Page 600 2029. The Teaching of the Indians in America
"As you know, the Master attached the utmost importance to the teaching of the Indians in America. The Guardian therefore hopes that your Assembly will devote considerable energy to this most important matter so that contacts are made with Indians in all of the Countries under your jurisdiction and some of these Indians become confirmed in the Faith.
"If the light of Divine Guidance enters properly into the lives of the Indians, it will be found that they will arise with a great power and will become an example of spirituality and culture to all of the people in these countries.
"The Master has likened the Indians in your Countries to the early Arabian Nomads at the time of the appearance of Muhammad. Within a short period of time they became the outstanding examples of education, of culture and of civilization for the entire world. The Master feels that similar wonders will occur today if the Indians are properly taught and if the power of the Spirit properly enters into their living."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America and Mexico, August 22, 1957)
2030. Teaching the Muslims
"...Teaching Muslims the Faith requires to a great degree a knowledge of the Qur'an, so that you can bring them proofs from their own texts. If you have not mastered this yet, he suggests that you do so with the help of some of the Bahá'ís from the Islamic background. In this way you will attract the well-educated Muslims, and they will be deeply appreciative that an American should know so much about their religion."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 9, 1956)
2031. It is the Holy Spirit that Confirms and the Individual Should Become as a Reed Through which the Spirit May Descend
"One should remember it is not the individual who confirms another, but the Holy Spirit which confirms. Thus the individual must become as a reed, through which the spirit may descend, and quicken souls. Thus the best way to develop capacity in teaching the Faith is to teach. As one teaches, he gains more knowledge himself, he relies more on the guidance of the spirit, and expands his own character. This is why Bahá'u'lláh made it incumbent on all to teach the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 24, 1956)
2032. Many People Are Ready for and Longing to Find These Teachings
"There are many, many people ready for and longing to find these Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. The friends must, through prayers for guidance, and through trying to contact different types of groups, seek out these hungry souls and confirm them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 5, 1948)
2033. The Teacher Should Use Whatever Method of Expression that Will Attract the Listener
"English is, compared to Latin and oriental languages, lacking (as spoken in daily
use) in flowery terms, and the Guardian feels that in teaching you should always use whatever method will most attract your hearers. If such terms as 'The Glory of God' are not suited to certain individuals' mentality you should refrain from using them until they draw really close to the spirit of the Cause. The teaching is of primary, the words of secondary importance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 23, 1945)
2034. Audacity in Teaching is Essential, But with Tact, Wisdom and Consideration
"...It is certainly necessary, nay indeed vitally urgent, that the believers should make no compromise in teaching the Cause, and should not allow any consciousness of their limited means and resources to deter them from presenting the Teachings in their entirety, and with absolute courage and firm conviction. It is the realization that they are but the instruments of the Divine Will, and as such are endowed with a potency with which no earthly power, be it fame, wealth, human knowledge and capacity, can possibly compare, that should inspire them with an indomitable courage and determination to teach and deliver the Message to whomsoever they contact, and thus insure the faithful execution of the divine trust committed to their charge by Bahá'u'lláh.
"As the Guardian himself has pointed out, audacity in teaching is essential, but no less important is the necessity for the exercise of the utmost tact, wisdom and consideration, in approaching either separate individuals or large public audiences. Only when these qualities have been duly combined and harmonized can the teaching work be carried on effectively, and produce lasting results."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 2, 1939)
2035. Regarding Those Who Are Enrolled, But Do Not Consider Themselves Bahá'ís
"With regard to those who do not consider themselves Bahá'ís on the basis of the argument that they signed the Declaration Card without actually knowing the significance of what they were doing, you should determine who these people are. You should then deepen their knowledge of the Faith. If they feel, after receiving sufficient information, that they do not wish to be Bahá'í, then their names should be removed from the Bahá'í membership list."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 23, 1985)
2036. The Most Successful Way for the Individual to Carry on the Teaching Work
"The Bahá'ís must realize that the success of this work depends upon the individual. The individual must arise as never before to proclaim the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The most effective way for them to carry on their work is for the individual to make many contacts, select a few whom they feel would become Bahá'ís, develop a close friendship with them, then complete confidence, and finally teach them the Faith, until they become strong supporters of the Cause of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 13, 1955)
Page 602 XLIX. TESTS
2037. Bahá'ís Often Each Other's Greatest Test
"Perhaps the greatest test Bahá'ís are ever subjected to is from each other; but for the sake of the Master they should be ever ready to overlook each other's mistakes, apologize for harsh words they have uttered, forgive and forget. He strongly recommends to you this course of action."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 18, 1945: Living the Life, p. 12)
2038. Growing Pains Every Bahá'í Community Experiences
"Often these trials and tests which all Bahá'í Communities inevitably pass through seem terrible at the moment, but in retrospect we understand that they were due to the frailty of human nature, to misunderstanding, and to the growing pains which every Bahá'í community must experience."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1956: Ibid., p. 19)
2039. Failures, Tests and Trials Are Means of Purifying Our Spirits
"We must always look ahead and seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past. Failures, tests, and trials, if we use them correctly, can become the means of purifying our spirit, strengthening our characters, and enable us to rise to greater heights of service."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 14, 1941: Ibid., p. 7)
2040. God Sometimes Causes Us to Suffer Much that We May Become Strong in His Cause
"You must not be sad. This affliction will make you spiritually stronger. Do not be sad. Cheer up! Praise be to God, you are dear to Me, I will tell you a story:
'A certain ruler wished to appoint one of his subjects to a high office: so, in order to train him, the ruler cast him into prison and caused him to suffer much. The man was surprised at this, for he expected great favours. The ruler had him taken from prison and beaten with sticks. This greatly astonished the man, for he thought the ruler loved him. After this he was hanged on the gallows until he was nearly dead. After he recovered he asked the ruler, 'If you love me, why did you do these things?' The ruler replied: 'I wish to make you prime minister. By having gone through these ordeals you are better fitted for that office. I wish you to know how it is yourself. When you are obliged to punish, you will know how it feels to endure these things. I love you so I wish you to become perfect.'
"Even so with you. After this ordeal you will reach maturity. God sometimes
causes us to suffer much and to have many misfortunes that we may become strong in His Cause. You will soon recover and be spiritually stronger than ever before. You will work for God and carry the Message to many of your people."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá on October 10, 1912 to Mr. Tinsley who was recovering from an accident in San Francisco, California: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 12, p. 205)
2041. A Man May Forget God While Happy
"While a man is happy he may forget his God; but when grief comes and sorrows overwhelm him, then will he remember his Father Who is in Heaven, and Who is able to deliver him from his humiliations.
"Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, pp. 50-51)
2042. Difficulties Are Means for the Spirit to Grow
"Thus you might look upon your own difficulties in the path of service. They are the means of your spirit growing and developing. You will suddenly find that you have conquered many of the problems which upset you, and then you will wonder why they should have troubled you at all. An individual must centre his whole heart and mind on service to the Cause, in accordance with the high standards set by Bahá'u'lláh. When this is done, the Hosts of the Supreme Concourse will come to the assistance of the individual, and every difficulty and trial will gradually be overcome."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Living the Life, p. 19)
2043. Is It Right to Tell Untruth to Save Another?
"As to the question whether it is right to tell an untruth in order to save another, he feels that under no condition should we tell an untruth but at the same time try and help the person in a more legitimate manner. Of course it is not necessary to be too outspoken until the question is directly put to us."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1927: Living the Life, p. 3)
2044. No Comfort in This World--Some Under Pressure Commit Suicide
"...No comfort can be secured by any soul in this world, from monarch down to the most humble commoner. If once this life should offer a man a sweet cup, a hundred bitter ones will follow; such is the condition of this world. The wise man, therefore, doth not attach himself to this mortal life and doth not depend upon it; at some moments, even, he eagerly wisheth for death that he may thereby be freed from these sorrows and afflictions. Thus it is seen that some, under extreme pressure of anguish, have committed suicide."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 200)
2045. We Can Turn Our Stumbling Blocks Into Stepping Stones
"...We Bahá'ís can always, with the aid of Bahá'u'lláh, Who, is ever ready to strengthen and assist us, turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and utilize
the often violent forces released by sincere but perhaps misguided friends, as a positive stream of power by turning them into productive channels instead of destructive ones."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)
2046. Life Afflicts Us with Very Severe Trials which We Must Accept Patiently
"Life afflicts us with very severe trials sometimes, but we must always remember that when we accept patiently the Will of God He compensates us in other ways. With faith and love we must be patient, and He will surely reward us."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 30, 1951)
2047. Many Tests Are Due to Our Own Nature
"He was very sorry to hear that you have had so many tests in your Bahá'í life. There is no doubt that many of them are due to our own nature. In other words, if we are very sensitive, or if we are in some way brought up in a different environment from the Bahá'ís amongst whom we live, we naturally see things differently and may feel them more acutely; and the other side of it is that the imperfections of our fellow-Bahá'ís can be a great trial to us.
"We must always remember that in the cesspool of materialism, which is what modern civilization has to a certain extent become, Bahá'ís--that is some of them--are still to a certain extent affected by the society from which they have sprung. In other words, they have recognized the Manifestation of God, but they have not been believers long enough, or perhaps not tried hard enough, to become 'a new creation'.
"He feels that, if you close your eyes to the failings of others, and fix your love and prayers upon Bahá'u'lláh, you will have the strength to weather this storm, and will be much better for it in the end, spiritually. Although you suffer, you will gain a maturity that will enable you to be of greater help to both your fellow-Bahá'ís and your children."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 5, 1956)
2048. Only Through Suffering Can Nobility of Character Be Made Manifest--The Energy We Spend Enduring the Intolerance of Others is Not Lost
"As to the inconveniences you have experienced during the last ten years, the best consolation I can imagine for you is your own quotation of the Hidden Words, 'My calamity is my providence.' We must bear with one another. It is only through suffering that the nobility of character can make itself manifest. The energy we expend in enduring the intolerance of some individuals of our community is not lost. It is transformed into fortitude, steadfastness and magnanimity. The lives of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá are the best examples for this. Sacrifices in the path of one's religion produce always immortal results, 'Out of the ashes rises the phoenix'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 30, 1923)
2049. Suffering Seems to be Part of the Polish God Employs to Enable Us to Reflect More of His Attributes
"...Suffering, of one kind or another, seems to be the portion of man in this world. Even the Beloved Ones, the Prophets of God, have never been exempt from
the ills that are to be found in our world; poverty, disease, bereavement,-- they seem to be part of the polish God employs to make us finer, and enable us to reflect more of His attributes! No doubt in the future, when the foundation of society is laid according to the Divine plan, and men become truly spiritualized, a vast amount of our present ills and problems will be remedied. We who toil now are paving the way for a far better world, and this knowledge must uphold and strengthen us through every trial."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1943)
2050. Sometimes Things which Seem Difficult to Understand Have a Simple, Reasonable Explanation
"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... He hopes you will ... rest assured inwardly that for these things which sometimes seem difficult to understand there is usually a quite simple and reasonable explanation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 24, 1947: The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, A Compilation from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, January 1983)
Page 606 L. THE TEMPLE MASHRIQU'L-ADHKAR
A. Founding of the Temple
2051. Founding of Temple Marks Inception Kingdom of God on Earth
"The founding of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will mark the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 17, 1916, p. 137)
2052. Temple Ordained to be Ark to Ride Tidal Wave
"...Divinely-founded Temple ordained to be the Ark destined to ride triumphant the tidal wave of world-encircling calamities and offering sole refuge to storm-tossed sufferers of sinful, steadily sinking civilization...."
(Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 23, 1939: Messages to America, p. 30)
2053. First Institute by the Disciples Was a Temple
"The Mashrak-el-Azcar is the most important matter and the greatest divine institute. Consider how the first institute of His Holiness Moses, after His exodus from Egypt, was the 'Tent of Martyrdom' which He raised and which was the travelling Temple. It was a tent which they pitched in the desert, wherever they abode, and worshipped in it. Likewise, after His Holiness Christ--may the spirit of the world be a sacrifice to Him!--the first institute by the disciples was a Temple. They planned a church in every country. Consider the Gospel (read it) and the importance of the Mashrak-el-Azcar will become evident."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 633)
2054. Effect on Those Who Build It--Arise for the Service of Temple
"Not only does the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar have an effect upon those who built it but upon the whole world... Whosoever arises for the service of this building shall be assisted with great power from His Supreme Kingdom, and upon him spiritual and heavenly blessings shall descend which shall fill his heart with wonderful consolation and enlighten his eyes by beholding the Glorious and Eternal God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Year Book, Vol. 1, pp. 60-62)
2055. Accessories to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and its accessories: When these institutions-- college, hospital, hospice, and establishments for the incurables, university for the study of higher sciences and giving post-graduate courses, and other philanthropic buildings--are built, its doors will be open to all the nations and all religions. There will be drawn
+F1 (See also: No. 1884)
absolutely no line of demarcation. Its charities will be dispensed irrespective of colour and race. Its gates will be flung wide to mankind; prejudice toward none, love for all. The central building will be devoted to the purpose of prayer and worship. Thus for the first time religion will become harmonized with science and science will be the handmaid of religion, both showering their material and spiritual gifts on all humanity. In this way the people will be lifted out of the quagmires of slothfulness and bigotry."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1930, p. 20)
2056. One of the Most Vital Institutions in the World is the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is one of the most vital institutions in the world, and it hath many subsidiary branches. Although it is a House of Worship, it is also connected with a hospital, a drug dispensary, a traveller's hospice, a school for orphans, and a university for advanced studies. Every Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is connected with these five things. My hope is that the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will now be established in America, and that gradually the hospital, the school, the university, the dispensary and the hospice, all functioning according to the most efficient and orderly procedures, will follow. Make these matters known to the beloved of the Lord, so that they will understand how very great is the importance of this 'Dawning-Point of the Remembrance of God.' The Temple is not only a place for worship; rather, in every respect is it complete and whole."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 99-100, Wilmette, 1982 ed.)
2057. The Relationship of an Administrative Building to the Temple is Worship and Service
"As to the question of the relationship of an administrative building to the Temple: This also will have to be defined in future, but whatever the actual form which such relationship may assume, and whatever its details, it should be based on the general principle that these two sets of Bahá'í institutions embody two vital and distinct, yet inseparable aspects of Bahá'í life: worship and service. The central edifice of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, which is exclusively devoted to purpose of worship, represents the spiritual element, and therefore fulfils a primary function in every Bahá'í Community, whereas all other Temple accessories, whether of a strictly administrative, cultural or humanitarian character, are secondary, and come next in importance to the House of Worship itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 28, 1939)
B. Worship in the Temple
2058. The Reason for a Place of Worship
"You had asked about places of worship and the underlying reason therefor. The wisdom in raising up such building is that at a given hour, the people should know it is time to meet, and all should gather together, and, harmoniously attuned one to another, should engage in prayer; with the result that out of this coming together, unity and affection shall grow and flourish in the human heart."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a newly translated extract cited in a compilation on the Temple from the World Centre)
Page 608 2059. The Character of Meetings in the Auditorium
"As to the character of the meetings in the Auditorium of the Temple, he feels that they should be purely devotional in character; Bahá'í addresses and lectures should be strictly excluded. For the present, he feels that there would be no objection to having Bahá'í meetings including addresses and the business sessions of the Convention held in the Foundation Hall. 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. The more universal and informal the character of Bahá'í worship in the Temple the better. Images and pictures, with the exception of the Greatest Name, should be strictly excluded. Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master as well as sacred Writings of the Prophets should be read or chanted as well as hymns based upon Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í sacred Writings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 2, 1931)
2060. Non-Bahá'í Public Welcome
"Let the friends not hesitate to welcome to their observances, even to those of a devotional character, the non-Bahá'í public, many of whom may well be attracted by the prayers and expressions of gratitude of the believers, no less than by the exalted tone of passages from Bahá'í Writings."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 25, 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 116)
2061. Worship in Temple
"As regard the whole question of the Temple and services held in it: He wishes to emphasize that he is very anxious, now that this first and greatest Temple of the West has been built, and will, within a few years, be used for worship and regular services by the Bahá'ís, that no forms, no rituals, no set customs be introduced over and above the bare minimum outlined in the teachings. The nature of these gatherings is for prayer, meditation and the reading of writings from the Sacred Scriptures of our Faith and other Faiths; there can be one or a number of readers; any Bahá'í chosen, or even, non-Bahá'í, may read. The gatherings should be simple, dignified, and designed to uplift the soul and educate it through hearing the Creative Word. No speeches may be made, no extraneous matter introduced.
"The use of pulpits is forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh: if, in order to be more clearly heard, the person stands on a low platform, there is no objection, but this should not be incorporated as an architectural feature of the building....
"Vocal music alone may be used and the position of the singers or singer is also a matter for your Assembly to decide; but again, there should be no fixed point, no architectural details marking a special spot. Acoustics should certainly be the main consideration in placing the singers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1947: Insert with Bahá'í News, No. 232, June 1950)
2062. Talking in the Temple
"It is understood of course that there is to be no talking in the auditorium of the Temple. However, the Guardian does feel that in an emergency, it may be necessary to carry on a conversation for a very limited period, in a subdued tone of voice.
The Guardian feels that in matters of this type, careful judgement must be used."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 1953: Archives)
2063. Scriptures of Other Religions, Readers, Music in the House of Worship
"Your Assembly is free to use its discretion in choosing excerpts from the generally recognized scriptures of the older religions.
"With reference to your query about the use of several readers in unison, this is permissible provided it does not seem or become theatrical in the view of your Assembly. Concerning the placement of the reader the beloved Guardian has already indicated, 'the reader should stand where he or she will best be seen and heard by all.'
"Music in the House of Worship is to be vocal only, whether by singers or a singer. It does not matter if a guest a capella choir or soloist is used, provided such use is not made the occasion to publicize services of Worship and the precautions you mention are taken. No doubt the excellent recordings available today would assure the highest quality of performance at low cost, but all references to vocal music in the central Edifice imply the physical presence of the singers."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 13, 1964)
2064. The Auditorium May Be Used for Special Prayers by Visiting Groups, Bahá'í or Non-Bahá'í
"...provided the general rules governing the nature of services in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar are observed, there is no objection to your Assembly permitting the use of the auditorium for special prayer meetings by visiting groups at times when no general service is scheduled, and such meetings could include memorial services for departed souls, whether Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í. However, in some religions it is customary to hold memorial services for the departed at a specific time after the death--for example, in Islam it is forty days after the passing. The Guardian has stated that such practices have nothing to do with the Faith, the friends should be quite clear on this matters, and should preferably discontinue the practice. Therefore, in all such things the National Spiritual Assembly should be careful to ensure that no set practices or forms arise."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, November 24, 1976)
2065. The Chanting of Tablets in the Temple
"As regards the chanting of Tablets in the Temple, Shoghi Effendi wishes in this connection to urge the friends to avoid all forms of rigidity and uniformity in matter of worship. There is no objection to the reciting or chanting of prayers in oriental languages, but there is also no objection 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 ruling in matters of worship whether in the Temple or elsewhere.
Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 15, 1935)
2066. Questions and Answers Concerning Services in the House of Worship
"With reference to your letter of August 2, 1964, and the questions you have asked concerning services at the House of Worship, we have now had opportunity to study your questions in the light of available texts, and we are glad to share with you our conclusions.
"We will set forth your question, ... and then make our comments at the end of each section:
A. Is congregational singing the same as congregational worship? Is it permissible to have singing in which anyone can join? If so, is it permissible for 'Allah-u-Abha' or 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' to be sung?
"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. As the Guardian in a letter written on his behalf by his secretary pointed out: 'When the Aqdas is published the form of congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh will be made clear to all the friends.' (Bahá'í Procedure, 1942, page 5) 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, as well as the statements made by the Guardian regarding 'the reader' or 'a number of readers' or a 'choir'.
"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)."
B. Could we develop musical programs with words not necessarily from Sacred Scriptures? Could Christian hymn tunes with Bahá'í words be used?
"We feel that the first question is covered by the following instruction given by the Guardian: 'Prayers ... should be read or chanted, as well as hymns based upon Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í sacred Writings.' (Bahá'í News, September 1931). As regards using hymn tunes of other religions there is no objection to this. As the Guardian once pointed out, we do not have at this time distinctive music which could be called Bahá'í, as such a cultural expression is the flower of the civilization and does not come at the beginning of a new Revelation."
C. Is it necessary at the present time to uphold at all costs a standard of excellence in Temple singing? If so, should it be a Western or an African standard?
"In everything we do we should always try to attain a standard of excellence. Bearing in mind the basic principle of unity in diversity and the undesirability of attempting uniformity, the National Assembly should do all possible to ensure the dignified presentation of whatever is sung in the Temple, African, Western or other."
D. ...may the reader preface his reading by 'This reading is from ...' or words to the effect? Is it permissible to make short comments which might add 'following readings are on the subject of humility...' or 'the following healing prayer is for...'
"There is no objection to the reader very briefly stating at the beginning of his reading, the reference and source of the passage he is about to read. Beyond this, any other comment regarding the passage to be read is inappropriate. If in the future, your Assembly is able to overcome the difficulty of making a printed program available, it would be far better to have such a program."
E. May the writings of Abdu'l-Bahá be used in the Temple as these are most easily translatable and many are already prepared in the most common local language--Luganda?
"The Guardian's advice on this point is: 'Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master as well as Sacred Writings of the Prophets should be read or chanted.' (Bahá'í News, September 1931). In response to a specific question put to the Guardian regarding the Public Talks and Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, the Guardian advised that these should not be used in the devotional services in the Temple...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa, August 19, 1965)
C. Temple Guiding and Other Activities
2067. The Temple Guide Has a Very Sacred Obligation
"Regarding the guide work at the Temple...: The Guardian attaches the highest importance to it, inasmuch as it affords a splendid opportunity for presenting the Message on a very large scale. The responsibilities which this function calls for are as vital and far reaching as the privileges and bounties it confers on the individual believer. The Bahá'í guide has indeed a very sacred obligation to discharge. Not only he has to perfect his knowledge of the Cause, but should develop all those qualities of tact, wisdom, and of ability to present the Message which every Bahá'í teacher requires. It is the duty of those who are in charge of organizing the guide work at the Temple to make every effort to widen its scope, raise the standard of its personnel, and thus increase its effectiveness."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 17, 1937)
2068. Bahá'í Guides Should Be Well Informed
"You have asked as to what information the Bahá'í guides at the Temple should give the visitors; any information, whether in connection with the purely architectural side of the Edifice or with its spiritual and social significance, should be offered to the inquirers, and it is therefore essential that all those who have been appointed as guides should be well informed regarding every aspect of the Temple.
"The Temple Guide Committee should see to it that every one of the guides fulfils these requirements, and should offer them every advice and suggestion they need in the discharge of their task."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 14, 1939)
Page 612 2069. The Essential Requisites for Guides
"The essential requisite of guides is that they should know the Temple and the teachings so as to be able to answer questions and attract the hearts of the people through their spirit as well as their words. It is a very important position as it often marks the very first contact of a person with the Faith and on it may hinge that individual's future attitude towards the Cause. Perhaps some of the older Bahá'ís, who are not able to climb so many stairs, could answer questions and interest enquirers and a more active person show people over the building and explain the technical points?"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 5, 1944)
2070. Work at the Temple on Holy Days
"The beloved Guardian made it absolutely clear that the command to cease work during the nine Holy Days is a matter for conscientious obedience by every individual believer. In the case of businesses and other undertakings entirely under Bahá'í control, they must also close down during the Bahá'í Holy Days, even though non-Bahá'ís may be members of their staffs.
"It is fully appreciated that the Bahá'í Temple must be open for worship on the Holy Days and therefore it is permitted to provide, to the minimum extent possible, essential services. Those necessary tasks, such as cleaning and other preparation of the building, which can be carried out on the previous day should be so done and only those duties which must be performed should be undertaken on the Holy Day. In the case of the Temple it is immaterial whether the workers are Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís since it is the duty of the Faith to observe, especially in respect of its own institutions, the command to cease work on the Holy Days."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, August 12, 1977)
2071. Land Grant from Government Not Acceptable for Temple Site
"...it is not permissible to accept a free grant of land from the government to be used as a Temple site. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Bahá'ís for strictly Bahá'í purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Bahá'ís, whether individuals, institutions or governments. There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Bahá'í cemeteries or for such institutions that are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belize, June 15, 1972)
Page 613 LI. WOMEN
2072. Both Women and Men Have Been Created in the Image of God
"Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Baha, women are accounted the same as men, and God hath created all humankind in His own image, and after His own likeness. That is, men and women alike are the revealers of His names and attributes, and from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them. Whosoever draweth nearer to God, that one is the most favoured, whether man or woman. How many a handmaid, ardent and devoted, hath, within the sheltering shade of Baha, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.
"The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men;+F1 this for a wisdom of the Lord God's which will erelong be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, 1978 World Centre edition, pp. 79-80)
2073. Clarification Exclusion of Women on House of Justice
"Your letter of March 26th, 1971 asking for clarification of the exclusion of women from membership in the Universal House of Justice in view of the great principle of the Cause of the equality of men and women has been received and we offer you the following comments.
"In a Tablet to an early woman believer Abdu'l-Bahá stated: 'O maidservant of God! Know thou that in the sight of God, the conduct of women is the same as that of men... From the spiritual point of view ... there is no difference between women and men...' He added, however: 'As to the House of Justice: according to the explicit text of the Law of God, its membership is exclusively reserved to men. There is divine wisdom in this which will presently be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.'
"The beloved Guardian in reply to the same query from a believer pointed out in a letter written on his behalf on July 15th 1947: 'People must just accept the fact that women are not eligible to the International House of Justice. As the Master says the wisdom of this will be known in the future, we can only accept, believing it is right, but not able to give an explanation calculated to silence an ardent feminist!'
"We must have faith in the Supreme Manifestation of God and His Exemplar, Whose prescience is revealed in such provisions which will one day 'be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 26, 1971)
+F1 (From other extracts it is evident that the limitation of membership to men applies only to the Universal House of Justice, and not to the National and Local Houses of Justice.)
Page 614 2074. The Membership of the Universal House of Justice is Confined to Men; This is Not a Function Designated for Women
"As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, Abdu'l-Bahá states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1936: Women, A Compilation, p. 9)
2075. Women Are Destined to Attain to the Very Highest Station of the World of Humanity--Bahá'u'lláh Has Willed It So!
"In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present condition; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious. For His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh Hath Willed It so! At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it.
"But there are certain matters, the participation in which is not worthy of women. For example, at the time when the community is taking up vigorous defensive measures against the attack of foes, the women are exempt from military engagements. It may so happen that at a given time warlike and savage tribes may furiously attack the body politic with the intention of carrying on a wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a circumstance defence is necessary, but it is the duty of men to organize and execute such defensive measures and not the women--because their hearts are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage, even if it is for the sake of defence. From such and similar undertakings the women are exempt.
"As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Bahá'u'lláh addresses the men. He says: 'O ye men of the House of Justice!'
"But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts. His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of Abdu'l-Bahá. Rest ye assured! Ere long the days shall come when the men addressing the women, shall say: 'Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlasting
glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior'."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, 1961, U.K. edition, pp. 182-184)
2076. Reference to the "Men of Justice" Cited in the Kitab-i-Aqdas is Based on a Certain Principle Deriving from Bahá'u'lláh
"To the general premise that women and men have equality in the Faith, this, as often explained by Abdu'l-Bahá, is a fundamental principle deriving from Bahá'u'lláh and therefore His mention of the 'Men of Justice' in the Kitab-i-Aqdas should be considered in light of that principle."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 29, 1976: Women)
2077. All Mankind Are the Creatures of One God--"Man" is a Generic Term Applying to All Humanity
"In this day man must investigate reality impartially and without prejudice in order to reach the true knowledge and conclusions. What, then, constitutes the inequality between man and woman? Both are human. In powers and function each is the complement of the other. At most it is this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man has so long enjoyed, especially the privilege of education....
"The truth is that all mankind are the creatures and servants of one God, and in His estimate all are human. Man is a generic term applying to all humanity. The Biblical statement 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness' does not mean that woman was not created. The image and likeness of God apply to her as well. In Persian and Arabic there are two distinct words translated into English as man: one meaning man and woman collectively, the other distinguishing man as male from woman the female. The first word and its pronoun are generic, collective; the other is restricted to the male. This is the same in Hebrew.
"To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation is ignorance and superstition...
"It is my hope that the banner of equality may be raised throughout the five continents where as yet it is not fully recognized and established. In this enlightened world of the West woman has advanced an immeasurable degree beyond the women of the Orient. And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man. Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality. God willing, this is to be so."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, pp. 74-77)
2078. Bahá'u'lláh Made Women Respected by Proclaiming that All Women Be Educated--In Some Societies It was Preferable that She Should Not Know Reading and Writing
"The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable, for it was the belief of the Orient that it was best for woman to be ignorant. It was considered preferable that she should not know reading or writing in order that she might not be
informed of the events in the world. Woman was considered to be created for rearing children and attending to the duties of the household. If she pursued educational courses, it was deemed contrary to chastity; hence women were made prisoners of the household. The houses did not even have windows opening upon the outside world. Bahá'u'lláh destroyed these ideas and proclaimed the equality of man and woman. He made woman respected by commanding that all women be educated, that there be no difference in the education of the two sexes and that man and woman share the same rights. In the estimation of God there is no distinction of sex. One whose thought is pure, whose education is superior, whose scientific attainments are greater, whose deeds of philanthropy excel, be that one man or woman, white or coloured, is entitled to full rights and recognition; there is no differentiation whatsoever."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 166)
2079. The New Age Will Be an Age Less Masculine; the Feminine and Masculine Elements Will Be More Evenly Balanced
"The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting--force is losing its weight and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine, and more permeated with the feminine ideals--or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, 1976 U.S. edition, p. 156)
2080. Woman Would Be the Peer of Men if Equal Opportunity Were Granted
"It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man and that she is deficient by creation. This is pure imagination. The difference in capability between man and woman is due entirely to opportunity and education. Heretofore woman has been denied the right and privilege of equal development. If equal opportunity be granted her there is no doubt she would be the peer of man. History will evidence this...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 135)
2081. With the Same Educational Advantages Women Will Show Equal Capacity for Scholarship
"In the world of humanity ... the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship.
"In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, 1961 U.K. edition, p. 161)
Page 617 2082. She is the Coadjutor of Man
"...if woman be fully educated and granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor of man, his complement and helpmeet. Both are human, both are endowed with potentialities of intelligence and embody the virtues of humanity. In all human powers and functions they are partners and co-equals. At present in spheres of human activity woman does not manifest her natal prerogatives owing to lack of education and opportunity. Without doubt education will establish her equality with men...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 136-137, 1982 ed.)
2083. The Need to Educate and Guide Women in Their Primary Responsibility as Mothers
"The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in their primary responsibility as mothers as an excellent opportunity for organizing women's activities. Your efforts should focus on helping them in their function as educators of the rising generation. Women should also be encouraged to attract their husbands and male members of their families to the Faith so that the Bahá'í community will be representative of the society of which it forms a part. Gradually the spirit of unity and fellowship, as set forth in our teachings, will be reflected in the life of Bahá'í families."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 29, 1984: Women)
2084. No Nation Can Achieve Success Unless Education is Accorded to All Its Citizens
"The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in its service an army of dedicated people from every faith and nation, deserves the utmost support that the governments of the world can lend it. For ignorance is indisputably the principle reason for the decline and fall of people and the perpetuation of prejudice. No nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Lack of resources limits the ability of many nations to fulfil this necessity, imposing a certain ordering of priorities.
"The decision-making agencies involved would do well to consider giving first priority to the education of women and girls, since it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society. In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice, October 1985: Ibid.)
2085. If Mother is Educated Then Her Children Will Be Well Taught
"If the mother is educated then her children will be well taught. When the mother is wise, then will the children be led into the path of wisdom. If the mother be religious she will show her children how they should love God. If the mother is moral she guides her little ones into the ways of uprightness... Therefore, surely, God is not pleased that so important an instrument as woman should suffer from want of training in order to attain the perfections desirable and necessary for her great life's work! Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respected
since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven. Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of heart. Human virtues belong equally to all!"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, p. 162, U.K. 1941 ed.)
2086. The Assumption of Superiority by Men Will Continue to be Depressing to the Ambition of Women
"In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment of equality was creationally impossible; woman's aspiration toward advancement will be checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man's. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification. If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, 'You are most capable, and if you endeavour, you will attain the highest degree'."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, pp. 76-77)
2087. The Boldness which the Women Who Enlisted in the Ranks of the Faith Have Evinced is One of the Miracles which Distinguish This Sacred Dispensation
"Abdu'l-Bahá has pointed out that 'Among the miracles which distinguish this sacred Dispensation is this, that women have evinced a greater boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of the Faith.' Shoghi Effendi has further stated that this 'boldness' must, in the course of time, 'be more convincingly demonstrated, and win for the beloved Cause victories more stirring than any it has as yet achieved.' Although obviously the entire Bahá'í world is committed to encouraging and stimulating the vital role of women in the Bahá'í community as well as in society at large, the Five Year Plan calls specifically on eighty National Spiritual Assemblies to organize Bahá'í activities for women. In the course of the current year which has been designated 'International Women's Year' as a world-wide activity of the United Nations, the Bahá'ís, particularly in these eighty national communities, should initiate and implement programs which will stimulate and promote the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of Bahá'í community life, so that through their accomplishments the friends will demonstrate the distinction of the Cause of God in this field of human endeavour."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975: Women, A Compilation)
2088. The Women's Liberation Movement
"Concerning the point you raised in your letter ... that the women's liberation movement in ... is assuming extreme positions which are having some influence on impressionable Bahá'í young women, we feel it would be helpful if your Assembly were to stress the unique position that women occupy by being members of the
Bahá'í Faith particularly through participation in the administration of its affairs on both a local and national scale."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, April 9, 1971: Ibid.)
2089. What Abdu'l-Bahá Meant by Women Arising for Peace
"What Abdu'l-Bahá meant about the women arising for peace is that this is a matter which vitally affects women, and when they form a conscious and overwhelming mass of public opinion against war, there can be no war. The Bahá'í women are already organized through being members of the Faith and the Administrative Order. No further organization is needed. But they should, through teaching and through the active moral support they give to every movement directed towards peace, seek to exert a strong influence on other women's minds in regard to this essential matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 24, 1945: Ibid.)
2090. The Emancipation of Women and the Achievement of Full Equality is One of the Most Important Prerequisites for Peace
"The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world's population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice, October 1985)
2091. The Hearts of Women Are More Tender and Susceptible Than the Hearts of Men and They Are More Philanthropic and Responsive Toward the Needy and Suffering
"Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most capable and efficient, that their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men, that they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering, that they are inflexibly opposed to war and are lovers of peace. Strive that the ideal of international peace may become realized through the efforts of womankind, for man is more inclined to war than woman, and a real evidence of woman's superiority will be her service and efficiency in the establishment of universal peace."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 284)
2092. Woman by Nature is Opposed to War
"...imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated.
"The evident reasons underlying this are as follows: Woman by nature is opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace. Children are reared and brought up by the mothers who give them the first principles of education and labour assiduously in their behalf. Consider, for instance, a mother who has tenderly reared a son for twenty years to the age of maturity. Surely she will not consent to having that son torn asunder and killed in the field of battle. Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of international peace."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 375)
2093. The Woman Has Greater Moral Courage Than Man and is of the Greater Importance to the Race
"The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion...
"The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis."
(Abdu'l-Bahá in London, 1982 U.K. edition, pp. 102-103)
2094. The Duty of Women in Being the First Educators of Mankind
"The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is clearly set forth in the Writings. It is for every woman, if and when she becomes a mother, to determine how best she can discharge on the one hand her chief responsibility as a mother and on the other, to the extent possible, to participate in other aspects of the activities of the society of which she forms a part."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 22, 1981: Women, A Compilation)
2095. At Present the Equality of Men and Women is Not Universally Applied
"The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its progress we must take the lead in practising this Bahá'í principle. Bahá'í women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their communities."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1984)
2096. One of the Factors in Bringing About International Peace is Woman's Suffrage
"Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be accomplished until there is political democracy in all the countries of the world?
"Answer: It is very evident that in the future there shall be no centralization in the countries of the world, be they constitutional in government, republican or democratic in form. The United States may be held up as the example of future government--that is to say, each province will be independent in itself, but there will be federal union protecting the interests of the various independent states. It may not be a republican or a democratic form. To cast aside centralization which promotes
despotism is the exigency of the time. This will be productive of international peace. Another fact of equal importance in bringing about international peace is woman's suffrage. That is to say, when perfect equality shall be established between men and women, peace may be realized for the simple reason that womankind in general will never favour warfare. Women will not be willing to allow those whom they have so tenderly cared for to go to the battlefield. When they shall have a vote, they will oppose any cause of warfare. Another factor which will bring about universal peace is the linking together of the Orient and the Occident."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 167)
2097. Equality of Men and Women is Conducive to the Abolition of Warfare
"When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never by willing to sanction it."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 175)
2098. The Principle of Equality Can Be Effectively and Universally Established When Pursued in Conjunction with All Other Aspects of Bahá'í Life
"The principle of the equality between women and men, like the other teachings of the Faith, can be effectively and universally established among the friends when it is pursued in conjunction with all the other aspects of Bahá'í life. Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one's self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 25, 1984: Women, A Compilation)
2099. God Does Not Inquire, "Art Thou Woman or Art Thou Man?"
"In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, 'Art thou woman or art thou man?' He judges human actions. If these are acceptable in the threshold of the Glorious One, man and woman will be equally recognized and rewarded."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 133)
2100. Woman Must Study the Industrial and Agricultural Sciences in Order to Assist Mankind in that which is Most Needful
"Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 283)
Page 622 2101. When Woman Receives Education and Full Rights to the Prerogatives of Man, She Will Refuse to Send Her Sons to the Battlefield and She Will Abolish Warfare Among Mankind
"...the principle of religion has been revealed by Bahá'u'lláh that woman must be given the privilege of equal education with man and full right to his prerogatives. That is to say, there must be no difference in the education of male and female in order that womankind may develop equal capacity and importance with man in the social and economic equation. Then the world will attain unity and harmony. In past ages humanity has been defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among mankind."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 108)
2102. Abdu'l-Bahá Regards Such Inequalities as Remain Between the Sexes in This Age as Being "Negligible"
"Abdu'l-Bahá asserts: 'In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed.' That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature; the important thing is that He regards such inequalities as remain between the sexes as being 'negligible'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 8, 1981: Women, A Compilation)
2103. The World of Humanity Consists of Two Complementary Parts: Male and Female. If One is Defective the Other Will Necessarily Be Incomplete
"The world of humanity consists of two parts: male and female. Each is the complement of the other. Therefore, if one is defective, the other will necessarily be incomplete, and perfection cannot be attained. There is a right hand and a left hand in the human body, functionally equal in service and administration. If either proves defective, the defect will naturally extend to the other by involving the completeness of the whole; for accomplishment is not normal unless both are perfect. If we say one hand is deficient, we prove the inability and incapacity of the other; for single-handed there is no full accomplishment. Just as physical accomplishment is complete with two hands, so man and woman, the two parts of the social body, must be perfect. It is not natural that either should remain undeveloped; and until both are perfected, the happiness of the human world will not be realized."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 134)
2104. Universal Peace is Impossible Without Universal Suffrage: It is Historically True that Every Influential Undertaking in the World Where Woman Was a Participant Has Attained Importance
"Again, it is well established in history that where woman has not participated in
human affairs the outcomes have never attained a state of completion and perfection. On the other hand, every influential undertaking of the human world wherein woman has been a participant has attained importance. This is historically true and beyond disproof even in religion. Jesus Christ had twelve disciples and among His followers a woman known as Mary Magdalene. Judas Iscariot had become a traitor and hypocrite, and after the crucifixion the remaining eleven disciples were wavering and undecided. It is certain from the evidence of the Gospels that the one who comforted them and re-established their faith was Mary Magdalene...
"The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 134-135)
Page 624 LII. WORK
A. Work is Worship
2105. Work is Worship
"It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage in some occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We have made this--your occupation-- identical with the worship of God, the True One. Reflect, O people, upon the Mercy of God and upon His favors, then thank Him in mornings and evenings."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í World Faith, p. 195)
2106. Idle People Have No Place in the World Order
"With reference to Bahá'u'lláh's command concerning the engagement of the believers in some sort of profession: The Teachings are most emphatic on this matter, particularly the statement in the 'Aqdas' to this effect which makes it quite clear that idle people who lack the desire to work can have no place in the new World Order. As a corollary of this principle, Bahá'u'lláh further states that mendicity should not only be discouraged but entirely wiped out from the face of society. It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood. Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, specially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá'u'lláh a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables us to better grasp His purpose for us in this world. It is obvious, therefore, that the inheritance of wealth cannot make anyone immune from daily work."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 22, 1937)
2107. Abdu'l-Bahá Advocates the Need for a Profession--He Said His Was Mat-Making
"In connection with your dear husband, Shoghi Effendi would consider it in full and happy accord with the expressed desire of the Master that every man should have some permanent work. Much as he desires to see you both devote your entire energies to a well-thought out, progressive and attractive presentation of the Cause--a thing he feels we lack lamentably--he would be very pleased to see your husband follow what the Master often repeated even to His own immediate family, namely
the necessity of a profession. Of course you know that He always said His had been mat-making."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1929)
2108. Bahá'u'lláh Commands that Everyone Should Engage in Some Sort of Profession
"The Guardian fully realizes that from the material standpoint it would be quite easy for you to devote all your time to the service of the Cause, and he deeply appreciates the strong desire you have expressed to consecrate your full life to this noble aim, which should certainly be the chief and constant ambition of every loyal believer.
"But he thinks that in view of Bahá'u'lláh's emphatic command, as recorded in His Book of Laws, that every person should be engaged in some sort of profession, it would be better and more in conformity with the Teachings if you remain in your profession and teach the Cause at the same time. As you rightly suggest, the middle path, that is to say practicing one's profession and also teaching the Cause, is the best way for you to follow."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 30, 1936)
2109. Division of Time
"The advice that Shoghi Effendi gave you regarding the division of your time between serving the Cause and attending to your other duties was also given to many other friends both by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. It is a compromise between the two verses of the 'Aqdas': one making it incumbent upon every Bahá'í to serve the promotion of the Faith and the other that every soul should be occupied in some form of occupation that will benefit society. In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh says that the highest form of detachment in this day is to be occupied with some profession and be self-supporting. A good Bahá'í, therefore, is the one who so arranges his life as to devote time both to his material needs and also to the service of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933)
2110. Art is Worship
"In the Bahá'í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship.... Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, pp. 176-177)
2111. Working for the Cause Does Not Constitute Professional Activity
"For it must be clearly understood that working for the Cause does not and cannot constitute a sort of professional activity of the type current in ecclesiastical organizations, whether Christian, Muslim or otherwise. We have no priesthood, no specialized class of people who can make the Cause their only life-work. In the Bahá'í Cause, where practical considerations are harmoniously combined with those of
a more theoretical character, where idealism and realism are each duly recognized and are fused into a harmonious whole, men and women are commanded to work for the Cause not as a substitute to their daily professional occupation but in addition to them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 30, 1936)
2112. Practice Economy
"Thou hast asked regarding the means of livelihood. Trust in God and engage in your work and practice economy; the confirmations of God shall descend and you will be enabled to pay off your debts. Be ye occupied always with the mention of Bahá'u'lláh and seek ye no other hope and desire save Him."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, p. 375)
2113. All Humanity Must Obtain a Livelihood
"...All humanity must obtain a livelihood by sweat of the brow and bodily exertion; at the same time seeking to lift the burden of others, striving to be the source of comfort to souls and facilitating the means of living. This in itself is devotion to God. Bahá'u'lláh has thereby encouraged action and stimulated service...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 187)
2114. Retirement from Work
"As to the question of retirement from work for individuals who have reached a certain age, this is a matter on which the International House of Justice will have to legislate as there are no provisions in the Aqdas concerning it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 22, 1937: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 12)
2115. Work in the Cause at Whatever Age
"Even though you are 79 years old, that does not seem in your case to be any handicap; and in this Cause, as the Guardian has told us there is work for everyone of some sort, of whatever age he or she may be."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 23, 1954: cited by the Universal House of Justice, December 14, 1970)
2116. "Occupy Yourselves with that which Profiteth Yourselves and Others"
"It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like, We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others. Thus hath it been decreed in this Tablet from whose horizon the day-star of wisdom and utterance shineth resplendent."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, 1978 World Centre ed., p. 26)
2117. Must a Wife and Mother Work for Her Livelihood as Her Husband Does?
"You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want to know if this means that you, a wife and mother, must work for a livelihood as your husband does.
We are requested to enclose for your perusal an excerpt, 'The twelfth Glad-Tidings', from Bahá'u'lláh's 'Tablet of Bisharat'. You will see that the directive is for the friends to be engaged in an occupation which will be of benefit to mankind. Homemaking is a highly honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance for mankind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 16, 1982: Women)
2118. The Man Has Primary Responsibility for the Financial Support of the Family and the Woman is the Chief and Primary Educator of the Children
"With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home, it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept of a Bahá'í family. This concept is based on the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This by no means implies that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home. Rather, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women could also be breadwinners. As you rightly indicated, Abdu'l-Bahá encouraged women to 'participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 9, 1984: Ibid.)
2119. Concerning the Amount of Time a Mother May Spend Outside the Home
"In relation to your specific queries, the decision concerning the amount of time a mother may spend in working outside the home depends on circumstances existing within the home, which may vary from time to time. Family consultation will help to provide the answers."
2120. The Importance of the Mother's Role Derives from the Fact that She is the First Educator of the Child
"The great importance attached to the mother's role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in womb. When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. This does not mean that the father does not also love, pray for, and care for his baby, but as he has the primary responsibility of providing for the family, his time to be with his child is usually limited, while the mother is usually closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the whole of its life. As the child grows older and more independent, the relative nature of its relationship with its mother and father modifies and the father can play a greater role."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1984)
B. Trade Unions and Strikes
2121. Guidelines in Respect to Membership in Trade Unions and Participation in Strikes
"On the question of trade unions the Guardian's secretary made the following comment on his behalf in a letter dated 2 February 1951. 'Regarding your question about trade unions: The Guardian considers that this is a matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to advise the believers on. As long as the trade unions are not members of any particular political party, there does not seem to be any objection to the Bahá'ís belonging to them.'
"...the British National Spiritual Assembly wrote to the Guardian as follows: 'In this country the law recognises strikes as legal when called by properly constituted authorities such as a Trade Union, and our own understanding is that in such circumstances the Bahá'í teaching, in spite of Abdu'l-Bahá's express disapproval of strikes, neither requires nor forbids an individual to strike but leaves him free to decide for himself in the particular circumstances of his case what is the proper course of action.'
"The Guardian's secretary replied on his behalf in a letter dated July 11, 1956: 'As regard strikes, the Guardian feels that your own understanding of the matter as expressed in your letter is quite correct, and he does not see the necessity of adding anything to it. We should avoid becoming rigid and laying down any more rules and regulations of conduct.'
"Based on the above guidelines, we are to emphasize the following points. 1. A Bahá'í can become a member of a trade union as long as he is not required to also join a political party. 2. Abdu'l-Bahá in general disapproved of strikes. The Bahá'í attitude is that when the law recognizes strikes as legal, as when called by a properly constituted authority such as a trade union, the Bahá'í teaching neither requires nor forbids an individual to participate in the strike but leaves him free to decide for himself what is the proper course of action in the particular circumstances."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 23, 1985)
Page 629 LIII. YOUTH
2122. Our Expectant Eyes Are Fixed on Bahá'í Youth!
"The endurance of youth under arduous conditions, their vitality and vigour, and their ability to adapt themselves to local situations, to meet new challenges, and to impart their warmth and enthusiasm to those they visit, combined with the standard of conduct upheld by Bahá'í youth, make them potent instruments for the execution of the contemplated projects. Indeed, through these distinctive qualities they can become the spearhead of any enterprise and the driving force of any undertaking in which they participate, whether local or national. Our expectant eyes are fixed on Bahá'í youth!"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)
"You who are at present in your teens, or twenties, must realize that tomorrow, to a large extent, the burden of the Cause will rest on your shoulders; you will have to be the administrators and teachers and scholars of the Faith. Now is the time to prepare yourselves for your future duties.
"He hopes you will study the teachings deeply, their spiritual, moral, and administrative precepts, and at the same time take as active a part as possible in the life of your respective Bahá'í communities."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 183)
2124. Special Message and Mission for Youth
"This Cause, although it embraces with equal esteem people of all ages, has a special message and mission for the youth of your generation. It is their charter for their future, their hope, their guarantee of better days to come. Therefore, the Guardian is especially happy that the young Bahá'ís are active in the pioneer work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 16, 1942: Bahá'í News, No. 161, p. 1, March 1943)
2125. Youth Should Open Their Eyes to Existing Situation of World Conditions and Inquire About What the Future is Going to Bring
"The present condition of the world--its economic instability, social dissensions, political dissatisfaction and international distrust--should awaken the youth from their slumber and make them enquire what the future is going to bring. It is surely they who will suffer most if some calamity sweeps over the world. They should therefore open their eyes to the existing conditions, study the evil forces that are at play and then with a concerted effort arise and bring about the necessary reforms--reforms that shall contain within their scope the spiritual as well as social and political phases of human life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 13, 1932)
Page 630 2126. To Make Their Views Known to Others the Young People Should Keep in Touch with Local Youth Activities
"...the young Bahá'ís in every city should make a point of keeping in touch with local youth activities and clubs, and endeavouring to make their views known to as many young people in as many ways as possible. Above all they should set a high example to them; chastity, politeness, friendliness, hospitality, joyous optimism about the ultimate future happiness and well-being of mankind should distinguish them and win over to them the love and admiration of their fellow youth. The thing which is most conspicuously lacking in modern life is a high standard of conduct and good character; the young Bahá'ís must demonstrate both, if they hope to seriously win over to the Faith members of their own generation, so sorely disillusioned and so contaminated by the laxity war gives rise to."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Youth Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 20, 1945)
2127. Youth Should Be Scholars of the Faith--Material Training and Material Progress Are Insufficient
"In regard to your questions in your letter of June 15th:
No. 1. The Guardian has always advised young people to study deeply such subjects as History, Economics and Sociology as they are all related to the teachings and aid in understanding the Faith.
No. 2. A course on the Faith suitable for university use should be worked out by some body of Bahá'ís and educators and approved by the N.S.A.
No. 3. The greatest need of youth today is character training. Prayer is only one factor in this; they must learn to live up to the ethical teachings of the Faith...
No. 4. Once young people become convinced of the existence of the soul they should not need much convincing that material training and material progress are not sufficient. The soul needs training and help too.
"He feels that teaching the Faith to the youth is of the utmost importance in these days, as they will not only become the workers of the future but will be able to widely spread the Message among their own generation. He approves of your devoting as much time to this work as feasible...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 12, 1944)
2128. Saints, Heroes, Martyrs and Administrators
"He urges you to make up your minds to do great, great deeds for the Faith; the condition of the world is steadily growing worse, and your generation must provide the saints, heroes, martyrs and administrators of future years. With dedication and will power you can rise to great heights."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 2, 1951: Bahá'í Youth, p. 6)
2129. Cause Doomed to Stagnation if Youth Fail
"...If the younger Bahá'í generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pain of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of the
Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 3)
2130. The Responsibility for Teaching is Placed on the Shoulders of the Bahá'í Youth
"...The responsibilities that have been laid upon your shoulders are manifold, and unless you exert your utmost to carry them out there can be not much hope for any further progress in the field of Bahá'í teaching activity. The obligation to teach is essentially the responsibility of young believers. Their whole training should therefore be directed in such a way as to make them competent teachers. It is for this very purpose that Bahá'í Summer Schools, which constitute the very basis upon which the Bahá'í universities of the future will be established, should be widely attended by young believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to five Bahá'í Youth Groups in the United States, May 15, 1936)
2131. Youth Will Inherit the Work of the Older Bahá'ís
"The responsibility of young believers is very great, as they must not only fit themselves to inherit the work of the older Bahá'ís and carry on the affairs of the Cause in general, but the world which lies ahead of them--as promised by Bahá'u'lláh--will be a world chastened by its sufferings, ready to listen to His Divine Message at last; and consequently a very high character will be expected of the exponents of such a religion. To deepen their knowledge, to perfect themselves in the Bahá'í standards of virtue and upright conduct, should be the paramount duty of every young Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 179-180)
2132. The Need of Modern Youth for a Type of Ethics Founded on Pure Religious Faith
"...He quite agrees ... that the dangers facing the modern youth are becoming increasingly grave, and call for immediate solution. But as experience clearly shows, the remedy to this truly sad and perplexing situation is not to be found in traditional and ecclesiastical religion. The dogmatism of the church has been discarded once for all. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith such as the one revealed to the world by Bahá'u'lláh. Religion, as in the past, is still the world's sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man's individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal.
"The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 17, 1936: Bahá'í Youth, pp. 8-9)
2133. Associate in a Friendly Spirit with Others
"By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups of
young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such an association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike. A spirit of prejudice-free, loving comradeship with others is what will open the eyes of people more than any amount of words."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the Dayton Bahá'í Youth Group, January 18, 1945)
2134. From Beginning Bahá'í Era Youth Played Vital Part
"...From the very beginning of the Bahá'í Era, youth have played a vital part in the promulgation of God's Revelation. The Bab Himself was but twenty-five years old when He declared His Mission, while many of the Letters of the Living were even younger. The Master, as a very young man, was called upon to shoulder heavy responsibilities in the service of His Father in Iraq and Turkey, and His brother, the Purest Branch, yielded up his life to God in the Most Great Prison at the age of twenty-two that the servants of God might 'be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united'. Shoghi Effendi was a student at Oxford when called to the throne of his guardianship, and many of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh, who won imperishable fame during the Ten Year Crusade, were young people. Let it, therefore, never be imagined that youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'í youth in every land, June 10, 1966)
2135. We May Well Emulate the Youth
"...We may well emulate Bahá'í youth whose recent surge forward into the van of proclamation and teaching is one of the most encouraging and significant trends in the Faith, and who storm the gates of heaven for support in their enterprises by long-sustained, precedent and continuing prayer. We are all able to call upon Bahá'u'lláh for His Divine, all-powerful aid, and He will surely help us. For He is the Hearer of prayers, the Answerer."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1972)
2136. Upsurge of Bahá'í Youth
"The first, the heartwarming upsurge of Bahá'í youth, has changed the face of teaching work; impenetrable barriers have been broken or over passed by eager teams of young Bahá'ís, dedicated and prayerful, presenting the Divine Message in ways acceptable to their own generation from which it has spread and is spreading throughout the social structure. The entire Bahá'í world has been thrilled by this development. Having rejected the values and standards of the old world, Bahá'í youth are eager to learn and adapt themselves to the standards of Bahá'u'lláh and so to offer the Divine Programme to fill the gap left by the abandonment of the old order."
(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)
2137. Youth Should Be Encouraged to Think of Their Studies
"Bahá'í youth should be encouraged to think of their studies and of their training for a trade or profession as part of their service to the Cause of God and in the context of a lifetime that will be devoted to advancing the interests of the Faith. At the same time, during their years of study, youth are often able to offer specific periods of weeks or months, or even of a year or more, during which they can devote
themselves to travel teaching or to serving the Bahá'í community in other ways, such as conducting children's classes in remote villages. They should be encouraged to offer such service, which will in itself be admirable experience for the future, and the National Assembly should instruct an appropriate committee to receive such offers and to organize their implementation so as to derive the greatest possible advantage from them."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1974)
2138. Youth Will Arise for the Sake of God
"We sincerely hope that the forefront of the volunteers, the Bahá'í youth will arise for the sake of God and, through their driving force, their ability to endure inhospitable and arduous conditions, and their contentment with the bare necessities of life, they will offer an inspiring example to the peoples and communities they set out to serve, will exert an abiding influence on their personal lives, and will promote with distinction the vital interests of God's Cause at this crucial stage in the fortunes of the Plan."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 25, 1975)
2139. The House of Justice Calls on the Bahá'í Youth as "Legatees of the Heroic Early Believers" to Redouble Their Efforts in Spreading the Divine Message
"As to Bahá'í youth, legatees of the heroic early believers and now standing on their shoulders, we call upon them to redouble their efforts, in this day of widespread interest in the Cause of God, to enthuse their contemporaries with the divine Message and thus prepare themselves for the day when they will be veteran believers able to assume whatever tasks may be laid upon them. We offer them this passage from the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh:
'Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1982)
2140. Youth Should Not Indict Non-Bahá'í Friends for They Only See a World Crumbling But We See a New World Being Built Up
"Even though the Bahá'í youth should feel with the condition in which they see their non-Bahá'í friends and not indict them for it, they should not let themselves be carried by the wave of world events as they are being carried. Whereas they see before them only a world that is crumbling down we are also seeing a new world being built up. Whereas they experience the destruction of old institutions that commanded their respect, we are beholding the dawn of a new era with its strict commands and new social bonds. Their materialistic outlook shows them the futility of all things while our faith in a regenerated and spiritualized man makes us look to the future and build for it. To make them follow our ways we should sympathize with their plight but should not follow their ways. We should take our stand on a higher plane of moral and spiritual life and, setting for them the true example, urge them up to our
level. The young people should read what Bahá'u'lláh and the Master say on such matters and follow them conscientiously. That is if they desire to be true to the teachings and establish them throughout the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1932: Bahá'í Youth, A Compilation, pp. 4-5)
2141. Education, One of the Most Fundamental Factors of True Civilization
"Being a Bahá'í you are certainly aware of the fact that Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í Youth all over the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 9, 1931: Bahá'í Youth, pp. 10-11)
2142. Future Peace--Great Responsibility Borne by Youth
"A very great responsibility for the future peace and well-being of the world is borne by the youth of today. Let the Bahá'í youth by the power of the Cause they espouse be the shining example for their companions."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 15, 1965)
2143. The Universal House of Justice Calls on Bahá'í Youth to Rededicate Themselves to the Urgent Needs of the Cause
"RECENT MARTYRDOMS COURAGEOUS STEADFAST YOUTH IN SHIRAZ, SCENE INAUGURATION MISSION MARTYR-PROPHET, REMINISCENT ACTS VALOUR YOUTHFUL IMMORTALS HEROIC AGE. CONFIDENT BAHA'I YOUTH THIS GENERATION WILL NOT ALLOW THIS FRESH BLOOD SHED ON VERY SOIL WHERE FIRST WAVE PERSECUTION FAITH TOOK PLACE REMAIN UNVINDICATED OR THIS SUBLIME SACRIFICE UNAVAILING. AT THIS HOUR OF AFFLICTION AND GRIEF, AND AS WE APPROACH ANNIVERSARY MARTYRDOM BLESSED BAB CALL ON BAHA'I YOUTH TO REDEDICATE THEMSELVES TO URGENT NEEDS CAUSE BAHA'U'LLAH. LET THEM RECALL BLESSINGS HE PROMISED THOSE WHO IN PRIME OF YOUTH WILL ARISE TO ADORN THEIR HEARTS WITH HIS LOVE AND REMAIN STEADFAST AND FIRM. LET THEM CALL TO MIND EXPECTATIONS MASTER FOR EACH TO BE A FEARLESS LION, A MUSK-LADEN BREEZE WAFTING OVER MEADS VIRTUE. LET THEM MEDITATE OVER UNIQUE QUALITIES YOUTH SO GRAPHICALLY MENTIONED IN WRITINGS GUARDIAN WHO PRAISED THEIR ENTERPRISING AND ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT, THEIR VIGOUR, THEIR ALERTNESS, OPTIMISM AND EAGERNESS, AND THEIR DIVINELY-APPOINTED, HOLY AND ENTHRALLING TASKS. WE FERVENTLY PRAY AT SACRED THRESHOLD THAT ARMY OF SPIRITUALLY AWAKENED AND DETERMINED YOUTH, MAY IMMEDIATELY ARISE RESPONSE NEEDS PRESENT HOUR DEVOTE IN EVER GREATER MEASURE THEIR VALUED ENERGIES TO PROMOTE BOTH ON HOMEFRONTS AND IN
FOREIGN FIELDS, CAUSE THEIR ALL-WATCHFUL AND EXPECTANT LORD. MAY THEY MANIFEST SAME SPIRIT SO RECENTLY EVINCED THEIR MARTYR BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, SCALE SUCH HEIGHTS OF ENDEAVOUR AS TO BECOME PRIDE THEIR PEERS CONSOLATION HEARTS PERSIAN BELIEVERS, AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FLAME HIS OMNIPOTENT HAND HAS KINDLED BURNS EVER BRIGHT AND THAT ITS LIFE-IMPARTING WARMTH AND RADIANCE SHALL SOON ENVELOP PERMEATE WHOLE EARTH."
(From a cable of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth throughout the world, June 24, 1983)
2144. The Bahá'í Youth of Today Have the Distinction of Seeing the Establishment of the Lesser Peace and the Reconciliation of Society
"This generation of Bahá'í youth enjoys a unique distinction. You will live your lives in a period when the forces of history are moving to a climax, when mankind will see the establishment of the Lesser Peace, and during which the Cause of God will play an increasingly prominent role in the reconstruction of human society. It is you who will be called upon in the years to come to stand at the helm of the Cause in face of conditions and developments which can, as yet, scarcely be imagined."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the European Youth Conference in Innsbruck, July 4, 1983)
2145. The Key to Success is to Deepen Your Understanding of the Teachings and be Able to Explain Them to Your Peers
"European Bahá'í youth in particular face tremendous and challenging tasks in the immediate future. Can one doubt that the manner in which the governments of the European nation have rallied to the defence of the persecuted Bahá'ís in Iran will draw down blessings from on high upon this continent? And who among the people of Europe are more likely to be kindled by the challenge and hope of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh than the youth? Now is an opportunity to awaken the interest, set afire the hearts and enlist the active support of young people of every nation, class and creed in that continent. The key to success in this endeavour is, firstly, to deepen your understanding of the Teachings of the Cause so that you will be able to apply them to the problems of individuals and society, and explain them to your peers in ways that they will understand and welcome; secondly, to strive to model your behaviour in every way after the high standards of honesty, trustworthiness, courage, loyalty, forbearance, purity and spirituality set forth in the Teachings; and, above all, to live in continual awareness of the presence and all-conquering power of Bahá'u'lláh, which will enable you to overcome every temptation and surmount every obstacle."
2146. Youth and Fellow Believers Exhorted to Arise and Revolutionize the Progress of the Cause
"A vibrant band of Bahá'í youth on the European continent, committed to the promotion of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and the upholding of His laws and principles, determined to work in harmony and unity with their fellow believers of all ages and classes, can revolutionize the progress of the Cause. With a rapid increase in the size
of the Bahá'í communities in Europe, the believers of that continent, the cradle of western civilization, will be the better able to serve as a fountainhead of pioneers, travelling teachers and financial assistance to the Bahá'í communities of the Third World.
"A particular challenge to the Bahá'í youth of Europe is the vast eastern half of the continent that is as yet scarcely touched by the light of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It is not easy to settle in those lands, but with ingenuity, determination and reliance upon the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh it is certainly possible both to settle and to persevere in service in goals which demand a spirit of self-sacrifice, detachment and purity of heart worthy of those who would emulate the shining example set by the martyrs in Iran, so many of whom are youth, who have given their lives rather than breathe one word that would be a betrayal of the trust of God placed upon them.
"With love and utmost longing we call upon you to immerse yourselves in the divine Teachings, champion the Cause of God and His Law, and arise for the quickening of mankind."
2147. Courses of Study that One Can Pursue to Acquire Skills Needed to Assist the Developing Countries
"When deciding what course of training to follow, youth can consider acquiring those skills and professions that will be of benefit in education, rural development, agriculture, economics, technology, health, radio and in many other areas of endeavour that are so urgently needed in the developing countries of the world. You can also devote time in the midst of your studies, or other activities, to travel teaching or service projects in the Third World."
2148. Simultaneously with the Proclamation Engendered by the Persecutions in Iran, More People Are Seeking Their True Identity
"A highlight of this period of the Seven Year Plan has been the phenomenal proclamation accorded the Faith in the wake of the unabating persecutions in Iran; a new interest in its Teaching has been aroused on a wide scale. Simultaneously, more and more people from all strata of society frantically seek their true identity, which is to say, although they would not so plainly admit it, the spiritual meaning of their lives; prominent among these seekers are the young. Not only does this knowledge open fruitful avenues for Bahá'í initiative, it also indicates to young Bahá'ís a particular responsibility so to teach the Cause and live the life as to give vivid expression to those virtues that would fulfil the spiritual yearning of their peers."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth of the world, January 3, 1984)
2149. Persevere in Your Individual Efforts to Teach the Faith, Study the Writings, Serve Mankind, Volunteer for Projects
"May you all persevere in your individual efforts to teach the Faith, but with added zest, to study the Writings, but with greater earnestness. May you pursue your education and training for future service to mankind, offering as much of your free time as possible to activities on behalf of the Cause. May those of you already bent on your life's work and who may have already founded families, strive towards
becoming the living embodiments of Bahá'í ideals, both in the spiritual nurturing of your families and in your active involvement in the efforts on the home front or abroad in the pioneering field. May all respond to the current demands upon the Faith by displaying a fresh measure of dedication to the tasks at hand.
"Further to these aspirations is the need for a mighty mobilization of teaching activities reflecting regularity in the patterns of service rendered by young Bahá'ís. The native urge of youth to move from place to place, combined with their abounding zeal, indicates that you can become more deliberately and numerously involved in these activities as travelling teachers. One pattern of this mobilization could be short-term projects, carried out at home or in other lands, dedicated to both teaching the Faith and improving the living conditions of people. Another could be that, while still young and unburdened by family responsibilities, you give attention to the idea of volunteering a set period, say one or two years, to some Bahá'í service, on the home front or abroad, in the teaching or development field. It would accrue to the strength and stability of the community if such patterns could be followed by succeeding generations of youth. Regardless of the modes of service, however, youth must be understood to be fully engaged, at all times, in all climes and under all conditions. In your varied pursuits you may rest assured of the loving support and guidance of the Bahá'í institutions operating at every level."
2150. The Assembly Should Encourage the Invaluable Aid of Youth as Travelling Teachers, to Hold Youth Class, Etc.
"The incalculable value of Bahá'í youth in the service of our Faith cannot be overlooked. They should be enlisted as travelling teachers, going on foot when necessary, in the mountains and jungles to visit, teach and encourage the local Bahá'ís and to help them to elect their Local Spiritual Assemblies should the friends be either unaware of the procedure required, or perhaps illiterate and in need of help in casting their ballots. The youth should be encouraged to hold youth classes, to convey to their peers the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, to learn to give courses and lectures on the Teachings, and above all, to exemplify by their high moral behavior that which makes the Bahá'ís outstanding in a corrupt and decadent society."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of Ecuador, Ridvan 1984)
2151. Youth Must Be Encouraged to Devise and Execute Their Own Teaching Plans
"Bahá'í youth, now rendering exemplary and devoted service in the forefront of the army of life, must be encouraged, even while equipping themselves for future service, to devise and execute their own teaching plans among their contemporaries."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the world, Ridvan 1984)
2152. The House of Justice Applauds Efforts of Youth to Acquire Spiritual Qualities
"We applaud those youth who, in respect of this period,+F1 have already engaged in some activity within their national and local communities or in collaboration with their peers in other countries, and call upon them to persevere in their unyielding
+F1 (International Youth Year)
efforts to acquire spiritual qualities and useful qualifications. For if they do so, the influence of their high-minded motivations will exert itself upon world developments conducive to a productive, progressive and peaceful future."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth of the world, May 8, 1985)
2153. The Youth Have the Inescapable Duty of Reflecting the Transforming Power of the Faith to Society
"The present requirements of a Faith whose responsibilities rapidly increase in relation to its rise from obscurity impose an inescapable duty on the youth to ensure that their lives reflect to a marked degree the transforming power of the new Revelation they have embraced. Otherwise, by what example are the claims of Bahá'u'lláh to be judged? How is His healing Message to be acknowledged by a skeptical humanity if it produces no noticeable effect upon the young, who are seen to be among the most energetic, the most pliable and promising elements in any society?
"The dark horizon faced by a world which has failed to recognize the Promised One, the Source of its salvation, acutely affects the outlook of the younger generations; their distressing lack of hope and their indulgence in desperate but futile and even dangerous solutions make a direct claim on the remedial attention of Bahá'í youth, who, through their knowledge of that Source and the bright vision with which they have thus been endowed, cannot hesitate to impart to their despairing fellow youth the restorative joy, the constructive hope, the radiant assurances of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation.
"The words, the deeds, the attitudes, the lack of prejudice, the nobility of character, the high sense of service to others--in a word, those qualities and actions which distinguish a Bahá'í--must unfailingly characterize their inner life and outer behaviour, and their interactions with friend or foe."
2154. The Youth Must Aspire to Excellence, Move Towards Front Ranks of Professions, Trades, Arts and Crafts
"Rejecting the low sights of mediocrity, let them scale the ascending heights of excellence in all they aspire to do. May they resolve to elevate the very atmosphere in which they move, whether it be in the school rooms or halls of higher learning, in their work, their recreation, their Bahá'í activity or social service.
"Indeed, let them welcome with confidence the challenges awaiting them. Imbued with this excellence and a corresponding humility, with tenacity and a loving servitude, today's youth must move towards the front ranks of the professions, trades, arts and crafts which are necessary to the further progress of humankind--this to ensure that the spirit of the Cause will cast its illumination on all these important areas of human endeavour. Moreover, while aiming at mastering the unifying concepts and swiftly advancing technologies of this era of communications, they can, indeed they must also guarantee the transmittal to the future of those skills which will preserve the marvelous, indispensable achievements of the past. The transformation which is to occur in the functioning of society will certainly depend to a great extent on the effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will inherit."
Page 639 2155. The Youth Must Constantly Strive to Exemplify a Bahá'í Life which is the Opposite of the Moral Decay of Society
"He feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify Bahá'í life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners--the Bahá'í young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Bahá'í youth to furnish it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Youth who attended the Green Acre Summer School, August 4, 1946, September 19, 1946)
2156. Contact with Racial Minorities in a Country with Such a Large Element of Prejudice is Important
"He urges you all to devote particular attention to the contact with racial minorities. In a country which has such a large element of prejudice against its colored citizens as the United States, it is of the greatest importance that the Bahá'ís--and more especially the youth--should demonstrate actively our complete lack of prejudice and, indeed, our prejudice in favour of minorities."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the friends who were present at the Senior Youth Session, Louhelen Bahá'í School, November 11, 1951)
2157. The Bahá'í Faith is a Religion that Belongs to the Youth
"If ever it could be said that a religion belonged to the youth, then surely the Bahá'í Faith today is that religion. The whole world is suffering, it is sunk in misery, crushed beneath its heavy problems. The task of healing its ills and building up its future devolves mainly upon the youth. They are the generation who, after the war, will have to solve the terrible difficulties created by the war and all that brought it about. And they will not be able to upbuild the future except by the laws and principles laid down by Bahá'u'lláh. So their task is very great and their responsibility very grave."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í children and youth of Peoria, May 8, 1942)
2158. Second Declaration: No Such Thing
"There is no such thing as a 'second declaration' in Bahá'í administration. The procedure to be followed in a youth's claiming, or being granted, voting rights at the age of 21 is within the discretion of the National Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, June 29, 1967)
2159. The Solution to Difficulties which Stand in the Way of Co-Operation Between Young and Old Believers
"...the Guardian fully realizes the difficulties that stand in the way of co-operation between the young and old believers. This is a problem that confronts the Cause almost everywhere, specially in those communities where the number of young and old Bahá'ís is nearly the same. The solution, as in all such cases, is to be found through intelligent
and mutual compromise. The old believers have to give up something of their old conceptions and ways of working in order to better adapt themselves to the changing social conditions and circumstances. The young too must learn to act with wisdom, tact and moderation, and to take advantage and benefit from the age-long experience of their older fellow-believers. The old and the young have each something specific to contribute to the progress and welfare of the Bahá'í community. The energy of youth should be tempered and guided by the wisdom of old age."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 4, 1936)
2160. Laws and Precepts which Some Young Believers Are Inclined to Resent
"As to the attitude of resentment which the young believers are inclined to assume regarding certain precepts of the Cause such as obligatory prayers: There can and should be no compromise whatever in such matters that are specifically enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh. We should neither have any feeling of shame when observing such laws and precepts, nor should we over-estimate their value and significance. Just as the friends have no difficulty in recognizing the value of the specific prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, such as the Tablets of Fasting and Healing, so also they should recognize that the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones, and as such are essential."
2161. After Each Prayer Supplicate God to Bestow Mercy and Forgiveness Upon Your Parents
"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: 'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved."
(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 94)
2162. Reaching the Age of Nineteen
"...it behooveth man, upon reaching the age of nineteen, to render thanksgiving for the day of his conception as an embryo. For had the embryo not existed, how could he have reached his present state? Likewise had the religion taught by Adam not existed, this Faith would not have attained its present state...."
(Ibid., p. 89)
2163. Regarding a National Committee to Supervise the Work of the Youth
"The Guardian fully appreciates the significance of the problems involved. Surely there should be no division according to general outlook among the friends. Should we do such a thing we will soon have parties and factions among the Bahá'ís--a thing which is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Faith.
"At the same time if we say that no older person should take part in the organization of the youth it will be depriving them of the necessary experience needed to have a permanent and working institution.
"Shoghi Effendi believes that the best solution is to have some reasonable age limit
for the actual membership of the body of the organization so that only the young people may take part in the different activities and have no older person usurp the floor or deprive them from their chances to train themselves, and express their ideas. At the same time the National Assembly could appoint on the National committee that is to supervise their work some older and experienced persons who could co-operate with them and guide them in their activities. The National committee should be composed of both people within the age limit and also older people."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 27, 1932)