"Other prayers for the dead are optional, but if used they are to be used as revealed."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 17, 1967)
661. Prayer for the Dead to be Recited by One Believer
"The Prayer for the Dead is the only Bahá'í obligatory prayer which is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand in silence. Bahá'u'lláh has clarified that the Prayer for the Dead is required only when the deceased is an adult, that the recital should precede the interment of the deceased, and that there is no requirement to face the Qiblih when saying this prayer."
(Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 10)
662. Non-Bahá'ís Can Be Present When Long Prayer for the Dead is Read
"There is no objection whatsoever to non-Bahá'ís being present when the long prayer for the dead is read, as long as they respect our manner of reading it by rising and standing as the Bahá'ís do on this occasion. Nor, indeed, is there any objection to non-Bahá'ís being present during the reading of any Bahá'í prayer for the departed."
(From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946)
663. Prayer for the Dead--Special Conditions
"The Prayer for the Dead should be recited at the funeral if the deceased is 15 years old or more. If there is no one at the funeral able to read, it is sufficient to say only that part of the Prayer which requires the repetition nineteen times of each of six short verses.
"The body must be placed in the grave in such a position that the feet point towards Akka (the Qiblih)."
(From a statement prepared by a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa and approved by the Universal House of Justice on June 14, 1982)
664. Any Prayer May Be Said for a Woman--Text Must Not Change
"In connection with the question you asked about the prayer for the dead: any of the prayers which were originally revealed for a man or a woman can be said for the opposite sex, but the text must not be changed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 10, 1946)
665. Memorial Gatherings
"As you know, the offering of prayers on behalf of the departed, whether Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, is encouraged in our teachings, as such prayers are conducive to the progress of their souls in the world beyond. As to the holding of memorial gatherings at regular intervals, there is nothing in the teachings specifically prohibiting such gatherings, but we find general guidelines in the letters of the beloved Guardian, in which he warns the believers against adhering to the rites and customs of past systems and of former religions, and instead urges them to show forth the Bahá'í way of life and demonstrate the independent character of the teachings of the Faith.
"Advertising memorial gatherings by the family is entirely a personal matter for the family to decide. It is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly
whether Local Spiritual Assemblies may permit the use of their Bahá'í Centres for such gatherings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ghana, May 24, 1974)
"He feels that, in view of what Abdu'l-Bahá has said against cremation, the believers should be strongly urged, as an act of faith, to make provisions against their remains being cremated. Bahá'u'lláh has laid down as a law, in the Aqdas, the manner of Bahá'í burial, and it is so beautiful, befitting and dignified, that no believer should deprive himself of it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 7, 1947)
667. Body Can Be Left to Medical Science, Remains Not to be Cremated
"There is nothing in the teachings against leaving our bodies to medical science. The only thing we should stipulate is that we do not wish to be cremated, as it is against our Bahá'í laws.
"As many people make arrangements to leave their bodies to medical science for investigation, he suggests that you inquire, either through some lawyer friend or through some hospital, how you could do this, and then make the necessary provision in your Will, stipulating that you wish your body to be of service to mankind in death, and that, being a Bahá'í, you request that your remains not be cremated and not be taken more than an hour's journey from the place of your death.
"The spirit has no more connection with the body after it departs, but as the body was once the temple of the spirit, we Bahá'ís are taught that it must be treated with respect."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 22, 1957)
668. The Inner Temple Beholdeth Its Physical Frame
"As this physical frame is the throne of the inner temple, whatever occurs to the former is felt by the latter. In reality that which takes delight in joy or is saddened by pain is the inner temple of the body, not the body itself. Since this physical body is the throne whereon the inner temple is established, God hath ordained that the body be preserved to the extent possible, so that nothing that causeth repugnance may be experienced. The inner temple beholdeth its physical frame, which is its throne. Thus, if the latter is accorded respect, it is as if the former is the recipient. The converse is likewise true.
"Therefore, it hath been ordained that the dead body should be treated with the utmost honour and respect."
(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 95)
669. Body Formed Gradually, Must Decompose Gradually
"Be assured that your letter was not a bother to us. Indeed, we were happy to learn that in the autumn years of your physical life your soul was illumined by the eternal light shed upon the world by Bahá'u'lláh.
"Concerning your question about cremation, the Bahá'í law stipulates burial. The instructions of Bahá'u'lláh contained in His Most Holy Book make this law clear. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer in 1955, comments that Abdu'l-Bahá '...also explained that burial is natural and should be followed.' The explanation of the Master referred to by Shoghi Effendi is found in Tablets revealed by Him. One of those was published in Star of the West, Volume XI, No. 19, page 317, from which we quote:
'Thy letter has been received. Due to scarcity of time, I write the answer briefly: The body of man, which has been formed gradually, must similarly be decomposed gradually. This is according to the real and natural order and Divine Law. If it had been better for it to be burned after death, in its very creation it would have been so planned that the body would automatically become ignited after death, be consumed and turned into ashes. But the divine order formulated by the heavenly ordinance is that after death, this body shall be transferred from one stage to another different from the preceding one, so that according to the relations which exist in the world, it may gradually combine and mix other elements, thus going through stages until it arrives in the vegetable kingdom, there turning into plants and flowers, developing into trees of the highest paradise, becoming perfumed and attaining the beauty of color.'
'Cremation suppresses it speedily from attainment to these transformations, the elements becoming so quickly decomposed that transformation to these various stages is checked.'
"When we realize that our physical bodies are composed of elements placed in the earth by their Creator, and which through the orderly processes of His Law are continually being used in the formation of beings, we can better understand the necessity for our physical bodies to be subjected to the gradual process of decomposition. As at the time of death, the real and eternal self of man, his soul, abandons its physical garment to soar in the realms of God, we may compare the body to a vehicle which has been used for the journey through earthly life and no longer needed once the destination has been reached."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1971)
670. Spiritual Assembly Cannot Arrange for the Cremation of the Remains of a Bahá'í
"Obviously a Spiritual Assembly cannot itself arrange for the cremation of the remains of a Bahá'í even if it was that person's wish that his body be disposed of in this way. Bahá'í relatives, likewise, are under the obligation of obeying the Bahá'í law and must not agree to the cremation of a Bahá'í. Where non-Bahá'í relatives of the deceased Bahá'í have charge of the body and are proposing to cremate the remains, the responsible Spiritual Assembly should do all it can to explain the Bahá'í attitude to the relatives in an effort to prevent the cremation. If these efforts fail, the Assembly can have nothing officially to do with the cremation of the body; the believers, however, are free to do as they wish about attending the funeral and the cremation and they may certainly offer a prayer for the progress of the soul of the deceased. The Assembly could, if it seemed appropriate, arrange a meeting at a time other than the funeral, at which the Prayer for the Dead could be said on behalf of the deceased."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, December 9, 1984)
Page 203 671. Word "Bahá'í" in Centre of Nine-Pointed Star Can Be Used
"As regards your question: There is no reason why the word 'Bahá'í' should not appear in the centre of a nine-pointed star on the tombstone of dear Elsa Vento, but the ring-stone emblem should not be used, nor the Greatest Name."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1955)
672. Can Use Quotations from the Teachings on Tombstones
"In regard to your question regarding the use of the Greatest Name on tombstones of Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, the Guardian considers this too sacred to be placed in such a position in general use, and the friends should not use it on their tombstones. They can use quotations from the Teachings, if they wish to, but not the Greatest Name. Naturally, if anyone has already used it, it does not matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954)
673. Possible that Non-Bahá'í Relatives Can Be Buried in Bahá'í Cemetery
"...it is quite possible that non-Bahá'í relatives of believers or others may be permitted to be buried in a Bahá'í cemetery."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 3, 1975)
674. Suicide Strongly Condemned in the Teachings
"Regarding the 'In Memoriam' section of 'Bahá'í News': Although suicide is so strongly condemned in the teachings, it does not mean that a person has ceased to be a Bahá'í because he killed himself; he should, therefore, be mentioned, the same as other believers, in this section."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 29, 1945)
675. The Light Manifested by Bahá'u'lláh Can Ease Despair of Young People
"It is too bad that young and promising men, who if they remain living can render great services to humanity, should take away their life at a moment of despair.
"The world, especially in these days, is full of woes and sufferings. We should be brave and have a stout heart. Trials and tribulations should arouse in us added vigour and greater determination and not dampen our zeal and kill our spirit."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1933)
676. Bahá'ís Are Free to Pray for the Dead
"A Bahá'í is certainly free to pray for those who have passed on regardless of the cause of their death, using the words of any of the prayers of his choice which have been revealed through the bounty of God. The manner in which the Supreme Being, in His justice as well as in His mercy, will deal with every individual soul is a mystery unknown to us on this earthly plane."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 21, 1978)
+F1 (See also: No. 1200)
Page 204 677. One Should Put All Thought of Suicide and Death Out of Mind
"In reply to your letter of 1st May 1979, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to share with you the following excerpt from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary to a believer who asked about suicide.
'Suicide is forbidden in the Cause. God Who is the Author of all life can alone take it away, and dispose of it in the way He deems best. Whoever commits suicide endangers his soul, and will suffer spiritually as a result in the other Worlds Beyond.'
"The House of Justice admonishes you to put all thought of suicide and death out of your mind and concentrate on prayer and effort to serve the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1979)
678. Consolation for the Bereaved Parent
"...He was very sad to hear of your sadness and difficulties. Should that be only due to the passing of your son, it is not fully justified, at least in the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. He explicitly states that, had we the vision to see the other world, and the mind to conceive its glory, we would not desire to remain here even for a moment. Man is destined by God to undergo a spiritual development that extends throughout eternity. His life upon this earth is only the first stage of that development. When we outgrow our physical form, and are considered by God ready to reap the fruit of our spiritual development, we proceed to the other world. We term it death only because of our shortsightedness. A more proper term would be 'a more abundant life'. It is a forward step we have taken. In the light of the teachings, therefore, the proper attitude for you, is to pray that God may encompass your son with His infinite blessings, that He may enhance his development and give him that felicity which awaits every ... soul.
"...the world is full of suffering. Bahá'u'lláh tells us that the deeper are the furrows it digs into our very being, the greater will be the fruit of our life and the more enhanced our spiritual development. All the Saints that shine in the history of society had to pass through tribulations. Their form was various but their effect has always been the same, namely, the purification of our heart and soul for receiving the light of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 9, 1931)
G. Life after Death; the Soul
679. Gifts and Good Deeds in Memory of Those Passed On
"The Master has told us that gifts and good deeds done in memory of those who have passed on, are most helpful to the development of their souls in the realms beyond...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1952)
680. Man is Destined by God to Develop Spiritually Through Eternity
"With regard to the soul of man. According to the Bahá'í Teachings the human soul starts with the formation of the human embryo, and continues to develop and pass through endless stages of existence after its separation from the body. Its progress is thus infinite."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937)
Page 205 681. Regarding Non-Bahá'í Traditions
"In regard to your question concerning the truth of the statement that it takes a soul three days to make complete severance from the body, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no specific reference to this point in the Sacred Writings of the Cause. But as to the advisability of praying for the departed for forty days after their passing this is entirely an originally Moslem practice, and constitutes in no way an obligation on any believer. To pray for the dead is very beneficial and helpful and is always a source of comfort and satisfaction. But there is no reason why it should be confined to a definite period of forty days."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 9, 1934)
682. The Soul Will Continue to Ascend Through Many Worlds
"Concerning the future life, what Bahá'u'lláh says is that the soul will continue to ascend through many worlds. What those worlds are and what their nature is we cannot know. The same way that the child in the matrix cannot know this world so we cannot know what the other world is going to be."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)
683. We Can Help Every Soul Attain High Station
"Concerning your question whether a soul can receive knowledge of the Truth in the world beyond. Such a knowledge is surely possible, and is but a sign of the loving mercy of the Almighty. We can, through our prayers, help every soul to gradually attain this high station, even if it has failed to reach it in this world. The progress of the soul does not come to an end with death. It rather starts along a new line. Bahá'u'lláh teaches that great and far-reaching possibilities await the soul in the other world. Spiritual progress in that realm is infinite, and no man, while on this earth, can visualize its full power and extent."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1935)
684. Intercession in the Other World
"The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is approved by God. But intercession in the other world is not like intercession in this world. It is another thing, another reality, which cannot be expressed in words."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1984 ed., p. 231)
685. Bequests to the Poor
"If a wealthy man at the time of his death bequeaths a gift to the poor and miserable, and gives a part of his wealth to be spent for them, perhaps this action may be the cause of his pardon and forgiveness, and of his progress in the divine Kingdom.
"Also a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children; and often when the children have reached the age of maturity, the parents pass on to the other world. Rarely does it happen that a father and mother in this world see the reward of the care and trouble they have undergone for their children. Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence, and must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents. So you ought, in return for the love and kindness shown you by your father, to give to the poor
for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy."
(Ibid., pp. 231-232)
686. The Nature of the Soul After Death Can Never Be Described
"...The honor with which the Hand of Mercy will invest the soul is such as no tongue can adequately reveal, nor any other earthly agency describe. Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station.... The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 1983 ed., p. 156)
687. There Are No Earth-Bound Souls
"There are no earth-bound souls. When the souls that are not good die they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone. They are spiritually dead. Their thoughts can have influence only when they are alive on the earth... But the good souls are given eternal life and sometimes God permits their thoughts to reach the earth to help the people."
(Questions answered by Abdu'l-Bahá in Akka: Daily Lessons, Received at Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 35-36)
688. There is No Power Exercised Over People by Evil Souls that Have Passed Away
"There is no power exercised over the people by those evil souls that have passed away. Good is stronger than evil and even when alive they had very little power. How much less have they after they are dead, and besides they are nowhere near this planet."
(Ibid., pp. 43-44)
689. Soul Mates
"There is no teaching in the Bahá'í Faith that 'soul mates' exist. What is meant is that marriage should lead to a profound friendship of spirit, which will endure in the next world, where there is no sex, and no giving and taking in marriage; just the way we should establish with our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters and friends a deep spiritual bond which will be ever-lasting, and not merely physical bonds of human relationship."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 4, 1954)
Page 207 690. Influence of Holy and Spiritual Souls
"As to the question that the holy and spiritual souls influence, help and guide the creatures after they have cast off this elemental mould--this is an established truth of the Bahá'ís..."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 543)
691. The Soul Acts
"The soul acts in the physical world with the help of the body. When it is detached from the body, it acts without an intermediary...
"...The body is the horse, the soul is the rider, and sometimes the rider moves without a mount. But people who do not reflect say that when the soul has left the body it can no longer act. Spirit has no body. Reflect on this subject."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Divine Philosophy, 1928 ed., p. 127)
692. The Other World is Within This World
"...The answer to the first question: The souls of the children of the Kingdom, after their separation from the body, ascend unto the realm of everlasting life. But if ye ask as to the place, know ye that the world of existence is a single world, although its stations are various and distinct. For example, the mineral life occupieth its own plane, but a mineral entity is without any awareness at all of the vegetable kingdom,...
"As to the second question: The tests and trials of God take place in this world, not in the world of the Kingdom.
"The answer to the third question is this, that in the other world the human reality doth not assume a physical form, rather doth it take on a heavenly form, made up of elements of that heavenly realm.
"And the answer to the fourth question: The centre of the Sun of Truth is in the supernal world--the Kingdom of God. Those souls who are pure and unsullied, upon the dissolution of their elemental frames, hasten away to the world of God, and that world is within this world. The people of this world, however, are unaware of that world, and are even as the mineral and the vegetable that know nothing of the world of the animal and the world of man."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 194-95)
693. The Soul of a Murderer
"As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be. The answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime; that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for Divine Justice would not allow this."
(Ibid., p. 179)
694. Union in the Next World
"...the possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Bahá'í Teachings are quite clear about. According to Bahá'u'lláh the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. This communion, however, is purely spiritual in character, and is conditioned upon the disinterested and selfless love of the individuals for each other."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, March 10, 1936: Dawn of a New Day, p. 58)
Page 208 695. Death Can Lose Its Sting
"In His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh says that were we able to comprehend the facilities that await us in the world to come, death would lose its sting; nay rather we would welcome it as a gate-way to a realm immeasurably higher and nobler than this home of suffering we call our earth. You should therefore think of their blessings and comfort yourself for your momentary separation. In time all of us will join our departed ones and share their joys."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 13, 1932)
696. With Vision to See Blessings of Other World, No One Would Care to Remain in This World
"Bahá'u'lláh says that were we to have the proper vision to see the blessings of the other world we would not bear to endure one more hour of existence upon the earth. The reason why we are deprived of that vision is because otherwise no one would care to remain and the whole fabric of society will be destroyed.
"Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to think of her blessings and rejoice in her happiness. Should we have true faith in the words of the prophets we would not fear death nor feel despondent over the passing of our loved ones."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1932)
697. Good Souls Enter a State of Being Far Nobler and More Beautiful...
"...Such earnest souls, when they pass out of this life, enter a state of being far nobler and more beautiful than this one. We fear it only because it is unknown to us and we have little faith in the words of the Prophets who bring a true message of certainty from that realm of the spirit. We should face death with joy especially if our life upon this plane of existence has been full of good deeds."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1932)
698. The Nature of the Soul
"...First concerning the human soul and its true nature. According to the Bahá'í conception, the soul of man, or in other words his inner spiritual self or reality, is not dualistic. There is no such thing, as the Zoroastrians believe, as a double reality in man, a definite higher self and a lower self. These two tendencies for good or evil are but manifestations of a single reality or self. The latter is capable of development in either way. All depends fundamentally on the training or education which man receives. Human nature is made up of possibilities both for good and evil. True religion can enable it to soar in the highest realm of the spirit, while its absence can, as we already witness around us, cause it to fall to the lowest depths of degradation and misery."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Alfred Lunt, May 25, 1936)
699. All Souls Progress Spiritually in the Next World--Relatives of the Believers Will at Least Partially Attain Kingdom
"With reference to Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet in which He says that all the relatives of believers will reach the Kingdom in the other world: By this is meant only a partial attainment. They can, however, progress indefinitely, as spiritual progress in the other world is limitless, and is not confined to those who have attained unto the knowledge and recognition of the Cause while still in this world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 30, 1940)
Page 209 700. Certain Things Remain a Mystery to Us in Our Present Stage of Development
"Regarding your question concerning a deep and profound study of the teachings: Of course the Bahá'ís can and should meditate upon the significances of the writings, and endeavour to grasp their meaning to the uttermost. There can be no possible objection to this. However certain things are, by their very nature, a mystery to us, at least in our present stage of development. One of these is what the next world, the purely spiritual world, is like."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)
701. The Prophets Never Revealed What Happens to Us After Death--Belief in God and His Prophet Elicits Spiritual Growth
"You ask an explanation of what happens to us after we leave this world: This is a question which none of the Prophets have ever answered in detail, for the very simple reason that you cannot convey to a person's mind something entirely different from everything they have ever experienced. Abdu'l-Bahá gave the wonderful example of the relation of this life to the next life being like the child in the womb; it develops eyes, ears, hands, feet, a tongue, and yet it has nothing to see or hear, it cannot walk or grasp things or speak; all these faculties it is developing for this world. If you tried to explain to an embryo what this world is like it could never understand--but it understands when it is born, and its faculties can be used. So we cannot picture our state in the next world. All we know is that our consciousness, our personality, endures in some new state, and that that world is as much better than this one as this one is better than the dark womb of our mother was....
"Our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future. The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet Who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His Teachings, we find we are growing, even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)
702. Our Speculations on the Nature of Life After Death Have Little Validity
"The Guardian feels that, while there is no harm in speculation on these abstract matters, one should not attach too much importance to them. Science itself is far from having resolved the question of the nature of matter, and we cannot, in this physical world, grasp the spiritual one more than in a very fragmentary and inadequate manner."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)
703. God Can Be Known Only Through His Prophets--Heaven and Hell Are Conditions Within Our Own Beings
"We will have experience of God's spirit through His Prophets in the next world, but God is too great for us to know without this Intermediary. The Prophets know God, but how is more than our human minds can grasp. We believe we may attain
in the next world to seeing the Prophets. There is certainly a future life. Heaven and hell are conditions within our own beings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 14, 1947)
704. The Journey of Spiritual Progress is Endless
"As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach, he urges you, who have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1955)
705. How to "Get to Heaven"--Is Dependent on Two Things
"To 'get to heaven' as you say is dependent on two things--faith in the Manifestation of God in His Day, in other words in this age in Bahá'u'lláh; and good deeds, in other words living to the best of our ability a noble life and doing unto others as we would be done by. But we must always remember that our existence and everything we have or ever will have is dependent upon the mercy of God and His bounty, and therefore He can accept into His heaven, which is really nearness to Him, even the lowliest if He pleases. We always have the hope of receiving His mercy if we reach out for it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)
Page 211 XIV. EDUCATION
A. Academic and Spiritual
706. Education of Man
"Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, p. 5)
707. Education of the Physical and Intellectual, Spiritual and Ethical Aspects of Man
"...Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í youth all over the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)
708. Man Said to be Greatest Representative of God
"Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him. If he comes under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he becomes the centre of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual qualities, the rising-place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of divine inspirations. If he is deprived of this education he becomes the manifestation of satanic qualities, the sum of animal vices, and the source of all dark conditions."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 332)
709. Modern Education Lacking in Ability to Produce a Mature Mind
"People today indeed do tend to be very superficial in their thinking, and it would seem as if the educational systems in use are sorely lacking in ability to produce a mature mind in a person who has reached supposedly adult life! All the outside influences that surround the individual seem to have an intensely distracting effect, and it is a hard job to get the average person to do any deep thinking or even a little meditation on the problems facing him and the world at large. Over and over again Bahá'u'lláh cried out against the heedlessness of humanity, and warns of the fate such an attitude must lead to. Did we not know what God plans
+F1 (See also: XLVI. Social and Economic Development, LII. Youth)
to do, and will do, with the world in the future, we should certainly be as hopeless as many of the best thinkers of our generation have become."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)
710. Each Should Be Educated According to His Needs and Deserts
"Among other teachings and principles Bahá'u'lláh counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world. All mankind must be given a knowledge of science and philosophy; that is, as much as may be deemed necessary. All cannot be scientists or philosophers but each should be educated according to his needs and deserts."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 108)
711. Education Extended to Prisoners
"...Kindness, training and education extended to prisoners is exceedingly important. Therefore as thou has exerted an effort in this, has awakened some of them, and hast been the cause of the turning of their faces to the divine Kingdom, this praiseworthy deed is highly acceptable. Assuredly persevere. Convey on my behalf to the two prisoners in San Quentin the utmost kindness, and tell them: 'That prison in the sight of wise souls is a school of training and development. Ye must strive with heart and soul that ye may become renowned in character and knowledge.'"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 116-117)
712. Humankind Are as Children in School, and Prophets Are Their Teachers
"O true companions! All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessing of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a widespread mirror, to reflect that other world which dieth not."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 128)
713. Learning is the Greatest Bestowal of God
"It is clear that learning is the greatest bestowal of God; that knowledge and the acquirement thereof is a blessing from Heaven. Thus it is incumbent upon the friends of God to exert such an effort and strive with such eagerness to promote divine knowledge, culture and the sciences, that ere long those who are school children today will become the most erudite of all the fraternity of the wise. This is a service rendered unto God Himself, and it is one of His inescapable commandments."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, Wilmette, 1977 ed., p. 38)
B. Universities and Colleges
714. The Academic Life
"...The academic life also has its fashions and fads, even though they are of a different nature from the fads of the man on the street.
"These fashions are not permanent; they are bound to change. Today the fad is a materialistic view of life and of the world. A day will soon come when it will become deeply religious and spiritual. In fact, we can discern the beginning of such a change in the writings of some of the most eminent souls and liberal minds. When the pendulum will start its full swing then we shall see all such eminent men turn again to God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)
715. There is No Bahá'í Curriculum as Yet
"...there is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.
"These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and University programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world, is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1939)
716. Three Cardinal Principles
"First: Whole-hearted service to the cause of education, the unfolding of the mysteries of nature, the extension of the boundaries of pure science, the elimination of the causes of ignorance and social evils, a standard universal system of instruction, and the diffusion of the lights of knowledge and reality.
"Second: Service to the cause of morality, raising the moral tone of the students, inspiring them with the sublimest ideals of ethical refinement, teaching them altruism, inculcating in their lives the beauty of holiness and the excellency of virtue and animating them with the excellences and perfections of the religion of God.
"Third: Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic--the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one
family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood."
(From notes taken of talks given by Abdu'l-Bahá, as quoted in: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 9, p. 98)
717. Characteristics of Bahá'í College Students
"You must become the shining candles of moral precepts and spiritual ideals and be the means of the illumination of others. Clothe your bodies with the robes of virtues. Characterize yourselves with the characteristics of the people of divine morality. Shun all manner of vices as you shun a poisonous snake or a leper. Let the corps of professors and the students be impressed with the purity and holiness of your lives so that they may take you as paragons of worthiness, examples of nobility of nature, observers of the moral laws, holding in subordination the lower element by the higher spirit, the conquerors of self and the masters of wholesome, vital forces in all the avenues of life. Strive always to be at the head of your classes through hard study and true merit. Be always in a prayerful state and appreciate the value of everything. Entertain high ideals and stimulate your intellectual and constructive forces."
718. Abdu'l-Bahá Enjoins Bahá'ís to Excel All Other Students--Emphasis on Truthfulness
"I hope that while you are studying in this college you may so excel all other students in the various branches of knowledge taught therein that all of them may testify that the Bahai (Bahá'í) students have another power, are inspired with another effort, are imbued with a nobler ambition, are stimulated by higher motives and make wider and deeper exertions than others. If you do not surpass the others, then what distinction will there remain for you? Therefore, you must strive to be superior to them, so that everyone may bear testimony to this fact. You are now like the tender plants that are trained according to the knowledge and wisdom of the gardener. From now on, you must strive to beautify the moral aspect of your lives. Advise one another with utmost consideration, watch daily your words and deeds; thus from the very beginning you may characterize yourselves with divine ideals.
"The divine ideals are humility, submissiveness, annihilation of self, perfect evanescence, charity and loving-kindness. You must die to self and live in God. You must be exceedingly compassionate to one another and to all the people of the world. Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and divine assurance.
"Again: be ye most careful that, God forbid, not one single word contrary to truth issue from your mouths. One falsehood throws man from the highest station of honour to the lowest abyss of disgrace. Always guard yourselves against this enemy so that all you state may correspond with reality. Forever supplicate and entreat at the Court of Majesty and beg confirmation and assistance...."
(Ibid., pp. 98-99)
Page 215 719. Challenge to Persian Students
"I hope that through the favor and bounty of the Blessed Beauty, His Holiness the Bab, and the ineffable blessings which hallow this holy Shrine,+F1 the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha may encircle you, and that you may be characterized with the shining qualities and brilliant attributes of the Bahá'í life. May your morality become more defined day by day! May your faith and assurance be increased day by day! May your attraction to the Kingdom of Abha be intensified day by day! May your attainment in sciences and arts become more universal day by day! Perchance, God willing, you may become perfect and accomplished from every standpoint and be the means of the enlightenment of Persia."
(Ibid., pp. 99-100)
720. Teaching in Universities and Colleges
"As to teaching work in colleges and universities, this is very important, for students as a whole are open-minded and little influenced by tradition. They would easily enter the Cause if the subject is properly presented and their intellect and sentiments properly satisfied. This, however, should be attempted only by persons who have had university training and are, therefore, acquainted with the mind of the intelligent and educated youth..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1932)
721. When Studying at School or University
"For any person, whether Bahá'í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life's work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person's future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Bahá'í youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenges, and their greatest tests-- opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá'í Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Bahá'í youth that it is they 'who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá'í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it.'
"When studying at school or university Bahá'í youth will often find themselves in the unusual and slightly embarrassing position of having a more profound insight into a subject than their instructors. The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh throw light on so many aspects of human life and knowledge that a Bahá'í must learn, earlier than most, to weigh the information that is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A Bahá'í has the advantage of the divine Revelation for this Age, which shines like a searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers; he must therefore develop the ability to learn everything from those around him, showing proper humility before his teachers, but always relating what he hears to the Bahá'í teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the gold from the dross of human error."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'í Youth in every land, June 10, 1966)
+F1 (The students were visiting the Tomb of the Bab)
Page 216 XV. ENDOWMENTS, LOCAL AND NATIONAL
722. Endowment Land Used for Site of Haziratu'l-Quds Ceases to be Endowment in the Bahá'í Sense+F1
"The Universal House of Justice acknowledges your letter of July 15 about the use of a local endowment for the site of the local Haziratu'l-Quds, and instructs us to send you the following reply.
"Endowments, whether local or national, are normally pieces of property held in the name of the National or Local Spiritual Assembly as an investment and asset. The Haziratu'l-Quds and the land on which it is built cannot be considered an endowment as this is a separate institution. If, therefore, endowment land is used for the site of a Haziratu'l-Quds, it ceases to be an endowment in the Bahá'í sense. Where a parcel of land owned as an endowment is sufficiently large to be subdivided, one part to remain as the endowment and the other to be the site of the Haziratu'l-Quds, it is permissible to do this but a clear demarcation must be made to distinguish clearly what is the endowment and what is the Haziratu'l-Quds. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, August 11, 1974)
723. National Endowments
"A national endowment should be regarded as an investment in real estate owned by the National Spiritual Assembly. It may be anywhere in the country and can be a small, inexpensive piece of land donated by one of the friends, or else acquired out of the resources of the National Fund."
(From the Naw-Ruz message of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 1974)
724. Local Endowments
"...A local endowment can be quite a small piece of land; it can be purchased by the Local Spiritual Assembly or more usually the gift of one or more of the believers. If the Local Assembly is incorporated, the endowment should be registered in its name, but if it is not, the endowment can be held by one or more of the believers on behalf of the community. For example, if one of the believers gives a small piece of land he can continue to hold it in his name, but it will be known that he does so on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly and that the land will in time be transferred legally to the Assembly when that is possible...."
+F1 (See also: XXIII, Nos. 912-922, Haziratu'l-Quds)
Page 217 725. Endowment Land--There is No Objection to Raising a Temporary Structure
"Endowment land cannot, at the same time, be used as another Bahá'í institution such as Haziratu'l-Quds or a Teaching Institute. There is no objection to erecting a temporary structure on endowment land for the convenience of the friends who may visit it or have gatherings there provided that if its use becomes of a permanent nature it would be necessary to acquire a new Endowment."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 30, 1971)
726. Endowment Land to be Regarded as an Investment for Local Assemblies
"...The principle involved is that the endowment land should not be used for any other Bahá'í purpose, and is to be regarded as an investment for the future advantage and benefit to the Local Spiritual Assembly. If the endowment plot is sufficiently large that not all of it is needed to serve as an endowment, it is permissible to designate a part of it as endowment property and the balance may be transferred to the use of the summer school. In such a case a line of demarcation should be made between the portion to be regarded as endowment and the portion to be used for summer or winter school purposes. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records, as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, April 15, 1979)
727. Endowment Property May Be Used for Sports Facilities or to Produce Income for the Work of the Faith
"In reply to your letter of 29 August 1985 in which you inquire about endowment property, we are instructed to say that while such property is regarded as an investment for the future benefit of the Bahá'í community, and as such should not be used for purposes of summer schools, conferences and other Bahá'í events except on a temporary basis, the Universal House of Justice sees no reason why it should not be used for sports facilities. It also might be farmed or otherwise developed to produce income, and such income or proceeds from a capital gain may be used for the general work of the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, September 30, 1985)
728. Summary of Principles which Should Govern Acceptance of Free Land for Bahá'í Use
"We are asked by the Universal House of Justice to acknowledge your letter of 20 August 1985 regarding the possibility of obtaining free land from the government in order to build a Haziratu'l-Quds, and to share the following principles which should govern any decision you will make in this regard.
1. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Bahá'ís for strictly Bahá'í purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Bahá'ís, whether individuals, institutions or governments.
2. There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Bahá'í cemeteries or for such institutions as are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools.
3. In countries where the only method to acquire property is to be granted by the authorities' free use of land, there is no objection to receiving such allocation of land (which excludes ownership) for the building of institutions of a strictly Bahá'í nature, such as a Haziratu'l-Quds, a Summer School, or a Teaching Institute.
4. If the government offers gifts of land to all religious communities in recognition of their status as a religious entity in the country, Bahá'ís may accept such properties under the provisions of points 1 and 2 above. They should make it clear to the government that they can embark upon the establishment of institutions of a humanitarian or charitable nature, only when conditions favourable to the establishment of such institutions are present."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 19, 1985)
Page 219 XVI. THE FAMILY
A. Family Relationships
729. Family Ties
"Deep as are family ties, we must always remember that the spiritual ties are far deeper; they are everlasting and survive death, whereas physical ties, unless supported by spiritual bonds, are confined to this life. You should do all in your power, through prayer and example, to open the eyes of your family to the Bahá'í Faith, but do not grieve too much over their actions. Turn to your Bahá'í brothers and sisters who are living with you in the light of the Kingdom."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)
"Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family ... if you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish; you will know what to do."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Pattern of Bahá'í Life, p. 24)
730. The Family: A Special Kind of Community--Each Member Has Rights and Responsibilities
"A family, however, is a very special kind of 'community'. The Research Department has not come across any statements which specifically name the father as responsible for the 'security, progress and unity of the family' as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's book, but it can be inferred from a number of the responsibilities placed upon him, that the father can be regarded as the 'head' of the family. The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural relationships. The parents have the inescapable duty to educate their children--but not vice versa; the children have the duty to obey their parents--the parents do not obey the children; the mother--not the father-- bears the children, nurses them in babyhood, and is thus their first educator, hence daughters have a prior right to education over sons and, as the Guardian's secretary has written on his behalf: 'The task of bringing up a Bahá'í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá'í Writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development.' A corollary of this responsibility of the mother is her right to be supported by her husband--a husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife. This principle of the husband's responsibility
+F1 (See also: XVI. D. 762-774. The Relationships Between Parents and Children)
to provide for and protect the family can be seen applied also in the law of intestacy which provides that the family's dwelling place passes, on the father's death, not to his widow, but to his eldest son; the son at the same time has the responsibility to care for his mother."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)
731. The Family Progresses When There is Unity
"Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but added to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 279)
"If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 144-145, 1982 ed.)
732. Bahá'u'lláh Provides Way to Remove Hostility and Dissension from the World
"Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement. First he has proclaimed the oneness of mankind and specialized religious teachings for existing human conditions."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 17, No. 7, p. 232)
733. It is Important for Man to Raise a Family
"It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old... In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven--a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well-organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest true and sincere love
towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family."
(From a talk of Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 13)
734. Keys to Strengthening of Family
"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Bahá'í ideal of family life. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Bahá'í family as within the community as a whole should express 'the keynote of the Cause of God' which, the beloved Guardian has stated, 'is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 28, 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)
735. Mother-in-Law Problem
"Regarding your other question concerning the strained relationship between you and your mother-in-law and what you can do to alleviate the situation, we feel you should, with the help and consultation of your husband, persevere in your efforts to achieve unity in the family. From your description of the unfriendly attitude your mother-in-law displays toward you it is clear that you will not have an easy task. However, the important thing is that you, as a Bahá'í, are aware of Abdu'l-Bahá's admonition to concentrate on an individual's good qualities and that this approach to your mother-in-law can strengthen you in your resolve to achieve unity. And furthermore, perseverance in prayer will give you the strength to continue your efforts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 6, 1970: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 29)
736. A Truly Bahá'í Home--A Fortress Upon which the Cause Can Rely
"A truly Bahá'í home is a true fortress upon which the Cause can rely while planning its campaigns. If ... and ... love each other and would like to marry, Shoghi Effendi does not wish them to think that by doing so they are depriving themselves of the privilege of service; in fact such a union will enhance their ability to serve. There is nothing more beautiful than to have young Bahá'ís marry and found truly Bahá'í homes, the type Bahá'u'lláh wishes them to be...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 6, 1932: Ibid.)
737. The Home is an Institution Bahá'u'lláh Has Come to Strengthen and Not to Weaken
"Surely Shoghi Effendi would like to see you and the other friends give their whole time and energy to the Cause, for we are in great need for competent workers, but the home is an institution that Bahá'u'lláh has come to strengthen and not to weaken. Many unfortunate things have happened in Bahá'í homes just for neglecting this point. Serve the Cause but also remember your duties towards your home. It is for you to find the balance and see that neither makes
you neglect the other. We would have many more husbands in the Cause were the wives more thoughtful and moderate in their Bahá'í activities."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 14, 1929: Ibid.)
738. Preserve Bahá'í Families: Harmony, Unity and Love Highest Ideals in Human Relationships
"Whenever there is a Bahá'í 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 Bahá'ís, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America, November 9, 1956: Ibid., p. 20)
739. Rights and Prerogatives of Each Member of the Family
"According to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the family being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother--none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father likewise has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)
740. Violence in the Home
"No statements dealing directly with violence in the family have come to light from the Writings; however, the House of Justice feels that the absence of specific references to the subject should not be construed as implying that we do not have the necessary guidance in the Faith to treat the problems cited in your letter. Acts of violence might properly be regarded as a negation of the persistent emphasis on concord, understanding and unity which are at the heart of the Bahá'í Teachings, and the sacred Writings are replete with advice as to how these positive objectives may be attained. In His 'Tablet of the World' Bahá'u'lláh states,
'...The distinguishing feature that marketh the pre-eminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God's holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.'
"Elsewhere in the same Tablet the 'people of God' are forbidden 'to engage in contention and conflict.' In view of such statements and the stress laid by both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá on love and harmony as the hallmark of marriage, the law for which Bahá'u'lláh describes as a 'fortress for well-being and salvation;' and in view of Abdu'l-Bahá's exhortation that each member of the family must uphold the rights of the others, it becomes obvious that violence in the family is antithetical to the spirit of the Faith and a practice to be condemned.
"If the broad structure of society is to remain intact, resolute efforts, including medical ones, as necessary, should be made to curb acts of aggression within families, particularly their extreme forms of wife beating and child abuse by parents. This is a matter of fundamental importance, for if the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the preeminent character of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace? The following statement by the beloved Master sheds illumination on these points:
'...Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, all fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families....'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 22, 1983)
741. Love Can Change Vile, Mean Person into Heavenly Soul
"The Guardian ... is very much grieved indeed to learn of the severe opposition which you are encountering from your husband because of your affiliation with the Cause. He can very well realize the terrible condition facing you, but feels confident that Bahá'u'lláh is guiding you to follow the right way, and is continually assisting and strengthening you in your efforts to solve this most serious and challenging problem of your life. The staunch and unwavering loyalty and devotion which you have thus far so splendidly demonstrated in your attitude to the Faith is truly remarkable and worthy of the highest praise and admiration. The persecutions from which you are now suffering have this one great advantage, namely to deepen your faith in the Cause, and to revive and refresh your energies for its service. You should, therefore, rejoice and welcome those sufferings in so far as they serve to further awaken your consciousness of being a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
"The Guardian wishes me specially to urge you to remain patient and confident, and above all to show your husband the utmost kindness and love, in return for all the opposition and hatred you receive from him. A conciliatory and friendly attitude in such cases is not only the duty of every Bahá'í but is also the most effective way of winning for the Cause the sympathy and admiration of its former foes and enemies. Love is, indeed, a most potent elixir that can transform the vilest and meanest of people into heavenly souls. May your example serve to further confirm the truth of this beautiful teaching of our Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1935)
Page 224 742. Believer Must Be Patient with Non-Bahá'í Spouse, Attract with Loving Kindness, Wisdom, Tact
"As to your husband who, he is most sorry to hear, seems to be so antagonistic to the Cause, having fallen under the evil influence of Mr. ...: The Guardian wishes you to be patient with him, and to endeavour through loving kindness, wisdom and tact to enlist his consideration and sympathy for the Faith. However unfriendly his present attitude to the Cause may be, and no matter how seriously he may interfere in your activities as a believer, you should never lose hope of winning him to the Faith, nay even of guiding him to openly and actively assist you in your Bahá'í activities. With the unfailing help of Bahá'u'lláh and the example of your own conduct your task will assuredly be made easy and will be crowned with success."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 15, 1939)
743. Teaching Relatives
"He would not advise you to in any way force the teachings on your husband, but rather through prayer, love and example attract his heart to what he will be forced to see has not only made you a happier person but a better wife and mother than ever before. It is often most difficult to teach those nearest to us, but the Guardian will earnestly pray that your husband and children will join you in serving this wonderful Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska, pp. 72-73)
744. Earn Right to Plead on Behalf of Family
"He was sorry to hear that Mrs. ... is in an unhappy state of mind. She should certainly not grieve if she finds that her family are not receptive to the teachings--for not every soul is spiritually enlightened. Indeed, many members of the families of the Prophets themselves have remained unconverted even in face of the example and persuasion of the Manifestation of God; therefore, the friends should not be distressed by such things but rather leave the future of those they love in the hand of God, and by their services and devotion to the Faith, win the right to plead for their ultimate spiritual re-birth."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1942)
745. One Should Not Be Deceptive with Non-Bahá'í Spouse or Parents
"It seems to him that just as you leave your husband free to believe or not to believe in whatever pleases him, he should accord you the same rudimentary privilege. Surely the right to worship God in the way one believes to be right is the greatest fundamental freedom in the world? On the other hand no one should force one's own convictions on another and if Mr. ... objects to your Bahá'í affiliation you should carry on your activities not secretly, but not in such a way as to force him to be constantly conscious of them. In other words, you should, for his sake, sometimes forgo the pleasure of attending a Feast or meeting if there is something he wants you to do with him.
"The Guardian does not feel your daughter should deceive her father and not let him know she is a Bahá'í. She, like you, for his sake should be willing to
sacrifice her attendance at meetings sometimes, but he cannot very well force her to not believe and accept what she holds to be the Truth for this Age!
"Every sincere believer in God must inevitably make some sacrifices, and, however heavy these may be, they are insignificant compared to the blessing of accepting Bahá'u'lláh. This is certainly true of dear Mr. ... who has suffered because of the firmness of his faith. We cannot bow to the blindness of the world; all we can do is to be tactful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)
746. Duty of Believer to Endeavour to Lead Family to the Faith
"...If the believer is the only one of his family who has embraced the Faith, it is his duty to endeavour to lead as many other family members as possible to the light of divine guidance. As soon as a Bahá'í family unit emerges, the members should feel responsible for making the collective life of the family a spiritual reality, animated by divine love and inspired by the ennobling principles of the Faith. To achieve this purpose, the reading of the Sacred Writings and prayers should ideally become a daily family activity. As far as the teaching work is concerned, just as individuals are called upon to adopt teaching goals, the family itself could adopt its own goals. In this way the friends could make of their families strong healthy units, bright candles for the diffusion of the light of the Kingdom, and powerful centres to attract the heavenly confirmations."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)
747. If Family Members Are Hostile, Avoid Antagonizing Them, Leave Them to Themselves
"Not every one is ready to receive the Cause, but in every walk of life there are souls longing for this new Divine Outpouring, and sufficiently mature spiritually to accept it. The Bahá'ís, each according to his own opportunities, must seek out such people.
"The Guardian deeply regrets the hostile attitude of some members of your family towards the Cause you have arisen to serve, and he feels that you should do everything in your power to avoid antagonizing them--short, of course, of giving up your Faith and becoming inactive in it.
"As you cannot induce them to be interested in it, the best thing to do is what the Master always advised in such cases: leave them to themselves, and pray for them. The Guardian, you may be sure, will also pray for their illumination. Many people have, after bitterly opposing the Faith, been eventually won over by the patience, love, tact and prayers of their Bahá'í relative or friend."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1943)
B. The Relationship Between Husband and Wife
748. Keys to Strengthening of Family
"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of
the Bahá'í ideal of family life. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Bahá'í family as within the community as a whole should express 'the keynote of the Cause of God' which, the beloved Guardian has stated, 'is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)
749. Honour and Privilege Ordained for Women: Obedience to Husbands
"It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which Abdu'l-Bahá gives the following exhortation:
'O Handmaids of the Self-Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. Undoubtedly the greatest glory of women is servitude at His Threshold and submissiveness at His door; it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is obedience to and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.'"
750. Domination by Husband or Wife Not Right
"This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22th July 1943, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:
'The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents and children, wives and husbands' relations in America meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands which, of course, is not right, anymore than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.'"
751. Time When Wife Should Defer to Husband and Time When Husband Should Defer to Wife
"In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wife
should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by Abdu'l-Bahá which is often read at Bahá'í weddings: 'Verily they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.+F1'"
752. In Tablet of the World Women and Men Envisaged as Breadwinners
"In the Tablet of the World, Bahá'u'lláh 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 Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 90)
"A very important element in the attainment of such equality is Bahá'u'lláh's provision that boys and girls must follow essentially the same curriculum in schools."
753. Love Between Husband and Wife
"The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!
"In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
754. The Institution of Marriage
"The institution of marriage, as established by Bahá'u'lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfill the true function for which it has been instituted by God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939: Ibid.)
755. Husband and Wife as a Single Soul
"...The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other.
+F1 (Bahá'í Prayers, p. 107, 1982 ed.)
"If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm.
"Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 122)
756. Wife Should Treat Husband with Kindness
"As to thy respected husband: It is incumbent upon thee to treat him with great kindness, to consider his wishes and be conciliatory with him at all times, till he seeth that because thou hast directed thyself toward the Kingdom of God, thy tenderness for him and thy love for God have but increased, as well as thy concern for his wishes under all conditions."
(Ibid., p. 122)
757. Tolerate Cruel Actions, Ill Treatment, Demonstrate Loving Kindness
"Hold thy husband dear and always show forth an amiable temper towards him, no matter how ill-tempered he may be. Even if thy loving kindness maketh him more bitter, manifest thou more kindliness, more tenderness, be more loving and tolerate his cruel actions and ill-treatment."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
758. Pray to Bahá'u'lláh for Help, Think of Abdu'l-Bahá as Perfect Example
"He feels you should by all means show your husband the greatest love and sympathy; if we are ever in any doubt as to how we should conduct ourselves as Bahá'ís we should think of Abdu'l-Bahá and study His life and ask ourselves what would He have done, for He is our perfect example in every way. And you know how tender He was, and how His affection and kindness shone like sunlight on everyone.
"Your husband and your child have a right to your love, and give you a wonderful opportunity of demonstrating your faith in the Cause.
"Also you should pray to Bahá'u'lláh to help unite you with your husband and make your home a true and happy home."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1946: Ibid.)
759. Bahá'ís Should Make Almost a Superhuman Effort to Avoid Divorce+F1
"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 Bahá'u'lláh has very strongly frowned upon divorce; and it is really incumbent upon the Bahá'ís to make almost a superhuman effort not to allow a Bahá'í marriage to be dissolved."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1953)
+F1 (See also: XXIX. K. 1302-1338, Divorce.)
C. Ancestors and Descendants
760. Faith of Believer Attracts God's Mercy to Souls of Parents
"In reference to your questions about ancestors and descendants, we have been directed to say that while there are Tablets from Bahá'u'lláh stating that faith in the Manifestation of God on the part of a believer attracts God's mercy to the souls of departed parents the House of Justice knows of no text in Bahá'í Writings to support the statement that a believer's seven past generations and seven generations to descend from him are blessed when that person becomes a Bahá'í. You may also be familiar with the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá that 'it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence, and blessings for a man after his death.... Therefore children ... must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents.' (From "Some Answered Questions" pages 268-269)."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 23, 1978)
761. True Believer in Better Position to Intercede for Ancestors+F1
"We cannot take the teaching that if a believer remains steadfast till the end of his life he will be the means of the spiritual awakening of all his ancestors too literally, especially as it is only reported, and not in an authenticated form. However, we can be assured that the true and faithful believer will be in a much better position to intercede for his ancestors, and aid in their development than if he were not spiritually enlightened."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 12, 1942)
D. The Relationships Between Parents and Children
762. The Most Important of All Duties After the Recognition of God--Due Regard for Rights of Parents
"The fruits of the tree of existence are trustworthiness, loyalty, truthfulness and purity. After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one's parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
763. If Children Do Not Obey Parents--They Will Not Obey God
"The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please."
+F1 (See also: No. 699)
Page 230 764. The Son Must Serve His Father
"We have enjoined upon every son to serve his father. Thus have We decreed this command in the Book."
765. Consultation Between Father and Son
"Regarding thy question about consultation of a father with his son, or a son with his father, in matters of trade and commerce, consultation is one of the fundamental elements of the foundation of the Law of God. Such consultation is assuredly acceptable, whether between father and son, or with others. There is nothing better than this. Man must consult in all things for this will lead him to the depths of each problem and enable him to find the right solution."
766. Father Must Give Son Advice--Son Must Obey Father
"The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instill into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.
"The son, on the other hand, must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good-pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good-pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen."
767. Parents Must Be Respected--Should Not Keep Child Back from Serving the Cause
"If thou wouldst show kindness and consideration to thy parents so that they may feel generally pleased, this would also please Me, for parents must be highly respected and it is essential that they should feel contented, provided they deter thee not from gaining access to the Threshold of the Almighty, nor keep thee back from walking in the way of the Kingdom. Indeed it behoveth them to encourage and spur thee on in this direction."
768. If One Must Make Choice Between Service to Bahá'u'lláh or Service to Parents
"We have caused thee to return to thy home as a token of Our Mercy unto thy mother, inasmuch as We have found her overwhelmed with sorrow. We have enjoined you in the Book 'to worship no one but God and to show kindness to your parents'.+F1 Thus hath the one true God spoken and the decree hath been
+F1 (Qur'an 46:15)
fulfilled by the Almighty, the All-Wise. Therefore We have caused thee to return unto her and unto thy sister, that your mother's eyes may thereby be cheered, and she may be of the thankful.
"Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.
"When We learned of her sadness, We directed thee to return unto her, as a token of mercy unto thee from Our presence, and as an admonishment for others.
"Beware lest ye commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers. Follow ye the path of Truth which indeed is a straight path. Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them, choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee. Observe therefore that which thy Lord, the Mighty, the Gracious, hath prescribed unto thee."
769. It is a Privilege to Look After Parents
"In regard to the questions you asked him: He feels sure that, although in some ways you may be a financial burden to your children, it is to them a privilege to look after you; you are their mother and have given them life, and through the bounty of Bahá'u'lláh they are now attracted to His Faith. Anything they do for you is small recompense for all you have done for them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1948: Ibid.)
770. Pray for Parents
"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: 'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved."
(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 94, 1982 ed.)
"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!"
771. Father Who Fails to Educate His Children Forfeits Rights of Fatherhood
"These are all relationships within the family, but there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women than in the home, and this too we should consider in the context of Bahá'í 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 Bahá'u'lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)
772. Mothers Are Not Necessarily Confined to the Home
"...Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of women is confined to the home. On the contrary, Abdu'l-Bahá has stated:
'In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs.' (Paris Talks, p. 182)
'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)
773. Underage Child Needs Parental Consent to Pioneer
"Regarding the Guardian's statement that pioneering is conditioned upon the consent of parents and that it would be necessary for them to concur, you have asked whether this ruling applies equally to children who are of age and those who are not. The Guardian's reply is that the ruling applies only to those who have not yet come of age."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, January 18, 1943)
774. Parents and Children in the Pioneering Field
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 23 June, 1977 in which you express the ardent desire of yourself and your husband to see your children grow as active supporters of the Faith, and you ask whether, in view of the responsibilities of Bahá'í parents in the pioneering field, the seeming sufferings the children bear as the result of their parents' commitments in service to the Cause will somehow be compensated. We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to convey to you the following points:
"In considering this problem it is important to bear in mind the reality of the unity of the family, and the children's part in its activities. In a talk which Abdu'l-Bahá gave in America in 1912, He made this significant statement:
'According to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity.... The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed, the rights of the son, the father, the mother, none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary.... All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained.' (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)
"It should also be realized that a child, from early life, is a conscious and thinking soul, a member of his family with his own duties towards it, and is able to make his own sacrifices for the Faith in many ways. It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children's whole-hearted support.
"There are many texts included in 'A Compilation on Bahá'í Education', from the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian, which indicate that 'children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Bahá'ís. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.' (Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 36). Bahá'u'lláh Himself has written: 'As to the children: We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion; ... and in deeds that will further the victory of God's Cause...' (p. 8). They should even be trained from an early age to make their own sacrifices for the Faith, as indicated in these words: 'Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import...' (Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 31)."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1977)
Page 234 XVII. THE FAST
775. Fasting--Spiritual in Character
"The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days starting as a rule from the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 10, 1936)
776. Observance of the Fast is a Universal Obligation--Bahá'u'lláh Permits Certain Exceptions to Fasting
"Regarding the nineteen-day fast: Its observance has been enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh upon all the believers, once they attain the age of fifteen and until they reach seventy. Children of all countries, nationalities and classes who are fifteen years old are under this obligation. It matters not whether they mature later in one country than in another. The command of Bahá'u'lláh is universal, irrespective of any variance in the age of maturity in different countries and among different peoples.
"In the 'Aqdas' Bahá'u'lláh permits certain exceptions to this general obligation of fasting, among them are included those who do hard work, such as workers in heavy industries.
"But while a universal obligation, the observance of the nineteen day fast has been made by Bahá'u'lláh the sole responsibility of the individual believer. No Assembly has the right to enforce it on the friends, or to hold anybody responsible for not observing it. The believer is free, however, to ask the advice of his Assembly as to the circumstances that would justify him to conscientiously break such a fast. But he is by no means required to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1937)
777. Fasting has a Salutary Effect Both Physically and Spiritually
"Keeping the Fast is enjoined upon all Bahá'ís, regardless of nationality; it has a very salutary effect both physically and spiritually, and the friends should realize Bahá'u'lláh never would have instituted it if it were detrimental to the health."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1946)
778. The Doctor's Advice Should Be Sought if There is a Health Problem
"As to your question regarding the Fast: If there is any doubt in the mind of a person as to whether it will really be bad for that person's health to keep it, the best doctor's advice should be obtained. But generally speaking most people can
keep it, anywhere in the world, with no detriment to their health. It is very good for the health and, once one forms the habit, each year it becomes easier to keep, unless one is rundown. No one is obliged to keep it if it really harms them."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 14, 1947)
779. The Divine Wisdom in Fasting
"The Divine wisdom in fasting is manifold. Among them is this: As during those days (i.e., the period of fasting which the followers afterward observe) the Manifestation of the Sun of Reality, through Divine inspiration, is engaged in the descent (revealing) of Verses, the instituting of Divine Law and the arrangement of teachings, through excessive occupation and intensive attraction there remains no condition or time for eating and drinking. For example, when His Holiness Moses went to Mount Tur (Sinai) and there engaged in instituting the Law of God, He fasted forty days. For the purpose of awakening and admonishing the people of Israel, fasting was enjoined upon them.
"Likewise, His Holiness Christ, in the beginning of instituting the Spiritual Law, the systematizing of the teachings and the arrangement of counsels, for forty days abstained from eating and drinking. In the beginning the disciples and Christians fasted. Later the assemblages of the chief Christians changed fasting into lenten observances.
"Likewise the Koran having descended in the month of Ramazan, fasting during that month became a duty.
"In like manner His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab), in the beginning of the Manifestation through the excessive effect of descending verses, passed days in which His nourishment was reduced to tea only.
"Likewise, the Blessed Beauty (Baha'o'llah), when busy with instituting the Divine Teachings and during the days when the Verses (The Word of God) descended continuously, through the great effect of the Verses and the throbbing of the heart, took no food except the least amount.
"The purpose is this: In order to follow the Divine Manifestations and for the purpose of admonition and the commemoration of their state, it became incumbent upon the people to fast during those days. For every sincere soul who has a beloved longs to experience that state in which his beloved is. If his beloved is in a state of sorrow, he desires sorrow; if in a state of joy, he desires joy; if in a state of rest, he desires rest; if in a state of trouble, he desires trouble.
"Now, since in this Millennial Day, His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab) fasted many days, and the Blessed Beauty (Baha'o'llah) took but little food or drink, it becomes necessary that the friends should follow that example...."
(From Table Talks by Abdu'l-Bahá, by Mrs. Corinne True: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)
780. Travellers Are Exempt from Fasting--If One Eats Unconsciously, Fast is Not Broken
"Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travellers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are travelling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you
are in a train or car, etc. If one eats unconsciously during the fasting hours, this is not breaking the Fast as it is an accident. The age limit is seventy years, but if one desires to fast after the age limit is passed, and is strong enough to, one is free to do so. If during the Fast period a person falls ill and is unable to fast, but recovers before the Fast period is over, he can start to Fast again and continue until the end. Of course the Fast, as you know, can only be kept during the month set aside for that purpose."
(Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 9-10)
781. Fasting in High Latitudes
"It is true that Bahá'u'lláh has ordained in the Kitab-i-Aqdas that in the high latitudes where the duration of days and nights varies considerably clocks should be relied upon rather than the rising and setting of the sun. However, we feel that Dublin is too far south for the application of this law. You should thus judge the end of each day by the actual sunset."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)
782. Smoking is a Form of Drinking
"In one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Bahá, after stating that fasting consists of abstinence from food and drink, categorically says that smoking is a form of 'drink'. (In Arabic the verb 'drink' applies equally to smoking.)
"In the East, therefore, the friends abstain from smoking during the hours of fasting, and friends from the East living in the West do likewise. But, as stated in our letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, this application of the Divine Law has not been extended to the friends in the West for the present, and therefore it should not be made an issue."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 15, 1972)
783. Observance of Fast When Attending Military School
"With reference to your son's request for advice regarding the observance of the Bahá'í fast: Much as the Guardian realizes the difficulty which a believer of his position, attending a military school, will have to encounter if he wishes to strictly conform to the regulations of the fast, he nevertheless would advise him to make every effort to obtain from the school authorities the necessary permission. In case his request is refused the only alternative for him would be to obey his superiors."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 27, 1938)
784. Prayer for the Fast
"O God! as I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions and animal traits. Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)
Page 237 XVIII. FEAR
785. Fear of God and Sense of Shame Protect Man from Unseemly Conduct
"...Verily I say: The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation. Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed and do not possess it."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, 1978 ed., p. 63)
786. Teach Children the Fear of God Through Concept of Oneness and the Laws
"That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)
787. The Knowledge which Will Largely Eliminate Fear
"In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32)
788. Lack of Faith in Immortality is a Cause of Fear, Weakened Will Power and Human Degradation
"The conception of annihilation is a factor in human degradation, fear and abjection. It has been conducive to the dispersion and weakening of human thought whereas the realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues; therefore it behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death, which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. If he dwells on the thought of non-existence he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened will-power his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 265)
Page 238 789. Meaning of the Term "Fear of God"
"You have asked the exact meaning of the term 'Fear of God' mentioned in Bahá'í Sacred Writings: It often means awe, but has also other connotations such as reverence, terror and fear."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940)
"We have no way of knowing what science Bahá'u'lláh meant when He said it would largely eliminate fear; as no further mention of it was ever made in the teachings, the Guardian cannot identify anything with this statement. To do so would depart from his function as interpreter of the teachings; he cannot reveal anything apart from the given teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 30, 1952)
790. Explaining Fear of God to Children
"In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 15, 1957)
791. Fear Does Not Solve Problems
"He does not feel that fear--for ourselves or for others--solves any problem, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly, or how soon we may all pass through another ordeal worse than the last one.
"But what we do know is that all we can do as Bahá'ís is to teach and to exemplify the Faith. We cannot bear the burden of suffering of others, and we should not try to. All men are in God's hands, and even if they do get killed we know there is another life beyond this than can hold great hope and happiness for the soul.
"No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through, will come out as Bahá'u'lláh has promised.
"He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that if God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)
792. Overcoming Fear
"He will certainly pray that you may entirely overcome your fear-complex. When you concentrate your thoughts on realizing that you now belong to Bahá'u'lláh,
are His servant whom He loves and will always help, if you ask Him to, and that the great spiritual strength of the Cause of God is behind you for you to draw upon, you will soon see your fears melting away."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)
793. Forget Fears, Teach and Serve the Faith
"The Guardian urges you to forget all your fears, and with a tranquil heart and radiant spirit, to teach and serve the Faith all you can in Yonkers and its vicinity, while depending on God for your guidance and help. The teaching work is of the utmost importance in these days, and whoever engages in it will be reinforced by the Hosts on High."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1953)
794. Fear of God--Human Beings Need Element of Fear
"You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment, fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on the right path. Of course we should love God--but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His Justice!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 26, 1946: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)
Page 240 XIX. THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST
A. Nature and Function
795. Purpose of the Nineteen Day Feast
"...The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feasts is to enable individual believers to offer any suggestion to the Local Assembly which in its turn will pass it to the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Assembly is, therefore, the proper medium through which local Bahá'í communities can communicate with the body of the national representatives...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 24, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice)
796. The Lord's Supper--The Nineteen Day Feast
"You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.
"Each one of you must think how to make happy and pleased the other members of your Assembly, and each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high, and think of your own station as low."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 7, p. 120)
797. Abdu'l-Bahá is Present in Heart and Soul
"Make ye an effort in every meeting that the Lord's Supper may become realised and the heavenly food descend. This heavenly food is knowledge, understanding, faith, assurance, love, affinity, kindness, purity of purpose, attraction of hearts and the union of souls.... When the meeting is conducted after this manner, then Abdu'l-Bahá also is present in heart and soul, though His body may not be with you."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, pp. 407-408)
798. Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts Not Obligatory
"Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory but very important, and every believer should consider it a duty and a privilege to be present on such occasions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 15, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)
Page 241 799. If Feasts Be Held in Proper Fashion...
"As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 91)
800. Prophecies About Feasts
"...This is that 'divine table' (or food) of which mention is made in the prophecies: 'On that day they shall gather together at the divine table', and 'people shall come from the East and the West and arrive in His Kingdom'."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 422, 1940 ed.)
801. Visitors Can Take Part in Consultation, They Cannot Vote
"As to visitors to a Nineteen Day Feast, Bahá'ís from anywhere in the world should of course be warmly welcomed, and may take part in consultation. However, only members of the local community can vote on recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968)
802. Omit Consultative Part of Feast if Non-Bahá'í Appears
"The rule that only Bahá'ís may take part in Nineteen Day Feasts is not a new one, indeed it was often reiterated by the beloved Guardian. However, when a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá'í should be made welcome. Of course, if the non-Bahá'í is well known to the Bahá'ís and no hurt feelings would be caused, he might be asked to retire during the consultative part. In general, however, it is much better to avoid such problems where possible, and you seem to have taken the wisest course during your friends' last visit by taking them out for the evening, so avoiding the problem.
"During the period of consultation the Bahá'ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá'u'lláh and who might, thereby, gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive non-Bahá'í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Bahá'í Community of which he is not a part."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 24, 1970)
803. Voting Rights Cannot Be Removed for Failure to Attend Feast
"The Guardian has never heard of any ruling by which a believer who does not attend three consecutive 19 Day Feasts can be deprived of his voting rights. He does not consider that such action is justifiable at all. The whole question is whether a person considers himself a Bahá'í or not, and is willing to adhere
to the principles of the Faith and accept the authority of the Guardian and the Administration--whether that individual is able, or always in a condition psychologically to attend Feasts and Bahá'í meetings is an entirely different subject...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)
804. Non-Bahá'í Attendance at Nineteen Day Feast
"With regard to the attendance of non-Bahá'ís at a Nineteen Day Feast, you can explain to ... the essentially domestic, administrative nature of the Nineteen Day Feast.... The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf on 21 September, 1946:
'As regards your question concerning Nineteen Day Feasts ... as to non-Bahá'ís attending, this should by all means be avoided, but if non-believers come to a Nineteen Day Feast, they should not be put out, as this might hurt their feelings.'
"This is why, if a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá'í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá'í to attend.
"A non-Bahá'í who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, March 13, 1967)
805. The Nineteen Day Feast for Bahá'ís Exclusively--No Variation from this Principle Permitted
"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, as published in your January-February Bahá'í News, that non-Bahá'ís may attend 19 Day Feasts if 'the earnestness of their interest in the Faith' is vouched for by a declared believer.
"The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances.
"The 19 Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by the Bab, later confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These 19 Day Feasts are for the Bahá'ís, and the Bahá'ís exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted.
"Thus the Guardian feels you should rescind the action taken by your Assembly in opening the Feasts to 'near Bahá'ís', as it is not consistent with the spirit of the administrative order for non-Bahá'ís or near Bahá'ís to attend the 19 Day Feasts, particularly the administrative portion of the Feast."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, May 28, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, November 1975)
806. Bahá'í Groups, Isolated Believers and Friends Should Observe the Nineteen Day Feast
"In reply to your letter of November 8th we feel that all friends, whatever their circumstances, should be encouraged to observe the Nineteen Day Feast.
Obviously it can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968, Bahá'í Journal of the British Isles, No. 190, March-April 1969)
807. Where Nineteen Day Feast Should Be Held
"The matter of where the Nineteen Day Feasts should be held is certainly one for the Spiritual Assembly to decide; but the Haziratu'l-Quds seems the logical place on most occasions. Until the friends have a place of worship ... this building will also be used for devotional meetings, as well as for administrative purposes.
"If under some circumstances, some special Feast is offered in the home of one of the believers, with the approval of the Spiritual Assembly, there can be no objection; but, generally speaking, he feels it is better to use the Haziratu'l-Quds."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31)
808. The Owner of the House Must Personally Serve
"...The owner of the house must personally serve the beloved ones. He must seek after the comfort of all and with the utmost humility he must show forth kindness to every one. If the Feast is arranged in this manner and in the way mentioned, that supper is the 'Lord's Supper', for the result is the same result and the effect is the same effect."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, pp. 468-469)
809. Children Up to Age Fifteen Permitted to Attend Feasts
"Up to the age of fifteen, children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Bahá'ís and are permitted to attend such functions as Feasts. Upon reaching the age of fifteen, however, the child must make his own declaration of faith if he wishes to continue as a Bahá'í. Again, the mechanics of enrollment are left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, March 27, 1968)
810. District Nineteen Day Feasts
"Each city will have its own Spiritual Assembly, not a number of district ones. Naturally, district 19 Day Feasts can be held where there are very many Bahá'ís in one city."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1949: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 29)
B. Time for Holding Nineteen Day Feast
811. Time for Holding the Nineteen Day Feast
"We have your letter of October 12, 1971 concerning the date for the holding of the Nineteen Day Feast. It is preferable that Nineteen Day Feasts be held on the first day of the Bahá'í month, but if it should be difficult to do so, it is permissible to hold it on a succeeding day of the Bahá'í month. The matter is left to the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland, October 28, 1971, Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)
812. If Feast Clashes with Regular Day for Public Meeting
"The Nineteen Day Feast should be held, preferably, on the first day of the Bahá'í month, that is to say the Bahá'í day, beginning at sunset. If this is not possible for some good reason, for example that it clashes with the regular day for a public meeting, then it may be held later, but it must fall within that same Bahá'í month and should be on the nearest possible date."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)
813. Feast Should Be Held on Prescribed Day Before Sunset
"Regarding the time for holding of the Nineteen Day Feasts and elections: The Guardian would advise your Assembly to urge the friends to hold such gatherings on the prescribed day before sunset. If impossible, then it is permissible to hold them on the preceding day...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 24, 1939: Bahá'í Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 28)
814. Feast Can Be Celebrated During Intercalary Days, Also Month of Fasting
"...relative to the last Nineteen Day Feast, Shoghi Effendi sees no objection if the friends choose to celebrate it on one of the intercalary days. They may also celebrate it during the month of fasting, provided they abstain from food."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 2, 1929)
815. In High Latitudes Permissible to Go by the Clock
"As to whether the celebrating of the Feasts, Holy Days and the Fast should follow the rising and the setting of sun, in the high latitudes it is permissible to go by the clock."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland October 28, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)
816. "Most Suitable" Day for Celebrations of the Nineteen Day Feast
"...You ask if it is within the discretion of a Local Spiritual Assembly, to schedule the Feasts at times other than the first day of a Bahá'í month, and point out that attendance was very low when the Feasts were held in the middle of a week, but that when held on a Saturday many more of the friends were
able to attend. It seems obvious, therefore, that the intent of the Local Assembly, in loving consideration of the members of its community, was to make the participation in a Nineteen Day Feast available to as many of the believers as possible. Perhaps the Assembly was basing its decision on Abdu'l-Bahá's statement, taken from the compilation on the Nineteen Day Feast, that the 'object' of the Feast is 'concord, that through this fellowship hearts may become perfectly united...'
"Other passages from that same compilation are: 'This Feast is a bringer of joy. It is the groundwork of agreement and unity. It is the key to affection and fellowship... 'The believers of God must assemble and associate with each other in the utmost love, joy and fragrance.'
"On the other hand, since the beloved Guardian expressed a preference, and considered it 'most suitable', for the Feast to be held on the first day of each month, the House of Justice hopes that the friends everywhere will aim at scheduling their Nineteen Day Feasts in this way, and that the friends themselves will arrange their personal affairs to be able to attend.
"As in so many aspects of our beloved Faith, this is a matter of the gradual maturing of the Bahá'ís and of the institutions. The House of Justice feels that you should lovingly guide the Local Assemblies in this matter, but leave it to their discretion for the time being."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, October 10, 1985)
C. Programme for the Nineteen Day Feast
817. Devotional Part of Feast
"The question regarding the devotional part of the Feast has been obscured because once he used the term 'devotional' in its strict sense, which of course means prayer, and once loosely, in the sense in which the Bahá'ís usually understand it, and that is the meeting together and reading from the teachings which precedes the administrative--or consultative--aspect of the 19 Day Feast. The two statements in no way change the method of holding this part of the Feast which, in the East at any rate, is always opened with prayers and afterwards Tablets and excerpts from Bahá'u'lláh's, or the Master's or the Guardian's writings may be read or, for that matter, the Bible or the Qur'an quoted."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949: Bahá'í Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)
818. Programme for Devotions Outlined
"Concerning the matter of the devotions at Nineteen Day Feasts. We see no contradiction in the three statements of the beloved Guardian. In essence they all describe exactly the same procedure, namely, that the Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Bab, and the Master. Following these passages may be read from other Tablets, from the Holy Scriptures of previous Dispensations, and from the writings of the Guardian. It is clear, however, that the beloved Guardian would not wish his own words to be read as part of an arranged devotional programme in which they would
be interspersed among words of Holy Scripture. In other words, at the Nineteen Day Feast, where words of the Guardian are to be read they should follow any selections from the Scriptures and not be mixed with them. This does not mean, however, that subsequently in the Feast, any of these types of writings may not be read as suitable during the consultation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause of God, August 25, 1965: cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)
819. Writings which Can Be Read in Spiritual Part of Feast
"The Writings of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh can certainly be read any time at any place; likewise the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá are read freely during the spiritual part of the Feast. The Guardian has instructed that during the spiritual part of the Feast, his own writings should not be read. In other words, during the spiritual part of the Feast, readings should be confined to the Writings of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and to a lesser extent, of the Master; but during that part of the Feast the Guardian's writings should not be read. During the period of administrative discussion of the Feast, then the Guardian's writings may be read. Of course, during the administrative part of the Feast there can be no objection to the reading of the Writings of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh or Abdu'l-Bahá."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1956: Ibid., p. 9)
820. Reading from Writings of the Guardian at Feast in Persia
"Concerning the permissibility of reading selections from the writings of the beloved Guardian at Nineteen Day Feasts in Persia: It is true, as you rightly point out, that the beloved Guardian in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States stated that only the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá should be read during the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast....
"...it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)
821. Advisable to Read from Our Own Holy Writings
"First, he feels that although in principle there is certainly no reason why excerpts from other Sacred Scriptures should not be read in the spiritual part of our Feasts, that as this is particularly an occasion when Bahá'ís get together to deepen their own spiritual life, it is, generally speaking, advisable for them to read from their own holy Writings in the spiritual part of the Feast."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: Bahá'í Meetings and the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31, Wilmette, 1976)
822. Music at Bahá'í Feasts
"Music is permitted during the spiritual part--or any part--of the 19 Day Feast."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 30, 1952: Ibid.)
Page 247 823. Advisable Believers Make Use of Hymns, Poems and Chants
"With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that not only he approves of such a practice, but thinks it even advisable that the believers should make use, in their meetings, of hymns composed by Bahá'ís themselves, and also of such hymns, poems and chants as are based on the Holy Words."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 7, 1935: Ibid., p. 5)
824. Instrumental Music May Be Used at Feasts
"Instrumental music may be used at the Bahá'í Feasts.
"There is no objection to showing appreciation by the clapping of hands.
"If an individual has a teaching appointment on the same evening as a 19 Day Feast, it is left to the individual to judge which is the most important."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 20, 1956: Ibid., p. 33)
825. Shoghi Effendi Provided for the Period of Consultation
"...In the Arabic Bayan the Bab called upon His followers to gather together once every nineteen days to show hospitality and fellowship. Bahá'u'lláh here confirms this and notes the unifying role of such occasions.
"Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi after Him have gradually unfolded the institutional significance of this injunction. Abdu'l-Bahá emphasized the importance of the spiritual and devotional character of these gatherings. Shoghi Effendi, besides further elaborating the devotional and social aspects of the Feast, has developed the administrative element of such gatherings and, in systematically instituting the Feast, has provided for a period of consultation on the affairs of the Bahá'í community, including the sharing of news and messages.
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas: N. 82, p. 202)
826. Consultation in the Nineteen Day Feast+F1
"The Bahá'ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire--so natural in people--to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the 19 Day Feasts for the community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise, the Assembly members should fully consult, and in their decisions put the interest of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949: Bahá'í Meetings; The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)
827. Selling of Items at the Nineteen Day Feast
"As to the sale of items during the Nineteen Day Feast, we leave this to your discretion, bearing in mind that the principal purpose of holding the Feast should not be diverted and that pressure should not be placed upon the friends to participate in the purchase of articles offered for sale. Neither should it become an habitual thing. It would be better if the sale was not conducted during the Feast itself, but held at a separate time before or after the Feast proper."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)
+F1 (See also: No. 288)
Page 248 XX. FIRESIDES
828. Firesides More Effective Than Publicity
"...I would like to comment that it has been found over the entire world that the most effective method of teaching the Faith is the fireside meeting in the home. Every Bahá'í as a part of his spiritual birthright, must teach, and the one avenue where he can do this most effectively is by inviting friends into his home once in 19 days, and gradually attracting them to the Cause. After the individuals have confidence in the pioneer, and the pioneer in the individuals, then they can be taught and confirmed in the Faith. This method is far more effective than advertising in newspapers, public lectures etc. The Guardian is encouraging the believers over the world, including those on the home fronts, to engage in this method of teaching."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Bahá'í Group of Key West, Florida, March 31, 1955: Bahá'í News, No. 292, pp. 9-10)
829. Must Hold Fireside in Home Once in 19 Days
"The friends must realize their individual responsibility. Each must hold a Fireside in his or her home, once in 19 days, where new people are invited, and where some phase of the Faith is mentioned and discussed. If this is done with the intent of showing Bahá'í hospitality and love, then there will be results. People will become interested in 'what' you are interested in, and then be interested in studying. Individual firesides will bring the knowledge of the Faith to more people, under favourable circumstances, and thus constantly enrich its circle of friends, and finally its members. There is no substitute for the teaching work of the individual."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 6, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 317, July 1957, p. 4)
830. Service Once Rendered by Priest is the Service a Bahá'í is Expected to Render Individually to His Religion
"The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Bahá'u'lláh has enjoined upon the Bahá'ís the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Bahá'í is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life--the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux Countries, July 5, 1957)
831. That Home is a Garden of God
"Blessed art thou for having opened the door of thy home unto the people to come and hear of the Kingdom...
"Know that in every home where God is praised and prayed to, and His Kingdom proclaimed, that home is a garden of God and a paradise of His happiness."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 68)
832. Fireside in Home is Example of Individual Goal
"...It is now imperative for every Bahá'í to set for himself individual teaching goals. The admonition of Abdu'l-Bahá to lead at least one new soul to the Faith each year and the exhortation of Shoghi Effendi to hold a Bahá'í fireside in one's home every Bahá'í month are examples of individual goals. Many have capacities to do even more, but this alone will assure final and complete victory for the Plan."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 16, 1969: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 35)
833. Must Aid New Believers to Become "True Bahá'ís"--Then Introduce Them to the Community
"...One of the best ways to teach is what the Americans call a 'fireside', in other words a little group of your friends in your own home, to whom you can introduce a few believers whom you feel would be congenial and help confirm them. When you have made them true Bahá'ís, then take them to the community and let them be accepted. In this way they are protected from tests until their faith is really strong."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 18, 1950)
834. The Holy Spirit Quickens Friends--Must Become Channels for Its Diffusion
"...The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results; when each one invites friends into their homes once in 19 days, and introduces them to the Faith. Close association and loving service affects the hearts; and when the heart is affected, then the spirit can enter. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens, and the Friends must become channels for its diffusion."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1957)
Page 250 XXI. THE BAHA'I FUND
A. Contributions--Responsibility of Bahá'ís
835. To Give and to be Generous
"...To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Hidden Words, Persian No. 49)
836. God Does Not Ask from Any Soul Except According to His Ability
"...God does not ask from any soul except according to his ability. This contribution must come from all cities and villages from all the believers of God...
"...whosoever comes with one good act, God will give him tenfold. There is no doubt that the living Lord shall assist and confirm the generous soul."
(Abdu'l-Bahá to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)
837. Responsibility of Every Bahá'í
"...Every Bahá'í, 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 Bahá'u'lláh will largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the Divine institutions of his Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 17, 1937: Extracts from a compilation of the Guardian's letters on Bahá'í Funds and Contributions published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)
838. There Can Be No Limit to One's Contributions
"...There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, specially when such offerings necessitate the sacrifice of other wants and desires on the part of the donor. The harder the sacrifice the more meritorious will it be, of course, in the sight of God. For after all it is not so much the quantity of one's offerings that matters, but rather the measure of deprivation that such offerings entail...."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 31, 1935: Life-blood of the Cause, p. 10)
839. Service Every Believer Can Render
"...Contributing to the Fund is a service that every believer can render, be he poor or wealthy; for this is a spiritual responsibility in which the amount given is not important. It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift, and the unity of all the friends in this service which bring spiritual confirmations....
"Much of the present rapid expansion of the Faith is taking place in areas of great poverty where the believers, however much they sacrifice, cannot produce sufficient funds to sustain the work. It is these very areas which are the most fruitful in teaching, and a sum of money spent here will produce ten times--even a hundred times--the results obtainable in other parts of the world. Yet in the past months the Universal House of Justice has had to refuse a number of appeals for assistance from such areas because there just was not enough money in the International Fund.
"It should therefore be the aim of every local and national community to become not only self-supporting, but to expend its funds with such wisdom and economy as to be able to contribute substantially to the Bahá'í International Fund, thus enabling the House of Justice to aid the work in fruitful but impoverished areas, to assist new National Assemblies to start their work, to contribute to major international undertakings...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'ís of the East and West, December 18, 1963: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 19-20)
840. Commerce, Agriculture and Industries Blessed Many Times
"In brief, O ye friends of God, rest assured that in place of this contribution, your commerce, your agriculture and industries shall be blessed many times...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)
841. Believers Alone Have Bounty of Contributing
"The overwhelming majority of the Bahá'ís in the world are poor people, but it is to the believers, and to the believers alone, that Bahá'u'lláh has given the bounty of contributing the material things of this world for the progress of His Faith. It is not the amount of the contribution which is important, but the degree of self-sacrifice that it entails--for it is this that attracts the confirmations of God."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Bahá'í International Fund, April 13, 1975)
842. Should Not Incur Debts for Purpose of Contributing to Fund
"Even though Shoghi Effendi would urge every believer to sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of contributing towards the fund of the National Assembly, yet he would discourage the friends to incur debts for that purpose. We are asked to give what we have, not what we do not possess, especially if such an act causes suffering to others. In such matters we should use judgement and wisdom and take into our confidence other devoted Bahá'ís."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated May 4, 1932, to an individual believer: Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada, p. 7)
B. Those Eligible to Contribute
843. Distinguishing Features of the Cause of God
"One of the distinguishing features of the Cause of God is its principle of non-acceptance of financial contributions for its own purposes from non-Bahá'ís: support of the Bahá'í Fund is a bounty reserved by Bahá'u'lláh to His declared followers. This bounty imposes full responsibility for financial support of the Faith
on the believers alone, every one of whom is called upon to do his utmost to ensure that the constant and liberal outpouring of means is maintained and increased to meet the growing needs of the Cause. Many Bahá'í communities are at present dependent on outside help, and for them the aim must be to become self-supporting, confident that the Generous Lord will, as their efforts increase, eventually enable them to offer for the progress of His Faith material wealth as well as their devotion, their energy and love."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Naw-Ruz 1974)
844. Giving to the Fund is a Spiritual Privilege
"Giving to the Fund, therefore, is a spiritual privilege, not open to those who have not accepted Bahá'u'lláh, of which no believer should deny himself. It is both a responsibility and a source of bounty. This is an aspect of the Cause which, we feel, is an essential part of the basic teaching and deepening of new believers. The importance of contributing resides in the degree of sacrifice of the giver, the spirit of devotion with which the contribution is made and the unity of the friends in this service; these attract the confirmations of God and enhance the dignity and self-respect of the individuals and the community."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)
845. When a Soul Accepts Bahá'u'lláh He Becomes a Co-Worker in the Cause of God
"There is a profound aspect to the relationship between a believer and the Fund, which holds true irrespective of his or her economic condition. When a human soul accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and enters into the divine Covenant, that soul should progressively bring his or her whole life into harmony with the divine purpose--he becomes a co-worker in the Cause of God and receives the bounty of being permitted to devote his material possessions, no matter how meagre, to the work of the Faith."
846. Those Who Openly Proclaim Recognition of Bahá'u'lláh Permitted to Contribute
"...Since only those who have openly proclaimed their recognition of Bahá'u'lláh are permitted to contribute financially to the establishment of His world order, it is apparent that more, much more, is required from the few now so privileged. Our responsibilities in this field are very great, commensurate indeed with the bounty of being the bearers of the Name of God in this Day."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
847. They Must Create a Sense of Belonging
"As it has already been pointed out, in various communications to you, it is important for the National Spiritual Assemblies to work out ways and means of creating a sense of belonging in the hearts of the believers. One of the ways this can be done is to bring to their attention the needs of the Fund."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)
Page 253 848. Contributions from Children of Non-Bahá'ís or in Case One Parent is Bahá'í
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter asking whether children of non-Bahá'ís or children one of whose parents is a Bahá'í are allowed to contribute to Bahá'í funds, and we have been asked to say that in both cases, if the child wishes to be a Bahá'í and his parents do not object, he may be treated as any other Bahá'í child. However, if the parents object to their child's being a Bahá'í, his contribution may be accepted for charitable purposes, including use for Bahá'í schools where both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís are accepted as pupils."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 31, 1975)
849. Selling Items for the Benefit of the Bahá'í Fund
"As to the sale of personal items for the benefit of Bahá'í funds, we begin with the principle that any believer may sell personal services or goods to anyone and do with the proceeds as he wishes, including giving any or all of them to Bahá'í purposes. In doing so, however, he should not represent to non-Bahá'ís that such a sale is for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund as it is also a principle that it is improper to solicit funds from non-Bahá'ís in the name of the Faith for any purpose. This includes the sale of food and admission to entertainment."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)
850. It is Not Proper for a Bahá'í Institution to Sponsor a Fund-Raising Sale Open to Public
"...Neither do we think it is proper for a Bahá'í institution to sponsor a 'garage sale' of personal items contributed by believers for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund. This is not to say that an Assembly may not sell items of property to non-Bahá'ís for fair market value, but rather that non-Bahá'ís should not be led to purchase items at a fund-raising sale on the representation that the proceeds are to be used for Bahá'í purposes."
851. Auctions Among Bahá'ís--Contributing to the Fund is a Spiritual Responsibility
"There is no objection to the friends' holding an auction among Bahá'ís for the purpose of contributing the proceeds to the fund, nor is there any objection to Bahá'ís selling their own property to non-Bahá'ís for its fair market value and later contributing the proceeds to the fund, although no representation should be made at the sale about the proceeds going to the Bahá'í fund. The House of Justice feels, however, that it is important for the friends never to lose sight of the fact that contributing to the funds of the Faith is a spiritual responsibility and privilege of profound significance in the spiritual life of the individual believer, and care must be taken not to trivialize this aspect of Bahá'í life or to treat it with a lack of dignity. At the same time, the Assemblies should not dampen the enthusiasm of those friends who, having only slender financial resources, devise imaginative ways of earning money for the work of the Faith.
"As your Assembly is considering sponsoring an auction under its direct auspices, the House of Justice suggests that you should ascertain whether the
holding of auctions is legally permissible, since we are informed that in some countries it is legal only if conducted by a licensed auctioneer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 8, 1984)
852. Holding of Raffles
"The holding of raffles has not been specifically mentioned in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and the Universal House of Justice has not legislated on the matter. However, the House of Justice does not at present consider it desirable for Bahá'í institutions to raise funds by this method."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, January 15, 1984)
853. Guidelines Towards Establishing a Business Venture Owned by Bahá'ís
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15 February concerning the proposal by a number of Bahá'ís to establish a private company whose shares would be owned by Bahá'ís and which would be managed for the financial profit of the friends and of the Faith. We are instructed to transmit its advice.
"Your objective to generate funds for the Faith is, of course, praiseworthy. In the past, as you may assume, similar proposals have been made to the House of Justice, and the following guidelines may be helpful from a letter to an individual:
'Concerning the formation of a company which you and other friends have suggested, the Universal House of Justice ... has decided that the time has not yet come to have the Bahá'í institutions involved in a business transaction in the way which was suggested.
'If the friends, however, are willing, spontaneously, to establish a profitable business in order to benefit themselves as well as the other friends it is meritorious and there is no objection.'
"Should such a business venture as you propose be undertaken--and there is nothing wrong with it in principle--it would be well to advise the Bahá'ís who participate to approach it on the basis of its viability as a business project and they should not underestimate the possibilities of financial loss.
"The House of Justice feels that the institutions of the Faith should neither themselves become involved in nor promote such a private business. The use of national endowments as collateral for such a business is not permissible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, April 5, 1982)
854. Reasons for Not Accepting Donations from Non-Bahá'ís for Administration of the Faith
"...He wishes me to stress again that under no circumstances the believers should accept any financial help from non-Bahá'ís for use in connection with specific administrative activities of the Faith such as the Temple construction fund, and other local or national Bahá'í administrative funds. The reason for this is twofold: First because the institutions which the Bahá'ís are gradually building are in the nature of gifts from Bahá'u'lláh to the world; and secondly the acceptance of funds from non-believers for specific Bahá'í use would, sooner
or later, involve the Bahá'ís into unforeseen complications and difficulties with others, and thus cause incalculable harm to the body of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 12, 1938)
855. Guidelines for Accepting Funds from Governmental and Other Non-Bahá'í Sources
"The crucial point in deciding whether or not funds may be accepted from non-Bahá'í sources is the purpose for which the funds are to be used. As you know, it is absolutely forbidden in the Faith to accept from non-Bahá'ís contributions towards the work of the Cause itself. However, in addition to the work of spreading the Faith and establishing its institutions, Spiritual Assemblies also engage in humanitarian activities, and contributions from non-Bahá'í sources may be accepted towards such activities. Indeed, although we never ask individual non-Bahá'ís for funds, it sometimes happens that a person who has a great admiration for the Faith insists on contributing. In such a case the contribution may be accepted, with the express provision that it will be used only for charitable and humanitarian purposes.
"Governments and their agencies occupy a special position because, of course, they are often very willing to assist those who are engaged in humanitarian service. Thus, where a Spiritual Assembly is undertaking a specifically humanitarian activity for which the government normally would supply financial assistance, the Assembly may accept such assistance. The activity that you instance, a meeting being held on behalf of Human Rights Day to advance one of the aims of the United Nations, is a case in point; there would be no objection to your accepting from 'INAC' its offer to pay for the invitation cards on that occasion.
"In relation to schools and other institutions of community service, government assistance is also acceptable, but here the Assembly needs to be aware that the acceptance of government funding often brings with it an obligation to accept a degree of governmental control, and these points must be carefully considered."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, March 6, 1983)
856. Should Recipient of Public Charity Contribute to the Bahá'í Fund?
"Concerning your question whether a person is to contribute to the Bahá'í Fund when he obtains his means of livelihood through public charity. Practically this is impossible, for a person who is so dependent upon the community cannot be of much help to others. Generally he does not have sufficient even for himself alone. In principle however, this is a secondary issue. Donations to the Cause are free. It is for every person to judge for himself whether he is in a position to contribute and whether he desires to do it; how he has obtained that sum is immaterial. A poor person may be readier than a rich man in sharing with others, and if he does, his sacrifice would be greater. A rich man's gift may not be a sacrifice, but a poor man's is sure to be."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1932)
C. The Treasurer and the Spiritual Assembly
857. Trustworthiness--A Prime Requisite for Those Responsible for the Funds
"A primary requisite for all who have responsibility for the care of the funds of the Faith is trustworthiness. This, as Bahá'u'lláh has stressed, is one of the most basic and vital of all human virtues, and its exercise has a direct and profound influence on the willingness of the believers to contribute to the Fund."
(From a Memorandum of Comments and Suggestions attached to a letter from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)
858. Great Responsibility of Members of the National Spiritual Assembly-- Should Require Two Signatures for Withdrawal of Funds
"In view of the great responsibility placed upon the shoulders of the members of National Assemblies by those who elect them, we have urged National Assemblies to exercise the greatest care in the handling of their National Funds particularly as these funds represent in great part acts of sacrifice on the part of the friends. It is, of course, within your discretion how you delegate the manifold tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of your National Assembly but we earnestly urge you to reconsider the resolutions to which we referred and provide that two signatures be required for the withdrawal of funds, one of which would be that of an office-holder who is a member of your National Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 26, 1973: The Need for Care in Handling Bahá'í Funds, A Compilation of extracts published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)
859. The Treasurer of an Assembly Should Never Commingle His Own Funds and Those of the Faith
"...The Treasurer of a Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly, even if momentarily holding Bahá'í funds in his own name, must take the greatest care never to commingle his own funds with those of the Faith or to leave the funds of the Faith subject to the vagaries of fortune which can afflict any one of us."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 8, 1971: Ibid.)
860. Local Assembly of a Large Community Might Appoint a Committee to Assist Treasurer
"Regarding the local funds, it is suggested that until such time as the friends have developed the habit of contributing regularly and freely, any Local Spiritual Assembly which has a large community might appoint a small committee to assist the local Treasurer in the discharge of his responsibilities. Such committees could be appointed after consultation with the Auxiliary Board member or assistant for the area. Great care must be taken in the appointment of the members of the committees; they must be both trustworthy and conscientious and must be imbued with awareness of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of contributions to the funds."
(The Universal House of Justice: Development of the Local and National Funds of the Faith: Some Comments and Observations, published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 31, Canada)
861. Treasury Committees, Functions of
"...It is envisaged that these Treasury Committees would serve a number of functions:
--- To render general assistance to the Treasurer, as needed; for example members of the committee could assist with issuing receipts or keeping accounts.
--- To arrange for inspirational talks and discussions at Nineteen Day Feasts or at specially called meetings for the education of the friends in the spiritual and practical importance of contributing to the funds.
--- To receive donations of money on behalf of the local Treasurer and transmit these to him.
--- To receive gifts of produce and handicrafts. The committee would be responsible for arranging for their sale and for handing over the proceeds to the local Treasurer.
--- To receive from the friends written pledges of their hope or intention of making a contribution to the local or national funds, whether in cash or in kind, and to assist in collecting them."
862. National Treasury Committee
"As to the national fund, in those areas where there are problems as a result of lack of banking facilities, unreliable mail systems and general difficulties of communication, it would be desirable for the National Spiritual Assembly to appoint a national committee to assist the national Treasurer in a manner similar to that outlined above for Local Spiritual Assemblies. Further, it may even be necessary to subsidize, from the national fund, one or more trusted individuals, depending on the size of the national community, who would travel to rural areas to meet with local Treasury Committees, assist them in the execution of their functions, explain the needs of the national fund, collect the donations to the national fund from the local areas and transmit them to the national Treasurer."
863. The Treasurer is Officer in Charge, but All National Spiritual Assembly Members Are Responsible
"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to ensure that contributions received are properly receipted, and satisfactory accounts kept of all receipts and disbursements. While the Treasurer normally is the officer in charge of such a sacred obligation, this does not mean that other members are thereby relieved of all responsibility, or are deprived of their right of access to details related to the current operation of the Assembly, in all its aspects.
"Such right and responsibility vested in the individual members of the Assembly do not vitiate the confidentiality of Bahá'í contributions, since the information made available to the Treasurer or other members of the Assembly is to be treated in strict confidence."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 11, 1977: Compilation of Extracts..., op. cit. No. 858)
864. Teach Trustworthiness Through Writings--Explain to Individuals that They Will Be Held Responsible for Money They Handle
"The distressing problems of the misuse of funds described in your letter can be resolved in the long run only through a process of loving education of the friends. It is through the dissemination among the believers of appropriate texts from the Writings of the Faith, through carefully prepared articles on this subject based on
the Holy Texts and published in your newsletter, and through talks at conferences, summer schools and other Bahá'í gatherings, as well as discussion of these fundamental issues with the friends at such meetings, that you will be able to gradually attain your objective.
"It is important for your Assembly, in future, to explain to persons who are entrusted with the money of the Faith that in view of the National Assembly's obligation to protect Bahá'í funds, the Assembly will hold them responsible for all monies they receive, and they should therefore render proper accounts to the National Spiritual Assembly, be faithful custodians of God's trust, and be assured that such honesty and faithfulness will be richly rewarded from on high."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 18, 1980: Ibid.)
865. The National Spiritual Assembly Should Require Annual Audit of Treasuer's Accounts
"The House of Justice has not established any uniform procedure for Bahá'í treasurers, since methods of accounting and the laws governing such matters vary considerably from country to country and from one situation to another. It advises that on such technical questions the National Assembly's Treasurer can seek the advice of a professional accountant. The National Spiritual Assembly should, of course, ensure that its books of account are audited annually and for this there is no objection to utilizing the services of a non-Bahá'í firm."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 13, 1981: Ibid.)
866. Some Guidelines for Treasurers
"In general terms, however, the House of Justice feels that there are certain matters to which National Treasurers should give particular attention.
1. There is the relationship between the National Assembly and the individual believers and local communities. Through whatever correspondence he conducts with contributors to the National Fund and with committees which are drawing on the Fund for their work, the National Treasurer can be a powerful influence in establishing links of loving unity within the community.
2. The Treasurer must be sure to render regular and accurate financial statements to the National Spiritual Assembly so that it can properly plan its work within the means available to it.
3. It is the Treasurer's responsibility to prepare the annual financial report in time for the National Spiritual Assembly to consider it before presenting it at Convention. He also has to prepare the annual budget for the consideration and approval of the National Assembly.
4. The Treasurer should carefully monitor the use of the Fund so that he can warn the Assembly in good time if there is danger of over-spending.
5. In book-keeping, a system must be adopted to ensure that earmarked funds are kept absolutely distinct from those that are at the free disposition of the Assembly, and there should be safeguards to prevent the inadvertent spending of earmarked funds on matters other than those for which they are intended.
6. In addition to keeping accurate records of income and expenditure, the Treasurer should see that the assets of the Assembly are protected and that both assets and liabilities are carefully recorded.
7. The Treasurer should advise the Assembly to set aside sufficient sums on a regular basis to provide for the repair and maintenance of properties owned by the Faith, so that these can be kept in good condition and so that the normal work of the Cause is not interrupted by sudden requirements of large sums for repairs. Usually the task of maintaining the properties is assigned to a special committee or committees, which should be consulted by the Assembly and can suggest a suitable amount to be set aside annually.
8. While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to require only one signature on cheques drawn on the National Fund, experience has shown that it is better practice to require at least two signatures. This is a protection not only to the Fund itself but also to the Treasurer. The funds of the Faith are a sacred trust, and Assemblies should be meticulous in handling and accounting for them."
867. Desirable for Assembly to Maintain Financial Reserve
"Since, in the nature of things, the levels of contributions and expenditures fluctuate, it is most desirable for an Assembly to hold a reserve adequate to bridge periods of relatively high expenditure and low income. This will help it to avoid making too frequent appeals for the friends to meet financial emergencies. Frequently issued appeals--as distinct from the regular giving of information--may tend to lose their effect. At a time of emergency, the Assembly may have to dip deeply into its reserves--an action that your Assembly has just taken--but they will need to be built up again in due course."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, February 12, 1987)
868. Duty of the National Assembly Not to Allow National Interests to be Jeopardized by Individual Considerations
"...it should be emphasized and clearly understood by the friends that the national interests and requirements of the Cause take absolute precedence over individual and private needs. It is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to so dispose of the national fund as not to allow the national interests of the Faith to be jeopardized by individual considerations that are obviously transient when compared to the lasting interests of the Cause of God. In rare and exceptional cases, when a believer has absolutely no other means of material sustenance, the National Spiritual Assembly may either contribute towards his expenses from the national fund, or make a special appeal to the body of the believers to that effect. It is for the family, the civil community and the Local Assembly to administer to such local and private needs of the individual. But in case none of these sources has the means to do so, the National Spiritual Assembly may, if it is convinced of the gravity, urgency and justice of the case, appropriate a part of its fund for that purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)
869. Assembly Should Neither Feel Embarrassed nor Ashamed in Turning to the Friends
"The National Assembly should neither feel embarrassed nor ashamed in turning to the friends, continuously appealing to them to exemplify their faith and devotion to the Cause by sacrificing for it, and pointing out to them that they will grow
spiritually through their acts of self-abnegation, that the fear of poverty should not deter them from sacrificing for the Fund, and that the assistance and bounty of the Source of all good and of all wealth are unfailing and assured...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to selected National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)
"A corollary to the sacred obligation of the friends to contribute to the Funds of the Faith, is the direct and unavoidable responsibility of each Local and National Assembly to educate them in the spiritual principles related to Bahá'í contributions. Failure to educate the friends in this aspect of the Faith is tantamount to consciously depriving them of the spiritual benefits accruing from giving in the path of God."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Bahá'í International Fund, April 13, 1975)
870. The General and National Interests of the Cause Take Precedence Over the Local Ones--But It May Be Expedient to Develop Local Fund First
"The beloved Guardian has explained that the general and national interests of the Cause take precedence over local ones; thus contributions to local funds are secondary to those to national funds. However, the stability of the National Assembly rests on the firmness of the Local Spiritual Assemblies, and in the matter of educating the friends in the importance of the fund, it is often most practical and efficacious to concentrate at first on the development of the local funds and the efficient operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. Then, once the friends understand the principle, and learn from experience at a local level, they will then more easily understand the importance of the national fund and the work of the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)
871. Assembly Obligated to Advise Believers of All Funds+F1--International, Continental, National and Local
"In educating the friends to be conscious of contributing to the fund as a fundamental element of Bahá'í life, the Assembly should make them aware of the individual believer's prerogative of contributing directly to all the funds of the Faith: international, continental and national as well as local."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 12, 1987)
872. Contributions Can Be Sent Direct to Haifa
"Would you please remind the believers in your respective communities that in addition to contributing to the International Fund by means of earmarked donations to the National Fund, they can send contributions direct to Haifa. Cheques should be made payable to BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL FUND.
"This continues the policy established by the beloved Guardian who wrote that participation of individuals through 'contributions directly transmitted to the Holy
+F1 (See also XXVI. The Institution of the Huququ'llah, Nos. 1031-1044)
Land' was 'imperative and beyond the scope of the jurisdiction of National and Local Assemblies.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 18, 1963)
873. Continental Fund
"Nor should the believers, individually or in their Assemblies, forget the vitally important Continental Funds which provide for the work of the Hands of the Cause of God and their Auxiliary Boards. This divine institution, so assiduously fostered by the Guardian, and which has already played a unique role in the history of the Faith, is destined to render increasingly important services in the years to come."
(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of East and West, December 18, 1963)
874. Pledges Can Be a Useful Means of Encouraging Contributions
"Pledges can be useful as a means of encouraging contributions and of bringing the financial needs of the Cause to the attention of the friends. This method can be particularly helpful in a situation where a Spiritual Assembly has a major task to perform, such as the building of a Haziratu'l-Quds or the establishment of a tutorial school, and needs to have some idea in advance of whether the funds for the project will be available. However, it would be entirely contrary to Bahá'í principles to bring any pressure to bear when calling for pledges or when endeavouring to collect them. Once a pledge has been given it is permissible to remind the donor, privately, of his expressed intention to contribute and to enquire courteously if it would be possible for him to honour his pledge, but Assemblies must be aware that such pledges are not an obligation in any legal sense; their redemption is entirely a matter of conscience. Lists of those making pledges must not be publicized."
(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)
875. Friends in Mass Teaching Areas Should Know Their Blessings and Responsibilities
"...The Assemblies should not hesitate, nor be diffident, in speaking of the Fund to the believers. The friends in the mass teaching areas, however poor or illiterate they may be, are full and equal members of the Bahá'í community; they should know their blessings and responsibilities. The mighty ones of this world rejected the call of Bahá'u'lláh, and it is now upon us ordinary men and women that He has conferred the inestimable bounty of raising up the Kingdom of God on earth. Service to God and His Cause is the heart of the life of every true believer and contributing to the Fund is a vital aspect of such service."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 29, 1970)
876. "Bring and Buy" Meetings
"...In parts of Africa where the poverty of the friends may be similar to the conditions existing in some parts of your country, the Assemblies organized
'Bring and Buy' meetings to which the friends may bring any material gift, such as eggs, fruit, vegetables, other foodstuffs, or local handicraft. These are placed before the friends, who may buy them at very reasonable prices for the benefit of the Funds. The friends must understand that whilst no Assembly or individual may force the friends to give to the Faith, such giving has been considered in our Teachings as a spiritual obligation and an act of sacrifice, which is closely related to the spiritual development of the individual believer."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, November 27, 1966)
877. Assembly May Sell Contributions in Kind Through a Professional Auctioneer
"There is clearly no objection to an Assembly's giving contributions in kind to a professional auctioneer to sell and then to use the proceeds for the fund. Whether it would be proper to hold such an 'ordinary auction' among Bahá'ís would depend upon the Assembly's judgement as to whether a properly dignified atmosphere could be observed and also whether it could be construed as bringing pressure to bear upon the friends to contribute which would, of course, be undesirable. In general the House of Justice prefers not to encourage such auctions for the fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)
878. It is Not Permissible to Impose a Tax or an Assessment on Local Spiritual Assemblies
"As to contributions to the National Fund, it is not permissible to impose a tax or an assessment on Local Assemblies, but you may certainly inform Local Assemblies of the needs of the National Fund and may suggest a certain percentage as a guide to them in making contributions. In doing this you may point out that support of the National Fund is an obligation not only of the believers, but of all Local Assemblies as well. It is permissible, however, for a Local Assembly to fix a percentage of its receipts as an amount to be contributed to the National Fund.
"The House of Justice appreciates the difficult task of educating the Local Assemblies and the believers in the importance of contributing regularly and sacrificially to the Fund and it feels sure that you frequently remind them of the principles of universal participation in this, as well as all other aspects of the Faith, possibly drawing on information contained in your file of circular letters sent from time to time by the House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies on the subject of the Fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 30, 1977)
879. Local Spiritual Assembly Decides for Itself How to Use Funds--National Spiritual Assembly Can Only Make a Suggestion
"When a donation is given to a Local Assembly, the Assembly itself should decide how the funds are to be used. The National Assembly may wish to suggest to the Local Spiritual Assembly ways in which the money could be more practically spent, but the final decision regarding the use of such funds rests with the local body.
"National Assemblies should avoid instructing their Local Spiritual Assemblies to allocate a certain percentage or portion of their local funds towards specific purposes. They may, however, suggest that the Local Assemblies contribute funds for priority projects at the national level and may also call to their attention national budget and suggest that the communities try to underwrite a part of the national budget. Any National Assembly is, of course, empowered to prevent an institution under its jurisdiction from taking any action regarding the use of funds which would not be to the best interests of the Cause. Such cases, however, are rare...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 17, 1985)
880. Soliciting Funds from Other Countries
"We are asked to tell you that the present policy of the House of Justice discourages National Assemblies from appealing to one another for financial assistance unless such assistance is related to a project which has been defined as a goal of collaboration between the specific Assemblies concerned. If a National Assembly has adopted plans for specific teaching projects and is in genuine need of financial support from an outside source, instead of appealing to other National Assemblies it is encouraged to turn to the Continental Board of Counsellors who will consider the plans and request, and provide assistance to the extent feasible from funds made available to them from the World Centre."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 5, 1982)
881. Individual Bahá'ís Free to Contribute to Projects in Any Country They Wish
"As regards collection of funds in other countries, the House of Justice does not wish Bahá'í institutions of any country to appeal for funds to the Bahá'ís of another country, unless the National Spiritual Assembly of that country permits it. This does not mean that individuals are not free to contribute to a Bahá'í project in any country that they wish. For example, if a Bahá'í from another country comes to a conference in ... and he wishes to contribute to your school, there would be no objection. However, an organized and indiscriminate appeal for funds to individuals in other countries should not be made without the consent of the National Assembly of that country."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1985)
D. Earmarked Funds
882. Purpose of Earmarking Funds Should Not Be Defeated
"Care must be taken that the purpose of earmarking is not defeated. Thus the use of earmarked funds to defray the expense of particular items in your budget has the effect of reducing, pro tanto, the amount of general contributions needed to be applied to the budget. In effect, this practice may result in there being no difference between an earmarked contribution and one not earmarked. For example: A friend may earmark a contribution for the Bahá'í International Fund. To apply this to the contributions to the Bahá'í International funds from your National
Fund would be wrong unless the earmarking so specifies. Funds earmarked merely to the Bahá'í International Fund should be sent to the World Centre in addition to whatever contribution is made from the National Fund."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 29, 1971: Ibid.)
883. Earmarked Funds for Specific Purchases or Projects
"We have been asked to call your attention to the principle that earmarked funds such as those for the purchase or maintenance of properties, for special teaching projects, etc. should not be used for other purposes, but should be held in a special account until expended for the purpose for which they were given. This is true whether the funds are from the World Centre, from individuals or from other sources. If the project for which the funds have been given is abandoned, the contribution should be returned to the donor unless he agrees that it may be used for other purposes. Strict adherence to the principles regarding the earmarking of funds is extremely important for many reasons, including the maintaining of the confidence of the friends in matters pertaining to the Fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 21, 1979)
884. When Earmarked Contribution is Impractical or Unwise...
"1. Although any donor, Assembly or individual, has the right to specify the purpose intended for any contribution of funds or property, if, in the judgement of your National Assembly, such contribution would be impractical or unwise for you to accept, you would be under no obligation to do so.
"2. If after consultation with the donor an agreement is not reached that you deem necessary, or you are unable to have the specified donation assigned to a more practicable purpose, the contribution should be returned to the donor."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 22, 1980: Ibid.)
885. Proceeds from Sale of Property Purchased with Earmarked Funds Retain Same Earmarking
"As to the proceeds from the sale of Bahá'í property, if it was acquired by the use of the general funds of the Faith and no earmarking of contributions is involved, the only principle to be applied is that first stated above, namely, that the national community should not be without a Haziratu'l-Quds, endowment or Temple site, as the case may be. If the property was donated or purchased with funds earmarked for that specific purpose, the proceeds of the sale of the property retain the earmarking unless the donor has specifically provided otherwise. If the donor or donors are living, they may, of course, release the earmarking. If the donor or donors are not living, or refuse to release the earmarking, the proceeds should be used for the same purpose. If that purpose has already been fulfilled (i.e., an alternate property has already been acquired), the surplus should be used to the extent possible in a manner having regard for the original intention of the donor or donors, e.g., to maintain or improve the property. In case of doubt, the matter should be referred to the Universal House of Justice."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)
Page 265 886. The Proper Accounting for Earmarked Funds is Very Important
"This question of the proper accounting for earmarked funds is very important. The account books of any Assembly should be designed in a way that will always clearly distinguish between earmarked funds and funds freely at the disposition of the Assembly, so that there will be no danger of the Assembly's inadvertently commingling them and spending earmarked funds for the wrong purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 6, 1984: Ibid.)
887. Donor Has No Right to Change Earmarked Purpose Unless the Assembly Accepts the Request to Do So
"The beloved Guardian was very emphatic that contributions to Bahá'í funds, given for specified purposes, may be used only for those purposes, unless the donor consents to a change. If the Assembly cannot use the contribution for the purpose specified, it may refuse to accept it. Alternatively it could consult the donor and suggest that he release the contribution for general purposes or transfer it to another specified one, but no pressure should be exerted to force his acquiescence. On the other hand, once money has been contributed to an Assembly, it is the property of that Assembly, even though earmarked for a specific purpose, and the donor has no right to change its purpose unilaterally. The Assembly, however, may, at its own discretion, accept his request to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1984: Ibid.)
888. The Assembly Should Try to Preserve Real Value of Funds in Its Care-- Especially True of Earmarked Funds
"The Assembly is the trustee of the funds in its care, and its primary concern in investing such funds should be to try to preserve their real value. Obtaining a good income from such investments is also desirable, but is a secondary consideration and should not be sought if this would endanger the value of the principal. This is especially true in the case of earmarked funds, where the Assembly has a duty to the donor or donors to preserve the value of the fund until such time as it can be used for the designated purpose. In such a case, when the value of the currency is itself depreciating, one method of upholding the real value of the earmarked fund is to add back to the principal all income earned on it, even if the donor has not specifically earmarked the income to be earned on his contribution."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 19, 1985: Ibid.)
889. Often It is Better that the Friends Do Not Restrict Funds
"In general, although it is permitted for the friends to earmark contributions, it is apparent that it is often better that the friends allow the Assembly to use their contributions without restricting them. Furthermore, an Assembly is by no means obligated to accept an earmarked contribution; if it does, however, it is bound to respect the earmarking."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)
Page 266 890. Care to be Taken Not to Violate Right of Earmarking--Earmarked Contribution Should Be Over and Above Assembly's Allocation to a Fund
"...care must be taken not to violate for any reason the right of the individual to earmark his contribution.
"The need, therefore, is to make clear to individual believers and Local Spiritual Assemblies how they should express their earmarkings so that the National Assembly can know whether a contribution is intended to be towards any particular segment of the national budget or to be a separate contribution merely passed through the National Assembly. In view of the Guardian's statement one should assume that, unless there is an indication to the contrary, an earmarked contribution is intended to be over and above the allocation made out of the National Fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)
891. Confidentiality of Believers' Contributions, Earmarked or Otherwise, Must Be Respected
"As a general rule the friends should realize that it is more consistent with the exalted standards expounded in our teachings for them at all times to offer their contributions freely, nobly and generously with the high sense of furthering the Cause of God in whatever form this may be achieved. However, if for some reason they wish to restrict the use of their contributions, or even make such donations known to others, they should not be prevented from carrying out their wish.
"In the light of the above, it would be useful to explain these guidelines to Mr. ... and if he confirms his wish, there is no objection to your placing a plaque in the name of the ... family in the Bahá'í Information Centre building in ... which he has donated to you.
"The guidance given in the second paragraph should be conveyed to the Local Spiritual Assembly of ... and they should be told that if they still wish to announce the contribution for their Haziratu'l-Quds at the Nineteen Day Feast they should know that they are not permitted to do so without the permission of the donor, as he is entitled to the confidentiality of his contributions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1979)
Page 267 XXII. THE GREATEST NAME OF GOD
A. The Greatest Name
892. The Greatest Name is the Name of Comfort, Protection, etc.
"The Greatest Name should be found upon the lips in the first awakening moment of early dawn. It should be fed upon by constant use in daily invocation, in trouble, under opposition, and should be the last word breathed when the head rests upon the pillow at night. It is the name of comfort, protection, happiness, illumination, love and unity.
"I hope that thou mayest become informed of the concealed mystery and recondite symbol of the stone of the Most Great Name... The use of the Greatest Name and dependence upon it, cause the soul to strip itself of the husks of mortality and to step forth freed, reborn, a new creature...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: United States Supplement to Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 2, October 1964)
893. Bahá'ís May Greet Each Other with "Allah-u-Abha"
"The Bahá'ís are free to greet each other with Allah-u-Abha when they meet, if they want to, but they should avoid anything which to outsiders, in a western country, might seem like some strange oriental password. We must be very firm on principles and laws, but very normal and natural in our ways, so as to attract strangers!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1951)
894. The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh
"The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh. 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' is an invocation meaning: 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' 'Allah-u-Abha' is a greeting which means: 'God the All-Glorious'. Both refer to Bahá'u'lláh. By 'Greatest Name' is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)
895. The Greatest Name is an Invocation and a Symbol of Our Faith
"Concerning your question regarding the 'Greatest Name': The Greatest Name is an invocation which means 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' The word 'Baha', or 'Glory', is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh. The Greatest Name is a distinctive mark of the Cause and a symbol of our Faith. The term of 'Allah-u-Abha,' on the other hand, is a form of Bahá'í greeting, and means 'God the All-Glorious.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 8, 1941)
896. Use of Greatest Name Symbol--Not Appropriate on Articles Put to Common Use
"The overriding consideration must always be the proper dignity with which the
Greatest Name should be used. Thus it would not be befitting to use it on drinking vessels or ash trays, plates for eating, and the like. There would, however, be no objection to its use on plaques or ornaments, jewellery or similar items which are not normally put to common use. The House of Justice instructs us to say that great care should be given to the accurate representation of the Persian calligraphy, since any deviation from an accepted representation can be distressing to Iranian believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium, March 12, 1980)
897. Guidelines on the Use of the Symbols of the Greatest Name on Stationery and in Paintings
"...We are requested by the Universal House of Justice to share with you the following guidelines on the use of the symbols of the Greatest Name.
"The Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual on 5 August 1949, stated:
'It is better not to encourage the use of this symbol on stationery and in paintings.'
"Likewise, the Universal House of Justice, in its letter to a National Assembly stated:
'We wish to call to your attention the impressions of the Greatest Name on the back of the envelope in which your letter was enclosed. The use of the Greatest Name is not befitting and we ask you to discontinue it.' (16 May 1971)
"In another communication regarding this subject, the following was written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly:
'...we are instructed to say that it would not be appropriate to use the symbol of the Greatest Name on the official stationery of a Local Spiritual Assembly.' (6 November 1984)
"While the House of Justice is reluctant to issue a list of the specific uses of the Greatest Name which should be avoided, the principal thing is for the friends to realize the great sacredness of this symbol, and to use it in ways which are dignified and appropriate...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, June 3, 1987)
898. Stickers, Use of Not Encouraged
"Regarding the sticker with 'World Fellowship' and the ring-stone symbol on it: He does not encourage the use of this type of thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1946: From a compilation of Extracts Concerning Guidance on the Use of the Greatest Name, attached to the above letter to the National Assembly of Hawaiian Islands)
899. Tombstones Please Refer to No. 672.
"We have your letter of June 22, 1967 enclosing sketches of emblems which are intended to be used by Bahá'ís who wish to place them inside their automobiles.
"The use of such emblems is entirely within the discretion of your National
Assembly, but you should not use the Greatest Name on the emblem."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 16, 1967: Ibid.)
901. Believer Can Manufacture and Sell Items Using the Greatest Name
"Although there exists an instruction that the symbol of the Greatest Name should not be used on gravestones, no instruction has been found prohibiting the use of the symbol of the Greatest Name on any other particular item, such as jewellery, books or pamphlets. However, the Greatest Name should not be used in an undignified manner.
"Nothing has been found which would prohibit a believer from manufacturing and selling items using the Greatest Name provided that the manner in which the Greatest Name is used is dignified."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 25, 1975: Ibid.)
902. No Prohibition Against Use of Greatest Name, Names of the Manifestations or Names of Central Figures in Songs
"We have found nothing in the texts forbidding the use of the Greatest Name, the Names of the Manifestations of God or the names of the Central Figures of our Faith in the lyrics of music. However, we feel that when they are used they should be used with reverence and respect, both in the manner in which they are incorporated in the lyrics and in the manner of presentation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 14, 1968)
903. Reproducing Greatest Names on Jewellery Commercially
"When individual Bahá'ís reproduce on a limited scale the Greatest Name on items such as jewellery, and find ways of selling these items to others, they should normally be left free to engage in such an activity, without interference from Bahá'í institutions, except in cases when in the opinion of these institutions the interests of the Faith are being adversely affected.
"However, when the friends intend to produce and sell such items on a large scale they should first seek the permission of the National Assembly, which should generally be well disposed to permit the production and sale of these objects if in their judgement the interests of the Faith are not being prejudiced and the necessary standards of dignity and propriety are being upheld.
"In all cases where the friends wish to use the venue of a Bahá'í function or event, conducted under the auspices of a Bahá'í institution, in order to display and sell their products, they may engage in this activity only if the institution concerned gives them the permission to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 15, 1978)
904. Picture of the Greatest Name May Be Destroyed, if Necessary
"If it becomes necessary to destroy a picture of the Greatest Name, there is no objection to whatever method is used. It is quite proper to wear the ring stone as a pin."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 5, 1957)
Page 270 905. Reciting the Greatest Name 95 Times Daily+F1
"The use of the Greatest Name 95 times a day is not absolutely binding. This and other similar matters will be clearly and fully explained when the 'Aqdas' is published. At present, however, the friends should be careful not to lay an undue emphasis upon them.
"When using the Greatest Name the words 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used and not 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)
906. The Greatest Name or Picture of Abdu'l-Bahá Should Be Placed in a Dignified Position
"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or the picture of Abdu'l-Bahá be placed in a dignified position. They should not be placed on the floor, nor, on the other hand, should they be held above the heads of the people in the photograph. It would seem the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 10, 1952)
B. Ringstone Emblem and Jewellery
907. Ringstone Emblem is Form of the Greatest Name--Use of on Jewelry
"In reply to your letter of November 2nd about the use of the Greatest Name on brooches and other decorations, we quote below the text of a letter which we wrote on this subject in 1964 to another National Spiritual Assembly:
'The ring-stone emblem is one form of the Greatest Name. While the beloved Guardian has called attention to the sacredness of the Greatest Name, and has asked that it should always be placed in a dignified position, we do not find any instruction absolutely prohibiting the use of symbols of the Greatest Name on any particular item such as jewelry, books or pamphlets.
'We feel that the friends should exercise the greatest discrimination and good taste in its use'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 15, 1967)
908. Bahá'ís Not Required to Wear Ringstone
"It was kind of you to think of making pins for the Bahá'ís; but he feels that this is too much like clubs and other organizations. Indeed the Bahá'ís do not even have to wear a Bahá'í ring-stone unless they care to do so. He thinks it is better not to add any other means of identification."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1956)
909. Ringstone Inscription Explained
"The inscription upon the Bahá'í ringstone is the symbol of the Greatest Name, Baha, who is the Manifestation of the essence of God. It is also symbolic of the three planes representing the World of God, the World of Revelation and the World of Creation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 28, 1938)
+F1 (See also: Nos. 1538-1539)
+F2 (See also: Nos. 901 and 903)
Page 271 910. The Significance of the Stars
"Upon the horizon of Eternal Glory two luminous stars have arisen in brilliance: one to the right and one to the left ... this is the mystery of the appearance of the Beauty of Abha and of the Supreme Highness (the Bab). And though these two diagrams at the right and the left have the form of stars, they also represent the body of man, with the head, the two arms and the two legs, since this diagram has five points."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Scriptures, p. 479, 1923 ed.)
911. Greatest Name--An Invocation
"He also wishes me to inform you that the symbol of the Greatest Name represents an invocation which can be translated either as 'O Glory of Glories' or 'O Glory of the All-Glorious'. The word glory used in this connection is a translation of the Arabic term 'Baha', the name of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 28, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 93, p. 1, July 1935)
Page 272 XXIII. HAZIRATU'L-QUDS
912. Haziratu'l-Quds--Its Main Function
"With reference to the use of your Haziratu'l-Quds we wish to point out that its main function is to serve as the National Administrative Headquarters of the Faith in your country, and anything else is secondary to that. If possible and convenient, believers may be accomodated from time to time, but it should not be regarded as a hotel facility. The work of the Cause is the prime matter and nothing should be allowed to interfere with that."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, October 23, 1963)
913. Dancing Not Appropriate in Haziratu'l-Quds
"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer the questions raised in your recent letter regarding the proper use of the Haziratu'l-Quds.
"As in most cases the Bahá'ís have no other meeting-place in the city which has a Haziratu'l-Quds, and the Haziratu'l-Quds is a building that has a number of rooms, he sees no objection in allowing the youth to have their meetings there with their non-Bahá'í friends, but dancing he does not feel is appropriate. Bahá'í weddings and funerals can likewise be conducted in the Haziratu'l-Quds.
"The Haziratu'l-Quds, although Feasts and Holy Days are celebrated in it, must not be confounded with a Temple; it is an administrative headquarters. No doubt in the future it will be used for purely administrative purposes, but for the time being it must fill the role of being a true Centre and rallying-point for the Bahá'í Community."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, February 15, 1947)
914. Local and National Haziratu'l-Quds
"The Haziratu'l-Quds is an Institution of the Faith and no distinction should be made between a National or Local Haziratu'l-Quds concerning its use. Other than the Haziratu'l-Quds dances may certainly be allowed at summer schools, etc., and it should be left to the discretion of the committee or Assembly in charge to make whatever arrangements are necessary."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, June 27, 1970)
915. Principles that Govern Acceptance of Gifts of Land
Please refer to No. 728.
916. National Spiritual Assembly Should Budget Annually for Maintenance of Properties
"Many properties have already been acquired in the course of previous plans. It is important that these properties be properly maintained in good repair. National
Spiritual Assemblies should set aside sums annually in their budgets for the maintenance of national properties so that when a repair becomes necessary the funds will be available without creating a sudden crisis for the national fund. As far as possible, local Haziratu'l-Quds and other local properties should be kept up by the local friends themselves.
"It is also important to make full use of the properties of the Faith for the purposes for which they were acquired. Well maintained and regularly used properties will not only be a means of fostering Bahá'í community life, but will add to the prestige and dignity of the Faith in the eyes of the non-Bahá'í public."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1979)
917. Responsibility of National Spiritual Assembly to Maintain and Improve Properties--Individual Bahá'ís Can Help in Many Ways
"National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world are required to assume, on a continuing basis, the responsibility of providing for the maintenance and improvement of their own Bahá'í properties, and they should instill into the consciousness of the believers the importance of their role in keeping the national headquarters in a representative and attractive condition. There are many ways in which the Bahá'ís can help to beautify and maintain their National Haziratu'l-Quds, not only by contributing by material means, but also by offering their time and labour to clean, paint, take care of minor repairs, work in the gardens, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uruguay, June 20, 1979)
918. Purchase and Sale of Haziratu'l-Quds
"The Universal House of Justice has requested us to acknowledge your letter of May 6, 1981 concerning the proposed sale of your National Haziratu'l-Quds and to convey the following.
"The matter is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly bearing in mind the principle that you should not be without a National Haziratu'l-Quds; that is, you must obtain a new one, or at least have the transactions for obtaining it well advanced and secure, before disposing of the old one.
"In reply to your question about the location of the Secretariat of the National Assembly, we have been asked to say that your Assembly must operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and it is important and desirable that your Secretary reside as near as possible to the National Headquarters in order that the duties of the office may be attended to with dispatch. Enclosed for your consideration are excerpts from recent letters dealing with this subject."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Nicaragua, June 7, 1981)
919. National Haziratu'l-Quds Need Not Serve Needs of Local Spiritual Assembly--Preferable that National Secretary Live in Haziratu'l-Quds
"There is no requirement for the National Haziratu'l-Quds to include within its accommodations a public meeting hall, neither is there a requirement that it be a meeting place for the Local Spiritual Assembly in the city in which it
may be located. Its essential function is that it is the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly, and should have adequate facilities for its secretariat. Should there be adequate space and the National Assembly feels it convenient, there would be no objection to its leasing one or two rooms to the Local Spiritual Assembly, but this certainly is not an essential part of the National Haziratu'l-Quds. The facilities you choose to specify as criteria in the search for new quarters are a matter for your own decision.
"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, it is the generally preferred arrangement. Should it be impossible for the Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself, there would be no objection to his living nearby. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and that the National Assembly should operate from there."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, July 22, 1982)
920. The National Spiritual Assembly Must Operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds--Eventually, Full Time Service Will Be Required of the National Secretary
"The first principle which has been established is that a National Spiritual Assembly must operate from its National Haziratu'l-Quds, which is the official Seat of the National Spiritual Assembly. During the early formative years of the Faith and the building up of the Administrative Order it has been permitted in certain instances for the National Secretary to reside away from the city in which the National Haziratu'l-Quds is located, but in these cases the principle has always been enforced that the National Spiritual Assembly itself operates from its proper address at the National Haziratu'l-Quds.... The aim should be to overcome this anomaly and for the National Secretary to reside close to, if not in, the National Haziratu'l-Quds itself. Inevitably the day will come when it will be necessary for your National Secretary to devote his entire time to the service of the National Spiritual Assembly and it will then be imperative for the Secretary to operate from the Haziratu'l-Quds."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, February 9, 1976)
921. Preferable Arrangement and Bahá'í Norm that the National Secretary Live in the Haziratu'l-Quds--Not to be Considered a "Right of Office"
"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and certainly the believer elected to the important post cannot claim such residence as a right of office, it is the generally preferred arrangement and is, in fact, the norm of Bahá'í practice. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds and that the National Assembly should operate from there. This obviously requires the constant attendance of the Secretary since all mail for the Assembly should be received at and despatched from the Haziratu'l-Quds, and there are many other considerations of which you are all informed. However, the final decision must rest with your National Spiritual Assembly and should it be impossible for the National Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself there
would be no objection to the officer living near or within easy reach, particularly if it were on a temporary basis."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 22, 1974)
922. A District Haziratu'l-Quds Serves the Local Community as a Gathering Place for Bahá'ís of Wider Area
"A district Haziratu'l-Quds should be considered as the local Haziratu'l-Quds of the community in which it is situated, but as it is intended also to serve as a central gathering place for friends from a wider area it should be a more substantial structure than normally required for a local Haziratu'l-Quds. In keeping with this concept, such a building can be used for the holding of conferences, teaching institutes, deepening classes, etc., for the larger area.
"Whether someone should live in the district Haziratu'l-Quds is a matter for your Assembly to determine. However, it is usually desirable to have living accommodation available for someone to reside there to act as a caretaker for the property."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Surinam and French Guiana, August 15, 1982)
Page 276 XXIV. HEALTH, HEALING AND NUTRITION
A. Spiritual and Physical Healing
923. Consult Competent Physicians When Ill
"Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Kitab-i-Aqdas, K. 113, p. 60)
924. Prayers for Spiritual and Material Healing
"...The prayers which were written for the purpose of healing are both for the spiritual and material healing. Therefore chant them for the spiritual and material healing. If healing is best for the patient surely it will be granted. For some who are sick, healing for them shall be the cause of other ills. Thus it is that wisdom does not decree the answer to some prayers.
"O maid-servant of God. The Power of the Holy Spirit heals both material and spiritual ills."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablet to Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, 1976 ed., p. 86)
925. The Greatest Name Influences Both Spiritual and Physical Matters
"That the Most Great Name exerciseth influence over both physical and spiritual matters is sure and certain."
(From a Tablet to an individual believer, by Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 2)
"O maid-servant of God! Continue in healing hearts and bodies and seek healing for sick persons by turning unto the Supreme Kingdom and by setting the heart upon obtaining healing through the power of the Greatest Name and by the spirit of the love of God."
(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 629)
926. Two Ways of Healing Sickness
"There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced.
"Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions,
will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects.
"Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 151-152)
927. Two Processes of Healing--Prayer Alone Not Sufficient
"As you know Bahá'u'lláh has ordained that in case of illness we should always consult the most competent physicians. And this is exactly what the Guardian strongly advises you to do. For prayer alone is not sufficient. To render it more effective we have to make use of all the physical and material advantages which God has given us. Healing through purely spiritual forces is undoubtedly as inadequate as that which materialist physicians and thinkers vainly seek to obtain by resorting entirely to mechanical devices and methods. The best result can be obtained by combining the two processes, spiritual and physical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 12, 1934: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 9)
928. Spiritual and Material Healing Essential and Complementary
"With regard to your question concerning spiritual healing. Such a healing constitutes, indeed, one of the most effective methods of relieving a person from either his mental or physical pains and sufferings. Abdu'l-Bahá has in His 'Paris Talks' emphasized its importance by stating that it should be used as an essential means for effecting a complete physical cure. Spiritual healing, however, is not and cannot be a substitute for material healing, but it is a most valuable adjunct to it. Both are, indeed, essential and complementary."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1935: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)
929. Physical Healing Must Be Reinforced by Spiritual Healing
"With reference to your question concerning spiritual healing. Its importance, as you surely know, has been greatly emphasized by Abdu'l-Bahá Who considered it, indeed, as an essential part of physical processes of healing. Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. And this last one can be best obtained through obedience to the laws and commandments of God as revealed to us through His Manifestations. Individual believers, however, can also help by imparting healing to others. But the success of their efforts depends entirely on their strict adherence to the Teachings, and also on the manner in which they impart them to others. According to Bahá'u'lláh man cannot obtain full guidance directly from God. He must rather seek it through His Prophets. Provided this principle is clearly understood and explained, the Guardian sees no harm that the friends should try to effect spiritual healing on others. Any such cure effected, however, should
be done in the name of Bahá'u'lláh and in accordance with His teachings. For God, and God alone, is the Supreme and Almighty Physician and all else are but instruments in His hands."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 23, 1935: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8)
930. Healing of Illness--There is No Such Thing as "Bahá'í Healers"
"The Guardian knows nothing about your kind of healing, nor would he care to go into the question in detail, as he has no time for such matters. But he can lay down for your guidance certain broad principles: there is no such thing as Bahá'í healers or a Bahá'í type of healing. In His Most Holy Book (the Aqdas) Bahá'u'lláh says to consult the best physicians, in other words, doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine: He never gave us to believe He Himself would heal us through 'healers', but rather through prayer and the assistance of medicine and approved treatments.
"Now, as long as your healing is in no opposition to these principles, as long as you do not try and take the place of a regular doctor in trying to heal others, but only give them your kind of help through constructive suggestion-- or whatever it may be--and do not associate this help with being a channel of the direct grace of Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian sees no harm in your continuing your assistance to others. But you must conscientiously decide whether in view of the above you are really justified in continuing. He will pray for your guidance and happiness...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Ibid., p. 8)
931. To Associate Such Things with the Cause Ultimately Injures It
"He feels the attitude taken by you and the Assembly of Caracas towards the remarkable healing powers exhibited by ... has been the right one. To associate such things with the Cause directly would be only to ultimately injure its reputation and misrepresent it, as her powers--which are certainly very hard to find any logical explanation for--are not common to Bahá'ís, but rather a phenomenon seen among individuals, (rarely) of religious backgrounds.
"As to its being direct inspiration of Bahá'u'lláh, we certainly cannot say this. We can only be grateful that she has actually been able to help people who direly needed it. She herself being a devoted Bahá'í, there is no reason why she should not be known as one. But certainly it should in no way be connected with her healing powers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, September 30, 1949, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 8)
932. Not a Unique Phenomenon
"The Guardian has already heard about ...'s seemingly remarkable powers of healing and he wrote the friends who communicated with him that he feels that she is naturally free to use this power, so far beyond our understanding, but not a unique phenomenon in history by any means, for the good of others, but that it is better not to directly associate it with the Faith.
"In other words this dear soul is a Bahá'í, and we are all proud that she is one. But she should not give the impression she is a Bahá'í healer, for we have no such
thing, but rather that she is a Bahá'í by faith, whom God seems to have blessed with this precious bounty individually of being able to often heal others."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1949: Ibid., pp. 8-9)
933. To Be Able to Help Another Soul Who is Suffering
"The Guardian sees no reason why you should not continue to help sick people. As he wrote to some of the believers regarding this matter previously, as long as you do not say you are healing them as a Bahá'í, or because you are a Bahá'í (because we have no 'healers' in the Cause as such) there can be certainly no objection to your doing it. On the contrary to be able to help another soul who is in suffering is a great bounty from God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 5, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)
934. Try Not to Have the Faith Identified with Such Things
"He thinks your Assembly's decision regarding spiritual healing being demonstrated at a Bahá'í meeting was quite sound. We should try not to have the Faith identified with such things in the eyes of the public officially. What the believers do privately, which in no way contravenes the Teachings, is their own affair."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 25, 1953: Ibid., p. 9)
935. Should Not Become Healer
"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Bahá'ís do not have."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Ibid., p. 9)
936. Healing by the Holy Spirit
"We have no reason to believe that the healing of the Holy Spirit cannot be attracted by ordinary human beings. But this is rare, a mystery, and a gift of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)
937. Visiting the Sick
"We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 204)
Page 280 938. However Critical and Hopeless Consult and Follow Treatment of Competent Physician
"As regards Miss ... Shoghi Effendi feels unspeakably grateful for all the kind assistance you have been continually extending to her father in this assuredly heart-rending, nay indeed calamitous situation facing him. You did certainly well, however critical and hopeless his daughter's case may have been considered by the doctors, to advise him to take her to a hospital, and give her the best treatment medical science could possibly offer. In doing so you have acted in full conformity with the counsel so tenderly and repeatedly given by Bahá'u'lláh that in case of illness one should invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 18, 1939: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, June 1974, p. 7)
939. Both Spiritual and Physical Forces Needed to Secure Speedy Recovery
"In the Book of Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh urges us, that when we obtain any physical ailment we should refer to the doctor and abide by his decision. Physical and spiritual forces have both to be used to secure the speedy recovery of the patients; no partial treatment is sufficient. So you should pray for your son and also be faithful in your obedience to the directions of the physicians who are trying to restore him to health."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 1, 1933)
940. Physical Ailments Have No Effect on the Soul
"Regarding your questions concerning the condition of the soul during illness. The passages in the 'Gleanings' make it quite clear that physical ailments, no matter how severe, cannot bring any change in the inherent condition of the soul. As Bahá'u'lláh says: 'The spirit is permanent and steadfast in its station'. The veil or hindrance that interposes between soul and body during physical disease is sickness itself. Sickness reveals a lack of balance in human organism, an absence of equilibrium in the forces essential for the normal functioning of the human body."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)
941. Bahá'ís Must Avoid Depleting Their Forces and Suffering Breakdowns
"...The Bahá'ís, in spite of their self-sacrificing desire to give the last drop of their strength to serving the Cause, must guard against utterly depleting their forces and having breakdowns. For this can sometimes do more harm than good, because they are so bound up in the lives of others....
"There is no doubt that there is vicarious atonement for others, and our sufferings sometimes can be in the nature of a sacrifice accepted for others. But where to draw the line is a mystery. If you take better care of your own health, and build up your reserves, it would certainly be better for you and for your work. Then your sensitive, yearning heart, although you may still often suffer for and with others, will be better able to withstand its trials, and you will not get so exhausted, which is certainly no asset to your work for the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 25, 1949)
Page 281 942. The Supreme Need of the World Today is for Spiritual Healing--Bahá'ís Are the Leaven that Must Leaven the Lump
"However much the need may be for physical healing, the supreme need of the world today is for spiritual healing. Life in this world is so relatively short--and at present it is fraught with a thousand difficulties and dangers; whereas life in the true sense is eternal, and for this eternal life people need some preparation in these turbulent times.
"Your work to improve the health of people is a meritorious way of serving mankind, but it can never be compared with the work of illumining the souls and minds of men with the Light of Bahá'u'lláh. The people of the world are teeming millions, the Bahá'ís only a handful, yet they are the precious leaven that must leaven the lump."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)
943. Some Illnesses Have to Do with the Spiritual Development of the One Affected or of the Loved Ones
"The Beloved Guardian has asked me to assure you and the parents of the dear baby of his prayers for his healing, both material and spiritual.
"It is difficult for us to understand these calamities when they come to us. Those who are firm in the Faith, know that the Hand of God protects them, and if something of this nature comes upon them, it is for some reason, which may have to do with the spiritual development of the one affected, or the spiritual development and welfare of the loved ones; or even for the melting of the hearts of non-Bahá'ís, who will be affected by the Divine Spirit, through the manner in which the Bahá'í meets such an ordeal."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 23, 1953)
944. Physical Pain is Necessary to Existence and is Unavoidable--In Every Suffering One Can Find a Meaning and a Wisdom
"As to your question concerning the meaning of physical suffering and its relation to mental and spiritual healing. Physical pain is a necessary accompaniment of all human existence, and as such is unavoidable. As long as there will be life on earth, there will be also suffering, in various forms and degrees. But suffering, although an inescapable reality, can nevertheless be utilised as a means for the attainment of happiness. This is the interpretation given to it by all the prophets and saints who, in the midst of severe tests and trials, felt happy and joyous and experienced what is best and holiest in life. Suffering is both a reminder and a guide. It stimulates us to better adapt ourselves to our environmental conditions, and thus leads the way to self-improvement. In every suffering one can find a meaning and a wisdom. But it is not always easy to find the secret of that wisdom. It is sometimes only when all our suffering has passed that we become aware of its usefulness. What man considers to be evil turns often to be a cause of infinite blessings. And this is due to his desire to know more than he can. God's wisdom is, indeed, inscrutable to us all, and it is no use pushing too far trying to discover that which shall always remain a mystery to our mind."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 29, 1935)
Page 282 945. Decree of Bahá'u'lláh Consult Competent Doctor
"According to the explicit decree of Bahá'u'lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 156, No. 135)
946. It is the Responsibility of the Believers to Look After the Sick
"O thou servant of God! To look after the sick is one of the greatest duties. For every soul who becomes sick, the other friends should certainly offer their lives (in service) with the utmost kindness."
(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Volume I, p. 149: cited in Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, p. 1)
B. Mental Illness
947. Little is Known About the Mind and Its Workings
"Very little is as yet known about the mind and its workings. But one thing is certain: Bahá'ís can and do receive a very remarkable help and protection in this world, one which often surprises their doctors very much!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 9, 1948: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 4)
948. Mental Illness Does Not Affect Our Spirit or Our Inner Relation to God
"It is very hard to be subject to any illness, particularly a mental one. However, we must always remember these illnesses have nothing to do with our spirit or our inner relation to God. It is a great pity that as yet so little is really known of the mind, its workings and illnesses that afflict it; no doubt, as the world becomes more spiritually minded and scientists understand the true nature of man, more humane and permanent cures for mental diseases will be found.
"The Guardian, much as his heart goes out to you in your fear and suffering, cannot tell you whether electric shock treatments should or should not be used, as this is a purely medical question, and there is no reference to such details in our Scriptures. The best scientists must pass upon such methods, not laymen.
"You must always remember, no matter how much you or others may be afflicted with mental troubles and the crushing environment of these State Institutions, that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul. Let us hope in the meantime scientists will find better and permanent cures for the mentally afflicted. But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 12, 1948: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, June 1974)
Page 283 949. Disease of Two Kinds--Madness Can Be Cured Through Prayer
"Disease is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Take for instance, a cut hand; if you pray for the cut to be healed and do not stop its bleeding, you will not do much good; a material remedy is needed.
"Sometimes if the nervous system is paralysed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary. Madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through prayer. It often happens that sorrow makes one ill; this can be cured by spiritual means."
(Abdu'l-Bahá in London, Addresses and Notes of Conversations, 1982 ed., p. 65)
950. Some Serious Deficiencies, Physical or Mental, Can Incapacitate One to Contract Marriage
"The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race--which is the very flower of the entire creation--and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.
"That there should be, however, certain individuals, who, by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life, is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.
"The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Bahá'í Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters)
951. No Objection to One Seeing a Psychiatrist
"As regards your seeing a psychiatrist: There is no objection to your trying this form of treatment if your physician recommends it, and any intelligent doctor would never be prejudiced against the Faith through the difficulties incurred by a patient due to illness.
"There is no object in over-taxing your will power and strength by forcing yourself to do things for the Cause. You should let your mind rest in the thought of the infinite love, mercy and forgiveness of Bahá'u'lláh, and cease to fret about whether you are or are not doing your share until you fully recover your health--and evidently you already are on the road to recovery!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1945)
Page 284 952. Bahá'ís Should Not Become Healers+F1
"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Bahá'ís do not have."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, A Compilation, p. 13)
953. The Mind Can Be Helped by Professionals, but the Soul is Not Aided by Psychotherapy
"With reference to the broad aspects of your problem of psychological difficulty, the House of Justice has asked us to quote the following passages from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: 'Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind.... When it (the soul) leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal'. In a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian we also find the following passage: 'You must always remember, no matter how much you and others are afflicted with mental troubles ..., that your spirit is healthy, near to your Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul.' Thus it is that the soul is not aided by psychotherapy. On the other hand, in your understanding of the mental phenomena which distress you, and in your efforts to overcome your problem it is perfectly proper to consult professional experts, as your National Assembly ... advised. In another letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary, we read the following: 'As Bahá'u'lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians, Bahá'ís certainly are not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when available, do so.' The mind, then, with all its aberrancies, may often favourably be influenced by scientifically trained persons.
"The Universal House of Justice suggests that through daily prayer, and specially by observing the daily obligatory prayers, through study of the Writings, through active participation in teaching efforts and in the activities of the community, and through constant effort to sacrifice for the Faith you love so well, you will provide a spiritual counterpart to the professional help you will receive from the experts. You should also endeavour to engage in some useful occupation, or by training yourself to have such an occupation, as work is itself another means at our disposal, in accordance with our Teachings, to draw nearer to God, and to better grasp His purpose for us in this world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 6, 1976)
954. The Science of the Mind is in Its Relative Infancy--Therapy of Mental Disorders is Advancing
"It is not easy to be burdened with long years of mental illness such as you describe. And plainly you have sought aid from many persons of scientific and non-scientific training backgrounds, apparently to little avail over the years of your prolonged illness.
+F1 (See also: Nos. 930-934)
Possibly you should consider, if it is feasible, consulting the best specialists in a medical centre in one of the major cities, where the most advanced diagnosis and treatment can be obtained. The science of the mind, of normality and of the disabilities from which it may suffer, is in its relative infancy, but much may be possible to aid you to minimize your suffering and make possible an active life. The last ten years in the therapy of mental disorders has seen important advances from which you may well benefit.
"Your discovery of the Faith, of its healing Writings and its great purposes for the individual and for all mankind, have indeed brought to you a powerful force toward a healthy life which will sustain you on a higher level, whatever your ailment may be. The best results for the healing process are to combine the spiritual with the physical, for it should be possible for you to overcome your illness through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined effort."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)
955. Mental Illness is Not Spiritual
"...mental illness is not spiritual, although its effects may indeed hinder and be a burden in one's striving toward spiritual progress. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer there is this further passage: 'Such hindrances (i.e., illness and outer difficulties), no matter how severe and insuperable they may at first seem, can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined and continued effort.'
"That effort can include the counsel of wise and experienced physicians, including psychiatrists. Working for the Faith, serving others who may need you, and giving of yourself can aid you in your struggle to overcome your sufferings. One helpful activity is, of course, striving to teach the Cause in spite of personal feelings of shortcomings, thus allowing the healing words of the Cause to flood your mind with their grace and positive power."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 15, 1982)
956. Bahá'ís Should Not Take a Defeatist Attitude Toward Mental Illnesses
"In the Bahá'í Teachings it is made quite clear that when one is ill, one should seek the best available medical advice. This naturally leaves a person free to choose what they consider good in medical opinion. If you and ...'s mother feel that she is improving under the care of your own doctor, and ... is willing to wait and be patient and see if she goes on making progress, there can surely be no objection to her doing this. There are a great many as you know mental diseases and troubles at present, and the one thing Bahá'ís must not do is take a defeatist attitude toward them. The power in the Faith is such that it can sustain us on a much higher level in spite of whatever our ailments might be, than other people who are denied it. This however does not mean that we should ignore medical opinion and treatment. On the contrary, we should do our best to procure the opinion of specialists and competent doctors."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)
"There is nothing in our teachings about Freud and his method. Psychiatric treatment
in general is no doubt an important contribution to medicine, but we must believe it is still a growing rather than a perfected science. As Bahá'u'lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Bahá'ís are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when advisable, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right, it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 15, 1950)
958. Physician is Blessed Who Heals in the Name of God
"Well is it with the physician who cureth ailments in My hallowed and dearly cherished Name."
(From a Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)
959. To Seek Medical Treatment and Obey the Doctor is a Divine Ordinance
"It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor's instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 156)
960. One Must Obey Command of God and Submit to Medical Opinion
"One must obey the command of God and submit to medical opinion. Thou hast undertaken this journey to comply with His command and not for the sake of healing, since healing is in the hand of God, not in the hand of doctors."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)
961. The Science of Medicine is Extremely Useful
"Thou shouldst endeavour to study the science of medicine. It is extremely useful and serveth as the greatest instrument for the dissemination of the Cause. It is absolutely imperative that thou acquire this bounty. Strive day and night that thou mayest become highly qualified in this science. And when thou wishest to dispense treatment, set thy heart toward the Abha Kingdom, entreating divine confirmations."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)
962. The Sick Must Refer to a Skilled Doctor
"...thou hast written about thy poor sight. According to the explicit divine text the sick must refer to the doctor. This decree is decisive and everyone is bound to observe it. While thou art there thou shouldst consult the most skilled and the most famed eye specialist."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)
963. The Physician Has Two Powers
"O thou distinguished physician!... Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related
to man's spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 150-151)
964. When Giving Treatment, Turn to the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh
"When giving medical treatment turn to the Blessed Beauty, then follow the dictates of thy heart. Remedy the sick by means of heavenly joy and spiritual exultation, cure the sorely afflicted by imparting to them blissful glad tidings and heal the wounded through His resplendent bestowals. When at the bedside of a patient, cheer and gladden his heart and enrapture his spirit through celestial power. Indeed, such a heavenly breath quickeneth every mouldering bone and reviveth the spirit of every sick and ailing one."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 151)
965. It is Imperative to Consult a Doctor Even if One is an Eminent Physician
"According to the explicit decree of Bahá'u'lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 156)
966. God Alone Has the Power to Give True Healing--Many Men Have Died of the Very Disease of Their Specialty
"All true healing comes from God! There are two causes for sickness, one is material, the other spiritual. If the sickness is of the body, a material remedy is needed, if of the soul, a spiritual remedy.
"If the heavenly benediction be upon us while we are being healed then only can we be made whole, for medicine is but the outward and visible means through which we obtain the heavenly healing. Unless the spirit be healed, the cure of the body is worth nothing. All is in the hands of God, and without Him there can be no health in us!
"There have been many men who have died at last of the very disease of which they have made a special study. Aristotle, for instance, who made a special study of the digestion, died of a gastronomic malady. Avicenna was a specialist of the heart, but he died of heart disease. God is the great compassionate Physician who alone has the power to give true healing."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, 1972 ed., p. 19)
967. Service is Prayer
"This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 177)
968. Doctors Versed in Medical Science Can Treat Case Better Than Loving Mothers
"...He fully sympathizes with you in this great sorrow that has afflicted you. At
such occasions, the true servants of God should be resigned and try to act wisely, using at the same time all available means to help their loved one who is in distress and is suffering from illness.
"Bahá'u'lláh tells us that in case of disease we should pray but at the same time refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions. Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to find whether your son has really become ill, and if he is, then follow the directions of the doctor. Being versed in the medical sciences they can treat better than even a loving mother can. You can render your assistance by praying for him and at the same time helping the physicians to treat him."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 9, 1933: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, pp. 5-6)
969. Powers Released by Bahá'u'lláh Destined to Reveal Themselves Through Instrumentality of His Followers
"These investigations you have so painstakingly pursued in the field of medical science, and on a subject which is still puzzling the minds of all the leading scientists in the world, cannot but be of a captivating interest and of a great value to all medical research workers.
"It is significant that you as a believer should have undertaken a work of this nature, as we all know that the powers released by the Manifestation of Bahá'u'lláh in this day are destined, in the course of time, to reveal themselves through the instrumentality of His followers, and in every conceivable field of human endeavour.
"That you should increasingly prove, through your confirmed researches in the domain of medicine, to be one of those instruments, is the fervent hope of our beloved Guardian."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1938)
970. Doctors Should Not Work on 9 Holy Days
"He thinks it is better for Bahá'í doctors not to work on our 9 Holy Days--but, of course, that does not mean they should not attend to very sick people and emergencies on these days."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 2, 1946: Dawn of a New Day, p. 116)
971. Corrupt Practices
"The Guardian feels that your attitude towards the corrupt practice of accepting commissions from fellow physicians and pharmacists is most admirable. The more upright and noble the Bahá'ís are in their conduct, the more they will impress the public with the spiritual vitality of the Faith they believe in."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 20, 1953: Living the Life, p. 18)
D. Illnesses and Medical Practices
972. Medical Science Will Greatly Improve with the Spiritual Awakening of Man
"Abdu'l-Bahá does often state that the medical science will much improve. With
the appearance of every Revelation a new insight is created in man and this in turn expresses itself in the growth of science. This has happened in past dispensations and we find its earliest fruits in our present day. What we see however is only the beginning. With the spiritual awakening of man this force will develop and marvelous results will become manifest."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1932: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)
973. Surrogate Mothers and Artificial Insemination
"Regarding surrogate mothers and artificial insemination, you will find the following extracts from statements made by the Universal House of Justice relevant to your questions:
'The beloved Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer who enquired on the same subject, said "...there is nothing in our teachings about this, therefore there is no objection to having a baby by means of artificial insemination as long as your husband is the father of it.'
'Artificial insemination is, therefore, permissible to a Bahá'í wife provided her husband is the donor.'"
(From a letter dated 11 July 1978 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
"Also, after quoting the above statement of the Guardian, the following comment was made in another letter:
'In view of this, the House of Justice has stated that it would not be proper for a Bahá'í to donate semen to a hospital for the artificial insemination of a woman other than his wife.'"
(From a letter dated 25 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia)
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler of this compilation, October 27, 1981)
974. Artificial Production of Life
"As to your question regarding the possibility of an artificial production of life by means of an incubator: This is essentially a matter that concerns science, and as such should be investigated and studied by scientists."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937: Selections From Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)
975. Conception Without Male Sperm
"...As to the possibility of conception without the presence of a male sperm in the future: This is a question which lies entirely within the province of science, and which future scientists will have to investigate."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 27, 1938)
"Hypnotism hath a weak influence over bodies, but hath no result. But the
power of the kingdom of God is great. If thou canst, endeavor to obtain a share of that power."
(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 169)
977. Auto-Suggestion or Hypnotism
"What comes under the healing of psychic practices Abdu'l-Bahá has warned us against; but any form of auto-suggestion or hypnotism which is used by medical science and by properly qualified physicians we are free to take advantage of, if we feel that the doctor using such practices is qualified and will not abuse his rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 15, 1957: Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena, February 14, 1974, p. 2)
"Cancer is such a terrible scourge in the world today! But when the believers are called upon to go through such bitter ordeals they have the Faith to sustain them, the love of their Bahá'í friends to comfort them, and the glorious words of Bahá'u'lláh regarding immortality to give them confidence and courage. Blessed are we, indeed, even, in the midst of our greatest trials."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 5, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 231, p. 1, May 1950)
979. Cancer--Not Stated It is a Spiritual Disease
"There is no authority for the statement which is alleged to have been said by Abdu'l-Bahá to the effect that cancer is a spiritual disease. The saying is quite unauthoritative, and should not be circulated."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
"There is nothing in the Teachings about chiropractic as a method of healing. People are free to turn to it if they please and find help through it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 10, 1951: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and related Matters, April 1984, p. 14)
"The beloved Guardian says that the question of circumcision has nothing to do with the Bahá'í Teachings; and the believers are free to do as they please in the matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 27, 1954: Ibid.)
982. Reference to Certain Aspects of Medical Profession Not Found in Sacred Writings
"We were impressed by the spirit of your letter of 15 Sultan seeking guidance concerning certain aspects of the medical profession. Your desire to avoid doing anything in your study of medicine which would be contrary to the Bahá'í Teachings is most commendable.
"As you have keenly observed, the Universal House of Justice may consider it untimely to make definitive rulings on certain matters to which no direct
reference can be found in the Sacred Text. Among these are euthanasia and certain aspects of birth control and abortion, and until such time as rulings are made, these matters are left to the consciences of those concerned who must weigh the medical advice on the case in the light of general guidance given in the Teachings. Your National Spiritual Assembly has specific references regarding birth control and abortion which might be useful to you."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 18, 1975)
983. Heart/Kidney Transplant
"We have your letter of September 13, 1968, making inquiry about instructions which may apply to organ transplants such as the heart or kidney.
"On 18 September, 1968, we wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina as follows:
'We have not come across anything specific in the writings on transplants of hearts and other organs or regarding the time of death, and the Universal House of Justice does not wish to make any statements on these points at this time.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 23, 1968)
984. Organ Donor for Parts of the Body Including the Eyes
"In reply to your letter of October 1st inquiring about organ transplants and Bahá'ís acting as donors for parts of the body, we refer you first of all to our letter of March 3rd 1967 in which we quoted to you a passage from one of the beloved Guardian's letters on this subject.
"We are also able to give you the following from a letter of the beloved Guardian by his secretary: 'There is nothing in the teachings which would forbid a Bahá'í to bequeath his eyes to another person or for a hospital; on the contrary it seems a noble thing to do.' This passage is from a letter dated September 6th 1946.
"The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the elucidation contained in the above statements."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 16, 1969)
985. Euthanasia (Mercy Killing)
"As to the questions relating to euthanasia ... the House of Justice has asked us to share with you these two statements...
'As to the Bahá'í viewpoint on the removal or withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patient.'
(From a letter dated 31st May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
'We have received your letter of March 18, 1974 in which you ask for the Bahá'í viewpoint on euthanasia and on the removal of life support in medical cases where physiological interventions prolong life in disabling illnesses. In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best, and we have found nothing in the Sacred Text on these
matters specifically but in a letter to an individual written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary regarding mercy killings, or legalized euthanasia, it is stated:
"...this is also a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to legislate."
'Until such time as the Universal House of Justice considers legislation on euthanasia, decisions in the matters to which you refer must be left to the consciences of those responsible.'" (From a letter dated 17 May 1974 from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska)
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler, October 27, 1981)
986. When Dissecting Human Body, It Must Be Treated with Respect
"To your fourth question, a Bahá'í, when dissecting a human body for the purposes of medical study, should keep in mind that since the body was once the temple of the spirit it must be treated with respect even though there is no further connection between the two."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 18, 1975)
987. Life Support
"With reference to your letter of 1 July 1985, we are asked to say that, in general, our Teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best. The Universal House of Justice has found nothing in the Sacred Text about the matter of withholding or removing life support in disabling or terminal illnesses where intervention prolongs life. Therefore, until such time as the House of Justice considers legislation on these matters, it is left to the conscience of the individual concerned whether or not to subscribe to a 'living will'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, July 23, 1985)
"The Teachings bear no reference to the question of telepathy. It is a matter that concerns psychology."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 28, 1938: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 10)
989. Before Serious Operation Consult More Than One Physician
"He is pleased to see that you are feeling better, and will certainly pray for your full recovery. Before having any serious operation, you should consult more than one qualified physician."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 8, 1954)
990. Protect Your Health by Sleeping Enough
"Regarding your question: There are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, September 15, 1952)
Page 293 991. Take Care of Health as a Necessary Means of Serving the Cause
"You should always bear in mind Bahá'u'lláh's counsel that we should take the utmost care of our health, surely not because it is an end in itself, but as a necessary means of serving His Cause. In case of illness, He emphatically tells us, we should refer to the most competent physicians.
"Now your father has taken you to the best nerve specialists in ..., and they all recommend that you should suspend all your activities until you are fully recovered. It is now your duty as a Bahá'í, and specially as a young believer who has still great services to render the Faith, to make every effort to recover your health, and to be confident that by making such an effort you will be attracting the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, without which no true and lasting healing is possible."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)
"Regarding your question about vaccination: These are technical matters which have not been specifically mentioned in the teachings, and consequently the Guardian cannot make any statement about them. No doubt medical science will progress tremendously as time goes by, and the treatment of disease become more perfect."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 24, 1943: Bahá'í News, No. 173, p. 3, February 1945)
"As regards the question the Auckland Assembly has asked about vivisection, there is nothing on this subject in the Bahá'í teachings. At a future date such matters will no doubt be taken up by the International House of Justice."
(Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 130)
994. Torture of Animals--When the Hearts of Men Change Medical Research Will Eliminate as Much Suffering of Animals as Possible
"The Guardian fully sympathizes with your repulsion against any torture to animals. However, he feels that as there are human beings being tortured much worse than animals all over the world, often physically, and more often mentally, that it is more important for the Bahá'ís to concentrate on what will free man from the cruelty and injustice which oppress him, rather than animals. Once we change human hearts, there will be no more cruelty to animals, and medical research will be carried out in a way which will eliminate as much suffering in experiments as possible."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 27, 1952)
995. During Vivisection Animal Must Be Well Anaesthetized
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 19th January 1978 enquiring the Bahá'í point of view on the vivisection of animals. The beloved Guardian was asked a similar question to which his secretary replied on his behalf, on 29 November 1955: 'As there is no definite and conclusive statement on Vivisection in the Bahá'í Teachings, this is a matter which the International House of Justice will have to pass upon in the future.'
"The House of Justice does not wish to legislate upon this matter at the present
time. It is left to the consciences of the individual friends, who should make their decisions in light of the teachings concerning animals and their treatment.
"In this connection the House of Justice instructs us to say that in a Tablet in which He stresses the need for kindness to animals, Abdu'l-Bahá states that it would be permissible to perform an operation on a living animal for the purposes of research even if the animal were killed thereby, but that the animal must be well anaesthetized and that the utmost care must be exercised that it does not suffer."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, March 9, 1978: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 16)
996. Sins Are Potent Cause of Physical Ailments
"...It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.
"But man hath perversely continued to serve his lustful appetites, and he would not content himself with simple foods. Rather, he prepared for himself food that was compounded of many ingredients, of substances differing one from the other. With this, and with the perpetrating of vile and ignoble acts, his attention was engrossed, and he abandoned the temperance and moderation of a natural way of life. The result was the engendering of diseases both violent and diverse."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 152-153)
E. Physical Education
997. Material Education
"...education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1981 ed., p. 8; cited in A Compilation of Extracts on Physical Education, p. 1, World Centre)
998. The Essentiality of Taking Proper Care of Child from the Early Days of His Life
"Unless the child, in his earliest years, be carefully tended, whether in a material or a spiritual sense, whether as to his physical health or his education, it will prove extremely difficult to effect any changes later on. For example, if a child is not properly cared for at the beginning of life, so that he doth not develop a sound body and his constitution doth not flourish as it ought, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect. This matter of protecting the health of the child is essential, for sound health leadeth to insights and sense perceptions, and then the child, as he learneth sciences, arts, skills, and the civilities of life, will duly develop his powers...."
(From a previously untranslated Tablet by Abdu'l-Bahá, Ibid., p. 1)
999. Give Them Advantage of Every Useful Kind of Knowledge
"While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly
grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty. Give them the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, 1982 ed., p. 129: Ibid., p. 1)
1000. Training and Development of Physical Body Ensures Strength and Growth
"...education is of various kinds. There is a training and development of the physical body which ensures strength and growth."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 330: Ibid., p. 2)
1001. There Should Be a Program for the Development of Youth All Over the World
"...Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í youth all over the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931: Ibid., p. 2)
1002. Playing Games
"Playing games is not in the least forbidden. It should in fact be encouraged if they are of an athletic nature."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 27, 1932: Ibid., p. 2)
F. Diet and Nutrition
1003. Treat Disease Through Diet, but Do Not Neglect Medical Care
"Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary, but leave it off when health has been restored. Treat disease through diet, by preference, refraining from the use of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compounded medicament... Abstain from drugs when the health is good, but administer them when necessary."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, 1980 ed., p. 106, cited in ... Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)
1004. One Course Meal More Pleasing in the Sight of God
"In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Kitab-i-Badi, Ibid.)
1005. Mother's Milk Normally is Best for the Child
"The child must, from the day of his birth, be provided with whatever is conducive to his health; and know ye this: so far as possible, the mother's milk is best for, more
agreeable and better suited to, the child, unless she should fall ill or her milk should run entirely dry."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1006. Abstinence from Eating Animal Flesh
"Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food is also meat.
"But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá written to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1007. The Four Canine Teeth in Man
"Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying that these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created for meat-eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man are made for eating fruit, cereals and vegetables. These four teeth, however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds. But eating meat is not forbidden or unlawful, nay, the point is this, that it is possible for man to live without eating meat and still be strong. Meat is nourishing and containeth the elements of herbs, seeds and fruits; therefore sometimes it is essential for the sick and for the rehabilitation of health. There is no objection in the Law of God to the eating of meat if it is required. So if thy constitution is rather weak and thou findest meat useful, thou mayest eat it."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1008. The Bab Has Said that Bahá'ís Must Develop Medical Science So that Illness May Be Healed by Foods
"...The Bab hath said that the people of Baha must develop the science of medicine to such a high degree that they will heal illnesses by means of foods. The basic reason
for this is that if, in some component substance of the human body, an imbalance should occur, altering its correct, relative proportion to the whole, this fact will inevitably result in the onset of disease. If, for example, the starch component should be unduly augmented, or the sugar component decreased, an illness will take control. It is the function of a skilled physician to determine which constituent of his patient's body hath suffered diminution, which hath been augmented. Once he hath discovered this, he must prescribe a food containing the diminished element in considerable amounts, to re-establish the body's essential equilibrium. The patient, once his constitution is again in balance, will be rid of his disease.
"At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. In the same way, in the character, the conduct and the manners of men, universal modifications will be made."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 152-155)
1009. Medical Science is Only in Its Infancy
"'What will be the food of the future?' 'Fruit and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food.'"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ten Days in the Light of Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 8-9)
1010. Should One Kill Animals for Food?
"In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Bahá'í Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it. It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable. This is, however, a very controversial question and the Bahá'ís are free to express their views on it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)
1011. Many Ailments that Affect Man Also Afflict Animals--Animals Heal Themselves with Food and Aliments
"The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal, but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the wilderness, the animal's physician is the power of taste and smell. The sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured. The cause of his healing is this. When the sugar ingredient has become diminished in his constitution, he begins to long for sweet things; therefore, he eats an herb with a sweet taste, for nature urges and guides him; its smell and taste please him, and he eats it. The sugar ingredient in his nature will be increased, and health will be restored.
"It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1982 ed., pp. 257-259, Ibid.)
Page 298 1012. Eating of Pork is Not Forbidden
"The eating of pork is not forbidden in the Bahá'í Teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 27, 1938: Ibid.)
1013. The Body is Like a Horse that Carries the Personality and Spirit
"...you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It--the body--is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 23, 1947)
1014. The Prophets of God Are Not Immune from Things which Men Suffer
"...as we suffer these misfortunes we must remember that the Prophets of God Themselves were not immune from these things which men suffer. They knew sorrow, illness and pain too. They rose above these things through Their spirits, and that is what we must try and do too, when afflicted. The troubles of this world pass, and what we have left is what we have made of our souls, so it is to this we must look to becoming more spiritual, drawing nearer to God, no matter what our human minds and bodies go through."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 5, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 231, May 1950, p. 1)
1015. No Specific School of Nutrition or Medicine Has Been Associated with the Bahá'í Teachings
"No specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Bahá'í teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that 'It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures.' The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand....
"In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh has stated: 'Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians. Verily, We have not abolished recourse to material means, rather have We affirmed it through this Pen which God hath made the Dawning Place of His luminous and resplendent Cause.' The secretaries of the Guardian have conveyed his guidance on this point in many letters to individual believers in passages such as these: '...refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions'; '...invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians...' and '...consult the best physicians ... doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine.' Thus the obligation to consult physicians and to distinguish between doctors who are well trained in medical sciences and those who are not is clear, but the Faith should not be associated with any particular school of medical theory or practice. It is left to each believer to decide for himself which doctors he should consult, bearing in mind the principles enunciated above.
"In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. Here too, as in all other things, the believers should be conscious of the two principles of moderation and courtesy in the way they express their opinions and in deciding whether they should refuse food offered to them or request special foods.
"There are, of course, instances where a believer would be fully justified in abstaining from or eating only certain foods for some medical reason, but this is a different matter and would be understood by any reasonable person."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 24, 1977)
1016. We Have Guidelines, Indications and Principles which Experts Will Carefully Study in the Future
"In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. But it must be clearly understood that no specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Bahá'í teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that 'It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures.' The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 11, 1978)
1017. Believers Should Seek Help and Advice of Experts--The Teachings Say Nothing About Eating Meat or Fish
"In matters of health, particularly regarding diet and nutrition, the House of Justice advises the friends to seek the help and advice of experts and doctors. This is what Bahá'u'lláh has recommended and He does not indicate which school of thought or practice they should belong to. However, as you particularly ask about references in the Old Testament as they relate to meat and fish, the House of Justice has asked us to quote for you the following excerpt taken from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer:
'...there is nothing in the teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw; exercise or not exercise; resort to specific therapies or not; nor is it forbidden to eat meat.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 19, 1977)