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Japan Will Turn Ablaze!

by Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and Universal House of Justice

compiled by Barbara R. Sims.
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Chapter 11

Letters and Cable to the Bahá'ís
of Japan in the Early Days,

My well-beloved brethren and sisters in `Abdu'l-Bahá: —

Despondent and sorrowful, though I be in these darksome days, yet whenever I call to mind the hopes our departed Master so confidently reposed in the friends in that Far-Eastern land, hope revives within me and drives away the gloom of His bereavement. As His attendant and secretary for well-nigh two years after the termination of the Great War, I recall so vividly the radiant joy that transfigured His Face wherever I opened before Him your supplications as well as those of Miss Agnes Alexander. What promises He gave us all regarding the future of the Cause in that land at the close of almost every supplication I read to Him! Let me state, straightway, the most emphatic, the most inspiring of them all. These are His very words, that still keep ringing in my ears; — "Japan will turn ablaze! Japan is endowed with a most remarkable capacity for the spread of the Cause of God! Japan, with (another country whose name He stated but bade us conceal it for the present) will take the lead in the spiritual reawakening of the peoples and nations that the world shall soon witness!" On another occasion, — how vividly I recall it! — as He reclined on His chair, with eyes closed with bodily fatigue, He waved His hand and uttered vigorously and cheerfully these words in the presence of His friends: — "Here we are seated calm, quiet and inactive, but the Hand of the Unseen is ever active and triumphant in lands, even as distant as Japan."

My dear and steadfast friends! Now if ever is the time for you and for us to show, by our unity, service, steadfastness and courage, the spirit that the Master has throughout His lifetime so laboriously, so persistently kindled in our hearts. Now is the time for us to prove ourselves worthy of His love for us, His trust in us and His hopes for us. Japan, He said, will turn ablaze. Let us not, in any way, whatsoever, retard the realization of His promise. Nay, let us hasten, through our service, cooperation and efforts the advent of this glorious day.

The bereaved Ladies of the Holy Household, receive with comfort and refreshing gladness any news that may come to them from that wonderful and distant land. They all know what the Master has


graciously spoken about the future of the Cause in that land. They all expect from it a rapid transformation, a spiritual transformation even more sudden and startling than its material progress and advancement, for the Power of God can achieve wonders still greater than those the brilliant minds of the Japanese can achieve. This they firmly believe, for more than once, the Master has spoken of the spiritual potentialities hidden in the nature of these capable people. They all await with eagerness the joyful-tidings that your letters to them shall bear in future.

We all wish so much to know more about you, about your little rising Bahá'í community, your number, your meetings, your activities, your difficulties, your plans, your distribution all over Japan and the neighbouring islands. We shall all pray for you most fervently and in a special manner at all the three Hallowed Shrines and beseech the Master, under whose wings we are all, to guide you, to sustain you in your work for Him.

I shall never fail to send you all the news I receive from different parts of the Bahá'í world that you may know of the efforts and triumphs our brethren, the loved ones of `Abdu'l-Bahá, are achieving and will achieve after Him.

Persia, the leading nation in the Bahá'í world, today will, I am confident, through its centre, Tihran, communicate with you all, that the East and West, even as our Beloved One has so much wished it, may become even as one.

The letter our dear sister, Miss Agnes Alexander, had written to Mr. Fujita, gave us such a joy and was read at the sorrowful gathering of His friends, in the very room He used to receive His friends and meet them every night.

Ever awaiting your joyful news,

I am, your devoted brother in His love and service,


(January 26, 1922)

To the believers in Japan care Agnes Alexander. Refreshed and reassured I now stretch to you across the distant seas my hand of brotherly cooperation in the Cause of Bahá.


(cable dated December 15, 1922)


Dear friends, the chosen ones of `Abdu'l-Bahá in that Far Eastern land!

Having brought to an end my long hours of retirement and meditation, one of my first thoughts upon my return to these hallowed surroundings has been to inquire after the well-being and spiritual happiness of my far-away fellow-workers who toil and labour in those remote regions of the earth for the blessed Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. How great was my joy when I learned that you were well safe and happy, content and determined, untiring in your labours and hopeful of the future!

That my sudden withdrawal from the field of active service would leave you undeterred in your activities, would never damp your tender hopes nor shake your resolution to stand firmly for the Cause, I never doubted as I knew well the indelible marks of loyalty and steadfastness which the words of our beloved Master have wrought in your lives. I am equally certain that now when we join hands again in carrying the Cause of God a stage yet further, your assistance wholehearted as ever before will give it a fresh impetus that will lead to the establishment of throbbing centres of spiritual activity in those outlying regions of the world.

Japan, a land so richly endowed, so alert and progressive, so quick in its grasp of realities of life, is now the recipient of a Divine Bestowal, greater, richer and more enduring than any material gift she has ever enjoyed in modern times. What blissful thought to remember that you are the chosen ones that shall establish the Kingdom of God in that land; that you are the pioneers of a Work that will endure and supersede all the other achievements, however meritorious and brilliant, of your fellow-countrymen for Japan.

I pray that your vision of the vast opportunities that are yours may never be dimmed; that your efforts to realize that vision may never slacken and that the gracious aid of Bahá'u'lláh may never be withheld from you all through your sacred mission in this world.

And now in conclusion, let us not forget those ringing words of the Beloved, uttered with such force and emphasis: — "The Fire of the Love of God shall assuredly set Japan afire!" and let us arise, now at this moment, with increased and renewed confidence in His Sayings that we may assure and hasten the advent of so glorious an era in the history of that ancient land.

With my best wishes to every one of you

I am your brother and fellow-worker,


(December 17, 1922)


The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful in Japan: Susumu Aibara, E. Tanakamuru, Y.S. Lo, K.C. Ling, N. Yawata, Y. Ishigumo, H.C. Waung, M. Hataya, E. Noguchi, F. Takahashi, Ida Finch, Agnes Alexander, K. Sawada, Kenjiro Ono, Tokujiro Torii. Dearest brethren and sisters in Bahá'u'lláh!

The most welcome letter of our dearly beloved Bahá'í sister, Miss Agnes Alexander, imparting the glad news of the progress of her glorious services in Japan has rejoiced my heart, and has served to strengthen my hope and confidence in the future glories of that far eastern land.

The Ladies of the Holy Household are highly gratified and comforted to learn of your untiring labours in His Vineyard, of the success that has attended your efforts, of the perseverance and ardour with which you conduct your teaching work in those distant regions of the earth. `Abdu'l-Bahá is with you always and your success is assured!

May the visit of our beloved sister, Miss Martha Root, to your shores stimulate widespread interest in the Cause throughout Japan, China and the Pacific Islands, and consolidate the foundation of the Edifice of the Cause in those far-eastern regions. I shall ever pray at the Three Holy Thresholds that the seeds now scattered bear abundant fruit and the promise of our beloved Master be speedily fulfilled.

I shall remember in my prayers Mr. and Mrs. Sam Baldwin and their children, as well as Mrs. and Miss Cramer, and wish them from all my heart signal success in their noble endeavours to promote far and wide the Heavenly Teachings.

It is my earnest hope that the friends in Japan will from now on write me frequent and detailed letters, setting forth the account of their various spiritual activities and giving me the plans for their future services to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.

Our devoted brother, Mr. Fujita, is well and happy in the Holy Land, and together with the Ladies of the Household and myself is engaged in the service of the various pilgrims that visit in these days this sacred Spot. He is faithfully and actively carrying on the work which he has started so whole-heartedly during the Master's last years on earth.

I trust that the letters addressed to you by the newly-constituted Spiritual Assembly in Haifa have contributed their share in informing you more fully of the onward and irresistible march of the Movement throughout the world.

Awaiting your joyful letters,

I am your brother and fellow-worker,


(May 10, 1923)


To Miss Alexander

Shoghi Effendi has very kindly instructed me to acknowledge receipt of the letter dated April 9th by the following dearly loved friends in the great Cause of El Abhá in Tokyo, K. Sawada, H. Tanaka, Ida Finch, Ei Noguchi, Y. S. Ling, K. S. Ling, Yoshio Nakamura, Fumi Sato, Yuri Takao, B. Enomoto.

The few expressions of devotion by each one of them on one sheet of paper speak out for themselves of the unity and love that exists between the Bahá'í friends of Tokyo and express in a most vivid form the Bahá'í spirit and teachings which indeed above all stand out for unity and love amongst mankind.

Shoghi Effendi is deeply impressed by the letters, and earnestly hopes to see the Bahá'ís of Japan from whom he will anxiously expect to hear, increase their efforts and spread out the Bahá'í teachings all over Japan for the good of mankind.

I hope our dear sister Miss Martha Root has safely arrived and that by the grace of the Almighty her stay will be productive of great results.

(May 22, 1923)

To Mr. Susumu Aibara

My dear brother in God!

Your welcome letter has rejoiced my heart. I am sending you some Bahá'í literature which I trust will guide and assist you in your work. I shall be delighted to hear from you directly and regularly and please rest assured of my deep interest in your work and of my fervent prayers for the success of your labours.

Your brother and well-wisher,


(October 22, 1925)

To the Bahá'ís of Tokyo

Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge receipt of your joint letter enclosed in Miss Alexander's note. Shoghi Effendi hopes that through the combined efforts of the Bahá'ís of Tokyo, the Cause will establish a strong center in that city and then begin and radiate its spiritual light to neighboring localities. Now that Miss Root is with you, you should endeavor to awaken new competent souls and then when she is gone strive to ground them firmly in the teachings.

(signed by Ruhi Afnan)

(January 12, 1930)


(in the Guardian's handwriting)

Assuring you of my fervent prayers for you all at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh.

Your true brother, Shoghi

To Miss Agnes Alexander, Miss Martha Root, Mrs. Antoinette Naganuma, Miss Elizabeth Dawe

He (the Guardian) was very happy to hear of your very nice and interesting gathering when Miss Martha Root was there. He sincerely hopes that her short stay will bear wonderful fruits and be the cause of guidance to many souls. Such persons who travel from one country to another, meeting the friends and exchanging thoughts with them, achieve a great part in strengthening the link between the new friends in different parts of the world. They give a new spirit and impart courage and perseverance to those who feel disappointed and overwhelmed by the greatness of the task laid before them.

(signed by Ruhi Afnan)

(December 24, 1930)

To Mr. Tokujiro Torii

I am directed by Shoghi Effendi to write and express his great pleasure over the receipt of your kind and happy letter of January 2.

He was very happy to hear from you, to learn that you are well and increasingly enthusiastic about the Bahá'í Faith. He prays from the bottom of his heart that the Almighty may help and strengthen you to render valuable services to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and also to assist the cause of the blind which is in itself a great Bahá'í service.

He deeply regrets that you are handicapped by your early loss of eyesight, but a spiritual light illuminates and guides you and through it, he hopes you will become a channel to His Grace.

It is unfortunate that despite the eager and persistent endeavors of our devoted sister Miss Agnes Alexander, no permanent and thriving centre has yet been established in Japan. But he trusts that soon a special endeavor will be made to establish an active group who will be able to translate the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and make them known to the people of Japan.

With the assurance of Shoghi Effendi's affection and prayers for you, also to Miss Alexander, and of his hope that you will someday come to Haifa.

(signed by Soheil Afnan)


(in the Guardian's handwriting)

With the assurance of my fervent prayers at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh for your happiness, your success and spiritual advancement.

Your true brother, Shoghi

(March 5, 1931)

Our Guardian has been overjoyed to hear of your gathering at the library of Dr. Masujima and to receive your very kind messages written on that occasion.

Both the Master and Shoghi Effendi have always cherished great hopes for the Bahá'í Faith in Japan. They have felt that only through the broad spiritual outlook which the Faith provides can the Japanese people introduce true spiritual enlightenment in their fast developing civilization. Hence Shoghi Effendi's great pleasure to hear from you and learn of your increasing interest in and enthusiasm for the Cause.

(signed by Soheil Afnan)

(June 20, 1931)

Dear and valued co-workers:

Your message has imparted an indefinable joy to my heart and cheered me in my arduous task. Persevere in your efforts for the spread of our beloved Faith, and rest assured that my prayers will continue to be offered in your behalf. I cherish the brightest hopes for the extension of your deeply valued activities and will supplicate the Almighty to bless and sustain your high endeavors.

Your true brother, Shoghi

(January 9, 1932)


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