah, in this glorious period has revealed in Holy Tablets that singing and music are the spiritual food of the hearts and souls. In this dispensation, music is one of the arts that is highly approved and is considered to be the cause of the exaltation of sad and desponding hearts.

Therefore ... set to music the verses and the divine words so that they may be sung with soul-stirring melody in the Assemblies and gatherings, and that the hearts of the listeners may become tumultuous and rise towards the Kingdom of Abha in supplication and prayer.

("Baha'i World Faith: Selected Writings of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 378)

1413. Thank thou God that thou art instructed in music and melody, singing with pleasant voice the glorification and praise of the Eternal, the Living. I pray to God that thou mayest employ this talent in prayer and supplication, in order that the souls may become quickened, the hearts may become attracted and all may become inflamed with the fire of the love of God!

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas" vol. 3 (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Society, 1916), p. 512) <p75>

1414. ...although sound is but the vibrations of the air which affect the tympanum of the ear, and vibrations of the air are but an accident among the accidents which depend upon the air, consider how much marvelous notes or a charming song influence the spirits! A wonderful song giveth wings to the spirit and filleth the heart with exaltation....

("Baha'i World Faith: Selected Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha", p. 334)

1415. The utmost joy was attained, for -- praise be to God! -- the friends of the Merciful passed some time on that day joyous and singing in the land of the Mashrak-el-Azcar and enjoyed commemorating the Lord of the verses with the greatest joy.

I am hopeful that, during the coming Rizwan,[1] a great feast shall be held in the land of the Mashrak-el-Azcar, a spiritual celebration prepared and the melodies of the violin and the mandolin and hymns in praise and glorification of the Lord of Hosts make all the audience joyous and ecstatic.
[1 April 21, 1909]

('Abdu'l-Baha, "Tablets of Abdul Baha Abbas", vol. I (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1930)

1416. O maid-servant of God! Sing with beautiful melodies in the meetings of the maid-servants, praising and glorifying thy Supreme Lord.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas", vol. 1, p. 65)

1417. O thou attracted one of the Kingdom! Complete thou the study of the art of music and sacrifice thyself more or less to the Lord of the Kingdom.

(Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas", vol. 3, p. 671)

1418. ...a musical and melodious voice imparteth life to an attracted heart, but lureth toward lust those souls who are engulfed in passion and desire.

("The Divine Art of Living, rev ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 100) <p76>

1419. O servant of Baha! Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody and raise such hymns of praise at the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar to enrapture the Concourse on High. By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)

Extracts from the Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha

1420. What a wonderful meeting this is! These are the children of the Kingdom. The song we have just listened to was very beautiful in melody and words. The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise, it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd. ed. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 52)

1421. Music is one of the important arts. It has a great effect upon the human spirit. Musical melodies are a certain something which prove to be accidental upon etheric vibrations, for voice is nothing but the expression of vibrations, which, reaching the tympanum, affect the nerves of hearing. Musical melodies are, therefore, those peculiar effects <p77> produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have the keenest effect upon the spirit. In sooth, although music is a material affair, yet its tremendous effect is spiritual, and its greatest attachment is to the realm of the spirit. If a person desires to deliver a discourse, it will prove more effectual after musical melodies. The ancient Greeks, as well as Persian philosophers, were in the habit of delivering their discourses in the following manner: -- First, playing a few musical melodies, and when their audience attained a certain receptivity thereby they would leave their instruments at once and begin their discourse. Among the most renowned musicians of Persia was one named Barbod, who, whenever a great question had been pleaded for at the court of the King, and the Ministry had failed to persuade the King, they would at once refer the matter to Barbod, whereupon he would go with his instrument to the court and play the most appropriate and touching music, the end being at once attained, because the King was immediately affected by the touching musical melodies, certain feelings of generosity would swell up in his heart, and he would give way. You may try this: If you have a great desire and wish to attain your end, try to do so on a large audience after a great solo has been rendered, but it must be on an audience on which music is effective, for there are some people who are like stones, and music cannot affect stones.

Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God, are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life; wherefore, the Teachings of God, whether they be in the form of anthems or communes or prayers, when they are melodiously sung, are most impressive. It was for this reason that His Holiness David sang the psalms in the Holy of Holies at Jerusalem with sweet melodies. In this Cause the art of music is of paramount importance. The Blessed Perfection, when He first came to the barracks (Acca) repeated this statement: "If among the immediate followers there had been those who could have played some musical instrument, i.e., flute or harp, or could have sung, it would have charmed every one." In short, musical melodies form an important role <p78> in the associations, or outward and inward characteristics, or qualities of man, for it is the inspirer or motive power of both the material and spiritual susceptibilities. What a motive power it is in all feelings of love! When man is attached to the Love of God, music has a great effect upon him.

("Table Talk" Acca, July 1909, quoted in "Herald of the South" (January 13, 1933), pp. 2-3)

1422. Voice is the vibration of the air, and is like the waves of the sea. The voice is produced through the instrumentality of the lips, throat, teeth, tongue, etc. These cause a wave in the air, and this wave reaches the nerve of the ear, which is thereby affected. This is the voice.

There are two kinds of voices. One when the complete instrument is perfect, then the emission of sound is perfect. The second is when the instrument is imperfect, it affects the voice in such a way that it is far from pleasing. What we have just said refers to the voice itself.

It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well written book, pleasing garments -- in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit -- therefore, it is most certain that a true voice causes deep pleasure.

What is music? It is a combination of harmonious sounds. What is poetry? It is a symmetrical collection of words. Therefore, they are pleasing through harmony and rhythm. Poetry is much more effective and complete than prose. It stirs more deeply, for it is of a finer composition.

A fine voice when joined to beautiful music causes a great effect, for both are desirable and pleasing. All these have in themselves an organization, and are constructed on natural law. Therefore, they correspond to the order of existence like something which would fit into a mold. A true voice fits into the mold of nature. When it is so, this affects the nerves, and they affect the heart and spirit.

In the world of existence physical things have a connection with spiritual realities. One of these things is the voice, which connects itself <p79> with the spirit; and the spirit can be uplifted by this means -- for though it is a physical thing, it is one of the material, natural organizations -- therefore, it is effective.

All forms when understood aright gladden the spirit. Melodies are like water. The voice is like a goblet. The pure water in a pure glass is pleasing. Therefore, it is acceptable. But even though the water be pure, if it be in a goblet which is not so, this receptacle will make it unacceptable. Therefore, a faulty voice even though the music be good, is unpleasing.

In short: melodies, though they are material, are connected with the spiritual, therefore, they produce a great effect. A certain kind of melody makes the spirit happy, another kind makes it sad, another excites it to action.

All these feelings can be caused by voice and music, for through the nerves it moves and stirs the spirit. Even over animals, music has an effect. For example: When they wish to take a camel over a desert road, they attach to him some bells, or they play upon a flute, and this sound prevents him from realizing the fatigue of the journey; his nerves are affected, but he does not have an increase of thought, he feels nothing but physical sensation.

Whatever is in the heart of man, melody moves and awakens. If a heart full of good feelings and a pure voice are joined together, a great effect is produced. For instance: if there be love in the heart, through melody, it will increase until its intensity can scarcely be borne; but if bad thoughts are in the heart, such as hatred, it will increase and multiply. For instance: the music used in war awakens the desire for bloodshed. The meaning is that melody causes whatever feeling is in the heart to increase.

Some feelings occur accidentally and some have a foundation. For example: some people are naturally kind, but they may be accidentally upset by a wave of anger. But if they hear music, the true nature will reassert itself. Music really awakens the real, natural nature, the individual essence.

With whatever purpose you listen to music, that purpose will be increased. For instance: there will be a concert given for the poor and unfortunate, and if you go there thinking of the aim, the music will increase your compassion and generosity. This is the reason why music is <p80> used in war. And so it is with all the things that cause the excitation of the nerves.
('Abdu'l-Baha's words to Mrs. Mary L. Lucas, as quoted in "A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca" (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Society, 1905), pp. 11-14)

From Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi

1423. With regard to singing some of the hymns written by Mrs...., he thinks that it would be a splendid idea and when Mrs. Lua Getsinger was living with the Master's family, she often sang them and tried to teach them to the small children in the family.

(22 March 1928 to an individual believer)

1424. He thinks that it would especially be beautiful to see little children singing them in groups....

(22 March 1928 to an individual believer)

1425. The Guardian values the hymns that you are so beautifully composing. They certainly contain the realities of the Faith, and will indeed help you to give the Message to the young ones. It is the music which assists us to affect the human spirit; it is an important means which helps us to communicate with the soul. The Guardian hopes that through this assistance you will give the Message to the people, and will attract their hearts.

(15 November 1932 to an individual believer, cited in "Baha'i News" 71 (February 1933), p. 2)

1426. In regard to the main question you have raised in connection with the singing of hymns at Baha'i meetings: He wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to it whatsoever. The element of music is, no doubt, an important feature of all Baha'i gatherings. The Master Himself has emphasized its importance. But the friends should in this, as well as in all other things, not pass beyond the limits of moderation, and should take great care to maintain the strict spiritual character of all their gatherings. Music should lead to spirituality, and provided it creates such an atmosphere there can be no objection against it. <p81>
A distinction of vital importance should, however, be
clearly established between the singing of hymns composed by
the believers and the chanting of the Holy Utterances.
(17 March 1935 to an individual believer)

1427. With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that he not only 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.

(7 April 1935 to an individual believer)

1428. Although now is only the very beginning of Baha'i art, yet the friends who feel they are gifted in such matters should endeavour to develop and cultivate their gifts and through their works to reflect, however inadequately, the Divine Spirit which Baha'u'llah has breathed into the world.

(4 November 1937 to an individual believer)

1429. Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should be any cultivation of "Baha'i Music" any more than we are trying to develop a Baha'i school of painting or writing. The believers are free to paint, write and compose as their talents guide them. If music is written, incorporating the sacred writings, the friends are free to make use of it, but it should never be considered a requirement at Baha'i meetings to have such music. The further away the friends keep from any set forms, the better, for they must realize that the Cause is absolutely universal, and what might seem a beautiful addition to their mode of celebrating a Feast, etc., would perhaps fall on the ears of people of another country as unpleasant sounds -- and vice versa. As long as they have music for its own sake it is all right, but they should not consider it Baha'i music.

(20 July 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1430. Instrumental music may be used at the Baha'i Feasts. <p82>

(20 August 1956 to an individual believer)

1431. As regards producing a book of Baha'i songs, your understanding that there is no cultural expression which could be called Baha'i at this time (distinctive music, literature, art, architecture, etc., being the flower of the civilization and not coming at the beginning of a new Revelation), is correct. However, that does not mean that we haven't Baha'i songs, in other words, songs written by Baha'is on Baha'i subjects....

(21 September 1957 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1432. You should try and work out the questions about songs with the Reviewing Committee or the National Spiritual Assembly. A Baha'i can write songs, mentioning the Faith. This is not "Baha'i Music", but music in which the Faith is mentioned. This is probably what the National Spiritual Assembly meant.

(24 October 1957 to an individual believer)

(Prepared for inclusion with a letter dated 1 March 1972 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

Revised July 1990 <p83>


THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY

(A Compilation)


I. MEMBERSHIP, AUTHORITY AND ROLE

II. RELATION TO CONVENTION

III. RELATION TO THE COMMUNITY

IV. RELATION TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD

V. FUNCTION OF OFFICERS

VI. ASSEMBLY MEETINGS

VII. NATIONAL COMMITTEES

VIII. FLEXIBILITY IN SECONDARY MATTERS

IX. APPEALS

X. THE SPIRIT AND FORM OF BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION <p85>


The National Spiritual Assembly


I. Membership, Authority and Role

1433. Regarding the establishment of "National Assemblies", it is of vital importance that in every country, where the conditions are favourable and the number of the friends has grown and reached a considerable size, such as America, Great Britain and Germany, that a "National Spiritual Assembly" be immediately established, representative of the friends throughout that country.

Its immediate purpose is to stimulate, unify and co-ordinate, by frequent personal consultations, the manifold activities of the friends as well as the local Assemblies; and by keeping in close and constant touch with the Holy Land, initiate measures, and direct in general the affairs of the Cause in that country. It serves also another purpose, no less essential than the first, as in the course of time it shall evolve into the National House of Justice (referred to in 'Abdu'l-Baha's Will as the "secondary House of Justice"), which according to the explicit text of the Testament will have, in conjunction with the other National Assemblies throughout the Baha'i world, to elect directly the members of the International House of Justice, that Supreme Council that will guide, organize and unify the affairs of the Movement throughout the world.

It is expressly recorded in 'Abdu'l-Baha's Writings that these National Assemblies must be indirectly elected by the friends; that is, the friends in every country must elect a certain number of delegates, who in their turn will elect from among all the friends in that country the members of the National Spiritual Assembly....

This National Spiritual Assembly, which pending the establishment of the Universal House of Justice will have to be re-elected once a year, obviously assumes grave responsibilities, for it has to exercise full authority over all the local Assemblies in its province, and will have to direct the activities of the friends, guard vigilantly the Cause of God, and control and supervise the affairs of the Movement in general.

With it too rests the decision whether a certain point at issue is strictly local in its nature, and should be reserved for the consideration and decision of the local Assembly, or whether it should fall under its own province and be regarded as a matter which ought to receive its special attention. The National Spiritual Assembly will also decide upon such <p86> matters which in its opinion should be referred to the Holy Land for consultation and decision.

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 39-41)

1434. It is, I firmly believe, of the utmost urgent importance that, with unity of purpose and action firmly established in our midst, and with every trace of the animosity and mistrust of the past banished from our hearts, we should form one united front, and combat, wisely and tactfully, every force that might darken the spirit of the Movement, cause division in its ranks, and narrow it by dogmatic and sectarian belief.

It is primarily upon the elected members of the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the Baha'i world that this highly important duty devolves, as in their hands the direction and management of all spiritual Baha'i activities have been placed and centralized, and as they constitute in the eyes of the people of their country the supreme body in that land that officially represents, promotes and safeguards the various interests of the Cause. It is my fervent prayer and my most cherished desire that the unfailing guidance of Baha'u'llah and the blessings of our beloved Master will enable them to set a high and true example to all other Baha'i institutions and Local Assemblies, and will show them what absolute harmony, mature deliberation and whole-hearted co-operation can achieve. Should such a representative and responsible body fail to realize this fundamental requisite for all successful achievement, the whole structure is sure to crumble, and the Great Plan of the Future, as unfolded by the Master's Will and Testament, will be rudely disturbed and grievously delayed.

(From a letter dated 9 April 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" pp. 45-46)

1435. Regarding the method to be adopted for the election of the National Spiritual Assemblies, it is clear that the text of the Beloved's Testament <p87> gives us no indication as to the manner in which these Assemblies are to be elected. In one of His earliest Tablets, however, addressed to a friend in Persia, the following is expressly recorded:

"At whatever time all the beloved of God in each country appoint their delegates, and these in turn elect their representatives, and these representatives elect a body, that body shall be regarded as the Supreme Baytu'l-'Adl (Universal House of Justice)". These words clearly indicate that a three-stage election has been provided by 'Abdu'l-Baha for the formation of the International House of Justice, and as it is explicitly provided in His Will and Testament that the "Secondary Houses of Justice (i.e. National Assemblies) must elect the members the Universal One", it is obvious that the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies will have to be indirectly elected by the body of the believers in their respective provinces....

Should the appointing of the delegates be made a part of the functions of Local Spiritual Assemblies, who are already elected bodies, the principle of a four-stage election would be introduced, which would be at variance with the provisions explicitly laid down in the Master's Tablet. On the other hand, were the Local Spiritual Assemblies, the number of whose members is strictly confined to nine, to elect directly the members of the National Spiritual Assembly -- thus maintaining the principle of a three-stage election -- all Baha'i localities, which must necessarily differ in numerical strength, would then have to share equally in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly -- a practice which would be contrary to fairness and justice. Moreover, the central principle guiding for the present the administration of the Cause has been to make the Baha'i National Spiritual Assemblies as independent as possible in the conduct of such affairs as fall within their province, and to lessen the hampering influence of any institution within their jurisdiction that might, whether directly or indirectly, impair their authority and prestige.

(From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 84-85)

1436. High aims and pure motives, however laudable in themselves, will surely not suffice if unsupported by measures that are practicable and methods that are sound. Wealth of sentiment, abundance of goodwill and <p88> effort, will prove of little avail if we should fail to exercise discrimination and restraint and neglect to direct their flow along the most profitable channels. The unfettered freedom of the individual should be tempered with mutual consultation and sacrifice, and the spirit of initiative and enterprise should be reinforced by a deeper realization of the supreme necessity for concerted action and a fuller devotion to the common weal.

It would be impossible at this stage to ignore the indispensability or to overestimate the unique significance of the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly -- the pivot round which revolve the activities of the believers throughout the American continent. Supreme is their position, grave their responsibilities, manifold and arduous their duties. How great the privilege, how delicate the task of the assembled delegates whose function it is to elect such national representatives as would by their record of service ennoble and enrich the annals of the Cause! If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Baha'i Assemblies, as enumerated in 'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets, we are filled with feelings of unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we rise to play nobly our part every deficiency in our lives will be more than compensated by the all-conquering spirit of His grace and power. Hence it is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience. May the incoming National Spiritual Assembly -- the privileged and chosen servants of the Cause -- immortalize their term of stewardship by deeds of loving service, deeds that will redound to the honour, the glory and the power of the Most Great Name.

(From a letter dated 3 June 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the delegates and visitors at the Convention of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" pp. 87-88)

1437. The administrative machinery of the Cause having now sufficiently evolved, its aim and object fairly well grasped and understood, and its method and working made more familiar to every believer, I feel the time is ripe when it should be fully and consciously utilized to further the <p89> purpose for which it has been created. It should, I strongly feel, be made to serve a twofold purpose. On one hand, it should aim at a steady and gradual expansion of the Movement along lines that are at once broad, sound and universal; and on the other, it should ensure the internal consolidation of the work already achieved. It should both provide the impulse whereby the dynamic forces latent in the Faith can unfold, crystallize, and shape the lives and conduct of men, and serve as a medium for the interchange of thought and the co-ordination of activities among the divers elements that constitute the Baha'i community.

Such in their broad outline are the guiding principles which those who have been placed in charge of the administration of the affairs of the Cause should at present endeavour to promote, explain and securely establish. Nothing short of the spirit of unwavering faith, of continuous vigilance and patient endeavour can hope to secure eventually the realization of this our cherished desire.

May America's national representatives arise with clear vision, with unswerving determination and renewed vigour to carry out in its entirety the sacred task they have purposed to perform.

(From a letter dated 11 May 1926 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 109-110)

1438. Now that the N.S.A. has been properly constituted and its officers duly appointed, it is incumbent upon each and all to introduce and promote such measures as will consolidate the work that you have so well begun. The institution of the National Fund, a Baha'i Bulletin similar to the News Letter issued by the American N.S.A., a vigorous and well-conceived campaign of Teaching, a continuous and purposeful endeavour to co-ordinate the activities of the Local Assemblies and groups throughout India and Burma and the sending of detailed and frequent reports to the Holy Land are among the most primary and urgent requirements of the new day that has dawned upon India. I eagerly await your reports and assure you of my continued prayers for the success of your arduous labours.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 28 October 1926 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and <p90> Burma, published in "Dawn of a New Day" (New Delhi: Baha'i Publishing Trust, n.d. [1970]), pp. 1415)

1439. 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 constitutes the sole link that binds these communities to the International House of Justice -- the supreme administrative body in the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah.

(In the hand writing of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 11 June 1934 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1440. ...the Guardian was very pleased to learn of the progress made by the Indian National Spiritual Assembly in its efforts to consolidate, widen and maintain the scope of its national activities. The difficulties in your way are tremendous. The differences of language and of social and intellectual background do, undoubtedly, render the work somewhat difficult to carry out and may temporarily check the efficient and smooth working of the national administrative machinery of the Faith. They, nevertheless, impart to the deliberations of the National Assembly a universality which they would be otherwise lacking, and give to its members a breadth of view which is their duty to cultivate and foster. It is not uniformity which we should seek in the formation of any National or Local Assembly. For the bedrock of the Baha'i administrative order is the principle of unity in diversity, which has been so strongly and so repeatedly emphasized in the writings of the Cause. Differences which are not fundamental and contrary to the basic teachings of the Cause should be maintained, while the underlying unity of the administrative <p91> order should be at any cost preserved and ensured. Unity, both of purpose and of means, is, indeed, indispensable to the safe and speedy working of every Assembly, whether local or national.

(From a letter dated 2 January 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, published in "Dawn of a New Day" pp. 47-48)

1441. With regard to your question concerning the right of a member of the National Spiritual Assembly to disclose to that body any facts which he possesses as a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, the Guardian thinks that the adequate presentation of all such facts is not only the right but the duty of every member of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is, indeed, the responsibility of every conscientious and loyal believer who has the privilege of being a member of the National Spiritual Assembly to provide for the general information of his co-workers in that body, all the facts which the latter requires for the study and settlement of the cases under its consideration.

(From a letter dated 14 January 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1442. The formation of every new National Assembly must, indeed, be viewed as a step forward in the evolution of the Administration of the Faith. And not until a sufficient number of such National Assemblies has been duly constituted can there be any hope for the future expansion of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 26 March 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 91 (April 1935), p. 15)

1443. With regard to your question as to the advisability of disclosing to an individual believer the contents of the National Spiritual Assembly's correspondence: The Guardian thinks that although this cannot be considered as constituting an obligation which a believer can impose upon the national body, yet it would seem highly advisable that the National Spiritual Assembly should give a sympathetic consideration to any such request made to it by a believer. This, he feels, would avoid giving the impression that the Assembly is working in an atmosphere of complete secrecy, and that it is motivated by dictatorial motives. The final <p92> decision in such matters, however, is entirely left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly. The basic principle that should always be remembered is that the National Spiritual Assembly cannot be required to reveal to any outsider all the details concerning its work. It may choose to do so if it wishes, but nobody has the right to enforce upon it any such action. This is, of course, the purely legal side of the question. But a purely legalistic attitude in matters affecting the Cause, particularly now that the Faith is still in a state of infancy, is not only inadequate but fraught with unforeseen dangers and difficulties. The individuals and Assemblies must learn to co-operate and to co-operate intelligently, if they desire to adequately discharge their duties and obligations towards the Faith. And no such co-operation is possible without mutual confidence and trust.

(From a letter dated 19 June 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, published in "Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957" (Sydney: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia, 1970), p. 9)

1444. ...Shoghi Effendi wishes to urge once more your Assembly to give careful and sympathetic consideration to this case, which has already engaged their attention for several months. The situation must be carefully studied, and all its aspects thoroughly investigated, and a decision should be reached and fearlessly and immediately carried out. Too much delay does not only harm the interests of the petitioner but will, in addition, have the effect of detracting from the authority and prestige of your Assembly.

(From a letter dated 12 August 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1445. The evolution of the Plan imposes a threefold obligation, which all individual believers, all Local Assemblies, as well as the National Assembly itself, must respectively recognize and conscientiously fulfil. Each and every believer, undaunted by the uncertainties, the perils and the financial stringency afflicting the nation, must arise and ensure, to the full measure of his or her capacity, that continuous and abundant flow of funds into the national Treasury, on which the successful prosecution of the Plan must chiefly depend. Upon the Local Assemblies, whose special function and high privilege is to facilitate the admission of new believers <p93> into the community, and thereby stimulate the infusion of fresh blood into its organic institutions, a duty no less binding in character devolves. To them I wish particularly to appeal, at this present hour, when the call of God is being raised throughout the length and breadth of both continents in the New World, to desist from insisting too rigidly on the minor observances and beliefs, which might prove a stumbling-block in the way of any sincere applicant, whose eager desire is to enlist under the banner of Baha'u'llah. While conscientiously adhering to the fundamental qualifications already laid down, 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. As to the National Assembly, whose inescapable responsibility is to guard the integrity, co-ordinate the activities, and stimulate the life, of the entire community, its chief concern, at the present moment, should be to anxiously deliberate as how best to enable both individual believers and Local Assemblies to fulfil their respective tasks. Through their repeated appeals, through their readiness to dispel all misunderstandings and remove all obstacles, through the example of their lives, their unrelaxing vigilance, their high sense of justice, their humility, consecration and courage, they must demonstrate to those whom they represent their capacity to play their part in the progress of the Plan in which they, no less than the rest of the community, are involved. May the all-conquering Spirit of Baha'u'llah be so infused into each component part of this harmoniously functioning System as to enable it to contribute its proper share to the consummation of the Plan.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 30 January 1938 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1947), pp. 11-12)

1446. Such a rectitude of conduct[1] must manifest itself, with ever-increasing potency, in every verdict which the elected representatives of the Baha'i <p94> community, in whatever capacity they may find themselves, may be called upon to pronounce....It must be exemplified in the conduct of all Baha'i electors, when exercising their sacred rights and functions.... It must constitute the brightest ornament of the life, the pursuits, the exertions, and the utterances of every Baha'i teacher, whether laboring at home or abroad, whether in the front ranks of the teaching force, or occupying a less active and responsible position. It must be made the hallmark of that numerically small, yet intensely dynamic and highly responsible body of the elected national representatives of every Baha'i community, which constitutes the sustaining pillar, and the sole instrument for the election, in every community, of that Universal House whose very name and title, as ordained by Baha'u'llah, symbolizes that rectitude of conduct which is its highest mission to safeguard and enforce.
[1 ...with its implications of justice, equity, truthfulness, honesty, fair-mindedness, reliability and trustworthiness... (see "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 23)]

So great and transcendental is this principle of Divine justice, a principle that must be regarded as the crowning distinction of all Local and National Assemblies, in their capacity as forerunners of the Universal House of Justice, that Baha'u'llah Himself subordinates His personal inclination and wish to the all-compelling force of its demands and implications. "God is My witness!" He thus explains, "were it not contrary to the Law of God, I would have kissed the hand of My would-be murderer, and would cause him to inherit My earthly goods. I am restrained, however, by the binding Law laid down in the Book, and am Myself bereft of all worldly possessions.""Know thou, of a truth," He significantly affirms, "these great oppressions that have befallen the world are preparing it for the advent of the Most Great Justice." "Say," He again asserts, "he hath appeared with that Justice wherewith mankind hath been adorned, and yet the people are, for the most part, asleep." "The light of men is Justice, "He moreover states, "(Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men." "No radiance," He declares, "can compare with that of justice. The organization of the world and the tranquility of mankind depend upon it." "O people of God!" He exclaims, "That which traineth the world is Justice, for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars are the sources of life to the world.... Small wonder, therefore, that the Author of the Baha'i Revelation should have chosen to associate the name and title of that House, which is to be the crowning glory of His administrative institutions, not with <p95> forgiveness but with justice, to have made justice the only basis and the permanent foundation of His Most Great Peace, and to have proclaimed it in His Hidden Words as "the (best beloved of all things" in His sight.

("The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), pp. 26-29)

1447. In countries where the local Baha'i communities had sufficiently advanced in number and in influence measures were taken for the initiation of National Assemblies, the pivots round which all national undertakings must revolve. Designated by 'Abdu'l-Baha in His Will as the "(Secondary Houses of Justice," they constitute the electoral bodies in the formation of the International House of Justice, and are empowered to direct, unify, coordinate and stimulate the activities of individuals as well as local Assemblies within their jurisdiction. Resting on the broad base of organized local communities, themselves pillars sustaining the institution which must be regarded as the apex of the Baha'i Administrative Order, these Assemblies are elected, according to the principle of proportional representation, by delegates representative of Baha'i local communities assembled at Convention during the period of the Ridvan Festival; are possessed of the necessary authority to enable them to insure the harmonious and efficient development of Baha'i activity within their respective spheres; are freed from all direct responsibility for their policies and decisions to their electorates; are charged with the sacred duty of consulting the views, of inviting the recommendations and of securing the confidence and cooperation of the delegates and of acquainting them with their plans, problems and actions; and are supported by the resources of national funds to which all ranks of the faithful are urged to contribute....

("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 332-333)

1448. Now that you have been elected to the National Spiritual Assembly he feels that this offers you your greatest field of service at the present time. Every other work for the Cause should be subordinated to this, and you should conserve your strength for this work -- if you feel you have not enough to go around to all the other tasks as well! Your long and devoted services to the Cause have all been a training and preparation <p96> for wider activities, and this election to the N.S.A. itself is a preparation, he hopes, for still greater work in the future.

(From a letter dated 28 July 1944 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1449. He was very happy to see that changes had been made in the membership of the National Spiritual Assembly this year, not from any reasons of personality, but because change itself is good and brings a fresh outlook into the discussions of any Assembly. He was also pleased to see that these changes involved more younger people being on the National Spiritual Assembly; with the tremendous amount of work which this second Seven Year Plan is going to involve, this will be a great help to the older members of that body.

(From a letter dated 21 May 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1450. 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 dated 7 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1451. The Guardian regrets that, 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; in America it may be possible for you to find a wholly trustworthy believer; but if your Assembly is permitted to have non-Assembly secretaries present, then the same privilege must be accorded oriental and Latin American Assemblies; and can these other countries be assured of finding people of the calibre you have found? Highly personal subjects, damaging to the honour 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 <p97> representatives of the whole Community, let alone introducing non-Assembly members. You will just have to make your minutes a little more compact and sacrifice, if necessary, a certain amount of efficiency in order to follow this very important principle.

(From a letter dated 5 July 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1452. EVIDENCES INCREASING HOSTILITY WITHOUT PERSISTENT MACHINATIONS WITHIN FORESHADOWING DIRE CONTEST DESTINED RANGE ARMY LIGHT FORCES DARKNESS BOTH SECULAR RELIGIOUS PREDICTED UNEQUIVOCAL LANGUAGE 'ABDU'L-BAHA NECESSITATE THIS CRUCIAL HOUR CLOSER ASSOCIATION HANDS FIVE CONTINENTS BODIES ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES NATIONAL BAHA'I COMMUNITIES WORLD OVER JOINT INVESTIGATION NEFARIOUS ACTIVITIES INTERNAL ENEMIES ADOPTION WISE EFFECTIVE MEASURES COUNTERACT THEIR TREACHEROUS SCHEMES PROTECT MASS BELIEVERS ARREST SPREAD EVIL INFLUENCE. CALL UPON HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES EACH CONTINENT SEPARATELY ESTABLISH HENCEFORTH DIRECT CONTACT DELIBERATE WHENEVER FEASIBLE AS FREQUENTLY POSSIBLE EXCHANGE REPORTS TO BE SUBMITTED THEIR RESPECTIVE AUXILIARY BOARDS NATIONAL COMMITTEES EXERCISE UNRELAXING VIGILANCE CARRY OUT UNFLINCHINGLY SACRED INESCAPABLE DUTIES. SECURITY PRECIOUS FAITH PRESERVATION SPIRITUAL HEALTH BAHA'I COMMUNITIES VITALITY FAITH ITS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS PROPER FUNCTIONING ITS LABORIOUSLY ERECTED INSTITUTIONS FRUITION ITS WORLD-WIDE ENTERPRISES FULFILMENT ITS ULTIMATE DESTINY ALL DIRECTLY DEPENDENT BEFITTING DISCHARGE WEIGHTY RESPONSIBILITIES NOW RESTING MEMBERS THESE TWO INSTITUTIONS OCCUPYING WITH UNIVERSAL HOUSE JUSTICE NEXT INSTITUTION GUARDIANSHIP FOREMOST RANK DIVINELY ORDAINED ADMINISTRATIVE HIERARCHY WORLD ORDER BAHA'U'LLAH.

(From a cable dated 4 July 1957 sent by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Messages to the Baha'i World 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 123) <p98>


II. Relation to Convention

1453. Hitherto the National Convention has been primarily called together for the consideration of the various circumstances attending the election of the National Spiritual Assembly. I feel, however, that in view of the expansion and the growing importance of the administrative sphere of the Cause, the general sentiments and tendencies prevailing among the friends, and the signs of increasing interdependence among the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, the assembled accredited representatives of the American believers should exercise not only the vital and responsible right of electing the National Assembly, but should also fulfil the functions of an enlightened, consultative and co-operative body that will enrich the experience, enhance the prestige, support the authority, and assist the deliberations of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is my firm conviction that it is the bounden duty, in the interests of the Cause we all love and serve, of the members of the incoming National Assembly, once elected by the delegates at Convention time, to seek and have the utmost regard, individually as well as collectively, for the advice, the considered opinion and the true sentiments of the assembled delegates. Banishing every vestige of secrecy, of undue reticence, of dictatorial aloofness, from their midst, they should radiantly and abundantly unfold to the eyes of the delegates, by whom they are elected, their plans, their hopes, and their cares. They should familiarize the delegates with the various matters that will have to be considered in the current year, and calmly and conscientiously study and weigh the opinions and judgments of the delegates. The newly elected National Assembly, during the few days when the Convention is in session and after the dispersal of the delegates, should seek ways and means to cultivate understanding, facilitate and maintain the exchange of views, deepen confidence, and vindicate by every tangible evidence their one desire to serve and advance the common weal. Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored, and inexperienced among the friends will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and be the regard paid by those whom the delegates call upon to serve in high position to this all-important though inconspicuous manifestation of the revealing power of sincere and earnest devotion. <p99>

The National Spiritual Assembly, however, in view of the unavoidable limitations imposed upon the convening of frequent and long-standing sessions of the Convention, will have to retain in its hands the final decision on all matters that affect the interests of the Cause in America, such as the right to decide whether any Local Assembly is functioning in accordance with the principles laid down for the conduct and the advancement of the Cause. It is my earnest prayer that they will utilize their highly responsible position, not only for the wise and efficient conduct of the affairs of the Cause, but also for the extension and deepening of the spirit of cordiality and whole-hearted and mutual support in their co-operation with the body of their co-workers throughout the land. The seating of delegates to the Convention, i.e. the right to decide upon the validity of the credentials of the delegates at a given Convention is vested in the outgoing National Assembly, and the right to decide who has the voting privilege is also ultimately placed in the hands of the National Spiritual Assembly, either when a Local Spiritual Assembly is for the first time being formed in a given locality or when differences arise between a new applicant and an already established Local Assembly. While the Convention is in session and the accredited delegates have already elected from among the believers throughout the country the members of the National Spiritual Assembly for the current year, it is of infinite value and a supreme necessity that as far as possible all matters requiring immediate decision should be fully and publicly considered, and an endeavour be made to obtain after mature deliberation unanimity in vital decisions. Indeed it has ever been the cherished desire of our Master 'Abdu'l-Baha that the friends in their councils, local as well as national, should by their candour, their honesty of purpose, their singleness of mind, and the thoroughness of their discussions achieve unanimity in all things. Should this in certain cases prove impracticable the verdict of the majority should prevail, to which decision the minority must under all circumstances gladly, spontaneously and continually submit.

Nothing short of the all-encompassing, all-pervading power of His Guidance and Love can enable this newly-enfolded order to gather strength and flourish amid the storm and stress of a turbulent age, and in the fullness of time vindicate its high claim to be universally recognized as the one Haven of abiding felicity and peace. <p100>

(From a letter dated 29 January 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 78-80)

1454. In connection with the annual holding of the Baha'i Convention and Congress, I feel that although such a representative body need not be convened necessarily every year, yet it is highly desirable, in view of the unique functions it fulfils in promoting harmony and goodwill, in removing misunderstandings and in enhancing the prestige of the Cause, that the National Spiritual Assembly should exert itself to gather together annually the elected representatives of the American believers. It would in some ways be obviously convenient and eminently desirable, though not absolutely essential, if the National Spiritual Assembly could arrange that the holding of such a Congress should synchronize with the time at which the national elections are renewed, and that both events should take place, if not on the first of Ridvan, at least during the twelve joyous days of what may be justly regarded as the foremost Baha'i Festival. Apart from the local elections, which universally are to be renewed on the 21st of April, it is entirely left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly to decide, after having given due consideration to the above-mentioned observations, on whatever time and place the Baha'i Convention as well as the annual elections are to be held. Were the National Spiritual Assembly to decide after mature deliberation to omit the holding of the Baha'i Convention and Congress in a given year, then they could, only in such a case, devise ways and means to ensure that the annual election of the National Spiritual Assembly should be held by mail, provided it can be conducted with sufficient thoroughness, efficiency and dispatch. It would also appear to me unobjectionable to enable and even to require in the last resort such delegates as cannot possibly undertake the journey to the seat of the Baha'i Convention to send their votes, for the election of the National Spiritual Assembly only, by mail to the National Secretary, as in my view the advantages of such a procedure outweigh the considerations referred to in your letter. 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 <p101> return with the accomplishments, the decisions, and the aspirations of the assembled representatives of the American believers.

(From a letter dated 24 October 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 91-92)

1455. The Guardian wishes the National Spiritual Assembly to remind, and make it quite clear to, the believers in that land that the supreme body in the United States and Canada, whose privilege and function is to lay down, amend and abrogate the administrative principles of the Faith with the approval of the Guardian, is not the Convention, however representative it may be, but the National Spiritual Assembly. On the other hand, it is the sacred obligation and the primary function of the National Assembly not to restrict, under any circumstances, the freedom of the assembled delegates, whose twofold function is to elect their national representatives and to submit to them any recommendations they may feel inclined to make. The function of the Convention is purely advisory and though the advice it gives is not binding in its effects on those on whom rests 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 approach their task with absolute detachment and must concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues.

The Guardian believes that the right to elect the Chairman and the Secretary of the Convention should be vested in the assembled delegates, lest any objection be raised that the members of the outgoing National Assembly are seeking to direct the course of the discussions in a manner that would be conducive to their own personal interests. The National Assembly, however, 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 <p102> 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.

Non-delegates, however, according to the Guardian's considered opinion, should not be given the right to intervene directly during the sessions of the Convention. Only through an accredited delegate should they be given indirectly the chance to voice their sentiments and to participate in the deliberations of the Convention. Much confusion and complications must inevitably result, in the days to come, if such a restriction be not imposed on a gathering which is primarily intended for the accredited delegates of the Baha'i communities. Bearing this restriction in mind, it is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to devise ways and means which would enable them to obtain valuable suggestions, not only from the total number of the elected delegates, but from as large a body of their fellow-workers as is humanly possible.

Shoghi Effendi has not departed from any established administrative principle. He feels he has neither curtailed the legitimate authority of the National Spiritual Assembly, nor invested the Convention with undue powers enabling it to rival or supersede those whom it has to elect. What the Guardian is aiming at is to remind the friends, more fully than before, of the two cardinal principles of Baha'i Administration, namely, the supreme and unchallengeable authority of the National Spiritual Assembly in national affairs and working within the limits imposed by the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws, and the untrammelled freedom of the Convention delegates to advise, deliberate on the actions, and appoint the successors of their National Assembly. The Guardian is confident that you will elucidate and give the widest publicity to these already established principles, upon which the progress, the unity and welfare of Baha'i administrative institutions must ultimately depend.

[Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi:]

The utmost care and vigilance should be exercised lest any fresh misunderstandings arise regarding these fundamental issues. The root principle of Baha'i Administration is unreservedly maintained. No departure from its established tenets is contemplated. The undisputed authority of America's supreme Baha'i Administrative Body has been <p103> reaffirmed, while, on the other hand, the untrammelled freedom of individual believers and delegates to exercise their functions has been once again reaffirmed and strengthened. On the continuous and harmonious co-operation of the two leading Baha'i institutions in America the growth and success of the Administration bequeathed by 'Abdu'l-Baha must ultimately depend. May next year's Convention witness the triumph of these basic principles.

(From a letter dated 12 August 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1456. Concerning the status, rights and prerogatives of the Annual Baha'i Convention, the Guardian wishes to make it quite clear to all the believers that this annual meeting of the delegates is by no means a continuous consultative body all through the year; that its twofold function of electing the body of the National Spiritual Assembly, and of offering any constructive suggestions in regard to the general administration of the Cause is limited to a definite period; and that consequently the opinion current among some of the believers that the delegates are to serve as a consultative body throughout the year is at variance with the fundamental, though as yet unspecified, principles underlying the Administration. Shoghi Effendi firmly believes that consultation must be maintained between the National Spiritual Assembly 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. 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. The Convention should be regarded as a temporary gathering, having certain specific functions to perform during a limited period of time. Its status is thus limited in time to the Convention sessions, the function of consultation at all other times being vested in the entire body of the believers through the Local Spiritual Assemblies.

[Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi:] <p104>

I wish to affirm, without the least hesitation or ambiguity, that the annual Convention is not to be regarded as a body entitled to exercise functions similar to those which an ordinary parliament possesses under a democratic form of government. 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. 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. To generate those forces which must give birth to the body of their national administrators, and to confer, freely and fully and at fixed intervals, with both the incoming and outgoing National Assemblies, are the twofold functions, the supreme responsibility and sole prerogative of the delegates assembled in Convention. Nothing short of close and constant interaction between these various organs of Baha'i administration can enable it to fulfil its high destiny.

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

1457. Concerning the status of members of the National Spiritual Assembly 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 National Spiritual Assembly 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 National Spiritual Assembly will enable them to consult more fully with the assembled delegates, to <p105> exchange fully and frankly with them their views, and to consider collectively the interests, needs and requirements of the Cause. This, he believes, is one of the primary functions of the Convention.

(From a letter dated 25 December 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i News" 81 (February 1934), p. 3)

1458. In connection with the circular letter you have sent the Local Assemblies in order to define the specific rights and functions of the Annual Baha'i Convention, and to explain once more the relationships binding that body to the National Spiritual Assembly, 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 throughout the United States and Canada, 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.

Hoping that through your efforts the friends will co-operate in carrying out the Guardian's instructions on this point, and with the renewed assurance of his prayers and supplications on your behalf, and on behalf of your collaborators in the National Assembly.

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


III. Relation to the Community

1459. What has given me still greater pleasure is to learn that the members of this Central Body, which has assumed so grave a responsibility and is facing such delicate and difficult tasks, command individually and collectively not only the sympathy of their spiritual brethren and sisters but also can confidently rely on their active and whole-hearted support in the campaign of service to the Cause of Baha'u'llah. It is indeed as it should be, for if genuine and sustained co-operation and mutual confidence cease to exist between individual friends and their Local and <p106> National Assemblies, the all-beneficent work of the Cause must cease and nothing else can enable it to function harmoniously and effectively in future.

True, the Cause as every other movement has its own obstacles, complications and unforeseen difficulties, but unlike any other human organization it inspires a spirit of Faith and Devotion which can never fail to induce us to make sincere and renewed efforts to face these difficulties and smooth any differences that may and must arise.

I look forward with fervent hope to hear of these renewed efforts on your part and of the strong determination which you will never suffer to slacken, to maintain at any cost the unity, the effectiveness and the dignity of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 23 December 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 28)

1460. 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 implications and the exact 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.

It is our primary task to keep the most vigilant eye on the manner and character of its growth, to combat effectively the forces of separatism and of sectarian tendencies, lest the Spirit of the Cause be obscured, its unity be threatened, its Teachings suffer corruption, lest extreme orthodoxy on one hand, and irresponsible freedom on the other, cause it to deviate from that Straight Path which alone can lead it to success.

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 42) <p107>

1461. Let us .. . remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom to declare his conscience and set forth his views....

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, candour and courage on the other. The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. 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, 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 should 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. They should, within the limits of wise discretion, take the friends into their confidence, acquaint them with their plans, share with them their problems and anxieties, and seek their advice and counsel. And 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 our Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced. To this voice the friends must heartily respond, <p108> and regard it as the only means that can ensure the protection and advancement of the Cause.

(From a letter dated 23 February 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of America, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" pp. 63-64)

1462. The News-Letter which you have lately initiated fulfils a very vital function and has been started admirably well. I would urge you to enlarge its scope, as much as your resources permit, that in time it may devote a special section to every phase of your activities, administrative, devotional, humanitarian, financial, educational and otherwise. That it may attain its object it must combine the essential qualities of accuracy, reliability, thoroughness, dignity and wisdom. It should become a great factor in promoting understanding, providing information on Baha'i activity both local and foreign, in stimulating interest, in combating evil influences, and in upholding and safeguarding the institutions of the Cause. It should be made as representative as possible, should be replete with news, up-to-date in its information, and should arouse the keenest interest among believers and admirers alike in every corner of the globe. I cherish great hopes for its immediate future, and I trust you will devote your special attention to its development, and by devising well-conceived and world-wide measures transform this News-Letter into what I hope will become the foremost Baha'i Journal of the world.

(From a letter dated 10 April 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" p. 82)

1463. Let it be made clear to every inquiring reader that among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct and co-ordinate the affairs of the Cause are those that require them to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve. Theirs is the duty to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments, the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote. Theirs is the duty to purge once for all their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs from that air of self-contained aloofness, from the suspicion <p109> of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness, in short from every word and deed that might savour of partiality, self-centeredness and prejudice. Theirs is the duty, while retaining the sacred and exclusive right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, provide information, ventilate grievances, welcome advice from even the most humble and insignificant member of the Baha'i Family, expose their motives, set forth their plans, justify their actions, revise if necessary their verdict, foster the spirit of individual initiative and enterprise, and fortify the sense of interdependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between them on one hand and all Local Assemblies and individual believers on the other.

(From a letter dated 18 October 1927 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1464. Regarding the proposed News-Letter ... this, the Guardian feels, is a splendid idea and can render a unique and much-needed help to your Assembly in its efforts for the establishment of the Administration, and the more effective functioning of its institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand. It has not only the great advantage of keeping the friends well informed about the events and developments in the Cause, but in addition can help in consolidating the organic unity of the believers by bringing them within the full orbit of the National Spiritual Assembly's jurisdiction. It is hoped that this body will do its utmost to maintain the publication of this bulletin, and will make full use of this splendid medium for the further widening and consolidation of the foundations of the Local as well as National Assemblies.

(From a letter dated 23 September 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)

1465. This contact between the members of the National Assembly and the individual believers is certainly of immense value to the Cause, as it serves to promote, more than any other means, intelligent co-operation, fellowship and understanding among the friends. It is the National Spiritual Assembly's responsibility, therefore, to foster by every means in its power this growth, and thus help in further consolidating its authority and prestige in the community. There is nothing that can inflict upon it <p110> a greater harm than the attitude of aloofness, of isolation from the general body of the believers.

It is Shoghi Effendi's hope that the success that has attended this last session of the National Spiritual Assembly at San Francisco will stimulate the members to hold their meetings in as many different centres as possible. He is fervently praying for their guidance in this matter.

(From a letter dated 4 December 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1466. Before closing there is one suggestion in your letter which the Guardian wishes me to confirm, namely that 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 dated 30 June 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1467. Let every participator in the continent-wide campaign initiated by the American believers, and particularly those engaged in pioneer work in virgin territories, bear in mind the necessity of keeping in close and constant touch with those responsible agencies designed to direct, coordinate, and facilitate the teaching activities of the entire community. 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 <p111> 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)

1468. The Guardian is, doubtless, well aware of the existing imperfections in the administrative machinery of the Cause, but these, he strongly feels, should be attributed not to the administrative system itself, but to the administrators of the Faith, who by reason of their human limitations and imperfections can never hope to entirely fulfil those ideal conditions set forth in the Teachings. Many of the existing defects in the present-day activities of the believers, however, will as the Community develops and gains in experience be gradually removed, and healthier and more progressive conditions prevail. And it is towards the realization of this high aim that the friends should earnestly and unitedly strive.

The Guardian feels certain that no matter how much your heart may be afflicted at the sight of the difficulties now confronting the American Community, and however revolting may appear to you the attitude and the shortcomings of certain of its members, you will far from being discouraged be stimulated to exert every effort in your power to remedy such unhealthy conditions, confident that in your earnest and sincere attempt to do so, you will be assisted and guided by the unfailing confirmations of Baha'u'llah.

(From a letter dated 14 May 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1469. 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 bodies which are, however immaturely, seeking to co-ordinate 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! <p112>

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 weaknesses 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.

The Guardian would advise you to abide by the decisions of the National Spiritual Assembly in all matters. If they, knowing the requirements of the Faith all over India, do not feel it the time or advisable to publish your writings, you should accept their decision. Also you should not seek to publish any books or pamphlets without their sanction. Concentrate on teaching the Holy Faith, and put your trust in Baha'u'llah. The Guardian will pray for you and all the dear friends there.

(From a letter dated 26 October 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1470. 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.

He always has the right to step in and countermand the decisions of a National Assembly; if he did not possess this right he would be absolutely impotent to protect the Faith, just as the National Spiritual Assembly, if it were divested of the right to countermand the decisions of a Local <p113> Assembly, would be incapable of watching over and guiding the national welfare of the Baha'i Community.

It is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to exercise the greatest wisdom, forbearance and tact in handling the affairs of the Cause. Many of the differences which arise between the believers are due to their immaturity, their extreme zeal and sincerity.

(From a letter dated 13 May 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, published in "Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957", pp.55-57)

1471. The N.S.A.s the world over, owing to the spiritual immaturity of the believers, must at the present time exert the greatest patience in dealing with the friends; otherwise, as seems to be rapidly becoming the case in Australia, the friends will take sides, bitterness will increase and what started out as a small thing (however unjustified and regrettable a departure from the Baha'i spirit) will become a menace to the progress of the Faith and definitely retard its progress.

(From a letter dated 8 August 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, published in "Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957", p.58)

1472. Over and over, in going through the correspondence he received from your Assembly, he was struck by the fact that the friends acted so unadministratively. Instead of taking up their accusations and problems and unhappy feelings with their Local Assembly, or the National Assembly, they referred to individuals or individual members of the Assembly, or they refused to meet with the Assembly. The first thing a believer should do is to turn to an Assembly -- that is why we have Assemblies! He feels this trouble would never have arisen if the Baha'is utilized their Assemblies as they should....

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

1473. The question of your budget, which you have raised in your letter, is one of great importance. In spite of the numbers which you represent <p114> and the enthusiasm of the Baha'is, your Assembly must face the fact that it represents a very poor community, financially. Any over-ambitious budget, which would place an oppressive financial burden on the friends, would be highly unwise, because, unless it is met, it will give them a feeling at the end of the year of intense frustration.

He thinks that what you have outlined is too much. Your Assembly will have to, particularly during this first year of its existence, be less ambitious as regards projects involving money, and devote itself particularly to encouraging the friends, reinforcing the foundations of the Local Assemblies, assisting the groups to attain Assembly status, and deepening in every way it can the education of the African friends in the Faith. The other National Spiritual Assemblies, as you know, are having their own problems financially; and, although there is no objection to appealing to them to give you some help, the Guardian doubts very much whether they will be in a position to add very substantially to your funds at this time.

(From a letter dated 6 July 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa)

1474. He appreciates your spirit of devotion to the Faith, but he feels that you, your husband and ... should comply with the instructions of the National Spiritual Assembly. 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; and 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 'Abdu'l-Baha said, that He will right it, and in the mean time not disrupt the Cause of God by constantly harping on these matters.

(From a letter dated 3 February 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1475. He feels that your Assembly must keep before its eyes the balance specified by Baha'u'llah, Himself, in other words, justice, reward and retribution. Although the Cause is still young and tender, and many of the believers inexperienced, and therefore loving forbearance is often called for in the place of harsh measures, this does not mean that a <p115> National Spiritual Assembly can under any circumstances tolerate disgraceful conduct, flagrantly contrary to our Teachings, on the part of any of its members, whoever they may be and from wherever they may come. You should vigilantly watch over and protect the interests of the Baha'i Community, and the moment you see that any of the Persian residents in Germany, or, for that matter, German Baha'is themselves, are acting in a way to bring disgrace upon the name of the Faith, warn them, and, if necessary, deprive them immediately of their voting rights if they refuse to change their ways. Only in this way can the purity of the Faith be preserved. Compromise and weak measures will obscure the vision of its followers, sap its strength, lower it in the eyes of the public and prevent it from making any progress.

(From a letter dated 14 August 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)


IV. Relation to the Outside World:

1476. ...as the Movement grows in strength and power the National Spiritual Assemblies should be encouraged, if circumstances permit and the means at their disposal justify, to resort to the twofold method of directly and indirectly winning the enlightened public to the unqualified acceptance of the Baha'i Faith. The one method would assume an open, decisive and challenging tone. The other, without implying in any manner the slightest departure from strict loyalty to the Cause of God, would be progressive and cautious. Experience will reveal the fact that each of the methods in its own special way might suit a particular temperament and class of people, and that each, in the present state of a constantly fluctuating society, should be judiciously attempted and utilized.

It is I feel for the national representatives of the believers in every land to utilize and combine both methods, the outspoken as well as the gradual, in such a manner as to secure the greatest benefit and the fullest advantage for this steadily-growing Cause....

...

As the Movement extends the bounds of its influence and its opportunities for fuller recognition multiply, the twofold character of the obligations imposed on its national elected representatives should, I feel, be increasingly emphasized. Whilst chiefly engaged in the pursuit of their <p116> major task, consisting chiefly in the formation and the consolidation of Baha'i administrative institutions, they should endeavour to participate, within recognized limits, in the work of institutions which, though unaware of the claim of the Baha'i Cause, are prompted by a sincere desire to promote the spirit that animates the Faith. In the pursuit of their major task their function is to preserve the identity of the Cause and the purity of the mission of Baha'u'llah. In their minor undertaking their purpose should be to imbue with the spirit of power and strength such movements as in their restricted scope are endeavouring to achieve what is near and dear to the heart of every true Baha'i. It would even appear at times to be advisable and helpful as a supplement to their work for the Baha'is to initiate any undertaking not specifically designated as Baha'i, provided that they have ascertained that such an undertaking would constitute the best way of approach to those whose minds and hearts are as yet unprepared for a full acceptance of the claim of Baha'u'llah. These twofold obligations devolving upon organized Baha'i communities, far from neutralizing the effects of one another or of appearing antagonistic in their aims, should be regarded as complementary and fulfilling, each in its way, a vital and necessary function.

It is for the national representatives of the Baha'i Cause to observe the conditions under which they labour, to estimate the forces that are at work in their own surroundings, to weigh carefully and prayerfully the merits of either procedure, and to form a correct judgement as to the degree of emphasis that should be placed upon these twofold methods. Then and only then will they be enabled to protect and stimulate on one hand the independent growth of the Baha'i Faith, and on the other vindicate the claim of its universal Principles to the doubtful and unbelieving.

(From a letter dated 20 February 1927 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" pp. 124-127)

1477. The Guardian feels that it is a pity that, through the over-enthusiasm of the official concerned, a school building was placed at the disposal of the Baha'is before any official decision had been made as to whether it was possible for them to send a teacher there. <p117>

We must be very careful in our dealings with the public, particularly officials, lest we create situations which cause us embarrassment, and may belittle our prestige in non-Baha'i eyes.

The Guardian attaches the greatest importance to your work; and is delighted to see that you are carrying on your various projects with so much enthusiasm and devotion. It would be ideal if an offer, such as that made, could be accepted; but as the Cause has so many burdens to bear at this time, we are forced to do as 'Abdu'l-Baha said -- give up the important for the most important.

(From a letter dated 29 December 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Baha'i para los indigenas)


V. Function of Officer:

1478. 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. The members of the Spiritual Assembly will at their own discretion expend it to promote the Teaching Campaign, to help the needy, to establish educational Baha'i institutions, to extend in every way possible their sphere of service....

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" pp. 41-42)

1479. By now the election of the new National Spiritual Assembly and of its office-bearers will probably be completed. The office of Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly is most important and the smooth and efficient working of the Baha'i organization in India and Burma will depend to a large extent on him....

It is obvious that to carry out these manifold duties efficiently, thoroughly and tactfully is no easy task and Shoghi Effendi greatly hopes <p118> that someone may be found who will be able to devote the necessary ability, time and energy to carry them out satisfactorily.

(From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to
the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1480. As regards your question whether the president of the National Spiritual Assembly is entitled to give any ruling during the period of his tenure, the Guardian wishes me to state that no such ruling can be valid unless approved by the other members of the National Assembly. The president has no special legislative capacity, except as a member of the Assembly.

(From a letter dated 28 February 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1481. In connection with resolution No. 15 recorded in the minutes of your National Spiritual Assembly: 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 co-operate 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 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 dated 2 July 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma) <p119>

1482. 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 dated 22 November 1940 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

1483. Regarding your question concerning the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly: There cannot be any permanently elected secretary who would year after year hold office, as this would be contrary to the principles of the administration; however, the Guardian feels that the National Spiritual Assembly should supply the secretary with a paid helper in order to enable him to carry on his duties properly and at the same time pursue his own profession, if that is necessary for him. In other words the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly can have a full-time secretary under him if the work requires it.

(From a letter dated 22 June 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1484. 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 decision or instruction of the Assembly. But he should of course not introduce his personal views unless endorsed by the Assembly.

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

1485. 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. A situation similar to yours arose in Scandinavia, where the secretary was in Oslo instead of <p120> Stockholm, and a change was necessary there also. As the Ten Year Crusade unfolds it is increasingly important for the work to go forward in a uniform manner and according to general principles applicable to all.

(From a letter dated 29 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia)


VI. Assembly Meetings:

1486. I always eagerly await detailed and frequent reports from the National Assembly and desire strongly its members to meet as often as possible and actively, efficiently and constantly direct, co-ordinate and reinforce the activities of the individuals and Local Assemblies throughout India and Burma. I thirst for more specific information and urge its secretary to ensure that every communication from the Holy Land or from any other Baha'i centre is promptly and widely distributed. I assure you of my loving prayers.

(From a letter dated 5 March 1925 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1487. Another factor which, in the Guardian's opinion, is essential to the development of your National Spiritual Assembly is the holding of frequent meetings. Although the members are stationed at great distances from one another yet they can communicate through correspondence. It is not necessary that all the members should be present in all the sessions. Those who, for some reason or another, are unable to attend in person the meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly can express their views in a written form and send them to the Assembly. The main point is that your national activities should not be let to suffer in any way, and its work be retarded and postponed because of such necessarily unimportant and secondary considerations.

(From a letter dated 2 January 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1488. The Guardian welcomes the step taken by your Assembly to increasingly devote its meetings to the consideration of major policies and plans, and to dwell less on matters of detail and of mere secondary administrative character. He would, however, urge that all decisions, <p121> unless of a trivial and insignificant nature dealing purely with routine work, should be reached after careful and conscientious deliberation by all the nine members. Any tendencies towards decentralization, or the delegation of authority to any person or body to make decisions on matters which directly and solely concern the National Spiritual Assembly itself, would be harmful and should be checked at the very outset. It is for this very reason, namely to enable the National Spiritual Assembly to properly and fully discharge its functions of consultation and deliberation on issues that concern the national community under its jurisdiction, that its membership has been limited to nine, so that it may not be too unwieldy for making decisions that would often require quick action and mature deliberation by all the members. In order to safeguard the distinctive character of such a central and authoritative institution more frequent gatherings would seem imperative, particularly as the problems which it will be called upon to deal with are destined to increase in number and importance with the steady expansion of the Faith in North America.

(From a letter dated 28 January 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1489. Likewise, he feels that the National Spiritual Assembly should meet more often, even if all members cannot always be present. Decisions by correspondence lack the vitality of those that arise out of active consultation, and now the Faith is progressing so well there, and has a sound administrative foundation, more vigorous and systematic action is required.

(From a letter dated 16 July 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)


VII. National Committees:

1490. Large issues in such spiritual activities that affect the Cause in general in that land,... far from being under the exclusive jurisdiction of any Local Assembly or group of friends, must each be minutely and fully directed by a special board, elected by the National Body, constituted as a committee thereof, responsible to it and upon which the National Body shall exercise constant and general supervision. <p122>

(From a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932, p. 24)

1491. I very highly approve of the arrangements you have made for centralizing the work in your hands and of distributing it to the various committees, who, each in its own sphere, have so efficiently and thoroughly undertaken the management of their own affairs.

(From a letter dated 23 December 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 28)

1492. Vital issues, affecting the interests of the Cause in that country, such as the matter of translation and publication, the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the Teaching Work, and other similar matters that stand distinct from strictly local affairs, must be under the full jurisdiction of the National Assembly.

It will have to refer each of these questions, even as the local Assemblies, to a special Committee, to be elected by the members of the National Spiritual Assembly from among all the friends in that country, which will bear to it the same relation as the local committees bear to their respective local Assemblies.

(From a letter dated 12 March 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of America, Australasia, France, Germany, British Isles, Italy, Japan and Switzerland, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 40)

1493. Touching the recent decision of the National Spiritual Assembly to place as much as possible of the current details of the work in the hands of its national Committees, I feel I should point out that this raises a fundamental issue of paramount importance, as it involves a unique principle in the administration of the Cause, governing the relations that should be maintained between the central administrative Body and its assisting organs of executive and legislative action. As it has been observed already, the role of these committees set up by the National Spiritual Assembly, the renewal, the membership and functions of which should be reconsidered separately each year by the incoming National Assembly, is chiefly to make thorough and expert study of the issue entrusted to <p123> their charge, advise by their reports, and assist in the execution of the decisions which in vital matters are to be exclusively and directly rendered by the National Assembly. The utmost vigilance, the most strenuous exertion is required by them if they wish to fulfil, as befits their high and responsible calling, the functions which it is theirs to discharge. They should, within the limits imposed upon them by present-day circumstances, endeavour to maintain the balance in such a manner that the evils of over-centralization which clog, confuse and in the long run depreciate the value of Baha'i services rendered shall on one hand be entirely avoided, and on the other the perils of utter decentralization with the consequent lapse of governing authority from the hands of the national representatives of the believers definitely averted. The 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, whilst the granting of undue discretion to bodies that should be regarded in no other light than that of expert advisers and executive assistants would jeopardize the very vital and pervading powers that are the sacred prerogatives of bodies that in time will evolve into Baha'i National Houses of Justice. I am fully aware of the strain and sacrifice which a loyal adherence to such an essential principle of Baha'i administration -- a principle that will at once ennoble and distinguish the Baha'i method of administration from the prevailing systems of the world -- demands from the national representatives of the believers at this early stage of our evolution. Yet I feel I cannot refrain from stressing the broad lines along which the affairs of the Cause should be increasingly conducted, the knowledge of which is so essential at this formative period of Baha'i administrative institutions.

(From a letter dated 18 October 1927 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 141-142)

1494. Aided by national committees responsible to and chosen by them, without discrimination, from among the entire body of the believers within their jurisdiction, and to each of which a particular sphere of Baha'i service is allocated, these Baha'i National Assemblies have, as the scope of their activities steadily enlarged, proved themselves, through the spirit of discipline which they have inculcated and through their <p124> uncompromising adherence to principles which have enabled them to rise above all prejudices of race, nation, class and color, capable of administering, in a remarkable fashion, the multiplying activities of a newly-consolidated Faith.

Nor have the national committees themselves been less energetic and devoted in the discharge of their respective functions. In the defense of the Faith's vital interests, in the exposition of its doctrine; in the dissemination of its literature; in the consolidation of its finances; in the organization of its teaching force; in the furtherance of the solidarity of its component parts; in the purchase of its historic sites; in the preservation of its sacred records, treasures and relics; in its contacts with the various institutions of the society of which it forms a part; in the education of its youth; in the training of its children; in the improvement of the status of its women adherents in the East; the members of these diversified agencies, operating under the aegis of the elected national representatives of the Baha'i community, have amply demonstrated their capacity to promote effectively its vital and manifold interests....

("God Passes By", p. 333)

1495. 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 which is now spreading so rapidly in the British Isles. 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 co-operate with National Committees and not refuse their assistance.

(From a letter dated 5 November 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)


VIII. Flexibility in Secondary Matters:

1496. In regard to your criticism of the Article VIII of the By-Laws of the N.S.A., the Guardian wishes you to know that since this is a secondary matter arising out of the general principles he has already laid down in one of his latest communications addressed to you and to the N.S.A. concerning the power of the delegates and the relation of these to the <p125> National Assembly, he does not think it is necessary for him to enter into these details which by their very nature fall within the jurisdiction of the N.S.A. It is to that body which you should submit any criticism, whether in regard to the provisions of the Constitution, or in connection with any other phase of the administrative work of the Cause. It is not for the Guardian to enter into matters of detail. His overwhelming and pressing duties, and the very nature of his position as the supreme Guardian of the Faith, make it impossible for him to interfere in affairs of a local character, and of a relatively secondary importance. It is for you, as one of the distinguished members of the highest administrative body of the Cause in the States, to remind your fellow-members of what is their duty to consider and to act upon. The Guardian lays down the general principle, and it is for the National Assembly to direct all local assemblies and groups as to the best way they can apply it to their local conditions.

(From a letter dated 11 November 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1497. In connection with his cablegram sent in July urging your Assembly to cease issuing any more statements on various administrative matters, the Guardian wishes me again to reiterate and confirm the directions and explanations already conveyed in one of his recent communications to the National Spiritual Assembly to the effect that the publication of such statements no longer fills an urgent need, and that their multiplication would only result in making the administration of the Cause too rigid. The various rulings and regulations recorded in the "Baha'i Administration" and the supplementary statements already issued by the National Assembly, he feels, are for the present sufficiently detailed to guide the friends in their present-day activities. He himself has in recent years deliberately refrained from adding any more administrative regulations, or from even elucidating and elaborating those already enforced. All the more reason that your Assembly should, likewise, desist from multiplying the administrative regulations which, as their number increases, must necessarily fetter and confuse those who are called upon to carry them out. 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 <p126> it in the most suitable and practical manner. The American believers, as well as their national representatives, must henceforth direct their attention to the greater and vital issues which an already established Administration is called upon to face and handle, rather than allow their energies to be expended in the consideration of purely secondary administrative matters. The Guardian wishes your Assembly to refer again to the communication already referred to bearing on this subject.

(From a letter dated 25 November 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1498. In reading your annual Convention report the Guardian has noted the request made that the National Spiritual Assembly should lay down certain rules of procedure. He has already informed the American N.S.A. that they should henceforth refrain from laying down any further rules and regulations, as these would tend to rigidity the affairs of the Cause and ultimately obscure its spirit and retard its growth. He feels that your Assembly should exercise the same care, and avoid introducing any rules of procedure not already in existence. Every case coming before the Assembly should be judged on its own merits, and be decided individually without any recourse to new rulings.

(From a letter dated 29 June 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1499. Now that your Assembly is formed, and is embarking on its independent existence as a National Body, he wishes to emphasize a point which he is constantly stressing to other National Bodies: you must avoid issuing rules and regulations. 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. You must likewise bear in mind that you are now a wholly independent National Body, and must consider the administration of the affairs of the Faith within your jurisdiction as your <p127> separate problem. There is no more need for you to follow every single rule laid down by the American N.S.A., than there is for the British or the Australian and New Zealand N.S.A.s to do this. 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 dated 4 November 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)

1500. He was particularly pleased to see that members of your Assembly have been out travelling and contacting the friends in an effort to deepen their understanding of the workings of the administration and also their knowledge of the Faith in general. He feels that particularly at present in Latin America this intimate, loving and friendly approach will do more to further the work than anything else. Indeed, he would go so far as to advise your Assembly to avoid deluging the friends with circulars and unnecessary bulletins. You must always bear in mind the genuine difference between the peoples of the south and the peoples of the north; to use the same techniques as those adopted in the United States would be disastrous because the mentality and background of life are quite different. Much as the friends need administration, it must be brought to them in a palatable form, otherwise they will not be able to assimilate it and instead of consolidating the work you will find some of the believers become estranged from it.

(From a letter dated 30 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America)

1501. As regards the "Administrative Manual": he urges you to not add to the rules and regulations, but try to cut down on these and decide cases as they arise; there is a natural tendency to codify the teachings and produce handbooks of procedure, there are not enough Baha'is in the whole world to justify this, and he continuously urges the various National Spiritual Assemblies to beware of this tendency. He has no time, at all, to go over such things himself; indeed, your Assembly, and all the others, will have to assume increasing responsibility for your work in order to relieve him. He is worn out with all his work and added material to read. (From a letter dated 19 June 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America) <p128>

1502. He hopes your Assembly will devote special, constant attention to encouraging the friends in their teaching work, and facilitate their tasks. As the new National Assemblies are being formed, he feels it incumbent upon him to issue a word of warning to avoid rules and regulations and tying the believers' work up in red tape. 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 dated 30 June 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska)

1503. The whole purpose of the Baha'i administrative bodies at this time is to teach, to increase the membership, to increase the Assemblies and to increase the groups, not to create rules and regulations and impede the work through unnecessary red tape, but to ensure that a great breath of spiritual vitality and inspiration goes out to the friends from their new National Body. Your Assembly should constantly bear this in mind, encourage and stimulate the friends in the teaching field, smooth out difficulties and misunderstandings and hurt feelings through love, understanding and wisdom, refrain from harsh measures, and, above all, from over-organization of the affairs of the Communities. There is a definite tendency of people everywhere to try and over-administer, so to speak, and the beloved Guardian points this out to your Assembly during the very first year of its existence in order to put it on its guard against this danger, which will stifle the spiritual life of the Community. You may <p129> be sure that many, many times he has issued this same warning to such old and tried National Bodies as that of America, Germany, England, etc.

(From a letter dated 5 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux countries)

1504. Your Assembly must be very careful not to overload 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 dated 15 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia)

1505. To facilitate matters and avoid misunderstandings he prefers to refer you and the individual friends to them. He is sure that you will obtain full satisfaction by putting the question to them. The purpose of the Guardian in this is not to avoid the issue but only to facilitate matters and eliminate misunderstandings. In all such matters the friends should first approach the Local, then the National Assembly and only in case they can obtain no satisfaction should they approach the Guardian on these matters. This way many difficulties will be avoided.

(From a letter dated 14 November 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 71 (February 1933), p. 2)

1506. Anything whatsoever affecting the interests of the Cause and in which the National Assembly as a body is involved should, if regarded as unsatisfactory by Local Assemblies or individual believers, be immediately referred to the National Assembly itself. Neither the general body of the believers, nor any Local Assembly, nor even the delegates to the Annual <p130> Convention should be regarded as having any authority to entertain appeals against the decision of the National Assembly. Should the matter be referred to the Guardian it will be his duty to consider it with the utmost care and to decide whether the issues involved justify him to consider it in person, or to leave it entirely to the discretion of the National Assembly.

This administrative principle which the Guardian is now restating and emphasizing is so clear, so comprehensive and simple that no misunderstanding as to its application, he feels, can possibly arise. There are no exceptions whatever to this rule, and the Guardian would deprecate any attempt to elaborate or dwell any further upon this fundamental and clearly-enunciated principle. The problems with which the Faith is now grappling, whether national or international, are so pressing and momentous that no one among its loyal adherents can afford to dissipate his precious energies on details arising from the application of administrative principles, or even on the perfecting of the machinery of the administration itself. Purely secondary matters can be postponed until the primary tasks are performed.

(From a letter dated 10 September 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1507. As to your second question relative to the right of a committee to appeal to the National Spiritual Assembly against the Local Assembly by which it has been elected, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that this matter, being of a rather secondary character involving as it does the application of a minor administrative regulation, is one for your National Spiritual Assembly to consider and to decide upon. It is a matter that should be left to the discretion of your Assembly.

(From a letter dated 14 January 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1508. 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 <p131> 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.

Shoghi Effendi hopes, therefore, that you will follow the advice and guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly, confident that the final outcome of all these questions will be full justice to you and to everybody concerned.

(From a letter dated 2 October 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1509. Regarding the matter you mentioned concerning the Chicago Spiritual Assembly and one of its members: 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 dated 10 July 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1510. 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 matter for him to pronounce upon, or if he will refer it back to the National body.

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

1511. Appeal can be made from the Local Assembly's decision to the National Assembly, 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 dated 30 June 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)

1512. He suggests you let the entire matter of your appeal drop. Unless a very serious major issue is involved (which he does not feel is the case this <p132> time) to drive these subjects home is far more likely to do the Cause harm than good. There are many mistakes made, but they are, for the most part, not serious enough to warrant creating inharmony and raising issues which lead to endless argument and discussion, wasting time and energy better spent on creative action.

(From a letter dated 8 December 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1513. The friends have every right to appeal to the Australian National Assembly and express their views that ... be allowed to teach people of all races as she has been doing; but in the mean time she should comply with the wishes of the National Assembly, because all Baha'is must learn to live according to the administrative principles of our Faith. If they don't, they only undermine the very institutions they are trying to create, and which we know, carry the solution to the world's problems. It is often difficult to follow this course, but it is the one 'Abdu'l-Baha always asked the friends to follow; and obedience, even when we believe the instruction is not wise, brings in itself blessings from on high.

(From a letter dated 29 November 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


X. The Spirit and Form of Baha'i Administration:

1514. The time is indeed ripe for the manifold activities, wherein the servants and handmaids of Baha'u'llah are so devoutly and earnestly engaged, to be harmonized and conducted with unity, cooperation and efficiency, that the effect of such a combined and systematized effort, through which an All-powerful Spirit is steadily pouring, may transcend every other achievement of the past, however glorious it has been...

(Shoghi Effendi, "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 24)

1515. He is constantly yearning for happy news concerning the spread of the Message and this, he is firmly convinced, depends mainly on the united and combined efforts of the friends and the Assemblies. Without unity, co-operation and selfless service the friends will surely be unable to attain their goal. How can we possibly increase in number and in strength if we do not present a united front to those forces, both from without and within, which threaten to undermine the very edifice of the Cause? Unity <p133> is, therefore, the main key to success. And the best way to ensure 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 ensure full co-operation 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....

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

1516. 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 dated 10 December 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1517. He fully appreciates the spirit which has prompted you to abide whole-heartedly and without any hesitation by the instructions of the National Assembly, and he strongly feels that your attitude in the whole matter constitutes an example which the friends will gladly learn to follow. You have [sacrificed], and must indeed continue to sacrifice, some of your personal opinions and views regarding the teaching work for the sake of upholding the authority of the National Spiritual Assembly. For such a sacrifice on your part does not involve submission to any individual, but has the effect of strengthening the authority of the community as a whole as expressed through the medium of its duly recognized representatives. We should, indeed, learn to curb our individualism when we are confronted with problems and issues affecting the general welfare of the <p134> Cause. For Baha'i community life implies a consciousness of group solidarity strong enough to enable every individual believer to give up what is essentially personal for the sake of the common weal.

(From a letter dated 31 May 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1518. It is indeed thrilling to note the rapidity and soundness with which the flourishing Baha'i community in that far-off land is establishing the Faith of Baha'u'llah, is fearlessly proclaiming its truths, upholding its verities and standards, multiplying its institutions, defending its interests, disseminating its literature, and exemplifying its invincible power and spirit. I rejoice, feel proud, and am eternally grateful. I cannot but pray, with redoubled fervour, to Him Who so manifestly guides and sustains you, to increase your numbers, to remove every barrier that obstructs your path, to safeguard your unity, to bless your undertakings and to enable you to demonstrate, afresh and with still greater force, the reality of the faith that animates you in the discharge of your sacred duties. Be assured and persevere.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 30 July 1941 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)

1519. Excommunication is a spiritual thing and up until now the Guardian has always been the one who exerted this power, and he feels for the present he must continue to be. Only actual enemies of the Cause are excommunicated. 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, <p135> 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!

The Guardian feels very strongly that everywhere, throughout the entire Baha'i world, the believers have got to master and follow the principles of their divinely laid down Administrative Order. They will never solve their problems by departing from the correct procedure.... The Baha'is have got to learn to live up to the laws of Baha'u'llah, which are infinitely higher, more exacting and more perfect than those the world is at present familiar with. Running away, fighting with each other, fostering dissension, is not going to advance the Indian or any other Community; all it is going to do is to bring Baha'u'llah's plans and work to a standstill until such time as the believers unite to serve Him, or new and more dedicated souls arise to take their place.

(From a letter dated 8 May 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma)

1520. It is very unfortunate that some of the believers do not seem to grasp the fact that the administrative order, the Local and National Assemblies, are the pattern for the future, however inadequate they may sometimes seem. We must obey and support these bodies, for this is the Baha'i law. Until we learn to do this we cannot make real progress. Those friends who believe that the N.S.A. is doing wrong in some matters are, unconsciously, implying the Guardian does not know what is going on, which is not true. He watches very carefully over the various National Assemblies, and never hesitates to intervene when he considers it necessary. To undermine confidence in the National Body disrupts the Faith, confuses and alienates the friends, and prevents the thing the Master desired above all else, that the Baha'is be as one spirit in many bodies, united and loving.

The Baha'is are far from perfect, as individuals or when they serve on elected bodies, but the system of Baha'u'llah is perfect and gradually the believers will mature and the system will work better. The watchful eye of the Guardian prevents any serious errors, and the believers should know this and co-operate with their Assemblies fully.

(From a letter dated 1 November 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p136>

1521. The friends should be helped to overcome their problems, deepen in the Faith, and increase their unity and their love for each other. In this way you will find that your work goes ahead speedily, and that the National Body is like the beating of a healthy heart in the midst of the Community, pumping spiritual love, energy and encouragement out to all the members.

(From a letter dated 30 June 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska)

1522. 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 look-out, ever ready to take action, and, on all matters 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 dated 14 August 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)

Revised July 1990 <p137>


I. From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

1523. Behold how in this Dispensation the worthless and foolish have fondly imagined that by such instruments as massacre, plunder and banishment they can extinguish the Lamp which the Hand of Divine power hath lit, or eclipse the Day Star of everlasting splendor. How utterly unaware they seem to be of the truth that such adversity is the oil that feedeth the flame of this Lamp! Such is God's transforming power. He changeth whatsoever He willeth; He verily hath power over all things....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah" rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), sec. 29, p. 72)

1524. Pay thou no heed to the humiliation to which the loved ones of God have in this Day been subjected. This humiliation is the pride and glory of all temporal honor and worldly elevation. What greater honor can be imagined than the honor conferred by the Tongue of the Ancient of Days when He calleth to remembrance His loved ones in His Most Great Prison? The day is approaching when the intervening clouds will have been completely dissipated, when the light of the words, "All honor belongeth unto God and unto them that love Him," will have appeared, as manifest as the sun, above the horizon of the Will of the Almighty.

Ere long the world and all that is therein shall be as a thing forgotten, and all honor shall belong to the loved ones of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, the Most Bountiful.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 140, pp. 305-6)

1525. Say: O people of God! Beware lest the powers of the earth alarm you, or the might of the nations weaken you, or the tumult of the people of discord deter you, or the exponents of earthly glory sadden you. Be ye as a mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained. (Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice"

(Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 82) <p138>

1526. Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will, through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of omnipotent might.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" p. 82)

1527. It is incumbent upon all men, each according to his ability, to refute the arguments of those that have attacked the Faith of God. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the All-Powerful, the Almighty. He that wisheth to promote the Cause of the one true God, let him promote it through his pen and tongue, rather than have recourse to sword or violence. We have, on a previous occasion, revealed this injunction, and We now confirm it, if ye be of them that comprehend. By the righteousness of Him Who, in this Day, crieth within the inmost heart of all created things: "God, there is none other God besides Me!" If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man, however inconsiderable his share, shall be so honored in the world to come that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can depict the loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe its splendour. For whosoever standeth firm and steadfast in this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power shall be given him as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 154, pp. 329-30)

1528. When the victory arriveth, every man shall profess himself as believer and shall hasten to the shelter of God's Faith. Happy are they who in the days of world-encompassing trials have stood fast in the Cause and refused to swerve from its truth.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 150, p. 319)


II. From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

1529. ...The darkness of error that has enveloped the East and West is, in this most great cycle, battling with the light of Divine Guidance. Its swords and its spears are very sharp and pointed; its army keenly bloodthirsty. <p139>


Extracts on Opposition

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 6)

1530. This day the powers of all the leaders of religion are directed towards the dispersion of the congregation of the All-Merciful, and the shattering of the Divine Edifice. The hosts of the world, whether material, cultural or political are from every side launching their assault, for the Cause is great, very great. Its greatness is, in this day, clear and manifest to men's eyes.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 6)

1531. ...How great, how very great is the Cause! How very fierce the onslaught of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Ere long shall the clamor of the multitude throughout Africa, throughout America, the cry of the European and of the Turk, the groaning of India and China, be heard from far and near. One and all, they shall arise with all their power to resist His Cause. Then shall the knights of the Lord, assisted by His grace from on high, strengthened by faith, aided by the power of understanding, and reinforced by the legions of the Covenant, arise and make manifest the truth of the verse: "Behold the confusion that hath befallen the tribes of the defeated!"

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 17)

1532. The prestige of the Faith of God has immensely increased. Its greatness is now manifest. The day is approaching when it will have cast a tremendous tumult in men's hearts. Rejoice, therefore, O denizens of America, rejoice with exceeding gladness!

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi,'The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", p. 79)

1533. O ye beloved of God! When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightning flashes, the thunder roars, the bolt descends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive, the hills and fields will become verdant, the expanses of grain will joyfully wave, the earth will become covered with blossoms, the trees will be clothed with green garments and adorned with blossoms and fruits. Thus blessings become manifest in all countries. These favours are results of those storms and hurricanes. <p140>

Therefore, O ye beloved of God, be not grieved when people stand against you, persecute you, afflict and trouble you and say all manner of evil against you. The darkness will pass away and the light of the manifest signs will appear, the veil will be withdrawn and the Light of Reality will shine forth from the unseen [Kingdom] of El-Abha. This we inform you before it occurs, so that when the hosts of people arise against you for my love, be not disturbed or troubled; nay rather, be firm as a mountain, for this persecution and reviling of the people upon you is a pre-ordained matter. Blessed is the should who is firm in the path!

('Abdu'l-Baha, "Tablets of Abdul Baha Abbas", voL I (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1930), pp. 12-14)

1534. ...a large multitude of people will arise against you, showing oppression, expressing contumely and derision, shunning your society, and heaping upon you ridicule. However, the Heavenly Father will illumine you to such an extent that, like unto the rays of the sun, you shall scatter the dark clouds of superstition, shine gloriously in the midst of Heaven and illumine the face of the earth. You must make firm the feet at the time when these trials transpire, and demonstrate forbearance and patience. You must withstand them with the utmost love and kindness; consider their oppression and persecution as the caprice of children, and do not give any importance to whatever they do. For at the end the illumination of the Kingdom will overwhelm the darkness of the world and the exaltation and grandeur of your station will become apparent and manifest...

(From a Tablet to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 10 (September 1910), pp. 1-2)


III. From the Writings of Shoghi Effendi:

1535. I am however assured and sustained by the conviction, never dimmed in my mind, that whatsoever comes to pass in the Cause of God, however disquieting in its immediate effects, is fraught with infinite Wisdom and tends ultimately to promote its interests in the world. Indeed, our experiences of the distant past, as well as of recent events, are too numerous and varied too permit of any misgiving or doubt as to the truth <p141> of this basic principle -- a principle which throughout the vicissitudes of our sacred mission in this world we must never disregard or forget.

(From a letter dated 23 December 1922 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p.27)

1536. That the Cause of God should in the days to come witness many a challenging hour and pass through critical stages in preparation for the glories of its promised ascendancy in the New World has been time and again undeniably affirmed by our departed Master, and is abundantly proved to us all by its heroic past and turbulent history....

(From America, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 60-61)

1537. We cannot believe that as the Movement grows in strength, in authority and in influence, the perplexities and the sufferings it has had to contend with in the past will correspondingly decrease and vanish. Nay, as it grows from strength to strength, the fanatical defendants of the strongholds of Orthodoxy, whatever be their denomination, realizing the penetrating influence of this growing Faith, will arise and strain every nerve to extinguish its light and discredit its name. For has not our beloved 'Abdu'l-Baha sent forth His glowing prophecy from behind the prison walls of the citadel of 'Akka -- words so significant in their forecast of the coming world turmoil, yet so rich in their promise of eventual victory...

Dearly-beloved friends, upon us devolves the supreme obligation to stand by His side, to fight His battles and to win His victory. May we prove ourselves worthy of this trust.

(From a letter dated 12 February 1927 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932"), p. 123)

1538. Viewed in the light of past experience, the inevitable result of such futile attempts, however persistent and malicious they may be, is to contribute to a wider and deeper recognition by believers and unbelievers alike of the distinguishing features of the Faith proclaimed by <p142> Baha'u'llah. These challenging criticisms, whether or not dictated by malice, cannot but serve to galvanize the souls of its ardent supporters, and to consolidate the ranks of its faithful promoters. They will purge the Faith from those pernicious elements whose continued association with the believers tends to discredit the fair name of the Cause, and to tarnish the purity of its spirit. We should welcome, therefore, not only the open attacks which its avowed enemies persistently launch against it, but should also view as a blessing in disguise every storm of mischief with which they who apostatize their faith or claim to be its faithful exponents assail it from time to time. Instead of undermining the Faith, such assaults, both from within and from without, reinforce its foundations, and excite the intensity of its flame. Designed to becloud its radiance, they proclaim to all the world the exalted character of its precepts, the completeness of its unity, the uniqueness of its position, and the pervasiveness of its influence.

(From a letter dated 21 March 1930 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 15-16)

1539. For let every earnest upholder of the Cause of Baha'u'llah realize that the storms which this struggling Faith of God must needs encounter, as the process of the disintegration of society advances, shall be fiercer than any which it has already experienced. Let him be aware that so soon as the full measure of the stupendous claim of the Faith of Baha'u'llah becomes to be recognized by those time-honoured and powerful strongholds of orthodoxy, whose deliberate aim is to maintain their stranglehold over the thoughts and consciences of men, that this infant Faith will have to contend with enemies more powerful and more insidious than the cruellest torture-mongers and the most fanatical clerics who have afflicted it in the past. What foes may not in the course of the convulsions that shall seize a dying civilization be brought into existence, who will reinforce the indignities which have already been heaped upon it!

(From a letter dated 21 March 1930 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", p. 17)

1540. We have only to refer to the warnings uttered by 'Abdu'l-Baha in order to realize the extent and character of the forces that are destined to contest with God's holy Faith.... <p143>

Stupendous as is the struggle which His words foreshadow, they also testify to the complete victory which the upholders of the Greatest Name are destined eventually to achieve. Peoples, nations, adherents of divers faiths, will jointly and successively arise to shatter its unity, to sap its force, and to degrade its holy name. They will assail not only the spirit which it inculcates, but the administration which is the channel, the instrument, the embodiment of that spirit. For as the authority with which Baha'u'llah has invested the future Baha'i Commonwealth becomes more and more apparent, the fiercer shall be the challenge which from every quarter will be thrown at the verities it enshrines.

(From a letter dated 21 March 1930 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 17-18)

1541. Fierce as may seem the onslaught of the forces of darkness that may still afflict this Cause, desperate and prolonged as may be that struggle, severe as may be the disappointments it may still experience, the ascendancy it will eventually obtain will be such as no other Faith has ever in its history achieved....

Who knows but that triumphs, unsurpassed in splendour, are not in store for the mass of Baha'u'llah's toiling followers? Surely, we stand too near the colossal edifice His hand has reared to be able, at the present stage of the evolution of His Revelation, to claim to be able even to conceive the full measure of its promised glory. Its past history, stained by the blood of countless martyrs, may well inspire us with the thought that, whatever may yet befall this Cause, however formidable the forces that may still assail it, however numerous the reverses it will inevitably suffer, its onward march can never be stayed, and that it will continue to advance until the very last promise, enshrined within the words of Baha'u'llah, shall have been completely redeemed.

(From the Epilogue to "The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha'i Revelation", trans. and ed. Shoghi Effendi. (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1975), pp. 667-668)

1542. The separation that has set in between the institutions of the Baha'i Faith and the Islamic ecclesiastical organizations that oppose it -- a movement that has originated in Egypt and is now spreading steadily throughout the Middle East, and will in time communicate its influence <p144> to the West -- imposes upon every loyal upholder of the Cause the obligation of refraining from any word or action that might prejudice the position which our enemies have, in recent years and of their own accord, proclaimed and established.... Our adversaries in the East have initiated the struggle. Our future opponents in the West will, in their turn, arise and carry it a stage further. Ours is the duty, in anticipation of this inevitable contest, to uphold unequivocally and with undivided loyalty the integrity of our Faith and demonstrate the distinguishing features of its divinely appointed institutions.

(In the hand writing of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 15 June 1935 written on his behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i News" 95 (October 1935), p. 2)

1543. That the forces of irreligion, of a purely materialistic philosophy, of unconcealed paganism have been unloosed, are now spreading, and, by consolidating themselves, are beginning to invade some of the most powerful Christian institutions of the western world, no unbiased observer can fail to admit. That these institutions are becoming increasingly restive, that a few among them are already dimly aware of the pervasive influence of the Cause of Baha'u'llah, that they will, as their inherent strength deteriorates and their discipline relaxes, regard with deepening dismay the rise of His New World Order, and will gradually determine to assail it, that such an opposition will in turn accelerate their decline, few, if any, among those who are attentively watching the progress of His Faith would be inclined to question.

(From a letter dated 11 March 1936 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 180-81)

1544. 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 its course, undimmed in its serenity, unyielding in its resolve, unshaken in its convictions. <p145>

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 5 July 1938 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1947) p. 14)

1545. The resistless march of the Faith of Baha'u'llah ... propelled by the stimulating influences which the unwisdom of its enemies and the force latent within itself both engender, resolves itself into a series of rhythmic pulsations, precipitated, on the one hand. through the explosive outbursts of its foes, and the vibrations of Divine Power, on the other, which speed it, with ever-increasing momentum, along that predestined course traced for it by the Hand of the Almighty.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 12 August 1941 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America 1932-1946", p. 51)

1546. How can the beginnings of a world upheaval, unleashing forces that are so gravely deranging the social, the religious, the political, and the economic equilibrium of organized society, throwing into chaos and confusion political systems, racial doctrines, social conceptions, cultural standards, religious associations, and trade relationships -- how can such agitations, on a scale so vast, so unprecedented, fail to produce any repercussions on the institutions of a Faith of such tender age whose teachings have a direct and vital bearing on each of these spheres of human life and conduct?

Little wonder, therefore, if they who are holding aloft the banner of so pervasive a Faith, so challenging a Cause, find themselves affected by the impact of these world-shaking forces. Little wonder if they find that in the midst of this whirlpool of contending passions their freedom has been curtailed, their tenets contemned, their institutions assaulted, their motives maligned, their authority jeopardized, their claim rejected.

(From a letter dated 25 December 1938 to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 2-3) <p146>

1547. Let not, however, the invincible army of Baha'u'llah, who in the West, and at one of its potential storm-centres is to fight, in His name and for His sake, one of its fiercest and most glorious battles, be afraid of any criticism that might be directed against it. Let it not be deterred by any condemnation with which the tongue of the slanderer may seek to debase its motives. Let it not recoil before the threatening advance of the forces of fanaticism, of orthodoxy, of corruption, and of prejudice that may be leagued against it. The voice of criticism is a voice that indirectly reinforces the proclamation of its Cause. Unpopularity but serves to throw into greater relief the contrast between it and its adversaries, while ostracism is itself the magnetic power that must eventually win over to its camp the most vociferous and inveterate amongst its foes....

(From a letter dated 25 December 1938 to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 42)

1548. We can discover a no less distinct gradation in the character of the opposition it has had to encounter -- ... an opposition which, now, through the rise of a divinely appointed Order in the Christian West, and its initial impact on civil and ecclesiastical institutions, bids fair to include among its supporters established governments and systems associated with the most ancient, the most deeply entrenched sacerdotal hierarchies in Christendom. We can, at the same time, recognize, through the haze of an ever-widening hostility, the progress, painful yet persistent, of certain communities within its pale through the stages of obscurity, of proscription, of emancipation, and of recognition -- stages that must needs culminate in the course of succeeding centuries, in the establishment of the Faith, and the founding, in the plenitude of its power and authority, of the world-embracing Baha'i Commonwealth....

("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), Foreword p. xvii)

1549. Nor should a survey of the outstanding features of so blessed and fruitful a ministry omit mention of the prophecies which the unerring pen of the appointed Center of Baha'u'llah's Covenant has recorded. These foreshadow the fierceness of the onslaught that the resistless march of the Faith must provoke in the West, in India and in the Far East when it meets the time-honored sacerdotal orders of the Christian, the <p147> Buddhist and Hindu religions. They foreshadow the turmoil which its emancipation from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will cast in the American, the European, the Asiatic and African continents....

("God Passes By", p. 315)

1550. Despite the blows leveled at its nascent strength, whether by the wielders of temporal and spiritual authority from without, or by black-hearted foes from within, the Faith of Baha'u'llah had, far from breaking or bending, gone from strength to strength, from victory to victory. Indeed its history, if read aright, may be said to resolve itself into a series of pulsations, of alternating crisis and triumphs, leading it ever nearer to its divinely appointed destiny....

("God Passes By", p. 409)

1551. The tribulations attending the progressive unfoldment of the Faith of Baha'u'llah have indeed been such as to exceed in gravity those from which the religions of the past have suffered. Unlike those religions, however, these tribulations have failed utterly to impair its unity, or to create, even temporarily, a breach in the ranks of its adherents. It has not only survived these ordeals, but has emerged, purified and inviolate, endowed with greater capacity to face and surmount any crisis which its resistless march may engender in the future.

("God Passes By", p. 410)

1552. Whatever may befall this infant Faith of God in future decades or in succeeding centuries, whatever the sorrows, dangers and tribulations which the next stage in its world-wide development may engender, from whatever quarter the assaults to be launched by its present or future adversaries may be unleashed against it, however great the reverses and setbacks it may suffer, we, who have been privileged to apprehend, to the degree our finite minds can fathom, the significance of these marvelous phenomena associated with its rise and establishment, can harbor no doubt that what it has already achieved in the first hundred years of its life provides sufficient guarantee that it will continue to forge ahead, capturing loftier heights, tearing down every obstacle, opening up new horizons and winning still mightier victories until its glorious mission, stretching into the dim ranges of time that lie ahead, is totally fulfilled. <p148>

("God Passes By", p. 412)

1553. No opportunity, in view of the necessity of ensuring the harmonious development of the Faith, should be ignored, which its potential enemies, whether ecclesiastical or otherwise, may offer, to set forth, in a restrained and unprovocative language, its aims and tenets, to defend its interests, to proclaim its universality, to assert the supernatural, the supranational and non-political character of its institutions, and its acceptance of the Divine origin of the Faiths which have preceded it....

(From a letter dated 5 June 1947 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 23)

1554. Indeed this fresh ordeal that has, in pursuance of the mysterious dispensations of Providence, afflicted the Faith at this unexpected hour, far from dealing a fatal blow to its institutions or existence, should be regarded as a blessing in disguise, not a "calamity" but a "providence" of God, not a devastating flood but a "gentle rain" on a "green pasture", a "wick" and "oil" unto the "lamp" of His Faith, a "nurture" for His Cause, "water for that which has been planted in the hearts of men", a "crown set on the head" of His Messenger for this Day.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 20 August 1955 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", p. 139)


IV. From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

1555. ...when the very progress of the Cause on the one hand, and the corresponding decline in ecclesiastical organizations on the other will inevitably incite Christian ecclesiastical leaders to vehemently oppose and undermine the Faith, the believers will then have a real chance to defend and vindicate the Cause....

(From a letter dated 25 May 1938 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1556. The matter of refuting attacks and criticisms directed against the Cause through the press is, he feels, one which devolves on the National Spiritual Assembly to consider. This body, whether directly or through <p149> the agency of its committees, should decide as to the advisability of answering any such attacks, and also should carefully examine and pass upon any statements which the friends wish to send to the press to this effect. Only through such supervision and control of all Baha'i press activities can the friends hope to avoid confusion and misunderstanding in their own minds and in the mind of the general public whom they can reach through the press.

The Guardian would advise, therefore, that henceforth you seek the guidance and approval of the National Spiritual Assembly in all your attempts to refute the criticisms of the enemies of the Cause, as there are certain cases when it is an absolute loss of time and energy, and even perhaps positively harmful, to counteract such attacks, which often lead to interminable and fruitless controversies. The National Spiritual Assembly can best advise you as to what action to take in such matters.

(From a letter dated 28 September 1938 to an individual believer)

1557. The friends . . . should not feel bewildered, for they have the assurance of Baha'u'llah that whatever the nature and character of the forces of opposition facing His Cause, its eventual triumph is indubitably certain.

(From a letter dated 30 August 1937 to an individual believer)

1558. We have every reason to hope and believe that in the future many of the truly enlightened clergy may seek the shelter of Baha'u'llah, just as we feel certain that we may also expect at some future date a keen antagonism to our Faith on the part of those who do not see in it the salvation of the world, but rather challenge to their own fame and position.

(From a letter dated 6 July 1942 to a group of believers)

1559. It seems both strange and pitiful that the Church and clergy should always, in every age, be the most bitter opponents of the very Truth they are continually admonishing their followers to be prepared to receive! They have become so violently attached to the form that the substance itself eludes them!

However, such denunciations as those your minister made publicly against you and the Baha'i Faith can do no harm to the Cause at all; on <p150> the contrary they only serve to spread its name abroad and mark it as an independent religion.

(From a letter dated 7 February 1945 to an individual believer)

1560. Although this may temporarily prove an embarrassment to your work, and a set-back, there is no doubt that it signalizes a step forward in the advance of the Faith; for we know that our beloved Faith must eventually clash with the entrenched orthodoxies of the past; and that this conflict cannot but lead to greater victories, and to ultimate emancipation, recognition and ascendancy.

(From a letter dated 8 April 1951 to two believers)

1561. We are bound to meet with increasing opposition from Church-dominated countries, but our counter-moves must be carefully undertaken. He would like you to always consult him in matters which bring the Faith before government or Church bodies in cases of this kind.

(From a letter dated 23 November 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States) <p151>


PEACE

August 1985

Compiled by: The Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

Extracts from the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

1562. This is the Day in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness. It behoveth them to cleave to whatsoever will, in this Day, be conducive to the exaltation of their stations, and to the promotion of their best interests....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 6)

1563. God's purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah" pp. 79-80)

1564. O ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh the preeminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have ... laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", p. 97)

1565. The Great Being, wishing to reveal the prerequisites of the peace and tranquillity of the world and the advancement of its peoples, hath written: The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized. The <p152> rulers and kings of the earth must needs attend it, and, participating in its deliberations, must consider such ways and means as will lay the foundations of the world's Great Peace amongst men. Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquillity of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation. We fain would hope that the kings and rulers of the earth, the mirrors of the gracious and almighty name of God, may attain unto this station, and shield mankind from the onslaught of tyranny....The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. These things are obligatory and absolutely essential. It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.... That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth. In another passage He hath proclaimed: It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", pp. 249-250)

1566. O ye rulers of the earth! Wherefore have ye clouded the radiance of the Sun, and caused it to cease from shining? Hearken unto the counsel given you by the Pen of the Most High, that haply both ye and the poor may attain unto tranquillity and peace. We beseech God to assist the kings of the earth to establish peace on earth. He, verily, doth what He willeth. O kings of the earth! We see you increasing every year your expenditures, and laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is wholly and grossly unjust. Fear the sighs and tears of this Wronged One, and lay not excessive burdens on your peoples. Do not rob them to rear palaces for yourselves; nay rather choose for them that which ye choose <p153> for yourselves. Thus We unfold to your eyes that which profiteth you, if ye but perceive. Your people are your treasures. Beware lest your rule violate the commandments of God, and ye deliver your wards to the hands of the robber. By them ye rule, by their means ye subsist, by their aid ye conquer. Yet, how disdainfully ye look upon them! How strange, how very strange!

Now that ye have refused the Most Great Peace, hold ye fast unto this, the Lesser Peace, that haply ye may in some degree better your own condition and that of your dependents. O rulers of the earth! Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions. Beware lest ye disregard the counsel of the All-Knowing, the Faithful. Be united, O kings of the earth, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you, and your peoples find rest, if ye be of them that comprehend. Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah" pp. 253-254)

1567. The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", p. 286)

1568. We pray God -- exalted be His glory -- and cherish the hope that He may graciously assist the manifestations of affluence and power and the daysprings of sovereignty and glory, the kings of the earth -- may God aid them through His strengthening grace -- to establish the Lesser Peace. This, indeed, is the greatest means for ensuring the tranquillity of the nations. It is incumbent upon the Sovereigns of the world -- may God assist them -- unitedly to hold fast unto this Peace, which is the chief instrument for the protection of all mankind. It is Our hope that they will arise to achieve what will be conducive to the well-being of man. It is their duty to convene an all-inclusive assembly, which either they themselves or their ministers will attend, and to enforce whatever measures are required to establish unity and concord amongst men. They must put <p154> away the weapons of war, and turn to the instruments of universal reconstruction. Should one king rise up against another, all the other kings must arise to deter him. Arms and armaments will, then, be no more needed beyond that which is necessary to ensure the internal security of their respective countries. If they attain unto this all-surpassing blessing, the people of each nation will pursue, with tranquillity and contentment, their own occupations, and the groanings and lamentations of most men would be silenced. We beseech God to aid them to do His will and pleasure. He, verily, is the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, and the Lord of this world and of the world to come. It would be preferable and more fitting that the highly-honoured kings themselves should attend such an assembly, and proclaim their edicts. Any king who will arise and carry out this task, he, verily will, in the sight of God, become the cynosure of all kings. Happy is he, and great is his blessedness!

("Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), pp. 30-31)

1569. The sixth Glad-Tidings is the establishment of the Lesser Peace, details of which have formerly been revealed from Our Most Exalted Pen. Great is the blessedness of him who upholdeth it and observeth whatsoever hath been ordained by God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), p.23)

1570. ... In all matters moderation is desirable. If a thing is carried to excess, it will prove a source of evil. Consider the civilization of the West, how it hath agitated and alarmed the peoples of the world. An infernal engine hath been devised, and hath proved so cruel a weapon of destruction that its like none hath ever witnessed or heard. The purging of such deeply-rooted and overwhelming corruptions cannot be effected unless the peoples of the world unite in pursuit of one common aim and embrace one universal faith. Incline your ears unto the Call of this Wronged One and adhere firmly to the Lesser Peace.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 69)

1571. First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved <p155> from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 89)

1572. In the abundance of Our grace and loving-kindness We have revealed specially for the rulers and ministers of the world that which is conducive to safety and protection, tranquillity and peace; haply the children of men may rest secure from the evils of oppression. He, verily, is the Protector, the Helper, the Giver of victory. It is incumbent upon the men of God's House of Justice to fix their gaze by day and by night upon that which hath shone forth from the Pen of Glory for the training of peoples, the upbuilding of nations, the protection of man and the safeguarding of his honour.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 125)

1573. ... They that are possessed of wealth and invested with authority and power must show the profoundest regard for religion. In truth, religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold for the protection and welfare of the peoples of the world, for the fear of God impelleth man to hold fast to that which is good, and shun all evil. Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine. Unto this will bear witness every man of true understanding.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 125)

1574. We have enjoined upon all mankind to establish the Most Great Peace -- the surest of all means for the protection of humanity. The sovereigns of the world should, with one accord, hold fast thereunto, for this is the supreme instrument that can ensure the security and welfare of all peoples and nations. They, verily, are the manifestations of the power of God and the daysprings of His authority. We beseech the Almighty that He may graciously assist them in that which is conducive to the well-being of their subjects. A full explanation regarding this matter hath been previously set forth by the Pen of Glory; well is it with them that act accordingly.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 126) <p156>

1575. The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God's holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquillity of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God. Religion bestoweth upon man the most precious of all gifts, offereth the cup of prosperity, imparteth eternal life, and showereth imperishable benefits upon mankind. It behoveth the chiefs and rulers of the world, and in particular the Trustees of God's House of Justice, to endeavour to the utmost of their power to safeguard its position, promote its interests and exalt its station in the eyes of the world. In like manner it is incumbent upon them to enquire into the conditions of their subjects and to acquaint themselves with the affairs and activities of the divers communities in their dominions. We call upon the manifestations of the power of God -- the sovereigns and rulers on earth -- to bestir themselves and do all in their power that haply they may banish discord from this world and illumine it with the light of concord.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pp. 129-130)

1576. Our hope is that the world's religious leaders and the rulers thereof will unitedly arise for the reformation of this age and the rehabilitation of its fortunes. Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth.

The Great Being saith: The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion. Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 168)

1577. Take ye counsel together, and let your concern be only for that which profiteth mankind and bettereth the condition thereof ... Regard the world as the human body which, though created whole and perfect, has been afflicted, through divers causes, with grave ills and maladies. Not for one day did it rest, nay its sicknesses waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of unskilled physicians who have <p157> spurred on the steed of their worldly desires and have erred grievously. And if at one time, through the care of an able physician, a member of that body was healed, the rest remained afflicted as before. Thus informeth you the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.... That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all powerful and inspired Physician. This verily is the truth, and all else naught but error.

Consider these days in which the Ancient Beauty, He Who is the Most Great Name, hath been sent down to regenerate and unify mankind. Behold how with drawn swords they rose against Him, and committed that which caused the Faithful Spirit to tremble. And whenever We said unto them: 'Lo, the World Reformer is come,' they made reply: 'He, in truth, is one of the stirrers of mischief' ...

(Extracts from the Tablet to Queen Victoria, cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 39-40; p. 163)


Extracts from the Utterances of Baha'u'llah:

1578. ... Praise be to God that thou hast attained!... Thou hast come to see a prisoner and an exile.... We desire but the good of the world and happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment.... That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled -- what harm is there in this?... Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the "Most Great Peace" shall come.... Do not you in Europe need this also? Is not this that which Christ foretold?... Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind.... These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family.... Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind....

(Words spoken. to E. G. Browne, from his pen portrait of Baha'u'llah, J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 39-40) <p158>


Extracts from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

1579. Know thou that all the powers combined have not the power to establish universal peace, nor to withstand the overmastering dominion, at every time and season, of these endless wars. Ere long, however, shall the power of heaven, the dominion of the Holy Spirit, hoist on the high summits the banners of love and peace, and there above the castles of majesty and might shall those banners wave in the rushing winds that blow out of the tender mercy of God.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), p. 174)

1580. Rest thou assured that in this era of the spirit, the Kingdom of Peace will raise up its tabernacle on the summits of the world, and the commandments of the Prince of Peace will so dominate the arteries and nerves of every people as to draw into His sheltering shade all the nations on earth. From springs of love and truth and unity will the true Shepherd give His sheep to drink.

O handmaid of God, peace must first be established among individuals, until it leadeth in the end to peace among nations. Wherefore, O ye Baha'is, strive ye with all your might to create, through the power of the Word of God, genuine love, spiritual communion and durable bonds among individuals. This is your task.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", p. 246)

1581. So long as these prejudices [religious, racial, national, political] survive, there will be continuous and fearsome wars.

To remedy this condition there must be universal peace. To bring this about, a Supreme Tribunal must be established, representative of all governments and peoples; questions both national and international must be referred thereto, and all must carry out the decrees of this Tribunal. Should any government or people disobey, let the whole world arise against that government or people.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", p. 249)

1582. At present universal peace is a matter of great importance, but unity of conscience is essential, so that the foundation of this matter may become secure, its establishment firm and its edifice strong. <p159>

Therefore Baha'u'llah, fifty years ago, expounded this question of universal peace at a time when He was confined in the fortress of 'Akka and was wronged and imprisoned....

Among His teachings was the declaration of universal peace....the teachings of Baha'u'llah were not limited to the establishment of universal peace. They embraced many teachings which supplemented and supported that of universal peace.

...

In fine, such teachings are numerous. These manifold principles, which constitute the greatest basis for the felicity of mankind and are of the bounties of the Merciful, must be added to the matter of universal peace and combined with it, so that results may accrue. Otherwise the realization of universal peace by itself in the world of mankind is difficult. As the teachings of Baha'u'llah are combined with universal peace, they are like a table provided with every kind of fresh and delicious food. Every soul can find, at that table of infinite bounty, that which he desires. If the question is restricted to universal peace alone, the remarkable results which are expected and desired will not be attained. The scope of universal peace must be such that all the communities and religions may find their highest wish realized in it. The teachings of Baha'u'llah are such that all the communities of the world, whether religious, political or ethical, ancient or modern, find in them the expression of their highest wish.

For example, the question of universal peace, about which Baha'u'llah says that the Supreme Tribunal must be established: although the League of Nations has been brought into existence, yet it is incapable of establishing universal peace. But the Supreme Tribunal which Baha'u'llah has described will fulfil this sacred task with the utmost might and power. And His plan is this: that the national assemblies of each country and nation -- that is to say parliaments -- should elect two or three persons who are the choicest of that nation, and are well informed concerning international laws and the relations between governments and aware of the essential needs of the world of humanity in this day. The number of these representatives should be in proportion to the number of inhabitants of that country. The election of these souls who are chosen by the national assembly, that is, the parliament, must be confirmed by the upper house, the congress and the cabinet and also by the president <p160> or monarch so these persons may be the elected ones of all the nation and the government. The Supreme Tribunal will be composed of these people, and all mankind will thus have a share therein, for every one of these delegates is fully representative of his nation.[1] When the Supreme Tribunal gives a ruling on any international question, either unanimously or by majority rule, there will no longer be any pretext for the plaintiff or ground of objection for the defendant. In case any of the governments or nations, in the execution of the irrefutable decision of the Supreme Tribunal, be negligent or dilatory, the rest of the nations will rise up against it, because all the governments and nations of the world are the supporters of this Supreme Tribunal. Consider what a firm foundation this is! But by a limited and restricted League the purpose will not be realized as it ought and should. This is the truth about the situation, which has been stated....
[1 The translation of this sentence has been revised since the publication of "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha"]

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", pp. 297-298, p. 304, pp. 306-307)

1583. True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns -- the shining exemplars of devotion and determination -- shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking -- the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world -- should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, <p161> the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.

Observe that if such a happy situation be forthcoming, no government would need continually to pile up the weapons of war, nor feel itself obliged to produce ever new military weapons with which to conquer the human race. A small force for the purposes of internal security, the correction of criminal and disorderly elements and the prevention of local disturbances, would be required -- no more. In this way the entire population would, first of all, be relieved of the crushing burden of expenditure currently imposed for military purposes, and secondly, great numbers of people would cease to devote their time to the continual devising of new weapons of destruction -- those testimonials of greed and bloodthirstiness, so inconsistent with the gift of life -- and would instead bend their efforts to the production of whatever will foster human existence and peace and well-being, and would become the cause of universal development and prosperity. Then every nation on earth will reign in honour, and every people will be cradled in tranquillity and content.

A few, unaware of the power latent in human endeavour, consider this matter as highly impracticable, nay even beyond the scope of man's utmost efforts. Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of God, the loving-kindness of His favoured ones, the unrivaled endeavours of wise and capable souls, and the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of this age, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable. Endeavour, ceaseless endeavour, is required. Nothing short of an indomitable determination can possibly achieve it. Many a cause which past ages have regarded as purely visionary, yet in this day has become most easy and practicable. Why should this most great and lofty Cause -- the day-star of the firmament of true civilization and <p162> the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity -- be regarded as impossible of achievement? Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man.

The apparatus of conflict will, as preparations go on at their present rate, reach the point where war will become something intolerable to mankind.

It is clear from what has already been said that man's glory and greatness do not consist in his being avid for blood and sharp of claw, in tearing down cities and spreading havoc, in butchering armed forces and civilians. What would mean a bright future for him would be his reputation for justice, his kindness to the entire population whether high or low, his building up countries and cities, villages and districts, his making life easy, peaceful and happy for his fellow beings, his laying down fundamental principles for progress, his raising the standards and increasing the wealth of the entire population.

No power on earth can prevail against the armies of justice, and every citadel must fall before them; for men willingly go down under the triumphant strokes of this decisive blade, and desolate places bloom and flourish under the tramplings of this host. There are two mighty banners which, when they cast their shadow across the crown of any king, will cause the influence of his government quickly and easily to penetrate the whole earth, even as if it were the light of the sun: the first of these two banners is wisdom; the second is justice. Against these two most potent forces, the iron hills cannot prevail, and Alexander's wall will break before them. It is clear that life in this fast-fading world is as fleeting and inconstant as the morning wind, and this being so, how fortunate are the great who leave a good name behind them, and the memory of a lifetime spent in the pathway of the good pleasure of God.

A conquest can be a praiseworthy thing, and there are times when war becomes the powerful basis of peace, and ruin the very means of reconstruction. If, for example, a high-minded sovereign marshals his troops to block the onset of the insurgent and the aggressor, or again, if he takes the field and distinguishes himself in a struggle to unify a divided state and people, if, in brief, he is waging war for a righteous purpose, then this seeming wrath is mercy itself, and this apparent tyranny the very substance of justice and this warfare the cornerstone of peace. Today, the <p163> task befitting great rulers is to establish universal peace, for in this lies the freedom of all peoples.

("The Secret of Divine Civilization" 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), pp. 64-67, 70-71)

1584. In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were well nigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one.... In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century -- the century of light -- has been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man.

Behold how its light is now dawning upon the world's darkened horizon. The first candle is unity in the political realm, the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will ere long be witnessed. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass. The fourth candle is unity in religion which is the corner-stone of the foundation itself and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendour. The fifth candle is the unity of nations -- a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland. The sixth candle is unity of races, making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race. The seventh candle is unity of language, i.e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse. Each and every one of these will inevitably come to pass, inasmuch as the power of the Kingdom of God will aid and assist in their realization. <p164>

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah", pp. 38-39, and "The Promised Day Is Come", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 120-121)

1585. ...every great Cause in this world of existence findeth visible expression through three means: first, intention; second, confirmation; third, action. Today on this earth there are many souls who are promoters of peace and reconciliation and are longing for the realization of the oneness and unity of the world of humanity; but this intention needeth a dynamic power, so that it may become manifest in the world of being. In this day the divine instructions and lordly exhortations promulgate this most great aim, and the confirmations of the Kingdom also support and aid the realization of this intention. Therefore, although the combined forces and thoughts of the nations of the world cannot by themselves achieve this exalted purpose, the power of the Word of God penetrateth all things and the assistance of the divine Kingdom is continuous. Erelong it will become evident and clear that the ensign of the Most Great Peace is the teachings of Baha'u'llah, and the tent of union and harmony among nations is the Tabernacle of the divine Kingdom, for therein the intention, the power and the action, all three, are brought together. The realization of everything in the world of being dependeth upon these three elements.

(From a Tablet - translated from Persian)

1586. As far as possible, rest thou not for a moment, travel to the North and South of the country and summon all men to the oneness of the world of humanity and to universal peace, saying:

O people! Baha'u'llah laid the foundation of universal peace fifty years ago. He even addressed Epistles to the kings wherein He declared that war could destroy the foundation of the world of humanity, that peace is conducive to everlasting life and that dire peril awaited mankind. Also three years before the outbreak of the world war 'Abdu'l-Baha travelled to America and most of Europe, where he raised His voice before all gatherings, societies and churches, appealing: O ye assemblage of men! The continent of Europe hath virtually become an arsenal filled with explosives. There are vast stores of destructive material hidden underground, liable to burst forth at a single spark, causing the whole earth to quake. O ye men of understanding! <p165>

Bestir yourselves that perchance this accumulation of volatile material may not explode. But the appeal went unheeded and consequently this murderous war broke out.

The bulk of humanity now realiseth what a great calamity war is and how war turneth man into a ferocious animal, causing prosperous cities and villages to be reduced to ruins and the foundations of the human edifice to crumble. Now, since all men have been awakened and their ears are attentive, it is time for the promulgation of universal peace -- a peace based on righteousness and justice -- that mankind may not be exposed to further dangers in the future. Now is the dawn of universal peace, and the first streaks of its light are beginning to appear. We earnestly hope that its effulgent orb may shine forth and flood the East and the West with its radiance. The establishment of universal peace is not possible save through the power of the Word of God...

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1587. 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.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

Extracts from the Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

1588. Today the world of humanity is in need of international unity and conciliation. To establish these great fundamental principles a propelling power is needed. It is self-evident that the unity of the human world and the Most Great Peace cannot be accomplished through material means. They cannot be established through political power, for the political interests of nations are various and the policies of peoples are divergent and conflicting. They cannot be founded through racial or patriotic power, for these are human powers, selfish and weak. The very nature of racial differences and patriotic prejudices prevents the realization of this unity and agreement. Therefore, it is evidenced that the promotion of the oneness of the kingdom of humanity, which is the essence of the teachings of all the Manifestations of God, is impossible except through <p166> the divine power and breaths of the Holy Spirit. Other powers are too weak and are incapable of accomplishing this.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912" 2nd. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 11-12)

1589. We will pray that the ensign of international peace may be uplifted and that the oneness of the world of humanity may be realized and accomplished. All this is made possible and practicable through your efforts. May this American democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the universality of mankind. May it be the first to upraise the standard of the Most Great Peace, and through this nation of democracy may these philanthropic intentions and institutions be spread broadcast throughout the world. Truly, this is a great and revered nation. Here liberty has reached its highest degree. The intentions of its people are most praiseworthy. They are, indeed, worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Most Great Peace and proclaim the oneness of mankind. I will supplicate God for assistance and confirmation in your behalf.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 36-37)

1590. Today the greatest need of the world of humanity is discontinuance of the existing misunderstandings among nations. This can be accomplished through the unity of language. Unless the unity of languages is realized, the Most Great Peace and the oneness of the human world cannot be effectively organized and established because the function of language is to portray the mysteries and secrets of human hearts. The heart is like a box, and language is the key. Only by using the key can we open the box and observe the gems it contains. Therefore, the question of an auxiliary international tongue has the utmost importance.... It is my hope that it may be perfected through the bounties of God and that intelligent men may be selected from the various countries of the world to organize an international congress whose chief aim will be the promotion of this universal medium of speech. <p167>

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 60-61)

1591. ...because I find the American nation so capable of achievement and this government the fairest of western governments, its institutions superior to others, my wish and hope is that the banner of international reconciliation may first be raised on this continent and the standard of the Most Great Peace be unfurled here. May the American people and their government unite in their efforts in order that this light may dawn from this point and spread to all regions, for this is one of the greatest bestowals of God. In order that America may avail herself of this opportunity, I beg that you strive and pray with heart and soul, devoting all your energies to this end: that the banner of international peace may be upraised here and that this democracy may be the cause of the cessation of warfare in all other countries.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 83-84)

1592. In past ages humanity has been defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among mankind....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912" p. 108)

1593. All of us know that international peace is good, that it is conducive to human welfare and the glory of man, but volition and action are necessary before it can be established. Action is essential. Inasmuch as this century is a century of light, capacity for action is assured to mankind. Necessarily the divine principles will be spread among men until the time of action arrives. Surely this has been so, and truly the time and conditions are ripe for action now.... <p168>

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 121)

1594. This has come to pass. The powers of earth cannot withstand the privileges and bestowals which God has ordained for this great and glorious century. It is a need and exigency of the time.... Let this century be the sun of previous centuries, the effulgences of which shall last forever, so that in times to come they shall glorify the twentieth century, saying the twentieth century was the century of lights, the twentieth century was the century of life, the twentieth century was the century of international peace, the twentieth century was the century of divine bestowals, and the twentieth century has left traces which shall last forever.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 125-26)

1595. The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage. Children are educated by the women. The mother bears the troubles and anxieties of rearing the child, undergoes the ordeal of its birth and training. Therefore, it is most difficult for mothers to send to the battlefield those upon whom they have lavished such love and care. Consider a son reared and trained twenty years by a devoted mother. What sleepless nights and restless, anxious days she has spent! Having brought him through dangers and difficulties to the age of maturity, how agonizing then to sacrifice him upon the battlefield! Therefore, the mothers will not sanction war nor be satisfied with it. 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; for woman will be the obstacle and hindrance to it. This is true and without doubt.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 134-35)

1596. Now the glorious and brilliant twentieth century has dawned, and the divine bounty is radiating universally.... <p169> Truly, this can be called the miracle of centuries, for it is replete with manifestations of the miraculous. The time has come when all mankind shall be united, when all races shall be loyal to one fatherland, all religions become one religion, and racial and religious bias pass away. It is a day in which the oneness of humankind shall uplift its standard and international peace, like the true morning, flood the world with its light....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 153)

1597. 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 battlefield 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.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 175)

1598. The world is in greatest need of international peace. Until it is established, mankind will not attain composure and tranquillity. It is necessary that the nations and governments organize an international tribunal to which all their disputes and differences shall be referred. The decision of that tribunal shall be final. Individual controversy will be adjudged by a local tribunal. International questions will come before the universal tribunal, and so the cause of warfare will be taken away.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912" p. 301)

1599. I find these two great American nations [the United States and Canada] highly capable and advanced ... it is my hope that these revered <p170> nations may become prominent factors in the establishment of international peace and the oneness of the world of humanity...

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 318)

1600. The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings or parts become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary. Therefore, woman must receive the same education as man and all inequality be adjusted. Thus, imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated.

The evident reasons underlying this are as follows: Woman by nature is opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace. Children are reared and brought up by the mothers who give them the first principles of education and labour assiduously in their behalf. Consider, for instance, a mother who has tenderly reared a son for twenty years to the age of maturity. Surely she will not consent to having that son torn asunder and killed in the field of battle. Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of international peace.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 375)

1601. A Supreme Tribunal shall be elected by the peoples and governments of every nation, where members from each country and government shall assemble in unity. All disputes shall be brought before this Court, its mission being to prevent war.

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", 11th ed. (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 132) <p171>

1602. A Supreme Tribunal shall be established by the peoples and Governments of every nation, composed of members elected from each country and Government. The members of this Great Council shall assemble in unity. All disputes of an international character shall be submitted to this Court, its work being to arrange by arbitration everything which otherwise would be a cause of war. The mission of this Tribunal would be to prevent war.

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 155)

1603. As to the question of disarmament, all nations must disarm at the same time. It will not do at all, and it is not proposed, that some nations shall lay down their arms while others, their neighbours, remain armed. The peace of the world must be brought about by international agreement. All nations must agree to disarm simultaneously...

No nation can follow a peace policy while its neighbour remains warlike. There is no justice in that. Nobody would dream of suggesting that the peace of the world could be brought about by any such line of action. It is to be brought about by a general and comprehensive international agreement, and in no other way...

Simultaneous action, he went on, is necessary in any scheme of disarmament. All the governments of the world must transform their battleships and warcraft into merchant vessels. But no one nation can by itself start in upon such a policy and it would be folly should one power attempt to do so ... it would simply invite destruction....

Are there any signs that the permanent peace of the world will be established in anything like a reasonable period? 'Abdu'l-Baha was asked.

It will be established in this century, he answered. It will be universal in the twentieth century. All nations will be forced into it.

Economic pressure will tell?

Yes: the nations will be forced to come to peace and to agree to the abolition of war. The awful burdens of taxation for war purposes will get beyond human endurance...

No, said 'Abdu'l-Baha in conclusion, I repeat, no nation can disarm under these circumstances. Disarmament is surely coming, but it must <p172> come, and it will come, by the universal consent of the civilized nations of the earth. By international agreement they will lay down their arms and the great era of peace will be ushered in. In this and no other way can peace be established upon the earth.

(Extracts from interview with newspaper reporter, quoted in "'Abdu'l-Baha in Canada" (Thornhill: Baha'i Canada Publications, 1987), pp. 34-35)

1604. Once the Parliament of Man is established and its constituent parts organized, the governments of the world having entered into a covenant of eternal friendship will have no need of keeping large standing armies and navies. A few battalions to preserve internal order, and an International Police to keep the highways of the seas clear, are all that will be necessary. Then these huge sums will be diverted to other more useful channels, pauperism will disappear, knowledge will increase, the victories of Peace will be sung by poets and bards, knowledge will improve the conditions and mankind will be rocked in the cradle of felicity and bliss. Then, whether a government is constitutional or republican, hereditary monarchy or democratic, the rulers will devote their time to the prosperity of their nations, the legislation of just and sane laws and the fostering of closer and more amicable relations with their neighbours -- thus will the world of humanity become a mirror reflecting the virtues and attributes of the Kingdom of God.

By a general agreement all the governments of the world must disarm simultaneously... It will not do if one lays down the arms and the other refuses to do so. The nations of the world must concur with each other concerning this supremely important subject, thus they may abandon together the deadly weapons of human slaughter. As long as one nation increases her military and naval budget, another nation will be forced into this crazed competition through her natural and supposed interests....

...

Now the question of disarmament must be put into practice by all the nations and not only by one or two. Consequently the advocates of Peace must strive day and night, so that the individuals of every country may become peace-loving, public opinion may gain a strong and permanent footing, and day by day the army of International Peace be increased, <p173> complete disarmament be realized and the Flag of Universal Conciliation be waving on the summit of the mountains of the earth.

The ideals of Peace must be nurtured and spread among the inhabitants of the world; they must be instructed in the school of Peace and the evils of war. First: The financiers and bankers must desist from lending money to any government contemplating to wage an unjust war upon an innocent nation. Second: The presidents and managers of the railroads and steamship companies must refrain from transporting war ammunition, infernal engines, guns, cannons and powder from one country into another. Third: The soldiers must petition, through their representatives, the Ministers of War, the politicians, the Congressmen and the generals to put forth in a clear, intelligible language the reasons and the causes which have brought them to the brink of such a national calamity. The soldiers must (demand this as one of the prerogatives. "Demonstrate to us", they must say, "that this is a just war, and we will then enter into the battlefield otherwise we will not take one step.... Come forth from your hiding-places, enter into the battlefield if you like to attack each other and tear each other to pieces if you desire to air your so-called contentions. The discord and feud are between you; why do you make us, innocent people, a party to it? If fighting and bloodshed are good things, then lead us into the fray by your presence!"

In short, every means that produces war must be checked and the causes that prevent the occurrence of war be advanced; -so that physical conflict may become an impossibility. On the other hand, every country must be properly delimited, its exact frontiers marked, its national integrity secured, its permanent independence protected, and its vital interests honoured by the family of nations. These services ought to be rendered by an impartial, international Commission. In this manner all causes of friction and differences will be removed. And in case there should arise some disputes between them, they could arbitrate before the Parliament of Man, the representatives of which should be chosen from among the wisest and most judicious men of all the nations of the world.


("Star of the West", vol. 5, no. 8 (August 1914), pp. 115-117)

1605. Every century holds the solution of one predominating problem. Although there may be many problems, yet one of the innumerable <p174> problems will loom large and become the most important of all....in this luminous century the greatest bestowal of the world of humanity is Universal Peace, which must be founded, so that the realm of creation may obtain composure, the East and the West, which include in their arms the five continents of the globe, may embrace each other, mankind may rest beneath the tent of oneness of the world of humanity, and the flag of universal peace may wave over all the regions.... . . .

Today the true duty of a powerful king is to establish a universal peace; for verily it signifies the freedom of all the people of the world. Some persons who are ignorant of the world of true humanity and its high ambitions for the general good, reckon such a glorious condition of life to be very difficult, nay rather impossible to compass. But it is not so, far from it.

("Star of the West". vol. 7, no. 14 (November 1916), p. 136)

1606. O ye individuals of humanity, find ye means for the stoppage of this wholesale murder and bloodshed. Now is the appointed time! Now is the opportune time! Arise ye, show ye an effort, put ye forward an extraordinary force, and unfurl ye the Flag of Universal Peace and dam the irresistible fury of this raging torrent which is wreaking havoc and ruin everywhere.

("Star of the West" vol. 18, no. 11 (February 1928), p. 345)

1607. By what process, continued the questioner, will this peace on earth be established? Will it come at once after a universal declaration of the Truth?

No, it will come about gradually, said 'Abdu'l-Baha. A plant that grows too quickly lasts but a short time. You are my family, and he looked about with a smile, my new children! if a family lives in unison, great results are obtained. Widen the circle; when a city lives in intimate accord greater results will follow, and a continent that is fully united will likewise unite all other continents. Then will be the time of the greatest results, for all the inhabitants of the earth belong to one native land.

("'Abdu'l-Baha in London: Addresses, and Notes of Conversations", Commemorative ed. (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 106) <p175>

Extracts from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi:

1608. Dearly-beloved friends! Humanity, whether viewed in the light of man's individual conduct or in the existing relationships between organized communities and nations, has, alas, strayed too far and suffered too great a decline to be redeemed through the unaided efforts of the best among its recognized rulers and statesmen -- however disinterested their motives, however concerted their action, however unsparing in their zeal and devotion to its cause. No scheme which the calculations of the highest statesmanship may yet devise, no doctrine which the most distinguished exponents of economic theory may hope to advance, no principle which the most ardent of moralists may strive to inculcate, can provide, in the last resort, adequate foundations upon which the future of a distracted world can be built. No appeal for mutual tolerance which the worldly-wise might raise, however compelling and insistent, can calm its passions or help restore its vigour. Nor would any general scheme of mere organized international co-operation, in whatever sphere of human activity, however ingenious in conception or extensive in scope, succeed in removing the root cause of the evil that has so rudely upset the equilibrium of present day society. Not even, I venture to assert, would the very act of devising the machinery required for the political and economic unification of the world -- a principle that has been increasingly advocated in recent times -- provide in itself the antidote against the poison that is steadily undermining the vigour of organized peoples and nations. What else, might we not confidently affirm, but the unreserved acceptance of the Divine Programme enunciated, with such simplicity and force as far back as sixty years ago, by Baha'u'llah, embodying in its essentials God's divinely-appointed scheme for the unification of mankind in this age, coupled with an indomitable conviction in the unfailing efficacy of each and all of its provisions, is eventually capable of withstanding the forces of internal disintegration which, if unchecked, must needs continue to eat into the vitals of a despairing society. It is towards this goal -- the goal of a new World Order, Divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, equitable in principle, challenging in its features -- that a harassed humanity must strive.

To claim to have grasped all the implications of Baha'u'llah's prodigious scheme for world-wide human solidarity, or to have fathomed its import, would be presumptuous on the part of even the declared <p176> supporters of His Faith. To attempt to visualize it in all its possibilities, to estimate its future benefits, to picture its glory, would be premature at even so advanced a stage in the evolution of mankind.

All we can reasonably venture to attempt is to strive to obtain a glimpse of the first streaks of the promised Dawn that must, in the fullness of time, chase away the gloom that has encircled humanity. All we can do is to point out, in their broadest outline, to what appear to us to be the guiding principles underlying the World Order of Baha'u'llah, as amplified and enunciated by 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Centre of His Covenant with all mankind and the appointed Interpreter and Expounder of His Word.

That the unrest and suffering afflicting the mass of mankind are in no small measure the direct consequences of the World War and are attributable to the unwisdom and short-sightedness of the Framers of the Peace Treaties only a biased mind can refuse to admit....

It would be idle however to contend that the war, with all the losses it involved, the passions it aroused and the grievances it left behind, has solely been responsible for the unprecedented confusion into which almost every section of the civilized world is plunged at present. Is it not a fact -- and this is the central idea I desire to emphasize -- that the fundamental cause of this world unrest is attributable, not so much to the consequences of what must sooner or later come to be regarded as a transitory dislocation in the affairs of a continually changing world, but rather to the failure of those into whose hands the immediate destinies of peoples and nations have been committed, to adjust their systems of economic and political institutions to the imperative needs of a fast evolving age? Are not these intermittent crises that convulse present-day society due primarily to the lamentable inability of the world's recognized leaders to read aright the signs of the times, to rid themselves once for all of their preconceived ideas and fettering creeds, and to reshape the machinery of their respective governments according to those standards that are implicit in Baha'u'llah's supreme declaration of the Oneness of Mankind -- the chief and distinguishing feature of the Faith He proclaimed?....

How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders of human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit of the age, are striving to adjust national processes, suited to the ancient days of self-contained <p177> nations to an age which must either achieve the unity of the world, as adumbrated by Baha'u'llah, or perish. At so critical an hour in the history of civilization it behoves the leaders of all the nations of the world, great and small, whether in the East or in the West, whether victors or vanquished, to give heed to the clarion call of Baha'u'llah and, thoroughly imbued with a sense of world solidarity, the sine qua non of loyalty to His Cause, arise manfully to carry out in its entirety the one remedial scheme He, the Divine Physician, has prescribed for an ailing humanity. Let them discard, once for all, every preconceived idea, every national prejudice, and give heed to the sublime counsel of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the authorized Expounder of His teachings. You can best serve your country, was 'Abdu'l-Baha's rejoinder to a high official in the service of the federal government of the United States of America, who had questioned Him as to the best manner in which he could promote the interests of his government and people, if you strive, in your capacity as a citizen of the world, to assist in the eventual application of the principle of federalism underlying the government of your own country to the relationships now existing between the peoples and nations of the world.

...

Some form of a world super-state must needs be evolved, in whose favour all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an international executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a world parliament whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a supreme tribunal whose judgement will have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to its consideration. A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of Capital and Labour definitely recognized; in which the clamour of religious fanaticism and strife will have been for ever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law -- the product of the considered judgement of the <p178> world's federated representatives -- shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship- such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Baha'u'llah, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age.

Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Baha'u'llah. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remould its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity such as 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself has explained.

Its [the principle of the Oneness of Mankind] implications are deeper, its claims greater than any which the Prophets of old were allowed to advance. Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. It does not constitute merely the enunciation of an ideal, but stands inseparably associated with an institution adequate to embody its truth, demonstrate its validity, and perpetuate its influence. It implies an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It constitutes a challenge, at once bold and universal, to outworn shibboleths of national creeds -- creeds that <p179> have had their day and which must, in the ordinary course of events as shaped and controlled by Providence, give way to a new gospel, fundamentally different from, and infinitely superior to, what the world has already conceived. It calls for no less that the reconstruction and the demilitarization of the whole civilized world -- a world organically unified in all the essential aspects of its life, its political machinery, its spiritual aspiration, its trade and finance, its script and language, and yet infinite in the diversity of the national characteristics of its federated units.

It represents the consummation of human evolution -- an evolution that has had its earliest beginnings in the birth of family life, its subsequent development in the achievement of tribal solidarity, leading in turn to the constitution of the city-state, and expanding later into the institution of independent and sovereign nations.

...

To take but one instance. How confident were the assertions made in the days preceding the unification of the states of the North American continent regarding the insuperable barriers that stood in the way of their ultimate federation! Was it not widely and emphatically declared that the conflicting interests, the mutual distrust, the differences of government and habit that divided the states were such as no force, whether spiritual or temporal, could ever hope to harmonize or control? And yet how different were the conditions prevailing a hundred and fifty years ago from those that characterize present-day society! It would indeed be no exaggeration to say that the absence of those facilities which modern scientific progress has placed at the service of humanity in our time made of the problem of welding the American states into a single federation, similar though they were in certain traditions, a task infinitely more complex than that which confronts a divided humanity in its efforts to achieve the unification of all mankind.

Who knows that for so exalted a conception to take shape a suffering more intense that any it has yet experienced will have to be inflicted upon humanity? Could anything less than the fire of a civil war with all its violence and vicissitudes -- a war that nearly rent the great American Republic -- have welded the states, not only into a Union of independent units, but into a Nation, in spite of all the ethnic differences that characterized its component parts? That so fundamental a revolution, involving such far-reaching changes in the structure of society, can be <p180> achieved through the ordinary processes of diplomacy and education seems highly improbable. We have but to turn our gaze to humanity's blood-stained history to realize that nothing short of intense mental as well as physical agony has been able to precipitate those epoch-making changes that constitute the greatest landmarks in the history of human civilization.

Great and far-reaching as have been those changes in the past, they cannot but appear, when viewed in their proper perspective, except as subsidiary adjustments precluding that transformation of unparalleled majesty and scope which humanity is in this age bound to undergo. 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.

The prophetic voice of Baha'u'llah warning, in the concluding passages of the "Hidden Words", "the peoples of the world" that "an unforeseen calamity is following them and that grievous retribution awaiteth them" throws indeed a lurid light upon the immediate fortunes of sorrowing humanity. 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 new-born age must arise to shoulder.

I would again direct your attention to those ominous words of Baha'u'llah which I have already quoted: "And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake."

Has not 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself asserted in unequivocal language that "another war, fiercer than the last, will assuredly break out"?

Upon the consummation of this colossal, this unspeakably glorious enterprise -- an enterprise that baffled the resources of Roman statesmanship and which Napoleon's desperate efforts failed to achieve -- will depend the ultimate realization of that millennium of which poets of all ages have sung and seers have long dreamed. Upon it will depend the fulfilment of the prophecies uttered by the Prophets of old when <p181> swords shall be beaten into ploughshares and the lion and the lamb lie down together. It alone can usher in the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father as anticipated by the Faith of Jesus Christ. It alone can lay the foundation for the New World Order visualized by Baha'u'llah -- a World Order that shall reflect, however dimly, upon this earthly plane, the ineffable splendours of the Abha Kingdom.

One word more in conclusion. The proclamation of the Oneness of Mankind -- the head corner-stone of Baha'u'llah's all-embracing dominion -- can under no circumstances be compared with such expressions of pious hope as have been uttered in the past. His is not merely a call which He raised, alone and unaided, in the face of the relentless and combined opposition of two of the most powerful Oriental potentates of His day- while Himself an exile and prisoner in their hands. It implies at once a warning and a promise -- a warning that in it lies the sole means for the salvation of a greatly suffering world, a promise that its realization is at hand.

Uttered at a time when its possibility had not yet been seriously envisaged in any part of the world, it has, by virtue of that celestial potency which the Spirit of Baha'u'llah has breathed into it, come at last to be regarded, by an increasing number of thoughtful men, not only as an approaching possibility, but as the necessary outcome of the forces now operating in the world.

Surely the world, contracted and transformed into a single highly complex organism by the marvellous progress achieved in the realm of physical science, by the world-wide expansion of commerce and industry, and struggling, under the pressure of world economic forces, amidst the pitfalls of a materialistic civilization, stands in dire need of a restatement of the Truth underlying all the Revelation, of the past in a language suited to its essential requirements. And what voice other than that of Baha'u'llah- the Mouthpiece of God for this age -- is capable of effecting a transformation of society as radical as that which He has already accomplished in the hearts of those men and women, so diversified and seemingly irreconcilable, who constitute the body of His declared followers throughout the world?

That such a mighty conception is fast budding out in the minds of men, that voices are being raised in its support, that its salient features must fast crystallize in the consciousness of those who are in authority, <p182> few indeed can doubt. That its modest beginnings have already taken shape in the world-wide Administration with which the adherents of the Faith of Baha'u'llah stand associated only those whose hearts are tainted by prejudice can fail to perceive.

(28 November 1931 to the Baha'is of the West, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 33-37, 40 43, 45-48)

1609. No machinery falling short of the standard inculcated by the Baha'i Revelation, and at variance with the sublime pattern ordained in His teachings, which the collective efforts of mankind may yet devise can ever hope to achieve anything above or beyond that "Lesser Peace" to which the Author of our Faith has Himself alluded in His writings. "Now that ye have refused the Most Great Peace," He, admonishing the kings and rulers of the earth, has written, "hold ye fast unto this the Lesser Peace, that haply ye may in some degree better your own condition and that of your dependents." Expatiating on this Lesser Peace, He thus addresses in that same Tablet the rulers of the earth: "Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need no more armaments save in a measure to safeguard your territories and dominions... Be united, O kings of the earth, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you, and your peoples find rest, if ye be of them that comprehend. Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice."

The Most Great Peace, on the other hand, as conceived by Baha'u'llah -- a peace that must inevitably follow as the practical consequence of the spiritualization of the world and the fusion of all its races, creeds, classes and nations -- can rest on no other basis, and can be preserved through no other agency, except the divinely appointed ordinances that are implicit in the World Order that stands associated with His Holy Name....

The Revelation of Baha'u'llah, whose supreme mission is none other but the achievement of this organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations, should, if we be faithful to its implications, be regarded as signalizing through its advent the (coming of age of the entire human race. It should be viewed not merely as yet another spiritual revival in the ever-changing fortunes of mankind, not only as a further stage in a chain <p183> of progressive Revelations, nor even as the culmination of one of a series of recurrent prophetic cycles, but rather as marking the last and highest stage in the stupendous evolution of man's collective life on this planet. The emergence of a world community, the consciousness of world citizenship, the founding of a world civilization and culture -- all of which must synchronize with the initial stages in the unfoldment of the Golden Age of the Baha'i Era -- should, by their very nature, be regarded, as far as this planetary life is concerned, as the furthermost limits in the organization of human society, though man, as an individual, will, nay must indeed as a result of such a consummation, continue indefinitely to progress and develop.

The whole of mankind is groaning, is dying to be led to unity, and to terminate its age-long martyrdom. And yet it stubbornly refuses to embrace the light and acknowledge the sovereign authority of the one Power that can extricate it from its entanglements, and avert the woeful calamity that threatens to engulf it.

Ominous indeed is the voice of Baha'u'llah that rings through these prophetic words: "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." And again: "We have a fixed time for you, O peoples. If ye fail, at the appointed hour, to turn towards God, He, verily, will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous afflictions to assail you from every direction. How severe, indeed, is the chastisement with which your Lord will then chastise you!"

Must humanity, tormented as she now is, be afflicted with still severer tribulations ere their purifying influence can prepare her to enter the heavenly Kingdom destined to be established upon earth? Must the inauguration of so vast, so unique, so illumined an era in human history be ushered in by so great a catastrophe in human affairs as to recall, nay surpass, the appalling collapse of Roman civilization in the first centuries of the Christian Era? Must a series of profound convulsions stir and rock the human race ere Baha'u'llah can be enthroned in the hearts and consciences of the masses, ere His undisputed ascendancy is universally recognized, and the noble edifice of His World Order is reared and established? <p184>

The long ages of infancy and childhood, through which the human race had to pass, have receded into the background. Humanity is now experiencing the commotions invariably associated with the most turbulent stage of its evolution, the stage of adolescence, when the impetuosity of youth and its vehemence reach their climax, and must gradually be superseded by the calmness, the wisdom, and the maturity that characterize the stage of manhood. Then will the human race reach that stature of ripeness which will enable it to acquire all the powers and capacities upon which its ultimate development must depend.

Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving. Nation-building has come to an end. The anarchy inherent in state sovereignty is moving towards a climax. A world, growing to maturity, must abandon this fetish, recognize the oneness and wholeness of human relationships, and establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life.

...

The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Baha'u'llah, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and <p185> functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity. A world metropolis will act as the nerve centre of a world civilization, the focus towards which the unifying forces of life will converge and from which its energizing influences will radiate. A world language will either be invented or chosen from among the existing languages and will be taught in the schools of all the federated nations as an auxiliary to their mother tongue. A world script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system of currency, of weights and measures, will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind. In such a world society, science and religion, the two most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will co-operate, and will harmoniously develop. The press will, under such a system, while giving full scope to the expression of the diversified views and convictions of mankind, cease to be mischievously manipulated by vested interests, whether private or public, and will be liberated from the influence of contending governments and peoples. The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be co-ordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.

National rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will cease, and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by racial amity, understanding and co-operation. The causes of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished, and the inordinate distinction between classes will be obliterated. Destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear.

The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether economic or political, will be consecrated to such ends as will extend the range of human inventions and technical development, to the increase of the productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease, to the extension of scientific research, to the raising of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race. <p186>

A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation -- such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving.

(11 March 1936, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 162-63, 201-4)

1610. The world-shaking ordeal which Baha'u'llah, as quoted in the foregoing pages, has so graphically prophesied, may find it [the American nation] swept, to an unprecedented degree, into its vortex. Out of it will probably emerge, unlike its reactions to the last world conflict, consciously determined to seize its opportunity, to bring the full weight of its influence to bear upon the gigantic problems that such an ordeal must leave in its wake, and to exorcise forever, in conjunction with its sister nations of both the East and the West, the greatest curse which, from time immemorial, has afflicted and degraded the human race.

Then, and only then, will the American nation, moulded and purified in the crucible of a common war, inured to its rigours, and disciplined by its lessons, be in a position to raise its voice in the councils of the nations, itself lay the corner-stone of a universal and enduring peace, proclaim the solidarity, the unity, and maturity of mankind, and assist in the establishment of the promised reign of righteousness on earth. Then, and only then, will the American nation, while the community of the American believers within its heart is consummating its divinely appointed mission, be able to fulfill the unspeakably glorious destiny ordained for it by the Almighty, and immortally enshrined in the writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha. Then, and only then, will the American nation accomplish "that which will adorn the pages of history," "become the envy of the world and be blest in both the East and the West."

(25 December 1938, published in "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), pp. 90-91) <p187>

1611. The world is, in truth, moving on towards its destiny. The interdependence of the peoples and nations of the earth, whatever the leaders of the divisive forces of the world may say or do, is already an accomplished fact. Its unity in the economic sphere is now understood and recognized. The welfare of the part means the welfare of the whole, and the distress of the part brings distress to the whole. The Revelation of Baha'u'llah has, in His own words, "lent a fresh impulse and set a new direction" to this vast process now operating in the world. The fires lit by this great ordeal are the consequences of men's failure to recognize it. They are, moreover, hastening its consummation. Adversity, prolonged, world wide, afflictive, allied to chaos and universal destruction, must needs convulse the nations, stir the conscience of the world, disillusion the masses, precipitate a radical change in the very conception of society, and coalesce ultimately the disjointed, the bleeding limbs of mankind into one body, single, organically united, and indivisible.

To the general character, the implications and features of this world commonwealth, destined to emerge, sooner or later, out of the carnage, agony, and havoc of this great world convulsion, I have already referred in my previous communications. Suffice it to say that this consummation will, by its very nature, be a gradual process, and must, as Baha'u'llah has Himself anticipated, lead at first to the establishment of that Lesser Peace which the nations of the earth, as yet unconscious of His Revelation and yet unwittingly enforcing the general principles which He has enunciated, will themselves establish. This momentous and historic step, involving the reconstruction of mankind, as the result of the universal recognition of its oneness and wholeness, will bring in its wake the spiritualization of the masses, consequent to the recognition of the character, and the acknowledgement of the claims, of the Faith of Baha'u'llah -- the essential condition to that ultimate fusion of all races, creeds, classes, and nations which must signalize the emergence of His New World Order.

Then will the coming of age of the entire human race be proclaimed and celebrated by all the peoples and nations of the earth. Then will the banner of the Most Great Peace be hoisted. Then will the world wide sovereignty of Baha'u'llah -- the Establisher of the Kingdom of the Father foretold by the Son, and anticipated by the Prophets of God before Him and after Him -- be recognized, acclaimed, and firmly established. Then <p188> will a world civilization be born, flourish, and perpetuate itself, a civilization with a fullness of life such as the world has never seen nor can as yet conceive. Then will the Everlasting Covenant be fulfilled in its completeness. Then will the promise enshrined in all the Books of God be redeemed, and all the prophecies uttered by the Prophets of old come to pass, and the vision of seers and poets be realized. Then will the planet, galvanized through the universal belief of its dwellers in one God, and their allegiance to one common Revelation, mirror, within the limitations imposed upon it, the effulgent glories of the sovereignty of Baha'u'llah, shining in the plenitude of its splendour in the Abha Paradise, and be made the footstool of His Throne on high, and acclaimed as the earthly heaven, capable of fulfilling that ineffable destiny fixed for it, from time immemorial, by the love and wisdom of its Creator.

(28 March 1941, published in "The Promised Day Is Come" pp. 122-124)

1612. The principle of collective security He [Baha'u'llah] unreservedly urges; recommends the reduction in national armaments; and proclaims as necessary and inevitable the convening of a world gathering at which the kings and rulers of the world will deliberate for the establishment of peace among the nations.

("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 217-218)

1613. During this Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of the present and succeeding epochs, the last and crowning stage in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Baha'u'llah -- the election of the Universal House of Justice -- will have been completed, the "Kitab-i-Aqdas", the Mother-Book of His Revelation, will have been codified and its laws promulgated, the Lesser Peace will have been established, the unity of mankind will have been achieved and its maturity attained, the Plan conceived by 'Abdu'l-Baha will have been executed, the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will have been effected, and its independent religious status will have been universally recognized..."

...

...we cannot fail to perceive the workings of two simultaneous processes, generated as far back as the concluding years of the Heroic <p189> Age of our Faith, each clearly defined, each distinctly separate, yet closely related and destined to culminate, in the fullness of time, in a single glorious consummation.

One of these processes is associated with the mission of the American Baha'i community, the other with the destiny of the American nation. The one serves directly the interests of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Baha'u'llah...

The other process dates back to the outbreak of the First World War that threw the Great Republic of the West into the vortex of the first stage of a world upheaval. It received its initial impetus through the formulation of President Wilson's Fourteen Points, closely associating for the first time that Republic with the fortunes of the Old World. It suffered its first set-back through the dissociation of that Republic from the newly-born League of Nations which that President had laboured to create. It acquired added momentum through the outbreak of the Second World War, inflicting unprecedented suffering on that Republic, and involving it still further in the affairs of all the continents of the globe. It was further reinforced through the declaration embodied in the Atlantic Charter, as voiced by one of its chief progenitors, Franklin D. Roosevelt. It assumed a definite outline through the birth of the United Nations at the San Francisco Conference. It acquired added significance through the choice of the City of the Covenant itself as the seat of the newly-born organization, through the declaration recently made by the American President related to his country's commitments in Greece and Turkey, as well as through the submission to the General Assembly of the United Nations of the thorny and challenging problem of the Holy Land, the spiritual as well as the administrative centre of the World Faith of Baha'u'llah. It must, however long and tortuous the way, lead, through a series of victories and reverses, to the political unification of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, to the emergence of a world government, and the establishment of the Lesser Peace, as foretold by Baha'u'llah and foreshadowed by the Prophet Isaiah. It must, in the end, culminate in the unfurling of the banner of the Most Great Peace, in the Golden Age of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah.

(5 June 1947 to the Baha'is of West, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 6, pp. 32-33) <p190>

1614. The raising of this Edifice will in turn herald the construction, in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, of several other structures, which will serve as the administrative seats of such divinely appointed institutions as the Guardianship, the Hands of the Cause, and the Universal House of Justice. These Edifices will, in the shape of a far-flung arc, and following a harmonizing style of architecture, surround the resting-places of the Greatest Holy Leaf, ranking as foremost among the members of her sex in the Baha'i Dispensation, of her Brother, offered up as a ransom by Baha'u'llah for the quickening of the world and its unification, and of their Mother, proclaimed by Him to be His chosen "consort in all the worlds of God". The ultimate completion of this stupendous undertaking will mark the culmination of the development of a world-wide divinely-appointed Administrative Order whose beginnings may be traced as far back as the concluding years of the Heroic Age of the Faith.

This vast and irresistible process, unexampled in the spiritual history of mankind, and which will synchronize with two no less significant developments -- the establishment of the Lesser Peace and the evolution of Baha'i national and local institutions -- the one outside and the other within the Baha'i world -- will attain its final consummation, in the Golden Age of the Faith, through the raising of the standard of the Most Great Peace, and the emergence, in the plenitude of its power and glory, of the focal Centre of the agencies constituting the World Order of Baha'u'llah. The final establishment of this seat of the future Baha'i World Commonwealth will signalize at once the proclamation of the sovereignty of the Founder of our Faith and the advent of the Kingdom of the Father repeatedly lauded and promised by Jesus Christ.

This World Order will, in turn, in the course of successive Dispensations of the Baha'i Cycle, yield its fairest fruit through the birth and flowering of a civilization, divinely inspired, unique in its features, world-embracing in its scope, and fundamentally spiritual in its character -- a civilization destined as it unfolds to derive its initial impulse from the spirit animating the very institutions which, in their embryonic state, are now stirring in the womb of the present Formative Age of the Faith.

(27 November 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Messages to the Baha'i World, 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971), pp. 7475) <p191>

Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

1615. The world is in great turmoil, and what is most pathetic is that it has learned to keep away from God, Who alone can save it and alleviate its sufferings. It is our duty, we who have been trusted with the task of applying the divine remedy given by Baha'u'llah, to concentrate our attention upon the consummation of this task, and not rest until the peace foretold by the Prophets of God is permanently established....

(9 December 1931 to the Baha'is of Tokyo)

1616. Shoghi Effendi wrote his last general letter to the western friends because he felt that the public should be made to understand the attitude the Baha'i Faith maintains towards the prevailing economic and political problems. We should let the world know what the real aim of Baha'u'llah was. Up to the present Unity of Mankind was only of an academic importance. Now it is becoming more and more a subject for international statesmen to think of. It is coming to the field of practical politics. It is therefore a wonderful chance for us to come to the front and expound the teaching which is the goal and aim of the social precepts of Baha'u'llah. Shoghi Effendi hopes that the friends will re-echo this call to an organic unity of mankind until it forms part of the conscious faith of every living man in the world. Great judgement should be however practised lest we be misunderstood and our Faith be classed among radical movements.

(28 January 1932 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1617. Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated January 26th 1932 which accompanied a printed copy of his last general letter. He thanks you both for this as well as for the one hundred copies you are shipping to him. He is deeply gratified to learn that the friends find it interesting and worthwhile enough as to make its subject-matter the topic of their teaching campaign. He sincerely hopes that this will also awaken some of the friends to the importance of this teaching of the Cause and stimulate them to make a thorough and deep study of it. For it undoubtedly forms the goal of the social precepts of the Faith. There is no reason why the Baha'is should not take the lead in <p192> advocating such a federation of the world, towards which the world is driven by forces it cannot control....

(16 February 1932 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1618. The different nations of the world will never attain peace except after recognizing the significance of the teachings and whole-heartedly upholding them for through those precepts all international problems will be solved and every man will secure the spiritual environment in which his soul can evolve and produce its highest fruits.

(15 January 1933 to an individual believer)

1619. The Guardian has also read with deep interest all the enclosed papers. He is firmly convinced that through perseverance and concerted action the cause of Peace will eventually triumph over all the dark forces which threaten the welfare and progress of the world today. But such purely human attempts are undoubtedly ineffective unless inspired and guided by the power of faith. Without the assistance of God, as given through the message of Baha'u'llah, peace can never be safely and adequately established. To disregard the Baha'i solution for world peace is to build on foundations of sand. To accept and apply it is to make peace not a mere dream, or an ideal, but a living reality. This is the point which the Guardian wishes you to develop, to emphasize again and again, and to support by convincing arguments. The Baha'i peace programme is, indeed, not only one way of attaining that goal. It is not even relatively the best. It is, in the last resort, the sole effective instrument for the establishment of the reign of peace in this world. This attitude does not involve any total repudiation of other solutions offered by various philanthropists. It merely shows their inadequacy compared to the Divine Plan for the unification of the world. We cannot escape the truth that nothing mundane can in the last resort be enduring, unless supported and sustained through the power of God.

(25 September 1933 to an individual believer)

1620. Whatever our shortcomings may be, and however formidable the forces of darkness which besiege us today, the unification of mankind as outlined and ensured by the World Order of Baha'u'llah will in the <p193> 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.

(6 November 1933 to an individual believer)

1621. As regards the International Executive referred to by the Guardian in his "Goal of a New World Order", it should be noted that this statement refers by no means to the Baha'i Commonwealth of the future, but simply to that world government which will herald the advent and lead to the final establishment of the World Order of Baha'u'llah. The formation of this International Executive, which corresponds to the executive head or board in present-day national governments, is but a step leading to the Baha'i world government of the future, and hence should not be identified with either the institution of the Guardianship or that of the International House of Justice.

(17 March 1934 to two believers)

1622. In connection with your teaching work: what the Guardian wishes you to particularly emphasize in all your talks is the supreme necessity for all individuals and nations in this day to adopt in its entirety the social programme given by Baha'u'llah for the reconstruction of the religious, economic and political life of mankind. He wishes you to explain and analyze the elements that help in raising this Divine World Order in the light of the present-day events and conditions in the world. Special stress, he feels, should be laid on the impending necessity of establishing a supranational and sovereign world state, as the one described by Baha'u'llah. With the world becoming increasingly subject to tumults and convulsions never experienced before, the realization of such a necessity is entering into the consciousness of not only the wise and learned, but of the common people as well. The believers should, therefore, seize this opportunity and make a supreme effort to present, in a convincing and eloquent language, those social and humanitarian teachings of the Faith which we believe to constitute the sole panacea for the innumerable ills afflicting our present-day world. <p194>

(15 November 1935 to two believers)

1623. With reference to your question concerning 'Abdu'l-Baha's reference to "unity in the political realm": this unity should be clearly distinguished from the "unity of nations". The first is a unity which politically independent and sovereign states achieve among themselves; while the second is one which is brought about between nations, the difference between a state and a nation being that the former, as you know, is a political entity without necessarily being homogeneous in race, whereas the second implies national as well as political homogeneity.

(26 July 1936 to an individual believer)

1624. As regards your teaching work: the Guardian has already advised you to stress in your talks the idea of a world superstate, and the concept of the Oneness of Mankind underlying it. In addition, he wishes you also to emphasize the fact that humanity, taken as a whole, has entered the most critical and momentous stage of its evolution, the stage of maturity. This idea of the coming of age of mankind constitutes the central core of the Baha'i Teachings, and is the most distinguishing feature of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. A proper understanding of this concept gives the key to an adequate appreciation of the tremendous claim made by the Author of the Faith, both with regard to His own station, and to the incomparable greatness of His Dispensation.

(12 October 1936 to an individual believer)

1625. With reference to the question you have asked concerning the time and means through which the Lesser and Most Great Peace, referred to by Baha'u'llah, will be established, following the coming World War: Your view that the Lesser Peace will come about through the political efforts of the states and nations of the world, and independently of any direct Baha'i plan or effort, and the Most Great Peace be established through the instrumentality of the believers, and by the direct operation of the laws and principles revealed by Baha'u'llah and the functioning of the Universal House of Justice as the supreme organ of the Baha'i superstate -- your view on this subject is quite correct and in full accord with the pronouncements of the Guardian as embodied in "The Unfoldment of World Civilization". <p195>

(14 March 1939 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, and to an individual believer)

1626. Though it is premature to try and endeavour to foresee on what basis various nations would be represented on any international council, or in any international form of government, it is clear that from the Baha'i standpoint it could only be carried out on a basis of true justice; and justice does not imply one race having a preponderating vote over some other race's representatives, and thus being in a position to dominate them.

(12 April 1942 to an individual believer)

1627. What 'Abdu'l-Baha meant about the women arising for peace is that this is a matter which vitally affects women, and when they form a conscious and overwhelming mass of public opinion against war there can be no war. The Baha'i women are already organized through being members of the Faith and the Administrative Order. No further organization is needed. But they should, through teaching and through the active moral support they give to every movement directed towards peace, seek to exert a strong influence on other women's minds in regard to this essential matter.

(24 March 1945 to two believers)

1628. The Seven Lights of Unity will not necessarily appear in the order given. A product of the second may well be universal culture.

(19 November 1945 to an individual believer)

1629. The teachings of Baha'u'llah will establish a new way of life for humanity. Those who are Baha'is must endeavour to establish this way of life just as rapidly as possible. Now that the hour has arrived when the Baha'i Faith is gaining prominence, and is being reviewed by so many peoples, it is necessary that the adherents of the Faith should live up to the high ideals of the Faith in every way. In this way they can demonstrate that the Baha'i Faith does create a new way of life, which brings to the individual a complete association with the Will of God, and thus the establishment of a peaceful and universal society. Divisional attachments are of men, while universal service is of God. <p196>

The Guardian is now anxious that all the friends achieve a universal consciousness and universal way of life.

(20 November 1955 to an individual believer)

1630. World government will come, but we do not know the date.

(15 August 1957 to an individual believer)

Extracts from Letters of the Universal House of Justice:

1631. When Baha'u'llah proclaimed His Message to the world in the nineteenth century He made it abundantly clear that the first step essential for the peace and progress of mankind was its unification. As He says, "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."

("The World Order of Baha'u'llah", p. 203)

To this day, however, you will find most people take the opposite point of view: they look upon unity as an ultimate, almost unattainable goal and concentrate first on remedying all the other ills of mankind. If they did but know it, these other ills are but various symptoms and side effects of the basic disease -- disunity.

Baha'u'llah has, furthermore, stated that the revivification of mankind and the curing of all its ills can be achieved only through the instrumentality of His Faith....

We are told by Shoghi Effendi that two great processes are at work in the world: the great Plan of God, tumultuous in its progress, working through mankind as a whole, tearing down barriers to world unity and forging humankind into a unified body in the fires of suffering and experience. This process will produce, in God's due time, the Lesser Peace, the political unification of the world. Mankind at that time can be likened to a body that is unified but without life. The second process, the task of breathing life into this unified body -- of creating true unity and spirituality culminating in the Most Great Peace -- is that of the Baha'is, who are labouring consciously, with detailed instructions and continuing Divine guidance, to erect the fabric of the Kingdom of God on earth, into which they call their fellow men, thus conferring upon them eternal life. <p197>

(8 December 1967, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", 1st rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 131-34)

1632. It is true that 'Abdu'l-Baha made statements linking the establishment of the unity of nations to the twentieth century. For example: 'The fifth candle is the unity of nations -- a unity which, in this century, will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland." And, in The "Promised Day Is Come", following a similar statement quoted from "Some Answered Questions", Shoghi Effendi makes this comment: "This is the stage which the world is now approaching, the stage of world unity, which, as 'Abdu'l-Baha assures us, will, in this century, be securely established."

There is also this statement from a letter written in 1946 to an individual believer on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary:

All we know is that the Lesser and the Most Great Peace will come -- their exact dates we do not know. The same is true as regards the possibility of a future war; we cannot state dogmatically it will or will not take place -- all we know is that mankind must suffer and be punished sufficiently to make it turn to God.

(29 July 1974)

Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

1633. ...the Baha'i Faith aims to eliminate all war, including nuclear. The fundamental purpose of our Faith is unity and the establishment of peace. This goal, which is the longing of people throughout an increasingly insecure world, can only be achieved through the Teachings of Baha'u'llah. Since it is only the Baha'is who can give these Teachings to mankind, the friends must weigh carefully how they will spend their time and energy and guard against associating with activities which unduly distract them from their primary responsibility of sharing the Message of Baha'u'llah.

(4 July 1982 to an individual believer) <p198>

1634. At the present time, the subject of nuclear disarmament has become very much a political issue, with demonstrations taking place not only in the United States but also in England and some western European countries. To single out nuclear disarmament falls short of the Baha'i position and would involve the Faith in the current disputes between nations. It is very clear that Baha'is believe disarmament, not only of nuclear weapons but of biological, chemical and all other forms, is essential...

(12 January 1983 to an individual believer)

1635. Concerning the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a system of world government, the House of Justice fully agrees with your view that the Baha'is must now do all in their power to promote this transition. This requires several related activities, all of which are goals of the present Seven Year Plan. One is the establishment as rapidly as possible of firmly grounded efficiently functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies in every part of the world, so that seekers everywhere will have a point of reference to which they can turn for guidance and for the Teachings of the Faith. A second is the deepening of the believers, of all ages, in their understanding of and obedience to the Teachings. A third is the proclamation of the Faith to all strata of society, and in particular to those in authority and to leaders of thought so that those who hold the direction of peoples in their hands will learn accurately about the nature and tenets of the Faith and will grow to respect it and implement its principles. A fourth is the promotion of Baha'i scholarship, so that an increasing number of believers will be able to analyse the problems of mankind in every field and to show how the Teachings solve them. A fifth is the development of relations between the Baha'i International Community and the United Nations both directly with the highest UN institutions and at a grass-roots level in areas of rural development, education, etc.

As you are no doubt aware, the Guardian indicated that the development of mankind from its present chaotic condition to the stage of the Baha'i World Commonwealth would be a long and gradual one. The coming into existence of a World Authority and the initiation of the Lesser Peace, is one major transformation in this process, and will be followed by other stages of the development of the Faith as outlined by <p199> Shoghi Effendi in his writings. Undoubtedly, as these developments are taking place, the counsel the institutions of the Faith can give to governments, the pattern of world administration offered by the Baha'i community and the great humanitarian projects which will be launched under the aegis of the Universal House of Justice, will exercise a great influence on the course of progress.

(19 January 1983 to an individual believer)

1636. It is true that Baha'is are not pacifists since we uphold the use of force in the service of justice and upholding law. But we do not believe that war is ever necessary and its abolition is one of the essential purposes and brightest promises of Baha'u'llah's revelation. His specific command to the kings of the earth is: "Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice." (Tablet to Queen Victoria, "The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah", p. 13) The beloved Guardian has explained that the unity of mankind implies the establishment of a world commonwealth, a world federal system,".. .liberated from the curse of war and its miseries in which Force is made the servant of Justice..." whose world executive "backed by an international Force,...will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth." This is obviously not war but the maintenance of law and order on a world scale. Warfare is the ultimate tragedy of disunity among nations where no international authority exists powerful enough to restrain them from pursuing their own limited interests. Baha'is therefore ask to serve their countries in non-combatant ways during such fighting; they will doubtless serve in such an international Force as Baha'u'llah envisions, whenever it comes into being.

(11 September 1984 to an individual believer)

1637. Baha'u'llah's principal mission in appearing at this time in human history is the realization of the oneness of mankind and the establishment of peace among the nations; therefore, all the forces which are focused on accomplishing these ends are influenced by His Revelation. We know, however, that peace will come in stages. First, there will come the Lesser Peace, when the unity of nations will be achieved, then gradually the Most Great Peace -- the spiritual as well as social and political unity of mankind, when the Baha'i World Commonwealth, operating in strict accordance <p200> with the laws and ordinances of the Most Holy Book of the Baha'i Revelation, will have been established through the efforts of the Baha'is.

As to the Lesser Peace, Shoghi Effendi has explained that this will initially be a political unity arrived at by decision of the governments of various nations; it will not be established by direct action of the Baha'i community. This does not mean, however, that the Baha'is are standing aside and waiting for the Lesser Peace to come before they do something about the peace of mankind. Indeed, by promoting the principles of the Faith, which are indispensable to the maintenance of peace, and by fashioning the instruments of the Baha'i Administrative Order, which we are told by the beloved Guardian is the pattern for future society, the Baha'is are constantly engaged in laying the groundwork for a permanent peace, the Most Great Peace being their ultimate goal. The Lesser Peace itself will pass through stages; at the initial stage the governments will act entirely on their own without the conscious involvement of the Faith; later on, in God's good time, the Faith will have a direct influence on it in ways indicated by Shoghi Effendi in his "The Goal of a New World Order". In connection with the steps that will lead to this latter stage, the Universal House of Justice will certainly determine what has to be done, in accordance with the guidance in the Writings, such as the passage you quoted from "Tablets of Baha'u'llah", page 89. In the meantime, the Baha'is will undoubtedly continue to do all in their power to promote the establishment of peace.

(31 January 1985 to an individual believer) <p201>

August 1981
Compiled by: The Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

1638. Be not dismayed, O peoples of the world, when the day star of My beauty is set, and the heaven of My tabernacle is concealed from your eyes. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth. We are truly almighty. Whoso hath recognized Me, will arise and serve Me with such determination that the powers of earth and heaven shall be unable to defeat his purpose.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), sec. 71, p. 137; "A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah", 1st ed. (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1973), p. 14)

1639. Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My Presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance is stilled. In My presence amongst you there is a wisdom, and in My absence there is yet another, inscrutable to all but God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favoured angels.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 72, p. 139; "A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah" p. 16)

1640. Dost thou believe thou hast the power to frustrate His Will, to hinder Him from executing His judgement, or to deter Him from exercising His sovereignty? Pretendest thou that aught in the heavens or in the earth can resist His Faith? No, by Him Who is the Eternal Truth! Nothing whatsoever in the whole of creation can thwart His Purpose.... <p202>

Know thou, moreover, that He it is Who hath, by His own behest, created all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. How can, then, the thing that hath been created at His bidding prevail against Him?...

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 113, p. 220)

1641. By the righteousness of God! Whoso openeth his lips in this Day and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus hath it been foreordained in the realm of God's Revelation, by the behest of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 129, p. 280)

1642. They that have forsaken their country for the purpose of teaching Our Cause -- these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through its power. A company of Our chosen angels shall go forth with them, as bidden by Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Wise. How great the blessedness that awaiteth him that hath attained the honor of serving the Almighty!...

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 157, p. 334)

1643. Great is the blessedness of him who hath in this Day cast away the things current amongst men and hath clung unto that which is ordained by God, the Lord of Names and the Fashioner of all created things, He Who is come from the heaven of eternity through the power of the Most Great Name, invested with so invincible an authority that all the powers of the earth are unable to withstand Him. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book, calling from the Most Sublime Station.

(Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), p. 48)

1644. This is the most great, the most joyful tidings imparted by the Pen of this Wronged One to mankind. Wherefore fear ye, O My well-beloved ones? Who is it that can dismay you? A touch of moisture sufficeth to dissolve the hardened clay out of which this perverse generation is <p203> moulded. The mere act of your gathering together is enough to scatter the forces of these vain and worthless people. ("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", pp. 8485) 1645. The source of courage and power is the promotion of the Word of God, and steadfastness in His Love.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 156)

1646. He, verily, will aid everyone that aideth Him, and will remember everyone that remembereth Him. To this beareth witness this Tablet that hath shed the splendor of the loving-kindness of your Lord, the All-Glorious, the All Compelling....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 76)

1647. Every single letter proceeding from Our mouth is endowed with such regenerative power as to enable it to bring into existence a new creation -- a creation the magnitude of which is inscrutable to all save God. He verily hath knowledge of all things....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 80)

1648. It is in Our power, should We wish it, to enable a speck of floating dust to generate, in less than the twinkling of an eye, suns of infinite, of unimaginable splendour, to cause a dewdrop to develop into vast and numberless oceans, to infuse into every letter such a force as to empower it to unfold all the knowledge of past and future ages....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 80-81)

1649. We are possessed of such power which, if brought to light, will transmute the most deadly of poisons into a panacea of unfailing efficacy.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 81)

1650. Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will, through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is <p204> powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of omnipotent might....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 82)

1651. By the righteousness of God, should a man, all alone, arise in the name of Baha and put on the armor of His love, him will the Almighty cause to be victorious, though the forces of earth and heaven be arrayed against him....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 106)

1652. By God besides Whom is none other God! Should any one arise for the triumph of our Cause, him will God render victorious though tens of thousands of enemies be leagued against him. And if his love for Me wax stronger, God will establish his ascendancy over all the powers of earth and heaven. Thus have We breathed the spirit of power into, all regions.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters" p.106)

From the Writings and Utterances of the Bab:

1653. Rid thou thyself of all attachments to aught except God, enrich thyself in God by dispensing with all else besides Him, and recite this prayer:

Say: God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing
in the heavens or in the earth or in whatever lieth between
them but God, thy Lord, sufficeth. Verily, He is in Himself the
Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.

Regard not the all-sufficing power of God as an idle fancy. It is that genuine faith which thou cherishest for the Manifestation of God in every Dispensation. It is such faith which sufficeth above all the things that exist on the earth, whereas no created thing on earth besides faith would suffice thee. If thou art not a believer, the Tree of divine Truth would condemn thee to extinction. If thou art a believer, thy faith shall be sufficient for thee above all things that exist on earth, even though thou possess nothing.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), p. 123) <p205>

1654. Say, verily any one follower of this Faith can, by the leave of God, prevail over all who dwell in heaven and earth and in whatever lieth between them; for indeed this is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the one true Faith. Therefore fear ye not, neither be ye grieved.

Say, God hath, according to that which is revealed in the Book, taken upon Himself the task of ensuring the ascendancy of any one of the followers of the Truth, over and above one hundred other souls, and the supremacy of one hundred believers over one thousand non-believers and the domination of one thousand of the faithful over all the peoples and kindreds of the earth; inasmuch as God calleth into being whatsoever He willeth by virtue of His behest. Verily He is potent over all things. Say, the power of God is in the hearts of those who believe in the unity of God and bear witness that no God is there but Him, while the hearts of them that associate partners with God are impotent, devoid of life on this earth, for assuredly they are dead.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab" p. 153)

1655. When the Day-Star of Baha will shine resplendent above the horizon of eternity it is incumbent upon you to present yourselves before His Throne....

Ye have, one and all, been called into being to seek His presence and to attain that exalted and glorious station. Indeed, He will send down from the heaven of His mercy that which will benefit you, and whatever is graciously vouchsafed by Him shall enable you to dispense with all mankind.... Indeed if it be His Will He can assuredly bring about the resurrection of all created things through a word from Himself. He is, in truth, over and above all this, the All-Powerful, the Almighty, the Omnipotent.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab", pp. 16466)

1656. Hallowed be the Lord in Whose hand is the source of dominion. He createth whatsoever He willeth by His Word of command Be", and it is. His hath been the power of authority heretofore and it shall remain His hereafter. He maketh victorious whomsoever He pleaseth, through the potency of His behest. He is in truth the Powerful, the Almighty. Unto Him pertaineth all glory and majesty in the kingdoms of Revelation and <p206> Creation and whatever lieth between them. Verily He is the Potent, the All Glorious. From everlasting He hath been the Source of indomitable strength and shall remain so unto everlasting. He is indeed the Lord of might and power. All the kingdoms of heaven and earth and whatever is between them are God's, and His power is supreme over all things. All the treasures of earth and heaven and everything between them are His, and His protection extendeth over all things. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and whatever lieth between them and He truly is a witness over all things. He is the Lord of Reckoning for all that dwell in the heavens and on earth and whatever lieth between them, and truly God is swift to reckon. He setteth the measure assigned to all who are in the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. Verily He is the Supreme Protector. He holdeth in His grasp the keys of heaven and earth and of everything between them. At His Own pleasure doth He bestow gifts, through the power of His command. Indeed His grace encompasseth all and He is the All-Knowing.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab", p. 171)

1657. Glorified art Thou, O God, Thou art the Creator of the heavens and the earth and that which lieth between them. Thou art the sovereign Lord, the Most Holy, the Almighty, the All-Wise. Magnified be Thy Name, O God, send down upon them who have believed in God and in His signs a mighty succour from Thy presence such as to enable them to prevail over the generality of mankind.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 176)

1658. Praised art Thou, O Lord! At Thy behest Thou dost render victorious whomsoever Thou willest, through the hosts of heaven and earth and whatsoever existeth between them. Thou art the Sovereign, the Eternal Truth, the Lord of invincible might.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab", p. 177)

1659. O Lord! Assist those who have renounced all else but Thee, and grant them a mighty victory. Send down upon them, O Lord, the concourse of the angels in heaven and earth and all that is between, to aid Thy servants, to succour and strengthen them, to enable them to achieve success, to sustain them, to invest them with glory, to confer upon them honour and <p207> exaltation, to enrich them and to make them triumphant with a wondrous triumph.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab", p. 192)

1660. Send forth, O God, such hosts as would render Thy faithful servants victorious. Thou dost fashion the created things through the power of Thy decree as Thou pleasest. Thou art in truth the Sovereign, the Creator, the All-Wise.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab", p. 211)

1661. Heed not your weaknesses and frailty; fix your gaze upon the invincible power of the Lord, your God, the Almighty. Has He not, in past days, caused Abraham, in spite of His seeming helplessness, to triumph over the forces of Nimrod? Has He not enabled Moses, whose staff was His only companion, to vanquish Pharaoh and his hosts? Has He not established the ascendancy of Jesus, poor and lowly as He was in the eyes of men, over the combined forces of the Jewish people? Has He not subjected the barbarous and militant tribes of Arabia to the holy and transforming discipline of Muhammad, His Prophet? Arise in His name, put your trust wholly in Him, and be assured of ultimate victory.

(Addressed to the Letters of the Living cited in "The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha'i Revelation" trans. and ed. Shoghi Effendi (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 94)

From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

1662. These souls are the armies of God and the conquerors of the East and the West. Should one of them turn his face toward some direction and summon the people to the Kingdom of God, all the ideal forces and lordly confirmations will rush to his support and reinforcement. He will behold all the doors open and all the strong fortifications and impregnable castles razed to the ground. Singly and alone he will attack the armies of the world, defeat the right and left wings of the hosts of all the countries, break through the lines of the legions of all the nations and carry his attack to the very center of the powers of the earth. This is the meaning of the Hosts of God.

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is" rev. ed. (Wilmette:Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 47-48) <p208>

1663. If in this day a soul shall act according to the precepts and the counsels of God, he will serve as a divine physician to mankind, and like the trump of Israfil,[1] he will call the dead of this contingent world to life; for the confirmations of the Abha Realm are never interrupted, and such a virtuous soul hath, to befriend him, the unfailing help of the Company on high. Thus shall a sorry gnat become an eagle in the fullness of his strength, and a feeble sparrow change to a royal falcon in the heights of ancient glory.
[1 Believed to be the angel appointed to sound the trumpet on the Day of Resurrection to raise the dead at the bidding of the Lord.]

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" [rev. ed.I, (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), sec. 8, p. 23)

1664. Know thou of a certainty that thy Lord will come to thine aid with a company of the Concourse on high and hosts of the Abha Kingdom. These will mount the attack, and will furiously assail the forces of the ignorant, the blind....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 19, p. 43)

1665. If a small number of people gather lovingly together, with absolute purity and sanctity, with their hearts free of the world, experiencing the emotions of the Kingdom and the powerful magnetic forces of the Divine, and being at one in their happy fellowship, that gathering will exert its influence over all the earth. The nature of that band of people, the words they speak, the deeds they do, will unleash the bestowals of Heaven, and provide a foretaste of eternal bliss. The hosts of the Company on high will defend them, and the angels of the Abha Paradise, in continuous succession, will come down to their aid.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 39, p. 81)

1666. He will come to your aid with invisible hosts, and support you with armies of inspiration from the Concourse above; He will send unto you sweet perfumes from the highest Paradise, and waft over you the pure breathings that blow from the rose gardens of the Company on high. He will breathe into your hearts the spirit of life, cause you to enter the Ark of salvation, and reveal unto you His clear tokens and signs. Verily is this abounding grace. Verily is this the victory that none can deny. <p209>

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 157, pp. 186-87)

1667. 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.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 184, p. 209)

1668. The confirmations of Him Who is the Ever-Forgiving have wrapped every clime in light, the armies of the Company on high are rushing forward to do battle at the side of the friends of the Lord and carry the day...

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 193, p. 229)

1669. All praise and thanksgiving be unto the Blessed Beauty,
for calling into action the armies of His Abha Kingdom, and
sending forth to us His never-interrupted aid, dependable as
the rising stars....
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 195, p.
237)

1670. Whensoever holy souls, drawing on the powers of heaven, shall arise with such qualities of the spirit, and march in unison, rank on rank, every one of those souls will be even as one thousand, and the surging waves of that mighty ocean will be even as the battalions of the Concourse on high....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, sec. 207, p. 260)

1671. It is clear that in this day, confirmations from the unseen world are encompassing all those who deliver the divine Message. Should the work of teaching lapse, these confirmations would be entirely cut off, since it is impossible for the loved ones of God to receive assistance unless they teach.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, sec. 209, pp. 26465)

1672. O ye servants of the Sacred Threshold! The triumphant hosts of the Celestial Concourse, arrayed and marshalled in the Realms above, stand ready and expectant to assist and assure victory to that valiant horseman <p210> who with confidence spurs on his charger into the arena of service. Well is it with that fearless warrior, who armed with the power of true Knowledge, hastens unto the field, disperses the armies of ignorance, and scatters the hosts of error, who holds aloft the Standard of Divine Guidance, and sounds the Clarion of Victory. By the righteousness of the Lord! He hath achieved a glorious triumph and obtained the true victory.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 208, p. 264)

1673. Be not grieved at the smallness of your number and thank God for the power of your spirits. He shall assist you with such a confirmation whereat minds will be astonished and souls will be amazed.

('Abdu'l-Baha, "Tablets of Abdul Baha Abbas, vol. 1 (Chicago: Bahai Publishing Committee 1930), p. 80)

1674. Be ye assured with the greatest assurance that, verily, God will help those who are firm in His Covenant in every matter, through His confirmation and favor, the lights of which will shine forth unto the east of the earth, as well as the west thereof. He will make them the signs of guidance among the creation and as shining and glittering stars from all horizons.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas", vol. 1, p. 83)

1675. Arise with every power to assist the Covenant of God and serve in His vineyard. Be confident that a confirmation will be granted unto you and a success on His part is given unto you. Verily, He shall support you by the angels of His holiness and reinforce you with the breaths of the Spirit that ye may mount the Ark of Safety, set forth the evident signs, impart the spirit of life, declare the essence of His commands and precepts, guide the sheep who are straying from the fold in all directions, and give the blessings. Ye have to use every effort in your power and strive earnestly and wisely in this new century. By God, verily the Lord of Hosts is your support, the angels of heaven your assistance, the Holy Spirit your companion and the Center of the Covenant your helper. Be not idle, but active and fear not....

("Tablets of Abdul Baha Abbas", vol. 1, p. 162; "Baha'i World Faith: Selected Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, [rev. ed.] (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 362) <p211>

1676. By the Lord of the Kingdom! If one arise to promote the Word of God with a pure heart, overflowing with the love of God and severed from the world, the Lord of Hosts will assist him with such a power as will penetrate the core of the existent beings.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas" vol 2 (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Society, 1915) p. 348)

1677. Your Lord hath assuredly promised His servants who are firm and steadfast to render them victorious at all times, to exalt their word, propagate their power, diffuse their lights, strengthen their hearts, elevate their banners, assist their hosts, brighten their stars, increase the abundance of the showers of mercy upon them, and enable the brave lions (or teachers) to conquer.

Hasten, hasten, O ye firm believers! Hasten, hasten, O ye steadfast! Abandon the heedless, set aside every ignorant, take hold of the strong rope, be firm in this Great Cause, draw light from this Evident Light, be patient and be steadfast in this wise Religion! Ye shall see the hosts of inspiration descending successively from the Supreme World, the procession of attraction falling incessantly from the heights of heaven, the abundance of the Kingdom of El-ABHA outpouring continually and the teachings of God penetrating with the utmost power, while the heedless are indeed in evident loss.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas" vol. 2, pp. 442-43)

1678. Today, any soul who looseneth his tongue in the delivery of Truth and is engaged in the diffusion of the fragrances of God, he shall undoubtedly be assisted and confirmed by the Holy Spirit and can resist the attacks of all the people of the world, [for the] power of the Realm of Might shall prevail. That is why thou seest that, although the disciples of Christ were physically weak and apparently vanquished by the persecution of every king, yet in the end were victorious over all and brought them under their protection.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. 3 (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Society, 1916), p. 508)

1679. Should anyone in this day attach his heart to the Kingdom, release himself from all else save God and become attracted to the fragrances of <p212> holiness, the army of the Kingdom of ABHA will help him and the angels of the Supreme Concourse will assist him.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas", vol. 3, p. 591)

1680. Remember not your own limitations; the help of God will come to you. Forget yourself. God's help will surely come!

When you call on the Mercy of God waiting to reinforce you, your strength will be tenfold. Look at me: I am so feeble, yet I have had the strength given me to come amongst you: a poor servant of God, who has been enabled to give you this message! I shall not be with you long! One must never consider one's own feebleness, it is the strength of the Holy Spirit of Love, which gives the power to teach. The thought of our own weakness could only bring despair. We must look higher than all earthly thoughts; detach ourselves from every material idea, crave for the things of the spirit; fix our eyes on the everlasting bountiful Mercy of the Almighty, who will fill our souls with the gladness of joyful service to His command 'Love One Another'.

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", 10th ed. (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979), pp. 38-39)

1681. How great, how very great is the Cause; how very fierce the onslaught of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth! Erelong shall the clamor of the multitude throughout Africa, throughout America, the cry of the European and of the Turk, the groaning of India and China be heard from far and near. One and all they shall arise with all their power to resist His Cause. Then shall the Knights of the Lord, assisted by grace from on high, strengthened by faith, aided by the power of understanding and reinforced by the legions of the Covenant, arise and make manifest the truth of the verse: 'Behold the confusion that hath befallen the tribes of the defeated!'[1]
[1 Qur'an 38: 11]

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 123) <p213>

1682. The Bab hath said: "Should a tiny ant desire, in this day, to be possessed of such power as to be able to unravel the abstrusest and most bewildering passages of the Qur'an, its wish will no doubt be fulfilled, inasmuch as the mystery of eternal might vibrates within the innermost being of all created things." If so helpless a creature can be endowed with so subtle a capacity, how much more efficacious must be the power released through the liberal effusions of the grace of Baha'u'llah!

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" p. 46)

1683. The Kingdom of God is possessed of limitless potency. Audacious must be the army of life if the confirming aid of that Kingdom is to be repeatedly vouchsafed unto it.... Vast is the arena, and the time ripe to spur on the charger within it. Now is the time to reveal the force of one's strength, the stoutness of one's heart and the might of one's soul.

(Cited in a letter dated 28 January 1939 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in Shoghi Effendi "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1947), p. 17)

1684. And now you, if you act in accordance with the teachings of Baha'u'llah, may rest assured that you will be aided and confirmed. In all affairs which you undertake, you shall be rendered victorious, and all the inhabitants of the earth cannot withstand you. You are the conquerors, because the power of the Holy Spirit is your assistant. Above and over physical forces, phenomenal forces, the Holy Spirit itself shall aid you

(Published in "Star of the West, voL 8, no. 8 (1 August 1917), p. 103)

1685. Be ye valiant and fearless! Day by day add to your spiritual victories. Be ye not disturbed by the constant assaults of the enemies. Attack ye like unto the roaring lions. Have no thought of yourselves, for the invisible armies of the Kingdom are fighting on your side. Enter ye the battlefield with the Confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Know ye of a certainty that the powers of the Kingdom of Abha are with you. The hosts of the heaven of Truth are with you. The cool breezes of the Paradise of Abha are wafting over your heated brows. Not for a moment are ye alone. Not for a second are ye left to yourselves. The Beauty of Abha is with you. The Glorious God is with you. The King of Kings is with you. <p214>

(Published in "Star of the West" vol. 13, no. 5 (August 1922), p. 113)

From Letters and Cables Written by Shoghi Effendi:

1686. Difficult and delicate though be our task, the sustaining power of Baha'u'llah and of His Divine guidance will assuredly assist us if we follow steadfastly in His way, and strive to uphold the integrity of His laws. The light of His redeeming grace, which no earthly power can obscure, will if we persevere, illuminate our path, as we steer our course amid the snares and pitfalls of a troubled age, and will enable us to discharge our duties in a manner that would redound to the glory and the honour of His blessed Name.

(From a letter dated 21 March 1932 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", p. 67)

1687. "Peter,"'Abdu'l-Baha has testified, "according to the history of the Church, was also incapable of keeping count of the days of the week. Whenever he decided to go fishing, he would tie up his weekly food into seven parcels, and every day he would eat one of them, and when he had reached the seventh, he would know that the Sabbath had arrived, and thereupon would observe it." If the Son of Man was capable of infusing into apparently so crude and helpless an instrument such potency as to cause, in the words of Baha'u'llah, "the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth," and to exalt him above the rest of His disciples, and render him fit to become His successor and the founder of His Church, how much more can the Father, Who is Baha'u'llah, empower the most puny and insignificant among His followers to achieve, for the execution of His purpose, such wonders as would dwarf the mightiest achievements of even the first apostle of Jesus Christ!

("The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 46)

1688. The field is indeed so immense, the period so critical, the Cause so great, the workers so few, the time so short, the privilege so priceless, that no follower of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, worthy to bear His name, can afford a moment's hesitation. That God-born Force, irresistible in its sweeping power, incalculable in its potency, unpredictable in its course, mysterious in its workings, and awe-inspiring in its manifestations -- a <p215> Force which, as the Bab has written, "vibrates within the innermost being of all created things," and which, according to Baha'u'llah, has through its "vibrating influence," "upset the equilibrium of the world and revolutionized its ordered life" -- such a Force, acting even as a two-edged sword, is, under our very eyes, sundering, on the one hand, the age-old ties which for centuries have held together the fabric of civilized society, and is unloosing, on the other, the bonds that still fetter the infant and as yet unemancipated Faith of Baha'u'llah.

("The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 46-47)

1689. There is no time to lose. There is no room left for vacillation. Multitudes hunger for the Bread of Life. The stage is set. The firm and irrevocable Promise is given. God's own Plan has been set in motion. It is gathering momentum with every passing day. The powers of heaven and earth mysteriously assist in its execution. Such an opportunity is irreplaceable. Let the doubter arise, and himself verify the truth of such assertions. To try, to persevere, is to ensure ultimate and complete victory.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 28 January 1939 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America, 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1947), p. 17)

1690. Faced with such a challenge, a community that has scaled thus far such peaks of enduring achievement can neither falter nor recoil. Confident in its destiny, reliant on its God-given power, fortified by the consciousness of its past victories, galvanized into action at the sight of a slowly disrupting civilization, it will -- I can have no doubt -- continue to fulfil unflinchingly the immediate requirements of its task, assured that with every step it takes and with each stage it traverses, a fresh revelation of Divine light and strength will guide and propel it forward until it consummates, in the fullness of time and in the plenitude of its power, the Plan inseparably bound up with its shining destiny.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 4 July 1939 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America, 1932-1946", p. 26) <p216>

1691. The field, in all its vastness and fertility, is wide open and near at hand. The harvest is ripe. The hour is overdue. The signal has been given. The spiritual forces mysteriously released are already operating with increasing momentum, unchallenged and unchecked. Victory, speedy and unquestioned, is assured to whomsoever will arise and respond to this second, this urgent and vital call.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 28 July 1939 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America, 1932-1946", pp. 28-29)

1692. The vastness of the field, the smallness of your numbers, the indifference of the masses, must neither discourage nor appall you. You should at all times fix your gaze on the promise of Baha'u'llah, put your whole trust in His creative Word, recall the past and manifold evidences of His all-encompassing and resistless power, and arise to become worthy and exemplary recipients of His all-sustaining grace and blessings.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 29 June 1941 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, published in "Dawn of a New Day" (New Delhi: Baha'i Publishing Trust, n.d. [1970]), p. 90)

1693. If the friends, individually and collectively, play their part and exert their utmost the abundant blessings of Baha'u'llah will be fully vouchsafed, and the triumph of the Plan will mark a glorious chapter in the history of the Faith.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 18 December 1945 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

1694. ...FORCES MYSTERIOUSLY RELEASED DESIGNED DIRECT OPERATION STIMULATE PROCESSES ENSURE CONSUMMATION SECOND STAGE DIVINE PLAN INCONCEIVABLY POTENT. FULL RAPID USE THESE FORCES BY ORGANIZED COMMUNITY ALIVE SUBLIMITY MISSION IMPERATIVE, MANIFOLD AGENCIES LOCAL REGIONAL NATIONAL INTERCONTINENTAL DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE PROSECUTION PLAN NOW CALLED UPON ACHIEVE RESPECTIVE SPHERES ... SUCCESSES SO CONSPICUOUS <p217> AS SHALL IMMEASURABLY FORTIFY HOPES WINNING STIPULATED TIME TOTAL DECISIVE VICTORY....

(From a cable dated 6 October 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'is of North America 1932-1946", p. 108)

1695. The invisible hosts of the Kingdom are ready and eager to rush forth to the assistance of such as will have the courage to weigh the issues involved and to take the decision commensurate with these issues....

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 6 September 1949 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

1696. Time is short. Opportunities, though multiplying with every passing hour, will not recur, some for yet another century, others never again. However severe the challenge, however multiple the tasks, however short the time, however sombre the world outlook, however limited the material resources of a hard-pressed adolescent community, the untapped sources of celestial strength from which it can draw are measureless in their potencies, and will unhesitatingly pour forth their energizing influences if the necessary daily effort be made and the required sacrifices be willingly accepted.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 18 December 1945 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 85)

1697. The invisible battalions of the Concourse on high are mustered, in serried ranks, ready to rush their reinforcements to the aid of the vanguard of Baha'u'llah's crusaders in the hour of their greatest need...

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 23 November 1951 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", 105)

1698. LORD HOSTS KING OF KINGS PLEDGED UNFAILING AID EVERY CRUSADER BATTLING HIS CAUSE. INVISIBLE BATTALIONS <p218> MUSTERED RANK UPON RANK READY POUR FORTH REINFORCEMENTS FROM ON HIGH.

(From a cable dated 8 October 1952 to the Baha'is of the West published in "Messages to the Baha'i World 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 44)

1699. Putting on the armour of His love, firmly buckling on the shield of His mighty Covenant, mounted on the steed of steadfastness, holding aloft the lance of the Word of the Lord of Hosts, and with unquestioning reliance on His promises as the best provision for their journey, let them set their faces towards those fields that still remain unexplored and direct their steps to those goals that are as yet unattained, assured that He Who has led them to achieve such triumphs, and to store up such prizes in His Kingdom, will continue to assist them in enriching their spiritual birthright to a degree that no finite mind can imagine or human heart perceive.

(From a letter dated April 1956 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Messages to the Baha'i World 1950-1957", p. 102)

1700. Delicate and strenuous though the task may be, however arduous and prolonged the effort required, whatsoever the nature of the perils and pitfalls that beset the path of whoever arises to revive the fortunes of a Faith struggling against the rising forces of materialism, nationalism, secularism, racialism and ecclesiastism, the all-conquering potency of the grace of God, vouchsafed through the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, will, undoubtedly, mysteriously and surprisingly, enable whosoever arises to champion His Cause to win complete and total victory.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 19 July 1956 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", p. 149)

1701. ...the sustaining grace promised to all those who will arise, with single-mindedness, courage, dedication and high resolve, to aid in the attainment of these noble objectives, is of such potency that no earthly power can resist the ultimate fulfilment of so glorious a task, or even delay its eventual fruition. <p219>

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 27 June 1957 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual of New Zealand)

1702. The Concourse on High watches over them ready to vouchsafe its aid and confer its blessings on their valiant and concerted endeavours. The Author of the Divine Plan will, as promised by Him in His epoch-making Tablets, assist them to surmount whatever obstacles they may encounter in their path, and crown their historic enterprise with a resounding victory.

The Founder of their Faith Himself will not fail to reward them, in His own Kingdom, and in accordance with His wisdom and bounty, for their share in the furtherance of the interests of His world-encompassing Order, and to exalt them amidst the company of His immortal saints and heroes dwelling in the Abha Kingdom.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 2 July 1957 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Arabian Peninsula)

From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi

1703. Perhaps the reason why you have not accomplished so much in the field of teaching is the extent you looked upon your own weaknesses and inabilities to spread the message. Baha'u'llah and the Master have both urged us repeatedly to disregard our own handicaps and lay our whole reliance upon God. He will come to our help if we only arise and become an active channel for God's grace. Do you think it is the teachers who make converts and change human hearts? No, surely not. They are only pure souls who take the first step, and then let the spirit of Baha'u'llah move them and make use of them. If any one of them should even for a second consider his achievements as due to his own capacities, his work is ended and his fall starts. This is in fact the reason why so many competent souls have after wonderful services suddenly found themselves absolutely impotent and perhaps thrown aside by the Spirit of the Cause as useless souls. The criterion is the extent to which we are ready to have the will of God operate through us.

Stop being conscious of your frailties, therefore; have a perfect reliance upon God; let your heart burn with the desire to serve His mission <p220> and proclaim His call; and you will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course.

Shoghi Effendi will surely pray for your success if you should arise and start to teach. In fact the mere act of arising will win for you God's help and blessings.

(Dated 31 March 1932 to an individual believer)

1704. You should never look at your own limitations, much less allow them to deter you from promoting the Message. For the believers, whether capable or not, whether poor or rich, and whether influential or obscure, are after all but mere channels through which God carries His message to mankind. They are instruments, whereby He communicates His will to His people. The friends, therefore, must cease looking at their own deficiencies in a way that would kill in them the spirit of initiative and of service. They should have confidence in the divine assistance promised to them by Baha'u'llah, and kill in them the spirit of initiative and of service. They should have confidence in the divine assistance promised to them by Baha'u'llah, and strengthened and revived by such an assurance they should continue to toil till the very end of their life.

(Dated 18 March 1934 to an individual believer)

1705. The invisible hosts of the Kingdom are ready to extend to you all the assistance you need, and through them you will no doubt succeed in removing every obstacle in your way, and in fulfilling this most cherished desire of your heart. Baha'u'llah has given us [a] promise that should we persevere in our efforts and repose all our confidence in Him the doors of success will be widely open before us....

(Dated 22 September 1936 to an individual believer)

1706. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Baha'u'llah, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Baha'u'llah has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the path safe and <p221> certain, and the assurances of Baha'u'llah as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands.

(Dated 3 February 1937 to an individual believer)

1707. The Baha'i teacher must be all confidence. Therein lies his strength and the secret of his success. Though single-handed, and no matter how great the apathy of the people around you may be, you should have faith that the hosts of the Kingdom are on your side, and that through their help you are bound to overcome the forces of darkness that are facing the Cause of God. Persevere, be happy and confident, therefore.

(Dated 30 June 1937 to an individual believer)

1708. ...he would advise you to persevere in the task you have set your heart to accomplish, confident that through Divine assistance you will be able, sooner or later, to attain your goal. Reliance on God is indeed the strongest and safest weapon which the Baha'i teacher can carry. For by its means no earthly power can remain unconquered, and no obstacle become insuperable.

(Dated 27 March 1938 to an individual believer)

1709. Smallness of numbers, lack of skilled teachers, and modesty of means should not discourage or deter them. They must remember the glorious history of the Cause, which, both East and West, was established by dedicated souls who, for the most part, were neither rich, famous, nor well educated, but whose devotion, zeal and self-sacrifice overcame every obstacle and won miraculous victories for the Faith of God.... Let them dedicate themselves -- young and old, men and women alike -- and go forth and settle in new districts, travel, and teach in spite of lack of experience, and be assured that Baha'u'llah has promised to aid all those who arise in His Name. His strength will sustain them; their own weakness is unimportant.

(Dated 29 June 1941 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the of the Baha'is of India, published in "Dawn of a New Day", p. 89) <p222>

1710. Baha'u'llah has said that God will assist all those who arise in His service. The more you labour for His Faith, the more He will aid and bless you.

(Dated 23 November 1941 to the Baha'is of Quito, Ecuador)

1711. If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.

(Dated 4 May 1942 to an individual believer)

1712. When once a few bold, self-sacrificing individuals have arisen to serve, their example will no doubt encourage other timid, would-be pioneers to follow in their footsteps. The history of our Faith is full of records of the remarkable things achieved by really very simple, insignificant individuals, who became veritable beacons and towers of strength through having placed their trust in God, having arisen to proclaim His Message....

(Dated 27 March 1945 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

1713. Once the friends start out to win the goals set in their Plan, they will find the Divine confirmations sustaining them and hastening its consummation....

(Dated 9 August 1945 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

1714. It shows that wherever and whenever the friends arise to serve, the mysterious power latent in this Divine Cause rushes in to bless and reinforce their labours far beyond their fondest hopes.

(Dated 18 February 1947 to an individual believer)

1715. 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!

(Dated 13 October 1947 to an individual believer) <p223>

1716. ...when we put our trust in Him, Baha'u'llah solves our problems and opens the way.

(Dated 12 October 1949 to an individual believer)

1717. Just one mature soul, with spiritual understanding and a profound knowledge of the Faith, can set a whole country ablaze -- so great is the power of the Cause to work through a pure and selfless channel.

(Dated 6 November 1949 to an individual believer)

1718. At all times we must look at the greatness of the Cause, and remember that Baha'u'llah will assist all who arise in His service. When we look at ourselves, we are sure to feel discouraged by our shortcomings and insignificance!

(Dated 12 December 1950 to an individual believer)

1719. Today, as never before, the magnet which attracts the blessings from on high is teaching the Faith of God. The Hosts of Heaven are poised between heaven and earth, just waiting, and patiently, for the Baha'i to step forth, with pure devotion and consecration, to teach the Cause of God, so they may rush to his aid and assistance. It is the Guardian's prayer that the Friends may treble their efforts, as the time is short -- alas, the workers too few. Let those who wish to achieve immortality step forth and raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual victories they will gain.

(Dated 28 March 1953 to an individual believer)

1720. The Hosts of the Supreme Concourse are in martial array, poised between Earth and Heaven ready to rush to the assistance of those who arise to Teach the Faith. If one seeks the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, one can find it in rich abundance in the Teaching Field. The world is seeking as never before, and if the Friends will arise with new determination, fully consecrated to the noble task ahead of them, victory after victory will be won for the Glorious Faith of God.

(Dated 2 February 1956 to an individual believer)

1721. The Friends must realize the Power of the Holy Spirit which is manifest and quickening them at this time through the appearance of <p224> Baha'u'llah. There is no force of heaven or earth which can affect them if they place themselves wholly under the influence of the Holy Spirit and under its guidance....

(Dated 11 August 1957 to an individual believer)

Revised July 1990 <p225>


THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER, MEDITATION AND THE DEVOTIONAL ATTITUDE:

A COMPILATION

March 1980

Extracts from the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

1722. Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause -- a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it -verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.

("A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah", 1st ed. (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1973), pp. 27-28)

1723. Recite ye the verses of God every morning and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament, and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, O concourse of My servants!

Take heed lest excessive reading and too many acts of piety in the daytime and in the night season make you vainglorious. Should a person recite but a single verse from the Holy Writings in a spirit of joy and radiance, this would be better for him than reciting wearily all the Scriptures of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Recite ye the verses of God in such measure that ye be not overtaken with fatigue or boredom. Burden not your souls so as to cause exhaustion and weigh them down, but rather endeavour to lighten them, that they may soar on the wings of revealed Verses unto the dawning-place of His signs. This is conducive to nearer access unto God, were ye to comprehend.

("Kitab-i-Aqdas" provisional translation from the Arabic) <p226>

1724. The wine of renunciation must needs be quaffed, the lofty heights of detachment must needs be attained, and the meditation referred to in the words "One hour's reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship" must needs be observed, so that the secret of the wretched behaviour of the people might be discovered, those people who, despite the love and yearning for truth which they profess, curse the followers of Truth when once He hath been made manifest....

("Kitab-i-Iqan" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 238)

1725. In like manner, those words that have streamed forth from the source of power and descended from the heaven of glory are innumerable and beyond the ordinary comprehension of man. To them that are possessed of true understanding and insight the Surah of Hud surely sufficeth. Ponder a while those holy words in your heart, and, with utter detachment, strive to grasp their meaning....

("Kitab-i-Iqan" p. 5)

1726. O brother, we should open our eyes, meditate upon His Word, and seek the sheltering shadow of the Manifestations of God, that perchance we may be warned by the unmistakable counsels of the Book, and give heed to the admonitions recorded in the holy Tablets; that we may not cavil at the Revealer of the verses, that we may resign ourselves wholly to His Cause, and embrace wholeheartedly His law, that haply we may enter the court of His mercy, and dwell upon the shore of His grace. He, verily, is merciful, and forgiving towards His servants.

("Kitab-i-Iqan" p. 217)


O SON OF GLORY!

1727. Be swift in the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High.

("The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah", Persian no. 8, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 24)

1728. Say: Deliver your souls, O people, from the bondage of self, and purify them from all attachment to anything besides Me. Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement, could ye but perceive it. Say: Were <p227> all created things to be entirely divested of the veil of worldly vanity and desire, the Hand of God would in this Day clothe them, one and all, with the robe "He doeth whatsoever He willeth in the kingdom of creation," that thereby the sign of His sovereignty might be manifested in all things. Exalted then be He, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Almighty, the Supreme Protector, the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.

Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), sec. 136, pp. 29495)

1729. O Salman! All that the sages and mystics have said or written have never exceeded, nor can they ever hope to exceed, the limitations to which man's finite mind hath been strictly subjected. To whatever heights the mind of the most exalted of men may soar, however great the depths which the detached and understanding heart can penetrate, such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts. The meditations of the profoundest thinker, the devotions of the holiest of saints, the highest expressions of praise from either human pen or tongue, are but a reflection of that which hath been created within themselves, through the revelation of the Lord, their God. Whoever pondereth this truth in his heart will readily admit that there are certain limits which no human being can possibly transgress. Every attempt which, from the beginning that hath no beginning, hath been made to visualize and know God is limited by the exigencies of His own creation- a creation which He, through the operation of His own Will and for the purposes of none other but His own Self, hath called into being. Immeasurably exalted is He <p228> above the strivings of human mind to grasp His Essence, or of human tongue to describe His mystery....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 148, pp. 317-18)

1730. Do thou meditate on that which We have revealed unto
thee, that thou mayest discover the purpose of God, thy Lord,
and the Lord of all worlds. In these words the mysteries of
Divine Wisdom have been treasured....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 79, p. 153)

1731. Were any man to ponder in his heart that which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed and to taste of its sweetness, he would, of a certainty, find himself emptied and delivered from his own desires, and utterly subservient to the Will of the Almighty. Happy is the man that hath attained so high a station, and hath not deprived himself of so bountiful a grace.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 163, p. 343)

1732. Occupy thyself in remembrance of the Beauty of Him Who is the Unconstrained at early morn, and seek communion with Him at the hour of dawn. O 'Ali! Remembrance of Me is a healing medicine to the souls and a light to the hearts of men.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

Extracts from the Writings of the Bab

1733. 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.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), p. 94)

1734. The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and not <p229> be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted Summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communion. Thus if haply thou dost live in the Day of Resurrection, the mirror of thy heart will be set towards Him Who is the Day-Star of Truth; and no sooner will His light shine forth than the splendour thereof shall forthwith be reflected in thy heart. For He is the Source of all goodness, and unto Him revert all things. But if He appeareth while thou hast turned unto thyself in meditation, this shall not profit thee, unless thou shalt mention His Name by words He hath revealed. For in the forthcoming Revelation it is He Who is the Remembrance of God, whereas the devotions which thou art offering at present have been prescribed by the Point of the Bayan, while He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan -- a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 93-94)

1735. Worship thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, and so likewise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should be the worship which befitteth the one True God. Shouldst thou worship Him because of fear, this would be unseemly in the sanctified Court of His presence, and could not be regarded as an act by thee dedicated to the Oneness of His Being. Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst make God's creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding the fact that paradise is desired by men.

Fire and paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of paradise. Although when true worship is offered, the worshipper is delivered from the fire, and entereth the paradise of God's good-pleasure, yet such should not be the motive of his act. However, God's favour and grace ever flow in accordance with the exigencies of His inscrutable wisdom. The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not <p230> beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God.

("Selections from the Writings of the Bab" pp. 77-78)

Extracts from the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

1736. O thou who hast bowed thyself down in prayer before the Kingdom of God! Blessed art thou, for the beauty of the divine Countenance hath enraptured thy heart, and the light of inner wisdom hath filled it full, and within it shineth the brightness of the Kingdom. Know thou that God is with thee under all conditions, and that He guardeth thee from the changes and chances of this world and hath made thee a handmaid in His mighty vineyard....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" [rev. ed ], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), sec. 91, p. 122)

1737. Praise be to God, thy heart is engaged in the commemoration of God, thy soul is gladdened by the glad tidings of God and thou art absorbed in prayer. The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 172, p. 202)

1738. Thou hast asked about places of worship and the underlying reason therefor. The wisdom in raising up such buildings is that at a given hour, the people should know it is time to meet, and all should gather together, and, harmoniously attuned one to another, engage in prayer; with the result that out of this coming together, unity and affection shall grow and flourish in the human heart.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 58, pp. 94-95)

1739. Praised be God, ye two have demonstrated the truth of your words by your deeds, and have won the confirmations of the Lord God. Every day at first light, ye gather the Baha'i children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children's hearts: that they should, at every morn, turn their faces <p231> toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite.

These children are even as young plants, and teaching them the prayers is as letting the rain pour down upon them, that they may wax tender and fresh, and the soft breezes of the love of God may blow over them, making them to tremble with joy.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 115, p. 139)

1740. O handmaid of God! Prayers are granted through the universal Manifestations of God. Nevertheless, where the wish is to obtain material things, even where the heedless are concerned, if they supplicate, humbly imploring God's help- even their prayer hath an effect.

O handmaid of God! The prayers which were revealed to ask for healing apply both to physical and spiritual healing. Recite them, then, to heal both the soul and the body. If healing is right for the patient, it will certainly be granted; but for some ailing persons, healing would only be the cause of other ills, and therefore wisdom doth not permit an affirmative answer to the prayer.

O handmaid of God! The power of the Holy Spirit healeth both physical and spiritual ailments.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 139, pp. 161-62)

1741. Beseech thou from God's infinite grace whatsoever thou desirest. But wert thou to heed my advice thou wouldst desire naught save entrance into the Abha Kingdom, and seek naught save the bounties of the Beauty of the All-Glorious, may my life be sacrificed for His loved ones. This is my exhortation to thee.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

1742. Thou hast asked about material means and prayer. Prayer is like the spirit and material means are like the human hand. The spirit operateth through the instrumentality of the hand. Although the one true God is the All-Provider, it is the earth which is the means to supply sustenance. "The heaven hath sustenance for you"[1] but when sustenance is decreed it becometh available, whatever the means may be. When man refuseth to <p232> use material means, he is like a thirsty one who seeketh to quench his thirst through means other than water or other liquids. The Almighty Lord is the provider of water, and its maker, and hath decreed that it be used to quench man's thirst, but its use is dependent upon His Will. If it should not be in conformity with His Will, man is afflicted with a thirst which the oceans cannot quench.
[1 Qur'an 51:22]

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1743. The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 172, p. 202)

1744. The obligatory prayers are binding inasmuch as they are conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one's face towards God and expressing devotion to Him. Through such prayer man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of one's heart, and attaineth spiritual stations.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1745. Remembrance of God is like the rain and dew which bestow freshness and grace on flowers and hyacinths, revive them and cause them to acquire fragrance, redolence and renewed charm. "And thou hast seen the earth dried up and barren: but when We send down the rain upon it, it stirreth and swelleth, and groweth every kind of luxuriant herb."[1] Strive thou, then, to praise and glorify God by night and by day, that thou mayest attain infinite freshness and beauty.
[1 Qur'an 107:5]

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

1746. It behoveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid. Such becometh the rank of servitude, and the Lord will decree whatsoever He desireth, in accordance with His consummate wisdom.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic) <p233>

1747. 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!

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1748. Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)

1749. O maid-servant of God! Chant the Words of God and, pondering over their meaning, transform them into actions! I ask God to cause thee to attain a high station in the Kingdom of Life forever and ever.

("Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha 'Abbas", vol. I (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Society, 1909), p. 85)

1750. Therefore, know thou that the True One possesseth invisible worlds which human meditation is unable to comprehend and the intellect of man hath no power to imagine. When thou wilt purify and clarify thy spiritual nostrils from every worldly moisture, then thou wilt inhale the holy fragrances diffusing from the merciful gardens of these worlds.

("Baha'i World Faith: Selected Writings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 393)

1751. When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten his understanding, then does he contain all Creation...

But on the other hand, when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom.... <p234>

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912, 10th ed. (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979), pp. 96-97)

1752. Baha'u'llah says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time -- he cannot both speak and meditate.

It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed. You cannot apply the name 'man' to any being void of this faculty of meditation; without it he would be a mere animal, lower than the beasts. Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit -- the bestowal of the Spirit is given in reflection and meditation. The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives Divine inspiration, through it he receives heavenly food. Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see. This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God. This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God.

Nevertheless some thoughts are useless to man; they are like waves moving in the sea without result. But if the faculty of meditation is bathed in the inner light and characterized with divine attributes, the results will be confirmed. <p235> The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects it will reflect them. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects he will be informed of these. But if you turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards, the heavenly constellations and the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the Kingdom will be obtained. Therefore let us keep this faculty rightly directed -- turning it to the heavenly Sun and not to earthly objects -- so that we may discover the secrets of the Kingdom, and comprehend the allegories of the Bible and the mysteries of the spirit. May we indeed become mirrors reflecting the heavenly realities, and may we become so pure as to reflect the stars of heaven.

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", pp. 174-76)

1753. Know thou, verily, it is becoming in a weak one to supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart, illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to his being.

During thy supplications to God and thy reciting,'Thy Name is my healing," consider how thine heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy mind attracted to the Kingdom of God! By these attractions one's ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one's wants.

("J.E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 93)

1754. We must strive to attain to that condition by being separated from all things and from the people of the world and by turning to God alone. It will take some effort on the part of man to attain to that condition, but he must work for it, strive for it. We can attain to it by thinking and caring less for material things and more for the spiritual. The further we go from the one, the nearer we are to the other. The choice is ours. <p236>

Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be opened, so that we can see the signs and traces of God's spirit in everything. Everything can reflect to us the light of the Spirit.

(Report of 'Abdu'l-Baha's words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", p. 89)

1755. If one friend feels love for another, he will wish to say so. Though he knows that the friend is aware that he loves him, he will still wish to say so.... God knows the wishes of all hearts. But the impulse to prayer is a natural one, springing from man's love to God.

Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought and attitude. But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing. If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty, with no love or pleasure in his meeting with you, do you wish to converse with him?

(Report of 'Abdu'l-Baha's words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", p. 94)

1756. In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven.... When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him.... The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God.

(Report of 'Abdu'l-Baha's words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", p. 95)

Extract from a Letter Written by Shoghi Effendi:

1757. The simplicity characterizing the offering of Baha'i prayers, whether obligatory or otherwise, should be maintained. Rigidity and rituals should be strictly avoided.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 30 October 1936 written on his behalf to an individual believer) <p237>

Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

1758. The Guardian wishes you, therefore, to pray, and to supplicate the Almighty that He may give you a fuller measure of His grace; that through it your spiritual energies may be quickened and that you may become more imbued with that spirit which must needs animate, sustain and strengthen every sincere and true follower of the Faith.

(13 March 1934 to an individual believer)

1759. Concerning the directions given by Baha'u'llah for the recital of certain prayers, Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that these regulations -- which by the way are very few and simple -- are of a great spiritual help to the individual believer, in that they help him to fully concentrate when praying and meditating. Their significance is thus purely spiritual.

(5 November 1934 to an individual believer)

1760. In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Baha'u'llah, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God.

(15 November 1935 to two believers)

1761. With regard to your spiritual experiences, the Guardian has been very interested to share them. He would, however, urge you to always use and read, during your hours of meditation and prayer, the words revealed by Baha'u'llah and the Master.

(6 December 1935 to an individual believer)

1762. The problem with which you are faced is one which concerns and seriously puzzles many of our present-day youth. How to attain spirituality is, indeed, a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory reply has been given or found, that modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundation of man's moral and spiritual life. <p238>

Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is a lack of spirituality. The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind, that people in general 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 upon 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. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Baha'u'llah has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality, which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Baha'i Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Baha'u'llah, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and become a dead thing.

The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the Religion of God.

(8 December 1935 to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 102 (August 1936), p. 3)

1763. ...the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones, and as such are essential. <p239>

(4 January 1936 to an individual believer)

1764. While praying it would be better to turn one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself.

(27 April 1937 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

1765. You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Baha'u'llah: it all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Baha'u'llah.

(14 October 1937 to an individual believer)

1766. The Guardian wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to the friends coming together for meditation and prayer. Such a communion helps in fostering fellowship among the believers, and as such is highly commendable.

(20 November 1937 to an individual believer)

1767. [...] was a matter of deepest [...] to the Guardian to hear of the news of the formation in Honolulu of a Morning Class of prayer and meditation conducted by dear Mrs.... in her home, inasmuch as he feels the absolute necessity for the friends to make now a special effort to cultivate the devotional side of their Baha'i life in preparation for a more intensified and successful service, particularly in the teaching field.

(1 May 1938 to an individual believer and a Local Spiritual Assembly)

1768. Although you seem to feel that your prayers have not so far been answered, and do no longer have any hope that your material conditions will ameliorate, the Guardian wishes you nevertheless not to allow such disappointments to undermine your faith in the power of prayer, but rather to continue entreating the Almighty to enable you to discover the great wisdom which may be hidden behind all these sufferings. For are not our sufferings often blessings in disguise, through which God wishes to test the sincerity and depth of our faith, and thereby make us firmer in His Cause? <p240>

...

The true worshipper, while praying, should endeavour not so much to ask God to fulfil his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer.

(26 October 1938 to an individual believer)

1769. You should rest assured that your strict adherence to the laws and observances enjoined by Baha'u'llah is the one power that can effectively guide and enable you to overcome the tests and trials of your life, and help you to continually grow and develop spiritually.

The Guardian particularly appreciates the fact that you have been faithfully observing Baha'u'llah's injunction regarding the recital of the daily obligatory prayers, and have thereby set such a high example before your Baha'i fellow-youth. These daily prayers have been endowed with a special potency which only those who regularly recite them can adequately appreciate. The friends should therefore endeavour to make daily use of these prayers, whatever the peculiar circumstances and conditions of their life.

(23 February 1939 to two believers)

1770. He wishes again to assure you he will pray for your spiritual advancement in the Holy Shrines. The power of God can entirely transmute our characters and make of us beings entirely unlike our previous selves. Through prayer and supplication, obedience to the divine laws Baha'u'llah has revealed, and ever-increasing service to His Faith, we can change ourselves.

(22 November 1941 to an individual believer)

1771. There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged -- nay enjoined -- to pray, and they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual. <p241> The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if He desires to do so.

(25 January 1943 to the believers)

1772. Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential.

(15 May 1944 to an individual believer)

1773. 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.

(27 January 1945 to an individual believer)

1774. Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if one meditates as a Baha'i he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person, not knowing Baha'u'llah, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it.

(19 November 1945 to an individual believer)

1775. He feels more emphasis should be laid on the importance and power of prayer, including the use of The Greatest Name, but not over-emphasizing it. It is the spirit behind the words which is really important.

(16 March 1946 to an individual believer) <p242>

1776. In regard to your question: we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian -- we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance you can ask Baha'u'llah for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts.

(24 July 1946 to an individual believer)

1777. He is delighted to hear you are now fully recovered and again active in your important work for the Cause. However, 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. We don't have to pray and meditate for hours in order to be spiritual.

(23 November 1947 to an individual believer)

1778. I might add that he does not believe any radiations of thought or healing, from any group, are going to bring peace. Prayer, no doubt, will help the world, but what it needs is to accept Baha'u'llah's system so as to build up the World Order on a new foundation, a divine foundation!

(8 June 1948 to an individual believer)

1779. If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Baha'u'llah. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element.

(31 January 1949 to an individual believer)

1780. He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards 'Akka where Baha'u'llah is buried. This is <p243> a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight -- from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Baha'u'llah, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.

...

Baha'u'llah has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are -- like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers -- are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.

(24 June 1949 to an individual believer)

1781. He suggests that you daily pray to Baha'u'llah to let you meet a soul receptive to His Message. The power of prayer is very great, and attracts the Divine confirmations. He, also, will pray for your teaching work there.

(30 September 1951 to an individual believer)

1782. He thinks it would be wiser for the Baha'is to use the Meditations given by Baha'u'llah, and not any set form of meditation recommended by someone else; but the believers must be left free in these details and allowed to have personal latitude in finding their own level of communion with God.

(27 January 1952 to an individual believer)

Revised July 1990 <p245>


Extracts from the Writings of Baha'u'llah

1783. It is forbidden for an intelligent person to drink that which depriveth him of his intelligence; it behoveth him to engage in that which is worthy of man, not in the act of every heedless doubter.

("Kitab-i-Aqdas" - provisional translation from the Arabic)

1784. 0 Son of Dust!

Turn not away thine eyes from the matchless wine of the immortal Beloved, and open them not to foul and mortal dregs. Take from the hands of the divine Cupbearer the chalice of immortal life, that all wisdom may be thine, and that thou mayest hearken unto the mystic voice calling from the realm of the invisible. Cry aloud, ye that are of low aim! Wherefore have ye turned away from My holy and immortal wine unto evanescent water?

("The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah, Persian no. 62, rev. ed. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1985), pp. 43-44)

1785. Fear ye God, O people of the earth, and think not that the wine We have mentioned in Our Tablet is the wine which men drink, and which causeth their intelligence to pass away, their human nature to be perverted, their light to be changed, and their purity to be soiled. Our intention is indeed that wine which intensifieth man's love for God, for His Chosen Ones and for His loved ones, and igniteth in the hearts the fire of God and love for Him, and glorification and praise of Him. So potent is this wine that a drop thereof will attract him who drinketh it to the court of His sanctity and nearness, and will enable him to attain the presence of God, the King, the Glorious, the Most Beauteous. It is a wine that blotteth out from the hearts of the true lovers all suggestions of limitation, establisheth the truth of the signs of His oneness and divine unity, and leadeth them to the Tabernacle of the Well-Beloved, in the presence of God, the Sovereign Lord, the Self-Subsisting, the All-Forgiving, the All-Generous. We meant by this Wine, the River of God, and His favour, the fountain of His living waters, and the Mystic Wine and its divine grace, even as it was revealed in the Qur'an, if ye are of those who understand. He said, and how true is His utterance: "A wine <p246> delectable to those who drink it."[1] And He had no purpose in this but the wine We have mentioned to you, O people of certitude!
[1 Qur'an 47:15.]

Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless, the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

1786. The Mystic Wine of the one true God hath a different intoxication and imparteth another exhilaration. The one diminisheth the intelligence of man, the other increaseth it. The one leadeth to perdition, the other bestoweth life.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1787. Drink ye, O handmaidens of God, the Mystic Wine from the cup of My words. Cast away, then, from you that which your minds abhor, for it hath been forbidden unto you in His Tablets and His Scriptures. Beware lest ye barter away the River that is life indeed for that which the souls of the pure-hearted detest. Become ye intoxicated with the wine of the love of God, and not with that which deadeneth your minds, O ye that adore Him! Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or woman. Thus hath the sun of My commandment shone forth above the horizon of My utterance, that the handmaidens who believe in Me may be illumined.

(Quoted in "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 33)

Extracts from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

1788. The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases, weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind.

(Quoted in "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 33)

1789. Regarding the use of liquor: According to the text of the Book of Aqdas, both light and strong drinks are prohibited. The reason for this <p247> prohibition is that alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body. If alcohol were beneficial, it would have been brought into the world by the divine creation and not by the effort of man. Whatever is beneficial for man existeth in creation. Now it hath been proved and is established medically and scientifically that liquor is harmful.

As to the meaning of that which is written in the Tablets:

"I have chosen for thee whatsoever is in the heaven and the earth", this signifieth those things which are in accordance with the divine purpose and not the things which are harmful. For instance, one of the existing things is poison. Can we say that poison must be used as it hath been created by God? Nevertheless, intoxicating liquor, if prescribed by a physician for the patient and if its use is absolutely necessary, then it is permissible.

In brief, I hope that thou mayest become inebriated with the wine of the love of God, find eternal bliss and receive inexhaustible joy and happiness. All wine hath depression as an after-effect, except the wine of the Love of God.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

1790. Intellect and the faculty of comprehension are God's gifts whereby man is distinguished from other animals. Will a wise man want to lose this Light in the darkness of intoxication? No, by God! This will not satisfy him! He will, rather, do that which will develop his powers of intelligence and understanding, and not increase his negligence, heedlessness and decline. This is an explicit text in the perspicuous Book, wherein God hath set forth every goodly virtue, and exposed every reprehensible act.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi

1791. With regard to your first question on alcohol and drinking, Baha'u'llah, fully aware of the great misery that it brings about, prohibits it as He expressly states that everything that takes away the mind, or in other words makes one drunk, is forbidden....

(15 February 1926 to an individual believer)

1792. The wine mentioned in the Tablets has undoubtedly a spiritual meaning for in the "Book of Aqdas" we are definitely forbidden to take <p248> not only wine, but everything that deranges the mind. In poetry as a whole wine is taken to have a different connotation than the ordinary intoxicating liquid. We see it thus used by the Persian poets such as Saadi and Umar Khayyam and Hafiz to mean that element which nears man to his divine beloved, which makes him forget his material self so as better to seek his spiritual desires. It is very necessary to tell the children what this wine means so that they may not confuse it with the ordinary wine.

(4 November 1926 to an individual believer)

1793. With regard to the question you have raised in connection with the sale of alcoholic liquors by the friends: he wishes me to inform you that dealings with such liquors, in any form, are highly discouraged in the Cause. The believers should, therefore, consider it their spiritual obligation to refrain from undertaking any business enterprise that would involve them in the traffic of alcoholic drinks.

(6 November 1935 to a Local Spiritual Assembly)

1794. Concerning the third question (sale of alcoholic drinks at Baha'i-owned premises and restaurants), the beloved Guardian has asked me to point out that this practice is highly improper and reprehensible and would be tantamount to encouraging acts that are forbidden in the Faith. It is indeed the conscientious duty of every true Baha'i to abandon such practices. However, should a Baha'i owner rent his property without himself taking any part whatever in the business, or giving aid to the tenant, then he would incur no responsibility. Nevertheless, the landlord should resort to every possible means to rid his premises of the defilement of this degrading business; how far more injurious if he himself were engaged in such repugnant affairs.

(From a letter dated 6 November 1935 to a National Spiritual Assembly translated from the Persian)

1795. Concerning your question with regard to the use of alcohol for rubbing: the believers can make any use of alcohol for any such treatments, provided they do not drink it, unless, of course, they are compelled to do so, under the advice of a competent and conscientious physician, who may have to prescribe it for the cure of some special ailment. <p249>

(25 July 1938 to an individual believer)

1796. With reference to your question whether those foods which have been favoured with alcoholic liquors such as brandy, rum, etc. should be classified under the same category as the intoxicating drinks, and consequently be avoided by the believers, the Guardian wishes all the friends to know that such foods, or beverages, are strictly prohibited.

(9 January 1939 to an individual believer)

1797. The reason Baha'u'llah forbade drinking alcoholic beverages is because it is bad for the health, more particularly for the mind. Of course you can point this out to Mr.... and Mr.... and you can also pray that they will themselves feel the urge to give it up; but these are habits each individual should seek to surmount for his own good.

(17 February 1945 to an individual believer)

1798. The degree to which the use of alcohol has spread in the world today is truly alarming; it is a great evil, and we Baha'is can see clearly why Baha'u'llah prohibits its being taken at all.

(23 February 1946 to an individual believer)

1799. Any work that helps people to get over the terrible habit of drinking is excellent, and should be looked upon with sympathy and approval by the Baha'is. He thanks you for the Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet you enclosed and was pleased to see it.

(26 July 1946 to an individual believer)

1800. He feels you should, in teaching, certainly not start with such a difficult point as abstinence from wine; but when the person wishes to join the Faith he must be told....

(7 April 1947 to two believers)

1801. Of course no Baha'i should drink, and if he persists in it and refuses to make an effort to overcome it, the Assembly must take action. But in these newly established centres one must be very patient lest the whole group go to pieces because of too strong or sudden action.

(19 July 1947 to an individual believer) <p250>

1802. When we realize that Baha'u'llah says ... that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects.

(30 September 1949 to an individual believer)

1803. However, drinking is prohibited in the Book of Laws and, although the Guardian has not made this an immediate issue to be considered when people apply for membership, all Baha'is should not drink, and if they persist the Assembly should take action....

(7 August 1950 to an individual believer)

1804. From your letter it would be assumed that some of your believers feel that the law of the "Aqdas" regarding the use of intoxicating liquors is a personal one, and may be followed or not followed, as the individual desires. This is not correct. The law of the "Aqdas" regarding not using intoxicating liquors is binding on all Baha'is. The Guardian does feel, however, that with new Baha'is, coming into the Faith, leniency should be exercised; but he feels that when a person is a Baha'i for some time, his Baha'i association and the spirit of the Teachings which he studies and endeavours to exemplify will bring about a change in the character, and the individual will stop drinking. However, old and firm Baha'is must apply the law of the non-use of alcoholic beverages.

(19 August 1952 to an individual believer)

1805. The Assemblies must be wise and gentle in dealing with such cases, but at the same time must not tolerate a prolonged and flagrant disregard of the Baha'i Teachings as regards alcohol.

(26 June 1956 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1806. As regards the questions you asked: Under no circumstances should Baha'is drink. It is so unambiguously forbidden in the Tablets of Baha'u'llah that there is no excuse for them even touching it in the form of a toast, or in a burning plum pudding; in fact, in any way.

There is no reason why Baha'is may not serve some alcoholic refreshment to their guests, if they feel sincerely that this will further their teaching work. If they can obtain their objectives without doing so, it <p251> would be better; but we don't want to give people the impression that we are peculiar in every way.

(3 March 1957 to an individual believer)

Extracts from Letters written by the Universal House of Justice

1807. As to those believers who continue to drink, they should be lovingly exhorted, then firmly warned and eventually deprived of their voting rights. The number of times a person is exhorted and warned is a matter left to the discretion of each Local Spiritual Assembly, in consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. The policy you adopt should not be one of removing the administrative rights of the believers in a bureaucratic and automatic way, as this would be unwise and unjust. Your Assembly as well as all Local Spiritual Assemblies should courageously and continuously remind the friends of their obligation in this respect, handle firmly all flagrant cases, and use such cases, in a way that by force of example, they exert their influence upon the other believers. It must be made clear to the Local Assemblies that they should be willing to cooperate with the believers affected by such drinking habits, when any such believer promises gradually and systematically to reduce his drinking with the objective in mind of entirely abandoning this habit.

We feel sure that your National Assembly will, with wisdom, loving kindness and determination succeed in uprooting this evil from your ranks and bring about the spiritual upliftment and advancement of the believers under your area of jurisdiction.

(12 November 1965 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1808. There are certain scientific purposes for which alcohol may be used, but we believe that a Baha'i should not willingly submit himself to scientific experiments requiring him to drink alcoholic beverages.

(13 June 1966 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1809. Alcohol should not be served at any reception, either at home or in a public place, at which you are host... We believe you should not use the term "cocktail party". The designation of either "tea" or "reception" would be preferable. (31 December 1967 to an individual believer) <p252> 1810. ...it is clear that on all occasions officially sponsored by Baha'i Institutions or where the host is acting as a representative of the Cause alcohol should not be served. In private homes or in the course of business or professional activity it is left to the conscience of Baha'is themselves whether they serve alcoholic drinks to non-Baha'is but the obligation is very strong to observe the prohibition enjoined by Baha'u'llah.

(8 February 1968 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1811. ...no Baha'i institution should serve alcoholic drinks under any circumstances, and we also feel that it would be inappropriate for a Baha'i to serve such beverages at a function given by him.

(19 December 1968 to two believers)

1812. As to question number 6 concerning the sale of alcohol by a believer, as you state, obviously he should cease to deal in the sale of alcohol in his shop." However, as he is a new believer and was engaged in this business before becoming a Baha'i, he should be given a reasonable opportunity to find another means whereby he can earn a living and should be given every assistance by the National Spiritual Assembly to do so. He should be treated with patience and understanding, especially if he is making efforts to dispose of this business and to seek other employment. However, if after a reasonable time has elapsed and no effort has been made to comply with the Baha'i law, then, as a last resort, the Assembly would have no alternative but to suspend his administrative rights.

(13 March 1974 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1813. We have found no texts prohibiting the friends from using favoured extracts in their food. This may be a matter for later legislation by the Universal House of Justice but for the time being the friends should be left free to do as they choose. The same principle applies to those who are employed in factories manufacturing such extracts.

(7 April 1974 to an individual believer)

1814. Flagrant violation by members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'i requirement to abstain from intoxicating drinks will certainly have a debilitating effect on the national community, and these violations <p253> should be forcefully resisted through frank consultation of the matter by the Counsellors with the National Spiritual Assembly, so that in addition to admonishments, stern warnings be given to the member or members concerned, and sanctions imposed, if disregard of Baha'i laws is continued.

(From a memorandum dated 10 February 1975 to the International Teaching Centre)

1815. Such employments [Baha'is who are in the employment of non-Baha'is and whose employment involves the serving or selling of alcoholic beverages] cover a very wide range of degree of involvement, therefore it is left to the individual to decide whether or not he feels his employment violates the spirit of the Baha'i law. In cases of doubt he can, of course, consult his Spiritual Assembly for advice.

We have found no explicit text or instruction of the beloved Guardian on such a situation [the sale of alcoholic beverages by a business in which a Baha'i is a partner with non-Baha'is] and feel that it is one in which no hard and fast rules should be drawn at the present time.... We feel that this is a matter which needs to be decided in each case in the light of the spirit of the teachings and the circumstances of the case, and unless the situation is one which is endangering the good name of the Faith or is obviously a ruse on the part of a believer to evade the Baha'i law, it should be left to the conscience of the believer concerned who should, of course, be informed of the Baha'i teachings concerning alcohol and should make every effort to dissociate himself from such an activity.

The above [paragraph] concerns Baha'is who are already in partnerships dealing in such matters. It is, however, obvious that a Baha'i who is not in such a situation should not enter into it.

(From a memorandum dated 15 January 1976 to the International Teaching Centre) Extract from Letter written on behalf of The Universal House of Justice)

1816. The future christening of the ... child should present no problem, for the Baha'i parent should have no objection to the baptism of his child if the Catholic mother wishes it. Similarly, the use of champagne upon that <p254> occasion is a matter which she is free to undertake, but of course the Baha'is would not partake of alcoholic beverages.

(7 December 1977 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1817. The House of Justice ... points out that, as far as advertising is concerned, the Baha'i must use wisdom in deciding what is allowable and what is not. For example, while the issuing of an advertisement specifically for wines would seem to be inadmissible, there would be no objection to a Baha'i advertising agent's issuing an advertisement listing the prices of goods on sale at a supermarket even if wines and spirits are included on it. It is, thus, a matter of emphasis and wisdom. Primarily the House of Justice wishes the decision in such matters to be left to the judgement of the individual concerned, but where there is any doubt, or where the National Spiritual Assembly feels that the good name of the Faith is being injured, the Assembly should, of course, be consulted and could decide in specific instances.

In view of the requirements of his conscience in light of Baha'i law, a Baha'i advertising agent might be well advised to include a clause in any contract he signs in which difficulties of this nature might arise, protecting his right to demur.

(20 December 1977 to an individual believer)

1818. Concerning the questions you raise about [doing] illustrations for the wine company manual, the House of Justice feels this is for you to decide...

(18 January 1978 to an individual believer)

1819. As to your questions concerning the serving of alcohol by Baha'is to their non-Baha'i guests, the House of Justice feels that, because of the many differing circumstances relating to this subject, it does not wish to make any definite statements at the present time. It is obvious that Baha'is themselves must not drink alcohol and the rest, for the time being, must be left to their own consciences....

Concerning your enquiry about a Baha'i keeping brandy in his home for emergency use on the advice of a doctor, the House of Justice feels there is no objection to this.

(2 March 1978 to a National Spiritual Assembly) <p255>

1820. 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 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.

(26 September 1978 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

Revised August 1990 <p258>


PROMINENT PEOPLE

EXTRACTS FROM THE BAHA'I WRITINGS AND LETTERS WRITTEN BY OR ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI AND THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

September 1990

Table of Contents

Page

1.THE IMPORTANCE OF GUIDING "DISTINGUISHED
SOULS TO THE CAUSE" ................................... 259

11. SOME GUIDELINES FOR REACHING PROMINENT PEOPLE ..... 265

2.1 "ESTABLISH TIES OF FRIENDSHIP" .................... 265

2.2 ATTITUDES AND APPROACHES .......................... 267

2.3 THE ROLE OF THE SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES .............. 274

2.4 THE "COURSE OF PRUDENCE" .......................... 277

<p259>


I. The Importance of Guiding "Distinguished Souls to the Cause"

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

1821. I hope that thou wilt ... endeavour to teach some high-ranking and influential persons, for the hearts of the people have become attracted to the Cause of God and their minds bewildered and enthralled by its awesome grandeur. Those who occupy high positions, too, have become profoundly receptive to its message. The loved ones of God should therefore make a determined effort and guide these distinguished souls to the Cause.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

1822. You should always seek to guide prominent people inasmuch as once such a person is regenerated he is likely to bring about the quickening of a thousand souls. Thus the spirit of truth would flow forth unimpeded into the veins and arteries of a multitude.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)

1823. Wherefore thou shouldst seek to impart the Message to influential person and become a cause of guidance to the learned and distinguished, that perchance there may be raised up in Iran wise, sagacious souls who shall be solicitous for both the good of the state and the welfare of the populace, who shall labour diligently night and day to the end that their great nation may retrieve its former glory and restore for all the world to see the splendour of the Kiyaniyan kings, and that its illustrious people may shine out amongst mankind with an extraordinary brilliance and attain to lasting happiness and contentment.

(From a Tablet to a group of believers - translated from the Persian)

1824. You should give serious concern to the matter of teaching, and think of ways of imparting the Message to prominent people, for once such person have given their allegiance to the Faith they will cause the people to be led, troop after troop, to the wellspring of unfailing guidance.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian) <p260>

From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1]
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted.]

1825. It is incumbent upon the Baha'is to seize the opportunities of the present hour and, with wisdom, firm resolve and cheerfulness, impress the verities of their Faith upon the attention of every reasonable-minded person in whom they find a willingness to listen, explaining to them its noble principles, its universal teachings, its basic tenets, and the fundamental laws of the new era inaugurated by Baha'u'llah. In like manner, they must clearly and convincingly demonstrate to their fellow-citizens, whether high or low, the necessity of accepting and recognizing the resplendent teachings of the Universal Manifestation of God; must show to the leaders of their country that the unity, the strength and spiritual vitality of the Baha'i community are palpable and concrete realities; must eliminate and nullify the effects of prejudices, superstitions, misunderstandings and all fanciful and erroneous conceptions on the hearts of the pure and righteous people; and must attract to the community of the Greatest Name, through whatever channels and by whatever means, persons of capacity, experience and devotion who,joining the ranks of the believers, severing themselves from every extraneous attachment, identifying themselves whole-heartedly with the organized community of the Baha'is in the area, will labour heart and soul to consolidate the foundations of Baha'i belief and proclaim the tidings of the Promised Day.

With regard to the Baha'i literacy classes, their continuation at the present time is a service beyond measure both profitable and desirable. Similarly, the establishment of contact and maintenance of friendly relations with government officials and other nationally distinguished figures is a matter that should be regarded by the friends as a binding obligation.

(2 November 1928 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Iran Central Spiritual Assembly - translated from the Persian).

1826. Shoghi Effendi was delighted to hear of your conversation with Sir.... How much he hopes to have such scholars obtain a true understanding of the spirit and teaching of the Cause and arise to dissipate that veil of misconceptions that is prejudicing the mind of the scholars in the western world. The Cause is in great need for such competent and spiritually <p261> minded men who after a thorough study of the Movement would share with the world the fruit of their labours.

(11 March 19297 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1827. ...he feels that the great point is to confirm people of true capacity and ability -- from whatever social stratum they may be -- because the Cause needs now, and will ever-increasingly need, souls of great ability who can bring it before the public at large, administer its ever-growing affairs, and contribute to its advancement in every field.

(30 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1828. The more people of capacity who accept the Faith, the higher will become the standard of the entire group.

(17 June 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1829. 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.
(10 December 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1830. He was very pleased to learn ... that your reception was such a success, and that you now feel that people in high places are beginning to waken from their sleep and see the Light of Baha'u'llah. The time must come when they do; it just seems a question of how soon.

A lot, also, depends on our having inside the Faith enough people of real capacity to form a nucleus that will attract to it similar souls....

(22 November 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1831. He hopes that your contract with Chief ... will prove fruitful, and that his heart may open to the Message you have carried him. It would be a great asset to the Faith if a prominent Chief of some tribe should accept it and arise to serve it.

(31 May 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi) <p262>

From letters written by the Universal House of Justice

1832. ...one of the most important duties of each National Spiritual Assembly is to acquaint leaders of thought and prominent men and women in its country with the fundamental aims, the history and the present status and achievements of the Cause. Such an activity must be carried out with the utmost wisdom, discretion and dignity.

(2 July 1967 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", 1st rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 117)

1833. The paramount goal of the teaching work at the present time is to carry the message of Baha'u'llah to every stratum of human society and every walk of life. An eager response to the teachings will often be found in the most unexpected quarters, and any such response should be quickly followed up, for success in a fertile area awakens a response in those who were at first uninterested.

The same presentation of the teachings will not appeal to everybody; the method of expression and the approach must be varied in accordance with the outlook and interests of the hearer. An approach which is designed to appeal to everybody will usually result in attracting the middle section, leaving both extremes untouched. No effort must be spared to ensure that the healing Word of God reaches the rich and the poor, the learned and the illiterate, the old and the young, the devout and the atheist, and the dweller in the remote hills and islands, the inhabitant of the teeming cities, the suburban businessman, the labourer in the slums, the nomadic tribesman, the farmer, the university student; all must be brought consciously with the teaching plans of the Baha'i Community.

(31 October 1967 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", p. 124)

1834. There have been notable advances in the process of gaining wider recognition for the Cause of God and in fostering cordial relations with civil authorities, a matter of vital importance in these days when there is a growth of opposition to the Faith from those who, misconstruing its true nature and aims, take alarm at its progress.

(Ridvan 1978 to the International Baha'i Convention) <p263>

1835. Yet these disasters[1] have called forth fresh energies in the hearts of the friends, have fed the deep roots of the Cause and given rise to a great harvest of signal victories. Chief among these are the successful conclusion of the Five Year Plan; the launching of the Seven Year Plan, now in the final year of its second phase; and unprecedented proclamation of the Faith to Heads of States, parliaments and parliamentarians, government ministers and officials, leaders of thought and people prominent in the professions, resulting in a change of attitude on the part of the mass media, which now increasingly approach us for information about the Cause....
[1 The "loss of six Hands of the Cause" and the waves of bitter persecution" directed against the Baha'i community in Iran.]

The growing maturity of a world-wide religious community which all these processes indicate is further evidenced in the reaching out, by a number of national communities, to the social and economic life of their countries, exemplified by the founding of tutorial schools, the inception of radio stations, the pursuit of rural development programmes and the operation of medical and agricultural schemes. To these early beginnings must be added the undoubted skills acquired, as a result of the Iranian crisis, in dealing with international organizations, national governments and the mass media -- the very elements of society with which it must increasingly collaborate toward the realization of peace on earth.

(Ridvan 1983 to the Baha'is of the World)

1836. The entrance of the Cause onto the world scene is apparent from a number of public statements in which we have been characterized as "model citizens", "gentle"' "law-abiding", "not guilty of any political offence or crime"; all excellent but utterly inadequate insofar as the reality of the Faith and its aims and purposes are concerned. Nevertheless people are willing to hear about the Faith, and the opportunity must be seized. Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with the true nature of Baha'u'llah's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world. Simultaneous with such a programme must be unabated, vigorous pursuit of the teaching work, so that we may be seen to be a growing community, while universal observance by the friends of the Baha'i laws of personal living will assert the fullness of, and arouse a <p264> desire to share in, the Baha'i way of life. By all these means the public image of the Faith will become, gradually but constantly, nearer to its true character....

There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Baha'i world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for the response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world.

(Ridvan 1984 to the Baha'is of the World) <p265>


II. Some Guidelines for Reaching Prominent People

2.1 "Establish Ties of Friendship"

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

1837. Some of the loved ones should establish ties of friendship with the notables of the region and manifest towards them the most affectionate regard. In this manner these men may become acquainted with the Baha'i way of life, learn of the teachings of the Merciful One, and be informed of the pervasive influence of the Word of God in every quarter of the globe. If but one of these souls were attracted to the Cause, others would quickly be similarly moved, since the people tend to follow in the footsteps of their leaders.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)

1838. Ye should strive to widen the circle of those with whom ye enjoy friendly relations, and to establish the closest contact with those benevolent souls whose only thought is to do good, who are labouring in the cause of universal peace, and who cherish no desire but to witness the unification of the world of humanity. Ye should seek out the company of such people as these, that ye may imbue them with an awareness of the heavenly Kingdom, for albeit their motives are of the finest, yet they do not realize that all the powers of the earth are impotent either to establish universal peace or to promote the oneness of the human world. Nothing short of the power of the Word of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit can ever succeed.

(From a Tablet to a Spiritual Assembly - translated from the Persian)

From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1]
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]

1839. Our Guardian hopes and prays that you will be guided in your endeavour to bring together at the banquet various prominent citizens of various races and religions with the sole purpose of winning then ultimately to the recognition of God's sacred Faith. You must stress the universal aspect of the Cause and show utmost kindness and love to them all as a preparation to their eventual acceptance of the entire truth.

(8 October 1927) <p266>

1840. Some of the items were of great interest to him, especially that part which told of the contacts you have made with distinguished men and invited them to speak at your meetings. This is an effective way to make these take an active part in promoting the Faith and increasing their knowledge of its spirit and basic teachings.

Shoghi Effendi hopes that some day they will come forward as devoted servants and consecrate their lives to it....there are distinguished men who are friends and admirers of the Cause, but due to their natural conservative and cautious attitude towards anything new, prefer to be onlookers than passionate advocates. They cannot however keep on that dispassionate state of mind, some day they will feel unwittingly drawn into it....

He is sending you two copies of "The Dawn-Breakers" to be presented to two distinguished friends of the Cause. One of these he wants to be presented to sir ... in acknowledgement of the services he has rendered to us.... This is one form of keeping up the interest of such distinguished men in the progress of the Faith. Maybe one day they will take an active part.

(6 May 1932)

1841. He was also very pleased to see that the Cause is receiving newspaper publicity there, and you are winning the sympathetic interest of editors and people of importance. The Faith needs friends as well as adherents, and you should always endeavour to attract the hearts of enlightened leaders to its teachings.

(5 October 1945 to a Local Spiritual Assembly)

1842. There are, as you truly say, many important admirers of the Faith at present in the U.S.A. -- and, indeed, in other countries, but it is unlikely such people will actually embrace the Cause; they are not ready to identify themselves with an as yet struggling Movement with a relatively small following; moreover, many such people would be unwilling to make the effort required to live up to Baha'i standards of conduct! Still, it is excellent that we are winning more friends and admirers; this in itself helps the Cause and adds to its prestige, and gradually some of these people may actually make the sacrifice of entering its service.

(25 February 1947) <p267>

1843. He feels that the believers should make every effort, in the proper way and with discretion, to keep in contact with important people.... We should make every effort to ensure that leaders of thought in public life are not merely familiar with the name Baha'i, but if possible stand in a cordial relationship to some members of our Community, if not to the body of the Faith.

(18 February 1951 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

From letters written by the Universal House of Justice

1844. 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 to the Faith and smooth the way for many essential aspects of the development of the Baha'i community.

(Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

1845. The House of Justice feels that your National Assembly must do more than distribute printed information about the Faith, as valuable as this is. A beginning should be made to identify the prominent persons in your country and ways be found to meet with them personally to acquaint them with the Faith. To this end, the House of Justice again urges you to appoint a committee to investigate the possibilities. If the few prominent Baha'is ... are too busy to assist, then you will have to either redirect their efforts or call others to this task.

(22 August 1984 to a National Spiritual Assembly)


2.2 Attitudes and Approaches

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah

1846. Be righteous, O servants, in your actions! Turn not away from the helpless; make mention of Me amidst the great, and have no fear.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) <p268>

1847. For we, the followers of the Blessed Beauty, should all be engaged in the service of the Cause of God, and become sources of guidance to humanity. Thou shouldst, if thou deemest it advisable and possible, proceed forthwith to organize a meeting of dignitaries. And when thy distinguished guests have assembled, speak to them about the Cause. Thou shouldst likewise advise the friends to arrange for another meeting with these same persons to be held one evening and to be addressed by them. This is a great service that I am entrusting to thee, and I pray to God that He may grant thee His assistance and confirmation, and bestow His blessings upon thy family.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1]
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]

1848. I do hope your passionate fervour, your mature experience and the ardour of your love will accomplish a great deal among the higher-class people with whom you associate. The Cause must capture the heights, and I look to you as the beloved and enthusiastic apostle of 'Abdu'l-Baha to win to the Cause, cultured and capable souls. Be not disheartened and be assured of my constant loving prayers for the success of your much-valued efforts.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 2 April 1925 written on his behalf)

1849. Ever since its[1] inception Shoghi Effendi has cherished the hope of making it a work that would prove interesting and illuminating to the reader. Destined mainly for the non-Baha'is, he has tried to attract through its pages the attention of educated and enlightened people and especially leaders in every country, with a view to acquainting them with the broad and fundamental principles of the Faith and to winning their consideration of the Movement as a growing force for good and for peace throughout the entire world. It is therefore with lively satisfaction that he has seen the publication grow yearly in importance and this feeling has been lately enhanced very much by the words of interest and appreciation which he has received from many quarters and leading men, among which was a remarkably encouraging letter from Sir Herbert Samuel. <p269> Indeed Shoghi Effendi has made it a point to send copies to as many leading men as possible and copies of last year's issue were presented to the Emperor of Japan, the Shah of Persia and Queen Marie of Rumania.
[1 "The Baha'i World"]

(12 December 1929 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1850. 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.

(3 February 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in "Baha'i News" 64 (July 1932), p. 4)

1851. The letter you addressed to the Secretary of State, he liked very much. He sincerely hopes that through such approaches and communications the authorities will come to take into consideration the importance of the Cause and gradually feel deep sympathy and admiration for its spirit. It is very important that they should know how we stand and what is our attitude towards some of the outstanding problems and issues that face the world in the present day. These are very difficult questions and most delicate, but the Master's spirit will surely guide you and inspire you to do what is proper and wise.

(4 May 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1852. It is really strange how much modern thinkers are, of their own accord, drawing nearer to the teachings of the Faith and voicing views very much like ours. It shows clearly the truth of the saying of the Master that the spirit of the Movement has permeated the hearts of all the people of the world. It is God's hands operating and guiding the nations and intellectual men and leaders of society to a gradual acceptance of His Message revealed through Baha'u'llah. The way we can hasten the development of this process is by doing our share in spreading the words of God far and wide. Even though we may not see any case of sudden conversion on the part of these <p270> intellectuals, yet they are bound to be influenced in their view and look to the Faith with greater admiration and with a more willing desire to be led by its precepts. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, wishes me to encourage you in your work, in sending appropriate literature to such men of learning.

(7 May 1933 Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1853. Through the reading of such a challenging and scholarly work[1] many will, undoubtedly, be awakened and stimulated, while others will be infuriated to the extent of virulently attacking the Faith. The unprecedented publicity which the Cause will be thus receiving will in itself constitute an important step towards a wider and fuller recognition of the Movement by distinguished personalities, in both intellectual and social circles.
[1 George Townshend, "The Promise of All Ages"]

(15 May 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1854. Regarding your work with the upper classes, the Guardian quite agrees with you that the people of wealth and culture do sometimes have a great capacity for spiritual things. But they need the right type of people to approach them, and a method that can suit their mentality. Our teaching methods should allow a certain degree of elasticity in establishing contacts with various types of individual seekers. Every inquirer has to be approached from his own angle. Those who are essentially of the mystic type should first be given those teachings of the Cause which emphasize the nature and value of spiritual realities; while those who are practically minded and of a positive type are naturally more ready and inclined to accept the social aspect of the Teachings. But of course, gradually the entire Message, in all its aspects and with the full implications it entails, should be explained to the newcomer. For to be a believer means to accept the Cause in its wholeness, and not to adhere to some of its teachings. However, as already stated, this ought to be done gradually and tactfully. For conversation is after all a slow process.

(28 December 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi) <p271>

1855. It is wonderful to see, at last, the intellectuals turning to the problems of the world and seeking to solve them. Side by side with this non-Baha'i work, so close to many of Baha'u'llah's teachings, we believers must carry on our purely Baha'i work, which only we can do, and which has such tremendous implications for the future of humanity in every sphere.

(14 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1856. They[1] must be neither provocative nor supine, neither
fanatical nor excessively liberal, in their exposition of the
fundamental and distinguishing features of their Faith. Thy
must be either wary or bold, they must act swiftly or mark
time, they must use the direct or indirect method, they must be
challenging or conciliatory, in strict accordance with the
spiritual receptivity of the soul with whom they come in
contact, whether he be a nobleman or a commoner, a northerner
or a southerner, a layman or a priest, a capitalist or a
socialist, a statesman or a prince, an artisan or a beggar. In
their presentation of the Message of the Baha'u'llah they must
neither hesitate nor falter. They must be neither contemptuous
of the poor nor timid before the great. In their exposition of
its verities they must neither over stress nor whittle down the
truth which they champion, whether their hearer belong to
royalty, or be a prince of the Church, or a politician, or a
tradesman, or a man of the street. To all alike, high or low,
rich or poor, they must proffer, with open hands, with a
radiant heart, with an eloquent tongue, with infinite patience,
with uncompromising loyalty, with great wisdom, with
unshakeable courage, the Cup of Salvation, at so critical an
hour, to the confused, the hungry, the distraught and
fear-stricken multitudes...
[1 American pioneers]

(5 June 1947 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the West, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 25-26)

1857. The lack of prejudice, (for the most part) the true altruism of the pure scientist, is pretty well demonstrated, and to such people the Faith, if properly presented, should have a great appeal; and moreover such people could do tremendous things for the Cause if they joined it in numbers. <p272>

There is certainly a place in the Cause for outstanding people, and we need more of them. But the administration must function on a consultative basis, not leadership.

(5 July 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1858. It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated Baha'i scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting. The world has -- at least the thinking world -- caught up by now with all the great and universal principles enunciated by Baha'u'llah over 70 years ago, and so of course it does not sound "new" to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society, are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men!

(3 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1859. ...the solution given to the world's problems by Baha'u'llah is the only solution -- being Divine in origin -- and most desperately needed; therefore we, the few who have caught the vision, should not waste our energies beating up and down the paths pursued by humanity, and which are not solving its ghastly present-day problems. We should concentrate on the Cause, because it is what is needed to cure the world. This is a sound attitude, for if we don't devote ourselves to the Baha'i work and teaching, who will?

On the other hand there is a big difference between this and learning. If the Baha'is want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need to discuss intelligently, intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems. We need Baha'i scholars, not only people far, far more deeply aware of what our teachings really are, but also well-read and well-educated people, capable of correlating our teachings to the current thoughts of the leaders of society.

We Baha'is should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our Faith. What the Guardian, however, does not advise the friends to do is to dissipate their time and energies in serving movements that are akin to our principles but not, we believe, capable of solving the present spiritual crisis the world finds itself in. We can co-operate with such movements and their promoters to good effect, <p273> while at the same time openly standing forth as Baha'is with a specific programme to offer society.

(5 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

From letters written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

1860. In view of the difficulty you have experienced in obtaining publicity about the Faith in the national press in ..., the House of Justice has instructed us to say that there are three courses of action which should assist you in achieving this in the future. First, it is important that there be certain believers, such as the members of a public information committee, who are given the task of cultivating personal contacts with influential figures in the national information media. This personal contact is a vital element in fostering the receptivity of the media to news about the Faith. Secondly, as an aid to promoting such links, your representatives could take with them examples of excellent material about the Faith that has been published in such important newspapers as "Le Monde", "The Times" of London, and "The New York Times".... Thirdly, repeated mention of the Faith in the local press will contribute to the willingness of the national press to regard the Baha'i Faith as newsworthy material.

(5 January 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1861. With the approach of the Year of Peace and the rapidly growing awareness among thinking people of the need for world-wide solutions to the problems threatening humankind, the House of Justice feels that there is a need for research and the writing of books and papers on subjects which are of immediate interest to the leaders of thought and the generality of mankind.

(31 March 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Association for Baha'i Studies, Canada)

1862. It was also mentioned that there was a need to reach leaders of thought and people in authority with the Teachings; that there is a tendency for the people to more readily accept new ideas if they have already been accepted by the upper echelons of society. If this is so, perhaps a viable programme could be developed of inviting prominent <p274> Baha'is from other countries to visit ... in order to contact prominent [individuals] of similar station or profession.

(16 February 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1863. National Baha'i communities have organized and successfully conducted inter-religious conferences, peace seminars, symposiums on racism and other subjects on which we have a specific contribution to make, often achieving widespread publicity and the interest of highly placed leaders of society.

(Ridvan 1987 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World)


2.3 The Role of the Spiritual Assemblies

From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1]
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]

1864. To approach such well-known 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 friends 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....

(30 August 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1865. ...a resolute attempt should be made by the national elected representatives of the entire community, aided by their Public Relations, Race Unity, Public Meetings, Visual Education, College Speakers Bureau and Radio Committees, to reinforce the measures already adopted for the proclamation, through the press and radio, of the verities of the Faith to the masses, and for the establishment of closer contact with the leaders of public thought, with colleges and universities and with newspaper and magazine editors.

(5 June 1947 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the West, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" pp. &9) <p275>

1866. The National Assembly should not be timid about trying to contact important visitors to.... The stature of the Faith is now such that its representatives can demand and receive attention. Whether they are always successful or not, is not the point, the point is to let people of importance realize we are active and on the world scene, so to speak.

(23 November 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1867. The Guardian was very happy to see your Assembly had had a successful meeting with both the Mayor of ... and the Minister for Foreign Affairs; such important contacts should be carried out on a high level, and only believers able to perhaps offer hospitality or having some point of contact with the officials in question or being themselves attractive to meet, should be used by your Assembly, and in conjunction with your members, to meet such personages.

(30 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1868. He feels that the time has now come when you should establish a national committee to make contacts with civil authorities on a national level, and with important public figures in State and large City administrations. The purpose of these contacts is to establish friendly relations with important public figures, so that they may be fully informed of the Faith and its principles, may gain confidence in the Baha'is and their activities, may understand the non-political aspect of the Faith, and in the future, be anxious to be of assistance to us as the Faith evolves.

(29 December 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)

From letters written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

1869. National Spiritual Assemblies must promote wise and dignified approaches to people prominent in all areas of human endeavour, acquainting them with the nature of the Baha'i community and the basic tenets of the Faith, and winning their esteem and friendship.

(Naw Ruz 1979 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World) <p276>

1870. ... the House of Justice is extremely happy that your National Assembly is continuing its wise, effective and ongoing efforts to familiarize the officials in your country about the Faith. Such approaches should be planned whenever the occasion arises. In the meantime, through your various proclamation efforts, the Baha'i community should indirectly draw the attention of people of all strata of society to the Cause so that it will be easier for the Baha'is to have a positive access to the officials in the time of need.

(26 July 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1871. The spark which ignited the mounting interest in the Cause of Baha'u'llah was the heroic fortitude and patience of the beloved friends in Iran, which moved the Baha'i world community to conduct a persistent, carefully orchestrated programme of appeal to the conscience of the world. This vast undertaking, involving the entire community acting unitedly through its Administrative Order, was accompanied by equally vigorous and visible activities of that community in other spheres which have been detailed separately. Nonetheless, we are impelled to mention that an important outcome of this extensive exertion is our recognition of a new stage in the external affairs of the Cause, characterized by a marked maturation of National Spiritual Assemblies in their growing relations with governmental and non-governmental organizations and with the public in general.

This recognition prompted a meeting in Germany last November of national Baha'i external affairs representatives from Europe and North America, together with senior representatives of the Offices of the Baha'i International Community, intent on effecting greater coordination of their work. This was a preliminary step towards the gathering of more and more National Spiritual Assemblies into a harmoniously functioning, international network capable of executing global undertakings in this rapidly expanding field. Related to these developments was the significant achievement of international recognition accorded the Faith through its formal acceptance last October into membership of the Network on Conservation and Religion of the renowned World Wide Fund for Nature. <p277>

(Ridvan 1988 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the World)


2.4 The "Course of Prudence"

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

1872. ...thou shouldst initially adopt that course of prudence that the Faith enjoins. In the early stages, thou shouldst seek out the company of the eminent members of the populace and, turning thyself in utter lowliness to the unseen realm of Glory, thou shouldst pray for succour and protection so that the Holy Spirit may, through the outpourings of its grace, grant thee its assistance. When, by thy godly conduct and demeanour, thy fervour, thy chaste and lucid utterance, thou shalt have succeeded in winning the affection of one and all, then shall the portals of heavenly guidance be opened wide; then shall the bounteous cup be borne around and all the souls that drink therefrom be inebriated with the wine of holy mysteries and truths.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)

From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1]
[9 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]

1873. You mentioned in your letter your intention to make contact with the representatives of movements which are akin to the Cause in the principles they advocate. Shoghi Effendi trusts that in all such communications and activities you would maintain the prestige and superiority of the Cause. We should never compromise our principles for some temporary benefits we are apt to reap. It is very important to bring the Cause to the attention of such leaders of thought and for this purpose we have to get in touch with them, but our aim should be to draw them to the Cause rather than follow their footsteps.

(29 November 1926 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1874. I entirely agree with you that non-interference in politics does not imply non-association on the part of the friends with the outside world. I hope you will impress the friends with the necessity of maintaining close, but not too intimate, relationships with the authorities, the foreign representatives, and the leaders of public thought in the capital. They should be on their guard, however, lest too close an association should <p278> lead, imperceptibly, to compromise on the principles which we cherish and uphold. They must mix with all classes of society without associating themselves with their policies and schemes.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 8 October 1927 written on his behalf)

1875. It is our supreme obligation to endeavour to bring the knowledge of this Revelation to the highest authorities and the leading personalities among our countrymen, but to refrain from associating ourselves or identifying our Faith with their political pursuits, their conflicting ambitions and party programmes. May the Almighty guide and sustain your high endeavours, and enable you to win for His Cause the most capable, the most virtuous and the most enlightened leaders of public opinion in that land.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 15 April 1932 written on his behalf)

1876. Shoghi Effendi fully approves your meeting of important men who are in power and have the reins of government in their hands. In fact he would urge you to avail yourself of every such opportunity that presents itself. But you should be very careful not to discuss matters that are political and that are points of contention between the different parties. That would drag the Cause into political affairs, a thing which was strictly forbidden by the Master. Your concern in meeting such people should be to familiarize them with the teachings of the Cause and imbue them with the spirit of the Movement. Should such men embrace the Movement they would lead with themselves thousands of others into the Cause.

(15 April 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice

1877. It is perfectly in order for Baha'i institutions to present the Baha'i view or recommendations on any subject of vital interest to the Faith which is under the consideration of a government, if the governmental authority itself invites such a submission, or if it is open to receive recommendations. The Baha'i Assemblies should, however, refrain from bringing pressure to bear on the authorities in such matters, either <p279> separately or in concert with others. The Baha'is will submit their views, if permissible, expressing them as cogently and forcefully as the occasion warrants, but will not go beyond this to the stage of pressing the authorities to adopt these views. Moreover, when considering whether or not it is wise to make such a submission on any particular matter, the Baha'i Assembly concerned must take care that it will not diffuse the energies of the Community or divert its resources by making submissions unless the interests of Faith demand it. Likewise the Assembly must ensure that it does not, by any minute and detailed analysis of a situation, "needlessly alienate or estrange any government or people", or involve the Faith in "the base clamourings and contentions of warring sects, factions and nations."

(21 November 1971 to an individual believer)

From letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

1878. The House of Justice received your letter of 13 December 1986 inquiring about permissible activities of the Baha'is in relation towards governments...

The general policy already enunciated by Shoghi Effendi in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah", pages 63-67, should be scrupulously upheld by the friends. However, as the Faith emerges from obscurity, the application of certain aspects of this policy will require the clarification of the House of Justice. With the passage of time, practices in the political realm will definitely undergo the profound changes anticipated in the Baha'i writings. As a consequence, what we understand now of the policy of non-involvement in politics will also undergo a change; but as Shoghi Effendi has written, this instruction, "at the present stage of the evolution of our Faith, should be increasingly emphasized, irrespective of its application to the East or to the West".

In view of the necessity of the Baha'i community to relate to governments, whether for reasons of defending its persecuted members or of responding to opportunities to be of service, a correct understanding of what is legitimate Baha'i action in the face of the policy of non-interference with government affairs is bound to be difficult to achieve on the part of individual friends. The force of circumstances, operating internally and externally, is pressing the Baha'i community into certain relationships with governments. <p280>

Hence, it is important that decisions as to the conduct of such relationships be made by authorized institutions of the Faith and not by individuals. In matters of this kind, given the utter complexity of human affairs with which the Baha'i community must increasingly cope both spiritually and practically, individual judgement is not sufficient.

(23 June 1987 to an individual believer)

1879. This is a field of service in which much latitude for initiative must be given to individuals. For instance, in the aspect of the work which calls for reaching very important persons, it is necessary to rely on the personal relationships which individual Baha'is have developed or are capable of developing, to rely on their ability to engage the attention of such persons, because these Baha'is are themselves attractive in particular ways. While exercising careful judgement in selecting the individuals you can call on for such services, and providing them with any necessary guidance, you must also be sensitive to these points and avoid excessive control, or even the appearance of it, in your dealing with those who are engaged in these important services.

(26 April 1988 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

1880. Your comments concerning the maintenance of contacts with officials in the lower level of your Government's hierarchy are well taken, and you should feel confident in pursuing this wise course of action.

There is no objection to initiating contact with high officials of the Catholic Church. This would require your careful consideration as to the timeliness of such action and determination by you as to how to proceed without unduly arousing opposition to the Faith.

Your Assembly is encouraged to establish contacts with national associations, bearing in mind the need to select such organizations wisely, so as not to stretch your human and financial resources beyond reasonable bounds or to distract the community from its primary teaching efforts. As this balance is sometimes difficult to achieve, you may wish to include this as an element of your consultation with the Counsellors on the role of ... in the process of the Faith's emergence from obscurity in Latin America and the world.

(23 March 1989 to a National Spiritual Assembly) <p281>


USE OF RADIO AND TELEVISION IN TEACHING

(Extracts from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)

1881. In regard to your wish of broadcasting the Message, Shoghi Effendi would advise you to consult with the Spiritual Assembly as to whether such an action meets their approval, and if so to ask their assistance and help for finding the best means through which to carry out your plan. The idea of a wireless station is rather ambitious and requires much financial expenditure. If, however, you find it feasible and within your financial capacity you should not hesitate to do so, in as much as this will enable you to spread the Cause in a much easier and more efficient manner.

(13 August 1933 to an individual believer)

1882. Your suggestion regarding the installation of a radio station in the Temple is truly splendid. But it remains to be seen whether the National Spiritual Assembly finds it financially feasible to undertake such a project, which is, beyond doubt, a very costly enterprise. Whatever the expenditure involved in this project, there is no reason why the believers should not start now considering seriously the possibility of such a plan, which, whe[n] carried out and perfected, can lend an unprecedented impetus to the expansion of the teaching work throughout America.

It is for the National Spiritual Assembly, however, to take the final decision in this matter, and to determine whether the national fund of the Cause is at present sufficiently strong to permit them to install a radio station in the Temple.

The Guardian feels, nevertheless, confident that this plan will receive the careful consideration of the National Spiritual Assembly members, and hopes that, if feasible, they will take some definite action in this matter.

(31 January 1937 to an individual believer)

1883. He read with interest the various suggestions you made to the National Spiritual Assembly, and feels they are fundamentally sound, especially the wider use of the radio. Unfortunately at the present time anything that would make a fresh demand on the financial resources of the Cause in America -- such as a Baha'i-owned broadcasting station -- <p282> is out of the question, as the friends are finding it difficult to meet the great needs of the teaching and Temple Funds. However the idea should, he feels, be kept in mind for future realization.

(14 October 1942 to an individual believer)

1884. In connection with the radio work ... he would suggest that the main consideration is to bring to the attention of the public the fact that the Faith exists, and its teachings. Every kind of broadcast, whether of passages from the Writings, or on topical subjects, or lectures, should be used. The people need to hear the word "Baha'i" so that they can, if receptive, respond and seek the Cause out. The primary duty of the friends everywhere in the world is to let the people know such a Revelation is in existence; their next duty is to teach it.

(24 July 1943 to an individual believer)

1885. He feels it would be excellent if the Cause could be introduced more to the people through the medium of radio, as it reaches the masses, especially those who do not take an interest in lectures or attend any type of meeting.

(7 March 1945 to an individual believer)

1886. The matter of obtaining free time on the radio is one which the Radio Committee and the National Spiritual Assembly must decide upon: but the principle is that every effort should be made to present the teachings over the air as often as possible as long as the manner in which it is done is compatible with the dignity of our beloved Faith.

(15 August 1945 to an individual believer)

1887. He was sorry to learn through your cable that the project for a Baha'i radio station can not be carried out at present; he considers that such a station would be a very great asset to the Cause, not only as a teaching medium and a wonderful form of publicity, but also as an enhancement of its prestige. He feels your Assembly should not drop the matter, but go on investigating ways to make such a project materialize as soon as possible.

(20 March 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada) <p283>

1888. He hopes that a Baha'i radio station will prove feasible during the coming years, as he considers it of great importance.

(4 May 1946 to the Radio Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1889. The Baha'is should not always be the last to take up new and obviously excellent methods, but rather the first, as this agrees with the dynamic nature of the Faith which is not only progressive, but holds within itself the seeds of an entirely new culture and civilization.

(5 May 1946 to an individual believer)

1890. The Guardian approves in principle of a radio station, and sees no objection to its being in the Temple; but he considers the cost you quote too much of a burden at the present time for the Fund to bear, in view of the multiple expenses of the new Seven Year Plan. If there is any way it can be done for a price you feel the Fund could pay, and which would be more reasonable, he approves of your doing it. In any case the National Spiritual Assembly should strongly press for recognition as a Religious Body, and claim full rights to be represented on the air on an equal footing with other established Churches.

(20 July 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)

1891. He approves of your desire to teach the principles of the Faith through radio. But he urges you to do all you can to always, however small the reference you are able to make to it may be, clearly identify or associate what you are giving out with Baha'u'llah. The time is too short now for us Baha'i's to be able to first educate humanity and then tell it that the Source is this new World Faith. For their own spiritual protection people must hear of the name Baha'i -- then, if they turn blindly away, they cannot excuse themselves by saying they never even knew it existed! For dark days seem still ahead of the world, and outside of this Divine Refuge the people will not, we firmly believe, find inner conviction, peace and security. So they have a right to at least hear of the Cause as such!

(24 April 1949 to an individual believer) <p285>


EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF SHOGHI EFFENDI ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FORMATIVE AGE OF OUR FAITH

1892. The passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha, so sudden in the circumstances which caused it, so dramatic in its consequences, could neither impede the operation of such a dynamic force[1] nor obscure its purpose. Those fervid appeals, embodied in the Will and Testament of a departed Master, could not but confirm its aim, define its character and reinforce the promise of its ultimate success.
[1 The Cause of Baha'u'llah]

Out of the pangs of anguish which His bereaved followers have suffered, amid the heat and dust which the attacks launched by a sleepless enemy had precipitated, the Administration of Baha'u'llah's invincible Faith was born. The potent energies released through the ascension of the Center of His Covenant crystallized into this supreme, this infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose. The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha unveiled its character, reaffirmed its basis, supplemented its principles, asserted its indispensability, and enumerated its chief institutions....

("America and the Most Great Peace, 21 April 1933, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", rev. ed (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 89)

1893. With 'Abdu'l-Baha's ascension, and more particularly with the passing of His well-beloved and illustrious sister the Most Exalted Leaf -- the last survivor of a glorious and heroic age -- there draws to a close the first and most moving chapter of Baha'i history, marking the conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. It was 'Abdu'l-Baha Who, through the provisions of His weighty Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in -- the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith -- a stage that must in the fullness of time reach its blossom and yield its fruit in the exploits and triumphs that are to herald the Golden Age of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. <p286>

Dearly-beloved friends! The onrushing forces so miraculously released through the agency of two independent and swiftly successive Manifestations are now under our very eyes and through the care of the chosen stewards of a far-flung Faith being gradually mustered and disciplined. They are slowly crystallizing into institutions that will come to be regarded as the hall-mark and glory of the age we are called upon to establish and by our deeds immortalize. For upon our present-day efforts, and above all upon the extent to which we strive to remodel our lives after the pattern of sublime heroism associated with those gone before us, must depend the efficacy of the instruments we now fashion -- instruments that must erect the structure of that blissful Commonwealth which must signalize the Golden Age of our Faith.

("The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah" 8 February 1934, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters" p. 98)

1894. 'Abdu'l-Baha, Who incarnates an institution for which we can find no parallel whatsoever in any of the world's recognized religious systems, may be said to have closed the Age to which He Himself belonged and opened the one in which we are now laboring. His Will and Testament should thus be regarded as the perpetual, the indissoluble link which the mind of Him Who is the Mystery of God has conceived in order to insure the continuity of the three ages that constitute the component parts of the Baha'i Dispensation. The period in which the seed of the Faith had been slowly germinating is thus intertwined both with the one which must witness its efflorescence and the subsequent age in which that seed will have finally yielded its golden fruit.

The creative energies released by the Law of Baha'u'llah, permeating and evolving within the mind of 'Abdu'l-Baha, have, by their very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation. The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. Being the Child of the Covenant -- the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God -- the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse <p287> than from the One Who ultimately conceived it. Baha'u'llah 's inscrutable purpose, we must ever bear in mind, has been so thoroughly infused into the conduct of 'Abdu'l-Baha, and their motives have been so closely wedded together, that the mere attempt to dissociate the teachings of the former from any system which the ideal Exemplar of those same teachings has established would amount to a repudiation of one of the most sacred and basic truths of the Faith.

The Administrative Order, which ever since 'Abdu'l-Baha's ascension has evolved and is taking shape under our very eyes in no fewer than forty countries of the world, may be considered as the framework of the Will itself, the inviolable stronghold wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and developed. This Administrative Order, as it expands and consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities and reveal the full implications of this momentous Document -- this most remarkable expression of the Will of One of the most remarkable Figures of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah. It will, as its component parts, its organic institutions, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind.

("The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah", 8 February 1934, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 143-44)

1895. Dearly-beloved friends: Though the Revelation of Baha'u'llah has been delivered, the World Order which such a Revelation must needs beget is as yet unborn. Though the Heroic Age of His Faith is passed, the creative energies which that Age has released have not as yet crystallized into that world society which, in the fullness of time, is to mirror forth the brightness of His glory. Though the framework of His Administrative Order has been erected, and the Formative Period of the Baha'i Era has begun, yet the promised Kingdom into which the seed of His institutions must ripen remains as yet uninaugurated....

"The heights," Baha'u'llah Himself testifies, "which, through the most gracious favor of God, mortal man can attain in this Day are as yet unrevealed to his sight. The world of being hath never had, nor doth it yet possess, the capacity for such a revelation. The day, however, is <p288> approaching when the potentialities of so great a favor will, by virtue of His behest, be manifested unto men."

For the revelation of so great a favor a period of intense turmoil and wide-spread suffering would seem to be indispensable. Resplendent as has been the Age that has witnessed the inception of the Mission with which Baha'u'llah has been entrusted, the interval which must elapse ere that Age yields its choicest fruit must, it is becoming increasingly apparent, be overshadowed by such moral and social gloom as can alone prepare an unrepentant humanity for the prize she is destined to inherit....

As we view the world around us, we are compelled to observe the manifold evidences of that universal fermentation which, in every continent of the globe and in every department of human life, be it religious, social, economic or political, is purging and reshaping humanity in anticipation of the Day when the wholeness of the human race will have been recognized and its unity established. A twofold process, however, can be distinguished, each tending, in its own way and with an accelerated momentum, to bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet. The first is essentially an integrating process, while the second is fundamentally disruptive. The former, as it steadily evolves, unfolds a System which may well serve as a pattern for that world polity towards which a strangely-disordered world is continually advancing; while the latter, as its disintegrating influence deepens, tends to tear down, with increasing violence, the antiquated barriers that seek to block humanity's progress towards its destined goal. The constructive process stands associated with the nascent Faith of Baha'u'llah, and is the harbinger of the New World Order that Faith must erelong establish. The destructive forces that characterize the other should be identified with a civilization that has refused to answer to the expectation of a new age, and is consequently falling into chaos and decline.

A titanic, a spiritual struggle, unparalleled in its magnitude yet unspeakably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is being waged as a result of these opposing tendencies, in this age of transition through which the organized community of the followers of Baha'u'llah and mankind as a whole are passing....

It is not my purpose to call to mind, much less to attempt a detailed analysis of, the spiritual struggles that have ensued, or to note the victories <p289> that have redounded to the glory of the Faith of Baha'u'llah since the day of its foundation. My chief concern is not with the happenings that have distinguished the First, the Apostolic Age of the Baha'i Dispensation, but rather with the outstanding events that are transpiring in, and the tendencies which characterize, the formative period of its development, this Age of Transition, whose tribulations are the precursors of that Era of blissful felicity which is to incarnate God's ultimate purpose for all mankind.

("The Unfoldment of World Civilization", 11 March 1936, "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", pp. 168-71)

1896. The moment had now arrived for that undying, that world-vitalizing Spirit that was born in Shiraz, that had been rekindled in Tihran, that had been fanned into flame in Baghdad and Adrianople, that had been carried to the West, and was now illuminating the fringes of five continents, to incarnate itself in institutions designed to canalize its outspreading energies and stimulate its growth. The Age that had witnessed the birth and rise of the Faith had now closed. The Heroic, the Apostolic Age of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, that primitive period in which its Founders had lived, in which its life had been generated, in which its greatest heroes had struggled and quaffed the cup of martyrdom, and its pristine foundations been established -- a period whose splendors no victories in this or any future age, however brilliant, can rival -- had now terminated with the passing of One Whose mission may be regarded as the link binding the Age in which the seed of the newborn Message had been incubating and those which are destined to witness its efflorescence and ultimate fruition.

The Formative Period, the Iron Age, of that Dispensation was now beginning, the Age in which the institutions, local, national and international, of the Faith of Baha'u'llah were to take shape, develop and become fully consolidated, in anticipation of the third, the last, the Golden Age destined to witness the emergence of a world-embracing Order enshrining the ultimate fruit of God's latest Revelation to mankind, a fruit whose maturity must signalize the establishment of a world civilization and the formal inauguration of the Kingdom of the Father upon earth as promised by Jesus Christ Himself.... <p290>

The last twenty-three years of the first Baha'i century may thus be regarded as the initial stage of the Formative Period of the Faith, an Age of Transition to be identified with the rise and establishment of the Administrative Order, upon which the institutions of the future Baha'i World Commonwealth must needs be ultimately erected in the Golden Age that must witness the consummation of the Baha'i Dispensation. The Charter which called into being, outlined the features and set in motion the processes of, this Administrative Order is none other than the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha, His greatest legacy to posterity, the brightest emanation of His mind and the mightiest instrument forged to insure the continuity of the three ages which constitute the component parts of His Father's Dispensation....

The Administrative Order which this historic Document has established, it should be noted, is, by virtue of its origin and character, unique in the annals of the world's religious systems....

The Document establishing that Order, the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitab-i-Aqdas;...

("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 324-28)

1897. The first seventy-seven years of the preceding century, constituting the Apostolic and Heroic Age of our Faith, fell into three distinct epochs, of nine, of thirty-nine and of twenty-nine years' duration, associated respectively with the Babi Dispensation and the ministries of Baha'u'llah and of 'Abdu'l-Baha. This Primitive Age of the Baha'i Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind.

The last twenty-three years of that same century coincided with the first epoch of the second, the Iron and Formative, Age of the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah -- the first of a series of epochs which must precede the inception of the last and Golden Age of that Dispensation -- a Dispensation which, as the Author of the Faith has Himself categorically asserted, must extend over a period of no less than one thousand years, <p291> and which will constitute the first stage in a series of Dispensations, to be established by future Manifestations, all deriving their inspiration from the Author of the Baha'i Revelation, and destined to last, in their aggregate, no less than five thousand centuries....

During this Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of present and succeeding epochs, the last and crowning stage in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Baha'u'llah -- the election of the Universal House of Justice -- will have been completed, the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Mother-Book of His Revelation, will have been codified and its laws promulgated, the Lesser Peace will have been established, the unity of mankind will have been achieved and its maturity attained, the Plan conceived by 'Abdu'l-Baha will have been executed, the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will have been effected, and its independent religious status will have been universally recognized, whilst in the course of the Golden Age, destined to consummate the Dispensation itself, the banner of the Most Great Peace, promised by its Author, will have been unfurled, the World Baha'i Commonwealth will have emerged in the plenitude of its power and splendor, and the birth and efflorescence of a world civilization, the child of that Peace, will have conferred its inestimable blessings upon all mankind.

("The Challenging Requirements of the Present Hour, 5 June 1947, "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 4-6)


Revised August 1990 <p293>


GUIDELINES FOR TEACHING FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHA'U'LLAH:

1898. O Friends! You must all be so ablaze in this day with the fire of the love of God that the heat thereof may be manifest in all your veins, your limbs and members of your body, and the peoples of the world may be ignited by this heat and turn to the horizon of the Beloved.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

1899. Teach thou the Cause of God with an utterance which will cause the bushes to be enkindled, and the call 'Verily, there is no God but Me, the Almighty, the Unconstrained' to be raised therefrom. Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets....

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", 1st pocket-sized ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 143)

1900. Moderation is indeed highly desirable. Every person who in some degree turneth towards the truth can himself later comprehend most of what he seeketh. However, if at the outset a word is uttered beyond his capacity, he will refuse to hear it and will arise in opposition.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

1901. ... Piety and detachment are even as two most great luminaries of the heaven of teaching. Blessed the one who hath attained unto this supreme station...

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 253)

1902. Should any one among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be striving to comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme kindliness and good-will. Help him to see and <p294> recognize the truth, without esteeming yourself to be, in the least, superior to him, or to be possessed of greater endowments.

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man's hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 8)

1903. Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", p. 289)

1904. If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he forgoeth all created things, the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 51)

1905. Say: O people of God! That which can insure the victory of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, His hosts and helpers on earth, have been set down in the sacred Books and Scriptures, and are as clear and manifest as the sun. These hosts are such righteous deeds, such conduct and character, as are acceptable in His sight. Whoso ariseth, in this Day, to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the hosts of a praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence from such an action will, most certainly, be diffused throughout the whole world.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 24) <p295>

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

1906. Now is the time for you to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this world that perisheth, to be wholly severed from the physical world, become heavenly angels, and travel to these countries....

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 34)

1907. With hearts overflowing with the love of God, with tongues commemorating the mention of God, with eyes turned to the Kingdom of God, they must deliver the Glad Tidings of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts to all the people. Know ye of a certainty that whatever gathering ye enter, the waves of the Holy Spirit are surging over it, and the heavenly grace of the Blessed Beauty encompasseth that gathering.

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is", pp. 38-39)

1908. The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others. Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach severance to others!

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is", p. 51)

1909. ...rest ye assured in the confirmations of the Merciful and the assistances of the Most High; become ye sanctified above and purified from this world and the inhabitants thereof; suffer your intention to become for the good of all; cut your attachment to the earth and like unto the essence of the spirit become ye light and delicate. Then with a firm resolution, a pure heart, a rejoiced spirit, and an eloquent tongue, engage your time in the promulgation of the divine principles...

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is", p. 67) <p296>

1910. ...the believers of God must become self-sacrificing and like unto the candles of guidance become ignited... Should they show forth such a magnanimity, it is assured that they will obtain universal divine confirmations, the heavenly cohorts will reinforce them uninterruptedly, and a most great victory will be obtained....

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is", p. 27)

1911. 0 ye believers of God! Be not concerned with the smallness of your numbers, neither be oppressed by the multitude of an unbelieving world. Five grains of wheat will be endued with heavenly blessing, whereas a thousand tons of tares will yield no results or effect. One fruitful tree will be conducive to the life of society, whereas a thousand forests of wild trees offer no fruits. The plain is covered with pebbles, but precious stones are rare. One pearl is better than a thousand wildernesses of sand, especially this pearl of great price, which is endowed with divine blessing. Ere long thousands of other pearls will be born from it. When that pearl associates and becomes the intimate of the pebbles, they also all change into pearls.

...rest ye not, seek ye no composure, attach not yourselves to the luxuries of this ephemeral world, free yourselves from every attachment, and strive with heart and soul to become fully established in the Kingdom of God. Gain ye the heavenly treasures. Day by day become ye more illumined. Draw ye nearer and nearer unto the threshold of oneness. Become ye the manifestors of spiritual favours and the dawning-places of infinite lights!...

As regards the teachers, they must completely divest themselves from the old garments and be invested with a new garment. According to the statement of Christ, they must attain to the station of rebirth -- that is, whereas in the first instance they were born from the womb of the mother, this time they must be born from the womb of the world of nature. Just as they are now totally unaware of the experiences of the fetal world, they must also forget entirely the defects of the world of nature. They must be baptized with the water of life, the fire of the love of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit; be satisfied with little food, but take a large portion from the heavenly table. They must disengage themselves from temptation and covetousness, and be filled with the spirit. Through the effect of their pure breath, they must change the stone into the brilliant <p297> ruby and the shell into pearl. Like unto the cloud of vernal shower, they must transform the black soil into the rose-garden and orchard. They must make the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the extinguished one enkindled and set aglow, and the dead quickened.

("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha to the North American Baha'is" pp. 86-88)

1912. O thou maid-servant of God! Whenever thou art intending to deliver a speech, turn thy face toward the Kingdom of ABHA and, with a heart detached, begin to talk. The breaths of the Holy Spirit will assist thee.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. 2 (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1930 printing), p. 246)

1913. By the Lord of the Kingdom! If one arise to promote the Word of God with a pure heart, overflowing with the love of God and severed from the world, the Lord of Hosts will assist him with such a power as will penetrate the core of the existent beings.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas", vol. 2, p. 348)

1914. Under all conditions the Message must be delivered, but with wisdom. If it be not possible openly, it must be done quietly. The friends should be engaged in educating the souls and should become instruments in aiding the world of humanity to acquire spiritual joy and fragrance. For example: If every one of the friends (believers) were to establish relations of friendship and right dealings with one of the negligent souls, associate and live with him with perfect kindliness, and meanwhile through good conduct and moral behaviour lead him to divine instruction, to heavenly advice and teachings, surely he would gradually arouse that negligent person and would change his ignorance into knowledge.

Souls are liable to estrangement. Such methods should be adopted that the estrangement should be first removed, then the Word will have effect. If one of the believers be kind to one of the negligent ones and with perfect love should gradually make him understand the reality of the Cause of God in such a way that the latter should know in what manner the Religion of God hath been founded and what its object is, doubtless <p298> he will become changed; excepting abnormal souls who are reduced to the state of ashes and whose hearts are like stones, yea, even harder.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas", vol. 2, p. 391)

1915. If thou wishest to guide the souls, it is incumbent on thee to be firm, to be good and to be imbued with praiseworthy attributes and divine qualities under all circumstances. Be a sign of love, a manifestation of mercy, a fountain of tenderness, kind-hearted, good to all and gentle to the servants of God, and especially to those who bear relation to thee, both men and women. Bear every ordeal that befalleth thee from the people and confront them not save with kindness, with great love and good wishes.

("Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. 3 (Chicago: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1930 printing), pp. 619-20)

1916. The teacher, when teaching, must be himself fully enkindled, so that his utterance, like unto a flame of fire, may exert influence and consume the veil of self and passion. He must also be utterly humble and lowly so that others may be edified, and be totally self-effaced and evanescent so that he may teach with the melody of the Concourse on high -- otherwise his teaching will have no effect.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), Sec. 217, p. 270)

1917. When the friends do not endeavour to spread the message, they fail to remember God befittingly, and will not witness the tokens of assistance and confirmation from the Abha Kingdom nor comprehend the divine mysteries. However, when the tongue of the teacher is engaged in teaching, he will naturally himself be stimulated, will become a magnet attracting the divine aid and bounty of the Kingdom, and will be like unto the bird at the hour of dawn, which itself becometh exhilarated by its own singing, its warbling and its melody.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", Sec. 211, pp. 267-68)

1918. In accordance with the divine teachings in this glorious dispensation we should not belittle anyone and call him ignorant, saying: "You know not, but I know". Rather, we should look upon others with respect, and <p299> when attempting to explain and demonstrate, we should speak as if we are investigating the truth, saying: "Here these things are before us. Let us investigate to determine where and in what form the truth can be found." The teacher should not consider himself as learned and others ignorant. Such a thought breedeth pride, and pride is not conducive to influence. The teacher should not see in himself any superiority; he should speak with the utmost kindliness, lowliness and humility, for such speech exerteth influence and educateth the souls.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Sec 15, p. 30)

1919. It is at such times that the friends of God avail themselves of the occasion, seize the opportunity, rush forth and win the prize. If their task is to be confined to good conduct and advice, nothing will be accomplished. They must speak out, expound the proofs, set forth clear arguments, draw irrefutable conclusions establishing the truth of the manifestation of the Sun of Reality.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", Sec. 212, p. 268)

1920. When a speaker's brow shineth with the radiance of the love of God, at the time of his exposition of a subject, and he is exhilarated with the wine of true understanding, he becometh the centre of a potent force which like unto a magnet will attract the hearts. This is why the expounder must be in the utmost enkindlement.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1921. Speak, therefore; speak out with great courage at every meeting. When you are about to begin your address, turn first to Baha'u'llah and ask for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, then open your lips and say whatever is suggested to your heart; this, however, with the utmost courage, dignity and conviction....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", Sec. 216 p. 269)

1922. As to his question about the permissibility of promulgating the divine teachings without relating them to the Most Great Name, you should answer: "This blessed Name hath an effect on the reality of things. If these teachings are spread without identifying them with this holy Name, they will fail to exert an abiding influence in the world. The teachings are like <p300> the body, and this holy Name is like the spirit. It imparteth life to the body. It causeth the people of the world to be aroused from their slumber."

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

1923. The teaching work should under all conditions be actively pursued by the believers because divine confirmations are dependent upon it. Should a Baha'i refrain from being fully, vigorously and wholeheartedly involved in the teaching work he will undoubtedly be deprived of the blessings of the Abha Kingdom. Even so, this activity should be tempered with wisdom - not that wisdom which requireth one to be silent and forgetful of such an obligation, but rather that which requireth one to display divine tolerance, love, kindness, patience, a goodly character, and holy deeds. In brief, encourage the friends individually to teach the Cause of God and draw their attention to this meaning of wisdom mentioned in the Writings, which is itself the essence of teaching the Faith -- but all this to be done with the greatest tolerance, so that heavenly assistance and divine confirmation may aid the friends.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", Sec. 213, p. 268)

1924. The friends of God should weave bonds of fellowship with others and show absolute love and affection towards them. These links have a deep influence on people and they will listen. When the friends sense receptivity to the Word of God, they should deliver the Message with wisdom. They must first try and remove any apprehensions in the people they teach. In fact, every one of the believers should choose one person every year and try to establish ties of friendship with him, so that all his fear would disappear. Only then, and gradually, must he teach that person. This is the best method.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

1925. Follow thou the way of thy Lord, and say not that which the ears cannot bear to hear, for such speech is like luscious food given to small children. However palatable, rare and rich the food may be, it cannot be assimilated by the digestive organs of a suckling child. Therefore unto every one who hath a right, let his settled measure be given.

"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely <p301> utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it." Such is the consummate wisdom to be observed in thy pursuits. Be not oblivious thereof, if thou wishest to be a man of action under all conditions. First diagnose the disease and identify the malady, then prescribe the remedy, for such is the perfect method of the skilful physician.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", Sec. 214, pp. 268-69)

1926. Do not argue with anyone, and be wary of disputation. Speak out the truth. If your hearer accepteth, the aim is achieved. If he is obdurate, you should leave him to himself, and place your trust in God. Such is the quality of those who are firm in the Covenant.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

1927. In this day every believer must concentrate his thoughts on teaching the Faith... O loved ones of God! Each one of the friends must teach at least one soul each year. This is everlasting glory. This is eternal grace.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

From the Writings of Shoghi Effendi and Letters Written on His Behalf:

1928. First and foremost, one should use every possible means to purge one's heart and motives, otherwise, engaging in any form of enterprise would be futile. It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom. Moreover, the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay impossible, for any enterprise to prosper and develop when deprived of divine bestowals and confirmation. One can hardly imagine what a great influence genuine love, truthfulness and purity of motives exert on the souls of men. But these traits cannot be acquired by any believer unless he makes a daily effort to gain them....

It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God is <p302> bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad-tidings are clear, evident and complete....

(From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of the East- translated from the Persian)

1929. Having . .. obtained a clear understanding of the true character of our mission, the methods to adopt, the course to pursue, and having attained sufficiently the individual regeneration -- the essential requisite of teaching -- let us arise to teach His Cause with righteousness, conviction, understanding and vigor. Let this be the paramount and most urgent duty of every Baha'i. Let us make it the dominating passion of our life. Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth; sacrifice our personal interests, comforts, tastes and pleasures; mingle with the divers kindreds and peoples of the world; familiarize ourselves with their manners, traditions, thoughts and customs; arouse, stimulate and maintain universal interest in the Movement, and at the same time endeavor by all the means in our power, by concentrated and persistent attention, to enlist the unreserved allegiance and the active support of the more hopeful and receptive among our hearers. Let us too bear in mind the example which our beloved Master has clearly set before us. Wise and tactful in His approach, wakeful and attentive in His early intercourse, broad and liberal in all His public utterances, cautious and gradual in the unfolding of the essential verities of the Cause, passionate in His appeal yet sober in argument, confident in tone, unswerving in conviction, dignified in His manners -- such were the distinguishing features of our Beloved's noble presentation of the Cause of Baha'u'llah.

("Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 69-70)

1930. Having on his own initiative, and undaunted by any hinderances with which either friend or foe may, unwittingly or deliberately, obstruct his path, resolved to arise and respond to the call of teaching, let him carefully consider every avenue of approach which he might utilize in his personal attempts to capture the attention, maintain the interest, and deepen the faith, of those whom he seeks to bring into the fold of his Faith. Let him survey the possibilities which the particular circumstances <p303> in which he lives offer him, evaluate their advantages, and proceed intelligently and systematically to utilize them for the achievement of the object he has in mind. Let him also attempt to devise such methods as association with clubs, exhibitions, and societies, lectures on subjects akin to the teachings and ideals of his Cause such as temperance, morality, social welfare, religious and racial tolerance, economic cooperation, Islam, and Comparative Religion, or participation in social, cultural, humanitarian, charitable, and educational organizations and enterprises which, while safeguarding the integrity of his Faith, will open up to him a multitude of ways and means whereby he can enlist successively the sympathy, the support, and ultimately the allegiance of those with whom he comes in contact. Let him, while such contacts are being made, bear in mind the claims which his Faith is constantly making upon him to preserve its dignity, and station, to safeguard the integrity of its laws and principles, to demonstrate its comprehensiveness and universality, and to defend fearlessly its manifold and vital interests. Let him consider the degree of his hearer's receptivity, and decide for himself the suitability of either the direct or indirect method of teaching, whereby he can impress upon the seeker the vital importance of the Divine Message, and persuade him to throw in his lot with those who have already embraced it. 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, to enable him to contribute his share to the enrichment of its life, the furtherance of its tasks, the consolidations of its interests, and the coordination of its activities with those if its sister communities. 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 <p304> quickening of other souls, and the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly adopted Faith.

("The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 51-52)

1931. Every laborer in those fields, whether as traveling teacher or settler, should, I feel, make it his chief and constant concern to mix, in a friendly manner, with all sections of the population, irrespective of class, creed, nationality, or color, to familiarize himself with their ideas, tastes, and habits, to study the approach best suited to them, to concentrate, patiently and tactfully, on a few who have shown marked capacity and receptivity, and to endeavor, with extreme kindness, to implant such love, zeal, and devotion in their hearts as to enable them to become in turn self-sufficient and independent promoters of the Faith in their respective localities....

("The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 65)

1932. Nor should any of the pioneers, at this early stage in the upbuilding of Baha'i national communities, overlook the fundamental prerequisite for any successful teaching enterprise, which is to adapt the presentation of the fundamental principles of their Faith to the cultural and religious backgrounds, the idealogies, and the temperament of the divers races and nations whom they are called upon to enlighten and attract. The susceptibilities of these races and nations, from both the northern and southern climes, springing from either the Germanic or Latin stock, belonging to either the Catholic or Protestant communion, some democratic, others totalitarian in outlook, some socialistic, others capitalistic in their tendencies, differing widely in their customs and standards of living, should at all times be carefully considered, and under no circumstances neglected.

These pioneers, in their contact with the members of divers creeds, races and nations, covering a range which offers no parallel in either the north or south continents, must neither antagonize them nor compromise with their own essential principles. They must be neither provocative nor supine, neither fanatical nor excessively liberal, in their exposition of the fundamental and distinguishing features of their Faith. They must be either wary or bold, they must act swiftly or mark time, they must use the direct or indirect method, they must be challenging or conciliatory, in strict accordance with the spiritual receptivity of the soul <p305> with whom they come in contact, whether he be a nobleman or a commoner, a northerner or a southerner, a layman or a priest, a capitalist or a socialist, a statesman or a prince, an artisan or a beggar. In their presentation of the Message of Baha'u'llah they must neither hesitate nor falter. They must be neither contemptuous of the poor nor timid before the great. In their exposition of its verities they must neither overstress nor whittle down the truth which they champion, whether their hearer belong to royalty, or be a prince of the church, or a politician, or a tradesman, or a man of the street. To all alike, high or low, rich or poor, they must proffer, with open hands, with a radiant heart, with an eloquent tongue, with infinite patience, with uncompromising loyalty, with great wisdom, with unshakable courage, the Cup of Salvation at so critical an hour, to the confused, the hungry, the distraught and fear-stricken multitudes, in the north, in the west, in the south and in the heart, of that sorely tried continent.

("Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 25-26)

1933. The individual alone must assess its character, consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path, mix, in obedience to the counsels of the Author of His Faith, and in imitation of the One Who is its true Exemplar, with men and women, in all walks of life, seek to touch their hearts, through the distinction which characterizes his thoughts, his words and his acts, and win them over tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully and persistently, to the Faith he himself has espoused.

("Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", p. 148)

1934. ...revisit all the centres where you have already sown the seed, in order to water the seedlings that have taken root and to sow fresh good seed in the prepared ground.

(From a letter dated 9 April 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers) <p306>

1935. Entire and selfless devotion is what is most needful. The brighter our torch burns, the more light will it give and the more readily will it impart its blaze to others....

(From a letter dated 3 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1936. Shoghi Effendi feels that he can lay down no rule as to when one should introduce the names of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha in one's teaching. Much depends on the temperament and aptitude both of the teacher and the one taught....

...

We must look to the example of the Master and follow our "Inner Light", adapting our message as best we can to the capacity and "ripeness" of the one we are seeking to teach.... Man 's spiritual digestive powers have similar laws to those that govern physical digestion. When people are spiritually hungry and thirsty they must be given wholesome and suitable spiritual food, but if we give too much at a time or too rich food for the digestive powers, it only causes nausea and rejection or malassimilation.

(From a letter dated 20 October 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1937. Although teaching the Cause is the duty of every real Baha'i and must be our main aim in life, to obtain the best results extensive and organized efforts at teaching must be by the approval and through the help and supervision of either the Local or the National Spiritual Assemblies. Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will translate your earnestness and enthusiasm into real service in close co-operation with the friends and the Assemblies.

(From a letter dated 31 May 1926 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1938. In spreading the Cause we should be mindful not to lower its prestige and also try and get the people whom we approach really attracted. Shoghi Effendi has often in his letters mentioned the importance of follow-up work. Seeds sown but not watered and reared will not mature into fruition. <p307>

(From a letter dated 13 August 1928 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1939. Perhaps the reason why you have not accomplished so much in the field of teaching is the extent you looked upon your own weaknesses and inabilities to spread the message. Baha'u'llah and the Master have both urged us repeatedly to disregard our own handicaps and lay our whole reliance upon God. He will come to our help if we only arise and become an active channel for God's grace. Do you think it is the teachers who make converts and change human hearts? No, surely not. They are only pure souls who take the first step, and then let the spirit of Baha'u'llah move them and make use of them. If any one of them should even for a second consider his achievements as due to his own capacities, his work is ended and his fall starts. This is in fact the reason why so many competent souls have after wonderful services suddenly found themselves absolutely impotent and perhaps thrown aside by the Spirit of the Cause as useless souls. The criterion is the extent to which we are ready to have the will of God operate through us.

Stop being conscious of your frailties, therefore; have a perfect reliance upon God; let your heart burn with the desire to serve His mission and proclaim His call; and you will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course.

Shoghi Effendi will surely pray for your success if you should arise and start to teach. In fact the mere act of arising will win for you God's help and blessings.

(From a letter dated 31 March 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1940. It is on young and active Baha'is, like you, that the Guardian centres all his hopes for the future progress and expansion of the Cause, and it is on their shoulders that he lays all the responsibility for the upkeep of the spirit of selfless service among their fellow-believers. Without that spirit no work can be successfully achieved. With it triumph, though hardly won, is but inevitable. You should, therefore, try all your best to carry aflame within you the torch of faith, for through it you will surely find guidance, strength and eventual success. <p308>

...every one of them is able, in his own measure, to deliver the Message ... Everyone is a potential teacher. He has only to use what God has given him and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust.

(From a letter dated 1 September 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1941. In teaching the Cause, much depends on the personality of the teacher and on the method he chooses for presenting the message. Different personalities and different classes and types of individuals need different methods of approach. And it is the sign of an able teacher to know how to best adapt his methods to various types of people whom he happens to meet. There is no one method one can follow all through. But there should be as many ways of approach as there are types of individual seekers. Flexibility and variety of method is, therefore, an essential prerequisite for the success of every teaching activity.

(From a letter dated 31 May 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1942. There are innumerable ways of teaching the Cause. You can choose the one that suits best your nature and capacity.

(From a letter dated 13 November 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1943. A true and adequate knowledge of the Cause is, indeed, indispensable to every one who wishes to successfully teach the Message. The book of "Gleanings" gives the friends a splendid opportunity to acquire this necessary knowledge and understanding. It gives them, in addition, that inspiration and spiritual fervour which the reading of the Holy Words can alone impart.

(From a letter dated 2 December 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1944. What the Guardian feels it of vital importance for the friends to do is to teach the Cause directly and by means of imparting the Holy Words....

(From a letter dated 6 May 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p309>

1945. It is in intellectual circles such as this that the believers should endeavour to teach, confident that no matter how limited their capacity may be, yet their efforts are continually guided and reinforced from on High. This spirit of confident hope, of cheerful courage, and of undaunted enthusiasm in itself, irrespective of any tangible results which it may procure, can alone ensure the ultimate success of our teaching efforts.

(From a letter dated 31 October 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1946. ...the upper classes ... need the right type of people to approach them, and a method that can suit their mentality. Our teaching methods should allow a certain degree of elasticity in establishing contacts with various types of individual seekers. Every inquirer has to be approached from his own angle. Those who are essentially of the mystic type should first be given those teachings of the Cause which emphasize the nature and value of spiritual realities; while those who are practically minded and of a positive type are naturally more ready and inclined to accept the social aspect of the Teachings. But of course, gradually the entire Message, in all its aspects and with the full implications it entails, should be explained to the newcomer. For to be a believer means to accept the Cause in its wholeness, and not to adhere to some of its teachings. However, as already stated, this ought to be done gradually and tactfully. For conversion is after all a slow process.

(From a letter dated 28 December 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1947. Do not feel discourag[ed] if your labours do not always yield an abundant fruitage. For a quick and rapidly-won success is not always the best and the most lasting. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Baha'u'llah, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Baha'u'llah has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the path <p310> safe and certain, and the assurances of Baha'u'llah as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands.

(From a letter dated 3 February 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1948. The Baha'i teacher must be all confidence. Therein lies his strength and the secret of his success. Though single-handed, and no matter how great the apathy of the people around you may be, you should have faith that the hosts of the Kingdom are on your side, and that through their help you are bound to overcome the forces of darkness that are facing the Cause of God. Persevere, be happy and confident, therefore.

(From a letter dated 30 June 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1949. ...refrain, under any circumstances, from involving yourselves, much less the Cause, in lengthy discussions of a controversial character, as these besides being fruitless actually cause incalculable harm to the Faith. Baha'u'llah has repeatedly urged us not to engage in religious controversies, as the adepts of former religions have done. The Baha'i teacher should be concerned above all in presenting the Message, in explaining and clarifying all its aspects, rather than in attacking other religions. He should avoid all situations that, he feels, would lead to strife, to hair-splitting and interminable discussions.

(From a letter dated 29 November 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1950. The believers ought to give the Message even to those who do not seem to be ready for it, because they can never judge the real extent to which the Word of God can influence the hearts and minds of the people, even those who appear to lack any power of receptivity to the Teachings.

(From a letter dated 14 January 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1951. The love we bear mankind, our conviction that Baha'u'llah's Faith contains the only and the Divine remedy for all its ills, must be <p311> demonstrated today in action by bringing the Cause before the public. No doubt the majority are not yet able to see its true significance, but they must not be deprived, through our failure in obligation, of the opportunity of hearing of it. And there are many precious souls who are seeking for it and ready to embrace it.

(From a letter dated 19 March 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1952. If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.

Today the need is so great on the part of humanity to hear of the Divine Message, that the believers must plunge into the work, wherever and however they can, heedless of their own shortcomings, but ever heedful of the crying need of their fellow-men to hear of the teachings in their darkest hour of travail.

(From a letter dated 4 May 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1953. 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 dated 10 December 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1954. ...no system, for teachers to practise, exists. But obviously the more people know about the teachings and the Cause, the better they will be able to present the subject. If some people find that prayer and placing all their trust in God, releases in them a flood of inspiration, they should be left free to pursue this method if it is productive of results.

(From a letter dated 25 January 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers) <p312>

1955. Through example, loving fellowship, prayer, and kindness the friends can attract the hearts of such people and enable them to realize that this is the Cause of God in deed, not merely words!...

(From a letter dated 24 February 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1956. Unless and until the believers really come to realize they are one spiritual family, knit together by a bond more lasting than mere physical ties can ever be, they will not be able to create that warm community atmosphere which alone can attract the hearts of humanity, frozen for lack of real love and feeling.

(From a letter dated 5 May 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1957. 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....

(From a letter dated 14 October 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1958. By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups of young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike.

A spirit of prejudice-free, loving comradeship with others is what will open the eyes of people more than any amount of words. Combined with such deeds you can teach the Faith easily.

(From a letter dated 18 June 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Dayton, Oh)

1959. ...a sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also of social and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people... <p313>

(From a letter dated 4 May 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1960. He feels you should, in teaching, certainly not start with such a difficult point as abstinence from wine; but when the person wishes to join the Faith he must be told....

(From a letter dated 7 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)

1961. All the Baha'is, new and old alike, should devote themselves as much as possible to teaching the Faith; they should also realize that the atmosphere of true love and unity which they manifest within the Baha'i Community will directly affect the public, and be the greatest magnet for attracting people to the Faith and confirming them.

(From a letter dated 4 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Stuttgart, Germany)

1962. In teaching people, when they begin to seriously study the Faith there is no objection to impressing upon them that this message involves great spiritual responsibility, and should not be either accepted or cast aside lightly. But we must be very gentle, tactful and patient, and not administer shocks to people.

We must always teach constructively, and be very sure that none of us, through disagreement among ourselves or indiscretion, cool off the souls of the seekers.

(From a letter dated 14 October 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1963. There is no objection to leaving Baha'i Literature in a public place as long as it is not overdone and does not savour of proselytizing.

(From a letter dated 22 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1964. ...it is spirit, determination, faith and devotion which bring victories into being, one after another, in Britain, and not luxury and leisure....

(From a letter dated 29 April 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles) <p314>

1965. We should never insist on teaching those who are not really ready for the Cause. If a man is not hungry you cannot make him eat. Among the Theosophists there are, no doubt, many receptive souls, but those who are satisfied should be just associated with in a friendly way, but let alone. Once a seeker comes to accept the concept of progressive religion, and accepts Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation for this day, the reincarnation concept will fade away in the light of truth; we should try and avoid controversial issues in the beginning, if possible.

(From a letter dated 23 June 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1966. It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated Baha'i scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting. The world has -- at least the thinking world -- caught up by now with all the great and universal principles enunciated by Baha'u'llah over 70 years ago, and so of course it does not sound "new" to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society, are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men!

(From a letter dated 3 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1967. ...we, the few who have caught the vision, should not waste our energies beating up and down the paths pursued by humanity, and which are not solving its ghastly present-day problems. We should concentrate on the Cause, because it is what is needed to cure the world....

If the Baha'is want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need to be much better informed and able to discuss intelligently, intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems.... We Baha'is should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our Faith....

(From a letter dated 5 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p315>

1968. Teaching individually is of great importance, and often enables you to confirm people, whereas public speaking, while it carries the Message to more people, does not confirm very many. You can do both.

(From a letter dated 5 August 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1969. ...when we put our trust in Him, Baha'u'llah solves our problems and opens the way.

(From a letter dated 12 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1970. To find these receptive souls and teach them, with tact and understanding, is the duty and privilege of every single Baha'i.

(From a letter dated 20 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1971. Without the spirit of real love for Baha'u'llah, for His Faith and its Institutions, and the believers for each other, the Cause can never really bring in large numbers of people. For it is not preaching and rules the world wants, but love and action.

(From a letter dated 25 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1972. Just one mature soul, with spiritual understanding and a profound knowledge of the Faith, can set a whole country ablaze -- so great is the power of the Cause to work through a pure and selfless channel.

(From a letter dated 6 November 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1973. As we have such wonderful prayers and meditations in our writings, the reading of these with friends who are interested in and crave for this type of small meeting is often a step towards attracting them to the Faith. Perhaps you could start such an activity in your city.

(From a letter dated 4 February 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p316>

1974. The believers are entirely free to hold as many little teaching groups or Firesides as they please in their own homes... In fact this personal, informal, home teaching is perhaps the most productive of results.

(From a letter dated 24 February 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1975. ...make a special point of praying ardently not only for success in general, but that God may send to you the souls that are ready. There are such souls in every city...

(From a letter dated 18 March 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Punta Arenas)

1976. The people of the world are submerged in an atmosphere which is the very antithesis, morally, of the Baha'i atmosphere; we must teach them. If we are too strict in the beginning most -- not all -- types will be rebuffed and veer away from what they might otherwise be led to accept. On the other hand, we don't want Baha'is who do not seriously try to live up to the teachings -- we must therefore use great tact and challenge strong souls and lead weak souls.

(From a letter dated 7 August 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1977. At all times we must look at the greatness of the Cause, and remember that Baha'u'llah will assist all who arise in His service. When we look at ourselves, we are sure to feel discouraged by our shortcomings and insignificance!

(From a letter dated 12 December 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1978. The excellent work you are doing in the teaching field, he appreciates very deeply and wishes you to persevere and go on teaching people of importance. Even if they are not always good prospects as far as being converted to the Faith goes, it is very necessary that they should hear of it and be made friendly towards it.

(From a letter dated 10 February 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p317>

1979. Although it is good not to provoke conventional people too much, on the other hand, we must not allow them to come between us and obeying Baha'u'llah; and we know that He has instructed His servants to spread His Message....

(From a letter dated 1 May 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1980. ...whilst actively teaching, the friends must themselves be taught and deepened in the spirit of the Faith, which brings love and unity.

(From a letter dated 17 July 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1981. These people, finding the Baha'is sincerely lacking in either prejudice -- or that even worse attitude, condescension -- might not only take interest in our Teachings, but also help us to reach their people in the proper way.

It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us, with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested, as we are, in a living religion and not in the dead forms of present-day churches.

(From a letter dated 21 September 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Comite Nacional de ensenanza Baha'i para los indigenas)

1982. Teaching is of course the head corner-stone of all Baha'i service, but successful teaching is dependent upon many factors, one of which is the development of a true Baha'i way of living and the fulfilment of responsibilities which we have incurred.

(From a letter dated 3 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1983. It should not be overlooked, however, that the most powerful and effective teaching medium that has been found so far is the fireside meeting, because in the fireside meeting, intimate personal questions can <p318> be answered, and the student find the spirit of the Faith more abundant there.

(From a letter dated 11 December 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Local Spiritual Assembly and an individual believer)

Today, as never before, the magnet which attracts the blessings from on high is teaching the Faith of God. The Hosts of Heaven are poised between heaven and earth, just waiting, and patiently, for the Baha'i to step forth, with pure devotion and consecration, to teach the Cause of God, so they may rush to his aid and assistance. It is the Guardian's prayer that the Friends may treble their efforts, as the time is short -- alas, the workers too few. Let those who wish to achieve immortality step forth and raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual victories they will gain.

(From a letter dated 28 March 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1984. What is needed to achieve success in the teaching field is a complete dedication on the part of the individual, consecration to the glorious task of spreading the Faith, and the living of the Baha'i life, because that creates the magnet for the Holy Spirit, and it is the Holy Spirit which quickens the new soul. Thus the individual should be as a reed, through which the Holy Spirit may flow, to give new life to the seeking soul.

One should search out those who are receptive to the Faith, and then concentrate on these persons in their teaching.

(From a letter dated 18 December 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1985. The peoples generally are seeking the light of Divine Guidance. The problems of the world have awakened the populace. It only remains for the Baha'is to raise the Call and give the Message according to the high standards enunciated by the beloved Master. The world can become alive with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if the Baha'is fulfil their sacred obligation.

In pioneering fields, and on the home front, the friends must arise with the same spirit of dedication and consecration which animated the original pioneers. If they do, they will be astonished at the great results they will achieve. <p319>

Setting aside all the shibboleths of present-day living, leaving behind the false standards of those endeavouring to solve the world's problems by weak platitudes, and demonstrating the new Baha'i way of dynamic spiritual living, let them, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, arise to spread the Water of Life over America. This will produce the results which the cries of humanity today require. Where are the spiritual souls who will now seize their opportunity, and achieve immortal glory in the service of the Faith!

(From a letter dated 14 April 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1986. As you interest different ones in the Faith, you must be very cautious, and gradually lead them into the Light of Divine Guidance, especially the practices of Baha'i living. Thus you should not be dogmatic about any of the secondary practices of the Faith....

(From a letter dated 5 June 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1987. The Guardian feels that the most effective way for the Baha'is to teach the Faith is to make strong friends with their neighbours and associates. When the friends have confidence in the Baha'is and the Baha'is in their friends, they should give the Message and teach the Cause. Individual teaching of this type is more effective than any other type.

The principle of the fireside meeting, which was established in order to permit and encourage the individual to teach in his own home, has been proven the most effective instrument for spreading the Faith....

(From a letter dated 27 December 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1988. It is better to have one Baha'i who understands the Teachings and is wholeheartedly convinced of their truth, than a number of Baha'is, who are not well aware of the Cause, and deep-rooted in the Covenant.

(From a letter dated 22 January 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p320>

1989. Consecration, dedication and enthusiastic service is the Keynote to successful teaching. One must become like a reed through which the Holy Spirit descends to reach the student of the Faith.

We give the Message, and explain the Teachings, but it is the Holy Spirit that quickens and confirms.

(From a letter dated 16 February 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1990. The Guardian thinks perhaps a different approach to the aborigines might attract them; one of being interested in their lives and their folklore, and of trying to become their friend, rather than trying to change them or improve them.

(From a letter dated 9 April 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1991. The Baha'is must realize that the success of this work depends upon the individual. The individual must arise as never before to proclaim the Faith of Baha'u'llah. The most effective way for them to carry on their work is for the individual to make many contacts, select a few who they feel would become Baha'is, develop a close friendship with them, then complete confidence, and finally teach them the Faith, until they become strong supporters of the Cause of God.

(Prom a letter dated 13 May 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

1992. The all-important thing of course is that every activity ... is for the purpose of teaching the Faith and confirming people. Therefore you and the other Baha'is should watch the situation very closely. You should study those who attend the meetings, and when you find one who you feel would become a strong and active Baha'i, then you should concentrate on teaching him. Thus, if you are able to confirm some souls, you will have rendered distinguished and outstanding service. Actually this is the goal of all such activities in all of the universities.

(From a letter dated 1 June 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p321>

1993. The Hosts of the Supreme Concourse are in martial array, poised between Earth and Heaven ready to rush to the assistance of those who arise to Teach the Faith. If one seeks the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, one can find it in rich abundance in the Teaching Field. The world is seeking as never before, and if the Friends will arise with new determination, fully consecrated to the noble task ahead of them, victory after victory will be won for the Glorious Faith of God.

(From a letter dated 2 February 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1994. The greatest glory and honor which can come to an individual is to bring the light of guidance to some new soul. The quickening power of the Holy Spirit, which has come into the world through Baha'u'llah, is the source of immortal life; and those who are quickened by this spirit in this world will find themselves in great honor and glory in the next world. The most meritorious service which anyone could render is to bring the light of divine guidance and the quickening power of the spirit to an entirely new area. Humanity is crying for salvation; and it is only by the Baha'is going into the various areas of the world, that it can be brought to them. This is the reason the Guardian has encouraged all of the friends to disperse to new territories, for this is the hour for the quickening of the world.

(From a letter dated 11 March 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'i Community of Tacoma, US)

1995. The need of the Hour is Teaching on the Home Front. Its goals can be won, by a new spirit of dedication and consecration on the part of the friends, each in his own country, in his own home.... Never must they let a day pass without teaching some soul, trusting to Baha'u'llah that the seed will grow. The friends should seek pure souls, gain their confidence, and then teach that person carefully until he becomes a Baha'i, and then nurture him until he becomes a firm and active supporter of the Faith.

Everyone must remember that it is the "Holy Spirit that quickens" and therefore the teacher must become like a reed through which the Holy Spirit may reach the seeking soul.

The beloved Guardian has stressed over and over again, that to effectively teach the Faith, the individual must study deeply, the Divine <p322> Word, imbibe Its life-giving waters, and feast upon Its glorious teachings. He should then meditate on the import of the Word, and finding its spiritual depths, pray for guidance and assistance. But most important, after prayer is action. After one has prayed and meditated, he must arise, relying fully on the guidance and confirmation of Baha'u'llah, to teach His Faith. Perseverance in action is essential, just as wisdom and audacity are necessary for effective teaching. The individual must sacrifice all things to this great goal, and then the victories will be won.

(From a letter dated 30 May 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Hands of the Cause in the United States)

1996. The spirit of the hour is teaching on the Home Fronts. Its goal can only be won by a new spirit of dedication and consecration on the part of the friends at home. Miraculous victories are being won, in the difficult virgin areas, because the pioneers have consecrated their lives to the Noble Mission they have embarked upon. The Friends at home must display this same consecration and dedication. Never must they let a day pass, without teaching some soul, hoping that Baha'u'llah will cause each seed to grow. The Friends should seek pure souls, gain their confidence and then teach that person carefully until he becomes a Baha'i -- and then nurture him until he becomes a firm and active supporter of the Faith.

(From a letter dated 15 June 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Lafayette, In)

1997. He hopes you will be guided and confirmed in your work, so many souls may find eternal life, through your selfless services. It is important that you make contact with pure hearted individuals, gain their confidence, they gain confidence in you, and then gradually teach them. It is better to concentrate on a few, rather than attempt to teach too many at a time. Consecration, devotion, dedication, humility are essential, that the Holy Spirit may use you as a reed for the diffusion of Its creative rays.

(From a letter dated 15 July 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

1998. The Guardian feels that, if the friends would meditate a little more objectively upon both their relationship to the Cause and the vast <p323> non-Baha'i public they hope to influence, they would see things more clearly.... He fully realizes that the demands made upon the Baha'is are great, and that they often feel inadequate, tired and perhaps frightened in the face of the tasks that confront them. This is only natural. On the other hand, they must realize that the power of God can and will assist them; and that because they are privileged to have accepted the Manifestation of God for this Day, this very act has placed upon them a great moral responsibility toward their fellow-men. It is this moral responsibility to which the Guardian is constantly calling their attention...

(From a letter dated 19 July 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

1999. The friends must certainly explore new channels and have more audacity, if they are to get anywhere in adding to their numbers.

(From a letter dated 6 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

2000. The most effective method of teaching is the Fireside group, where new people can be shown Baha'i hospitality, and ask all questions which bother them. They can feel there the true Baha'i spirit -- and it is the spirit that quickeneth.

(From a letter dated 20 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

2001. He feels that to distribute Baha'i pamphlets from door to door ... is undignified and might create a bad impression of the Faith....

(From a letter dated 20 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)

2002. We must be careful not to teach in a fanatical way. We should teach as the Master taught. He was the perfect Exemplar of the Teachings. He proclaimed the universal truths, and, through love and wise demonstration of the universal verities of the Faith, attracted the hearts and the minds.

(From a letter dated 20 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p324>

2003. The Master assured us that when we forget ourselves, and strive with all our powers to serve and teach the Faith, we receive divine assistance. It is not we who do the work, but we are the instruments used at that time for the purpose of teaching His Cause.

(From a letter dated 8 November 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

2004. The Teaching of the Faith is dependent on the individual and his effort. When the individual arise with enthusiasm, with full dedication and consecration, and allows nothing to deter him; then results will be achieved....

(From a letter dated 17 December 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is assembled at the Indiana State Convention)

2005. The Guardian hopes the Friends ... will display the loving spirit of the Master in their contacts, and then win those souls to the Faith. The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results, when each one invites friends into their homes once in nineteen 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 dated 27 January 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

2006. The Guardian was very happy to receive the news of the sudden spurt in the number of Friends joining the Faith. It demonstrates that one must persevere until the very end, if success is to be achieved....

(From a letter dated 19 April 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

2007. ...the world is being shaken to its foundations and the people are seeking. If the Baha'is will arise as never before to teach the Cause they will find many listeners and many will find eternal life through their sacrificial efforts.

(From a letter dated 17 May 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada) <p325>

2008. Divine Truth is relative and that is why we are enjoined to constantly refer the seeker to the Word itself -- and why any explanations we make to ease the journey of the soul of any individual must be based on the Word -- and the Word alone.

(From a letter dated 4 June 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)

2009. 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, and gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day.

(From a letter dated 5 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Benelux countries)

2010. The Beloved Guardian directs me to inform you that you should not weary in well doing. He knows you must become discouraged at times when hardness of the hearts of the local people does not permit the budding of the seeds which you are so diligently sowing. However, he assures you that all of the seeds that are sown will ultimately reap their fruit. . .

(From a letter dated 7 August 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

2011. Teaching is the source of Divine Confirmation. It is not sufficient to pray diligently for guidance, but this prayer must be followed by meditation as to the best methods of action and then action itself Even if the action should not immediately produce results, or perhaps not be entirely correct, that does not make so much difference, because prayers can only be answered through action and if someone's action is wrong, God can use that method of showing the pathway which is right....

(From a letter dated 22 August 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) <p326>

2012. It is not enough for the friends to make the excuse that their best teachers and their exemplary believers have arisen and answered the call to pioneer. A "best teacher" and an "exemplary believer" is ultimately neither more nor less than an ordinary Baha'i who has consecrated himself to the work of the Faith, deepened his knowledge and understanding of its Teachings, placed his confidence in Baha'u'llah, and arisen to serve Him to the best of his ability. This door is one which we are assured will open before the face of every follower of the Faith who knocks hard enough, so to speak. When the will and the desire are strong enough, the means will be found and the way opened either to do more work locally, to go to a new goal town ... or to enter the foreign pioneer field....

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."

(From a letter dated 21 September 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

Revised July 1990 <p327>


TRUSTWORTHINESS: A CARDINAL BAHA'I VIRTUE

January 1987

Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

Extracts from the writings of Baha'u'llah: 2013. O people! The goodliest vesture in the sight of God in this day is trustworthiness. All bounty and honour shall be the portion of the soul that arrayeth itself with this greatest of adornments.

(From a Tablet - translated from Persian)

2014. Regard thou faith as a tree. Its fruits, leaves, boughs and branches are, and have ever been, trustworthiness, truthfulness, uprightness and forbearance.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2015. The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), sec. 134, p. 290)

2016. Beautify your tongues, O people, with truthfulness, and adorn your souls with the ornament of honesty. Beware, O people, that ye deal not treacherously with any one. Be ye the trustees of God amongst His creatures, and the emblems of His generosity amidst His people. They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and dissipated their efforts. They, indeed, are of the lost.... <p328>

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 136, p. 297)

2017. The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the Will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom. His object is to array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, and to adorn him with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 137, p. 299)

2018. Say: Let truthfulness and courtesy be your adorning. Suffer not yourselves to be deprived of the robe of forbearance and justice, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted from your hearts upon all created things. Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds. Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments....

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah", sec. 139, p. 305)

2019. We ask God, exalted be His glory, to confirm each one of the friends in that land in the acquisition of such praiseworthy characteristics as shall conduce to the spread of justice and equity among the peoples of the world. The first, the fundamental purpose underlying creation hath ever been, and will continue to be, none other than the appearance of trustworthiness and godliness, of sincerity and goodwill amongst mankind, for these qualities are the cause of peace, security and tranquillity. Blessed are those who possess such virtues.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2020. I beseech Thee, O my God, by all the transcendent glory of Thy Name, to clothe Thy loved ones in the robe of justice and to illumine their beings with the light of trustworthiness. Thou art the One Who hath power to do as He pleaseth and Who holdeth within His grasp the reins of all things, visible and invisible.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic) <p329>

2021. Say: O people of God! Adorn your temples with the adornment of trust- worthiness and piety. Help, then, your Lord with the hosts of goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character....

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 120)

2022. One day of days We repaired unto Our Green Island. Upon Our arrival, We beheld its streams flowing, and its trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst. Turning Our face to the right, We beheld what the pen is powerless to describe; nor can it set forth that which the eye of the Lord of Mankind witnessed in that most sanctified, that most sublime, that blest, and most exalted Spot. Turning, then, to the left We gazed on one of the Beauties of the Most Sublime Paradise, standing on a pillar of light, and calling aloud saying: 'O inmates of earth and heaven! Behold ye My beauty, and My radiance, and My revelation, and My effulgence. By God, the True One! I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof, and the beauty thereof. I will recompense whosoever will cleave unto Me, and recognize My rank and station, and hold fast unto My hem. I am the most great ornament of the people of Baha, and the vesture of glory unto all who are in the kingdom of creation. I am the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world, and the horizon of assurance unto all beings.' Thus have We sent down for thee that which will draw men nigh unto the Lord of creation.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 122)

2023. The fourth Taraz concerneth trustworthiness. Verily it is the door of security for all that dwell on earth and a token of glory on the part of the All-Merciful. He who partaketh thereof hath indeed partaken of the treasures of wealth and prosperity. Trustworthiness is the greatest portal leading unto the tranquillity and security of the people. In truth the stability of every affair hath depended and doth depend upon it. All the domains of power, of grandeur and of wealth are illumined by its light.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", p. 37)

2024. Were a man in this day to adorn himself with the raiment of trustworthiness it were better for him in the sight of God than that he should journey on foot towards the holy court and be blessed with <p330> meeting the Adored One and standing before His Seat of Glory. Trustworthiness is as a stronghold to the city of humanity, and as eyes to the human temple. Whosoever remaineth deprived thereof shall, before His Throne, be reckoned as one bereft of vision.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2025. We call to remembrance every one of the friends and exhort them to have regard to trustworthiness, which is a charge that God hath entrusted to the safe-keeping of His servants; to righteousness, which He hath made to be a citadel of strength for His well-favoured ones and faithful, humble servants; and to whatever virtues shall conduce to their dignity and honour among all peoples.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2026. O ye friends of God in His cities and His loved ones in His lands! This Wronged One enjoineth on you honesty and piety. Blessed the city that shineth by their light. Through them man is exalted, and the door of security is unlocked before the face of all creation. Happy the man that cleaveth fast unto them, and recognizeth their virtue, and woe betide him that denieth their station.

("Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 23)

2027. Be ye God's manifestations of trustworthiness in every land. So perfectly should ye mirror forth this quality that even were ye to travel through cities heaped with gold, your gaze would not for a single moment be seduced by its allure. This is the standard required of you, O assemblage of true believers. Assist ye your gracious Lord with your wealth and substance so that in all the worlds of God His servants may perceive from you the sweet savours of the one true God.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2028. He is the true servant of God who, in this day, were he to pass through cities of silver and gold, would not deign to look upon them, and whose heart would remain pure and undefiled from whatever things can be seen in this world, be they its goods or its treasures. I swear by the Sun of Truth! The breath of such a man is endowed with potency, and his words with attraction .... <p331>

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 23)

2029. Say: O bearer of My Name! Upon thee be My glory and My loving-kindness. Thou hast ever been adorned with the fair robe of trustworthiness and piety. These twin qualities are as two companions for thee in whom thou mayest find solace. They are as two sentinels who shall stand watch over thee, and two guardians that shall, by God's leave, keep thee from harm.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2030. Cleave ye to the hem of the raiment of virtue and keep fast hold of the cord of piety and trustworthiness. Have regard to the good of the world and not to your own selfish desires. O peoples of God! Ye are the shepherds of the world. Keep ye your flocks unbesmirched by the mire of evil passion and desire, and adorn each one with the ornament of the fear of God. This is the firm command that hath issued forth in this day from the pen of the Ever-Abiding. I swear by the righteousness of God! The sword of upright conduct and a goodly character is sharper than blades of steel.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2031. We ask God graciously to grant that all may evince such fairness of character, such goodliness of deed and kindliness of word as will meet with His good pleasure. It hath been decreed that the citadels of men's hearts should be subdued through the hosts of a noble character and praiseworthy deeds. Contention, discord, strife and sedition have all been forbidden in the Book of God. Beseech the Lord that He deprive not His dominions of the effulgent light of the sun of trustworthiness, nor deny them the radiance of the Day-Star of truthfulness or the splendour of the orb of justice and equity. Trustworthiness and piety are even as two luminaries shining resplendent above the horizon of the heaven of the Tablet in which are inscribed the ordinances of God. Well is it with them that have discerned them, and woe betide the heedless!

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic) <p332>

2032. We have counselled all people, in the most clear and eloquent language, to adorn their characters with trustworthiness and godliness, and with such qualities as are conducive to the elevation of man's station in the world of being. This Wronged One testifieth that the purpose for which mortal men have, from utter nothingness, stepped into the realm of being, is that they may work for the betterment of the world and live together in concord and harmony. Dissension and strife have always been, and shall remain, rejected by God. The Books, the Scriptures and Holy Writings of previous ages have all proclaimed the joyful tidings that the purpose underlying this most mighty Revelation is none other than the rehabilitation of the world and its nations; that perchance the power of utterance may prevail over the power of arms, and the world's affairs be administered through the potency of love. We ask God, the True One, to invest all with the mantle of trustworthiness, for that is the world's comeliest garment.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

2033. Cleave thou to the fear of God and to whatsoever hath been revealed in His Book: thus biddeth thee He Who is the Word of Truth and the Knower of things unseen. Say: trustworthiness is the sun of the heaven of My commandments, truthfulness is its moon, and praiseworthy attributes are its stars. Yet the people, for the most part, understand not.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)

2034. We send Our greetings to the faithful followers of the one true God, who have tasted of the sweet waters of loving-kindness and directed their gaze toward the Realm of Glory. We enjoin upon them all to conduct themselves with trustworthiness and rectitude and to lead chaste and virtuous lives.

O beloved friends! Whoever adorneth his character with such virtues will be reckoned among the true servants of God, and his name will be commemorated by the Concourse on High; but he who depriveth himself thereof shall not be accounted of their number. Strive diligently to acquire such goodly qualities and traits of character as will be the cause of everlasting salvation. Make not the fruits of the tree of trustworthiness targets for the stones of treachery, nor rend its boughs asunder with the <p333> instruments of tyranny and oppression. Truthfulness and sincerity have always been the ornament of a man's character, and so they shall ever be. O friends! Let not the deceptive glamour of this fleeting world -- to whose impermanence all things attest -- cut you off from God's enduring bestowals, nor deprive you from partaking of the spiritual sustenance that He hath sent down from the heaven of His bounty. Keep your gaze centred on Him Who is the Sovereign Word of Truth: place your whole reliance upon Him, and beg of Him to destine for you what is meet and fitting. Resign your affairs into the hands of God, the Lord of creation. Call ye to mind the people of former ages: whither are they sped, the prideful and vainglorious, the workers of iniquity and unrighteousness?

Where are their hoards of treasure, their palaces, citadels and thrones? Reflect upon those bygone days, and the vicissitudes of which they tell, and be ye admonished thereby. The prayer of this Wronged One is that God may assist all to do what shall meet with His favour and acceptance.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2035. Thou art most dear to Us; and, as We love thee, so love We all in whom may be perceived the goodly adornments of trustworthiness and uprightness, and such qualities of virtue and integrity as have been enjoined upon men in the Book of God, the Lord of the Mighty Throne. Happy the lot of the soul that hath perceived the fragrant breaths of divine utterance, and given ear to what hath been revealed by God, the Omniscient, the All-Informed. God hath, verily, willed that His Cause should be assisted by the hosts of goodly deeds and a righteous character. Blessed, then, be the man that apprehendeth this truth and acteth conformably; and woe betide those who ignore or deny it!

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2036. We send our greetings to the friends and exhort them to conduct themselves with rectitude, trustworthiness, piety, virtue and loving-kindness -- with all those qualities, in fine, that will serve to bring forth man's true station in the world of being. He Who is the Eternal Truth, exalted be His glory, hath ever loved faithfulness. Well is it with him who adorneth his temple with its raiment, and is honoured by this greatest of distinctions.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian) <p334>

2037. Trustworthiness, wisdom and honesty are, of a truth, God's beauteous adornments for His creatures. These fair garments are a befitting vesture for every temple. Happy are those that comprehend, and well is it with them that acquire such virtues.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2038. Cleave ye at all times to the cord of trustworthiness and hold fast the hem of the garment of truthfulness: thus biddeth you He Who is the Truthful, the Trusted One. God is my witness, trustworthiness is a light that shineth refulgently from the heavens, and leadeth to the exaltation of the Cause of God, the Omnipotent, the Incomparable, the All-Praised. Whoso hath remained faithful to the Covenant hath been steadfast in his adherence to trustworthiness, whilst those who have repudiated it have erred grievously.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2039. It behoveth ye all so to adorn your inner and outer beings that, robed in trustworthiness, girt with righteousness and arrayed in truthfulness and rectitude, ye may become a means for the exaltation of the Cause and the education of the human race.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

2040. The companions of God are, in this day, the lump that must leaven the peoples of the world. They must show forth such trustworthiness, such truthfulness and perseverance, such deeds and character that all mankind may profit by their example....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 23)

2041. They who dwell within the Tabernacle of God, and are established upon the seats of everlasting glory, will refuse, though they be dying of hunger, to stretch their hands, and seize unlawfully the property of their neighbour, however vile and worthless he may be. The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom. His object is to array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, and to adorn him with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds....

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 24) <p335>

2042. O My loved ones! We charge you to conduct yourselves with trustworthiness and rectitude, that through you the attributes of your Lord may be manifested to His servants and the evidences of His exalted holiness may appear in every land. He is, verily, the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)

2043. I counsel you, O friends of God, to comport yourselves with the utmost trustworthiness in your dealings with my servants and people. By its aid shall the Cause of God be promoted throughout the world and its exalted sanctity become manifest to all creation. Be ye the repositories of the trust of all men. Thus have We commanded them in the Tablets. Thy Lord is, verily, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)

2044. O friends of God in every land! This Wronged One adjureth you by the Best-Beloved of the world, Who is calling aloud in the Kingdom of Utterance, that ye deal not faithlessly with the substance of your fellow men. Be ye the trustees of God in His dominions and the embodiments of truthfulness throughout His realms. Blessed the man that heedeth the counsels of God and observeth His precepts.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2045. We have enjoined upon all to become engaged in some trade or profession, and have accounted such occupation to be an act of worship. Before all else, however, thou shouldst receive, as a sign of God's acceptance, the mantle of trustworthiness from the hands of divine favour; for trustworthiness is the chief means of attracting confirmation and prosperity. We entreat God to make of it a radiant and mercifully showering rain-cloud that shall bring success and blessings to thy affairs. He of a truth is the All-Bountiful, the Gracious.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2046. Commerce is as a heaven, whose sun is trustworthiness and whose moon is truthfulness. The most precious of all things in the estimation of Him Who is the Sovereign Truth is trustworthiness: thus hath it been <p336> recorded in the sacred Scroll of God. Entreat ye the one true God to enable all mankind to attain to this most noble and lofty station.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2047. In connection with the demands for payment of which thou hast written in thy letter, it is manifestly clear that anyone who hath the ability to settle his debts, and yet neglecteth to do so, hath not acted in accordance with the good pleasure of the one true God. Those who incur debts should strive to settle them with all diligence and application. God's binding commandments with respect to trustworthiness, uprightness and the honouring of rights have been recorded in clear and perspicuous language in all the sacred Books, Tablets, Scriptures and holy Writings. Well is it with him whom the fleeting vanities of the world have not deprived of a lasting adornment, and whom avarice and negligence have not shut out from the illumination of the sun of trustworthiness. These matters, however, depend on the existence of ability, for the making of a demand is contingent upon ability to meet it. By the Lord of the Book, the former is not permissible in the absence of the latter. To this testifieth the Verse: "Respite thy debtor till he findeth means to pay."[1]
[1 Qur'an 2:280]

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2048. In most of Our Tablets We have counselled the servants of God to be trustworthy and righteous, just and fair-minded. We have commanded them to eschew iniquity and evil and bidden them practise piety and the fear of God. The heedless, however, have been led only into ever-increasing loss. Truly, had God's creatures but conformed their actions to the will and pleasure of God, exalted be His glory, the whole earth would by now be seen as a single country, a blessed land of beauty and light.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)

2049. Say: desist from wickedness and transgression, and lay hold on trustworthiness and piety, candour and sincerity. This is the commandment of God, the Lord of the Judgement Day. He Whom the world hath wronged speaketh not through the promptings of worldly <p337> desire, but in accordance with what hath been revealed in the Book of God, the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days. Righteousness of character is the means whereby the high stations attainable by man in the world of being may be made evident: to this testify God's honoured servants, whom the evil whisperings of the people have not deterred from arising to render service to their Lord, the King of the Mighty Throne.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)

2050. Be thou of the people of hell-fire,
but be not a hypocrite.

Be thou an unbeliever,
but be not a plotter.

Make thy home in taverns,
but tread not the path
of the mischief-maker.

Fear thou God,
but not the priest.

Give to the executioner thy head,
but not thy heart.

Let thine abode be under the stone,
but seek not the shelter of the cleric.

Thus doth the Holy Reed intone its melodies, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its song, so that He may infuse life eternal into the mortal frames of men, impart to the temples of dust the essence of the Holy Spirit and the heavenly Light, and draw the transient world, through the potency of a single word, unto the Everlasting Kingdom.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

Extract from the utterances of the Bab:

2051. One day the Bab asked that some honey be purchased for Him. The price at which it had been bought seemed to Him exorbitant. He refused it and said: "Honey of a superior quality could no doubt have been <p338> purchased at a lower price. I who am your example have been a merchant by profession. It behoves you in all your transactions to follow in My way. You must neither defraud your neighbour nor allow him to defraud you. Such was the way of your Master. The shrewdest and ablest of men were unable to deceive Him, nor did He on His part choose to act ungenerously towards the meanest and most helpless of creatures." He insisted that the attendant who had made that purchase should return and bring back to Him a honey superior in quality and cheaper in price.

(Cited in "The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Baha'i Revelation", trans. and ed. Shoghi Effendi, (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 303)

Extracts from the writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

2052. Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also be acquired.

(Cited in Shoghi Effendi,"The Advent of Divine Justice" p. 26)

2053. O Sadiq![1] Truthfulness, uprightness and integrity are the attributes of the righteous and the hallmarks of the pure. Truthfulness is the goodliest of qualities as it comprehendeth all other virtues. A truthful person will be protected from all moral afflictions, will shrink from every evil deed, and be preserved from every wicked act, inasmuch as all vices and misdeeds are the very antithesis of truthfulness, and a truthful man will hold them all in utter abhorrence.
[1 The name "Sadiq" means literally "truthful" or "sincere"]

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2054. O pure soul! Follow thou in the footsteps of the truthful and tread the way of the righteous, so that, through truthfulness, thou mayest come to occupy a Seat of Truth,[1] and, through righteousness, thou mayest attain to abiding honour. If the sum of all sins were to be weighed in the balance, falsehood would, on its own, countervail them; nay, its evils would even outweigh them and its detriment prove greater. It were better <p339> for thee that thou shouldst be a blasphemer and tell the truth than that thou shouldst mouth the formulas of faith and yet be a liar. These clear words are addressed as an admonition to the peoples of the world. Render thanks unto God that it is through thee that this counsel hath been addressed to all mankind.
[1 Qur'an, 54:55]

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2055. O army of God! Through the protection and help vouchsafed by the Blessed Beauty -- may my life be a sacrifice to His loved ones -- ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a centre of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: 'This man is unquestionably a Baha'i, for his manners, his behaviour, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Baha'is.' Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God. For He hath, through irrefutable Texts, entered into a binding Covenant with us all, requiring us to act in accordance with His sacred instructions and counsels.

""Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), sec. 35, pp. 70-1)

2056. ...we, and the friends of God, should on no account slacken our efforts to be loyal, sincere and men of good will. We should at all times manifest our truthfulness and sincerity, nay rather, we must be constant in our faithfulness and trustworthiness, and occupy ourselves in offering prayers for the good of all.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, sec. 225, p. 294)

2057. The primary characteristic of true believers is trustworthiness whereas the primary characteristic of the rebellious is faithlessness.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2058. If a man were to perform every good work, yet fail in the least scruple to be entirely trustworthy and honest, his good works would become as <p340> dry tinder and his failure as a soul-consuming fire. If, on the other hand, he should fall short in all his affairs, yet act with trustworthiness and honesty, all his defects would ultimately be righted, all injuries remedied, and all infirmities healed. Our meaning is that, in the sight of God, trustworthiness is the bedrock of His Faith and the foundation of all virtues and perfections. A man deprived of this quality is destitute of everything. What shall faith and piety avail if trustworthiness be lacking? Of what consequence can they be? What benefit or advantage can they confer? Wherefore 'Abdu'l-Baha counselleth the friends -- nay, rather, fervently imploreth them -- so vigilantly to guard the sanctity of the Cause of God and preserve their own dignity as individuals that all nations shall come to know and honour them for their trustworthiness and integrity. They can render no greater service than this today. To act otherwise would be to take an axe to the root of the Cause of God -- we take refuge with God from this heinous transgression and pray that He will protect His loved ones from committing so flagrant a wrong.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2059. You have written on the question of how the friends should proceed in their business dealings with one another. This is a question of the greatest importance and a matter that deserveth the liveliest concern. In relations of this kind, the friends of God should act with the utmost trustworthiness and integrity. To be remiss in this area would be to turn one's face away from the counsels of the Blessed Beauty and the holy precepts of God. If a man in his own home doth not treat his relations and friends with entire trustworthiness and integrity, his dealings with the outside world -- no matter how much trustworthiness and honesty he may bring to them -- will prove barren and unproductive. First one should order one's own domestic affairs, then attend to one's business with the public. One should certainly not argue that the friends need not be treated with undue care, or that it is unnecessary for them to attach too great importance to the practice of trustworthiness in their dealings with one another, but that it is in their relations with strangers that correct behaviour is essential. Talk like this is sheer fantasy and will lead to detriment and loss. Blessed be the soul that shineth with the light of trustworthiness among the people and becometh a sign of perfection amidst all men. <p341>

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2060. Since the orderly running of your association dependeth upon the devotion, integrity, fair-mindedness and sanctity of purpose manifested by the friends of God, they should show forth in their management of its affairs such purity, nobility and far-sighted wisdom that they will become a model for other societies, and all people may be edified and enlightened by their example. In this way the Baha'is will become known to all as people who are dependable and honest, virtuous and enlightened, pure and refined; who are industrious and high-principled, liberal-minded and promoters of freedom; whose concern is to serve the common good, not to advance their own interests, and whose aim is to further the welfare and prosperity of the people, not to foster their own well-being.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2061. Your criterion should be to pursue your commercial activities with such fairness and equity as to be a cause of guidance to others. The friends of God should, through the instrumentality of their business, lead the people to God's path, and make them so astonished as to exclaim: "How great is their truthfulness, how high their trustworthiness, and how true is their good will!"

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2062. Every business company should be established on divine principles. Its foundations should be trustworthiness, piety and truthfulness in order to protect the rights of the people.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2063. Commerce, agriculture and industry should not, in truth, be a bar to service of the one true God. Indeed, such occupations are most potent instruments and clear proofs for the manifestation of the evidences of one's piety, of one's trustworthiness and of the virtues of the All-Merciful Lord.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2064. Ye who are the sincere well-wishers of the state, who are the dutiful and compliant subjects of the government, should occupy yourselves in <p342> constant service. Anyone who entereth the employ of the government should show forth in all his deeds and actions the highest degree of rectitude and honesty, of temperance and self-discipline, of purity and sanctity, of justice and equity. If, God forbid, he should be guilty of the least breach of trust, or approach his duties in a slack or desultory fashion, or extort so much as a farthing from the populace, or seek to further his own selfish interests and personal gain -- then it is certain that he shall be deprived of the outpourings of God's grace.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2065. In discharging the functions of the office to which thou hast been appointed, thy conduct and actions should attest to the highest standard of trustworthiness and honesty, to a degree of sincerity that is altogether above suspicion, and to an integrity that is immune to the promptings of self-interest. Thus shall all know that the Baha'is are the embodiments of probity, and the very essence of spotless virtue. If they accept office, their motive is to render service to the whole of humanity, not to seek their own self-interest; and their object is to vindicate the cause of truth, not to give themselves over to self-indulgence and base ingratitude.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

2066. As for those who are engaged in government service, they should perform their duties with the utmost fidelity, trustworthiness, rectitude, uprightness, integrity and high-mindedness. Let them not tarnish their good repute by pursuing personal interests, nor, for the sake of transient worldly benefits, make themselves objects of public odium and outcasts of the Threshold of Grandeur.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2067. Those persons who are selected to serve the public, or are appointed to administrative positions, should perform their duties in a spirit of true servitude and ready compliance. That is to say, they should be distinguished by their goodly disposition and virtuous character, content themselves with their allotted remuneration, and act with trustworthiness in all their doings. They should keep themselves aloof from unworthy motives, and be far removed above covetous designs; for rectitude, probity and righteousness are among the most potent means for attracting the <p343> grace of God and securing both the prosperity of the country and the welfare of the people. Glory and honour for man are not to be found in fortunes and riches, least of all in those which have been unlawfully amassed through extortion, embezzlement and corruption practised at the expense of an exploited populace. Supreme honour, nobility and greatness in the human world, and true felicity in this life and the life to come -- all consist in equity and uprightness, sanctity and detachment. If a man would seek distinction, he should suffice himself with a frugal provision, seek to better the lot of the poor of the realm, choose the way of justice and fair-mindedness, and tread the path of high-spirited service. Such a one, needy though he be, shall win imperishable riches and attain unto everlasting honour.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2068. If any of the friends should enter into the service of the government, they should make their occupation a means of drawing nearer to the divine Threshold: they should act with probity and uprightness, rigorously shun all forms of venality and corruption, and content themselves with the salaries they are receiving, taking pride, rather, in the degree of sagacity, competence and judgement that they can bring to their work. If a person content himself with a single loaf of bread, and perform his duties with as much justice and fair-mindedness as lieth within his power, he will be the prince of mortals, and the most praiseworthy of men. Noble and distinguished will he be, despite his empty purse! Pre-eminent will he rank among the free, although his garb be old and worn! For man, praise and glory reside in virtuous and noble qualities; honour and distinction in nearness to the divine Threshold. The world's wealth is, by contrast, the stuff of illusion.[1] Those who lust after it are the followers of evil and, erelong, they shall be plunged into confusion and despair. Which is better -- that a man should be thus, or that he should comport himself with consecration and sanctity of purpose and stand out conspicuously for his integrity, uprightness and honesty? Nay, such qualities are better than the riches of Korah,[2] and dearer than all the treasures of existence.
[1 Cf. Qur'an, 3:185 and 57:20]
[2 Name synonymous with great wealth, mentioned (in the form 'Qar'un') in the Qur'an, 28:76] <p344>

2069. If one of the friends ... be appointed to a high administrative office, he should strive diligently to perform the duties committed to his charge with perfect honesty, integrity, sincerity, rectitude and uprightness. If, however, he abuse his position through corrupt or mercenary behaviour, he will be held in detestation at the Threshold of Grandeur and incur the wrath of the Abha Beauty -- nay, he shall be forsaken by the one true God and all who adore Him. So far from acting thus, he should content himself with his salary and allowances, seek out the way of righteousness, and dedicate his life to the service of state and people. Such must be the conduct and bearing of the Baha'is. Whoso transgresseth these bounds shall fall at length into manifest loss.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2070. Those souls who are employed in government departments should approach their duties with entire detachment, integrity and independence of spirit, and with complete consecration and sanctity of purpose. Content with the wages they are receiving, they should see that they do not stain their fair character through acts of bribery and fraud. Were one of the friends in this day to misappropriate so much as a single penny, the sacred mantle of God's Cause would become sullied by his action and the shame of it would attach to the whole community. Heaven forbid! Nay, rather, the government and people should come to repose such trust in the Baha'is as to wish to commit all affairs of state throughout the provinces into the chaste, pure hands of God's well-beloved.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2071. All government employees, whether of high or low rank, should, with perfect integrity, probity and rectitude, content themselves with the modest stipends and allowances that are theirs. They should keep their hands unsullied and preserve their fair name from blemish.... If a man deal faithlessly with a just government he shall have dealt faithlessly with God; and if he render it faithful service he shall have rendered that service to God.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian.) <p345>

2072. Let them perform their services with complete sanctity and detachment, and on no account defile themselves by receiving bribes, harbouring unseemly motives, or engaging in noxious practices. Let them be content with their wages, and seek distinction in truthfulness, straightforwardness, and the pursuit of virtue and excellence; for vanity in riches is worthy of none but the base, and pride in possessions beseemeth only the foolish. To attain to true glory and honour, man should exercise justice and equity, forbear to act in an oppressive manner, render service to his government, and work for the good of his fellow-citizens. Were he to seek after aught else but this he would indeed be in manifest loss.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2073. How foolish and ignorant must a man be, how base his nature, and how vile the clay of which he is fashioned, if he would defile himself with the contamination of bribery, corruption and perfidy towards the state! Truly, the vermin of the earth are to be preferred to such people!

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2074. If it should happen that one of the friends be called upon to serve his country and people in some capacity, he should apply himself to his work with heart and soul, and discharge his duties with perfect honesty, trustworthiness and godliness.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

Extracts from letters written by Shoghi Effendi:

2075. These are the days for rendering the divine Cause victorious and effective aid! The victory of God's Faith is dependent upon teaching; and teaching is conditional upon righteous actions and goodly deeds and conduct. The foundation-stone of a life lived in the way of God is the pursuit of moral excellence and the acquisition of a character endowed with qualities that are well-pleasing in His sight. The Baha'is should adorn themselves with this holy raiment; with this mighty sword they should conquer the citadels of men's hearts. People have grown weary and impatient of rhetoric and discourse, of preaching and sermonizing. In this day, the one thing that can deliver the world from its travail and attract the hearts of its peoples is deeds, not words; example, not precept; saintly <p346> virtues, not statements and charters issued by governments and nations on socio-political affairs. In all matters, great or small, word must be the complement of deed, and deed the companion of word: each must supplement, support and reinforce the other. It is in this respect that the Baha'is must seek distinction over other peoples and nations, whom the Pen of the Most High has epitomized in the following words: "Their words are the pride of the world, and their deeds are the shame of the nations."

(8 December 1923 to a Baha'i community - translated from the Persian)

2076. The employment that the Baha'is accept, the tasks and duties that they perform, should be of a kind whose benefits accrue to the nation as a whole and not such as are a means of profit to a small circle of high officials and a few select individuals. Further, the beloved friends and members of the Assemblies should, in the manifold circumstances of their lives and in all their multifarious dealings and pursuits, by their deeds, their bearing and demeanour, seek to demonstrate to their fellow-countrymen the excellence of this sacred Cause, to vindicate its truth, and give living testimony to its potency and the sublimity of its spirit. It is thus that the friends should proceed, not confining themselves to the delivery of the message, to explanations, expositions and elucidations. 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Chief Interpreter of the Faith of Baha'u'llah, has written:

Wherefore it is incumbent upon all Baha'is to ponder this very delicate and vital matter in their hearts, that, unlike other religions, they may not content themselves with the noise, the clamour, the hollowness of religious doctrine. Nay, rather, they should exemplify in every aspect of their lives those attributes and virtues that are born of God and should arise to distinguish themselves by their goodly behaviour. 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 and advance along the path of human endeavour, whose most cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illuminate the world, whose source of inspiration is the essence of divine virtue, whose aim in life is so to conduct himself 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 true Baha'i. For in this holy Dispensation, the crowning glory of <p347> bygone ages and cycles, true faith is no mere acknowledgement of the unity of God, but rather the living of a life that will manifest all the perfections and virtues implied in such belief.[1]
[1 Translated by Shoghi Effendi and published in "The Baha'i World", vol. 2, "1925-1928" (New York: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1928), p. xvi]

See how firm and strongly-worded is this statement of 'Abdu'l-Baha's, and how demanding its requirements! Notwithstanding, it is only when the Baha'is are able fully and befittingly to distinguish their characters by the adornment of these divine virtues that they will appear before the eyes of the world in a worthy and appropriate manner and that the name of Baha'u'llah will set the universe ablaze.

(30 October 1924 to a Local Spiritual Assembly - translated from the Persian)

2077. Nothing but the abundance of our actions, nothing but the purity of our lives and the integrity of our character, can in the last resort establish our claim that the Baha'i spirit is in this day the sole agency that can translate a long-cherished ideal into an enduring achievement.

(24 November 1924 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 68)

2078. This is the day for excellence of character and conduct. We should all adorn ourselves with these ornaments of the Kingdom while still in this world of being, so that we may render fit service to the Threshold of the Most Merciful.

(In the hand writing of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 24 November 1924 written on his behalf to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)

2079. The responsibilities of the members of the Spiritual Assemblies that are engaged in teaching the Cause of God in Eastern lands have been clearly laid down in the holy Texts.

These bid them to work towards the improvement of morals and the spread of learning; to strive to eradicate ignorance and unenlightenment, eliminate prejudice, and reinforce the foundation of true faith in people's hearts and minds; to seek to develop self-reliance and avoidance of blind imitation; to aim to enhance the efficient management of their <p348> affairs, and observe purity and refinement in all circumstances; to show their commitment to truthfulness and honesty, and their ability to conduct themselves with frankness, courage and resolution.

They similarly enjoin them to lend their support to agricultural and industrial development, to consolidate the foundations of mutual assistance and co-operation, to promote the emancipation and advancement of women and support the compulsory education of both sexes, to encourage application of the principles of consultation among all classes, and to adhere in all dealings to a standard of scrupulous integrity.

They further impress upon them the virtue of trustworthiness and godliness, of purity of motive, kindliness of heart, and detachment from the fetters of this material world. They call upon them so to sanctify themselves that they will rise above the corrupt and evil influences that exercise so powerful a sway over the Western world, and charge them to abide by the counsel of moderation at all times and under all conditions. They urge them to make detailed inquiry into the various branches of contemporary learning -- arts and sciences alike -- and to concentrate their attention on serving the general interests of the people; to deepen themselves by attentive study of the sacred Texts, and to apply the divine guidance they contain to the circumstances, needs and conditions of society today; to refrain from entering into the tangled affairs of political parties and to have neither concern for, nor involvement in, the controversies of politicians, the wranglings of theologians or any of the ailing social theories current amongst men.

They finally exhort them to be sincerely obedient, in both thought and word, to the laws duly enacted by the government of the realm, and to distance themselves from the methods, concepts and ill-grounded arguments of extreme traditionalists and modernists alike; to accord honour, veneration and respect to -- and endorse the efforts of -- exponents of the arts and sciences, and to esteem and revere those who are possessed of extensive knowledge and scholarly erudition; to uphold the right of freedom of conscience; and to abstain from criticizing and disparaging the manners, customs and beliefs of other individuals, peoples and nations.

These are among the most pressing requirements for the nations of the East. These are the basic, the binding, the inescapable responsibilities <p349> of the trustees of the Merciful, the representatives of the Baha'i communities, the members of the Spiritual Assemblies.

(30 January 1926 to the Spiritual Assemblies throughout the East - translated from the Persian)

2080. The people of Baha, under the jurisdiction of whatsoever state or government they may be residing, should conduct themselves with honesty and sincerity, trustworthiness and rectitude. They should concern themselves with men's hearts, and hold themselves aloof from the fluctuations and limitations of the contingent world. They are neither thirsty for prominence, nor acquisitive of power; they are neither adepts at dissimulation and hypocrisy, nor are they seekers after wealth and influence; they neither crave for the pomp and circumstance of high office, nor do they lust after the glory of titles and ranks. They are averse to affectation and ostentation, and shrink from the use of coercive force; they have closed their eyes to all but God, and set their hearts on the firm and incontrovertible promises of their Lord; they have severed the bonds of earthly expectations and attachments, and connected their lives to the One Peerless Beloved. Oblivious to themselves, they have occupied their energies in working towards the good of society; and, steadfastly adhering to the sound and wholesome principles of God's Faith, they have turned their backs on the morbid imaginings, the incoherent theories, and pernicious ideas of the victims of caprice and folly. While vigilantly refusing to accept political posts, they should whole-heartedly welcome the chance to assume administrative positions; for the primary purpose of the people of Baha is to advance the interests and promote the welfare of the nation, not to further the devious ends and designs of the profligate and shameless. Such is the method of the Baha'is; such is the conduct of all spiritually illumined souls; and aught else is manifest error.

(February 1927 to the believers throughout the East - translated from the Persian)

2081. In their homes, ... in the daily contact of business transactions, ... the community of the followers of Baha'u'llah should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days.... <p350>

(12 April 1927 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 130)

2082. Let them so shape their lives and regulate their conduct that no charge of secrecy, of fraud, of bribery or of intimidation may, however ill-founded, be brought against them....

(21 March 1932 to the believers throughout North America, published in "The World Order of Baha'u'llah: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 64)

2083. It [rectitude of conduct] must be constantly reflected in the business dealings of all its members, in their domestic lives, in all manner of employment, and in any service they may, in the future, render their government or people....

(25 December 1938 to the believers throughout North America, published as "The Advent of Divine Justice" p. 26)

Extracts from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

(To individual believers unless otherwise stated)

2084. The permanence and stability achieved by any association, group or nation is a result of -- and dependent upon -- the soundness and worth of the principles upon which it bases the running of its affairs and the direction of its activities. The guiding principles of the Baha'is are: honesty, love, charity and trustworthiness; the setting of the common good above private interest; and the practice of godliness, virtue and moderation. Ultimately, then, their preservation and happiness are assured. Whatever misfortunes they may encounter, wrought by the wiles of the schemer and ill-wisher, shall all pass away like waves, and hardship shall be succeeded by joy. The friends are under the protection of the resistless power and inscrutable providence of God. There is no doubt that every blessed soul who brings his life into harmony with this all-swaying power shall give lustre to his works and win an ample recompense. The actions of those who choose to set themselves against it should provoke not antipathy on our part, but prayers for their guidance. Such was the way of the Baha'is in days gone by, and so must it be, now and for always. <p351>

(18 December 1925 to a National Spiritual Assembly - translated from the Persian)

2085. The Pen of the Most High has recorded: "Fear of God is the greatest commander that can render the Cause of God victorious, and the hosts which best befit this commander have ever been and are an upright character and pure and goodly deeds."[1]
[1 From the Kitab-i-Ahd, published in "Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-'Aqdas" rev. ed. (Haifa: Baha'i World Center, 1982), p. 222.]

The people of Baha should, then, lead their lives and conduct their affairs with the highest degree of sanctity and godliness, and uncompromisingly repudiate and dissociate themselves from the disreputable practices, the deplorable modes and customs prevalent among the people of the West. Piety and devotion should be the object of all who would be accounted lovers of this Cause, and the adornment of every righteous soul; otherwise, slowly but surely, the illumination conferred on the innermost reality of men's hearts by the virtues of the human world will flicker and fade and die away, to be overwhelmed by the engulfing darkness of vice and depravity. Courtesy and dignity are what bring nobility and standing to a man; whereas frivolity and facetiousness, ribaldry and effrontery will lead to his abasement, degradation and humiliation. The Baha'is should, indeed must, seek to distinguish themselves in all things, for what difference else would there be between them and others? Any action, therefore, that is calculated to detract from the dignity of man's station must be steadfastly avoided and shunned.

(21 January 1928 - translated from the Persian)

2086. You brought up the question of showing forth honesty and trustworthiness when engaged in the service of the state. These are qualities that must distinguish all the activities of the friends, and the acquisition of which is a religious duty incumbent on every believer. That some of the leaders whom they serve may be unappreciative of their efforts, or fail correctly to value their services, should give no cause for surprise. The reason for such conduct is the remoteness of such men from the True Source of justice, equity and fair-mindedness. We should keep our vision centred on God, not on the doings of His creatures. Every <p352> spotless action, every sincere intent of ours will win the commendation of the True One, will be exalted and magnified by Him, and requited with a bounteous recompense.

(8 March 1948 - translated from the Persian)

2087. It is with deep concern indeed that he has learned of the difficulties you have encountered in your business, and [he] was particularly grieved to hear of the bitter competition you are meeting from some Persians in New York, who seem determined to ruin and force you out of business, despite the fact that you have shown them kindness, and refused to deal with them harshly. Though the Guardian would advise that you continue keeping such [a] true Baha'i attitude of forbearance, he wishes you at the same time not to give way, and not to allow any threat on their part to discourage or demoralize you. However unethical the methods they may employ, it should be your firm conviction that such malicious devices cannot in the long run succeed, and that the most effective way of counteracting them is for you to maintain unreservedly the one true standard of business conduct inculcated in the Teachings.

(31 October 1938)

2088. May I, in closing, also express his satisfaction at the improvement in Mr....'s business conditions. He will continue to pray that the high standard of integrity he has so well maintained in his business transactions may not only serve to draw upon him the confirmations and blessings of God, but in addition prove an effective means for the attraction of many souls to the Faith.

(4 November 1940)

2089. As for your comment that the Faith has a need for selfless, love-intoxicated followers, for people of outstanding spiritual endowments, for powerful, eloquent speakers and for men of material resources and talents to vindicate the truth of our beloved Cause, the Guardian instructed me to write:

"What is needed is excellence of character and conduct, and compliance with the laws revealed by Baha'u'llah -- these are the magnets that attract divine confirmation, and the means of <p353> establishing the validity and uniqueness of the Cause of the All-Glorious."

He further bade me write:

"The removal of imperfections is a gradual process. Constant advice and admonition are necessary so that, step by step, the community may make good the various deficiencies that beset it and run its affairs on a planned and orderly basis."

(12 January 1946)

2090. 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.

(20 October 1953)

2091. He feels you should both consider the competent running of your business not only a moral obligation to any creditors outstanding, but also the wise and proper thing to do.

(6 June 1954)

Revised August 1990 <p355>


WOMEN

January 1986


Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice <p356>

Table of Contents


Pages

I. The Baha'i concept of equality .................... 1

II. The role of education in the development
of women .......................................... 11

III. Application of the principle of equality
to family life .................................... 15

IV. Women in the world at large ....................... 21

V. Fostering the development of women ................ 25

VI. Bibliography ...................................... 33

<p357>


I. The Baha'i Concept of Equality

Extracts From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

2092. O Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

("The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah "Arabic no. 68, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 20)

2093. Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences and established harmony. Glorified, infinitely glorified is He Who hath caused discord to cease, and decreed solidarity and unity. Praised be God, the Pen of the Most High hath lifted distinctions from between His servants and handmaidens, and, through His consummate favours and all-encompassing mercy, hath conferred upon all a station and rank of the same plane. He hath broken the back of vain imaginings with the sword of utterance and hath obliterated the perils of idle fancies through the pervasive power of His might.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2094. This Wronged One hath heard thy voice and that which thy inner and outer tongue hath uttered in praise of thy Lord. By the righteousness of God! That which the people possess, and the treasures of the earth, and that which the rulers and kings own, are not equal in this day to the singing of His praise. The Lord of the Kingdom beareth witness unto this at this glorious moment. And having heard thy groaning and lamentation, We are responding with a Tablet which calleth out betwixt earth and heaven and maketh mention of thee with words that immortalize what hath appeared from thee in His love, in His service, in His remembrance and in His praise. And He hath made that which hath issued forth from thy mouth a trust with Him for thee. He is verily the <p358> Most Bounteous, the Most Generous. If thou truly givest ear to that which hath been revealed for thee from My Supreme Pen at this moment, thou shalt soar with the wings of eagerness in the heaven of love for the Lord of the Day of the Covenant, and wilt say during all the days of thy life: Thanks be unto Thee, O Thou the Desire of the world, and praise be unto Thee, O Thou the Beloved of the people of understanding. May all existence be a sacrifice for Thy favour, and all that hath been and will ever be, a ransom for Thy Word, O Thou the Wronged One amongst the people of enmity, O Thou in Whose grasp are the reins of all who are in heaven and on earth....

In this Day the Hand of divine grace hath removed all distinctions. The servants of God and His handmaidens are regarded on the same plane. Blessed is the servant who hath attained unto that which God hath decreed, and likewise the leaf moving in accordance with the breezes of His will. This favour is great and this station lofty. His bounties and bestowals are ever present and manifest. Who is able to offer befitting gratitude for His successive bestowals and continuous favours?

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2095. By My Life! The names of handmaidens who are devoted to God are written and set down by the Pen of the Most High in the Crimson Book. They excel over men in the sight of God. How numerous are the heroes and knights in the field who are bereft of the True One and have no share in His recognition, but thou hast attained and received thy fill.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

2096. Verily the Pen of the Most High hath borne witness unto thy recognition of Him, thy love for Him and thy turning towards the Ancient Countenance at a time when the world hath rejected Him, save those whom God, the Most High, hath willed....

Well is it with thee for having adorned thyself with the ornament of the love of God and for having been enabled to make mention of Him and utter His praise. Divine grace, in its entirety, is in the mighty grasp of God, exalted be He. He conferreth it upon whomsoever He willeth. How many a man considered himself a celebrated divine and a repository of heavenly mysteries, and yet when the slightest test visited him, he arose with such opposition and denial as to cause the Concourse on high to <p359> moan and lament. Through the bestowals of the Lord, however, and His infinite favour, thou hast attained unto the hidden secret and the well-guarded treasure. Preserve then, in the name of God, this lofty station and conceal it from the eyes of betrayers. The glory shining from the horizon of My Kingdom be upon thee and upon every handmaiden who hath attained the splendours of My sublime Throne.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2097. We beseech God to aid all the leaves to attain the knowledge of the Tree and deprive them not of the ocean of His generosity. In this day no regard is paid to loftiness or lowliness, to poverty or wealth, to nobility and lineage, to weakness or might. Whosoever recognizeth the incomparable Beloved is the possessor of true wealth and occupieth a divine station. Today, in the court of the True One, the queen of the world and her like are not worth a mustard seed, because although she may speak in the name of God, invoke the Lord of creation every day in the temple of her body, and spend large sums of earthly wealth for the development of her nation, she is deprived of recognition of the Sun of His Manifestation and is barred from the True One in Whose remembrance she is engaged....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2098. Throughout the centuries and ages many a man hath waited expectant for God's Revelation, and yet when the Light shone forth from the horizon of the world, all but a few turned their faces away from it. Whosoever from amongst the handmaidens hath recognized the Lord of all Names is recorded in the Book as one of those men by the Pen of the Most High. Offer thou praise to the Beloved of the world for having aided thee to recognize the Dayspring of His Signs and the Revealer of the evidences of His Glory. This is a great bounty, a bounteous favour. Preserve it in the name of the True One....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

2099. From the beginning of existence until the Promised Day men retained superiority over women in every respect. It is revealed in the Qur'an: "Men have superiority over women." But in this wondrous <p360> Dispensation, the supreme outpouring of the Glorious Lord became the cause of manifest achievements by women. Some handmaidens arose who excelled men in the arena of knowledge. They arose with such love and spirituality that they became the cause of the outpouring of the bounty of the Sovereign Lord upon mankind, and with their sanctity, purity and attributes of the spirit led a great many to the shore of unity. They became a guiding torch to the wanderers in the wastes of bewilderment, and enkindled the despondent in the nether world with the flame of the love of the Lord. This is a bounteous characteristic of this wondrous Age which hath granted strength to the weaker sex and hath bestowed masculine might upon womanhood....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2100. O handmaid of God! In this wondrous dispensation in which the Ancient Beauty and the Manifest Light -- may my spirit be sacrificed for His loved ones -- hath risen from the horizon of age-old hopes, women have assumed the attributes of men in showing forth steadfastness in the Cause of God, and revealing the heroism and might of fearless men. They invaded the arena of mystic knowledge and hoisted aloft the banner on the heights of certitude. Thou, too, must make a mighty effort and show forth supreme courage. Exert thyself and taste of the sweetness of a heavenly draught, for the sweet taste of the love of God will linger on to the end that hath no end.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2101. Render thanks to the Lord that among that race thou art the first believer,[1] arisen to guide others. It is my hope that through the bounties and favours of the Abha Beauty thy countenance may be illumined, thy <p361> disposition pleasing, and thy fragrance diffused, that thine eyes may be seeing, thine ears attentive, thy tongue eloquent, thy heart filled with supreme glad-tidings, and thy soul refreshed by divine fragrances, so that thou mayest arise among that race and occupy thyself with the edification of the people, and become filled with light. Although the pupil of the eye is black, it is the source of light. Thou shalt likewise be. The disposition should be bright, not the appearance. Therefore, with supreme confidence and certitude, say: "O God! Make me a radiant light, a shining lamp, and a brilliant star, so that I may illumine the hearts with an effulgent ray from Thy Kingdom of Abha...."
[1 This Tablet was addressed to one Mrs. Pocohontas in Washington. According to Fadil Mazandarani, the recipient of the Tablet was a black woman. See "Tarikh-i-Zuhuru'l-Haq", vol. 8, part 2, p. 1209 (Tihran: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 132 B.E.). Additional information provided by the Archives of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States indicates that Mr. Louis Gregory, in a history of the Washington, D.C. that thou hast engaged in spreading sweet-scented breezes, and hast Baha'i community, mentions a black Baha'i, Mrs. Pocohontas Pope, who is likely the same person. Mrs. Pope learned of the Baha'i Faith through Alma and Fanny Knobloch and Joseph and Pauline Hannen. There is, at present no other information on Mrs. Pope.]

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2102. The establishment of a women's assemblage for the promotion of knowledge is entirely acceptable, but discussions must be confined to educational matters. It should be done in such a way that differences will, day by day, be entirely wiped out, not that, God forbid, it will end in argumentation between men and women. As in the question of the veil, nothing should be done contrary to wisdom. The individual women should, today, follow a course of action which will be the cause of eternal glory to all womankind, so that all women will be illumined. And that lieth in gathering to learn how to teach, in holding meetings to recite the verses, to offer supplications to the kingdom of the Lord of evident signs, and to institute education for the girls. Ponder the manner in which Jinab-i-Tahirih used to teach. She was free from every concern, and for this reason she was resplendent.

Now the world of women should be a spiritual world, not a political one, so that it will be radiant. The women of other nations are all immersed in political matters. Of what benefit is this, and what fruit doth it yield? To the extent that ye can, ye should busy yourselves with spiritual matters which will be conducive to the exaltation of the Word of God and of the diffusion of His fragrances. Your demeanour should lead to harmony amongst all and to coalescence and the good-pleasure of all....

I am endeavouring, with Baha'u'llah's confirmations and assistance, so to improve the world of the handmaidens that all will be astonished. This progress is intended to be in spirituality, in virtues, in human perfections and in divine knowledge. In America, the cradle of women's liberation, women are still debarred from political institutions because <p362> they squabble. They are yet to have a member in the House of Representatives. Also Baha'u'llah hath proclaimed: "O ye men of the House of Justice." Ye need to be calm and composed, so that the work will proceed with wisdom, otherwise there will be such chaos that ye will leave everything and run away. "This newly born babe is traversing in one night the path that needeth a hundred years to tread." In brief, ye should now engage in matters of pure spirituality and not contend with men. 'Abdu'l-Baha will tactfully take appropriate steps. Be assured. In the end thou wilt thyself exclaim, "This was indeed supreme wisdom!" I appeal to you to obliterate this contention between men and women....

No one can on his own achieve anything. 'Abdu'l-Baha must be well pleased and assist.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2103. Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Baha, women are accounted the same as men, and God hath created all humankind in His own image, and after His own likeness. That is, men and women alike are the revealers of His names and attributes, and from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them. Whosoever draweth nearer to God, that one is the most favoured, whether man or woman. How many a handmaid, ardent and devoted, hath, within the sheltering shade of Baha, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.

The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men;[1] this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which will ere long be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon.
[1 From other extracts it is evident that the limitation of membership to men applies only to the Universal House of Justice, and not to the National and Local Houses of Justice.]

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), sec. 38, pp. 79-80)

2104. And among the teachings of Baha'u'llah is the equality of women and men. The world of humanity has two wings -- one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women <p363> becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 227, p. 302)

2105. Inasmuch as this is the century of light, it is evident that the Sun of Reality, the Word, has revealed itself to all humankind. One of the potentialities hidden in the realm of humanity was the capability or capacity of womanhood. Through the effulgent rays of divine illumination the capacity of woman has become so awakened and manifest in this age that equality of man and woman is an established fact....

In this day man must investigate reality impartially and without prejudice in order to reach the true knowledge and conclusions. What, then, constitutes the inequality between man and woman? Both are human. In powers and function each is the complement of the other. At most it is this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man has so long enjoyed, especially the privilege of education....

...

The truth is that all mankind are the creatures and servants of one God, and in His estimate all are human. Man is a generic term applying to all humanity. The biblical statement "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" does not mean that woman was not created. The image and likeness of God apply to her as well. In Persian and Arabic there are two distinct words translated into English as man: one meaning man and woman collectively, the other distinguishing man as male from woman the female. The first word and its pronoun are generic, collective; the other is restricted to the male. This is the same in Hebrew. To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation is ignorance and superstition....

It is my hope that the banner of equality may be raised throughout the five continents where as yet it is not fully recognized and established. In this enlightened world of the West woman has advanced an immeasurable degree beyond the women of the Orient. And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one <p364> is woman; the other is man. Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality. God willing, this is to be so.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", 2nd. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 74-77)

2106. Today questions of the utmost importance are facing humanity, questions peculiar to this radiant century....

One of these questions concerns the rights of woman and her equality with man. In past ages it was held that woman and man were not equal -- that is to say, woman was considered inferior to man, even from the standpoint of her anatomy and creation. She was considered especially inferior in intelligence, and the idea prevailed universally that it was not allowable for her to step into the arena of important affairs. In some countries man went so far as to believe and teach that woman belonged to a sphere lower than human. But in this century, which is the century of light and the revelation of mysteries, God is proving to the satisfaction of humanity that all this is ignorance and error; nay, rather, it is well established that mankind and womankind as parts of composite humanity are coequal and that no difference in estimate is allowable, for all are human. The conditions in past centuries were due to woman's lack of opportunity. She was denied the right and privilege of education and left in her undeveloped state. Naturally, she could not and did not advance. In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, "Art thou woman or art thou man?" He judges human actions. If these are acceptable in the threshold of the Glorious One, man and woman will be equally recognized and rewarded.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 133)

2107. The world of humanity consists of two parts: male and female. Each is the complement of the other. Therefore, if one is defective, the other will necessarily be incomplete, and perfection cannot be attained. There <p365> is a right hand and a left hand in the human body, functionally equal in service and administration. If either proves defective, the defect will naturally extend to the other by involving the completeness of the whole; for accomplishment is not normal unless both are perfect. If we say one hand is deficient, we prove the inability and incapacity of the other; for single-handed there is no full accomplishment. Just as physical accomplishment is complete with two hands, so man and woman, the two parts of the social body, must be perfect. It is not natural that either should remain undeveloped; and until both are perfected, the happiness of the human world will not be realized.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 134)

2108. The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable, for it was the belief of the Orient that it was best for woman to be ignorant. It was considered preferable that she should not know reading or writing in order that she might not be informed of events in the world. Woman was considered to be created for rearing children and attending to the duties of the household. If she pursued educational courses, it was deemed contrary to chastity; hence women were made prisoners of the household. The houses did not even have windows opening upon the outside world. Baha'u'llah destroyed these ideas and proclaimed the equality of man and woman. He made woman respected by commanding that all women be educated, that there be no difference in the education of the two sexes and that man and woman share the same rights. In the estimation of God there is no distinction of sex. One whose thought is pure, whose education is superior, whose scientific attainments are greater, whose deeds of philanthropy excel, be that one man or woman, white or colored, is entitled to full rights and recognition; there is no differentiation whatsoever....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 166)

2109. Woman's lack of progress and proficiency has been due to her need of equal education and opportunity. Had she been allowed this equality, there is no doubt she would be the counterpart of man in ability and capacity. The happiness of mankind will be realized when women and <p366> men coordinate and advance equally, for each is the complement and helpmeet of the other.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 182)

2110. He establishes the equality of man and woman. This is peculiar to the teachings of Baha'u'llah, for all other religions have placed man above woman.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 455)

2111. Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", 10th ed. (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 133)

2112. In the world of humanity ... the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship.

In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense.

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 161)

2113. Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respected since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven. <p367> Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of heart. Human virtues belong equally to all!

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 162)

2114. In the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, women are advancing side by side with men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every area of endeavour, they will occupy the highest levels in the human world. Rest thou assured. Look not upon their present state. In future, the world of womankind will shine with lustrous brilliance, for such is the will and purpose of Baha'u'llah. At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it.

But there are certain matters, the participation in which is not worthy of women. For example, at the time when the community is taking up vigorous defensive measures against the attack of foes, the women are exempt from military engagements. It may so happen that at a given time warlike and savage tribes may furiously attack the body politic with the intention of carrying on a wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a circumstance defence is necessary, but it is the duty of men to organize and execute such defensive measures and not the women -- because their hearts are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage, even if it is for the sake of defence. From such and similar undertakings the women are exempt. As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Baha'u'llah addresses the men. He says: "O ye men of the House of Justice!"

But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then, according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts. His Holiness Baha'u'llah has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of 'Abdu'l-Baha. Rest ye assured! Ere long the days shall come <p368> when the men addressing the women, shall say: 'Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlasting glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior'

(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian, published in "Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 182-84)

2115. The woman of the East has progressed. Formerly in India, Persia and throughout the Orient, she was not considered a human being. Certain Arab tribes counted their women in with the live stock. In their language the noun for woman also meant donkey; that is, the same name applied to both and a man's wealth was accounted by the number of these beasts of burden he possessed. The worst insult one could hurl at a man was to cry out, "Thou woman!"

From the moment Baha'u'llah appeared, this changed. He did away with the idea of distinction between the sexes, proclaiming them equal in every capacity. In former times it was considered wiser that woman should not know how to read or write; she should occupy herself only with drudgery. She was very ignorant. Baha'u'llah declares the education of woman to be of more importance than that of man. If the mother be ignorant, even if the father have great knowledge, the child's education will be at fault, for education begins with the milk. A child at the breast is like a tender branch that the gardener can train as he wills. The East has begun to educate its women. Some there are in Persia who have become liberated through this cause, whose cleverness and eloquence the 'ulama cannot refute. Many of them are poets. They are absolutely fearless. I hope for a like degree of progress among the women of Europe -- that each may shine like unto a lamp; that they may cry out the proclamation of the kingdom; that they may truly assist the men; nay, that they may be even superior to the men, versed in sciences and yet detached, so that the whole world may bear witness to the fact that men and women have absolutely the same rights. It would be a cause of great <p369> joy for me to see such women. This is useful work; by it woman will enter into the kingdom. Otherwise, there will be no results.

("'Abdu'l-Baha on Divine Philosophy" (Boston: Tudor Press, 1918), pp. 81-83)

2116. The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.

(J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 149)

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

2117. If presented properly the position of women in the Baha'i teachings will surely attract much attention, for it is not only legal but also spiritual and educational. Our ideals are so high and at the same time so practicable that all other views will fall short if compared to them.

(7 January 1931 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

2118. As regards your question concerning the membership of the Universal House of Justice: there is a Tablet from 'Abdul-Baha in which He definitely states that the membership of the Universal House is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be fully revealed and appreciated in the future. In the local as well as the national Houses of Justice, however, women have the full right of membership. It is, therefore, only to the International House that they cannot be elected. The Baha'is should accept this statement of the Master in a spirit of deep faith, confident that there is a divine guidance and wisdom behind it which will be gradually unfolded to the eyes of the world.

(28 July 1936 to an individual believer) <p370>

2119. As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, 'Abdu'l-Baha states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as 'Abdu'l-Baha Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights.

(14 December 1940 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

Extracts From Letters Written by the Universal House of Justice:

2120. It is apparent from the Guardian's writings that where Baha'u'llah has expressed a law as between a man and a woman it applies, mutatis mutandis, between a woman and a man unless the context should make this impossible. For example, the text of the "Kitab-i-Aqdas" forbids a man to marry his father's wife (i.e. his step-mother), and the Guardian has indicated that likewise a woman is forbidden to marry her step-father....

(28 April 1974 to an individual believer)

2121. Concerning your questions about the equality of men and women, this, as 'Abdu'l-Baha has often explained, is a fundamental principle of Baha'u'llah; therefore the Laws of the "Aqdas" should be studied in the light of it. Equality between men and women does not, indeed physiologically it cannot, mean identity of functions. In some things women excel men, for others men are better fitted than women, while in very many things the difference of sex is of no effect at all. The differences of function are most apparent in family life. The capacity for motherhood has many far-reaching implications which are recognized in Baha'i Law. For example, when it is not possible to educate all one's children, daughters receive preference over sons, as mothers are the first educators of the next generation. Again, for physiological reasons, women are granted certain exemptions from fasting that are not applicable to men.

(24 July 1975 to an individual believer) <p371>

2122. The primary question to be resolved is how the present world, with its entrenched pattern of conflict, can change to a world in which harmony and co-operation will prevail.

World order can be founded only on an unshakable consciousness of the oneness of mankind, a spiritual truth which all the human sciences confirm. Anthropology, physiology, psychology, recognize only one human species, albeit infinitely varied in the secondary aspects of life. Recognition of this truth requires abandonment of prejudice -- prejudice of every kind -- race, class, colour, creed, nation, sex, degree of material civilization, everything which enables people to consider themselves superior to others.

Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace....

(October 1985 to the Peoples of the World)

From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

2123. To the general premise that women and men have equality in the Faith, this, as often explained by 'Abdu'l-Baha, is a fundamental principle deriving from Baha'u'llah and therefore His mention of the "Men of Justice" in the Kitab-i-Aqdas should be considered in light of that principle ....

(29 June 1976 to an individual believer)

2124. ...'Abdu'l-Baha asserts: "In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed." That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature; the important thing is that He regards such inequalities as remain between the sexes as being "negligible".

(8 January 1981 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

2125. You are quite right in stating that men and women have basic and distinct qualities. The solution provided in the teachings of Baha'u'llah is not, as you correctly observe, for men to become women, and for <p372> women to become men. 'Abdu'l-Baha gave us the key to the problem when He taught that the qualities and functions of men and women "complement" each other. He further elucidated this point when He said that the "new age" will be "an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more properly balanced."

(22 April 1981 to an individual believer)

2126. It may be helpful to stress ... that the Baha'i principle of the equality of men and women is clearly stated in the teachings, and the fact that there is diversity of function between them in certain areas does not negate this principle.

(23 August 1984 to two believers)


II. The Role of Education in the Development of Women

Extracts From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

2127. It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch in faith ... For every praiseworthy deed is born out of the light of religion, and lacking this supreme bestowal the child will not turn away from any evil, nor will he draw nigh unto any good.

(From a Tablet - translated from Persian, published in "Baha'i Education, a compilation, 1976 World Centre edition, p. 6)

Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

2128. Praised be God, the women believers have organized meetings where they will learn how to teach the Faith, will spread the sweet savours of the Teachings and make plans for training the children.

...those present should concern themselves with every means of training the girl children; with teaching the various branches of knowledge, good behaviour, a proper way of life, the cultivation of a good character, chastity and constancy, perseverance, strength, determination, firmness of purpose; with household management, the education of children, and whatever especially applieth to the needs of girls -- to the end that these girls, reared in the stronghold of all perfections, and with the protection of a goodly character, will, when they themselves become mothers, bring up their children from earliest infancy to have a good character and conduct themselves well. <p373>

Let them also study whatever will nurture the health of the body and its physical soundness, and how to guard their children from disease.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 94, pp. 123-24)

2129. Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the young girls and the children, so that the mothers may educate their little ones from their earliest days, thoroughly train them, rear them to have a goodly character and good morals, guide them to all the virtues of humankind, prevent the development of any behaviour that would be worthy of blame, and foster them in the embrace of Baha'i education. Thus shall these tender infants be nurtured at the breast of the knowledge of God and His love. Thus shall they grow and flourish, and be taught righteousness and the dignity of humankind, resolution and the will to strive and to endure. Thus shall they learn perseverance in all things, the will to advance, high mindedness and high resolve, chastity and purity of life. Thus shall they be enabled to carry to a successful conclusion whatsoever they undertake.

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children 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 it is 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.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 95, pp. 124-25)

2130. ...it is incumbent upon the father and mother to train their children both in good conduct and the study of books; study, that is, to the degree required, so that no child, whether girl or boy, will remain illiterate....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec 101, p. 127) <p374>

2131. 'Abdu'l-Baha's supreme joy is in observing that a number of leaves from among the handmaidens of the Blessed Beauty have been educated, that they are the essence of detachment, and are well-informed of the mysteries of the world of being; that they raise such a call in their glorification and praise of the Greatest Name as to cause the inmates of the Fanes of the Kingdom to become attracted and overjoyed, and that they recite prayers in prose and poetry, and melodiously chant the divine verses. I cherish the hope that thou wilt be one of them, wilt cast forth pearls, wilt be constantly engaged in singing His praise and wilt intone celestial strains in glorification of His attributes....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2132. ...Thou hast written about the girls' school. What was previously written still holdeth true. There can be no improvement unless the girls are brought up in schools and centres of learning, unless they are taught the sciences and other branches of knowledge, and unless they acquire the manifold arts, as necessary, and are divinely trained. For the day will come when these girls will become mothers. Mothers are the first educators of children, who establish virtues in the child's inner nature. They encourage the child to acquire perfections and goodly manners, warn him against unbecoming qualities, and encourage him to show forth resolve, firmness, and endurance under hardship, and to advance on the high road to progress. Due regard for the education of girls is, therefore, necessary. This is a very important subject, and it should be administered and organized under the aegis of the Spiritual Assembly....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2133. ...it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be fully versed in the various branches of knowledge, in sciences and the arts and all the wonders of this pre-eminent time, that they may then educate their children and train them from their earliest days in the ways of perfection.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2134. Furthermore, the education of woman is more necessary and important than that of man, for woman is the trainer of the child from its infancy. If she be defective and imperfect herself, the child will necessarily be deficient; therefore, imperfection of woman implies a <p375> condition of imperfection in all mankind, for it is the mother who rears, nurtures and guides the growth of the child. This is not the function of the father. If the educator be incompetent, the educated will be correspondingly lacking. This is evident and incontrovertible. Could the student be brilliant and accomplished if the teacher is illiterate and ignorant? The mothers are the first educators of mankind; if they be imperfect, alas for the condition and future of the race.

It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man and that she is deficient by creation. This is pure imagination. The difference in capability between man and woman is due entirely to opportunity and education. Heretofore woman has been denied the right and privilege of equal development. If equal opportunity be granted her, there is no doubt she would be the peer of man. History will evidence this. In past ages noted women have arisen in the affairs of nations and surpassed men in their accomplishments....

The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated and granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor of man, his complement and helpmeet. Both are human; both are endowed with potentialities of intelligence and embody the virtues of humanity. In all human powers and functions they are partners and coequals. At present in spheres of human activity woman does not manifest her natal prerogatives, owing to lack of education and opportunity. Without doubt education will establish her equality with men....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by
'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada
in 1912", pp. 133-37)

2135. In proclaiming the oneness of mankind He taught that men and women are equal in the sight of God and that there is no distinction to be made between them. The only difference between them now is due to lack of education and training. If woman is given equal opportunity of education, distinction and estimate of inferiority will disappear....

He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum <p376> 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....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, pp. 17475)

2136. Why should a woman be left mentally undeveloped? Science is praiseworthy -- whether investigated by the intellect of man or woman. So, little by little, woman advanced, giving increasing evidence of equal capabilities with man -- whether in scientific research, political ability or any other sphere of human activity. The conclusion is evident that woman has been outdistanced through lack of education and intellectual facilities. If given the same educational opportunities or course of study, she would develop the same capacity and abilities.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 281)

2137. Baha'u'llah has announced that inasmuch as ignorance and lack of education are barriers of separation among mankind, all must receive training and instruction. Through this provision the lack of mutual understanding will be remedied and the unity of mankind furthered and advanced. Universal education is a universal law. It is, therefore, incumbent upon every father to teach and instruct his children according to his possibilities. If he is unable to educate them, the body politic, the representative of the people, must provide the means for their education.

The sex distinction which exists in the human world is due to the lack of education for woman, who has been denied equal opportunity for development and advancement. Equality of the sexes will be established in proportion to the increased opportunities afforded woman in this age, for man and woman are equally the recipients of powers and endowments from God, the Creator. God has not ordained distinction between them in His consummate purpose.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 300)

2138. The education of each child is compulsory.... In addition to this widespread education each child must be taught a profession, art, or <p377> trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship....

("'Abdu'l-Baha on Divine Philosophy", p. 78)

2139. Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the greatness of this wondrous Age will be manifested as a result of progress in the world of women. This is why ye observe that in every land the world of women is on the march, and this is due to the impact of the Most Great Manifestation, and the power of the teachings of God.

(From a Tablet- Translated from the Persian, published in "Baha'i Education, a compilation", p. 37)

2140. Our hearts rejoiced at thy letter concerning a school for girls.

Praised be God that there is now a school of this type in Tihran where young maidens can, through His bounty, receive an education and with all vigour acquire the accomplishments of humankind. Erelong will women in every field keep pace with the men. Until now, in Persia, the means for women's advancement were non-existent. But now, God be thanked, ever since the dawning of the Morn of Salvation, they have been going forward day by day. The hope is that they will take the lead in virtues and attainments, in closeness to the Court of Almighty God, in faith and certitude -- and that the women of the East will become the envy of the women of the West.

(From a Tablet- Translated from the Persian, published in "Baha'i Education, a compilation", p. 48)

Extract From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice:

2141. The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in its service an army of dedicated people from every faith and nation, deserves the utmost support that the governments of the world can lend it. For ignorance is indisputably the principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples and the perpetuation of prejudice. No nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Lack of resources limits the ability of many nations to fulfil this necessity, imposing a certain ordering of priorities. The decision-making agencies involved would do well to consider giving first priority to the education of women and girls, since it <p378> is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society. In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child.

(October 1985 to the Peoples of the World)

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

2142. 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.

(28 December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)

2143. The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in their primary responsibility as mothers as an excellent opportunity for organizing women's activities. Your efforts should focus on helping them in their function as educators of the rising generation. Women should also be encouraged to attract their husbands and male members of their families to the Faith so that the Baha'i community will be representative of the society of which it forms a part. Gradually the spirit of unity and fellowship, as set forth in our teachings, will be reflected in the life of Baha'i families.

(29 February 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Mariana Islands)


III. Application of the Principle of Equality to Family Life

Extracts From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

2144. Steadfastness in the Cause is mentioned in the Tablets and set forth by the Pen of the Ancient of Days. Render thanks to the Beloved of the world that thou hast set thy heart on Him and art uttering His praise. Many a man hath in this day been deprived of making mention of the All-Sufficing Lord and of recognizing His truth; and many a woman hath fixed her gaze upon the Horizon of the Most High, and hath adorned herself with the garb of the love of the Desire of the world. This is God's grace which He bestoweth upon whomsoever He pleaseth. By the Day-Star <p379> of ancient mysteries! The sweet-scented fragrance of every breath breathed in the love of God is wafted in the court of the presence of the Lord of Revelation. The reward of no good deed is or ever will be lost. Blessed art thou, doubly blessed art thou! Thou art reckoned amongst those handmaidens whose love for their kin hath not prevented them from attaining the shores of the Sea of Grace and Mercy. God willing, thou shalt rest eternally neath the shade of the favours of the All-Merciful and shalt be assured of His bounties. Engage in the praise of the True One and rejoice in His loving-kindness.

The world passeth away, and that which is everlasting is the love of God. God willing, thou shalt circumambulate the True One in every world of His worlds and shalt be free from all else save Him....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2145. All should know, and in this regard attain the splendours of the sun of certitude, and be illumined thereby: Women and men have been and will always be equal in the sight of God. The Dawning-Place of the Light of God sheddeth its radiance upon all with the same effulgence. Verily God created women for men, and men for women. The most beloved of people before God are the most steadfast and those who have surpassed others in their love for God, exalted be His glory....

The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity, kindness and love. As they do not allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and transgression, in like manner they should not allow such tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God. He, verily, speaketh the truth and commandeth that which benefitteth His servants and handmaidens. He is the Protector of all in this world and the next.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

2146. 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.

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 <p380> 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.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec 92, p. 122)

2147. ...following the precepts of God and the holy Law, suckle your children from their infancy with the milk of a universal education, and rear them so that from their earliest days, within their inmost heart, their very nature, a way of life will be firmly established that will conform to the divine Teachings in all things.

For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 96, p. 126)

2148. ...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.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 98, p. 127)

2149. O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God's sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 144, p. 139)

2150. 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 addeth to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day....

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 221, p. 279) <p381>

2151. You have asked whether a husband would be able to prevent his wife from embracing the divine light or a wife dissuade her husband from gaining entry into the Kingdom of God. In truth neither of them could prevent the other from entering into the Kingdom, unless the husband hath an excessive attachment to the wife or the wife to the husband. Indeed when either of the two worshippeth the other to the exclusion of God, then each could prevent the other from seeking admittance into His Kingdom.

(From a Tablet - Translated from the Arabic, published in "Family Life, a compilation", p. 8)

2152. Question: What is the attitude of your belief toward the family?

Answer: 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.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912" p. 168)

Extracts From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individual believers unless otherwise cited:

2153. When such difference of opinion and belief occurs between husband and wife it is very unfortunate for undoubtedly it detracts from that spiritual bond which is the stronghold of the family bond, especially in times of difficulty. The way, however, that it could be remedied is not by acting in such wise as to alienate the other party. One of the objects of the Cause is actually to bring about a closer bond in the homes. In all such cases, therefore, the Master used to advise obedience to the wishes of the other party and prayer. Pray that your husband may gradually see <p382> the light and at the same time so act as to draw him nearer rather than prejudice him. Once that harmony is secured then you will be able to serve unhampered.

(15 July 1928)

2154. Shoghi Effendi trusts that as a result of his cable and this letter your wife will be able to devote a little more time to her family, but he also hopes that you will be able to assist her in obtaining the time and opportunity to serve a Cause that is so dear and near to her heart and in which her services are much appreciated.

(19 June 1931)

2155. The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents' and children's, 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, any more than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.

(22 July 1943)

2156. It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity should be maintained in the home. Of course this does not mean that any member of the family has a right to influence the faith of any other member; and if this is realized by all the members, then it seems certain that unity would be feasible.

(6 July 1952)

2157. The Guardian fully appreciates your desire to go forth as a pioneer at this time, and to help establish the Faith in the virgin areas, but you should not go against the wishes of your husband, and force him to give up everything in order that you might serve the Faith in this manner. We must bear in mind the wishes and the rights of those who are closely connected in our lives.

If your husband wishes you to remain where you are, certainly there is a vast field for teaching there....

(31 July 1953) <p383>

2158. Wherever 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.

(9 November 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America)

Extracts From letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice to individual believers unless otherwise cited:

2159. That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be startling, for the primary orientation of the infant is to its mother. This provision of nature in no way minimizes the role of the father in the Baha'i family. Again, equality of status does not mean identity of function.

(23 June 1974)

2160. In considering the problems that you and your wife are experiencing, the House of Justice points out that the unity of your family should take priority over any other consideration. Baha'u'llah came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, we must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it. For example, service to the Cause should not produce neglect of the family. It is important for you to arrange your time so that your family life is harmonious and your household receives the attention it requires.

Baha'u'llah also stressed the importance of consultation. We should not think this worthwhile method of seeking solutions is confined to the administrative institutions of the Cause. Family consultation employing full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict. Wives should not attempt to dominate their husbands, nor husbands their wives....

(1 August 1978)

2161. Noting that you and your husband have consulted about your family problems with your Spiritual Assembly but did not receive any advice, and <p384> also discussed your situation with a family counsellor without success, the House of Justice feels it most essential for your husband and you to understand that marriage can be a source of well-being, conveying a sense of security and spiritual happiness. However, it is not something that just happens. For marriage to become a haven of contentment it requires the cooperation of the marriage partners themselves, and the assistance of their families....

(24 June 1979)

2162. 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....

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 should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha which is often read at Baha'i weddings: <p385> "Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time."

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 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. 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 woman is confined to the home....

(28 December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)

2163. You have asked, however, for specific rules of conduct to govern the relationships of husbands and wives. This the House of Justice does not wish to do, and it feels that there is already adequate guidance included in the compilation on this subject. For example the principle that the rights of each and all in the family unit must be upheld, and the advice that loving consultation should be the keynote, that all matters should be settled in harmony and love, and that there are times when the husband and the wife should defer to the wishes of the other. Exactly under what circumstances such deference should take place, is a matter for each couple to determine....

(16 May 1982)

2164. You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want to know if this means that you, a wife and mother, must work for a livelihood as your husband does. We are requested to enclose for your perusal an excerpt, "The twelfth Glad-Tidings", from Baha'u'llah's "Tablet of Bisharat".[3] You will see that the directive is for the friends to be engaged in an occupation which will be of benefit to mankind. Homemaking is a highly honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance for mankind....
[3 This passage appears in the present compilation under
Section IV., page 21.] <p386>

(16 June 1982)

2165. With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home, it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept of a Baha'i family. This concept is based on the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This by no means implies that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home. Rather, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women could also be breadwinners. As you rightly indicated, 'Abdu'l-Baha encouraged women to "participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world".

In relation to your specific queries, the decision concerning the amount of time a mother may spend in working outside the home depends on circumstances existing within the home, which may vary from time to time. Family consultation will help to provide the answers....

(9 August 1984)

2166. The great importance attached to the mother's role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in the womb. When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. This does not mean that the father does not also love, pray for, and care for his baby, but as he has the primary responsibility of providing for the family, his time to be with his child is usually limited, while the mother is usually closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the whole of its life. As the child grows older and more independent, the relative nature of its relationship with its mother and father modifies and the father can play a greater role.

(23 August 1984 to two believers) <p387>


IV. Women in the World at Large

Extract From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

2167. It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others. Thus hath it been decreed in this Tablet from whose horizon the day-star of wisdom and utterance shineth resplendent.

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.

("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), p. 26)

Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

2168. The handmaidens of God and the bondsmaids in His divine Court should reveal such attributes and attitudes amongst the women of the world as would cause them to stand out and achieve renown in the circles of women. That is, they should associate with them with supreme chastity and steadfast decency, with unshakeable faith, articulate speech, an eloquent tongue, irrefutable testimony and high resolve. Beseech God that thou mayest attain unto all these bounties.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

2169. Until the reality of equality between man and woman is fully established and attained, the highest social development of mankind is not possible. Even granted that woman is inferior to man in some degree of capacity or accomplishment, this or any other distinction would continue to be productive of discord and trouble. The only remedy is education, opportunity; for equality means equal qualification.... <p388>

And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, pp. 76-77)

2170. ...the principle of religion has been revealed by Baha'u'llah that woman must be given the privilege of equal education with man and full right to his prerogatives. That is to say, there must be no difference in the education of male and female in order that womankind may develop equal capacity and importance with man in the social and economic equation. Then the world will attain unity and harmony. In past ages humanity has been defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among mankind....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 108)

2171. Again, it is well established in history that where woman has not participated in human affairs the outcomes have never attained a state of completion and perfection. On the other hand, every influential undertaking of the human world wherein woman has been a participant has attained importance. This is historically true and beyond disproof even in religion. Jesus Christ had twelve disciples and among His followers a woman known as Mary Magdalene. Judas Iscariot had become a traitor and hypocrite, and after the crucifixion the remaining eleven disciples were wavering and undecided. It is certain from the evidence of the Gospels that the one who comforted them and reestablished their faith was Mary Magdalene.

The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage. . . . <p389>

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 134)

2172. Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be accomplished until there is political democracy in all the countries of the world?

Answer: It is very evident that in the future there shall be no centralization in the countries of the world, be they constitutional in government, republican or democratic in form. The United States may be held up as the example of future government -- that is to say, each province will be independent in itself, but there will be federal union protecting the interests of the various independent states. It may not be a republican or a democratic form. To cast aside centralization which promotes despotism is the exigency of the time. This will be productive of international peace. Another fact of equal importance in bringing about international peace is woman 's suffrage. That is to say, when perfect equality shall be established between men and women, peace may be realized for the simple reason that womankind in general will never favor warfare. Women will not be willing to allow those whom they have so tenderly cared for to go to the battlefield. When they shall have a vote, they will oppose any cause of warfare. Another factor which will bring about universal peace is the linking together of the Orient and the Occident.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 167)

2173. 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....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 175) <p390>

2174. Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 283)

2175. Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most capable and efficient, that their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men, that they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering, that they are inflexibly opposed to war and are lovers of peace. Strive that the ideal of international peace may become realized through the efforts of womankind, for man is more inclined to war than woman, and a real evidence of woman's superiority will be her service and efficiency in the establishment of universal peace.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912" p. 284)

2176. ...imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated.

The evident reasons underlying this are as follows: Woman by nature is opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace. Children are reared and brought up by the mothers who give them the first principles of education and labor assiduously in their behalf. Consider, for instance, a mother who has tenderly reared a son for twenty years to the age of maturity. Surely she will not consent to having that son torn asunder and killed in the field of battle. Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of international peace.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 375) <p391>

2177. According to the spirit of this age, women must advance and fulfill their mission in all departments of life, becoming equal to men. They must be on the same level as men and enjoy equal rights. This is my earnest prayer and it is one of the fundamental principles of Baha'u'llah.

(J. E. Esslemont, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era" p. 147)

2178. ...The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion.

The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis....

("'Abdu'l-Baha in London: Addresses, and Notes of Conversations" (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 102-3)

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

2179. Concerning Baha'i representation at the All-Asian Women's Conference: this is undoubtedly a most commendable thing to do especially as the Cause has so much concerning the position of women in society. Shoghi Effendi hopes that the National Assembly will do its best to win the admiration of all the assembled delegates for the teachings of the Cause along that line. We should always take such opportunities that present themselves. Maybe we would succeed to render some service to society and alleviate its ills.

(10 November 1930 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

2180. What 'Abdu'l-Baha meant about the women arising for peace is that this is a matter which vitally affects women, and when they form a conscious and overwhelming mass of public opinion against war there can be no war. The Baha'i women are already organized through being members of the Faith and the Administrative Order. No further organization is needed. But they should, through teaching and through the active moral support they give to every movement directed towards peace, seek to exert a strong influence on other women's minds in regard to this essential matter. <p392>

(24 March 1945 to an individual believer)

Extract From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice:

2181. The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world's population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.

(October 1985 to the Peoples of the World)

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

2182. ...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 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. 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 woman is confined to the home. On the contrary, 'Abdu'l-Baha has stated:

In the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, women are advancing
side by side with men. There is no area or instance where they
will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and will
enter, in the future, into all branches of the administration
of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every area of
endeavour, they will occupy the highest levels in the human
world....[1]
[1 The quotation in the original letter which was taken from "Paris Talks", p. 182, has been replaced by this revised translation.] <p393>

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)

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) (28 December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)

2183. The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is clearly set forth in the Writings. It is for every woman, if and when she becomes a mother, to determine how best she can discharge on the one hand her chief responsibility as a mother and on the other, to the extent possible, to participate in other aspects of the activities of the society of which she forms a part....

(22 April 1981 to an individual believer)


V. Fostering the Development of Women

Extracts From the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

2184. In this Day the Blessed Tree of Remembrance speaketh forth in the Kingdom of Utterance saying: Well is it with the servant who hath turned his face towards Him, and embraced His truth, and with the handmaiden who hath hearkened to His Voice and become of the blissful. Verily, she is a champion of the field of true understanding. To this the Tongue of Truth beareth witness from His exalted Station.

O My leaf, blessed art thou for having responded to My call when it was raised in the name of the True One. Thou didst recognize My Revelation when men of renown were immersed in manifest idle fancies. Thou hast verily attained the mercy of thy Lord time and again. Render thanks unto Him and glorify Him with thy Praise. He is, in truth, with His <p394> handmaidens and servants who have turned towards Him. The shining glory from the Horizon of My Kingdom be upon thee and upon the one who hath guided thee to My straight path.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

2185. We beseech the True One to adorn His handmaidens with the ornament of chastity, of trustworthiness, of righteousness and of purity. Verily, He is the All-Bestowing, the All-Generous. We make mention of the handmaidens of God at this time and announce unto them the glad-tidings of the tokens of the mercy and compassion of God and His consideration for them, glorified be He, and We supplicate Him for all His assistance to perform such deeds as are the cause of the exaltation of His Word. He verily speaketh the truth and enjoineth upon His servants and His handmaidens that which will profit them in every world of His worlds. He, verily, is the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)

Extracts From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

2186. The effulgence of the rays of the Sun of Truth is abundant and the favours of the Blessed Beauty surround the women believers and the handmaidens who have attained unto certitude. At every moment a bounteous bestowal is revealed. The handmaidens of the Merciful should seize the opportunities afforded in these days. Each one should strive to draw nigh unto the divine Threshold and seek bounties from the Source of existence. She should attain such a state and be confirmed with such a power as to make, with but the utterance of one word, a lowly person to be held in reverence, initiate him who is deprived into the world of the spirit, impart hope to the despondent, endow the portionless one with a share of the great bestowal, and confer knowledge and insight upon the ignorant and the blind, and alertness and vigilance on the indolent and heedless. This is the attribute of the handmaidens of the Merciful. This is the characteristic of the bondsmaids of God's Threshold.

O ye leaves who have attained certitude! In the countries of Europe and America the maidservants of the Merciful have won the prize of excellence and advancement from the arena of men, and in the fields of teaching and spreading the divine fragrances they have shown a brilliant hand. Soon they will soar like the birds of the Concourse on high in the <p395> far corners of the world and will guide the people and reveal to them the divine mysteries. Ye, who are the blessed leaves from the East, should burn more brightly, and engage in spreading the sweet savours of the Lord and in reciting the verses of God. Arise, therefore, and exert yourselves to fulfil the exhortations and counsels of the Blessed Beauty, that all hopes may be realized and that the plain of streams and orchards may become the garden of oneness.

Upon ye, men and women, be the glory of glories.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2187. In this great Cycle and wondrous Dispensation some women have been raised up who were the emblems of unity and ensigns of oneness, for the revelation of divine bestowals is received by men and women in equal measure. "Verily the most honoured in the sight of God is the most virtuous amongst you"[1] is applicable to both men and women, to servants and handmaidens. All are under the shadow of the Word of God and all derive their strength from the bounties of the Lord. Therefore, do not consider thyself to be insignificant by doubting what a handmaiden living behind the veil can do....
[1 Qur'an 49:13]

With a firm heart, a steadfast step and an eloquent tongue arise to spread the Word of God and say: "O God, although I am sitting concealed behind the screen of chastity and am restricted by the veil and exigencies of modesty, my cherished hope is to raise the banner of service and to become a maidservant at Thy Holy Threshold; to ride on a charger and penetrate the army of the ignorant, defeat the mighty regiments and subvert the foundations of error and violation. Thou art the Helper of the weak, Thou art the Sustainer of the poor, Thou art the Succourer of the handmaidens. Verily, Thou art the Almighty and All-Powerful."

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2188. Confirmations from the kingdom of God will assuredly be received, enabling some radiant leaves to appear resplendent in the assemblage of this world with clear proofs and convincing reasons, which will adorn the cause of womanhood. They will prove that in this cycle women are equal to men, nay, in certain respects they will excel. Ponder ye: in this <p396> wonderful Cause numerous were the men who scaled the heights of knowledge; they had a brilliant utterance, a convincing proof, an eloquent tongue and magnificent speech, but the blessed leaf, Jinab-i-Tahirih, because she was a woman, emerged with immense splendour and dumbfounded all the people. If she were a man, this would not have been so at all. Therefore, ye should know that the greatness of the Cause hath penetrated the nerves and veins of the world in such wise that if one of the leaves is attracted and gains mastery in demonstrating reasons and proofs and in uttering convincing evidences, she will shine resplendently. O radiant leaves, I swear by the Beauty of the Desired One and the Mystery of Existence that if ye work actively in this realm, the outpourings of the Blessed Beauty will reflect as the sun in the mirrors of the hearts. Your progress will astonish all.

The attracted leaves should not, when associating with each other, talk merely about the temperature of the weather, the coldness of the water, the beauty of the flowers and gardens, the freshness of the grass and the flowing water. They should rather restrict their discussions to glorification and praise and the uttering of proofs and reasons, to quoting verses and traditions and putting forth clear testimonies, so that all the homes of the loved ones will be converted into gathering places for lessons on teaching the Cause. If ye do so, in a short while the outpourings of the Kingdom will be so manifested that each one of the handmaidens of the Merciful will become a perspicuous book revealing the mysteries of the Lord of Mercy. Upon you be the glory of glories.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2189. In this wondrous Dispensation the favours of the Glorious Lord are vouchsafed unto the handmaidens of the Merciful. Therefore, they should, like unto men, seize the prize and excel in the field, so that it will be proven and made manifest that the penetrative influence of the Word of God in this new Dispensation hath caused women to be equal with men, and that in the arena of tests they will outdo others. Therefore, the true bondsmaids of the Blessed Beauty must be revived by the spirit of detachment, and refreshed by the breezes of attraction. With hearts overflowing with the love of God, with souls gladdened by the heavenly glad-tidings, and with extreme humility and lowliness, let them speak out <p397> with eloquent speech, and praise and glorify the Great Lord, for they are the manifestations of His bounty and adorned with the crown of splendour.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2190. Blessed, blessed are ye for ye have arranged spiritual meetings and engaged in propounding divine proofs and evidences. Ye are intent on vindicating truth in support of the manifest Light of the Cause, through conclusive arguments and proofs based on the sacred scriptures of the past. This is a very noble aim, and this cherished hope a cause of the illumination of all peoples and nations.

From the beginning of existence until the present day, in any of the past cycles and dispensations, no assemblies for women have ever been established and classes for the purpose of spreading the teachings were never held by them. This is one of the characteristics of this glorious Dispensation and this great century. Ye should, most certainly, strive to perfect this assemblage and increase your knowledge of the realities of heavenly mysteries, so that, God willing, in a short time, women will become the same as men; they will take a leading position amongst the learned, will each have a fluent tongue and eloquent speech, and shine like unto lamps of guidance throughout the world. In some respects, women have astonishing capacities; they hasten in their attraction to God, and are intense in their fiery ardour for Him.

In brief, spend your nights and days in the study of the holy Utterances and in acquiring perfections. Occupy yourselves always in discussing these matters. When ye meet each other, convey the glad-tidings and impart hope to one another because of the confirmations and bounties of the Ancient and Ever-Living Lord. Let each set forth proofs and evidences, and talk about the mysteries of the Kingdom, so that the true and divine Spirit may permeate the body of the contingent world and the secrets of all things, whether of the past or of the future, may become openly manifest and resplendent.

O loved handmaidens of God! Consider not your present merits and capacities, rather fix your gaze on the favours and confirmations of the Blessed Beauty, because His everlasting grace will make of the insignificant plant a blessed tree, will turn the mirage into cool water and wine; will cause the forsaken atom to become the very essence of being, <p398> the puny one erudite in the school of knowledge. It enableth a thorny bush to give forth blossoms, and the dark earth to produce fragrant and rich hyacinths. It will transmute the stone into a ruby of great price, and fill the sea shells with brilliant pearls. It will assist a fledgling schoolchild to become a learned teacher and enable a frail embryo to reveal the reality of the verse: "Hallowed be the Lord, the Most Excellent of all creators."[1]
[1 Qur'an 23:14]

Verily, my Lord is powerful over things.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2191. In this day the duty of everyone, whether man or woman, is to teach the Cause. In America, the women have outdone the men in this regard and have taken the lead in this field. They strive harder in guiding the peoples of the world, and their endeavours are greater. They are confirmed by divine bestowals and blessings. It is my hope that in the East the handmaids of the Merciful will also exert such effort, reveal their powers, and manifest their capacities....

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2192. Now is the time to speak forth and to deliver speeches, the time to teach and to give testimony. Loosen thy tongue, expound the truths, and establish the validity of the verse: "The All-Merciful hath taught the Qur'an."[1] The Holy Spirit speaketh through the innermost essence of the human tongue, God's Spirit which desireth communion with the human soul unfoldeth the truths, the Faithful Spirit writeth down and the Spirit of the Ancient of Days confirmeth. I swear by that Peerless Beauty, Who is in the Unseen Kingdom, that when the leaves loose their tongues in praise and glorification of the All-Loving Lord, and in teaching the Cause of the Kind Lord, the concourse of the Kingdom and the inmates of the Unseen Realms will give ear, and cry out with exclamations of extreme joy and jubilation.
[1 Qur'an 55:2]

Glory be upon thee and upon every handmaiden who is steadfast in the Covenant.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) <p399>

2193. O handmaid of God!... To the mothers must be given the divine Teachings and effective counsel, and they must be encouraged and made eager to train their children, for the mother is the first educator of the child. It is she who must, at the very beginning, suckle the new-born at the breast of God's Faith and God's Law, that divine love may enter into him even with his mother's milk, and be with him till his final breath.

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.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" [rev. ed.],
(Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), sec. 113, p. 138)

2194. ...we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart, no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 15)

2195. In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment to equality was creationally impossible; woman's aspiration toward advancement will be checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man's. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification. If a pupil is <p400> 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."

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 76-77)

2196. The purpose, in brief, is this: that if woman be fully educated and granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor of man, his complement and helpmeet....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 136)

2197. The realities of things have been revealed in this radiant century, and that which is true must come to the surface. Among these realities is the principle of the equality of man and woman -- equal rights and prerogatives in all things appertaining to humanity. Baha'u'llah declared this reality over fifty years ago. But while this principle of equality is true, it is likewise true that woman must prove her capacity and aptitude, must show forth the evidences of equality. She must become proficient in the arts and sciences and prove by her accomplishments that her abilities and powers have merely been latent. Demonstrations of force, such as are now taking place in England, are neither becoming nor effective in the cause of womanhood and equality. Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation. Undoubtedly God will confirm her in her efforts and endeavours, for in this century of radiance Baha'u'llah has proclaimed the reality of the oneness of the world of humanity and announced that all nations, peoples and races are one....

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 283-84)

2198. Equality of the sexes will be established in proportion to the increased opportunities afforded woman in this age, for man and woman are equally <p401> the recipients of powers and endowments from God, the Creator. God has not ordained distinction between them in His consummate purpose.

("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Baha during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, p. 300)

2199. Woman must endeavour then to attain greater perfection, to be man's equal in every respect, to make progress in all in which she has been backward, so that man will be compelled to acknowledge her equality of capacity and attainment.

In Europe women have made greater progress than in the East, but there is still much to be done! When students have arrived at the end of their school term an examination takes place, and the result thereof determines the knowledge and capacity of each student. So will it be with woman; her actions will show her power, there will no longer be any need to proclaim it by words. It is my hope that women of the East, as well as their Western sisters, will progress rapidly until humanity shall reach perfection. God's Bounty is for all and gives power for all progress. When men own the equality of women there will be no need for them to struggle for their rights! One of the principles then of Baha'u'llah is the equality of sex. Women must make the greatest effort to acquire spiritual power and to increase in the virtue of wisdom and holiness until their enlightenment and striving succeeds in bringing about the unity of mankind. They must work with a burning enthusiasm to spread the Teaching of Baha'u'llah among the peoples, so that the radiant light of the Divine Bounty may envelop the souls of all the nations of the world!

("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", pp. 162-63)

Extracts From Letters Written by Shoghi Effendi:

2200. Regarding the position of the Baha'i women in India and Burma, and their future collaboration with the men in the administrative work of the Cause, I feel that the time is now ripe that those women who have already conformed to the prevailing custom in India and Burma by discarding the veil should not only be given the right to vote for the election of their local and national representatives, but should themselves be eligible to <p402> the membership of all Baha'i Assemblies throughout India and Burma, be they local or national.

This definite and most important step, however, should be taken with the greatest care and caution, prudence and thoughtfulness. Due regard must be paid to their actual capacity and present attainments, and only those who are best qualified for membership, be they men or women, and irrespective of social standing, should be elected to the extremely responsible position of a member of the Baha'i Assembly.

This momentous decision, I trust, will prove to be a great incentive to the women Baha'is throughout India and Burma who, I hope, will now bestir themselves and endeavour to the best of their ability to acquire a better and more profound knowledge of the Cause, to take a more active and systematic part in the general affairs of the Movement, and prove themselves in every way enlightened, responsible and efficient co-workers to their fellow-men in their common task for the advancement of the Cause throughout their country.

May they fully realize their high responsibilities in this day, may they do all in their power to justify the high hopes we cherish for their future, and may they prove themselves in every respect worthy of the noble mission which the Baha'i world is now entrusting to their charge.

(27 December 1923 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)

2201. Full rights have been accorded to Baha'i women residing in the cradle of the Faith, to participate in the membership of both national and local Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies, removing thereby the last remaining obstacle to the enjoyment of complete equality of rights in the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Persian Baha'i Community.

(April 1954, published in "Messages to the Baha'i World 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 65)

2202. That the members of this community, of either sex and of every age, of whatever race or background, however limited in experience, capacity and knowledge, may arise as one man, and seize with both hands the God-given opportunities now presented to them through the dispensations of an all-loving, ever-watchful, ever-sustaining Providence, and lend thereby a tremendous impetus to the propelling forces mysteriously guiding the operations of this newly-launched, unspeakably <p403> potent, world-encompassing Crusade, is one of the dearest wishes which a loving and longing heart holds for them at this great turning point in the fortunes of the Faith of Baha'u'llah in the American continent.

(20 June 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 132)

Extract From Letters and a Telex Written by the Universal House of Justice:

2203. Concerning the point you raised in your letter ... that the women's liberation movement in . .. is assuming extreme positions which are having some influence on impressionable Baha'i young women, we feel it would be helpful if your Assembly were to stress the unique position that women occupy by being members of the Baha'i Faith particularly through participation in the administration of its affairs on both a local and national scale.

(9 April 1971 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)

2204. 'Abdu'l-Baha has pointed out that "Among the miracles which distinguish this sacred dispensation is this, that women have evinced a greater boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of the Faith." Shoghi Effendi has further stated that this "boldness" must, in the course of time, "be more convincingly demonstrated, and win for the beloved Cause victories more stirring than any it has as yet achieved." Although obviously the entire Baha'i world is committed to encouraging and stimulating the vital role of women in the Baha'i community as well as in society at large, the Five Year Plan calls specifically on eighty National Spiritual Assemblies to organize Baha'i activities for women. In the course of the current year which has been designated "International Women's Year" as a world-wide activity of the United Nations, the Baha'is, particularly in these eighty national communities, should initiate and implement programs which will stimulate and promote the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of Baha'i community life, so that through their accomplishments the friends will demonstrate the distinction of the Cause of God in this field of human endeavour.

(25 May 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies) <p404>

2205. PARTICULARLY CALL UPON BAHA'I WOMEN, WHOSE CAPACITIES IN MANY LANDS STILL LARGELY UNUSED, AND WHOSE POTENTIAL FOR SERVICE CAUSE SO GREAT, TO ARISE AND DEMONSTRATE IMPORTANCE PART THEY ARE TO PLAY IN ALL FIELDS SERVICE FAITH.

(24 March 1977 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

2206. The youth have long been in the forefront of the teaching work, and now our hearts rejoice to see the women, in so many lands where previously their capacities were largely left unused, devoting their capable services to the life of the Baha'i community....

(Ridvan 1978 to the International Baha'i Convention)

2207. At the heart of all activities, the spiritual, intellectual and community life of the believers must be developed and fostered, requiring: the prosecution with increased vigour of the development of Local Spiritual Assemblies so that they may exercise their beneficial influence and guidance on the life of Baha'i communities; the nurturing of a deeper understanding of Baha'i family life; the Baha'i education of children, including the holding of regular Baha'i classes and, where necessary, the establishment of tutorial schools for the provision of elementary education; the encouragement of Baha'i youth in study and service; and the encouragement of Baha'i women to exercise to the full their privileges and responsibilities in the work of the community -- may they befittingly bear witness to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the immortal heroine of the Baha'i Dispensation, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of her passing.

(Naw Ruz 1979 to the Baha'is of the World)

2208. The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its progress we must take the lead in practising this Baha'i principle. Baha'i women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their communities....

(Ridvan 1984 to the Baha'is of the World) <p405>

2209. Calling upon local and national Baha'i communities to sponsor a wide range of activities which will engage the attention of people from all walks of life to various topics relevant to peace, such as: the role of women...

(23 January 1985 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)

Extracts From Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

2210. The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in their primary responsibility as mothers as an excellent opportunity for organizing women's activities. Your efforts should focus on helping them in their function as educators of the rising generation....

(29 February 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Mariana Islands)

2211. The principle of the equality between women and men, like the other teachings of the Faith, can be effectively and universally established among the friends when it is pursued in conjunction with all the other aspects of Baha'i life. Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one's self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.

(25 July 1984 to an individual believer) <p406>

VI. Bibliography

Baha'u'llah. "The Hidden Words". London: National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, 1949.

Baha'u'llah. "Tablets of Baha'u'llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas", Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1978.

'Abdu'l-Baha. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha". Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1978.

'Abdu'l-Baha. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace". Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982.

'Abdu'l-Baha. "Paris Talks". London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1961.

'Abdu'l-Baha. "'Abdu'l-Baha in London". London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1982.

Shoghi Effendi. "Messages to the Baha'i World, 1950-1957". Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971.

Shoghi Effendi. "Citadel of Faith". Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1980.

"Baha'i Education, a compilation". Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1976.

"Family Life", 1982 U.K Publishing Trust, p. 8

"'Abdu'l-Baha on Divine Philosophy", compiled by Isobel F. Chamberlain, Boston: The Tudor Press, 1917.

Esslemont, John Ebenezer. "Baha'u'llah and the New Era", Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1976. Revised July 1990 <p407>


EXTRACTS FROM THE BAHA'I WRITINGS ON THE
SUBJECT OF WRITERS AND WRITING

July 1980

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah

2212. Thou hast written that one of the friends hath composed a treatise. This was mentioned in the Holy Presence, and this is what was revealed in response: Great care should be exercised that whatever is written in these days doth not cause dissension, and invite the objection of the people. Whatever the friends of the one true God say in these days is listened to by the people of the world. It hath been revealed in the Lawh-i-Hikmat: "The unbelievers have inclined their ears towards us in order to hear that which might enable them to cavil against God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting."[1] 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.
[1 "Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 141]

(From a Tablet of Baha'u'llah to an individual believer- translated from Persian and Arabic)

2213. Say: O men! This is a matchless Day. Matchless must, likewise, be the tongue that celebrateth the praise of the Desire of all nations, and matchless the deed that aspireth to be acceptable in His sight. The whole human race hath longed for this Day, that perchance it may fulfil that which well beseemeth its station, and is worthy of its destiny. Blessed is the man whom the affairs of the world have failed to deter from recognizing Him Who is the Lord of all things.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah" (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1983), sec XVI, p. 39) <p408>

2214. How great the multitude of truths which the garment of words can never contain! How vast the number of such verities as no expression can adequately describe, whose significance can never be unfolded, and to which not even the remotest allusions can be made! How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the appointed time is come! Even as it hath been said: "Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity those who hear it."

Of these truths some can be disclosed only to the extent of the capacity of the repositories of the light of Our knowledge, and the recipients of Our hidden grace. We beseech God to strengthen thee with His power, and enable thee to recognize Him Who is the Source of all knowledge, that thou mayest detach thyself from all human learning, for, "what would it profit any man to strive after learning when he hath already found and recognized Him Who is the Object of all knowledge?" Cleave to the Root of Knowledge, and to Him Who is the Fountain thereof, that thou mayest find thyself independent of all who claim to be well versed in human learning, and whose claim no clear proof, nor the testimony of any enlightening book, can support.

("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah" sec. LXXXIX, pp. 176-77)

2215. In this Day the secrets of the earth are laid bare before the eyes of men. The pages of swiftly-appearing newspapers are indeed the mirror of the world. They reflect the deeds and the pursuits of divers peoples and kindreds. They both reflect them and make them known. They are a mirror endowed with hearing, sight and speech. This is an amazing and potent phenomenon. However, it behoveth the writers thereof to be purged from the promptings of evil passions and desires and to be attired with the raiment of justice and equity. They should enquire into situations as much as possible and ascertain the facts, then set them down in writing.

(From the Tarazat, published in "Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pp. 3940)

2216. It ill beseemeth thee to turn thy gaze unto former or more recent times. Make thou mention of this Day and magnify that which hath appeared therein. It will in truth suffice all mankind. Indeed expositions <p409> and discourses in explanation of such things cause the spirits to be chilled. It behoveth thee to speak forth in such wise as to set the hearts of true believers ablaze and cause their bodies to soar.

Teach thou the Cause of God with an utterance which will cause the bushes to be enkindled, and the call "Verily, there is no God but Me, the Almighty, the Unconstrained" to be raised therefrom. Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets. Meditate upon that which hath streamed forth from the heaven of the Will of thy Lord, He Who is the Source of all grace, that thou mayest grasp the intended meaning which is enshrined in the sacred depths of the Holy Writings.

(From the Lawh-i-Hikmat, published in "Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pp. 142-43)

2217. Every word of thy poetry is indeed like unto a mirror in which the evidences of the devotion and love thou cherishest for God and His chosen ones are reflected. Well is it with thee who hast quaffed the choice wine of utterance and partaken of the soft flowing stream of true knowledge. Happy is he who hath drunk his fill and attained unto Him and woe betide the heedless. Its perusal hath truly proved highly impressive, for it was indicative of both the light of reunion and the fire of separation.

(From the Lawh-i-Maqsud, published in "Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pp. 175-76)


From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

2218. It is my hope that thou mayest succeed in writing thy book. However, the language should be moderate, tempered, and infinitely courteous. Look not at the language used by that hostile writer, for he was prejudiced and unrefined. Any person with the slightest degree of fairness will understand that his writing is totally biased and inspired by enmity. This is enough proof that what he hath written is spurious.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian) <p410>

2219. Pure souls, such as Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, upon him be the Glory of God, spend their nights and days in demonstrating the truth of the Revelation, by adducing conclusive and brilliant proofs and expanding the verities of the Faith, by lifting the veils, promoting the religion of God and spreading His fragrances.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

2220. Great care should be exercised in preparing this translation. Mr.... should make a supreme effort so that the language will be most exquisite, eloquent and lucid, even if the translated text is to be submitted to, and made dependent upon the opinions of, experts in language.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

2221. The subjects to be taught in children's school 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. Here, then, in brief are directions for the curriculum of these schools. Greetings be unto you, and praise.

(From a Tablet to an individual believer, published in "The Baha'i World: 1972-1976, vol. 16, pp. 36-37)

From a Letter written by Shoghi Effendi to an Individual Believer

2222. I am overjoyed at such a splendid production. I strongly urge you to secure the assistance of one of the best and most respected publishers in <p411> England and to ensure that it will receive the fullest attention regarding its outward form and style of printing. The book is correct in its presentation of the essentials of the Faith, eminently readable, exquisitely arranged, and has a distinctive charm unsurpassed by any book of its kind whether written by Eastern or Western believers. I heartily recommend it to every earnest and devout teacher of the Cause.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 11 November 1927 written on his behalf)

From Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Individual Believers

2223. Your literary ability makes you especially qualified to teach the Cause. For in the world of today much can be achieved through the power of the pen. All you need is to try to deepen your knowledge of the history and the teachings of the Faith, and thus well-equipped you will assuredly win a glorious success -- Baha'u'llah has given us the assurance that He will be always on our side and will give us all the help we may need. You should, therefore, arise steadfastly to serve our beloved Cause and dedicate the rest of your life to the noble ideal which it seeks to realize.

(30 July 1932)

2224. 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.[1]
[1 This advice was given to a believer who asked whether such skills as shorthand and typing, and the writing of stories dealing with human experience, would be classified among those sciences that "begin and end in words", as mentioned by Baha'u'llah.] <p412>

2225. He has received and read with deepest interest the manuscripts you had enclosed in your letter, one entitled "The Ocean of His Utterances", and the other consisting of a long poem in which you had made an attempt to present the Message indirectly.

As to this last one, he approves of your suggestion to write a sequel to it, and to refer more directly to the Cause. He would, however, advise you to couch the whole subject in such a form as to make it interesting and appealing to the non-Baha'i reader. The direct presentation of the Teachings is surely highly important and even indispensable nowadays. But it should be done with utmost care and tact, and in a manner that would appeal to the non-believers.

(31 December 1935)

2226. There is a great need for teaching the Cause at present; every Baha'i should teach, and each one has his own capacities and can expect to reach certain souls who respond to his efforts. Your gift of writing should by all means be utilized in serving the Cause. Every one is perforce only an instrument in giving the Message which is more or less coloured by his own capacities and approach to life. There is no harm in this. You should write freely what you feel, what you wish to convey to the mind of the reader; afterwards you yourself, and those who pass upon Baha'i manuscripts and publications, can make sure that all your points conform to the teachings. The way you give them out and present them is an individual matter and there is no objection to this at all.

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 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.[1]
[1 This advice was given to a believer who sought the counsel of the Guardian on ways one might use writing skills to teach the Faith. The believer proposed writing a novel in which the Baha'i teachings and their source would be presented indirectly and in such a way as to stimulate curiosity and search by the reader. HJ5. 137.032]

(23 March 1945) <p413>

2227. Regarding your question about what courses would be most useful for you to study: He feels that both radio and journalistic work are fields in which the Baha'is could well learn to express themselves for the sake of helping their teaching work, and advises you, if you have the time, to study these subjects.

(15 August 1945)

2228. Your suggestion regarding a book for the general public is a good one. The question is not only have we Baha'is competent to present this subject in a way which would catch the attention of the public, but also even if such a book existed would it achieve its end? We have, unfortunately, not very many capable Baha'i writers, and the condition of confusion in the world is such that it seems doubtful if such a work would arrest the attention of distracted mankind.

However, we need more and better Baha'i books, and he suggests you present your idea to the German, British and American National Spiritual Assemblies.

(26 October 1950)

2229. There is no objection to your being a journalist as long as you try to keep off political issues; especially the big East-West issue. You have a talent for writing, and it might be of help to you financially and in making contacts for the Faith.

(30 November 1950)

2230. 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.

(14 May 1957)

From a Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

2231. The Universal House of Justice has considered your letter of 6 December 1979 concerning the novel you are writing involving a <p414> romantic relationship and asking whether you should continue this project in light of the advice of 'Abdu'l-Baha that curricula of schools should avoid tales of love.

We have been asked to say that what should be avoided are stories that arouse the passions. From what you say, the purpose of your story is to appeal to higher motivations in life and, in fact, to spread the spirit and teachings of the Cause.

(23 December 1979 to an individual believer)

Revised - August 1990 <p415>



EXTRACTS RELATING TO THE SUBJECT OF YOUTH

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah

2232. Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm. (From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

2233. It is incumbent upon the youth to walk in the footsteps of Hakim[1] and to be trained in his ways, for such important souls as he and his like have now ascended to the Kingdom of Abha. The youth must grow and develop and take the place of their fathers, that this abundant grace, in the posterity of each one of the loved ones of God who bore great agonies, may day by day increase, until in the end it shall yield its fruit on earth and in Heaven.
[1] One of the distinguished believers of Qazvin

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

2234. Wherefore, O ye illumined youth, strive by night and by day to unravel the mysteries of the mind and spirit, and to grasp the secrets of the Day of God. Inform yourselves of the evidences that the Most Great Name hath dawned. Open your lips in praise. Adduce convincing arguments and proofs. Lead those who thirst to the fountain of life; grant ye true health to the ailing. Be ye apprentices of God; be ye physicians directed by God, and heal ye the sick among humankind. Bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends. Make the despairing to be filled with hope. Waken them that slumber; make the heedless mindful.

Such are the fruits of this earthly life. Such is the station of resplendent glory. Upon you be Baha'u'l-Abha.

(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)

2235. O Lord! Make this youth radiant and confer Thy bounty upon this poor creature. Bestow upon him knowledge, grant him added strength <p416> at the break of every morn and guard him within the shelter of Thy protection so that he may be freed from error, may devote himself to the service of Thy Cause, may guide the wayward, lead the hapless, free the captives and awaken the heedless, that all may be blessed with Thy remembrance and praise. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.

(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)

From Letters Written by Shoghi Effendi

2236. What you have undertaken to achieve, under the guidance and instruction, of that valiant and indefatigable servant of the Abha Threshold, my well-beloved brother Dr. Bagdadi, is highly praiseworthy and of supreme importance. Never flinch in your great enterprise. Deepen your knowledge of the Cause. Strive to extend the sphere of your activities and seek to understand and promote the harmony that must exist between true science and Divine Revelation. I will never fail to pray for you. I have great hopes in the ultimate triumph of the task before you.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 23 January 1924 written on his behalf to the Baha'i Youth of Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.)

2237. The Baha'i youth must be taught how to teach the Cause of God. Their knowledge of the fundamentals of the Faith must be deepened and the standard of their education in science and literature enhanced. They must become thoroughly familiar with the language used and the example set by 'Abdu'l-Baha in His public addresses throughout the West. They must also be acquainted with those essential prerequisites of teaching as recorded in the Holy Books and Tablets.

(9 June 1925 to the Spiritual Assembly of the East- translated from the Persian)

2238. I strongly urge you to devote, while you are pursuing your studies, as much time as you possibly can to a thorough study of the history and Teachings of our Beloved Cause. This is the prerequisite of a future successful career of service to the Baha'i Faith in which I hope and pray you will distinguish yourself in the days to come.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 18 May 1926 written on his behalf to an individual believer) <p417>

2239. The youthful and eager workers for the Cause ... occupy a warm place in my heart. I will remember their hopes, their plans, their activities in my hours of prayer at the Holy Shrine. I urge them to study profoundly the revealed utterances of Baha'u'llah and the discourses of 'Abdu'l-Baha and not to rely unduly on the representation and interpretation of the Teachings given by Baha'i speakers and teachers. May the Almighty sustain you and guide you in your work.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 20 March 1929 written on his behalf to an individual believer)

2240. The work in which you are engaged is dear and near to my heart and constitutes one of the most vital aspects of the manifold activities of our beloved Faith. The highest standards of purity, of integrity, of detachment and sacrifice must be maintained by the members of your group in order to enable you to play a decisive part in the spread and consolidation of the Faith. A tremendous responsibility has been laid upon you, and nothing short of a pure, a virtuous, an active and truly exemplary life can enable you to fulfil your high destiny. I will pray that you may be guided and strengthened to render the most effective service to the Cause and by your example lend a fresh impetus to the onward march of its new-born institutions.

(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 6 September 1934 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada Youth Council)

From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi

2241. If the younger Baha'i generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pain of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of the Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation....

(26 April 1923 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India and Burma) <p418>

2242. His hope, as well as that of the friends, is that you should increase both in number and spirituality. The future of this Cause, which is so dear to us all, depends upon the energy and devotion of the rising generation. It is you who before long will be called to shoulder its responsibilities and undertake its spread. To do that, however, you ought to be well equipped. You ought to have your intellectual as well as spiritual side equally developed....

(28 December 1925 to the Baha'i Youth of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)

2243. We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children had grown to speak about the Cause in public. Shoghi Effendi's hope is that they will, the three of them, become able and devoted speakers on the Cause and subjects akin to it. To do this properly they will need a firm foundation of scientific and literary training which fortunately they are obtaining. It is just as important for the Baha'i young boys and girls to become properly educated in colleges of high standing as it is to be spiritually developed.

The mental as well as the spiritual side of the youth has to be developed before he can serve the Cause efficiently.

(28 November 1926 to an individual believer)

2244. He was greatly pleased and highly encouraged with your slow but progressive work among members of the faculty and the student body in State College. It is high time for the Baha'is to try and reach the thinking and educated youth of the country upon whom so much of the future depends, especially the stupendous task of applying the spirit and letter of the Baha'i teachings to the requirements of the time -- a work for which generations of preparation might be necessary.

(13 June 1928 to an individual believer)

2245. He was deeply interested in your work among the university students and hopes that it will bear much fruit. The youth is open-minded, unhampered by prejudice and ready to accept any message that satisfies his spiritual longings as well as intellectual demands. The work should, however, be both intensive and extensive. It is not sufficient that you should address many student bodies; persons have to be found to follow up that work, pick those who are interested to know more and ground <p419> them in the teachings. This task undoubtedly pertains to the teaching committee which should always be on the alert, see where there is a receptive group and send teachers to bring them into the Cause.

(20 June 1931 to an individual believer)

2246. Being a Baha'i you are certainly aware of the fact that 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 programme of the Baha'i youth all over the world.

And no doubt the best means through which this educational development can be attained is by joining the different associations and gatherings which intend to promote the ideals of this new international civilization. Although the Guardian prefers that Baha'is should join those associations which are within the orbit of Baha'i activities, he nevertheless approves and even encourages any person who would like to join any non-Baha'i movements, provided that these movements will not promote any ideal or principle which will harm and check the advance of the Cause.

(9 July 1931 to an individual believer)

2247. The prevailing distress in America and Europe should awaken the youth to the futility of concentrating their whole life on purely material pursuits. They should learn the lesson that spiritual considerations should be the dominating factors of our life, that our guiding purpose should be to enhance our moral life and seek what is eternal and abiding.

Should the different nations continue to go wrong and be guided by the selfish desire of personal aggrandizement, you will be the group that will suffer most. Our present policies bear their fruits only in the future and it is the youth of the present that are the men and women of the future.

(2 November 1931 to an individual believer)

2248. Shoghi Effendi was delighted to see the result of the work achieved, which proved the deep interest the young Baha'is are showing in the <p420> progress of the Faith. The message of Baha'u'llah which contains the only true and lasting solution of the social and spiritual problems that confront society at present, is entrusted to their care. It is they who should, with a spirit of complete detachment and consecration, raise the banner of the Faith and enlist the support of strong and devoted souls.

Through such conferences Shoghi Effendi hopes you will develop your knowledge of modern problems and at the same time help those non-Bahais who come to help, to see the light brought by Baha'u'llah to the world. People who come so close to our doors and perhaps enter our home should not be left to go without carrying away some of the delights we are enjoying. They are also seeking souls earnestly desiring to attain their spiritual and social ideals. To approach them may need tact and care and may entail much difficulty, but such is our duty we are called to carry through.

Shoghi Effendi hopes that the success of this last summer will encourage you to hold more conferences in the future, thus arousing the youth to true service and spreading the Message far and wide. He will remember you all in his prayers and ask for you divine guidance and assistance....

[Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi:]

I am delighted with your letter enclosing the splendid report on International relations. I am particularly gratified to learn of the active part played by the Baha'i youth and of their harmonious co-operation with the older and more experienced believers. I would warn them to be on their guard lest the impression be given to the outside world that the Baha'is are political in their aims and pursuits or interfere in matters that pertain to the political activities of their respective governments. The Cause, still in its state of infancy, should be adequately protected from this particular danger....

(13 November 1931 to an individual believer)

2249. The youth should be encouraged to train themselves in public speaking while they are still pursuing their studies in schools or colleges.

(7 December 1931 to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 64 (July 1932), p 4) <p421>

2250. The account of your work among the foreign students made Shoghi Effendi very happy. Not only will these young people get a good impression of American families and hospitality, but the spiritual training you try to give them will make their education so much more complete and worthwhile. This is beside the fact that in their heart is planted the seeds of the Baha'i teachings which in time will germinate and bring forth wondrous fruits. All these young people when they return home will carry the Message with them and even though they do not become confirmed believers, they will remain friends always ready to render a service to the Baha'i teachers they happen to meet. Shoghi Effendi hopes you will carry on that work but at the same time try to make them true Baha'is -- in spirit as well as in faith.

(4 February 1932 to an individual believer)

2251. The present condition of the world -- its economic instability, social dissensions, political dissatisfaction and international distrust -- should awaken the youth from their slumber and make them inquire what the future is going to bring. It is surely they who will suffer most if some calamity sweep over the world. They should therefore open their eyes to the existing conditions, study the evil forces that are at play and then with a concerted effort arise and bring about the necessary reforms -- reforms that shall contain within their scope the spiritual as well as social and political phases of human life.

(13 March 1932 to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 68 (November 1932), p. 3)

2252. What impressed him most in the account of your services was the statement that the old and the young Baha'is are firmly united and co-operating in bearing the burdens of the Faith in that locality. Nothing will attract God's blessings and grace more than the unity of the friends, and nothing is more destructive of their highest purpose than divisions and misunderstandings. Cling therefore to unity if you desire to succeed and abide by the will of your Lord Baha'u'llah; for that is the true objective of His Mission in this world.

(11 October 1932 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of West Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.A.) <p422>

2253. Surely in this very critical period of human history when old institutions are beginning to crumble down or being considerably modified, there is a certain amount of maladjustments and unfortunate happenings; but such a condition is not permanent. The Cause and its institutions will gradually take their place and with its virile spirit secure the full obedience of its followers and of the people of the world as a whole. So we need not be too pessimistic as to the future or take passing conditions too seriously. The young people who are living between these two eras, and seeing the destruction of old institutions are therefore apt to discard all respect for them and in fact view with contempt any person that may still cherish the old. Hence we see the loose morality prevalent among them. This condition is not true only of America and Europe but also of the East, and I dare say in the East more than in the West.

Even though the Baha'i Youth should feel with the condition in which they see their non-Baha'i friends and not indict them for it, they should not let themselves be carried by the wave of world events as they are being carried. Whereas they see before them only a world that is crumbling down we are also seeing a new world being built up. Whereas they experience the destruction of old institutions that commanded their respect, we are beholding the dawn of a new era with its strict commands and new social bonds. Their materialistic outlook shows them the futility of all things while our faith in a regenerated and spiritualized man makes us look to the future and build for it. To make them follow our ways we should sympathize with their plight but should not follow their ways. We should take our stand on a higher plane of moral and spiritual life and, setting for them the true example, urge them up to our level. The young people should read what Baha'u'llah and the Master say on such matters and follow them conscientiously. That is if they desire to be true to the teachings and establish them throughout the world.

[Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi:]

The activities, hopes and ideals of the Baha'i Youth in America, as well as in all other parts of the world are close and dear to my heart. Upon them rests the supreme and challenging responsibility to promote the interests of the Cause of God in the days to come, to co-ordinate its world-wide activities, to extend its scope, to safeguard its integrity, to exalt its virtues, define its purpose, and translate its ideals and aims into memorable and abiding achievements. Theirs is a mighty task, at once <p423> holy, stupendous and enthralling. May the spirit of Baha'u'llah protect, inspire and sustain them in the prosecution of their divinely-appointed task!

(26 October 1932 to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 443 (February 1968), p. 8)

2254. The Movement is in need of young people, who have been spiritually awakened, to arise and stem the tide of a material civilization that has brought mankind to the verge of ruin. Should the forces, now playing havoc with society, be let loose, should we neglect our duty to check them and bring them under our control, no man dare imagine what the future will bring.

It is upon the young people that the greatest suffering will fall. They should, therefore, mobilize their ranks, and, with one accord, arise and consummate their task and establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

(Published in "Herald of the South" Vol. 4, No. 5, (January - March 1933), p. 11; also published in "The Baha'i World, Vol. 5, (1932 -1934) (New York: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1936), pp.370-72)

2255. Life is not easy for the young people of this generation. They enter life with a heart full of hope, but find before themselves nothing but failures, and see in the future nothing but darkness. What they need is the light manifested by Baha'u'llah, for that brightens their soul and stimulates their vigour in facing difficulties.

(12 March 1933 to an individual believer)

2256. As regards the attitude of her group towards the administration, they will come to understand these things, for before long they will see that without a proper administrative body the ideas of the Cause will never be put into practice, nor will the future progress of the Faith be ensured. In dealing with the young people one has to use tact and reason out the different problems with them.

(22 April 1933 to an individual believer)

2257. It is always gratifying to learn of the splendid effects which the teachings of the Cause inevitably bring in the hearts and minds of young Baha'i men and women and to witness their eagerness to mould and <p424> shape their entire living according to the divine teachings bequeathed to the world by Baha'u'llah. For the Baha'i youth constitute the main active element in the Cause. Theirs is the duty not only to study and to spread the Teachings but to put them into actual practice. It is hoped that you will increasingly mirror forth the beauty and the power of the principles of the Faith and will become shining examples to every Baha'i whose sole aim in life is to scale the heights which Baha'u'llah has summoned His followers to attain.

(5 August 1933 to two believers)

2258. It is on young and active Baha'is, like you, that the Guardian centres all his hopes for the future progress and expansion of the Cause, and it is on their shoulders that he lays all the responsibility for the upkeep of the spirit of selfless service among their fellow-believers. Without that spirit no work can be successfully achieved. With it triumph, though hardly won, is but inevitable. You should, therefore, try all your best to carry aflame within you the torch of faith, for through it you will surely find guidance, strength and eventual success.

(1 September 1933 to an individual believer)

2259. I need not tell you what great hopes he cherishes for the future role which young Baha'is will be inevitably called upon to play in the teaching as well as in the administrative fields of Baha'i activity. It is on them that he centres his essential and vital hopes for the effective and wide spread of the Message, and for the strengthening of the basis of the nascent Baha'i administrative institutions which are gradually taking shape amidst storms of an unprecedented severity, and under extremely tragic circumstances.

His brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and of the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Baha'i community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory, where you can translate into living and constructive action the principles which you imbibe from the Teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real <p425> spirit which runs throughout the Baha'i Teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can ensure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Baha'u'llah enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith for ever burning in your heart!

(2 November 1933 to an individual believer)

2260. He would advise you, however, to devote some more of your time to active teaching in public. To that end he would urge you to attend, if possible, all the sessions and meetings at the Geyserville Summer School, that you may not only deepen your knowledge of the Teachings, but also acquire the necessary training for expounding them to the public. The ambition of every young Baha'i should be, indeed, to become a well-informed and competent teacher. For this very purpose the institution of [the] Baha'i Summer School has been established, and its importance so strongly and repeatedly emphasized by the Guardian.

(21 June 1935 to an individual believer)

2261. The problem with which you are faced is one which concerns and seriously puzzles many of our present-day youth. How to attain spirituality is, indeed, a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory reply has been given or found, that modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundation of man's moral and spiritual life.

Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is a lack of spirituality. The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind, that people in general 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 its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man's outlook upon life is <p426> 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. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Baha'u'llah has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality, which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Baha'i Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Baha'u'llah, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and become a dead thing.

The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the Religion of God.

(8 December 1935 to an individual believer, published in
"Baha'i News" 102 (August 1936) p. 3)

2262. ...the Guardian fully realizes the difficulties that stand in the way of co operation between the young and old believers. This is a problem that confronts the Cause almost everywhere, especially in those communities where the number of young and old Baha'is is nearly the same. The solution, as in all such cases, is to be found through intelligent and mutual compromise. The old believers have to give up something of their old conceptions and ways of working in order to better adapt themselves to the changing social conditions and circumstances. The young too must learn to act with wisdom, tact and moderation, and to take advantage and benefit from the age-long experiences of their older fellow-believers. The old and the young have each something specific to contribute to the <p427> progress and welfare of the Baha'i community. The energy of youth should be tempered and guided by the wisdom of old age.

As to the attitude of resentment which the young believers are inclined to assume regarding certain precepts of the Cause, such as obligatory prayers: there can and should be no compromise whatever in such matters that are specifically enjoined by Baha'u'llah. We should neither have any feeling of shame when observing such laws and precepts, nor should we overestimate their value and significance. Just as the friends have no difficulty in recognizing the value of the specific prayers revealed by Baha'u'llah, such as the Tablets of fasting and healing, so also they should recognize that the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones, and as such are essential.

(4 January 1936 to an individual believer)

2263. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith such as the one revealed to the world by Baha'u'llah. Religion, as in the past, is still the world's sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man's individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal. The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.

(17 April 1936 to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 104 (December 1936), p. 1)

2264. The obligation to teach is essentially the responsibility of young believers. Their whole training should therefore be directed in such a way as to make them competent teachers. It is for this very purpose that Baha'i summer schools, which constitute the very basis upon which the Baha'i universities of the future will be established, should be widely attended by young believers.

(15 May 1936 to Baha'i Youth Groups United States) <p428>

2265. Regarding your question in connection with Baha'i youth activity: The chief purpose underlying all such activities undertaken by our Baha'i youth throughout the world is to stimulate enthusiasm, promote instruction and foster the development of the spirit of solidarity and co-operation among young Baha'i men and women, in order to enable them at a later age to collaborate intelligently and harmoniously with their fellow-believers of whatever class, age or origin. Such activities should be undertaken within the framework of the Administrative Order. They should neither be overemphasized nor curtailed. The formation of youth committees is a means to achieve the end stated above, and is not an end in itself.

(8 November 1937 to an individual believer)

2266. It is his fervent hope and his heart's ardent prayer that you may increasingly deepen in your faith, and steadily gain in your understanding and appreciation of the Teachings, and display such earnestness and perseverance in your Baha'i studies as to gradually acquire the full knowledge, training and experience necessary for active and effective service to the Faith in the future.

Although still young in age, you should endeavour from now, through close association with your fellow-believers, and through your faithful application to your Baha'i studies, to prepare yourself for that day when you will be called upon, as a grown-up and responsible member of the Community, to take full part in the activities of the Cause, and thus prove yourself worthy of being a member of this world-wide Fellowship created by Baha'u'llah.

The Guardian was truly pleased to note that you have already started reading some Baha'i books, and would specially advise you to endeavour [to] commit to memory certain passages from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, and in particular, some of His prayers. This training would undoubtedly be of tremendous help to you in your future studies of the Cause, and would also serve to considerably deepen and enrich your own spiritual life at present.

(10 April 1939 to an individual believer)

1002. He feels the importance of young believers taking an active part in every field of service cannot be overestimated, for they must carry on the <p429> great work of reconstruction into the future, which will be in dire need of spiritual example and leadership.

(16 March 1941 to an individual believer)

2267. Indeed it is very important for the Faith, to extend the teachings of Baha'u'llah amongst the youth, as it is through their activities, that the Cause of our Beloved Master will in future spread all over the American continent. They have upon their shoulders all the responsibilities for the progress of the Movement; it is our duty to rear their spiritual feelings, enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance which has been shed before us by the Master.

(2 November 1932 to two believers, published in "Baha'i News, 143 (May 1941), p. 8)

2268. The responsibility of young believers is very great, as they must not only fit themselves to inherit the work of the older Baha'is and carry on the affairs of the Cause in general, but the world which lies ahead of them -- as promised by Baha'u'llah -- will be a world chastened by its sufferings, ready to listen to His Divine Message at last, and consequently a very high character will be expected of the exponents of such a religion. To deepen their knowledge, to perfect themselves in the Baha'i standards of virtue and upright conduct, should be the paramount duty of every young Baha'i.

(6 June 1941 to the Baha'i Youth of Bombay, India)

2269. The tasks which will face the present generation of Baha'i Youth -- and are indeed already beginning to face them -- are stupendous. They cannot but expect to find themselves most severely tested in the days to come -- tested as to their characters, their faith, the strength of their convictions, and their complete adherence to the Laws of Baha'u'llah.

Shoghi Effendi's greatest hope, and his prayer, is that they may so distinguish themselves in the eyes of their fellow-countrymen that it will become increasingly evident what a Baha'i is and what he stands for. How wonderful it would be to witness the time when the actions and words of the Baha'is will have become so well known that people will say: "Ah! That must be a Baha'i -- they are like that!" and mean it as a compliment. <p430>

(19 October 1941 to the Baha'i Youth at Louhelen Baha'i School, Youth Session)

2270. The winds of test and trial have blown upon our Faith more than once, and he strongly feels that old believers like yourself should do everything in their power to protect the younger Baha'is, to strengthen their faith, deepen them in the Covenant, and enable them to take full refuge in the Will and Testament of the beloved Master, that impregnable fortress He built for our safety when He Himself should have gone from our sight.

(26 October 1941 to an individual believer)

2271. If ever it could be said that a religion belonged to the youth, then surely the Baha'i Faith today is that religion. The whole world is suffering, it is sunk in misery, crushed beneath its heavy problems. The task of healing its ills and building up its future devolves mainly upon the youth. They are the generation who, after the war, will have to solve the terrible difficulties created by the war and all that brought it about. And they will not be able to upbuild the future except by the laws and principles laid down by Baha'u'llah. So their task is very great and their responsibility very grave.

(8 May 1942 to the Baha'i Youth of Peoria, Illinois, U.S.A.)

2272. Young men such as yourselve[s,] so surprisingly dedicated to a movement which the uninitiated might associate with mature people of a philosophical bent of mind, so free from the current dissipated habits of most young people, are in a position to capture the attention and respect of both young and old alike. This Cause, although it embraces with equal esteem people of all ages, has a special message and mission for the youth of your generation. It is their charter for their future, their hope, their guarantee of better days to come. Therefore the Guardian is especially happy that the young Baha'is are active in the pioneer work....

(16 June 1942 to an individual believer)

2273. The Cause needs more Baha'i scholars, people who not only are devoted to it and believe in it and are anxious to tell others about it, but also who have a deep grasp of the Teachings and their significance, and <p431> who can correlate its beliefs with the current thoughts and problems of the people of the world.

The Cause has the remedy for all the world's ills. The reason why more people don't accept it is because the Baha'is are not always capable of presenting it to them in a way that meets the immediate needs of their minds. Young Baha'is like yourself must prepare themselves to really bring the Message to their generation, who need it so desperately and who can understand the language it speaks so well. He would advise you among other books to study the Talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha, as His method of approaching the mind of the public cannot be surpassed... He also advises you to develop yourself as a public speaker so you will be increasingly able to teach the Cause...

(21 October 1943 to an individual believer)

2274. The Guardian hopes that along with whatever other studies you take up, you will continually study the teachings and endeavour to acquire a profound knowledge of them. The importance of young Baha'is becoming thoroughly steeped in every branch of the teachings cannot be overemphasized, as they have great teaching tasks ahead of them to accomplish.

(22 January 1944 to an individual believer)

2275. The Guardian has always advised young people to study deeply such subjects as History, Economics and Sociology as they are all related to the teachings and aid in understanding the Faith....

The greatest need of youth today is character training. Prayer is only one factor in this; they must learn to live up to the ethical teachings of the Faith....

He feels that teaching the Faith to the youth is of the utmost importance in these days, as they will not only become the workers of the future but will be able to widely spread the Message among their own generation. He approves of your devoting as much time to this work as feasible, in conjunction with the valuable services you are so tirelessly rendering the teaching work in various cities and towns.

(12 March 1944 to an individual believer) <p432>

2276. ...concerning what studies you should specialize in with a view to teaching in the future: He would suggest either History, Economics or Sociology, as these are not only fields in which Baha'is take a great interest but also cover subjects which our teachings cast an entirely new light upon....

(13 March 1944 to an individual believer.)

2277. ...if the believers are going to accomplish their duty and present the Divine solution to mankind, they must prepare themselves for the great tasks that lie ahead. This and women in the Faith teachings, so that they can all the problems facing them have Administration, so that they can wisely and efficiently administer ever-growing affairs of the Cause; and they must exemplify the Baha'i way of living....

(12 May 1944 to an individual believer, published in "Baha'i News" 175 June 1945), p. 3)

2278. He hopes that you will develop into Baha'is in character as well as in belief. The whole purpose of Baha'u'llah is that we should become a new kind of people, people who are upright, kind, intelligent, truthful, and honest and who live according to His great laws laid down for this new epoch in man's development. To call ourselves Baha'is is not enough, our inmost being must become ennobled and enlightened through living a Baha'i life.

(25 August 1944 to the Louhelen School, Youth Session)

2279. Aside from teaching the Cause, the greatest service the Baha'i Youth can render is to exemplify in their lives the teachings and especially to be promoters -- within the Baha'i communities and in the world at large -- of love and harmony, qualities so sadly lacking in these days of hatred, suspicion, vindictiveness and prejudice.

(15 October 1944 to the Louhelen School, Youth Session)

2280. The youth are indeed those to whom the Cause should perforce offer its greatest appeal, as it holds alone the promise for their future security. <p433> Without that which Baha'u'llah has given to humanity the outlook for the future of the world would appear truly hopeless, for the evil forces in men's nature seem to have gained the ascendancy, and only a spiritual force, direct from God, can enable the good side of human nature to again assume command of men's lives.

(15 June 1945 to an individual believer)

2281. By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups of young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike.

A spirit of prejudice-free, loving comradeship with others is what will open the eyes of people more than any amount of words. Combined with such deeds you can teach the Faith easily.

(18 June 1945 to the Baha'is of Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A.)

2282. He is always pleased to see enlightened and capable young people embrace the Cause, because the world of the near future naturally belongs to them and the heavy responsibilities of that future must needs fall on their shoulders. They cannot find a pattern to work by comparable to that which Baha'u'llah has given to the world in this age; the sanity, the justice, the perfect balance of His system can alone accomplish the next step in Man's evolution -- the unification of the human race as one family inhabiting this planet.

(1 July 1945 to an individual believer)

2283. He feels that one of the primary duties of your Committee is to encourage young Baha'is to prepare themselves for pioneer work, particularly in Latin America; as he has already informed the American believers, the tremendous tasks facing them in Europe -- and indeed all over the world -- cannot be embarked upon until they have finished the work begun in South America. In this field youthful Baha'is have already accomplished much, and he hopes others will arise and follow them.

Now that the war is over and so many young people are being released from the services and returning to a more normal life, the young Baha'is in every city should make a point of keeping in touch with local youth <p434> activities and clubs, and endeavouring to make their views known to as many young people in as many ways as possible. Above all they should set a high example to them; chastity, politeness, friendliness, hospitality, joyous optimism about the ultimate future happiness and well-being of mankind, should distinguish them and win over to them the love and admiration of their fellow youth. The thing which is most conspicuously lacking in modern life is a high standard of conduct and good character; the young Baha'is must demonstrate both, if they hope to seriously win over to the Faith members of their own generation, so sorely disillusioned and so contaminated by the laxity war gives rise to.

He assures you he will certainly pray for the success of your Committee's work, and for the Baha'i youth in general, for whom he feels a strong affection and for whom he cherishes very high hopes.

(20 October 1945 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada National Youth Committee)

2284. He was also very happy to see the Baha'i youth are holding meetings and making every effort to mingle with other young people, through local clubs and groups, and thus bring the Cause to their notice.

As the beloved Master so constantly reiterated, example is the greatest teacher of all, and the Guardian feels that the Baha'is must, each and every one of them, contribute his share to the unity of the community he lives in, and show forth to his fellow believers, and to the world at large, that love for which the world is dying, the love of God. When non-Baha'is see us loving and united, our power will be irresistible; the perfection of our teachings, laws, and principles will then be seen as a practical reality.

(23 October 1945 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Dayton, Ohio)

2285. The Guardian has urged, over and over again, the paramount necessity for Baha'i Youth to exemplify the Teachings, most particularly the moral aspect of them. If they are not distinguished for their high conduct they cannot expect other young people to take the Cause very seriously.

He heartily agrees with you that unless we practise the Teachings we cannot possibly expect the Faith to grow, because the fundamental purpose of all religions -- including our own -- is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. <p435> Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be over-emphasized.

(6 September 1946 to an individual believer)

2286. He feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify a Baha'i life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners -- the Baha'i young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Baha'i youth to furnish it.

(19 September 1946 to the Green Acre Baha'i Summer School)

2287. They now have a golden opportunity to arise and fulfil their own cherished plans before it is too late.... More believers must arise, and, putting their trust in Baha'u'llah, do their duty to the Faith they believe in and love so dearly. The youth in particular should be encouraged to enter this field of service, for the spread of the Cause is their only hope for a stable world in which to live and establish families of their own.

(12 October 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the British Isles)

2288. He appreciates very much the devoted and determined spirit with which you are facing the future and all the Baha'i responsibility it will bring to you increasingly. The part of youth is very great; you have the opportunity to really determine to exemplify in word and deed the teachings of Baha'u'llah, and to show your generation that the New World Order He has brought is a tangible reality in the lives of His followers.

(12 March 1946 to Louhelen School, Senior Youth Session, published in "Baha'i News" 190 (December 1946), p. 1)

2289. In fact the youth work everywhere in the Baha'i world is dear to his heart, and he attaches great importance to it. The young people, who will inevitably grow up to shoulder all the work of the Cause, are really its hope, and should be one of the most active factors in its propagation. Through their courageous adherence to the high moral and ethical standards set by Baha'u'llah, and through gaining a mastery of His many, <p436> diversified, and profound teachings, they can shape, to a great extent, the development and aid in the rapid expansion of their beloved Faith in the various countries in which they labour. They should be made to realize their responsibility is heavy and their privilege very precious.

(26 December 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles National Youth Committee)

2290. In the years that lie ahead, in order to accomplish the tremendous tasks entrusted to our care by the Master, young people like yourself will be required to carry the work forward and fill the places left vacant by the older generation of believers; indeed they must do more than that, they must create new places and functions for themselves.

What the Cause really needs most at present is capable teachers, wise, deeply grounded in the Faith. He hopes you will fit yourself to be one of these.

(5 February 1947 to an individual believer)

2291. As regards your future: he feels that if you specialize in the Social Sciences this would be also of assistance to you in teaching the Cause. And he would also suggest that, if feasible when you decide on a place to study, or to establish yourself permanently, you could render the Cause a great service by going somewhere where there is a weak Assembly or a group only and helping in developing the Faith there.

(24 June 1947 to an individual believer)

2292. He is very happy to hear of the formation of the new youth groups you mention, as this will not only greatly stimulate the Baha'i youth and enable them to attract new young people to the Faith, but will also do the general work of the Cause in these cities a great deal of good. He urges your Committee to make every effort to establish youth groups wherever there are Spiritual Assemblies, and circumstances permit.

(25 September 1947 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles National Youth Committee)

2293. 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, <p437> martyrs and saints, it is more praiseworthy in the sight of God. He hopes you will attain to this high station.

But, as you must earn your living, he advises you to consult with your teachers at the University, and see in what field they believe you might excel and be able to find employment. This is a detail which he cannot advise you about. In principle it is good if the young Baha'is seek careers which would enable them to find employment abroad, as then they can render valuable pioneer services.

(16 April 1950 to an individual believer)

2294. He urges you to make up your minds to do great, great deeds for the Faith; the condition of the world is steadily growing worse, and your generation must provide the saints, heroes, martyrs and administrators of future years. With dedication and will-power you can rise to great heights!

(2 October 1951 to the Louhelen School, Youth Session, published in "Baha'i News" 253 (March 1952), p. 1)

2295. He urges you all to devote particular attention to the contact with racial minorities. In a country which has such a large element of prejudice against its coloured citizens as the United States, it is of the greatest importance that the Baha'is -- and more especially the youth -- should demonstrate actively our complete lack of prejudice and, indeed, our prejudice in favour of minorities.

We cannot very well prosecute a teaching campaign successfully in Africa if we do not in our home communities demonstrate to the fullest extent our love for the people who spring from the African population!

(11 November 1951 to the Louhelen School)

2296. He, therefore, urges you to seriously consider the type of profession or trade that might ensure you a post in a pioneer field in Africa, or the Pacific Islands, or Asia, in which you could earn your living while serving the Cause as well. It is a great challenge, and a great opportunity offered your generation...

(5 August 1952 to the Louhelen school, youth session) <p438>

2297. On the shoulders of the youth today rests the future of the Faith. Therefore they should be well educated and trained not only in the Teachings of the Faith, but also in secular matters.

(24 May 1954 to an individual believer)

2298. Your niece's profession in training and educating children is one that will give her a rich reward, because she is aiding in the development of the characters of the youth of today, who will become the ones who will guide humanity tomorrow. If they could be guided both materially and spiritually then it would be a great victory, because after the world goes through its present travail, spiritual values will predominate, and those youth who have the benefit of both material and spiritual education will be the true leaders of society.

(22 May 1955 to an individual believer)

2299. He hopes that the Baha'i youth in Germany will be encouraged to take a more active part in administrative affairs and in the teaching work. They must always realize that they are the future of the Cause, and they should gain from experience as teachers and administrators from the older friends, in preparation for the time when the burden of the work will fall on their shoulders.

(21 June 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Germany and Austria)

2300. The beloved Guardian feels that sufficient attention is not being paid to the matter of contacting minorities in the United States. A great impetus could be lent to the work in the European countries, in certain far-eastern areas, and in Latin America if the Baha'is residing in the big cities and university towns would make a determined and sufficient effort to extend friendship and hospitality to students and nationals from countries where the Baha'is are struggling so hard to establish the Faith. They would not only have the possibility of making more local believers, but they might also increase the membership of communities abroad, by sending back Baha'is from the United States. This has happened already a number of times with Chinese and Japanese friends, etc., to the great advantage of the Cause. <p439>

(19 July 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States)

2301. The Divine Confirmations are descending in torrents on those who arise to teach. At this critical time in the history of the Faith, teaching is the one Baha'i service that is confirmed.

The Guardian hopes that you will therefore arise with renewed effort to take your part in this great Crusade that is now sweeping the world. America has been called upon by the Master to play the preponderating role in this great World Crusade which is moving forward with increasing momentum. If more Baha'is are not confirmed in the United States, then America may be deprived of its great Spiritual Destiny. The Guardian is looking to the Youth of America to raise the Banner of the Faith to ever higher and more glorious heights. The Youth should become severed from all things of the world and filled with the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit, arise to spread the Message and quicken the hearts.

(8 August 1957 to the Baha'i Youth of Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.)

Revised September 1990 <p441>


PRESERVING BAHA'I MARRIAGES

A compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

December 1990

From the Writings of Baha'u'llah

2302. God doth verily love union and concord, and abhorreth separation and divorce.

("Kitab-i-Aqdas", provisional translation)

2303. If antipathy or resentment develop on the part of either the husband or the wife, divorce is permissible, only after the lapse of one full year ....

("A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Baha'u'llah" (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1973), p. 42)

From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha

2304. Marriage, among the mass of the people, is a physical bond, and this union can only be temporary, since it is foredoomed to a physical separation at the close.

Among the people of Baha, however, marriage must be a union of the body and of the spirit as well, for here both husband and wife are aglow with the same wine, both are enamoured of the same matchless Face, both live and move through the same spirit, both are illumined by the same glory. This connection between them is a spiritual one, hence it is a bond that will abide forever. Likewise do they enjoy strong and lasting ties in the physical world as well, for if the marriage is based both on the spirit and the body, that union is a true one, hence it will endure. If, however, the bond is physical and nothing more, it is sure to be only temporary, and must inexorably end in separation.

When, therefore, the people of Baha undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God.

In the same way, when any souls grow to be true believers, they will attain a spiritual relationship with one another, and show forth a tenderness which is not of this world. They will, all of them, become elated <p442> from a draught of divine love, and that union of theirs, that connection, will also abide forever. Souls, that is, who will consign their own selves to oblivion, strip from themselves the defects of humankind, and unchain themselves from human bondage, will beyond any doubt be illumined with the heavenly splendours of oneness, and will all attain unto real union in the world that dieth not.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1982), sec. 84, pp. 117-18)

2305. As for the question regarding marriage under the Law of God: first thou must choose one who is pleasing to thee, and then the matter is subject to the consent of the father and mother. Before thou makest thy choice, they have no right to interfere."

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha" sec. 85, p. 118)

2306. Baha'i marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one and eternity ....

The true marriage of Baha'is is this, united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Baha'i marriage.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 86, p. 11)

2307. O ye two believers in God! 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.

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. <p443>

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.

("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha", sec. 92, p. 122)

2308. Formerly in Persia divorce was very easily obtained. Among the people of the past Dispensation a trifling matter would cause divorce. However, as the light of the Kingdom shone forth, souls were quickened by the spirit of Baha'u'llah, then they totally eschewed divorce. In Persia now divorce doth not take place among the friends, unless a compelling reason existeth which makes harmony impossible. Under such rare circumstances some cases of divorce take place.

Now the friends in America must live and conduct themselves in this way. They must strictly refrain from divorce unless something ariseth which compelleth them to separate because of their aversion for each other, in that case with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly they may decide to separate. They must then be patient and wait one complete year. If during this year, harmony is not re-established between them, then their divorce may be realized. It should not happen that upon the occurrence of a slight friction or displeasure between husband and wife, the husband would think of union with some other woman, or, God forbid, the wife also think of another husband. This is contrary to the standard of heavenly value and true chastity. 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 must 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. If one of these two becomes the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse.

(From a Tablet -- translated from the Persian) <p444>

Extracts from Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1]
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]

2309. When such difference of opinion and belief occurs between husband and wife it is very unfortunate for undoubtedly it detracts from that spiritual bond which is the stronghold of the family bond, especially in times of difficulty. The way, however, that it could be remedied is not by acting in such wise as to alienate the other party. One of the objects of the Cause is actually to bring about a closer bond in the homes. In all such cases, therefore, the Master used to advise obedience to the wishes of the other party and prayer. Pray that your husband may gradually see the light and at the same time so act as to draw him nearer rather than prejudice him. Once that harmony is secured then you will be able to serve unhampered.

(15 July 1928)

2310. Divorce is, according to the "Aqdas", permissible. But it is discouraged. Both the husband and wife have equal right to ask for divorce, and whenever either of them feels it absolutely essential to do so. Divorce becomes valid even if one of the parties refuses to accept it, and after one year of separation, during which period the husband is under the obligation of providing for his wife and children.

(6 July 1935)

2311. The Guardian has received your letter ... and has learned with deep concern of your family difficulties and troubles. He wishes me to assure you of his fervent prayers on your behalf and on behalf of your dear ones at home, that you may be guided and assisted from on High to compose your differences and to restore complete harmony and fellowship in your midst. While he would urge you to make any sacrifice in order to bring about unity in your family, he wishes you not to feel discouraged if your endeavours do not yield any immediate fruit. You should do your part with absolute faith that in doing so you are fulfilling your duty as a Baha'i. The rest is assuredly in God's hand.

(23 July 1937) <p445>

2312. The validity of a Baha'i marriage is dependent upon the free and full consent of all four parents. The freedom of the parents in the exercise of this right is unrestricted and unconditioned. They may refuse their consent on any ground, and they are responsible for their decision to God alone.

(19 March 1938)

2313. Regarding divorce, the Guardian stated that it is discouraged, deprecated and against the good pleasure of God. The Assembly must circulate among the friends whatever has been revealed from the Pen of 'Abdu'l-Baha in this connection so that all may be fully reminded. Divorce is conditional upon the approval and permission of the Spiritual Assembly. The members of the Assembly must in such matters independently and carefully study and investigate each case. If there should be valid grounds for divorce and it is found that reconciliation is utterly impossible, that antipathy is intense and its removal is not possible, then the Assembly may approve the divorce.

(7 July 1938 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

2314. The Guardian is in receipt of your letter .. . and has learned with deep concern of the state of disharmony existing between you and your husband.

While he wishes me to assure you that he will pray for the solution of your domestic troubles, he would urge you to endeavour, by every means in your power, to compose your differences, and not to allow them to reach such proportions as to lead to your complete and final separation from your husband. For while, according to the Baha'i law, divorce is permissible, yet it is highly discouraged, and should be resorted to only when every effort to prevent it has proved to be vain and ineffective. It is for you, and for Mr.... as well, to ponder carefully over the spiritual implications which any act of divorce on either part would involve, and, strengthened by the power of faith and confident in the blessings which strict adherence to the principles and laws of Baha'u'llah is bound to confer upon every one of His faithful followers, to make a <p446> fresh resolve to solve your common difficulties and to restore the harmony, peace and happiness of your family life.

(11 September 1938)

2315. I wish to assure you, in particular, of his supplications for your guidance in connection with your proposed plan to unite in marriage with Dr.. May the Beloved help you in forming the right decision, and spare you the anxiety and suffering which too hasty action in such matters inevitably produces. You should give this question, which is of such vital concern to your future, the full consideration it deserves, and examine all its aspects carefully and dispassionately. The final decision rests with you and Dr.....

(17 January 1939)

2316. 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.

(15 April 1939)

2317. The situation facing you[1] is admittedly difficult and delicate, but no less grave and indeed vital are the responsibilities which it entails and which, as a faithful and loyal believer, you should conscientiously and thoroughly assume. The Guardian, therefore, while fully alive to the special circumstances of your case, and however profound his sympathy may be for you in this challenging issue with which you are so sadly faced, cannot, in view of the emphatic injunctions contained in the Teachings, either sanction your demand to contract a second marriage while your first wife is still alive and is united with you in the sacred bonds of matrimony, or even suggest or approve that you divorce her just in order to be permitted to marry a new one.

[1 A believer who, having married his first wife out of compassion, now wished to be permitted to marry a woman with whom he had fallen in love, saying that his wife was agreeable to his taking this second wife.]
<p447>

For the Baha'i Teachings do not only preclude the possibility of bigamy, but also, while permitting divorce, consider it a reprehensible act, which should be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, and when grave issues are involved, transcending such considerations as physical attraction or sexual compatibility and harmony. 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 fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God.

The Guardian will most fervently pray that, inspired and guided by such a divine standard, and strengthened by Baha'u'llah's unfailing assistance and confirmations, you may be able to satisfactorily adjust your relations with the persons concerned, and thus reach the one right solution to this assuredly challenging problem of your life.

(8 May 1939)

2318. He has noted the question you had asked concerning the problem of marriage, and its infrequency among the believers in general. It is indeed a matter of deep regret to him that some of our young believers do not attach due importance to the question of marriage, and seem, as you state, to be under the impression that marital life has been discouraged in the Cause. This is certainly an erroneous conception, and whosoever takes the pain to carefully and intelligently read the words of Baha'u'llah, and to ponder over their implications, cannot but be convinced of the truth that in the Baha'i Faith marriage, and family life, in particular, are both not only commendable, but constitute a social function of highest and indeed vital importance, as through them alone the human race is perpetuated.

The believers should well know that whereas Baha'u'llah has not made marriage a binding obligation, He has nevertheless attributed to it such spiritual and social significance as no individual believer, under normal circumstances, can well be justified in disregarding it. In fact, in <p448> His Book of Laws (the "Kitab-i-Aqdas") He emphatically stresses its importance, and defines its essential purpose, namely the procreation of children and their training in the Religion of God, that they may know and adore Him, and mention and praise His Name.

(17 February 1940)

2319. ... he indeed feels rejoiced at the happy news of the settlement of your domestic differences with Mrs.... and particularly to know that you have jointly undertaken a most successful teaching tour .. This bond of common service to the Cause which is has proved such an effective solution of your personal problems, he hopes, and indeed will fervently pray, will be further cemented by the passing of years and through your increased and joint participation in the teaching work ...

(16 December 1940)

2320. Regarding the question whether it is necessary to obtain the consent of the parents of a non-Baha'i participant in a marriage with a Baha'i: as Baha'u'llah has stated that the consent of the parents of both parties is required in order to promote unity and avoid friction, and as the "Aqdas" does not specify any exceptions to this rule, the Guardian feels that under all circumstances the consent of the parents of both parties is required.

(12 August 1941 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

2321. Baha'u'llah has laid great emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, and the believers should exert their utmost to create harmony in their homes and a situation which at least is not bad for their children. But if, after prayer and self-sacrificing effort, this proves quite impossible, then they may resort to divorce.

(10 November 1943)

2322. Marriage is, in the "Aqdas", set forth as a most sacred and binding tie, and the Baha'is should realize that divorce is viewed as a last resort, to be avoided at all costs if possible and not to be lightly granted.

(17 October 1944) <p449>

2323. He feels that you and your wife should do everything in your power to produce a harmonious relationship between you and avoid divorce by all means, if possible. The Baha'i attitude is that marriage is a very serious and sacred relationship and divorce a last resort to be avoided if humanly possible.

(10 August 1945)

2324. He was very sorry to hear that you and your husband are still so unhappy together. It is always a source of sorrow in life when married people cannot get on well together, but the Guardian feels that you and your husband, in contemplating divorce, should think of the future of your children and how this major step on your part will influence their lives and happiness.

If you feel the need of advice and consultation he suggests you consult your Local Assembly; your fellow Baha'is will surely do all they can to counsel and help you, protect your interests and those of the Cause.

(16 November 1945)

2325. The Guardian has the impression that your husband is a fine man, and he is very pleased to hear you two are arranging to be reunited. He feels very strongly that Baha'is, if possible, more especially Baha'is who serve the Cause as actively and conspicuously as you and your family do, should set the newer believers and the young Baha'is a high example in every way. As Baha'u'llah was so very much against divorce (even though He permits it) and considered marriage a most sacred responsibility, believers should do everything in their power to preserve the marriages they have contracted, and to make of them exemplary unions, governed by the noblest motives.

(19 October 1947)

2326. Baha'u'llah has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Baha'i marriage. This applies whether the parents are Baha'is or non-Baha'is, divorced for years or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator. We Baha'is must realize that in present-day <p450> society the exact opposite process is taking place: young people care less and less for their parents' wishes, divorce is considered a natural right, and obtained on the flimsiest and most unwarrantable and shabby pretexts. People separated from each other, especially if one of them has had full custody of the children, are only too willing to belittle the importance of the partner in marriage also responsible as a parent for bringing those children into this world. The Baha'is must, through rigid adherence to the Baha'i laws and teachings, combat these corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society.

(25 October 1947 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

2327. There is no doubt about it that the believers in America, probably unconsciously influenced by the extremely lax morals prevalent and the flippant attitude towards divorce which seems to be increasingly prevailing, do not take divorce seriously enough and do not seem to grasp the fact that although Baha'u'llah has permitted it, He has only permitted it as a last resort and strongly condemns it.

The presence of children, as a factor in divorce, cannot be ignored, for surely it places an even greater weight of moral responsibility on the man and wife in considering such a step. Divorce under such circumstances no longer just concerns them and their desires and feelings but also concerns the children's entire future and their own attitude towards marriage.

As to whether you and Mr.... should now divorce: this is a matter which so intimately concerns you both, your children, and your future that he does not feel he can do more than point out to you what he has stated above. The decision must rest with you both.

(19 December 1947)

2328. Divorce should be avoided most strictly by the believers, and only under rare and urgent circumstances be resorted to. Modern society is criminally lax as to the sacred nature of marriage, and the believers must combat this trend assiduously.

(5 January 1948) <p451>

2329. He was sorry to hear of the inharmony and unhappiness which has arisen in your home, and he assures you he will pray for its removal.

He suggests to you that perhaps you are not giving your husband enough of your love, physically and spiritually, to keep his interest centred in you. Marriage problems are often very involved and subtle, and we Baha'is, being enlightened and progressive people, should not hesitate, if it seems necessary or desirable, to turn to science for help in such matters. If you and your husband talked over your problems -- together or separately -- with a good physician you might find that you can cure your own husband, or at least try to do so. It is a great pity that two believers, united in this glorious Cause, and blessed with a family, should not be able to live together really harmoniously, and he feels you should take constructive action and not allow the situation to get worse. When the shadow of separation hangs over a husband and wife they should leave no stone unturned in their effort to avert its becoming a reality.

He urges you both to devote more of your time to teaching the Cause and to pray together that Baha'u'llah may give you a real and lasting love for each other.

(5 July 1949)

2330. He was very sorry to hear that you are contemplating separation from your husband. As you no doubt know, Baha'u'llah considers the marriage bond very sacred; and only under very exceptional and unbearable circumstances is divorce advisable for Baha'is.

The Guardian does not tell you that you must not divorce your husband; but he does urge you to consider prayerfully, not only because you are a believer and anxious to obey the laws of God, but also for the sake of the happiness of your children, whether it is not possible for you to rise above the limitations you have felt in your marriage hitherto, and make a go of it together. We often feel that our happiness lies in a certain direction; and yet, if we have to pay too heavy a price for it in the end we may discover that we have not really purchased either freedom or happiness, but just some new situation of frustration and disillusion.

(5 April 1951) <p452>

2331. 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.

(6 March 1953)

2332. What the Baha'is must do is not commit adultery if they are married, and refrain from sexual intimacy before marriage. It is not a sin in the Baha'i Faith if you do not marry, but marriage is recommended to the believers by Baha'u'llah.

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 everlasting, and not merely physical bonds of human relationship.

(4 December 1954)

2333. He has been very sorry to hear that your marriage seems to have failed utterly. I need not tell you as a Baha'i that every effort should be made by any Baha'i to salvage their marriage for the sake of God, rather than for their own sake. In the case of pioneers, it is even more important, because they are before the public eye. However, in such matters it is neither befitting nor right that the Guardian should bring pressure on individuals. He can only appeal to you and ... to try again; but if you cannot rise to this test, that is naturally a personal matter.

(13 January 1956) <p453>

2334. The Guardian will pray for the solution of your problems. He will pray for the healing of your son, and for the happiness and unity of your family. The true basis of unity is service, and he hopes all the members will arise with renewed effort to teach the Faith.

(6 September 1956)

2335. Wherever 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.

(9 November 1956 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

Extracts from Letters Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice[1]
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]

2336. In considering the problems that you and your wife are experiencing, the House of Justice points out that the unity of your family should take priority over any other consideration. Baha'u'llah came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, we must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it. For example, service to the Cause should not produce neglect of the family. It is important for you to arrange your time so that your family life is harmonious and your household receives the attention it requires.

Baha'u'llah also stressed the importance of consultation. We should not think this worthwhile method of seeking solutions is confined to the administrative institutions of the Cause. Family consultation employing full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict. Wives should not attempt to dominate their husbands, nor husbands their wives....

(1 August 1978)

2337. You letter ... describing the difficulties confronting your family distressed the Universal House of Justice and we are requested to convey the following to you. <p454>

Noting that you and your husband have consulted about your family problems with your Spiritual Assembly but did not receive any advice, and also discussed your situation with a family counsellor without success, the House of Justice feels it most essential for your husband and you to understand that marriage can be a source of well-being, conveying a sense of security and spiritual happiness. However, it is not something that just happens. For marriage to become a haven of contentment it requires the cooperation of the marriage partners themselves, and the assistance of their families. You mention your concern over your eldest daughter. It is suggested that you include her and perhaps your younger children in family consultations. As Baha'is we understand the importance of the consultative process and we should not feel it is to be used only by the Spiritual Assemblies.

(24 June 1979)

2338. Irreconcilable antipathy arising between the parties to a marriage is not merely a lack of love for one's spouse but an antipathy which cannot be resolved. It is for the Spiritual Assembly to decide whether this condition exists before it sets the date for the beginning of the year of waiting, and this it may do on the application of one of the parties. It is not affected by the other party's not wishing to apply for a divorce.

The date for the beginning of the year of waiting having been fixed, it is the obligation of the parties to make every effort to reconcile their differences and to try to preserve the marriage. The Spiritual Assembly has the obligation to offer them every assistance in this regard ...

...

Obviously, seeking the assistance of one's Spiritual Assembly is a part of the Baha'i divorce procedure, and the parties concerned should consult with the Assembly about their problems. It is within the discretion of the parties, or either of them, to also avail themselves of professional marriage counsellors.

(12 July 1979)

2339. Your letter of ... to the Universal House of Justice makes clear that you are seeking to re-establish your marriage through study of the Writings and through various modes of consultation and assistance. We are asked to convey its advice on this vital subject of reconciliation of <p455> partners in marriage in the context of understanding of yourself and your relationship to others.

You are urged to persevere in your studies, in your prayers for resolution of your problems, and in your meditation which may provide guidance and confidence, inasmuch as the understanding of self and of relationships to others are contained in the Writings and in the example of the Master, 'Abdu'l-Baha.

Neither you nor your husband should hesitate to continue consulting professional marriage counsellors, individually and together if possible, and also to take advantage of the supportive counselling which can come from wise and mature friends. Non-Baha'i counselling can be useful but it is usually necessary to temper it with Baha'i insight.

You ask how to deal with anger. The 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 ones, and to endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. Such passages as the following extracts from letters written on behalf of the beloved Guardian will be helpful:

There are qualities in everyone which we can appreciate and admire, and for which we can love them; and perhaps, if you determine to think only of these qualities which your husband possesses, this will help to improve the situation .... You should turn your thoughts away from the things which upset you, and constantly pray to Baha'u'llah to help you. Then you will find how that pure love, enkindled by God, which burns in the soul when we read and study the Teachings, will warm and heal, more than anything else. 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 ....

(17 July 1979)

2340. 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, <p456> one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to a 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...."

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....

(28 December 1980 to a National Spiritual Assembly)

2341. You have asked, however, for specific rules of conduct to govern the relationships of husbands and wives. This the House of Justice does not wish to do, and it feels that there is already adequate guidance included in the compilation on this subject; for example, the principle that the rights of each and all in the family unit must be upheld, and the advice that loving consultation should be the keynote, that all matters must be settled in harmony and love, and that there are times when the husband and wife should defer to the wishes of the other. Exactly under what circumstances such deference should take place is a matter for each couple to determine. If, God forbid, they fail to agree, and their disagreement leads to estrangement, they should seek counsel from those they trust and in whose sincerity and sound judgement they have confidence, in order to preserve and strengthen their ties as a united family.

(16 May 1982)

2342. Concerning the definition of the term "aversion" in relation to Baha'i divorce law, the Universal House of Justice points out that there are no specific "grounds" for Baha'i divorce such as there are in some codes of civil law. Baha'i law permits divorce but, as both Baha'u'llah and <p457> 'Abdu'l-Baha have made very clear, divorce is abhorred. Thus, from the point of view of the individual believer he should do all he can to refrain from divorce. Baha'is should be profoundly aware of the sanctity of marriage and should strive to make their marriages an eternal bond of unity and harmony. This requires effort and sacrifice and wisdom and self-abnegation. A Baha'i should consider the possibility of divorce only if the situation is intolerable and he or she has a strong aversion to being married to the other partner. This is a standard held up to the individual. It is not a law, but an exhortation. It is a goal to which we should strive.

From the point of view of the Spiritual Assembly, however, the matter is somewhat different. The Spiritual Assembly should always be concerned that the believers in its community are being deepened in their understanding of the Baha'i concept of marriage, especially the young people, so that the very thought of divorce will be abhorrent to them.... It can be seen, therefore, that "aversion" is not a specific legal term that needs to be defined. Indeed a number of other terms are used in describing the situation that can lead to divorce in Baha'i law, such as "antipathy", "resentment", "estrangement", "impossibility of establishing harmony" and "irreconcilability". The texts, however, point out that divorce is strongly condemned, should be viewed as "a last resort" when "rare and urgent circumstances" exist, and that the partner who is the "cause of divorce" will "unquestionably" become the "victim of formidable calamities".

(3 November 1982)

2343. When an application for divorce is made to a Spiritual Assembly, its first thought and action should be to reconcile the couple and to ensure that they know the Baha'i teachings on the matter. God willing, the Assembly will be successful and no year of waiting need be started. However, if the Assembly finds that it is unable to persuade the party concerned to withdraw the application for divorce, it must conclude that, from its point of view, there appears to be an irreconcilable antipathy, and it has no alternative to setting the date for the beginning of the year of waiting. During the year the couple have the responsibility of attempting to reconcile their differences, and the Assembly has the duty to help them and encourage them. But if the year of waiting comes to an <p458> end without reconciliation the Baha'i divorce must be granted as at the date of the granting of the civil divorce if this has not already taken place.

(6 May 1987)

2344. It is clear that the Baha'i teachings call for an absolute standard of fidelity in the relationship between husband and wife. An excerpt from a letter dated 28 September 1941 to an individual believer written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, quoted in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973", page 108, states:

The question you raise as to the place in one's life that a deep bond of love with someone we meet other than our husband or wife can have is easily defined in view of the teachings. Chastity implies both before and after marriage an unsullied, chaste sex life. Before marriage absolutely chaste, after marriage absolutely faithful to one's chosen companion. Faithful in all sexual acts, faithful in word and in deed.

It is also evident from Baha'i teachings that no husband should subject his wife to abuse of any kind, and that such a reprehensible action is the antithesis of the relationship of mutual respect and equality enjoined by the Baha'i writings -- a relationship governed by the principles of consultation and devoid of the use of force to compel obedience to one's will.

(22 July 1987)

2345. The House of Justice advises you to continue the strenuous efforts you are making to overcome the difficulties in your marriage. It is pleased to note that you and your husband have turned to the Local Spiritual Assembly for guidance and have sought help from a Baha'i who is a marriage counsellor. Such endeavours, when combined with a strong and determined effort, improve greatly the prospects that your marriage can be maintained. However, it must also be borne in mind that the fact that Baha'u'llah has permitted divorce is, no doubt, an indication that in certain circumstances it is unavoidable. If your earnest efforts to maintain your marriage do not yield the desired result, you should not be distraught.

(28 April 1989) <p459>

2346. The House of Justice is distressed to learn that you and your husband are continuing to experience marital difficulties. It has frequently advised believers in such situations to turn to the Spiritual Assemblies for advice and counsel, and to follow this advice in their efforts to preserve the unity of their marital relationship. It has been found useful in many instances to also seek the assistance of competent professional marriage counsellors, who can provide useful insights and guidance in the use of constructive measures to bring about a greater degree of unity.

(17 July 1989)

2347. ... no husband should subject his wife to abuse of any kind, whether emotional, mental or physical....

When a Baha'i wife finds herself in such a situation and feels it cannot be resolved through consultation with her husband, she could well turn to the Local Spiritual Assembly for advice and guidance, and might also find it highly advantageous to seek the assistance of competent professional counsellors. If the husband is also a Baha'i, the Local Spiritual Assembly can bring to his attention the need to avoid abusive behaviour and can, if necessary, take firm measures to encourage him to conform to the admonitions of the teachings. There have been many instances in which a couple, through a consecrated and determined effort, aided by the power of prayer and the advice of experts, succeeded in overcoming seemingly insuperable obstacles to their reconciliation and in reconstructing a strong foundation for their marriage. There are also innumerable examples of individuals who have been able to effect drastic and enduring changes in their behaviour, through drawing on the spiritual powers available by the bounty of God. As you know, in the Baha'i Faith, divorce is discouraged and should be resorted to only when a prolonged effort to effect reconciliation has been unsuccessful. However, it should also be noted that divorce is permissible when an irreconcilable antipathy exists between the two parties to the marriage.

(6 August 1989)

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