1354. Bahá'ís Recognize the Right and Duty of Governments to Protect Their People
"...Bahá'ís recognize the right and duty of governments to use force for the maintenance of law and order and to protect their people. Thus, for a Bahá'í, the shedding of blood for such a purpose is not necessarily essentially wrong. The Bahá'í Faith draws a very definite distinction between the duty of an individual to forgive and 'to be killed rather than to kill' and the duty of society to uphold justice. This matter is explained by Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Some Answered Questions'. In the present condition of the world Bahá'ís try to keep themselves out of the internecine conflicts that are raging among their fellow men and to avoid shedding blood in such struggles, but this does not mean that we are absolute pacifists. This point is explained in the following statement written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf on 21 November, 1935:
'With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Bahá'í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá'í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the 'golden mean'. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.
'The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man's heart.'
"A further quotation which may help this dear friend to understand this matter is the passage about the establishment of the Lesser Peace on page 65 of 'The Secret of Divine Civilization'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 9, 1967)
1355. It is Their Duty as Loyal and Devoted Citizens to Offer Their Services to Their Country
"He has noted your Assembly's request for his advice as to what forms of national service the friends may volunteer for in times of emergency. While the believers, he
feels, should exert every effort to obtain from the authorities a permit exempting them from active military service in a combatant capacity, it is their duty at the same time, as loyal and devoted citizens, to offer their services to their country in any field of national service which is not specifically aggressive or directly military. Such forms of national work as air raid precaution service, ambulance corps, and other humanitarian work or activity of a noncombatant nature, are the most suitable types of service the friends can render, and which they should gladly volunteer for, since in addition to the fact that they do not involve any violation of the spirit or principle of the Teachings, they constitute a form of social and humanitarian service which the Cause holds sacred and emphatically enjoins."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 27, 1938)
1356. "Specifically Aggressive or Directly Military" Activities Are to be Avoided
"From study of the beloved Guardian's letters it is apparent that what he wanted the friends to avoid is 'specifically aggressive or directly military' activities. As regards indirect activities it would be extremely difficult in modern society for anyone to disassociate himself from activities which, in the long run and by devolution, are inimical to the human race."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 29, 1967)
1357. A Bahá'í May Enlist in the Armed Forces if Not Made Liable for Combatant Service
"...there is no objection to a Bahá'í enlisting voluntarily in the armed forces of a country in order to obtain a training in some trade or profession, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service.
"There is likewise no objection to a Bahá'í seeking or continuing a career in the armed forces, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 13, 1981)
1358. National Service Through Professions Useful to Mankind--National Spiritual Assembly Has Responsibility to Counsel Youth
"Whenever circumstances of military or paramilitary service arise the Bahá'í friends should do their utmost to avoid taking part. If, however, they are compelled to do so they should then do everything possible to ensure that they are engaged only in non-combatant services. When the question of National Service, such as you describe in Guyana, includes training in skills and professions useful to mankind, such as agriculture, the friends may certainly volunteer for such services, provided they are definitely assured that their training will not subject them later to call up for military service in combatant roles.
"If compelled to enter training of a military kind the friends should endeavour to be assigned to such non-combatant activities as stretcher bearing, the medical corps, administrative duties, and other essential departments of military organizations which would not involve them directly in the taking of life.
"It is therefore for your National Spiritual Assembly to decide whether the National Service programme in Guyana is a permissible occupation for Bahá'í youth and
if so whether on a voluntary basis, or if under compulsion, what steps can be taken to enable Bahá'í youth to serve as non-combatants."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana, September 14, 1975)
1359. Bahá'ís Are Not Asking to be Given a Safe Berth During Hours of National Crisis
"Regarding your question about military service, the Guardian sees no reason why the Bahá'í in question should not bring a test case, and press the matter. It is now, since he has become a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, against his conscience to kill his fellow-men; and he should have the right to explain his position and ask to be exempted from combatant service. During the hearing of such cases, the Bahá'ís should make it absolutely clear that we do not fear being placed in danger, and are not asking to be given a safe berth in hours of national crisis--quite the contrary--any dangerous service that Bahá'ís can render their fellow-men during the agonies of war, they should be anxious to accept."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 25, 1951)
Page 411XXXII. MUSIC
1360. Music is a Ladder by which Souls May Ascend
"We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 51, p. 38)
1361. Music is an Important Means to the Education and Development of Humanity
"Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life; wherefore, the Teachings of God, whether they be in the form of anthems or communes or prayers, when they are melodiously sung, are most impressive."
(From talks of Abdu'l-Bahá: Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 7, also, Star of the West, Vol. XV, p. 130)
1362. It is Necessary that the Schools Teach Music
"...The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure and melodies have great influence on them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art, the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52)
1363. Music as a Praiseworthy Science
"O servant of Baha! Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody and raise such hymns of praise at the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
as to enrapture the Concourse on High. By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, from a recently translated Tablet to an individual believer: Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 5, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Oakham, England)
1364. Music as One of the Arts
"Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should be any cultivation of 'Bahá'í Music' any more than we are trying to develop a Bahá'í school of painting or writing. The believers are free to paint, write and compose as their talents guide them. If music is written incorporating the sacred writings, the friends are free to make use of it, but it should never be considered a requirement at Bahá'í meetings to have such music. The further away the friends keep from any set forms, the better, for they must realize that the Cause is absolutely universal, and what might seem a beautiful addition to their mode of celebrating a Feast, etc., would perhaps fall on the ears of people of another country as unpleasant sounds--and vice versa. As long as they have music for its own sake it is all right, but they should not consider it Bahá'í music."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Ibid., p. 11)
1365. Prayers Set to Music
"It is entirely proper to set prayers to music, and the friends are free to sing prayers in unison. Indeed, assuming that the music is appropriate and that the believers do not make a ritual out of it, it is highly praiseworthy for choirs to sing appropriate verses revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master....
"We would assume also that the friends will always keep in mind that whether read, chanted or sung, prayers should be uttered with a proper sense of reverence."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, February 6, 1973)
1366. Singing and Chanting Prayers in Unison
"We have your letter of 22nd January, 1973 asking whether it is proper for choirs or groups to sing or chant prayers in unison.
"In answering a similar letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa about congregational singing in services at the House of Worship we said:
'Singing by a congregation present at a service in the House of Worship should not be confused with congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh for the dead...
'Regarding singing in the Temple, we must bear in mind the reference made by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas to the need for the person who enters the Temple to sit silently and listen to the chanting of the verses of God...
'In connection with the desire of the Africans to sing, this aptitude in them should be encouraged. The Guardian elucidated this principle in a letter written on his behalf by his Secretary: 'Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children be encouraged in the Auditorium, and that rigidity in the Bahá'í service be scrupulously avoided.' (Bahá'í News, September, 1931)"
1367. Not Appropriate to Set Obligatory Prayers to Music
"We have not come across any instructions which would prohibit the setting of the obligatory prayers to music. However, because of their special nature, we do not consider it appropriate to do so."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 6, 1966)
1368. Standing on the Threshold of Bahá'í Culture, We Cannot Foresee Forms and Characteristics of the Future Arts
"Regarding your future plans: The Guardian feels that, as your music is your career and means of livelihood, you should carefully consider whether it is not necessary to your future that you go on with your education in this field. If you feel this is a matter which you, alone, are not able to decide, he would advise you to seek the advice of your Spiritual Assembly.
"Also, you raise the question of what will be the source of inspiration to Bahá'í musicians and composers: the music of the past or the Word? We cannot possibly foresee, standing as we do on the threshold of Bahá'í culture, what forms and characteristics the arts of the future, inspired by this mighty new Revelation, will have. All we can be sure of is that they will be wonderful; as every Faith has given rise to a culture which flowered in different forms, so too our beloved Faith may be expected to do the same thing. It is premature to try and grasp what they will be at present."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 23, 1942)
1369. The Greatest Name and the Names of the Manifestations of God or the Central Figures Should Be Used with Respect
"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)
1370. Music More Helpful Before a Talk
"Music is one of the important arts. It has a great effect upon the human spirit. Musical melodies are a certain something which prove to be accidental upon etheric vibrations, for voice is nothing but the expression of vibrations, which, reaching the tympanum, affect the nerves of hearing. Musical melodies are, therefore, those peculiar effects produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have the keenest effect upon
the spirit. In sooth, although music is a material affair, yet its tremendous effect is spiritual, and its greatest attachment is to the realm of the spirit. If a person desires to deliver a discourse, it will prove more effectual after musical melodies. The ancient Greeks, as well as Persian philosophers, were in the habit of delivering their discourses in the following manner: first, playing a few musical melodies, and when their audience attained a certain receptivity thereby they would leave their instruments at once and begin their discourse. Among the most renowned musicians of Persia was one named Barbod, who, whenever a great question had been pleaded for at the court of the King, and the Ministry had failed to persuade the King, they would at once refer the matter to Barbod, whereupon he would go with his instrument to the court and play the most appropriate and touching music, the end being at once attained, because the King was immediately affected by the touching musical melodies, certain feelings of generosity would swell up in his heart, and he would give way. You may try this: if you have a great desire and wish to attain your end, try to do so on a large audience after a great solo has been rendered, but it must be on an audience on which music is effective, for there are some people who are like stones, and music cannot affect stones.
"It was for this reason that His Holiness David sang the psalms in the Holy of Holies at Jerusalem with sweet melodies. In this Cause the art of music is of paramount importance. The Blessed Perfection, when He first came to the barracks (Acca) repeated this statement: 'If among the immediate followers there had been those who could have played some musical instrument, i.e., flute or harp, or could have sung, it would have charmed every one.' In short, musical melodies form an important role in the associations, or outward and inward characteristics, or qualities of man, for it is the inspirer or motive power of both the material and spiritual susceptibilities. What a motive power it is in all feelings of love! When man is attached to the love of God, music has a great effect upon him."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: 'Table Talk', cited in Compilation of Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 6, Oakham, England)
1371. Music Helps to Communicate with the Soul
"The Guardian values the hymns that you are so beautifully composing. They certainly contain the realities of the Faith, and will indeed help you to give the Message to the young ones. It is the music which assists us to affect the human spirit; it is an important means which helps us to communicate with the soul. The Guardian hopes that through this assistance you will give the Message to the people, and will attract their hearts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 15, 1932: Ibid., p. 10)
Page 415XXXIII. THE NUMBER NINE
1372. The Number Nine is Reverenced for Two Reasons by Bahá'ís
"Concerning the number nine: The Bahá'ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those who are interested in numbers as a sign of perfection. The second consideration which is the more important one is that it is the numerical value for the word 'Baha'. (B=2, h=5, a=1, and there is an accent at the end of the word which is also = 1; the 'a' after the 'B' is not written in Persian so it does not count.) In the Semitic languages--both Arabic and Hebrew--every letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, so instead of using figures to denote numbers they used letters and compounds of letters. Thus every word had both a literal meaning and also a numerical value. This practice is no more in use but during the time of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab it was quite in vogue among the educated classes, and we find it very much used in the Bayan. As the word Baha also stood for the number nine it could be used interchangeably with it.
"Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is however enough to make the Bahá'ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 19, 1932)
1373. The Number Nine is Considered by Bahá'ís as Sacred
"The number nine which in itself is the number of perfection is considered by the Bahá'ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the religion of the Bab, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the religion of the Sabeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones still existing. There have always been divine Prophets and Messengers, to many of whom the Qur'an refers. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, February 1937, p. 2)
1374. The Number Nine Symbolizes the Nine Great World Religions and Perfection and is the Numerical Value of Baha
"First, regarding the significance of the number nine: Its importance as a symbol used so often in various connections by the believers lies in three facts: first, it symbolizes the nine great world religions of which we have any definite historical knowledge, including the Babi and Bahá'í Revelations; second, it represents the number of perfection, being the highest single number; third, it is the numerical value of the word 'Baha'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1939)
Page 416 1375. Nine as the Highest Digit Symbolizes Comprehensiveness, Culmination
"Regarding your various questions: We must avoid giving the impression of being all tied up with peculiar religious theories; on the other hand, the 9 sides of the Temple, and the 9-pointed star require an explanation, and he feels the best one is this:
"Nine is the highest digit, hence symbolizes comprehensiveness, culmination; also, the reason it is used in the Temple's form is because 9 has the exact numerical value of 'Baha' (in the numerology connected with the Arabic alphabet) and Baha is the name of the Revealer of our Faith, Bahá'u'lláh. The 9-pointed star is not a part of the teachings of our Faith, but only used as an emblem representing '9'. In telling people of the 9 religions of the world, that is, existing religions, we should not give this as the reason the Temple has 9 sides. This may have been an idea of the architect, and a very pleasing idea, which can be mentioned in passing, but the Temple has 9 sides because of the association of 9 with perfection, unity and 'Baha'.
"The Guardian feels that with intellectuals and students of religion the question of exactly which are the 9 existing religions is controversial, and it would be better to avoid it. He does not want the friends to be rigid in these matters, but use their judgment and tact; sometimes one statement is exactly the right thing for one type of mind and the wrong thing for another.
"Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Bab and explained by Him. But the Guardian does not feel it is wise or necessary to complicate our explanations of the Temple by adding this."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)
1376. The Bab Utilized the Numerical Value of Words to Symbolize Spiritual Concepts
"The Bab made use of the numerical value of words to symbolize spiritual concepts. The Persian for 'The Letters of the Living' is 'Huruf-i-Hay'; there were 18 of these first disciples of the Bab and the numerical value of the word 'Hay' is 18. These 18 letters, together with the Bab Himself, constitute the first 'Vahid' of the Revelation. The word 'Vahid' has a numerical value of 19, and means 'Unity'. It symbolizes the unity of God, and thus the number 19 itself symbolizes the unity of God, and it was used by the Bab as the basis for His Calendar. One may also note the reference on 'The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas' to 19 or 95 mithqals of gold or silver in connection with the laws of marriage and of Huququ'llah."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 13, 1980)
1377. Superstition Concerning the Number 13
"Such suppositions regarding lucky or unlucky numbers are purely imaginary. The superstition concerning thirteen had its origin in the fact that His Holiness Jesus Christ was surrounded by twelve disciples and that Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth member of their gathering. This is the source of the superstition, but it is purely imaginary. Although Judas was outwardly a disciple, in reality he was not. Twelve is the original number of significance and completion. Jacob had twelve sons, from whom
descended twelve tribes. The disciples of Jesus were twelve; the Imams of Muhammad were twelve. The zodiacal signs are twelve, the months of the year are twelve, etc."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 196-197, 1982 ed.)
Page 418XXXIV. OPPOSITION
1378. No Need to Fear Opposition if the Inner Life Be Sound and Vigorous
"There is no need to fear opposition from without if the life within be sound and vigorous. Our Heavenly Father will always give us the strength to meet and overcome tests if we turn with all our hearts to Him, and difficulties if they are met in the right spirit only make us rely on God more firmly and completely."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 14, 1925)
1379. Refuting Attacks and Criticisms Against the Cause Devolve Upon the National Spiritual Assembly to Consider
"The matter of refuting attacks and criticisms directed against the Cause through the press is, he feels, one which devolves on the N.S.A. to consider. This body, whether directly or through the agency of its committees, should decide as to the advisability of answering any such attacks, and also should carefully examine and pass upon any statements which the friends wish to send to the press to this effect. Only through such supervision and control of all Bahá'í press activities can the friends hope to avoid confusion and misunderstanding in their own minds and in the mind of the general public whom they can reach through the press."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1938)
1380. The Cause Cannot Be Effectively Established Unless It Encounters and Triumphs Over the Forces of Opposition
"The Guardian has been very much interested regarding your letter of May 18th, though he has been made truly grieved to learn of the continued and malignant opposition which the enemies of the Cause in Lima, and particularly the clerical element, are directing against the believers in that centre. He wishes you, however, to urge the friends not to feel in the least disheartened or discouraged, but to pursue with renewed determination, unity and vigour their sacred task of spreading and establishing the Faith, confident in the glorious future awaiting them. The greater the number of persecutions, and the more intense they become in character, the deeper their faith should be in the unique mission entrusted to them by Bahá'u'lláh, and the greater their zeal to help in hastening its complete fulfilment.
"This Cause, as every divine Cause, cannot be effectively established unless it encounters and valiantly triumphs over the forces of opposition with which it is assailed. The history of the Faith is in itself a sufficient proof of that. Trials and persecutions have always been, and will continue to be, the lot of the chosen ones of God. But these they should consider as blessings in disguise, as through them their faith will be quickened, purified and strengthened. Bahá'u'lláh compares such afflictive trials to the oil which feeds the lamp of the Cause of God.
"The friends should, therefore, not assume an attitude of mere resignation in the face of persecutions; they should rather welcome them, and utilize them as means for their own spiritual uplift and also for the promotion of the Cause. As the Faith
grows stronger and attracts the serious attention and consideration of the world outside, the friends must expect a similar, if not a greater, increase in the forces of opposition which from every direction, both secular and religious, will be massed to undermine the very basis of its existence. The final outcome of such a struggle, which will be surely gigantic, is clear to us believers. A Faith born of God and guided by His Divine and all-pervasive spirit cannot but finally triumph and firmly establish itself, no matter how persistent and insidious the forces with which it has to contend. The friends should be confident, and act with the utmost wisdom and moderation, and should particularly abstain from any provocative act. The future is surely theirs."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1936)
1381. Bahá'í Wife Should Show Utmost Love and Kindness to Husband in Spite of His Opposition to Faith
"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 insofar 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)
1382. How to Rehabilitate Our Perturbed Society and Eliminate War
"...He was very glad to see that you are active in representing the Cause among Peace Societies and gradually bringing them to contact our principles on that all-important subject. The sooner they come to appreciate the significance of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, the sooner will they be able to bring about the realization of their object and hope and rehabilitate our perturbed society.
"War is really nothing more but the result of existing forces. Should we desire to end that devastating consequence we should go back to the basic causes and remedy those evils. We should eliminate the hatreds, national bigotry, mistrust and self aggrandisement as well as economic, social and religious differences which now prevail in the world if we desire to establish an abiding peace. And nothing can achieve
this save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, for they change the human heart and also prescribe definite precepts that would render our social environment healthy and peaceful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1932)
1383. The Church and the Clergy Often Are the Most Bitter Opponents of the Cause
"It seems both strange and pitiful that the Church and clergy should always, in every age, be the most bitter opponents of the very Truth they are continually admonishing their followers to be prepared to receive! They have become so violently attached to the form that the substance itself eludes them!
"However, such denunciations as those your minister made publicly against you and the Bahá'í Faith can do no harm to the Cause at all; on the contrary, they only serve to spread its name abroad and mark it as an independent religion."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 7, 1945)
Page 421XXXV. ORGANIZATIONS, NON-BAHÁ'Í
1384. Affiliation with Faith Alone is Insufficient
"So far as non-Bahá'ís affiliating with the Bahá'í Faith is concerned, either a person becomes a Bahá'í and accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the divine Manifestation for this day, or he does not. The tenets of the Bahá'í Faith are simple as outlined by the Guardian, but they do not permit of any variations. In other words, if any members of the ... Movement wish to become Bahá'ís, they will be most welcome; but they can only become Bahá'ís on the basis of accepting Bahá'u'lláh as a divine Manifestation, and of course, with this goes the acceptance of the Bab as the Forerunner, and Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant, and the present Administrative Order.
"When a person has reached the sea of immortality, it is idle to keep seeking elsewhere...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Japan, July 24, 1953: Japan Will Turn Ablaze, pp. 76-77)
1385. Affiliation with Non-Bahá'í Organizations
"Regarding association with the World Fellowship of Faiths and Kindred Societies, Shoghi Effendi wishes to reaffirm and elucidate the general principle that Bahá'í elected representatives as well as individuals should refrain from any act or word that would imply a departure from the principles, whether spiritual, social or administrative, established by Bahá'u'lláh. Formal affiliation with and acceptance of membership in organizations whose programs or policies are not wholly reconcilable with the Teachings is of course out of the question.... To merely address such gatherings on one or two occasions on a subject which is in harmony with the spirit of the Teachings does not constitute acceptance by the Bahá'í speaker of the entire program of the Fellowship. We should welcome and seize every opportunity that presents itself, however modest it may be, to give a wider publicity to the Cause, to demonstrate its all-inclusiveness and liberal attitude, its independence and purity, without committing ourselves, whether by word or deed, to programs or policies that are not in strict conformity with the tenets of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi hopes that this principle will guide your distinguished Assembly in its dealings with various associations which will increasingly seek, in the days to come, the support of Bahá'í individuals and Assemblies for the attainment of their ends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 17, 1933)
1386. Association and Affiliation Defined for Bahá'í Purposes
"There should be no confusion between the terms affiliation and association. While affiliation with ecclesiastical organizations is not permissible, association with them should not only be tolerated but even encouraged. There is no better way to
demonstrate the universality of the Cause than this. Bahá'u'lláh indeed urges His followers to consort with all religions and nations with utmost friendliness and love. This constitutes the very spirit of His Message to mankind."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 11, 1935: Compilation on Association with Non-Bahá'í Organizations, Bahá'í World Centre)
1387. Bahá'ís Belonging to Churches, Synagogues, Freemasonry and the Like
"As regards the question of Bahá'ís belonging to churches, synagogues, Freemasonry, etc., the friends must realize that now that the Faith is over 100 years old, and its own institutions arising, so to speak, rapidly above-ground, the distinctions are becoming ever sharper, and the necessity for them to support whole-heartedly their own institutions and cut themselves off entirely from those of the past, is now clearer than ever before. The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focused on us; and, as humanity's plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Bahá'ís, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions wholeheartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary.
"There is another aspect to this question which the friends should seriously ponder, and that is that, whereas organizations such as Freemasonry may have been in the past entirely free from any political taint, in the state of flux the world is in at present, and the extraordinary way in which things become corrupted and tainted by political thought and influences, there is no guarantee that such an association might not gradually or suddenly become a political instrument. The less Bahá'ís have to do, therefore, with such things, the better."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 5, 1955)
1388. Bahá'ís Requested to Withdraw from Masonic and Other Secret Societies
"As regards your question about Masonry, the Bahá'ís, the Guardian feels very strongly, must learn at the present time to think internationally and not locally. Although each believer realizes that he is a member of one great spiritual family, a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, he does not often carry this thought through to its logical conclusion: which is that if the Bahá'ís all over the world each belong to some different kind of society or church or political party, the unity of the Faith will be destroyed, because inevitably they will become involved in doctrines and policies that are in some way against our Teachings, and often against another group of people in another part of the world, or another race, or another religious block.
"Therefore, all the Bahá'ís everywhere have been urged to give up their old affiliations and withdraw from membership in the Masonic and other secret Societies in order to be entirely free to serve the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh as a united body. Such groups as Masonry, however high the local standard may be, are in other countries gradually being influenced by the issues sundering the nations at present.
"The Guardian wants the Bahá'ís to disentangle themselves from anything that
may in any way, now or in the future, compromise their independent status as Bahá'ís and the supra-national nature of their Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 17, 1956)
1389. Why Bahá'ís Are Requested to Withdraw from Membership in the Church, Synagogue, etc.
"The point is not that there is something intrinsically wrong with Masonry, which no doubt has many very high ideals and principles, and has had a very good influence in the past.
"The reasons why the Guardian feels that it is imperative for the Bahá'ís to be dissociated from masonry at this time, and I might add, other secret associations, is that we are the building blocks of Bahá'u'lláh's New World Order ... the Bahá'ís should be absolutely independent, and stand identified only with their own teachings. That is why they are requested to withdraw from membership in the church, the synagogue, or whatever other previous religious organization they may have been affiliated with, to have nothing whatsoever to do with secret societies, or with political movements, etc. It protects the Cause, it reinforces the Cause, and it asserts before all the world its independent character.
"Another reason is that unfortunately the tremendous political influences in the world today are seeping deeper and deeper into men's minds; and movements which in the past were absolutely uninfluenced by any political tinge of thought now in many places are becoming infiltrated with political side-taking and political issues; and it becomes all the more important for the Bahá'ís to withdraw from them in order to protect the Faith.
"The Guardian believes that you, as an intelligent man, a Bahá'í, will see the need for this. It is only by all living according to general principles that we can knit the fabric of the Faith all over the world into a closer unity.
"He is fully aware that certain individuals are struck much more forcibly by such requests than others. This has been the case with some of the old Bahá'ís in England, who have been Masons from their boyhood on; but, as it is his duty to protect the Faith, he can only appeal to the Bahá'ís to assist him in doing so; and to consider the general good, rather than their personal feelings, however deep they may be, in such matters."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 12, 1956)
1390. Resignation from the Masonic Order
"As regards your question about the Masonic Order, he considers that the honest and courageous thing for you to do is to inform your Lodge that you no longer consider yourself, for purely personal reasons, a Mason; and would like to have your name taken off their list. If they should press you for an explanation, which he imagines is unlikely, everybody being free to do as they please in this world, you can explain to them that in the present chaotic period the world is passing through, with so many streams and counterstreams of political thoughts and prejudices of all kinds, racial, religious, etc., storming the minds of men, that you wish to disentangle yourself from all association with the past and to stand alone, free in your own ideas.
"He does not think that such an explanation will prejudice the Masons or their
friends, or arouse in them a feeling of anger against the Faith, or indeed need involve the Faith at all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1956)
1391. The Believers Should Dissociate Themselves from Secret Organizations
"...Generally speaking, the friends should not enter secret societies. It is certainly much better for the believers to dissociate themselves from such organizations..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)
1392. Theosophists: One Cannot Be Bahá'í and Theosophist at the Same Time
"A Bahá'í cannot at the same time be a Theosophist; many theosophists have become believers and very enlightened ones, but as we do not believe in reincarnation we obviously cannot be active as Theosophists and Bahá'ís at the same time."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, June 28, 1950: Dawn of a New Day, p. 140)
"With regard to the Theosophists and their activities; although they obviously try to copy and claim as their own some of the principles of the Cause, yet the Guardian feels that it would be of no advantage to oppose them and to refute their arguments. The best attitude for the friends to adopt in such cases at the present time is to totally disregard and even neglect their opponents. This has invariably been his advice to the friends, whether in the East or the West."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 64-65)
1393. World Government Organization--Should Be Non-Partisan and Non-Discriminatory
"There is no objection to the Bahá'ís associating with such organizations as the World Government Organization.... However, great care should be taken to make sure these organizations are absolutely non-partisan in their political views and lean neither to East or West."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 1950: Bahá'í News, No. 241, March 1951, p. 15)
"Bahá'ís should certainly not belong to clubs or societies that practice any form of discrimination."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, April 23, 1957)
1394. New History Society--Avowed Enemies of the Faith
"As regards ..., he should be kindly but firmly admonished by your Assembly that he cannot consider himself spiritually a Bahá'í and be associated with the avowed enemies of the Faith such as the New History Society; and that he should discontinue supporting their work or having anything to do with them; otherwise, he will find that he has been deprived wholly of his association with the Bahá'í Cause; in other words, he will not only lose his voting rights, but be outside the Faith."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 24, 1957)
Page 425 1395. Social Organizations, Relief Work--The Believers Are Building a Refuge for Mankind
"He feels that, although your desire to partake actively of the dangers and miseries afflicting so many millions of people today is natural and a noble impulse, there can be no comparison between the value of Bahá'í work and any other form of service to humanity.
"If the Bahá'ís could evaluate their work properly they would see that whereas other forms of relief work are superficial in character, alleviating the sufferings and ills of men for a short time at best, the work they are doing is to lay the foundation of a new spiritual Order in the world founded on the Word of God, operating according to the laws He has laid down for this age. No one else can do this work except those who have fully realized the meaning of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, whereas almost any courageous, sincere person can engage in relief work, etc.
"The believers are building a refuge for mankind. This is their supreme sacred task and they should devote every moment they can to this task."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 24)
1396. Membership in Non-Bahá'í Religious Organizations
"Concerning membership in non-Bahá'í religious associations. The Guardian wishes to re-emphasize the general principle already laid down in his communications to your Assembly and also to the individual believers that no Bahá'í who wishes to be a wholehearted and sincere upholder of the distinguishing principles of the Cause can accept full membership in any non-Bahá'í ecclesiastical organization. For such an act would necessarily imply only a partial acceptance of the Teachings and laws of the Faith, and an incomplete recognition of its independent status, and would thus be tantamount to an act of disloyalty to the verities it enshrines. For it is only too obvious that in most of its fundamental assumptions the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is completely at variance with outworn creeds, ceremonies and institutions. To be a Bahá'í and at the same time accept membership in another religious body is simply an act of contradiction that no sincere and logically-minded person can possibly accept. To follow Bahá'u'lláh does not mean accepting some of His teachings and rejecting the rest. Allegiance to His Cause must be uncompromising and whole-hearted...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 15, 1935)
1397. Teaching in a Mission School
"He does not think there is any objection to your teaching in a mission school, as long as it is clearly understood that you are, yourself, a Bahá'í; and if you do not have to teach their brand of religion to the pupils. There are many people nowadays employed in mission work in different parts of the world who do not belong to the Church; and, wherever such a tolerant relationship is possible, there can certainly be no objection from our side.
"Naturally it would be better if you could get a job where you would be completely independent of such relationships...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 1, 1954)
Page 426 1398. Bahá'ís Should Not Attack the Church
"The Guardian agrees with you that the Bahá'ís should be very careful not to criticize or rather attack the church. As we believe the church of Rome to be the inheritor, so to speak, of Christ's teachings, the direct line, however perverted by men's doctrines, it certainly does not befit us to show antagonism towards it. We know it is out-dated. Tact is required!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 22, 1950)
1399. A Bahá'í Cannot Be a Spiritist
"...the Guardian feels it incumbent upon him to make it quite clear that membership in every Bahá'í organization excludes the possibility of joining any religious or political association, even though such an alliance does not involve a complete repudiation of Bahá'í principles and doctrines. It would be utterly impossible to reconcile the teachings of the Faith with all the views and conceptions which any existing group, whether religious or political, may advocate. In view of that, it seems but logical that a Bahá'í cannot be a spiritist at the same time. Not that the ideas which the spiritists proclaim are each and all in direct opposition to the Bahá'í teachings. As a matter of fact there are some good points in spiritism. But this is not sufficient justification for a believer to accept membership in a spiritist organization.
"While Shoghi Effendi would urge you to dissociate yourself from the spiritists, he wishes you at the same time to act with caution and wisdom. Your separation from the spiritists should be gradual, and in a way that would not arouse the antagonism of your friends and relatives. Too sudden and abrupt a change is, indeed, harmful not only to you but to those who through you have been attracted to the Cause...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 14, 1934)
1400. Relationship of Bahá'í Community to the United Nations
"The outstanding development in the relationship of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations was the accreditation of the Community as a non-governmental organization with consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Bahá'í International Community now has a permanent representative at the United Nations and maintains an office in New York."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)
1401. All Social Movements Have Some Spark of Truth
"There are so many movements in the world at present akin to various Bahá'í principles; indeed we can almost say that the principles of Bahá'u'lláh have been adapted by thinking people all over this planet. But what they do not realize, and what the Bahá'ís must therefore teach them, is that these principles, however perfect, will never be able to create a new society unless and until they are animated by the spirit which alone changes the hearts and characters of men, and that spirit is recognition of their divine origin in a teacher sent from God, in other words, Bahá'u'lláh. When they recognize this, their hearts will change and a change of heart is what people need, not merely a change of intellectual outlook."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Bahá'í Youth of Lima, Peru, November 17, 1945)
Page 427 1402. A Bahá'í Should Not Seek Financial Help from a Religious Organization as a Bahá'í
"The questions raised in your letter of 9 January 1985 have been considered by the Universal House of Justice, and we are asked to inform you that Bahá'ís should not seek financial assistance from a religious organization as Bahá'ís. However, if some charitable organization, operated by the followers of another religion, grants scholarships to individuals, for example, a Bahá'í may accept such general assistance as an individual, but not as a Bahá'í.
"The House of Justice states that while Mr. ... may continue to receive assistance from the Catholic Commission, other Bahá'í refugees should not ask or receive aid from that body if the nature of the aid is different from what is explained above. The time will come when the Bahá'í Faith is strong enough to extend financial assistance to Catholics and others. At that time, it would be possible for Bahá'ís to partake of the facilities of the Catholic Commission. However, at present, when mutual reciprocity cannot be established, the House of Justice advises that it is not dignified for Bahá'ís to apply for such assistance."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, February 7, 1985)
1403. Membership in Trade Unions--Election Procedures
"The Alaska Public Employees Association appears to be a type of union organization. As long as this and other associations, such as the special interest groups you mention, are not affiliated with any political party and are not involved in political activities there is no objection to Bahá'ís belonging to them nor to their holding office in them.
"As for participation in elections of non-Bahá'í organizations which are open to Bahá'ís but which employ electional methods different from Bahá'í practices, believers need not avoid the election procedures carried out in such organizations.
"In all such activities the friends should bear in mind the following exhortation so clearly set forth by the beloved Guardian in a letter dated February 20, 1927 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada:
'Fully aware of the repeated statements of Abdu'l-Bahá that universality is of God, Bahá'ís in every land are ready, nay anxious, to associate themselves by word and deed with any association of men which, after careful scrutiny, they feel satisfied is free from every tinge of partisanship and politics and is wholly devoted to the interests of all mankind.... They should always bear in mind, however, the dominating purpose of such collaboration, which is to secure in time the recognition by those with whom they are associating of the paramount necessity and the true significance of the Bahá'í Revelation in this day.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, January 4, 1979)
1404. As to Participation in Strikes
"As to participation in strikes, when one of the believers who was employed in a factory as a supervisor to labourers and who felt that a strike was likely at the factory asked the Guardian what the Bahá'í attitude should be if a strike were called, the Guardian's secretary in a letter dated June 30, 1937 wrote on his behalf:
'With regard to your question concerning the Bahá'í attitude towards labour
problems; these cannot assuredly be solved, Abdu'l-Bahá tells us, through the sheer force of physical violence. Non-cooperation too, even though not accompanied by acts of violence, is ineffective. The conflict between labour and capital can best be solved through the peaceful and constructive methods of cooperation and of consultation.
'The Bahá'ís, therefore, are advised to avoid, as much as they can, getting mixed in labour strikes and troubles, and particularly to desist from all acts of physical violence which indeed run counter to the very spirit of the Cause. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh stands for peace, harmony, and cooperation between the individuals and nations of the world.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Luxembourg, April 4, 1973)
Page 429XXXVI. ORIENTALS
1405. Warning Concerning Oriental Moslems
"As to your question as to what races should be regarded as coming under the heading of 'Orientals' in connection with Abdu'l-Bahá's warnings: there is no doubt He was primarily thinking of the Near Eastern races of Islamic extraction, who have every reason to look upon the Faith either with contempt as a mere heresy within, or sect of, Islam, or with hatred as a potential threat to the supremacy of their religion. Likewise, it is these Near Eastern races, particularly the Persian, who have been most persistently exposed to the propaganda and bad example of the Covenant-breakers, old and new, and from whose ranks these very Covenant-breakers have sprung. These circumstances, combined with the fact that, like His Prophetic Forebears, Bahá'u'lláh appeared amongst the people most in need of enlightenment--and hence at their lowest ebb morally--are the reasons for not only Abdu'l-Bahá's and his own repeated warnings concerning Orientals, but also for the conduct, so often demonstrated, unfortunately, by these same Orientals, and which amply justifies our attitude of great precaution and wariness concerning receiving them in our midst and believing their declarations to be sincere. Shoghi Effendi also feels that the Moslems of India should likewise be included in this category, owing to their respective religious and racial background."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 9, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 197, July 1947, pp. 6-7)
1406. The Mere Name of Bahá'í Does Not Constitute a Bahá'í
"...the Guardian wishes the Bahá'ís to bear in mind the repeated counsels of the Master that the friends should be on their guard when dealing with Easterners. Not only should they trust no one unless he bears some letter of introduction from his Assembly but also after he is permitted in the Bahá'í group they should be very careful in their dealings with him. This does not mean that they should be unkind to him or have a constant suspicion that would gradually alienate him from the Cause, but to be on their guard lest he misuses their trust. The case of Ahmed Sohrab is a very good example of what an Easterner can do. He thinks to be doing shrewd business when a westerner would consider the act to be deceitful. As Bahá'u'lláh says often in His Tablets the friends should develop a flair wherewith they can detect the good from the evil person. Mere name of Bahá'í does not constitute a Bahá'í. His character also has to be Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 18, 1932)
1407. Avoid Making Any Effort to Convert Orientals to the Faith--i.e., Muslims from the Middle East, Pakistan and India
"As a general rule the friends should not seek out contacts among Orientals (i.e.,
those of Muslim background from the Middle East, Pakistan and India), whether students or not. However, when contact with Orientals occurs in the course of normal social events the friends, as in all other cases, should show courtesy and kindness, but in these days when the political situation is so confused the friends should consciously avoid making any effort to convert Orientals to the Faith.
"Should such individuals, however, show real interest in the Faith even to the point of wishing to declare, your National Assembly should be contacted by either the Local Spiritual Assembly or the individual teacher so that you in turn can contact the National Spiritual Assembly of the country of origin of the applicant, giving that Assembly full particulars and requesting it to inform you whether there is any objection to the enrolment of that particular individual. Nevertheless, if it appears that the Oriental wishing to declare is contemplating a return to his own country soon, you should follow your present practice of requesting that he declare to the proper administrative institution of his own country."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)
1408. Iranian Bahá'ís Need Not Avoid All Contact with Iranian Muslims--However, They Should Not Seek Them Out for Friendly Contacts nor for Teaching
"The House of Justice feels that the friends, and sometimes the Bahá'í institutions, have tended to over-react to the instructions given from time to time about contacting and teaching Muslims from Iran and other places in the Middle East, and they often take to extremes the cautions given in such instructions. The friends sometimes think they should shun such people entirely or that any contact with them is considered a breach of Bahá'í law. We are asked to point out that the House of Justice has never forbidden the friends to contact Iranian Muslims, as such a general prohibition would be contrary to the spirit of the Faith. However, given the history and the current situation of the Faith in Iran, it has urged the friends in the West to act toward these people with wisdom and caution. In fact, the House of Justice has clarified the matter on various occasions by stating the following to National Spiritual Assemblies:
'The instructions of the beloved Guardian regarding teaching orientals from the Middle East are to be upheld, even more so at this time because of the present situation in Iran. Iranian Muslims in particular should not be sought out in order to teach them the Faith. It cannot be categorically said, however, that the friends should have no contact with Iranian Muslims. Some of the Bahá'ís have relatives who are Iranian Muslims, some have close Iranian Muslim friends who happen to reside in the West, and they should not relinquish these friendships. At the same time it should be stressed to the Iranian Bahá'ís that while they should not cut themselves off from their Muslim relatives and friends--a step which could create animosity and turn them against the Faith--they should not normally seek out Iranian Muslims in order to initiate friendly contacts with them or teach them the Faith.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1983)
Page 431 1409. In Certain Cases Iranian Muslims Could Be Considered for Enrolment--Each Instance to be Referred to the Universal House of Justice for Approval
"Moreover, the House of Justice feels that there are a number of cases in which Iranian Muslims could be considered for enrolment as Bahá'ís; for example, in cases where the Muslim spouse of a Bahá'í has shown his or her interest and sincerity and has never engaged in opposing the Cause. Another example is when an Iranian is a permanent resident of the United States or Canada and apparently has no ulterior motives, such as assuming Bahá'í membership to resolve his visa problems. Proposed enrolments should be referred to the House of Justice for approval so that, if necessary, the matter can be taken up with the Iranian National Assembly. Of course, even in the cases cited enrolment cannot always be immediately effected. Consideration must be given to other factors: the reaction of relatives in Iran could be a factor in determining the timeliness of enrolling such persons. In such instances it could be explained to them that although they have accepted the Faith in their hearts and are regarded as Bahá'ís in belief, their enrolment must be postponed because of the situation in Iran. Meanwhile, the Bahá'ís should maintain friendly contacts with them and deepen them in their knowledge of the Faith."
1410. Bahá'í Professionals Should Not Refuse to Make Themselves Available Professionally to Iranian Muslims
"Already a number of Bahá'í professionals are being approached by Iranian Muslims seeking their expertise. It would be unwise for these Bahá'ís to refuse to make themselves available to them professionally. However, cultural and social contacts should take place only with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate Bahá'í institution."
Page 432XXXVII. PEACE
1411. The Ministers of the House of Justice to Promote Peace
"First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 89)
1412. The Time and Means Through which the Lesser and the Most Great Peace Will Be Established
"With reference to the question you have asked concerning the time and means through which the Lesser and Most Great Peace, referred to by Bahá'u'lláh, will be established, following the coming World War. Your view that the Lesser Peace will come about through the political efforts of the states and nations of the world, and independently of any direct Bahá'í plan or effort, and the Most Great Peace established through the instrumentality of the believers, and by the direct operation of the laws and principles revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the functioning of the Universal House of Justice as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í super-state--your view on this subject is quite correct and in full accord with the pronouncements of the Guardian as embodied in the 'Unfoldment of World Civilization'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1939)
1413. Unless the Message of Bahá'u'lláh Reaches into the Hearts of Men and Transforms Them, There Can Be No Peace
"Indeed when we see the increasing darkness in the world today we can fully realize that unless the Message of Bahá'u'lláh reaches into the hearts of men and transforms them, there can be no peace and no spiritual progress in the future.
"His constant hope is that the believers will conduct themselves, individually and in their Bahá'í Community life, in such a manner as to attract the attention of others to the Cause. The world is not only starving for lofty principles and ideals, it is, above all, starving for a shining example which the Bahá'ís can and must provide."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1945)
1414. Predictions of Peace, Prophecy of Daniel--1335 Days
"Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask, namely, 'Blessed is he who cometh unto the thousand three hundred and thirty five days'. These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the Divine
Light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: From a Tablet to a Kurdish friend: The Passing of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 31, Shoghi Effendi and Lady Blomfield)
"...The 1335 days is figured according to the solar calendar, but in adjusting the 1335 days, one must take into consideration the time at which the prophecies were given and change them into solar time, which would bring the date to 1963.
"There is one thing of importance for the Bahá'ís to understand; and that is, that this prophecy refers to happenings within the Faith, not occurrences outside the Faith. It refers specifically to the spread of the Faith over the face of the earth. This will be accomplished when the Bahá'í Faith is firmly established in all the virgin areas outlined in the Ten-Year Crusade, and the other goals of the Crusade are completed. Thus it behooves us to work day and night in order to accomplish this glorious goal."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 4, 1946: Some Extracts from Letters written on behalf of the Guardian on the subject of the Prophecy of Daniel: A Compilation from the World Centre to the compiler)
1415. Prerequisite to Peace
"The prerequisite to real success is a harmonious gathering. When the friends begin to have peace at home they can teach the people to have peace between the nations and classes."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1926)
1416. Radiation of Thought Will Not Bring Peace
"I might add that he does not believe any radiations of thought or healing, from any group, is going to bring peace. Prayer, no doubt, will help the world, but what it needs is to accept Bahá'u'lláh's system so as to build up the World Order on a new foundation, a divine foundation!..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Extracts From the Guardian's Letters, Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8: A Compilation from the World Centre, February 1970)
1417. No Greater Bliss Than to Find One Has Become the Cause of Peace
"...Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellowmen. No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3)
1418. Volition and Action Are Necessary Before International Peace Can Be Established.
"All of us know that international peace is good, that it is conducive to human welfare and the glory of man, but volition and action are necessary before it can be established. Action is essential. Inasmuch as this century is a century of light, capacity for action is assured to mankind. Necessarily the divine principles will be spread among men
until the time of action arrives. Surely this has been so, and truly the time and conditions are ripe for action now."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 121)
1419. Every Means that Produces War Must Be Checked
"In short, every means that produces war must be checked and the causes that prevent the occurrence of war be advanced--so that physical conflict may become an impossibility. On the other hand, every country must be properly delimited, its exact frontiers marked, its national integrity secured, its permanent independence protected, and its vital interests honoured by the family of nations. These services ought to be rendered by an impartial, international Commission. In this manner all causes of friction and differences will be removed. And in case there should arise some disputes between them, they could arbitrate before the Parliament of Man, the representatives of which should be chosen from among the wisest and most judicious men of all the nations of the world."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp 115-116, cited in Peace, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, August 1985)
1420. Every Century Holds the Solution of One Predominating Problem
"Every century holds the solution of one predominating problem. Although there may be many problems, yet one of the innumerable problems will loom large and become the most important of all. ...in this luminous century the greatest bestowal of the world of humanity is Universal Peace, which must be founded, so that the realm of creation may obtain composure, the East and the West, which include in their arms the five continents of the globe, may embrace each other, mankind may rest beneath the tent of oneness of the world of humanity, and the flag of universal peace may wave over all the regions...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp. 115-117)
1421. Do Not Rest Until the Peace Foretold by the Prophets is Permanently Established
"The world is in great turmoil, and what is most pathetic is that it has learned to keep away from God, Who alone can save it and alleviate its sufferings. It is our duty, we who have been trusted with the task of applying the divine remedy given by Bahá'u'lláh, to concentrate our attention upon the consummation of this task and not rest until the peace foretold by the Prophets of God is permanently established."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 9, 1931: Peace, op. cit.)
1422. To Disregard the Bahá'í Solution for Peace is to Build on Foundations of Sand
"...He is firmly convinced that through perseverance and concerted action the cause of Peace will eventually triumph over all the dark forces which threaten the welfare and progress of the world to-day. But such purely human attempts are undoubtedly ineffective unless inspired and guided by the power of faith. Without the assistance of God, as given through the message of Bahá'u'lláh, peace can never be safely and adequately established. To disregard the Bahá'í solution for world peace is to build on foundations of sand. To accept and apply it is to make peace not a mere dream, or an ideal, but a living reality. This is the point which the Guardian wishes you
to develop, to emphasize again and again, and to support by convincing arguments. The Bahá'í peace program is, indeed, not only one way of attaining that goal. It is not even relatively the best. It is, in the last resort, the sole effective instrument for the establishment of the reign of peace in this world. This attitude does not involve any total repudiation of other solutions offered by various philanthropists. It merely shows their inadequacy compared to the Divine Plan for the unification of the world. We cannot escape the truth that nothing mundane can in the last resort be enduring, unless supported and sustained through the power of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 25, 1933: Ibid.)
1423. The Unification of Mankind is Assured by Bahá'u'lláh and No Power Can Prevent It
"Whatever our shortcomings may be, and however formidable the forces of darkness which besiege us to-day, the unification of mankind as outlined and ensured by the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will in the fullness of time be firmly and permanently established. This is Bahá'u'lláh's promise, and no power on earth can in the long run prevent or even retard its adequate realization. The friends should, therefore, not lose hope, but fully conscious of their power and their role they should persevere in their mighty efforts for the extension and the consolidation of Bahá'u'lláh's universal dominion on earth."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 6, 1933: Ibid.)
1424. Bahá'u'lláh's Teachings Will Establish a Universal Consciousness and a Universal Way of Life
"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh will establish a new way of life for humanity. Those who are Bahá'ís must endeavour to establish this way of life just as rapidly as possible. Now that the hour has arrived when the Bahá'í Faith is gaining prominence, and is being viewed and reviewed by so many peoples, it is necessary that the adherents of the Faith should live up to the high ideals of the Faith in every way. In this way they can demonstrate that the Bahá'í Faith does create a new way of life, which brings to the individual a complete association with the Will of God, and thus the establishment of a peaceful and universal society. Divisional attachments are of man, while universal service is of God.
"The Guardian is now anxious that all the friends achieve a universal consciousness and a universal way of life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 20, 1955: Ibid.)
1425. Peace Will Come
"It is true that Abdu'l-Bahá made statements linking the establishment of the unity of nations to the twentieth century. For example: '...The fifth candle is the unity of nations--a unity which, in this century, will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland....' And, in 'The Promised Day is Come', following a similar statement quoted from 'Some Answered Questions', Shoghi Effendi makes this comment: 'This is the stage which the world is now approaching, the stage of world unity, which, as Abdu'l-Bahá assures us, will, in this century, be securely established.'
"There is also this statement from a letter written in 1946 to an individual believer on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary:
'...All we know is that the Lesser and the Most Great Peace will come--their exact dates we do not know. The same is true as regards the possibility of a future war; we cannot state dogmatically it will or will not take place--all we know is that mankind must suffer and be punished sufficiently to make it turn to God.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, July 29, 1974: Ibid.)
1426. The Aims and Purpose of the Faith Are to Eliminate War and Establish Peace and Unity
"...the Bahá'í Faith aims to eliminate all war, including nuclear. The fundamental purpose of our Faith is unity and the establishment of peace. This goal, which is the longing of people throughout an increasingly insecure world, can only be achieved through the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Since it is only the Bahá'ís who can give these Teachings to mankind, the friends must weigh carefully how they will spend their time and energy and guard against associating with activities which unduly distract them from their primary responsibility of sharing the Message of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 4, 1982: Ibid.)
1427. Nuclear Disarmament
"At the present time, the subject of nuclear disarmament has become very much a political issue, with demonstrations taking place not only in the United States but also in England and some western European countries. To single out nuclear disarmament falls short of the Bahá'í position and would involve the Faith in the current disputes between nations. It is very clear that Bahá'ís believe disarmament, not only of nuclear weapons but of biological, chemical and all other forms, is essential."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 12, 1983: Ibid.)
1428. The Transition from the Present System of National Sovereignty to a System of World Government
"Concerning the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a system of the world government, the House of Justice fully agrees with your view that the Bahá'ís must now do all in their power to promote this transition. This requires several related activities, all of which are goals of the present Seven Year Plan. One is the establishment as rapidly as possible of firmly grounded efficiently functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies in every part of the world, so that seekers everywhere will have a point of reference to which they can turn for guidance and for the Teachings of the Faith. A second is the deepening of the believers, of all ages, in their understanding of and obedience to the Teachings. A third is the proclamation of the Faith to all strata of society, and in particular to those in authority and to leaders of thought so that those who hold the direction of peoples in their hands will learn accurately about the nature and tenets of the Faith and will grow to respect it and implement its principles. A fourth is the promotion of Bahá'í scholarship, so that an increasing number of believers will be able to analyse the problems of mankind in every field and to show how the Teachings solve them. A fifth is the development of relations
between the Bahá'í International Community and the United Nations both directly with the highest U.N. institutions and at a grass-roots level in areas of rural development, education, etc.
"As you are no doubt aware, the Guardian indicated that the development of mankind from its present chaotic condition to the stage of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth would be a long and gradual one. The coming into existence of a World Authority and the initiation of the Lesser Peace is one major transformation in this process, and will be followed by other stages of the development of the Faith as outlined by Shoghi Effendi in his writings. Undoubtedly, as these developments are taking place, the counsel the institutions of the Faith can give to governments, the pattern of world administration offered by the Bahá'í community and the great humanitarian projects which will be launched under the aegis of the Universal House of Justice will exercise a great influence on the course of progress."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 19, 1983: Ibid.)
1429. Bahá'ís Are Not Pacifists
"...It is true that Bahá'ís are not pacifists since we uphold the use of force in the service of justice and upholding law. But we do not believe that war is ever necessary and its abolition is one of the essential purposes and brightest promises of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation. His specific command to the kings of the earth is: 'Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.' (Tablet to Queen Victoria, 'The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh', p. 13) The beloved Guardian has explained that the unity of mankind implies the establishment of a world commonwealth, a world federal system, '...liberated from the curse of war and its miseries ... in which Force is made the servant of Justice...' whose world executive 'backed by an international Force ... will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth.' This is obviously not war but the maintenance of law and order on a world scale. Warfare is the ultimate tragedy of disunity among nations where no international authority exists powerful enough to restrain them from pursuing their own limited interests. Bahá'ís therefore ask to serve their countries in non-combatant ways during such fighting; they will doubtless serve in such an international Force as Bahá'u'lláh envisions, whenever it comes into being."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 11, 1984: Ibid.)
1430. The Lesser Peace Will Initially Be a Political Unity
"Bahá'u'lláh's principal mission in appearing at this time in human history is the realization of the oneness of mankind and the establishment of peace among the nations; therefore, all the forces which are focused on accomplishing these ends are influenced by His Revelation. We know, however, that peace will come in stages. First, there will come the Lesser Peace, when the unity of nations will be achieved, then gradually the Most Great Peace-- the spiritual as well as social and political unity of mankind, when the Bahá'í World Commonwealth, operating in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Most Holy Book of the Bahá'í Revelation, will have been established through the efforts of the Bahá'ís.
"As to the Lesser Peace, Shoghi Effendi has explained that this will initially be a political unity arrived at by decision of the governments of various nations; it will not be established by direct action of the Bahá'í community. This does not mean,
however, that the Bahá'ís are standing aside and waiting for the Lesser Peace to come before they do something about the peace of mankind. Indeed, by promoting the principles of the Faith, which are indispensable to the maintenance of peace, and by fashioning the instruments of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, which we are told by the beloved Guardian is the pattern for future society, the Bahá'ís are constantly engaged in laying the groundwork for a permanent peace, the Most Great Peace being their ultimate goal.
"The Lesser Peace itself will pass through stages: at the initial stage the governments will act entirely on their own without the conscious involvement of the Faith; later on, in God's good time, the Faith will have a direct influence on it in ways indicated by Shoghi Effendi in his 'The Goal of a New World Order'. In connection with the steps that will lead to this latter stage, the Universal House of Justice will certainly determine what has to be done, in accordance with the guidance in the Writings, such as the passage you quoted from 'Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh', page 89. In the meantime, the Bahá'ís will undoubtedly continue to do all in their power to promote the establishment of peace."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1985: Ibid.)
Page 439XXXVIII. PILGRIMS' NOTES
1431. Any Narrative Not Authenticated by a Text Should Not Be Trusted
"Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' notes. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Baha, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet)
1432. Privilege of Friends to Share Results of These Visits
"Regarding the notes taken by pilgrims at Haifa. The Guardian has stated that he is unwilling to sign the notes of any pilgrim, in order that the literature consulted by the believers shall not be unduly extended... This means that the notes of pilgrims do not carry the authority resident in the Guardian's letters written over his own signature. On the other hand each pilgrim brings back information and suggestions of a most precious character, and it is the privilege of all the friends to share in the spiritual results of these visits."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States: Bahá'í News, No. 281, p. 4, July 1954)
1433. Pilgrims' Notes Are Hearsay and Cannot Claim the Authority of the Sacred Text
"The instructions of the Master and the Guardian make it very clear that Pilgrims' notes are hearsay and cannot claim the authority and binding power of the Sacred Text.... Moreover, the fact that the pilgrim writing of his experience is a reliable or well-known believer, or that the reported statement seems to be repeated in the notes of several pilgrims, does not in itself confer authority upon the pilgrim's note in question."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 23, 1980)
1434. The Notes of Pilgrims Are for Their Own Use
"Shoghi Effendi has often said that the notes of the pilgrims should be for their own personal use and bear absolutely no authority. What he desires to convey to the friends at large he will always say in his general letters."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933)
1435. The Difference Between Talks and Tablets
"Shoghi Effendi has laid down the principle that the Bahá'ís should not attribute much importance to talks reported to have been given by the Master, if these have not in one form or other obtained His sanction.
"Bahá'u'lláh has made it clear enough that only those things that have been revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the friends. Hearsays may
be matters of interest but can in no way claim authority. This basic teaching of Bahá'u'lláh was to preserve the Faith from being corrupted like Islam which attributes binding authority to all the reported sayings of Muhammad.
"This being a basic principle of the Faith, we should not confuse Tablets that were actually revealed and mere talks attributed to the founders of the Cause. The first have absolute binding authority while the latter can in no way claim our obedience. The highest thing this can achieve is to influence the activities of the one who has heard the saying in person.
"Those talks of the Master that were later reviewed by Him, corrected or in some other form considered authentic by Himself, such as the 'Some Answered Questions', these could be considered as Tablets and therefore be given the necessary binding power. All the other talks such as are included in Ahmad's diary or the diary of pilgrims, do not fall under this category and could be considered only as interesting material to be taken for what they are worth.
"For this reason Shoghi Effendi has not been encouraging the publication of reported sayings that were not authenticated by the Master Himself. And when he said that they may be published if quotation marks are taken away, Shoghi Effendi tried to prevent the friends from considering as actual words of the Master things that were not authenticated by Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the United States Publishing Committee, December 29, 1931)
1436. Stories Told About Abdu'l-Bahá
"He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about Abdu'l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they should not also be given prominence or official recognition."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 2, 1935)
1437. Only Signed or Sealed Tablets Are Considered Authentic
"According to the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh no authority can be attached to a mere hearsay, no matter through whom it may come. The Tablets that bear the seal or signature of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master are the only parts of the literature that have any authority and that constitute the basis of our belief. All other forms of literature may bear points of interest but they cannot be considered as authentic. This is the view that Shoghi Effendi took towards the talks of Abdu'l-Bahá that Ahmad Sohrab had incorporated in his book, and it is the attitude that he would take towards any other reported saying, naturally unless the Master has appended His signature to that talk and thereby given it the authority of a Tablet such as is the case with 'Some Answered Questions' that was actually corrected by Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 18, 1931)
1438. Pilgrim's Notes Reporting the Master's Words on Embracing and Kissing
"The pilgrim's note reports the Master as saying: 'Women and men must not
embrace each other when not married, or not about to be married. They must not kiss each other... If they wish to greet each other, or comfort each other, they may take each other by the hand.' In a letter to an individual written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is said: 'The Master's words to ..., which you quoted, can certainly be taken as the true spirit of the teachings on the subject of sex. We must strive to achieve this exalted standard.' (October 19, 1947)"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 10, 1974)
1439. Haifa Notes Collected by Mrs. Maxwell
"With reference to the Haifa notes collected by dear Mrs. Maxwell: These have exactly the same status as all other pilgrims' notes, and as such there should be no objection to their circulation among the believers. While these notes taken down by the pilgrims do not constitute as official pronouncements made by the Guardian, and therefore should not be imposed on the friends, those who wish to share them with the members of the Community should, under no circumstances, be prevented from doing so. Though not strictly official, and in some instances inaccurate and misleading, these notes, as experience has shown, can be of tremendous help, guidance and inspiration to many individual believers, and their value as such should therefore be readily admitted."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 28, 1939)
Page 442XXXIX. POLITICS AND GOVERNMENTS
1440. Political Figures
"The Guardian wishes me to draw the attention of the friends through you that they should be very careful in their public utterance not to mention any political figures--either side with them or denounce them. This is the first thing to bear in mind. Otherwise they will involve the friends in political matters, which is infinitely dangerous for the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 12, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 72, April 1933, p. 3)
1441. Politicians: Non-Political Government Jobs
"Actual politicians, he feels, will for the most part never be willing to forget their ambitions, work and prestige in order to embrace the Faith, but association with all people, in government occupation or otherwise, who are progressive minded, is advisable, as we publicize the Faith this way and may meet receptive souls. There is no objection to Bahá'ís serving in government jobs that are purely non-political."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 30, 1947)
1442. No Bahá'í Can Be Regarded as Republican or Democrat
"...no vote cast or office undertaken by a Bahá'í should necessarily constitute acceptance, by the voter or office holder, of the entire programme of any political party. No Bahá'í can be regarded as either Republican or Democrat, as such. He is above all else, the supporter of the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, with which, I am firmly convinced, the programme of no political party is completely harmonious...."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 85, July, 1934, p. 2)
1443. Voting in Civil Elections
"As regards the non-political character of the Faith,... The friends may vote, if they can do it, without identifying themselves with one party or another. To enter the arena of party politics is surely detrimental to the best interests of the Faith and will harm the Cause. It remains for the individuals to so use their right to vote as to keep aloof from party politics, and always bear in mind that they are voting on the merits of the individual, rather than because he belongs to one party or another. The matter must be made perfectly clear to the individuals, who will be left free to exercise their discretion and judgement. But if a certain person does enter into party politics and labours for the ascendency of one party over another, and continues to
do it against expressed appeals and warnings of the Assembly, then the Assembly has the right to refuse him the right to vote in Bahá'í elections."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 16, 1933)
1444. Avoid Identification with Political Parties
"We have received your letter of 12 December 1973 concerning the problem of ... who says that it is very difficult for him to keep his job as a teacher in a public school without being registered as a member of one of the political parties now in the government.
"A similar question has arisen in some other countries, particularly in Africa where the one-party system is in use. Although we understand that there is more than one political party in your country, we think it would be helpful to you to have a summary of the instructions we have given to African Assemblies, and this is enclosed.
"We suggest that ...'s case might offer your Assembly an opportunity to seek an appointment with the proper government official or officials to explain the Bahá'í position on non-interference in political affairs, as well as on obedience and loyalty to government. Your approach should be to seek advice on what can be done in ...'s situation and in similar cases to avoid identification with party politics while at the same time showing the utmost loyalty to the government. Certainly this would afford your Assembly yet another opportunity to proclaim the Faith and its principles and to seek the respect and understanding of the officials."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, December 28, 1973)
1445. For Bahá'ís Living in Countries Where the Political Structure is Based on a One-Party System
"1. The beloved Guardian repeatedly emphasized the principle of refusing to join any political party. In 'The Advent of Divine Justice', in speaking of the rectitude of conduct which must manifest itself in the Bahá'í community, he said: 'It must characterize the attitude of every loyal believer towards non-acceptance of political posts, non-identification with political parties, non-participation in political controversies, and non-membership in political organizations...'
"2. a. If the National Spiritual Assembly is satisfied that membership in the party is not compulsory according to the law of the land, but is promoted merely by persuasion, encouragement, and inducement through the granting of privileges and even threats, then the Bahá'ís should refrain from joining the party, whatever the personal sacrifices may be.
"b. If, however, it is ascertained by the National Spiritual Assembly, that the law requires every citizen to belong to the party, Bahá'ís may pay money equivalent to the dues involved, without accepting membership of the party. There is no objection to their carrying receipts indicating that the contribution has been made.
"c. If alternative 2b. is not possible, Bahá'ís have no choice but to accept membership, without becoming active in the party, such as holding offices."
(From a Summary of Instructions of the Universal House of Justice attached to the above cited letter to Bolivia, December 28, 1973)
1446. No Loyal Believer Should Commit Himself to a Political Program
"...no loyal believer should under any circumstances commit himself in any way to a political program or policy formulated and upheld by a political party. For affiliation with such a party necessarily entails repudiation of some principles and teachings of the Cause, or partial recognition of some of its fundamental verities. The friends should, therefore, keep aloof from party politics. What they should mainly keep away from under all circumstances and in all its forms is partisanship."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 17, 1935)
1447. Bahá'ís Should Refrain from Voting, if They Must Identify with a Political Party or Doctrine
"The main principle, as you know, is that the friends should refrain from participating in any political election, unless they ascertain that in casting their vote for this or that candidate they are not affiliating themselves with any political party or organization, and are not identifying themselves with any political program. The whole question hinges on the matter of identification, and not on voting in itself.
"The application of this principle the Guardian has left to the individuals who are conscientiously required to submit their own special cases in which they are doubtful to their assemblies for consideration and guidance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)
1448. Enrolment When Political Affiliation or Activities Are Involved
"No additional requirements should be laid upon new members at the time of their declaration of belief. Rather, your Assembly should undertake to make the issues clear with such friends so that prospective new adherents may know beforehand of the position of the Faith in regard to political connections. When it is found that, in spite of this, a new Bahá'í still has political associations or activities, he should be lovingly and patiently educated so that he will withdraw from them. Some will be able to achieve this immediately, but others will need time to sever their connections discreetly. This can be a delicate matter and requires an awareness of each individual's particular situation and obligations. Of course, if such a believer does not respond to the Assembly's efforts to disengage him from politics, he must be warned and, if this still produces no effect, the Assembly would ultimately have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, July 12, 1984)
1449. Membership in Any Political Party Entails Repudiation of Principles of Peace and Unity
"The Bahá'í Community is a world-wide organization seeking to establish true
and universal peace on earth. If a Bahá'í works for one political party to overcome another it is a negation of the very spirit of the Faith. Membership in any political party, therefore, necessarily entails repudiation of some or all of the principles of peace and unity proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. As Abdu'l-Bahá stated: 'Our party is God's party; we do not belong to any party.'
"If a Bahá'í were to insist on his right to support a certain political party, he could not deny the same degree of freedom to other believers. This would mean that within the ranks of the Faith, whose primary mission is to unite all men as one great family under God, there would be Bahá'ís opposed to each other. Where, then, would be the example of unity and harmony which the world is seeking?
"If the institutions of the Faith, God forbid, became involved in politics, the Bahá'ís would find themselves arousing antagonism instead of love. If they took one stand in one country, they would be bound to change the views of the people in another country about the aims and purposes of the Faith. By becoming involved in political disputes, the Bahá'ís instead of changing the world or helping it, would themselves be lost and destroyed. The world situation is so confused and moral issues which were once clear have become so mixed up with selfish and battling factions, that the best way Bahá'ís can serve the highest interests of their country and the cause of true salvation for the world is to sacrifice their political pursuits and affiliations and whole-heartedly and fully support the system of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa, February 8, 1970)
1450. Regarding a Bahá'í Producing Television Advertising for a Political Campaign
"In reply to your query of 24 September concerning the involvement of a Bahá'í in producing television advertising for a political campaign, the Universal House of Justice has directed us to convey its advice that the person in question should refrain from activities promoting the campaign of a politician, although this should not be construed as a restriction on non-Bahá'í associates."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, October 29, 1979)
1451. Bahá'ís Can Neither Campaign for Office nor Undertake Partisan Political Activities--They May Hold Appointive Posts which Are Not Political
"In the case of Mr. ..., it is important that you ascertain precisely what his membership on a village council entails, and how he achieved such membership, i.e., by election or appointment. Your Assembly should understand that Bahá'ís do not engage in political activities nor belong to political parties, but may freely undertake non-political administrative work with governments, may hold appointive posts which are not political in character, or may serve on local councils if they do not campaign for office and are not required to undertake partisan political activities."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Leeward Islands, February 15, 1982)
Page 446 1452. No Objection to a Bahá'í Being Elected as a Neighbourhood Captain or Serving on a Neighbourhood Council, Provided...
"There is no objection to a Bahá'í being elected a Barrio Captain or serving on a Barrio Council provided:
1. He is not required to become a member of a political party.
2. Service as a Barrio Captain or as a member of the Barrio Council does not involve him in partisan politics.
3. That he does not campaign for election to office. There is no objection to allowing one's name to be placed in nomination if nominations are required by law. If nominations are not obligatory and the voter is allowed to write on the ballot paper and vote for the names of those he wishes to be elected, this procedure should be followed by the Bahá'ís.
"It would be preferable, of course, if the election of members of a Barrio Council and Barrio Captains could be strictly in accordance with Bahá'í principles. We would appreciate knowing whether this can be done in ... or whether it may be possible to amend the laws so that this procedure can be adopted in villages where the population is entirely or predominately Bahá'í."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Philippines, April 24, 1972)
B. Governments and Civil Authorities
1453. Shun Politics Like the Plague and be Obedient to the Government in Power
"The cardinal principle which we must follow, (in connection with your questions), is obedience to the Government prevailing in any land in which we reside. We cannot, because, say, we do not personally like a totalitarian form of government, refuse to obey it when it becomes the ruling power. Nor can we join underground Movements which are a minority agitating against the prevailing government.
"If a state of Revolution and complete chaos exists in a Country, so that it is impossible to say there is one government in power, then the friends must consult with their National or their Local Assembly, and be guided by what the Assembly considers the proper action to take; in other words which party might be best considered the legal governing authority.
"We see, therefore, that we must do two things--shun politics like the plague, and be obedient to the Government in power in the place where we reside. We cannot start judging how a particular government came into power, and therefore whether we should obey it or not. This would immediately plunge us into politics. We must obey in all cases except where a spiritual principle is involved, such as denying our Faith. For these spiritual principles we must be willing to die. What we Bahá'ís must face is the fact that society is rapidly disintegrating--so rapidly that moral issues which were clear half a century ago are now hopelessly confused, and what is more, thoroughly mixed up with battling political interests. That is why the Bahá'ís must turn all their forces into the channel of building up the Bahá'í Cause and its administration. They can neither change nor help the world in any other way at present. If they become involved in the issues the Governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up the Bahá'í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1948)
Page 447 1454. The Bahá'í Cause is Above Political Parties, But the Believers Are Obliged to Whole-Heartedly Obey Existing Political Regime
"At the outset it should be made indubitably clear that the Bahá'í Cause being essentially a religious movement of a spiritual character stands above every political party or group, and thus cannot and should not act in contravention to the principles, laws, and doctrines of any government. Obedience to the regulations and orders of the state is, indeed, the sacred obligation of every true and loyal Bahá'í. Both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have urged us all to be submissive and loyal to the political authorities of our respective countries. It follows, therefore, that our ... friends are under the sacred obligation to whole-heartedly obey the existing political regime, whatever be their personal views and criticisms of its actual working. There is nothing more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than open rebellion against the governmental authorities of a country, specially if they do not interfere in and do not oppose the inner and sacred beliefs and religious convictions of the individual...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 11, 1934)
1455. The Bahá'ís Should Obey the Government Even at Risk of Sacrificing Administrative Affairs--In Matters of Faith No Compromise Allowed, Even Though Outcome is Death
"For whereas the friends should obey the government under which they live, even at the risk of sacrificing all their administrative affairs and interests, they should under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever. A distinction of a fundamental importance must, therefore, be made between spiritual and administrative matters. Whereas the former are sacred and inviolable, and hence cannot be subject to compromise, the latter are secondary and can consequently be given up and even sacrificed for the sake of obedience to the laws and regulations of the government. Obedience to the state is so vital a principal of the Cause that should the authorities in ... decide to-day to prevent the Bahá'ís from holding any meeting or publishing any literature they should obey... But, as already pointed out, such an allegiance is confined merely to administrative matters which if checked can only retard the progress of the Faith for some time. In matters of belief, however, no compromise whatever should be allowed, even though the outcome of it be death or expulsion."
1456. Principle of Obedience to Government Does Not Oblige Bahá'í Teachings to be Identified with Political Program
"There is one more point to be emphasized in this connection. The principle of obedience to government does not place any Bahá'í under the obligation of identifying the teachings of his Faith with the political program enforced by the government. For such an identification, besides being erroneous and contrary to both the spirit as well as the form of the Bahá'í Message, would necessarily create a conflict within the conscience of every loyal believer.
"For reasons which are only too obvious the Bahá'í philosophy of social and political organization cannot be fully reconciled with the political doctrines and conceptions that are current and much in vogue to-day. The wave of nationalism,
so aggressive and so contagious in its effects, which has swept not only over Europe but over a large part of mankind is, indeed, the very negation of the gospel of peace and of brotherhood proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. The actual trend in the political world is, indeed, far from being in the direction of the Bahá'í teachings. The world is drawing nearer and nearer to a universal catastrophe which will mark the end of a bankrupt and of a fundamentally defective civilization.
"From such considerations we can well conclude that we as Bahá'ís can in no wise identify the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh with man-made creeds and conceptions, which by their very nature are impotent to save the world from the dangers with which it is being so fiercely and so increasingly assailed."
1457. Employment with the Foreign Service
"Bahá'ís are permitted to apply to the International Communication agency for employment with the United States Foreign Service..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 7, 1979)
"The House of Justice feels that it would be permissible for you to accept the position of Vice-Consul on the understanding that you are not required to become involved in political activities. The House of Justice urges you to pay particular attention to this matter so that you do not enter upon a course that, at a later stage, would inevitably lead you into political affairs such as policy-making discussions with the Consul General on political matters. The House of Justice feels sure that you are aware of this point and of the delicate line that must be drawn."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 15, 1984)
1458. Bahá'ís Must Be Loyal to Their Spiritual Assembly and at the Same Time to Civil Government, Whether Tribal Council, a Cacique or a Municipal Authority
"As to your query about the Local Spiritual Assembly, it is indeed a divine institution, created by Bahá'u'lláh in His Kitab-i-Aqdas as the Local House of Justice. Abdu'l-Bahá has clearly set out its provenance, authority and duties and has explained the differences between it and other administrative institutions, whether of the past or the present. We refer you to the book 'Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá', sections 37, 38, and 40.
"It is clear that while Local Spiritual Assemblies must supervise all Bahá'í matters in their areas, including arrangement for the Nineteen Day Feast, the observance of the Holy Days, the election of the members of the Assembly, promoting the teaching work, caring for the spiritual welfare and Bahá'í education of the friends and children, etcetera, they and the friends themselves must at the same time be good citizens and loyal to the civil government, whether it be a Tribal Council, a Cacique or a municipal authority.
"In another national community, where the number of believers had increased to the point where the population of some villages had become 100% or almost 100% Bahá'í, the House of Justice upheld the above principles and stated that in each such village, while they should elect their Local Spiritual Assembly, they should
continue to elect the local Council as required by the Government, and the functions of these two bodies should be kept distinct, even if their memberships were identical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, April 13, 1983)
1459. Elective or Appointive Posts in Government Should Be Accepted Only if They Do Not Contravene Given Guidelines
"It is better if the friends avoid accepting either elective or appointive posts of the nature described in your letter... Such posts should only be accepted if in the process of obtaining the appointment, in winning the election, or in discharging their duties they do not contravene Bahá'í principles. This includes the following:
"That they do not campaign for election.
"That they do not contravene the guidelines set forth by the beloved Guardian in the following passage:
'Let them refrain from associating themselves, whether by word or by deed, with the political pursuits of their respective nations, with the policies of their governments and the schemes and programs of parties and factions. In such controversies they should assign no blame, take no side, further no design, and identify themselves with no system prejudicial to the best interests of that world-wide Fellowship which it is their aim to guard and foster. Let them beware lest they allow themselves to become the tools of unscrupulous politicians, or to be entrapped by the treacherous devices of the plotters and the perfidious among their countrymen. Let them so shape their lives and regulate their conduct that no charge of secrecy, of fraud, of bribery or of intimidation may, however ill-founded, be brought against them. Let them rise above all particularism and partisanship, above the vain disputes, the petty calculations, the transient passions that agitate the face, and engage the attention, of a changing world. It is their duty to strive to distinguish, as clearly as they possibly can, and if needed with the aid of their elected representatives, such posts and functions as are either diplomatic or political from those that are purely administrative in character, and which under no circumstances are affected by the changes and chances that political activities and party government, in every land, must necessarily involve. Let them affirm their unyielding determination to stand, firmly and unreservedly, for the way of Bahá'u'lláh, to avoid the entanglements and bickerings inseparable from the pursuits of the politician, and to become worthy agencies of that Divine Polity which incarnates God's immutable Purpose for all men.'
"The application of the above principles is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, October 12, 1977)
1460. The Faith is Not Opposed to True Interests of Any Nation
"The Faith is not opposed to the true interests of any nation, nor is it against any party or faction. It holds aloof from all controversies and transcends them all, while enjoining upon its followers loyalty to government and a sane patriotism. This love for their country the Bahá'ís show by serving its well-being in their daily activity, or working in the administrative channels of the government instead of through party
politics or in diplomatic or political posts. The Bahá'ís may, indeed are encouraged to mix with all strata of society, with the highest authorities and with leading personalities as well as with the mass of the people, and should bring the knowledge of the Faith to them; but in so doing they should strictly avoid becoming identified, or identifying the Faith, with political pursuits and party programmes."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assemblies of Africa, February 8, 1970)
1461. Not Our Purpose to Violate Any Country's Constitution
"...Let them proclaim that in whatever country they reside, and however advanced their institutions, or profound their desire to enforce the laws, and apply the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavoring to conduct and perfect the administrative affairs of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country's constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 21, 1933: World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 65-66)
1462. Bahá'ís Obey the Law, Federal or State
"...Bahá'ís obey the laws, Federal or state, unless submission to these laws amounts to a denial of their Faith. We live the Bahá'í life, fully and continuously, unless prevented by the authorities. This implies, if it does not categorically state, that a Bahá'í is not required to make a judgment as to the precedence of Federal or state law--this is for the courts to decide."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1965: National Bahá'í Review, No. 32, August, 1970, p. 1)
1463. Obedience to Just Governments--What It Means
"Regarding your question about politics and the Master's Will: The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be two-fold, complete obedience to the government of the country they reside in, and no interference whatsoever in political matters or questions. What the Master's statement really means is obedience to a duly constituted Government, whatever that Government may be in form. We are not the ones, as individual Bahá'ís, to judge our Government as just or unjust--for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Bahá'í fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity. We must build up our Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us.
"The Guardian does not think any part of this statement of his is suitable for publication in the Press. The less 'politics' is associated in any way with the name Bahá'í, the better. It should always be made clear that we are a religious non-political community, working for humanitarian ends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Teaching Committee for Central America, July 3, 1948)
Page 451 1464. Taking of Oaths
"In reply to your letter of September 12th the Universal House of Justice asks us to refer you to a letter on this subject written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on July 11th, 1956 to your National Spiritual Assembly:
'Regarding taking oaths, there is nothing in the Teachings on this subject. As a Bahá'í is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh to be truthful, he would express his truthfulness, no matter what the formality of the law in any local place required of him. There can be no objection to Bahá'ís conforming to the requirements of the law court whatever they may be in such matters, as in no case would they constitute in any way a denial of their own beliefs as Bahá'ís.'
"The above direction makes it clear that Bahá'ís may take an oath, if required, on any sacred book. The Universal House of Justice considers that it may be preferable for them to do so on a Bahá'í book, if possible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 20, 1973)
1465. Implicit Obedience to Administrative Regulations
"To all administrative regulations which the civil authorities have issued from time to time, or will issue in the future in that land, as in all other countries, the Bahá'í community, faithful to its sacred obligations towards its government, and conscious of its civic duties, has yielded, and will continue to yield implicit obedience...."
(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 372, Wilmette, 1987 ed.)
1466. There is No Objection to Taking Case to Civil Court if Assembly and Bahá'ís Are Unable to Negotiate a Settlement of a Dispute
"...The House of Justice ... states that believers should take their differences to the Spiritual Assembly and abide by the decision of the Assembly. However, if Bahá'ís cannot negotiate a settlement of a dispute between them, and if the Spiritual Assembly cannot succeed in arbitrating a solution to the dispute, then there is no objection to the Bahá'ís having recourse to the civil courts. The Assembly should not hesitate to refuse to act in a case which it is satisfied is more properly a question for the law courts. However, the Assembly does not have the authority to prohibit a believer from having recourse to the civil courts if he decides to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 9, 1983)
1467. Let the World Know the Real Aim of Bahá'u'lláh
"...We should let the world know what the real aim of Bahá'u'lláh was. Up to the present the Unity of Mankind was only of an academic importance. Now it is becoming more and more a subject for international statesmen to think of. It is coming to the field of practical politics. It is therefore a wonderful chance for us to come to the front and expound the teaching which is the goal and aim of the social precepts of Bahá'u'lláh. Shoghi Effendi hopes that the friends will re-echo this call to an organic unity of mankind until it forms part of the conscious faith of every living man in
the world. Great judgment should be however practiced lest we be misunderstood and our Faith be classed among radical movements."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 28, 1932)
1468. Non-Interference in Political Affairs--We Must Shun Pronouncements About Systems of Politics and Not Write About Current Political Affairs
"There is one fundamental point which Shoghi Effendi wishes me to emphasize. By the principle of non-interference in political matters we should not mean that only corrupt politics and partial and sectarian politics are to be avoided, but that any pronouncement on any current system of politics connected with any government must be shunned. We should not only take sides with no political party, group or system actually in use, but we should also refuse to commit ourselves to any statement which may be interpreted as being sympathetic or antagonistic to any existing political organization or philosophy. The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be one of complete aloofness. They are neither for nor against any system of politics. Not that they are the ill-wishers of their respective governments but that due to certain basic considerations arising out of their teachings and of the administrative machinery of their Faith they prefer not to get entangled in political affairs and to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by their countrymen.
"In the light of this principle it becomes clear that to contribute articles on current political affairs to any newspaper must inevitably lead the writer to express, directly or in an indirect manner, his view and his criticisms on the subject. He is, in addition, always liable to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by the politicians. The best thing to do, therefore, is simply not to write on current politics at all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 2, 1934)
1469. One Method by which One Can Criticize the Present Day Socio-Political Order
"There is, however, one case in which one can criticize the present social and political order without being necessarily forced to side with or oppose any existing regime. And this is the method adopted by the Guardian in his 'Goal of a New World Order'. His criticisms of the world conditions beside being very general in character are abstract; that is, instead of condemning existing institutional organizations it goes deeper and analyzes the basic ideas and conceptions which have been responsible for their establishment. This being a mere intellectual and philosophical approach to the problem of world political crisis, there is no objection if you wish to try such a method, which immediately carries you from the field of practical politics to that of political theory. But in view of the fact that no clear-cut line can be drawn between theory and practice you should be extremely careful not to make too free a use of such a method."
1470. Kingship in the Future
"As to your query whether or not there will be kingship throughout the world in future, the Universal House of Justice calls to your attention Shoghi Effendi's statement on page 219 of 'God Passes By':
'The establishment of a constitutional form of government, in which the ideals of republicanism and the majesty of kingship, characterized by Him as 'one of the signs of God', are combined, He recommends as a meritorious achievement.'
"In 'The Promised Day Is Come' on pages 73 to 76, the Guardian quotes many passages from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh lauding the principle of kingship and envisaging an increase of monarchies in the future. The House of Justice suggests that a study of this section of the book will provide you with the understanding you seek."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 29, 1977)
1471. President Wilson and Dr. Jordan
"With regard to Ex-President Wilson and Dr. Jordan, it seems fairly clear that both of these men were considerably influenced by the Bahá'í Teachings; but at the same time it is well to avoid making dogmatic statements that they 'got all their principles from Bahá'u'lláh', or the like, as we are not in a position to prove such statements, and to make claims which we cannot prove weakens instead of strengthening our position."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1925)
C. Government Employees
1472. Those Engaged in Government Service Should Perform Their Duties with Utmost Fidelity, Trustworthiness...
"As for those who are engaged in government service, they should perform their duties with the utmost fidelity, trustworthiness, rectitude, uprightness, integrity and high-mindedness. Let them not tarnish their good repute by pursuing personal interests, nor, for the sake of transient worldly benefits, make themselves objects of public odium and outcasts of the Threshold of Grandeur."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet: Trustworthiness: A Cardinal Bahá'í Virtue, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, January 1987)
1473. Government Employees Should Perform Deeds and Actions of the Highest Degree of Rectitude and Honesty
"Ye who are the sincere well-wishers of the state, who are the dutiful and compliant subjects of the government, should occupy yourselves in constant service. Anyone who entereth the employ of the government should show forth in all his deeds and actions the highest degree of rectitude and honesty, of temperance and self-discipline, of purity and sanctity, of justice and equity. If, God forbid, he should be guilty of the least breach of trust, or approach his duties in a slack or desultory fashion, or extort so much as a farthing from the populace, or seek to further his own selfish interests and personal gain--then it is certain that he shall be deprived of the outpourings of God's grace."
1474. Those Who Are Selected to Serve the Public Should Perform Their Duties in a Spirit of the True Servitude
"Those persons who are selected to serve the public, or are appointed to administrative positions, should perform their duties in a spirit of true servitude and ready
compliance. That is to say, they should be distinguished by their goodly disposition and virtuous character, content themselves with their allotted remuneration and act with trustworthiness in all their doings. They should keep themselves aloof from unworthy motives, and be far removed above covetous designs; for rectitude, probity and righteousness are among the most potent means for attracting the grace of God and securing both the prosperity of the country and the welfare of the people. Glory and honour for man are not to be found in fortunes and riches, least of all in those which have been unlawfully amassed through extortion, embezzlement and corruption practised at the expense of an exploited populace. Supreme honour, nobility and greatness in the human world, and true felicity in this life and the life to come--all consist in equity and uprightness, sanctity and detachment. If a man would seek distinction, he should suffice himself with a frugal provision, seek to better the lot of the poor of the realm, choose the way of justice and fair-mindedness, and tread the path of high-spirited service. Such a one, needy though he be, shall win imperishable riches and attain unto everlasting honour."
(Ibid., p. 11)
1475. Those Who Enter Service of the Government Should Shun All Forms of Venality and Corruption
"If any of the friends should enter into service of the government, they should make their occupation a means of drawing nearer to the divine Threshold: they should act with probity and uprightness, rigorously shun all forms of venality and corruption, and content themselves with the salaries they are receiving, taking pride, rather, in the degree of sagacity, competence and judgement that they can bring to their work. If a person content himself with a single loaf of bread, and perform his duties with as much justice and fair-mindedness as lieth within his power, he will be the prince of mortals, and the most praiseworthy of men. Noble and distinguished will he be, despite his empty purse! Pre-eminent will he rank among the free, although his garb be old and worn! For man, praise and glory reside in virtuous and noble qualities; honour and distinction in nearness to the divine Threshold."
1476. If One Abuses His Position with the Government Through Corrupt or Mercenary Behavior...
"If one of the friends ... be appointed to a high administrative office, he should strive diligently, to perform the duties committed to his charge with perfect honesty, integrity, sincerity, rectitude and uprightness. If, however, he abuse his position through corrupt or mercenary behaviour, he will be held in detestation at the Threshold of Grandeur and incur the wrath of the Abha Beauty--nay, he shall be forsaken by the One True God and all who adore Him. So far from acting thus, he should content himself with his salary and allowance, seek out the way of righteousness, and dedicate his life to the service of state and people. Such must be the conduct and bearing of the Bahá'ís. Whoso transgresseth these bounds shall fall at length into manifest loss."
Page 455 1477. If a Man Deals Faithlessly with a Just Government, He Deals Faithlessly with God
"All government employees, whether of high or low rank, should, with perfect integrity, probity and rectitude, content themselves with the modest stipends and allowances that are theirs. They should keep their hands unsullied and preserve their fair name from blemish.... If a man deals faithlessly with a just government he shall have dealt faithlessly with God; and if he render it faithful service he shall have rendered that service to God."
1478. Content with Wages Received, They Should Not Stain Their Character Through Acts of Bribery and Fraud nor Misappropriate a Single Penny
"Those souls who are employed in government departments should approach their duties with entire detachment, integrity and independence of spirit, and with complete consecration and sanctity of purpose. Content with the wages they are receiving, they should see that they do not stain their fair character through acts of bribery and fraud. Were one of the friends in this day to misappropriate so much as a single penny, the sacred mantle of God's Cause would become sullied by his action and the shame of it would attach to the whole community. Heaven forbid! Nay, rather, the government and people should come to repose such trust in the Bahá'ís as to wish to commit all affairs of state throughout the provinces into the chaste, pure hands of God's well-beloved."
Page 456XL. PRAYER AND MEDITATION
A. Prayer and Meditation
1479. A Prayerful Condition is the Best of Conditions, Especially in Private and at Midnight
"The prayerful condition is the best of all conditions, for man in such a state communeth with God, especially when prayer is offered in private and at times when one's mind is free, such as at midnight. Indeed, prayer imparteth life."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, from a recently translated Tablet: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, 1980)
1480. The Reason for Privacy When Communing with God
"The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and not be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communion. Thus if haply thou dost live in the Day of Resurrection, the mirror of thy heart will be set towards Him Who is the Day-Star of Truth; and no sooner will His light shine forth than the splendour thereof shall forthwith be reflected in thy heart. For He is the Source of all goodness, and unto Him revert all things. But if He appeareth while thou hast turned unto thyself in meditation, this shall not profit thee, unless thou shalt mention His Name by words He hath revealed. For in the forthcoming Revelation it is He Who is the Remembrance of God, whereas the devotions which thou art offering at present have been prescribed by the Point of the Bayan, while He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan--a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it."
(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 93-94)
1481. The More Detached and Pure the Prayer the More Acceptable to God
"The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved of God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God."
(Ibid., pp 77-78)
1482. The Inspiration Received Through Meditation
"...There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged--nay enjoined-- to pray, and
they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual...
"The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if he desires to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1943: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
1483. With Prayer and Meditation Must Go Action and Example
"Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 15, 1944: Ibid.)
1484. The Importance and Power of Meditation
"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person, not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Ibid.)
1485. Every Day Upon Arising One Should Compare Today with Yesterday and Pray...
"...Every day, in the morning when arising one should compare today with yesterday and see in what condition you are. If you see your belief is stronger and your heart more occupied with God and your love increased and your freedom from the world greater then thank God and ask for the increase of these qualities. You must begin to pray and repent for all that you have done which is wrong and you must implore and ask for help and assistance that you may become better than yesterday so that you may continue to make progress."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. VIII, No. 6, p. 68)
1486. How to Pray--One Must Start Out with the Right Concept of God
"...we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian--we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance, you can ask Bahá'u'lláh for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1946)
Page 458 1487. Wiser to Use Meditations Given by Bahá'u'lláh--Not Set Form Recommended by Someone Else
"As to your question about prayer and whether it is necessary to recite the prayers of only the Central Figures of our Faith, we have been asked to quote here the following two excerpts on this subject, from letters written by Shoghi Effendi's secretary on his behalf:
'...as the Cause embraces members of all races and religions we should be careful not to introduce into it the customs of our previous beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh has given us the obligatory prayers, also prayers before sleeping, for travellers, etc. We should not introduce a new set of prayers He has not specified, when He has given us already so many, for so many occasions.'
'He thinks it would be wiser for the Bahá'ís to use the Meditations given by Bahá'u'lláh, and not any set form of meditation recommended by someone else; but the believers must be left free in these details and allowed to have personal latitude in finding their own level of communion with God.'
"As to the reading of prayers or selections from the Sacred Writings of other religions: Such readings are permissible, and indeed from time to time are included in the devotional programmes of Bahá'í Houses of Worship, demonstrating thereby the universality of our Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1974)
1488. Turn to Manifestation
"While praying it would be better to turn one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937: Dawn of a New Day, p. 67)
1489. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh
"You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá'u'lláh: It all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh.
"Under no circumstances, however, can we, while repeating the prayers, insert the name Bahá'u'lláh where the word 'God' is used. This would be tantamount to a blasphemy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 14, 1937)
1490. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh--As the Door
"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá'u'lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavors: Messages to Alaska, p. 71)
Page 459 1491. We May Turn to the Guardian in Prayer, But Should Not Confuse His Station with that of a Prophet
"We pray to God, or to Bahá'u'lláh, as we please. But if in our thoughts we desire to turn to the Guardian first and then address our prayer, there is no objection, as long as we always bear in mind he is only the Guardian, and do not confuse his station with that of the Prophet or even of the Master."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1947)
1492. Turning Toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Prayer
"In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)
1493. Through Abdu'l-Bahá One Can Address Bahá'u'lláh
"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949)
1494. People Who Desire to Meet and Pray
"In some places the Bahá'ís have held meetings for prayer, for people who desire to meet and pray. As we have such wonderful prayers and meditations in our writings, the reading of these with friends who are interested in and crave for this type of small meeting is often a step towards attracting them to the Faith. Perhaps you can start such an activity in your city."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 4, 1956: Bahá'í Meetings, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, November 1975)
1495. Prayers Should Be Read as Printed
"Regarding your question as to the changing of pronouns in Bahá'í prayers: The Guardian does not approve of such changes, either in the specific prayers or in any others. They should be read as printed without changing a single word."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 171, November 1944, p. 3)
1496. Strictly Adhere to the Text of the Holy Writings
"In regard to your question as to whether it is permissible to substitute the plural pronoun for the singular in prayers worded in the singular, the Guardian would strongly urge your N.S.A. to inform the friends to strictly adhere to the text of the Holy Writings, and not to deviate even a hair-breadth from what has been revealed by the Holy Pen. Besides, it should be noted that congregational prayer has been discouraged by Bahá'u'lláh, and that it is allowed only in the case of the prayer for the dead."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)
Page 460 1497. In Quoting Prayers
"In quoting prayers any part may be used, but should be quoted as it is, however short."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
1498. Specific Time for Remembrance of God
"...Moreover the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay, rather impossible, that any enterprise should prosper and develop short of Divine bestowals and confirmations...."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the Bahá'ís of the East, December 19, 1923: Living the Life, p. 1)
1499. Dawn Prayers
"Blessed is he who, at the hour of dawn, centring his thoughts on God, occupied with His remembrance, and supplicating His forgiveness, directeth his steps to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and, entering therein, seateth himself in silence to listen to the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Mighty, the All-Praised...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 115, p. 61)
"QUESTION: Concerning the remembrance of God in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar 'at the hour of dawn'.
"ANSWER: Although the words 'at the hour of dawn' are used in the Book of God, it is acceptable to God at the earliest dawn of day, between dawn and sunrise, or even up to two hours after sunrise."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas: Q 15, p. 111)
1500. Morning Prayers
"One of the characteristics of Bahá'í society will be the gathering of the believers each day during the hours between dawn and two hours after sunrise to listen to the reading and chanting of the Holy Word. In many communities at the present time, especially in rural ones, such gatherings would fit naturally into the pattern of the friends' daily life, and where this is the case it would do much to foster the unity of the local community and deepen the friends' knowledge of the Teachings if such gatherings could be organized by the Local Spiritual Assembly on a regular basis. Attendance at these gatherings is not to be obligatory, but we hope that the friends will more and more be drawn to take part in them. This is a goal which can be attained gradually."
(From the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Naw-Ruz, 1974)
1501. We Should Not Make a Practice of Saying Grace or of Teaching It to Our Children
"He does not feel that the friends should make a practice of saying grace or of teaching it to children. This is not part of the Bahá'í Faith, but a Christian practice, and as the Cause embraces members of all races and religions we should be careful not to introduce into it the customs of our previous beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh has given us the obligatory prayers, also prayers before sleeping, for travellers, etc. We should not introduce a new set of prayers He has not specified, when He has given us already so many, for so many occasions."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 27, 1947)
1502. Congregational Prayer Only for the Dead
"The daily prayers are to be said each one for himself, aloud or silent makes no difference.
There is no congregational prayer except that for the dead. We read healing and other prayers in our meetings, but the daily prayer is a personal obligation, so someone else reading it is not quite the same thing as saying it for yourself..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 220, June 1949, pp. 2-3)
1503. Prayers May Be Recited in Unison
"You have asked whether it is permissible for the friends to chant a prayer collectively. There is a difference between chanting a prayer collectively and congregational prayer. The latter is a formal prayer usually led by an individual using a prescribed ritual. Congregational prayer in this form is forbidden in the Faith except in the case of the Prayer for the Dead. While reciting prayers in unison and spontaneously joining in the recitation of the Words of God is not forbidden, the friends should bear in mind the advice of the beloved Guardian on this subject when he stated that:
'...although the friends are thus left free to follow their own inclination, ... they should take the utmost care that any manner they practice should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution. This is a point which the friends should always bear in mind, lest they deviate from the clear path indicated in the Teachings.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 6, 1975)
1504. One Person Should Read the Funeral Prayer
"We have received your letter of 14th December inquiring which funeral prayer is considered as the desirable one for use in Europe, whether there is any obligatory prayer and what instructions are concerning standing at a Bahá'í funeral service.
"The only obligatory prayer for use at Bahá'í funerals is the prayer No. 167 in 'Prayers and Meditations'. This prayer should be recited by one of those present and all present should stand while it is being read. There is no requirement to face the Qiblih or any other particular direction while this prayer is being read.
"The reading of any other prayers or writings at a Bahá'í funeral is entirely optional. In general it is desirable to keep the service simple and dignified."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Finland, January 31, 1971)
1505. Recital or Chanting of Prayers--Prayer is Essentially Communion Between God and Man
"...There is no objection to the recital or chanting of prayers in the Oriental language, but there is also no obligation whatever of adopting such a form of prayer at any devotional service in the auditorium of the Temple. It should neither be required nor prohibited. The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers, Bahá'u'lláh has given us no strict or special rulings in matters of worship whether in the Temple or elsewhere. Prayer is essentially communion between man and God, and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 15, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 93, July 1935, p. 1)
Page 462 1506. Healing Prayer and Prayers for the Fast
"Concerning the Healing Prayer, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no special ruling for its recital. The believer is free to recite it as many times and in the way he wishes. There are also no obligatory prayers for the Fast. But there are some specific ones revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for that purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)
1507. Effectiveness of Healing Prayer
"The Healing Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh can be effective even though used by non-believers. But their effectiveness is of course greater in the case of those who fully accept the Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 19, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 134, March 1940, p. 2)
1508. Prayers Answered Through Action
"...It is not sufficient to pray diligently for guidance, but this prayer must be followed by meditation as to the best methods of action and then action itself. Even if the action should not immediately produce results, or perhaps not be entirely correct, that does not make so much difference, because prayers can only be answered through action and if someone's action is wrong, God can use that method of showing the pathway which is right."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1957: The Individual and Teaching, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, 1977)
1509. Pray to be Protected from Contamination of Society
"...Love for each other, the deep sense that we are a new organism, the dawn-breakers of a New World Order, must constantly animate our Bahá'í lives, and we must pray to be protected from the contamination of society which is so diseased with prejudice."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Atlanta, Georgia, February 5, 1947: Living the Life, p. 13)
1510. Five Steps of Prayer
"Regarding the five steps of prayer outlined by the Guardian and recorded by Mrs. Moffett in her booklet the 'Call to Prayer': These, he wishes me to explain, are merely personal suggestions and need not, therefore, be adopted strictly and universally by the believers."
(From a letter dated June 30, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1511. Reciting Any Prayer Nine Times Not Obligatory
"There is no obligation for a believer to recite always any prayer nine times. Ritualism is certainly to be avoided in all matters affecting Bahá'í worship...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 26, 1939)
Page 463 1512. The Spiritual Man Prays Only for Love of God
"In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven... When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him... The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God."
(Report of Abdu'l-Bahá's words quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 105, Wilmette 1976 ed: The Importance of Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, A Compilation)
1513. Prayer Beads, Chanting, Congregational Prayer, etc.
"In the matter of the distribution and use of prayer beads, in this and other matters of secondary importance he does not wish that any hard and fast rules be set up. The believers should not be required to use prayer beads, nor should they be prevented from doing so, as the Teachings do not contain any specific instructions on the subject."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 4, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 137, July 1940, p. 3)
1514. Reading Prayers on the Radio
"You have asked specifically about reading prayers on the radio. Of course this is permissible, but you will be cautious concerning the setting of the prayers, i.e., what kind of materials may be presented before and after the prayers ... so that they are assured of that dignity and reverence which they deserve. There may also be considerations of timing (the hours of the day best chosen, Sunday as the customary day of religious observance, etc.), in relation to the customs of the station, of the area, or other. Such recorded disc programs as 'Words for the World' include prayers, of course."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 8, 1973)
1515. Bahá'í Children, Communes and Prayers
"...Every day at first light, ye gather the Bahá'í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children's hearts; that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, p. 28)
"...there is no objection to children who are as yet unable to memorize a whole prayer learning certain sentences only."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 27, 1947)
1516. Mothers or Others Delegated Should Choose Excerpts from the Sacred Word for Children to Memorize
"The Guardian feels that it would be better for either the mothers of Bahá'í children--or some Committee your Assembly might delegate the task to--to choose excerpts
from the Sacred Word to be used by the child rather than just something made up. Of course prayer can be purely spontaneous, but many of the sentences and thoughts combined in Bahá'í writings of a devotional nature are easy to grasp, and the revealed Word is endowed with a power of its own."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1942)
1517. There Are No Special Instructions for Repeating Prayers of the Bab+F1
"Concerning the prayer for difficulty revealed by the Bab: He wishes me to inform you that it is not accompanied by any instructions for its recital.+F1"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1937)
"Regarding your questions: The Guardian feels it is not necessary to repeat the Bab's prayer so many times.+F2"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)
1518. Community Prayer Sessions
"The Guardian wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to the friends coming together for meditation and prayer. Such a communion helps in fostering fellowship among the believers, and as such is highly commendable."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1937: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
1519. Bahá'ís Should Be Taught to Meditate, But Also to Guard Against Superstitious Practices
"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if any one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945)
1520. "O Subduer of Winds", an Invocation for Moments of Danger
"Regarding the invocation 'Ya Musakin el Ariah': It literally means 'O Subduer of Winds'. The believers are not required to recite it, but may do so in moments of personal danger."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)
+F1 Written in response to a question as to how often this prayer should be repeated to produce the greatest results.
+F2 Written in response to a question about the repetition 114 times in the morning for 19 days of the prayer of the Bab, 'Say! God sufficeth all things above all things...' (See also: No. 1528
B. Obligatory Prayer
1521. There Are Mysteries and a Wisdom in Every Word and Movement of the Obligatory Prayers
"Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 85)
1522. Obligatory Prayers
"As obligatory prayers require either genuflection or ablution and orienting toward Bahji, they cannot truly be said by one person for a group of people without it being in effect a form of congregational prayer, so he thinks it better to avoid it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1946: Bahá'í News, No. 197, July 1947, p. 6)
1523. Turning Towards Akka in Prayer is a Physical Symbol of an Inner Reality --One Who Does Not Understand the Acts Accompanying the Long Prayer Can Use the Short
"He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards Akka where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight-- from which it receives life and growth--so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.
"Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1949: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
1524. If a Believer is Ill or Physically Unable to Perform Genuflexions
"As regards the questions about the proper use of the Long Obligatory Prayer: All the writings of the Faith may be read and should be read for the instruction and inspiration of the friends. This includes the specific prayers. If a believer is physically incapable of performing the genuflexions accompanying one of the prayers, and yet he longs to say it as an obligatory prayer, then he may do so. By physically incapable is meant a real physical incapacity which a physician would attest as genuine."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 17, 1955)
Page 466 1525. The Medium Prayer--Repeating the Greatest Name 95 times
"With regard to the three daily obligatory prayers:... The Bahá'í worshipper is free to choose any of these three prayers. The short prayer consists of one verse to be recited once a day at noon. The medium prayer should be recited three times a day: in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. It is accompanied by certain physical gestures such as kneeling, raising the hands, etc. The long prayer which is also accompanied by regulations should be recited once every twenty-four hours. The adoption of one of these three prayers is a spiritual obligation imposed upon all the believers. For as Abdu'l-Bahá says in His Writings--prayer and fasting are the twin pillars that sustain the Law of God.
"As regards the repeating of the Greatest Name ninety-five times, this also has been mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh but He has given no directions as to how the prayer beads should be used in this connection."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 25, 1937)
1526. Physical Gestures and Washing Hands and Face in Connection with Obligatory Prayers Are Laws of Bahá'u'lláh
"...The genuflections and washing of hands and face (as clearly put down in 'Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh', which he himself translated), associated with the two longer daily prayers (obligatory prayers) are laws of Bahá'u'lláh, applicable to any Bahá'í whether of Muslim background, Christian background or otherwise. It is blasphemy to suggest otherwise. However, the Bahá'ís have been left free by Bahá'u'lláh to choose one of the 3 obligatory prayers, and those who prefer not to perform these acts can say the very short one."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)
1527. Each One Must Say His Obligatory Prayer by Himself
"As to the obligatory prayer: Each one must say his prayer alone by himself, and this is not conditional on a private place; that is, both at home and in the worshipping-place, which is a gathering-place, it is allowable for one to say his prayer; but each person must say his prayer by himself. But if they chant supplications together, in a good and effective voice, that is very good."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 464)
1528. Regarding Reading the Bab's Prayer 500 Times
"On page 1 of your October News letter you have quoted the Bab's prayer for the removal of difficulties and have added: 'Bahá'u'lláh has said to repeat this prayer 500 times by day and by night that it may aid us to recognize Him and our souls will be illumined.'
"The above statement gives the impression that the repetition of the said prayer 500 times is one of the prescribed devotionals of the Faith, and has a specified effect on the believer who observes this form of prayer.
"We do not feel it is justified to infer such conclusions from the reference in 'God Passes By', page 119, which you mention. The passage in question obviously refers to a specific circumstance in the life of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad before the declaration of His Mission, and should not be presented to the believers as one of the prescribed observances of the faith."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 24, 1971)
Page 467 1529. The Medium Prayer to be Recited Morning, Noon and Evening--Three Times a Day
"...The friends are free to choose any one of these three prayers, but have to follow the instructions revealed by Bahá'u'lláh concerning them. The long prayer should be recited once in every 24 hours, and is accompanied by certain physical acts. The short prayer, consisting of one verse, should be recited once a day at noon; while the medium prayer should be said three times a day; in the morning, at noon and in the evening. The believer is entirely free to choose any one of these three prayers for daily use."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937)
1530. Definition of "Morning", "Noon" and "Evening"
"By 'morning', 'noon' and 'evening', mentioned in connection with the Obligatory Prayers, is meant respectively the intervals between sunrise and noon, between noon and sunset, and from sunset till two hours after sunset."
(Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 146)
1531. In High Latitudes the National Spiritual Assembly May Fix Hours of Prayer and Fasting by the Clock.
"Concerning the times for prayer and fasting, it is correct that, in the high latitudes, where the lengths of day and night vary considerably from season to season of the year, it is permissible to observe the laws of prayer and fasting in accordance with the clock rather than with the rising and setting of the sun. As Iceland lies in such latitudes, it is for your Assembly to decide this matter for the believers in your country. All should then abide by whatever your Assembly lays down."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 27, 1976: Notes on Obligatory Prayers and Ablutions, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
1532. Based on Texts in the "Kitab-i-Aqdas" and "Questions and Answers"--The Universal House of Justice Permits Use of Clock
"There are two texts, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and its annexe, which refer to the use of clocks. In the Book itself it is written that in lands where the days and nights are long the hours of prayer shall be determined by reference to clocks and other timepieces. In the 'Questions and Answers', in answer to the more general question whether, in determining time, it is permissible to make use of timepieces, Bahá'u'lláh states that it is permissible.
"Although in the first instance the Sacred Text specifically mentions the use of clocks for determining the times of prayer it does not limit their use to that purpose, and the Universal House of Justice, on the basis of the more general statement in the 'Questions and Answers', has permitted their use also in determining the hours of fasting, leaving the application of the law to the National Spiritual Assembly in each country that lies in the high latitudes.
"In the case of fasting, as Mr. ... correctly comments, there is little difference between sunrise and sunset as observed astronomically and hours of fasting as fixed by the clock, because the fast falls just before the Equinox. However, by this ruling it is possible for the believers in the high latitudes to use the same standard for both prayer and fasting, as well as for fixing the ending of each day in the Bahá'í calendar in determining the time for the starting of each Holy Day and the holding of the
Nineteen Day Feasts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 13, 1978: Ibid.)
1533. "Allah-u-Abha" is the Form of the Greatest Name to be Used in the Long Obligatory Prayer
"Shoghi Effendi has explained that 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used when the Greatest Name is to be repeated three times in the Long Obligatory Prayer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 28, 1977: Ibid.)
1534. Instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer
"The Universal House of Justice received your letter of 7 January 1975, enquiring about the correct way of following certain instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer, and has asked us to give you this reply.
"In following the direction stating: 'Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in supplication, and say ... ': the believer does not have to read twice the paragraph which follows. Whether the believer raises his hands twice before the reciting of the paragraph, or commences the reciting after having raised his hands once, and raises them a second time soon thereafter, is left to his choice.
"As to the direction which states: 'Let him then raise his hands thrice, and say ... ', an individual believer asked the beloved Guardian the following question:
'...the direction to raise the hands thrice and say "Greater is God than every great one." Does this mean after every raising of the hands, or only to be said once, after the three raisings?'
"Shoghi Effendi's secretary answered on his behalf as follows: 'The hands should be raised three times and each time the sentence be repeated in conjunction with the act.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 13, 1975: Ibid.)
1535. Instructions for the Medium Obligatory Prayer
"Each phrase which one may substitute is for a particular portion of the prayer, and the instructions are quite specific where the substitutions may be made. For instance, the longest verse in the prayer begins with the same words as those which may be substituted; that is, after the instructions 'Then let him stand up, and facing the Qiblih, let him say: God testifieth that there is none other God but Him.' The second phrase which may be substituted, which states, 'it would suffice were he, while seated,...' may be used in place of the concluding paragraph which carries the instruction 'Let him, then, be seated and say:'--and, again, the substituted words follow exactly the first sentence of that final paragraph."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 23, 1981: Ibid.)
1536. The Correct Position for "Sitting" During Obligatory Prayers
"...one of the believers asked the Guardian a question about the correct position for sitting. From the context it seems clear that this question is related to the medium Prayer, but this is not explicitly stated. The Guardian's reply states that sitting on
a chair is permissible, but to sit on the floor is preferable and more fitting."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982: Ibid.)
1537. Ablutions and Movements to Accompany the Recitation of the Long Obligatory Prayer
"Concerning the movements to accompany the recitations of the Long Obligatory Prayer, in response to an enquiry from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Near East, the House of Justice stated in a letter dated September 1, 1975:
'Ablutions are necessary for all three Obligatory Prayers.' 'Reciting the words specified in the medium Obligatory Prayer pertains only to that prayer, i.e., for the short and long Obligatory Prayers it would be sufficient to wash one's hands and face in preparation for each of these two prayers.'
"However, the Universal House of Justice has stated to National Spiritual Assemblies in the West that no issue should be made of this matter at the present time and since it has not been clarified and applied in detail to the western believers, they are under no obligation to go beyond the instructions given by the beloved Guardian in 'Prayers and Meditations' in which ablutions are prescribed only in connection with the medium Obligatory Prayer.
"The instruction to raise one's hands occurs once in the medium Obligatory Prayer and five times in the long Obligatory Prayer. The term used in the original Arabic for the first, second and fourth occasions in the long Prayer is the same as that used in the medium Prayer. Therefore it would be entirely correct for the worshipper, when raising his hands on these occasions during the recitation of the long Obligatory Prayer, to follow the more specific instructions given in English by the Guardian in his translation of the medium one. On the third and fifth occasions the instruction is given in the long Prayer, the words 'in supplication' are omitted. The House of Justice does not wish at this time to give any specific guidance in this connection; it leaves the matter to the discretion of the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982: Ibid.)
1538. Ablutions Before Obligatory Prayers and Repetition of the Greatest Name
"It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat 'Allah-u-Abha' ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, He established Himself upon the thrones of His Names. Perform ye likewise, ablutions for the Obligatory Prayer; this is the command of God, the Incomparable, the Unrestrained."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 18, p. 26)
1539. The Verse to be Recited When There is No Water
"...Let him that findeth no water for ablution repeat five times the words 'In the Name of God, the Most Pure, the Most Pure', and then proceed to his devotions. Such is the command of the Lord of all worlds...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 10, p. 23)
Page 470XLI. PROPHETS-MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD
A. The Báb
1540. Duration of the Bab's Dispensation
"The Bab said that whenever 'He Whom God will make manifest' appears, accept Him. He never said don't accept Him until after the lapse of 1000 years. Also Bahá'u'lláh says that in the year 9 of the Babi Dispensation the time was ripe for the Revelation of 'He Whom God will make manifest.' As the Bab was not only a Manifestation but a Herald of this Bahá'í Faith, the interval between His revelation and that of Bahá'u'lláh was of shorter duration. His Dispensation in a sense will last as long as Bahá'u'lláh's lasts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 27, 1941: Dawn of a New Day, p. 94)
1541. Declaration of the Bab
"...The believers must hold gatherings for the Bahá'ís at exactly 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset on May 22nd ..., as this is the exact time when the Bab declared His mission to Mulla Husayn...."
(Ibid., June 22, 1943, p. 105)
1542. The Declaration of the Bab and the Birthday of Abdu'l-Bahá
"...regarding the declaration of the Bab and the birthday of the Master: The Bab declared His Mission on the fourth day of the month of Jamadi I, two hours and eleven minutes after sunset, corresponding with the evening of May 22nd. But as the Bahá'í day begins after sunset, and not after midnight as in the West, the Bab's declaration is celebrated on the fifth day of Jamadi I, corresponding to the 23rd of May. Abdu'l-Bahá was born in the course of that same night, but the exact hour of His birth has not been ascertained."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 25, 1936)
1543. The Bayan
"In the Bayan the Bab says that every religion of the past was fit to become universal. The only reason why they failed to attain that mark was the incompetence of their followers. He then proceeds to give a definite promise that this would not be the fate of the Revelation of 'Him Whom God would make manifest', that it will become universal and include all the people of the world. This shows that we will ultimately succeed. But could we not through our shortcomings, failures to sacrifice, and reluctance to concentrate our efforts in spreading the Cause, retard the realization
of that ideal. And what would that mean? It shall mean that we will be held responsible before God, that the race will remain longer in its state of waywardness, that wars would not be so soon averted, that human suffering will last longer."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, February 20, 1932: Living the Life, pp. 3-4)
1544. The Iqan and the Bayan
"The Bab specified that the 'Bayan' is not completed and that 'He Whom God would manifest' (Bahá'u'lláh) would complete it, though not in its actual form, but only spiritually in the form of another book. The 'Iqan' is believed to be its continuation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 17, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 78)
1545. Reason for Severe Laws Revealed by the Bab
"...The severe laws and injunctions revealed by the Bab can be properly appreciated and understood only when interpreted in the light of His own statements regarding the nature, purpose and character of His own Dispensation. As these statements clearly reveal, the Babi Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution and its duration had therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of sweeping and drastic reforms. These drastic measures enforced by the Bab and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shi'ah orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. To assert the independence of the new Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the approaching Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the Bab had therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of them were never enforced. But the mere fact that He revealed them was in itself a proof of the independent character of His Dispensation and was sufficient to create such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual martyrdom."
(Ibid., pp. 77-78)
1546. Portrait of the Bab
"...The portrait of the Bab should be regarded as an inestimable privilege and blessing to behold, as past generations were denied a glimpse of the Face of the Manifestation, once He had passed on."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 2)
1547. Hour of Birth of the Bab
"The Bab was born before dawn."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1548. The Term "Afnan" Refers to Relatives of the Bab
"The term 'afnan' means literally small branch, and refers to the relatives of the Bab, both men and women. As the Bab's only son died while in infancy, the former had no direct descendants. The 'afnan' are, therefore, all indirectly related to the Bab.
"As to 'aghsan', it also means branch. But it is a bigger branch than 'afnan'. It refers to Bahá'u'lláh's descendants."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 25, 1934)
1549. The Sacrifice of 19 Lambs by the Bab Was Prior to His Revelation
"As regards your question concerning the sacrifice of 19 choice lambs which the Bab is reported to have made on the day of Nahr: This is indeed an Islamic custom. But the sacrifice in question was performed by the Bab prior to the revelation of His own laws, and at a time, therefore, when the laws and practices of Islam had not yet been entirely abrogated by Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1939)
1550. No Prophet in Same Category as Bahá'u'lláh
"There are no Prophets, so far, in the same category as Bahá'u'lláh, as He culminates a great cycle begun with Adam."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)
1551. Bahá'u'lláh Has Appeared in God's Greatest Name
"...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."
(Ibid., p. 41)
1552. Bahá'u'lláh Conversed with Moses in the Burning Bush
"Bahá'u'lláh is not the Intermediary between other Manifestations and God. Each has His own relation to the Primal Source. But in the sense that Bahá'u'lláh is the greatest Manifestation to yet appear, the One Who consummates the Revelation of Moses; He was the One Moses conversed with in the Burning Bush. In other words Bahá'u'lláh identifies the glory of the Godhead on that occasion with Himself. No distinction can be made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all proceed from One Source, and are of One Essence. But Their stations and functions in this world are different."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)
1553. Bahá'u'lláh is Not God--But Through Him We Can Know God
"As regards your question: Bahá'u'lláh is, of course, not God and not the Creator; but through Him we can know God, and because of this position of Divine Intermediary, in a sense, He (or the other Prophets) is all we can ever know of that Infinite Essence which is God. Therefore, we address ourselves in prayer and thought to Him, or through Him to that Infinite Essence behind and beyond Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 4, 1951)
1554. Why He Uses the Pronoun "We"
"When Bahá'u'lláh uses the plural--'We', 'Our' etc.--He is merely using a form
which is regal and has greater power than the singular 'I'. We have this same usage in English, when the King says 'we'. The Pope does the same thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1951)
1555. There is No Record of a Prophet Similar in Station to Bahá'u'lláh
"Regarding your questions: There is no record in history, or in the teachings, of a Prophet similar in station to Bahá'u'lláh having lived 500,000 years ago. There will, however, be one similar to Him in greatness after the lapse of 500,000 years, but we cannot say definitely that His Revelation will be inter-planetary in scope. We can only say that such a thing may be possible. What Bahá'u'lláh means by His appearance in 'other worlds' He has not defined, as we could not visualize them in our present state, hence He was indefinite, and we cannot say whether He meant other planets or not...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 24, 1941)
1556. Hour of Bahá'u'lláh's Birth
"Bahá'u'lláh was born at dawn."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1557. The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, Certain Passages Clarified
"Concerning the meaning of the passage on p. 12 of the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' beginning with the words 'But for Him no Divine Messenger...', this refers to the reality of God in Him and not to His Person.
"Page 20, first line, of the same pamphlet: The passage refers to any opportunities that are missed through neglect and not to any particular event.
"Page 21, line 20: The meaning of the passage should not be taken literally. The purpose is to emphasize the theme and heighten its effect.
"Page 24, line 20: It refers to the reality of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)
1558. Reckoning of Days Mentioned in the "Dispensation"
"Concerning the passage in the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' in which the Guardian quotes Abdu'l-Bahá's interpretation of the prophecy referring to the times when the sun would stand still in the heavens, he wishes me to explain that the days referred to in this prophecy have to be reckoned differently. In the Sacred Scripture of various religions there are to be found frequent references to days, but these have been considered as indicating different periods of time, as for instance in the Qur'an a day is reckoned as one thousand years. The first ten days in the above-mentioned prophecy represent each a century, making thus a total of one thousand lunar years. As to the twenty days referring to the Babi Dispensation, each of them represents only one lunar year, the total of twenty years marking the duration of the Revelation of the Bab. The thirty days in the last Dispensation should not be reckoned numerically, but should be considered as symbolizing the incomparable greatness of the Bahá'í Revelation which, though not final, is nonetheless thus far the fullest revelation of God to man. From a physical point of view, the thirty days represent the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the zodiac. They thus
represent a culminating point in the evolution of this star. So also from a spiritual standpoint these thirty days should be viewed as indicating the highest, though not the final, stage in the spiritual evolution of mankind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 7, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 87, September 1934, p. 1)
1559. Bahá'u'lláh Was a Descendent of Abraham Through Both Katurah and Sarah--Jesse, Son of Sarah, Was the Father of David and Ancestor of Bahá'u'lláh
"Regarding your question concerning the Jesse from whom Bahá'u'lláh is descended: The Master says in 'Some Answered Questions', referring to Isaiah, chapter 11, verses 1 to 10, that these verses apply 'Word for word to Bahá'u'lláh'. He then identifies this Jesse as the father of David in the following words: '...for Joseph was of the descendants of Jesse the father of David...', thus identifying the Jesse of Isaiah, chapter 11, with being the father of David. Bahá'u'lláh is thus the descendant of Jesse, the father of David.
"The Guardian hopes that this will clarify the matter for you. It is a tremendous and fascinating theme, Bahá'u'lláh's connection with the Faith of Judaism, and one which possesses great interest to Jew and Christian alike."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 11, 1942)
"Regarding your question concerning the descent of Bahá'u'lláh from Abraham: The Master has stated that Bahá'u'lláh is a descendant of Abraham through a son of his, other than Isaac and Ishmael, from his wife Katurah...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 24, 1943)
1560. As the Return of Christ
"In accepting Bahá'u'lláh you have accepted Christ in His appearance as the Father, as He Himself so clearly foretold. The Catholic Church does not believe this; on the contrary, it still awaits the return of Christ. If you decide, in order to be buried next to your dear husband, to return to the Church, you either would have to, in good faith, deny Bahá'u'lláh or you would be just using the Church as a means to satisfying a desire of your own, which would certainly not be an upright and conscientious thing to do!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1950)
1561. Appearance of Later Prophets
"After Bahá'u'lláh many Prophets will, no doubt, appear, but they will be all under His shadow. Although they may abrogate the laws of the Dispensation, in accordance with the needs and requirements of the age in which they appear, they nevertheless draw their spiritual force from this mighty Revelation. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh constitutes, indeed, the stage of maturity in the development of mankind. His appearance has released such spiritual forces which will continue to animate, for many long years to come, the world in its development. Whatever progress may be achieved in later ages--after the unification of the whole human race is achieved--will be but improvements in the machinery of the world. For the machinery itself has already been created by Bahá'u'lláh. The task of continually improving and perfecting this machinery is one which later Prophets will be called upon to achieve. They will move and work within the orbit of the Bahá'í cycle."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1935)
Page 475 1562. Fears for Next Manifestation
"As to the meaning of the quotation, 'My fears are for Him Who will be sent down unto you after Me', this refers to the Manifestation Who is to come after a thousand or more years, Who like all previous Messengers of God will be subjected to persecutions, but will eventually triumph over them. For men of ill-will have been and will always continue to be in this world, unless mankind reaches a state of complete and absolute perfection--a condition which is not only improbable but actually impossible to attain. The fundamental difference, however, between this Dispensation and all previous ones is this, that in this Revelation the possibility of permanent schism between the followers of the Prophet has been prevented through the direct and explicit instructions providing for the necessary instruments designed to maintain the organic unity of the body of the faithful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 1, 1934, Bahá'í News, No. 89, p. 1, January 1935)
1563. He Does Not Ask Us to Follow Him Blindly
"Just as in the past the Prophets have been persecuted and their Mission was ridiculed, so has the Message of Bahá'u'lláh been scoffed at as a mere impractical idealism. From His earliest youth He was put in chains, expatriated and persecuted. But what do we observe in this Day? ...the principles He advocated are the only solution for practical political politics, the spiritual truths He voiced are the crying needs of man and the very things he requires for his moral and spiritual development.
"He does not ask us to follow Him blindly; as He says in one of His Tablets, God has endowed man with a mind to operate as a torchlight and guide him to the truth. Read His Words, consider His teachings and measure their value in the light of contemporary problems and the truth will surely be revealed to you. Read books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, Nabil's Narrative, and you will appreciate the truth of His mission, as well as the true spirit He creates in whosoever follows His ways."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 5, January 1934)
1564. Christ and Bahá'u'lláh
"The beloved Guardian has been very impressed with the latest book written by our dear departed coworker, George Townshend, 'Christ and Bahá'u'lláh'.
"This book outlines clearly the relationship of Christ and Bahá'u'lláh, and presents the manners in which the Bahá'ís are setting up the Kingdom of God for which the Christians are praying.
"It is challenging, and surely will affect many religious leaders.
"The Guardian feels your Assembly should make this book the basis of a very active teaching campaign."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 19, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 316, p. 5, June 1957)
1565. Duration of the Bahá'í Cycle and Dispensation
"Concerning your question relative to the duration of the Bahá'í Dispensation. There is no contradiction between Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the Iqan about the
renewal of the City of God once every 1000 years, and that of the Guardian in the 'Dispensation' to the effect that the Bahá'í cycle will extend over a period of at least 500,000 years. The apparent contradiction is due to the confusion of the terms cycle and dispensation. For while the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh will last for at least one thousand years, His cycle will extend still further to at least 500,000."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 102, August 1936, pp. 2-3)
1566. No Explanation Given for 500,000 Year Period of Bahá'í Cycle
"Abdu'l-Bahá has given no explanation regarding the 500,000 year period of the Bahá'í cycle. Individual believers are free to work out for themselves the explanation they desire, so long as they do not impose their views on others."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1567. Identifies Himself with Other Prophets
"As to the list of the prophets with whom Bahá'u'lláh identified Himself in the passage found on pages 26 and 27 of 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', their names are as follows: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, John the Baptist, Jesus, Imam Husayn, on whom Bahá'u'lláh has conferred an exceptionally exalted station, (and) the Bab."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 7, 1936)
1568. Bahá'u'lláh Did Not Name "Letters of the Living" for Himself
"There were no 'Letters of the living' for Bahá'u'lláh, as there had been for the Bab's Dispensation. Dayyan was evidently the 3rd to believe in Bahá'u'lláh; who the second and the others were we don't know. The Bab, being the Manifestation, cannot be considered the first in this sense."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)
1569. The "Trustees" of Knowledge
"We cannot be sure to whom Bahá'u'lláh refers as the 'trustees' of knowledge."
"Those words uttered by the Luminaries of Truth must needs be pondered, and should their significance be not grasped, enlightenment should be sought from the Trustees of the depositories of Knowledge, that these may expound their meaning, and unravel their mystery...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 181-182)
1570. The Bahá'í Faith is a Way of Life Not a Mere Philosophical or Social Doctrine
"For the Bahá'í Faith is above all a way of life. It is not a mere philosophical or social doctrine. It is a closely-knit and harmoniously functioning community, a worldwide spiritual fraternity which seeks to reform the world first and foremost by bringing about a deep inner spiritual change in the heart of individuals. To live the Teachings of the Cause should be the paramount concern of every true believer, and the only way to do so is to commune both in spirit and through actual concrete means with the entire community of the faithful. The Bahá'í Cause encourages community
life and makes it a duty for every one of its followers to become a living, a fully active and responsible member of the world-wide Bahá'í fellowship."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 13, 1936)
1571. The Teachings Should Be Conceived of as One Great Whole with Many Facets
"He feels that many of the perplexities that arise in your mind could be dissipated if you always conceived of the teachings as one great whole with many facets. Truth may, in covering different subjects, appear to be contradictory, and yet it is all one if you carry the thought through to the end. For instance the statement on life after death and the condition of believers and non-believers; you might say that a wonderful believer is like a diamond blazing in the sun, an unawakened soul like one in a dark room. But we must couple this concept with the other part of the teachings, that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, and that soul can progress in the world beyond; the unillumined soul can become brilliant."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 24, 1947)
1572. The Whole Theory of Divine Revelation Rests on the Infallibility of the Prophets
"Regarding your Bahá'í friend who does not fully understand the infallibility of the Manifestation of God: You should influence that person to study the matter more deeply, and to realize that the whole theory of Divine Revelation rests on the infallibility of the Prophet, be He Christ, Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh, or one of the others. If they are not infallible, then They are not Divine, and thus lose that essential link with God which, we believe, is the bond that educates men and causes all human progress."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 11, 1942)
1573. There Are a Minimum of Rituals in the Bahá'í Faith and No Man-Made Dogmas
"In response to your letter of 3rd September 1979 asking if there are dogmas and rites in the Bahá'í Faith, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to convey its reply.
"A dogma is a principle, tenet or teaching, especially an authoritative teaching, and in these senses it is apparent that the Faith has 'dogmas'. The word is also used, however, to describe that body of rigid doctrines that have accumulated in a religion after the passing of its Founder; such man-made dogmas are entirely absent from the Bahá'í Faith, nor can it ever acquire them.
"Concerning rituals, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer on 24th June 1949:
'Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers--are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.'
"Thus it can be seen that the Faith has certain simple rites prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh, such as the obligatory prayers, the marriage ceremony and the laws for the burial of the dead, but its teachings warn against developing them into a system of uniform and rigid rituals incorporating man-made forms and practices, such as exist in other religions where rituals usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices performed by a member of the clergy. In another letter written on behalf of the Guardian his secretary stated:
'In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.' (Translated from the Persian).
"In freeing the believers from the religious rituals of the past and from those customs which are contrary to Bahá'í principles, the institutions of the Faith should be careful not to press the friends to arbitrarily discard those local traditions which are harmless and often colourful characteristics of particular peoples and tribes. In 'The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh', on page 41, we read:
'Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world....'"
(From a letter written of behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 16, 1979)
C. Explanation of Some Bahá'í Teachings
1574. What is Meant by a Personal God--God is Not Anthropomorphic
"What is meant by a personal God is a God Who is conscious of His creation, Who has a Mind, a Will, a Purpose, and not, as many scientists and materialists believe, an unconscious and determined force operating in the universe. Such conception of the Diving Being, as the Supreme and ever present Reality in the world, is not anthropomorphic, for it transcends all human limitations and forms, and does by no means attempt to define the essence of Divinity which is obviously beyond any human comprehension. To say that God is a personal Reality does not mean that He has a physical form, or does in any way resemble a human being. To entertain such belief would be sheer blasphemy."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1575. Man Lives in a Three Dimensional Plane of Consciousness
"When we say that man lives in a three dimensional plane of consciousness, we should not interpret such statement in mathematical terms, though the basic idea at its root is certainly correct."
Page 479 1576. Possibly Indians of America Were Influenced by Prophets in Asia
"It is possible the Indians of the Americas were influenced in the remote past by Prophets in Asia. But again, as there is nothing in our teachings about it, we cannot do more than speculate."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)
"The meaning of 'Mustaghath' is: 'He Who is invoked for help.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 14, 1947)
1578. Reference in Gospel of St. John to Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh
"The passage in the Gospel of St. John 14:26, is a reference to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, through Whose coming this prophecy was fulfilled."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1579. "Lord" and "God" Refer to the Creator in Bahá'í Writings
"In the Bahá'í Writings 'Lord' and 'God' refer to the Creator, not the Manifestations of God; in a few passages the word 'Lord' refers to the Manifestation, but usually it means 'God'!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)
1580. Copper Can Be Transmuted into Gold
"Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn't split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that Abdu'l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold.
"There may come a time, for all we know, when the mass of many atoms can be changed by scientists. We have no way of proving or disproving at present the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá. Just because we cannot demonstrate a contention in the Bahá'í Teachings does not mean the contention is not true.
"The same holds true of the statement of Bahá'u'lláh in the Iqan, regarding transmutation of copper into gold after seventy years, under certain conditions.
"We as Bahá'ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist. Because we don't know what this condition is in scientific terms does not refute Bahá'u'lláh's statement at all.
"The Guardian hopes that Mr. ... will not let so small a thing stand in his path. The principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says, once you have accepted Him as being the Manifestation. That is really the crux of the whole matter. It is a question of confidence."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1955)
1581. Creatures Are to be Found on Every Planet
"Regarding the passage on p. 163 of the 'Gleanings': The creatures which Bahá'u'lláh states to be found on every planet cannot be considered to be necessarily similar or different from human beings on this earth. Bahá'u'lláh does not specifically state whether such creatures are like or unlike us. He simply refers to the fact that there are creatures on every planet. It remains for science to discover one day the exact nature of these creatures."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1937)
Page 480 1582. "Dayspring" Defined
"I have asked the Guardian concerning the exact meaning of the word 'Dayspring'. Literally it means 'Dawn'. It is sometimes used in the sense of 'Horizon' or 'Rising point', and taken figuratively it is equivalent to fountain or source. It can also be used as referring to a Manifestation of God, as in the following expression 'Dayspring of Truth'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 19, 1935)
1583. Absolute Being Can Be Attributed Only to God--His Creation Has Relative Existence, a Separate Reality
"In a Tablet Bahá'u'lláh says that even though absolute being can be attributed only to God we cannot say that other objects have no being. A table has an existence even though its existence compared with the existence of the carpenter who is its maker is almost nothing. Compared to God nothing has existence but this does not mean that even stones do not have being. It is speaking relatively. Moreover, God reveals Himself in all things in the sense that He is the Source of their being and the Cause of their existence. Without Him all things will shrink down to nothing. This however does not mean that all things are parts of God as the pantheist believes. The pantheist says that only God exists, objects are mere modes of His attributes. Bahá'u'lláh however says that objects have a separate reality that is created by God. The Master explains these things in the 'Some Answered Questions', especially in one of the last chapters. There are also many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh explaining these matters. Most of them, however, have not yet been translated into English. Let us hope that some day this work will be done and the friends will appreciate how Bahá'u'lláh has solved their problems."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 26, 1932)
1584. Meaning of "Sciences that Begin and End in Words"
"What Bahá'u'lláh meant primarily with 'sciences that begin and end in words' are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain nowhere.
"Bahá'u'lláh surely never meant to include story writing under such a category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents very necessary in our present social and economic life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 30, 1932)
1585. Atomic Energy--"A Strange and Wonderful Instrument"
"The words of Bahá'u'lláh regarding 'a strange and wonderful instrument...' can, in the light of what the Master said in San Francisco, be taken as a reference to the great destructive power atomic energy can be made to release."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1946)
1586. Bahá'u'lláh Exhorts Man to Try to Develop His Dormant Qualities
"The passage in the 'Epistle to the Son of the Wolf' in which Bahá'u'lláh says: 'Give that which is asked of you' means that man must always try to develop and reveal
the qualities that are to be found potentially in him. It is an urge to self-improvement and individual progress, and has, therefore, no connection with that passage in the 'Aqdas' wherein Bahá'u'lláh forbids mendicity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)
1587. The "Veils" Are Very Thin at the Time of the Manifestation
"As to the words of Abdu'l-Bahá about the 'vineyard will not then be so easy to find', etc. This supports many such remarks: He explained often that at the time of the Manifestation the veils are very thin, so to speak. Many souls accepted seemingly spontaneously, on the basis of a dream, or just hearing the Cause existed! But later, this first phase passes, and the people require more arguments and proof, acceptance comes less as a flash of spiritual insight and more as an intellectual process. This is quite different from the future glory of the Cause and the divine origin of its institutions, graphically outlined by Him. When the Master says the Local and National Assemblies are the 'Voice of truth', He means here that they must be obeyed, not that they are infallible."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1947)
1588. Today It is a Greater Responsibility to Reject the Manifestation
"It is certainly a much greater responsibility to reject the Manifestation in this day than it was in the past Dispensations, inasmuch as man, and indeed humanity as a whole, have been endowed with a greater measure of spiritual receptivity than ever before, and consequently it would be a much graver sin to repudiate the revealed Truth now than it would have been the case in bygone ages and centuries."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1939)
1589. Cornerstone of All the Teachings--Oneness of Humanity
"It is most essential that the believers should be quite clear on this point, as the principle of the oneness of humanity is the cornerstone of all the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and should be presented as such, without the least hesitation, by the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 11, 1937; cited by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1968)
1590. "He Who Loves His Kind"
"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the passage of 'he who loves his kind', the statement of Bahá'u'lláh does not refer to any special race or class of people. Rather it includes the entire human race, irrespective of any class, creed or colour. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is not a particularistic appeal to a group of people. It is a Universal Message and all-inclusive appeal. His principle of the oneness of mankind is world-wide in its spirit, in its application, and covers the entire field of human relationships."
1591. "From It (Earth) We Have Created You"
"Regarding the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh', the sentence beginning with the words 'From it (earth) have We created you', is a quotation from the Qur'an....
"By 'second time' is meant the spiritual resurrection of man, that is to say, his acceptance of the Divine Manifestation. But Muslims have given this term a literal interpretation: the physical resurrection of man. Bahá'u'lláh is using this same interpretation current among Muslims to defeat their argument."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1936)
1592. Second Time--Means the Spiritual Resurrection of Man
"With regard to the Racine Assembly's request for an explanation of the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings' beginning with the words: 'From it (earth) have We created you...': this is a verse from the Qur'an... Bahá'u'lláh in quoting this passage seeks to refute the argument of the Muslims, who attach a purely literal interpretation to this verse of the Qur'an, and therefore consider it as implying bodily resurrection. To these Muslims He says, you who literally believe that the human body will return to dust and will be raised from it again, and therefore attach so much importance to this mortal world, how then can you wax so proud, and boast over things which are but perishable and consequently void of any true and lasting value."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Racine Assembly, February 7, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 124, p. 6, April 1939)
1593. The Day of Resurrection, of Judgement, and the Tomb
"...Concerning the meaning of 'Resurrection': Although this term is often used by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings, as in the passage quoted in your letter, its meaning is figurative. The tomb mentioned is also allegorical, i.e., the tomb of unbelief. The Day of Resurrection, according to Bahá'í interpretation, is the Judgement Day, the Day when unbelievers will be called upon to give account of their actions, and whether the world has prevented them from acknowledging the new Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Dawn of a New Day, p. 79)
1594. Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh Primarily for This Planet
"...On page 231 of the same book (Gleanings): No particular force is meant. It is symbolic of the regenerative power with which a righteous act is endowed.
"As to your question whether the power of Bahá'u'lláh extends over our solar system and to higher worlds: While the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, it should be noted, is primarily for this planet, yet the spirit animating it is all-embracing, and the scope therefore cannot be restricted or defined."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 14, 1938)
1595. Abha Kingdom
"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the term 'Abha Kingdom', it is another term for the spiritual world beyond the grave."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1596. "Singled Out"
"The term 'singled out' on p. 172 of the 'Gleanings' means chosen one or favoured one."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 26, 1939, from Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 5)
Page 483 1597. Evolution of the Soul
"The passage on p. 156 of 'Gleanings' regarding the evolution of the soul after death clearly proves that the soul after its separation from the body keeps its individuality and its consciousness both in relation to other souls and to the human beings in the world."
"The word 'perish' on p. 190 of 'Gleanings' does not mean that the human soul will cease to exist, but will be deprived of all spiritual capacity and understanding."
1599. "No Man Attaineth Everlasting Life"
"Also on p. 183, the passage: 'No man can attain everlasting life...' should not be taken literally: by 'everlasting life' is meant spiritual felicity, communion with the Divine Spirit."
1600. Differences of Station and Classes in Society
"As regards the meaning of the passage of page 188 of the 'Gleanings': It is an emphasis by Bahá'u'lláh on the importance of maintaining differences of station and classes in society and does not refer to the question of race."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)
1601. "Hidden Words"
"As to the passage No. 13 of the Arabic Hidden Words: That which Bahá'u'lláh declares we can find abiding within us is the power of the Divine Spirit, the reflection of the light of His Revelation. This reflection of the Divine Spirit, however, can in no way be compared to the Revelation which God discloses to His Prophets and Messengers. The similarity in the terminology should not confuse this distinction which is most fundamental."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, December 7, 1935)
1602. Iqan, Kitab-I-Iqan--"City of God", Meaning of
"...as to the meaning of the passage in the 'Iqan' in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to the renewal of the 'City of God' once in about a thousand years: this, as the word about implies, is simply an approximate date, and should not therefore be taken literally."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)
1603. "Who Out of Utter Nothingness"
"The statement in the 'Gleanings', pp. 64-65, 'who out of utter nothingness...', etc., should be taken in a symbolic and not a literal sense. It is only to demonstrate the power and greatness of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957, p. 41)
Page 484 1604. "Hosts of His Testament" and "Cord"
"Regarding your questions: By 'Government', on page 210 of the 'Bahá'í World' Vol. VI, is meant the executive body which will enforce the laws when the Bahá'í Faith has reached the point when it is recognized and accepted entirely by any particular nation. On page 205, indem, the 'Hosts of His Testament' refers to those who are firm in the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh and who defend and uphold it.
"The word 'cord', so often mentioned in the teachings, means both the Faith itself and also the power of the Faith which sustains those who cling to it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 18, 1941; also see The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 14-15)
1605. Sura of the Sun, Explanation of
"The passage in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet in which He explains the sura of 'The Sun' should not be interpreted literally. It does not mean that after the Day of Resurrection praise and peace will cease to be vouchsafed to the Prophet. Rather it means to the end of time, i.e., indefinitely and for all times."
(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 79-80)
"The intercession spoken of by Bahá'u'lláh in one of His prayers which you have quoted is a purely spiritual act and is applicable to Muhammad as well as to all Prophets. This passage, however, refers more particularly to that kind of intercession in which Muslims believe, though the manner and circumstances of it, according to Bahá'í belief, are mysterious and unknowable."
(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 80)
1607. "Knowledge Consists of Twenty-Seven Letters..."
"Regarding the passage beginning with the words: 'Knowledge consists of twenty-seven letters': this should not be interpreted literally. It only indicates the relative greatness and superiority of the new Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1608. Tablet of Ahmad--The Word "Ungodly"
"In the passage 'eschew all fellowship with the ungodly,' Bahá'u'lláh means that we should shun the company of those who disbelieve in God and are wayward. The word 'ungodly' is a reference to such perverse people. The words 'Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones' should not be taken in their literal sense. Bahá'u'lláh's advice is that again we should flee from the enemies of God and instead seek the fellowship of His lovers."
(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 200)
"The Tablet of Ahmad was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh to be read when one feels himself in exceptionally difficult circumstances. There is nothing obligatory about its use, and every person has to decide for himself whether he desires to learn it by heart or not...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Kenosha, April 14, 1932)
1609. The Tablet of the Holy Mariner
"The Tablet of the Holy Mariner was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad. The
Holy Mariner is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh Himself, and the Ark mentioned in that Tablet is the Ark of His Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)
"Concerning the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, it is one of the most significant Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh during the last days of His stay in Baghdad, and refers to the sad though momentous events which were to transpire soon after His arrival in Adrianople. Its main significance lies in the fact that in it Bahá'u'lláh clearly foreshadows the grave happenings which eventually led to the defection of Subh-i-Azal, and to the schism which the latter thought to create within the ranks of the faithful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 10, 1934)
1610. Tablet to the Presidents of the Republics of the Americas
"Bahá'u'lláh never revealed a Tablet to the President of the U.S.A. In His Book the Aqdas He revealed words addressed to the Presidents of the Republics of the Americas, but no single Tablet was ever revealed to any one of them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 21, 1942)
1611. Tablet of Joseph
"The Tablet of Joseph does not refer to Joseph Smith.
"Joseph Smith we do not consider a Prophet, minor or otherwise. Certainly no references he made would have foretold the coming of this Revelation in his capacity as a Prophet."
1612. Meaning of "Verities of the Faith"
"By 'verities of the Faith' he means the great teachings and fundamentals enshrined in our Bahá'í literature; these we can find by reading the books, studying under Bahá'í scholars at summer schools and in classes, and through the aid of study outlines."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)
1613. Meaning of the Word "Patron" in Seven Valleys
"Regarding your question about the meaning of the words on page 50 of the Seven and Four Valleys: This is a verse of the Qur'an which Bahá'u'lláh quotes; the word patron here means helper--in other words when God misleads a soul, he shall find no other helper. You would find Sale's translation and comments on the Qur'an helpful in getting at the story back of such verses as this one."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 18, 1946)
"...The herald who proclaimed the written names is Abdu'l-Bahá Who announceth the names of those who deserve salvation and are firm in the Covenant of God...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 681)
Page 486 1615. All Thy Doings Recorded
"...Thou shalt, after thy departure, discover what We have revealed unto thee, and shalt find all thy doings recorded in the Book wherein the works of all them that dwell on earth, be they greater or less than the weight of an atom, are noted down...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 226)
1616. Chief Objectives of Abdu'l-Bahá's Ministry
"As to the three aims which Shoghi Effendi has stated in his 'America and the Most Great Peace' to have been the chief objectives of Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry, it should be pointed out that the first was the establishment of the Cause in America. The erection of the Bahá'í Temple in Ishqabad and the building on Mt. Carmel of a mausoleum marking the resting-place of the Bab were the two remaining ones."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 14, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 51, February 1934, p. 5)
1617. Experiences with Abdu'l-Bahá
"It is very important that the Bahá'ís should accurately record their experiences with the Master and events in the Cause's progress for these things form data for future histories of the Cause. They have not, however, the authority of the revealed Word of the Tablets,..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 23, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)
1618. Stories About Abdu'l-Bahá
"He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about Abdu'l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they also should not be given prominence or official recognition."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 2, 1935)
1619. Day of the Covenant, Day of the Ascension
"The Day of the Covenant Nov. 26th, and the Day of the Ascension, Nov. 28th, anniversaries of the birth and the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá, must be observed by the friends coming together, but work is not prohibited. In other words the friends must regard observance of these two anniversaries as obligatory--but suspension of work is not to be regarded as obligatory."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, January 21, 1951: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 89)
1620. When the Interpreter of the Writings Says Nothing on a Subject Then the Individual is Free to Accept or Refute
"As regards what Mirza Abu'l Fazl has said concerning the Seven Religions of the past, Shoghi Effendi wishes to emphasize that what is truly authoritative are the words of the Master. In all such cases we should try and find out what He has said
and abide by His words, even though they seem in conflict with the findings of modern scholars. If He does not say anything on the subject, then the individual is free to accept, or refute what scholars, such as Abu'l Fazl, say. Through the discussion of these (statements by scholars), the truth will ultimately be found, but at no time should their decision be considered as final."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 23, 1933: On Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism and Related Subjects, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, p. 1)
1621. Praying to Abdu'l-Bahá
"...he wishes me to explain that although Abdu'l-Bahá's station is not that of a Manifestation of God, nevertheless supplications may be addressed to Him. It is essential, however, that every believer should realize that while doing so he is directing his thoughts towards the Master as an intermediary between him and the Manifestation, and not as the Source of Divine Revelation and spiritual guidance. Provided this distinction is clearly established there can be no harm or objection in addressing prayers to Abdu'l-Bahá."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 1, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 89, February 1935, p. 4)
1622. Through Him One Can Address Bahá'u'lláh
"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing. His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 31, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 222, August 1949, p. 2)
1623. Photographs of Abdu'l-Bahá
"In connection with the selection of particular photographs of Abdu'l-Bahá for circulation among the friends, the Guardian strongly feels that no definite ruling should be laid down establishing the superiority or distinction of any particular photograph. The friends should be left quite free to use their individual independent judgement in this matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 15, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 138, September 1940, p. 1)
1624. Photograph Placed in a Dignified Position
"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or a 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 that the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States: Bahá'í News, No. 265, March 1953, p. 4)
1625. Preservation of Relics
"Regarding the preservation of relics associated with Abdu'l-Bahá, the general principle should be that any object used by Him in person should be preserved for
posterity, whether in the Local or the National archives. It is the duty and responsibility of the Bahá'í Assemblies to ascertain carefully whether such objects are genuine or not, and to exercise the utmost care and caution in the matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 28, 1936: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 34)
1626. Ages of the Faith and Epochs of the Ages
"The Guardian wishes me to explain that there is no relationship between the epochs of the Divine Plan, and the epochs of the Ages of the Faith.
"The Faith is divided into three Ages: the Heroic, the Formative, the Golden Age, as has been outlined in his writings. The Heroic Age closed with the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá. The Formative Age is divided into epochs. The first epoch lasted 25 years. We are now actually in the second epoch of the Formative Age. How long the Formative Age will last is not known--and there will probably be a number of epochs in it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1953)
1627. The Divine Plan
"The Divine Plan of Abdu'l-Bahá is divided into epochs. The first Seven Year Plan constituted the first stage of the first epoch; the second Seven Year Plan constitutes the second stage;--while the 10 year Crusade will constitute the third stage of the first epoch of the Divine Plan. The first epoch of the Divine Plan will conclude with the conclusion of the 10 year Crusade."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1953)
1628. The Tablets of the Divine Plan Are the Charter for Teaching
"As you are no doubt aware, the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which were revealed by Abdu'l-Bahá during the First World War, are the Charter for the teaching of the Faith. All the teaching plans launched by the beloved Guardian, as well as those subsequently directed by the Universal House of Justice, are stages in the implementation of this master plan conceived by the Centre of the Covenant for the diffusion of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 29, 1977)
1629. Apostolic and Heroic Age of the Faith
"...the Apostolic and Heroic Age of our Faith fell into three distinct epochs, of nine, of thirty-nine and of twenty-nine years duration, associated respectively with the Babi Dispensation and the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and of Abdu'l-Bahá. This Primitive Age of the Bahá'í Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the American Bahá'ís, June 5, 1947)
1630. The Application of the Term "Iron Age"
"The term 'Iron Age' suggests the age of labour, of construction; a relatively
primitive epoch as opposed to a 'Golden Age', an age of fulfilment, fruition, attainment."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)
E. Hidden Words
1631. The "Hidden Words"--A Collection of Gem-Like Utterances
"...the Hidden Words was originally designated the 'Hidden Book of Fatimih,' and was identified by its Author with the Book of that same name, believed by Shi'ah Islam to be in the possession of the promised Qa'im, and to consist of words of consolation addressed by the angel Gabriel, at God's command, to Fatimih, and dictated to the Imam Ali, for the sole purpose of comforting her in her hour of bitter anguish after the death of her illustrious Father. The significance of this dynamic spiritual leaven cast into the life of the world for the reorientation of the minds of men, the edification of their souls and the rectification of their conduct can best be judged by the description of its character given in the opening passage by its Author: 'This is that which hath descended from the Realm of Glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old....'"
(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 140)
1632. The Meaning of the Name "Hidden Words"
"With regard to your question concerning the meaning of the name 'Hidden Words'. It is, indeed, one of the most suggestive titles of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. These words are called hidden due to the fact that men have had neither the knowledge nor a true sense of appreciation of them before they were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It is through Him, Who is the sole Mouthpiece of God in this age, that spiritual realities and truths have been once more reinterpreted and revealed afresh to mankind. Bahá'u'lláh's Message is thus the only key to a true understanding of the mysteries that envelop man's spiritual life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 1, 1935)
1633. The Hidden Words Have No Sequence
"The Hidden Words have no sequence. They are jewel-like thoughts cast out of the mind of the Manifestation of God to admonish and counsel men...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1949)
1634. Passages in which Bahá'u'lláh Refers to Man as "Son of Spirit"
"As to your second question concerning those passages in the 'Hidden Words' in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to man as 'Son of Spirit', 'Son of existence', 'Son of humanity' etc., the word 'son' used in this connection is a kind of collective noun, meaning mankind and has, therefore, no connotation of any sex differentiation between man and woman whatever."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1935)
1635. Hidden Words (Arabic) No. 13 Explained
"Thou hast asked about the statement in the Hidden Words which reads, 'O Son of Spirit! Turn thy face so that thou mayest find Me within thee, Powerful, Mighty, and Supreme.' This is the statement to which His Holiness, the Christ, referred His Apostles in the Gospel, saying: 'The Father is in the Son and the Son is in you.'
"This is evident that, when the hearts are purified and through the divine education and heavenly teachings become the manifestators of infinite perfections, they are like clear mirrors and the Sun of Truth will reflect with might, power and omnipotence in such mirrors, and to such an extent that whatsoever is brought before them is illumined and ignited. This is a brief interpretation because of lack of time. Therefore, do thou reflect and ponder over it, so that the doors of significance may be opened before thine eyes."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extract from Tablet to Thornton Chase, June 1911: Star of the West, Vol. II, Nos. 7 and 8, pp. 11-12)
1636. Date of Birth of Jesus Christ
"Regarding the date of the birth of Jesus Christ: Abdu'l-Bahá's statement on this subject should be considered by the Bahá'ís as the standard, and as the basis of their calculation."
(From a letter dated July 10, 1939 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1637. Christ, Virgin Birth of
"First regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. In light of what Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have stated concerning this subject it is evident that Jesus came into this world through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, and that consequently His birth was quite miraculous. This is an established fact, and the friends need not feel at all surprised, as the belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized."
(From a letter dated December 31, 1937 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1638. Miracles Are Always Possible
"Again with regard to your question relative to the birth of Jesus: He wishes me to inform you that there is nothing further he can add to the explanation he gave you in his previous communication regarding this point. One thing, however, he wishes again to bring to your attention, namely that miracles are always possible, even though they do not constitute a regular channel whereby God reveals His power to mankind. To reject miracles on the ground that they imply a breach of the laws of nature is a very shallow, well-nigh a stupid argument, inasmuch as God Who is the Author of the universe can, in His Wisdom and Omnipotence, bring any change, no matter how temporary, in the operation of the laws which He Himself has created.
"The Teachings do not tell us of any miraculous birth besides that of Jesus."
(From a letter dated February 27, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1639. Bahá'í Teachings in Agreement with Doctrines of Catholic Church Concerning the Virgin Birth
"With regard to your question concerning the Virgin Birth of Jesus: On this point, as on several others, the Bahá'í Teachings are in full agreement with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. In the 'Kitab-i-Iqan' (Book of Certitude) p. 56, and in a few other Tablets still unpublished, Bahá'u'lláh confirms, however indirectly, the Catholic conception of the Virgin Birth. Also Abdu'l-Bahá in the 'Some
Answered Questions', Chap. XII, p. 73, explicitly states that 'Christ found existence through the Spirit of God' which statement necessarily implies, when viewed in the light of the text, that Jesus was not the son of Joseph."
(From a letter dated October 14, 1945 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1640. Christ's Brothers and Sisters Were Born in the Natural Way
"We believe that Christ only was conceived immaculately. His brothers and sisters would have been born in the natural way and conceived naturally."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to Dr. Shook, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)
1641. High Station of Mary--False Accusations
"It would be sacrilege for a Bahá'í to believe that the parents of Jesus were illegally married and that the latter was consequently of an illegal union. Such a possibility cannot be even conceived by a believer who recognizes the high station of Mary and the Divine Prophethood of Jesus Christ. It is this same false accusation which the people of His Day attributed to Mary that Bahá'u'lláh indirectly repudiated in the Iqan. The only alternative therefore is to admit that the birth of Jesus has been miraculous. The operation of miracles is not necessarily irrational or illogical. It does by no means constitute a limitation of the Omnipotence of God. The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God's power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom. Mystery is therefore an inseparable part of true religion, and as such, should be recognized by the believers."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 1, 1935: Canadian Bahá'í News, February 1968, p. 11)
1642. "Dove" Simply a Metaphor
"...The story about the dove is simply a metaphor. No dove came down. Amongst the people, John the Baptist felt that the Holy Spirit was in Christ. The Holy Spirit was always with Christ. He knew about His mission from early childhood."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. XIV, p. 274)
1643. The Bahá'í Faith Recognizes the Divine Origin of Christianity and the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary
"As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Spirit of God,' is proclaimed as the One Who 'appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost,' and is even extolled as the Essence of the Spirit. His mother
is described as 'that veiled and immortal, that most beauteous countenance,' and the station of her Son eulogized as a 'station which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth', whilst Peter is recognized as one whom God has caused 'the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth'...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Promised Day is Come, pp. 109-110)
1644. Regarding the Station of Jesus--All Prophets Can Be Regarded as Sons of God for They All Reflect His Light
"As regards your questions concerning the station of Jesus Christ, and His return as explained in the Gospel. It is true that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, but this, as explained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Iqan, does not indicate any physical relationship whatever. Its meaning is entirely spiritual, and points out to the close relationship existing between Him and the Almighty God. Nor does it necessarily indicate any inherent superiority in the station of Jesus over other Prophets and Messengers. As far as their spiritual nature is concerned all Prophets can be regarded as Sons of God, as they all reflect His light, though not in an equal measure, and this difference in reflection is due to the conditions and circumstances under which they appear."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937)
1645. According to the Gospel Jesus Gave Only Two Material Ordinances
"...in regard to the material ordinances and ceremonies instituted by Jesus, the Guardian would suggest that you should point out that, only so far as it is recorded in the Gospel, Jesus gave two material ordinances only. Our knowledge of Jesus' life and teachings is rather fragmentary and so it would be more correct if you specify that these ordinances are only those recorded in the Gospel, and they may not be the only ones. There may be other teachings and ordinances too, of which no record is left."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 12, 1933)
1646. The Crucifixion as Recorded in the New Testament is Correct
"...Though we cannot imagine exactly what the Manifestations of the remote past were like, we can be sure of two things: They must have been able to reach their fellow-men in a normal manner--as Bahá'u'lláh reached His generation, and They were sent from God and thus Divine Beings. The crucifixion as recounted in the New Testament is correct. The meaning of the Qur'anic version is that the spirit of Christ was not crucified. There is no conflict between the two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)
1647. The Father Himself Has Come and Fulfilled the Mission of Christ the Son
"A Catholic background is an excellent introduction to the Faith, and one that Mrs. ... should feel gratified for having had. Though doctrines of the church today are no longer needed--as the Father Himself has come, and thus fulfilled the mission of Christ the Son--yet the foundation they lay of spiritual discipline, and their emphasis on spiritual values and adherence to moral laws, is very important and very close to our own beliefs."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two believers, August 17, 1941)
Page 493 1648. Bahá'ís Do Not Believe in a Bodily Resurrection After the Crucifixion
"...We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the Crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His Ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after the resurrection is the same thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)
1649. Bahá'ís Should Try to Find a Spiritual Meaning to the So-Called Miraculous Events Recorded in the Gospel
"Concerning the resurrection of Christ, he wishes to call your attention to the fact that in this as well as in practically all the so-called miraculous events recorded in the Gospel we should, as Bahá'ís, seek to find a spiritual meaning and to entirely discard the physical interpretation attached to them by many of the Christian sects. The resurrection of Christ was, indeed, not physical but essentially spiritual, and is symbolic of the truth that the reality of man is to be found not in his physical constitution, but in his soul. A careful perusal of the 'Iqan' and of the 'Some Answered Questions' makes this indubitably clear."
(From a letter written to an individual believer on behalf of the Guardian, August 14, 1934)
1650. Jesus Christ Established Beyond a Doubt the Primacy of Peter+F1
"Now with regard to your questions. First concerning the statement of Jesus Christ 'Thou art Peter and upon this rock etc.'; this saying of Jesus establishes beyond any doubt the primacy of Peter and also the principle of succession, but is not explicit enough regarding the nature and functioning of the Church itself. The Catholics have read too much into that statement, and derived from it certain conclusions which are quite unjustifiable."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 7, 1938)
1651. Regarding the Signs that Would Herald the Advent of the New Manifestation
"Now as regards the signs that would herald the advent of the new Manifestation. The Guardian wishes you to read over very carefully Bahá'u'lláh's explanation as recorded in the 'Iqan'. There it is made clear that what is meant by the appearance of the Son of God after the calamitous events preceding His coming is the revelation of His full glory and its recognition and acceptance by the peoples of the world, and not his physical appearance. For Bahá'u'lláh, Whose advent marks the return of the Son in the Glory of the Father, has already appeared, and the signs predicted in the Gospel have not yet fully been realized. Their complete fulfilment, however, would mark the beginning of the recognition of His full station by the peoples of the world. Then and only then will His appearance be made completely manifest."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937)
1652. The Qur'an Concerning Christ
"Regarding the passage you enclosed about the Qur'an: In reality there is no contradiction at all; when the Qur'an denies Christ is the Son of God it is not refuting His Words but the false interpretation of them by the Christians who read
+F1 (See also: Nos. 542
into them a relationship of an almost corporeal nature, whereas Almighty God has no parents or offspring. What is meant by Christ, is His spirit's relation to the Infinite Spirit, and this the Qur'an does not deny. It is in a sense attributable--this kind of Sonship--to all the Prophets."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 19, 1945)
1653. The Reformation Was a Challenge to Man-Made Organization of the Church
"What contribution the Reformation did really make was to seriously challenge, and partly undermine, the edifice which the Fathers of the Church had themselves reared, and to discard and demonstrate the purely human origin of the elaborate doctrines, ceremonies and institutions which they had devised. The Reformation was a right challenge to the man-made organization of the Church, and as such was a step in advance. In its origins, it was a reflection of the new spirit which Islam had released, and a God-sent punishment to those who had refused to embrace its truth."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)
1654. The Period of Turmoil which Accompanies a New Manifestation
"The passage in the Gospel of Matthew 19:30 is a reference to the period of turmoil that accompanies the appearance of a new Manifestation, at which time the humble and the lowly who accept the new Revelation will be raised and the outwardly high, but inwardly corrupt and low, will be abased and degraded."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)
1655. Ecclesiastics 12:6--Man's Neglect of God
"The passage in Ecclesiastics 12:6 should be interpreted allegorically, and not be taken in its literal meaning. It has reference to the effect of man's neglect of God his creator."
1656. There is a Spark of Divinity in Man
"In the book of Genesis 1:26--This passage simply means that there is a spark of divinity in man, and not that man is co-equal with the Manifestation of God. Again the friends should avoid literal interpretations of the Bible."
1657. Reference to Bahá'u'lláh in St. John
"The passage in the Gospel of St. John 14:26 is a reference to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, through Whose coming this prophecy was fulfilled."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1658. We Do Not Believe in Genesis Literally--The World Was Not Created in Seven Days
"We Bahá'ís do not believe in Genesis literally. We know this world was not created in seven days, or six, or eight, but evolved gradually over a period of millions of years, as science has proved. As to where the idea of a seven-day week originated, it is certainly very ancient and you should refer to scholars for an answer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)
Page 495 1659. The Years of Noah Are Not Years as We Count Them and We Cannot Substantiate Stories of the Old Testament
"The years of Noah are not years as we count them, and as our teachings do not state that this reference to years means His dispensation, we cannot interpret it this way.
"We have no way of substantiating the stories of the Old Testament other than references to them in our teachings, so we cannot say exactly what happened at the battle of Jericho."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)
1660. When Abdu'l-Bahá States that We Believe What is in the Bible, He Means in Substance
"When Abdu'l-Bahá states we believe what is in the Bible, He means in substance. Not that we believe every word of it to be taken literally or that every word is the authentic saying of the Prophet."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer and cited on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 13, 1986 in a letter to a believer)
1661. The Date of Birth of Muhammad is Unknown
"There is a disagreement among Oriental scholars relative to the exact date of the birth of Muhammad. You should refer to authorities on the subject, such as Sale, whose translation of the Qur'an
has become almost classical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 162, p. 5, April 1943)
1662. Biblical References to Muhammad and Ali
"References in the Bible to 'Mt. Paran' and 'Paraclete' refer to Muhammad's Revelation: Deuteronomy 33:2, Genesis 21:21, Numbers 12:16, Numbers 13:3. Genesis 17:20 refers to the twelve Imams and in the Revelation of St. John, chapter 11, where it mentions two witnesses, it refers to Muhammad and Ali.
"The figures 1290 date from the declaration of Muhammad, ten years before His flight to Medina."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)
"Islam attained a very high spiritual state, but western scholars are prone to judging it by Christian standards. One cannot call one world Faith superior to another, as they all come from God; they are progressive, each suited to certain needs of the times."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)
Page 496 1664. Muhammad's Teachings Heightened and Guarded the Cause of Human Development
"Shoghi Effendi hopes that your lectures will not only serve to deepen the knowledge of the believers in the doctrines and culture of Islam, but will set their hearts afire with the love of everything that vitally pertains to Muhammad and His Faith.
"There is so much misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general that you have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a good deal of erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends with the pure teachings of the Prophet as recorded in the Qur'an, and then to point out how these teachings have, throughout succeeding ages, influenced nay guided the course of human development. In other words you have to show the position and significance of Islam in the history of civilization.
"The Bahá'í view on that subject is that the Dispensation of Muhammad, like all other Divine Dispensations, has been fore-ordained, and that as such forms an integral part of the Divine plan for the spiritual, moral and social, development of mankind. It is not an isolated religious phenomenon, but is closely and historically related to the Dispensation of Christ, and those of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. It was intended by God to succeed Christianity, and it was therefore the duty of the Christians to accept it as firmly as they had adhered to the religion of Christ.
"You should also cautiously emphasize the truth that due to the historical order of its appearance, and also because of the obviously more advanced character of its teachings, Islam constitutes a fuller revelation of God's purpose for mankind. The so-called Christian civilization of which the Renaissance is one of the most striking manifestations is essentially Muslim in its origins and foundations. When medieval Europe was plunged in darkest barbarism, the Arabs regenerated and transformed by the spirit released by the religion of Muhammad were busily engaged in establishing a civilization the like of which their contemporary Christians in Europe had never witnessed before. It was eventually through Arabs that civilization was introduced to the West. It was through them that the philosophy, science and culture which the old Greeks had developed found their way to Europe. The Arabs were the ablest translators, and linguists of their age, and it is thanks to them that the writings of such well-known thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made available to the Westerners. It is wholly unfair to attribute the efflorescence of European culture during the Renaissance period to the influence of Christianity. It was mainly the product of the forces released by the Muhammadan Dispensation.
"From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true Christianity as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more laws and institutions in the Qur'an than in the Gospel. While the latter's emphasis is mainly, not to say wholly, on individual and personal conduct, the Qur'an stresses the importance of society. This social emphasis acquires added importance and significance in the Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared, the Qur'an marks a definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of spiritual and humanitarian progress.
"The truth is that Western historians have for many centuries distorted the facts to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices. The Bahá'ís should try to study history anew, and to base all their investigations first and foremost on the written Scriptures of Islam and Christianity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 27, 1936)
1665. Clarification of Certain Issues Regarding Islam, the Imam Husayn, the Imamate, etc.
"Ali's appointment was clear to the Khalifs, who actually disregarded the Prophet's oral statements.
"The usurpation occurred immediately after the Prophet's death.
"Ali did not feel unqualified, but wished to avoid schism, which, unfortunately, could not be prevented.
"The schisms that have afflicted the religions preceding the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh establish its distinction from all previous Revelations, and single it out among all other Dispensations, as stated by Abdu'l-Bahá.
"The guidance vouchsafed to the Imams regarding the laws and institutions of Islam was absolute and unqualified. Their infallibility was derived directly from the Manifestation.
"The Bab's descent from the Imam Husayn is no doubt a proof of the validity of the Imamate. According to Nabil the dream the Bab had made him first conscious of His Revelation.
"The precedence of the name Husayn over Ali does establish the greatness of Imam Husayn.
"Imam Husayn has, as attested by the Iqan, been endowed with special grace and power among the Imams, hence the mystical reference to Bahá'u'lláh as the return of Imam Husayn, meaning the Revelation in Bahá'u'lláh of those attributes with which Imam Husayn had been specifically endowed.
"Joseph was one of the 'Sent Ones' of the Qur'an, meaning a Manifestation of God.
"The friends should uphold Islam as a revealed Religion in teaching the Cause but need not make, at present, any particular attempt to teach it solely and directly to non-Bahá'ís at this time.
"The mission of the American Bahá'ís is, no doubt, to eventually establish the truth of Islam in the West.
"The spirit of Islam, no doubt, was the living germ of modern Civilization; which derived its impetus from the Islamic culture in the Middle Ages, a culture that was the fruit of the Faith of Muhammad."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 30, 1941)
1666. How to Study the Qur'an
"It is certainly most difficult to thoroughly grasp all the Surihs of the Qur'an, as it requires a detailed knowledge of the social, religious and historical background of Arabia at the time of the appearance of the Prophet. The believers cannot possibly hope, therefore, to understand the Surihs after the first or even second or third reading. They have to study them again and again, ponder over their meaning, with the help of certain commentaries, and explanatory notes as found, for instance in the admirable translation made by Sale, endeavor to acquire as clear and correct understanding of their meaning
and import as possible. This is naturally a slow process, but future generations of believers will certainly come to grasp it. For the present, the Guardian agrees, that it would be easier and more helpful to study the book according to subjects, and not verse by verse and also in the light of the Bab's, Bahá'u'lláh's, and Abdu'l-Bahá's interpretations which throw such floods of light on the whole of the Qur'an."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 22, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 134, pp. 2-3, March 1940)
1667. Meaning of "Jin" or "Genii"
"Regarding your question as to the meaning of Jin or Genii referred to in the Qur'an, these are not beings or creatures that are actually living, but are symbolic references to the power of men of evil and may be likened to evil spirits. But the point to bear in mind is that these have no positive existence of any kind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 26, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)
1668. Caliphate and Imamate
"Both Caliphate and Imamate means successorship. Either term could be used."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
1669. Muhammad Says that the Jews Did Not Crucify Christ
"Regarding your question relative to Surih 4, 156 of the 'Qur'an' in which Muhammad says that the Jews did not crucify Jesus, the Christ, but one like Him; what is meant by this passage is that although the Jews succeeded in destroying the physical body of Jesus, yet they were impotent to destroy the divine reality in Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 19, 1938)
1670. Muhammadanism is a Fuller Revelation Than Any One Preceding It
"...Muhammadanism is not only the last of the world religions, but a fuller Revelation than any one preceding it. The Qur'an is not only more authoritative than any previous religious gospel, but it contains also much more ordinances, teachings and precepts, which taken together constitute a fuller Revelation of God's purpose and law to mankind than Christianity, Judaism or any other previous Dispensation. This view is in complete accord with the Bahá'í philosophy of progressive revelation, and should be thoroughly accepted and taught by every loyal Christian Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 12, 1933)
1671. Muhammad's Teachings Fostered the National State
"Regarding your questions: It is not the City State, but the National State which Muhammad's teachings fostered. Christ had nothing to do with the City State concept in any direct manner."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 22, 1949)
1672. The Plurality of Wives in Muslim Countries Does Not Conform with the Teachings of Muhammad
"Concerning the question of plurality of wives among the Muslims: This practice
current in all Islamic countries does not conform with the explicit teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. For the Qur'an, while permitting the marriage of more than one wife, positively states that this is conditioned upon absolute justice. And since absolute justice is impossible to enforce, it follows, therefore, that polygamy cannot and should not be practised. The Qur'an, therefore, enjoins monogamy and not polygamy as has hitherto been understood."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 29, 1939)
1673. Imam Husayn
"The names of those cited in Bahá'u'lláh's prayer in the Dispensation are quite correct as you have them.
"The Prophets 'regarded as One and the same person' include the Lesser Prophets as well, and not merely Those Who bring a 'Book'. The station is different, but they are Prophets and Their nature thus different from that of ours.
"In the prayer mentioned above Bahá'u'lláh identifies Himself with Imam Husayn. This does not make him a Prophet, but his position was very unique, and we know Bahá'u'lláh claims to be the 'return' of the Imam Husayn. He, in other words, identifies His Spirit with these Holy Souls gone before; that does not, of course, make Him in any way their reincarnation. Nor does it mean all of them were Prophets.
"Your constant and devoted Bahá'í services are deeply valued by the Guardian, you may be sure, and he will pray in the Holy Shrines that your labours may be blessed and your power to confirm the souls increased."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 8, 1949)
"The word Israel, used throughout the Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people, and not to the chosen ones of this day."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1675. Position of Jerusalem
"...whereas Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Christendom it is not the administrative centre of either the Church of Rome or any other Christian denomination. Likewise, although it is regarded by Moslems as the spot where one of its most sacred shrines is situated, the Holy Sites of the Muhammadan Faith and the centre of its pilgrimages are to be found in Arabia, not in Palestine. The Jews alone offer somewhat of a parallel to the attachment which the Bahá'ís have for this country inasmuch as Jerusalem holds the remains of their Holy Temple and was the seat of both the religious and political institutions associated with their past history. But even their case differs in one respect from that of the Bahá'ís, for it is in the soil of Palestine that the three Central Figures of our religion are buried, and it is not only the centre of Bahá'í pilgrimages from all over the world but also the permanent seat of our Administrative Order...."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, July 14, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 199, September 1947, p. 3)
Page 500 1676. All Palestine to Become Home
"You can see that from all the parts of the world tribes of Jews are coming to the Holy Land; they live in villages and lands which they make their own, and day by day they are increasing to such an extent, that all Palestine will become their home."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, p. 66, 1985 ed.)
1677. Gathering of Israel
"You have asked Me a question with regard to the gathering of the children of Israel in Jerusalem in accordance with the prophecy.
"Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, is a revered Temple, a sublime name, for it is the City of God... The gathering of Israel at Jerusalem means, therefore, and prophesies, that Israel as a whole is gathering beneath the banner of God and will enter the Kingdom of the Ancient of Days. For the celestial Jerusalem, which has as its center the Holy of Holies, is a City of the Kingdom, a Divine City. The East and West are but a small corner of that City.
"Moreover, materially as well (as spiritually), the Israelites will gather in the Holy Land. This is irrefutable prophecy, for the ignominy which Israel has suffered for well-nigh twenty-five hundred years will now be changed into eternal glory, and in the eyes of all, the Jewish people will become glorified to such an extent as to draw the jealousy of its enemies and the envy of its friends."
(According to information received by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States several years ago this Tablet was revealed by the Master in the year 1897 to a Jewish Community in the Orient: Bahá'í News, No. 250, December 1951, p. 5)
1678. Journey of the Israelites
"It was both spiritual and physical. They journeyed to the Promised Land and geography and history both prove that this was a physical journey.
"Moses viewed the Promised Land but died before it was reached, having given over his charge to Joshua.
"The crossing of the Red Sea has a spiritual meaning. It was a spiritual journey, through and above the sea of corruption and iniquity of the Pharaoh and his people, or army. By the help of God through Moses, the Israelites were able to cross this sea safely and reach the Promised Land (spiritual state) while Pharaoh and his people were drowned in their own corruption.
"The Egyptian History recorded even trifling events. Had such a wonderful thing happened as the parting of the physical sea it would also have been recorded."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 45, 1979 ed.)
1679. Erroneous Belief
"The belief, according to which Judah represents the Jews and Israel the Chosen people, is erroneous."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1680. Ten Tribes of Israel
"The Teachings throw no light on the question as to what became of the ten tribes of Israel, or whether they were absorbed into some other nation or not."
Page 501 1681. The Jews Have a Great Spiritual Destiny and Will Enter the Faith in Large Groups
"Regarding your question concerning the future of the Jews: They certainly have, as explicitly stated by the Master, a great spiritual destiny, and will gradually enter the Faith in large groups."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1937)
1682. Greek Philosophers Visited Israel's Scholars and Religious Leaders
"It is furthermore a matter of record in numerous historical works that the philosophers of Greece such as Pythagoras acquired the major part of their philosophy, both divine and material, from the disciples of Solomon. And Socrates after having eagerly journeyed to meet with some of Israel's most illustrious scholars and divines, on his return to Greece established the concept of the oneness of God and the continuing life of the human soul after it has put off its elemental dust. Ultimately, the ignorant among the Greeks denounced this man who had fathomed the inmost mysteries of wisdom, and rose up to take his life; and then the populace forced the hand of their ruler, and in council assembled they caused Socrates to drink from the poisoned cup."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 77, 1975 ed.)
I. Prophets and Prophecies of Various Religions
1683. Bahá'u'lláh is the Culmination of the Adamic Cycle and the Inaugurator of the Bahá'í Cycle
"The Adamic Cycle inaugurated 6000 years ago by the Manifestation of God called Adam is only one of the many bygone cycles. Bahá'u'lláh, as you say, is the culmination of the Adamic Cycle. He is also the Inaugurator of the Bahá'í Cycle.
"Obviously there must have been Prophets and Manifestations in the ages preceding the Adamic Cycle. This is supported by the following statement revealed by Bahá'u'lláh.
'And now regarding thy question, "How is it that no records are to be found concerning the Prophets that have preceded Adam, the Father of Mankind, or of the Kings that lived in the days of those Prophets?" Know thou that the absence of any reference to them is no proof that they did not actually exist. That no records concerning them are now available, should be attributed to their extreme remoteness, as well as to the vast changes which the earth hath undergone since their time.'
"With regard to your question about the creation story, we are asked to quote the following from an unpublished Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá.
'Know ye that the Torah is that which was revealed in the Tablets to Moses, may peace be upon Him, or that to which He was bidden. But the stories are historical narratives and were written after Moses, may peace be upon Him.'
"Concerning the story of Adam and Eve, Abdu'l-Bahá, in 'Some Answered Questions', explains that it cannot be taken literally. You are asked to refer to pages 122-126 of this book for the symbolic meaning of the story."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 13, 1986)
Page 502 1684. Buddha Was a Manifestation Like Christ
"The Buddha was a Manifestation of God, like Christ, but His followers do not possess His authentic writings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 41)
1685. Confucius Was Not a Prophet But a Great Reformer
"Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer."
1686. Daniel, Prophecies of
"As regards the question concerning prophecies of Daniel in 'Some Answered Questions'... The seventy weeks comes right to the martyrdom of Christ. The sixty-nine weeks must be understood to mean that after 69 weeks He was crucified, which, as the Master points out, brings us to the last week, the week between 69 and 70, when He ascended."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)
1687. King David
"The David referred to by the Bab, and stated by Him to have preceded Moses, is not the same one as King David, the father of King Solomon, who lived in the tenth century B.C. and who obviously lived many years, and indeed many centuries after Moses. Abdu'l-Bahá has explained this in a Tablet."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 17, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 76-77)
1688. Genesis 22:9--Sacrifice of Ishmael
"As to the question raised by the Racine Assembly in connection with Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the 'Gleanings' concerning the sacrifice of Ishmael: Although this statement does not agree with that made in the Bible, Genesis 22:9, the friends should unhesitatingly, and for reasons that are only too obvious, give precedence to the sayings of Bahá'u'lláh which, it should be pointed out, are fully corroborated by the Qur'an, which book is more authentic than the Bible including both the New and the Old Testaments. The Bible is not wholly authentic, and in this respect is not to be compared with the Qur'an, and should be wholly subordinated to the authentic writings of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 28, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 103, p. 1, October 1936)
"Genesis XIX, 29-38--the text makes it quite clear that Lot was not responsible for the action committed by His two daughters, as they gave him wine and made him drunk."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 201)
1690. Zoroaster--Was Not Abraham
"Zoroaster was not Abraham; the Muslims, some of them, contend that they
were the same, but we believe they were two distinct Prophets. There is a misunderstanding in the reference in 'Bahá'í Proofs' to this matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)
1691. Beginning of Zoroastrian Era
"1. Regarding the beginning of the Zoroastrian era, in one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Bahá states that Zoroaster lived about 750 years after Moses; in a letter to an individual believer the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf: 'Zoroaster lived about a thousand years before Christ. There is no exact date in the teachings regarding the beginning of His Dispensation.'
"2. Concerning your second question referring to a purported Tablet of the Bab stating that there were thirty Zoroasters, the Research Department states that no text from the Bab has been found on this subject. However, Mirza Abu'l-Fazal has stated in his writings that there appeared in Iran many prophets prior to the Dispensation of Zoroaster."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, May 13, 1979, to Mrs. Gayle Woolson)
1692. Hindu Religion
"...The origins of this and many other religions that abound in India are not quite known to us, and even the Orientalists and the students of religions are not in complete accord about the results of their investigations in that field. The Bahá'í writings also do not refer specifically to any of these forms of religion current in India. So, the Guardian feels it impossible to give you any definite and detailed information on that subject. He would urge you, however, to carry on your studies in that field, although its immensity is well-nigh bewildering, with the view of bringing the Message to the Hindus...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 198)
"With reference to your question concerning the Sabean and Hindu religions: There is nothing in the Teachings that could help us in ascertaining which one of these two Faiths is older. Neither history seems to be able to provide a definite answer to this question. The records concerning the origin of these religions are not sufficiently detailed and reliable to offer any conclusive evidence on this point."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 9, 1940: Extracts from the Guardian's letters on Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism and Related Subjects, op. cit.)
1694. Lao-Tse and the Sabeans
"Regarding Lao-Tse: The Bahá'ís do not consider him a prophet, or even a secondary prophet or messenger, unlike Buddha or Zoroaster, both of whom were divinely-appointed and fully independent Manifestations of God.
"As to the religion of the Sabeans very little is known about the origins of this religion, though we Bahá'ís are certain of one thing, that the founder of it has been a divinely-sent Messenger. The country where Sabeanism became widespread and
flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 10, 1939)
1695. There Were No Followers of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh from the Far East During Their Ministry
"As there were no followers of the Bab or Bahá'u'lláh derived from the religions of the Far East in Their days, this may be the reason that they did not address any Tablets directly to these people. Also we must remember that every religion springs from some root, and just as Christianity sprang from Judaism, our own religion sprang from Islam, and that is why so many of the teachings deduct their proofs from Islam."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 5, 1957)
"The teachings bear no reference to any genealogical tie between the Prophets of the Near and Far East."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1941)
1696. Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism (Following are some quotations taken from a compilation of extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian on these and related subjects, enclosed with a letter to an individual believer on November 30, 1980 from the Universal House of Justice)
Lesser Prophets: "Regarding your questions: We cannot possibly add names of people we (or anyone else) think might be Lesser Prophets to those found in the Qur'an, the Bible and our own Scriptures. For only these can we consider authentic Books."
(March 13, 1950, to an individual believer)
Asiatic Prophets: "Regarding your questions: The only reason there is not more mention of the Asiatic prophets is because their names seem to be lost in the mists of ancient history. Buddha is mentioned and Zoroaster in our scriptures--both non-Jewish prophets or non-semitic prophets. We are taught there always have been Manifestations of God, but we do not have any record of their names."
(October 4, 1950, to an individual believer)
Scriptures of Buddha and Krishna: "We cannot be sure of the authenticity of the scriptures of Buddha and Krishna, so we certainly cannot draw any conclusions about virgin births mentioned in them. There is no reference to this subject in our teachings, so the Guardian cannot pronounce an opinion.
"As our teachings do not state Zoroaster is the connecting link between the Euphrates and the Prophets in India, we cannot assert this.
"Abraham and Krishna are two separate individuals, with no connection that we know of.
"We know no more about the prophets mentioned in the Iqan than what Bahá'u'lláh states in that Book."
(November 25, 1950, to an individual believer)
Brahma and Krishna: "Your question concerning Brahma and Krishna: Such matters, as no reference occurs to them in the Teachings, are left for students of history and religion to resolve and clarify."
(April 14, 1941, to an individual believer)
Actual Dates of Prophets of Adamic Cycle Not Given: "There are no dates in our teachings regarding the actual dates of the Prophets of the Adamic Cycle, so we cannot
give any. Tentatively we can accept what historians may consider accurate. Naturally the dates referring to Muhammad, the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh we are sure of."
(November 25, 1950, to an individual believer)
1697. Existence is of Two Kinds
"Existence is of two kinds: One is the existence of God which is beyond the comprehension of man. He, the invisible, the lofty and the incomprehensible, is preceded by no cause but rather is the originator of the Cause of Causes. He, the Ancient, has had no beginning and is the All-Independent. The second kind of existence is the human existence. It is a common existence, comprehensible to the human mind, is not ancient, is dependent and has a cause to it. The mortal substance does not become eternal and vice-versa; the human kind does not become a Creator and vice-versa. The transformation of the innate substance is impossible.
"In the world of existence, that which is comprehensible, is in three stages of mortality: the first stage is the mineral world, next the vegetable world, and in the latter the mineral world does exist but has a distinctive feature which is the vegetable characteristic. Likewise, in the animal world, the mineral and vegetable characteristics are present and in addition the characteristics of the animal world are to be found: it has the faculties of hearing and of sight. In the human world the characteristics of the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds are found and in addition those of the human kind are existing. That is the intellectual characteristic, which discovers the realities of things and comprehends the all-important facts.
"Man, therefore, on the plane of the contingent beings is the most perfect being. By man is meant the perfect individual, who is like unto a mirror in which the divine perfections are manifested and reflected. But the sun does not condescend from the height of its sanctity to enter into the mirror, but when the latter is purified and turned towards the Sun of Truth, the perfections of this Sun, consisting of light and heat, are reflected and manifested in that mirror. These souls are the Divine Manifestations of God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, July 20, 1919: Star of the West, Vol. XI, No. 10, p. 159)
1698. Manifestations Had Some Consciousness of Their Station
"The Manifestations no doubt had some consciousness of Their station, but what the nature of that consciousness was we do not know."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
1699. The Souls of the Prophets Are Pre-Existent
"The soul or spirit of the individual comes into being with the conception of his physical body.
"The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being.
"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him, realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá'u'lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God.
"We find God only through the Intermediary of His Prophet. We see the Perfection of God in His Prophets. Time and space are physical things; God the Creator is
not in a 'place' as we conceive of place in physical terms. God is the Infinite Essence, the Creator. We cannot picture Him or His state; if we did, we would be His equals, not His Creatures. God is never flesh, but mirrored in the attributes of His Prophets, we see His Divine characteristics and perfections.
"Shoghi Effendi advises you to study 'Some Answered Questions' and the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' which help you to grasp these questions."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)
"Regarding your question concerning the passage in 'Seven Valleys' referring to pre-existence. This in no way presupposes the existence of the individual soul before conception. The term has not been absolutely accurately translated, and what is meant is that man's soul is the repository of the ancient, Divine mysteries of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 5, 1948)
1700. Hadrat--His Holiness
"In Persian it is impolite not to use the word Hadrat before the name of the Prophet, so that strictly speaking a proper translation should always have 'His Holiness Moses' etc. However, as this seems peculiar in English, and not in the best usage of our language, he feels it can be dispensed with. Pronouns referring to the Manifestation, or the Master, should, however, invariably be capitalized."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 8, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 216, p. 1, February 1949)
1701. Fundamental Purpose of All Religions
"...the fundamental purpose of all religions--including our own--is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be overemphasized.
"He urges you not to allow yourself to be discouraged, as all these temporary conditions will pass away as the Faith grows, but to concentrate on the constructive work of teaching and exemplifying the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 6, 1946: Bahá'í Youth, p. 8)
1702. Fundamentals of Religions
"The fundamentals of all divinely-instituted religions cannot be rigidly classified. No definite or exhaustive list of them can be set up, as we have no means of ascertaining that what we consider to be those fundamentals are common to all such religions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1703. Cosmic Religion
"Regarding the question you have asked in connection with a passage in Dr. Einstein's 'Cosmic Religion': According to the Bahá'í conception there is and can be no incompatibility between the idea of causal law and that of an omnipotent and omniscient God, Who, if He deems it fit, may at times interfere with the normal sequence of events in the world, and thus retard or altogether stop the operation of certain laws, whether in the physical universe, or in any other worlds of nature and man.
"The other statement reported to have been made by Dr. Einstein to the effect
that the ethical behavior of man 'requires no support from religion' is incompatible with the Bahá'í viewpoint which emphatically stresses the fact that no sound ethics can exist and become effective unless based on revealed religion. To dissociate ethics from religion is to render the former not only void of any firm foundation but without the necessary driving power."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)
1704. Core of Religious Faith
"For the core of religious faith is that mystical feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 8, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 102, August 1936, p. 2)
1705. Oneness of Mankind Cornerstone of Teachings
"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the passage 'he who loves his kind', the statement of Bahá'u'lláh does not refer to any special race or class of people. Rather it includes the entire human race, irrespective of any class, creed or colour. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is not a particularistic appeal to a group of people. It is a Universal Message, an all-inclusive appeal. His principle of the Oneness of Mankind is worldwide in its spirit, in its application, and covers the entire field of human relationships.
"It is most essential that the believers should be quite clear on this point as the principle of the oneness of humanity is the corner-stone of all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and should be presented as such, without the least hesitation, by the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 11, 1937, cited in a letter by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1968)
1706. Primary Importance of the Cause Among Existing Religions
"The primary importance of the Cause among the existing religions of the world is that, whereas the others have no coherent program upon which they are united, the Movement is rich with the very spirit and teachings the world needs for solving its present international problems...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 14, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 59, February 1932, p. 2)
1707. Meaning of "Mysterious Power that Creates New Spiritual Worlds"
"You inquired regarding the meaning of the sentence, 'The mysterious power that creates new spiritual worlds'. This, Shoghi Effendi believes, refers to the transcendental Essence of God Who is the Creator of this world and the worlds to come; for Bahá'u'lláh says, 'God's worlds are infinite'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Spiritual Assembly of Eliot, Maine, March 27, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 73, May 1933, p. 2)
Page 508 1708. Meaning of Personal God: Value of Religion Please refer to No. 1574
1709. Religion Should Change Our Acts as Well as Our Thoughts
"...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 the Guardian to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)
1710. World Religion Day, Purpose of
"Your letter of September 30, with the suggestion that 'there should be one day in the year in which all of the religions should agree' is a happy thought, and one which persons of good will throughout the world might well hail. However, this is not the underlying concept of World Religion Day, which is a celebration of the need for and the coming of a world religion for mankind, the Bahá'í Faith itself. Although there have been many ways of expressing the meaning of this celebration in Bahá'í communities in the United States, the Day was not meant primarily to provide a platform for all religions and their emergent ecumenical ideas. In practice, there is no harm in the Bahá'í communities' inviting the persons of other religions to share their platforms on this Day, providing the universality of the Bahá'í Faith as the fulfillment of the hopes of mankind for a universal religion are clearly brought forth."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Chicago, October 22, 1968)
1711. Significance of Remains of the Prophets
"...There is no special physical significance in the remains of the Prophets or relics of Their Persons. But there is a profound spiritual significance in the sense that Their dust was the physical mirror of the greatness of God. In other words we know God through His Prophets, Who have bodies, these bodies--Their very dust--are precious through association. It is natural for people to be touched by a lock of hair or some token of one they loved; how much more should we treasure and feel moved by a relic of the Beloved of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 210)
1712. The Atoms of the Prophets Are Just Atoms
"The reflection of the qualities of holy souls can take place at any time; it is not confined to the period when the Manifestation is on this Earth.
"The atoms of the Prophets are just atoms, like all others, but the association of this great spiritual power with them leaves in the place They are laid to rest a spiritual atmosphere, if one can use this expression. They are, no doubt, endowed with a tremendous spiritual influence and far-reaching power. But the physical character of Their atoms are not different from other peoples, any more than Their bodies and physical functions are different."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)
Page 509 1713. The Four and Twenty Elders
"Regarding the four and twenty elders: The Master, in a Tablet, stated that they are the Bab, the 18 Letters of the Living and five others who would be known in the future. So far we do not know who these five others are."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 22, 1943: Bahá'í News, No. 171, November 1944, p. 2)
1714. Perfection of God Found in His Prophets
"We find God only through the Intermediary of His Prophet. We see the Perfection of God in His Prophets. Time and space are physical things; God, the Creator, is not a 'place'; as we conceive of place in physical terms. God is the Infinite Essence, the Creator. We cannot picture Him or His state, but if we did, we would be His equals, not His creatures. God is never flesh, but mirrored in the attributes of His Prophets we see His Divine characteristics and perfections."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)
1715. References to Bahá'u'lláh
"As to the questions thou hast asked: Concerning Malachi, chapter 3, verses 16, 17 and 18 refer to the friends of God, and in St. Matthew, chapter 25, the object of verses 31, 32 and 33 is the Blessed Beauty. As to Micah, chapter 5, the 4th verse refers to Christ. In Zephaniah, chapter 1, verses 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, and in Zechariah, chapter 2, verses 10, 11, 12 and 13, and in St. Luke, chapter 21, verses 20 to the end--all these refer to the century of the Blessed Beauty."
(Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, translated by Shoghi Rabbani, June 4, 1919: Star of the West, Vol. X, No. 12, p. 232)
1716. The Ark and the Flood
"The statement in 'Seven Days of Creation' certainly cannot be considered authoritative or correct. The Ark and the Flood we believe are symbolical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)
1717. Generation, the Word Has Different Meanings
"...the word generation has a different meaning in different places. Christ referred to the Christ Dispensation, or cycle, and the other refers to the physical generation.
"For example, if a man does a great injustice to another in his life, then, after his death, his son will be despised for having had such a father and in some cases the injury might be so serious that the effect would reach to the grandson, etc., or a man may, by wrong living, fall into consumption and give that disease to his children unto the third or fourth generation.
"Both physically and mentally the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 45-46)
1718. The Cross--This Figure Exists in All Things
"As for the symbol of the cross, appointed in former times: Know verily, that the cross form is a wonderful figure and consists of two right lines placed crosswise--one perpendicular to the other--and this figure exists in all things.
"Meditate upon these words and pay attention to the tissue in all existing substances, either plant, animal or man, and thou wilt see that they all are formed of the cross figure or two crosswise lines. Consider this intently with true meditation. Then thou wilt be taught by the Holy Ghost that it is for this reason that God hath chosen this symbol to be displayed as the token of sacrifice in all periods of the ages.
"As for the crescent: It hath reference to the beginning of the religion of God which shall grow to be a full moon.
"As for the stars: They are types of guides; for, verily, the star is a guide to people, even in the most gloomy darkness, on both land and sea. In former centuries, people were guided by the pole-star in whatever direction they went."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, pp. 598-599)
1719. The Teachings of Swedenborg and Emerson Should Be Considered as Advanced Stirrings of the Time
"...The teachings of such spiritually enlightened souls as Swedenborg, Emerson, and others should be considered as the advanced stirrings in the minds of great souls foreshadowing that Revelation which was to break upon the world through the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. Anything they say which is not substantiated by the Teachings, however, we cannot regard as absolute truth, but merely as the reflection of their own thoughts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 6, 1943)
1720. Emanuel Swedenborg
"In connection with your question regarding the reference made by Abdu'l-Bahá to 'His Highness Emanuel' in Vol. III of His Tablets, this obviously refers to the Bab as the text shows it clearly and is in no way a reference to Swedenborg."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 9, 1938: Bahá'í News, No. 134, March 1940, p. 2)
1721. Abdu'l-Bahá Praised Emanual Swedenborg for His Efforts for Social and Religious Reconstruction
"...concerning Emanuel Swedenborg and his writings: While Abdu'l-Bahá praised the man and his noble efforts for social and religious reconstruction there is nothing in the Master's Writings that can justify the believers in giving him any special station or importance beside that of an enlightened and constructive thinker of wide spiritual vision. There can be therefore no official Bahá'í attitude in respect of the man or his work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 7, 1939)
1722. Because of the Progressiveness of the Teachings of Swedenborg He Can Be Considered a Herald of This Day
"Regarding your questions: The rational faculty is a manifestation of the power of the soul. The soul is the mirror of reflection. Swedenborg, because of the extreme progressiveness of his teachings may, in a way, be considered a herald of this Day. There is nothing definite in the Teachings concerning the subconscious mind's relation to the spirit of man."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 26, 1943)
Page 511 1723. People Like Emerson Were No Doubt Inspired by God
"The point of view expressed in your letter was of special interest because it was typical of those sincere and seeking souls who are trying to obtain peace and inward certainty by reading the universally-minded writers of our age. People like Emerson were undoubtedly inspired by God, for many of the thoughts that quicken us in this day were uttered and stimulated by them. Only gradually will we come to appreciate their work and place them in the growing world of ours. The tendency of these writers, however, is rather to diminish rather than to enhance the position of the prophet in civilization. These bid us come into communion with God by looking within us. They tell us that the prophets were humans and that we can become like them if we only strive. This renders religion the religion of the few, the religion of only those who have experiences."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1929)
1724. The Difference Between the Gnostics and the Religionists
"Abdu'l-Bahá says that the main difference between the gnostics and the religionists is that the gnostics maintain the existence of only two worlds, the world of God and the world of the creature. The prophets, however, maintained the existence of three worlds: the world of God, the world of the Will or the Word, and the world of created things. The prophets, therefore, maintained that a knowledge of God is impossible. As Abdu'l-Bahá says, man can never know God or even imagine Him. If he does, that object is not God but an imaginary idol."
1725. Christ Referred to the World of the Prophets as the "Word", Abdu'l-Bahá Calls It the "Will"
"There is, therefore, only one way to God and that is through the realization of his Manifestation or Prophet in that age. Christ called the world of the prophets 'the word' in the verse of 'the word became flesh' while Abdu'l-Bahá calls it the Will. Anyhow it is only through these that we can know God. These manifest the divine attributes and therefore by knowing them we can know God. The mystic path that the traveller should follow is therefore to the Prophet. By coming in contact with Him will he obtain peace."
1726. God Will Continue to Send His Prophets that Man May Obtain His Highest Goal
"If these are the only means through which man can obtain his highest goal, namely the knowledge of God, could we believe that God has ceased to send them? As Bahá'u'lláh says, will it not be a blasphemy to say that God's bounty existed in the past and that ever since the time of Christ it stopped to pour--and for all eternity. No, God has ever sent and will ever send these prophets who would represent God on this earth and by reflecting the divine attributes give us a knowledge of Him."
1727. Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon
"Regarding your question concerning Joseph Smith and the 'Book of Mormon':
as the Bahá'í Teachings quite clearly outline the succession of Prophets from the days of Christ as being Muhammad, the Bab, and finally Bahá'u'lláh, it is obvious that Joseph Smith is not a Manifestation of God.
"The Bahá'ís should deal with the members of all religious sects, however, with the greatest tolerance and friendliness, and try to point out to them the significance of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh to the world in this great Day. The Guardian would advise you to teach the Mormons like everyone else, the Faith, when you find them receptive. They have many good principles, and their teachings regarding chastity, not drinking or smoking, etc., are quite similar to ours, and should form a point of common interest."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 18, 1941: Bahá'í News, No. 416, November 1965)
1728. Status of Joseph Smith
"As for the status of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Faith, he is not considered by Bahá'ís to be a prophet, minor or otherwise. But of course he was a religious teacher sensitive to the spiritual currents flowing in the early 19th century directly from the appearance of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh and the Revelation of Their Messages of hope and divine Guidance. In this respect you might find chapter ten in the late Hand of the Cause George Townshend's book, 'Christ and Bahá'u'lláh,' interesting."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 7, 1977)
1729. The Mormons Have High Principles and Ideals
"The Mormons are a people with high principles and ideals, and the step spiritually into the Cause is not as difficult for them as for many others not possessing their faith and devotion. However, the very zeal with which they serve their own Faith makes it difficult for them to grasp the greater vision of our Holy Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: cited in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 16, 1976)
Page 513XLII. PSYCHIC PHENOMENA
1730. Source of Evil Thoughts
"They come from other minds: they are reflected. One should not become a mirror for them--to reflect them, neither should one try to control them for this is impossible: it only aggravates the difficulty, causing more to appear.
"One should constantly turn the mirror of his heart squarely toward God so that the Light of the Sun of Truth may be reflected there.
"This is the only cure for attacks of evil thoughts. The face of the mirror should be turned toward God and the back of the mirror toward the evil thoughts."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 35, 1979 ed.)
1731. Evil Spirits
"As to the question of evil spirits, demons and monsters, any references made to them in the Holy Books have symbolic meaning. What is currently known among the public is but sheer superstition."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá: Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena, p. 3)
1732. Influence of Evil Spirits
"You have asked regarding the influence of evil spirits. Evil spirits are deprived of eternal life. How then can they exercise any influence? But as eternal life is ordained for holy spirits, therefore their influence exists in all the divine worlds."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to Mrs. Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 78, 1979 ed.)
1733. Evil Spirits Refer to Lower Nature of Man
"The reality underlying this question is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions: One is the expression of nature; the other the expression of the spiritual realm. The world of nature is defective. Look at it clearly, casting aside all superstition and imagination... God has never created an evil spirit; all such ideas and nomenclature are symbols expressing the mere human or earthly nature of man. It is an essential condition of the soil of earth that thorns, weeds and fruitless trees may grow from it. Relatively speaking, this is evil; it is simply the lower state and baser product of nature."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 294-295, 1982 ed.)
1734. Evil Exists
"We must never take one sentence in the Teachings and isolate it from the rest: it does not mean we must not love, but we must reach a spiritual plane where God comes first and great human passions are unable to turn us away from Him. All
the time we see people who either through the force of hate or the passionate attachment they have to another person, sacrifice principle or bar themselves from the Path of God.
"We know absence of light is darkness, but no one would assert darkness was not a fact. It exists even though it is only the absence of something else. So evil exists too, and we cannot close our eyes to it, even though it is a negative existence. We must seek to supplant it by good, and if we see an evil person is not influenceable by us, then we should shun his company for it is unhealthy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 4, 1950: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, February 14, 1973 to National Spiritual Assemblies)
1735. Psychic Powers in Children--Dangerous to Cultivate
"What Abdu'l-Bahá always pointed out in this matter is that these psychic powers were not to be used in this world, and that, indeed, it was dangerous to cultivate them here. They should be left dormant, and not exploited, even when we do so with the sincere belief we are helping others. We do not understand their nature and have no way of being sure of what is true and what is false in such matters.
"If children are inclined to be psychic they should not be blamed for it too harshly; they should not be encouraged to strengthen their powers in this direction."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 4, 1946: Ibid.)
1736. The Fourth Dimension
"There is nothing in the teachings of our Faith about the Fourth Dimension, and he feels that with all the practical work the Bahá'ís have to do during the next ten years you should put such abstruse subjects out of your mind entirely. They can do no good and will lead you nowhere."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 19, 1953: Ibid.)
1737. Avoid Psychic Phenomena
"With reference to psychic phenomena referred to in your letter: These in most cases are an indication of a deep psychological disturbance. The friends should avoid as much as possible giving undue consideration to such matters."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 20, 1937: Extracts from the Guardian's letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, February 1970)
"Regarding your question relative to the condition of those people who are described in the Gospel as being possessed of devils: This should be interpreted figuratively; devil or satan is symbolic of evil and dark forces yielding to temptation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 20, 1938: Ibid.)
1739. Should Strive to Have Pure Thoughts and Dreams
"...That truth is often imparted through dreams no one who is familiar with
history, especially religious history, can doubt. At the same time dreams and vision are always coloured and influenced more or less by the mind of the dreamer and we must beware of attaching too much importance to them. The purer and more free from prejudice and desire our hearts and minds become, the more likely is it that our dreams will convey reliable truth, but if we have strong prejudices, personal likings and aversions, bad feelings or evil motives, these will warp and distort any inspirational impression that comes to us.... In many cases dreams have been the means of bringing people to the truth or of confirming them in the Faith. We must strive to become pure in heart and 'free from all save God'. Then our dreams as well as our waking thoughts will become pure and true. We should test impressions we get through dreams, visions or inspirations, by comparing them with the revealed Word and seeing whether they are in full harmony therewith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 16, 1925: Ibid.)
1740. Difficult to Distinguish Truth from Imagination
"First concerning visions: It is very difficult to distinguish between true visions which are true spiritual experiences of the soul and imaginations which have no reality in spiritual truths. True visions, however, can be granted to those who are spiritually pure and receptive, and are not therefore confined to the Prophets alone."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 26, 1939, to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 152, p. 2, April 1942)
1741. Difference Between Divine Revelation and Personal Experience
"As regards ...'s claim to have direct revelations from God: Such visions and communications as he may receive cannot, from the standpoint of the Cause, be well considered in the nature of a direct and authoritative revelation from God such as experiences by Divine Prophets and Messengers. There is a fundamental difference between Divine Revelation as vouchsafed by God to His Prophets, and the spiritual experiences and visions which individuals may have. The latter should, under no circumstances, be construed as constituting an infallible source of guidance, even for the person experiencing them.
"The Guardian wishes you to fully explain and clarify this point to ... that he may have no illusion regarding the true Bahá'í attitude on this and similar matters.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 1, 1940, to an individual believer, Mrs. Kathryn Frankland: Ibid.)
1742. True Mystical Experiences Rare
"Regarding your question: In His chapter on 'Visions and Communications with Spirits' in 'Some Answered Questions', the Master evidently desires to point out that there can be, under certain rare circumstances, such as those experienced by the Prophets, communion with some soul gone before into the invisible world, but that most of this type of experience which people often claim to have with departed souls is nothing but the product of their own imaginations--however real it may seem to them to be.
"We have no way of knowing historically, at present, whether the experience
Saul had of Samuel was an actual spiritual intercourse. It is not the product of imagination, however, as the Bible unmistakably affirms it.
"Truly mystical experiences based on reality are very rare, and we can readily see how dangerous it is for people to go groping about in the darkness of their imagination after the true thing. That is why, as you point out, we are warned against all psychical practices by the Master.
"If we are going to have some deeply spiritual experience we can rest assured God will vouchsafe it to us without our having to look for it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated October 25, 1942, to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1743. No Need for Individual Revelations
"The Guardian thinks that it is best to assume that generally speaking when people claim they are receiving messages or communications from the Master or Bahá'u'lláh, etc., it is a psychic experience or their imagination, and that they are not in real contact with them. These Holy Beings have the channels of the Cause through which to guide us. They do not need to go outside these and send individual revelations."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated December 22, 1947, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 3)
1744. Let the Future Take Care of Itself
"In the second place he would advise you to consider the voice you heard a phenomenon which might be your subconscious mind, might be some psychic influence, but whatever it was you should not let it disturb you and certainly not place much importance on it. No one knows what the future holds for him, or to what degree he is spoiling it or creating it; therefore the thing to do is one's daily best and let the future take care of itself. It would be very unwise for you to let this experience of a voice--the origin and purpose of which you have no way of knowing--influence you in any way or to set any store on its observations."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated April 9, 1948, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)
1745. Development of Psychic Faculties Weakens Spiritual Capacities
"...The Guardian would suggest that you study very carefully the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá in connection with the question of visions, dreams, etc., as Abdu'l-Bahá has very fully explained this delicate subject. You will find references to this in 'Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era,' 'Some Answered Questions' and the Books of Tablets. The Guardian likewise has commented on this matter.
"Briefly, there is no question that visions occasionally do come to individuals, which are true and have significance. On the other hand, this comes to an individual through the grace of God, and not through the exercise of any of the human faculties. It is not a thing which a person should try to develop. When a person endeavors to develop faculties so that they might enjoy visions, dreams etc., actually what they are doing is weakening certain of their spiritual capacities; and thus under such circumstances, dreams and visions have no reality, and ultimately lead to the destruction of the character of the person."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated May 6, 1952, to an individual believer: Ibid.)
Page 517 1746. Astronomy is a Science, Astrology is Not
"Astronomy is a science, astrology does not come under the same category, but we should be patient with people who believe in it, and gradually wean them away from reliance on such things."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated December 24, 1941, to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1747. Non-Sensical Pseudo-Science
"Yes, the Guardian considers 'astrology', which is a pseudo-science, as for the most part 'non-sensical', as it is mostly made up of superstitious beliefs and practices."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated July 10, 1939, to an individual believer: Ibid.)
"We should attach no importance to astrology or horoscopes. No exact science is involved, though sometimes some truth seems involved, but the percentage is small."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated January 15, 1951, to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1749. Fruitless Sciences
"Fruitless sciences is what Bahá'u'lláh refers to, like metaphysical hair splittings, and other abstract things carried to the extreme.
"The friends should be encouraged not to waste time on such things as astrology etc., which you mention. They cannot be forbidden to do so. The exercise of our free will to choose to do the right things is much more important."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated July 30, 1956, to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 230, p. 1, April 1950)
1750. Influence of the Stars and Planets
"Concerning your question as to the influence of the stars and planets on the life of a believer: Such ideas should be entirely dissociated from the Teachings. The passage on p. 133 of the 'Gleanings' bears no reference whatsoever to this matter.
"As to illness or poverty: Such calamities may be either irrevocable or, and it is often the case, they may be avoided. There is no reference in the Teachings as to whether the stars have any influence on healing such diseases. These astrological ideas are for the most part sheer superstitions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 17, 1937: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)
"...it is absolutely essential that the teachings should not be confused with the obscure ideas related to numerology and astrology and the like. Individuals interested in them are free to believe in and credit such ideas and to make any inferences and deductions they desire from them, but under no circumstances are they expected to identify them with the principles and teachings of the Cause. We must at this stage preserve the purity and sanctity of the Bahá'í teachings. I will pray that you may be guided
in your efforts, and may succeed in safeguarding and promoting the interests of our beloved Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1928: Ibid.)
1752. Neither Numerology nor Astrology Needed by the Believers
"There is nothing in the teachings which leads us to believe numerology or astrology are needed by the believers to guide them in any way."
(From a letter dated June 25, 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)
1753. Automatic Writing
"This power is neither heavenly nor spiritual; neither is it an influence from disembodied spirits. It is the human spirit--magnetism within the self of the one doing the writing.
"When the thoughts have taken possession of the mind and are not consciously directed, one becomes subject to their promptings and, unconsciously, or automatically, takes a pencil and writes them down. The oftener this is done the stronger becomes the magnetic prompting.
"For instance, one may learn a lesson or poem by heart, and he repeats and repeats it so often that the thoughts take possession of him and he will repeat it unconsciously even in his sleep. This is magnetism belonging to the human spirit.
"Or, he may walk many times upon a certain road and he takes his walk so often he is able to take it unconsciously or automatically. This power is his own magnetism.
"A mother rocks and rocks her babe to sleep in a cradle, but the thoughts of the child's sleep may so take possession of her mind that sometimes she is able to put him to sleep without the aid of the cradle. This effect is produced by the mother's magnetism.
"In regard to automatic writing, if one will pray very earnestly, and pray sufficiently, the mind will turn against the automatic writing and one will be freed from the effects of that power.
"Pray, and pray, and not be misled by the seeming beauty of the writings."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, pp. 37-38, Wilmette 1979)
1754. World's Greatest Writers and Painters Have Not Been Under Psychic Influence
"...he feels that the methods you are pursuing in regard to receiving inspired written messages, and your way of approaching your painting are really psychic, and that you should give them up for your own good. Some of Bahá'u'lláh's and Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets are so poorly translated that it is almost impossible to grasp the true meaning, and one is misled into thinking that by getting into a practically psychic state the Holy Spirit will guide one. This is not what is meant: the world's greatest writers and painters have not been under psychic influence, but through innate ability, practice and study, have given us their masterpieces; this is the normal way for inspiration to reach us, through the channels of our own abilities, and not through control by forces which the Master warned us against and which we do not understand, and which--as you yourself know--are neither consistent nor reliable."
(From a letter dated February 24, 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)
Page 519 1755. Table Writing
"Regarding your question in connection with ...'s desire to be informed about 'table writing' and such things: Though there is no specific reference in the teachings to this particular thing, Shoghi Effendi feels very strongly that, in view of other statements about avoiding all psychic dabbling and exercise of psychic faculties, this should also be avoided by the Bahá'ís and such messages be disregarded."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated June 24, 1941, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)
1756. Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena
"There is no ambiguity about the Master's attitude towards psychic forces. He very strongly warned the believers against using them."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, August 9, 1945, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles: Ibid.)
1757. Numerology, Physiognomy--Too Much Exaggerated
"The Master has said that there is a certain amount of truth in numerology, physiognomy etc. but it is too much exaggerated by those who advocate them."
(From a letter dated October 27, 1926 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)
"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, February 28, 1938, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)
1759. Be Not Afraid Anyone Can Affect Your Mind
"You should not be afraid anyone can affect your mind. Even when we want to catch the thoughts of those we love most we cannot do so, how much less other people succeed in penetrating our minds."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated January 18, 1951, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 4)
"He is of the opinion that to pay much attention to persons who are imbued with spiritualistic ideas is rather useless, because what they have, though it has a germ of truth, has much of personal imagination added to it. Moreover, when after much effort they become Bahá'ís, they are reluctant to turn a completely new sheet in their life and begin to conceive Bahá'í ideals in spiritualistic terms. There are thousands of other pure souls who are more ready for the teachings and who would accept it unreservedly. So we had better concentrate our attention upon them. The Cause everywhere has suffered from spiritualists with psychic pretended powers, and it is high time to take a step along that line."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian dated July 10, 1928, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 1)
Page 520 1761. Mesmerism or Trumpet Communications
"The planets and stars have no spiritual effect in the earthly world, but the parts of the universe which are in endless space are closely connected with each other. This connection produces material effects. Outside of the Bounty of the Holy Spirit all that thou hearest concerning mesmerism or trumpet communications from the dead are sheer imagination."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablet to Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 85, 1976 ed.)
1762. Materialization of Spirits Through Mediums
"Regarding the materialization of spirits through mediums: A person finding himself in a state of trance, or unconsciousness, is like one who sleeps; whatever he feels and sees he imagines to be matter and of material things, but in reality they are wholly immaterial."
(Ibid., p. 82)
1763. "Masters" Behind the Scenes
"As regards the question you asked in your letter about a concealed group of masters in the Himalayas or anywhere else, there is no foundation whatsoever for this in the Bahá'í Writings. We as Bahá'ís must not believe in the divine origin of any such things which have not been mentioned in our own Sacred Scriptures by either the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh or the Master.
"There is nothing whatsoever to lead us to believe that there is any foundation or truth in these mystical stories of beings that are 'behind the scenes', so to speak. We must avoid such thoughts and teachings, and try to wean others away from them as we give them the Message."
(From a letter dated May 11, 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)
"We have nothing in our writings about the so-called prophecies of the Pyramids; so he does not think you need attach any importance to them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated November 21, 1949, to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 230, p. 1, April 1950: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)
1765. Pyramid of Cheops
"Also no reference is to be found in the Bahá'í Teachings regarding the pyramid of Cheops, and as to its being considered a monument of prophecy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated July 10, 1939, to an individual believer: Ibid.)
1766. Protection of the Holy Spirit
"The friends must realize the Power of the Holy Spirit which is manifest and quickening them at this time through the appearance of Bahá'u'lláh. There is no force of heaven or earth which can affect them if they place themselves wholly under the influence of the Holy Spirit and under its guidance. Such individuals who are subject to the negative influences of the world are those who are not properly consecrated in the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 11, 1957)
Page 521 1767. Heaven and Hell Conditions Within Our Own Beings--The Prophets Know God...
"To answer you briefly: What the original state of the Universe was, no one as yet knows. But we believe God is a spiritual Being and did create it; how, we do not know. 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 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 the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1947: High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska, pp. 49-50)
1768. Psychic Arts--The Influence of Such Arts is Dependent on Conviction of the Person Affected
"The House of Justice fully appreciates that in ... and ... there are many instances of individuals being affected adversely by the psychic arts of other people. This is an observable phenomenon in many parts of the world and must, as you say, be taken into account by those who would teach the Faith. The important thing for Bahá'ís to understand is that the influence of such 'arts' is dependent on the conviction, even the subconscious conviction, of the person affected and, similarly, the power of the 'priests' to overcome the influence is likewise an outcome of the sufferer's conviction that it is from the 'priest' that he or she will be able to obtain help.
"The Manifestation of God describes the reality which is conducive to the happiness, health and development of mankind. His Teachings serve as a compass to help us find our way in the new world. They outline not only what is good for mankind but also the steps to be taken to secure individual freedom and well-being. Within this framework it is important to understand the statements in the Writings about evil spirits and psychic phenomena."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 30, 1984)
1769. Bahá'ís Recognize that Evil is Negative and Can Take Control of Our Life But We Have the Power to Become Free of Such Forces
"Bahá'ís recognize that evil is negative and has no existence in its own right, but that does not mean that there is no power in evil. Do not Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá warn us repeatedly of the spiritual infection of Covenant-breaking? In one of His Tablets, Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:
'If you seek immunity from the sway of the forces of the contingent world, hang the 'Most Great Name' in your dwelling, wear the ring of the 'Most Great Name' on your finger, place the picture of Abdu'l-Bahá in your home and always recite the prayers that I have written. Then you will behold the marvellous effect they produce. Those so-called forces will prove but illusions and will be wiped out and exterminated.'
"In a letter dated 26th November 1939 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer we find the following: 'Evil forces do take control of our life, but it is within our power to free ourselves from falling under their subjection.'
"There are, therefore, specific actions that Bahá'ís can take when confronted
with the kind of situation of which you write, but the principal way in which they can overcome them is to deepen themselves in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh so that they will come to recognize the lack of any true reality to such negative forces.
1770. Evil Souls Who Have Passed Away Can Exercise No Power Over the People
"One of the Bahá'í pilgrims from the West who asked Abdu'l-Bahá about the power exercised by evil souls who had passed to the next world, recorded His answer as '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...'
"Also, in a letter to an individual believer, written on behalf of the Guardian on 18th January 1951, it is stated: 'You should not be afraid any one can affect your mind. Even when we want to catch the thoughts of those we love most we cannot do so, how much less can other people succeed in penetrating our minds.'
"In relation to individuals seeking the advice of 'priests' to assist their healing when the cause of their illness is diagnosed as 'supernatural forces', we enclose for your study a passage from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá and several extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian to individual believers on the subject of spiritual healing."
1771. The Solution to Such Beliefs and Problems Involves a Process of Educating the Friends in the Teachings
"Concerning your appeal for a solution to the problem, we are instructed to say that the approach is twofold. It involves a process of educating the friends, deepening their understanding of the Teachings and their trust in the power of the Cause, and gradually weaning them away from those illusions and practices which are potentially destructive of their spiritual and material well-being.
"You are encouraged to ponder the advice contained in the following statement written on behalf of the beloved Guardian to an individual believer who was troubled about matters that are similar, although not identical, to those which concern the friends in Trinidad and Tobago:
'We must use the Writings of the Prophets as our measurement. If Bahá'u'lláh had attached the slightest importance to occult experiences, to the seeing of auras, to the hearing of mystic voices; if He had believed that reincarnation was a fact, He, Himself, would have mentioned all of these things in His Teachings. The fact that He passed over them in silence shows that to Him, they had either no importance or no reality, and were consequently not worthy to take up His time as the Divine Educator of the human race.
'We must turn our faces away from these things, and toward the actual practice of His Teachings in our everyday life through our Bahá'í Administration, and in our contact with other people and the examples we give.'"
1772. What is Commonly Called Evil Spirits is Normally an Imaginary Creation But Evil Influences Both in This World and the Next
"In regard to your question concerning evil spirits and their influence upon souls,
Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that what is generally called evil spirit is a purely imaginary creation and has no reality whatever. But as to evil, there is no doubt that it exerts a very strong influence both in this world and in the next. Abdu'l-Bahá in the 'Some Answered Questions' gives us a thorough and true analysis of the problem of evil. You should preferably refer to that book for further explanation on that point."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 1, 1934)
1773. Occult Practices of Certain Hindus Introduced in the States Are Completely Contrary to the Teachings and Should Be Avoided by the Friends
"...indeed, such occult practices as certain Hindus have introduced in the States, and which some superficial and superstitious individuals have adopted and are trying, by all sorts of devices, to popularize, are absolutely foreign, nay positively opposed to the very spirit and letter of the Teachings, and the believers, therefore, should strictly and at all times avoid the company of such people, lest they may unconsciously and inevitably fall under their baneful influence and become gradually alienated from the Cause.
"...The friends also should be warned not to indulge in such activities that draw their inspiration from Hindu occultist sources, as these do not only lead them away from the Cause, but can cause them considerable mental harm, and thus permanently injure their mind as well as their body."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two believers, August 5, 1939)
1774. Spiritual Experiences Can Have Great Influence On Us But the Call Today is to Try to Save the Human Race--This is the Duty of Every Soul
"Spiritual experiences have undoubtedly great influence on us individually and, therefore, arouse deep interest, but of paramount importance in this day is to forget them and go out into the world trying to save the human race from its threatening condition. This is the call of the day, this is the duty of every soul who desires to follow the path traced by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 7, 1933)
Page 524XLIII. RACES
1775. Aboriginal Inhabitants--Downtrodden People
"Shoghi Effendi is also most anxious for the Message to reach the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas. These people, for the most part downtrodden and ignorant, should receive from the Bahá'ís a special measure of love, and every effort be made to teach them. Their enrollment in the Faith will enrich them and us and demonstrate our principle of the Oneness of Man far better than words or the wide conversion of the ruling races ever can."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Meso-America and the Antilles, July 11, 1951: A Special Measure of Love, p. 5)
1776. Tablets of the Divine Plan--Natives of America May Become Great Standard Bearers of the Faith
"The Guardian attaches the utmost importance, as you know, to the teaching of the natives of America.
"In the Tablets of the Divine Plan, the Master pays the utmost attention to this most important matter. He states that if the Power of the Holy Spirit today properly enters into the minds and the hearts of the natives of the great American continents that they will become great standard bearers of the Faith, similar to the Nomads (Arabians) who became the most cultured and enlightened people under the Mohammadan civilization."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador and Venezuela, August 22, 1957)
1777. Prejudice and Condescension--Contact with City Indians
"He adds one suggestion (he does not know if it is practicable or not): Can contact not be made with Indians who have become more or less absorbed into the life of the white element of the Country and live in or visit the big cities? There, people, finding the Bahá'ís sincerely lacking in either prejudice--or that even worse attitude, condescension--might not only take interest in our teachings, but also help us to reach their people in the proper way.
"It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of present-day churches."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Bahá'í para los Indigenas de Sur America, September 21, 1951)
Page 525 1778. Afro-Americans and Amerindians
"The Americas have been a melting pot and a meeting place for the races of men, and the need is acute for the fulfillment of God's promises of the realization of the oneness of mankind. Particularly do the Master and the Guardian point to the Afro-Americans and the Amerindians, two great ethnic groups whose spiritual powers will be released through their response to the Creative Word. But our Teachings must touch all, must include all people. And, in this hour of your tireless activity what special rewards shall come to those who will arise, summoned by Abdu'l-Bahá's words: 'Now is the time to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this phenomenal realm, be wholly severed from the physical world, become angels of heaven, and travel and teach through all these regions.'"
(The Universal House of Justice's Message to the Caribbean Conference, May 1971)
1779. First Member of His Race to Embrace the Cause
"Even Mrs. Hearst's butler, a negro named Robert Turner, the first member of his race to embrace the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in the West, had been transported by the influence exerted by Abdu'l-Bahá in the course of that epoch-making pilgrimage. Such was the tenacity of his faith that even the subsequent estrangement of his beloved mistress from the Cause she had spontaneously embraced failed to becloud its radiance, or to lessen the intensity of the emotions which the loving-kindness showered by Abdu'l-Bahá upon him had excited in his breast."
(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 259)
1780. Service of the Negro
"He was very pleased to have the first pioneer from America go forth under this organized African campaign; he was doubly happy that it should have been an American Negro who went. This is highly appropriate and surely has delighted the heart of Abdu'l-Bahá Who watched over the race with particular love, tenderness and understanding. The ever increasing part the coloured friends are taking in the work of the Cause, and especially of late years in the pioneer work gratifies the Guardian immensely. And now, to add further to the record of their services, they can count a member of their race a Hand of the Cause. When we read in the Will and Testament how great is the function of the Hands we appreciate to what an exalted station our dear brother Louis Gregory attained...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 23, 1951: Bahá'í News, No. 252, February 1952, p. 1)
1781. Guardian's Appeal to Negro Race
"...I appeal particularly to its dearly beloved members belonging to the Negro race to participate in the contemplated project marking a significant milestone in the world unfoldment of the Faith..."
(Shoghi Effendi: Citadel of Faith, p. 87)
1782. Concentrate on Teaching the Negroes
"...he urges the friends to concentrate on teaching the negroes. They should be courageous in their racial stand, particularly as so many non-Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'í organizations are showing marked courage at this time... The friends must
remember that the cardinal principle of their Faith is the Oneness of Mankind. This places an obligation on them far surpassing the obligation which Christian charity and brotherly love places upon the Christians. They should demonstrate this spirit of oneness constantly and courageously..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 321, November 1957)
1783. Compared with Pupil of the Eye
"...RECALL WITH PROFOUND EMOTION MESSAGE BELOVED GUARDIAN OCCASION 1953 CONFERENCE WHEREIN HE EXTOLLED PUREHEARTED SPIRITUALLY RECEPTIVE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AFRICA WHOM BAHA'U'LLAH COMPARED PUPIL EYE THROUGH WHICH LIGHT OF SPIRIT SHINETH FORTH AND FOR WHOSE CONVERSION BOTH GUARDIAN AND MASTER BEFORE HIM YEARNED AND LABOURED..."
(From the cable of the Universal House of Justice to the Africa International Conference, October 6, 1967)
1784. Work of Negro Has Been of Greatest Help
"The Negro believers must be just as active as their white brothers and sisters in spreading the Faith, both among their own race and members of other races. It has been a great step forward in the Cause's development in America to have Negro pioneers go forth, and their work has been of the greatest help and very productive of results."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two individual believers, March 19, 1944)
1785. The Negroes Have a Contribution to Make to Bahá'u'lláh's World Order
"The negroes, though they themselves may not realize it, have a contribution to make to the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. His Teachings and the society He has come to establish are for every race and every nation, and each one of them has his own part to play and the gift of his own qualities and talents to give to the whole world.
"The Cause of God has room for all. It would, indeed, not be the Cause of God if it did not take in and welcome everyone--poor and rich, educated and ignorant, the unknown, and the prominent--God surely wants them all, as He created them all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, December 10, 1942)
1786. Pure-Hearted, Spiritually Receptive Negro Race
"I welcome with open arms the unexpectedly large number of the representatives of the pure-hearted and the spiritually receptive Negro race, so dearly loved by Abdu'l-Bahá, for whose conversion to His Father's Faith He so deeply yearned and whose interests He so ardently championed in the course of His memorable visit to the North American continent. I am reminded, on this historic occasion, of the significant words uttered by Bahá'u'lláh Himself, Who, as attested by the Center of the Covenant, in His Writings, 'compared the coloured people to the black pupil of the eye', through which 'the light of the spirit shineth forth'."
(Shoghi Effendi: Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 135-136)
1787. Faces Are as Pupil of the Eye
"As to ... and ..., verily the faces of these are as the pupil of the eye; although
the pupil is created black, yet it is the source of light. I hope God will make these black ones the glory of the white ones and as the depositing of the lights of love of God. And I ask God to assist them in all circumstances, that they may be encompassed with the favours of their Loving Lord throughout centuries and ages."
(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 292)
1788. The Principle of the Oneness of Mankind Precludes Possibility of Considering Race as a Bar to Social Interaction
"In regard to your question concerning the Bahá'í attitude towards the Coloured Race. It is only evident that the principle of the oneness of mankind--which is the main pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve--precludes the possibility of considering race as a bar to any intercourse, be it social or otherwise. The Faith, indeed, by its very nature and purpose, transcend all racial limitations and differences, and proclaims the basic and essential unity of the entire human race. Racial prejudice, of whatever nature and character, is therefore severely condemned, and as such should be wiped out by the friends in all their relations, whether private or social."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1935)
1789. The Guardian Addresses the Negro
"...Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds. Let neither think that the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40, Wilmette, 1990)
1790. Addressed to Members of the White Race
"...I hope that ye may cause that downtrodden race to become glorious, and to be joined with the white race, to serve the world of man with the utmost sincerity, faithfulness, love, and purity. This opposition, enmity, and prejudice among the white race and the coloured cannot be effaced except through faith, assurance, and the teachings of the Blessed Beauty... This question of the union of the white and the black is very important, for if it is not realized, erelong great difficulties will arise, and harmful results will follow ... enmity will be increased day by day, and the final result will be hardship and may end in bloodshed."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 39)
1791. Let the White Make a Supreme Effort
"Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them
through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40)
1792. Unity in Diversity
"The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of a different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them, and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 38)
1793. The Guardian Addresses Both Races--Neither Race Can Claim to be Absolved from Obligation
"...White and Negro, high and low, young and old, whether newly converted to the Faith or not, all who stand identified with it must participate in, and lend their assistance, each according to his or her capacity, experience, and opportunities, to the common task of fulfilling the instructions, realizing the hopes, and following the example, of Abdu'l-Bahá. Whether coloured or noncoloured, neither race has the right, or can conscientiously claim, to be regarded as absolved from such an obligation, as having realized such hopes, or having faithfully followed such an example. A long and thorny road, beset with pitfalls, still remains untravelled, both by the white and the Negro exponents of the redeeming Faith of Bahá'u'lláh....
"...If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 35)
1794. God Makes No Distinction
"God maketh no distinction between the white and the black. If the hearts are pure both are acceptable unto Him. God is no respecter of persons on account of either colour or race. All colours are acceptable unto Him, be they white, black, or yellow. Inasmuch as all were created in the image of God, we must bring ourselves
to realize that all embody divine possibilities... God did not make these divisions; these divisions have had their origin in man himself. Therefore, as they are against the plan and purpose of God they are false and imaginary."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 37)
1795. Prejudice Destroys Edifice of Humanity
"Bahá'u'lláh tells us that prejudice in its various forms destroys the edifice of humanity. We are adjured by the Divine Messenger to eliminate all forms of prejudice from our lives. Our outer lives must show forth our beliefs. The world must see that, regardless of each passing whim or current fashion of the generality of mankind, the Bahá'í lives his life according to the tenets of his Faith. We must not allow the fear of rejection by our friends and neighbours to deter us from our goal: to live the Bahá'í life. Let us strive to blot out from our lives every last trace of prejudice-- racial, religious, political, economic, national, tribal, class, cultural, and that which is based on differences of education or age. We shall be distinguished from our non-Bahá'í associates if our lives are adorned with this principle."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1972)
1796. Object of Inter-Racial Work--Japanese, Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Negroes
"He feels that, as the main object of the Bahá'í inter-racial work is to abolish prejudice against any and every race and minority group, it is obviously proper for them to include in particular any group that is receiving especially bad treatment--such as the Japanese Americans are being subjected to. There is also no reason why work should not be done among, and in cooperation with, the Mexicans, the Chinese, and so on.
"He has always been very anxious to have the Indians taught and enlisted under the banner of the Faith, in view of the Master's remarkable statements about the possibilities of their future and that they represent the aboriginal American population.
"The Negroes, likewise, are, one might say, a key problem and epitomise the feelings of colour prejudice so rife in the United States. That is why he has constantly emphasized the importance of the Bahá'ís actively and continuously demonstrating that in the Faith this cruel and horrible taint of discrimination against, and contempt for, them does not exist but is, on the contrary, supplanted by a feeling of esteem for their great gifts and a complete lack of prejudice against associating with them in every field of life.
"The work of the Race Unity Committee should include, as far as is feasible, contacts with all minority groups, and wherever there is a particularly stout prejudice against a special group--such as the feeling against the Japanese in the Western states and the Negroes in the Southern, etc.,--efforts should be made to counteract it by showing publicly the Bahá'í example of loving tolerance and brotherly association."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 30, 1945)
1797. Just Interest of Minorities
"To discriminate against any tribe because they are in a minority is a violation of
the spirit that animates the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. As followers of God's Holy Faith it is our obligation to protect the just interests of any minority element within the Bahá'í Community. In fact in the administration of our Bahá'í affairs, representatives of minority groups are not only enabled to enjoy equal rights and privileges, but they are even favoured and accorded priority. Bahá'ís should be careful never to deviate from this noble standard even if the course of events of public opinion should bring pressure to bear upon them. The principles in the Writings are clear, but usually it is when these principles are applied that questions arise...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa, February 8, 1970)
1798. The Coloured Friends Need the Faith--Have Suffered and Been Downtrodden
"The coloured friends need the Faith very much as they have suffered and been downtrodden in the past a great deal and they must realize that in the propagation of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh lies their hope for a better future, just as much as the hope of the entire world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 8, 1942)
1799. Guilty Before God to Allow Prejudice to Manifest Itself
"If we allow prejudice of any kind to manifest itself in us, we shall be guilty before God of causing a setback to the progress and real growth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It is incumbent upon every believer to endeavour with a fierce determination to eliminate this defect from his thoughts and acts. The fundamental purpose of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race..."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Assemblies, July 13, 1972)
1800. To Be a Bahá'í is to be Different
"It is indeed strange that the cultured class, the people of thought and experience, are often more filled with prejudice than just plain ordinary souls who have not enjoyed such advantages. They are so afraid of seeming in any way 'different' from their fellows, and of course to be a Bahá'í is to be different!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 15, 1950)
1801. Bahá'ís Are Not Perfect
"He does not doubt--though it grieves him to have to admit it--that there are believers who have not overcome their racial prejudices. The Bahá'ís are not perfect, but they have made a great step forward by embracing the Faith of God. We must be patient with each other, and realize that each one of us has some faults to overcome, of one kind or another.
"You, he feels, need to use greater wisdom and forbearance in dealing with your fellow-Bahá'ís and with difficult situations. To be courageous--as you evidently are--to rebel against the injustices of race prejudice and fight them is not enough, you must also show some patience for those who suffer from this terrible American ailment of Negro prejudice and act with wisdom in overcoming it, instead of going at it so vehemently that you alienate the Bahá'ís instead of leading them to greater manifestations of the Bahá'í spirit of brotherhood and racial amity....
"He hopes that you will concentrate your energies on serving the Faith.
"This is the only real solution to man's problems, all others are more or less palliatives, but we who are identified with Bahá'u'lláh's message can alone build up the pattern for the future through helping to establish our Administrative Order and assisting in its proper functioning. This is the fundamental thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer during the year 1949)
1802. Abdu'l-Bahá Foretold for the Indians of America a Great Future if They Accepted the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh
"The original population of the United States was very dear to Abdu'l-Bahá's heart, and He foretold for the Indians a great future if they accepted and became enlightened by the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
"To believe in the Mouthpiece of God in His Day confers very great blessings, not only on individuals, but on races, and He hopes that you who are now numbered amongst the followers of Bahá'u'lláh will give His Message to many more of your tribe, and in this way hasten for your people a bright and happy future."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1947)
1803. Bahá'ís Approve of Inter-Racial Unions
"He thinks you did well to marry, and he is glad you married an American Indian. We Bahá'ís approve of inter-racial unions, and you should do all you can to make your marriage a success and make your husband happy."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1950)
1804. Campus Protest Against Racial Prejudice
"In connection with the subject matter of Mr. Blackwell's letter and your reference to it, the Guardian feels that, as he said in his letter to Mr. Blackwell, there was no objection at all to the students taking part in something so obviously akin to the spirit of our teachings as a campus demonstration against race prejudice. The Bahá'ís did not inaugurate this protest, they merely were proud to have a voice as Bahá'ís in such a protest, took part, and he thinks they did quite right and violated no administrative principle."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1948)
1805. The Bahá'í Must Scrupulously Avoid Involvement in Political Issues Therefore Cannot Participate in Anti-Apartheid Demonstrations
"In reply to your letter of 15 July 1985 seeking further clarification on the issue of apartheid, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to point out that as the policy of apartheid derives from racial discrimination, it cannot be accepted by Bahá'ís wherever, and in whatever form, it may be practised.
"While the friends should, of course, support the principles of the Faith, including those advocating the oneness of mankind, and may associate with groups and engage in activities which promote these principles, they must scrupulously take care not to become involved in political issues. As stated in the letter to you dated 16 April 1985, participation in anti-apartheid demonstrations and protest activities could
be construed as involvement in politics, and therefore should be avoided.
"...The world around us is seething with unrest caused by the conflicting interests of governments, peoples, races and individuals. Each of these contending parties has some good and some evil on its side, and, whereas we will unhesitatingly uphold Bahá'í principles, we will never become embroiled in these internecine conflicts by identifying ourselves with one or other of the parties, however much in our hearts we may sympathize with its aims.
"The positive attitude to the question of racial prejudice is radiant and whole-hearted exemplification of the principle of the oneness of mankind, first among the members of your National Spiritual Assembly and then throughout the Bahá'í community...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 18, 1985)
1806. Teaching Multi-Racial Students in the Universities and Other Minority Groups in America, Such as Czechs, Poles, Russians...
"...urge the Bahá'ís, wherever they may be, to devote more attention to the minorities. This is particularly true in places where there are universities where foreign students belonging to the black, yellow and brown races are studying. In this way, the friends cannot only obey one of the most beautiful principles of our Faith, to show hospitality to the stranger in our midst, but also demonstrate the universality of our Teachings and the true brotherhood that animates us, and in addition, confirm Bahá'ís who may go back to the distant place of the earth--the Pacific, Africa, Asia, etc., and be of inestimable help to the newly-born Bahá'í Communities.
"Likewise the friends should carry their friendship and their teachings to other minority groups in America, such as the Italians, the Jews, the Czechs, the Poles, the Russians, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Inter-Racial Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 27, 1957)
1807. Racial Prejudice is Simply a Negation of Faith
"The attitude of the Cause towards the problem of race, be it in America or elsewhere, has been repeatedly clarified by the Guardian. To the faithful followers of Bahá'u'lláh who fully grasp the essential implications of the principle of the oneness of mankind so much emphasized in His teachings, racial prejudice, in all its forms, is simply a negation of faith, a repudiation of the belief in the brotherhood of man which is, beyond doubt, the cornerstone of the Religion of God. Loyalty to this basic principle should, therefore, be whole-hearted and unqualified."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 11, 1936)
1808. It is the Responsibility of the Believers to Combat and Uproot Racial Prejudice in Their Midst
"In America, where racial prejudice is still so widely prevalent, it is the responsibility of the believers to combat and uproot it with all their force, first by endeavouring to introduce into the Cause as many racial and minority groups as they can
approach and teach, and second, by stimulating close fellowship and intercourse between them and the rest of the Community.
"It should be the paramount concern of your Committee to foster this aim through every means available. Not only the coloured people, who because of the increasing receptivity they are evincing to the Message and truly deserve special attention, but all other minorities, whether racial or religious, Jews, Red Indians, all alike should be contacted and confirmed. The greater the receptivity of a particular class or group, the stronger should wax the desire and determination of the believers to attract and teach its members. At a time when the whole world is steeped in prejudices of race, class, and nation, the Bahá'ís, by upholding firmly and loyally this cardinal principle of their Faith, can best hope to vindicate its truth, and establish its right to bring order and peace out of the chaos and strife of this war-torn world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 20, 1941)
1809. God Has Richly Endowed the Negro Race
"You already are well aware of the importance he attaches to teaching the negroes the Faith and breaking down the shameful wall of prejudice that has for so long shut out from each other the black and white citizens of America.
"The qualities of heart so richly possessed by the Negro are much needed in the world today--their great capacity for faith, their loyalty and devotion to their religion when once they believe, their purity of heart. God has richly endowed them, and their contribution to the Cause is much needed, especially as there is a lack of Negro Bahá'í teachers who can go out to their own people, along with their white brothers and sisters, and convince them of the active universality of our Faith. He will especially pray that you may confirm souls of capacity in this field."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, September 27, 1941)
1810. The Negro Race and the White Race Must Do All in Their Power to Destroy the Prejudice which Exists on Both Sides
"The negro race has been, and still is, the victim of unjust prejudice, and it is obviously the duty of every Bahá'í, negro or white, to do all in their power to destroy the prejudices which exist on both sides. They can do this not only by exemplifying the true Bahá'í spirit in all their associations and acts, but also by taking an active part in any progressive movements aimed at the betterment of the lot of those who are underprivileged, as long as these movements are absolutely non-political and non-subversive in every respect.
"Movements for social progress and social justice, as long as they are disassociated from both political and religious partisanship, should be supported by those Bahá'ís who feel urged to undertake such work. Consequently there is no reason why you should not work for the betterment of your race through channels that in no way conflict with our Bahá'í attitude."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 23, 1941)
1811. The Negro Bahá'ís Have a Great Responsibility Towards Their Own Race and Fellow Believers
"The Guardian feels very strongly that the negro Bahá'ís have great responsibilities,
both towards their own race and towards their fellow-believers. They must not only arise to teach the Cause to the members of their own race, but must do all in their power to ensure that within the Bahá'í Community itself the negro and white believers understand and love each other and are truly as one soul in different bodies. Our allegiance as believers is to Bahá'u'lláh; we must fix our attention and devotion on Him and His will and, heedless of the shortcomings of our fellow-Bahá'ís, act as He would have us towards them."
1812. Principle of the Oneness of Mankind--Incompatible with Racial Prejudices
"Regarding the solution of the racial problem: The believers should of course realize that the principle of the oneness of mankind which is the cornerstone of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh is wholly incompatible with all forms of racial prejudice. Loyalty to this foundation principle of the Faith is the paramount duty of every believer and should be therefore whole-hearted and unqualified. For a Bahá'í racial prejudice, in all its forms, is simply a negation of faith, an attitude wholly incompatible with the very spirit and actual teachings of the Cause.
"But while the friends should faithfully and courageously uphold this Bahá'í principle of the essential unity of all human races, yet in the methods they adopt for its application and further realization on the social plane they should act with tact, wisdom and moderation. These two attitudes are by no means exclusive. Bahá'u'lláh urges us to always act wisely and moderately. Bahá'ís do not believe that the spread of the Cause and its principles and teachings can be effected by means of radical and violent methods. While they are loyal to all these Teachings yet they believe in the necessity of resorting to peaceful and friendly means for the realization of their aims."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 22, 1936)
1813. The Evil Forces of Prejudice
"The believers must realize that the forces of prejudice are, along with so many other evil practices, growing at present stronger in the darkness surrounding humanity. The Bahá'ís must exercise not only tact and judgement, but courage and confidence in the aid of Bahá'u'lláh, which He will vouchsafe to those who attempt to live up to His teachings, in their whole approach to this racial question. Too much hesitance, too great timidity in the face of public opinion, can be just as bad as too much disregard of the actual situation and the problems it involves."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 23, 1941)
1814. The Negroes Should Be Proud and Happy in the Praises which Bahá'u'lláh Bestowed Upon Them and Other Downtrodden Races
"As we neither feel nor acknowledge any distinction between the duties and privileges of a Bahá'í, whoever he may be, it is incumbent upon the negro believers to rise above this great test which the attitude of some of their white brethren may present. They must prove their innate equality not by words but by deeds. They must accept the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh for the sake of the Cause, love it, and cling to it, and teach it, and fight for it as their own Cause, forgetful of the shortcomings of others. Any other attitude is unworthy of their faith.
"Proud and happy in the praises which even Bahá'u'lláh Himself has bestowed upon them, they must feel He revealed Himself for them and every other downtrodden race, loves them, and will help them to attain their destiny.
"The whole race question in America is a national one and of great importance. But the negro friends must not waste their precious opportunity to serve the Faith, in these momentous days, by dwelling on the admitted shortcomings of the white friends. They must arise and serve and teach, confident of the future they are building, a future in which we know these barriers will have once and for all been overcome!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1942)
1815. The Guardian Encourages Participation with Non-Political Progressive Groups
"Regarding your question: The Guardian does not see how Bahá'í participation with other organizations and religious bodies in a non-political meeting to promote civic unity and welfare along some line can be considered political. Much as the friends must guard against in any way ever seeming to identify themselves or the Cause with any political party, they must also guard against the other extreme of never taking part with other progressive groups, in conferences or committees designed to promote some activity in entire accord with our teachings--such as, for instance, better race relations."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 21, 1948)
1816. The Whites Should Welcome Negroes in Their Homes and Even Marry Them if They Wish--Both Sides Have Prejudice to Overcome
"He feels it is time that the Bahá'ís stopped worrying entirely about the white element in a community, and that they should concentrate on showing the negro element that this is a Faith which produces full equality and which loves and wants minorities. The Bahá'ís should welcome the negroes to their homes, make every effort to teach them, associate with them, even marry them if they want to. We must remember that Abdu'l-Bahá Himself united in Bahá'í marriage a coloured and a white believer. He could not do more.
"Also, as the Guardian has been pointing out to the pilgrims, the Faith must be representative of the population. In a great many places in the South the majority of the population is still negro. This should be reflected in the Bahá'í Community, fearlessly. Both the white Bahá'ís and the coloured Bahá'ís must steadily work to attain this objective of bringing the Faith to the coloured people, and of confirming many of them in it. Both sides have prejudices to overcome; one, the prejudice which is built up in the minds of a people who have conquered and imposed their will, and the other the reactionary prejudice of those who have been conquered and sorely put upon."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Inter-Racial Teaching Committee, May 27, 1957)
1817. The Sufferings and Tribulations of the Jews Will Terminate During the Bahá'í Era
"...You should certainly endeavour to establish further contacts with your Jewish fellow-citizens, as their spiritual destiny is assuredly bright. The age-long sufferings and tribulations which the Jews all over the world have so cruelly experienced will
be terminated during the Bahá'í era, as they will be gradually led to embrace the Faith which, indeed, constitutes the only means of salvation to their race."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1937)
1818. The Glorious Destiny of the Jews
"...If the Jews study the teachings they will find in them the hopes and aspirations that they have always cherished. Bahá'u'lláh bears a wonderful message to the Jews and many of them have come to appreciate it and are active in carrying it to others of their race. Through Bahá'u'lláh, the Master tells us, they shall regain their ancient glory and become loved by all the people of the whole world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 14, 1932)
1819. Believers of Jewish Descent Should Call Themselves Bahá'ís
"He feels you did the right thing to have yourself under 'Religion' registered as a Bahá'í. Unfortunately, owing to this obnoxious and vicious race prejudice of every sort which afflicts the world today, the term Jew has come more to mean a race than a religion. You certainly, as your father feels, should never wish to disassociate yourself from a group of people who have contributed as much to the world as the Jews have. On the other hand your actual religion today is Bahá'í, and he feels that Jews should, when they become Bahá'ís, always give this as their Faith, but as their racial descent they should give 'Jewish'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 15, 1948)
Page 537XLIV. REINCARNATION
1820. Bahá'í Position on Reincarnation
"It is clear from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh about the nature of the soul and of life after death as published in 'Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh', that the Bahá'í position on this subject is wholly incompatible with the theory of reincarnation. We suggest that you refer this friend to the explanation of 'return' as given by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Iqan and the statements made by Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Some Answered Questions'.
"...for your additional information we give the following quotations from letters written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on this subject:
'No revelation from God has ever taught reincarnation; this is a man-made conception. The soul of man comes into being at conception.' (To an individual believer, April 1, 1946)
'The Bahá'í view of 'reincarnation' is essentially different from the Hindu conception. The Bahá'ís believe in the return of the attributes and qualities, but maintain that the essence or the reality of things cannot be made to return. Every being keeps its own individuality, but some of his qualities can be transmitted. The doctrine of metempsychosis upheld by the Hindus is fallacious.' (To an individual believer, March 27, 1938)
'Evolution in the life of the individual starts with the formation of the human embryo and passes through various stages, and even continues after death in another form. The human spirit is capable of infinite development.
'Man's identity or rather his individuality is never lost. His reality as a person remains intact throughout the various states of his development. He does not preexist in any form before coming into this world.' (To an individual believer, November 26, 1939)
'We as Bahá'ís are not influenced by the categorical assertions of scholars. We believe that what Bahá'u'lláh has revealed and Abdu'l-Bahá has written is from God, and divinely inspired; that Bahá'u'lláh is a Manifestation of God, and has access to a knowledge denied to ordinary human beings.'" (Letter written to an individual believer, April 22, 1954 on behalf of the Guardian)
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Monaco, August 5, 1969)
1821. Everybody is Entitled to Their Own Opinion
"Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. If they do not set it forth with conviction, they are failing in their duty to expose their ideas sincerely and graphically; but because they believe something firmly themselves does not in anyway imply that what they believe is the truth. Between the truth which comes from God through His Prophets, and the glimmerings, often misunderstood and misinterpreted, of truth which come
from the philosophers and thinkers, there is an immense difference. We must never, under any circumstances, confuse the two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 22, 1954: Ibid.)
1822. Learning Can Be the Veil Between the Soul of Man and Truth
"Bahá'u'lláh has said that learning can be the veil between the soul of man and the eternal truth; in other words, between man and the knowledge of God. We have seen that many people who become very advanced in the study of modern physical sciences are led to deny God, and to deny His Prophets. That does not mean that God and the Prophets have not and do not exist. It only means that knowledge has become a veil between their hearts and the light of God.
"It would be absolutely impossible for anyone to answer all the questions that might be asked by the curious, whether scholars or ordinary people, on any subject. If the Prophets of God only came to this world in order to answer people's questions, and elucidate all the 'nonsense', for the most part, that people have gotten together and formed into cults and philosophies, they would have no time to instruct man by their example and through their teachings in a new way of life."
1823. Have Not Had Time to Evolve Bahá'í Scholars Who Can Deal with These Subjects
"We must turn aside from these vain imaginings and suppositions and philosophizings of the world, and fix our eyes upon the clear stream of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Out of these teachings, and the society which they will create on this planet, will come a solution to all of the problems of men. Gradually, greater scholars, more deeply spiritual thinkers, will be able to answer from a Bahá'í standpoint many of these questions. It is not necessary that they should be in the divine text; they can be studied and learned in the future; but at present we have not had time to evolve the Bahá'í scholars who can deal with these subjects in detail, and take upon themselves to answer the abstruse points and the many unfounded doctrines which are advanced by modern philosophers."
1824. Unlikely You Will Be Able to Convert People Who Study These Topics
"It is very unlikely that you will be able either to successfully argue with, or to convert, any of the people who study these topics you have mentioned in your letter. They are more interested in mystical things, and in mystery itself, than in this present world in which we live, and how to solve its problems. They enjoy abstractions and complications. Minds such as these are not going to be able to accept the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, which is for here and now, and which involves the purification of the mind, and as application of His teachings to daily life...."
1825. What Bahá'u'lláh Means by Faculty of Sight and Hearing
"What Bahá'u'lláh means by the faculty of sight and hearing is the physical faculty, not a spiritual abstraction. He means that we have been given eyes and ears to appreciate what goes on in this world, by Almighty God; in other words, we can
read the Teachings and listen to the Message of the Prophet. This is to be taken literally."
1826. Reincarnation Does Not Exist
"We know from His Teachings that reincarnation does not exist. We come on to this planet once only. Our life here is like the baby in the womb of its mother, which develops in that state what is necessary for its entire life after it is born. The same is true of us. Spiritually we must develop here what we will require for the life after death. In that future life, God, through His Mercy, can help us to evolve characteristics which we neglected to develop while we were on this earthly plane. It is not necessary for us to come back and be born into another body in order to advance spiritually and grow closer to God.
"This is the Bahá'í Teaching, and this is what the followers of Bahá'u'lláh must accept, regardless of what experiences other people may feel they have. You yourself must surely know that modern psychology has taught that the capacity of the human mind for believing what it imagines is almost infinite. Because people think they have a certain type of experience, they think they remember something of a previous life, does not mean they actually had the experience, or existed previously. The power of their mind would be quite sufficient to make them believe firmly such a thing had happened."
1827. We Must Use Writings of the Prophets as Our Measurement
"We must use the Writings of the Prophets as our measurement. If Bahá'u'lláh had attached the slightest importance to occult experiences, to the seeing of auras, to the hearing of mystic voices; if He had believed that reincarnation was a fact, He, Himself, would have mentioned all of these things in His Teachings. The fact that He passed over them in silence shows that to Him, they had either no importance or no reality, and were consequently not worthy to take up His time as the Divine Educator of the human race."
Page 540XLV. REVERENCE AND SPIRITUALITY
1828. Reverence and Respect Toward the Holy Places
"You have asked about visiting holy places and the observance of marked reverence toward these resplendent spots. Holy places are undoubtedly centres of the outpouring of Divine grace, because on entering the illumined sites associated with martyrs and holy souls, and by observing reverence, both physical and spiritual, one's heart is moved with great tenderness...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 61)
1829. The Record of Abdu'l-Bahá's Voice Should Be Listened to with the Utmost Reverence
"...the friends to exercise restraint and caution in the use and distribution of the record of the Master's voice. In my view, it should be used only on special occasions and be listened to with the utmost reverence. The dignity of the Cause, I am sure, would suffer from too wide and indiscriminate use of one of the most precious relics of our departed Master."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, November 26, 1923)
1830. Viewing the Film of Abdu'l-Bahá
"Regarding the use of the Master's film, the greatest care must be exercised lest we cheapen its value by too frequent and indiscriminate exhibition either amongst the believers or the non-Bahá'ís. Only on special occasions, such as important anniversaries, should the film be shown and its solemn sacred character should be duly emphasized."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, February 28, 1928)
1831. Portrayal of Any of the Manifestations of God Forbidden
"Your understanding that the portrayal of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh in works of art is forbidden, is correct. The Guardian made it clear that this prohibition refers to all the Manifestations of God; photographs, or reproductions of portraits, of the Master may be used in books, but no attempt should be made to portray Him in dramatic or other works where He would be one of the 'dramatic personae'. However, there can be no objection to symbolic representation of such Holy Figures, provided it does not become a ritual and that the symbol used is not irreverent."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 3, 1972)
1832. Showing Reverence Differs from Culture to Culture
"Problems arise when there are disagreements among the friends as to what is dignified and reverent. The Universal House of Justice is reluctant to specify such matters
in detail and urges the believers not to make an issue of them. If a believer is seriously worried about a particular case, he may refer it to his National Spiritual Assembly and should abide by the Assembly's decision."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 12, 1980)
1833. Photograph of Bahá'u'lláh
"There is no objection that the believers look at the picture of Bahá'u'lláh, but they should do so with the utmost reverence, and should also not allow that it be exposed openly to the public, even in their private homes."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)
1834. Man is at the Beginning of Spirituality
"Man is the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality--that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspect may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic powers, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among creatures; but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is their such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man. Thus the reflection of the Divine Light was in man, as in Christ, and see how loved and honoured He is!..."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, pp. 235-236, Wilmette, 1984 ed.)
1835. Requisites for Spiritual Growth
"Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by Abdu'l-Bahá in His Talks and Tablets. One can summarise them briefly in this way:
1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.
2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought. 3. Prayerful meditation on the teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.
4. Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.
5. Teaching the Cause of God.
6. Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 1, 1983)
Page 542 1836. Points Towards the Attainment of True Spirituality--Spiritual Exercises of Prayer and Meditation
"These points, expressed in other words, have already been conveyed to the friends ... by the Counsellors, but the House of Justice wishes to stress them, because they represent the path towards the attainment of true spirituality that has been laid down by the Manifestation of God for this age.
"It is striking how private and personal the most fundamental spiritual exercises of prayer and meditation are in the Faith. Bahá'ís do, of course, have meetings for devotions, as in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar or at Nineteen Day Feasts, but the daily obligatory prayers are ordained to be said in the privacy of one's chamber, and meditation on the Teachings is, likewise, a private individual activity, not a form of group therapy. In His talks Abdu'l-Bahá describes prayer as 'conversation with God', and concerning meditation He says that 'while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed!'"
1837. Bahá'u'lláh Specified No Procedure to be Followed in Meditation and No Method Should Be Taught in Summer Schools
"There are, of course, other things that one can do to increase one's spirituality. For example, Bahá'u'lláh has specified no procedures to be followed in meditation, and individual believers are free to do as they wish in this area, provided that they remain in harmony with the teachings, but such activities are purely personal and should under no circumstances be confused with those actions which Bahá'u'lláh Himself considered to be of fundamental importance for our spiritual growth. Some believers may find that it is beneficial to them to follow a particular method of meditation, and they may certainly do so, but such methods should not be taught at Bahá'í Summer Schools or be carried out during a session of the School because, while they may appeal to some people, they may repel others. They have nothing to do with the Faith and should be kept quite separate so that enquirers will not be confused."
1838. For Private Meditation, Believer May Desire to Use the Greatest Name
"It would seem that there are ... many believers who draw particular benefit from meditation. The House of Justice suggests that for their private meditations they may wish to use the repetition of the Greatest Name, Allah-u-Abha, ninety-five times a day which, although not yet applied in the West, is among the Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. (See p. 46 of the 'Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas'.)
"The House of Justice is confident that if the believers ... will conscientiously strive to increase their spirituality in the six ways outlined above, and become aware in their inmost beings that in all their services they are but vehicles for the confirming power of God, they will attract the hearts of their fellow citizens and penetrate the miasma of materialism that veils the sight of so many of their countrymen. Effort, activity,
unity and constant reliance on the power of Bahá'u'lláh will assuredly overcome all obstacles."
1839. Cleanliness Contributes to Spirituality
"...in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human condition and further the development of man's inner reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 146-147)
1840. The Obligatory Prayers and Reading Sacred Scriptures Every Morning and Evening Nourish Growth of Spirituality
"The law of the Obligatory Prayers is, of course, binding on the friends in Europe, and regular, whole-hearted obedience to this law will in itself nourish the growth of spirituality. Nor should the friends neglect Bahá'u'lláh's exhortation to read the Sacred Scriptures every morning and evening."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 31, 1983)
1841. The Foundation of Spirituality is Steadfastness in the Covenant
"The thing the ... believers must do is to deepen themselves in the Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. Mere intellectual understanding of the Teachings is not enough. Deep spirituality is essential, and the foundation of true spirituality is steadfastness in the Covenant."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1949)
1842. People Are So Markedly Lacking in Spirituality These Days
"People are so markedly lacking in spirituality these days that the Bahá'ís should consciously guard themselves against being caught in what one might call the undertow of materialism and atheism, sweeping the world these days. Skepticism, cynicism, disbelief, immorality and hard-heartedness are rife, and as the friends are those who stand for the antithesis of all these things they should beware lest the atmosphere of the present world affects them without their being conscious of it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945)
1843. There is a Need for a True Spiritual Awareness
"The need is very great, everywhere in the world, in and outside the Faith, for a true spiritual awareness to pervade and motivate peoples' lives. No amount of administrative procedure or adherence to rules can take the place of this soul-characteristic, this spirituality which is the essence of Man. He is very glad to see you are stressing this and aiding the friends to realize its supreme importance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 25, 1945)
Page 544 1844. Spiritual Education and Progress Depend on Recognition of the Infallibility of the Manifestation of God
"Regarding your Bahá'í friend who does not fully understand the infallibility of the Manifestation of God: You should influence that person to study the matter more deeply, and to realize that the whole theory of Divine Revelation rests on the infallibility of the Prophet, be He Christ, Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh, or one of the Others. If They are not infallible, then They are not divine, and thus lose that essential link with God which, we believe, is the bond that educates men and causes all human progress."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 11, 1942)
1845. Prayer Absolutely Indispensable--To Attain Spirituality
"...How to attain spirituality is indeed a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory answer has been given or found, that the modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundations of man's moral and spiritual life... It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform.
"For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship.
"It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer...
"The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, as already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the religion of God."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 8, 1935: Bahá'í Youth, p. 10)
Page 545XLVI. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
1846. A Wider Horizon is Opening Before Us
"The growing maturity of a world-wide religious community which all these processes indicate is further evidenced in the reaching out, by a number of national communities, to the social and economic life of their countries, exemplified by the founding of tutorial schools, the inception of radio stations, the pursuit of rural development programs and the operation of medical and agricultural schemes.
"A wider horizon is opening before us, illumined by a growing and universal manifestation of the inherent potentialities of the Cause for ordering human affairs. In this light can be discerned not only our immediate tasks but, more dimly, new pursuits and undertakings upon which we must shortly become engaged."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the world, Ridvan 1983)
1847. The Concept of Social and Economic Development is Enshrined in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh
"...Thus, we can readily appreciate that although it has hitherto been impracticable for Bahá'í institutions generally to emphasize development activities, the concept of social and economic development is enshrined in the sacred Teachings of our Faith. The beloved Master, through His illuminating words and deeds, set the example for the application of this concept to the reconstruction of society. Witness, for instance, what social and economic progress the Iranian believers attained under His loving guidance and, subsequently, with the unfailing encouragement of the Guardian of the Cause."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, October 20, 1983)
1848. His Teachings Emphasize Bringing into Being a World Unified in All Essential Aspects of Life
"From the beginning of His stupendous Mission, Bahá'u'lláh urged upon the attention of nations the necessity of ordering human affairs in such a way as to bring into being a world unified in all the essential aspects of its life. In unnumbered verses and Tablets He repeatedly and variously declared the 'progress of the world' and the 'development of nations' as being among the ordinances of God for this day. The oneness of mankind, which is at once the operating principle and ultimate goal of His Revelation, implies the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth. The indispensability of this
coherence is unmistakably illustrated in His ordination of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the spiritual centre of every Bahá'í community round which must flourish dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of mankind."
1849. Steps to be Taken to Attain This Goal Must Begin in the Bahá'í Community
"Now, after all the years of constant teaching activity, the Community of the Greatest Name has grown to the stage at which the processes of this development must be incorporated into its regular pursuits; particularly its action compelled by the expansion of the Faith in Third World countries where the vast majority of its adherents reside. The steps to be taken must necessarily begin in the Bahá'í Community itself, with the friends endeavouring, through their application of spiritual principles, their rectitude of conduct and the practice of the art of consultation, to uplift themselves and thus become self-sufficient and self-reliant. Moreover, these exertions will conduce to the preservation of human honour, so desired by Bahá'u'lláh. In the process and as a consequence, the friends will undoubtedly extend the benefits of their efforts to society as a whole, until all mankind achieves the progress intended by the Lord of the Age."
1850. Establishment of Office of Social and Economic Development in the World Centre
"It is indeed propitious that systematic attention be given to this vital sphere of Bahá'í endeavour. We are happy, therefore, to announce the establishment at the World Centre of the Office of Social and Economic Development, which is to assist the Universal House of Justice to promote and coordinate the activities of the friends throughout the world in this new field."
1851. The Powers Released by Bahá'u'lláh Match the Needs of the Time
"...The powers released by Bahá'u'lláh match the needs of the times. We may therefore be utterly confident that the new throb of energy now vibrating throughout the Cause will empower it to meet the oncoming challenges of assisting, as maturity and resources allow, the development of the social and economic life of peoples, of collaborating with the forces leading towards the establishment of order in the world, of influencing the exploitation and constructive uses of modern technology, and in all these ways enhancing the prestige and progress of the Faith and uplifting the conditions of the generality of mankind."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1983)
1852. Progress in Development Field Depends on Stirrings at the Grass Roots
"We call now upon National Spiritual Assemblies to consider the implications of this emerging trend for their respective communities, and to take well-conceived measures to involve the thought and actions of Local Spiritual Assemblies and
individuals in the devising and implementing of plans, within the constraints of existing circumstances and available resources. Progress in the development field will largely depend on natural stirrings at the grassroots, and it should receive its driving force from those sources rather than from an imposition of plans and programs from the top."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, October 20, 1983)
1853. The Major Tasks of National Spiritual Assemblies
"...The major task of National Assemblies, therefore, is to increase the local communities' awareness of needs and possibilities, and to guide and coordinate the efforts resulting from such awareness. Already in many areas the friends are witnessing the confirmations of their initiatives in such pursuits as the founding of tutorial and other schools, the promotion of literacy, the launching of rural development programs, the inception of educational radio stations, and the operation of agricultural and medical projects. As they enlarge the scope of their endeavours other modes of development will undoubtedly emerge."
1854. Applying Systematically Principles of the Faith to Upraising Quality of Human Life
"This challenge evokes the resourcefulness, flexibility and cohesiveness of the many communities composing the Bahá'í world. Different communities will, of course, perceive different approaches and different solutions to similar needs. Some can offer assistance abroad, while, at the outset, others must of necessity receive assistance; but all, irrespective of circumstances or resources, are endowed with the capacity to respond in some measure; all can share; all can participate in the joint enterprise of applying more systematically the principles of the Faith to upraising the quality of human life. The key to success is unity in spirit and in action."
1855. Universal House of Justice Calls Individual to Action
"Ultimately, the call to action is addressed to the individual friends, whether they be adult or youth, veteran or newly-enrolled. Let them step forth to take their places in the arena of service where their talents and skills, their specialized training, their material resources, their offers of time and energy and, above all, their dedication to Bahá'í principles, can be put to work in improving the lot of man."
1856. The Nature and Extent of Believers' Involvement Must Vary from Country to Country
"...the House of Justice wishes us to stress that the nature and extent of the believers' involvement in social and economic development must vary from country to country, both in relation to the general conditions of that country and in relation to the stage of development of the Bahá'í community. It is only because a number of Bahá'í communities have sufficiently increased their membership numerically, and have developed strongly functioning Bahá'í administrative institutions that the House
of Justice has been able to contemplate the launching of this new stage in the work of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 30, 1984: Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development, A Compilation prepared by the International Teaching Centre of communications written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 1985)
1857. Strive to Become Proficient in the Science of Agriculture
"...Strive as much as possible to become proficient in the science of agriculture, for in accordance with the Divine Teachings, the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered as acts of worship. If a man engages with all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in the churches and temples. Thus as thou entereth a school of agriculture and strivest in the acquisition of that science, thou art day and night engaged in acts of worship--acts that are accepted at the threshold of the Almighty. What bounty greater than this that science should be considered as an act of worship and art as service to the Kingdom of God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, pp. 377-378)
1858. Solution to Economic Problem Should Begin with the Farmer
"The question of economics must commence with the farmer and then be extended to the other classes inasmuch as the number of farmers is greater than all other classes, many many times greater. Therefore, it is fitting that the economic problem be first solved with the farmer, for the farmer is the first active agent in the body politic. In brief, from among the wise men in every village a board should be organized and the affairs of that village should be under the control of that board."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extract from a Tablet to an individual believer, October 4, 1912, translation corrected in the World Centre, December 1985)
1859. A General Warehouse Will Be Founded which Will Have Seven Revenues
"...Likewise a general storehouse should be founded with the appointment of a secretary. At the time of the harvest, with the approval of the members of that board, a determined percentage of the entire harvest should be appropriated for the storehouse.
"The storehouse is to have seven revenues: Tithes, taxes on animals, wealth without inheritors, all things found whose owners cannot be discovered, a third of all treasures (money) found in the earth, a third of the mines, and voluntary contributions.
"On the other hand, there are seven expenditures:
1. General running expenses of the institution--salaries etc., and the administration of public safety, including the department of hygiene.
2. Tithes to the general government (State).
3. Taxes on animals for the State.
4. Support of an orphanage.
5. Support of cripples and the incurable.
6. Support of educational institutions.
7. Supplying any deficiency for the expenses of the poor.
"The first revenue is the tithe. For example, if the income of a farmer is five hundred dollars and his necessary expenses are five hundred dollars, no tithes will be collected from him. Another's expenses being five hundred and his income one thousand dollars, one tenth will be taken from him, for he hath more than his needs; if he giveth one tenth his livelihood will not be disturbed. Another's expenses are one thousand dollars, and his income is five thousand dollars; as he hath four thousand dollars surplus, he will be required to give one and a half tenths. Another hath necessary expenses of one thousand dollars; but his income is ten thousand dollars; from him two tenths will be required. The necessary expenses of another person are five thousand dollars, and his income one hundred thousand; therefore, one fourth will be required from him. On the other hand, a person's income may be two hundred, but his needs absolutely essential for his livelihood are five hundred dollars; provided he hath not failed in effort and exertion or his farm hath not been blessed with a harvest, such a one must be helped from the general storehouse, so that he may not remain in need and may live in ease."
1860. Bahá'í System Prevents Extremes of Wealth and Poverty
"...Of course conditions in the East differ where the Countries are rarely industrial and mostly agricultural; we should have to apply different laws from the West and that is why the principles of the Movement strike at the root which is common to them both. Abdu'l-Bahá has developed in various of His talks, which you will find in different compilations, the principles upon which the Bahá'í economic system would be based. A system that prevents among others the gradual control of wealth in the hands of a few and the resulting state of both extremes, wealth and poverty."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1927: Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on the Subject of Agriculture and Related Subjects, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
1861. Should Not Confuse Methods Explained by Abdu'l-Bahá with Present Day Systems
"As to your fourth question, Shoghi Effendi believes that it is preferable not to confuse the methods explained by the Master with present systems. They may have many resemblances but also many points of difference. Moreover these general statements we have in the teachings have to be explained and applied by the House of Justice before we can really appreciate their significance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 21, 1932: Ibid.)
1862. Regarding Problems of Ownership, Control and Distribution of Capital
"Regarding your questions concerning the Bahá'í attitude on various economic problems, such as the problem of ownership, control and distribution of capital, and of other means of production, the problem of trusts and monopolies, and such economic experiments as social cooperatives; the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and
Abdu'l-Bahá do not provide specific and detailed solutions to all such economic questions which mostly pertain to the domain of technical economics, and as such do not concern directly the Cause. True, there are certain guiding principles in Bahá'í Sacred Writings on the subject of economics, but these do by no means cover the whole field of theoretical and applied economics, and are mostly intended to guide further Bahá'í economic writers and technicians to evolve an economic system which would function in full conformity with the spirit and the exact provisions of the Cause on this and similar subjects. The International House of Justice will have, in consultation with economic experts, to assist in the formulation and evolution of the Bahá'í economic system of the future. One thing, however, is certain, that the Cause neither accepts the theories of the Capitalistic economics in full, nor can it agree with the Marxists and Communists in their repudiation of the principle of private ownership and of the vital sacred rights of the individual."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 10, 1930: Ibid.)
1863. Voluntary Sharing
"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh advocate voluntary sharing, and this is a greater thing than the equalization of wealth. For equalization must be imposed from without, while sharing is a matter of free choice."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Peace More Than an End to War, Wilmette, p. 115)
1864. Spirit that Permeates Economic Life Will Crystallize into Definite Institutions
"As you say, the Writings are not so rich on this subject and many issues at present baffling the minds of the world are not even mentioned. The primary consideration is the spirit that has to permeate our economic life and this will gradually crystallize itself into definite institutions and principles that will help to bring about the ideal conditions foretold by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 20, 1931: Bahá'í News, No. 90, March 1935, p. 2)
1865. Social Inequality
"...social inequality is the inevitable outcome of the natural inequality of men. Human beings are different in ability and should, therefore, be different in their social and economic standing. Extremes of wealth and poverty should, however, be totally abolished. Those whose brains have contributed to the creation and improvement of the means of production must be fairly rewarded, though these means may be owned and controlled by others."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 26, 1935)
1866. "Equality is a Chimera!"
"Equality is a chimera! It is entirely impracticable! Even if equality could be achieved it could not continue--and if its existence were possible, the whole order of the world would be destroyed. The law of order must always obtain in the world of humanity. Heaven has so decreed in the creation of man."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, p. 152, London, 1969 ed.)
Page 551 1867. Wages
"...The Master has definitely stated that wages should be unequal, simply because that men are unequal in their ability, and hence should receive wages that would correspond to their varying capacities and resources. This view seems to contradict the opinion of some modern economists. But the friends should have full confidence in the words of the Master, and should give preference to His statements over those voiced by our so-called modern thinkers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1935)
1868. Application of Spiritual Principles to Economic System
"...There are practically no technical teachings on economics in the Cause, such as banking, the price system, and others. The Cause is not an economic system, nor can its Founders be considered as having been technical economists. The contribution of the Faith to this subject is essentially indirect, as it consists in the application of spiritual principles to our present-day economic system. Bahá'u'lláh has given us a few basic principles which should guide future Bahá'í economists in establishing such institutions which will adjust the economic relationships of the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 103, October 1936, p. 2)
1869. Profit Sharing Recommended to Solve One Form of Economic Problems
"No, Bahá'u'lláh did not bring a complete system of economics to the world.
"Profit-sharing is recommended as a solution to one form of economic problems.
"There is nothing in the teachings against some kind of capitalism; its present form, though, would require adjustments to be made."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
1870. Man Will Always Have to Toil to Earn His Living
"...Whatever the progress of the machinery may be, man will have always to toil in order to earn his living. Effort is an inseparable part of man's life. It may take different forms with the changing conditions of the world, but it will be always present as a necessary element in our earthly existence. Life is after all a struggle. Progress is attained through struggle, and without such a struggle life ceases to have a meaning; it becomes even extinct. The progress of machinery has not made effort unnecessary. It has given it a new form, a new outlet."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1935)
1871. Religion Alone Can Enable Man to Adjust the Economic Relationships of Society
"...By the statement 'the economic solution is divine in nature' is meant that religion alone can, in the last resort, bring in man's nature such a fundamental change as to enable him to adjust the economic relationships of society. It is only in this way that man can control the economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of his existence, and thus assert his mastery over the forces of nature."
Page 552 1872. A New Universal Attitude Needs to be Fostered--Based on Spiritual Verities
"The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war. Few societies have dealt effectively with this situation. The solution calls for the combined application of spiritual, moral and practical approaches. A fresh look at the problem is required, entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, devoid of economic and ideological polemics, and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made. It is an issue that is bound up not only with the necessity for eliminating extremes of wealth and poverty but also with those spiritual verities the understanding of which can produce a new universal attitude. Fostering such an attitude is itself a major part of the solution."
(The Universal House of Justice: The Promise of World Peace, pp. 10-11, Haifa, 1985)
1873. Participation in Projects Depends Largely on Certain Conditions in the Community
"The suggestions (concerning possible development projects) are now referred to you so that you may initiate consultation at the grass roots level of the local Bahá'í communities, involving Local Spiritual Assemblies of that area. In addition to projecting Counsellor ...'s broad ideas, you should seek the suggestions of the believers regarding local needs and initiatives. Your Assembly is also asked to consider the practicability of such projects and conduct a survey of the localities, indicating which of these would be able to host the projects. Among the criteria of capacity would be the following:
1. Strength of the community and its ability to benefit from projects spiritually as well as materially, including the beneficial effects of collective action upon the community and its participants.
2. Willingness of the local believers to participate, collaborate and support the projects.
3. Degree and dimension of the local contributions to the projects in terms of manpower (labour), materials and resources.
4. Presence of able people to manage the human resources and direct the energies of the friends, including strong liaisons between volunteers (international and national) and local believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 9, 1983: A Compilation on Social and Economic Development)
1874. The Primary Objective of Such Projects Should Be Service to the Community, Not as a Business
"While it is the wish of the House of Justice to see social and economic development become a part of the life of Bahá'í communities, great care should be exercised that our limited efforts are directed to projects whose primary objective is not business but service to the community. Such projects as engagement in commercial activities and the erection of factories will surely divert the attention of Bahá'í institutions from directly promoting the Cause at this time. The Counsellors will be able to advise
and guide you in selecting, if favourable conditions exist, modest projects which promote the welfare of members of the Bahá'í community, as well as the betterment of their fellow men."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 8, 1983: Ibid.)
1875. Social and Economic Development Projects Should Meet Needs and Aspirations of Local Believers
"...Bahá'ís who wish to start a business as a group effort in the service of the Faith are advised to consult with their Local or National Spiritual Assemblies. Projects of economic and social development undertaken by Bahá'í institutions, or assisted by them, should usually be quite modest at first, so that experience can be gained. They should be suited to the local situation and meet the particular needs and aspirations of the local believers. Gradually, as knowledge and experience are gained, each National Spiritual Assembly can encourage and develop larger projects and perhaps include even the whole national community in appropriate endeavours."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 7, 1984: Ibid.)
1876. Two Fundamental Principles
"There are two principles which the House of Justice feels are fundamental to the generality of such projects of social and economic development, although, of course, there will be exceptions. The first is that they must be built on a substructure of existing, sufficiently strong local Bahá'í communities. The second is that the long-term conduct of the project should aim at self-sufficiency and not be dependent upon continuing financial support from outside.
"The first principle implies that the projects of social and economic development now to be undertaken are a natural stage of the growth of the Bahá'í community and are needed by the community itself although they will, of course, benefit a much wider segment of society. The Bahá'í world is in no position financially or from the point of view of manpower, to launch undertakings for the economic and social development of populations in areas where there are but few believers. The greatest need of all peoples is for the Faith itself, so that they may know the destiny towards which they as individuals and as members of society must strive, and will learn from the teachings those virtues and methods which will enable them to work together in harmony, forbearance and trustworthiness.
"The second principle must take into account that any project started by the Cause should be designed to grow soundly and steadily, and not to collapse from attrition. In other words, external assistance and funds, Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í, may be used for capital acquisitions, to make surveys, to initiate activities, to bring in expertise, but the aim should be for each project to be able to continue and to develop on the strength of local Bahá'í labour, funds and enthusiasm even if all external aid should be cut off."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, May 8, 1984)
1877. Social and Economic Development Must Be Placed on a Spiritual Basis to Prove Productive
"...It cannot be over-emphasized that venturing into social and economic
development rests upon the fundamental principles enshrined in the Teachings concerning the inter-relationship between the spiritual and material aspects of life, and if social and economic activity is not placed on a spiritual basis it may well prove counter-productive or even harmful, as without a spiritual base the people are likely to become corrupt or materialistic.
"As the friends deepen their understanding of the message of the Universal House of Justice dated 20 October 1983, they will rise to the challenge and re-orient their thoughts and actions to meet the situations which they encounter in their daily life, drawing on the wisdom of consultation and sustained by the high and noble spiritual principles of our Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 12, 1984)
1878. Suggestions for Projects Are Welcome
"Suggestions for projects for development are welcome from whatever source they spring but ideally they should emanate from the local communities and receive support of the Local and National Assemblies; it should not be necessary to send people to countries to solicit projects. However, if a community has the desire to plan a special project, it is free to call upon people with experience to assist in the planning, design and implementation of the scheme."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, November 1, 1983: A Compilation on Social and Economic Development)
1879. Projects May Receive Help in Finances and Manpower from Bahá'í Sources
"The message of the House of Justice dated 20th October 1983 has clearly set out the concepts, defined the objectives and outlined the guiding principles for the selection and implementation of Bahá'í development projects, programmes or activities. The vast majority of Bahá'í projects will be primarily generated at the grass roots, and, initially as required, will receive help from Bahá'í sources, in terms of finances and manpower. The projects will, as you have surmised, be non-profit making, concerned mainly with activities closely related to education, health and hygiene, agriculture and simple community development activities. It is hoped that all these types of projects will reflect the strength of the spiritual principles enshrined in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
"It is important that our undertakings be modest in their scope at the present time. Then, as we gain in confidence and experience and as our resources increase, our work will encompass expanded objectives, and the friends will explore new areas of social and economic activity."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 23, 1983: Ibid.)
E. Objectives for Social and Economic Development
1880. The Preservation of Cultural Identities and Customs
"Bahá'ís should obviously be encouraged to preserve their inherited cultural identities, as long as the activities involved do not contravene the principles of the Faith. The perpetuation of such cultural characteristics is an expression of unity in diversity.
Although most of these festive celebrations have no doubt stemmed from religious rituals in bygone ages, the believers should not be deterred from participating in those in which, over the course of time, the religious meaning has given way to purely culturally oriented practices. For example, Naw-Ruz itself was originally a Zoroastrian religious festival, but gradually its Zoroastrian connotation has almost been forgotten. Iranians, even after their conversion to Islam, have been observing it as a national festival. Now Naw-Ruz has become a Bahá'í Holy Day and is being observed throughout the world, but, in addition to the Bahá'í observance, many Iranian Bahá'ís continue to carry out their past cultural traditions in connection with this Feast. Similarly, there are a number of national customs in every part of the world which have cultural rather than religious connotations."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)
1881. Arts, Crafts and Sciences
"The third Tajalli is concerning arts, crafts and sciences. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book on the day of His return. Happy are those possessed of a hearing ear. In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Thus hath the Tongue of Grandeur spoken in this Most Great Prison."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pp. 51-52)
1882. Wealth is Praiseworthy--If Acquired by Efforts and Grace of God, and if Expended for Philanthropic Purposes
"Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree, if it is acquired by an individual's own efforts and the grace of God, in commerce, agriculture, art and industry, and if it be expended for philanthropic purposes. Above all, if a judicious and resourceful individual should initiate measures which would universally enrich the masses of the people, there could be no undertaking greater than this, and it would rank in the sight of God as the supreme achievement, for such a benefactor would supply the needs and insure the comfort and well-being of a great multitude. Wealth is most commendable, provided the entire population is wealthy. If, however, a few have inordinate riches while the rest are impoverished, and no fruit or benefit accrues from that wealth, then it is only a liability to its possessor. If, on the other hand, it is expended for the promotion of knowledge, the founding of elementary and other schools, the encouragement of art and industry, the training of orphans and the poor--in brief, if it is dedicated to the welfare of society--its possessor will stand out before God and man as the most excellent of all who live on earth and will be accounted as one of the people of paradise."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 24-25, Wilmette, 1975)
1883. The Promotion of Education
"The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It is
inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward. The principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance. Today the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex needs of time."
(Ibid., p. 109)
F. Requisites for Success
1884. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar--The Spiritual Precedes the Material
"A symbol of this process may be seen in the House of Worship and its dependencies. The first part to be built is the central edifice which is the spiritual heart of the community. Then, gradually, as the outward expression of this spiritual heart, the various dependencies, those 'institutions of social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant' are erected and function. This process begins in an embryonic way long before a Bahá'í community reaches the stage of building its own Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, for even the first local centre that a Bahá'í community erects can begin to serve not only as the spiritual and administrative centre and gathering place of the community, but also as the site of a tutorial school and the heart of other aspects of community life. The principle remains, however, that the spiritual precedes the material. First comes the illumination of hearts and minds by the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, and then the grass roots stirring of the believers wishing to apply these teachings to the daily life of their community. Such stirrings can be fostered, encouraged and assisted by the national and continental institutions of the Faith, but without them any activities introduced from above might well prove abortive."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, May 8, 1984)
1885. The Spiritual Principle Induces an Attitude, a Dynamic, a Will, an Aspiration
"There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is imminent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them."
(The Universal House of Justice: The Promise of World Peace, p. 28, Wilmette, 1985)
G. Tutorial Schools
1886. The Importance of Establishing Tutorial Schools
"The importance of establishing such schools has repeatedly been emphasized by
the House of Justice. They not only are instruments for the immediate consolidation of Bahá'í communities and neighbourhood areas, but also serve to train Bahá'í children and youth in rendering services to the Faith and demonstrate the fact that Bahá'ís are engaged in humanitarian services to the community at large. By their establishment, Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike are assisted. In addition, such schools foster a healthy relationship between Bahá'í communities and institutions, inasmuch as they are called upon to help the communities by providing teachers, facilities, etc. Some of the local friends may be inspired to contribute land and/or building materials for the schools, or may wish to help in their construction."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, January 3, 1983)
1887. Bahá'í Youth and Young Adults Should Be Willing to Become Teachers
"The Universal House of Justice is confident there are literally hundreds of Bahá'í youth and young adults who would willingly and happily become teachers in tutorial schools, especially if the National Spiritual Assembly assured them of adequate wages and secure employment. It may be possible for their salaries to be paid by charging reasonable tuition fees to students attending the schools. This in itself would be a major step in educating new believers to contribute to the Fund, and would help the schools to become self-supporting."
1888. School Should Be Planned by Bahá'ís in Consultation with Non-Bahá'ís
"The establishment of a school is presumably to meet the needs of the Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í community. It should be planned by the Bahá'ís and if advisable, in consultation with the non-Bahá'ís; it should be presented as an effort of the community; the collaboration and the cooperation of all should be invited and assured.
"If adequate manpower is available, it should be managed by the Bahá'í community and its management be responsible to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the locality in which it is situated, or the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uruguay, June 18, 1986)
1889. A Privately Owned Kindergarten Could Be Considered a Social and Economic Activity for Statistics
"In regard to the kindergarten which belongs to a Bahá'í pioneer family, it could be considered as a private social and economic activity and would be listed as such, although it is clearly recognized that the Bahá'í community does not have any responsibility for the management or operation of such a school.
"The individual initiative of the friends should be carefully nurtured and encouraged so that they may, guided by the spiritual principles of our Faith, arise to fulfil their spiritual responsibilities."
1890. Contributions from Non-Bahá'ís for Maintenance of Tutorial Schools
"Your letter ... about accepting donations from non-Bahá'ís for the maintenance of tutorial schools has been received, and we have been asked to reply as follows.
"Bahá'ís may receive contributions from non-Bahá'ís for charitable activities whose
beneficiaries are non-Bahá'ís as well. However, it is very important to ensure that the acceptance of funds from any source should in no way affect the school's direction and policy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, January 13, 1978)
Page 559XLVII. BAHÁ'Í SUMMER SCHOOLS AND INSTITUTES
A. Summer Schools
1891. Purpose of Summer Schools
"The basic purpose of all Bahá'í Summer Schools, whether in East or West, is to give the believers the opportunity to fully acquaint themselves, not only by mere study but through whole-hearted and active collaboration in various Bahá'í activities, with the essentials of the Administration and in this way enable them to become efficient and able promoters of the Cause...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 25, 1933: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 8, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Wilmette, 1980 ed.)
1892. Undue Time Should Not Be Spent on Philosophic and Esoteric Subjects
"The reports we have received on summer school sessions held in Europe this year indicate that some of them spend undue time on philosophic and esoteric subjects and insufficient emphasis on the Bahá'í Faith and its Teachings.
"The beloved Guardian stressed that one of the important purposes of Bahá'í summer schools is to deepen the knowledge of the believers in the history and Teachings of the Faith so that they can become better teachers. To this end he emphasized the study of Islam and the Qur'an so that the friends would have a background against which to study the Bahá'í Writings, and he urged study of the principles of Bahá'í Administration.
"In addition he stated that summer schools should become high occasions for teaching the Message. To an individual believer he wrote: 'Through daily association with the believers, non-Bahá'ís will come to see the Cause functioning as an active and living community entirely dedicated to the service of what is best and highest in the world. The lectures will familiarize them with the principles underlying the New World Order, while their participation in the social life of the believers will enable them to see the way in which these very same principles are put into operation.'
"It is requested that National Assemblies review summer school and winter school curricula in light of these important principles. At this time, when the prosecution of the Nine Year Plan to final victory is of supreme importance, it is also urged that during summer school sessions opportunities be provided to impress upon the believers the urgent need for pioneering and teaching.
"We pray that summer schools may become increasingly effective in educating the friends so that they in turn may become useful channels for the diffusion of the Divine fragrances."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies of Europe, September 26, 1969)
Page 560 1893. Summer Schools Can Attract Many Souls
"How wonderful it would be if all the friends could arrange to spend at least a few days in one of these summer schools and take an active part in their development. These centers could attract many souls if properly arranged and made interesting; those non-Bahá'ís who visit them will then have some time to get into the spirit of the place and make a study of the Cause...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, received about May 1, 1932: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 2)
1894. Lecture Method Not Sufficient
"Shoghi Effendi feels that the real purpose of these Summer Schools is to deepen the knowledge of the friends. Lectures are very essential for they give a wonderful picture of the subject matter. But it is not sufficient to have a picture; the friends should deepen their knowledge and this can be achieved if, together with the lectures, there are study classes and seminar work carried on by the same lecturer. The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social, economic and political conditions are daily becoming more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in informing the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the minds of men. It is in these Summer Schools that this training should be provided for the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 27, 1932: Ibid., pp. 1-2)
1895. Supervised by National Assembly
"Regarding the Summer Schools in general: Although there is no objection to their being under the direct management of a special Committee elected for that purpose, they must be generally supervised by the N.S.A. in respect to policy, etc. In other words, they must be considered as a national and not a purely local institution.
"For purposes of convenience the N.S.A. may appoint as members of such Committees, those who are situated near the Summer Schools and are able to pay direct attention to their affairs."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, April 18, 1942: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 45)
1896. Summer Schools Inseparable Part of Teaching Campaign
"...The institution of the Summer School constitutes a vital and inseparable part of any teaching campaign, and as such ought to be given the full importance it deserves in the teaching plans and activities of the believers. It should be organized in such a way as to attract the attention of the non-believers to the Cause and thus become an effective medium for teaching. Also it should afford the believers themselves an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the Teachings, through lectures and discussions and by means of close and intense community life."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 17, 1936: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, pp. 2-3)
Page 561 1897. Introduce Bahá'í Atmosphere
"...They must try and introduce the Bahá'í atmosphere of life and thought into their Summer Schools, rather than making the Summer School an episode and a pleasant vacation period, during which they learn a little more about the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 23, 1954: Ibid., p. 12)
1898. Dancing, Nothing in Teachings Against
"As regards the questions you asked him: There is nothing in the teachings against dancing, and any arrangements for it at summer schools, etc., is left to the discretion of the Committee or Assembly in charge to make."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 24, 1947: Ibid., p. 16)
1899. Topics to be Discussed
"The wide range of the topics that are to be discussed and studied by the friends cover most of the important aspects of the Cause and such a plan will undoubtedly give them a broad and a sound knowledge of the essentials of the Faith. Special stress, however, should be put on the history of the Movement as well as on the guiding principles of Bahá'í Administration; for on these two points most of the believers are not adequately informed. It is, therefore, a great opportunity for them to strengthen the basis of their beliefs and to try to deepen their understanding of the basis of the present-day Bahá'í administrative system."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 5, 1932: Ibid., p. 7)
1900. The Summer School Curriculum Should Concentrate on Deepening the Student's Grasp of the Teachings
"He feels ... that some of the courses are not sufficiently Bahá'í in nature, but carry the student off into an unnecessary study of special techniques--history, psychology or whatever it may be, which however valuable these topics may be in training the human mind and fitting the individual for contact with others, are a waste of time, in view of the very limited period that most of the Bahá'ís spend at a Bahá'í summer school.
"The friends should concentrate on deepening their grasp of the Teachings, particularly on studying what has already been done, and what must be done to fulfil the goals...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1954)
1901. It is Important that Courses on Covenant-Breaking Be Included in the Summer School Curriculum
"...your Assembly cannot be too careful or vigilant in watching over the Community, seeking out the sources of corruption and protecting the friends. He feels that a course in Covenant-breaking should be included in the Summer School curriculum, so that the friends may understand the nature of this evil, and how it has affected our Faith for one hundred years, and other Faiths in the past. The American Bahá'ís, aside from the older ones, do not seem to have any concept whatsoever of what a Covenant-breaker is, and the place to educate them in these matters is in the Summer
Schools and on other occasions when they meet in large numbers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)
1902. Indispensable for Students to Study the Pattern of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
"A careful look at the subjects mentioned in your program clearly reveals the fact that the friends have at last come to realize how indispensible it is for them to deepen their knowledge of the background and of the administrative development of the Cause. These were, indeed, the two main points which they had hitherto neglected to study, and the time has come when they have to attach to them all the importance they deserve. Particularly remarkable has been your effort in regard to the study of the Administration--an important new feature in the history of the Cause, the study of which is becoming increasingly indispensable to every thoughtful student of the Faith. It is hoped that in the next few years all our Bahá'í Summer Schools, whether in the States or abroad, will make a conscious and thorough attempt to fully acquaint the friends with the origin, nature and peculiar significance of the nascent administrative institutions of the Cause, which constitute a humble, though a very exact pattern, of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. It is of the utmost importance that from now the believers should get familiar with the rudiments of the Administration, that they may not follow the path which the followers of older religions have trodden and which have led to their eventual downfall."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 20, 1933)
1903. The Importance of the Study of Islam--Need Competent Lecturers and Writers, Not Necessarily Bahá'ís
"First is the importance of the study of Islam--which subject is still new to the majority of the believers, but whose importance for a proper and sound understanding of the Cause is absolutely indispensible. Your Committee should therefore continue to emphasize the study of this all-important subject, and make every effort to provide the attendants with all the facilities required, such as textbooks, competent lecturers and writers, who though not necessarily Bahá'ís, should have a correct knowledge and sound appreciation of Islam, so as to be able to impress its true significance and mission upon all the attendants at the school."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 14, 1939)
1904. Teaching of the Qur'an is Absolutely Indispensable
"...the Guardian would certainly advise, and even urge the friends to make a thorough study of the Qur'an as the knowledge of this Sacred Scripture is absolutely indispensable for every believer who wishes to adequately understand and intelligently read the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Although there are very few persons among our Western Bahá'ís who are capable of handling such a course in a scholarly way, yet, the mere lack of such competent teachers should encourage and stimulate the believers to get better acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures of Islam. In this way, there will gradually appear some distinguished Bahá'ís who will be so well versed in the
teachings of Islam as to be able to guide the believers in their study of that religion."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 2, 1935: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 9)
1905. Character Building and Ethics
"The course on character building ... the Guardian feels, is particularly important and should be given due emphasis and studied carefully and thoroughly specially by the young believers in attendance at the school. Those standards of Bahá'í conduct, which he himself has set forth in his last general epistle, 'The Advent of Divine Justice', and which it should be the paramount duty of every loyal and conscientious believer to endeavor to uphold and promote, deserve serious study and meditation, and should constitute the main central theme of this year's program....
"The principles and methods laid down by the Guardian in his 'Advent of Divine Justice' on this vital subject of Bahá'í ethics, should indeed prove of invaluable inspiration and guidance to all the students and friends attending the Summer School classes, and thus prepare them to better appreciate the privileges, and more adequately discharge the responsibilities, of their citizenship in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 20, 1939: Ibid., p. 10)
1906. Few Days Not Sufficient to Learn Everything
"Definite courses should be given along the different phases of the Faith and in a manner that will stimulate the students to proceed in their studies privately once they return home, for the period of a few days is not sufficient to learn everything. They have to be taught the habit of studying the Cause constantly, for the more we read the Words the more will the truth they contain be revealed to us."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 24, 1932)
1907. Bahá'í Youth Attendant at Louhelen Shoulder Responsibility in Connection with Development of the Bahá'í University
"Remembering the strong emphasis repeatedly laid by the Guardian on the importance of the institutions of the summer school, both as a center for the preparation and training of prospective teachers and pioneers, and for the commingling and fellowship of various elements in the Bahá'í Community, the Bahá'í Youth, on whom Louhelen Ranch has exercised a particular and indeed irresistible appeal, and whose sessions they have so frequently and in such large numbers attended, have a peculiar responsibility to shoulder in connection with its development into that ideal Bahá'í University of the future, which should be the aim of every existing Bahá'í Summer School to establish in the fulness of time.
"Through their regular attendance at each and every session of the school, and their participation in all phases of its activities, intellectual, spiritual, social and recreational, and above all by their faithful and close adherence to those high standards of Bahá'í life and conduct, they can best and most effectively contribute towards the growth
of that institution and attract to it the attention and interest of the non-Bahá'í world outside."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Louhelen School, July 29, 1939)
B. Bahá'í Teaching Institutes
1908. Teaching Institutes
"...this is essentially an activity aimed at deepening the knowledge of the friends to prepare them for active participation in the teaching work. In some countries it may continue to be an activity conducted either in local Bahá'í Centres or possibly housed in hired quarters, like most Summer Schools. However, in other countries, and particularly in mass teaching areas, it may have to be a modest structure acquired or erected in the rural areas where the majority of the believers reside rather than in capital cities, to obviate transportation expenses for those attending."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 14, 1964: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 19)
1909. Institute Should Be Centre of Complex Activities
"Your Institutes should not only be seats of Bahá'í learning but also centres from which mass teaching and consolidation work over a large area must be inspired and conducted. The Institute is not merely a building, nor solely a place where Bahá'í classes can be held for a few days. It should be the centre of complex activities which systematically assist your Assembly in the achievement of its goal in teaching and consolidation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: June 23, 1966)
1910. Subjects to be Taught
"The material to be taught is prepared ahead of time, presented in simple language, and translated into the vernacular...
"The subjects taught usually consist of Bahá'í History, Laws and Teachings, and the Administrative Order. Special emphasis is laid upon living the Bahá'í life, the importance of teaching, prayer, fasting, Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í elections, and contribution to the Fund."
(From 'Suggestions on Operation of Teaching Institutes': enclosure in letter dated 24 December, 1964, from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 19)
1911. Issuing Diplomas Discouraged--Sometimes They Are Misused
"We have also noted that you intend to give graduation diplomas to the friends who attend the institutes. Your desire to acknowledge devoted attendance at the institutes is most commendable, but we feel it would be preferable in future to give a suitable gift, such as a book, rather than a diploma. From experience in other areas of the world we have learned that such diplomas sometimes are misused by their recipients. For this reason we have discouraged their use."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, October 27, 1965: Ibid., p. 20)
Page 565 1912. A Teaching Institute at Present is a Function and Not Necessarily a Building
"We greatly appreciate your desire to serve the Cause and at the same time honour the beloved Hand of the Cause and wonder whether more feasible plans would appeal to you. For instance, you might consider establishing a fund to maintain Bahá'í tutors in villages, who would teach not only reading and writing but the elements of the Faith as well. We have always stressed to those National Spiritual Assemblies which establish Teaching Institutes that at the present time such an Institute is a function and not necessarily a building and there are many places where such educational work can be pursued if a number of teachers can be supported. On the other hand, we have no idea of the size of the principal you have in mind for your endowment and wonder whether a very simple school where not only children but adult literary classes could be held, would meet your intention."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 18, 1971: Ibid.)
Page 566XLVIII. TEACHING
1913. Incumbent on Believers to Read Sacred Writings Daily
"Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide. Whoso faileth to recite them hath not been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, and whoso turneth away from these holy verses in this Day is of those who throughout eternity have turned away from God. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 149, p. 73)
1914. Deepening--What It Means--No Limit to the Study of the Cause
"To deepen in the Cause means to read the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form. There are many who have some superficial idea of what the Cause stands for. They, therefore, present it together with all sorts of ideas that are their own. As the Cause is still in its early days we must be most careful lest we fall under this error and injure the Movement we so much adore.
"There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we read the writings the more truths we can find in them the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 25, 1926)
1915. Deepening Generates Stimulus
"...Deepening the newly-enrolled believers generates tremendous stimulus which results in further expansion. The enrollment of new believers, on the other hand, creates a new spirit in the community and provides additional potential manpower that will reinforce the consolidation work."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to All National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964)
1916. Study with Others
"He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Bahá'ís who are anxious to do so the deeper teachings of our Faith, and through example, effort and prayer bring about a change."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1949: Living the Life, p. 16)
1917. Study Classes--Little Knowledge is Dangerous--Quote from the Tablets
"It is also very important to hold study classes and go deep in the Teachings. A great harm is done by starting to teach without being firmly grounded in the literature. 'Little knowledge is dangerous' fully applies to the teaching work. The friends
should read the Writings and be able to quote from the Tablets when discussing subjects pertaining to the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 9, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 67, October 1932, p. 4)
1918. Deepen Their Knowledge
"...the friends should deepen their knowledge and this can be achieved if, together with the lectures, there are study classes and seminar work carried on by the same lecturer...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 27, 1932: Bahá'í Summer Schools, p. 1)
1919. Understanding the Import of His Teachings Motivates New Believers to Dedicate Their Lives to His Service
"Shoghi Effendi trusts, however, that these souls who are attracted by the teachings would be made to live the life and also deepen their knowledge of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh. For it is only by fully appreciating the spiritual and social import of His mission that we can be willing to dedicate our life to its service.
"By holding study classes where the Word is read and understood and obtaining a thorough knowledge of the spirit that animated the early believers we can make sure that these newcomers are grounded in the teachings and made into real and devoted believers. Books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, Nabil's Narrative and Dr. Esselmont's book should be read and read over again by every soul who desires to serve the Movement or considers himself an active member of the group."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 9, 1932)
1920. Study and Application
"Without the study and application of the administration the teachings of the Cause becomes not only meaningless, but loses in effectiveness and in scope."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 31, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)
1921. Spiritual Teachings of Faith--Will and Testament, Firm Grounding Needed
"...Some of the ... believers, from letters and reports received here, seem to lack a firm grounding on such matters as the Will and Testament and the deeper spiritual teachings of the Faith. Whenever the grasp of these fundamentals is weak, the friends are almost sure to pay undue attention to secondary procedures, to quibble over details, to lose themselves in personalities, and to founder in a sea of unnecessary inharmony. This has nothing to do with their devotion, their loyalty, their zeal, their eagerness to serve. It is merely a question of not having received, perhaps through lack of sufficient teachers to carry on the all-important work of deepening the friends in their own faith, a strong enough education in the Covenant before the duties and responsibilities of the Administrative Order were thrust upon them."
(Shoghi Effendi: Messages to Canada, pp. 58-59)
Page 568 1922. Presenting the Master's Will to Newcomers
"Concerning the best method of presenting the Master's Will to the newcomers, Shoghi Effendi is of the opinion that the N.S.A. should first make some suitable extracts from the Testament, and to send these to all the Local Assemblies for their use, so that there may be full unity in circulating the provisions of the Will among the new believers... The main thing, as it appears to the Guardian, is that the full station of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá be clearly explained, and that the origins, nature and working of the Administrative Order of the Faith be clearly stated. The full implications of such a recognition are evidently beyond the comprehension of any new believer. Such a knowledge can be acquired gradually and only when the essentials of the Faith have been clearly recognized and adequately understood."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 21, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 211, September 1948, p. 1)
1923. The Cause Needs People Whose Faith Stands on a Rock, No Trial Can Move
"Another essential thing is that those who do embrace the Faith should be constantly urged to study the literature of the Cause. It is not sufficient that our numbers should increase, we want people whose faith stands on a rock and no trial can move. We want people who in turn arise and carry the message to other people and guide other souls."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 13, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 64, July 1932, p. 4)
1924. Education of New Believers
"It is not enough to bring people into the Faith; one must educate them and deepen their love for it and their knowledge of its teachings, after they declare themselves. As the Bahá'ís are few in number, especially the active teachers, and there is a great deal of work to be done, the education of these new believers is often sadly neglected, and then results are seen such as the resignations you have had recently."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 18, 1957: A Special Measure of Love, p. 19)
1925. Regarding Spiritual Children, Each Soul Receives Gift of Faith for Himself, Independent of Teachers
"As to your question about the spiritual children of people who enter the Cause with some old ideas still clinging to them: Everyone should study the Faith for himself, and just because a person's Bahá'í teacher has some concept not strictly Bahá'í, it does not stand to reason that the new believer must be saddled with it; old believers, as well as new, should constantly endeavour to grow more fully into the Bahá'í pattern of thought and of life. Each soul receives the gift of faith for himself, and from then on is a Bahá'í in his own right, independent of his teacher."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1945)
1926. One Cannot Catch the Spirit of the Cause Through the Reading of Books Alone
"It behooves you now to try to deepen your knowledge of the history and the teachings of the Faith and get acquainted with the principles that stand at the basis of its
present-day Administration. The best way to attain that goal is through continued cooperation with the friends and through participation in their spiritual activities. For you cannot catch the spirit of the Cause through the reading of books alone. You should reinforce the knowledge you get through Bahá'í Writings with a whole-hearted association with the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 20, 1932)
1927. Imperative Need to Deepen in the Cause--God's Purpose for Man
"A detailed and exact knowledge of the present structure of Bahá'í administration, or of the By-laws of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies or of the many and varied applications of Bahá'í law under the diverse conditions prevailing around the world, while valuable in itself, cannot be regarded as the sort of knowledge primarily intended by deepening. Rather is suggested a clearer apprehension of the purpose of God for man, and particularly of His immediate purpose as revealed and directed by Bahá'u'lláh, a purpose as far removed from current concepts of human well-being and happiness as is possible...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 113)
1928. The Study of Dawn-Breakers Will Arouse the Friends to Renewed Zeal
"The reading of the Dawn-Breakers is sure to arouse the friends to renewed zeal and added perseverance in spreading the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Consider to what extent the Bab and those early leaders of the Faith suffered. It was not through a blind religious zeal but because they desired to bring about for the future generations that promised era that the Faith of the Bab promised to start--an era of peace, good-will and full realization of the spiritual significance of the life of man upon the earth. They suffered that we may be happy. They died that we may live in perfect bliss. What a sacred debt, therefore, we owe to them! How much we ought to labour to repay them for their sacrifices, and how willing and earnest we should be in consecrating our life in the path they trod!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1933)
1929. Theme Pursued in Effort to Deepen--What is God's Purpose for the Human Race?
"...this is the theme we must pursue in our efforts to deepen in the Cause. What is Bahá'u'lláh's purpose for the human race? For what ends did He submit to the appalling cruelties and indignities heaped upon Him? What does He mean by a 'new race of men'? What are the profound changes which He will bring about? The answers are to be found in the Sacred Writings of our Faith and in their interpretation by Abdu'l-Bahá and our beloved Guardian. Let the friends immerse themselves in this ocean, let them organize regular study classes for its constant consideration, and as reinforcements to their effort, let them remember conscientiously the requirements of daily prayers and reading of the Word of God enjoined upon all Bahá'ís by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 114-115)
1930. Presenting Greatest Name Prematurely
"He feels that it is not necessary to present, prematurely, to every new Bahá'í the teachings regarding the use of the Greatest Name. Some souls need and are ready
for this; others are not. Judgement must be used in such matters. It is more essential to stress the importance of prayer and to urge the use of one of the obligatory prayers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 11, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)
1931. One Must Deepen His Knowledge of the Literature in Order to Teach Others and Render Service to the Faith
"...Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will exert all your effort to deepen your knowledge of the literature of the movement, until you become fully acquainted with its spirit and tenets. Unless you do obtain such a firm hold you will never be able to teach others and render real service to the promulgation of the Faith. Of special importance is the Book of the Iqan which explains the attitude of the Cause towards the prophets of God and their mission in the history of society. Besides this there is 'Some Answered Questions' of the Master and the 'Dawn-Breakers' of Nabil. Every Bahá'í should master these books and be able to explain their contents to others. Besides their importance, they are interesting and most absorbing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1932)
1932. The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh Deal with Many Aspects of Man's Inner and Communal Life
"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are so great, and deal with so many aspects of both the inner life of man and his communal life, that it takes years to really plumb them to the depths. He has brought spiritual food for the soul of the individual, to help each one to find himself and become a finer and better developed personality; and also He has brought the laws and principles needed to enable all men to live in harmony together in a great, united world. The Guardian hopes you, together with ..., will do all in your power to help the believers to understand both aspects of the teachings, and to develop both as individuals and as a community, an ever higher, finer way of life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 12, 1942)
1933. Progress of Cause Now to be Characterized by Increasing Relationship with Non-Bahá'í World--Our Preparation Must Be Continual Deepening
"There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Bahá'í world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for and response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1984)
B. Pioneers and Pioneering
1934. Pioneers--Homeless and Wanderers in the Path of God
"O ye homeless and wanderers in the Path of God! Prosperity, contentment, and freedom, however much desired and conducive to the gladness of the human heart, can in no wise compare with the trials of homelessness and adversity in the pathway of God; for such exile and banishment are blessed by the divine favour, and are surely followed by the mercy of Providence. The joy of tranquillity in one's home, and the sweetness of freedom from all cares shall pass away, whilst the blessings of homelessness shall endure forever, and its far-reaching results shall be made manifest.
"Abraham's migration from His native land caused bountiful gifts of the All-Glorious to be made manifest, and the setting of Canaan's brightest star unfolded to the eyes the radiance of Joseph. The flight of Moses, the Prophet of Sinai, revealed the Flame of the Lord's burning Fire, and the rise of Jesus breathed the breaths of the Holy Spirit into the world. The departure of Muhammad, the Beloved of God, from the city of His birth was the cause of the exaltation of God's Holy Word, and the banishment of the Sacred Beauty led to the diffusion of the light of His divine Revelation throughout all regions.
"Take ye good heed, O people of insight!"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 280-281)
1935. Not for a Moment Are Ye Alone
"O ye My soldiers of the Kingdom! Be ye valiant and fearless! Day by day add to your spiritual victories. Be ye not disturbed by the constant assaults of the enemies. Attack ye like unto the roaring lions. Have no thought of yourselves, for the invisible armies of the Kingdom are fighting on your side. Enter ye the battlefield with the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Know ye of a certainty that the powers of the Kingdom of Abha are with you. The hosts of the heaven of Truth are with you. The cool breezes of the Paradise of Abha are wafting over your heated brows. Not for a moment are ye alone. Not for a second are ye left to yourselves. The beauty of Abha is with you. The Glorious God is with you. The King of Kings is with you."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. XIII, No. 5, p. 113)
1936. Flee Their Homelands
"...The hour is ripe to disencumber themselves of worldly vanities, to mount the steed of steadfastness, unfurl the banner of renunciation, don the armor of utter consecration to God's Cause, gird themselves with the girdle of a chaste and holy life, unsheathe the sword of Bahá'u'lláh's utterance, buckle on the shield of His love, carry as sole provision implicit trust in His promise, flee their homelands, and scatter far and wide to capture the unsurrendered territories of the entire planet."
(From cablegram of the Guardian, May 5, 1953: Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 49)
1937. House of Justice Defines "Pioneer" and "Pioneering"--There Can Be No Question of "Recalling" a Pioneer from His Field of Service
"From the Bahá'í point of view it is quite clear that a pioneer can be likened to neither an employee nor a minister....
"...We wish to share with you the following points of fundamental importance.
"1. The Secretary of the beloved Guardian wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, on his behalf, on August 12, 1944:
'Regarding the question of paid teachers: As we have no clergy or priests there is no paid career open to Bahá'í teachers. This, however, does not mean that teachers going out to spread the Faith, and unable to support themselves, should not receive money from the National Spiritual Assembly or a Local Assembly. At present it would be quite impossible to spread the Cause if those who arise to serve it as teachers or pioneers were not given financial assistance. All must realize, however, that the moneys they receive are only to enable them to fulfil their objectives, and that they cannot consider themselves permanently entitled to be supported by the Cause. In America the pioneers have made every effort to establish themselves in some position in the place they have gone to settle in, and thus be freed from the necessity of drawing further upon Bahá'í Funds.'
"and to the British National Spiritual Assembly on May 29, 1946:
'Pioneers who volunteer for work, if they are not able to support themselves, should be supported by the National Fund until they either find work or their task is completed.
'Likewise, travelling teachers should be assisted financially to carry out the 'projects' assigned to them. The friends should not for a moment confuse this type of support with the creation of a paid clergy. Any Bahá'í can, at the discretion of the N.S.A., receive this necessary assistance, and it is clearly understood it is temporary and only to carry out a specific plan.
'Bahá'u'lláh Himself has not only enjoined on every one the duty of teaching His Faith, but stated if you cannot go yourself, to send someone in your stead.'
"and in a letter to Mr. Ioas, Chairman of your own National Teaching Committee, on March 5, 1934:
'Concerning the abolition of the institution of paid national teachers, the Guardian wishes to re-affirm his former statements on this matter, and to stress once more that great care be taken to avoid the difficulties and the misunderstandings which in former days had caused so much trouble among the friends. The main point to be emphasized in this connection is that of making the teaching of the Cause not the work of a limited group but the chief duty and responsibility of every Bahá'í. This is why no salaried teachers should any longer exist. But occasionally to defray the expenses of a teaching trip of a certain Bahá'í, particularly when it is done spontaneously, can do no harm to the Cause. Such an action, provided it is done with care and only when circumstances make it necessary, constitutes no violation of the principles already referred to. The danger in all activities of this nature is to give the impression that the teaching of the Cause is an institution, depending on the support of paid teachers. Those who willingly and with utmost detachment arise to promote the Cause should, undoubtedly, be helped in every way. But they have no claim whatever on the financial help which some friends may freely choose to extend to them.'
"2. As stated in our circular letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in teaching work among the masses, dated 25th June, 1964: '...no Bahá'í teacher anywhere should consider himself as permanently employed by the Faith. We do
not have in the Cause of God any paid career open to Bahá'í teachers....' 'Likewise, when pioneer projects are envisaged, it must be made clear to the pioneer that he must make every effort to establish himself in some position in his pioneering post and thus become freed from the necessity of drawing further on Bahá'í funds.'
"3. The duties of teaching and pioneering are enjoined upon all believers. There are no special categories of believers for these functions. Any Bahá'í who spreads the Message of Bahá'u'lláh is a teacher, any Bahá'í who moves to another area to spread the Faith is a pioneer.
"4. The duty of the Assembly to give financial assistance to a believer who cannot support himself is a general one, and is in no way limited to those who may perform specific services for the Faith.
"5. No special training is required for a pioneer. A believer who leaves his home spontaneously and goes to teach the Faith elsewhere without consulting anybody is as much a pioneer as one who goes after consultation with the committee responsible. This is a matter of principle, no matter how desirable it may be that all prospective pioneers first consult to ensure the best use of their services.
"6. Similarly, there can be no question of 'recalling' a pioneer from his field of service. If a committee is providing a pioneer with financial assistance it can terminate this assistance whenever it judges it right and proper, in which case it would, in all justice, offer the pioneer his travel expenses to return to his home or to go to some place where he could earn his living--but this is quite different in principle from recalling the pioneer. In many instances the pioneer's intention when going to his chosen goal is to put his roots down and make it his home.
"7. A pioneer who goes to the area of jurisdiction of another National Spiritual Assembly comes under the authority of that Assembly, and the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States ceases to have any authority over him. The matter of financial assistance to such a pioneer, should he need it, is arranged on a basis of expediency. Usually, for simplicity's sake, the National Assembly of origin continues to give assistance direct to the pioneer concerned until he becomes self-supporting or until his own National Spiritual Assembly is able to take over the responsibility. As far as the matter of control is concerned, it would be quite in order and perfectly legal to arrange for the pioneer to receive his budget without having any contact whatsoever with the United States National Spiritual Assembly.
"8. A pioneer has no special administrative status except in the case where he goes to a new area where there are no Bahá'ís. He then usually remains the channel of communication between the new Bahá'í group, as it is formed, and the National Committee in charge, until such time as a Local Spiritual Assembly is formed. At that point his special status ceases altogether. Any services he may perform in advising or teaching the new believers spring from the fact that he is an older believer, and not from his being a pioneer. Many pioneers who go to places where Bahá'ís of long standing already live often receive the counsel and spiritual support of the older native believers rather than vice-versa. Similarly there is no special significance in the dwelling of a pioneer--it frequently happens that the homes of some of the new believers, being less cramped than the quarters of the pioneer, are the places used for meetings of the community."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 2, 1965)
Page 574 1938. Pioneer Status Clarified: Who is a Pioneer?
"The place of settlement of any pioneer depends on his circumstances. If therefore, he can not settle in the localities suggested by the receiving National Spiritual Assembly, this does not mean that he should not be considered a pioneer. Any believer who arises and leaves his home to journey to another country for the purpose of teaching the Cause is a pioneer.
"As you know, one of the objectives of every pioneer is to settle and become self-supporting, if possible. If the localities where this condition can be met are not the same as the goals of the National Assembly, such goals may have to be filled by the National Assembly making use of homefront pioneers. The friends are free to go wherever they like and even those supported by the Fund should not be subjected to rigid rules."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 30, 1971)
1939. Every Bahá'í, Especially Those Who Leave Their Homes to Serve in Foreign Lands, Should Turn Their Gaze to Marion Jack
"For over thirty years, with an enlarged heart, and many other ailments, she remained at her post in Bulgaria. Never well-to-do, she often suffered actual poverty and want; want of heat, want of clothing, want of food, when her money failed to reach her because Bulgaria had come under the Soviet zone of influence. She was bombed, lost her possessions, she was evacuated, she lived in drafty, cold dormitories for many, many months in the country, she returned valiant to the capital of Bulgaria after the war, and continued, on foot, to carry out her teaching work.
"The Guardian himself urged her strongly, when the war first began to threaten to cut her off in Bulgaria, to go to Switzerland. She was a Canadian subject, and ran great risks by remaining, not to mention the danger and the privations of war. However, she begged the Guardian not to insist, and assured him her one desire was to remain with her spiritual children. This she did, up to the last breath of her glorious life. Her tomb will become a national shrine, immensely loved and revered, as the Faith rises in stature in that country.
"He thinks that every Bahá'í, and most particularly those who have left their homes and gone to serve in foreign fields, should know of, and turn their gaze to, Marion Jack."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, May 24, 1954)
1940. A Self-Supporting Pioneer Cannot Be Required to Settle in Any Given Locality
"In regard to pioneering, this is a matter requiring the greatest degree of consultation and encouragement. Naturally, if an Assembly is supporting a pioneer from the Fund, it can decide to withdraw such support if the pioneer refuses to go to the post that he had agreed to serve in, or if, for any other reason, the Assembly decides that the project should not be continued, but in so doing the Assembly must give the pioneer ample opportunity to become self-supporting. If, however, a pioneer is entirely self-supporting, an Assembly has no right to direct him to live in one place or another; it, or its appropriate committee, should consult with the pioneer, explain the needs,
offer assistance to enable the pioneer to become established in the post where he is needed, and in consultation with him, decide where it would be best for him to settle, but the ultimate decision rests with the believer himself. You have believers coming from abroad as pioneer to Austria, and you certainly hope that they will settle in those cities which most urgently need help, but, if a self-supporting pioneer feels that he cannot go where you would like him to, you should then consider how best you can make use of his services wherever he may be."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, March 30, 1970)
1941. Only if Especially Required for a Specific Locality Can a Pioneer Be Required to Settle There
"...When pioneers arise to settle in foreign fields, they do not, and in fact cannot, be required to commit themselves to settle in a given locality, unless they are especially recruited for such a purpose and they understand and accept the nature of the local living conditions they are to face.
"At this stage of the development of the Faith, best results are achieved when the National Spiritual Assembly or one of its appropriate committees deals with each case separately, consults with the pioneer concerned individually, takes into consideration his personal circumstances, points out the needs of the Faith in the locality requiring pioneer support, and encourages him to move to the area in question, if feasible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 20, 1980: cited in a compilation included with a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 23, 1981)
1942. The Guardian's Exhortations to Bahá'ís to Leave Centres Where Large Numbers Had Congregated Were to Disperse Them to Needy Goals--The Spiritual Importance of Remaining at Their Posts
"The beloved Guardian's exhortations to the Bahá'ís to leave those centers where large numbers had congregated was not primarily for the sake of their safety but in order to disperse them to greatly needy pioneer goals. These urgings, which were in the form of admonitions, were often repeated by the Guardian himself, and have been reiterated by the Universal House of Justice, not only by calling on the friends to disperse, but also by drawing to their attention the spiritual importance of remaining at their posts. While it is correct to say that a number of these pioneers, because of a variety of personal reasons, and at time insuperable visa difficulties, unfortunately did not remain at their posts and returned to their original homelands, it is equally true to say that the majority of the pioneers, who were able and free to continue serving in the pioneer field, steadfastly remained at their posts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 5, 1980: Ibid.)
1943. All Bahá'ís Have the Duty to Teach and Serve; Some Who Settle for Personal Purposes May Fill Pioneer Goals
"Whether a Bahá'í is in a place because he pioneered there or has settled there for some other reason does not affect the duty of teaching and serving the Cause
laid upon him by Bahá'u'lláh. Generally, a person who goes to a country expressly as a pioneer should be counted as such. There are also many who, although they go primarily for some other purpose, nevertheless fill a goal or are very active in the service of the Faith, and there is no reason not to record them as pioneers in your files. The decision whether to consider a person as a pioneer for the purposes of your records must be made in each individual case."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a Continental Pioneer Committee, September 22, 1974: cited in a compilation regarding the definition of a pioneer sent to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, February 22, 1984)
1944. Iranians Who Settle in the Americas
"Regarding your query whether Iranians who settle in the Americas should be considered as filling assigned pioneer goals, each case should be judged by itself according to the circumstances. Consideration should be given to such questions as: Does the National Spiritual Assembly of the country involved feel that the individual concerned fills a pioneer goal? Is it the intent of the individual to remain if possible in that place? Would the National Spiritual Assembly responsible for sending a pioneer consider the post filled? Otherwise, the believer concerned could be considered as filling a supplementary goal."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Continental Pioneer Committee, November 28, 1979: Ibid.)
1945. Persians Can Render Utmost Service to the Teaching Work, But They Must Settle as Pioneers and be in the Minority
"He feels the Persians can render the utmost assistance to the teaching work, wherever they settle; but they must go on the basis of pioneers, and take up residence where they can render the best service to the Cause of God. It does little good for the Faith to have large groups of Persians settled in a city, and thus constitute an Assembly. When they move the Assembly falls. What we need in all areas is native believers. The pioneers should be in the minority, and aid the natives to shoulder the responsibilities of the Faith.
"Thus he feels you should encourage the friends leaving Persia, to settle in outlying areas, in smaller cities, where there are no Bahá'ís, or few, and teach there."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 17, 1957: cited in a compilation included with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, August 23, 1981)
1946. Whether Youth and Children Should Be Listed as Pioneers
"Regarding your question on whether children and youth should be listed as pioneers, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to share with you the following excerpts from letters addressed to National Spiritual Assemblies who asked similar questions:
'...if a Bahá'í child, that is to say one under the age of 15, has gone to a country to serve the Cause, he should be numbered among the pioneers. Children born to pioneers in the country of their pioneer service are not considered pioneers, although of course, for completeness of your information on pioneer families you may wish to keep a note of them in your files.'"
(From a letter dated 2nd March 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
'...CHILDREN CERTAINLY PIONEERS BUT THOSE UNDER 15 CANNOT COUNT FILL QUOTAS SET.' (Cable dated 15 April, 1982 from the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
"Therefore, children under the age of 15, even though they are pioneers, should not be added to the list which you send to the World Centre as they do not count towards filling the goals given; however, youth 15 years of age and over should be listed, and when children reach the age of 15 and register as Bahá'ís they should be included.
"We must stress that the above definitions are merely guidelines intended to assist you in keeping your records of pioneer goals and their fulfilment. They are not to be regarded as definitions of the term 'pioneer' in any general sense."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Surinam, June 19, 1984)
1947. The Native Believers Should Be Encouraged to Become the Pivot of the Teaching Activities
"The House of Justice noted your comments about how heavily certain of your communities rely on resident pioneers; that in fact the pioneers have become the pivot of the teaching activities of the Faith in these communities. Your comment underscores how important it is to encourage the believers native to the community themselves to seek out friends and neighbours to investigate the Faith. The House of Justice understands that it is not easy for believers who have always relied on ministers or priests to now be responsible for their own spiritual development. The very act of teaching the Cause will help them to realize their own worth and enable them to fulfil their individual spiritual responsibilities."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahamas, April 20, 1986)
1948. Pioneering is the Highest Form of Bahá'í Cooperation in Marriage
"He appreciates very much the pioneer services you have rendered. He hopes that from now on you and your dear husband will be able to serve the Faith unitedly and devotedly together, as that is the highest form of Bahá'í cooperation in marriage."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1955)
1949. Neither Persian nor American Pioneers Should Congregate in a Few Chosen Places
"The Guardian feels that the Persians should not congregate in a few chosen places, but rather that they should, ... spread out in the various cities of these countries where there are no Bahá'ís. If this is done, it will greatly facilitate the teaching work in those countries, and at the same time will overcome the problem of establishing Persian colonies....
"One of the problems ... is that so many of the Persian pioneers congregate in certain cities, and this creates actually a Persian colony, and little or nothing seems to be done about teaching the natives. If the Persian pioneers dispersed to various cities, then of course they would automatically begin to teach the natives, because they would not be burdened with the necessity of Assembly functioning and association with other Persian Bahá'ís.
"The same situation exists with regard to American pioneers in these countries. They all want to congregate in one place, and thus little or nothing is done for the country itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 5, 1956)
1950. Pioneer Should Not Leave Post Until There is Nothing Else to Do--They Should Confirm Native People Like Enoch Olinga Who Will Ignite the Flame of Faith in Others
"...He constantly impresses upon the pioneers in all countries that they should not leave their posts unless there is nothing else possible for them to do; otherwise the effort, time and sacrifice which have been put into the work there are lost to the Faith.
"He has emphasized on more than one occasion that the important thing for the pioneer to do is to bend his energies toward teaching the native people of the country. He should teach and confirm them, and assist them to gradually shoulder their responsibilities in the Faith and become the active supporters and upholders of its institutions. This means that the Cause then is built on a solid foundation, and is not being carried forward by people who have gone to that country from other lands. Then too, in most people there is a certain degree of hidden feeling of racial distinction, whether or not they realize or admit it; and those other than natives may be called upon to experience great tests upon accepting the Faith, because of its principle of complete freedom from prejudice.
"This does not mean that people other than natives are not to be taught, if you find they are really spiritually prepared for the Message of Bahá'u'lláh; but the important thing is to strive to teach and confirm a few native people, who will not only themselves become quickened with its spirit, but who will in turn, like Enoch Olinga from Uganda, quickly ignite the flame of the Faith in the hearts of others of their countrymen."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 2, 1955)
1951. Initial Obscurity Surrounding Work of Pioneer--Protection to Faith
"The pioneers and settlers, as well as the National Assemblies responsible for the administration of the Faith in areas assigned to them, should ever bear in mind that in the initial states of the establishment of the Faith in any territory the obscurity surrounding the work of the pioneer or the local Bahá'ís is in itself a protection to the Faith. Patience, tact and wisdom should be exercised. Public attention should not be attracted to the Faith until such time as the believers see the Faith touch more and more of the hearts of receptive souls responding to its Divine Call."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 5, 1966)
1952. The Purpose of Dispersal
"By dispersal the Guardian means the friends should get away entirely from the large centres of population and, leaving a nucleus of about 15 Bahá'ís to maintain the Local Assembly, go settle, live and teach in new towns, cities and even villages. Naturally, it is no service to the Cause to disperse if it breaks up an existing Assembly. The purpose of dispersal is to create more Assemblies over a wider area. Until a given
assembly can spare some of its local Community to go out and settle, they should by all means at least do extension teaching.
"In the instance you cited about the friend who with independent means was willing to go out and sell her home and move to a new area, he feels she would have done better to go. You had more than 9 members in your Community; you could have found another place to meet. This is just the type of pioneering the Guardian is urging. Those who can go should go. Others will arise locally to take their places."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 19, 1955)
1953. Pioneers Entering Pioneer Field Should Realize They Go as National Spiritual Assembly Representatives--To Represent the Cause
"...The principle is that pioneers entering the pioneer field should realize that they are going there to represent the Cause, in fact, to be the Cause. Their minds and their hearts should be centered in their new tasks and in their new environment. The should not be thinking of when they can return home, or when they can go somewhere else. Only when the Faith is firmly established should they give any thought to moving, and then, only in consultation with the National Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 28, 1954)
1954. The Work of the Pioneer is the Most Important Task an Individual Can Perform; Its Blessings Are Great
"The Guardian is well aware of the great sacrifices required of the devoted pioneers, and of the problems they must meet and conquer. This is why he feels that the work of the pioneers is the most important Bahá'í task any individual can perform today--more important than serving on a National Assembly, or any administrative post.
"While it carries great responsibilities and difficulties, yet its spiritual blessings are so great, they overshadow everything else; and the opportunities for special victories of the Faith so abundant; the soul who once tastes the elixir of pioneering service, seldom will do anything else."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 5, 1954)
1955. When an Administrative Body is Established, the Pioneer Ceases to Have a Unique Status
"The pioneer, as soon as an administrative body has been established, ceases to have any unique status in the Community. But of course the service he has rendered remains very great, and he should continue to do his utmost for the Cause in conjunction with the Assembly and the other believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two individual believers, March 24, 1945)
1956. Pioneers Enhance Prestige of Faith
"The pioneers themselves must realize that not only are they fulfilling the wishes of Bahá'u'lláh, and doing that which the Master Himself said He longed to do; namely, to go, if necessary on foot, and carry His Father's Message to all the regions of the earth; but they are enhancing the prestige of the Faith to a remarkable degree
in the eyes of the public, and especially in the eyes of officials. There is no doubt that the rapid forward march of the Faith recently has attracted a far greater measure of attention on the part of thoughtful people, and people of position in society and in educational fields, than has been the case for almost one hundred years."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954: Bahá'í News, No. 283, p. 1, September 1954)
1957. Perseverance of Pioneers Assured Reward in Both Worlds
"The pioneers who have already settled or are settling in their posts, particularly in virgin unoccupied territories, must be reminded that their movement to their goals is far from being a short stay designed to class a particular territory or island as opened, or label it as having received one or more pioneers, even if, in some cases, new believers native to the land have been enrolled. It is basically and clearly intended to establish the Faith of God securely and firmly in the hearts of people of the area and to ensure that its divinely-ordained institutions are understood, adopted and operated by them. The perseverance of the pioneers in their posts, however great the sacrifices involved, is an act of devoted service, which, as attested by our teachings, will have an assured reward in both worlds. The admonitions of the Guardian on this subject are too numerous to cite and amply demonstrate the vital nature of this clear policy."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 5, 1966)
1958. Isolated Pioneers Are Like a Lighthouse of Bahá'u'lláh
"...It is hard for the friends to appreciate, when they are isolated in one of these goal territories, and see that they are making no progress in teaching others, are living in inhospitable climes for the most part, and are lonesome for Bahá'í companionship and activity, that they represent a force for good, that they are like a lighthouse of Bahá'u'lláh shining at a strategic point and casting its beam out into the darkness. This is why he so consistently urges these pioneers not to abandon their posts."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 18, 1957: Messages to Canada, p. 68)
1959. Struggles of a Pioneer--God Will Assist All Those Who Arise to Serve Him
"Your struggles have been richly blessed and must serve as an example to other pioneers and a sure proof that God will assist all those who arise to serve Him. It is part of the preciousness of this great work being done in the teaching field that it should be done through real sacrifices and not without heartaches attending it. There is a tendency in the American outlook on life at present to believe that suffering is produced by clumsiness and is not only avoidable but not a good thing, and not essential. While there is some truth in this attitude, we as Bahá'ís cannot but believe that suffering is often an essential part of our service. The Prophets suffered bitterly, so did all the Saints and Martyrs, and often 'fed on the fragments of those broken hearts', as Bahá'u'lláh says in one of His beautiful prayers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 4, 1949)
Page 581 1960. Even if Bereft of Every Human Knowledge, Everyone Who with a Pure, Detached Heart Arises to Serve His Cause is Promised Bahá'u'lláh's Divine Assistance
"...Do not feel discouraged if your labours do not always yield an abundant fruitage. For a quick and rapidly-won success is not always the best and the most lasting. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Bahá'u'lláh has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the path safe and certain, and the assurances of Bahá'u'lláh as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1937)
1961. Bahá'u'lláh is Always on the Watch, Ready to Come to Our Assistance
"Such pioneer work is always difficult and unless we are strong-hearted and have faith in our Cause, we are apt to be discouraged. We should always bear in mind that Bahá'u'lláh is always on the watch ready to come to our assistance if we only rise to serve Him with the spirit of self consecration and absolute detachment. His promises along those lines are very forceful and clear, we are only to act upon them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 11, 1931)
1962. In the Best and Highest Sense of the Term "Missionary" It Can Be Applied to Our Teachers--There is No Objection to the Word Appearing on Passports
"He sees no objection to the word 'Missionary' appearing on your Passport as long as it is clearly understood what kind of a 'missionary' a Bahá'í pioneer is. In the best and highest sense of the term it certainly could be applied to our teachers. Unfortunately this word has often been associated with a narrow-minded, bigoted type of proselytizing quite alien to the Bahá'í method of spreading our teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 7, 1945)
1963. Assembly Should Arrange to Replace Pioneer Before He Leaves Post
"No pioneer should leave his post unless there is some very urgent reason and then only after consultation with the appropriate committee or National Assembly. If it is found someone must leave their post because of very urgent matters, then the National Assembly should arrange to replace the pioneer before the pioneer leaves...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian: Messages to Canada, p. 43)
1964. No Service in Entire Bahá'í World as Important as Pioneering Work in Virgin Areas
"...he feels there is no service in the entire Bahá'í world as important as their pioneering work in the virgin areas. They have achieved a great station of service. They are the representative of the Faith in these virgin areas. They have the
inestimable privilege of bringing the light of Bahá'u'lláh to those hitherto deprived of Divine Guidance for this day. The Guardian has repeatedly pointed out that they can and should become the spiritual conquerors of these new lands."
(Ibid., p. 43)
1965. Pioneers in Virgin Areas Cannot Vote in National Elections
"...all pioneers in virgin areas, or new Bahá'ís who are confirmed in those virgin areas, are not part of the National Bahá'í Community, and cannot vote in elections.
"The virgin areas are separate, administratively, and under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly responsible for their development. The same ruling applies to any Assemblies which might develop in these virgin areas. They do not become part of the National Bahá'í Community."
(Ibid., p. 50)
1966. Pioneers Should Work in Close Harmony with Local Believers
"...all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving pioneer support should devise ways and means for the pioneers and local believers to work together in close harmony, thus taking full advantage of the help and support that pioneers are anxious to offer, often at great sacrifice, to the teaching or deepening work of the community to which they have gone, and demonstrating to a sceptical world the undivided solidarity and exemplary unity of the followers of the Most Great Name."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 6, 1969)
C. Publicity and Proclamation
1967. Youth Should Not Be Stultified
"Publicity itself should be well conceived, dignified, and reverent. A flamboyant approach which may succeed in drawing much initial attention to the Cause may ultimately prove to have produced a revulsion which would require great effort to overcome. The standard of dignity and reverence set by the beloved Guardian should always be upheld particularly in musical and dramatic items; and photographs of the Master should not be used indiscriminately. This does not mean that activities of the youth, for example, should be stultified; one can be exuberant without being irreverent or undermining the dignity of the Cause.
"Every land has its own conditions... National Spiritual Assemblies need not follow or copy programs initiated in other countries...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, July 2, 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 118)
1968. Mass Distribution of Reply Paid Inquiry Cards
"The details of such matters are within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly to decide in the light of certain fundamental principles and in the context of the situation in each country.
"In deciding such a matter you should bear in mind not only the effectiveness of the project from the teaching point of view, but also its bearing upon the dignity of the Faith. Any leaflet used in such a way should be brief, contain the minimum of quotations from the Sacred Writings, and be designed primarily to arouse the
interest of the reader so that he will request more information, and should not, at that stage, be intended to convince or convert the reader."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, December 9, 1971)
1969. Importance of Reaching Distinguished Persons with the Teachings
"Your letters with the wonderful reports of your activities in teaching the Cause and interesting distinguished persons always bring him much joy and pleasure. He wished he had a large number of your type, so devoted to the Faith and so determined to spread its message throughout the world.
"Even though the men you contact do not immediately embrace the Cause and whole-heartedly support it, yet the Word of God that has penetrated their mind and heart will not remain idle. They will be bound, once they read something or lend an attentive ear, to unconsciously modify their views, for the Message will be gradually working in their subconscious mind and thereby moulding their views and interests. One day the Cause will pass the threshold of their consciousness and they will become completely converted. But even before that day, they will be expressing that spirit in their deliberations and thereby helping the progress of the cause of peace throughout the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 3, 1932)
1970. Eminent Men Are Often Captives of Their Cherished Ideas, But When the Pendulum Starts to Swing...
"He sincerely hopes and prays that the literature and letters you are sending to eminent men in the different parts of the country will bear their desired effect and that the Word of God will gradually permeate into their heart and win it. It however takes time. Such men are generally captive into the hands of some cherished ideas and principles which they cannot give up so quickly. The mere fact that a person is learned does not mean that he is free from prejudices. The academic life also has its fashions and fads even though they are of different nature from the fads of the man in 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 Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)
1971. Proclaiming the Faith to Modern Thinkers and Leaders of Society
"It is really strange how much modern thinkers are, of their own accord, drawing nearer to the teachings of the Faith and voicing views very much like ours. It shows clearly the truth of the saying of the Master that the spirit of the Movement has permeated the hearts of all the people of the world. It is God's hands operating and guiding the nations and intellectual men and leaders of society to a gradual acceptance of His Message revealed through Bahá'u'lláh.
"The way we can hasten the development of this process is by doing our share in spreading the words of God far and wide. Even though we may not see any case of sudden conversion on the part of these intellectuals, yet they are bound to
be influenced in their views and look to the Faith with greater admiration and with a more willing desire to be led by its precepts. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, wishes me to encourage you in your work, in sending appropriate literature to such men of learning."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 7, 1933)
1972. Power of Radio for Proclamation
"It is our hope that the great power of radio for proclamation, teaching and deepening may be mobilized wherever possible, and with the promising initiatives which have occurred in Ecuador and elsewhere we now anticipate the development of more widespread uses of the medium which will be of service to the Cause and to mankind."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 7, 1974)
1973. Historic Forward Step in Proclamation
"The religious and cultural content of your programs is important alike for achieving the goals of the Faith and bringing education and service to the non-Bahá'ís' community....
"Your perception of Bahá'í needs and their satisfaction through radio broadcasts has prepared you for what may well, in time, be hailed as an historic forward step in proclamation, expansion and deepening through the medium of radio, a medium which the beloved Guardian hoped would be exploited on behalf of the Cause of God. We congratulate you and look forward to news of your progress in this significant initial program."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 12, 1974)
1974. Bring to Attention of the Public the Fact that the Faith Exists
"In connection with the radio work ... he would suggest that the main consideration is to bring to the attention of the public the fact that the Faith exists, and its teachings. Every kind of broadcast, whether of passages from the writings, or on topical subjects, or lectures, should be used. The people need to hear the word 'Bahá'í' so that they can, if receptive, respond and seek the Cause out. The primary duty of the friends everywhere in the world is to let the people know such a Revelation is in existence; their next duty is to teach it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 24, 1943: A Compilation on the 'Use of Radio and Television in Teaching', April 1, 1975, from the World Centre)
1975. Examples of Prudence to be Exercised in Presenting History and Teachings of the Faith
"He feels that the projected radio broadcasts are of the utmost importance as they afford you an opportunity of bringing to many listeners a sense of the greatness of the Cause. In this connection he has some advice to give you: You should stick carefully to facts and beware of putting any interpretations of facts into it. Your
best sources are Nabil's Narrative and Martha Root's book on Tahirih, as far as she is concerned, and, of course the general literature of our Faith. The Guardian advises you not to introduce into a series for public consumption anything obscure or mystical. By all means avoid the scene in the Presence of Bahá'u'lláh between Tahirih and Quddus. Her separation from her husband and children, her teaching in Baghdad, her imprisonment and death, and her poems, make a beautiful and moving tale. He would not call her the first suffragette, for this certainly was strictly speaking no part of her concept."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a group of believers, November 9, 1949)
1976. Voluntary Contributions May Be Accepted--However, Fund-Raising Activities Should Not Be Carried Out by Bahá'í Radio
"The Universal House of Justice sees no objection to accepting voluntary donations spontaneously contributed by non-Bahá'ís for your radio activities. In a letter written to a National Spiritual Assembly on behalf of the House of Justice, the following advice was given. '...A point to bear in mind is that a Bahá'í radio station should strictly uphold a standard for its operations that will guard its programs against being confused in the public mind with the radio programs sponsored by other religious groups. The latter programs often involve fund-raising activities which, if associated with Bahá'í programs, would eventually undermine the prestige of the Faith and expose its institutions to certain dangers.'
"The donations accepted from non-Bahá'ís must be used toward providing services or programs which are not a direct Bahá'í teaching."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 15, 1985)
1977. Arise to Serve His Cause
"Whosoever ariseth to aid our Cause, God will render him victorious over ten times ten thousand souls, and, should he wax in his love for Me, him will We cause to triumph over all that is in the heaven and all that is on earth."
(Bahá'u'lláh: cited by Shoghi Effendi in Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 101)
1978. Teaching Enjoined on Believers in Aqdas
"In the Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh considers teaching as a spiritual obligation imposed upon every devoted believer and servant of His Faith. Should the friends become fully conscious of this duty and arise to do their share, this Cause will soon permeate every home throughout the world and the Kingdom of God will be established."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 85, p. 8, July 1934)
1979. Meditate on Methods of Teaching
"The sanctified souls should ponder and meditate in their hearts regarding the methods of teaching. From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages bearing on various instances, so that in the course of their
speech they may recite divine verses whenever the occasion demandeth it, inasmuch as these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman. So potent is their influence that the hearer will have no cause for vacillation...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 200)
1980. The Teachings Are Not Given to Us to Treasure and Hide
"The world is in great turmoil and its problems seem to become daily more acute. We should therefore not sit idle; otherwise we would be failing in carrying out our sacred duty. Bahá'u'lláh has not given us His teachings to treasure them and hide them for our personal delight and pleasure. He gave them to us that we may pass them from mouth to mouth until all the world becomes familiar with them and enjoys their blessings and uplifting influence."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Spiritual Assembly of Eliot, Maine, March 27, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 73, May 1933, p. 2)
1981. Abdu'l-Bahá Teaches How to Teach
"...in the city of Baghdad, I talked with a learned man, Mulla Hassan, some of whose relatives were believers. No matter how hard they tried to give him the Message, he would not accept it. Once, they brought him to my house when I was just getting up from my sleep and combing my hair. They said, 'We have brought so-and-so here and we beg you to come and speak with him; perhaps, he will become a believer.' I said, 'Very well,' and then I turned to the Blessed Beauty and prayed: 'O Blessed Beauty, confirm me!' Afterwards, I talked to him, and in the same hour he became a believer. He became exceedingly good and was so enkindled that, although he was of high rank, he used to go into the kitchen and cook things with his own hand to entertain the friends."
(Talk by Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land, translated by Dr. Zia Baghdadi: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 3, p. 36)
1982. Recompense of Martyr Assuredly Recorded
"In this day, the beloved of God must not hesitate or delay an instant in teaching the Cause of the Manifestation; and reconciling words of the religion of majestic oneness; because, verily, in this day, to the soul who is the cause of guidance to another soul the recompense of a martyr in the way of God will be assuredly recorded by the pen of the Cause for his deed. This is from the Bounty of God unto thee. Do according to what thou hast been commanded and do not be of those who tarry."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Scriptures, p. 204)
1983. Teaching Not Conditioned by Occupation
"Teaching the Faith is not conditioned by what occupation we have, or how great our knowledge is, but rather on how much we have studied the Teachings, to what degree we live the Bahá'í life, and how much we long to share this Message with others. When we have these characteristics, we are sure, if we search, to find receptive souls.
"You should persevere and be confident that, with effort, success can be yours."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary to an American believer, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 351, p. 2, May 1960)
Page 587 1984. Intensive Work is of More Lasting Nature
"Shoghi Effendi has seen, through the experience of the international teachers that keep him informed regarding their activities, that intensive work is ultimately of a more lasting nature. It has proven to be far better that a teacher should spend a month or two in one center and wait until a group is formed, than to cover a large area and not stay enough in a center to help the progress of those interested to the stage that they would feel themselves able to embrace the Cause and identify themselves with it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 30, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 67, October 1932, pp. 4-5)
1985. Teachers Must Be Satisfied with Little Food
"As regards the teachers, they must completely divest themselves from the old garments and be invested with a new garment. According to the statement of Christ, they must attain to the station of rebirth--that is, whereas in the first instance they were born from the womb of the mother, this time they must be born from the womb of the world of nature. Just as they are now totally unaware of the experiences of the foetal world, they must also forget entirely the defects of the world of nature. They must be baptized with the water of life, the fire of the love of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit; be satisfied with little food, but take a large portion from the heavenly table. They must disengage themselves from temptation and covetousness, and be filled with the spirit. Through the effect of their pure breath, they must change the stone into the brilliant ruby and the shell into pearl. Like unto the cloud of vernal shower, they must transform the black soil into the rose garden and orchard. They must make the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the extinguished one enkindled and set aglow, and the dead quickened."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 96)
1986. Develop a System of Travelling Teacher Circuits
"In this connection we feel you would be well advised to develop a system of travelling teacher circuits. There is no doubt whatever that the constant movement of teachers, even though circulating within a small radius, can have a highly stimulating effect on the teaching work. Permanent settlers, a constant stream of visiting teachers to speak at regular firesides, is a pattern which has not yet been bettered."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, January 20, 1966: Bahá'í Journal, No. 173, p. 1, March 4, 1966)
1987. Travelling Teachers Reinforce Work of Pioneers
"While pioneers provide a very valuable long-term reinforcement of a community and are often the only feasible means for opening new areas--and here we are speaking not only of pioneers from foreign lands but of homefront pioneers as well, the use of whom must be greatly developed in most countries--a second vital reinforcement of the work is provided by travelling teachers. As mentioned in the message sent to all believers at Ridvan, a new international travel teaching program is now being launched. National Assemblies and their committees, therefore, need to develop a threefold integrated program for travel teaching. Firstly, there should be within each national community regular circuits of local travelling teachers, that is to say of
believers who are members of that national community, whether native or pioneers, who are able and willing to devote time to this activity. Secondly, and integrated with these circuits, provision should be made for planned visits of travelling teachers from abroad. Thirdly, each National Assembly should establish an agency and a procedure for taking advantage of the unheralded arrival of visitors from abroad, or of sudden offers from believers on the homefront, who would be able to give valuable help in the fields of travel teaching or proclamation if properly organized. Such an agency would, of course, be responsible for evaluating the capacity of those who offer services because while an unexpected offer can often provide a very valuable teaching opportunity, it is also true to say that some Bahá'í communities have been exhausted and their work hindered by the arrival of a succession of travelling Bahá'ís who were not really suited, for lack of a language or for other reasons, to assist with teaching in the area concerned. Friends who travel spontaneously in this way can do valuable teaching themselves but should not expect the assistance of local administrative institutions if they have not arranged the trip in advance."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)
1988. What Visiting Teachers Are Supposed to Do
"Visiting teachers, who are, at least in a general way, supposed to be more competent and able than the rest, are undoubtedly of great help. But these can never replace the mass of individual believers and fulfil what must be inevitably accomplished through the collective effort and wisdom of the community at large. What visiting teachers are supposed to do is to give the final touch to the work that has been done, to consolidate rather than supplement individual efforts and thereby direct them in a constructive and suitable channel. Their task is to encourage and inspire individual believers, and to broaden and deepen their vision of the task that is to be done. And this, not by virtue of any inherent spiritual right, but in the spirit of simple and wholehearted cooperation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 1, 1933)
1989. Travelling Teachers Have No Special Status
"From time to time we receive reports that pioneers or travelling teachers who are subsidized by the International Fund or receive letters of encouragement from the Universal House of Justice are assumed to have some special status or authority.
"In order that there be no misunderstanding, it should be made clear that such individuals have no special status and have no authority or standing other than that of any believer residing in the area where he is pioneering or teaching.
"Furthermore, pioneers and travelling teachers are under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of the country or area in which they are travelling or residing, as the case may be, and they must be obedient to the instructions of these National Spiritual Assemblies."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 3, 1970)
1990. Travelling Expenses of Teachers
"He believes that the continuous expenditure of a considerable sum to provide for
travelling expenses of teachers who are in need constitutes in these days the chief obligation of the National Fund. An effort should be made to facilitate, as much as possible, the extension of the teaching work by helping those who are financially unable to reach their destination, and once there, to encourage them to settle and earn the means of their livelihood."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 14, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, February 1937, p. 1: Lifeblood of the Cause, p. 15)
1991. No Bahá'í Teachers Permanently Employed by Faith
"The beloved Guardian elucidated this basic principle of Bahá'í administration through his repeated letters to National Assemblies from which we quote: 'At present it would be quite impossible to spread the Cause if those who arise to serve it as teachers or pioneers were not given financial assistance. All must realize, however, that the monies they receive are only to enable them to fulfil their objectives, and that they cannot consider themselves permanently entitled to be supported by the Cause.' (From a letter to the N.S.A. of India and Burma dated August 12, 1944)
"Each National Assembly, through its auxiliary Teaching Committees, should be able to so plan the time and efforts of its band of subsidized traveling teachers that no impression of permanency is given. As far as possible each 'project' must be definite in objective and in duration.
"Likewise, when pioneer projects are envisaged, it must be made clear to the pioneer that he must make every effort to establish himself in some position in his pioneering post and thus become freed from the necessity of drawing further on Bahá'í funds."
(From a letter by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in Mass Teaching Work, June 25, 1964)
1992. Travelling Teachers Should Be Assisted Financially to Carry Out Assigned Projects
"Likewise travelling teachers should be assisted financially to carry out the 'projects' assigned to them. The friends should not for a moment confuse this type of support with the creation of a paid clergy. Any Bahá'í can, at the discretion of the N.S.A., receive this necessary assistance, and it is clearly understood it is temporary and only to carry out a specific plan. Bahá'u'lláh Himself has not only enjoined on everyone the duty of teaching His Faith, but stated if you cannot go yourself, to send someone in your stead. The National Assembly, through and with its National Teaching Committee, should take immediate steps to get pioneers out into the goal towns and teachers circulating about, to not only support and inaugurate the new work, but to stimulate the existing Assemblies and groups, and help them to expand."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, May 29, 1946)
1993. We Have No One in the Faith Whose Position is Comparable to Professional Clergymen or Priests
"We have no people in the Bahá'í Faith whose position is comparable to professional clergymen or priests. No paid teachers, in other words. However, it is difficult
to see how the ever-increasing work of the Cause is to be run unless those devoting all their time to it are not supported from the Fund while doing so. This is administrative work, and there is no objection to those doing it being paid a regular salary if they have not the independent means to do it free of any charge. We cannot lay down a rule that no one receiving remuneration for Bahá'í administrative work should be elected to Assemblies, as this would interfere with the free choice of electing the best qualified people for such service on Assemblies."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)
1994. Support by the Fund Only Temporary
"...this is a Cause in which every believer is called upon to teach. If at the present time certain friends are supported by the Fund to enable them to devote all their time to the vital and urgent work of expansion and consolidation, this is but a temporary arrangement designed to meet the exigencies of this period of crisis in human history. It must never be allowed to replace the individual voluntary efforts of the friends, but rather should stimulate and reinforce them.
"If every Bahá'í will arise whole-heartedly to support and develop the institutions of the Cause--primarily the Local Spiritual Assemblies--and to teach the Faith, all will be astonished at the vast achievements which can be made with comparatively little assistance from the National Fund."
(From a letter by the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies, July 27, 1971)
1995. Travelling Teachers and Believers Who Travel Frequently
"It has been reported to the Universal House of Justice by the Continental Board of Counsellors in South America that your National Spiritual Assembly has ruled that full-time travelling teachers are to be considered as not having a fixed residence and are therefore not eligible in any local community for elective service. We have been asked to share with you the following excerpt of a letter written to the National Spiritual Assembly of North West Africa dated 5 December, 1972, setting forth the general policy regarding believers who are travelling most of the time.
'At present no hard and fast rule can be laid down for determining the places of residence of the officers of a ship or its crew, or the personnel manning aircraft when such individuals have no fixed home and no family ties to commit them to any specific place of residence. The National Spiritual Assembly should, in each case, discuss the matter with the person involved and decide where his Bahá'í membership shall count. Factors such as the frequency of recurrence of his visits to any locality, opportunities to participate in local Bahá'í activities, the extent of the period of his stay each time he visits, and his own choice should all be taken into consideration in arriving at a decision.'
"We have been instructed to say that it would not be proper for rules to be laid down that travelling teachers should not be considered as having a fixed place of residence. If one of them should be elected to a Local Spiritual Assembly the question would then arise as to whether his anticipated travels necessitating his frequent absence from the Assembly would constitute a valid reason for him to resign as a member of that Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 26, 1978)
Page 591 1996. Spiritual Maturing is a Slow Process
"a. Visiting pioneers or teachers may find in some places newly enrolled believers not so enthusiastic about their religion as expected, or not adjusting to standards of Bahá'í life, or they may find them thinking of material benefits they may hope to derive from their new membership. We should always remember that the process of nursing the believer into full spiritual maturity is slow, and needs loving education and patience.
"b. Some teaching committees, in their eagerness to obtain results, place undue emphasis on obtaining a great number of declarations to the detriment of the quality of teaching.
"c. Some travelling teachers, in their desire to show the result of their services, may not scrupulously teach their contacts, and in some rare cases, if God forbid, they are insincere, may even give false reports."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Teaching the Masses, dated July 13, 1964: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 35-36)
1997. Each One of the Believers is Like an Ark of Salvation
"I desire that you may see the divine ships. These ships are the blessed sails who are traversing the sea of Divine mercy; their propellors are the powers of spiritual love and their captains are the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No ship is ever wrecked in this sea; its waves are life-giving. Each one of the friends of God is like unto an ark of Salvation. Each ark saves many souls from the storms of troubles. The signs and traces of these sails are never-ending and eternal. The future centuries and cycles are like the sea on the surface of which these arks glide blissfully toward their spiritual destination."
(Talk by Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. VIII, No. 8, p. 104, August 11, 1917)
1998. First Condition of a Religious Teacher
"It is a wonderful, priceless boon to be a vessel carrying food from God. It cannot be bought with gold. The first condition of a religious teacher is to believe in God; the second, to turn his face toward God; the third to be severed from all save God. Such teachers will constitute illumined lamps of guidance, the stars of the heaven of mercy, the trees of the orchard of Abha, flowers of the garden of mystery and torches of the path of salvation.
"Teaching the Cause of God is not only through the tongue; it is through deeds, a good disposition, happiness of nature, kindness and sympathy, good fellowship, trustworthiness, holiness, virtue, purity of ideals, and lastly, speech."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í News, No. 243, May 1951, p. 8)
1999. Importance of Teaching--Terrible Problems Confronting Humanity
"The more one observes the conditions of the world and the terrible problems confronting humanity, the more deeply one realizes that the only remedy is that which Bahá'u'lláh has brought, and yet, alas, the masses of the people seem to not yet be aware that the way out of our problems can only be a divine way, given by something far greater than human understanding! However, many souls are seriously thinking and seeking, and the Bahá'ís must try to bring the knowledge of the teachings to all, so that those prepared to accept may not be denied the Message!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 72)
Page 592 2000. Need Teachers of Spiritual Capacity, Knowledge of Covenant
"...the National Assembly should pay particular attention to getting teachers with spiritual capacity and a deep knowledge of the Covenant out to the weaker communities on circuit teaching trips, and that an effort should be made for them to stay for some time in each place. It is evident that one of the reasons that the work on the home front in America is so seriously lagging is that the Bahá'ís themselves, though undoubtedly devoted, loyal and conscientious, are not always very deeply grounded in the spiritual fundamentals of their Faith. This produces a maladjustment, so to speak, in the nature of their service to the Cause; and only through a deeper understanding of their Faith and the inner spiritual strength that this understanding brings, will they be able to reinforce themselves to meet their tasks, to see the joy of discharging their duties and grasping their privileges."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 19, 1956: Bahá'í News, No. 307, September 1956, p. 1)
2001. Everyone is a Potential Teacher
"...Not until all the friends come to realize that everyone is able, in his own measure, to deliver the Message can they ever hope to reach the goal that has been set for them by a loving and wise Master. It is no use for some able and eloquent teacher to take all the responsibility for the spread of the Cause. For such a thing is not only contrary to the spirit of the Teachings, but to the explicit text of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá, both of Whom place the obligation of teaching not on any particular class as in former ecclesiastical organizations but on every faithful and loyal follower of the Cause. The teaching of the Word is thus made universal and compulsory. How long, then, shall we wait to carry out this command, the full wisdom of which only future generations will be able to appreciate? We have no special teachers in this Cause. Everyone is a potential teacher. He has only to use what God has given him and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: The Bahá'í World, p. 126, Vol. V)
F. Mass Teaching
2002. Distribution of Bahá'í Material in Mail Boxes of Homes and Apartments
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter ... concerning the distribution of Bahá'í material to the mail boxes of the houses and apartments in a locality, and it has instructed us to send you the following reply.
"The details of all such matters are within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly to decide in the light of certain principles and in the context of the situation in each country.
"The principles the House of Justice wishes National Assemblies to observe in this connection are:
1. The dignity of the Faith should be carefully safeguarded in all Bahá'í activities.
2. It is important that no teaching activity should be an encroachment on people's privacy nor should it force the teachings upon unwilling listeners.
"In general the House of Justice feels that there would be no objection in principle to mailing or distributing to mail boxes such items as invitations to meetings or introductory circular letters, or brief informative leaflets. Any leaflet used in such a way should be designed primarily to arouse the interest of the reader so that he will seek more information. It should not be intended to convince or convert the reader at that stage. A number of National Spiritual Assemblies have produced introductory circulars of this nature, which have a reply-paid card attached. It is not, of course, essential that the card be part of the leaflet provided that the leaflet itself is restrained and dignified. However, each National Spiritual Assembly must decide what is proper to be done in its own country.
"The quotation which you ask for is as follows: 'He feels that to distribute Bahá'í pamphlets from door-to-door ... is undignified and might create a bad impression of the Faith. No doubt, it is the eagerness and devotion of the friends that led them to make this proposal, but he does not think that the best interests of the Cause are served by such a method....'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Assembly of Iceland, December 6, 1981)
2003. Great Care Should Be Exercised in Selecting Teachers to Teach
"Great care and discretion should be exercised in the selection of teachers who will be contacting people who are mostly illiterate and cannot benefit from reading for themselves the written word, and are largely dependent on what they hear. Teachers, be they local or from outside, should be acutely aware of this. The spiritual calibre and moral quality of these teachers is of great importance, and particularly they should be of pure spirit and have a true love for the Cause. They should have the capacity to convey that spirit and that love to others. Furthermore, they should avoid pressure tactics in their efforts to obtain declarations of faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated May 5, 1982, attached to a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany dated February 6, 1986 and entitled "Statement of the Universal House of Justice Regarding Teaching the Faith")
2004. Exercise Care in Presenting Cause to Avoid Misconceptions
"Bahá'u'lláh, in 'The Hidden Words', Says 'O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved...', and on page 55 of 'The Advent of Divine Justice', a letter which is primarily directed towards exhorting the friends to fulfil their responsibilities in teaching the Faith, Shoghi Effendi writes: 'Care, however, should, at all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to proselytize and bring undue pressure upon them, those whom they wish to win over to their Cause'. Some Bahá'ís sometimes overstep the proper bounds, but this does not alter the clear principle."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 3, 1982: Teaching and Commitment, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
Page 594 2005. Mankind Has the Right to Hear the Message of Bahá'u'lláh
"The responsibility of the Bahá'ís to teach the Faith is very great. The contraction of the world and the onward rush of events require us to seize every chance open to us to touch the hearts and minds of our fellow-men. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is God's guidance for mankind to overcome the difficulties of this age of transition and move forward into the next stage of its evolution, and human beings have the right to hear it. Those who accept it incur the duty of passing it on to their fellow-men. The slowness of the response of the world has caused and is causing great suffering; hence the historical pressure upon Bahá'ís to exert every effort to teach the Faith for the sake of their fellow-men. They should teach with enthusiasm, conviction, wisdom and courtesy, but without pressing their hearer, bearing in mind the words of Bahá'u'lláh 'Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him aware of the truth with kindly manner and most convincing exhortation. If your hearer respond, he will have responded to his own behoof, and if not, turn ye away from him, and set your face towards God's sacred Court, the seat of resplendent holiness.' (Gleanings CXXVIII)"
(Extract from "Statement of the Universal House of Justice Regarding Teaching the Faith", op. cit. No. 2003)
2006. The Purpose of Consolidation
"Consolidation activities promote the individual spiritual development of the friends, help to unite and strengthen Bahá'í community life, establish new social patterns for the friends, and stimulate the teaching work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)
2007. True Consolidation
"...true consolidation is to ensure that the love of Bahá'u'lláh and devotion to His Faith are firmly rooted in the hearts of the believers; this is the essential foundation for the subsequent addition of increased knowledge of the Teachings and the development of the Bahá'í way of life."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, November 3, 1974)
2008. Proclamation, Expansion and Consolidation
"The House of Justice ... has instructed us to point out that proclamation, expansion, and consolidation are really three different aspects of teaching which to some degree merge into one another and therefore it is largely for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide how it will allocate these different aspects to committees in light of the volume of the work and the condition in each country."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 27, 1975)
2009. Consolidation is that Aspect of Teaching which Assists Believers to Deepen Their Knowledge of the Teachings...
"Consolidation is as vital a part of the teaching work as expansion. It is that aspect of teaching which assists the believers to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Teachings, and fans the flame of their devotion of Bahá'u'lláh and His Cause, so that they will, of their own volition, continue the process of their spiritual development, promote the teaching work, and strengthen the functioning of their administrative institutions. Proper consolidation is essential to the preservation of
the spiritual health of the community, to the protection of its interests, to the upholding of its good name, and ultimately to the continuation of the work of expansion itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)
2010. Consolidation is an Essential and Inseparable Element of Teaching
"...they must remember that consolidation is an essential and inseparable element of teaching, and if they go to a remote area and enrol believers whom no one is going to be able to visit again in the near future, they may well be doing a disservice to those people and to the Faith. To give people this glorious Message and then leave them in the lurch produces disappointment and disillusionment, so that, when it does become possible to carry out properly planned teaching in that area, the teachers may well find the people resistant to the Message. The first teacher who was careless of consolidation, instead of planting and nourishing the seeds of faith has, in fact, 'inoculated' the people against the divine Message and made subsequent teaching very much harder."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all Continental Pioneer Committees, April 16, 1981: Teaching and Commitment, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
2011. Expansion and Consolidation Are Co-Equal
"Simultaneous and co-equal with this vast, ordered and ever-growing teaching effort, the work of consolidation must go hand in hand. In fact these two processes must be regarded as inseparable parts of the expansion of the Faith. While the work of teaching inevitably goes first, to pursue it alone without consolidation would leave the community unprepared to receive the masses who must sooner or later respond to the life-giving message of the Cause... Consolidation must comprise not only the establishment of Bahá'í administrative institutions, but a true deepening in the fundamental verities of the Cause and in its spiritual principles, understanding of its prime purpose in the establishment of the unity of mankind, instruction in its standards of behaviour in all aspects of private and public life, in the particular practice of Bahá'í life in such things as daily prayer, education of children, observance of the laws of Bahá'í marriage, abstention from politics, the obligation to contribute to the Fund, the importance of the Nineteen Day Feast and opportunity to acquire a sound knowledge of the present-day practice of Bahá'í administration."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
2012. The Purpose of Teaching is Not Complete with a Declaration of Faith
"Teaching the Faith embraces many diverse activities, all of which are vital to success, and each of which reinforces the other. Time and again the beloved Guardian emphasized that expansion and consolidation are twin and inseparable aspects to teaching that must proceed simultaneously, yet one still hears believers discussing the virtues of one as against the other. The purpose of teaching is not complete when a person declares that he has accepted Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age; the purpose of teaching is to attract human beings to the divine Message and so imbue them with its spirit that they will dedicate themselves to its service, and this world will become another world and its people another people. Viewed in this light a declaration of Faith is merely a milestone along the way--albeit a
very important one. Teaching may also be likened to kindling a fire, the fire of faith, in the hearts of men. If a fire burns only so long as the match is held to it, it cannot truly be said to have been kindled; to be kindled it must continue to burn of its own accord. Thereafter more fuel can be added and the flame can be fanned, but even if left alone for a period, a truly kindled fire will not be extinguished by the first breath of wind."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)
2013. Qualities Necessary--Pure Spirit and Love--Illiterates Cannot Read for Themselves
"It must be realized that people who are mostly illiterate cannot have the benefit of reading for themselves the written word and of deriving directly from it the spiritual sustenance they need for the enrichment of their Bahá'í lives. They become dependent, therefore, to a large extent on their contacts with visiting teachers. The spiritual calibre or moral quality of these teachers assumes, therefore, great importance. The National Spiritual Assembly or the Teaching Committees responsible for the selection of these teachers should bear in mind that their choice must depend, not only on the knowledge or grasp of the teachings on the part of the teachers, but primarily upon their pure spirit and their true love for the Cause, and their capacity to convey that spirit and love to others."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in mass teaching, October 26, 1967)
2014. Simplicity in Giving the Message--The Unsophisticated People Form Majority
"The unsophisticated people of the world--and they form the large majority of its population--have the same right to know of the Cause of God as others. When the friends are teaching the Word of God they should be careful to give the Message in the same simplicity as it is enunciated in our Teachings. In their contacts they must show genuine and divine love. The heart of an unlettered soul is extremely sensitive, and any trace of prejudice on the part of the pioneer or teacher is immediately sensed."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964)
2015. Poorer Classes Should Be Taught--Confirm People
"There is no doubt that the poorer classes should be taught the Cause and given every opportunity to embrace it. More especially in order to demonstrate to people our cardinal lack of prejudice--class prejudice as much as any other kind of prejudice. However, he feels that the great point is to confirm people of true capacity and ability--from whatever social stratum they may be-- because the Cause needs now, and will ever increasingly need, souls of great ability who can bring it before the public at large, administer its ever-growing affairs, and contribute to its advancement in every field."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer, October 30, 1941: A Special Measure of Love, p. 2)
2016. Teaching Campaigns
"He fully approves of the concept of uniting the believers' labors through
focussing them on nation-wide teaching campaigns and so on. But he feels that the friends should constantly be encouraged to bear in mind certain salient facts: Bahá'u'lláh has brought a new system and new laws and standards of personal as well as racial conduct into the world. Although outside agencies have been to a certain extent illumined by the radiance of His Message and doctrines, and are exerting efforts to bring the world into that orbit of universal peace and harmony He has set for it, these outside forces cannot achieve what only the followers of His Faith can. The believers must not take their eyes off their own immediate tasks of patiently consolidating their administrative institutions, building up new Assemblies in North, Central and South America, and laboring to perfect the Bahá'í pattern of life, for these are things that no other group of people in the world can do or will do, and they alone are able to provide the spiritual foundation and example on which the larger world schemes must ultimately rest.
"At the same time every effort should be made to broadcast the Teaching at this time, and correlate them to the plight of humanity and the plans for its future. Both tasks should go forward simultaneously--internal consolidation and expansion, and a wider contact with the masses, maintained through public meetings, radio, publicity, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 29, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 175, June 1945, p. 3)
2017. Aim of All Bahá'í Institutions and Teachers
"The aim, therefore, of all Bahá'í institutions and Bahá'í teachers is to advance continually to new areas and strata of society, with such thoroughness, that, as the spark of faith kindles the hearts of the hearers, the teaching of the believers continues until and even after they shoulder the responsibilities as Bahá'ís and participate in both the teaching and administrative work of the Faith.
"There are now many areas in the world where thousands of people have accepted the Faith so quickly that it has been beyond the capacity of the existing Bahá'í communities to consolidate adequately these advances. The people in these areas must be progressively deepened in their understanding of the Faith, in accordance with well-laid plans, so that the communities may, as soon as possible, become sources of great strength to the work of the Faith and begin to manifest the pattern of Bahá'í life."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)
2018. Challenge to Every Believer and Institution
"Every individual follower of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as the institutions of the Faith, at local, national, continental and world levels, must now meet the challenge to raise the intensity of teaching to a pitch never before attained, in order to realize that vast increase called for in the Plan. For those believers living in countries where they have freedom to teach their Faith, this challenge is more sharply pointed by the oppressive measures imposed on the Faith elsewhere."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
2019. Challenge to Local and National Administrative Institutions
"The challenge to the local and national administrative institutions of the Faith is
to organize and promote the teaching work through systematic plans, involving not only the regular fireside meetings in the homes of the believers, the public meetings, receptions and conferences, the weekend, summer and winter schools, the youth conferences and activities, all of which are so vigorously upheld at present, but in addition through a constant stream of visiting teachers to every locality..."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
2020. Challenge to the Individual Bahá'í
"The challenge to the individual Bahá'í in every field of service, but above all in teaching the Cause of God, is never-ending. With every fresh affliction visited upon mankind our inescapable duty becomes more apparent, nor should we ever forget that if we neglect this duty, 'others', in the words of Shoghi Effendi, 'will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.'"
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
2021. How Can True Believer Remain Silent
"Every Bahá'í, however humble or inarticulate, must become intent on fulfilling his role as a bearer of the Divine Message. Indeed, how can a true believer remain silent while around us men cry out in anguish for truth, love and unity to descend upon this world?"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 16, 1969)
2022. Charitable and Humanitarian Aspects of Faith--Be Careful Not to Emphasize
"When teaching among the masses, the friends should be careful not to emphasize the charitable and humanitarian aspects of the Faith as a means to win recruits. Experience has shown that when facilities such as schools, dispensaries, hospitals, or even clothes and food are offered to the people being taught, many complications arise. The prime motive should always be the response of man to God's message, and the recognition of His Messenger. Those who declare themselves as Bahá'ís should become enchanted with the beauty of the Teachings, and touched by the love of Bahá'u'lláh. The declarants need not know all the proofs, history, laws, and principles of the Faith, but in the process of declaring themselves they must, in addition to catching the spark of faith, become basically informed about the Central Figures of the Faith, as well as the existence of laws they must follow and an administration they must obey."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964)
2023. Honoraria or Expenses for Talking on the Faith at Non-Bahá'í Events
"As to honoraria, obviously it is preferable for individuals to present the Faith without receiving any fee. However, there is no objection to a Bahá'í receiving his travel and other expenses in connection with the talk."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 25, 1966)
2024. Teachers as Administrators
"There is no reason why teachers should not also be administrators; but an active
teacher does not have much time for committee work. Unfortunately there are more people qualified to do the administrative work than the teaching work-- and teachers are greatly needed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 15, 1947)
2025. Bahá'ís Should Be Aware that Opening a New Territory or Town is Only the First Move
"It must be made quite clear to the Bahá'ís that opening a new territory or a new town, for that matter, meritorious as it is, is nevertheless only the first move. The consolidation of the Bahá'í work undertaken there is the most important thing of all. Victories are won usually through a great deal of patience, planning and perseverance, and rarely accomplished at a single stroke."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, July 24, 1955)
2026. The Basic Objective of Teaching
"It is reassuring to know that you understand that the basic objective of teaching is to promote the Cause of God--not merely to increase numbers for numbers' sake. However, care should be exercised in applying this principle lest we become so rigid as to exclude from our rolls those waiting souls who have been touched by the spirit of the Faith without being very knowledgeable about all the Teachings.
"A Local Spiritual Assembly should be formed in any locality where nine or more adult believers reside. The fact that some of them are not well grounded in the Faith is not a reason for delaying formation of the Assembly, but is a matter to be dealt with separately."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 23, 1975)
2027. The Guardian Encouraged Early Enrollment of New Believers
"...As you are aware, the beloved Guardian encouraged early enrollment of new believers upon their declarations, and not the creation of obstacles to their acceptance. After declaration, follow-up with deepening is imperative, and it may be that some will fall away. However, those who remain are the true fruits of the teaching endeavor and may include persons of great merit who might have been lost to the Cause through arbitrary early judgements."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 18, 1980)
2028. Indirect Teaching: What It Constitutes
"As to your question as to what constitutes indirect teaching: It essentially consists in presenting some of the humanitarian or social teachings of the Cause which are shared by those whom we are teaching, as a means of attracting them to those aspects of the Faith which are more challenging in character, and are specifically and solely Bahá'í. The teaching of Esperanto, for instance, has been a very useful way of presenting the Cause indirectly to many people. It has opened many doors of contact for the believers, and has lately proved to be of tremendous help in introducing the Teachings into important social and intellectual circles."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 28, 1937)