Includes extracts regarding electronic communication with Covenant-Breakers.
Also available as a nicely-formatted PDF
, prepared by Romane Takkenberg.
Prepared by the Baha'i World Center and sent to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'is of Alaska, Canada, and the United States, dated December 7 1999.
WRITINGS OF BAHA'U'LLAH
- "Protect yourselves with utmost vigilance, lest you be entrapped in the
snare of deception and fraud." This is the advice of the Pen of
Destiny. "Therefore, to avoid these people will be the nearest path by which to
attain the divine good pleasure; because their breath is infectious, like unto
"Endeavor to your utmost to protect yourselves, because Satan appears
in different robes and appeals to everyone according to each person's own way,
until he becomes like unto him -- then he will leave him alone."
"...If you detect in any man the least perceptible breath of violation, shun
him and keep away from him." Then He says: "Verily, they are manifestations of
(Bahá'í World Faith, p. 431)
WRITINGS OF ABDU'L-BAHA
- Bahá'u'lláh, in all the Tablets and Epistles, forbade the true and firm
friends from associating and meeting the violators of the Covenant of His
Holiness, the Báb, saying that no one should go near them because their
breath is like the poison of the snake that kills instantly.
(Bahá'í World Faith, p. 430)
- And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of
God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly
destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all
efforts exerted in the past.
(Bahá'í World Faith, p. 448)
- My object is to show that the Hands of the Cause of God must be ever watchful
and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the
guardian of the Cause of God, cast him out from the congregation of the people
of Bahá and in no wise accept any excuse from him. How often hath grievous
error been disguised in the garb of truth, that it might sow the seeds of doubt
in the hearts of men!
(Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 12)
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITING OF SHOGHI EFFENDI AND LETTERS ON HIS BEHALF
- With regard to avoiding association with declared
Covenant-breakers, Shoghi Effendi says that this does not mean that if one or
more of these attends a non-Bahá'í meeting any Bahá'ís present should feel
compelled to leave the meeting or to refuse to take part in the meeting,
especially if that part has been pre-arranged. Also if in the course of some
business transaction it should become necessary to negotiate with one of these
people, in order to clear up the business, that is permissible, provided the
association is confined to the matter of the business in hand. It is different
if one of these people should come to a Bahá'í meeting. Then it would become
necessity to ask him in a most tactful and dignified way to leave the meeting
as Bahá'ís are forbidden to associate with him.
(From a letter dated 16 May 1925 written on behalf of the Guardian to an
- You must of course send Avarih (a Covenant-breaker) his title deed
through the Qamsar Local Spiritual Assembly, as it is his right. The friends
must have full regard for his rights inasmuch as civil rights have no relation
whatsoever to the beliefs of individuals. The Bahá'ís must be free and
sanctified from religious prejudice and from ignorant fanaticism.
(From a letter to a Local Spiritual Assembly dated 15 February 1929 --
Translated from the Persian)
- Regarding Mr....'s question about the Covenant-breakers:
Bahá'u'lláh and the Master in many places and very emphatically have told us to
shun entirely all Covenant-breakers as they are afflicted with what we might
try and define as a contagious spiritual disease; they have also told us,
however, to pray for them. These souls are not lost forever. In the "Aqdas",
Bahá'u'lláh says that God will forgive Mirza Yahya if he repents. It follows
therefore that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don't want
to repent, unfortunately. If the leaders can be forgiven it goes without saying
that their followers can also be forgiven....Also, it has nothing to do with
unity in the Cause; if a man cuts a cancer out of his body to preserve his
health and very life, no one would suggest that for the sake of "unity" it
should be reintroduced into the otherwise healthy organism! On the contrary,
what was once a part of him has so radically changed as to have become a
(From a letter dated 30 November 1944 written on behalf of the Guardian to an
- There is no excuse for believers continuing to associate with ...
and those who, knowing everything, still insist on doing so, should be shunned
by their fellow-Bahá'ís. The same applies to people who have left the Cause and
associate with ... The point is that if the believers know and meet with people
who are acquainted with Covenant-breakers there is no harm in this, for such
individuals are not Bahá'ís and have nothing to do with the issues concerned.
But those who have left the Cause, knowing all about such matters, and
deliberately associate with Covenant-breakers, are well aware of what they do,
and we must not associate with them at all. It is for the Local Assembly,
guided by the National Spiritual Assembly, to enforce such decisions and the
Cause in its area of jurisdiction.
The friends should, without too much dwelling on these negative things, be
made to understand that some people are spiritually sick and that their disease
is, alas, contagious. Some recover from it, as did ... whose heart could not
rest till he returned to the fold; others do not. The Master and Bahá'u'lláh
have taught us that associating with these souls is not likely to heal them at
all, but on the contrary exposes one to grave danger of contagion. The history
of the Faith has proved this over and over again.
The only way we can prove to such people that they are wrong is to censure
their conduct; if we sympathize with them we only fortify their perversity and
(From a letter dated 23 January 1945 written on behalf of the Guardian to
- It is better not to read books by Covenant-breakers because they
are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But
books by well-meaning yet unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as
to refute their charges.
(From a letter dated 19 March 1946 written on behalf of the Guardian to an
- He is very happy to know your dear sister is now happier, and more
like her old self and the dark thoughts she had have been dispelled. Covenant-breaking is truly a spiritual disease, and the whole viewpoint and attitude of
a Covenant-breaker is so poisonous that the Master likened it to leprosy, and
warned the friends to breathe the same air was dangerous. This should not be
taken literally; He meant when you are close enough to breathe the same air you
are close enough to contact their corrupting influence. Your sister should
never imagine she, loyal and devoted, has become a "carrier".
(From a letter dated 29 July 1946 written on behalf of the Guardian to an
- He noted the report of ... about her meeting with the grandchild of
Subh-i Azal. He feels that the friends should as much as possible avoid her, as
it is very unlikely she has anything but prejudice against Bahá'u'lláh, in view
of her background.
(From a letter dated 24 October 1947 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- No intelligent and loyal Bahá'í would associate with a descendant
of Azal, if he traced the slightest breath of criticism of our Faith, in any
aspect, from that person. In fact these people should be strenuously avoided as
having an inherited spiritual disease -- the disease of Covenant-breaking!
Certainly such matters should be brought to the attention of the Assembly or
National Spiritual Assembly within whose jurisdiction they occur.
(From letter dated 9 December 1948 to an individual believer)
- Whenever we find a person who opposes some fundamental of our
Faith, such as the Institution of the Guardianship, we must first be sure this is
not due to ignorance or lack of proper training, before we take action. We must
not suppose immediately that that person is necessarily tainted by the spirit
of Covenant-breakers. If, however, this should prove to be the case, then
strong action must be taken by the Assembly.
(From a letter date 24 June 1948 written on behalf of the Guardian to an
- The friends are sometimes surprisingly naive and superficial in
their approach to the subject of Covenant-breakers. They do not seem to
understand that the descendants of Azal, with their mother's milk, drank hatred
of Bahá'u'lláh, just as the descendants of Muhammad-Ali and his relatives have
imbibed from babyhood a false concept of the Master. It takes practically a
miracle to overcome this lifelong habit of wrong thought. Now, however, he has
told the German believers to shun her.
(From a letter dated 18 August 1949 written on behalf of the Guardian to a
National Spiritual Assembly)
- A Covenant-breaker, as you know, is one who disobeys and turns away
from the Centre of the Covenant. Until such time as they repent of this
sincerely, and express their willingness to work under the Centre of the
Covenant, their status must be considered the same. However, such matter should
be discussed and decided upon within the National Spiritual Assembly itself.
(From a letter dated 16 March 1953 written on behalf of the Guardian to an
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS AND MESSAGES OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
- ...children of Covenant-breakers, who have grown up with and still
associate with their parents, are probably thoroughly infused with the
Covenant-breaking spirit, and the friends must not associate with them until
the Hands of the Cause have ascertained that these children have understood the
sin of their parents and dissociated themselves from them.
(From letter dated 5 February 1969 to an individual believer)
- It should be explained that descendants of Covenant-breakers who
have not positively repudiated their forebears and sought readmittance to the
Cause should be viewed with caution as they may well have received the poison
of Covenant-breaking from their parents and would then have to be shunned by
(From memorandum to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land dated 2 December
- The danger of meeting with children of Covenant-breakers is that
even although they may never have been declared Bahá'ís there is
always the likelihood that they have been strongly indoctrinated by their
parents with the poison of Covenant-breaking.
(From a letter dated 9 June 1974 to an individual believer)
- The Bahá'í students who go to schools which children of
Covenant-breakers attend should be made, lovingly and wisely, to understand
that as Bahá'ís they cannot and must not choose children of
Covenant-breakers as their personal friends, without making the matter into an
open issue before the school. Thus, there should be no hard and fast rule to
the effect that no Bahá'í child should be enrolled in a school
where children of Covenant-breakers are also enrolled, or that they should
leave a school as soon as a child of a Covenant-breaker enters it. The
important thing is to impress upon Bahá'í children that personal friendship and
individual companionship with children of Covenant- breakers must be avoided.
Should it be found that in a particular case the situation is such that the
policy outlined above cannot be followed, then in such cases, which we hope can
be kept to a minimum, it would be desirable for Bahá'í children to
(From a memorandum dated 22 January 1976 to the International Teaching Centre)
- YOUR REPORT FICICCHIA RECEIVED STOP IF COVENANT-BREAKER ATTENDS
PUBLIC MEETINGS HE SHOULD BE TREATED BY SPEAKER IN WISE MANNER SUCH AS USED BY
DR. ... STOP BAHAIS OTHER THAN CHAIRMAN AND SPEAKER SHOULD AVOID CONVERSATION
WITH HIM STOP SITUATION ILLUSTRATES VITAL IMPORTANCE DEEPENING COVENANT ALL
(Telegram dated 23 February 1976 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- In reply to your letter of April 19, 1977, enquiring whether ...
may receive financial assistance from her Covenant-breaking father, we are
instructed by the House of Justice to say that it feels, in the circumstances
set forth in your letter, that it would be inadvisable for ... to accept such
(From a letter dated 4 May 1977 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- The Universal House of Justice has requested us to acknowledge your
letter of 17 January 1978 and to say that ... need not feel guilty about
selling items from her shop to Mr...., or engaging, as your Assembly states, in
"distant business conversation" with him, should he call again at her shop.
(From a letter dated 14 February 1978 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
EXTRACTS REGARDING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION WITH COVENANT-BREAKERS
- Regarding your concerns about Covenant-breakers participating in
and posting material to the "Bahá'í Forum" on America Online (AOL), you should,
of course, scrupulously and impartially uphold the rules of AOL's "Religion and
Beliefs" area. You may warn the friends about interaction with
Covenant-breakers if you feel it to be appropriate and if you can do so without
violating the impartiality that you, as Forum manager, must demonstrate.
With respect to your concerns about your own contact with
Covenant-breakers, you should feel no trepidation at having to interact with
them in his particular situation and, if necessary, to read their postings. It
is suggested, however, that your contact with them be kept to a minimum, as
strictly required by your obligations as Forum manager. You will want to resist
any temptation to be drawn into discussions or consideration of the arguments
which they may advance.
(From a letter dated 28 May 1998 written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to an individual)
- More generally, while it is disconcerting that Covenant-breaker
material is being disseminated on the Internet, there is little that can or
should be done to directly oppose such dissemination. Rather, the greatest
protection to the Cause will be through ongoing deepening of the Bahá'í
community in the Covenant and the history and teachings of the Faith. An
important role that the Internet can play in this regard is to make authentic
Bahá'í literature, on the Covenant and on Bahá'í teachings generally, easily
(From a letter dated 19 December 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual)
- The House of Justice feels that, when Bahá'ís are
teaching in an online "chat room" and Covenant-breakers intrude upon the
discussion, the friends should not feel obliged to sign off simply because
Covenant-breakers are present in this virtual space. They should, however,
refrain from knowingly engaging the Covenant-breakers in discussions and, in
any case, should avoid being drawn into contentious or disputatious
(From a letter dated 27 October 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual)
- The Universal House of Justice has received your email message of
29 September 1997 regarding the Covenant-breaking material sent to your
personal email account.
The House of Justice is aware of such activities on the part of
Covenant-breakers, and while it is closely following this issue, it sees no
cause for undue concern. The friends should, of course, ignore any materials
produced by Covenant-breakers which they may receive unsolicited by email or
happen on while exploring the World Wide Web. With regard to your concerns over
the content of the message, you are advised to turn to your Local Spiritual
Assembly or an Auxiliary Board member for assistance in dealing with the
spurious claims advanced in that message.
The best countermeasure to Covenant-breaker initiatives and the greatest
protection for the Cause is for the believers to acquire a deeper appreciation
of the station and purpose of Bahá'u'lláh and to become
well-grounded in His Covenant.
(From a letter dated 7 October 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual)
- In principle, no person can be considered a Covenant-breaker unless
he has been so designated by the Head of the Faith. However, it is strongly
advised not to associate with those who have fallen under the pernicious
influence of groups such as the "Orthodox Bahá'ís". They are infected with the
spirit of Covenant-breaking, even if they are not all designated as such.
Accordingly, the friends should not answer queries from individuals who
obviously seek to draw them into the consideration of the spurious claims and
logic of the Covenant-breakers.
(From a letter dated 3 July 1997 written on
behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)
- Your faxed message dated 14 May 1997, requesting guidance
concerning the attention given by the friends to postings by Covenant-breakers
on the Internet, was received by the Universal House of Justice and referred to
our Department for reply. The House of Justice is aware of the electronic
postings on the Internet by Covenant-breakers. While it is closely following
this issue, it sees no cause for undue concern. "The Bahá'í
World", a Web site developed by the Bahá'í International Community's Office of
Public Information, was launched in July 1996. It, together with a range of
specialized Bahá'í Internet presentations such as the new "One
Country" site, now provides individuals interested in learning about the
Bahá'í Faith with a large and ever-expanding body of authentic
material on the Faith, attractively presented and illustrated. Sites maintained
by Covenant-breaker groups will have a diminishing impact in the context of the
information deluge on the Internet and against the background of the authorized
Bahá'í source now accessible.
The greatest protection to the Cause will, of course, be through ongoing
deepening of the Bahá'í community in the Covenant and the history
and teachings of the Faith. To facilitate this, you may wish to bring attention
to the availability of the Sacred Text on the Web site "The Bahá'í World" and
on the Bahá'í World Centre FTP server.
(From a letter dated 4 June 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- Your email of 11 April 1997 regarding contact through the Internet
between the friends and Covenant-breaker groups has been received by the
Universal House of Justice. It is not possible to provide you with a list of
Internet addresses of Covenant-breaker groups as you have requested, as no such
listing is being maintained at the Bahá'í World Centre at this time.
Any plans that you have to alert the friends to Covenant-breaker activity
on the Internet should, of course, be undertaken with wisdom and discretion so
as to avoid giving Covenant-breakers more attention or prominence than they
would otherwise receive.
(From a letter dated 4 May 1997 written on behalf of the Universal House of
Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
- Thus, if any participant in an email discussion feels that a view
put forward appears to contradict or undermine the provisions of the Covenant,
he should be free to say so, explaining candidly and courteously why he feels
as he does. The person who made the initial statement will then be able to
re-evaluate his opinion and, if he still believes it to be valid, he should be
able to explain why it is not contrary to either the letter or the spirit of
the Covenant. The participants in such a discussion should avoid disputation
and, if they are unable to resolve an issue, they should refer the point to the
Universal House of Justice since, in accordance with the Will and Testament of
'Abdu'l-Bahá, "By this body all the difficult problems are to be
resolved..." and it has the authority to decide upon "all problems which have
caused difference, questions that are obscure, and matters that are not
expressly recorded in the Book." In this way the Covenant can illuminate and
temper the discourse and make it fruitful.
(From a letter dated 16 February 1996 written on behalf of the Universal House
of Justice to an individual)
- There is an ever increasing use by believers of the Internet and
other available computer based means of communication. These open unlimited
possibilities for continuous proclamation and teaching, bringing the Creative
Word and the Sacred Writings as well as the ideas of individual believers to
hearts and mind everywhere. It also offers easy access to these same believers
by those whose purpose is to undermine their faith. By being constantly alert
we are able to encourage the use of this medium by the friends while ensuring
their protection from those who would prey on them.
(From a letter dated 11 May 1995 written by the International Teaching Centre
to a Continental Counsellor)
- Participation by enemies of the Faith or members of
Covenant-breaker groups may, indeed, occur in the dialogue on electronic
forums. It is not advisable for the institutions of the Faith or its individual
members to become directly involved in such discussion. It is neither wise nor
possible to interfere with postings on public forums, but if it is observed
that such activity is taking place on Bahá'í-only forums National
Assemblies should be alerted so that they may provide appropriate advice to the
administrator of the forum. The greatest protection to the Faith will not be
through intervention on either open or closed electronic forums, but through
ongoing deepening of the Bahá'í community in the Covenant and the
history and Teachings of the Faith.
(From a letter dated 24 February 1995 written by the International Teaching
Centre to a Continental Board of Counsellors)