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Abstract:
Part 2 of the classic Bahá'í reference book! This is its first online edition.
Notes:
There is no division of the print copy; it has been divided here due to technical limitations.

Lights of Guidance (second part):
A Bahá'í Reference File

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

compiled by Helen Hornby.
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Chapter 1

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"Other prayers for the dead are optional, but if used they are to be used as revealed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 17, 1967)


661. Prayer for the Dead to be Recited by One Believer

"The Prayer for the Dead is the only Bahá'í obligatory prayer which is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand in silence. Bahá'u'lláh has clarified that the Prayer for the Dead is required only when the deceased is an adult, that the recital should precede the interment of the deceased, and that there is no requirement to face the Qiblih when saying this prayer."

(Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 10)


662. Non-Bahá'ís Can Be Present When Long Prayer for the Dead is Read

"There is no objection whatsoever to non-Bahá'ís being present when the long prayer for the dead is read, as long as they respect our manner of reading it by rising and standing as the Bahá'ís do on this occasion. Nor, indeed, is there any objection to non-Bahá'ís being present during the reading of any Bahá'í prayer for the departed."

(From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946)


663. Prayer for the Dead--Special Conditions

"The Prayer for the Dead should be recited at the funeral if the deceased is 15 years old or more. If there is no one at the funeral able to read, it is sufficient to say only that part of the Prayer which requires the repetition nineteen times of each of six short verses.

"The body must be placed in the grave in such a position that the feet point towards Akka (the Qiblih)."

(From a statement prepared by a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa and approved by the Universal House of Justice on June 14, 1982)


664. Any Prayer May Be Said for a Woman--Text Must Not Change

"In connection with the question you asked about the prayer for the dead: any of the prayers which were originally revealed for a man or a woman can be said for the opposite sex, but the text must not be changed."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 10, 1946)


665. Memorial Gatherings

"As you know, the offering of prayers on behalf of the departed, whether Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, is encouraged in our teachings, as such prayers are conducive to the progress of their souls in the world beyond. As to the holding of memorial gatherings at regular intervals, there is nothing in the teachings specifically prohibiting such gatherings, but we find general guidelines in the letters of the beloved Guardian, in which he warns the believers against adhering to the rites and customs of past systems and of former religions, and instead urges them to show forth the Bahá'í way of life and demonstrate the independent character of the teachings of the Faith.

"Advertising memorial gatherings by the family is entirely a personal matter for the family to decide. It is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly



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whether Local Spiritual Assemblies may permit the use of their Bahá'í Centres for such gatherings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ghana, May 24, 1974)


E. Cremation

666. Cremation

"He feels that, in view of what Abdu'l-Bahá has said against cremation, the believers should be strongly urged, as an act of faith, to make provisions against their remains being cremated. Bahá'u'lláh has laid down as a law, in the Aqdas, the manner of Bahá'í burial, and it is so beautiful, befitting and dignified, that no believer should deprive himself of it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 7, 1947)


667. Body Can Be Left to Medical Science, Remains Not to be Cremated

"There is nothing in the teachings against leaving our bodies to medical science. The only thing we should stipulate is that we do not wish to be cremated, as it is against our Bahá'í laws.

"As many people make arrangements to leave their bodies to medical science for investigation, he suggests that you inquire, either through some lawyer friend or through some hospital, how you could do this, and then make the necessary provision in your Will, stipulating that you wish your body to be of service to mankind in death, and that, being a Bahá'í, you request that your remains not be cremated and not be taken more than an hour's journey from the place of your death.

"The spirit has no more connection with the body after it departs, but as the body was once the temple of the spirit, we Bahá'ís are taught that it must be treated with respect."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 22, 1957)


668. The Inner Temple Beholdeth Its Physical Frame

"As this physical frame is the throne of the inner temple, whatever occurs to the former is felt by the latter. In reality that which takes delight in joy or is saddened by pain is the inner temple of the body, not the body itself. Since this physical body is the throne whereon the inner temple is established, God hath ordained that the body be preserved to the extent possible, so that nothing that causeth repugnance may be experienced. The inner temple beholdeth its physical frame, which is its throne. Thus, if the latter is accorded respect, it is as if the former is the recipient. The converse is likewise true.

"Therefore, it hath been ordained that the dead body should be treated with the utmost honour and respect."

(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 95)


669. Body Formed Gradually, Must Decompose Gradually

"Be assured that your letter was not a bother to us. Indeed, we were happy to learn that in the autumn years of your physical life your soul was illumined by the eternal light shed upon the world by Bahá'u'lláh.



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"Concerning your question about cremation, the Bahá'í law stipulates burial. The instructions of Bahá'u'lláh contained in His Most Holy Book make this law clear. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer in 1955, comments that Abdu'l-Bahá '...also explained that burial is natural and should be followed.' The explanation of the Master referred to by Shoghi Effendi is found in Tablets revealed by Him. One of those was published in Star of the West, Volume XI, No. 19, page 317, from which we quote:

'Thy letter has been received. Due to scarcity of time, I write the answer briefly: The body of man, which has been formed gradually, must similarly be decomposed gradually. This is according to the real and natural order and Divine Law. If it had been better for it to be burned after death, in its very creation it would have been so planned that the body would automatically become ignited after death, be consumed and turned into ashes. But the divine order formulated by the heavenly ordinance is that after death, this body shall be transferred from one stage to another different from the preceding one, so that according to the relations which exist in the world, it may gradually combine and mix other elements, thus going through stages until it arrives in the vegetable kingdom, there turning into plants and flowers, developing into trees of the highest paradise, becoming perfumed and attaining the beauty of color.'

'Cremation suppresses it speedily from attainment to these transformations, the elements becoming so quickly decomposed that transformation to these various stages is checked.'

"When we realize that our physical bodies are composed of elements placed in the earth by their Creator, and which through the orderly processes of His Law are continually being used in the formation of beings, we can better understand the necessity for our physical bodies to be subjected to the gradual process of decomposition. As at the time of death, the real and eternal self of man, his soul, abandons its physical garment to soar in the realms of God, we may compare the body to a vehicle which has been used for the journey through earthly life and no longer needed once the destination has been reached."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1971)


670. Spiritual Assembly Cannot Arrange for the Cremation of the Remains of a Bahá'í

"Obviously a Spiritual Assembly cannot itself arrange for the cremation of the remains of a Bahá'í even if it was that person's wish that his body be disposed of in this way. Bahá'í relatives, likewise, are under the obligation of obeying the Bahá'í law and must not agree to the cremation of a Bahá'í. Where non-Bahá'í relatives of the deceased Bahá'í have charge of the body and are proposing to cremate the remains, the responsible Spiritual Assembly should do all it can to explain the Bahá'í attitude to the relatives in an effort to prevent the cremation. If these efforts fail, the Assembly can have nothing officially to do with the cremation of the body; the believers, however, are free to do as they wish about attending the funeral and the cremation and they may certainly offer a prayer for the progress of the soul of the deceased. The Assembly could, if it seemed appropriate, arrange a meeting at a time other than the funeral, at which the Prayer for the Dead could be said on behalf of the deceased."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, December 9, 1984)



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671. Word "Bahá'í" in Centre of Nine-Pointed Star Can Be Used

"As regards your question: There is no reason why the word 'Bahá'í' should not appear in the centre of a nine-pointed star on the tombstone of dear Elsa Vento, but the ring-stone emblem should not be used, nor the Greatest Name."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1955)


672. Can Use Quotations from the Teachings on Tombstones

"In regard to your question regarding the use of the Greatest Name on tombstones of Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, the Guardian considers this too sacred to be placed in such a position in general use, and the friends should not use it on their tombstones. They can use quotations from the Teachings, if they wish to, but not the Greatest Name. Naturally, if anyone has already used it, it does not matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954)


673. Possible that Non-Bahá'í Relatives Can Be Buried in Bahá'í Cemetery

"...it is quite possible that non-Bahá'í relatives of believers or others may be permitted to be buried in a Bahá'í cemetery."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 3, 1975)

F. Suicide+F1


674. Suicide Strongly Condemned in the Teachings

"Regarding the 'In Memoriam' section of 'Bahá'í News': Although suicide is so strongly condemned in the teachings, it does not mean that a person has ceased to be a Bahá'í because he killed himself; he should, therefore, be mentioned, the same as other believers, in this section."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 29, 1945)


675. The Light Manifested by Bahá'u'lláh Can Ease Despair of Young People

"It is too bad that young and promising men, who if they remain living can render great services to humanity, should take away their life at a moment of despair.

"The world, especially in these days, is full of woes and sufferings. We should be brave and have a stout heart. Trials and tribulations should arouse in us added vigour and greater determination and not dampen our zeal and kill our spirit."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1933)


676. Bahá'ís Are Free to Pray for the Dead

"A Bahá'í is certainly free to pray for those who have passed on regardless of the cause of their death, using the words of any of the prayers of his choice which have been revealed through the bounty of God. The manner in which the Supreme Being, in His justice as well as in His mercy, will deal with every individual soul is a mystery unknown to us on this earthly plane."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 21, 1978)


___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 1200)



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677. One Should Put All Thought of Suicide and Death Out of Mind

"In reply to your letter of 1st May 1979, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to share with you the following excerpt from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary to a believer who asked about suicide.

'Suicide is forbidden in the Cause. God Who is the Author of all life can alone take it away, and dispose of it in the way He deems best. Whoever commits suicide endangers his soul, and will suffer spiritually as a result in the other Worlds Beyond.'

"The House of Justice admonishes you to put all thought of suicide and death out of your mind and concentrate on prayer and effort to serve the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1979)


678. Consolation for the Bereaved Parent

"...He was very sad to hear of your sadness and difficulties. Should that be only due to the passing of your son, it is not fully justified, at least in the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. He explicitly states that, had we the vision to see the other world, and the mind to conceive its glory, we would not desire to remain here even for a moment. Man is destined by God to undergo a spiritual development that extends throughout eternity. His life upon this earth is only the first stage of that development. When we outgrow our physical form, and are considered by God ready to reap the fruit of our spiritual development, we proceed to the other world. We term it death only because of our shortsightedness. A more proper term would be 'a more abundant life'. It is a forward step we have taken. In the light of the teachings, therefore, the proper attitude for you, is to pray that God may encompass your son with His infinite blessings, that He may enhance his development and give him that felicity which awaits every ... soul.

"...the world is full of suffering. Bahá'u'lláh tells us that the deeper are the furrows it digs into our very being, the greater will be the fruit of our life and the more enhanced our spiritual development. All the Saints that shine in the history of society had to pass through tribulations. Their form was various but their effect has always been the same, namely, the purification of our heart and soul for receiving the light of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 9, 1931)

G. Life after Death; the Soul


679. Gifts and Good Deeds in Memory of Those Passed On

"The Master has told us that gifts and good deeds done in memory of those who have passed on, are most helpful to the development of their souls in the realms beyond...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1952)


680. Man is Destined by God to Develop Spiritually Through Eternity

"With regard to the soul of man. According to the Bahá'í Teachings the human soul starts with the formation of the human embryo, and continues to develop and pass through endless stages of existence after its separation from the body. Its progress is thus infinite."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937)



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681. Regarding Non-Bahá'í Traditions

"In regard to your question concerning the truth of the statement that it takes a soul three days to make complete severance from the body, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no specific reference to this point in the Sacred Writings of the Cause. But as to the advisability of praying for the departed for forty days after their passing this is entirely an originally Moslem practice, and constitutes in no way an obligation on any believer. To pray for the dead is very beneficial and helpful and is always a source of comfort and satisfaction. But there is no reason why it should be confined to a definite period of forty days."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 9, 1934)


682. The Soul Will Continue to Ascend Through Many Worlds

"Concerning the future life, what Bahá'u'lláh says is that the soul will continue to ascend through many worlds. What those worlds are and what their nature is we cannot know. The same way that the child in the matrix cannot know this world so we cannot know what the other world is going to be."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)


683. We Can Help Every Soul Attain High Station

"Concerning your question whether a soul can receive knowledge of the Truth in the world beyond. Such a knowledge is surely possible, and is but a sign of the loving mercy of the Almighty. We can, through our prayers, help every soul to gradually attain this high station, even if it has failed to reach it in this world. The progress of the soul does not come to an end with death. It rather starts along a new line. Bahá'u'lláh teaches that great and far-reaching possibilities await the soul in the other world. Spiritual progress in that realm is infinite, and no man, while on this earth, can visualize its full power and extent."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1935)


684. Intercession in the Other World

"The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is approved by God. But intercession in the other world is not like intercession in this world. It is another thing, another reality, which cannot be expressed in words."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1984 ed., p. 231)


685. Bequests to the Poor

"If a wealthy man at the time of his death bequeaths a gift to the poor and miserable, and gives a part of his wealth to be spent for them, perhaps this action may be the cause of his pardon and forgiveness, and of his progress in the divine Kingdom.

"Also a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children; and often when the children have reached the age of maturity, the parents pass on to the other world. Rarely does it happen that a father and mother in this world see the reward of the care and trouble they have undergone for their children. Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence, and must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents. So you ought, in return for the love and kindness shown you by your father, to give to the poor



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for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy."

(Ibid., pp. 231-232)


686. The Nature of the Soul After Death Can Never Be Described

"...The honor with which the Hand of Mercy will invest the soul is such as no tongue can adequately reveal, nor any other earthly agency describe. Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station.... The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 1983 ed., p. 156)


687. There Are No Earth-Bound Souls

"There are no earth-bound souls. When the souls that are not good die they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone. They are spiritually dead. Their thoughts can have influence only when they are alive on the earth... But the good souls are given eternal life and sometimes God permits their thoughts to reach the earth to help the people."

(Questions answered by Abdu'l-Bahá in Akka: Daily Lessons, Received at Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 35-36)


688. There is No Power Exercised Over People by Evil Souls that Have Passed Away

"There is no power exercised over the people by those evil souls that have passed away. Good is stronger than evil and even when alive they had very little power. How much less have they after they are dead, and besides they are nowhere near this planet."

(Ibid., pp. 43-44)


689. Soul Mates

"There is no teaching in the Bahá'í Faith that 'soul mates' exist. What is meant is that marriage should lead to a profound friendship of spirit, which will endure in the next world, where there is no sex, and no giving and taking in marriage; just the way we should establish with our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters and friends a deep spiritual bond which will be ever-lasting, and not merely physical bonds of human relationship."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 4, 1954)



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690. Influence of Holy and Spiritual Souls

"As to the question that the holy and spiritual souls influence, help and guide the creatures after they have cast off this elemental mould--this is an established truth of the Bahá'ís..."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 543)


691. The Soul Acts

"The soul acts in the physical world with the help of the body. When it is detached from the body, it acts without an intermediary...

"...The body is the horse, the soul is the rider, and sometimes the rider moves without a mount. But people who do not reflect say that when the soul has left the body it can no longer act. Spirit has no body. Reflect on this subject."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Divine Philosophy, 1928 ed., p. 127)


692. The Other World is Within This World

"...The answer to the first question: The souls of the children of the Kingdom, after their separation from the body, ascend unto the realm of everlasting life. But if ye ask as to the place, know ye that the world of existence is a single world, although its stations are various and distinct. For example, the mineral life occupieth its own plane, but a mineral entity is without any awareness at all of the vegetable kingdom,...

"As to the second question: The tests and trials of God take place in this world, not in the world of the Kingdom.

"The answer to the third question is this, that in the other world the human reality doth not assume a physical form, rather doth it take on a heavenly form, made up of elements of that heavenly realm.

"And the answer to the fourth question: The centre of the Sun of Truth is in the supernal world--the Kingdom of God. Those souls who are pure and unsullied, upon the dissolution of their elemental frames, hasten away to the world of God, and that world is within this world. The people of this world, however, are unaware of that world, and are even as the mineral and the vegetable that know nothing of the world of the animal and the world of man."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 194-95)


693. The Soul of a Murderer

"As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be. The answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime; that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for Divine Justice would not allow this."

(Ibid., p. 179)


694. Union in the Next World

"...the possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Bahá'í Teachings are quite clear about. According to Bahá'u'lláh the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. This communion, however, is purely spiritual in character, and is conditioned upon the disinterested and selfless love of the individuals for each other."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, March 10, 1936: Dawn of a New Day, p. 58)



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695. Death Can Lose Its Sting

"In His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh says that were we able to comprehend the facilities that await us in the world to come, death would lose its sting; nay rather we would welcome it as a gate-way to a realm immeasurably higher and nobler than this home of suffering we call our earth. You should therefore think of their blessings and comfort yourself for your momentary separation. In time all of us will join our departed ones and share their joys."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 13, 1932)


696. With Vision to See Blessings of Other World, No One Would Care to Remain in This World

"Bahá'u'lláh says that were we to have the proper vision to see the blessings of the other world we would not bear to endure one more hour of existence upon the earth. The reason why we are deprived of that vision is because otherwise no one would care to remain and the whole fabric of society will be destroyed.

"Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to think of her blessings and rejoice in her happiness. Should we have true faith in the words of the prophets we would not fear death nor feel despondent over the passing of our loved ones."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1932)


697. Good Souls Enter a State of Being Far Nobler and More Beautiful...

"...Such earnest souls, when they pass out of this life, enter a state of being far nobler and more beautiful than this one. We fear it only because it is unknown to us and we have little faith in the words of the Prophets who bring a true message of certainty from that realm of the spirit. We should face death with joy especially if our life upon this plane of existence has been full of good deeds."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1932)


698. The Nature of the Soul

"...First concerning the human soul and its true nature. According to the Bahá'í conception, the soul of man, or in other words his inner spiritual self or reality, is not dualistic. There is no such thing, as the Zoroastrians believe, as a double reality in man, a definite higher self and a lower self. These two tendencies for good or evil are but manifestations of a single reality or self. The latter is capable of development in either way. All depends fundamentally on the training or education which man receives. Human nature is made up of possibilities both for good and evil. True religion can enable it to soar in the highest realm of the spirit, while its absence can, as we already witness around us, cause it to fall to the lowest depths of degradation and misery."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Alfred Lunt, May 25, 1936)


699. All Souls Progress Spiritually in the Next World--Relatives of the Believers Will at Least Partially Attain Kingdom

"With reference to Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet in which He says that all the relatives of believers will reach the Kingdom in the other world: By this is meant only a partial attainment. They can, however, progress indefinitely, as spiritual progress in the other world is limitless, and is not confined to those who have attained unto the knowledge and recognition of the Cause while still in this world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 30, 1940)



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700. Certain Things Remain a Mystery to Us in Our Present Stage of Development

"Regarding your question concerning a deep and profound study of the teachings: Of course the Bahá'ís can and should meditate upon the significances of the writings, and endeavour to grasp their meaning to the uttermost. There can be no possible objection to this. However certain things are, by their very nature, a mystery to us, at least in our present stage of development. One of these is what the next world, the purely spiritual world, is like."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)


701. The Prophets Never Revealed What Happens to Us After Death--Belief in God and His Prophet Elicits Spiritual Growth

"You ask an explanation of what happens to us after we leave this world: This is a question which none of the Prophets have ever answered in detail, for the very simple reason that you cannot convey to a person's mind something entirely different from everything they have ever experienced. Abdu'l-Bahá gave the wonderful example of the relation of this life to the next life being like the child in the womb; it develops eyes, ears, hands, feet, a tongue, and yet it has nothing to see or hear, it cannot walk or grasp things or speak; all these faculties it is developing for this world. If you tried to explain to an embryo what this world is like it could never understand--but it understands when it is born, and its faculties can be used. So we cannot picture our state in the next world. All we know is that our consciousness, our personality, endures in some new state, and that that world is as much better than this one as this one is better than the dark womb of our mother was....

"Our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future. The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet Who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His Teachings, we find we are growing, even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)


702. Our Speculations on the Nature of Life After Death Have Little Validity

"The Guardian feels that, while there is no harm in speculation on these abstract matters, one should not attach too much importance to them. Science itself is far from having resolved the question of the nature of matter, and we cannot, in this physical world, grasp the spiritual one more than in a very fragmentary and inadequate manner."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)


703. God Can Be Known Only Through His Prophets--Heaven and Hell Are Conditions Within Our Own Beings

"We will have experience of God's spirit through His Prophets in the next world, but God is too great for us to know without this Intermediary. The Prophets know God, but how is more than our human minds can grasp. We believe we may attain



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in the next world to seeing the Prophets. There is certainly a future life. Heaven and hell are conditions within our own beings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 14, 1947)


704. The Journey of Spiritual Progress is Endless

"As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach, he urges you, who have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1955)


705. How to "Get to Heaven"--Is Dependent on Two Things

"To 'get to heaven' as you say is dependent on two things--faith in the Manifestation of God in His Day, in other words in this age in Bahá'u'lláh; and good deeds, in other words living to the best of our ability a noble life and doing unto others as we would be done by. But we must always remember that our existence and everything we have or ever will have is dependent upon the mercy of God and His bounty, and therefore He can accept into His heaven, which is really nearness to Him, even the lowliest if He pleases. We always have the hope of receiving His mercy if we reach out for it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)



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XIV. EDUCATION+F1

A. Academic and Spiritual


706. Education of Man

"Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, p. 5)


707. Education of the Physical and Intellectual, Spiritual and Ethical Aspects of Man

"...Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í youth all over the world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)


708. Man Said to be Greatest Representative of God

"Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him. If he comes under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he becomes the centre of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual qualities, the rising-place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of divine inspirations. If he is deprived of this education he becomes the manifestation of satanic qualities, the sum of animal vices, and the source of all dark conditions."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 332)


709. Modern Education Lacking in Ability to Produce a Mature Mind

"People today indeed do tend to be very superficial in their thinking, and it would seem as if the educational systems in use are sorely lacking in ability to produce a mature mind in a person who has reached supposedly adult life! All the outside influences that surround the individual seem to have an intensely distracting effect, and it is a hard job to get the average person to do any deep thinking or even a little meditation on the problems facing him and the world at large. Over and over again Bahá'u'lláh cried out against the heedlessness of humanity, and warns of the fate such an attitude must lead to. Did we not know what God plans


___________________
+F1 (See also: XLVI. Social and Economic Development, LII. Youth)



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to do, and will do, with the world in the future, we should certainly be as hopeless as many of the best thinkers of our generation have become."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)


710. Each Should Be Educated According to His Needs and Deserts

"Among other teachings and principles Bahá'u'lláh counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world. All mankind must be given a knowledge of science and philosophy; that is, as much as may be deemed necessary. All cannot be scientists or philosophers but each should be educated according to his needs and deserts."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 108)


711. Education Extended to Prisoners

"...Kindness, training and education extended to prisoners is exceedingly important. Therefore as thou has exerted an effort in this, has awakened some of them, and hast been the cause of the turning of their faces to the divine Kingdom, this praiseworthy deed is highly acceptable. Assuredly persevere. Convey on my behalf to the two prisoners in San Quentin the utmost kindness, and tell them: 'That prison in the sight of wise souls is a school of training and development. Ye must strive with heart and soul that ye may become renowned in character and knowledge.'"

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 116-117)


712. Humankind Are as Children in School, and Prophets Are Their Teachers

"O true companions! All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessing of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a widespread mirror, to reflect that other world which dieth not."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 128)


713. Learning is the Greatest Bestowal of God

"It is clear that learning is the greatest bestowal of God; that knowledge and the acquirement thereof is a blessing from Heaven. Thus it is incumbent upon the friends of God to exert such an effort and strive with such eagerness to promote divine knowledge, culture and the sciences, that ere long those who are school children today will become the most erudite of all the fraternity of the wise. This is a service rendered unto God Himself, and it is one of His inescapable commandments."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, Wilmette, 1977 ed., p. 38)



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B. Universities and Colleges


714. The Academic Life

"...The academic life also has its fashions and fads, even though they are of a different nature from the fads of the man on the street.

"These fashions are not permanent; they are bound to change. Today the fad is a materialistic view of life and of the world. A day will soon come when it will become deeply religious and spiritual. In fact, we can discern the beginning of such a change in the writings of some of the most eminent souls and liberal minds. When the pendulum will start its full swing then we shall see all such eminent men turn again to God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)


715. There is No Bahá'í Curriculum as Yet

"...there is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.

"These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and University programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world, is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1939)


716. Three Cardinal Principles

"First: Whole-hearted service to the cause of education, the unfolding of the mysteries of nature, the extension of the boundaries of pure science, the elimination of the causes of ignorance and social evils, a standard universal system of instruction, and the diffusion of the lights of knowledge and reality.

"Second: Service to the cause of morality, raising the moral tone of the students, inspiring them with the sublimest ideals of ethical refinement, teaching them altruism, inculcating in their lives the beauty of holiness and the excellency of virtue and animating them with the excellences and perfections of the religion of God.

"Third: Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic--the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one



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family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood."

(From notes taken of talks given by Abdu'l-Bahá, as quoted in: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 9, p. 98)


717. Characteristics of Bahá'í College Students

"You must become the shining candles of moral precepts and spiritual ideals and be the means of the illumination of others. Clothe your bodies with the robes of virtues. Characterize yourselves with the characteristics of the people of divine morality. Shun all manner of vices as you shun a poisonous snake or a leper. Let the corps of professors and the students be impressed with the purity and holiness of your lives so that they may take you as paragons of worthiness, examples of nobility of nature, observers of the moral laws, holding in subordination the lower element by the higher spirit, the conquerors of self and the masters of wholesome, vital forces in all the avenues of life. Strive always to be at the head of your classes through hard study and true merit. Be always in a prayerful state and appreciate the value of everything. Entertain high ideals and stimulate your intellectual and constructive forces."

(Ibid.)


718. Abdu'l-Bahá Enjoins Bahá'ís to Excel All Other Students--Emphasis on Truthfulness

"I hope that while you are studying in this college you may so excel all other students in the various branches of knowledge taught therein that all of them may testify that the Bahai (Bahá'í) students have another power, are inspired with another effort, are imbued with a nobler ambition, are stimulated by higher motives and make wider and deeper exertions than others. If you do not surpass the others, then what distinction will there remain for you? Therefore, you must strive to be superior to them, so that everyone may bear testimony to this fact. You are now like the tender plants that are trained according to the knowledge and wisdom of the gardener. From now on, you must strive to beautify the moral aspect of your lives. Advise one another with utmost consideration, watch daily your words and deeds; thus from the very beginning you may characterize yourselves with divine ideals.

"The divine ideals are humility, submissiveness, annihilation of self, perfect evanescence, charity and loving-kindness. You must die to self and live in God. You must be exceedingly compassionate to one another and to all the people of the world. Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and divine assurance.

"Again: be ye most careful that, God forbid, not one single word contrary to truth issue from your mouths. One falsehood throws man from the highest station of honour to the lowest abyss of disgrace. Always guard yourselves against this enemy so that all you state may correspond with reality. Forever supplicate and entreat at the Court of Majesty and beg confirmation and assistance...."

(Ibid., pp. 98-99)



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719. Challenge to Persian Students

"I hope that through the favor and bounty of the Blessed Beauty, His Holiness the Bab, and the ineffable blessings which hallow this holy Shrine,+F1 the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha may encircle you, and that you may be characterized with the shining qualities and brilliant attributes of the Bahá'í life. May your morality become more defined day by day! May your faith and assurance be increased day by day! May your attraction to the Kingdom of Abha be intensified day by day! May your attainment in sciences and arts become more universal day by day! Perchance, God willing, you may become perfect and accomplished from every standpoint and be the means of the enlightenment of Persia."

(Ibid., pp. 99-100)


720. Teaching in Universities and Colleges

"As to teaching work in colleges and universities, this is very important, for students as a whole are open-minded and little influenced by tradition. They would easily enter the Cause if the subject is properly presented and their intellect and sentiments properly satisfied. This, however, should be attempted only by persons who have had university training and are, therefore, acquainted with the mind of the intelligent and educated youth..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1932)


721. When Studying at School or University

"For any person, whether Bahá'í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life's work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person's future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Bahá'í youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenges, and their greatest tests-- opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá'í Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Bahá'í youth that it is they 'who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá'í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it.'

"When studying at school or university Bahá'í youth will often find themselves in the unusual and slightly embarrassing position of having a more profound insight into a subject than their instructors. The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh throw light on so many aspects of human life and knowledge that a Bahá'í must learn, earlier than most, to weigh the information that is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A Bahá'í has the advantage of the divine Revelation for this Age, which shines like a searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers; he must therefore develop the ability to learn everything from those around him, showing proper humility before his teachers, but always relating what he hears to the Bahá'í teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the gold from the dross of human error."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'í Youth in every land, June 10, 1966)


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+F1 (The students were visiting the Tomb of the Bab)



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XV. ENDOWMENTS, LOCAL AND NATIONAL


722. Endowment Land Used for Site of Haziratu'l-Quds Ceases to be Endowment in the Bahá'í Sense+F1

"The Universal House of Justice acknowledges your letter of July 15 about the use of a local endowment for the site of the local Haziratu'l-Quds, and instructs us to send you the following reply.

"Endowments, whether local or national, are normally pieces of property held in the name of the National or Local Spiritual Assembly as an investment and asset. The Haziratu'l-Quds and the land on which it is built cannot be considered an endowment as this is a separate institution. If, therefore, endowment land is used for the site of a Haziratu'l-Quds, it ceases to be an endowment in the Bahá'í sense. Where a parcel of land owned as an endowment is sufficiently large to be subdivided, one part to remain as the endowment and the other to be the site of the Haziratu'l-Quds, it is permissible to do this but a clear demarcation must be made to distinguish clearly what is the endowment and what is the Haziratu'l-Quds. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, August 11, 1974)


723. National Endowments

"A national endowment should be regarded as an investment in real estate owned by the National Spiritual Assembly. It may be anywhere in the country and can be a small, inexpensive piece of land donated by one of the friends, or else acquired out of the resources of the National Fund."

(From the Naw-Ruz message of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 1974)


724. Local Endowments

"...A local endowment can be quite a small piece of land; it can be purchased by the Local Spiritual Assembly or more usually the gift of one or more of the believers. If the Local Assembly is incorporated, the endowment should be registered in its name, but if it is not, the endowment can be held by one or more of the believers on behalf of the community. For example, if one of the believers gives a small piece of land he can continue to hold it in his name, but it will be known that he does so on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly and that the land will in time be transferred legally to the Assembly when that is possible...."

(Ibid.)


___________________
+F1 (See also: XXIII, Nos. 912-922, Haziratu'l-Quds)



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725. Endowment Land--There is No Objection to Raising a Temporary Structure

"Endowment land cannot, at the same time, be used as another Bahá'í institution such as Haziratu'l-Quds or a Teaching Institute. There is no objection to erecting a temporary structure on endowment land for the convenience of the friends who may visit it or have gatherings there provided that if its use becomes of a permanent nature it would be necessary to acquire a new Endowment."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 30, 1971)


726. Endowment Land to be Regarded as an Investment for Local Assemblies

"...The principle involved is that the endowment land should not be used for any other Bahá'í purpose, and is to be regarded as an investment for the future advantage and benefit to the Local Spiritual Assembly. If the endowment plot is sufficiently large that not all of it is needed to serve as an endowment, it is permissible to designate a part of it as endowment property and the balance may be transferred to the use of the summer school. In such a case a line of demarcation should be made between the portion to be regarded as endowment and the portion to be used for summer or winter school purposes. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records, as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, April 15, 1979)


727. Endowment Property May Be Used for Sports Facilities or to Produce Income for the Work of the Faith

"In reply to your letter of 29 August 1985 in which you inquire about endowment property, we are instructed to say that while such property is regarded as an investment for the future benefit of the Bahá'í community, and as such should not be used for purposes of summer schools, conferences and other Bahá'í events except on a temporary basis, the Universal House of Justice sees no reason why it should not be used for sports facilities. It also might be farmed or otherwise developed to produce income, and such income or proceeds from a capital gain may be used for the general work of the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, September 30, 1985)


728. Summary of Principles which Should Govern Acceptance of Free Land for Bahá'í Use

"We are asked by the Universal House of Justice to acknowledge your letter of 20 August 1985 regarding the possibility of obtaining free land from the government in order to build a Haziratu'l-Quds, and to share the following principles which should govern any decision you will make in this regard.

1. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Bahá'ís for strictly Bahá'í purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Bahá'ís, whether individuals, institutions or governments.



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2. There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Bahá'í cemeteries or for such institutions as are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools.

3. In countries where the only method to acquire property is to be granted by the authorities' free use of land, there is no objection to receiving such allocation of land (which excludes ownership) for the building of institutions of a strictly Bahá'í nature, such as a Haziratu'l-Quds, a Summer School, or a Teaching Institute.

4. If the government offers gifts of land to all religious communities in recognition of their status as a religious entity in the country, Bahá'ís may accept such properties under the provisions of points 1 and 2 above. They should make it clear to the government that they can embark upon the establishment of institutions of a humanitarian or charitable nature, only when conditions favourable to the establishment of such institutions are present."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 19, 1985)



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XVI. THE FAMILY

A. Family Relationships+F1


729. Family Ties

"Deep as are family ties, we must always remember that the spiritual ties are far deeper; they are everlasting and survive death, whereas physical ties, unless supported by spiritual bonds, are confined to this life. You should do all in your power, through prayer and example, to open the eyes of your family to the Bahá'í Faith, but do not grieve too much over their actions. Turn to your Bahá'í brothers and sisters who are living with you in the light of the Kingdom."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)

"Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family ... if you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish; you will know what to do."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Pattern of Bahá'í Life, p. 24)


730. The Family: A Special Kind of Community--Each Member Has Rights and Responsibilities

"A family, however, is a very special kind of 'community'. The Research Department has not come across any statements which specifically name the father as responsible for the 'security, progress and unity of the family' as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's book, but it can be inferred from a number of the responsibilities placed upon him, that the father can be regarded as the 'head' of the family. The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural relationships. The parents have the inescapable duty to educate their children--but not vice versa; the children have the duty to obey their parents--the parents do not obey the children; the mother--not the father-- bears the children, nurses them in babyhood, and is thus their first educator, hence daughters have a prior right to education over sons and, as the Guardian's secretary has written on his behalf: 'The task of bringing up a Bahá'í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá'í Writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development.' A corollary of this responsibility of the mother is her right to be supported by her husband--a husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife. This principle of the husband's responsibility


___________________
+F1 (See also: XVI. D. 762-774. The Relationships Between Parents and Children)



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to provide for and protect the family can be seen applied also in the law of intestacy which provides that the family's dwelling place passes, on the father's death, not to his widow, but to his eldest son; the son at the same time has the responsibility to care for his mother."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)


731. The Family Progresses When There is Unity

"Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. Their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquillity, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but added to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 279)

"If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 144-145, 1982 ed.)


732. Bahá'u'lláh Provides Way to Remove Hostility and Dissension from the World

"Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement. First he has proclaimed the oneness of mankind and specialized religious teachings for existing human conditions."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 17, No. 7, p. 232)


733. It is Important for Man to Raise a Family

"It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old... In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven--a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well-organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest true and sincere love



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towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family."

(From a talk of Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 13)


734. Keys to Strengthening of Family

"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Bahá'í ideal of family life. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Bahá'í family as within the community as a whole should express 'the keynote of the Cause of God' which, the beloved Guardian has stated, 'is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 28, 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)


735. Mother-in-Law Problem

"Regarding your other question concerning the strained relationship between you and your mother-in-law and what you can do to alleviate the situation, we feel you should, with the help and consultation of your husband, persevere in your efforts to achieve unity in the family. From your description of the unfriendly attitude your mother-in-law displays toward you it is clear that you will not have an easy task. However, the important thing is that you, as a Bahá'í, are aware of Abdu'l-Bahá's admonition to concentrate on an individual's good qualities and that this approach to your mother-in-law can strengthen you in your resolve to achieve unity. And furthermore, perseverance in prayer will give you the strength to continue your efforts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 6, 1970: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 29)


736. A Truly Bahá'í Home--A Fortress Upon which the Cause Can Rely

"A truly Bahá'í home is a true fortress upon which the Cause can rely while planning its campaigns. If ... and ... love each other and would like to marry, Shoghi Effendi does not wish them to think that by doing so they are depriving themselves of the privilege of service; in fact such a union will enhance their ability to serve. There is nothing more beautiful than to have young Bahá'ís marry and found truly Bahá'í homes, the type Bahá'u'lláh wishes them to be...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 6, 1932: Ibid.)


737. The Home is an Institution Bahá'u'lláh Has Come to Strengthen and Not to Weaken

"Surely Shoghi Effendi would like to see you and the other friends give their whole time and energy to the Cause, for we are in great need for competent workers, but the home is an institution that Bahá'u'lláh has come to strengthen and not to weaken. Many unfortunate things have happened in Bahá'í homes just for neglecting this point. Serve the Cause but also remember your duties towards your home. It is for you to find the balance and see that neither makes



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you neglect the other. We would have many more husbands in the Cause were the wives more thoughtful and moderate in their Bahá'í activities."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 14, 1929: Ibid.)


738. Preserve Bahá'í Families: Harmony, Unity and Love Highest Ideals in Human Relationships

"Whenever there is a Bahá'í family, those concerned should by all means do all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the Teachings, whereas harmony, unity and love are held up as the highest ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Bahá'ís, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America, November 9, 1956: Ibid., p. 20)


739. Rights and Prerogatives of Each Member of the Family

"According to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the family being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother--none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father likewise has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)


740. Violence in the Home

"No statements dealing directly with violence in the family have come to light from the Writings; however, the House of Justice feels that the absence of specific references to the subject should not be construed as implying that we do not have the necessary guidance in the Faith to treat the problems cited in your letter. Acts of violence might properly be regarded as a negation of the persistent emphasis on concord, understanding and unity which are at the heart of the Bahá'í Teachings, and the sacred Writings are replete with advice as to how these positive objectives may be attained. In His 'Tablet of the World' Bahá'u'lláh states,

'...The distinguishing feature that marketh the pre-eminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God's holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.'

"Elsewhere in the same Tablet the 'people of God' are forbidden 'to engage in contention and conflict.' In view of such statements and the stress laid by both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá on love and harmony as the hallmark of marriage, the law for which Bahá'u'lláh describes as a 'fortress for well-being and salvation;' and in view of Abdu'l-Bahá's exhortation that each member of the family must uphold the rights of the others, it becomes obvious that violence in the family is antithetical to the spirit of the Faith and a practice to be condemned.



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"If the broad structure of society is to remain intact, resolute efforts, including medical ones, as necessary, should be made to curb acts of aggression within families, particularly their extreme forms of wife beating and child abuse by parents. This is a matter of fundamental importance, for if the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the preeminent character of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace? The following statement by the beloved Master sheds illumination on these points:

'...Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, all fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families....'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 22, 1983)


741. Love Can Change Vile, Mean Person into Heavenly Soul

"The Guardian ... is very much grieved indeed to learn of the severe opposition which you are encountering from your husband because of your affiliation with the Cause. He can very well realize the terrible condition facing you, but feels confident that Bahá'u'lláh is guiding you to follow the right way, and is continually assisting and strengthening you in your efforts to solve this most serious and challenging problem of your life. The staunch and unwavering loyalty and devotion which you have thus far so splendidly demonstrated in your attitude to the Faith is truly remarkable and worthy of the highest praise and admiration. The persecutions from which you are now suffering have this one great advantage, namely to deepen your faith in the Cause, and to revive and refresh your energies for its service. You should, therefore, rejoice and welcome those sufferings in so far as they serve to further awaken your consciousness of being a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

"The Guardian wishes me specially to urge you to remain patient and confident, and above all to show your husband the utmost kindness and love, in return for all the opposition and hatred you receive from him. A conciliatory and friendly attitude in such cases is not only the duty of every Bahá'í but is also the most effective way of winning for the Cause the sympathy and admiration of its former foes and enemies. Love is, indeed, a most potent elixir that can transform the vilest and meanest of people into heavenly souls. May your example serve to further confirm the truth of this beautiful teaching of our Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1935)



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742. Believer Must Be Patient with Non-Bahá'í Spouse, Attract with Loving Kindness, Wisdom, Tact

"As to your husband who, he is most sorry to hear, seems to be so antagonistic to the Cause, having fallen under the evil influence of Mr. ...: The Guardian wishes you to be patient with him, and to endeavour through loving kindness, wisdom and tact to enlist his consideration and sympathy for the Faith. However unfriendly his present attitude to the Cause may be, and no matter how seriously he may interfere in your activities as a believer, you should never lose hope of winning him to the Faith, nay even of guiding him to openly and actively assist you in your Bahá'í activities. With the unfailing help of Bahá'u'lláh and the example of your own conduct your task will assuredly be made easy and will be crowned with success."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 15, 1939)


743. Teaching Relatives

"He would not advise you to in any way force the teachings on your husband, but rather through prayer, love and example attract his heart to what he will be forced to see has not only made you a happier person but a better wife and mother than ever before. It is often most difficult to teach those nearest to us, but the Guardian will earnestly pray that your husband and children will join you in serving this wonderful Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska, pp. 72-73)


744. Earn Right to Plead on Behalf of Family

"He was sorry to hear that Mrs. ... is in an unhappy state of mind. She should certainly not grieve if she finds that her family are not receptive to the teachings--for not every soul is spiritually enlightened. Indeed, many members of the families of the Prophets themselves have remained unconverted even in face of the example and persuasion of the Manifestation of God; therefore, the friends should not be distressed by such things but rather leave the future of those they love in the hand of God, and by their services and devotion to the Faith, win the right to plead for their ultimate spiritual re-birth."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1942)


745. One Should Not Be Deceptive with Non-Bahá'í Spouse or Parents

"It seems to him that just as you leave your husband free to believe or not to believe in whatever pleases him, he should accord you the same rudimentary privilege. Surely the right to worship God in the way one believes to be right is the greatest fundamental freedom in the world? On the other hand no one should force one's own convictions on another and if Mr. ... objects to your Bahá'í affiliation you should carry on your activities not secretly, but not in such a way as to force him to be constantly conscious of them. In other words, you should, for his sake, sometimes forgo the pleasure of attending a Feast or meeting if there is something he wants you to do with him.

"The Guardian does not feel your daughter should deceive her father and not let him know she is a Bahá'í. She, like you, for his sake should be willing to



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sacrifice her attendance at meetings sometimes, but he cannot very well force her to not believe and accept what she holds to be the Truth for this Age!

"Every sincere believer in God must inevitably make some sacrifices, and, however heavy these may be, they are insignificant compared to the blessing of accepting Bahá'u'lláh. This is certainly true of dear Mr. ... who has suffered because of the firmness of his faith. We cannot bow to the blindness of the world; all we can do is to be tactful."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)


746. Duty of Believer to Endeavour to Lead Family to the Faith

"...If the believer is the only one of his family who has embraced the Faith, it is his duty to endeavour to lead as many other family members as possible to the light of divine guidance. As soon as a Bahá'í family unit emerges, the members should feel responsible for making the collective life of the family a spiritual reality, animated by divine love and inspired by the ennobling principles of the Faith. To achieve this purpose, the reading of the Sacred Writings and prayers should ideally become a daily family activity. As far as the teaching work is concerned, just as individuals are called upon to adopt teaching goals, the family itself could adopt its own goals. In this way the friends could make of their families strong healthy units, bright candles for the diffusion of the light of the Kingdom, and powerful centres to attract the heavenly confirmations."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)


747. If Family Members Are Hostile, Avoid Antagonizing Them, Leave Them to Themselves

"Not every one is ready to receive the Cause, but in every walk of life there are souls longing for this new Divine Outpouring, and sufficiently mature spiritually to accept it. The Bahá'ís, each according to his own opportunities, must seek out such people.

"The Guardian deeply regrets the hostile attitude of some members of your family towards the Cause you have arisen to serve, and he feels that you should do everything in your power to avoid antagonizing them--short, of course, of giving up your Faith and becoming inactive in it.

"As you cannot induce them to be interested in it, the best thing to do is what the Master always advised in such cases: leave them to themselves, and pray for them. The Guardian, you may be sure, will also pray for their illumination. Many people have, after bitterly opposing the Faith, been eventually won over by the patience, love, tact and prayers of their Bahá'í relative or friend."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1943)

B. The Relationship Between Husband and Wife


748. Keys to Strengthening of Family

"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of



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the Bahá'í ideal of family life. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Bahá'í family as within the community as a whole should express 'the keynote of the Cause of God' which, the beloved Guardian has stated, 'is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)


749. Honour and Privilege Ordained for Women: Obedience to Husbands

"It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which Abdu'l-Bahá gives the following exhortation:

'O Handmaids of the Self-Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. Undoubtedly the greatest glory of women is servitude at His Threshold and submissiveness at His door; it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is obedience to and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.'"

(Ibid.)


750. Domination by Husband or Wife Not Right

"This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22th July 1943, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

'The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents and children, wives and husbands' relations in America meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands which, of course, is not right, anymore than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.'"

(Ibid.)


751. Time When Wife Should Defer to Husband and Time When Husband Should Defer to Wife

"In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wife



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should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by Abdu'l-Bahá which is often read at Bahá'í weddings: 'Verily they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.+F1'"

(Ibid.)


752. In Tablet of the World Women and Men Envisaged as Breadwinners

"In the Tablet of the World, Bahá'u'lláh Himself has envisaged that women as well as men would be breadwinners in stating:

'Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.'

(Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 90)

"A very important element in the attainment of such equality is Bahá'u'lláh's provision that boys and girls must follow essentially the same curriculum in schools."

(Ibid.)


753. Love Between Husband and Wife

"The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!

"In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


754. The Institution of Marriage

"The institution of marriage, as established by Bahá'u'lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfill the true function for which it has been instituted by God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939: Ibid.)


755. Husband and Wife as a Single Soul

"...The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other.


___________________
+F1 (Bahá'í Prayers, p. 107, 1982 ed.)



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"If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm.

"Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 122)


756. Wife Should Treat Husband with Kindness

"As to thy respected husband: It is incumbent upon thee to treat him with great kindness, to consider his wishes and be conciliatory with him at all times, till he seeth that because thou hast directed thyself toward the Kingdom of God, thy tenderness for him and thy love for God have but increased, as well as thy concern for his wishes under all conditions."

(Ibid., p. 122)


757. Tolerate Cruel Actions, Ill Treatment, Demonstrate Loving Kindness

"Hold thy husband dear and always show forth an amiable temper towards him, no matter how ill-tempered he may be. Even if thy loving kindness maketh him more bitter, manifest thou more kindliness, more tenderness, be more loving and tolerate his cruel actions and ill-treatment."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


758. Pray to Bahá'u'lláh for Help, Think of Abdu'l-Bahá as Perfect Example

"He feels you should by all means show your husband the greatest love and sympathy; if we are ever in any doubt as to how we should conduct ourselves as Bahá'ís we should think of Abdu'l-Bahá and study His life and ask ourselves what would He have done, for He is our perfect example in every way. And you know how tender He was, and how His affection and kindness shone like sunlight on everyone.

"Your husband and your child have a right to your love, and give you a wonderful opportunity of demonstrating your faith in the Cause.

"Also you should pray to Bahá'u'lláh to help unite you with your husband and make your home a true and happy home."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1946: Ibid.)


759. Bahá'ís Should Make Almost a Superhuman Effort to Avoid Divorce+F1

"He feels that you should by all means make every effort to hold your marriage together, especially for the sake of your children, who, like all children of divorced parents, cannot but suffer from conflicting loyalties, for they are deprived of the blessing of a father and mother in one home, to look after their interests and love them jointly.

"Now that you realize that your husband is ill, you should be able to reconcile yourself to the difficulties you have faced with him emotionally, and not take an unforgiving attitude, however much you may suffer.

"We know that Bahá'u'lláh has very strongly frowned upon divorce; and it is really incumbent upon the Bahá'ís to make almost a superhuman effort not to allow a Bahá'í marriage to be dissolved."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1953)


___________________
+F1 (See also: XXIX. K. 1302-1338, Divorce.)



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C. Ancestors and Descendants


760. Faith of Believer Attracts God's Mercy to Souls of Parents

"In reference to your questions about ancestors and descendants, we have been directed to say that while there are Tablets from Bahá'u'lláh stating that faith in the Manifestation of God on the part of a believer attracts God's mercy to the souls of departed parents the House of Justice knows of no text in Bahá'í Writings to support the statement that a believer's seven past generations and seven generations to descend from him are blessed when that person becomes a Bahá'í. You may also be familiar with the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá that 'it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence, and blessings for a man after his death.... Therefore children ... must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents.' (From "Some Answered Questions" pages 268-269)."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 23, 1978)


761. True Believer in Better Position to Intercede for Ancestors+F1

"We cannot take the teaching that if a believer remains steadfast till the end of his life he will be the means of the spiritual awakening of all his ancestors too literally, especially as it is only reported, and not in an authenticated form. However, we can be assured that the true and faithful believer will be in a much better position to intercede for his ancestors, and aid in their development than if he were not spiritually enlightened."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 12, 1942)

D. The Relationships Between Parents and Children


762. The Most Important of All Duties After the Recognition of God--Due Regard for Rights of Parents

"The fruits of the tree of existence are trustworthiness, loyalty, truthfulness and purity. After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one's parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


763. If Children Do Not Obey Parents--They Will Not Obey God

"The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please."

(Ibid.)


___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 699)



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764. The Son Must Serve His Father

"We have enjoined upon every son to serve his father. Thus have We decreed this command in the Book."

(Ibid.)


765. Consultation Between Father and Son

"Regarding thy question about consultation of a father with his son, or a son with his father, in matters of trade and commerce, consultation is one of the fundamental elements of the foundation of the Law of God. Such consultation is assuredly acceptable, whether between father and son, or with others. There is nothing better than this. Man must consult in all things for this will lead him to the depths of each problem and enable him to find the right solution."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid.)


766. Father Must Give Son Advice--Son Must Obey Father

"The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instill into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.

"The son, on the other hand, must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good-pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good-pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen."

(Ibid.)


767. Parents Must Be Respected--Should Not Keep Child Back from Serving the Cause

"If thou wouldst show kindness and consideration to thy parents so that they may feel generally pleased, this would also please Me, for parents must be highly respected and it is essential that they should feel contented, provided they deter thee not from gaining access to the Threshold of the Almighty, nor keep thee back from walking in the way of the Kingdom. Indeed it behoveth them to encourage and spur thee on in this direction."

(Ibid.)


768. If One Must Make Choice Between Service to Bahá'u'lláh or Service to Parents

"We have caused thee to return to thy home as a token of Our Mercy unto thy mother, inasmuch as We have found her overwhelmed with sorrow. We have enjoined you in the Book 'to worship no one but God and to show kindness to your parents'.+F1 Thus hath the one true God spoken and the decree hath been


___________________
+F1 (Qur'an 46:15)



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fulfilled by the Almighty, the All-Wise. Therefore We have caused thee to return unto her and unto thy sister, that your mother's eyes may thereby be cheered, and she may be of the thankful.

"Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.

"When We learned of her sadness, We directed thee to return unto her, as a token of mercy unto thee from Our presence, and as an admonishment for others.

"Beware lest ye commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers. Follow ye the path of Truth which indeed is a straight path. Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them, choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee. Observe therefore that which thy Lord, the Mighty, the Gracious, hath prescribed unto thee."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid.)


769. It is a Privilege to Look After Parents

"In regard to the questions you asked him: He feels sure that, although in some ways you may be a financial burden to your children, it is to them a privilege to look after you; you are their mother and have given them life, and through the bounty of Bahá'u'lláh they are now attracted to His Faith. Anything they do for you is small recompense for all you have done for them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1948: Ibid.)


770. Pray for Parents

"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: 'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved."

(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 94, 1982 ed.)

"O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind!"

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid.)


771. Father Who Fails to Educate His Children Forfeits Rights of Fatherhood

"These are all relationships within the family, but there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women than in the home, and this too we should consider in the context of Bahá'í society, not in that of past or present



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social norms. For example, although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)


772. Mothers Are Not Necessarily Confined to the Home

"...Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of women is confined to the home. On the contrary, Abdu'l-Bahá has stated:

'In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs.' (Paris Talks, p. 182)

"and again:

'So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease;...'" (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 135)

(Ibid.)


773. Underage Child Needs Parental Consent to Pioneer

"Regarding the Guardian's statement that pioneering is conditioned upon the consent of parents and that it would be necessary for them to concur, you have asked whether this ruling applies equally to children who are of age and those who are not. The Guardian's reply is that the ruling applies only to those who have not yet come of age."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, January 18, 1943)


774. Parents and Children in the Pioneering Field

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 23 June, 1977 in which you express the ardent desire of yourself and your husband to see your children grow as active supporters of the Faith, and you ask whether, in view of the responsibilities of Bahá'í parents in the pioneering field, the seeming sufferings the children bear as the result of their parents' commitments in service to the Cause will somehow be compensated. We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to convey to you the following points:

"In considering this problem it is important to bear in mind the reality of the unity of the family, and the children's part in its activities. In a talk which Abdu'l-Bahá gave in America in 1912, He made this significant statement:



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'According to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity.... The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed, the rights of the son, the father, the mother, none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary.... All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained.' (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)

"It should also be realized that a child, from early life, is a conscious and thinking soul, a member of his family with his own duties towards it, and is able to make his own sacrifices for the Faith in many ways. It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children's whole-hearted support.

"There are many texts included in 'A Compilation on Bahá'í Education', from the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian, which indicate that 'children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Bahá'ís. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.' (Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 36). Bahá'u'lláh Himself has written: 'As to the children: We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion; ... and in deeds that will further the victory of God's Cause...' (p. 8). They should even be trained from an early age to make their own sacrifices for the Faith, as indicated in these words: 'Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import...' (Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 31)."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1977)



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XVII. THE FAST


775. Fasting--Spiritual in Character

"The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days starting as a rule from the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 10, 1936)


776. Observance of the Fast is a Universal Obligation--Bahá'u'lláh Permits Certain Exceptions to Fasting

"Regarding the nineteen-day fast: Its observance has been enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh upon all the believers, once they attain the age of fifteen and until they reach seventy. Children of all countries, nationalities and classes who are fifteen years old are under this obligation. It matters not whether they mature later in one country than in another. The command of Bahá'u'lláh is universal, irrespective of any variance in the age of maturity in different countries and among different peoples.

"In the 'Aqdas' Bahá'u'lláh permits certain exceptions to this general obligation of fasting, among them are included those who do hard work, such as workers in heavy industries.

"But while a universal obligation, the observance of the nineteen day fast has been made by Bahá'u'lláh the sole responsibility of the individual believer. No Assembly has the right to enforce it on the friends, or to hold anybody responsible for not observing it. The believer is free, however, to ask the advice of his Assembly as to the circumstances that would justify him to conscientiously break such a fast. But he is by no means required to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1937)


777. Fasting has a Salutary Effect Both Physically and Spiritually

"Keeping the Fast is enjoined upon all Bahá'ís, regardless of nationality; it has a very salutary effect both physically and spiritually, and the friends should realize Bahá'u'lláh never would have instituted it if it were detrimental to the health."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1946)


778. The Doctor's Advice Should Be Sought if There is a Health Problem

"As to your question regarding the Fast: If there is any doubt in the mind of a person as to whether it will really be bad for that person's health to keep it, the best doctor's advice should be obtained. But generally speaking most people can



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keep it, anywhere in the world, with no detriment to their health. It is very good for the health and, once one forms the habit, each year it becomes easier to keep, unless one is rundown. No one is obliged to keep it if it really harms them."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 14, 1947)


779. The Divine Wisdom in Fasting

"The Divine wisdom in fasting is manifold. Among them is this: As during those days (i.e., the period of fasting which the followers afterward observe) the Manifestation of the Sun of Reality, through Divine inspiration, is engaged in the descent (revealing) of Verses, the instituting of Divine Law and the arrangement of teachings, through excessive occupation and intensive attraction there remains no condition or time for eating and drinking. For example, when His Holiness Moses went to Mount Tur (Sinai) and there engaged in instituting the Law of God, He fasted forty days. For the purpose of awakening and admonishing the people of Israel, fasting was enjoined upon them.

"Likewise, His Holiness Christ, in the beginning of instituting the Spiritual Law, the systematizing of the teachings and the arrangement of counsels, for forty days abstained from eating and drinking. In the beginning the disciples and Christians fasted. Later the assemblages of the chief Christians changed fasting into lenten observances.

"Likewise the Koran having descended in the month of Ramazan, fasting during that month became a duty.

"In like manner His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab), in the beginning of the Manifestation through the excessive effect of descending verses, passed days in which His nourishment was reduced to tea only.

"Likewise, the Blessed Beauty (Baha'o'llah), when busy with instituting the Divine Teachings and during the days when the Verses (The Word of God) descended continuously, through the great effect of the Verses and the throbbing of the heart, took no food except the least amount.

"The purpose is this: In order to follow the Divine Manifestations and for the purpose of admonition and the commemoration of their state, it became incumbent upon the people to fast during those days. For every sincere soul who has a beloved longs to experience that state in which his beloved is. If his beloved is in a state of sorrow, he desires sorrow; if in a state of joy, he desires joy; if in a state of rest, he desires rest; if in a state of trouble, he desires trouble.

"Now, since in this Millennial Day, His Holiness the Supreme (the Bab) fasted many days, and the Blessed Beauty (Baha'o'llah) took but little food or drink, it becomes necessary that the friends should follow that example...."

(From Table Talks by Abdu'l-Bahá, by Mrs. Corinne True: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)


780. Travellers Are Exempt from Fasting--If One Eats Unconsciously, Fast is Not Broken

"Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travellers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are travelling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you



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are in a train or car, etc. If one eats unconsciously during the fasting hours, this is not breaking the Fast as it is an accident. The age limit is seventy years, but if one desires to fast after the age limit is passed, and is strong enough to, one is free to do so. If during the Fast period a person falls ill and is unable to fast, but recovers before the Fast period is over, he can start to Fast again and continue until the end. Of course the Fast, as you know, can only be kept during the month set aside for that purpose."

(Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 9-10)


781. Fasting in High Latitudes

"It is true that Bahá'u'lláh has ordained in the Kitab-i-Aqdas that in the high latitudes where the duration of days and nights varies considerably clocks should be relied upon rather than the rising and setting of the sun. However, we feel that Dublin is too far south for the application of this law. You should thus judge the end of each day by the actual sunset."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)


782. Smoking is a Form of Drinking

"In one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Bahá, after stating that fasting consists of abstinence from food and drink, categorically says that smoking is a form of 'drink'. (In Arabic the verb 'drink' applies equally to smoking.)

"In the East, therefore, the friends abstain from smoking during the hours of fasting, and friends from the East living in the West do likewise. But, as stated in our letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, this application of the Divine Law has not been extended to the friends in the West for the present, and therefore it should not be made an issue."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 15, 1972)


783. Observance of Fast When Attending Military School

"With reference to your son's request for advice regarding the observance of the Bahá'í fast: Much as the Guardian realizes the difficulty which a believer of his position, attending a military school, will have to encounter if he wishes to strictly conform to the regulations of the fast, he nevertheless would advise him to make every effort to obtain from the school authorities the necessary permission. In case his request is refused the only alternative for him would be to obey his superiors."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 27, 1938)


784. Prayer for the Fast

"O God! as I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions and animal traits. Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)



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XVIII. FEAR


785. Fear of God and Sense of Shame Protect Man from Unseemly Conduct

"...Verily I say: The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation. Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed and do not possess it."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, 1978 ed., p. 63)


786. Teach Children the Fear of God Through Concept of Oneness and the Laws

"That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)


787. The Knowledge which Will Largely Eliminate Fear

"In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32)


788. Lack of Faith in Immortality is a Cause of Fear, Weakened Will Power and Human Degradation

"The conception of annihilation is a factor in human degradation, fear and abjection. It has been conducive to the dispersion and weakening of human thought whereas the realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues; therefore it behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death, which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. If he dwells on the thought of non-existence he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened will-power his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 265)



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789. Meaning of the Term "Fear of God"

"You have asked the exact meaning of the term 'Fear of God' mentioned in Bahá'í Sacred Writings: It often means awe, but has also other connotations such as reverence, terror and fear."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940)

"We have no way of knowing what science Bahá'u'lláh meant when He said it would largely eliminate fear; as no further mention of it was ever made in the teachings, the Guardian cannot identify anything with this statement. To do so would depart from his function as interpreter of the teachings; he cannot reveal anything apart from the given teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 30, 1952)


790. Explaining Fear of God to Children

"In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 15, 1957)


791. Fear Does Not Solve Problems

"He does not feel that fear--for ourselves or for others--solves any problem, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly, or how soon we may all pass through another ordeal worse than the last one.

"But what we do know is that all we can do as Bahá'ís is to teach and to exemplify the Faith. We cannot bear the burden of suffering of others, and we should not try to. All men are in God's hands, and even if they do get killed we know there is another life beyond this than can hold great hope and happiness for the soul.

"No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through, will come out as Bahá'u'lláh has promised.

"He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that if God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)


792. Overcoming Fear

"He will certainly pray that you may entirely overcome your fear-complex. When you concentrate your thoughts on realizing that you now belong to Bahá'u'lláh,



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are His servant whom He loves and will always help, if you ask Him to, and that the great spiritual strength of the Cause of God is behind you for you to draw upon, you will soon see your fears melting away."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)


793. Forget Fears, Teach and Serve the Faith

"The Guardian urges you to forget all your fears, and with a tranquil heart and radiant spirit, to teach and serve the Faith all you can in Yonkers and its vicinity, while depending on God for your guidance and help. The teaching work is of the utmost importance in these days, and whoever engages in it will be reinforced by the Hosts on High."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1953)


794. Fear of God--Human Beings Need Element of Fear

"You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment, fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on the right path. Of course we should love God--but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His Justice!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 26, 1946: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)



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XIX. THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST

A. Nature and Function


795. Purpose of the Nineteen Day Feast

"...The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feasts is to enable individual believers to offer any suggestion to the Local Assembly which in its turn will pass it to the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Assembly is, therefore, the proper medium through which local Bahá'í communities can communicate with the body of the national representatives...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 24, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice)


796. The Lord's Supper--The Nineteen Day Feast

"You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.

"Each one of you must think how to make happy and pleased the other members of your Assembly, and each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high, and think of your own station as low."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 7, p. 120)


797. Abdu'l-Bahá is Present in Heart and Soul

"Make ye an effort in every meeting that the Lord's Supper may become realised and the heavenly food descend. This heavenly food is knowledge, understanding, faith, assurance, love, affinity, kindness, purity of purpose, attraction of hearts and the union of souls.... When the meeting is conducted after this manner, then Abdu'l-Bahá also is present in heart and soul, though His body may not be with you."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, pp. 407-408)


798. Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts Not Obligatory

"Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory but very important, and every believer should consider it a duty and a privilege to be present on such occasions."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 15, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)



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799. If Feasts Be Held in Proper Fashion...

"As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 91)


800. Prophecies About Feasts

"...This is that 'divine table' (or food) of which mention is made in the prophecies: 'On that day they shall gather together at the divine table', and 'people shall come from the East and the West and arrive in His Kingdom'."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 422, 1940 ed.)


801. Visitors Can Take Part in Consultation, They Cannot Vote

"As to visitors to a Nineteen Day Feast, Bahá'ís from anywhere in the world should of course be warmly welcomed, and may take part in consultation. However, only members of the local community can vote on recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968)


802. Omit Consultative Part of Feast if Non-Bahá'í Appears

"The rule that only Bahá'ís may take part in Nineteen Day Feasts is not a new one, indeed it was often reiterated by the beloved Guardian. However, when a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá'í should be made welcome. Of course, if the non-Bahá'í is well known to the Bahá'ís and no hurt feelings would be caused, he might be asked to retire during the consultative part. In general, however, it is much better to avoid such problems where possible, and you seem to have taken the wisest course during your friends' last visit by taking them out for the evening, so avoiding the problem.

"During the period of consultation the Bahá'ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá'u'lláh and who might, thereby, gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive non-Bahá'í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Bahá'í Community of which he is not a part."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 24, 1970)


803. Voting Rights Cannot Be Removed for Failure to Attend Feast

"The Guardian has never heard of any ruling by which a believer who does not attend three consecutive 19 Day Feasts can be deprived of his voting rights. He does not consider that such action is justifiable at all. The whole question is whether a person considers himself a Bahá'í or not, and is willing to adhere



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to the principles of the Faith and accept the authority of the Guardian and the Administration--whether that individual is able, or always in a condition psychologically to attend Feasts and Bahá'í meetings is an entirely different subject...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)


804. Non-Bahá'í Attendance at Nineteen Day Feast

"With regard to the attendance of non-Bahá'ís at a Nineteen Day Feast, you can explain to ... the essentially domestic, administrative nature of the Nineteen Day Feast.... The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf on 21 September, 1946:

'As regards your question concerning Nineteen Day Feasts ... as to non-Bahá'ís attending, this should by all means be avoided, but if non-believers come to a Nineteen Day Feast, they should not be put out, as this might hurt their feelings.'

"This is why, if a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá'í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá'í to attend.

"A non-Bahá'í who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, March 13, 1967)


805. The Nineteen Day Feast for Bahá'ís Exclusively--No Variation from this Principle Permitted

"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, as published in your January-February Bahá'í News, that non-Bahá'ís may attend 19 Day Feasts if 'the earnestness of their interest in the Faith' is vouched for by a declared believer.

"The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances.

"The 19 Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by the Bab, later confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These 19 Day Feasts are for the Bahá'ís, and the Bahá'ís exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted.

"Thus the Guardian feels you should rescind the action taken by your Assembly in opening the Feasts to 'near Bahá'ís', as it is not consistent with the spirit of the administrative order for non-Bahá'ís or near Bahá'ís to attend the 19 Day Feasts, particularly the administrative portion of the Feast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, May 28, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, November 1975)


806. Bahá'í Groups, Isolated Believers and Friends Should Observe the Nineteen Day Feast

"In reply to your letter of November 8th we feel that all friends, whatever their circumstances, should be encouraged to observe the Nineteen Day Feast.



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Obviously it can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968, Bahá'í Journal of the British Isles, No. 190, March-April 1969)


807. Where Nineteen Day Feast Should Be Held

"The matter of where the Nineteen Day Feasts should be held is certainly one for the Spiritual Assembly to decide; but the Haziratu'l-Quds seems the logical place on most occasions. Until the friends have a place of worship ... this building will also be used for devotional meetings, as well as for administrative purposes.

"If under some circumstances, some special Feast is offered in the home of one of the believers, with the approval of the Spiritual Assembly, there can be no objection; but, generally speaking, he feels it is better to use the Haziratu'l-Quds."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31)


808. The Owner of the House Must Personally Serve

"...The owner of the house must personally serve the beloved ones. He must seek after the comfort of all and with the utmost humility he must show forth kindness to every one. If the Feast is arranged in this manner and in the way mentioned, that supper is the 'Lord's Supper', for the result is the same result and the effect is the same effect."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, pp. 468-469)


809. Children Up to Age Fifteen Permitted to Attend Feasts

"Up to the age of fifteen, children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Bahá'ís and are permitted to attend such functions as Feasts. Upon reaching the age of fifteen, however, the child must make his own declaration of faith if he wishes to continue as a Bahá'í. Again, the mechanics of enrollment are left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, March 27, 1968)


810. District Nineteen Day Feasts

"Each city will have its own Spiritual Assembly, not a number of district ones. Naturally, district 19 Day Feasts can be held where there are very many Bahá'ís in one city."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1949: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 29)



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B. Time for Holding Nineteen Day Feast


811. Time for Holding the Nineteen Day Feast

"We have your letter of October 12, 1971 concerning the date for the holding of the Nineteen Day Feast. It is preferable that Nineteen Day Feasts be held on the first day of the Bahá'í month, but if it should be difficult to do so, it is permissible to hold it on a succeeding day of the Bahá'í month. The matter is left to the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland, October 28, 1971, Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)


812. If Feast Clashes with Regular Day for Public Meeting

"The Nineteen Day Feast should be held, preferably, on the first day of the Bahá'í month, that is to say the Bahá'í day, beginning at sunset. If this is not possible for some good reason, for example that it clashes with the regular day for a public meeting, then it may be held later, but it must fall within that same Bahá'í month and should be on the nearest possible date."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)


813. Feast Should Be Held on Prescribed Day Before Sunset

"Regarding the time for holding of the Nineteen Day Feasts and elections: The Guardian would advise your Assembly to urge the friends to hold such gatherings on the prescribed day before sunset. If impossible, then it is permissible to hold them on the preceding day...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 24, 1939: Bahá'í Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 28)


814. Feast Can Be Celebrated During Intercalary Days, Also Month of Fasting

"...relative to the last Nineteen Day Feast, Shoghi Effendi sees no objection if the friends choose to celebrate it on one of the intercalary days. They may also celebrate it during the month of fasting, provided they abstain from food."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 2, 1929)


815. In High Latitudes Permissible to Go by the Clock

"As to whether the celebrating of the Feasts, Holy Days and the Fast should follow the rising and the setting of sun, in the high latitudes it is permissible to go by the clock."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland October 28, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)


816. "Most Suitable" Day for Celebrations of the Nineteen Day Feast

"...You ask if it is within the discretion of a Local Spiritual Assembly, to schedule the Feasts at times other than the first day of a Bahá'í month, and point out that attendance was very low when the Feasts were held in the middle of a week, but that when held on a Saturday many more of the friends were



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able to attend. It seems obvious, therefore, that the intent of the Local Assembly, in loving consideration of the members of its community, was to make the participation in a Nineteen Day Feast available to as many of the believers as possible. Perhaps the Assembly was basing its decision on Abdu'l-Bahá's statement, taken from the compilation on the Nineteen Day Feast, that the 'object' of the Feast is 'concord, that through this fellowship hearts may become perfectly united...'

"Other passages from that same compilation are: 'This Feast is a bringer of joy. It is the groundwork of agreement and unity. It is the key to affection and fellowship... 'The believers of God must assemble and associate with each other in the utmost love, joy and fragrance.'

"On the other hand, since the beloved Guardian expressed a preference, and considered it 'most suitable', for the Feast to be held on the first day of each month, the House of Justice hopes that the friends everywhere will aim at scheduling their Nineteen Day Feasts in this way, and that the friends themselves will arrange their personal affairs to be able to attend.

"As in so many aspects of our beloved Faith, this is a matter of the gradual maturing of the Bahá'ís and of the institutions. The House of Justice feels that you should lovingly guide the Local Assemblies in this matter, but leave it to their discretion for the time being."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, October 10, 1985)

C. Programme for the Nineteen Day Feast


817. Devotional Part of Feast

"The question regarding the devotional part of the Feast has been obscured because once he used the term 'devotional' in its strict sense, which of course means prayer, and once loosely, in the sense in which the Bahá'ís usually understand it, and that is the meeting together and reading from the teachings which precedes the administrative--or consultative--aspect of the 19 Day Feast. The two statements in no way change the method of holding this part of the Feast which, in the East at any rate, is always opened with prayers and afterwards Tablets and excerpts from Bahá'u'lláh's, or the Master's or the Guardian's writings may be read or, for that matter, the Bible or the Qur'an quoted."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949: Bahá'í Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)


818. Programme for Devotions Outlined

"Concerning the matter of the devotions at Nineteen Day Feasts. We see no contradiction in the three statements of the beloved Guardian. In essence they all describe exactly the same procedure, namely, that the Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Bab, and the Master. Following these passages may be read from other Tablets, from the Holy Scriptures of previous Dispensations, and from the writings of the Guardian. It is clear, however, that the beloved Guardian would not wish his own words to be read as part of an arranged devotional programme in which they would



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be interspersed among words of Holy Scripture. In other words, at the Nineteen Day Feast, where words of the Guardian are to be read they should follow any selections from the Scriptures and not be mixed with them. This does not mean, however, that subsequently in the Feast, any of these types of writings may not be read as suitable during the consultation."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause of God, August 25, 1965: cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)


819. Writings which Can Be Read in Spiritual Part of Feast

"The Writings of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh can certainly be read any time at any place; likewise the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá are read freely during the spiritual part of the Feast. The Guardian has instructed that during the spiritual part of the Feast, his own writings should not be read. In other words, during the spiritual part of the Feast, readings should be confined to the Writings of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and to a lesser extent, of the Master; but during that part of the Feast the Guardian's writings should not be read. During the period of administrative discussion of the Feast, then the Guardian's writings may be read. Of course, during the administrative part of the Feast there can be no objection to the reading of the Writings of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh or Abdu'l-Bahá."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1956: Ibid., p. 9)


820. Reading from Writings of the Guardian at Feast in Persia

"Concerning the permissibility of reading selections from the writings of the beloved Guardian at Nineteen Day Feasts in Persia: It is true, as you rightly point out, that the beloved Guardian in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States stated that only the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá should be read during the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast....

"...it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)


821. Advisable to Read from Our Own Holy Writings

"First, he feels that although in principle there is certainly no reason why excerpts from other Sacred Scriptures should not be read in the spiritual part of our Feasts, that as this is particularly an occasion when Bahá'ís get together to deepen their own spiritual life, it is, generally speaking, advisable for them to read from their own holy Writings in the spiritual part of the Feast."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: Bahá'í Meetings and the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31, Wilmette, 1976)


822. Music at Bahá'í Feasts

"Music is permitted during the spiritual part--or any part--of the 19 Day Feast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 30, 1952: Ibid.)



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823. Advisable Believers Make Use of Hymns, Poems and Chants

"With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that not only he approves of such a practice, but thinks it even advisable that the believers should make use, in their meetings, of hymns composed by Bahá'ís themselves, and also of such hymns, poems and chants as are based on the Holy Words."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 7, 1935: Ibid., p. 5)


824. Instrumental Music May Be Used at Feasts

"Instrumental music may be used at the Bahá'í Feasts.

"There is no objection to showing appreciation by the clapping of hands.

"If an individual has a teaching appointment on the same evening as a 19 Day Feast, it is left to the individual to judge which is the most important."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 20, 1956: Ibid., p. 33)


825. Shoghi Effendi Provided for the Period of Consultation

"...In the Arabic Bayan the Bab called upon His followers to gather together once every nineteen days to show hospitality and fellowship. Bahá'u'lláh here confirms this and notes the unifying role of such occasions.

"Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi after Him have gradually unfolded the institutional significance of this injunction. Abdu'l-Bahá emphasized the importance of the spiritual and devotional character of these gatherings. Shoghi Effendi, besides further elaborating the devotional and social aspects of the Feast, has developed the administrative element of such gatherings and, in systematically instituting the Feast, has provided for a period of consultation on the affairs of the Bahá'í community, including the sharing of news and messages.

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas: N. 82, p. 202)


826. Consultation in the Nineteen Day Feast+F1

"The Bahá'ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire--so natural in people--to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the 19 Day Feasts for the community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise, the Assembly members should fully consult, and in their decisions put the interest of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949: Bahá'í Meetings; The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)


827. Selling of Items at the Nineteen Day Feast

"As to the sale of items during the Nineteen Day Feast, we leave this to your discretion, bearing in mind that the principal purpose of holding the Feast should not be diverted and that pressure should not be placed upon the friends to participate in the purchase of articles offered for sale. Neither should it become an habitual thing. It would be better if the sale was not conducted during the Feast itself, but held at a separate time before or after the Feast proper."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)


___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 288)



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XX. FIRESIDES


828. Firesides More Effective Than Publicity

"...I would like to comment that it has been found over the entire world that the most effective method of teaching the Faith is the fireside meeting in the home. Every Bahá'í as a part of his spiritual birthright, must teach, and the one avenue where he can do this most effectively is by inviting friends into his home once in 19 days, and gradually attracting them to the Cause. After the individuals have confidence in the pioneer, and the pioneer in the individuals, then they can be taught and confirmed in the Faith. This method is far more effective than advertising in newspapers, public lectures etc. The Guardian is encouraging the believers over the world, including those on the home fronts, to engage in this method of teaching."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Bahá'í Group of Key West, Florida, March 31, 1955: Bahá'í News, No. 292, pp. 9-10)


829. Must Hold Fireside in Home Once in 19 Days

"The friends must realize their individual responsibility. Each must hold a Fireside in his or her home, once in 19 days, where new people are invited, and where some phase of the Faith is mentioned and discussed. If this is done with the intent of showing Bahá'í hospitality and love, then there will be results. People will become interested in 'what' you are interested in, and then be interested in studying. Individual firesides will bring the knowledge of the Faith to more people, under favourable circumstances, and thus constantly enrich its circle of friends, and finally its members. There is no substitute for the teaching work of the individual."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 6, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 317, July 1957, p. 4)


830. Service Once Rendered by Priest is the Service a Bahá'í is Expected to Render Individually to His Religion

"The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Bahá'u'lláh has enjoined upon the Bahá'ís the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Bahá'í is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life--the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux Countries, July 5, 1957)


831. That Home is a Garden of God

"Blessed art thou for having opened the door of thy home unto the people to come and hear of the Kingdom...



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"Know that in every home where God is praised and prayed to, and His Kingdom proclaimed, that home is a garden of God and a paradise of His happiness."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 68)


832. Fireside in Home is Example of Individual Goal

"...It is now imperative for every Bahá'í to set for himself individual teaching goals. The admonition of Abdu'l-Bahá to lead at least one new soul to the Faith each year and the exhortation of Shoghi Effendi to hold a Bahá'í fireside in one's home every Bahá'í month are examples of individual goals. Many have capacities to do even more, but this alone will assure final and complete victory for the Plan."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 16, 1969: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 35)


833. Must Aid New Believers to Become "True Bahá'ís"--Then Introduce Them to the Community

"...One of the best ways to teach is what the Americans call a 'fireside', in other words a little group of your friends in your own home, to whom you can introduce a few believers whom you feel would be congenial and help confirm them. When you have made them true Bahá'ís, then take them to the community and let them be accepted. In this way they are protected from tests until their faith is really strong."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 18, 1950)


834. The Holy Spirit Quickens Friends--Must Become Channels for Its Diffusion

"...The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results; when each one invites friends into their homes once in 19 days, and introduces them to the Faith. Close association and loving service affects the hearts; and when the heart is affected, then the spirit can enter. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens, and the Friends must become channels for its diffusion."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1957)



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XXI. THE BAHÁ'Í FUND

A. Contributions--Responsibility of Bahá'ís


835. To Give and to be Generous

"...To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Hidden Words, Persian No. 49)


836. God Does Not Ask from Any Soul Except According to His Ability

"...God does not ask from any soul except according to his ability. This contribution must come from all cities and villages from all the believers of God...

"...whosoever comes with one good act, God will give him tenfold. There is no doubt that the living Lord shall assist and confirm the generous soul."

(Abdu'l-Bahá to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)


837. Responsibility of Every Bahá'í

"...Every Bahá'í, no matter how poor, must realize what a grave responsibility he has to shoulder in this connection, and should have confidence that his spiritual progress as a believer in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the Divine institutions of his Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 17, 1937: Extracts from a compilation of the Guardian's letters on Bahá'í Funds and Contributions published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)


838. There Can Be No Limit to One's Contributions

"...There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, specially when such offerings necessitate the sacrifice of other wants and desires on the part of the donor. The harder the sacrifice the more meritorious will it be, of course, in the sight of God. For after all it is not so much the quantity of one's offerings that matters, but rather the measure of deprivation that such offerings entail...."

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 31, 1935: Life-blood of the Cause, p. 10)


839. Service Every Believer Can Render

"...Contributing to the Fund is a service that every believer can render, be he poor or wealthy; for this is a spiritual responsibility in which the amount given is not important. It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift, and the unity of all the friends in this service which bring spiritual confirmations....



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"Much of the present rapid expansion of the Faith is taking place in areas of great poverty where the believers, however much they sacrifice, cannot produce sufficient funds to sustain the work. It is these very areas which are the most fruitful in teaching, and a sum of money spent here will produce ten times--even a hundred times--the results obtainable in other parts of the world. Yet in the past months the Universal House of Justice has had to refuse a number of appeals for assistance from such areas because there just was not enough money in the International Fund.

"It should therefore be the aim of every local and national community to become not only self-supporting, but to expend its funds with such wisdom and economy as to be able to contribute substantially to the Bahá'í International Fund, thus enabling the House of Justice to aid the work in fruitful but impoverished areas, to assist new National Assemblies to start their work, to contribute to major international undertakings...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'ís of the East and West, December 18, 1963: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 19-20)


840. Commerce, Agriculture and Industries Blessed Many Times

"In brief, O ye friends of God, rest assured that in place of this contribution, your commerce, your agriculture and industries shall be blessed many times...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)


841. Believers Alone Have Bounty of Contributing

"The overwhelming majority of the Bahá'ís in the world are poor people, but it is to the believers, and to the believers alone, that Bahá'u'lláh has given the bounty of contributing the material things of this world for the progress of His Faith. It is not the amount of the contribution which is important, but the degree of self-sacrifice that it entails--for it is this that attracts the confirmations of God."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Bahá'í International Fund, April 13, 1975)


842. Should Not Incur Debts for Purpose of Contributing to Fund

"Even though Shoghi Effendi would urge every believer to sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of contributing towards the fund of the National Assembly, yet he would discourage the friends to incur debts for that purpose. We are asked to give what we have, not what we do not possess, especially if such an act causes suffering to others. In such matters we should use judgement and wisdom and take into our confidence other devoted Bahá'ís."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated May 4, 1932, to an individual believer: Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada, p. 7)

B. Those Eligible to Contribute


843. Distinguishing Features of the Cause of God

"One of the distinguishing features of the Cause of God is its principle of non-acceptance of financial contributions for its own purposes from non-Bahá'ís: support of the Bahá'í Fund is a bounty reserved by Bahá'u'lláh to His declared followers. This bounty imposes full responsibility for financial support of the Faith



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on the believers alone, every one of whom is called upon to do his utmost to ensure that the constant and liberal outpouring of means is maintained and increased to meet the growing needs of the Cause. Many Bahá'í communities are at present dependent on outside help, and for them the aim must be to become self-supporting, confident that the Generous Lord will, as their efforts increase, eventually enable them to offer for the progress of His Faith material wealth as well as their devotion, their energy and love."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Naw-Ruz 1974)


844. Giving to the Fund is a Spiritual Privilege

"Giving to the Fund, therefore, is a spiritual privilege, not open to those who have not accepted Bahá'u'lláh, of which no believer should deny himself. It is both a responsibility and a source of bounty. This is an aspect of the Cause which, we feel, is an essential part of the basic teaching and deepening of new believers. The importance of contributing resides in the degree of sacrifice of the giver, the spirit of devotion with which the contribution is made and the unity of the friends in this service; these attract the confirmations of God and enhance the dignity and self-respect of the individuals and the community."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)


845. When a Soul Accepts Bahá'u'lláh He Becomes a Co-Worker in the Cause of God

"There is a profound aspect to the relationship between a believer and the Fund, which holds true irrespective of his or her economic condition. When a human soul accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and enters into the divine Covenant, that soul should progressively bring his or her whole life into harmony with the divine purpose--he becomes a co-worker in the Cause of God and receives the bounty of being permitted to devote his material possessions, no matter how meagre, to the work of the Faith."

(Ibid.)


846. Those Who Openly Proclaim Recognition of Bahá'u'lláh Permitted to Contribute

"...Since only those who have openly proclaimed their recognition of Bahá'u'lláh are permitted to contribute financially to the establishment of His world order, it is apparent that more, much more, is required from the few now so privileged. Our responsibilities in this field are very great, commensurate indeed with the bounty of being the bearers of the Name of God in this Day."

(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)


847. They Must Create a Sense of Belonging

"As it has already been pointed out, in various communications to you, it is important for the National Spiritual Assemblies to work out ways and means of creating a sense of belonging in the hearts of the believers. One of the ways this can be done is to bring to their attention the needs of the Fund."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)



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848. Contributions from Children of Non-Bahá'ís or in Case One Parent is Bahá'í

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter asking whether children of non-Bahá'ís or children one of whose parents is a Bahá'í are allowed to contribute to Bahá'í funds, and we have been asked to say that in both cases, if the child wishes to be a Bahá'í and his parents do not object, he may be treated as any other Bahá'í child. However, if the parents object to their child's being a Bahá'í, his contribution may be accepted for charitable purposes, including use for Bahá'í schools where both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís are accepted as pupils."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 31, 1975)


849. Selling Items for the Benefit of the Bahá'í Fund

"As to the sale of personal items for the benefit of Bahá'í funds, we begin with the principle that any believer may sell personal services or goods to anyone and do with the proceeds as he wishes, including giving any or all of them to Bahá'í purposes. In doing so, however, he should not represent to non-Bahá'ís that such a sale is for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund as it is also a principle that it is improper to solicit funds from non-Bahá'ís in the name of the Faith for any purpose. This includes the sale of food and admission to entertainment."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)


850. It is Not Proper for a Bahá'í Institution to Sponsor a Fund-Raising Sale Open to Public

"...Neither do we think it is proper for a Bahá'í institution to sponsor a 'garage sale' of personal items contributed by believers for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund. This is not to say that an Assembly may not sell items of property to non-Bahá'ís for fair market value, but rather that non-Bahá'ís should not be led to purchase items at a fund-raising sale on the representation that the proceeds are to be used for Bahá'í purposes."

(Ibid.)


851. Auctions Among Bahá'ís--Contributing to the Fund is a Spiritual Responsibility

"There is no objection to the friends' holding an auction among Bahá'ís for the purpose of contributing the proceeds to the fund, nor is there any objection to Bahá'ís selling their own property to non-Bahá'ís for its fair market value and later contributing the proceeds to the fund, although no representation should be made at the sale about the proceeds going to the Bahá'í fund. The House of Justice feels, however, that it is important for the friends never to lose sight of the fact that contributing to the funds of the Faith is a spiritual responsibility and privilege of profound significance in the spiritual life of the individual believer, and care must be taken not to trivialize this aspect of Bahá'í life or to treat it with a lack of dignity. At the same time, the Assemblies should not dampen the enthusiasm of those friends who, having only slender financial resources, devise imaginative ways of earning money for the work of the Faith.

"As your Assembly is considering sponsoring an auction under its direct auspices, the House of Justice suggests that you should ascertain whether the



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holding of auctions is legally permissible, since we are informed that in some countries it is legal only if conducted by a licensed auctioneer."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 8, 1984)


852. Holding of Raffles

"The holding of raffles has not been specifically mentioned in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and the Universal House of Justice has not legislated on the matter. However, the House of Justice does not at present consider it desirable for Bahá'í institutions to raise funds by this method."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, January 15, 1984)


853. Guidelines Towards Establishing a Business Venture Owned by Bahá'ís

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15 February concerning the proposal by a number of Bahá'ís to establish a private company whose shares would be owned by Bahá'ís and which would be managed for the financial profit of the friends and of the Faith. We are instructed to transmit its advice.

"Your objective to generate funds for the Faith is, of course, praiseworthy. In the past, as you may assume, similar proposals have been made to the House of Justice, and the following guidelines may be helpful from a letter to an individual:

'Concerning the formation of a company which you and other friends have suggested, the Universal House of Justice ... has decided that the time has not yet come to have the Bahá'í institutions involved in a business transaction in the way which was suggested.

'If the friends, however, are willing, spontaneously, to establish a profitable business in order to benefit themselves as well as the other friends it is meritorious and there is no objection.'

"Should such a business venture as you propose be undertaken--and there is nothing wrong with it in principle--it would be well to advise the Bahá'ís who participate to approach it on the basis of its viability as a business project and they should not underestimate the possibilities of financial loss.

"The House of Justice feels that the institutions of the Faith should neither themselves become involved in nor promote such a private business. The use of national endowments as collateral for such a business is not permissible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, April 5, 1982)


854. Reasons for Not Accepting Donations from Non-Bahá'ís for Administration of the Faith

"...He wishes me to stress again that under no circumstances the believers should accept any financial help from non-Bahá'ís for use in connection with specific administrative activities of the Faith such as the Temple construction fund, and other local or national Bahá'í administrative funds. The reason for this is twofold: First because the institutions which the Bahá'ís are gradually building are in the nature of gifts from Bahá'u'lláh to the world; and secondly the acceptance of funds from non-believers for specific Bahá'í use would, sooner



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or later, involve the Bahá'ís into unforeseen complications and difficulties with others, and thus cause incalculable harm to the body of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 12, 1938)


855. Guidelines for Accepting Funds from Governmental and Other Non-Bahá'í Sources

"The crucial point in deciding whether or not funds may be accepted from non-Bahá'í sources is the purpose for which the funds are to be used. As you know, it is absolutely forbidden in the Faith to accept from non-Bahá'ís contributions towards the work of the Cause itself. However, in addition to the work of spreading the Faith and establishing its institutions, Spiritual Assemblies also engage in humanitarian activities, and contributions from non-Bahá'í sources may be accepted towards such activities. Indeed, although we never ask individual non-Bahá'ís for funds, it sometimes happens that a person who has a great admiration for the Faith insists on contributing. In such a case the contribution may be accepted, with the express provision that it will be used only for charitable and humanitarian purposes.

"Governments and their agencies occupy a special position because, of course, they are often very willing to assist those who are engaged in humanitarian service. Thus, where a Spiritual Assembly is undertaking a specifically humanitarian activity for which the government normally would supply financial assistance, the Assembly may accept such assistance. The activity that you instance, a meeting being held on behalf of Human Rights Day to advance one of the aims of the United Nations, is a case in point; there would be no objection to your accepting from 'INAC' its offer to pay for the invitation cards on that occasion.

"In relation to schools and other institutions of community service, government assistance is also acceptable, but here the Assembly needs to be aware that the acceptance of government funding often brings with it an obligation to accept a degree of governmental control, and these points must be carefully considered."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, March 6, 1983)


856. Should Recipient of Public Charity Contribute to the Bahá'í Fund?

"Concerning your question whether a person is to contribute to the Bahá'í Fund when he obtains his means of livelihood through public charity. Practically this is impossible, for a person who is so dependent upon the community cannot be of much help to others. Generally he does not have sufficient even for himself alone. In principle however, this is a secondary issue. Donations to the Cause are free. It is for every person to judge for himself whether he is in a position to contribute and whether he desires to do it; how he has obtained that sum is immaterial. A poor person may be readier than a rich man in sharing with others, and if he does, his sacrifice would be greater. A rich man's gift may not be a sacrifice, but a poor man's is sure to be."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1932)



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C. The Treasurer and the Spiritual Assembly


857. Trustworthiness--A Prime Requisite for Those Responsible for the Funds

"A primary requisite for all who have responsibility for the care of the funds of the Faith is trustworthiness. This, as Bahá'u'lláh has stressed, is one of the most basic and vital of all human virtues, and its exercise has a direct and profound influence on the willingness of the believers to contribute to the Fund."

(From a Memorandum of Comments and Suggestions attached to a letter from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)


858. Great Responsibility of Members of the National Spiritual Assembly-- Should Require Two Signatures for Withdrawal of Funds

"In view of the great responsibility placed upon the shoulders of the members of National Assemblies by those who elect them, we have urged National Assemblies to exercise the greatest care in the handling of their National Funds particularly as these funds represent in great part acts of sacrifice on the part of the friends. It is, of course, within your discretion how you delegate the manifold tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of your National Assembly but we earnestly urge you to reconsider the resolutions to which we referred and provide that two signatures be required for the withdrawal of funds, one of which would be that of an office-holder who is a member of your National Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 26, 1973: The Need for Care in Handling Bahá'í Funds, A Compilation of extracts published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)


859. The Treasurer of an Assembly Should Never Commingle His Own Funds and Those of the Faith

"...The Treasurer of a Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly, even if momentarily holding Bahá'í funds in his own name, must take the greatest care never to commingle his own funds with those of the Faith or to leave the funds of the Faith subject to the vagaries of fortune which can afflict any one of us."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 8, 1971: Ibid.)


860. Local Assembly of a Large Community Might Appoint a Committee to Assist Treasurer

"Regarding the local funds, it is suggested that until such time as the friends have developed the habit of contributing regularly and freely, any Local Spiritual Assembly which has a large community might appoint a small committee to assist the local Treasurer in the discharge of his responsibilities. Such committees could be appointed after consultation with the Auxiliary Board member or assistant for the area. Great care must be taken in the appointment of the members of the committees; they must be both trustworthy and conscientious and must be imbued with awareness of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of contributions to the funds."

(The Universal House of Justice: Development of the Local and National Funds of the Faith: Some Comments and Observations, published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 31, Canada)


861. Treasury Committees, Functions of

"...It is envisaged that these Treasury Committees would serve a number of functions:



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--- To render general assistance to the Treasurer, as needed; for example members of the committee could assist with issuing receipts or keeping accounts.

--- To arrange for inspirational talks and discussions at Nineteen Day Feasts or at specially called meetings for the education of the friends in the spiritual and practical importance of contributing to the funds.

--- To receive donations of money on behalf of the local Treasurer and transmit these to him.

--- To receive gifts of produce and handicrafts. The committee would be responsible for arranging for their sale and for handing over the proceeds to the local Treasurer.

--- To receive from the friends written pledges of their hope or intention of making a contribution to the local or national funds, whether in cash or in kind, and to assist in collecting them."

(Ibid.)


862. National Treasury Committee

"As to the national fund, in those areas where there are problems as a result of lack of banking facilities, unreliable mail systems and general difficulties of communication, it would be desirable for the National Spiritual Assembly to appoint a national committee to assist the national Treasurer in a manner similar to that outlined above for Local Spiritual Assemblies. Further, it may even be necessary to subsidize, from the national fund, one or more trusted individuals, depending on the size of the national community, who would travel to rural areas to meet with local Treasury Committees, assist them in the execution of their functions, explain the needs of the national fund, collect the donations to the national fund from the local areas and transmit them to the national Treasurer."

(Ibid.)


863. The Treasurer is Officer in Charge, but All National Spiritual Assembly Members Are Responsible

"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to ensure that contributions received are properly receipted, and satisfactory accounts kept of all receipts and disbursements. While the Treasurer normally is the officer in charge of such a sacred obligation, this does not mean that other members are thereby relieved of all responsibility, or are deprived of their right of access to details related to the current operation of the Assembly, in all its aspects.

"Such right and responsibility vested in the individual members of the Assembly do not vitiate the confidentiality of Bahá'í contributions, since the information made available to the Treasurer or other members of the Assembly is to be treated in strict confidence."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 11, 1977: Compilation of Extracts..., op. cit. No. 858)


864. Teach Trustworthiness Through Writings--Explain to Individuals that They Will Be Held Responsible for Money They Handle

"The distressing problems of the misuse of funds described in your letter can be resolved in the long run only through a process of loving education of the friends. It is through the dissemination among the believers of appropriate texts from the Writings of the Faith, through carefully prepared articles on this subject based on



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the Holy Texts and published in your newsletter, and through talks at conferences, summer schools and other Bahá'í gatherings, as well as discussion of these fundamental issues with the friends at such meetings, that you will be able to gradually attain your objective.

"It is important for your Assembly, in future, to explain to persons who are entrusted with the money of the Faith that in view of the National Assembly's obligation to protect Bahá'í funds, the Assembly will hold them responsible for all monies they receive, and they should therefore render proper accounts to the National Spiritual Assembly, be faithful custodians of God's trust, and be assured that such honesty and faithfulness will be richly rewarded from on high."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 18, 1980: Ibid.)


865. The National Spiritual Assembly Should Require Annual Audit of Treasuer's Accounts

"The House of Justice has not established any uniform procedure for Bahá'í treasurers, since methods of accounting and the laws governing such matters vary considerably from country to country and from one situation to another. It advises that on such technical questions the National Assembly's Treasurer can seek the advice of a professional accountant. The National Spiritual Assembly should, of course, ensure that its books of account are audited annually and for this there is no objection to utilizing the services of a non-Bahá'í firm."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 13, 1981: Ibid.)


866. Some Guidelines for Treasurers

"In general terms, however, the House of Justice feels that there are certain matters to which National Treasurers should give particular attention.

1. There is the relationship between the National Assembly and the individual believers and local communities. Through whatever correspondence he conducts with contributors to the National Fund and with committees which are drawing on the Fund for their work, the National Treasurer can be a powerful influence in establishing links of loving unity within the community.

2. The Treasurer must be sure to render regular and accurate financial statements to the National Spiritual Assembly so that it can properly plan its work within the means available to it.

3. It is the Treasurer's responsibility to prepare the annual financial report in time for the National Spiritual Assembly to consider it before presenting it at Convention. He also has to prepare the annual budget for the consideration and approval of the National Assembly.

4. The Treasurer should carefully monitor the use of the Fund so that he can warn the Assembly in good time if there is danger of over-spending.

5. In book-keeping, a system must be adopted to ensure that earmarked funds are kept absolutely distinct from those that are at the free disposition of the Assembly, and there should be safeguards to prevent the inadvertent spending of earmarked funds on matters other than those for which they are intended.

6. In addition to keeping accurate records of income and expenditure, the Treasurer should see that the assets of the Assembly are protected and that both assets and liabilities are carefully recorded.



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7. The Treasurer should advise the Assembly to set aside sufficient sums on a regular basis to provide for the repair and maintenance of properties owned by the Faith, so that these can be kept in good condition and so that the normal work of the Cause is not interrupted by sudden requirements of large sums for repairs. Usually the task of maintaining the properties is assigned to a special committee or committees, which should be consulted by the Assembly and can suggest a suitable amount to be set aside annually.

8. While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to require only one signature on cheques drawn on the National Fund, experience has shown that it is better practice to require at least two signatures. This is a protection not only to the Fund itself but also to the Treasurer. The funds of the Faith are a sacred trust, and Assemblies should be meticulous in handling and accounting for them."

(Ibid.)


867. Desirable for Assembly to Maintain Financial Reserve

"Since, in the nature of things, the levels of contributions and expenditures fluctuate, it is most desirable for an Assembly to hold a reserve adequate to bridge periods of relatively high expenditure and low income. This will help it to avoid making too frequent appeals for the friends to meet financial emergencies. Frequently issued appeals--as distinct from the regular giving of information--may tend to lose their effect. At a time of emergency, the Assembly may have to dip deeply into its reserves--an action that your Assembly has just taken--but they will need to be built up again in due course."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, February 12, 1987)


868. Duty of the National Assembly Not to Allow National Interests to be Jeopardized by Individual Considerations

"...it should be emphasized and clearly understood by the friends that the national interests and requirements of the Cause take absolute precedence over individual and private needs. It is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to so dispose of the national fund as not to allow the national interests of the Faith to be jeopardized by individual considerations that are obviously transient when compared to the lasting interests of the Cause of God. In rare and exceptional cases, when a believer has absolutely no other means of material sustenance, the National Spiritual Assembly may either contribute towards his expenses from the national fund, or make a special appeal to the body of the believers to that effect. It is for the family, the civil community and the Local Assembly to administer to such local and private needs of the individual. But in case none of these sources has the means to do so, the National Spiritual Assembly may, if it is convinced of the gravity, urgency and justice of the case, appropriate a part of its fund for that purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)


869. Assembly Should Neither Feel Embarrassed nor Ashamed in Turning to the Friends

"The National Assembly should neither feel embarrassed nor ashamed in turning to the friends, continuously appealing to them to exemplify their faith and devotion to the Cause by sacrificing for it, and pointing out to them that they will grow



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spiritually through their acts of self-abnegation, that the fear of poverty should not deter them from sacrificing for the Fund, and that the assistance and bounty of the Source of all good and of all wealth are unfailing and assured...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to selected National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)

"A corollary to the sacred obligation of the friends to contribute to the Funds of the Faith, is the direct and unavoidable responsibility of each Local and National Assembly to educate them in the spiritual principles related to Bahá'í contributions. Failure to educate the friends in this aspect of the Faith is tantamount to consciously depriving them of the spiritual benefits accruing from giving in the path of God."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Bahá'í International Fund, April 13, 1975)


870. The General and National Interests of the Cause Take Precedence Over the Local Ones--But It May Be Expedient to Develop Local Fund First

"The beloved Guardian has explained that the general and national interests of the Cause take precedence over local ones; thus contributions to local funds are secondary to those to national funds. However, the stability of the National Assembly rests on the firmness of the Local Spiritual Assemblies, and in the matter of educating the friends in the importance of the fund, it is often most practical and efficacious to concentrate at first on the development of the local funds and the efficient operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. Then, once the friends understand the principle, and learn from experience at a local level, they will then more easily understand the importance of the national fund and the work of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)


871. Assembly Obligated to Advise Believers of All Funds+F1--International, Continental, National and Local

"In educating the friends to be conscious of contributing to the fund as a fundamental element of Bahá'í life, the Assembly should make them aware of the individual believer's prerogative of contributing directly to all the funds of the Faith: international, continental and national as well as local."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 12, 1987)


872. Contributions Can Be Sent Direct to Haifa

"Would you please remind the believers in your respective communities that in addition to contributing to the International Fund by means of earmarked donations to the National Fund, they can send contributions direct to Haifa. Cheques should be made payable to BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL FUND.

"This continues the policy established by the beloved Guardian who wrote that participation of individuals through 'contributions directly transmitted to the Holy


___________________
+F1 (See also XXVI. The Institution of the Huququ'llah, Nos. 1031-1044)



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Land' was 'imperative and beyond the scope of the jurisdiction of National and Local Assemblies.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 18, 1963)


873. Continental Fund

"Nor should the believers, individually or in their Assemblies, forget the vitally important Continental Funds which provide for the work of the Hands of the Cause of God and their Auxiliary Boards. This divine institution, so assiduously fostered by the Guardian, and which has already played a unique role in the history of the Faith, is destined to render increasingly important services in the years to come."

(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of East and West, December 18, 1963)


874. Pledges Can Be a Useful Means of Encouraging Contributions

"Pledges can be useful as a means of encouraging contributions and of bringing the financial needs of the Cause to the attention of the friends. This method can be particularly helpful in a situation where a Spiritual Assembly has a major task to perform, such as the building of a Haziratu'l-Quds or the establishment of a tutorial school, and needs to have some idea in advance of whether the funds for the project will be available. However, it would be entirely contrary to Bahá'í principles to bring any pressure to bear when calling for pledges or when endeavouring to collect them. Once a pledge has been given it is permissible to remind the donor, privately, of his expressed intention to contribute and to enquire courteously if it would be possible for him to honour his pledge, but Assemblies must be aware that such pledges are not an obligation in any legal sense; their redemption is entirely a matter of conscience. Lists of those making pledges must not be publicized."

(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)


875. Friends in Mass Teaching Areas Should Know Their Blessings and Responsibilities

"...The Assemblies should not hesitate, nor be diffident, in speaking of the Fund to the believers. The friends in the mass teaching areas, however poor or illiterate they may be, are full and equal members of the Bahá'í community; they should know their blessings and responsibilities. The mighty ones of this world rejected the call of Bahá'u'lláh, and it is now upon us ordinary men and women that He has conferred the inestimable bounty of raising up the Kingdom of God on earth. Service to God and His Cause is the heart of the life of every true believer and contributing to the Fund is a vital aspect of such service."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 29, 1970)


876. "Bring and Buy" Meetings

"...In parts of Africa where the poverty of the friends may be similar to the conditions existing in some parts of your country, the Assemblies organized



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'Bring and Buy' meetings to which the friends may bring any material gift, such as eggs, fruit, vegetables, other foodstuffs, or local handicraft. These are placed before the friends, who may buy them at very reasonable prices for the benefit of the Funds. The friends must understand that whilst no Assembly or individual may force the friends to give to the Faith, such giving has been considered in our Teachings as a spiritual obligation and an act of sacrifice, which is closely related to the spiritual development of the individual believer."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, November 27, 1966)


877. Assembly May Sell Contributions in Kind Through a Professional Auctioneer

"There is clearly no objection to an Assembly's giving contributions in kind to a professional auctioneer to sell and then to use the proceeds for the fund. Whether it would be proper to hold such an 'ordinary auction' among Bahá'ís would depend upon the Assembly's judgement as to whether a properly dignified atmosphere could be observed and also whether it could be construed as bringing pressure to bear upon the friends to contribute which would, of course, be undesirable. In general the House of Justice prefers not to encourage such auctions for the fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)


878. It is Not Permissible to Impose a Tax or an Assessment on Local Spiritual Assemblies

"As to contributions to the National Fund, it is not permissible to impose a tax or an assessment on Local Assemblies, but you may certainly inform Local Assemblies of the needs of the National Fund and may suggest a certain percentage as a guide to them in making contributions. In doing this you may point out that support of the National Fund is an obligation not only of the believers, but of all Local Assemblies as well. It is permissible, however, for a Local Assembly to fix a percentage of its receipts as an amount to be contributed to the National Fund.

"The House of Justice appreciates the difficult task of educating the Local Assemblies and the believers in the importance of contributing regularly and sacrificially to the Fund and it feels sure that you frequently remind them of the principles of universal participation in this, as well as all other aspects of the Faith, possibly drawing on information contained in your file of circular letters sent from time to time by the House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies on the subject of the Fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 30, 1977)


879. Local Spiritual Assembly Decides for Itself How to Use Funds--National Spiritual Assembly Can Only Make a Suggestion

"When a donation is given to a Local Assembly, the Assembly itself should decide how the funds are to be used. The National Assembly may wish to suggest to the Local Spiritual Assembly ways in which the money could be more practically spent, but the final decision regarding the use of such funds rests with the local body.



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"National Assemblies should avoid instructing their Local Spiritual Assemblies to allocate a certain percentage or portion of their local funds towards specific purposes. They may, however, suggest that the Local Assemblies contribute funds for priority projects at the national level and may also call to their attention national budget and suggest that the communities try to underwrite a part of the national budget. Any National Assembly is, of course, empowered to prevent an institution under its jurisdiction from taking any action regarding the use of funds which would not be to the best interests of the Cause. Such cases, however, are rare...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 17, 1985)


880. Soliciting Funds from Other Countries

"We are asked to tell you that the present policy of the House of Justice discourages National Assemblies from appealing to one another for financial assistance unless such assistance is related to a project which has been defined as a goal of collaboration between the specific Assemblies concerned. If a National Assembly has adopted plans for specific teaching projects and is in genuine need of financial support from an outside source, instead of appealing to other National Assemblies it is encouraged to turn to the Continental Board of Counsellors who will consider the plans and request, and provide assistance to the extent feasible from funds made available to them from the World Centre."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 5, 1982)


881. Individual Bahá'ís Free to Contribute to Projects in Any Country They Wish

"As regards collection of funds in other countries, the House of Justice does not wish Bahá'í institutions of any country to appeal for funds to the Bahá'ís of another country, unless the National Spiritual Assembly of that country permits it. This does not mean that individuals are not free to contribute to a Bahá'í project in any country that they wish. For example, if a Bahá'í from another country comes to a conference in ... and he wishes to contribute to your school, there would be no objection. However, an organized and indiscriminate appeal for funds to individuals in other countries should not be made without the consent of the National Assembly of that country."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1985)

D. Earmarked Funds


882. Purpose of Earmarking Funds Should Not Be Defeated

"Care must be taken that the purpose of earmarking is not defeated. Thus the use of earmarked funds to defray the expense of particular items in your budget has the effect of reducing, pro tanto, the amount of general contributions needed to be applied to the budget. In effect, this practice may result in there being no difference between an earmarked contribution and one not earmarked. For example: A friend may earmark a contribution for the Bahá'í International Fund. To apply this to the contributions to the Bahá'í International funds from your National



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Fund would be wrong unless the earmarking so specifies. Funds earmarked merely to the Bahá'í International Fund should be sent to the World Centre in addition to whatever contribution is made from the National Fund."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 29, 1971: Ibid.)


883. Earmarked Funds for Specific Purchases or Projects

"We have been asked to call your attention to the principle that earmarked funds such as those for the purchase or maintenance of properties, for special teaching projects, etc. should not be used for other purposes, but should be held in a special account until expended for the purpose for which they were given. This is true whether the funds are from the World Centre, from individuals or from other sources. If the project for which the funds have been given is abandoned, the contribution should be returned to the donor unless he agrees that it may be used for other purposes. Strict adherence to the principles regarding the earmarking of funds is extremely important for many reasons, including the maintaining of the confidence of the friends in matters pertaining to the Fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 21, 1979)


884. When Earmarked Contribution is Impractical or Unwise...

"1. Although any donor, Assembly or individual, has the right to specify the purpose intended for any contribution of funds or property, if, in the judgement of your National Assembly, such contribution would be impractical or unwise for you to accept, you would be under no obligation to do so.

"2. If after consultation with the donor an agreement is not reached that you deem necessary, or you are unable to have the specified donation assigned to a more practicable purpose, the contribution should be returned to the donor."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 22, 1980: Ibid.)


885. Proceeds from Sale of Property Purchased with Earmarked Funds Retain Same Earmarking

"As to the proceeds from the sale of Bahá'í property, if it was acquired by the use of the general funds of the Faith and no earmarking of contributions is involved, the only principle to be applied is that first stated above, namely, that the national community should not be without a Haziratu'l-Quds, endowment or Temple site, as the case may be. If the property was donated or purchased with funds earmarked for that specific purpose, the proceeds of the sale of the property retain the earmarking unless the donor has specifically provided otherwise. If the donor or donors are living, they may, of course, release the earmarking. If the donor or donors are not living, or refuse to release the earmarking, the proceeds should be used for the same purpose. If that purpose has already been fulfilled (i.e., an alternate property has already been acquired), the surplus should be used to the extent possible in a manner having regard for the original intention of the donor or donors, e.g., to maintain or improve the property. In case of doubt, the matter should be referred to the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)



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886. The Proper Accounting for Earmarked Funds is Very Important

"This question of the proper accounting for earmarked funds is very important. The account books of any Assembly should be designed in a way that will always clearly distinguish between earmarked funds and funds freely at the disposition of the Assembly, so that there will be no danger of the Assembly's inadvertently commingling them and spending earmarked funds for the wrong purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 6, 1984: Ibid.)


887. Donor Has No Right to Change Earmarked Purpose Unless the Assembly Accepts the Request to Do So

"The beloved Guardian was very emphatic that contributions to Bahá'í funds, given for specified purposes, may be used only for those purposes, unless the donor consents to a change. If the Assembly cannot use the contribution for the purpose specified, it may refuse to accept it. Alternatively it could consult the donor and suggest that he release the contribution for general purposes or transfer it to another specified one, but no pressure should be exerted to force his acquiescence. On the other hand, once money has been contributed to an Assembly, it is the property of that Assembly, even though earmarked for a specific purpose, and the donor has no right to change its purpose unilaterally. The Assembly, however, may, at its own discretion, accept his request to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1984: Ibid.)


888. The Assembly Should Try to Preserve Real Value of Funds in Its Care-- Especially True of Earmarked Funds

"The Assembly is the trustee of the funds in its care, and its primary concern in investing such funds should be to try to preserve their real value. Obtaining a good income from such investments is also desirable, but is a secondary consideration and should not be sought if this would endanger the value of the principal. This is especially true in the case of earmarked funds, where the Assembly has a duty to the donor or donors to preserve the value of the fund until such time as it can be used for the designated purpose. In such a case, when the value of the currency is itself depreciating, one method of upholding the real value of the earmarked fund is to add back to the principal all income earned on it, even if the donor has not specifically earmarked the income to be earned on his contribution."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 19, 1985: Ibid.)


889. Often It is Better that the Friends Do Not Restrict Funds

"In general, although it is permitted for the friends to earmark contributions, it is apparent that it is often better that the friends allow the Assembly to use their contributions without restricting them. Furthermore, an Assembly is by no means obligated to accept an earmarked contribution; if it does, however, it is bound to respect the earmarking."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)



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890. Care to be Taken Not to Violate Right of Earmarking--Earmarked Contribution Should Be Over and Above Assembly's Allocation to a Fund

"...care must be taken not to violate for any reason the right of the individual to earmark his contribution.

"The need, therefore, is to make clear to individual believers and Local Spiritual Assemblies how they should express their earmarkings so that the National Assembly can know whether a contribution is intended to be towards any particular segment of the national budget or to be a separate contribution merely passed through the National Assembly. In view of the Guardian's statement one should assume that, unless there is an indication to the contrary, an earmarked contribution is intended to be over and above the allocation made out of the National Fund."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)


891. Confidentiality of Believers' Contributions, Earmarked or Otherwise, Must Be Respected

"As a general rule the friends should realize that it is more consistent with the exalted standards expounded in our teachings for them at all times to offer their contributions freely, nobly and generously with the high sense of furthering the Cause of God in whatever form this may be achieved. However, if for some reason they wish to restrict the use of their contributions, or even make such donations known to others, they should not be prevented from carrying out their wish.

"In the light of the above, it would be useful to explain these guidelines to Mr. ... and if he confirms his wish, there is no objection to your placing a plaque in the name of the ... family in the Bahá'í Information Centre building in ... which he has donated to you.

"The guidance given in the second paragraph should be conveyed to the Local Spiritual Assembly of ... and they should be told that if they still wish to announce the contribution for their Haziratu'l-Quds at the Nineteen Day Feast they should know that they are not permitted to do so without the permission of the donor, as he is entitled to the confidentiality of his contributions."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1979)



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XXII. THE GREATEST NAME OF GOD

A. The Greatest Name


892. The Greatest Name is the Name of Comfort, Protection, etc.

"The Greatest Name should be found upon the lips in the first awakening moment of early dawn. It should be fed upon by constant use in daily invocation, in trouble, under opposition, and should be the last word breathed when the head rests upon the pillow at night. It is the name of comfort, protection, happiness, illumination, love and unity.

"I hope that thou mayest become informed of the concealed mystery and recondite symbol of the stone of the Most Great Name... The use of the Greatest Name and dependence upon it, cause the soul to strip itself of the husks of mortality and to step forth freed, reborn, a new creature...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: United States Supplement to Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 2, October 1964)


893. Bahá'ís May Greet Each Other with "Allah-u-Abha"

"The Bahá'ís are free to greet each other with Allah-u-Abha when they meet, if they want to, but they should avoid anything which to outsiders, in a western country, might seem like some strange oriental password. We must be very firm on principles and laws, but very normal and natural in our ways, so as to attract strangers!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1951)


894. The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh

"The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh. 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' is an invocation meaning: 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' 'Allah-u-Abha' is a greeting which means: 'God the All-Glorious'. Both refer to Bahá'u'lláh. By 'Greatest Name' is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)


895. The Greatest Name is an Invocation and a Symbol of Our Faith

"Concerning your question regarding the 'Greatest Name': The Greatest Name is an invocation which means 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' The word 'Baha', or 'Glory', is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh. The Greatest Name is a distinctive mark of the Cause and a symbol of our Faith. The term of 'Allah-u-Abha,' on the other hand, is a form of Bahá'í greeting, and means 'God the All-Glorious.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 8, 1941)


896. Use of Greatest Name Symbol--Not Appropriate on Articles Put to Common Use

"The overriding consideration must always be the proper dignity with which the



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Greatest Name should be used. Thus it would not be befitting to use it on drinking vessels or ash trays, plates for eating, and the like. There would, however, be no objection to its use on plaques or ornaments, jewellery or similar items which are not normally put to common use. The House of Justice instructs us to say that great care should be given to the accurate representation of the Persian calligraphy, since any deviation from an accepted representation can be distressing to Iranian believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium, March 12, 1980)


897. Guidelines on the Use of the Symbols of the Greatest Name on Stationery and in Paintings

"...We are requested by the Universal House of Justice to share with you the following guidelines on the use of the symbols of the Greatest Name.

"The Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual on 5 August 1949, stated:

'It is better not to encourage the use of this symbol on stationery and in paintings.'

"Likewise, the Universal House of Justice, in its letter to a National Assembly stated:

'We wish to call to your attention the impressions of the Greatest Name on the back of the envelope in which your letter was enclosed. The use of the Greatest Name is not befitting and we ask you to discontinue it.' (16 May 1971)

"In another communication regarding this subject, the following was written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly:

'...we are instructed to say that it would not be appropriate to use the symbol of the Greatest Name on the official stationery of a Local Spiritual Assembly.' (6 November 1984)

"While the House of Justice is reluctant to issue a list of the specific uses of the Greatest Name which should be avoided, the principal thing is for the friends to realize the great sacredness of this symbol, and to use it in ways which are dignified and appropriate...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, June 3, 1987)


898. Stickers, Use of Not Encouraged

"Regarding the sticker with 'World Fellowship' and the ring-stone symbol on it: He does not encourage the use of this type of thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1946: From a compilation of Extracts Concerning Guidance on the Use of the Greatest Name, attached to the above letter to the National Assembly of Hawaiian Islands)


899. Tombstones Please Refer to No. 672.


900. Emblems

"We have your letter of June 22, 1967 enclosing sketches of emblems which are intended to be used by Bahá'ís who wish to place them inside their automobiles.

"The use of such emblems is entirely within the discretion of your National



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Assembly, but you should not use the Greatest Name on the emblem."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 16, 1967: Ibid.)


901. Believer Can Manufacture and Sell Items Using the Greatest Name

"Although there exists an instruction that the symbol of the Greatest Name should not be used on gravestones, no instruction has been found prohibiting the use of the symbol of the Greatest Name on any other particular item, such as jewellery, books or pamphlets. However, the Greatest Name should not be used in an undignified manner.

"Nothing has been found which would prohibit a believer from manufacturing and selling items using the Greatest Name provided that the manner in which the Greatest Name is used is dignified."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 25, 1975: Ibid.)


902. No Prohibition Against Use of Greatest Name, Names of the Manifestations or Names of Central Figures in Songs

"We have found nothing in the texts forbidding the use of the Greatest Name, the Names of the Manifestations of God or the names of the Central Figures of our Faith in the lyrics of music. However, we feel that when they are used they should be used with reverence and respect, both in the manner in which they are incorporated in the lyrics and in the manner of presentation."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 14, 1968)


903. Reproducing Greatest Names on Jewellery Commercially

"When individual Bahá'ís reproduce on a limited scale the Greatest Name on items such as jewellery, and find ways of selling these items to others, they should normally be left free to engage in such an activity, without interference from Bahá'í institutions, except in cases when in the opinion of these institutions the interests of the Faith are being adversely affected.

"However, when the friends intend to produce and sell such items on a large scale they should first seek the permission of the National Assembly, which should generally be well disposed to permit the production and sale of these objects if in their judgement the interests of the Faith are not being prejudiced and the necessary standards of dignity and propriety are being upheld.

"In all cases where the friends wish to use the venue of a Bahá'í function or event, conducted under the auspices of a Bahá'í institution, in order to display and sell their products, they may engage in this activity only if the institution concerned gives them the permission to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 15, 1978)


904. Picture of the Greatest Name May Be Destroyed, if Necessary

"If it becomes necessary to destroy a picture of the Greatest Name, there is no objection to whatever method is used. It is quite proper to wear the ring stone as a pin."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 5, 1957)



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905. Reciting the Greatest Name 95 Times Daily+F1

"The use of the Greatest Name 95 times a day is not absolutely binding. This and other similar matters will be clearly and fully explained when the 'Aqdas' is published. At present, however, the friends should be careful not to lay an undue emphasis upon them.

"When using the Greatest Name the words 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used and not 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)


906. The Greatest Name or Picture of Abdu'l-Bahá Should Be Placed in a Dignified Position

"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or the picture of Abdu'l-Bahá be placed in a dignified position. They should not be placed on the floor, nor, on the other hand, should they be held above the heads of the people in the photograph. It would seem the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 10, 1952)

B. Ringstone Emblem and Jewellery+F2


907. Ringstone Emblem is Form of the Greatest Name--Use of on Jewelry

"In reply to your letter of November 2nd about the use of the Greatest Name on brooches and other decorations, we quote below the text of a letter which we wrote on this subject in 1964 to another National Spiritual Assembly:

'The ring-stone emblem is one form of the Greatest Name. While the beloved Guardian has called attention to the sacredness of the Greatest Name, and has asked that it should always be placed in a dignified position, we do not find any instruction absolutely prohibiting the use of symbols of the Greatest Name on any particular item such as jewelry, books or pamphlets.

'We feel that the friends should exercise the greatest discrimination and good taste in its use'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 15, 1967)


908. Bahá'ís Not Required to Wear Ringstone

"It was kind of you to think of making pins for the Bahá'ís; but he feels that this is too much like clubs and other organizations. Indeed the Bahá'ís do not even have to wear a Bahá'í ring-stone unless they care to do so. He thinks it is better not to add any other means of identification."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1956)


909. Ringstone Inscription Explained

"The inscription upon the Bahá'í ringstone is the symbol of the Greatest Name, Baha, who is the Manifestation of the essence of God. It is also symbolic of the three planes representing the World of God, the World of Revelation and the World of Creation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 28, 1938)


___________________
+F1 (See also: Nos. 1538-1539)
+F2 (See also: Nos. 901 and 903)



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910. The Significance of the Stars

"Upon the horizon of Eternal Glory two luminous stars have arisen in brilliance: one to the right and one to the left ... this is the mystery of the appearance of the Beauty of Abha and of the Supreme Highness (the Bab). And though these two diagrams at the right and the left have the form of stars, they also represent the body of man, with the head, the two arms and the two legs, since this diagram has five points."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Scriptures, p. 479, 1923 ed.)


911. Greatest Name--An Invocation

"He also wishes me to inform you that the symbol of the Greatest Name represents an invocation which can be translated either as 'O Glory of Glories' or 'O Glory of the All-Glorious'. The word glory used in this connection is a translation of the Arabic term 'Baha', the name of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 28, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 93, p. 1, July 1935)



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XXIII. HAZÍRATU'L-QUDS


912. Haziratu'l-Quds--Its Main Function

"With reference to the use of your Haziratu'l-Quds we wish to point out that its main function is to serve as the National Administrative Headquarters of the Faith in your country, and anything else is secondary to that. If possible and convenient, believers may be accomodated from time to time, but it should not be regarded as a hotel facility. The work of the Cause is the prime matter and nothing should be allowed to interfere with that."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, October 23, 1963)


913. Dancing Not Appropriate in Haziratu'l-Quds

"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer the questions raised in your recent letter regarding the proper use of the Haziratu'l-Quds.

"As in most cases the Bahá'ís have no other meeting-place in the city which has a Haziratu'l-Quds, and the Haziratu'l-Quds is a building that has a number of rooms, he sees no objection in allowing the youth to have their meetings there with their non-Bahá'í friends, but dancing he does not feel is appropriate. Bahá'í weddings and funerals can likewise be conducted in the Haziratu'l-Quds.

"The Haziratu'l-Quds, although Feasts and Holy Days are celebrated in it, must not be confounded with a Temple; it is an administrative headquarters. No doubt in the future it will be used for purely administrative purposes, but for the time being it must fill the role of being a true Centre and rallying-point for the Bahá'í Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, February 15, 1947)


914. Local and National Haziratu'l-Quds

"The Haziratu'l-Quds is an Institution of the Faith and no distinction should be made between a National or Local Haziratu'l-Quds concerning its use. Other than the Haziratu'l-Quds dances may certainly be allowed at summer schools, etc., and it should be left to the discretion of the committee or Assembly in charge to make whatever arrangements are necessary."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, June 27, 1970)


915. Principles that Govern Acceptance of Gifts of Land

Please refer to No. 728.


916. National Spiritual Assembly Should Budget Annually for Maintenance of Properties

"Many properties have already been acquired in the course of previous plans. It is important that these properties be properly maintained in good repair. National



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Spiritual Assemblies should set aside sums annually in their budgets for the maintenance of national properties so that when a repair becomes necessary the funds will be available without creating a sudden crisis for the national fund. As far as possible, local Haziratu'l-Quds and other local properties should be kept up by the local friends themselves.

"It is also important to make full use of the properties of the Faith for the purposes for which they were acquired. Well maintained and regularly used properties will not only be a means of fostering Bahá'í community life, but will add to the prestige and dignity of the Faith in the eyes of the non-Bahá'í public."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1979)


917. Responsibility of National Spiritual Assembly to Maintain and Improve Properties--Individual Bahá'ís Can Help in Many Ways

"National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world are required to assume, on a continuing basis, the responsibility of providing for the maintenance and improvement of their own Bahá'í properties, and they should instill into the consciousness of the believers the importance of their role in keeping the national headquarters in a representative and attractive condition. There are many ways in which the Bahá'ís can help to beautify and maintain their National Haziratu'l-Quds, not only by contributing by material means, but also by offering their time and labour to clean, paint, take care of minor repairs, work in the gardens, etc."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uruguay, June 20, 1979)


918. Purchase and Sale of Haziratu'l-Quds

"The Universal House of Justice has requested us to acknowledge your letter of May 6, 1981 concerning the proposed sale of your National Haziratu'l-Quds and to convey the following.

"The matter is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly bearing in mind the principle that you should not be without a National Haziratu'l-Quds; that is, you must obtain a new one, or at least have the transactions for obtaining it well advanced and secure, before disposing of the old one.

"In reply to your question about the location of the Secretariat of the National Assembly, we have been asked to say that your Assembly must operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and it is important and desirable that your Secretary reside as near as possible to the National Headquarters in order that the duties of the office may be attended to with dispatch. Enclosed for your consideration are excerpts from recent letters dealing with this subject."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Nicaragua, June 7, 1981)


919. National Haziratu'l-Quds Need Not Serve Needs of Local Spiritual Assembly--Preferable that National Secretary Live in Haziratu'l-Quds

"There is no requirement for the National Haziratu'l-Quds to include within its accommodations a public meeting hall, neither is there a requirement that it be a meeting place for the Local Spiritual Assembly in the city in which it



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may be located. Its essential function is that it is the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly, and should have adequate facilities for its secretariat. Should there be adequate space and the National Assembly feels it convenient, there would be no objection to its leasing one or two rooms to the Local Spiritual Assembly, but this certainly is not an essential part of the National Haziratu'l-Quds. The facilities you choose to specify as criteria in the search for new quarters are a matter for your own decision.

"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, it is the generally preferred arrangement. Should it be impossible for the Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself, there would be no objection to his living nearby. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and that the National Assembly should operate from there."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, July 22, 1982)


920. The National Spiritual Assembly Must Operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds--Eventually, Full Time Service Will Be Required of the National Secretary

"The first principle which has been established is that a National Spiritual Assembly must operate from its National Haziratu'l-Quds, which is the official Seat of the National Spiritual Assembly. During the early formative years of the Faith and the building up of the Administrative Order it has been permitted in certain instances for the National Secretary to reside away from the city in which the National Haziratu'l-Quds is located, but in these cases the principle has always been enforced that the National Spiritual Assembly itself operates from its proper address at the National Haziratu'l-Quds.... The aim should be to overcome this anomaly and for the National Secretary to reside close to, if not in, the National Haziratu'l-Quds itself. Inevitably the day will come when it will be necessary for your National Secretary to devote his entire time to the service of the National Spiritual Assembly and it will then be imperative for the Secretary to operate from the Haziratu'l-Quds."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, February 9, 1976)


921. Preferable Arrangement and Bahá'í Norm that the National Secretary Live in the Haziratu'l-Quds--Not to be Considered a "Right of Office"

"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and certainly the believer elected to the important post cannot claim such residence as a right of office, it is the generally preferred arrangement and is, in fact, the norm of Bahá'í practice. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds and that the National Assembly should operate from there. This obviously requires the constant attendance of the Secretary since all mail for the Assembly should be received at and despatched from the Haziratu'l-Quds, and there are many other considerations of which you are all informed. However, the final decision must rest with your National Spiritual Assembly and should it be impossible for the National Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself there



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would be no objection to the officer living near or within easy reach, particularly if it were on a temporary basis."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 22, 1974)


922. A District Haziratu'l-Quds Serves the Local Community as a Gathering Place for Bahá'ís of Wider Area

"A district Haziratu'l-Quds should be considered as the local Haziratu'l-Quds of the community in which it is situated, but as it is intended also to serve as a central gathering place for friends from a wider area it should be a more substantial structure than normally required for a local Haziratu'l-Quds. In keeping with this concept, such a building can be used for the holding of conferences, teaching institutes, deepening classes, etc., for the larger area.

"Whether someone should live in the district Haziratu'l-Quds is a matter for your Assembly to determine. However, it is usually desirable to have living accommodation available for someone to reside there to act as a caretaker for the property."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Surinam and French Guiana, August 15, 1982)



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XXIV. HEALTH, HEALING AND NUTRITION

A. Spiritual and Physical Healing


923. Consult Competent Physicians When Ill

"Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Kitab-i-Aqdas, K. 113, p. 60)


924. Prayers for Spiritual and Material Healing

"...The prayers which were written for the purpose of healing are both for the spiritual and material healing. Therefore chant them for the spiritual and material healing. If healing is best for the patient surely it will be granted. For some who are sick, healing for them shall be the cause of other ills. Thus it is that wisdom does not decree the answer to some prayers.

"O maid-servant of God. The Power of the Holy Spirit heals both material and spiritual ills."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablet to Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, 1976 ed., p. 86)


925. The Greatest Name Influences Both Spiritual and Physical Matters

"That the Most Great Name exerciseth influence over both physical and spiritual matters is sure and certain."

(From a Tablet to an individual believer, by Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 2)

"O maid-servant of God! Continue in healing hearts and bodies and seek healing for sick persons by turning unto the Supreme Kingdom and by setting the heart upon obtaining healing through the power of the Greatest Name and by the spirit of the love of God."

(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 629)


926. Two Ways of Healing Sickness

"There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced.

"Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions,



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will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects.

"Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 151-152)


927. Two Processes of Healing--Prayer Alone Not Sufficient

"As you know Bahá'u'lláh has ordained that in case of illness we should always consult the most competent physicians. And this is exactly what the Guardian strongly advises you to do. For prayer alone is not sufficient. To render it more effective we have to make use of all the physical and material advantages which God has given us. Healing through purely spiritual forces is undoubtedly as inadequate as that which materialist physicians and thinkers vainly seek to obtain by resorting entirely to mechanical devices and methods. The best result can be obtained by combining the two processes, spiritual and physical."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 12, 1934: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 9)


928. Spiritual and Material Healing Essential and Complementary

"With regard to your question concerning spiritual healing. Such a healing constitutes, indeed, one of the most effective methods of relieving a person from either his mental or physical pains and sufferings. Abdu'l-Bahá has in His 'Paris Talks' emphasized its importance by stating that it should be used as an essential means for effecting a complete physical cure. Spiritual healing, however, is not and cannot be a substitute for material healing, but it is a most valuable adjunct to it. Both are, indeed, essential and complementary."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1935: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)


929. Physical Healing Must Be Reinforced by Spiritual Healing

"With reference to your question concerning spiritual healing. Its importance, as you surely know, has been greatly emphasized by Abdu'l-Bahá Who considered it, indeed, as an essential part of physical processes of healing. Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. And this last one can be best obtained through obedience to the laws and commandments of God as revealed to us through His Manifestations. Individual believers, however, can also help by imparting healing to others. But the success of their efforts depends entirely on their strict adherence to the Teachings, and also on the manner in which they impart them to others. According to Bahá'u'lláh man cannot obtain full guidance directly from God. He must rather seek it through His Prophets. Provided this principle is clearly understood and explained, the Guardian sees no harm that the friends should try to effect spiritual healing on others. Any such cure effected, however, should



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be done in the name of Bahá'u'lláh and in accordance with His teachings. For God, and God alone, is the Supreme and Almighty Physician and all else are but instruments in His hands."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 23, 1935: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8)


930. Healing of Illness--There is No Such Thing as "Bahá'í Healers"

"The Guardian knows nothing about your kind of healing, nor would he care to go into the question in detail, as he has no time for such matters. But he can lay down for your guidance certain broad principles: there is no such thing as Bahá'í healers or a Bahá'í type of healing. In His Most Holy Book (the Aqdas) Bahá'u'lláh says to consult the best physicians, in other words, doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine: He never gave us to believe He Himself would heal us through 'healers', but rather through prayer and the assistance of medicine and approved treatments.

"Now, as long as your healing is in no opposition to these principles, as long as you do not try and take the place of a regular doctor in trying to heal others, but only give them your kind of help through constructive suggestion-- or whatever it may be--and do not associate this help with being a channel of the direct grace of Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian sees no harm in your continuing your assistance to others. But you must conscientiously decide whether in view of the above you are really justified in continuing. He will pray for your guidance and happiness...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Ibid., p. 8)


931. To Associate Such Things with the Cause Ultimately Injures It

"He feels the attitude taken by you and the Assembly of Caracas towards the remarkable healing powers exhibited by ... has been the right one. To associate such things with the Cause directly would be only to ultimately injure its reputation and misrepresent it, as her powers--which are certainly very hard to find any logical explanation for--are not common to Bahá'ís, but rather a phenomenon seen among individuals, (rarely) of religious backgrounds.

"As to its being direct inspiration of Bahá'u'lláh, we certainly cannot say this. We can only be grateful that she has actually been able to help people who direly needed it. She herself being a devoted Bahá'í, there is no reason why she should not be known as one. But certainly it should in no way be connected with her healing powers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, September 30, 1949, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 8)


932. Not a Unique Phenomenon

"The Guardian has already heard about ...'s seemingly remarkable powers of healing and he wrote the friends who communicated with him that he feels that she is naturally free to use this power, so far beyond our understanding, but not a unique phenomenon in history by any means, for the good of others, but that it is better not to directly associate it with the Faith.

"In other words this dear soul is a Bahá'í, and we are all proud that she is one. But she should not give the impression she is a Bahá'í healer, for we have no such



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thing, but rather that she is a Bahá'í by faith, whom God seems to have blessed with this precious bounty individually of being able to often heal others."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1949: Ibid., pp. 8-9)


933. To Be Able to Help Another Soul Who is Suffering

"The Guardian sees no reason why you should not continue to help sick people. As he wrote to some of the believers regarding this matter previously, as long as you do not say you are healing them as a Bahá'í, or because you are a Bahá'í (because we have no 'healers' in the Cause as such) there can be certainly no objection to your doing it. On the contrary to be able to help another soul who is in suffering is a great bounty from God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 5, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)


934. Try Not to Have the Faith Identified with Such Things

"He thinks your Assembly's decision regarding spiritual healing being demonstrated at a Bahá'í meeting was quite sound. We should try not to have the Faith identified with such things in the eyes of the public officially. What the believers do privately, which in no way contravenes the Teachings, is their own affair."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 25, 1953: Ibid., p. 9)


935. Should Not Become Healer

"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Bahá'ís do not have."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Ibid., p. 9)


936. Healing by the Holy Spirit

"We have no reason to believe that the healing of the Holy Spirit cannot be attracted by ordinary human beings. But this is rare, a mystery, and a gift of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)


937. Visiting the Sick

"We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 204)



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938. However Critical and Hopeless Consult and Follow Treatment of Competent Physician

"As regards Miss ... Shoghi Effendi feels unspeakably grateful for all the kind assistance you have been continually extending to her father in this assuredly heart-rending, nay indeed calamitous situation facing him. You did certainly well, however critical and hopeless his daughter's case may have been considered by the doctors, to advise him to take her to a hospital, and give her the best treatment medical science could possibly offer. In doing so you have acted in full conformity with the counsel so tenderly and repeatedly given by Bahá'u'lláh that in case of illness one should invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 18, 1939: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, June 1974, p. 7)


939. Both Spiritual and Physical Forces Needed to Secure Speedy Recovery

"In the Book of Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh urges us, that when we obtain any physical ailment we should refer to the doctor and abide by his decision. Physical and spiritual forces have both to be used to secure the speedy recovery of the patients; no partial treatment is sufficient. So you should pray for your son and also be faithful in your obedience to the directions of the physicians who are trying to restore him to health."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 1, 1933)


940. Physical Ailments Have No Effect on the Soul

"Regarding your questions concerning the condition of the soul during illness. The passages in the 'Gleanings' make it quite clear that physical ailments, no matter how severe, cannot bring any change in the inherent condition of the soul. As Bahá'u'lláh says: 'The spirit is permanent and steadfast in its station'. The veil or hindrance that interposes between soul and body during physical disease is sickness itself. Sickness reveals a lack of balance in human organism, an absence of equilibrium in the forces essential for the normal functioning of the human body."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)


941. Bahá'ís Must Avoid Depleting Their Forces and Suffering Breakdowns

"...The Bahá'ís, in spite of their self-sacrificing desire to give the last drop of their strength to serving the Cause, must guard against utterly depleting their forces and having breakdowns. For this can sometimes do more harm than good, because they are so bound up in the lives of others....

"There is no doubt that there is vicarious atonement for others, and our sufferings sometimes can be in the nature of a sacrifice accepted for others. But where to draw the line is a mystery. If you take better care of your own health, and build up your reserves, it would certainly be better for you and for your work. Then your sensitive, yearning heart, although you may still often suffer for and with others, will be better able to withstand its trials, and you will not get so exhausted, which is certainly no asset to your work for the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 25, 1949)



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942. The Supreme Need of the World Today is for Spiritual Healing--Bahá'ís Are the Leaven that Must Leaven the Lump

"However much the need may be for physical healing, the supreme need of the world today is for spiritual healing. Life in this world is so relatively short--and at present it is fraught with a thousand difficulties and dangers; whereas life in the true sense is eternal, and for this eternal life people need some preparation in these turbulent times.

"Your work to improve the health of people is a meritorious way of serving mankind, but it can never be compared with the work of illumining the souls and minds of men with the Light of Bahá'u'lláh. The people of the world are teeming millions, the Bahá'ís only a handful, yet they are the precious leaven that must leaven the lump."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)


943. Some Illnesses Have to Do with the Spiritual Development of the One Affected or of the Loved Ones

"The Beloved Guardian has asked me to assure you and the parents of the dear baby of his prayers for his healing, both material and spiritual.

"It is difficult for us to understand these calamities when they come to us. Those who are firm in the Faith, know that the Hand of God protects them, and if something of this nature comes upon them, it is for some reason, which may have to do with the spiritual development of the one affected, or the spiritual development and welfare of the loved ones; or even for the melting of the hearts of non-Bahá'ís, who will be affected by the Divine Spirit, through the manner in which the Bahá'í meets such an ordeal."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 23, 1953)


944. Physical Pain is Necessary to Existence and is Unavoidable--In Every Suffering One Can Find a Meaning and a Wisdom

"As to your question concerning the meaning of physical suffering and its relation to mental and spiritual healing. Physical pain is a necessary accompaniment of all human existence, and as such is unavoidable. As long as there will be life on earth, there will be also suffering, in various forms and degrees. But suffering, although an inescapable reality, can nevertheless be utilised as a means for the attainment of happiness. This is the interpretation given to it by all the prophets and saints who, in the midst of severe tests and trials, felt happy and joyous and experienced what is best and holiest in life. Suffering is both a reminder and a guide. It stimulates us to better adapt ourselves to our environmental conditions, and thus leads the way to self-improvement. In every suffering one can find a meaning and a wisdom. But it is not always easy to find the secret of that wisdom. It is sometimes only when all our suffering has passed that we become aware of its usefulness. What man considers to be evil turns often to be a cause of infinite blessings. And this is due to his desire to know more than he can. God's wisdom is, indeed, inscrutable to us all, and it is no use pushing too far trying to discover that which shall always remain a mystery to our mind."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 29, 1935)



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945. Decree of Bahá'u'lláh Consult Competent Doctor

"According to the explicit decree of Bahá'u'lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 156, No. 135)


946. It is the Responsibility of the Believers to Look After the Sick

"O thou servant of God! To look after the sick is one of the greatest duties. For every soul who becomes sick, the other friends should certainly offer their lives (in service) with the utmost kindness."

(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Volume I, p. 149: cited in Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, p. 1)

B. Mental Illness


947. Little is Known About the Mind and Its Workings

"Very little is as yet known about the mind and its workings. But one thing is certain: Bahá'ís can and do receive a very remarkable help and protection in this world, one which often surprises their doctors very much!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 9, 1948: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 4)


948. Mental Illness Does Not Affect Our Spirit or Our Inner Relation to God

"It is very hard to be subject to any illness, particularly a mental one. However, we must always remember these illnesses have nothing to do with our spirit or our inner relation to God. It is a great pity that as yet so little is really known of the mind, its workings and illnesses that afflict it; no doubt, as the world becomes more spiritually minded and scientists understand the true nature of man, more humane and permanent cures for mental diseases will be found.

"The Guardian, much as his heart goes out to you in your fear and suffering, cannot tell you whether electric shock treatments should or should not be used, as this is a purely medical question, and there is no reference to such details in our Scriptures. The best scientists must pass upon such methods, not laymen.

"You must always remember, no matter how much you or others may be afflicted with mental troubles and the crushing environment of these State Institutions, that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul. Let us hope in the meantime scientists will find better and permanent cures for the mentally afflicted. But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 12, 1948: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, June 1974)



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949. Disease of Two Kinds--Madness Can Be Cured Through Prayer

"Disease is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Take for instance, a cut hand; if you pray for the cut to be healed and do not stop its bleeding, you will not do much good; a material remedy is needed.

"Sometimes if the nervous system is paralysed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary. Madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through prayer. It often happens that sorrow makes one ill; this can be cured by spiritual means."

(Abdu'l-Bahá in London, Addresses and Notes of Conversations, 1982 ed., p. 65)


950. Some Serious Deficiencies, Physical or Mental, Can Incapacitate One to Contract Marriage

"The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race--which is the very flower of the entire creation--and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.

"That there should be, however, certain individuals, who, by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life, is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.

"The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Bahá'í Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters)


951. No Objection to One Seeing a Psychiatrist

"As regards your seeing a psychiatrist: There is no objection to your trying this form of treatment if your physician recommends it, and any intelligent doctor would never be prejudiced against the Faith through the difficulties incurred by a patient due to illness.

"There is no object in over-taxing your will power and strength by forcing yourself to do things for the Cause. You should let your mind rest in the thought of the infinite love, mercy and forgiveness of Bahá'u'lláh, and cease to fret about whether you are or are not doing your share until you fully recover your health--and evidently you already are on the road to recovery!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1945)



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952. Bahá'ís Should Not Become Healers+F1

"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Bahá'ís do not have."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, A Compilation, p. 13)


953. The Mind Can Be Helped by Professionals, but the Soul is Not Aided by Psychotherapy

"With reference to the broad aspects of your problem of psychological difficulty, the House of Justice has asked us to quote the following passages from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh: 'Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind.... When it (the soul) leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal'. In a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian we also find the following passage: 'You must always remember, no matter how much you and others are afflicted with mental troubles ..., that your spirit is healthy, near to your Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul.' Thus it is that the soul is not aided by psychotherapy. On the other hand, in your understanding of the mental phenomena which distress you, and in your efforts to overcome your problem it is perfectly proper to consult professional experts, as your National Assembly ... advised. In another letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary, we read the following: 'As Bahá'u'lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians, Bahá'ís certainly are not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when available, do so.' The mind, then, with all its aberrancies, may often favourably be influenced by scientifically trained persons.

"The Universal House of Justice suggests that through daily prayer, and specially by observing the daily obligatory prayers, through study of the Writings, through active participation in teaching efforts and in the activities of the community, and through constant effort to sacrifice for the Faith you love so well, you will provide a spiritual counterpart to the professional help you will receive from the experts. You should also endeavour to engage in some useful occupation, or by training yourself to have such an occupation, as work is itself another means at our disposal, in accordance with our Teachings, to draw nearer to God, and to better grasp His purpose for us in this world."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 6, 1976)


954. The Science of the Mind is in Its Relative Infancy--Therapy of Mental Disorders is Advancing

"It is not easy to be burdened with long years of mental illness such as you describe. And plainly you have sought aid from many persons of scientific and non-scientific training backgrounds, apparently to little avail over the years of your prolonged illness.


____________________
+F1 (See also: Nos. 930-934)



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Possibly you should consider, if it is feasible, consulting the best specialists in a medical centre in one of the major cities, where the most advanced diagnosis and treatment can be obtained. The science of the mind, of normality and of the disabilities from which it may suffer, is in its relative infancy, but much may be possible to aid you to minimize your suffering and make possible an active life. The last ten years in the therapy of mental disorders has seen important advances from which you may well benefit.

"Your discovery of the Faith, of its healing Writings and its great purposes for the individual and for all mankind, have indeed brought to you a powerful force toward a healthy life which will sustain you on a higher level, whatever your ailment may be. The best results for the healing process are to combine the spiritual with the physical, for it should be possible for you to overcome your illness through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined effort."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)


955. Mental Illness is Not Spiritual

"...mental illness is not spiritual, although its effects may indeed hinder and be a burden in one's striving toward spiritual progress. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer there is this further passage: 'Such hindrances (i.e., illness and outer difficulties), no matter how severe and insuperable they may at first seem, can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined and continued effort.'

"That effort can include the counsel of wise and experienced physicians, including psychiatrists. Working for the Faith, serving others who may need you, and giving of yourself can aid you in your struggle to overcome your sufferings. One helpful activity is, of course, striving to teach the Cause in spite of personal feelings of shortcomings, thus allowing the healing words of the Cause to flood your mind with their grace and positive power."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 15, 1982)


956. Bahá'ís Should Not Take a Defeatist Attitude Toward Mental Illnesses

"In the Bahá'í Teachings it is made quite clear that when one is ill, one should seek the best available medical advice. This naturally leaves a person free to choose what they consider good in medical opinion. If you and ...'s mother feel that she is improving under the care of your own doctor, and ... is willing to wait and be patient and see if she goes on making progress, there can surely be no objection to her doing this. There are a great many as you know mental diseases and troubles at present, and the one thing Bahá'ís must not do is take a defeatist attitude toward them. The power in the Faith is such that it can sustain us on a much higher level in spite of whatever our ailments might be, than other people who are denied it. This however does not mean that we should ignore medical opinion and treatment. On the contrary, we should do our best to procure the opinion of specialists and competent doctors."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)


957. Psychiatry

"There is nothing in our teachings about Freud and his method. Psychiatric treatment



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in general is no doubt an important contribution to medicine, but we must believe it is still a growing rather than a perfected science. As Bahá'u'lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Bahá'ís are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when advisable, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right, it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 15, 1950)

C. Doctors


958. Physician is Blessed Who Heals in the Name of God

"Well is it with the physician who cureth ailments in My hallowed and dearly cherished Name."

(From a Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


959. To Seek Medical Treatment and Obey the Doctor is a Divine Ordinance

"It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor's instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 156)


960. One Must Obey Command of God and Submit to Medical Opinion

"One must obey the command of God and submit to medical opinion. Thou hast undertaken this journey to comply with His command and not for the sake of healing, since healing is in the hand of God, not in the hand of doctors."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


961. The Science of Medicine is Extremely Useful

"Thou shouldst endeavour to study the science of medicine. It is extremely useful and serveth as the greatest instrument for the dissemination of the Cause. It is absolutely imperative that thou acquire this bounty. Strive day and night that thou mayest become highly qualified in this science. And when thou wishest to dispense treatment, set thy heart toward the Abha Kingdom, entreating divine confirmations."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)


962. The Sick Must Refer to a Skilled Doctor

"...thou hast written about thy poor sight. According to the explicit divine text the sick must refer to the doctor. This decree is decisive and everyone is bound to observe it. While thou art there thou shouldst consult the most skilled and the most famed eye specialist."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)


963. The Physician Has Two Powers

"O thou distinguished physician!... Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related



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to man's spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 150-151)


964. When Giving Treatment, Turn to the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh

"When giving medical treatment turn to the Blessed Beauty, then follow the dictates of thy heart. Remedy the sick by means of heavenly joy and spiritual exultation, cure the sorely afflicted by imparting to them blissful glad tidings and heal the wounded through His resplendent bestowals. When at the bedside of a patient, cheer and gladden his heart and enrapture his spirit through celestial power. Indeed, such a heavenly breath quickeneth every mouldering bone and reviveth the spirit of every sick and ailing one."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 151)


965. It is Imperative to Consult a Doctor Even if One is an Eminent Physician

"According to the explicit decree of Bahá'u'lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 156)


966. God Alone Has the Power to Give True Healing--Many Men Have Died of the Very Disease of Their Specialty

"All true healing comes from God! There are two causes for sickness, one is material, the other spiritual. If the sickness is of the body, a material remedy is needed, if of the soul, a spiritual remedy.

"If the heavenly benediction be upon us while we are being healed then only can we be made whole, for medicine is but the outward and visible means through which we obtain the heavenly healing. Unless the spirit be healed, the cure of the body is worth nothing. All is in the hands of God, and without Him there can be no health in us!

"There have been many men who have died at last of the very disease of which they have made a special study. Aristotle, for instance, who made a special study of the digestion, died of a gastronomic malady. Avicenna was a specialist of the heart, but he died of heart disease. God is the great compassionate Physician who alone has the power to give true healing."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, 1972 ed., p. 19)


967. Service is Prayer

"This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 177)


968. Doctors Versed in Medical Science Can Treat Case Better Than Loving Mothers

"...He fully sympathizes with you in this great sorrow that has afflicted you. At



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such occasions, the true servants of God should be resigned and try to act wisely, using at the same time all available means to help their loved one who is in distress and is suffering from illness.

"Bahá'u'lláh tells us that in case of disease we should pray but at the same time refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions. Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to find whether your son has really become ill, and if he is, then follow the directions of the doctor. Being versed in the medical sciences they can treat better than even a loving mother can. You can render your assistance by praying for him and at the same time helping the physicians to treat him."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 9, 1933: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, pp. 5-6)


969. Powers Released by Bahá'u'lláh Destined to Reveal Themselves Through Instrumentality of His Followers

"These investigations you have so painstakingly pursued in the field of medical science, and on a subject which is still puzzling the minds of all the leading scientists in the world, cannot but be of a captivating interest and of a great value to all medical research workers.

"It is significant that you as a believer should have undertaken a work of this nature, as we all know that the powers released by the Manifestation of Bahá'u'lláh in this day are destined, in the course of time, to reveal themselves through the instrumentality of His followers, and in every conceivable field of human endeavour.

"That you should increasingly prove, through your confirmed researches in the domain of medicine, to be one of those instruments, is the fervent hope of our beloved Guardian."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1938)


970. Doctors Should Not Work on 9 Holy Days

"He thinks it is better for Bahá'í doctors not to work on our 9 Holy Days--but, of course, that does not mean they should not attend to very sick people and emergencies on these days."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 2, 1946: Dawn of a New Day, p. 116)


971. Corrupt Practices

"The Guardian feels that your attitude towards the corrupt practice of accepting commissions from fellow physicians and pharmacists is most admirable. The more upright and noble the Bahá'ís are in their conduct, the more they will impress the public with the spiritual vitality of the Faith they believe in."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 20, 1953: Living the Life, p. 18)

D. Illnesses and Medical Practices


972. Medical Science Will Greatly Improve with the Spiritual Awakening of Man

"Abdu'l-Bahá does often state that the medical science will much improve. With



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the appearance of every Revelation a new insight is created in man and this in turn expresses itself in the growth of science. This has happened in past dispensations and we find its earliest fruits in our present day. What we see however is only the beginning. With the spiritual awakening of man this force will develop and marvelous results will become manifest."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1932: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)


973. Surrogate Mothers and Artificial Insemination

"Regarding surrogate mothers and artificial insemination, you will find the following extracts from statements made by the Universal House of Justice relevant to your questions:

'The beloved Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer who enquired on the same subject, said "...there is nothing in our teachings about this, therefore there is no objection to having a baby by means of artificial insemination as long as your husband is the father of it.'

'Artificial insemination is, therefore, permissible to a Bahá'í wife provided her husband is the donor.'"

(From a letter dated 11 July 1978 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

"Also, after quoting the above statement of the Guardian, the following comment was made in another letter:

'In view of this, the House of Justice has stated that it would not be proper for a Bahá'í to donate semen to a hospital for the artificial insemination of a woman other than his wife.'"

(From a letter dated 25 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia)

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler of this compilation, October 27, 1981)


974. Artificial Production of Life

"As to your question regarding the possibility of an artificial production of life by means of an incubator: This is essentially a matter that concerns science, and as such should be investigated and studied by scientists."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937: Selections From Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


975. Conception Without Male Sperm

"...As to the possibility of conception without the presence of a male sperm in the future: This is a question which lies entirely within the province of science, and which future scientists will have to investigate."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 27, 1938)


976. Hypnotism

"Hypnotism hath a weak influence over bodies, but hath no result. But the



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power of the kingdom of God is great. If thou canst, endeavor to obtain a share of that power."

(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 169)


977. Auto-Suggestion or Hypnotism

"What comes under the healing of psychic practices Abdu'l-Bahá has warned us against; but any form of auto-suggestion or hypnotism which is used by medical science and by properly qualified physicians we are free to take advantage of, if we feel that the doctor using such practices is qualified and will not abuse his rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 15, 1957: Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena, February 14, 1974, p. 2)


978. Cancer

"Cancer is such a terrible scourge in the world today! But when the believers are called upon to go through such bitter ordeals they have the Faith to sustain them, the love of their Bahá'í friends to comfort them, and the glorious words of Bahá'u'lláh regarding immortality to give them confidence and courage. Blessed are we, indeed, even, in the midst of our greatest trials."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 5, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 231, p. 1, May 1950)


979. Cancer--Not Stated It is a Spiritual Disease

"There is no authority for the statement which is alleged to have been said by Abdu'l-Bahá to the effect that cancer is a spiritual disease. The saying is quite unauthoritative, and should not be circulated."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


980. Chiropractic

"There is nothing in the Teachings about chiropractic as a method of healing. People are free to turn to it if they please and find help through it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 10, 1951: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and related Matters, April 1984, p. 14)


981. Circumcision

"The beloved Guardian says that the question of circumcision has nothing to do with the Bahá'í Teachings; and the believers are free to do as they please in the matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 27, 1954: Ibid.)


982. Reference to Certain Aspects of Medical Profession Not Found in Sacred Writings

"We were impressed by the spirit of your letter of 15 Sultan seeking guidance concerning certain aspects of the medical profession. Your desire to avoid doing anything in your study of medicine which would be contrary to the Bahá'í Teachings is most commendable.

"As you have keenly observed, the Universal House of Justice may consider it untimely to make definitive rulings on certain matters to which no direct



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reference can be found in the Sacred Text. Among these are euthanasia and certain aspects of birth control and abortion, and until such time as rulings are made, these matters are left to the consciences of those concerned who must weigh the medical advice on the case in the light of general guidance given in the Teachings. Your National Spiritual Assembly has specific references regarding birth control and abortion which might be useful to you."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 18, 1975)


983. Heart/Kidney Transplant

"We have your letter of September 13, 1968, making inquiry about instructions which may apply to organ transplants such as the heart or kidney.

"On 18 September, 1968, we wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina as follows:

'We have not come across anything specific in the writings on transplants of hearts and other organs or regarding the time of death, and the Universal House of Justice does not wish to make any statements on these points at this time.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 23, 1968)


984. Organ Donor for Parts of the Body Including the Eyes

"In reply to your letter of October 1st inquiring about organ transplants and Bahá'ís acting as donors for parts of the body, we refer you first of all to our letter of March 3rd 1967 in which we quoted to you a passage from one of the beloved Guardian's letters on this subject.

"We are also able to give you the following from a letter of the beloved Guardian by his secretary: 'There is nothing in the teachings which would forbid a Bahá'í to bequeath his eyes to another person or for a hospital; on the contrary it seems a noble thing to do.' This passage is from a letter dated September 6th 1946.

"The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the elucidation contained in the above statements."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 16, 1969)


985. Euthanasia (Mercy Killing)

"As to the questions relating to euthanasia ... the House of Justice has asked us to share with you these two statements...

'As to the Bahá'í viewpoint on the removal or withholding of life support in medical cases where intervention prolongs life in disabling illnesses, nothing has been found in the Sacred Text specifically on this matter. In such cases decisions must be left to those responsible, including the patient.'

(From a letter dated 31st May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

'We have received your letter of March 18, 1974 in which you ask for the Bahá'í viewpoint on euthanasia and on the removal of life support in medical cases where physiological interventions prolong life in disabling illnesses. In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best, and we have found nothing in the Sacred Text on these



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matters specifically but in a letter to an individual written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary regarding mercy killings, or legalized euthanasia, it is stated:

"...this is also a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to legislate."

'Until such time as the Universal House of Justice considers legislation on euthanasia, decisions in the matters to which you refer must be left to the consciences of those responsible.'" (From a letter dated 17 May 1974 from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska)

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the compiler, October 27, 1981)


986. When Dissecting Human Body, It Must Be Treated with Respect

"To your fourth question, a Bahá'í, when dissecting a human body for the purposes of medical study, should keep in mind that since the body was once the temple of the spirit it must be treated with respect even though there is no further connection between the two."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 18, 1975)


987. Life Support

"With reference to your letter of 1 July 1985, we are asked to say that, in general, our Teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best. The Universal House of Justice has found nothing in the Sacred Text about the matter of withholding or removing life support in disabling or terminal illnesses where intervention prolongs life. Therefore, until such time as the House of Justice considers legislation on these matters, it is left to the conscience of the individual concerned whether or not to subscribe to a 'living will'."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, July 23, 1985)


988. Telepathy

"The Teachings bear no reference to the question of telepathy. It is a matter that concerns psychology."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 28, 1938: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 10)


989. Before Serious Operation Consult More Than One Physician

"He is pleased to see that you are feeling better, and will certainly pray for your full recovery. Before having any serious operation, you should consult more than one qualified physician."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 8, 1954)


990. Protect Your Health by Sleeping Enough

"Regarding your question: There are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, September 15, 1952)



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991. Take Care of Health as a Necessary Means of Serving the Cause

"You should always bear in mind Bahá'u'lláh's counsel that we should take the utmost care of our health, surely not because it is an end in itself, but as a necessary means of serving His Cause. In case of illness, He emphatically tells us, we should refer to the most competent physicians.

"Now your father has taken you to the best nerve specialists in ..., and they all recommend that you should suspend all your activities until you are fully recovered. It is now your duty as a Bahá'í, and specially as a young believer who has still great services to render the Faith, to make every effort to recover your health, and to be confident that by making such an effort you will be attracting the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, without which no true and lasting healing is possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)


992. Vaccination

"Regarding your question about vaccination: These are technical matters which have not been specifically mentioned in the teachings, and consequently the Guardian cannot make any statement about them. No doubt medical science will progress tremendously as time goes by, and the treatment of disease become more perfect."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 24, 1943: Bahá'í News, No. 173, p. 3, February 1945)


993. Vivisection

"As regards the question the Auckland Assembly has asked about vivisection, there is nothing on this subject in the Bahá'í teachings. At a future date such matters will no doubt be taken up by the International House of Justice."

(Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 130)


994. Torture of Animals--When the Hearts of Men Change Medical Research Will Eliminate as Much Suffering of Animals as Possible

"The Guardian fully sympathizes with your repulsion against any torture to animals. However, he feels that as there are human beings being tortured much worse than animals all over the world, often physically, and more often mentally, that it is more important for the Bahá'ís to concentrate on what will free man from the cruelty and injustice which oppress him, rather than animals. Once we change human hearts, there will be no more cruelty to animals, and medical research will be carried out in a way which will eliminate as much suffering in experiments as possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 27, 1952)


995. During Vivisection Animal Must Be Well Anaesthetized

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 19th January 1978 enquiring the Bahá'í point of view on the vivisection of animals. The beloved Guardian was asked a similar question to which his secretary replied on his behalf, on 29 November 1955: 'As there is no definite and conclusive statement on Vivisection in the Bahá'í Teachings, this is a matter which the International House of Justice will have to pass upon in the future.'

"The House of Justice does not wish to legislate upon this matter at the present



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time. It is left to the consciences of the individual friends, who should make their decisions in light of the teachings concerning animals and their treatment.

"In this connection the House of Justice instructs us to say that in a Tablet in which He stresses the need for kindness to animals, Abdu'l-Bahá states that it would be permissible to perform an operation on a living animal for the purposes of research even if the animal were killed thereby, but that the animal must be well anaesthetized and that the utmost care must be exercised that it does not suffer."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, March 9, 1978: Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 16)


996. Sins Are Potent Cause of Physical Ailments

"...It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.

"But man hath perversely continued to serve his lustful appetites, and he would not content himself with simple foods. Rather, he prepared for himself food that was compounded of many ingredients, of substances differing one from the other. With this, and with the perpetrating of vile and ignoble acts, his attention was engrossed, and he abandoned the temperance and moderation of a natural way of life. The result was the engendering of diseases both violent and diverse."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 152-153)

E. Physical Education


997. Material Education

"...education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1981 ed., p. 8; cited in A Compilation of Extracts on Physical Education, p. 1, World Centre)


998. The Essentiality of Taking Proper Care of Child from the Early Days of His Life

"Unless the child, in his earliest years, be carefully tended, whether in a material or a spiritual sense, whether as to his physical health or his education, it will prove extremely difficult to effect any changes later on. For example, if a child is not properly cared for at the beginning of life, so that he doth not develop a sound body and his constitution doth not flourish as it ought, his body will remain feeble, and whatever is done afterward will take little effect. This matter of protecting the health of the child is essential, for sound health leadeth to insights and sense perceptions, and then the child, as he learneth sciences, arts, skills, and the civilities of life, will duly develop his powers...."

(From a previously untranslated Tablet by Abdu'l-Bahá, Ibid., p. 1)


999. Give Them Advantage of Every Useful Kind of Knowledge

"While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly



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grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty. Give them the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, 1982 ed., p. 129: Ibid., p. 1)


1000. Training and Development of Physical Body Ensures Strength and Growth

"...education is of various kinds. There is a training and development of the physical body which ensures strength and growth."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 330: Ibid., p. 2)


1001. There Should Be a Program for the Development of Youth All Over the World

"...Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í youth all over the world."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931: Ibid., p. 2)


1002. Playing Games

"Playing games is not in the least forbidden. It should in fact be encouraged if they are of an athletic nature."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 27, 1932: Ibid., p. 2)

F. Diet and Nutrition


1003. Treat Disease Through Diet, but Do Not Neglect Medical Care

"Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary, but leave it off when health has been restored. Treat disease through diet, by preference, refraining from the use of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compounded medicament... Abstain from drugs when the health is good, but administer them when necessary."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, 1980 ed., p. 106, cited in ... Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


1004. One Course Meal More Pleasing in the Sight of God

"In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Kitab-i-Badi, Ibid.)


1005. Mother's Milk Normally is Best for the Child

"The child must, from the day of his birth, be provided with whatever is conducive to his health; and know ye this: so far as possible, the mother's milk is best for, more



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agreeable and better suited to, the child, unless she should fall ill or her milk should run entirely dry."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)


1006. Abstinence from Eating Animal Flesh

"Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food is also meat.

"But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá written to an individual believer: Ibid.)


1007. The Four Canine Teeth in Man

"Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying that these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created for meat-eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man are made for eating fruit, cereals and vegetables. These four teeth, however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds. But eating meat is not forbidden or unlawful, nay, the point is this, that it is possible for man to live without eating meat and still be strong. Meat is nourishing and containeth the elements of herbs, seeds and fruits; therefore sometimes it is essential for the sick and for the rehabilitation of health. There is no objection in the Law of God to the eating of meat if it is required. So if thy constitution is rather weak and thou findest meat useful, thou mayest eat it."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer: Ibid.)


1008. The Bab Has Said that Bahá'ís Must Develop Medical Science So that Illness May Be Healed by Foods

"...The Bab hath said that the people of Baha must develop the science of medicine to such a high degree that they will heal illnesses by means of foods. The basic reason



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for this is that if, in some component substance of the human body, an imbalance should occur, altering its correct, relative proportion to the whole, this fact will inevitably result in the onset of disease. If, for example, the starch component should be unduly augmented, or the sugar component decreased, an illness will take control. It is the function of a skilled physician to determine which constituent of his patient's body hath suffered diminution, which hath been augmented. Once he hath discovered this, he must prescribe a food containing the diminished element in considerable amounts, to re-establish the body's essential equilibrium. The patient, once his constitution is again in balance, will be rid of his disease.

"At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. In the same way, in the character, the conduct and the manners of men, universal modifications will be made."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 152-155)


1009. Medical Science is Only in Its Infancy

"'What will be the food of the future?' 'Fruit and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food.'"

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ten Days in the Light of Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 8-9)


1010. Should One Kill Animals for Food?

"In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Bahá'í Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it. It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable. This is, however, a very controversial question and the Bahá'ís are free to express their views on it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)


1011. Many Ailments that Affect Man Also Afflict Animals--Animals Heal Themselves with Food and Aliments

"The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal, but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the wilderness, the animal's physician is the power of taste and smell. The sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured. The cause of his healing is this. When the sugar ingredient has become diminished in his constitution, he begins to long for sweet things; therefore, he eats an herb with a sweet taste, for nature urges and guides him; its smell and taste please him, and he eats it. The sugar ingredient in his nature will be increased, and health will be restored.

"It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1982 ed., pp. 257-259, Ibid.)



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1012. Eating of Pork is Not Forbidden

"The eating of pork is not forbidden in the Bahá'í Teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 27, 1938: Ibid.)


1013. The Body is Like a Horse that Carries the Personality and Spirit

"...you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It--the body--is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 23, 1947)


1014. The Prophets of God Are Not Immune from Things which Men Suffer

"...as we suffer these misfortunes we must remember that the Prophets of God Themselves were not immune from these things which men suffer. They knew sorrow, illness and pain too. They rose above these things through Their spirits, and that is what we must try and do too, when afflicted. The troubles of this world pass, and what we have left is what we have made of our souls, so it is to this we must look to becoming more spiritual, drawing nearer to God, no matter what our human minds and bodies go through."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 5, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 231, May 1950, p. 1)


1015. No Specific School of Nutrition or Medicine Has Been Associated with the Bahá'í Teachings

"No specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Bahá'í teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that 'It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures.' The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand....

"In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh has stated: 'Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians. Verily, We have not abolished recourse to material means, rather have We affirmed it through this Pen which God hath made the Dawning Place of His luminous and resplendent Cause.' The secretaries of the Guardian have conveyed his guidance on this point in many letters to individual believers in passages such as these: '...refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions'; '...invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians...' and '...consult the best physicians ... doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine.' Thus the obligation to consult physicians and to distinguish between doctors who are well trained in medical sciences and those who are not is clear, but the Faith should not be associated with any particular school of medical theory or practice. It is left to each believer to decide for himself which doctors he should consult, bearing in mind the principles enunciated above.



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"In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. Here too, as in all other things, the believers should be conscious of the two principles of moderation and courtesy in the way they express their opinions and in deciding whether they should refuse food offered to them or request special foods.

"There are, of course, instances where a believer would be fully justified in abstaining from or eating only certain foods for some medical reason, but this is a different matter and would be understood by any reasonable person."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 24, 1977)


1016. We Have Guidelines, Indications and Principles which Experts Will Carefully Study in the Future

"In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. But it must be clearly understood that no specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Bahá'í teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that 'It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures.' The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 11, 1978)


1017. Believers Should Seek Help and Advice of Experts--The Teachings Say Nothing About Eating Meat or Fish

"In matters of health, particularly regarding diet and nutrition, the House of Justice advises the friends to seek the help and advice of experts and doctors. This is what Bahá'u'lláh has recommended and He does not indicate which school of thought or practice they should belong to. However, as you particularly ask about references in the Old Testament as they relate to meat and fish, the House of Justice has asked us to quote for you the following excerpt taken from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer:

'...there is nothing in the teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw; exercise or not exercise; resort to specific therapies or not; nor is it forbidden to eat meat.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 19, 1977)

Chapter 2

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XXV. HOLY DAYS


1018. Two Holy Days When Work is Not Prohibited--The Significance of the Day of the Covenant Explained

"In response to your letter of 2 December 1984 asking a question about the event commemorated on the Day of the Covenant, the Universal House of Justice has directed us to send you the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on this subject:

'The Day of the Covenant Nov. 26th and the Day of the Ascension Nov. 28th, anniversaries of the birth and the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá must be observed by the friends coming together, but work is not prohibited. In other words the friends must regard observance of these two anniversaries as obligatory--but suspension of work not to be regarded as obligatory.'

"The explanation of how 26 November came to be substituted, in relation to the Birthday of Abdu'l-Bahá, for 23 May is related by the late Hand of the Cause Hasan M. Balyuzi in his book, 'Abdu'l-Bahá', on page 523:

'Abdu'l-Bahá told the Bahá'ís that this day was not, under any circumstances, to be celebrated as His day of birth. It was the day of the Declaration of the Bab, exclusively associated with Him. But as the Bahá'ís begged for a day to be celebrated as His, He gave them November 26th, to be observed as the day of the appointment of the Centre of the Covenant...'

"The House of Justice hopes that this will assist your understanding of the significance of this important date in the Bahá'í calendar."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Administrative Committee for South Zaire, January 23, 1984)


1019. Suspension of Bahá'í Administrative Activities on Bahá'í Holy Days

"Concerning your question about holding meetings of consultation on Bahá'í Holy Days, we have been requested to share with you an excerpt from the translation of a Persian letter from the beloved Guardian dated 3 January 1929 to an individual believer:

'On the Bahá'í festivals and solemn commemorations it is preferable for Assemblies, Committees and Bahá'í Institutions to suspend their activities. However, final decision in these matters rests with the Universal House of Justice.'

"The Universal House of Justice feels that the above directive of the Guardian is adequate for the time being. It should be clear, however, that should emergencies occur which require the holding of meetings of Bahá'í institutions on the nine Holy Days of the Faith, this would be permissible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 21, 1982)



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1020. Bahá'í Radio Should Refrain from Work on Nine Holy Days--Volunteers May Present Special Programs

"The Universal House of Justice has considered your inquiry of 18 April concerning Bahá'í Holy Days and the operation of the Radio Bahá'í facility in Labranza, and we have been asked to convey its reply.

"As you are well aware, not only should Bahá'ís refrain from work on the nine Holy Days, but the shops and establishments owned by Bahá'ís should also be closed on these Days. If government regulations do not require the station to be on the air on a mandatory daily basis, Radio Bahá'í should not engage in regular broadcasts on the nine Holy Days. However, to aid the Bahá'í Community in its observance of any one of these Days, the station may offer at a particular time a special program suited to such observance. Those wishing to be involved in the production and airing of the program would be rendering a special service.

"You have no doubt noted that since the Bahá'í day begins at sunset and ends at the following sunset, no Gregorian day would be fully taken up by the observance of any one of the nine Bahá'í Holy Days; thus there is time to broadcast regular programs every day of the Gregorian year. The station naturally will inform its listeners of the meaning of each Holy Day well in advance so that they can appreciate the reason for the station's silence on such a Day.

"The House of Justice feels that this confirmation of the religious character of the station would be a means of teaching, a source of encouragement to the believers and model for their emulation."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 6, 1986)


1021. Business Places Owned by Bahá'ís Must Close During the Nine Holy Days --In the Bahá'í Temple Minimal Essential Services May Be Provided

"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)


1022. Exceptions Can Be Made When Contract Demands Service

"Regarding the sale of tea and other refreshments in a cinema under non-Bahá'í ownership: Those friends who have hired from the owner of the cinema a stall for the sale of such refreshments should make every effort to obtain permission to close on Bahá'í holidays. In case, however, the non-Bahá'í owner or partner refuses to grant their request their only alternative is to obey.



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"The case is different with a bread bakery owned by a believer. In this case there can be no excuse whatever why the shop should not be closed during Bahá'í holidays, as there are always non-Bahá'í bakers from whom the public can buy."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 28, 1937)


1023. Gift Giving is Not an Integral Part of Any of the Bahá'í Holy Days-- nor is There a Prohibition

"The exchanging of presents among believers or the giving of gifts to children is not an integral part of any of our nine Bahá'í Holy Days. There is no prohibition against it, and it is, as you say, a custom among Persian believers such as the Bahá'í to whom you spoke, to exchange gifts at Naw-Ruz.

"The desire of you and your husband to associate the time of gift giving with your children's involvement in the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is praiseworthy and it is felt that the following extract from a letter written by the secretary of the beloved Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand on December 26, 1941 will be of value to you: 'The intercalary days are specifically set aside for hospitality, the giving of gifts, etc. Bahá'u'lláh Himself specified that they be used this way, but gave no explanation for it.'

"In 'The Bahá'í World', Vol. XV, p. 691 we read: 'Bahá'u'lláh designated those days as the 'Ayyam-i-Ha' and ordained that they should immediately precede the month of Ala, which is the month of fasting. He enjoined upon His followers to devote these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 18, 1982)


1024. Proper Time to Hold Meetings of Commemoration

"...Regarding your question of the proper time to celebrate or hold our meetings of commemoration: The time should be fixed by counting after sunset; the Master passed away one hour after midnight, which falls a certain number of hours after sunset; so His passing should be commemorated according to the sun and regardless of daylight saving time. The same applies to the ascension of Bahá'u'lláh Who passed away about 8 hours after sunset."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 12, 1944)


1025. Naw-Ruz

"...This sacred day, when the sun illumines equally the whole earth, is called the equinox, and the equinox is the symbol of the Manifestation of God. The Sun of Truth rises on the horizon of Divine Mercy and sends forth its rays. This day is consecrated to commemorate it...."

(Talk by Abdu'l-Bahá, March 21, 1913: Star of the West, Vol. V, No. 1, p. 4)


1026. Naw-Ruz Has Nothing to Do with the Nineteen Day Feast

"He would like to point out that if the believers gather before sundown on a certain date it does not matter if the meeting continues after sunset; it may still be considered as being held on the day they gathered. The Naw-Ruz Feast should be held on March 21 before sunset and has nothing to do with the 19-Day Feast. The 19-Day Feast



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is administrative in function whereas the Naw-Ruz is our New Year, a Feast of hospitality and rejoicing."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 5, 1950)


1027. Naw-Ruz Should Be Celebrated According to the Vernal Equinox

"Regarding Naw-Ruz: If the vernal equinox falls on the 21st of March before sunset it is celebrated on that day. If at any time after sunset, Naw-Ruz will then, as stated by Bahá'u'lláh, fall on the 22nd. As to which spot should be regarded as the standard, this is a matter which the Universal House of Justice will have to decide...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 15, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 138, p. 1, September 1940)


1028. Naw-Ruz Cards

"There is no objection to individual Bahá'ís sending Naw-Ruz cards if they want to; also the National Spiritual Assembly can send them out occasionally, but it should not become a fixed custom."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, March 14, 1947: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 65)


1029. Celebration of the Christian Holidays Among the Bahá'ís Should Be Discontinued

"As regards the celebration of the Christian Holidays by the believers: It is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Years, and to have their festal gatherings of this nature instead during the intercalary days and Naw-Ruz."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 19, 1938)


1030. Holy Days Are Appropriate Occasions to Found Institutions and Projects for Social and Economic Development

"Briefly, every nation has a day known as a holiday which they celebrate with joy. In the sacred Laws of God, in every cycle and dispensation, there are blessed feasts, holidays and workless days. On such days all kinds of occupations, commerce, industry, agriculture etc., are not allowed. Every work is unlawful. All must enjoy a good time, gather together, hold general meetings, become as one assembly, so that the national oneness, unity and harmony may become personified in all eyes. As it is a blessed day it should not be neglected or without results by making it a day limited to the fruits of mere pleasure. During such blessed days institutions should be founded that may be of permanent benefit and value to the people so that in current conversation and in history it may become widely known that such a good work was inaugurated on such a feast day. Therefore, the intelligent must search and investigate reality to find out what important affair, what philanthropic institutions are most needed and what foundations should be laid for the community on that particular day, so that they may be established. For example, if they find that the community needs



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morality, then they may lay down the foundation of good morals on that day. If the community be in need of spreading sciences and widening the circle of knowledge, on that day they should proceed in that direction, that is to say, direct the thoughts of all the people to that philanthropic cause. If, however, the community is in need of widening the circle of commerce or industry or agriculture they should start the means so that the desired aim may be attained. If the community needs protection, proper support and care of orphans, they should act upon the welfare of the orphans, etc. Such undertakings that are beneficial to the poor, the weak and the helpless should be pursued in order that, on that day, through the unity of all and through great meetings, results may be obtained, the glory and blessings of that day may be declared and manifest....

"In all the cycles of the prophets the philanthropic affairs were confined to their respective peoples only--with the exception of small matters, such as charity, which was permissible to extend to others. But in this wonderful dispensation, philanthropic affairs are for all humanity, without any exception, because it is the manifestation of the mercifulness of God. Therefore, every universal matter--that is, one that belongs to all the world of humanity--is divine; and every matter that is sectarian and special is not universal in character--that is, it is limited. Therefore, my hope is that the friends of God, every one of them, may become as the mercy of God to all mankind."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 1, pp. 8-9, and cited in a compilation, prepared by the Office of Social and Economic Development, entitled Social and Economic Development)



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XXVI. THE INSTITUTION OF THE HUQÚQU'LLÁH


1031. Payment of Huququ'llah Purifies One's Property, Attracts Prosperity and Blessings

"It is clear and evident that the payment of the Right of God is conducive to prosperity, to blessing, and to honour and divine protection. Well is it with them that comprehend and recognize this truth and woe betide them that believe not. And this is on condition that the individual should observe the injunctions prescribed in the Book with the utmost radiance, gladness and willing acquiescence. It behoveth you to counsel the friends to do that which is right and praiseworthy. Whoso hearkeneth to this call, it is to his own behoof, and whoso faileth bringeth loss upon himself. Verily our Lord of Mercy is the All-Sufficing, the All-Praised."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Huququ'llah, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, June 1985, Extract No. 6, from a previously untranslated Tablet)


1032. A Bounty which Shall Remain with Every Soul in Every World of God

"Huququ'llah is indeed a great law. It is incumbent upon all to make this offering, because it is the source of grace, abundance, and of all good. It is a bounty which shall remain with every soul in every world of the worlds of God, the All-Possessing, the All-Bountiful."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid., Extract No. 7)


1033. Moderation Versus Extravagance

"Say: Pride not yourselves on earthly riches ye possess. Reflect upon your end and upon the recompense for your works that hath been ordained in the Book of God, the Exalted, the Mighty. Blessed is the rich man whom earthly possessions have been powerless to hinder from turning unto God, the Lord of all names. Verily he is accounted among the most distinguished of men before God, the Gracious, the All-Knowing."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid., Extract No. 25)


1034. Solicitation of the Huququ'llah is Not Permitted

"...To demand the Huquq is in no wise permissible. This command was revealed in the Book of God for various necessary matters ordained by God to be dependent upon material means. Therefore, if someone, with utmost pleasure and gladness, nay with insistence, wisheth to partake of this blessing, thou mayest accept. Otherwise, acceptance is not permissible."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid., Extract No. 9)



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1035. Trustworthiness in Huququ'llah--On Acquiring 100 Mithqals of Gold, 19 Belong Unto God

"Should a person acquire one hundred mithqals of gold, nineteen mithqals thereof belong unto God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Take heed, O people, lest ye deprive yourselves of this great bounty. We have prescribed this law unto you while We are wholly independent of you and of all that are in the heavens and on the earth. Indeed there lie concealed in this command, mysteries and benefits which are beyond the comprehension of anyone save God, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. Say, through this injunction God desireth to purify your possessions and enable you to draw nigh unto such stations as none can attain, except those whom God may please. Verily, He is the Generous, the Gracious, the Bountiful.

"O people! Act not treacherously in the matter of Huququ'llah and dispose not of it, except by His leave. Thus hath it been ordained in His Epistles as well as in this glorious Tablet.

"Whoso dealeth dishonestly with God will in justice be exposed, and whoso fulfilleth the things he hath been commanded, divine blessings will descend upon him from the heaven of the bounty of his Lord, the Bestower, the Bountiful, the Most Generous, the Ancient of Days. Verily He desireth for you the things that are inscrutable to you at present, though the people themselves will readily discover them when their souls take their flight and the trappings of their earthly gaieties are rolled up. Thus warneth you the Author of the Preserved Tablet."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid., Extract No. 10)


1036. Huququ'llah Designated as an Institution of the Cause--Calculation of Equivalent of One Mithqal of Gold

"...many details in the computation of Huququ'llah have been left by Bahá'u'lláh to the judgement and conscience of the individual believer. For example, He exempts such household equipment and furnishings as are needful, but He leaves it to the individual to decide which items are necessary and which are not. Contributions to the funds of the Faith cannot be considered as part of one's payment of Huququ'llah; moreover, if one owes Huququ'llah and cannot afford both to pay it and to make contributions to the Fund, the payment of Huququ'llah should take priority over making contributions. But as to whether contributions to the Fund may be treated as expenses in calculating the amount of one's assets on which Huququ'llah is payable: this is left to the judgement of each individual in the light of his own circumstances.

"The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf that 'one mithqal consists of nineteen nakhuds. The weight of twenty-four nakhuds equals four and three-fifths grammes. Calculations may be made on this basis.' Nineteen mithqals therefore equal 69.191667 grammes. One troy ounce equals 31.103486 grammes, thus 19 mithqals equal 2.224563 oz...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer: Ibid., Extract No. 105)


1037. Promulgation of the Huququ'llah a Responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies--The Universal House of Justice Determines How Huququ'llah Can Be Used

"Since the Huququ'llah has, according to the injunction in the Book, been designated as one of the institutions of the Cause, and inasmuch as the fulfilment of



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this obligation is binding on the people of Baha, therefore it is deemed appropriate that your Spiritual Assembly should fully familiarize the dear friends in Persia with the significance of this momentous responsibility and to promulgate gradually in the entire community such ordinances related to Huququ'llah as are laid down in His perspicuous Book. Obviously in pursuance of the explicit Texts solicitation of the Huququ'llah is not permissible, but it is the responsibility of those Trustees of the Cause to address appeals of a general character to the dear friends, so that they may become more informed about this essential obligation. God willing, through the occasional reminders issued by your Assembly, they may gain the privilege and honour of achieving this benevolent deed--a deed that draws forth heavenly blessings, serves as a means of purifying the earthly possessions of the devoted friends, and promotes the international activities of the people of Baha.

"It is evident to those Trustees of the Merciful that this Body, by virtue of the explicit Text of the sacred Writings, is the Body to which all things must be referred, and the Huququ'llah can be used to promote the interests of the Cause throughout the Bahá'í world only with the permission of the Authority in the Cause to which all must turn."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, October 27, 1963, translated from the Persian: Ibid., Extract No. 96)


1038. Personal Accounting Should Separate Huququ'llah from Contributions-- Huququ'llah Comes First

"The payment of the Huququ'llah is one of the essential spiritual obligations that the wondrous Pen of Bahá'u'lláh has laid down in the Most Holy Book.

"It would be preferable and more fitting if these two accounts, namely contributions to the Funds and payments of the Huququ'llah were to be kept separate. This means that in the first instance you should pay your Huququ'llah, and then you may offer your devoted contributions at your own discretion to the International Fund which is now being used for achieving the goals of the Nine Year Plan."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 18, 1965, translated from the Persian: Ibid., Extract No. 97)


1039. As a Token of Mercy, Cost of Burial and Debts Take Precedence Over Huququ'llah

"Thou hast asked which is to take precedence: the Huququ'llah, the debts of the deceased, or the cost of burial. It is God's command that the cost of burial take precedence, then the payment of debts, then the Right of God. Verily He is the One Who will pay due recompense, the All-Rewarding, the All-Generous. If the property is not equal to the debts, the estate must be distributed in direct proportion to each debt. The settlement of debts is a most important command set forth in the Book. Well is it with him who ascendeth unto God, without any obligations to Huququ'llah and to His servants. It is evident that the Huququ'llah hath priority over all other liabilities; however, as a token of mercy, He Who is the Dawning-Place of Revelation hath commanded that which hath been revealed by His life-giving and omniscient Pen in this Tablet."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid., Extract No. 22)



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1040. The Trusteeship of the Huququ'llah--Cannot Be Turned Over to Every Person

"Payments for the Huququ'llah cannot be handed over to every person. These words have been uttered by Him Who is the sovereign Truth. The Huququ'llah should be kept in the custody of trusted individuals and forwarded to His holy court through the Trustees of God."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Ibid., Extract No. 58)


1041. The Huquq is Not Payable on Entire Possessions Each Year

"The Huquq is not levied on one's entire possessions each year. A person's wealth may be worth 100,000. How can he be expected to pay Huquq on this property every year? For instance, whatever income thou has earned in a particular year, you should deduct from it your expenses during that year. The Huquq will then be payable on the remainder. Possessions on which Huquq was paid the previous year will be exempt from further payment."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., Extract No. 65)


1042. Huquq is Not Payable on Agricultural Tools and Equipment

"Huquq is applied on everything one possesseth. However, if a person hath paid the Huquq on a certain property, and the income from that property is equal to his needs, no Huquq is payable by that person.

"Huquq is not payable on agricultural tools and equipment, and on animals used in ploughing the land, to the extent that these are necessary."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., Extract No. 68)


1043. Value of Residence, Furniture and Tools of Trade Exempt from Huququ'llah of Heir

"Concerning your question whether the heirs to whom the principal residence, furniture and clothing of the deceased are transferred by way of inheritance will be exempt from the payment of Huquq or not, he said: Since the residence, furniture and the tools of trade have, in accordance with the explicit Text, been granted exemption from the Huquq, therefore, when the transfer of ownership takes place such possessions continue to be exempt."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, September 29, 1942: Ibid., Extract No. 88)


1044. Payment of the Huququ'llah is a Binding Spiritual Obligation--Conduces to Prosperity and Honour, Ensures Attainment of True Happiness

"Payment of Huququ'llah is a spiritual obligation binding on the people of Baha. The injunction is laid down in the Most Holy Book, and clear and conclusive explanations are embodied in various Tablets.

"Every devoted believer who is able to meet the specified conditions, must pay the Huququ'llah, without any exception. Indeed according to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, failure to comply with this injunction is regarded as a betrayal of trust, and the divine call: 'Whoso dealeth dishonestly with God will in justice be exposed,' is a clear reference to such people.

"The Centre of the Covenant has affirmed the obligation of Huquq in these words: 'The Lord as a sign of His infinite bounties hath graciously favoured His servants



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by providing for a fixed money offering (Huquq), to be dutifully presented unto Him, though He, the True One and His servants have been at all times independent of all created things'.

"This weighty ordinance, as testified by the Pen of Glory is invested with incalculable benefit and wisdom. It purifies one's possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honour and imparts divine increase and blessing. It is a sacrifice offered for and related to God, and an act of servitude leading to the promotion of His Cause. As affirmed by the Centre of the Covenant, Huquq offerings constitute a test for the believers and enable the friends to become firm and steadfast in faith and certitude.

"In brief, payment of Huququ'llah is one of the binding spiritual responsibilities of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh and the proceeds thereof revert to the Authority in the Cause to whom all must turn. Moreover, the Ancient Beauty--magnified be His praise--has affirmed that after the establishment of the Universal House of Justice necessary rulings would be enacted in this connection in conformity with that which God has purposed, and that no one, except the Authority to which all must turn, has the right to dispose of this Fund. In other words, whatever portion of one's wealth is due to the Huququ'llah belongs to the World Centre of the Cause of God, not to the individuals concerned.

"Thus the friends should not follow their own volition and judgement in using any of the funds set aside for Huququ'llah for any other purpose, even for charitable contributions of the Faith.

"We earnestly hope that everyone may be privileged to observe this sacred and blessed obligation which would ensure the attainment of true happiness and would serve to promote the execution of Bahá'í enterprises throughout the world.

"Verily God is Self-Sufficient above the need of His creatures."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, October 25, 1970, translated from the Persian: Ibid., Extract No. 100)



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XXVII. SPECIAL INSTITUTIONS

A. Institutions Defined


1045. Definition of Institution

"While the friends may be concerned at the range of agencies of the Cause which are called institutions, attempts at classification are not useful, for of course an institution is anything which has been instituted. One group of Bahá'í institutions is of the administration of the Faith on international, national and local levels, another represents functions based upon laws given by the Manifestation. It is sufficient to accept what is officially named an institution, while observing the range of appropriate applications of that title."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 20, 1980)


1046. Clarification of the Institutions Attendant to the Guardianship

"According to the 'Will and Testament' the institutions attendant to the Guardianship are the body of the Hands of the Cause, and the nine Hands of the Cause occupied in important services in the work of the Guardian. As you know, in his own lifetime, the Guardian also authorised the Hands to appoint Auxiliary Board members for protection and for propagation.

"However, this does not mean that the institution of the Counsellors, as presently organized, is, strictly speaking, an institution attendant to the Guardianship. To understand this subject in its several aspects you are advised to study carefully the letter written by the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and all National Spiritual Assemblies, dated 24 April 1972. You will find the relevant passage from this letter on pages 11-13 of the compilation entitled 'The Institution of the Continental Boards of Counsellors' published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 1, 1982)

B. The Guardianship


1047. The Guardianship--Acceptance of--Day that Will Not Be Followed by Night

"He feels that if ... ponders more deeply about the fundamentals of Divine Revelation, she will also come to understand the Guardianship. Once the mind and heart have grasped the fact that God guides men through a Mouthpiece, a human being, a Prophet, infallible and unerring, it is only a logical projection of this acceptance to also accept the station of Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardians. The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world



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management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e., the Guardians'), guided directly by the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by 'this is the day which will not be followed by the night'. In this Dispensation, divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet's ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians. If a person can accept Bahá'u'lláh's function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained a divinely-guided individual in matters pertaining to His Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 232, p. 8, June 1950)


1048. The Word "Guardianship" Used with Various Meanings

"Regarding your first question, it is important that when considering the references to the Guardianship in the writings of the Faith, and especially when striving to understand how these references apply at the present time, you should realize that the word 'guardianship' is used with various meanings in different contexts. In certain contexts it indicates the office and function of the Guardian himself, in others it refers to the line of Guardians, in still others it bears a more extended meaning embracing the Guardian and his attendant institutions. Nevertheless, it would be quite incorrect to state, at the present time when there is no Guardian, that the Hands of the Cause are members of the Institution of Guardianship. Nor would it be correct to so designate the International Teaching Centre, the Counsellors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 5, 1977)


1049. Prerogatives and Duties Invested in the Guardian Are of Three Kinds

"In the specific sense of referring to the office and function of the Guardian himself, the House of Justice finds that the prerogatives and duties vested in him are of three kinds. First, as was explained in a letter to an individual believer, which was published in 'Wellspring of Guidance', there are a number of functions and objects which the Guardianship shares with the Universal House of Justice and which the House of Justice must continue to pursue. Secondly, there are other functions of the Guardianship which, in the absence of a Guardian, devolve upon the Universal House of Justice, for example, the Headship of the Faith, the responsibility for directing the work of the Institution of the Hands of the Cause of God and of ensuring the continuing discharge of the functions of protection and propagation vested in that Institution, and the right to administer the Huququ'llah. Thirdly, there are those prerogatives and duties which lie exclusively within the sphere of the Guardian himself and, therefore, in the absence of a Guardian, are inoperative except insofar as the monumental work already performed by Shoghi Effendi continues to be of enduring benefit to the Faith. Such a function is that of authoritative interpretation of the Teachings."

(Ibid.)



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1050. Infallibility of the Guardian is Not for Individual Believers to Limit or to Judge

"Shoghi Effendi was asked several times during his ministry to define the sphere of his operation and his infallibility. The replies he gave and which were written on his behalf are most illuminating. He explains that he is not an infallible authority on subjects such as economics and science, nor does he go into technical matters since his infallibility is confined to 'matters which are related strictly to the Cause'. He further points out that 'he is not, like the Prophet, omniscient at will', that his 'infallibility covers interpretation of the revealed word and its application', and that he is also 'infallible in the protection of the Faith'. Furthermore, in one of the letters, the following guideline is set forth: '...It is not for individual believers to limit the sphere of the Guardian's authority, or to judge when they have to obey the Guardian and when they are free to reject his judgement. Such an attitude would evidently lead to confusion and to schism. The Guardian being the appointed interpreter of the Teachings, it is his responsibility to state what matters which, affecting the interests of the Faith, demand on the part of the believers complete and unqualified obedience to his instructions.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 22, 1977)


1051. Authoritative Interpretation of the Teachings is the Exclusive Right of the Guardian After Abdu'l-Bahá

"It must always be remembered that authoritative interpretation of the Teachings was, after Abdu'l-Bahá, the exclusive right of the Guardian, and fell within the 'sacred and prescribed domain' of the Guardianship, and therefore the Universal House of Justice cannot and will not infringe upon that domain. The exclusive sphere of the Universal House of Justice is to 'pronounce upon and deliver the final judgment on such laws and ordinances as Bahá'u'lláh has not expressly revealed'. Apart from this fundamental difference in the functions of the twin pillars of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, insofar as the other duties of the Head of the Faith are concerned, the Universal House of Justice shares with the Guardian the responsibility for the application of the revealed Word, the protection of the Faith, as well as the duty 'to insure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers, and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its Teachings.' However, the Universal House of Justice is not omniscient; like the Guardian, it wants to be provided with facts when called upon to render a decision, and like him it may well change its decision when new facts emerge."

(Ibid.)


1052. The Distinction Between Authoritative Interpretation and Individual Understanding

"A clear distinction is made in our Faith between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding that each individual arrives at for himself from his study of its teachings. While the former is confined to the Guardian, the latter, according to the guidance given to us by the Guardian himself, should by no means be suppressed. In fact such individual interpretation is considered the fruit of man's



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rational power and conducive to a better understanding of the teachings, provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own. Individual interpretations continually change as one grows in comprehension of the teachings. In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is stated, 'To deepen in the Cause means to read the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form. There are many who have some superficial idea of what the Cause stands for. They, therefore, present it together with all sorts of ideas that are their own. As the Cause is still in its early days we must be most careful lest we fall into this error and injure the Movement we so much adore. There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we read the Writings, the more truths we can find in Them, the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous.' So, although individual insights can be enlightening and helpful, they can also be misleading. The friends must therefore learn to listen to the views of others without being over-awed or allowing their faith to be shaken, and to express their own views without pressing them on their fellow Bahá'ís.

"The Cause of God is organic, growing and developing like a living being. Time and again it has faced crises which have perplexed the believers, but each time the Cause, impelled by the immutable purpose of God, overcame the crisis and went on to greater heights."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966)


1053. God Ordained, in This Day, that Guidance Has Been Vouchsafed to Man Through Institutions

"...In view of the fact that guidance in this day, through the bounty of God, and because of the very nature of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, has been vouchsafed to man through institutions in this world; namely the Guardianship at present; and also in the future, the International House of Justice; individuals are not in a position to interpret the Teachings, and have no justification for claiming special stations."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 13, 1955)


1054. Future Guardians

"Future Guardians are clearly envisaged and referred to in the Writings, but there is nowhere any promise or guarantee that the line of Guardians would endure forever; on the contrary there are clear indications that the line could be broken. Yet, in spite of this, there is repeated insistence in the Writings on the indestructability of the Covenant and the immutability of God's Purpose for this Day.

"One of the most striking passages which envisage the possibility of such a break in the line of the Guardians is in the Kitab-i-Aqdas itself:

'The endowments dedicated to charity revert to God, the Revealer of Signs. No one has the right to lay hold on them without leave from the Dawning-Place of Revelation. After Him the decision rests with the Aghsan (Branches), and after them with the House of Justice--should it be established in the world by then--so that they may use these endowments for the benefit of the Sites exalted in this Cause, and for



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that which they have been commanded by God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful. Otherwise the endowments should be referred to the people of Baha, who speak not without His leave and who pass no judgement but in accordance with that which God has ordained in this Tablet, they who are the champions of victory betwixt heaven and earth, so that they may spend them on that which has been decreed in the Holy Book by God, the Mighty, the Bountiful.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Hands of the Cause of God, Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, December 7, 1969)


1055. The Guardian is Assured the Guidance of Both Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab

"Instructions sent on behalf of the Guardian are binding, as are the words of the Guardian; although of course, they are not the Guardian's words.

"The Guardian's infallibility covers interpretation of the revealed word and its application. Likewise any instructions he may issue having to do with the protection of the Faith, or its well-being must be closely obeyed, as he is infallible in the protection of the Faith. He is assured the guidance of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab, as the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá clearly reveals."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 20, 1956)


1056. He is the Interpreter of the Word: Divine Truth is Relative

"The Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh and the Will and Testament of the Master clearly and explicitly indicate that the Interpreter of the Word was the Centre of the Covenant and now is the Guardian. There are no other Interpreters whatsoever and no individual may interpret. This is strictly forbidden.

"Divine Truth is relative and that is why we are enjoined to constantly refer the seeker to the Word itself--and why any explanations we make to ease the journey of the soul of any individual must be based on the Word--and the Word alone."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, June 4, 1957)


1057. Guardianship Does Not Lose Significance nor Position Because There is No Living Guardian

"During the whole thirty-six years of his Guardianship Shoghi Effendi functioned without the Universal House of Justice. Now the Universal House of Justice must function without the Guardian, but the principle of inseparability remains. The Guardianship does not lose its significance nor position in the Order of Bahá'u'lláh merely because there is no living Guardian. We must guard against two extremes: one is to argue that because there is no Guardian all that was written about the Guardianship and its position in the Bahá'í World Order is a dead letter and was unimportant; the other is to be so overwhelmed by the significance of the Guardianship as to underestimate the strength of the Covenant, or to be tempted to compromise with the clear texts in order to find somehow, in some way, a 'Guardian'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 86-87)


1058. Station of Guardianship Cannot Be Claimed Ere the Expiration of 1000 Years

"My purpose is this, that ere the expiration of a thousand years, no one has the right to utter a single word, even to claim the station of Guardianship.



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"The Most Holy Book is the Book to which all peoples shall refer, and in it the Laws of God have been revealed. Laws not mentioned in the Book should be referred to the decision of the Universal House of Justice..."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Persian and Arabic Tablets, Vol. III, pp. 499-501: cited by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, March 9, 1965: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 47)

C. The Universal House of Justice


1059. The Universal House of Justice Called into Being by the Author of the Faith

"...In it (Kitab-i-Aqdas) He formally ordains the institution of the 'House of Justice,' ... and designates its members as the 'Men of Justice,' the 'Deputies of God,' the 'Trustees of the All-Merciful,'..."

(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, 1987 ed., Wilmette, p. 214)


1060. Apex of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order

"...There are statements from the Master and the Guardian indicating that the Universal House of Justice, in addition to being the Highest Legislative Body of the Faith, is also the body to which all must turn, and is the 'apex' of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, as well as the 'supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966)


1061. Legislative Functions

"The centre of the executive power is the government, and the legislative power lies in the hands of thoughtful and wise men. On the other hand, if these strong pillars and firm foundations are not complete and comprehensive, how can it be supposed that there will be safety and salvation for the nation? But as, in these latter days, such excellency is rare, the government and the whole body of the nation are in sore need of just and discerning directions. Thus it is of the utmost importance to establish an assembly of learned men, who, being proficient in the different sciences and capable of dealing with all the present and future requirements, will settle the questions in accordance with forbearance and firmness.

"All the civic affairs and the legislation of material laws for the increasing needs of the enlightened humanity belong to the House of Justice. This, the House of Justice, will be not only a body for the legislation of laws according to the spirit and requirement of the time, but a board of arbitration for the settlement of all disputes arising between peoples. When the Universal House of Justice is organized the members will do their utmost for the realization of greater cordiality and comity amongst the nations. The Laws of Bahá'u'lláh are the unchangeable, organic laws of the Universal House of Justice. They are the very foundation upon which the structure of additional legislation is built... Again, I repeat, the House of Justice, whether National or Universal, has only legislative power and not executive power...."

(From words of Abdu'l-Bahá in: Star of the West, Vol. VII, No. 15, pp. 138-139)


1062. Process of Legislating

"It should be understood by the friends that before legislating upon any matter



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the Universal House of Justice studies carefully and exhaustively both the Sacred Texts and the writings of Shoghi Effendi on the subject. The interpretations written by the beloved Guardian cover a vast range of subjects and are equally as binding as the Text itself.

"...Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding 'authoritative' or 'inspired' interpretations or usurping the function of the Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, March 9, 1965: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 52-53)

"...As already announced to the friends, a careful study of the Writings and interpretations on any subject on which the House of Justice proposes to legislate always preceded its act of legislation. Second, the Universal House of Justice, itself assured of divine guidance, is well aware of the absence of the Guardian and will approach all matters of legislation only when certain of its sphere of jurisdiction, a sphere which the Guardian has confidently described as 'clearly defined'..."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966: Ibid., p. 84)

"It may help the friends to understand this relationship if they are aware of some of the processes that the Universal House of Justice follows when legislating. First, of course, it observes the greatest care in studying the Sacred Texts and the interpretations of the Guardian as well as considering the views of all the members. After long consultation the process of drafting a pronouncement is put into effect. During this process the whole matter may well be reconsidered. As a result of such reconsideration the final judgement may be significantly different from the conclusion earlier favoured, or possibly it may be decided not to legislate at all on that subject at that time...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 7, 1969: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 40)


1063. Has General Functions of Protecting and Administering the Cause

"The Universal House of Justice, beyond its function as the enactor of legislation, has been invested with the more general functions of protecting and administering the Cause, solving obscure questions and deciding upon matters that have caused difference...."

(Ibid., pp. 38-39)


1064. Infallibility of the Universal House of Justice is Not Dependent on the Presence of the Guardian

"The infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, operating within its ordained sphere, has not been made dependent upon the presence in its membership of the Guardian of the Cause. Although in the realm of interpretation the Guardian's pronouncements are always binding, in the area of the Guardian's participation in legislation it is always the decision of the House itself which must prevail. This is



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supported by the words of the Guardian: 'The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive right and prerogative is to pronounce upon and deliver the final judgement on such laws and ordinances as Bahá'u'lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966)


1065. The Universal House of Justice Has Conferred Infallibility

"To epitomize: essential infallibility belongs especially to the supreme Manifestations, and acquired infallibility is granted to every holy soul. For instance, the Universal House of Justice, if it be established under the necessary conditions--with members elected from all the people--that House of Justice will be under the protection and the unerring guidance of God. If that House of Justice shall decide unanimously, or by a majority, upon any question not mentioned in the Book, that decision and command will be guarded from mistake. Now the members of the House of Justice have not, individually, essential infallibility; but the body of the House of Justice is under the protection and the unerring guidance of God: this is called conferred infallibility."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1984 ed., Wilmette, pp. 172-173)


1066. The Process of Deducing Subsidiary Laws from the Original Text is the Right of the House of Justice

"As regards the need to have deductions made from the Writings to help in the formulation of the enactments of the House of Justice, there is the following text from the pen of Abdu'l-Bahá:

'Those matters of major importance which constitute the foundation of the Law of God are explicitly recorded in the Text, but subsidiary laws are left to the House of Justice. The wisdom of this is that the times never remain the same, for change is a necessary quality and an essential attribute of this world, and of time and place. Therefore the House of Justice will take action accordingly.

'Let it not be imagined that the House of Justice will take any decision according to its own concepts and opinions. God forbid! The Supreme House of Justice will take decisions and establish laws through the inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, because it is in the safekeeping and under the shelter and protection of the Ancient Beauty, and obedience to its decisions is a bounden and essential duty and an absolute obligation, and there is no escape for anyone.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966)


1067. In the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh Certain Functions Are Reserved to Certain Institutions

"In the Order of Bahá'u'lláh there are certain functions which are reserved to certain institutions, and others which are shared in common, even though they may be more in the special province of one or the other. For example, although the Hands of the Cause of God have the specific functions of protection and propagation, and are specialized for these functions, it is also the duty of the



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Universal House of Justice and the Spiritual Assemblies to protect and teach the Cause--indeed teaching is a sacred obligation placed upon every believer by Bahá'u'lláh. Similarly, although after the Master authoritative interpretation was exclusively vested in the Guardian, and although legislation is exclusively the function of the Universal House of Justice, these two Institutions are, in Shoghi Effendi's words, 'complementary in their aim and purpose.' 'Their common, their fundamental object is to ensure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings.' Whereas the Universal House of Justice cannot undertake any function which exclusively appertained to the Guardian, it must continue to pursue the object which it shares in common with the Guardianship."

(Ibid.)


1068. The Decisions and Laws Made by the Universal House of Justice Are Inspired and Confirmed by the Holy Spirit--This Exclusive Authority Will Preclude Errors of Past Dispensations

"Say, O people: Verily the Supreme House of Justice is under the wings of your Lord, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful, that is under His protection, His care, and His shelter; for He has commanded the firm believers to obey that blessed, sanctified and all-subduing body, whose sovereignty is divinely-ordained and of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whose laws are inspired and spiritual.

"Briefly, this is the wisdom of referring the laws of society to the House of Justice. In the religion of Islam, similarly, not every ordinance was explicitly revealed; nay not a tenth part of a tenth part was included in the Text; although all matters of major importance were specifically referred to, there were undoubtedly thousands of laws which were unspecified. These were devised by the divines of a later age according to the laws of Islamic jurisprudence, and individual divines made conflicting deductions from the original revealed ordinances. All these were enforced. Today this process of deduction is the right of the body of the House of Justice, and the deductions and conclusions of individual learned men have no authority, unless they are endorsed by the House of Justice. The difference is precisely this, that from the conclusions and endorsements of the body of the House of Justice whose members are elected by and known to the worldwide Bahá'í community, no differences will arise; whereas the conclusions of individual divines and scholars would definitely lead to differences, and result in schism, division and dispersion. The oneness of the world would be destroyed, the unity of the Faith would disappear, and the edifice of the Faith of God would be shaken."

(From the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in a letter to an individual believer, May 27, 1966 by the Universal House of Justice)


1069. The Strong Cord to which All Must Cling is the Covenant

"However great may be our inability to understand the mystery and the implications of the passing of Shoghi Effendi, the strong cord to which all must cling with assurance is the Covenant. The emphatic and vigorous language of Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament is at this time, as at the time of His own passing, the safeguard of the Cause: 'Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not



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expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself. Whoso doth deviate therefrom is verily of them that love discord, hath shown forth malice, and turned away from the Lord of the Covenant.' And again: 'All must seek guidance and turn unto the Centre of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.'"

(Ibid.)


1070. The Universal House of Justice is the "Last Refuge of a Tottering Civilization"

"The Universal House of Justice, which the Guardian said would be regarded by posterity as 'the last refuge of a tottering civilization' is now, in the absence of the Guardian, the sole infallibly guided institution in the world to which all must turn, and on it rests the responsibility for ensuring the unity and progress of the Cause of God in accordance with the revealed Word. There are statements from the Master and the Guardian indicating that the Universal House of Justice, in addition to being the Highest Legislative Body of the Faith, is also the body to which all must turn, and is the 'apex' of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, as well as the 'supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth'. The Guardian has in his writings specified for the House of Justice such fundamental functions as the formulation of future world-wide teaching plans, the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Faith, and the guidance, organisation and unification of the affairs of the Cause throughout the world. Furthermore in 'God Passes By' the Guardian makes the following statement: 'The Kitab-i-Aqdas ... not only preserves for posterity the basic laws and ordinances on which the fabric of His future World Order must rest, but ordains, in addition to the function of interpretation which it confers upon His Successor, the necessary institutions through which the integrity and unity of His Faith can alone be safeguarded.' He has also, in 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' written, that the members of the Universal House of Justice 'and not the body of those who either directly or indirectly elect them, have thus been made the recipients of the divine guidance which is at once the life-blood and ultimate safeguard of this Revelation.'"

(Ibid.)


1071. The Chosen Successors of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá

"...They have ... in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world."

(Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, 1982 ed., Wilmette, pp. 19-20)


1072. The Universal House of Justice Bears Responsibility for Executive and Judicial Functions as Well as Legislative

"While ultimately the major function of the Universal House of Justice will be that



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of legislation, it has continuing responsibility for executive and judicial functions of the institution. Therefore it is not accurate to refer to members of the House of Justice as 'legislators,' understandable as is the wish to give simple titles rather than complex ones."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Grenada, May 19, 1985)


1073. Appointment of a Successor to Shoghi Effendi or More Hands of the Cause Not Possible

"As the Universal House of Justice has already announced, it cannot legislate to make possible the appointment of a successor to Shoghi Effendi, nor can it legislate to make possible the appointment of any more Hands of the Cause, but it must do everything within its power to ensure the performance of all those functions which it shares with these two mighty Institutions. It must make provision for the proper discharge in future of the functions of protection and propagation, which the administrative bodies share with the Guardianship and the Hands of the Cause; it must, in the absence of the Guardian, receive and disburse the Huququ'llah, in accordance with the following statement of Abdu'l-Bahá: 'Disposition of the Huquq, wholly or partly, is permissible, but this should be done by permission of the authority in the Cause to whom all must turn'; it must make provision in its Constitution for the removal of any of its members who commits a sin 'injurious to the common weal'. Above all, it must, with perfect faith in Bahá'u'lláh, proclaim His Cause and enforce His Law so that the Most Great Peace shall be firmly established in this world and the foundation of the Kingdom of God on earth shall be accomplished."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966)

D. Supreme Tribunal


1074. Factor in Establishing the Lesser Peace

"The Supreme Tribunal is an aspect of a World Superstate; the exact nature of its relationship to that State we cannot at present foresee.

"Supreme Tribunal is the correct translation; it will be a contributing factor in establishing the Lesser Peace."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)


1075. The Supreme Tribunal Will Fulfil Task of Establishing Universal Peace

"...the question of universal peace, about which Bahá'u'lláh says that the Supreme Tribunal must be established: ...the Supreme Tribunal which Bahá'u'lláh has described will fulfil this sacred task with the utmost might and power. And His plan is this: that the national assemblies of each country and nation--that is to say parliaments--should elect two or three persons who are the choicest men of that nation, and are well informed concerning international laws and the relations between governments and aware of the essential needs of the world of humanity in this day. The number of these representatives should be in proportion to the number of inhabitants of that country. The election of these souls who are chosen by the national assembly, that is, the parliament, must be confirmed by the upper house,



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the congress and the cabinet and also by the president or monarch so these persons may be the elected ones of all the nation and the government. From among these people the members of the Supreme Tribunal will be elected, and all mankind will thus have a share therein, for every one of these delegates is fully representative of his nation. When the Supreme Tribunal gives a ruling on any international question, either unanimously or by majority rule, there will no longer be any pretext for the plaintiff or ground of objection for the defendant. In case any of the governments or nations, in the execution of the irrefutable decision of the Supreme Tribunal, be negligent or dilatory, the rest of the nations will rise up against it, because all the governments and nations of the world are the supporters of this Supreme Tribunal. Consider what a firm foundation this is!..."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 306-307)


1076. The Mission of the Supreme Tribunal is to Prevent War

"A Supreme Tribunal shall be elected by the peoples and Governments of every nation, where members from each country and Government shall assemble in unity. All disputes shall be brought before this Court, its mission being to prevent war.

"A Supreme Tribunal shall be established by the peoples and Governments of every nation, composed of members elected from each country and Government. The members of this Great Council shall assemble in unity. All disputes of an international character shall be submitted to this Court, its work being to arrange by arbitration everything which otherwise would be a cause of war. The mission of this Tribunal would be to prevent war."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, London, 1961 ed., pp. 132 and 155)


1077. International Executive--A Step Leading to Bahá'í World Government

"As regards the International Executive referred to by the Guardian in his 'Goal of a New World Order', it should be noted that this statement refers by no means to the Bahá'í Commonwealth of the future, but simply to that world government which will herald the advent and lead to the final establishment of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. The formation of this International Executive, which corresponds to the executive head or board in present-day national governments, is but a step leading to the Bahá'í world government of the future, and hence should not be identified with either the institution of the Guardianship or that of the International House of Justice."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 17, 1934)

E. Hands of the Cause of God


1078. The Institution of "The Learned"

"...the beloved Guardian wrote on 4 November 1931: 'In this holy cycle the "learned" are, on the one hand, the Hands of the Cause of God, and, on the other, the teachers and diffusers of His teachings who do not rank as Hands, but who have attained an eminent position in the teaching work. As to the "rulers" they refer to the members of the Local, National and International Houses of Justice. The duties of each of these souls will be determined in the future.' (Translated from the Persian).



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"The Hands of the Cause of God, the Counsellors and the members of the Auxiliary Boards fall within the definition of the 'learned' given by the beloved Guardian. Thus they are all intimately interrelated and it is not incorrect to refer to the three ranks collectively as one institution.

"However, each is also a separate institution in itself...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, April 24, 1972: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 92)


1079. The Hands of the Cause Not Heirs of Any Name or Title

"...The Hands of the Cause in this dispensation are not heirs of any name or title. Nay, they are holy personages, the rays of whose holiness and spirituality throw light on the minds of people. Hearts are attracted by the beauty of their morals, the sincerity of their intentions and the sense of equity and justice. Souls are involuntarily enamoured of their praiseworthy morals and laudable qualities; faces turn spontaneously to their manifest signs and traces. It is not a title that may be awarded to whomsoever it pleases, nor is it a chair of honour in which whosoever pleases sits. The Hands of the Cause are the Hands of God. Hence whosoever is the servant and the promoter of the Word of God, he is the Hand of God. The object is the spirit and not the letters or words. The more self-effacing one is, the more he is assisted in the Cause of God; and the more meek and humble, the nearer is he to God."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Mahmoud's Diary, pp. 29-30)


1080. Tablet Revealed for the Hands of the Cause

"May My praise, salutations, and greetings rest upon the stars of the heaven of Thy knowledge--the Hands of Thy Cause--they who circled round Thy Will, spoke not save after Thy leave, and clung not save unto Thy hem. They are servants whose mention and praise are recorded in the Holy Writ, Thy Books and Tablets wherein are extolled their services, victories, and high resolve. Through them the standards of Thy oneness were raised in Thy cities and realms, and the banners of Thy sanctity were uplifted in Thy Kingdom. They utter not a word on any subject ere Thou hast spoken, for their ears are attuned to hear Thy Command, and their eyes are expectant to witness the effulgence of Thy Countenance. They are servants who have been well-favoured, have attained Thy good-pleasure, and have arisen in Thy Cause. The people of the world, the denizens of the Kingdom, and the dwellers of Paradise and the Realm on High, and beyond them, the Tongue of Grandeur send salutation upon them. Praise be to Thee, O my God, that Thou hast aided me to make mention of them and to praise them and their stations in Thy Cause and in Thy days.

"No God is there save Thee, the Reckoner, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."

(Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh, translated in the Holy Land: Bahá'í News, No. 420, p. 2, March 1966)


1081. Auxiliary Institution of Guardianship

"...The institution of the Hands of the Cause of God was brought into existence in the time of Bahá'u'lláh and when the Administrative Order was proclaimed and formally established by Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will, it became an auxiliary institution of the Guardianship. The Auxiliary Boards, in their turn, were brought



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into being by Shoghi Effendi as an auxiliary institution of the Hands of the Cause."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, April 24, 1972: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 92)


1082. Functions of the Hands of the Cause

"...The institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, charged in the Sacred Texts with the specific duties of protecting and propagating the Faith, has a particularly vital responsibility to discharge. In their capacity as protectors of the Faith, the Hands will continue to take action to expel Covenant-breakers and to reinstate those who sincerely repent, subject in each instance to the approval of the Universal House of Justice."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Followers of Bahá'u'lláh throughout the World, October 1963: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 13-14)


1083. The Authority of Expulsion and Reinstatement Exercised by the Hands of the Cause

"The authority of expulsion and reinstatement will be exercised by the Hands of the Cause of God, subject in each instance to the approval of the Universal House of Justice. When a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors learns of any incipient Covenant-breaking, the matter should be reported without delay to a Hand of the Cause available in the area, who will deal with the matter. A copy of the report should be sent to the Hands in the Holy Land and to the other members of the Board. Should no Hand of the Cause be available in the area, the report should be sent to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, with copy to the other members of the Board, in which case the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land will deal with the matter. Such reports should contain full details of actions already taken.

"Reinstatement of Covenant-breakers will follow similar procedures."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors, June 24, 1968)


1084. Prerogative and Obligation of the Hands of the Cause to Consult with Boards of Counsellors and National Assemblies

"The Hands of the Cause of God have the prerogative and obligation to consult with the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies on any subject which, in their view, affects the interests of the Cause....

"...The House of Justice will call upon them to undertake special missions on its behalf, to represent it on both Bahá'í and other occasions and to keep it informed of the welfare of the Cause ... they will operate increasingly on an intercontinental level, a factor which will lend tremendous impetus to the diffusion throughout the Bahá'í world of the spiritual inspiration channelled through them--the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, June 24, 1968: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 7-8)


1085. Inappropriate for Them to Serve on Administrative Institutions

"The exalted rank and specific functions of the Hands of the Cause of God make



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it inappropriate for them to be elected or appointed to administrative institutions, or to be elected as delegates to national conventions. Furthermore, it is their desire and the desire of the House of Justice that they be free to devote their entire energies to the vitally important duties conferred upon them in the Holy Writings...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 1964: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 42)


1086. The Rank and Position of the Hands of the Cause of God

"The rank and position of the Hands of the Cause are superior to the position of the National Assemblies. In writing concerning the Hands, therefore, when there is reference to the Institutions of the Faith, after the Guardian+F1, should be mentioned the Hands, and then the National bodies. Because the Guardian has restrained the Hands at this time, and given as one of their functions, aiding the National bodies in winning the goals of the Ten Year Crusade, the National bodies should not misunderstand the true position of the Hands. They should report to the Hands, where teaching assistance is needed, etc., so the Hands, and their Auxiliary Boards, may be of the greatest assistance."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 30, 1957)

F. International Teaching Centre


1087. The International Teaching Centre Establishment and Duties

"...The time is indeed propitious for the establishment of the International Teaching Centre, a development which, at one and the same time, brings to fruition the work of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land and provides for its extension into the future, links the institution of the Boards of Counsellors even more intimately with that of the Hands of the Cause of God, and powerfully reinforces the discharge of the rapidly growing responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice.

"The duties now assigned to this nascent institution are:

--- To coordinate, stimulate and direct the activities of the Continental Boards of Counsellors and to act as liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice.

--- To be fully informed of the situation of the Cause in all parts of the world and to be able, from the background of this knowledge, to make reports and recommendations to the Universal House of Justice and give advice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors.

--- To be alert to possibilities, both within and without the Bahá'í community, for the extension of the teaching work into receptive or needy areas, and to draw the attention of the Universal House of Justice and the Continental Boards of Counsellors to such possibilities, making recommendations for action.

--- To determine and anticipate needs for literature, pioneers and travelling teachers and to work out teaching plans, both regional and global, for the approval of the Universal House of Justice.

"All the Hands of the Cause of God will be members of the International


___________________
+F1 (and the Universal House of Justice)



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Teaching Centre. Each Hand will be kept regularly informed of the activities of the Centre through reports or copies of its minutes, and will be able, wherever he may be residing or travelling, to convey suggestions, recommendations and information to the Centre and, whenever he is in the Holy Land, to take part in the consultations and other activities of the Centre."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, June 8, 1973)

G. Continental Boards of Counsellors


1088. Duties of Continental Boards of Counsellors

"...Their duties will include directing the Auxiliary Boards in their respective areas, consulting and collaborating with National Spiritual Assemblies, and keeping the Hands of the Cause and the Universal House of Justice informed concerning the conditions of the Cause in their areas.

"The Auxiliary Boards for Protection and Propagation will henceforth report to the Continental Boards of Counsellors who will appoint or replace members of the Auxiliary Boards as circumstances may require...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, June 24, 1968: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 141-142)

"...The Counsellors are responsible for stimulating, counselling and assisting National Spiritual Assemblies, and also work with individuals, groups and Local Assemblies.

"...if the Counsellors find that a National Spiritual Assembly is not functioning properly, they should not hesitate to consult with the National Spiritual Assembly about this in a frank and loving way."

(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 30, 32)


1089. Terms of Office of the Continental Counsellors

"In June 1979 we were moved to announce that the duration of the terms of office of Continental Counsellors would be five years, to start on the Day of the Covenant of this year...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 3, 1980)


1090. Relationship of Counsellors to National Spiritual Assemblies

"The relationship of Continental Boards of Counsellors to National Spiritual Assemblies will follow the pattern of the relationship between the Hands of the Cause and National Spiritual Assemblies, outlined by the beloved Guardian in various communications. Within the framework of these, and of general instructions given to them by the Universal House of Justice, the Boards of Counsellors will decide the manner in which they will collaborate and consult with National Spiritual Assemblies in their areas...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 24, 1968)



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1091. Relationship Between Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies

"The statement that the Boards of Counsellors outrank the National Institutions of the Faith has a number of implications. A Board of Counsellors has the particular responsibility of caring for the protection and propagation of the Faith throughout a continental zone which contains a number of national Bahá'í communities. In performing these tasks it neither directs nor instructs the Spiritual Assemblies or individual believers, but it has the necessary rank to enable it to ensure that it is kept properly informed and that the Spiritual Assemblies give due consideration to its advice and recommendations. However, the essence of the relationships between Bahá'í institutions is loving consultation and a common desire to serve the Cause of God rather than a matter of rank or station."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 27, 1978)


1092. The Counsellors and Auxiliary Board Members Are Free from Administrative Responsibilities

"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to formulate its plans and prosecute them. The Boards of Counsellors outrank the National Institutions of the Faith and are not engaged in the conduct and administering of these plans. This aloofness in itself provides them with the opportunity to concentrate on the general and vital issues of the Cause, and enables them to provide guidance to the National Spiritual Assemblies, which are usually weighed down with the numberless current tasks and issues of the day-to-day work of the community. Furthermore, such freedom from administrative responsibilities makes it possible for the Counsellors and their Auxiliary Board members to be removed from the entanglements and involvements that engagement in administrative duties sometimes entails, and heightens their capacity to be a source of inspiration and stimulation to the friends."

(From a summary of points prepared by the Universal House of Justice, based on a letter from that Body to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 20, 1970)


1093. The Counsellors and the National Spiritual Assemblies Have One Common Objective

"The Counsellors and the National Spiritual Assemblies have one common objective which is service to the Cause and the promotion and protection of its interests. The closer the collaboration between these two institutions the richer will be the blessings showered upon them and the community."

(Ibid.)


1094. The Counsellors Follow in the Footsteps of the Hands of the Cause

"The Hands of the Cause have the essential duties of propagation and protection of the Faith. Although the Counsellors occupy a rank lower than that of the Hands of the Cause, they are nevertheless charged with the same two responsibilities and follow in the footsteps of the Hands of the Cause."

(Ibid.)



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1095. The Functions of the Counsellors and the Spiritual Assemblies Are Complementary

"Since the functions of the propagation and the protection of the Faith are among the duties of Spiritual Assemblies, wholehearted collaboration and regular, continuous and full consultation between these Assemblies and the institution of the Counsellors are necessary. It should not be assumed that these two arms act independently of each other and are not in need of the essential support which each must give to the other. The functions are indeed complementary."

(Ibid.)


1096. The Proper Functioning of Society Requires Preservation of Ranks and Classes

"It is clear from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as from those of Abdu'l-Bahá and the interpretations of the Guardian, that the proper functioning of human society requires the preservation of ranks and classes within its membership. The friends should recognize this without envy or jealousy, and those who occupy ranks should never exploit their position or regard themselves as being superior to others...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 27, 1978)


1097. Pride and Self-Aggrandisement Are Among the Most Deadly of Sins

"Courtesy, reverence, dignity, respect for the rank and achievements of others are virtues which contribute to the harmony and well-being of every community, but pride and self-aggrandisement are among the most deadly of sins.

"The House of Justice hopes that all the friends will remember that the ultimate aim in life of every soul should be to attain spiritual excellence-- to win the good pleasure of God. The true spiritual station of any soul is known only to God. It is quite a different thing from the ranks and stations that men and women occupy in the various sectors of society. Whoever has his eyes fixed on the goal of attaining the good pleasure of God will accept with joy and radiant acquiescence whatever work or station is assigned to him in the Cause of God, and will rejoice to serve Him under all conditions.

"There are many passages on this theme in the Holy Writings, and the Universal House of Justice hopes that these remarks will help the friends to turn to them and understand their purport."

(Ibid.)


1098. Differentials of Rank Meant to Canalize, Not Obstruct the Work of the Cause

"...the transcendent spirit of loving cooperation which must motivate and infuse the conduct of any institution or any believer, whether he labours in the capacity of a member of an institution or as an individual who desires to advance the interests of the Faith. The differentials of rank, functions or procedures between agencies of the Bahá'í administration are meant to canalize, not obstruct, the work of the Cause; and it is the fervent hope of the House of Justice that these aspects of the administration will properly be viewed in the context of humble service to the Blessed Perfection, which is the loftiest objective of all who gather under the banner of the Most Great Name."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 10, 1983)



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1099. Counsellors Should Give Wide Latitude to Auxiliary Board Members in Carrying Out Their Work

"The Counsellors in each continental zone have wide latitude in the carrying out of their work. Likewise they should give to each Auxiliary Board member considerable freedom of action within his own allocated area. Although the Counsellors should regularly direct the work of the Auxiliary Board members, the latter should realise that they need not wait for direction; the nature of their work is such that they should be continually engaged in it according to their own best judgement, even if they are given no specific tasks to perform. Above all the Auxiliary Board members should build up a warm and loving relationship between themselves and the believers in their area so that the Local Spiritual Assemblies will spontaneously turn to them for advice and assistance."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and the National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969)


1100. Assemblies Plan and Direct the Work--The Plans Should Be Well Known to Counsellors and Auxiliary Board Members

"It is the Spiritual Assemblies who plan and direct the work, but these plans should be well known to the Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members, because one of the ways in which they can assist the Assemblies is by urging the believers continually to support the plans of the Assemblies. If a National Spiritual Assembly has adopted one goal as preeminent in a year, the Auxiliary Board members should bear this in mind in all their contacts with the believers and should direct their attention to the plans of the National Assembly, and stimulate them to enthusiastically support them."

(Ibid.)


1101. The Counsellors May Report Misconduct of Individuals to the National Spiritual Assembly Through Board Member

"Information about the conduct of individuals which adversely affects the interests of the Faith may be conveyed by the Counsellors to the National Spiritual Assembly either directly or, if the Counsellors so choose, through one or more of their Auxiliary Board members. The method of conveyance of such information is left to the discretion of the Counsellors.

"Any matter which is related to the protection of the Faith is obviously a primary concern of the National Assembly, as it is of the Counsellors."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, June 16, 1982)


1102. Every Institution of This Divinely Created Order is One More Refuge for a Tottering Society

"Every institution of this divinely created Order is one more refuge for a distraught populace; every soul illumined by the light of the sacred Message is one more link in the oneness of mankind, one more servant ministering to the needs of an ailing world. Even should the Bahá'í communities, in the years immediately ahead, be cut off from the World Centre or from one another--as some have already been--the Bahá'ís will neither halt nor hesitate; they will continue to pursue their objectives,



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guided by their Spiritual Assemblies, and led by the Counsellors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants..."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)

H. Auxiliary Boards for Protection and Propagation


1103. Two Auxiliary Boards with Distinct But Complementary Functions Established by the Guardian

"The beloved Guardian's message of October 1957 clearly indicates that the two Auxiliary Boards must have distinct but complementary functions. In that message he charges the Protection Board with 'the specific duty of watching over the security of the Faith' and says that the duty of the Propagation Board would 'henceforth be exclusively concerned with assisting the prosecution of the Ten-Year Plan.'

"It must also be borne in mind that these twin agencies derive their complementary functions from one and the same source, are interrelated, and their members act as 'deputies', 'assistants' and 'advisers' of the Hands of the Cause of God, and, now, the Continental Boards of Counsellors. It is further clear that Shoghi Effendi was reluctant to specify in too great detail matters related to the functioning of the Auxiliary Boards, preferring to leave such things to be worked out in the light of experience."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, October 10, 1976)


1104. Areas for the Protection Board and Propagation Board Are Not Necessarily the Same

"Provision for the work of the Auxiliary Boards is set forth in the By-Laws of the Universal House of Justice. See page 16, Article X of the printed copy of 'The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice'. However, the areas for the Protection Boards and the Propagation Boards need not be the same. They can overlap."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, August 3, 1973)


1105. In Exceptional Circumstances One Board Member Might Cover an Area

"It is desirable that every part of each zone have both a Protection Board member and a Propagation Board member responsible for it, nevertheless it is within the discretion of each Board of Counsellors to assign a member of only one of the Boards to an area if, in the light of the conditions in that area, it believes this would be preferable."

(From a memorandum of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, October 7, 1973)


1106. Advisable that Auxiliary Board Member Reside in Area which He Serves

"As you know, the beloved Guardian repeatedly emphasized the importance of Auxiliary Board members' visiting Assemblies and groups in the respective areas served by them. While details concerning the appointment and functioning of the members of Auxiliary Boards are left to the Counsellors, in light of the Guardian's instructions cited above, they should take into consideration, in making a new appointment, the



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advisability of that appointee residing in the area which he serves."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, February 4, 1976)


1107. Many of the Functions of Members of the Two Boards and Assemblies Are Held in Common

"In implementing their functions the members of the two Auxiliary Boards will often be promoting the same thing; moreover, many of their functions are held in common especially in the areas of consolidation and deepening, and it is left to each Board of Counsellors to determine the range of responsibility assigned to each Auxiliary Board member so that in the circumstances of each area maximum collaboration is achieved. Experience has shown that good results can usually be obtained when the Counsellors consult upon these matters with their Auxiliary Board members.

"It should, furthermore, be remembered that these self-same functions are being carried out by the Assemblies, National and Local, and their committees, which have at this time the great responsibility for actually executing the teaching plans and for administering, consolidating and protecting the Bahá'í communities. The Auxiliary Board members should thus watch carefully that their work reinforces and complements that of the administrative institutions."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, October 10, 1976)


1108. The Members of the Boards Should Encourage the Friends and Assemblies to be Unified

"The members of the Boards in turn should encourage the friends-- individuals and Assemblies alike--through correspondence and through visits, and impress upon them that the foundation of all of our activities is unity; they should encourage the friends to be unified under all circumstances, so that the work may go ahead with the confirmation of the Holy Spirit. The members of the Boards should likewise encourage the friends to contribute freely to the various Funds which have been established, as the Funds are the life-blood of the Community, and the work cannot be carried forward unless the life-blood is constantly circulating."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Hands of the Cause of God, June 7, 1954)


1109. Auxiliary Boards Will Stimulate and Help Teaching Work

"The Guardian feels sure that the Auxiliary Boards ... will stimulate and help the teaching work, which of course includes pioneer work, and be a prop and mainstay to the often over-worked and over-burdened National Spiritual Assemblies...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the American National Spiritual Assembly, June 20, 1954: Auxiliary Board Members, A Compilation dated March 25, 1969)


1110. Auxiliary Board Members Free to Have Direct Contact with Individuals and Local Assemblies

"...Auxiliary Board Members are not only free, but are urged, in accordance with the writings of the beloved Guardian, to have direct contact with the individual friends,



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as well as the Local Spiritual Assemblies. It is at this very foundation of the administrative structure of the Faith where so often we find, alas, weakness and inefficiency."

(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa, December 15, 1965: Ibid.)


1111. The Friends Should Feel Free to Refer to Either Auxiliary Board Member

"The question has been raised as to how Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers are to know which matters they should refer to which Auxiliary Board member. We feel that this will be worked out at the local level in the light of experience, and that meanwhile the Assemblies and believers should not concern themselves unduly about it. They should feel free to refer to either Board, and if the Auxiliary Board member feels that the matter would better have been referred to his colleague, he can either himself pass the question on, or suggest the different approach to the Assembly or believer. This is similar to the situation, already familiar to Board members, when they have referred to them a matter which should properly be dealt with by a National Spiritual Assembly or one of its committees."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, October 10, 1976)


1112. Protection Board Members' Responsibilities

"The need to protect the Faith from the attacks of its enemies is not generally appreciated by the friends because such attacks, particularly in the West, have so far been intermittent. However, we know that these attacks will increase and will become concerted and universal. The writings of our Faith clearly foreshadow not only an intensification of the machinations of internal enemies, whether religious or secular, as our beloved Faith pursues its onward march towards ultimate victory. Therefore, in the light of the warnings of Shoghi Effendi, the Auxiliary Boards for Protection should keep 'constantly' a 'watchful eye' on those 'who are known to be enemies or to have been put out of the Faith', discreetly 'investigate' their activities, warn intelligently the friends of the opposition inevitably to come, explain how each crisis in God's Faith has always proved to be a blessing in disguise, prepare them for the 'dire contests' which are 'destined to range the Army of Light against the forces of darkness', and, when the influence of the enemies spreads and reaches their fold, the members of these Auxiliary Boards should be alert to their schemes to 'dampen the zeal and sap the loyalty' of the believers and, by adopting 'wise and effective measures', counteract these schemes and arrest the spread of their influence. Above all, the members of the Protection Boards should concentrate on deepening the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, on clearly and frankly answering, in conformity with the teachings, whatever questions may trouble any of the believers, on fostering the spiritual profundity and strength of their Faith and certitude, and on promoting whatever will increase the spirit of loving unity in Bahá'í communities."

(Ibid.)


1113. Moral Problems Should Be Dealt with Only When They Arise

"...We feel that instead of having Board Members investigate the private lives of



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believers, the Board Members should be called upon to educate the believers regarding the principles of the Faith and that problems involving alleged immorality or irregularities in marital status should be dealt with only when they arise. These problems should not be sought out."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, August 14, 1974)


1114. Propagation Board Members' Responsibilities

"The primary tasks of the Propagation Boards, however, are to direct the believers' attention to the goals of whatever plans have been placed before them, to stimulate and assist them to promote the teaching work in the fields of proclamation, expansion, consolidation and pioneering, to encourage contributions to the funds, and to act as standard-bearers of the teachers of the Faith, leading them to new achievements in the diffusion of God's Message to their fellow human beings."

(Ibid.)


1115. Members of Auxiliary Boards Should Be Freed from Administrative Responsibilities

"Members of the Auxiliary Boards should be freed from administrative responsibilities including serving on Committees and as delegates to conventions. In the event of any member of a National Assembly accepting appointment to a Board, the National Assembly should accept this as valid reason for that member's resignation from the Assembly; should a Board Member be elected to a National Assembly, he must choose on which body he will serve."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'í World, November 1964)


1116. Auxiliary Board Member Must Decide What to Report to the Local Spiritual Assembly--Generally, the More Freely Information is Shared Between Institutions, the Better

"In answer to your fourth question, the House of Justice instructs us to say that an element of judgement is required in deciding what are and what are not 'administrative' matters. Immoral actions of believers, for example, generally become subjects for administrative action only when they are blatant or flagrant, and reflect on the good name of the Faith. If a believer turns to an assistant or Auxiliary Board member for advice on a personal matter it is for the assistant or Auxiliary Board member to decide whether he should advise the believer to turn to his Spiritual Assembly, whether he should himself give advice and, in either case, whether he should report the matter to the Counsellors, or to the Local Assembly, which, of course, would depend upon the degree of confidentiality he had undertaken to observe. Likewise, it is for the Counsellor to decide whether it is a matter of which the National Assembly should be informed. All this is, of course, within the general context that, apart from matters which ought to remain confidential, the more freely information is shared between the institutions of the Faith the better."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, August 2, 1982)



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1117. Board Member Should Feel Responsible Before God in the Discharge of His Responsibilities

"Each Auxiliary Board Member who is allotted a specific area in which to serve, should establish contact with the Local Spiritual Assemblies and other localities of his area, encourage and guide all such centres in the implementation of the goals of the Plan, become informed of the relative strength and weakness of each locality, and feel responsible before God in the discharge of his responsibilities. Should he lose contact with a particular Local Spiritual Assembly or locality, he should use his initiative in finding a satisfactory solution to the problem. He should also send his reports and recommendations to the Counsellors on a regular basis."

(From a summary of points prepared by the Universal House of Justice, based on a letter from that Body to a National Spiritual Assembly, dated May 20, 1970)

I. Auxiliary Board Member Assistants


1118. Appointment of Auxiliary Board Members' Assistants

"...we have decided to take a further step in the development of the institution by giving to each Continental Board of Counsellors the discretion to authorize individual Auxiliary Board members to appoint assistants...

"The exact nature of the duties and the duration of the appointment of the assistants is also left to each Continental Board to decide for itself. Their aims should be to activate and encourage Local Spiritual Assemblies, to call the attention of Local Spiritual Assembly members to the importance of holding regular meetings, to encourage local communities to meet for the Nineteen Day Feasts and Holy Days, to help deepen their fellow-believers' understanding of the Teachings, and generally to assist the Auxiliary Board members in the discharge of their duties....

"...Believers can serve at the same time both as assistants to Auxiliary Board members and on administrative institutions."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, October 7, 1973)


1119. Primary Aim of Assistants is to Stimulate and Assist the Believers

"The establishment and strong growth of Local Spiritual Assemblies is one of the most fundamental requirements for the spread of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, the development of Bahá'í community life and the emergence of a transformed society...

"Already a number of specific steps have been taken by the Universal House of Justice to assist National Spiritual Assemblies towards the attainment of these objectives. The most far-reaching of these steps is the authority given to members of the Auxiliary Boards to appoint assistants whose primary aim is to stimulate and assist the believers to bring into being and to consolidate Local Spiritual Assemblies in all localities where nine or more Bahá'ís reside, and to advise and assist these Assemblies in the performance of their God-given duties. The effects of the appointment of assistants by Auxiliary Board members are beginning to appear and will undoubtedly bear more and more fruit as the months pass."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assemblies, March 6, 1977)


1120. An Assistant May Serve Two Board Members

"As to the Assistants, it is evident that the Propagation Board members are in greater need of assistants. However, this should not inhibit the appointment and use of



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assistants by Protection Board members. It may be found that in many areas the appointment of only one Assistant to attend to both functions will prove sufficient for the time being, but we foresee a time when this situation may well change. Here again, the way in which relationships are worked out and coordinated must remain flexible and dependent on local conditions."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, October 10, 1967)


1121. The House of Justice Prefers that Assistants Not Retire from Administrative Work

"As you know, when informing the Bahá'ís of the world in October 1973 of its decision to authorize the appointment of believers to assist Auxiliary Board members in the discharge of their duties, the House of Justice said that such appointees can serve at the same time both as assistants to Auxiliary Board members and on administrative institutions. As is often the case, a believer whose knowledge of the Teachings and devotion to the Faith make him or her a logical choice to serve on an Assembly becomes a suitable candidate for appointment as an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member. The House of Justice leans towards assistants not retiring from administrative work, although in consultation with their Spiritual Assembly it may be quite in order; it would be preferable, however, for the suggestion to come from the appointee and not from the Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 31, 1982)


1122. Assistant Functions Individually, Does Not Function in Relation to National Assembly, Should Foster Warm Relationship Between Local Assembly and Board Member

"In the relationship between assistants and the National Spiritual Assembly no problems should arise, because the functions are entirely separate. An assistant is appointed by an Auxiliary Board member to help him in a specified area of the territory and he functions as an assistant only in relation to that area. Assistants, like Auxiliary Board members, function individually, not as a consultative body. Assistants who are members of a National Assembly or a national committee do not function as assistants in relation to that body, and they have the same duty to observe the confidentiality of its consultations, and of matters considered by the Assembly to be confidential, as does any other member. An assistant can, of course, be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, but his task here as an Assistant is to help the Spiritual Assembly to function harmoniously and efficiently in the discharge of its duties and this will hardly succeed if he gives the Assembly the feeling that he is reporting privately everything it does to the Auxiliary Board member. He should, on the contrary, do all he can to foster an atmosphere of warm and loving collaboration between the Local Assembly and the Board member."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, August 2, 1982)



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1123. Principle of Confidentiality Applies to Assistant Who is Assembly Member --Most Subjects Dealt with Are Not Confidential

"Every institution in the Faith has certain matters which it considers should be kept confidential, and any member who is privy to such confidential information is obliged to preserve the confidentiality within the institution where he learned it. Such matters, however, are but a small portion of the business of any Bahá'í institution. Most subjects dealt with are of common interest and can be discussed openly with anyone. Where no confidentiality is involved the institutions must strive to avoid the stifling atmosphere of secrecy; on the other hand, every believer must know that he can confide a personal problem to an institution of the Faith with the assurance that knowledge of the matter will remain confidential.

"Members of Assemblies, whether they are assistants or not, are obviously in a position to receive confidential information as individuals from several sources. It is an important principle of the Faith that one must not promise what one is not going to fulfil. Therefore, if a Bahá'í accepts confidential information either by virtue of his profession (e.g., as a doctor, a lawyer, etc.), or by permitting another person to confide in him, he is duty bound to preserve that confidentiality."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 2, 1982)

J. Relationships Between Counsellors, Auxiliary Board Members and Assistants, and National and Local Assemblies and Committees


1124. Authority and Direction Flow from the Assemblies--Counsellors, Auxiliary Board Members and Assistants Advise, Stimulate and Assist

"Authority and direction flow from the Assemblies, whereas the power to accomplish the tasks resides primarily in the entire body of the believers. It is the principal task of the Auxiliary Boards to assist in arousing and releasing this power. This is a vital activity, and if they are to be able to perform it adequately they must avoid becoming involved in the work of administration. For example, when Auxiliary Board members arouse believers to pioneer, any believer who expresses his desire to do so should be referred to the appropriate committee which will then organise the project. Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members should not, themselves, organise pioneering or travel teaching projects. Thus it is seen that the Auxiliary Boards should work closely with the grass roots of the community: the individual believers, groups and Local Spiritual Assemblies, advising, stimulating and assisting them. The Counsellors are responsible for stimulating, counselling and assisting National Spiritual Assemblies, and also work with individuals, groups and Local Assemblies."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969: The Continental Boards of Counsellors, Wilmette, 1981, pp. 37-38)


1125. Auxiliary Board Member May Meet with Local Spiritual Assembly Occasionally

"The National Spiritual Assembly should by all means encourage close co-operation and collaboration between the Auxiliary Board members and the Local Spiritual



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Assemblies, but it is not required that an Auxiliary Board member be present at all Local Assembly meetings. At occasional meetings, when the Local Spiritual Assembly wishes to discuss matters regarding the progress of the Cause in certain areas, for instance, attendance by a member of the Auxiliary Board would be of assistance, but such matters should be left to the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assemblies concerned. Of course whenever an Auxiliary Board member feels it necessary to consult with the Local Spiritual Assembly, he or she may request the Assembly to hold a meeting in his presence for the particular subject."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Burma, July 13, 1986)


1126. Relationship Between Auxiliary Board Members and Local Assemblies Should Not Be Hampered by Regulations

"...we feel it important to stress that the relationship between Auxiliary Board members and Local Spiritual Assemblies should not be hampered by regulations; the methods of submitting information--either by minutes or otherwise--are optional... The relationship between Auxiliary Board members and Local Spiritual Assemblies should not be a matter of rights and prerogatives; it should be one of loving and wholehearted collaboration, in the spirit of the beloved Guardian's statement that 'the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation'."

(From a memorandum of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause of God in the Holy Land, October 7, 1970)


1127. Problems with Board Members to be Reported to Counsellors

"In general the House of Justice feels that where a National Spiritual Assembly has reason to believe that the actions of an Auxiliary Board member are giving rise to problems in a community, it is preferable for it to report the matter to the Counsellors rather than approach the Board member directly. But where the matter is purely personal it may be preferable for the Assembly to take it up with the Board member himself initially in the hope that the problem can be solved confidentially although, of course, any serious problem with a Board member should be reported to the Counsellors in any case. Likewise, if the issue is a small and unimportant one it may be simply solved by direct action and not justify invoking the action of the Counsellors."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the South West Pacific, October 25, 1977)


1128. Counsellors Need Not Consult with National Spiritual Assembly About Appointments

"We have your letter of 28th November 1968, informing us of the appointment of ... as a member of the Auxiliary Board, and raising the question as to whether the Continental Board of Counsellors should consult with National Spiritual Assemblies before appointing Auxiliary Board members from the membership of a National Spiritual Assembly.

"Inasmuch as the appointee himself must decide whether or not he can accept the appointment we see no necessity for a Continental Board of Counsellors to consult



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with National Spiritual Assemblies, except in very exceptional circumstances, and in such instances it is within the discretion of the Continental Board of Counsellors as to whether they will do so.

"However, the appointee is free to consult with his National Spiritual Assembly as to whether or not he should accept the appointment to the Auxiliary Board."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, December 17, 1968: The Continental Board of Counsellors, op. cit., p. 36)


1129. Gatherings of Counsellors, Board Members, National Assembly Members and Committee Members Encouraged

"...in the implementation of that plan, there should be the closest collaboration between the National Spiritual Assembly and its committees and the Local Spiritual Assemblies on the one hand, and the Counsellors, Auxiliary Board members and their assistants on the other. An aspect of this collaboration could well be the gathering, if circumstances permit, of Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members with the National Assembly and its committees in a meeting where, because of their inevitable involvement in the operations of the plan, all together can become acquainted with the details of it and, at the same time, engender the esprit de corps necessary to its successful execution."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 10, 1983)


1130. Auxiliary Board Members and Committees Should Exchange Information

"...it is permissible and highly desirable to have a direct and regular exchange of information between the committees and the Auxiliary Board members."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 1977)


1131. Board Member Reports and Recommendations Are Sent to Counsellors, Not to National Assembly or Committees

"Reports and recommendations for action, however, are quite different. Auxiliary Board members should send theirs to the Counsellors and not to the National Assemblies or national committees directly. It is possible that the Counsellors may reject or modify the recommendation; or, if they accept it and pass it on to the National Spiritual Assembly, the National Assembly may decide to refuse it. For an Auxiliary Board Member to make recommendations directly to a national committee would lose the benefit of the knowledge and experience in a wider field than that of which the Auxiliary Board member is aware, and would short-circuit and undermine the authority of both the Counsellors and the National Assembly.

"Similarly, although an Auxiliary Board member can and should receive information from the National Assemblies and national committees, his primary source of information about the community should be his own direct contacts with Local Spiritual Assemblies, groups and individual believers. In this way the Counsellors as well as the National Spiritual Assemblies have the benefit of two independent sources of information about the community: through the Auxiliary Board members on the one hand, and through the national committees on the other."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969)



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1132. National Spiritual Assemblies Should Refer to Protection Board Member for Protection Matters

"It is the duty of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies to refer to the Auxiliary Board members for protection matters which may involve not only possible Covenant-breaking, but also problems of disunity within the community, the removal of voting rights or any other matters in which you feel the guidance and advice of the Protection Boards may be helpful to the institutions of the Faith. The Auxiliary Board members of course keep the Continental Board of Counsellors informed and the Counsellors then take whatever steps they feel are called for.

"You are free at any time to refer to the Continental Board of Counsellors and the Auxiliary Board members for protection any matters about which you are not clear involving the security of the Faith in your area and you will always find them willing to assist you in dealing with such problems."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela, October 1, 1979)


1133. Administrative Institutions May Request Auxiliary Board Member to Perform Certain Tasks

"A National Spiritual Assembly, National Committee or Local Spiritual Assembly may directly request an Auxiliary Board member to perform such tasks as speaking at summer schools, appearing on television, etc. It should, of course, be left to the discretion of the Auxiliary Board member to determine whether such a request would clash with his other commitments."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 10, 1983)


1134. Auxiliary Board Members Teach, Advise on, Observe and Report on Administration

"Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer. They do not direct or organise the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems. All these activities fall within the sphere of responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies. But if an Auxiliary Board member finds a Local Spiritual Assembly functioning incorrectly he should call its attention to the appropriate Texts; likewise if, in his work with the community, an Auxiliary Board member finds that the teaching work is being held up by inefficiency of national committees, he should report this in detail to the Counsellors who will then decide whether to refer it to the National Spiritual Assembly concerned. Similarly, if the Counsellors find that a National Spiritual Assembly is not functioning properly, they should not hesitate to consult with the National Spiritual Assembly about this in a frank and loving way."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969: The Continental Boards of Counsellors, op. cit., pp. 39-40)



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1135. It is Not Necessary to Inform National Assembly When Board Members Are Working with a Local Spiritual Assembly

"It is not necessary for the Continental Board of Counsellors to inform the National Spiritual Assembly whenever an Auxiliary Board member is working with a Local Spiritual Assembly in their area. However, it is anticipated that a cordial relationship will be maintained between the Continental Board of Counsellors and the National Assembly and that the Continental Board of Counsellors will share with the National Spiritual Assembly such information as they feel will assist the National Assembly in their work.

"...it is not necessary that a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors or an Auxiliary Board member obtain the consent of the National Spiritual Assembly before contacting a Local Spiritual Assembly. However, an attitude of courtesy, respect and understanding on the part of both the administrative institutions and the Counsellors and their Auxiliary Board members should characterize their relationships to each other. Thus when a member of the Auxiliary Board wishes to meet with the Local Spiritual Assembly, both the Board member and the Local Spiritual Assembly should try to arrange a mutually satisfactory time as far in advance as possible."

(From a communication of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, May 10, 1970)


1136. National Assemblies Should Avail Themselves of Services of Auxiliary Board Members and Their Assistants

"The National Spiritual Assemblies in consultation with the Counsellors should avail themselves of the services of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who, together 'with the travelling teachers selected by the Assembly or its Teaching Committees, should be continuously encouraged to conduct deepening courses ... and to make regular visits to Local Spiritual Assemblies'.

"The visitors, whether Auxiliary Board members, their assistants or travelling teachers 'should meet on such occasions not only with the Local Assembly but, of course, with the local community members, collectively at general meetings and even, if necessary, individually in their homes'."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1979, citing a letter dated February 2, 1966 to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in mass teaching work)



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XXVIII. LANGUAGES


1137. Leave Granted to be Instructed in Divers Tongues

"The Lord hath granted leave to whosoever desireth it that he be instructed in the divers tongues of the world that he may deliver the Message of the Cause of God throughout the East and throughout the West, that he make mention of Him amidst the kindreds and peoples of the world in such wise that hearts may revive and the mouldering bone be quickened."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 118, p. 62)


1138. The Utmost Importance of an Auxiliary Language

"Today the greatest need of the world of humanity is discontinuance of the existing misunderstandings among nations. This can be accomplished through the unity of language. Unless the unity of languages is realized, the Most Great Peace and the oneness of the human world cannot be effectively organized and established because the function of language is to portray the mysteries and secrets of human hearts. The heart is like a box, and language is the key. Only by using the key can we open the box and observe the gems it contains. Therefore, the question of an auxiliary international tongue has the utmost importance. Through this means international education and training become possible; the evidence and history of the past can be acquired. The spread of the known facts of the human world depends upon language. The explanation of divine teachings can only be through this medium. As long as diversity of tongues and lack of comprehension of other languages continue, these glorious aims cannot be realized. Therefore, the very first service to the world of man is to establish this auxiliary international means of communication. It will become the cause of the tranquility of the human commonwealth. Through it sciences and arts will be spread among the nations, and it will prove to be the means of the progress and development of all races."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace. Wilmette, 1982, pp. 60-61)


1139. Man's Speech is the Revealer of His Heart

"Profitless discussions fatigue and weary a person...

"Man's speech is the revealer of his heart. In whatever world the heart travels, man's conversation will revolve around that center. From his words you can understand in what world he is traveling, whether he is looking upward toward the realm of light or downward to the nether world, whether he is mindful or unaware, whether he is awake or asleep, whether he is alive or dead. For this reason His Holiness Ali says: 'Man is hidden behind his tongue. Out of the abundance of his heart does man speak.'"

(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá, July 25, 1914: Star of the West, Vol. VIII, No. 2, pp. 24-25)



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1140. Esperanto

"Regarding the subject of Esperanto: It should be made clear to the believers that while the teaching of that language has been repeatedly encouraged by Abdu'l-Bahá, there is no reference either from Him or from Bahá'u'lláh that can make us believe that it will necessarily develop into the international auxiliary language of the future. Bahá'u'lláh has specified in His writings that such a language will have either to be chosen from one of the existing languages, or an entirely new one should be created to serve as a medium of exchange between nations and peoples of the world. Pending this final choice, the Bahá'ís are advised to study Esperanto only in consideration of the fact that the learning of this language can considerably facilitate inter-communication between individuals, groups and Assemblies throughout the Bahá'í world in the present stage of the evolution of the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 4, 1937: Bahá'í News, No. 109, July 1937, p. 1)


1141. The Present Need of an Auxiliary Language

"What Bahá'u'lláh is referring to in the Eighth Leaf of the Exalted Paradise is a far distant time, when the world is really one country, and one language would be a sensible possibility. It does not contradict His instructions as to the need immediately for an auxiliary language."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1946)


1142. Esperanto Will Spread to a Certain Degree

"Thou has written regarding the language of Esperanto. This language will be spread and universalized to a certain degree, but later on a language more complete than this, or the same language will undergo some changes and alterations and will be adopted and become universal...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 692)


1143. The Persian Tongue

"Acquire the Persian tongue, so as to learn of the meanings of the divine words and to know the divine mysteries, to develop an eloquent speech and to translate the blessed Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh. The Persian language shall become noteworthy in this cycle; nay, rather, the people shall study it in all the world."

(Ibid., Vol. II, p. 306)



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XXIX. LAWS AND ORDINANCES

A. Introduction


1144. Obedience to the Laws of Bahá'u'lláh Will Impose Hardships and Tests in Individual Cases

"Obedience to the Laws of Bahá'u'lláh will necessarily impose hardships in individual cases. No one should expect, upon becoming a Bahá'í, that his faith will not be tested, and to our finite understanding of such matters these tests may occasionally seem unbearable. But we are aware of the assurance which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has given the believers that they will never be called upon to meet a test greater than their capacity to endure."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 7, 1965)


1145. Certain Laws Are Universally and Vitally Applicable at the Present Time

"...he feels it is his duty to explain that the Laws revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Aqdas are, whenever practicable and not in direct conflict with the Civil Law of the land, absolutely binding on every believer or Bahá'í institution whether in the East or in the West. Certain laws, such as fasting, obligatory prayers, the consent of parents before marriage, avoidance of alcoholic drinks, monogamy, should be regarded by all believers as universally and vitally applicable at the present time. Others have been formulated in anticipation of a state of society destined to emerge from the chaotic conditions that prevail to-day. When the Aqdas is published this matter will be further explained and elucidated. What has not been formulated in the Aqdas, in addition to matters of detail and of secondary importance arising out of the applications of the Laws already formulated by Bahá'u'lláh, will have to be enacted by the Universal House of Justice. This body can supplement but never invalidate or modify in the least degree what has already been formulated by Bahá'u'lláh. Nor has the Guardian any right whatsoever to lessen the binding effect much less to abrogate the provisions of so fundamental and sacred a Book."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 11, 1935)


1146. Laws Governing Physical and Spiritual Lives

"Just as there are laws governing our physical lives, requiring that we must supply our bodies with certain foods, maintain them within a certain range of temperatures, and so forth, if we wish to avoid physical disabilities, so also there are laws governing our spiritual lives. These laws are revealed to mankind in each age by the Manifestation of God, and obedience to them is of vital importance if each human being, and mankind in general, is to develop properly and harmoniously. Moreover, these various aspects are interdependent. If an individual violates the spiritual laws for his



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own development, he will cause injury not only to himself but to the society in which he lives. Similarly, the condition of society has a direct effect on the individuals who must live within it."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; excerpts to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 105-106)


1147. It is Difficult to Follow the Laws of Bahá'u'lláh

"As you point out, it is particularly difficult to follow the laws of Bahá'u'lláh in present-day society whose accepted practice is so at variance with the standards of the Faith. However, there are certain laws that are so fundamental to the healthy functioning of human society that they must be upheld whatever the circumstances. Realising the degree of human frailty, Bahá'u'lláh has provided that other laws are to be applied only gradually, but these too, once they are applied, must be followed, or else society will not be reformed but will sink into an ever worsening condition. It is the challenging task of the Bahá'ís to obey the law of God in their own lives, and gradually to win the rest of mankind to its acceptance."

(Ibid., p. 106)


1148. Punishments Decided by the House of Justice

"You express surprise at the Guardian's reference to 'the necessary punishment from society'. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh prohibits sexual immorality and in the Annex to that Book states that the various degrees of sexual offences and the punishments for them are to be decided by the Universal House of Justice. In this connection it should be realised that there is distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one's own sins not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with justice."

(Ibid., p. 110)


1149. Laws Should Be Obeyed But Not Through Fear of Punishment

"It is a vital and urgent duty of the Assemblies, both National and Local, not only to apply the Laws of Bahá'u'lláh with justice and firmness, but to increase the believers' understanding of and devotion to these Laws. In this way they will obey them not through fear of punishment but out of love for Bahá'u'lláh and because their whole lives have been transformed and re-oriented in the Way of God."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 11, 1965: United States Supplement to Bahá'í News, No. 97, March 1966, p. 3)


1150. We Must Obey Ordinances, Even Though at First We See No Need for Them

"It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Bahá'ís, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Bahá'í children who see these things practiced in



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the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. Bahá'u'lláh would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realize their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1949)


1151. One Cannot Continue Drinking As a Bahá'í--Should Be Made Aware Gradually

"People should not be encouraged to enter the Cause on false pretenses. They cannot continue drinking as Bahá'ís and they should be made to realize this gradually after they become believers, or rather registered members of the community. We cannot expect people to be fully aware and instructed believers before they are enrolled, but certain essentials they must have accepted sooner or later and be willing to make the effort to live up to."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 16, 1948)


1152. Unfair to Require New Applicants for Membership to First Accept All Laws of the Faith

"The Guardian fully shares your view that it would be most unwise, and unfair to those who apply for membership in the Community to require that they should at first accept all the laws of the Faith. Such a requirement would be impossible to carry out as there are many laws in the 'Aqdas' with which even the well-confirmed and long-standing believers are not yet familiar. As you rightly point out the process of becoming a Bahá'í is an evolutionary one, and requires considerable time, and sustained effort on the part of the new believer. Such questions as the withdrawal from Church membership and that of abstention from alcoholic liquors should not be thrust upon the newcomer, but explained to him gradually, so that he himself may be convinced of the truth underlying these ordinances of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 17, 1938)


1153. Difference Between Advice (Exhortation, Counsel) and a Binding Command

"Now, as regards your questions as to in what way can one determine whether a particular passage from the Master's Writings is in the nature of an exhortation, or is a positively binding statement. Just as in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the text of the Tablet itself shows whether it is an exhortation, a counsel or advice, or whether it constitutes a positive and binding command. Obviously, there might be found certain passages that are doubtful, and these should be referred to the Guardian+F1 for interpretation and clarification."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1939)


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+F1 (Now the Universal House of Justice)



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B. Abortion


1154. Abortion Merely to Prevent the Birth of an Unwanted Child is Strictly Forbidden in the Cause

"Abortion merely to prevent the birth of an unwanted child is strictly forbidden in the Cause. There may, however, be instances in which an abortion would be justified by medical reasons, and legislation on this matter has been left to the Universal House of Justice. At the present time, however, the House of Justice does not intend to legislate on this very delicate issue, and therefore it is left to the consciences of those concerned who must carefully weigh the medical advice in the light of the general guidance given in the teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ireland, March 16, 1983)


1155. Surgical Operation and Abortion--The Soul Appears at Conception

"Abortion and surgical operations for the purpose of preventing the birth of unwanted children are forbidden in the Cause unless there are circumstances which justify such actions on medical grounds, in which case the decision, at present, is left to the consciences of those concerned who must carefully weigh the medical advice in the light of the general guidance given in the Teachings. Beyond this nothing has been found in the Writings concerning specific methods or procedures to be used in family planning. It should be pointed out, however, that the Teachings state that the soul appears at conception, and that therefore it would be improper to use such a method, the effect of which would be to produce an abortion after conception has taken place."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 23, 1975)

C. Adultery


1156. Faith Recognizes Sex Impulse But Condemns Its Illegitimate Expression

"The Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expressions such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this purpose that the institution of marriage has been established. The Bahá'ís do not believe in the suppression of the sex impulse but in its regulation and control."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 5, 1938: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 108)


1157. Sex Relationships Outside of Marriage Not Permissible

"With reference to the question you have asked concerning the Bahá'í attitude towards the problem of sex and its relation to marriage.

"The Bahá'í Teachings on this matter, which is of such vital concern and about which there is such a wide divergency of views, are very clear and emphatic. Briefly stated the Bahá'í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practised by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable



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ethically, but also due to its being the only way to a happy and successful marital life. Sex relationships of any form outside marriage are not permissible therefore, and whoso violates this rule will not only be responsible to God, but will incur the necessary punishment from society."

(Ibid., p. 107)


1158. Sexual Intercourse Permissible Only Between Man and Wife

"The Bahá'í teaching on sexual intercourse is very clear. It is permissible only between a man and the woman who is his wife...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973; excerpt from a letter in response to questions from an individual believer: Ibid.)


1159. Adultery Retards Progress of the Soul

"...Every other word of Bahá'u'lláh's and Abdu'l-Bahá's Writings is a preachment on moral and ethical conduct; all else is the form, the chalice, into which the pure spirit must be poured; without the spirit and the action which must demonstrate it, it is a lifeless form.

"When we realize that Bahá'u'lláh says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife--so grievous is it--and that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1949: Living the Life, pp. 15-16, World Centre, November 1972)

D. Birth Control


1160. Question of Birth Control Not Specifically Answered in Writings

"As to the problem of birth control, neither Bahá'u'lláh nor Abdu'l-Bahá has revealed anything direct or explicit regarding this question. But the Bahá'í Teachings, when carefully studied imply that such current conceptions like birth control, if not necessarily wrong and immoral in principle, have nevertheless to be discarded as constituting a real danger to the very foundations of our social life. For Bahá'u'lláh explicitly reveals in His Book of Laws that the very purpose of marriage is the procreation of children who, when grown up, will be able to know God and to recognize and observe His Commandments and Laws as revealed through His Messengers. Marriage is thus, according to the Bahá'í Teachings, primarily a social and moral act. It has a purpose which transcends the immediate personal needs and interests of the parties...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1935)


1161. Population Explosion, No Reference in Writings: Time of Appearance of Human Soul, etc.

"In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual he has further pointed out that the 'chief and sacred purpose' of marriage is 'the perpetuation of the human race ... and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.' In another letter written on his behalf it is stated: '...the fundamental purpose of marriage is to bring other souls into this world, to serve God and love Him.'

"We have not discovered any specific reference in the texts to the problem of



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population explosion in its relation to birth control. This question, of course, is a matter which is currently a subject of concern and speculation by many. A study of our teachings, however, indicates that in the future there will no doubt be a general improvement of standards of life and of health, but there will also be the full exploitation of unused and as yet unsuspected resources of the planet along with the control and tapping of its sources of raw material, with a great increase in productivity.

"You have raised the point about the time of the appearance of the human soul. You are quite right in your deduction in this regard, as our teachings clearly confirm that the soul of man comes into being at conception.

"As to your desire and that of your husband to avoid any action which would permanently prevent you from bearing children, the only text we have so far found on that subject is in a letter to an individual believer from the beloved Guardian. The question asked was whether after a few children it would be permissible to have a surgical operation on the wife to prevent further conception. His reply was that such an act was unacceptable and unworthy, and those who commit the act were responsible before God.

"When the Guardian was asked whether the exercise of birth control constitutes a sin in a case where the number of children would prevent the father from fulfilling his obligation to educate his children, he stated that it is the duty of Bahá'ís to uphold moderation in all things, and avoid illegal methods."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 31, 1970)


1162. When Exercised to Prevent Procreation of Any Children

"Another believer, having read this letter, asked the beloved Guardian whether all birth control methods for any purpose were absolutely prohibited by Bahá'í Teachings. The secretary to the beloved Guardian wrote on his behalf on 4th February, 1937, as follows:

'The Guardian has ... given his careful consideration to your question regarding the Bahá'í view of birth control.

'...there is no reference whatsoever in the Writings on this subject. The utmost we can say is by way of reference from what Bahá'u'lláh has revealed regarding the nature, purpose and character of marriage.

'We, as Bahá'ís, are not therefore in a position either to condemn the practice of birth control or to confirm it.

'Birth control, however, when exercised in order to deliberately prevent the procreation of any children is against the spirit of the Law of Bahá'u'lláh, which defines the primary purpose of marriage to be the rearing of children and their spiritual training in the Cause. The Universal House of Justice will have to consider this issue and give its verdict upon it.'

"The Universal House of Justice feels that the time has not yet arrived for legislation on this matter, and that these instructions provide sufficient guidance for the friends for the time being."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, July 13, 1967)


1163. Husband and Wife to Decide How Many Children to Have

"There is nothing in the Sacred Writings specifically on the subjects of birth control, abortion or sterilization, but Bahá'u'lláh did state that the primary purpose



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of marriage was the procreation of children, and it is to this primary purpose that the beloved Guardian alludes in many of the letters which are quoted in the compilation. This does not imply that a couple are obliged to have as many children as they can; the Guardian's secretary clearly stated on his behalf, in answer to an enquiry, that it was for the husband and wife to decide how many children they would have. A decision to have no children at all would vitiate the primary purpose of marriage unless, of course, there were some medical reason why such a decision would be required.

"You and your husband, therefore, should have no feeling that you are obliged to add to your already large family. This is a matter entirely for you to decide, and there are many methods of preventing conception, including self-discipline and restraint, to which you can have recourse. Sterilization, however, would be a more far-reaching action than any of these, with implications and results beyond those necessary for the immediate purpose of limiting the size of your family, and is not permissible in Bahá'í law except in rare instances where it is necessary for a medical reason."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 28, 1977)


1164. Vasectomy to Avoid Having Unwanted Children Not Permitted if It Results in Permanent Sterility

"Directly to your question about having a vasectomy, in general it is not permissible to have a surgical operation for the purpose of avoiding having unwanted children if such an operation could result in permanent sterility. While circumstances might exist in which sterilization would be justified, this does not appear to be the case with you."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 30, 1974)


1165. Tubal Ligation

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of April 29 asking about tubal ligation and has noted that you are familiar with general Bahá'í principles on the subject. However, it has directed us to say that under normal circumstances it is not permissible to have a surgical operation for the purpose of not having more children if such an operation could result in permanent sterility."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 28, 1978)


1166. Should Take into Consideration Availability, Reliability and Reversibility of Operation

"It is clear that to have a surgical operation merely to avoid unwanted children is not acceptable. However, as in the case of abortion, circumstances might exist in which such an operation would be justified. Individual believers called upon to make such a decision must be guided by the Bahá'í principles involved, the best professional advice available to them, and their own consciences. In arriving at a decision the parties must also take into consideration the availability, reliability and reversibility of all contraceptive methods."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 25, 1971)



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1167. No Reference in Writings Regarding Contraception to Prevent Transmission of Undesirable Traits

"With regard to your question whether it would be permissible for a believer to limit the number of his children by the use of contraceptive methods, in order to prevent the transmission through inheritance of undesirable family traits and tendencies; this, the Guardian wishes me to inform you, is a question to which there is no specific reference in the Teachings, and should therefore be explained and decided upon by the future International House of Justice."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 2, 1938)


1168. In-Vitro Fertilization and Surrogate Mothers+F1

"The queries you raise about donors of eggs or sperm in cases of infertility and the state of the souls of frozen embryos relate to the broader question of the Bahá'í attitude toward recent advances in medical science which increase the probability of conception in cases of infertility.

"The Bahá'í view is very balanced. While appreciating the value of the new medical techniques which enable previously childless couples to enjoy the blessings of a family, the teachings define such limits as are necessary to preserve the dignity of the individual and the sanctity of marriage.

"...While artificial insemination is a very different process from in-vitro fertilization, the principle enunciated by the Guardian is the same, namely, that to be acceptable to Bahá'ís the egg cell of the wife should be fertilized by the sperm of the husband in the procedure.

"The spiritual and social implications involved in the use of surrogate mothers to provide for the gestation of the embryo, even when the embryo results from the fertilization of the husband's sperm and the wife's egg cell which is later implanted into the womb of the third party, are too far-reaching for such a procedure to be permissible to Bahá'ís."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 25, 1984)


1169. Individuals Must Decide Hazards of Contraceptive Agents at Present: Permanent Sterilization

"As to birth control methods, the House of Justice does not wish to comment on the effectiveness or possible hazards of present-day contraceptive agents, and leaves it to individuals to decide what course of action they will take in light of the teachings and the best medical advice available...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 4, 1981: From a compilation entitled, Birth Control and Related Subjects, p. 3)


1170. Letter to a Physician Specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology

"Since you are a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, your professional decisions in this field are frequent and difficult ones. In each individual case your physician's judgement and your Bahá'í conscience should guide you to the correct decision whenever permanent sterilization of a patient is contemplated. Of the four


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+F1 (See also: No. 973)



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categories you have listed, only the first, grave sickness of the mother, clearly falls within Bahá'í permissibility. In the second category, only grave genetic defects, but obviously not all genetic defects could be considered to be valid cause for intervention. As for lack of social and financial means, and anticipation of supernumerary children where individual maternal request is decisive, neither can be acceptable as reasons for permanent sterilization.

"What can now be considered to be a form of family fertility control for some patients are those methods of intervention which are reversible and therefore do not necessarily bring about permanent sterility. Where such methods have been employed, the wish by patients to have additional children, for whatever reason, can be realized through a corrective operation."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 18, 1982: Ibid.)

E. Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco

1. Alcohol


1171. Both Light and Strong Drinks Prohibited Unless Prescribed by a Doctor

"Regarding the use of liquor: According to the text of the Book of Aqdas, both light and strong drinks are prohibited. The reason for this prohibition is that alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body. If alcohol were beneficial, it would have been brought into the world by the divine creation and not by the effort of man. Whatever is beneficial for man existeth in creation. Now it hath been proved and is established medically and scientifically that liquor is harmful.

"As to the meaning of that which is written in the Tablets: 'I have chosen for thee whatsoever is in the heaven and the earth', this signifieth those things which are in accordance with the divine purpose and not the things which are harmful. For instance, one of the existing things is poison. Can we say that poison must be used as it hath been created by God? Nevertheless, intoxicating liquor, if prescribed by a physician for the patient and if its use is absolutely necessary, then it is permissible.

"In brief, I hope that thou mayest become inebriated with the wine of the love of God, find eternal bliss and receive inexhaustible joy and happiness. All wine hath depression as an after effect, except the wine of the Love of God."

(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to an individual believer, translated from the Persian: Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks, A Compilation, April 1979)


1172. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas It is Forbidden to Take Anything that Deranges the Mind

"With regard to your first question on alcohol and drinking, Bahá'u'lláh, fully aware of the great misery that it brings about, prohibits it as He expressly states that everything that takes away the mind, or in other words makes one drunk, is forbidden."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 15, 1926: Ibid.)



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1173. Drinking Forbidden, No Excuse to Touch It Even in Plum Pudding

"Under no circumstances should Bahá'ís drink. It is so unambiguously forbidden in the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh that there is no excuse for them even touching it in the form of a toast, or in a burning plum pudding; in fact, in any way."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 3, 1957: Cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 21, 1972)


1174. Cake Flavours and Extracts

"You ask whether it is permissible for the friends to use cake flavours, such as vanilla, lemon and rum flavoured extracts, as such flavours have a certain percentage of alcohol in them, and whether Bahá'ís may work in factories manufacturing such extracts.

"We have found no texts prohibiting the friends from using flavoured extracts in their food. This may be a matter for later legislation by the Universal House of Justice but for the time being the friends should be left free to do as they choose. The same principle applies to those who are employed in factories manufacturing such extracts."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 7, 1974)


1175. Strictly Prohibited Foods Flavoured with Alcoholic Liquors

"With reference to your question whether those foods which have been flavoured with alcoholic liquors such as brandy, rum, etc., should be classified under the same category as the intoxicating drinks, and consequently be avoided by believers, the Guardian wishes all the friends to know that such foods, or beverages, are strictly prohibited."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 9, 1939)


1176. Alcohol for Home Remedies, No Instruction Allowing Its Use

"Although it is clear from the teachings that the use of alcohol is permitted if it is prescribed by a physician for treatment purposes, we have not been able to find any instructions which permit its use in the preparation of home remedies for common illnesses."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 21, 1973)


1177. The Serving of Alcoholic Drinks by Bahá'ís and Bahá'í Institutions

"In response to questions raised on the permissibility of serving alcoholic drinks in a number of different circumstances, the Universal House of Justice has formulated the following guidelines.

"The fact that Bahá'ís themselves must not drink alcohol is abundantly clear and needs no comment here. With regard to the serving of alcohol to non-Bahá'ís:

1. No Bahá'í institution should serve alcohol to non-Bahá'ís under any circumstances.

2. If an individual Bahá'í is entertaining an individual guest or a small group of guests as an official representative of the Bahá'í community, he should not serve alcohol in his own home, but must use his discretion whether or not to do so if the entertaining is taking place in a restaurant.



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3. No Bahá'í should serve alcohol at any function or reception given by him, such as a wedding reception or a party to which a number of people are invited.

4. When a Bahá'í is privately entertaining an individual non-Bahá'í or a small group of guests in his own home, he must himself judge whether or not to serve alcohol. This will depend to a great degree on the customs of the country in which he is living, the individuals concerned, and the host's relationship to his guests. Obviously it is better for the Bahá'í not to serve alcohol if possible, but against this he must weigh the probable reaction of the guest in the circumstances which prevail and in the particular situation. In some countries there would be no problem in failing to provide alcohol to a guest; in others it would be regarded as extremely peculiar and anti-social and would immediately raise a barrier to further contact. It is not desirable to make a major issue of the matter.

5. When such private entertaining of an individual or small group of non-Bahá'ís is taking place in a restaurant the same general principles as in point 4 above apply, except that in such a public place a failure to provide alcoholic drinks would be less easily understood than in a private home, and the Bahá'í must use his discretion accordingly.

6. Alcohol must not be served in a restaurant or other business which is wholly owned by Bahá'ís.

7. If a Bahá'í is employed by others in a job which involves the serving of alcohol, he is not obliged to change that employment. This is a matter left to each individual to decide in the light of his own conscience. Obviously such kinds of employment vary widely from bartending to serving in a grocery in which wine is retailed. If the job requires a great deal of involvement with the serving of alcohol it is better for the Bahá'í to obtain other employment if he can."

(Guidelines prepared by the Universal House of Justice, The Serving of Alcoholic Drinks by Bahá'ís and Bahá'í Institutions, attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 31, 1982)


1178. A Business Partnership Between a Bahá'í and Non-Bahá'ís

"Since no explicit text or instruction of the beloved Guardian has been found on such a situation, i.e., the sale of alcoholic beverages by a business in which a Bahá'í is a partner with non-Bahá'ís, the House of Justice feels that no hard and fast rules should be drawn at the present time. This is a matter which needs to be decided in each case in the light of the spirit of the teachings and the circumstances of the case and, unless the situation is endangering the good name of the Faith, it should be left to the conscience of the believer concerned who should, of course, make every effort to dissociate himself from such an activity."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, October 10, 1983)


1179. Assembly's Role Toward Those Who Continue to Drink

"As to those believers who continue to drink, they should be lovingly exhorted, then firmly warned and eventually deprived of their voting rights. The number of times a person is exhorted and warned is a matter left to the discretion of each Local Spiritual Assembly, in consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. The policy you adopt should not be one of removing the administrative rights of the believers in a bureaucratic and automatic way, as this would be unwise and unjust. Your Assembly



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as well as all Local Spiritual Assemblies should courageously and continuously remind the friends of their obligation in this respect, handle firmly all flagrant cases, and use such cases in a way that, by force of example, they exert their influence upon the other believers. It must be made clear to the Local Assemblies that they should be willing to cooperate with the believers affected by such drinking habits, when any such believer promises gradually and systematically to reduce his drinking with the objective in mind of entirely abandoning this habit."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, November 12, 1965)


1180. Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous

"With regard to the problem of alcoholism, which is indeed a terrible scourge to mankind, it must never become a source of disunity among believers. Bahá'u'lláh's principle, in case of sickness, is to consult the best physician you can, follow his advice, and pray. If, therefore, you have consulted Alcoholics Anonymous, this should be your procedure. If, however, you are not satisfied with them, you are entirely free to consult someone else. But the same principle would apply. Do what the doctor (or expert) says, and pray."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, July 14, 1963)


1181. Bahá'í Advertising Agent Should Use Wisdom in Avoiding the Promotion of Intoxicating Drinks

"The House of Justice ... points out that, as far as advertising is concerned, the Bahá'í must use wisdom in deciding what is allowable and what is not. For example, while the issuing of an advertisement specifically for wines would seem to be inadmissible, there would be no objection to a Bahá'í advertising agent's issuing an advertisement listing the prices of goods on sale at a supermarket even if wines and spirits are included on it. It is, thus, a matter of emphasis and wisdom. Primarily the House of Justice wishes the decision in such matters to be left to the judgement of the individual concerned, but where there is any doubt, or where the National Spiritual Assembly feels that the good name of the Faith is being injured, the Assembly should, of course, be consulted and could decide in specific instances.

"In view of the requirements of his conscience in light of Bahá'í law, a Bahá'í advertising agent might be well advised to include a clause in any contract he signs in which difficulties of this nature might arise, protecting his right to demur."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 20, 1977: Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks)


1182. The Right of the Non-Bahá'í Parent--The Serving of Champagne

"The future christening of the child should present no problem, for the Bahá'í parent should have no objection to the baptism of his child if the Catholic mother wishes it. Similarly, the use of champagne upon that occasion is a matter which she is free to undertake, but of course the Bahá'ís would not partake of alcoholic beverages."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 7, 1977: Ibid.)



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2. Drugs


1183. Hallucinogens, a Form of Intoxication

"Concerning the so-called 'spiritual' virtues of the hallucinogens ... spiritual stimulation should come from turning one's heart to Bahá'u'lláh, and not through physical means such as drugs and agents.

"From the description given in your letter it appears that hallucinogenic agents are a form of intoxicant. As the friends, including the youth, are required strictly to abstain from all forms of intoxicants, and are further expected conscientiously to obey the civil law of their country, it is obvious that they should refrain from using these drugs.

"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: National Bahá'í Review, No. 3, March 1968)


1184. The Use of Marijuana, LSD and Other Psychedelic Products

"In reply to your request of October 24, 1967 that we issue a statement concerning 'the use of marijuana, LSD and other psychedelic products', we have already informed the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States that Bahá'ís should not use hallucinogenic agents, including LSD, peyote and similar substances, except when prescribed for medical treatment. Neither should they become involved in experiments with such substances.

"Although we have found no direct reference to marijuana in the Bahá'í writings, since this substance is derived from what is considered to be a milder form of cannabis, the species used to produce hashish, we can share with you a translation from the Persian of a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá on hashish:

'Regarding hashish, you had pointed out that some Persians have become habituated to its use. Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek this fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful?...

'Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but ... this wicked hashish extinguisheth the mind, freezeth the spirit, petrifieth the soul, wasteth the body and leaveth man frustrated and lost.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, November 11, 1967)


1185. Peyote

"Anyone involved in the use of peyote should be told that in the Bahá'í Faith spiritual stimulation comes from turning one's heart to Bahá'u'lláh and not through any physical means. They should therefore be encouraged to give up the use of peyote."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 9, 1963: Alaska Bahá'í News, May 1972, p. 4)



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1186. Opium Destroys the Conscience, the Mind and the Perceptions

"As to opium, it is foul and accursed. God protect us from the punishment He inflicteth on the user. According to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, it is forbidden, and its use is utterly condemned. Reason showeth that smoking opium is a kind of insanity, and experience attesteth that the user is completely cut off from the human kingdom. May God protect all against the perpetration of an act so hideous as this, an act which layeth in ruins the very foundation of what it is to be human, and which causeth the user to be dispossessed for ever and ever. For opium fasteneth on the soul, so that the user's conscience dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded. It turneth the living into the dead. It quencheth the natural heat. No greater harm can be conceived than that which opium inflicteth. Fortunate are they who never even speak the name of it; then think how wretched is the user."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, Wilmette, 1982, pp. 148-149)


1187. Dealing in Heroin and Other Narcotics Forbidden

"Dealing in heroin or other similar drugs which are forbidden in the Faith should certainly not be undertaken by Bahá'ís except in the context of the legitimate handling of such drugs that doctors and similar professionals may be called upon to undertake in the course of their duties. Furthermore, dealing in narcotics is in many countries a crime and on this basis also would be forbidden to Bahá'ís."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice cited in a compilation on alcohol and drugs sent to an individual believer by the International Teaching Centre, October 17, 1978)


1188. The Renouncing of Tobacco, Alcohol and Opium--Purity and Sanctity Should Distinguish the People of Baha

"O ye, God's loved ones! Experience hath shown how greatly the renouncing of smoking, of intoxicating drink, and of opium, conduceth to health and vigour, to the expansion and keenness of the mind and to bodily strength. There is today a people+F1 who strictly avoid tobacco, intoxicating liquor and opium. This people is far and away superior to the others, for strength and physical courage, for health, beauty and comeliness. A single one of their men can stand up to ten men of another tribe. This hath proved true of the entire people: that is, member for member, each individual of this community is in every respect superior to the individuals of other communities.

"Make ye then a mighty effort, that the purity and sanctity which, above all else, are cherished by Abdu'l-Bahá, shall distinguish the people of Baha; that in every kind of excellence the people of God shall surpass all other human beings; that both outwardly and inwardly they shall prove superior to the rest; that for purity, immaculacy, refinement, and the preservation of health, they shall be leaders in the vanguard of those who know. And that by their freedom from enslavement, their knowledge, their self-control, they shall be first among the pure, the free and the wise."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 150)

3. Tobacco


1189. Smoking is Discouraged, But Not Forbidden

"Regarding your questions: Concerning smoking: It is not forbidden in the Bahá'í


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teachings and no one can enforce its prohibition. It is strongly discouraged as a habit which is not very clean or very healthy. But it is a matter left entirely to the conscience of the individual and not of major importance, whereas the use of alcohol is definitely forbidden and thus not left optional to the conscience of the believer."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1941)


1190. Smoking Has Nothing to Do with Firmness in the Covenant

"Smoking has nothing to do with firmness in the Covenant. Bahá'ís are advised not to smoke for reasons of health and hygiene, not because of any spiritual reasons. We naturally cherish every hint and advice from Abdu'l-Bahá regarding our conduct, but as He has not forbidden this, we must leave each person free to decide for himself."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 9, 1944)


1191. To New Bahá'ís, We Should Not Stress Giving Up Smoking

"He feels that we should not lay stress to new Bahá'ís on the necessity of giving up smoking, especially as this is purely optional, and many of the Bahá'ís still do smoke. There are many things in the Teachings that require a stiff effort on the part of a new believer, and we should not add to the hurdles at the very beginning, so to speak."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 4, 1954)


1192. Smoking by Degrees Injurious

"...I wish to say that, in the sight of God, the smoking of tobacco is a thing which is blamed and condemned, very unclean, and of which the result is by degrees injurious. Besides it is a cause of expense and of loss of time and it is a harmful habit...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, p. 335)


1193. Guidelines for Individuals and Assemblies About Tobacco Smoking

"Many believers feeling the same concern expressed by Dr. ... wrote to the beloved Guardian about it. In answer to such letters the Guardian's secretary replied on his behalf that Bahá'ís had no right to prevent anyone from smoking; that Bahá'ís were free to smoke but it was preferable for them not to do so; and that an issue should not be made of this matter. The use of tobacco, in common with other personal practices, should be subject to considerations of courtesy. The Bahá'í in his daily life, whether smoker or non-smoker, should always be conscious of the rights of those about him and avoid doing anything which would give offense.

"Believers have also raised the question about smoking during Bahá'í meetings. It is entirely within the authority of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies to prohibit smoking in meetings held under their auspices. An Assembly may well feel that it does not wish to raise an additional barrier to seekers by prohibiting smoking at public meetings in a society where it is the accepted practice to smoke. On the other hand, it might be wise for the Assembly to caution the Bahá'ís to restrain their smoking at teaching meetings and firesides in case it is offensive to some seekers. In the case of Nineteen Day Feasts or meetings of Assemblies or committees, it is not right



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that friends who find smoking offensive should be made to endure it in Bahá'í meetings which they are required or expected to attend. If certain individuals feel that they must smoke, then arrangements, such as a break in the meeting, could be made for their convenience. It would, of course, be entirely inappropriate to smoke during the devotional part of a Feast, or at any other devotional gathering.

"It is to be hoped that the widespread publicity being given to the evil effects of smoking, both on smokers and on those who have to breathe smoke-laden air, will help to convince everyone of the wisdom of Abdu'l-Bahá in strongly discouraging Bahá'ís from smoking. However, Bahá'ís must be careful not to go beyond the Teachings in this matter and try to enforce as a law a matter in which Bahá'u'lláh has deemed it wise to allow freedom of decision."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 4, 1974)

F. Crime, Criminals and Prisoners


1194. Believers Charged with Criminal Offences+F1

"...regarding believers who have been charged with criminal offences, suspected to have committed such offences, or convicted by the court. The principle to bear in mind is that each case falling in any of the aforementioned categories should be considered separately on its own merits. No hard and fast rule should be applied.

"...it should be realized that the application of Bahá'í sanctions is not an automatic action in response to a verdict of the court."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 3, 1967: Extracts Concerning Crime, Criminals, Prisoners and Related Subjects, A Compilation)


1195. Bahá'í Institutions Cannot Enforce Criminal Laws at Present--Such Cases Are Handled in Civil Court

"...you cite violations of the criminal laws of the state. These cases are handled in the civil courts, and may or may not be subject to Bahá'í administrative action depending upon the nature of the offence and its effect on the Faith. Generally speaking the development of the Administrative Order has not progressed to the point where Bahá'í institutions enforce criminal laws."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 7, 1974: Ibid.)


1196. Rehabilitation of Criminals Left to Experts in that Field

"...Bahá'u'lláh has given us the general moral and social principles to guide our lives, but their application to the rehabilitation of criminals is left to the experts in that field to develop in the same way that economics is left to economists."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 3, 1974: Ibid.)


1197. Administrative Action in Cases Involving Disobedience to Civil Law

"We have your letter ... asking about administrative action in cases involving disobedience to civil law.


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+F1 (See also: No. 187)



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"...We think it is not possible to make a categorical statement applying to all cases. Each case should be decided on its own merits."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 7, 1969: Ibid.)


1198. Penalty for Arson--Laws for a More Evolved Society

"As regards the question you raised about the penalty for arson in the Aqdas, the penalty for arson is burning or life imprisonment; in other words the same penalty as for first degree murder.

"We must not question this, but studying the Bahá'í Faith and its Teachings in their entirety, realize that the law of God for this Day is a healing for the nations, and that, at a future period when a purely Bahá'í society exists and these laws can be enforced, humanity may have reached a much higher point of evolution than at present, and the mere threat of them may be sufficient in most cases to protect the Community and protect the law from being broken."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 15, 1957)


1199. Capital Punishment and the Criminally Insane

"The question of whether capital punishment should be inflicted on the criminally insane is one for the Universal House of Justice to decide. Such people, however, not being responsible for their actions, will not suffer any spiritual effect from acts committed while mentally deranged."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 25, 1939)


1200. Suicide is Forbidden in the Cause+F1

"Suicide is forbidden in the Cause. God Who is the Author of all life can alone take it away, and dispose of it in the way He deems best. Whoever commits suicide endangers his soul, and will suffer spiritually as a result in the other Worlds Beyond."

(Ibid.)

G. Gambling


1201. The Sale or Purchasing of Lottery Tickets

"In reviewing your Minutes for 15 March 1967, we note Item 25-8 in which the Treasurer suggests a lottery as a means of disposing of a Persian carpet which has been given to you by one of the believers. We do not feel this is an appropriate way in which to raise funds....

"As far as individuals are concerned, we have carefully studied the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi on this point and it is apparent that such subsidiary matters are not recorded in the Holy Texts. The Universal House of Justice is not prepared to decide at this time whether the purchase of lottery tickets should be permitted or prohibited."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 4, 1967: Extracts Concerning Gambling, Lotteries and Raffles, a compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


1202. Horse Racing, Betting and Raffles

"Although we have not found any text which forbids the owning of race horses,


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+F1 (See also: Nos. 674-678)



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horse racing as a means of winning the prize money and betting at race courses, we quote the translation of a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá on horse racing: 'Betting on horse racing is a pernicious disease. It hath been seen in Europe what distress this hath caused. Thousands have become afflicted and distraught. The friends of God must engage in work which is lawful and attracteth blessings, so that God's aid and bounty may always surround them.' (Translated from the Persian)

"We do not feel ... that it is appropriate for funds for the Faith to be raised through raffles."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 20, 1972: Ibid.)


1203. Betting on Football Games, Bingo and the Like

"Although we may have written to you previously commenting on the question as to whether lotteries and betting, such as betting on football games, bingo, etc., are included under the prohibition of gambling, we repeat that this is a matter that is to be considered in detail by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, your National Assembly should not make an issue of these matters and should leave it to the consciences of the individual friends who are to decide for themselves in each case."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 27, 1972: Ibid.)


1204. Bingo and Other Games of Chance for the Fund

"As to participation in Bingo games by a Local Spiritual Assembly with the intention of contributing to the Fund, we do not feel it is appropriate for funds for the Faith to be raised through games of chance or raffles."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 29, 1973: Ibid.)

H. Chastity and Sex Education


1205. Sex Education Requires Wisdom and Good Judgment on the Part of Parents

"The House of Justice points out that sex education, especially education concerning the physiological aspects of sex, is a delicate matter, requiring wisdom and good judgment on the part of parents who can impart information to their children and answer their questions in accordance with the stage of development of each child and the degree of his or her understanding. It is, moreover, a subject that needs to be placed in its proper context of the spiritual and emotional development of individuals, the nature of the family and the purpose of human life...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 25, 1981)


1206. Bahá'í Youth Should Stand Out Against the Laxity and Depravity of a Permissive Society

"...the Cause of God will derive immense benefit when it is observed that the Bahá'ís, and particularly Bahá'í youth, stand out against the laxity and depravity



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of the permissive society, that the exalted standards of conduct which they strive to uphold are firmly rooted in spiritual principles, giving them confidence, self-respect and true happiness. On the other hand only the greatest harm can be done to the Cause if its followers are simply engulfed by the current tide."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 23, 1983)


1207. The Individual Believer in Accordance with His Prayerful Understanding of the Writings Should Determine His Course of Conduct

"It is neither possible nor desirable for the Universal House of Justice to set forth a set of rules covering every situation. Rather it is the task of the individual believer to determine, according to his own prayerful understanding of the Writings, precisely what his course of conduct should be in relation to situations which he encounters in his daily life. If he is to fulfill his true mission in life as a follower of the Blessed Perfection, he will pattern his life according to the Teachings. The believer cannot attain this objective merely by living according to a set of rigid regulations. When his life is oriented towards service to Bahá'u'lláh, and when every conscious act is performed within this frame of reference, he will not fail to achieve the true purpose of his life.

"Therefore, every believer must continually study the sacred Writings and the instructions of the beloved Guardian, striving always to attain a new and better understanding of their import to him and to his society. He should pray fervently for Divine Guidance, wisdom and strength to do what is pleasing to God, and to serve Him at all times and to the best of his ability."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 17, 1968: National Bahá'í Review, No. 47, November 1971, p. 3)


1208. Bahá'ís Should Not Hesitate to Seek Advice from Assemblies When They Feel the Need and Must Learn Through Study and Prayer to Obtain a Clearer Vision of Their Mission

"There is no need to dwell at length on the implications of spotless chastity and the integrity of the sacred marital bond set forth in our teachings, as these have been clearly outlined and amply elaborated in our scriptures and in the writings of our beloved Guardian. Such matters as the age of marriage or the manner of meeting economic commitments are left to the individual to decide for himself. The friends, however, should not hesitate to seek the advice of their Local Spiritual Assemblies in all such matters if they feel the need.

"As the suffering and unrest afflicting humanity increase, and moral restraints are one by one abolished, the Bahá'ís must learn to obtain, through study and prayer, a clearer vision of their mission, earnestly seek to purge their lives of the influences of laxity and promiscuity characterizing modern society, and insure that the fair name and integrity of the Faith they serve and love so dearly remain unstained and unsullied."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to two believers, May 22, 1966)


1209. One Must Learn to Control Animal Impulses, Not Be a Slave to Them

"In considering the effect of obedience to the laws on individual lives, one must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next. Here one



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must learn to control and direct one's animal impulses, not to be a slave to them. Life in this world is a succession of tests and achievements, of falling short and of making new spiritual advances. Sometimes the course may seem very hard, but one can witness, again and again, that the soul who steadfastly obeys the law of Bahá'u'lláh, however hard it may seem, grows spiritually, while the one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness is seen to have been following a chimera: he does not attain the happiness he sought, he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, excerpts from a letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973)


1210. Kissing in Modern Society is Detrimental to Morals+F1

"What Bahá'u'lláh means by chastity certainly does not include the kissing that goes on in modern society. It is detrimental to the morals of young people, and often leads them to go too far, or arouses appetites which they cannot perhaps at the time satisfy legitimately through marriage, and the suppression of which is a strain on them.

"The Bahá'í standard is very high, more particularly when compared with the thoroughly rotten morals of the present world. But this standard of ours will produce healthier, happier, nobler people, and induce stabler marriages."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)


1211. Bahá'ís Must Set the Example and Lead the Way to a True Human Standard of Life

"The world today is submerged, amongst other things, in an over-exaggeration of the importance of physical love, and a dearth of spiritual values. In as far as possible the believers should try to realize this and rise above the level of their fellow-men who are, typical of all decadent periods in history, placing so much over-emphasis on the purely physical side of mating. Outside of their normal, legitimate married life they should seek to establish bonds of comradeship and love which are eternal and founded on the spiritual life of man, not on his physical life. This is one of the many fields in which it is incumbent on the Bahá'ís to set the example and lead the way to a true human standard of life, when the soul of man is exalted and his body but the tool for his enlightened spirit. Needless to say this does not preclude the living of a perfectly normal sex life in its legitimate channel of marriage."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1941: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 108-109)


1212. Chastity Implies Before Marriage Absolutely Chaste, After Marriage Absolutely Faithful to One's Chosen Companion

"The question you raise as to the place in one's life that a deep bond of love with someone we meet other than our husband or wife can have is easily defined in view of the teachings. Chastity implies both before and after marriage an unsullied, chaste sex life. Before marriage absolutely chaste, after marriage absolutely faithful to one's chosen companion. Faithful in all sexual acts, faithful in word and in deed."

(Ibid.)


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1213. Bahá'í Youth Should Study the Teachings on Chastity for Guidance in Deciding which Intimacies Are Permissible and which Are Not

"We have received your letter of 19th June 1973 and can sympathize with the problems that Bahá'í youth face when trying to live up to the Bahá'í standards of behaviour. It is, perhaps, natural that in the bewildering amoral environment in which Bahá'í youth are growing up they feel the need for specific instructions on which intimacies are permissible and which are not. However, we feel it would be most unwise for any Bahá'í institution to issue detailed instructions about this.

"The Bahá'í youth should study the teachings on chastity and, with these in mind, should avoid any behaviour which would arouse passions which would tempt them to violate them. In deciding what acts are permissible to them in the light of these considerations the youth must use their own judgement, following the guidance of their consciences and the advice of their parents.

"If Bahá'í youth combine such personal purity with an attitude of uncensorious forbearance towards others they will find that those who may have criticized or even mocked them will come, in time, to respect them. They will, moreover, be laying a firm foundation for future married happiness."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a Local Spiritual Assembly, July 9, 1973)


1214. Youth Should Be Taught Self-Control

"...The Bahá'í youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self-control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigour. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be over stressed."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 13, 1940: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 109)


1215. Chastity Should Be Strictly Practiced by Both Sexes

"The Bahá'í teaching on sexual intercourse is very clear. It is permissible only between a man and the woman who is his wife. In this connection we share with you extracts from four letters+F1 written on behalf of the Guardian which throw light on various aspects of the matter...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973)


1216. Chastity is One of the Most Challenging Concepts in This Permissive Age

"As to chastity, this is one of the most challenging concepts to get across in this very permissive age, but Bahá'ís must make the utmost effort to uphold Bahá'í standards, no matter how difficult they may seem at first. Such efforts will be made easier if the youth will understand that the laws and standards of the Faith are meant to free them from untold spiritual and moral difficulties in the same way that a proper appreciation of the laws of nature enables one to live in harmony with


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the forces of the planet. You may wish also to seek the advice of the Education Committee on teaching chastity to young Bahá'ís."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 14, 1985)


1217. Children Out of Wedlock

"...in reply to your letter of 8 April 1981 requesting guidance on how to deal with problems involving Bahá'í women who have had children out of wedlock.

"Normally administrative rights should not be suspended because of the birth of a child out of wedlock. The questions to be considered are whether the party is guilty of blatant and flagrant immorality, whether such conduct is harming the Faith, and whether the believer has refused or neglected to improve her conduct despite repeated warnings.

"If you find that the girls in question are responding to the exhortations of the Assembly and have corrected their behaviour, you should consider the matter closed and restore their administrative rights. Your Assembly should, of course, provide for the proper deepening of the friends, and in a loving and patient manner attempt to instill in them a respect for Bahá'í Laws."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 6, 1981)


1218. In Sexual Morality People Often Stumble and Fall Short of the Ideal-- The Spiritual Assembly Should Act as a Loving Father Rather Than a Judge

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15 May 1986 asking whether administrative sanctions should be imposed on unmarried couples in which one or both are Bahá'ís and who have had children out of wedlock. We have been asked to convey the following guidance.

"As you readily understand, Bahá'ís are exhorted to lead a chaste and holy life, and, according to Bahá'í Law, sexual intercourse is permissible only between a man and the woman who is his wife. In sexual morality, as in other realms of behaviour, people often stumble and fall short of the ideal. It is the task of Spiritual Assemblies to ensure that the friends are deepened in their understanding of the teachings, and are exhorted to apply them in their lives. In caring for its community, a Spiritual Assembly should act as a loving father rather than as a stern judge in such matters. Nevertheless, if a believer's behaviour is blatantly and flagrantly immoral and, therefore, is harmful to the good name of the Faith, the Assembly must counsel him (or her), urge him to reform his conduct, warn him of the consequences if he does not mend his ways and, ultimately, if the believer persists in misbehaviour, the Assembly must deprive him of his administrative rights. This deprivation remains in force until such time as the believer repents of his actions and is able to satisfy the Spiritual Assembly that he has rectified his behaviour."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 5, 1986)


1219. The Institutions Should Adopt Such Programs as Will Deepen the Believers in Their Understanding as to How to Attain to the High Standards of Spotless Chastity Inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh

"...Bahá'ís in their deep love for Bahá'u'lláh should be eager to apply every



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spiritual precept in their own lives while at the same time exercising patience, forbearance and forgiveness in respect to the shortcomings of others. It is for the Institutions of the Faith to adopt such programmes as will deepen the believers in their understanding of the teachings so that they will unhesitatingly and eagerly follow Him.

"There is no doubt that the standard of spotless chastity inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh in His teachings can be attained by the friends only when they stand forth firmly and courageously as uncompromising adherents of the Bahá'í way of life, fully conscious that they represent teachings which are the very antithesis of the corrosive forces which are so tragically destroying the fabric of man's moral values. The present trend in modern society and its conflict with our challenging principles of moral conduct, far from influencing the believers to compromise their resolve to adhere undeviatingly to the standards of purity and chastity set forth for them by their Faith, must stimulate them to discharge their sacred obligations with determination and thus combat the evil forces undermining the foundations of individual morality."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to two individual believers, May 22, 1966)


1220. Masturbation

"We have found in the Holy Writings no explicit references to masturbation, but there are a number of principles and teachings which can guide a Bahá'í to the correct attitude towards it. In a letter to an individual believer, written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf, it is pointed out that:

'The Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expressions such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been established. The Bahá'ís do not believe in the suppression of the sex impulse but in its regulation and control.'

"In response to another letter enquiring if there were any legitimate way in which a person could express the sex instinct if, for some reason, he were unable to marry or if outer circumstances such as economic factors were to cause him to delay marriage, the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

'Concerning your question whether there are any legitimate forms of expression of the sex instinct outside of marriage: According to the Bahá'í Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse. The Bahá'í youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self-control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigour. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be over stressed.'

"In another letter on the Guardian's behalf, also to an individual believer, the secretary writes:

'Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex...'



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"This indicates how the whole matter of sex and the problems related to it have assumed far too great an importance in the thinking of present-day society.

"Masturbation is clearly not a proper use of the sex instinct, as this is understood in the Faith. Moreover it involves, as you have pointed out, mental fantasies, while Bahá'u'lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, has exhorted us not to indulge our passions and in one of His well-known Tablets Abdu'l-Bahá encourages us to keep our 'secret thoughts pure'. Of course many wayward thoughts come involuntarily to the mind and these are merely a result of weakness and are not blameworthy unless they become fixed or even worse, are expressed in improper acts. In 'The Advent of Divine Justice', when describing the moral standards that Bahá'ís must uphold both individually and in their community life, the Guardian wrote:

'Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations.'

"Your problem, therefore, is one against which you should continue to struggle, with determination and with the aid of prayer. You should remember, however, that it is only one of the many temptations and faults that a human being must strive to overcome during his lifetime, and you should not increase the difficulty you have by over-emphasising its importance. We suggest you try to see it within the whole spectrum of the qualities that a Bahá'í must develop in his character. Be vigilant against temptation, but do not allow it to claim too great a share of your attention. You should concentrate, rather, on the virtues that you should develop, the services you should strive to render, and, above all, on God and His attributes, and devote your energies to living a full Bahá'í life in all its many aspects."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, a copy of which was sent to the compiler with a letter dated March 8, 1981)

I. Homosexuality+F1


1221. Acts of Immorality

"Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history, is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all too often the accepted attitude nowadays.

"We must struggle against the evils in society by spiritual means, and medical and social ones as well. We must be tolerant but uncompromising, understanding but immovable in our point of view.

"The thing people need to meet this type of trouble, as well as every other type, is greater spiritual understanding and stability; and of course we Bahá'ís believe that ultimately this can only be given to mankind through the Teachings of the Manifestation of God for this Day."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1954)


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1222. Homosexuality and Transsexuality

"A number of sexual problems such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled and overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires. The exercise of self-control in this, as in so very many other aspects of life, has a beneficial effect on the progress of the soul. It should, moreover, be borne in mind that although to be married is highly desirable, and Bahá'u'lláh has strongly recommended it, it is not the central purpose of life. If a person has to wait a considerable period before finding a spouse, or if ultimately, he or she must remain single, it does not mean that he or she is thereby unable to fulfil his or her life's purpose."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 12, 1973: cited in Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 110-111)


1223. Through Advice, Help of Doctors, and Prayer, Can Overcome This Handicap

"No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and homosexual relationships he looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

"To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.

"God judges each soul on its own merits. The Guardian cannot tell you what the attitude of God would be towards a person who lives a good life in most ways, but not in this way. All he can tell you is that it is forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and that one so afflicted should struggle and struggle again to overcome it. We must be hopeful of God's Mercy but not impose upon it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950)


1224. Bahá'í Law Protects and Strengthens Marriage

"...We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 107, p. 58)

"The word translated here as 'boys' has, in this context, in the Arabic original, the implication of paederasty. Shoghi Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all homosexual relations.

"The Bahá'í teachings on sexual morality centre on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Bahá'í law thus restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married."

(The Universal House of Justice: The Kitab-i-Aqdas: N 134, p. 223)



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1225. The Question Should Not Be if a Practicing Homosexual Can Be a Bahá'í, But as Such Can He Overcome His Problem Through the Teachings

"Bahá'í teachings on sexual morality centre on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Thus Bahá'í law restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.

"Thus, it should not be so much a matter of whether a practicing homosexual can be a Bahá'í as whether, having become a Bahá'í, the homosexual can overcome his problem through knowledge of the teachings and reliance on Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 14, 1973)


1226. Recognizing the Divine Origin of the Sex Impulse in Man, Religion Teaches It Must Be Controlled

"...Any act or activity by a believer which is contrary to our teachings will surely be harmful to the spiritual future of the individual concerned, and may give non-Bahá'ís a wrong impression of the principles of our Faith. Whereas consider how important it is for a believer to reflect in his actions the redeeming features of the Cause he has embraced. Shoghi Effendi has pointed out:

'Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching--no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character--not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and sceptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.'

"While recognizing the divine origin and force of the sex impulse in man, religion teaches that it must be controlled, and Bahá'u'lláh's law confines its expression to the marriage relationship. The unmarried homosexual is therefore in the same position as anyone else who does not marry. The Law of God requires them to practise chastity.

"Even though you feel that the conflict between sensuality and spirituality is more than you can bear, your affirmation--'I do know I am a Bahá'í' is a positive factor in the battle you must wage. Every believer needs to remember that an essential characteristic of this physical world is that we are constantly faced with trials, tribulations, hardships and sufferings and that by overcoming them we achieve our moral and spiritual development; that we must seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past; that this is the way God tests His servants and we should look upon every failure or shortcoming as an opportunity to try again and to acquire a fuller consciousness of the Divine Will and purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 9, 1977)


1227. We Are Assured of the Guidance of God When We Make an Effort to Obey Him

"Certainly the problem confronting you is a difficult one. However, its solution lies within your power, for Bahá'u'lláh has assured us that God 'will never deal unjustly



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with anyone, neither will He task a soul beyond its power'.+F1 And again, 'Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse: "Whoso maketh efforts for Us," he shall enjoy the blessings conferred by the words: "In Our Way shall We assuredly guide him."' You can be confident that with the help of doctors, by prayer and meditation, by self-abnegation and by giving as much time as possible to serving the Cause in your community you can eventually succeed in overcoming your problem."

(Ibid.)


1228. One Must Make an Effort to Resist Wayward Impulses When They Arise by Turning to the Sacred Writings to Divert One's Thoughts

"The House of Justice comments that while there is little in Bahá'í literature that specifically points to the causes of homosexuality itself, there is much that concerns the nature of man, his inner life and growth, and the way to a true Bahá'í life. If you are sincerely intent on overcoming your problem, you must yourself determine to resist wayward impulses each time they arise and the House of Justice feels that there is no better way than to turn to the Writings to divert our thoughts into spiritual channels, perhaps to concentrate on what we may do to help others along the way to discovering the Bahá'í Faith. The more we occupy ourselves with teaching the Cause and serving our fellow-man in this way, the stronger we become in resisting that which is abhorrent to our spiritual selves.

"Man's physical existence on this earth is a period during which the moral exercise of his free will is tried and tested in order to prepare his soul for the other worlds of God, and we must welcome affliction and tribulations as opportunities for improvement in our eternal selves. The House of Justice points out that homosexuals are not the only segment of human society labouring at this daily task--every human being is beset by such inner promptings as pride, greed, selfishness, lustful heterosexual or homosexual desires, to name a few which must be overcome, and overcome them we must if we are to fulfil the purpose of our human existence."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 16, 1980)


1229. A Homosexual Relationship Subverts the Purpose of Human Life

"There should be real incentive for you to courageously face the problems inherent in the situation you describe in your letter, and to firmly resolve to change your way of life. But you must desire to do so. Both you and your Bahá'í friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship subverts the purpose of human life and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, is so abhorrent; the Creator of all mankind will help you both to return to a path that leads to true happiness."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1982)


1230. Homosexuality, Immorality and Adultery Are Forbidden in the Faith

"The question of how to deal with homosexuals is a very difficult one. Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bahá'í Faith by Bahá'u'lláh; so, for that matter, are immorality and adultery. If one is going to start imposing heavy sanctions on people who are the victims of this abnormality, however repulsive it may be to


___________________
+F1 (Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 106, 1982 U.S. edition)



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others, then it is only fair to impose equally heavy sanctions on any Bahá'ís who step beyond the moral limits defined by Bahá'u'lláh. Obviously at the present time this would create an impossible and ridiculous situation.

"He feels, therefore, that, through loving advice, through repeated warnings, any friends who are flagrantly immoral should be assisted, and, if possible, restrained. If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of public scandal, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights. However, he does not advise this course of action, and feels it should only be resorted to in very flagrant cases."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 20, 1955)

J. Laws of Marriage

1. Parental Consent


1231. Knowledge of Character Responsibility of Two Parties and Parents

"Bahá'í law places the responsibility for ascertaining knowledge of the character of those entering into the marriage contract on the two parties involved, and on the parents, who must give consent to the marriage.

"The obligation of the Spiritual Assembly is to ascertain that all requirements of civil and Bahá'í law have been complied with, and, having done so, the Assembly may neither refuse to perform the marriage ceremony nor delay it."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1967)


1232. Must Become Thoroughly Acquainted with Characters of Each Other

"Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity....

"The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Bahá'í marriage."

(Ibid.)


1233. Law Requiring Parental Consent Should Encourage Young People to Consider Marriage Seriously

"Bahá'u'lláh definitely says that the consent of the parents should be obtained before the marriage is sanctioned and that undoubtedly has great wisdom. It will at least detain young people from marrying without considering the subject thoroughly. It is in conformity with this teaching of the Cause that Shoghi Effendi cabled that the consent of your parents should be obtained.

"I personally believe that if you retain your love as a pure and close friendship and continue your studies until you bring them to a close then you will be in a better position to judge and perhaps your parents would be given time to give the subject



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better consideration. Time can always provide things and settle disputes that temporary endeavour and heated discussion cannot help."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 29, 1929)


1234. Consent Required of Parents for Adults, for Second Marriages, for Bahá'ís or Non-Bahá'ís

"About the consent of parents for marriage: This is required before and also after the man or woman is twenty-one years of age. It is also required in the event of a second marriage, after the dissolution of the first whether through death or through divorce.

"The parental consent is also a binding obligation irrespective of whether the parents are Bahá'ís or not, whether they are friendly or opposed to the Cause. In the event of the death of both parents, the consent of a guardian is not required."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)


1235. The Law of Parental Consent is to Strengthen Family Relationships

"Bahá'u'lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage. This applies whether the parents are Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, divorced for years or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator. We Bahá'ís must realize that in present-day society the exact opposite process is taking place: young people care less and less for their parents' wishes, divorce is considered a natural right, and obtained on the flimsiest and most unwarrantable and shabby pretexts. People separated from each other, especially if one of them has had full custody of the children, are only too willing to belittle the importance of the partner in marriage also responsible as a parent for bringing those children into this world. The Bahá'ís must, through rigid adherence to the Bahá'í laws and teachings, combat these corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 25, 1947)


1236. Consent of Parents Law of Great Importance Affecting the Foundation of Human Society

"In many cases of breach of marriage laws the believers apparently look upon the law requiring consent of parents before marriage as a mere administrative regulation, and do not seem to realize that this is a law of great importance affecting the very foundations of human society. Moreover they seem not to appreciate that in the Bahá'í Faith the spiritual and administrative aspects are complementary and that the social laws of the Faith are as binding as the purely spiritual ones."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 29, 1965: Canadian Bahá'í News, No. 265, February 1973, p. 11)


1237. Consent of All Living Parents Places a Grave Responsibility on Each Parent

"It is perfectly true that Bahá'u'lláh's statement that the consent of all living parents



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is required for marriage places a grave responsibility on each parent. When the parents are Bahá'ís they should, of course, act objectively in withholding or granting their approval. They cannot evade this responsibility by merely acquiescing in their child's wish, nor should they be swayed by prejudice; but, whether they be Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, the parents' decision is binding, whatever the reason that may have motivated it. Children must recognize and understand that this act of consenting is the duty of a parent. They must have respect in their hearts for those who have given them life, and whose good pleasure they must at all times strive to win."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 1, 1968)


1238. Parents May Seek Advice of Spiritual Assembly, But Decision Rests with the Parents

"In reply to your letter of 9 March, 1979 requesting comment on an item in the Minutes of a Local Spiritual Assembly concerning parental consent to marriage, the Universal House of Justice directs us to say that while parents may seek advice of an Assembly about whether they should consent to the marriage of their children and the Assembly may give such advice, the decision rests with the parents and the Assembly cannot assume that responsibility."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 5, 1979)


1239. The Opposition of Family Members Other Than Parents Does Not Affect Validity of the Marriage

"In this connection, the Guardian feels the necessity of bringing to your attention the fact that the validity of a Bahá'í marriage is conditioned upon the consent of the two parties and their parents only. So that in case the other members of your family show any dislike or opposition to your sister's union with Mr. ..., their objection does under no circumstances invalidate it. Your parents' approval would be sufficient even though all the rest of your family may violently oppose it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Bahá'í couple, March 31, 1937)


1240. Marriage to Non-Bahá'í, Consent of Parents of Both Parties Required

"Regarding the question whether it is necessary to obtain the consent of the parents of a non-Bahá'í participant in a marriage with a Bahá'í: As Bahá'u'lláh has stated that the consent of the parents of both parties is required in order to promote unity and avoid friction, and as the Aqdas does not specify any exceptions to this rule, the Guardian feels that under all circumstances the consent of the parents of both parties is required."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 12, 1941)


1241. The Child May Ask Parents to Reconsider--May Request Assistance of Assembly

"It is clear from your letter that you understand the basic requirement that parental consent is necessary to having a Bahá'í marriage and that parents may give or withhold consent for their own reasons. If in a given case the parents at first withhold consent, there is no harm in the child's asking his parents to reconsider,



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bearing in mind that he has to abide by their decision. The child, on the other hand, may not wish to pursue the matter; it is left entirely to his own judgement of the circumstances whether to request reconsideration or not.

"There have been instances when parties have appealed to Bahá'í institutions (local and national) to assist them in removing any misunderstanding that may have stood in the way of a positive decision on the part of their parents. But there are no hard and fast rules in these matters. Each case is dealt with according to the prevailing circumstances at the time."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 28, 1984)


1242. Consent of Parents Often Withheld for Reasons of Bigotry

"...the Bahá'í law requiring consent of parents to marriage. All too often nowadays such consent is withheld by non-Bahá'í parents for reasons of bigotry or racial prejudice; yet we have seen again and again the profound effect on those very parents of the firmness of the children in the Bahá'í law, to the extent that not only is the consent ultimately given in many cases, but the character of the parents can be affected and their relationship with their child greatly strengthened.

"Thus, by upholding Bahá'í law in the face of all difficulties we not only strengthen our own characters but influence those around us."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; copies to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 106-107)


1243. If Parents Are Alive, Consent Must Be Obtained

"Regarding your question of applying the sanction of suspension of voting rights to people who marry without the consent of parents, this should be done from now on. The law of the Aqdas is explicit and not open to any ambiguity at all. As long as the parents are alive, the consent must be obtained; it is not conditioned on their relationship to their children. If the whereabouts of the parents is not known legally, in other words, if they are legally dead, then it is not necessary for the children to obtain their consent, obviously. It is not a question of the child not knowing the present whereabouts of its parents, it is a question of a legal thing--if the parents are alive, they must be asked."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, June 26, 1956: Bahá'í News, No. 335, January 1959, p. 2)


1244. Circumstances Under which Parental Consent for Bahá'í Marriage Not Required

"In reply to your letter about the problem of ... who is unable to locate the natural father of her fiance we are glad to offer you the following guidance:

"The only circumstances under which parental consent for Bahá'í marriage is not required are the following:

1. If the parent is dead.

2. If the parent has absented himself to the degree that he can be adjudged legally dead.

3. If the parent is certified insane and therefore legally incompetent to give consent.



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4. If the parent is a Covenant-breaker.

5. It is possible under Bahá'í Law, in certain very rare cases, to recognize that a state of disownment exists. All such cases should be referred to the Universal House of Justice.

"The problem therefore is reduced to the simple question of whether your National Assembly accepts that Miss ...'s father-in-law elect cannot be traced and therefore may, to your satisfaction, be presumed to be legally dead. You should of course ascertain that Miss ... has made every effort possible to trace her fiance's father."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, May 30, 1971)


1245. Withdrawal from the Faith in Order to Evade Law of Bahá'u'lláh is Not Possible for True Believer

"The responsibilities laid upon parents as they give consideration to the question of consent to marriage of their children is directed to their conscience and therefore it is not possible to apply sanctions. On the other hand, the Bahá'í law requiring children to obtain the consent of their parents to marriage is subject to sanction, and as you know these are matters set forth in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and in the instructions of the beloved Guardian.

"At some time or other, every law of Bahá'u'lláh may impose a test upon the faith of a believer and the question is whether the believer will meet the test or not. As you are aware, withdrawal from the Faith in order to evade a law of Bahá'u'lláh is not possible to a true believer."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 22, 1968)


1246. Parents Give Consent to Marriage, Not to a Bahá'í Religious Ceremony

"1. Your understanding about withdrawal of consent by one or more of the parents prior to a Bahá'í marriage is correct; namely, if such withdrawal occurs, the marriage cannot take place.

"2. The principle of the Bahá'í law requiring parental consent to marriage is that the parents consent to the marriage of the man to the woman concerned. It does not require that they consent to the performance of any particular ceremony. Obviously, where the parents are Bahá'ís, it is taken for granted that the marriage of a Bahá'í couple will be by the performance of the Bahá'í ceremony. In some cases, however, it would be difficult for non-Bahá'í parents to give consent to the participation of their son or daughter in a Bahá'í religious ceremony, and in these cases the distinction of principle is important. In other words, if the non-Bahá'í parents consent to the marriage of the couple, the Bahá'í ceremony can be held unless they expressly object to the holding of the Bahá'í ceremony, in which case the marriage cannot take place."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)


1247. Every Reasonable Avenue of Search Must Be Exhausted to Find Parent-- The Responsible Assembly Must Be Satisfied This Has Been Done

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 8 May 1986 presenting Miss ..., problem of consent to her marriage by her putative father. We are asked to convey its response.



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"It seems clear that Miss ... has a slender connection with her genetic father. Nevertheless, despite his long absence and his lack of any relationship with either mother or daughter, Miss ... is obligated to make every effort, however discreetly carried out, to ascertain his whereabouts, including such steps as contacting persons, firms or agencies, and even advertising in newspapers if necessary. The Local or National Assembly accepts that Miss ...'s father-in-law elect cannot be traced and the National Assembly may offer its assistance to the couple, if needed. When the Assembly is satisfied that every reasonable avenue of search has been exhausted without discovering the missing parent, the Assembly may permit the marriage to take place."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 2, 1986)


1248. One May Ask Others to Approach Parent on His or Her Behalf

"If the father has been certified mentally incompetent, then no consent is required. Otherwise his consent must be obtained.

"If the young lady is concerned about approaching her father directly she may ask others to do this on her behalf. We suggest also that the Local Assembly be asked to assist."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 18, 1968)


1249. Marriages Are Supposed to Promote Unity and Harmony--Alienated Parent and Child Might Be Brought Together

"He feels that marriage is primarily a thing that the two young people must decide upon. If the young Bahá'í girl you mentioned desires to marry the son of the Hindu ... and her parents consent, and his parents consent, then there is nothing to prevent the union, as long as Bahá'í laws are followed.

"The Guardian suggests that the young man himself seek out his father, and explain to him that he wishes to marry a Bahá'í girl according to civil law, and then with a brief Bahá'í ceremony following it for her sake, and ask his father's permission and blessing. Marriages are supposed, as Bahá'u'lláh says, Himself, to promote unity and harmony in the world, and not dissension and alienation.

"It would be a wonderful opportunity if this marriage could bring the father and son, alienated from each other, together, at least in a moment of friendly and filial contact. In order to live up to the Bahá'í laws for the new age we are entering upon, we have to make sacrifices. If the Bahá'ís themselves will not sacrifice for their Faith, who will? It may often be difficult, but the results will be seen in a more rapid spread of the Cause and a greater unity amongst the Community itself."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1953)


1250. Summary of Requirements for Adopted Children in Respect to Consent

"Regarding the matter of adopted children, the consent of all natural parents must be obtained wherever this is legally possible but no effort should be made to trace the natural parents if this contravenes the provision of the adoption certificate or the laws of the country. If there is no such legal bar to approaching the natural parents and if it is legally established that the man in question is the father, the child must obtain his consent if he is alive. If the presumed father has disappeared to the



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degree that he can be presumed legally dead then his consent is not required. Furthermore, if the assumed natural father denies that he is the father of the child the following principles apply: if his name appears on the birth certificate of the child and if the law of the country presumes that the name on the birth certificate is that of the father, then he should be considered as the father for the purpose of obtaining consent. If the name of the father given on the birth certificate is not a conclusive presumption of parenthood and if the man in question has always denied that he is the father of the child, the child is not required to seek the consent of this man unless it has been legally established that he is the father notwithstanding his denial."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 24, 1965)


1251. Adopted Children and the Special Significance of Their Relationship with the Natural Parents

"We acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 13, 1973 expressing concern that the provision of the Bahá'í marriage law requiring consent of living natural parents creates a double standard in your family because you have adopted children as well as your own.

"We appreciate your concern and are in sympathy with your worthy aspiration to attain unity in your family group. However, the unity of your family need not be imperilled because your adopted children when ready for marriage must obtain consent of their natural parents. Just as love for one person need not reduce the love one bears to another, so unity with the adoptive parents need not destroy nor reduce the unity a child may have with its natural parents, or vice versa. The characters and attitudes of the individuals concerned will have an effect upon this.

"You also state that unless there is a broader concept of the meaning of 'natural parent', you feel the law creates disharmony. Perhaps the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary was quoted to you by your National Spiritual Assembly, but we draw your attention to that portion we have underlined because it refers to the special significance of the relationship between children and their natural parents.

'Bahá'u'lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage.... This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator.'

"In short, love for the foster parents and unity with their home should not exclude love for a child's natural parents, although it is likely a child will become very much more a part of the home in which he lives and grows up.

"Of course, wherever the law of the land or the Agreement of Adoption prohibits future contact between an adopted child and its natural parents, the Bahá'í law does not require the child to seek the consent of those parents to its marriage. However, children may very well wish to obtain the consent of their foster parents although not obliged to do so."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 11, 1973)


1252. Uniform Adoption Law

"We have your letter of 23 July informing us of the Uniform Adoption Law



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which makes it the practice to withhold the names of natural parents from the adoptive parents and the child, and asking for advice as to what is required under the laws of Bahá'í marriage regarding consent of the natural parents.

"In cases where the Uniform Adoption Law prevents the disclosure of the names of the natural parents, the child is under no obligation to seek their consent to marriage, but in those cases where it is possible for the child to know his natural parents, consent must be obtained provided there is nothing in the law or in the adoption contract which prevents him from doing so."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, August 7, 1966: Bahá'í Bulletin of Australia; No. 145, September 1966, p. 2)


1253. Duty of Assembly to Ascertain if Consent is Freely Given. It is Desirable to Have Signed Consent, is Not Requirement Under Law

"In the Bahá'í Faith it is the right of each individual to choose without duress his future partner in marriage and the freedom of the parents in exercising their right to give or refuse consent is unconditional. While it is desirable to have a signed consent from each parent it is not a requirement under Bahá'í Law. The responsible Spiritual Assembly must satisfy itself that consents are freely given but it should not insist upon a signed document. Reliable evidence of oral consents is quite sufficient; some parents freely give their consents orally while refusing to write their consents."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guyana, April 11, 1978)


1254. If Parents Do Not Name Future Spouse in Letter of Consent

"Basically, Bahá'í Law pertaining to marriage requires that the parties intending to marry must obtain consent of all living natural parents. Further, the responsibility of the parents in giving their consent is unrestricted and unconditioned, but in discharging this duty they are responsible for their decision to God. Should the parents in their letter of consent, as you indicated, not name a specific future spouse, the House of Justice states that it could be accepted and it would be permissible to perform a Bahá'í marriage ceremony on the basis of such a letter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 9, 1975)

2. Bahá'í Engagement


1255. First You Must Select One

"As for the question regarding marriage under the Law of God: First thou must choose one who is pleasing to thee, and then the matter is subject to the consent of father and mother. Before thou makest thy choice, they have no right to interfere."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 118)


1256. Period of Engagement and Announcement of Engagement

"The Laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas regarding the period of engagement have not been made applicable to believers in the West, and therefore there is no requirement that the parties to a marriage obtain consent of the parents before announcing their engagement. However, there is no objection to informing the believers that it would



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be wise for them to do so in order to avoid later embarrassment if consents are withheld."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, January 17, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, February 1971, No. 198)


1257. If Both Parties Are Persian Engagement Should Not Exceed 95 Days

"...the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that according to its ruling, the law of the Kitab-i-Aqdas that the lapse of time between engagement and marriage should not exceed ninety-five days, is binding on Persian believers wherever they reside, if both parties are Persian. This law is not applicable, however, if one of the parties is a western believer.

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 31, 1977)


1258. The Ninety-Five Days Should Commence When the Two Parties Have Been Betrothed

"In principle, according to the decisive text of Abdu'l-Bahá, the period of ninety-five days should commence only when the two parties have been betrothed, and the marriage is agreed. Therefore, the breaking of an engagement, although possible, should rarely occur. The Assemblies should, when the reason for breaking or extending the fixed period of engagement is valid, render every assistance to the parties involved to remove their difficulties and facilitate their observance of the ordinance of the Book.

"However, if the revoking, extending, or renewing of engagement in the judgement of the Assembly is an intentional disregard of the law of the Book, then the National Spiritual Assembly should, in each case, carefully consult and carry out whatever action they may decide..."

(Translated from a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 29, 1971)


1259. The Breaking of an Engagement Does Not Violate Bahá'í Law

"...the breaking of an engagement, though not always desirable, does not violate Bahá'í marriage law."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 11, 1969)


1260. It is Unlawful to Announce a Marriage Earlier Than 95 Days Before Wedding

"...it is unlawful to announce a marriage earlier than ninety-five days before the wedding."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q 43, p. 120)


1261. It is Unlawful to Become Engaged to a Girl Before She Attains Maturity+F1

"It is unlawful to become engaged to a girl before she reaches the age of maturity."

(Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 150)


___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 516)



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3. Bahá'í Marriage


1262. The Bahá'í Teachings Raise Marriage to the Status of a Divine Institution; However, There is a Small Section of Humanity Who Should Not Marry...

"The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race--which is the very flower of the entire creation--and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.

"That there should be, however, certain individuals who by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.

"The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Bahá'í Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation.

"This is what the Guardian would advise you to do, and he will pray that you may be guided in reaching the right decision in this assuredly delicate and indeed most vital matter confronting you at present. Whether your illness is the result of any inherent constitutional weakness and inherited predisposition is a question which you should refer to experts in the medical field, though even expert physicians themselves may in very few cases find it exceedingly hard, if not altogether impossible, to give a final and decisive answer."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939)


1263. The Institution of Marriage as Conceived and Established by Bahá'u'lláh Constitutes the Foundation of Social Life

"It must be first clearly emphasized that the institution of marriage as conceived and established by Bahá'u'lláh is extremely simple though of a vital social importance, constituting as it does the very foundation of social life. Compared to matrimonial conceptions and forms current amongst existing religions, the Bahá'í conception of marriage is practically void of all ceremonies. There is no officiating priesthood. The two contracting parties simply appear before the Spiritual Assembly and express their desire to be united with the bonds of marriage. There is a short formula which they have to pronounce before the members, and a marriage certificate which they both have to sign. In the Cause we do not have what is commonly called the 'Aqid'. The appearance of the two parties before the Assembly has only an administrative importance. It carries with it no spiritual or sacramental obligation of significance. I mean only the mere act of appearing before the Assembly, not marriage itself, which is of course essentially a spiritual and moral act of union."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 6, 1935)



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1264. The Physical Aspect of Marital Union is Subordinate to the Moral and Spiritual Purposes and Functions

"The Institution of marriage as established by Bahá'u'lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union, considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual, can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939: Family Life, pp. 18-19)


1265. Marriage Between Two Bahá'ís Can Be a Potent Force in the Lives of Others

"He hastens to wish you both every happiness in your forthcoming marriage, and he hopes that it will not only be a blessing to you both, but to the Faith as well.

"A marriage between two souls, alive to the Message of God in this day, dedicated to the service of His Cause, working for the good of humanity, can be a potent force in the lives of others and an example and inspiration to other Bahá'ís, as well as to non-believers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 4, 1943)


1266. Bahá'í Union Must Be a True Relationship that Will Endure

"When, therefore, the people of Baha undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God."

(Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 117)


1267. Moral Duty to Marry But Marriage is Not an Obligation

"...Of course, under normal circumstances, every person should consider it his moral duty to marry. And this is what Bahá'u'lláh has encouraged the believers to do. But marriage is by no means an obligation. In the last resort it is for the individual to decide whether he wishes to lead a family life or live in a state of celibacy."

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 3, 1936; cited by the Universal House of Justice in a letter to an individual believer, February 6, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 109-110)


1268. Bahá'u'lláh Has Urged Marriage as the Natural and Rightful Way of Life

"He realizes your desire to get married is quite a natural one, and he will pray that God will assist you to find a suitable companion with whom you can be truly happy and united in the service of the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh has urged marriage upon all people as the natural and rightful way of life. He has also, however, placed strong



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emphasis on its spiritual nature, which, while in no way precluding a normal physical life, is the most essential aspect of marriage. That two people should live their lives in love and harmony is of far greater importance than that they should be consumed with passion for each other. The one is a great rock of strength on which to lean in time of need; the other a purely temporary thing which may at any time die out."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to Mr. John Stearns, January 20, 1943--the first pioneer to Ecuador)


1269. The Bahá'í Faith Does Not Contemplate Any Form of "Trial Marriage"

"Concerning the three definitions of 'companionate marriage' which you give in your letter: the first, which is defined as living together without being married, on either a trial or immoral basis, is obviously unacceptable in Bahá'í teachings and is, moreover, an offence which, if persisted in, could call for deprivation of voting rights. The second and third, namely (2) a marriage where the couple agree ahead of time that they will not have children, ever, and (3) a marriage in which the couple would not have children until they are sure that they wish to stay married, divorce by mutual consent being envisaged before children are born, are private situations which would be undetectable by anyone who has not been confided in by either the husband or the wife. Thus, unlike the first type of 'companionate marriage' they do not constitute blatant immorality and no question of the removal of voting rights would arise. Nevertheless they are also both contrary to the spirit of Bahá'í law. The Bahá'í Teachings do not contemplate any form of 'trial marriage'. A couple should study each other's character and spend time getting to know each other before they decide to marry, and when they do marry it should be with the intention of establishing an eternal bond. They should realize, moreover, that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children. A couple who are physically incapable of having children may, of course, marry, since the procreation of children is not the only purpose of marriage. However, it would be contrary to the spirit of the Teachings for a couple to decide voluntarily never to have any children."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 3, 1982)


1270. Regarding Couples Living Together Without Being Married

"When considering cases of couples who are living together without being married it is important to distinguish those who started this association after becoming Bahá'ís from those who were in this condition already at the time of accepting the Faith. The House of Justice is sure that your Assembly is aware that it is not permissible for Bahá'ís to enter into such an immoral relationship and that any believers who do so must be counselled by the Assembly and warned to correct their conduct, either by separating or by having a Bahá'í marriage ceremony in accordance with the provisions of Bahá'í law. If, after repeated warnings, the believers concerned do not conform to Bahá'í law, the Assembly has no choice but to deprive them of their voting rights.

"The situation of those who were living in such a relationship when they accepted the Faith is less clear-cut, and the House of Justice has instructed us to send your Assembly the following summary of the applicable principles which was prepared



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in response to a similar question by another National Spiritual Assembly.

1. In general, marriages entered into by parties prior to their enrolment in the Faith are recognized as valid under Bahá'í law, and in such cases an additional Bahá'í marriage ceremony is not permitted. This applies whether the marriage was established under civil or religious law or under tribal custom.

2. A couple living together merely as man and mistress when either or both become Bahá'í are not married in the eyes of Bahá'í law, and must either have a Bahá'í marriage in accordance with the provisions of Bahá'í law, or cease living together. In other words, the Assembly must deal with the situation as it would in any other case of immoral behaviour, explaining the requirements of the law, giving repeated warnings, and ultimately, if the offender does not comply, he must forfeit his voting rights.

3. Because of unusual conditions in certain countries and certain cases it sometimes happens that a person will become a Bahá'í when he or she is living in a situation which does not clearly fit within either of the above definitions. Such a case occurs, for example, where a couple have established firm ties of union and are living together in such a way that they appear to be married and are accepted as such by those around them; the union has stood the test of time and there may even be children, and yet, in fact, the couple are not actually married in any of the ways defined above. The principle followed here is that we do not pry into people's lives and insist on their undoing those ties they have established before becoming believers, but the union is accepted as a marriage in the eyes of Bahá'í law. The Guardian upheld this principle in situations which arise in some Catholic countries where, because of the relationship between church and state divorce is impossible, and one or both of the parties may still be legally married to someone else. Where it is possible for such a couple to regularize their position in civil law by having a civil marriage ceremony, they may certainly do so, but it is neither necessary nor permissible for them to have a Bahá'í marriage ceremony, since, in the eyes of Bahá'í law, they are already united in marriage."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, September 7, 1981)


1271. The Basic Difference Between the Two Categories of Relationships

"The basic difference between the two categories of relationships is that common law marriage is considered by the parties concerned as a solemn contract with the sole intention of establishing a family but which, because of legal complications, cannot be duly registered, whereas in companionate marriage and the like the parties concerned initiate and maintain their relationship either on a trial basis or on other immoral grounds, both of which are condemned in our Teachings.

"We feel that by applying these principles in each of the cases you cite in your letter, with wisdom, kindness and love you will be able gradually to educate the friends in the fundamentals of our Teachings and enable them to overcome their moral difficulties."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, November 21, 1967)


1272. Faith Accepts in Certain Cases Unions which Are "Immoral But Accepted" by Society in which the People Live

"As you will see, the Bahá'í Faith accepts as man and wife couples who, prior to



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becoming Bahá'ís, have had a valid marriage ceremony, whether this be civil, religious or by tribal custom, even if this has resulted in a polygamous union. Furthermore, the Faith accepts in certain cases unions which are 'immoral but accepted' by the society in which the people live. In all these cases, because the union is accepted by the Faith, there is no question of a couple's having a Bahá'í wedding ceremony subsequently because, as the Guardian says, 'Bahá'í marriage is something you perform when you are going to be united for the first time, not long after the union takes place'. If, however, such a couple would like to have a meeting of their friends at which Bahá'í prayers and readings are said on behalf of their marriage now that they are Bahá'ís, there is no objection to their doing so, although it must be understood that this does not constitute a Bahá'í marriage ceremony."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, June 23, 1969)


1273. Legalizing Existing Situation Does Not Require Bahá'í Marriage

"The matter of regularising a situation in civil law is quite separate and largely depends upon the requirements of the law. If a couple whose union is recognized by the Faith but is not valid in civil law wish to have a civil marriage, they may most certainly do so. This is purely a rectification of the civil position and does not require the holding of a Bahá'í marriage ceremony."

(Ibid.)


1274. Difference Between Companionate Marriage and Common Law Marriage

"We have reviewed your letter of October 25 asking questions concerning the application of Bahá'í marriage laws in your community.

"The problem you describe in your letter is more or less common to the other territories in Latin America, and during the lifetime of the Guardian similar problems were presented to him by National Assemblies operating at the time in Latin America. The replies given by the Guardian indicate that distinction should be made between companionate marriage and flagrant immorality on the one hand, and common law marriage contracted because of the present relationship of law and the church in those areas on the other. Whilst the first type of relationship is immoral and therefore cannot be tolerated, the second type of relationship, if contracted before a person has become a Bahá'í, may be accepted by the institutions of the Faith without requiring the person to undo such ties."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, November 21, 1967)


1275. Companionate Marriage and Flagrantly Immoral Relationships

"Regarding companionate marriage and flagrant immorality, we quote below two passages from letters written on behalf of the Guardian:

'The Guardian has instructed me to say that companionate marriage, where there is no legal or religious marriage, is an immoral relationship and we cannot accept as believers those who are openly behaving in this way.' (To the NSA of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, dated September 26, 1957)

'As regards flagrantly immoral relationships, such as a man living with a



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mistress, this should be brought to his attention in a loving manner, and he should be urged to either marry the woman if he is free to do so, or to give up this conduct, so detrimental to the Faith and to his own spiritual progress.'" (To the NSA of Central America, dated February 9, 1957)

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, November 21, 1967)


1276. Violation of Marriage Law, Ascertain if Bahá'í Informed of Requirements

"...For the present, your Assembly should follow the guidance already given by the beloved Guardian, keeping in mind that suspension of voting rights is not an automatic procedure.

"In all marriage cases, including those you list, your Assembly must first ascertain if the Bahá'í in question was informed of the requirements for Bahá'í marriage, and of his own responsibilities in connection therewith. In cases involving disregard of Bahá'í laws other than that of marriage, you should be slow to impose this severe sanction."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, April 14, 1965)


1277. Incorrect Information Given by Assembly

"Similarly, you should take into account a believer's good intention if he acted in accordance with incorrect advice or instruction given to him by his Local Spiritual Assembly or another Bahá'í institution."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 11, 1965)


1278. Bahá'ís Ignorant of Law in a Different Category Altogether

"At the present stage in the development of the Bahá'í Community, Bahá'ís who failed to have a Bahá'í marriage through ignorance of the law are in a different category altogether from those who wittingly broke the law. The latter must have a Bahá'í ceremony in order to regain their voting rights; but the former should be treated in the same manner as those Bahá'ís who married before they entered the Faith and those Bahá'ís who married without a Bahá'í ceremony before the law was applied: they should be considered married and not be required to have a Bahá'í ceremony."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 20, 1966)


1279. Be Patient and Forbearing in Application of Laws to Indigenous People: Must Not Pry into People's Personal Lives

"There are, however, as you will see from the 21 November letter to Paraguay, situations which are not accepted by the Bahá'í Faith, and when people who are living in such immoral situations become Bahá'ís they must rectify their condition or be subject to loss of their voting rights. We wish to emphasize, however, that although all immorality is condemned in the Teachings, it is only flagrant immorality that is now sanctionable. You should not pry into people's affairs, and only in cases of flagrant immorality should you consider imposing sanctions, and then only after you have patiently explained to the believers concerned the Bahá'í laws involved and given them ample time to comply. Particularly in the application



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of these laws to indigenous people should you be patient and forbearing. The emphasis should be on education rather than on rigid enforcement of the law immediately.

"When someone who is already a Bahá'í knowingly violates Bahá'í marriage law he is subject to loss of his voting rights. Apart from the cases mentioned in paragraph four above, believers wishing to be married must have a Bahá'í ceremony, and this is true even if only one of the parties is a Bahá'í...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, June 23, 1969)


1280. Bigamy Not Permitted

"The situation facing you is admittedly difficult and delicate, but no less grave and indeed vital are the responsibilities which it entails and which, as a faithful and loyal believer, you should conscientiously and thoroughly assume. The Guardian, therefore, while fully alive to the special circumstances of your case, and however profound his sympathy may be for you in this challenging issue with which you are so sadly faced, cannot, in view of the emphatic injunctions contained in the Teachings, either sanction your demand to contract a second marriage while your first wife is still alive and is united with you in the sacred bonds of matrimony, or even suggest or approve that you divorce her just in order to be permitted to marry a new one.

"For the Bahá'í Teachings do not only preclude the possibility of bigamy, but also, while permitting divorce, consider it a reprehensible act, which should be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, and when grave issues are involved, transcending such ... considerations as physical attraction or sexual compatibility and harmony. The Institution of marriage, as established by Bahá'u'lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union, considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual, can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer who, having married his first wife out of compassion, now wished permission to marry a woman with whom he had fallen in love, saying that his wife was agreeable to his taking this second wife, May 8, 1939: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, pp. 4-5)


1281. Summary of Bahá'í Requirements Concerning Marriages with Followers of Other Religions

"In your letter of 1st July 1979 you requested the Universal House of Justice to provide you with a statement on the Bahá'í requirements concerning marriages with followers of other Faiths. The House of Justice has instructed us to send you the following summary.

1. When a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Bahá'í, and the non-Bahá'í wishes to have the ceremony of his (or her) own religion, the Bahá'í party may take part in it under the following conditions:



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1.1 That all concerned, including the officiating priest, know that he is a Bahá'í.

1.2 That he does not, by having the ceremony, renounce his faith.

1.3 That he does not undertake any vow to act contrary to Bahá'í principles (such as to bring up the children in another Faith).

1.4 That the ceremony be held on the same day as the Bahá'í ceremony, either before or after it.

2. If a civil ceremony is required by law in addition to the two religious ceremonies, all three ceremonies must be held on the same day.

3. If a Bahá'í has the marriage ceremony of another religion and, in so doing, violates any of the above requirements, he is liable to loss of his voting rights.

4. If voting rights are removed and the offender requests reinstatement, they may be restored if the Assembly is satisfied that the believer is repentant, subject to the following conditions:

4.1 If the Bahá'í dissimulated his faith or undertook a vow contrary to Bahá'í principles in order to have the ceremony of another religion, and if the holding of the ceremony was dependent upon such an act, he must dissolve the marriage. His voting rights may then be restored, but, if he still wishes to be married to the same woman, he can be so only if they marry in accordance with the requirements of Bahá'í law.

4.2 If the Bahá'í dissimulated his faith or undertook a vow contrary to Bahá'í principles, and the holding of the marriage ceremony of the other faith was not dependent upon such an act, it is not necessary to dissolve the marriage, but the Bahá'í must do whatever is necessary to officially inform the appropriate authorities that he was a Bahá'í at the time of his marriage, and to withdraw the vow. Following the taking of these steps the Bahá'í's voting rights may be restored on condition that a Bahá'í marriage ceremony be held immediately after their restoration.

4.3 If the Bahá'í neither dissimulated his faith nor undertook any vow contrary to Bahá'í principles, and his only offence was failure to have the Bahá'í ceremony on the same day as the ceremony of the other religion (or the civil ceremony), his voting rights may be restored on condition that a Bahá'í marriage ceremony be held immediately after their restoration.

5. The holding of a Bahá'í marriage ceremony, which would permit the restoration of voting rights is subject to the same requirements as any other Bahá'í marriage, and if a Bahá'í has had a civil ceremony of another religion without a Bahá'í ceremony and without obtaining consent of parents, the Assembly, before granting the Bahá'í ceremony, must be satisfied that the consent of the parents is freely given.

6. If a Bahá'í has a civil marriage or the marriage of another religion, and the Assembly is satisfied that this was because he (or she) was genuinely ignorant of Bahá'í law on the subject, the Assembly may excuse the fault. In such a case the person is recognized as married in the same way as if he had been married before accepting the Faith. It is thus neither necessary nor possible for him to have a Bahá'í ceremony."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Greece, July 15, 1980)



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1282. Mixed Marriages (i.e., Bahá'í and Non-Bahá'í)

"With reference to your question regarding mixed marriages, that is to say between Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís, in all such cases the believer must insist that the Bahá'í ceremony should, as far as he is concerned, be performed in its entirety, but should also give full freedom to the other contracting party to carry out the non-Bahá'í rite or ceremony be it Muslim, Christian or otherwise, provided the latter does not invalidate the Bahá'í marriage act. This is the general principle which your N.S.A. should explain to the friends."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iraq, April 16, 1936)


1283. Roman Catholic Marriage Requirements with Non-Catholics

"We wish to advise you also of a recent instruction by Pope Paul VI, which liberalizes the Roman Catholic attitude to marriage with non-Catholics. It is now permissible for Catholics to enter into 'mixed marriages' and the requirement to bring up children in the Roman Catholic religion need not be enforced. The National Assembly of Italy reports a recent marriage between a Bahá'í and a Catholic in which the officiating priest for the Catholic ceremony required no written undertaking but declared that the couple should promise to bring up their children religiously. Of course, this liberalism on the part of the Roman Catholic Church in no way affects the Bahá'í laws of marriage, including the obligation to make clear to all concerned that one is a Bahá'í and to abstain from undertaking a vow contrary to the principles of the Faith. You may find, in the case of a Bahá'í marrying a Catholic, less difficulty than formerly if a Catholic priest of the newer liberal persuasion can be found."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, January 9, 1967)


1284. In Reality No Individual Performs the Marriage Ceremony and if for Any Reason Non-Bahá'í Refuses to Recite Verse, Bahá'í Cannot Marry that Person

"When a Bahá'í marriage ceremony takes place, there is no individual, strictly speaking, who 'performs' it--no Bahá'í equivalent to a minister of the Church. The couple themselves perform the ceremony by each saying, in the presence of at least two witnesses, the prescribed verse 'We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' This ceremony is performed under the authority of a Spiritual Assembly which has the responsibility for ensuring that the various requirements of Bahá'í law, such as obtaining the consent of the parents, are met, to whom the witnesses must be acceptable, and which issues the marriage certificate.

"The sincerity with which the sacred verse is spoken is a matter for the consciences of those who utter it. According to the explicit text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, both the bride and groom must, in the presence of witnesses, recite the prescribed verse; this is an essential requirement of the marriage ceremony. Thus if a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Bahá'í and this person for any reason refuses to utter this verse, then the Bahá'í cannot marry that person."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Norway, May 23, 1985)


1285. Marriage of Bahá'í to Atheist

"The laws conditioning Bahá'í marriage are found in the 'Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas' under C., Laws of Personal Status, beginning on



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Page 39 of that publication. No Bahá'í marriage can be valid without the recitation of the prescribed verse by both parties."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in answer to a letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador regarding an atheist who agreed to the Bahá'í ceremony but since he did not believe in God did not wish to repeat the marriage verse using the name of God. Letter dated December 19, 1974)


1286. Marriage by Proxy

"In reply to your letter of October 19th asking whether a young believer in your jurisdiction may be married by proxy; we do not approve of the proposed proxy marriage."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 26, 1967)


1287. Hindu Ceremony is Possible for Bahá'í, Provided...

"As regards marriage between a Bahá'í and a Hindu, having a Hindu ceremony is possible only if the people concerned, including the officiating priest, are aware that the Bahá'í remains a Bahá'í although taking part in the Hindu marriage ceremony in deference to his or her Hindu partner."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, May 4, 1970: 19-Day Feast Circular of India, February 2, 1971, p. 7)


1288. Inter-Racial Marriage

"In regard to your question concerning the nature and character of Bahá'í marriage. As you have rightfully stated, such a marriage is conditioned upon the full approval of all four parents. Also your statement to the effect that the principle of the oneness of mankind prevents any true Bahá'í from regarding race itself as a bar to union is in complete accord with the Teachings of the Faith on this point. For both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá never disapproved of the idea of inter-racial marriage, nor discouraged it. The Bahá'í Teachings, indeed, by their very nature transcend all limitations imposed by race, and as such can and should never be identified with any particular school of racial philosophy."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 27, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 90, p. 1, March 1935)


1289. Marriage Between Relatives

"The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to acknowledge your letter of 15 December 1980 in which you ask what prohibitions, in addition to the one on marrying one's step-mother, there may be restricting marriage between relatives, and to say that the House of Justice has not as yet seen fit to make regulations on the subject of marriage with one's kindred. For the present, therefore, decisions are left to the consciences of the individual Bahá'ís who must, of course, obey the civil law. Consideration must also be given to the prevailing customs and traditions in each country so that any action in this respect will not reflect upon the Faith in an adverse way."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 15, 1981)


1290. Marriage Ceremony for Two Non-Bahá'ís

"There is no objection to performing a Bahá'í marriage for two non-Bahá'ís, if they



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desire to have our simple ceremony. This, on the contrary, is yet another way of demonstrating our liberality."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 25, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 202, December 1947, p. 2)


1291. The "So-Called" Marriage Tablet

"With regard to your question concerning the so-called Marriage Tablet printed on page 47 of the supplement of the British Prayer Book, this is not a Tablet, but a talk ascribed to the Master by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab. It was given some time in December, 1918 about Sohrab's marriage. It cannot be regarded as Bahá'í scripture as 'nothing can be considered as scripture for which we do not have an original text,' as the beloved Guardian pointed out. The friends may use this talk, but it is not to be considered as scripture."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, January 18, 1971: Bahá'í Journal of the United Kingdom, No. 218, August 1973, p. 2)


1292. Wedding Plans Should Be Left Entirely in the Hands of the Bride and Groom

"An Assembly has the overriding duty to protect the good name of the Faith in relation to any activity of the friends, but it should always exercise great care not to restrict the individual's freedom of action unnecessarily. Normally the size of the wedding celebration, the place in which it is to be held and who is to be invited are all left entirely to the discretion of the bride and groom and an Assembly should interpose an objection only if it is quite certain that the Cause will really be injured if it does not do so.

"In the case of any Bahá'í wedding, delayed or otherwise, the date on the certificate must be the date the ceremony is performed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 20, 1966)


1293. Believers Should Not Attend Weddings of Bahá'ís Marrying Contrary to Bahá'í Law

"Further to your letter of 5 September 1974, the Universal House of Justice has now had an opportunity to consider your question about believers attending weddings of Bahá'ís who are marrying contrary to Bahá'í law, and we have been asked to convey to you the following.

"If it is known beforehand that a believer is violating such laws, it would be inappropriate for the friends to attend the ceremony. This is out of respect for Bahá'í law. However, if without realizing the situation believers find themselves in attendance at a ceremony in the course of which it is apparent that such a violation is occurring, they should not make an issue of it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, November 11, 1974: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 243, September 1975, p. 4)


1294. The Compulsory Part of a Bahá'í Wedding is the Pledge of Marriage in the Presence of Two Assembly Witnesses

"When the consent of the parents is obtained, the only other requirement for the ceremony is the recitation by both parties in the presence of two witnesses of the



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specifically revealed verse: 'We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' The following quotations from letters written by the Guardian's secretary indicate the desirability of the Bahá'í marriage ceremony being simple:

'There is no ritual, according to the Aqdas, and the Guardian is very anxious that none should be introduced at present and no general form accepted. He believes the ceremony should be as simple as possible....'

'The only compulsory part of a Bahá'í wedding is the pledge of marriage, the phrase to be spoken separately by the Bride and Bridegroom in turn, in the presence of Assembly witnesses.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)


1295. When a Bahá'í Marries a Non-Bahá'í Both Ceremonies Can Be Held in the Place of Worship of Another Religion, if Requested, and Provided that...

"In response to your email of 6 February 1986 we have been instructed by the Universal House of Justice to send you the following clarifications:

--- When two Bahá'ís are marrying, the wedding ceremony should not be held in the place of worship of another religion, nor should the forms of the marriage of other religions be added to the simple Bahá'í ceremony.

--- When a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Bahá'í, and the religious wedding ceremony of the non-Bahá'í partner is to be held in addition to the Bahá'í ceremony, both ceremonies may, if requested, be held in the place of worship of the other religion provided that:

--- Equal respect is accorded to both ceremonies. In other words, the Bahá'í ceremony, which is basically so simple, should not be regarded as a mere formal adjunct to the ceremony of the other religion.

--- The two ceremonies are clearly distinct. In other words, they should not be commingled into one combined ceremony."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 26, 1986)


1296. Witnesses Can Be Any Two Trustworthy People Acceptable to Assembly: Makes Possible for Lone Pioneer to Have Bahá'í Marriage in a Remote Post

"...The only requirement, however, is that the bride and groom, before two witnesses, must state 'We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' These two witnesses may be chosen by the couple or by the Spiritual Assembly, but must in any case be acceptable to the Assembly; they may be its chairman and secretary, or two other members of the Assembly, or two other people, Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, or any combination of these. The Assembly may decide that all marriage certificates it issues are to be signed by the chairman and secretary, but that is a different matter and has nothing to do with the actual ceremony or the witnesses.

"...you state that the two witnesses at the marriage must be Bahá'ís. Although this is the usual practice, it is not essential. The witnesses can be any two trustworthy people whose testimony is acceptable to the Spiritual Assembly under whose jurisdiction the marriage is performed. This fact makes it possible for a lone pioneer in a remote post to have a Bahá'í marriage."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, August 8, 1969)



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1297. Two Essential Obligations Regarding Education of Children

"In all cases of marriage of Bahá'ís to followers of other religions the Bahá'í has two essential obligations as regards the children:

a. He must not educate or assume a vow to educate the children of the marriage in a religion other than his own.

b. He must do whatever he can to provide for the training of the children in the Bahá'í teachings.

"...Bearing in mind the obligation of the Bahá'í parent to offer his child a Bahá'í education, there is no objection to the attendance of the child of a Bahá'í parent, or even a Bahá'í child, at a parochial school if circumstances require."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 10, 1966)


1298. Bahá'í Ceremony Should Be as Simple as Possible, No Rituals

"Regarding the question you raise in your letter about the Bahá'í marriage. As you know there is no ritual, according to the Aqdas, and the Guardian is very anxious that none should be introduced at present and no general forms accepted. He believes this ceremony should be as simple as possible, the parties using the words ordained by Bahá'u'lláh, and excerpts from the writings and prayers being read if desired. There should be no commingling of the old forms with the new and simple one of Bahá'u'lláh, and Bahá'ís should not be married in the Church or any other acknowledged place of worship of the followers of other Faiths...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 13, 1944)


1299. Meaning of Consummation of Marriage

"The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to give the following answer to your letter of 24 June in which you ask questions about the principle that the Bahá'í and other wedding ceremony must take place on the same day.

i. In a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian he pointed out that this requirement is because of a provision in Bahá'í law that marriage must be consummated within twenty-four hours of the ceremony.

ii. Both ceremonies must precede the consummation of the marriage, and both the ceremonies and the consummation must take place within the same 24-hour period. As the House of Justice does not wish to go beyond this at this time we are asked to tell you that it is within the discretion of your Assembly to fix the time at which the 24-hour period is to begin."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, dated 31 July 1979)

"The consummation of marriage by a couple is, as you aptly state, an intimate and private matter outside the scrutiny of others. While consummation normally implies a sexual relationship, the Bahá'í law requiring consummation to take place within twenty-four hours of the ceremony can be considered as fulfilled if the couple has commenced cohabitation with the intention of setting up the family relationship."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 28 July, 1978)



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1300. Consummation of Marriage Must Take Place Within Twenty-Four Hours of Bahá'í Marriage Ceremony

"As to cases involving another ceremony in addition to the Bahá'í one, the friends should bear in mind that according to Bahá'í law the consummation of the marriage must take place within twenty-four hours of the Bahá'í marriage ceremony. If other marriage ceremonies are to be held in addition to the Bahá'í one, all the ceremonies must precede consummation of the marriage and, together with the consummation, fall within one twenty-four hour period. Naturally any requirements of civil law as to the order in which the ceremonies should be held must be observed."

(From the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, February 17, 1976)


1301. Reporting Bahá'í Marriage: Individual Only Acts for Assembly

"...In reporting Bahá'í marriages it is much better to mention that the ceremony was performed by the Assembly, as this is the proper thing to do, and an individual only acts for the Assembly on this occasion. As a funeral is not a legal ceremony more latitude can be allowed, especially as the family of the deceased may want some particular Bahá'í friend to officiate."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Bahá'í News, No. 188, p. 3, October 1946)

K. Divorce


1302. Attitude of Present-Day Society Towards Divorce

"The Universal House of Justice has noted with increasing concern that the undisciplined attitude of present-day society towards divorce is reflected in some parts of the Bahá'í World Community. Our Teachings on this subject are clear and in direct contrast to the loose and casual attitude of the 'permissive society' and it is vital that the Bahá'í Community practise these Teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 18, 1980)


1303. There Are No Grounds for Divorce in the Faith--Divorce Should Only Be Considered if There is a Strong "Aversion" to One's Partner

"Concerning the definition of the term 'aversion' in relation to Bahá'í divorce law, the Universal House of Justice points out that there are no specific 'grounds' for Bahá'í divorce such as there are in some codes of civil law. Bahá'í law permits divorce but, as both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have made very clear, divorce is abhorred. Thus, from the point of view of the individual believer he should do all he can to refrain from divorce. Bahá'ís should be profoundly aware of the sanctity of marriage and should strive to make their marriages an eternal bond of unity and harmony. This requires effort and sacrifice and wisdom and self-abnegation. A Bahá'í should consider the possibility of divorce only if the situation is intolerable and he or she has a strong aversion to being married to the other partner. This is the standard held up to the individual. It is not a law, but an exhortation. It is a goal to which we should strive."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 3, 1982)



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1304. Youth Should Be So Deepened in the Teachings that the Thought of Divorce Will Be Abhorrent to Them

"From the point of view of the Spiritual Assembly, however, the matter is somewhat different. The Spiritual Assembly should always be concerned that the believers in its community are being deepened in their understanding of the Bahá'í concept of marriage, especially the young people, so that the very thought of divorce will be abhorrent to them. When an application for divorce is made to a Spiritual Assembly, its first thought and action should be to reconcile the couple and to ensure that they know the Bahá'í teachings on the matter. God willing, the Assembly will be successful and no year of waiting need be started. However, if the Assembly finds that it is unable to persuade the party concerned to withdraw the application for divorce, it must conclude that, from its point of view, there appears to be an irreconcilable antipathy, and it has no alternative to setting the date for the beginning of the year of waiting. During the year the couple have the responsibility of attempting to reconcile their difference, and the Assembly has the duty to help them and encourage them. But if the year of waiting comes to an end without reconciliation the Bahá'í divorce must be granted as at the date of the granting of the civil divorce if this has not already taken place."

(Ibid.)


1305. The Party Who is the Cause of Divorce Will Become Victim of Formidable Calamities

"It can be seen, therefore, that 'aversion' is not a specific legal term that needs to be defined. Indeed a number of other terms are used in describing the situation that can lead to divorce in Bahá'í law, such as 'antipathy', 'resentment', 'estrangement', 'impossibility of establishing harmony' and 'irreconcilability'. The texts, however, point out that divorce is strongly condemned, and should be viewed as 'a last resort' when 'rare and urgent circumstances' exist, and that the partner who is the 'cause of divorce' will 'unquestionably' become the 'victim of formidable calamities'."

(Ibid.)


1306. The Friends Must Strictly Refrain from Divorce

"Formerly in Persia divorce was very easily obtained. Among the people of the past Dispensation a trifling matter would cause divorce. However, as the light of the Kingdom shone forth, souls were quickened by the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh, then they totally eschewed divorce. In Persia now divorce doth not take place among the friends, unless a compelling reason existeth which maketh harmony impossible. Under such rare circumstances some cases of divorce take place.

"Now the friends in America must live and conduct themselves in this way. They must strictly refrain from divorce unless something ariseth which compelleth them to separate because of their aversion for each other, in that case with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly they may decide to separate. They must then be patient and wait one complete year. If during this year harmony is not re-established between them, then their divorce may be realized. It should not happen that upon the occurrence of a slight friction of displeasure between husband and wife, the husband would think of union with some other woman or, God forbid, the wife also think of another husband. This is contrary to the standard of heavenly value and true chastity. The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves, and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love



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between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!

"In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife. If one of these two become the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce: A Compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, January 1980)


1307. Divorce is Conditional Upon the Approval and Permission of the Spiritual Assembly

"Regarding divorce, the Guardian stated that it is discouraged, deprecated and against the good pleasure of God. The Assembly must circulate among the friends whatever has been revealed from the Pen of Abdu'l-Bahá in this connection so that all may be fully reminded. Divorce is conditional upon the approval and permission of the Spiritual Assembly. The members of the Assembly must in such matters independently and carefully study and investigate each case. If there should be valid grounds for divorce and it is found that reconciliation is utterly impossible, that antipathy is intense and its removal is not possible, then the Assembly may approve the divorce."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, July 7, 1938--translated from the Persian: Ibid., p. 3)


1308. Should Think of Future of Children

"He was very sorry to hear that you and your husband are still so unhappy together. It is always a source of sorrow in life when married people cannot get on well together, but the Guardian feels that you and your husband, in contemplating divorce, should think of the future of your children and how this major step on your part will influence their lives and happiness.

"If you feel the need of advice and consultation he suggests you consult your Local Assembly; your fellow Bahá'ís will surely do all they can to counsel and help you, protect your interests and those of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 16, 1945: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, p. 4)


1309. Divorce Concerns Children's Entire Future and Their Attitude Towards Marriage

"There is no doubt about it that the believers in America, probably unconsciously influenced by the extremely lax morals prevalent and the flippant attitude towards divorce which seems to be increasingly prevailing, do not take divorce seriously enough and do not seem to grasp the fact that although Bahá'u'lláh has permitted it, He has only permitted it as a last resort and strongly condemns it.

"The presence of children, as a factor in divorce, cannot be ignored, for surely it places an even greater weight of moral responsibility on the man and wife in considering such a step. Divorce under such circumstances no longer just concerns them and their desires and feelings but also concerns the children's entire future and



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their own attitude towards marriage."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 19, 1947: Ibid., p. 5)


1310. One May Discover He Has Not Purchased Either Freedom or Happiness

"He was very sorry to hear that you are contemplating separation from your husband. As you no doubt know, Bahá'u'lláh considers the marriage bond very sacred; and only under very exceptional and unbearable circumstances is divorce advisable for Bahá'ís.

"The Guardian does not tell you that you must not divorce your husband; but he does urge you to consider prayerfully, not only because you are a believer and anxious to obey the laws of God, but also for the sake of the happiness of your children, whether it is not possible for you to rise above the limitations you have felt in your marriage hitherto, and make a go of it together.

"We often feel that our happiness lies in a certain direction; and yet, if we have to pay too heavy a price for it in the end we may discover that we have not really purchased either freedom or happiness, but just some new situation of frustration and disillusion."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 5, 1951: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, pp. 5-6)


1311. Cannot Use the Cause or Service to It as Reason for Divorce

"Shoghi Effendi wishes me to add this note in connection with your marriage; he does not feel that any believer, under any circumstances whatsoever, can ever use the Cause or service to it as a reason for abandoning their marriage; divorce, as we know, is very strongly condemned by Bahá'u'lláh, and only grounds of extreme gravity justify it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 7, 1947: Ibid., p. 4)


1312. Every Effort Should Be Made to Salvage Marriage--In Case of Pioneers, It is Even More Important

"He has been very sorry to hear that your marriage seems to have failed utterly. I need not tell you as a Bahá'í that every effort should be made by any Bahá'í to salvage their marriage for the sake of God, rather than for their own sake. In the case of pioneers, it is even more important, because they are before the public eye. However, in such matters it is neither befitting nor right that the Guardian should bring pressure on individuals. He can only appeal to you and ... to try again; but if you cannot rise to this test, that is naturally a personal matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 13, 1956: Ibid., p. 6)


1313. Bahá'í Family Should Be Preserved

"Wherever there is a Bahá'í family, those concerned should by all means do all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the Teachings, whereas harmony, unity and love are held up as the highest ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Bahá'ís, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America, November 9, 1956: Ibid., p. 6)



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1314. One Year of Waiting Whether Bahá'í When Married or Not

"As regards Bahá'í divorce as mentioned in your letter of June 12th: Bahá'ís (whether one party or both are believers) should follow the Bahá'í law of divorce, i.e., one year of waiting, and not neglect this divinely given law. Whether they were Bahá'ís when married or not has nothing to do with it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 12, 1952)


1315. If Divorce is Illegal Within a Country, Bahá'ís Are Bound by Law of the Country

"In answer to the question raised in your letter of June 5 as regards divorce: The Guardian says that if within a country divorce, because of affiliation of church and State in this matter, is considered illegal, the Bahá'ís must be bound by this law. At the present time they must under no circumstances raise such matters with any Government in question. This means that it is not right for a believer to get a divorce outside of, say Colombia, and then remarry outside and return there, where his divorce would be illegal."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, July 11, 1951)


1316. If One Party is Mentally Ill

"We have reviewed your letter of January 21, 1964 requesting instructions as to how to handle Bahá'í divorce when one of the parties is mentally ill.

"Far from being required to live together during the year of patience, the parties are in fact prohibited from doing so.

"The Bahá'í divorce must be handled either by the Local Assembly or by the National Assembly, but either may handle it at the discretion of your Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, February 23, 1964)


1317. Bahá'ís Who Intend to Divorce Must Consult with Local or National Assembly

"However, it is necessary that Bahá'ís who intend to divorce be aware that they must consult with their Local or National Assembly, that basically a year of waiting must ensue before divorce can be effected, and that the Assembly has certain responsibilities toward the couple concerned about which they will be informed through consultation with the Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 16, 1967)


1318. The Believers Should Know that Although Divorce is Permitted in Bahá'í Law, It is Condemned

"It is, of course, important for the friends to realise that although divorce is permitted in Bahá'í law, it is nevertheless condemned, and great efforts should be made to avoid it. It is always the hope that, during the year of patience, affection between the couple will recur and that divorce will not be necessary. Therefore, although normal social relationships between each of the partners and



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members of both sexes is permissible, it is quite contrary to the spirit of the teachings for either party to be courting a new partner during the year of waiting. This should be made clear to the couple and they should be exhorted to conduct themselves as Bahá'ís. However, this is not an area in which the Assembly should resort to sanctions if either or both of the pair disregard this principle. Naturally, if one of the parties conducts himself or herself in a way that is blatantly or flagrantly immoral the matter should be handled as any other similar case would be, but from your cables we understand that this is not the situation in the case at present before you."

(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 15, 1973)


1319. The Assembly Should Determine that Irreconcilable Antipathy Exists Before Setting the Date of the Beginning of the Year of Waiting

"Regarding the case of the married couple who have separated and wish to set the date of the beginning of the year of waiting retroactively, we are directed to say that the conclusions expressed in the fourth paragraph of your letter are correct; that is, that the Local Assembly should determine, before setting the date of the beginning of the year of waiting, that irreconcilable antipathy exists. While a Local or National Assembly may request the advice of the Continental Board of Counsellors and their Board members, and should be grateful for their assistance, it is the Assembly's responsibility to conduct its own investigation and come to a decision. Assemblies are, of course, discouraged from probing unnecessarily into details of personal lives and the examination of a divorce problem should not go beyond what is necessary to ascertain whether or not such antipathy does, indeed, exist.

"When a Spiritual Assembly receives an application for Bahá'í divorce its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. If this is not possible, and the couple separates, further efforts at reconciliation should be made during the ensuing year.

"While there are circumstances in which the date of waiting may be fixed retroactively, the situation you describe of the husband leaving for the purpose of finding work cannot be accepted as one of them."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 30, 1983)


1320. Procedure for an Assembly When Application for Divorce is Received

"The procedure, briefly, is that when a Spiritual Assembly receives an application for divorce its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. When it determines that this is not possible, it should then set the date of the beginning of the year of waiting. That could be the date on which the Assembly reaches the decision, unless the couple are still living together, in which case it must be postponed until they separate. If the couple had already separated some time before, the Assembly may back-date the beginning of the year; however, the earliest date on which it can be set is the date on which the couple last separated with the intention of obtaining a divorce."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, September 11, 1986)


1321. The Setting of the Date of the Beginning of the Year of Patience is Not Automatic

"...The setting of the date of the beginning of the year of patience is not automatic.



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The Assembly must first determine whether grounds for a Bahá'í divorce exist and should make every effort to reconcile the parties. If the aversion existing between the parties is found to be irreconcilable then the Assembly may set the date for the beginning of the year of waiting..."

(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 7, 1970)


1322. Beginning of the Year of Patience Normally Commences When Parties Notify Assembly of their Separation with Intent to Divorce

"Thus the date of the beginning of the year of patience normally commences when one of the parties notifies the Assembly that they have separated with the intention of divorce. However, the Assembly may establish the beginning of the year of patience on a prior date provided it is satisfied such prior date reflects the actual date of separation and there is good reason for so doing."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 26, 1965)


1323. Duties of Assembly or Committee on Divorce Procedures

"In the opening paragraphs of your letter you speak of your Committee adjudicating upon divorce settlements, and the House of Justice feels that the use of the word 'adjudicate' may lie at the root of some of the problems that the committee is facing. In a country like the United Kingdom, where divorce is subject to the civil law, the function of the Assembly (or its committee) in dealing with a divorce case is not primarily a matter of adjudication. Its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. If it finds that it is unable to do this, it then sets the beginning of the year of waiting and continues, as circumstances permit and wisdom dictates, throughout the running of the year, its attempts at reconciliation.

"One of the duties of the committee is to see that the requirements of Bahá'í law governing the year of waiting are not violated--that is to say, that the two parties live apart and that proper provisions are made for the financial support of the wife and children. As you will see from the enclosures, this is a matter that needs to be considered for each case on its own merits. If the matter can be amicably arranged between the parties, well and good. If not, the basic principle of Bahá'í law is that the husband is responsible for the support of his wife and children so long as they are married; that is until the granting of the divorce. In a particular case, however, it may have been the wife who was the bread-winner of the family, or both the husband and wife may have been earning income. The Assembly should not ignore such specific situations and change them merely because a year of waiting is running. The application of these principles should not be in the form of an adjudication which the Assembly will require the couple to accept, but as a basis for an arrangement which the couple will amicably agree to and present to the court for endorsement. If the Assembly is unable to get the couple to agree, it should leave the matter to the civil court."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 24, 1983)


1324. Dating During the Year of Patience

"It is always the hope that, during the year of patience, affection between the couple



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will recur and that divorce will not be necessary. Therefore, although normal social relationships between each of the partners and members of both sexes are permissible, it is quite contrary to the spirit of the teachings for either party to be courting a new partner during the year of waiting. This should be made clear to the couple if necessary and they should be exhorted to conduct themselves as Bahá'ís. However, this is not an area in which the Assembly should resort to sanctions if either or both of the pair disregard this principle. Naturally, if one of the parties conducts himself or herself in a way that is blatantly or flagrantly immoral the matter should be handled as any other similar case would be."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 6, 1974)


1325. Summary--Relating to the Fixing of the Date of Separation

1. The first task of the National Spiritual Assembly is to attempt to reconcile the couple, but if it finds that this is not possible and that an irreconcilable antipathy exists, it must register the beginning of the year of waiting. The Assembly may meet with the couple together or separately in its attempts to reconcile them. If there are compelling reasons for doing so, the Assembly may set a date retroactively for the beginning of the year of waiting, but this date can in no case be earlier than the last day the couple separated with the intention of having a divorce.

2. Attempts at reconciliation should continue during the year of waiting. Divorce, though permitted in the Bahá'í Faith, is abhorred and it is the hope that during the year of waiting the couple may become reconciled and divorce avoided.

3. With this in mind, it is more within the spirit of Bahá'í law for Bahá'ís to postpone the initiation of civil proceedings, (if the law of the country requires a civil divorce) until the end of the year of waiting. However, if such postponement gives rise to inequity or to a legal prejudice against the possibility of a civil divorce, it is, of course, permissible for the civil proceedings to be initiated during the year of waiting.

4. In most countries a civil divorce is required and, where this is so, the Bahá'í divorce does not become effective until the civil divorce has been granted. If the year of waiting has run its course when the civil divorce is granted, the Bahá'í divorce becomes automatically effective on that date. If the couple become reconciled before the granting of the civil divorce, even if the year of waiting has already elapsed, they have merely to inform the Spiritual Assembly and resume their marital status.

5. In case the civil divorce is actually granted before the end of the year of waiting and the couple become reconciled within that time between the granting of the civil divorce and the end of the year of waiting, they are, of course, still married in the eyes of the Bahá'í law and need only a civil marriage to restore the marriage bond.

6. The parties to a divorce must live apart in separate residences during the year of waiting. Any cohabitation of the parties stops the running of the year of waiting. If thereafter a divorce is desired a new date for the beginning of a new year of waiting must be set by the Assembly.

7. It is the responsibility of the husband to provide support for his wife and children during the year of waiting.



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8. It is the responsibility of the Assembly to assist the divorced couple to arrive at an amicable settlement of their financial affairs and arrangement for the custody and support of the children rather than let these matters be a subject of litigation in the civil courts. If the Assembly is unable to bring the couple to an agreement on such matters then their only recourse is to the civil court.

"These are some of the general guidelines your Assembly should have in mind in divorce cases...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 20, 1977)


1326. It is Not Possible to Shorten the Period of Waiting

"It is not possible to shorten the period of waiting as this is a provision of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. However, a National Spiritual Assembly may, if circumstances justify it, backdate the beginning of the year provided that this is not earlier than the date the parties last separated with the intention of obtaining a divorce. It is not clear in the case you have cited whether the parties lived together during the period between June 1975 and the date you set for the beginning of the year of waiting on January 15th. If the parties were separated during this period and living in separate residences, then you could consider backdating the beginning of the year of waiting."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly, July 18, 1976)


1327. The Assembly is Obliged to Consider Application for a Year of Waiting

"An Assembly is obliged to consider an application for a year of waiting from either party to a marriage, whether the other party wants the divorce or not. In this specific case you should therefore follow the usual procedure."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 28, 1985)


1328. During Period of Legal Separation Dating in the Spirit of Courtship is Outside Bounds of Propriety

"The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to transmit its reply to your letter of 8 October concerning dating during the time of legal separation of one party.

"While the Bahá'í woman should not be forbidden to have occasional meetings in the spirit of friendship with a man legally separated from his wife, dating in the spirit of courtship is outside the bounds of Bahá'í propriety, even where the interpersonal relationship of the couple is not blatant or flagrant, casting reflections upon the strict morality required of Bahá'ís. The Bahá'í should be advised to break off the acquaintanceship should it appear to progress beyond friendship, for the non-Bahá'í man is, as you correctly state, still married; the legal separation may carry with it the hope and prospect of restoration of his marriage, a possibility which should not be obstructed by involvement with another woman. In cases such as this one, counsel rather than sanctions are called for, should the involvement of the Bahá'í woman require intervention."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 6, 1981)

Chapter 3

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1329. Parties May Withdraw Their Application for Divorce at Any Time During the Year of Waiting

"It is not within the discretion of the parties to a Bahá'í divorce to extend the year of waiting and ask for the Bahá'í divorce 'at whatever time they feel so inclined.' If there has been no reconciliation of the parties in the meantime, the Bahá'í divorce becomes final at the end of the year of waiting unless the granting of the civil divorce is delayed beyond that time.

"The parties may, however, withdraw their application for Bahá'í divorce at any time during the year of waiting. Should they later desire to apply for divorce, a new year of waiting would have to be commenced."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 4, 1974)


1330. Assembly Should Not Interfere into Marital Affairs Until Believers Bring Their Problems to the Assembly

"...There should be no intervention into the marital affairs of individuals in a Bahá'í community unless and until the parties themselves bring a problem to the Assembly. Prior to that it is not the business of the Assembly to counsel the parties. These are but two or three instances illustrating that the commentary should not be added to the quotations."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 22, 1968)


1331. There is No Law to Remove Voting Rights for Obtaining Civil Divorce Before the Year of Waiting Terminates

"...There is no Bahá'í law requiring the removal of voting rights for obtaining a civil divorce before the end of the year of waiting. It is, of course, preferred that civil divorce action be not instituted or completed before the end of the year unless there are special circumstances justifying such action. If a Bahá'í should marry another prior to the end of the year of waiting however, voting rights should be suspended as, under Bahá'í law, he is still regarded as married whether or not the civil divorce has been granted. On the other hand, if a non-Bahá'í partner, having obtained a civil divorce, marries during the year of waiting, the Bahá'í partner is released from the need to wait further."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 20, 1974)


1332. Annulment or Divorce

"...a divorce or annulment is called for only when the Bahá'í partner has denied his faith.

"When reinstatement calls for a divorce or annulment of an improperly contracted marriage, no year of waiting is necessary because Bahá'í divorce is not involved. The purpose of the year of waiting is to attempt the saving of a marital relationship which was originally accepted as valid in the eyes of Bahá'ís, and is now in jeopardy. A delayed Bahá'í marriage, conducted for reasons of fulfilment of Bahá'í law and in the full spirit of the Bahá'í ceremony, should not be viewed as a mockery but as the confirmation of a union contracted outside Bahá'í law."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 27, 1969)

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1333. Refund of Marriage Expenses

"Concerning ... divorce: He has no right to demand from his wife a refund of the marriage expenses he incurred. In the Aqdas it is quite clear that the husband must not only give the dowry but must support his wife until the time when the divorce is completed. In view of this she is not required to repay expenses of the marriage, etc."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: Dawn of a New Day, p. 118)


1334. Not Wise to Announce New Marriage Plans Before Divorce is Final

"It is not within the spirit of Bahá'í law for one to become involved in the announcement of new marriage plans while he or she is still legally married to another. There is no objection to urging the friends not to go so far as to seek consent of parents before the divorce becomes final in all respects, but no sanctions should be applied to enforce such exhortation."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, January 17, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 198, February 1971, p. 8)


1335. Guidance Regarding Financial Support in Divorce Cases

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 9 December 1982 requesting guidance on the responsibility of Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies in the matter of financial support in divorce cases. It has instructed us to send you the following reply.

"In some cases, usually those of Iranian believers whose marriage is not recognized in civil law and who, therefore, do not need and cannot have a civil divorce, the divorce must be entirely adjudicated by the Spiritual Assembly. We enclose a summary of points written on behalf of the House of Justice in answer to questions on this matter, which should be of assistance should such a case occur in Canada.

"In general, however, a Bahá'í couple in Canada who are obtaining a divorce must, in addition to the Bahá'í divorce, obtain a civil divorce, and the civil divorce decree will usually cover all such matters as division of property, provision of support and custody of children. The function of the Spiritual Assembly in such ancillary aspects of the divorce is thus advisory rather than judicatory. In order to prevent, if possible, a public dispute between Bahá'ís in front of the law courts, the Assembly should attempt to bring the couple to an amicable arrangement about all such questions, which can then be submitted to the court for its endorsement. If the efforts of the Assembly are of no avail, then the matter must be left to the civil court to decide.

"Once the divorce decree with its related provisions has been handed down by the court, it is the obligation of both parties, as good Bahá'ís, to obey it and, if either is lax in so doing, the Assembly should advise him or her about his or her duties and press for their fulfilment. The wronged party, however, should at the same time be left free to apply to the civil authorities for the enforcement of the decision. Unfortunately such enforcement is notoriously difficult, especially when the parties subsequently reside in different countries. It is here that the action of the Spiritual Assembly, reinforcing the decision of the civil courts, can often be of help. Except in circumstances of unusual gravity or cases where the responsible party fails to obey



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a court decision to provide support for the children, an Assembly should not contemplate imposing sanctions for lack of compliance in these matters. Actual enforcement should normally be left to the action of the civil courts.

"The House of Justice believes that the above should provide all the guidance you require in your collaboration with the National Spiritual Assembly of ... over the divorce of ... and .... In the case of ... and ... you state that there is unlikely to be a civil judgement covering the question of financial support of the wife by the husband following the divorce. The House of Justice states that there is no general requirement in Bahá'í law for a husband to continue to support his former wife beyond the ending of the year of waiting and the granting of the divorce. Therefore, in the absence of a ruling by the civil court or of an agreement between the couple registered with the Spiritual Assembly, there is nothing further for your Assembly to do in this case."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, January 13, 1983)


1336. It is Preferable that Couple Should Amicably Agree on the Custody of the Children--The Husband is Obligated to Support Wife and Children Until Divorce is Granted and He Has Continuing Obligation to Support His Children

"The following points are summarized from guidance of the Universal House of Justice given to Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers so that they may arrive at decisions in accordance with the spirit of Bahá'í Law either in coming to an amicable agreement to present to the civil courts, or in making a decision when no civil divorce decree is involved.

1. The decisions in each case must be made in light of the particular conditions of that case. The guidelines given below are general in nature and should be applied as far as possible unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary.

2. Custody of Children

2.1 It is preferable that the couple amicably agree on the custody of the children and submit their agreement to the Assembly for endorsement. Normally in the case of very young children custody is given to the mother unless there are compelling reasons which make this inadvisable.

2.2 Regardless of which parent is given custody, the children should be so educated that they may develop a proper Bahá'í attitude towards, and due regard for, both parents. Fair and practical arrangements should be made to protect the rights of the parent not having custody to associate with the children and spend time with them.

2.3 Usually custody arrangements continue until the child comes of age unless, of course, new circumstances transpire during this period which call for a review of the arrangements.

3. Financial Support

3.1 The husband is obligated to support the wife and children until the granting of the Bahá'í divorce. This normally takes place at the end of the year of waiting unless it has to be postponed pending the granting of a civil divorce.



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3.2 Following the granting of the divorce the father continues to be under the obligation of providing the necessary funds for the support of the children, but he has no continuing obligation to support his former wife."

(The Universal House of Justice: Considerations Affecting Custody of Children and Provision of Financial Support in Cases Not Adjudicated in Civil Law, a summary, January 5, 1983)


1337. Wife Support During Year of Patience and After Divorce--Assembly Should Encourage Husband to Honor His Responsibilities in Paying Required Support Money

"The House of Justice wrote to another National Spiritual Assembly on 5 April 1970 as follows:

'The only provision in Bahá'í law regarding the support of the wife is that which makes the husband responsible for her support during the year of waiting. This does not mean, however, that further support is prohibited; all such matters will require legislation in the future. At the present time it is the responsibility of the Assembly to arrange an amicable and just financial settlement between the couple, and any such arrangement must, obviously, take into consideration the financial situation of both parties and their relative responsibilities.'

"While it is obvious that the Assembly should encourage the husband to honour his Bahá'í responsibilities in paying the required support money, matters of support may be covered by the civil courts when a civil divorce is applied for and, in such a case, the wife would, of course, be able to invoke whatever civil remedy is available. In any case, at the present time National Spiritual Assemblies should not normally apply sanctions in cases of failure to comply with support requirements."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, February 6, 1978)


1338. No Husband Should Batter His Wife

"It is clear from Bahá'í teachings that no husband should batter his wife. As to divorce, while it is permitted by Bahá'u'lláh, it is heavily discouraged and the greatest efforts must be made to avoid it. In Bahá'í society the only grounds for divorce are an irreconcilable antipathy between the parties."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 27, 1986)



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XXX. LOVE AND UNITY


1339. The Best Remedy for Hate is Love, as Hate is the Absence of Love

"The best remedy for hate is love, as hate is the absence of love! In this respect you must show forth the love of God to others, Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike, and thus do your part to dispel the darkness in this world. This is what the beloved Master expects of His servants."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 12, 1949)


1340. The Standard which Must Govern the Conduct of Believers Toward Each Other is Love

"...If between the friends true love--based on the love of God--could become manifest, the Cause would spread very rapidly. Love is the standard which must govern the conduct of one believer towards another. The administrative order does not change this, but unfortunately sometimes the friends confuse the two, and try to be a whole spiritual assembly,--with the discipline and justice and impartiality that body must show,--to each other, instead of being forgiving, loving and patient to each other as individuals."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 18, 1950)


1341. We Must Love God and Thus Love for All Men Becomes Possible

"We must never take one sentence in the Teachings and isolate it from the rest: it does not mean we must not love, but we must reach a spiritual plane where God comes first and great human passions are unable to turn us away from Him. All the time we see people who either through the force of hate or the passionate attachment they have to another person, sacrifice principle or bar themselves from the Path of God.

"We know absence of light is darkness, but no one would assert darkness was not a fact. It exists even though it is only the absence of something else. So evil exists too, and we cannot close our eyes to it, even though it is a negative existence. We must seek to supplant it by good, and if we see an evil person is not influenceable by us, then we should shun his company for it is unhealthy.

"We must love God, and in this state, a general love for all men becomes possible. We cannot love each human being for himself but our feeling towards humanity should be motivated by our love for the Father who created all men.

"The Bahá'í Faith teaches man was always potentially man, even when passing through lower stages of evolution. Because he has more powers, and subtler powers than the animal, when he turns towards evil he becomes more vicious than an animal because of these very powers."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)


1342. The Kind of Love Every Believer Should Cultivate

"You mention the fact that at times you feel strongly attracted to people whom



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you have never known before; this is surely the kind of love which every Bahá'í should cultivate. For we Bahá'ís should come to love all human beings, whether believers or not, alien or friendly. The love which Bahá'u'lláh wishes us to acquire is a love that embraces the whole mankind. The reason why one feels attracted is due to such gifts and qualities with which the soul is endowed and which exert a powerful and latent influence."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1937)


1343. Abdu'l-Bahá Explained the Meaning of Bahá'u'lláh's Words Regarding Love of Humanity

"As regards the meaning of Bahá'u'lláh's words regarding love of humanity, the Master often explained it to mean that man should love his family, then his native town, then his province, then his nation, but should not stop there and acquire a narrow nationalism, but grow to love the whole-wide world and mankind at large. Bahá'ís love their country but should also love the world, that is, other peoples."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 5, 1950)


1344. Spiritual Relationships Are Far More Important Than Rules and Regulations

"He urges you to do all you can to promote unity and love amongst the members of the Community there, as this seems to be their greatest need.

"So often young communities, in their desire to administer the Cause, lose sight of the fact that these spiritual relationships are far more important and fundamental than the rules and regulations which must govern the conduct of Community affairs."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)


1345. The People of the World Need to See the Love Engendered by the Faith in the Hearts of the Believers

"The people of the world not only need the laws and principles of the Bahá'í Faith--they desperately need to see the love that is engendered by it in the hearts of its followers, and to partake of that atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, forbearance and active kindness which should be the hall-mark of a Bahá'í Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 5, 1942)


1346. The Morbid and Turbulent Influence of the Dark Forces of the World is Felt by All

"The believers, to better understand their own internal condition, should realize that the forces of darkness in the world are so prevalent and strong that their morbid and turbulent influence is felt by all. They should therefore consciously strive to be more loving, more united, more dedicated and prayerful than ever before, in order to fight against the atmosphere of present day society which is unloving, disunited, careless of right and wrong, and heedless of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 20, 1946)


1347. We Must Pray to be Protected from the Contamination of Society

"The friends must, at all times, bear in mind that they are, in a way, like soldiers



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under attack. The world is at present in an exceedingly dark condition spiritually; hatred and prejudice, of every sort, are literally tearing it to pieces. We, on the other hand, are the custodians of the opposite forces, the forces of love, of unity, of peace and integration, and we must constantly be on our guard, whether as individuals or as an Assembly or Community, lest through us these destructive, negative forces enter into our midst. In other words, we must beware lest the darkness of society become reflected in our acts and attitudes, perhaps all unconsciously. Love for each other, the deep sense that we are a new organism, the dawn-breakers of a New World Order, must constantly animate our Bahá'í lives, and we must pray to be protected from the contamination of society which is so diseased with prejudice."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Atlanta, February 5, 1947)


1348. Heroism is Needed by the Believers

"These, indeed, are the days when heroism is needed on the part of the believers. Self-sacrifice, courage, indomitable hope and confidence are the characteristics they should show forth, because these very attributes cannot but fix the attention of the public and leads them to enquire what, in a world so hopelessly chaotic and bewildered, leads these people to be so assured, so confident, so full of devotion? Increasingly, as time goes by, the characteristics of the Bahá'ís will be that which captures the attention of their fellow-citizens. They must show their aloofness from the hatreds and recriminations which are tearing at the heart of humanity, and demonstrate by deed and word their profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 26, 1941)


1349. God's Ways Do Not Necessarily Coincide with Human Devices and Policies

"...God's ways and methods do not coincide necessarily with human devices and man-made policies. We should certainly exert our utmost in order that God's Faith may be widely proclaimed and firmly established. But we should under no circumstances be led to think that such a triumph depends solely or even mainly on our own efforts, however effective, united and fruitful they may be. We are but instruments in the hands of the Almighty and it would be certainly a sign of shortsightedness on our part to believe that we are the controlling agents of the divine machinery of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 10, 1934)


1350. If Divided, Both Sides to a Difference Are Wrong; If United, They Are Both Right

"During the days of Bahá'u'lláh some of the prominent teachers of the Cause in Persia were divided as to the station of Bahá'u'lláh and at last wrote to Him for arbitration. In answer Bahá'u'lláh said that if they were united both sides were right and if they were divided both were wrong. The Master often denied Himself any station just to maintain the unity of the friends for that was His primary object."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Yonkers, April 20, 1931)



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XXXI. MILITARY SERVICE


1351. Bahá'ís Cannot Voluntarily Enlist Where Subject to Taking Human Life

"Bahá'ís cannot voluntarily enlist in any branch of the Armed Forces where they would be subject to orders to engage in the taking of human life."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Fiji Islands, August 2, 1971)


1352. Bahá'ís Are Not Conscientious Objectors

"Our position as Bahá'ís is not that we won't obey our Government or support the country if attacked, it is that we do not believe in, or wish to take part in, killing our fellow-men. We are not conscientious objectors at all; we will serve, but wish, as there is a provision in the law in the U.S.A. covering our attitude, to be classified as non-combatants. If you need to consult on this matter, you should refer to the N.S.A., as this question continually arises, and they can give you advice which will be the most accurate and applicable to present conditions."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 15, 1952)


1353. There Are Many Avenues Through which the Believers Can Assist in Time of War

"It is still his firm conviction that the believers, while expressing their readiness to unreservedly obey any directions that the authorities may issue concerning national service in time of war, should also, and while there is yet no outbreak of hostilities, appeal to the government for exemption from active military service in a combatant capacity, stressing the fact that in doing so they are not prompted by any selfish considerations, but by the sole and supreme motive of upholding the Teachings of their Faith, which make it a moral obligation for them to desist from any act that would involve them into direct warfare with their fellow-humans of any other race or nation.

"The Bahá'í Teachings, indeed, condemn, emphatically and unequivocally, any form of physical violence, and warfare in the battlefield is obviously a form, and perhaps the worst form, which such violence can assume.

"There are many other avenues through which the believers can assist in times of war by enlisting in services of a non-combatant nature--services that do not involve the direct shedding of blood--such as ambulance work, anti-air raid precaution service, office and administrative works, and it is for such types of national service that they should volunteer.

"It is immaterial whether such activities would still expose them to dangers, either at home or in the front, since their desire is not to protect their lives, but to desist from any acts of wilful murder.

"The friends should consider it their conscientious duty, as loyal members of the Faith, to apply for such exemption, even though there may be slight prospect of their obtaining the consent and approval of the authorities to their petition. It is most



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essential that in times of such national excitement and emergency as those through which so many countries in the world are now passing that the believers should not allow themselves to be carried away by the passions agitating the masses, and act in a manner that would make them deviate from the path of wisdom and moderation, and lead them to violate, however reluctantly and indirectly, the spirit as well as the letter of the Teachings."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 4, 1939)


Chapter 4


1354. Bahá'ís Recognize the Right and Duty of Governments to Protect Their People

"...Bahá'ís recognize the right and duty of governments to use force for the maintenance of law and order and to protect their people. Thus, for a Bahá'í, the shedding of blood for such a purpose is not necessarily essentially wrong. The Bahá'í Faith draws a very definite distinction between the duty of an individual to forgive and 'to be killed rather than to kill' and the duty of society to uphold justice. This matter is explained by Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Some Answered Questions'. In the present condition of the world Bahá'ís try to keep themselves out of the internecine conflicts that are raging among their fellow men and to avoid shedding blood in such struggles, but this does not mean that we are absolute pacifists. This point is explained in the following statement written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf on 21 November, 1935:

'With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Bahá'í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá'í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the 'golden mean'. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.

'The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man's heart.'

"A further quotation which may help this dear friend to understand this matter is the passage about the establishment of the Lesser Peace on page 65 of 'The Secret of Divine Civilization'."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 9, 1967)


1355. It is Their Duty as Loyal and Devoted Citizens to Offer Their Services to Their Country

"He has noted your Assembly's request for his advice as to what forms of national service the friends may volunteer for in times of emergency. While the believers, he



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feels, should exert every effort to obtain from the authorities a permit exempting them from active military service in a combatant capacity, it is their duty at the same time, as loyal and devoted citizens, to offer their services to their country in any field of national service which is not specifically aggressive or directly military. Such forms of national work as air raid precaution service, ambulance corps, and other humanitarian work or activity of a noncombatant nature, are the most suitable types of service the friends can render, and which they should gladly volunteer for, since in addition to the fact that they do not involve any violation of the spirit or principle of the Teachings, they constitute a form of social and humanitarian service which the Cause holds sacred and emphatically enjoins."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 27, 1938)


1356. "Specifically Aggressive or Directly Military" Activities Are to be Avoided

"From study of the beloved Guardian's letters it is apparent that what he wanted the friends to avoid is 'specifically aggressive or directly military' activities. As regards indirect activities it would be extremely difficult in modern society for anyone to disassociate himself from activities which, in the long run and by devolution, are inimical to the human race."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 29, 1967)


1357. A Bahá'í May Enlist in the Armed Forces if Not Made Liable for Combatant Service

"...there is no objection to a Bahá'í enlisting voluntarily in the armed forces of a country in order to obtain a training in some trade or profession, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service.

"There is likewise no objection to a Bahá'í seeking or continuing a career in the armed forces, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 13, 1981)


1358. National Service Through Professions Useful to Mankind--National Spiritual Assembly Has Responsibility to Counsel Youth

"Whenever circumstances of military or paramilitary service arise the Bahá'í friends should do their utmost to avoid taking part. If, however, they are compelled to do so they should then do everything possible to ensure that they are engaged only in non-combatant services. When the question of National Service, such as you describe in Guyana, includes training in skills and professions useful to mankind, such as agriculture, the friends may certainly volunteer for such services, provided they are definitely assured that their training will not subject them later to call up for military service in combatant roles.

"If compelled to enter training of a military kind the friends should endeavour to be assigned to such non-combatant activities as stretcher bearing, the medical corps, administrative duties, and other essential departments of military organizations which would not involve them directly in the taking of life.

"It is therefore for your National Spiritual Assembly to decide whether the National Service programme in Guyana is a permissible occupation for Bahá'í youth and



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if so whether on a voluntary basis, or if under compulsion, what steps can be taken to enable Bahá'í youth to serve as non-combatants."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana, September 14, 1975)


1359. Bahá'ís Are Not Asking to be Given a Safe Berth During Hours of National Crisis

"Regarding your question about military service, the Guardian sees no reason why the Bahá'í in question should not bring a test case, and press the matter. It is now, since he has become a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, against his conscience to kill his fellow-men; and he should have the right to explain his position and ask to be exempted from combatant service. During the hearing of such cases, the Bahá'ís should make it absolutely clear that we do not fear being placed in danger, and are not asking to be given a safe berth in hours of national crisis--quite the contrary--any dangerous service that Bahá'ís can render their fellow-men during the agonies of war, they should be anxious to accept."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 25, 1951)



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XXXII. MUSIC


1360. Music is a Ladder by which Souls May Ascend

"We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 51, p. 38)


1361. Music is an Important Means to the Education and Development of Humanity

"Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life; wherefore, the Teachings of God, whether they be in the form of anthems or communes or prayers, when they are melodiously sung, are most impressive."

(From talks of Abdu'l-Bahá: Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 7, also, Star of the West, Vol. XV, p. 130)


1362. It is Necessary that the Schools Teach Music

"...The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure and melodies have great influence on them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art, the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52)


1363. Music as a Praiseworthy Science

"O servant of Baha! Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody and raise such hymns of praise at the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar



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as to enrapture the Concourse on High. By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy."

(Abdu'l-Bahá, from a recently translated Tablet to an individual believer: Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 5, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Oakham, England)


1364. Music as One of the Arts

"Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should be any cultivation of 'Bahá'í Music' any more than we are trying to develop a Bahá'í school of painting or writing. The believers are free to paint, write and compose as their talents guide them. If music is written incorporating the sacred writings, the friends are free to make use of it, but it should never be considered a requirement at Bahá'í meetings to have such music. The further away the friends keep from any set forms, the better, for they must realize that the Cause is absolutely universal, and what might seem a beautiful addition to their mode of celebrating a Feast, etc., would perhaps fall on the ears of people of another country as unpleasant sounds--and vice versa. As long as they have music for its own sake it is all right, but they should not consider it Bahá'í music."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Ibid., p. 11)


1365. Prayers Set to Music

"It is entirely proper to set prayers to music, and the friends are free to sing prayers in unison. Indeed, assuming that the music is appropriate and that the believers do not make a ritual out of it, it is highly praiseworthy for choirs to sing appropriate verses revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master....

"We would assume also that the friends will always keep in mind that whether read, chanted or sung, prayers should be uttered with a proper sense of reverence."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, February 6, 1973)


1366. Singing and Chanting Prayers in Unison

"We have your letter of 22nd January, 1973 asking whether it is proper for choirs or groups to sing or chant prayers in unison.

"In answering a similar letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa about congregational singing in services at the House of Worship we said:

'Singing by a congregation present at a service in the House of Worship should not be confused with congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh for the dead...

'Regarding singing in the Temple, we must bear in mind the reference made by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitab-i-Aqdas to the need for the person who enters the Temple to sit silently and listen to the chanting of the verses of God...



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'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)"

(Ibid.)


1367. Not Appropriate to Set Obligatory Prayers to Music

"We have not come across any instructions which would prohibit the setting of the obligatory prayers to music. However, because of their special nature, we do not consider it appropriate to do so."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 6, 1966)


1368. Standing on the Threshold of Bahá'í Culture, We Cannot Foresee Forms and Characteristics of the Future Arts

"Regarding your future plans: The Guardian feels that, as your music is your career and means of livelihood, you should carefully consider whether it is not necessary to your future that you go on with your education in this field. If you feel this is a matter which you, alone, are not able to decide, he would advise you to seek the advice of your Spiritual Assembly.

"Also, you raise the question of what will be the source of inspiration to Bahá'í musicians and composers: the music of the past or the Word? We cannot possibly foresee, standing as we do on the threshold of Bahá'í culture, what forms and characteristics the arts of the future, inspired by this mighty new Revelation, will have. All we can be sure of is that they will be wonderful; as every Faith has given rise to a culture which flowered in different forms, so too our beloved Faith may be expected to do the same thing. It is premature to try and grasp what they will be at present."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 23, 1942)


1369. The Greatest Name and the Names of the Manifestations of God or the Central Figures Should Be Used with Respect

"We have found nothing in the texts forbidding the use of the Greatest Name, the Names of the Manifestations of God or the names of the Central Figures of our Faith in the lyrics of music. However, we feel that when they are used they should be used with reverence and respect, both in the manner in which they are incorporated in the lyrics and in the manner of presentation."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 14, 1968)


1370. Music More Helpful Before a Talk

"Music is one of the important arts. It has a great effect upon the human spirit. Musical melodies are a certain something which prove to be accidental upon etheric vibrations, for voice is nothing but the expression of vibrations, which, reaching the tympanum, affect the nerves of hearing. Musical melodies are, therefore, those peculiar effects produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have the keenest effect upon



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the spirit. In sooth, although music is a material affair, yet its tremendous effect is spiritual, and its greatest attachment is to the realm of the spirit. If a person desires to deliver a discourse, it will prove more effectual after musical melodies. The ancient Greeks, as well as Persian philosophers, were in the habit of delivering their discourses in the following manner: first, playing a few musical melodies, and when their audience attained a certain receptivity thereby they would leave their instruments at once and begin their discourse. Among the most renowned musicians of Persia was one named Barbod, who, whenever a great question had been pleaded for at the court of the King, and the Ministry had failed to persuade the King, they would at once refer the matter to Barbod, whereupon he would go with his instrument to the court and play the most appropriate and touching music, the end being at once attained, because the King was immediately affected by the touching musical melodies, certain feelings of generosity would swell up in his heart, and he would give way. You may try this: if you have a great desire and wish to attain your end, try to do so on a large audience after a great solo has been rendered, but it must be on an audience on which music is effective, for there are some people who are like stones, and music cannot affect stones.

"It was for this reason that His Holiness David sang the psalms in the Holy of Holies at Jerusalem with sweet melodies. In this Cause the art of music is of paramount importance. The Blessed Perfection, when He first came to the barracks (Acca) repeated this statement: 'If among the immediate followers there had been those who could have played some musical instrument, i.e., flute or harp, or could have sung, it would have charmed every one.' In short, musical melodies form an important role in the associations, or outward and inward characteristics, or qualities of man, for it is the inspirer or motive power of both the material and spiritual susceptibilities. What a motive power it is in all feelings of love! When man is attached to the love of God, music has a great effect upon him."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: 'Table Talk', cited in Compilation of Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 6, Oakham, England)


1371. Music Helps to Communicate with the Soul

"The Guardian values the hymns that you are so beautifully composing. They certainly contain the realities of the Faith, and will indeed help you to give the Message to the young ones. It is the music which assists us to affect the human spirit; it is an important means which helps us to communicate with the soul. The Guardian hopes that through this assistance you will give the Message to the people, and will attract their hearts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 15, 1932: Ibid., p. 10)



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XXXIII. THE NUMBER NINE


1372. The Number Nine is Reverenced for Two Reasons by Bahá'ís

"Concerning the number nine: The Bahá'ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those who are interested in numbers as a sign of perfection. The second consideration which is the more important one is that it is the numerical value for the word 'Baha'. (B=2, h=5, a=1, and there is an accent at the end of the word which is also = 1; the 'a' after the 'B' is not written in Persian so it does not count.) In the Semitic languages--both Arabic and Hebrew--every letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, so instead of using figures to denote numbers they used letters and compounds of letters. Thus every word had both a literal meaning and also a numerical value. This practice is no more in use but during the time of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab it was quite in vogue among the educated classes, and we find it very much used in the Bayan. As the word Baha also stood for the number nine it could be used interchangeably with it.

"Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is however enough to make the Bahá'ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 19, 1932)


1373. The Number Nine is Considered by Bahá'ís as Sacred

"The number nine which in itself is the number of perfection is considered by the Bahá'ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the religion of the Bab, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the religion of the Sabeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones still existing. There have always been divine Prophets and Messengers, to many of whom the Qur'an refers. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, February 1937, p. 2)


1374. The Number Nine Symbolizes the Nine Great World Religions and Perfection and is the Numerical Value of Baha

"First, regarding the significance of the number nine: Its importance as a symbol used so often in various connections by the believers lies in three facts: first, it symbolizes the nine great world religions of which we have any definite historical knowledge, including the Babi and Bahá'í Revelations; second, it represents the number of perfection, being the highest single number; third, it is the numerical value of the word 'Baha'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1939)



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1375. Nine as the Highest Digit Symbolizes Comprehensiveness, Culmination

"Regarding your various questions: We must avoid giving the impression of being all tied up with peculiar religious theories; on the other hand, the 9 sides of the Temple, and the 9-pointed star require an explanation, and he feels the best one is this:

"Nine is the highest digit, hence symbolizes comprehensiveness, culmination; also, the reason it is used in the Temple's form is because 9 has the exact numerical value of 'Baha' (in the numerology connected with the Arabic alphabet) and Baha is the name of the Revealer of our Faith, Bahá'u'lláh. The 9-pointed star is not a part of the teachings of our Faith, but only used as an emblem representing '9'. In telling people of the 9 religions of the world, that is, existing religions, we should not give this as the reason the Temple has 9 sides. This may have been an idea of the architect, and a very pleasing idea, which can be mentioned in passing, but the Temple has 9 sides because of the association of 9 with perfection, unity and 'Baha'.

"The Guardian feels that with intellectuals and students of religion the question of exactly which are the 9 existing religions is controversial, and it would be better to avoid it. He does not want the friends to be rigid in these matters, but use their judgment and tact; sometimes one statement is exactly the right thing for one type of mind and the wrong thing for another.

"Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by the Bab and explained by Him. But the Guardian does not feel it is wise or necessary to complicate our explanations of the Temple by adding this."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)


1376. The Bab Utilized the Numerical Value of Words to Symbolize Spiritual Concepts

"The Bab made use of the numerical value of words to symbolize spiritual concepts. The Persian for 'The Letters of the Living' is 'Huruf-i-Hay'; there were 18 of these first disciples of the Bab and the numerical value of the word 'Hay' is 18. These 18 letters, together with the Bab Himself, constitute the first 'Vahid' of the Revelation. The word 'Vahid' has a numerical value of 19, and means 'Unity'. It symbolizes the unity of God, and thus the number 19 itself symbolizes the unity of God, and it was used by the Bab as the basis for His Calendar. One may also note the reference on 'The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas' to 19 or 95 mithqals of gold or silver in connection with the laws of marriage and of Huququ'llah."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 13, 1980)


1377. Superstition Concerning the Number 13

"Such suppositions regarding lucky or unlucky numbers are purely imaginary. The superstition concerning thirteen had its origin in the fact that His Holiness Jesus Christ was surrounded by twelve disciples and that Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth member of their gathering. This is the source of the superstition, but it is purely imaginary. Although Judas was outwardly a disciple, in reality he was not. Twelve is the original number of significance and completion. Jacob had twelve sons, from whom



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descended twelve tribes. The disciples of Jesus were twelve; the Imams of Muhammad were twelve. The zodiacal signs are twelve, the months of the year are twelve, etc."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 196-197, 1982 ed.)



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XXXIV. OPPOSITION


1378. No Need to Fear Opposition if the Inner Life Be Sound and Vigorous

"There is no need to fear opposition from without if the life within be sound and vigorous. Our Heavenly Father will always give us the strength to meet and overcome tests if we turn with all our hearts to Him, and difficulties if they are met in the right spirit only make us rely on God more firmly and completely."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 14, 1925)


1379. Refuting Attacks and Criticisms Against the Cause Devolve Upon the National Spiritual Assembly to Consider

"The matter of refuting attacks and criticisms directed against the Cause through the press is, he feels, one which devolves on the N.S.A. to consider. This body, whether directly or through the agency of its committees, should decide as to the advisability of answering any such attacks, and also should carefully examine and pass upon any statements which the friends wish to send to the press to this effect. Only through such supervision and control of all Bahá'í press activities can the friends hope to avoid confusion and misunderstanding in their own minds and in the mind of the general public whom they can reach through the press."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1938)


1380. The Cause Cannot Be Effectively Established Unless It Encounters and Triumphs Over the Forces of Opposition

"The Guardian has been very much interested regarding your letter of May 18th, though he has been made truly grieved to learn of the continued and malignant opposition which the enemies of the Cause in Lima, and particularly the clerical element, are directing against the believers in that centre. He wishes you, however, to urge the friends not to feel in the least disheartened or discouraged, but to pursue with renewed determination, unity and vigour their sacred task of spreading and establishing the Faith, confident in the glorious future awaiting them. The greater the number of persecutions, and the more intense they become in character, the deeper their faith should be in the unique mission entrusted to them by Bahá'u'lláh, and the greater their zeal to help in hastening its complete fulfilment.

"This Cause, as every divine Cause, cannot be effectively established unless it encounters and valiantly triumphs over the forces of opposition with which it is assailed. The history of the Faith is in itself a sufficient proof of that. Trials and persecutions have always been, and will continue to be, the lot of the chosen ones of God. But these they should consider as blessings in disguise, as through them their faith will be quickened, purified and strengthened. Bahá'u'lláh compares such afflictive trials to the oil which feeds the lamp of the Cause of God.

"The friends should, therefore, not assume an attitude of mere resignation in the face of persecutions; they should rather welcome them, and utilize them as means for their own spiritual uplift and also for the promotion of the Cause. As the Faith



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grows stronger and attracts the serious attention and consideration of the world outside, the friends must expect a similar, if not a greater, increase in the forces of opposition which from every direction, both secular and religious, will be massed to undermine the very basis of its existence. The final outcome of such a struggle, which will be surely gigantic, is clear to us believers. A Faith born of God and guided by His Divine and all-pervasive spirit cannot but finally triumph and firmly establish itself, no matter how persistent and insidious the forces with which it has to contend. The friends should be confident, and act with the utmost wisdom and moderation, and should particularly abstain from any provocative act. The future is surely theirs."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1936)


1381. Bahá'í Wife Should Show Utmost Love and Kindness to Husband in Spite of His Opposition to Faith

"The Guardian ... is very much grieved indeed to learn of the severe opposition which you are encountering from your husband because of your affiliation with the Cause. He can very well realize the terrible condition facing you, but feels confident that Bahá'u'lláh is guiding you to follow the right way, and is continually assisting and strengthening you in your efforts to solve this most serious and challenging problem of your life. The staunch and unwavering loyalty and devotion which you have thus far so splendidly demonstrated in your attitude to the Faith is truly remarkable and worthy of the highest praise and admiration. The persecutions from which you are now suffering have this one great advantage, namely to deepen your faith in the Cause, and to revive and refresh your energies for its service. You should, therefore, rejoice and welcome those sufferings insofar as they serve to further awaken your consciousness of being a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

"The Guardian wishes me specially to urge you to remain patient and confident and above all to show your husband the utmost kindness and love, in return for all the opposition and hatred you receive from him. A conciliatory and friendly attitude in such cases is not only the duty of every Bahá'í but is also the most effective way of winning for the Cause the sympathy and admiration of its former foes and enemies. Love is, indeed, a most potent elixir that can transform the vilest and meanest of people into heavenly souls. May your example serve to further confirm the truth of this beautiful teaching of our Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1935)


1382. How to Rehabilitate Our Perturbed Society and Eliminate War

"...He was very glad to see that you are active in representing the Cause among Peace Societies and gradually bringing them to contact our principles on that all-important subject. The sooner they come to appreciate the significance of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, the sooner will they be able to bring about the realization of their object and hope and rehabilitate our perturbed society.

"War is really nothing more but the result of existing forces. Should we desire to end that devastating consequence we should go back to the basic causes and remedy those evils. We should eliminate the hatreds, national bigotry, mistrust and self aggrandisement as well as economic, social and religious differences which now prevail in the world if we desire to establish an abiding peace. And nothing can achieve



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this save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, for they change the human heart and also prescribe definite precepts that would render our social environment healthy and peaceful."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1932)


1383. The Church and the Clergy Often Are the Most Bitter Opponents of the Cause

"It seems both strange and pitiful that the Church and clergy should always, in every age, be the most bitter opponents of the very Truth they are continually admonishing their followers to be prepared to receive! They have become so violently attached to the form that the substance itself eludes them!

"However, such denunciations as those your minister made publicly against you and the Bahá'í Faith can do no harm to the Cause at all; on the contrary, they only serve to spread its name abroad and mark it as an independent religion."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 7, 1945)



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XXXV. ORGANIZATIONS, NON-BAHÁ'Í


1384. Affiliation with Faith Alone is Insufficient

"So far as non-Bahá'ís affiliating with the Bahá'í Faith is concerned, either a person becomes a Bahá'í and accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the divine Manifestation for this day, or he does not. The tenets of the Bahá'í Faith are simple as outlined by the Guardian, but they do not permit of any variations. In other words, if any members of the ... Movement wish to become Bahá'ís, they will be most welcome; but they can only become Bahá'ís on the basis of accepting Bahá'u'lláh as a divine Manifestation, and of course, with this goes the acceptance of the Bab as the Forerunner, and Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant, and the present Administrative Order.

"When a person has reached the sea of immortality, it is idle to keep seeking elsewhere...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Japan, July 24, 1953: Japan Will Turn Ablaze, pp. 76-77)


1385. Affiliation with Non-Bahá'í Organizations

"Regarding association with the World Fellowship of Faiths and Kindred Societies, Shoghi Effendi wishes to reaffirm and elucidate the general principle that Bahá'í elected representatives as well as individuals should refrain from any act or word that would imply a departure from the principles, whether spiritual, social or administrative, established by Bahá'u'lláh. Formal affiliation with and acceptance of membership in organizations whose programs or policies are not wholly reconcilable with the Teachings is of course out of the question.... To merely address such gatherings on one or two occasions on a subject which is in harmony with the spirit of the Teachings does not constitute acceptance by the Bahá'í speaker of the entire program of the Fellowship. We should welcome and seize every opportunity that presents itself, however modest it may be, to give a wider publicity to the Cause, to demonstrate its all-inclusiveness and liberal attitude, its independence and purity, without committing ourselves, whether by word or deed, to programs or policies that are not in strict conformity with the tenets of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi hopes that this principle will guide your distinguished Assembly in its dealings with various associations which will increasingly seek, in the days to come, the support of Bahá'í individuals and Assemblies for the attainment of their ends."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 17, 1933)


1386. Association and Affiliation Defined for Bahá'í Purposes

"There should be no confusion between the terms affiliation and association. While affiliation with ecclesiastical organizations is not permissible, association with them should not only be tolerated but even encouraged. There is no better way to



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demonstrate the universality of the Cause than this. Bahá'u'lláh indeed urges His followers to consort with all religions and nations with utmost friendliness and love. This constitutes the very spirit of His Message to mankind."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 11, 1935: Compilation on Association with Non-Bahá'í Organizations, Bahá'í World Centre)


1387. Bahá'ís Belonging to Churches, Synagogues, Freemasonry and the Like

"As regards the question of Bahá'ís belonging to churches, synagogues, Freemasonry, etc., the friends must realize that now that the Faith is over 100 years old, and its own institutions arising, so to speak, rapidly above-ground, the distinctions are becoming ever sharper, and the necessity for them to support whole-heartedly their own institutions and cut themselves off entirely from those of the past, is now clearer than ever before. The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focused on us; and, as humanity's plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Bahá'ís, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions wholeheartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary.

"There is another aspect to this question which the friends should seriously ponder, and that is that, whereas organizations such as Freemasonry may have been in the past entirely free from any political taint, in the state of flux the world is in at present, and the extraordinary way in which things become corrupted and tainted by political thought and influences, there is no guarantee that such an association might not gradually or suddenly become a political instrument. The less Bahá'ís have to do, therefore, with such things, the better."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 5, 1955)


1388. Bahá'ís Requested to Withdraw from Masonic and Other Secret Societies

"As regards your question about Masonry, the Bahá'ís, the Guardian feels very strongly, must learn at the present time to think internationally and not locally. Although each believer realizes that he is a member of one great spiritual family, a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, he does not often carry this thought through to its logical conclusion: which is that if the Bahá'ís all over the world each belong to some different kind of society or church or political party, the unity of the Faith will be destroyed, because inevitably they will become involved in doctrines and policies that are in some way against our Teachings, and often against another group of people in another part of the world, or another race, or another religious block.

"Therefore, all the Bahá'ís everywhere have been urged to give up their old affiliations and withdraw from membership in the Masonic and other secret Societies in order to be entirely free to serve the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh as a united body. Such groups as Masonry, however high the local standard may be, are in other countries gradually being influenced by the issues sundering the nations at present.

"The Guardian wants the Bahá'ís to disentangle themselves from anything that



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may in any way, now or in the future, compromise their independent status as Bahá'ís and the supra-national nature of their Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 17, 1956)


1389. Why Bahá'ís Are Requested to Withdraw from Membership in the Church, Synagogue, etc.

"The point is not that there is something intrinsically wrong with Masonry, which no doubt has many very high ideals and principles, and has had a very good influence in the past.

"The reasons why the Guardian feels that it is imperative for the Bahá'ís to be dissociated from masonry at this time, and I might add, other secret associations, is that we are the building blocks of Bahá'u'lláh's New World Order ... the Bahá'ís should be absolutely independent, and stand identified only with their own teachings. That is why they are requested to withdraw from membership in the church, the synagogue, or whatever other previous religious organization they may have been affiliated with, to have nothing whatsoever to do with secret societies, or with political movements, etc. It protects the Cause, it reinforces the Cause, and it asserts before all the world its independent character.

"Another reason is that unfortunately the tremendous political influences in the world today are seeping deeper and deeper into men's minds; and movements which in the past were absolutely uninfluenced by any political tinge of thought now in many places are becoming infiltrated with political side-taking and political issues; and it becomes all the more important for the Bahá'ís to withdraw from them in order to protect the Faith.

"The Guardian believes that you, as an intelligent man, a Bahá'í, will see the need for this. It is only by all living according to general principles that we can knit the fabric of the Faith all over the world into a closer unity.

"He is fully aware that certain individuals are struck much more forcibly by such requests than others. This has been the case with some of the old Bahá'ís in England, who have been Masons from their boyhood on; but, as it is his duty to protect the Faith, he can only appeal to the Bahá'ís to assist him in doing so; and to consider the general good, rather than their personal feelings, however deep they may be, in such matters."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 12, 1956)


1390. Resignation from the Masonic Order

"As regards your question about the Masonic Order, he considers that the honest and courageous thing for you to do is to inform your Lodge that you no longer consider yourself, for purely personal reasons, a Mason; and would like to have your name taken off their list. If they should press you for an explanation, which he imagines is unlikely, everybody being free to do as they please in this world, you can explain to them that in the present chaotic period the world is passing through, with so many streams and counterstreams of political thoughts and prejudices of all kinds, racial, religious, etc., storming the minds of men, that you wish to disentangle yourself from all association with the past and to stand alone, free in your own ideas.

"He does not think that such an explanation will prejudice the Masons or their



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friends, or arouse in them a feeling of anger against the Faith, or indeed need involve the Faith at all."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1956)


1391. The Believers Should Dissociate Themselves from Secret Organizations

"...Generally speaking, the friends should not enter secret societies. It is certainly much better for the believers to dissociate themselves from such organizations..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)


1392. Theosophists: One Cannot Be Bahá'í and Theosophist at the Same Time

"A Bahá'í cannot at the same time be a Theosophist; many theosophists have become believers and very enlightened ones, but as we do not believe in reincarnation we obviously cannot be active as Theosophists and Bahá'ís at the same time."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, June 28, 1950: Dawn of a New Day, p. 140)

"With regard to the Theosophists and their activities; although they obviously try to copy and claim as their own some of the principles of the Cause, yet the Guardian feels that it would be of no advantage to oppose them and to refute their arguments. The best attitude for the friends to adopt in such cases at the present time is to totally disregard and even neglect their opponents. This has invariably been his advice to the friends, whether in the East or the West."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 64-65)


1393. World Government Organization--Should Be Non-Partisan and Non-Discriminatory

"There is no objection to the Bahá'ís associating with such organizations as the World Government Organization.... However, great care should be taken to make sure these organizations are absolutely non-partisan in their political views and lean neither to East or West."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 1950: Bahá'í News, No. 241, March 1951, p. 15)

"Bahá'ís should certainly not belong to clubs or societies that practice any form of discrimination."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, April 23, 1957)


1394. New History Society--Avowed Enemies of the Faith

"As regards ..., he should be kindly but firmly admonished by your Assembly that he cannot consider himself spiritually a Bahá'í and be associated with the avowed enemies of the Faith such as the New History Society; and that he should discontinue supporting their work or having anything to do with them; otherwise, he will find that he has been deprived wholly of his association with the Bahá'í Cause; in other words, he will not only lose his voting rights, but be outside the Faith."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 24, 1957)



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1395. Social Organizations, Relief Work--The Believers Are Building a Refuge for Mankind

"He feels that, although your desire to partake actively of the dangers and miseries afflicting so many millions of people today is natural and a noble impulse, there can be no comparison between the value of Bahá'í work and any other form of service to humanity.

"If the Bahá'ís could evaluate their work properly they would see that whereas other forms of relief work are superficial in character, alleviating the sufferings and ills of men for a short time at best, the work they are doing is to lay the foundation of a new spiritual Order in the world founded on the Word of God, operating according to the laws He has laid down for this age. No one else can do this work except those who have fully realized the meaning of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, whereas almost any courageous, sincere person can engage in relief work, etc.

"The believers are building a refuge for mankind. This is their supreme sacred task and they should devote every moment they can to this task."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 24)


1396. Membership in Non-Bahá'í Religious Organizations

"Concerning membership in non-Bahá'í religious associations. The Guardian wishes to re-emphasize the general principle already laid down in his communications to your Assembly and also to the individual believers that no Bahá'í who wishes to be a wholehearted and sincere upholder of the distinguishing principles of the Cause can accept full membership in any non-Bahá'í ecclesiastical organization. For such an act would necessarily imply only a partial acceptance of the Teachings and laws of the Faith, and an incomplete recognition of its independent status, and would thus be tantamount to an act of disloyalty to the verities it enshrines. For it is only too obvious that in most of its fundamental assumptions the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is completely at variance with outworn creeds, ceremonies and institutions. To be a Bahá'í and at the same time accept membership in another religious body is simply an act of contradiction that no sincere and logically-minded person can possibly accept. To follow Bahá'u'lláh does not mean accepting some of His teachings and rejecting the rest. Allegiance to His Cause must be uncompromising and whole-hearted...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 15, 1935)


1397. Teaching in a Mission School

"He does not think there is any objection to your teaching in a mission school, as long as it is clearly understood that you are, yourself, a Bahá'í; and if you do not have to teach their brand of religion to the pupils. There are many people nowadays employed in mission work in different parts of the world who do not belong to the Church; and, wherever such a tolerant relationship is possible, there can certainly be no objection from our side.

"Naturally it would be better if you could get a job where you would be completely independent of such relationships...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 1, 1954)



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1398. Bahá'ís Should Not Attack the Church

"The Guardian agrees with you that the Bahá'ís should be very careful not to criticize or rather attack the church. As we believe the church of Rome to be the inheritor, so to speak, of Christ's teachings, the direct line, however perverted by men's doctrines, it certainly does not befit us to show antagonism towards it. We know it is out-dated. Tact is required!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 22, 1950)


1399. A Bahá'í Cannot Be a Spiritist

"...the Guardian feels it incumbent upon him to make it quite clear that membership in every Bahá'í organization excludes the possibility of joining any religious or political association, even though such an alliance does not involve a complete repudiation of Bahá'í principles and doctrines. It would be utterly impossible to reconcile the teachings of the Faith with all the views and conceptions which any existing group, whether religious or political, may advocate. In view of that, it seems but logical that a Bahá'í cannot be a spiritist at the same time. Not that the ideas which the spiritists proclaim are each and all in direct opposition to the Bahá'í teachings. As a matter of fact there are some good points in spiritism. But this is not sufficient justification for a believer to accept membership in a spiritist organization.

"While Shoghi Effendi would urge you to dissociate yourself from the spiritists, he wishes you at the same time to act with caution and wisdom. Your separation from the spiritists should be gradual, and in a way that would not arouse the antagonism of your friends and relatives. Too sudden and abrupt a change is, indeed, harmful not only to you but to those who through you have been attracted to the Cause...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 14, 1934)


1400. Relationship of Bahá'í Community to the United Nations

"The outstanding development in the relationship of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations was the accreditation of the Community as a non-governmental organization with consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Bahá'í International Community now has a permanent representative at the United Nations and maintains an office in New York."

(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)


1401. All Social Movements Have Some Spark of Truth

"There are so many movements in the world at present akin to various Bahá'í principles; indeed we can almost say that the principles of Bahá'u'lláh have been adapted by thinking people all over this planet. But what they do not realize, and what the Bahá'ís must therefore teach them, is that these principles, however perfect, will never be able to create a new society unless and until they are animated by the spirit which alone changes the hearts and characters of men, and that spirit is recognition of their divine origin in a teacher sent from God, in other words, Bahá'u'lláh. When they recognize this, their hearts will change and a change of heart is what people need, not merely a change of intellectual outlook."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Bahá'í Youth of Lima, Peru, November 17, 1945)



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1402. A Bahá'í Should Not Seek Financial Help from a Religious Organization as a Bahá'í

"The questions raised in your letter of 9 January 1985 have been considered by the Universal House of Justice, and we are asked to inform you that Bahá'ís should not seek financial assistance from a religious organization as Bahá'ís. However, if some charitable organization, operated by the followers of another religion, grants scholarships to individuals, for example, a Bahá'í may accept such general assistance as an individual, but not as a Bahá'í.

"The House of Justice states that while Mr. ... may continue to receive assistance from the Catholic Commission, other Bahá'í refugees should not ask or receive aid from that body if the nature of the aid is different from what is explained above. The time will come when the Bahá'í Faith is strong enough to extend financial assistance to Catholics and others. At that time, it would be possible for Bahá'ís to partake of the facilities of the Catholic Commission. However, at present, when mutual reciprocity cannot be established, the House of Justice advises that it is not dignified for Bahá'ís to apply for such assistance."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, February 7, 1985)


1403. Membership in Trade Unions--Election Procedures

"The Alaska Public Employees Association appears to be a type of union organization. As long as this and other associations, such as the special interest groups you mention, are not affiliated with any political party and are not involved in political activities there is no objection to Bahá'ís belonging to them nor to their holding office in them.

"As for participation in elections of non-Bahá'í organizations which are open to Bahá'ís but which employ electional methods different from Bahá'í practices, believers need not avoid the election procedures carried out in such organizations.

"In all such activities the friends should bear in mind the following exhortation so clearly set forth by the beloved Guardian in a letter dated February 20, 1927 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada:

'Fully aware of the repeated statements of Abdu'l-Bahá that universality is of God, Bahá'ís in every land are ready, nay anxious, to associate themselves by word and deed with any association of men which, after careful scrutiny, they feel satisfied is free from every tinge of partisanship and politics and is wholly devoted to the interests of all mankind.... They should always bear in mind, however, the dominating purpose of such collaboration, which is to secure in time the recognition by those with whom they are associating of the paramount necessity and the true significance of the Bahá'í Revelation in this day.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, January 4, 1979)


1404. As to Participation in Strikes

"As to participation in strikes, when one of the believers who was employed in a factory as a supervisor to labourers and who felt that a strike was likely at the factory asked the Guardian what the Bahá'í attitude should be if a strike were called, the Guardian's secretary in a letter dated June 30, 1937 wrote on his behalf:

'With regard to your question concerning the Bahá'í attitude towards labour



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problems; these cannot assuredly be solved, Abdu'l-Bahá tells us, through the sheer force of physical violence. Non-cooperation too, even though not accompanied by acts of violence, is ineffective. The conflict between labour and capital can best be solved through the peaceful and constructive methods of cooperation and of consultation.

'The Bahá'ís, therefore, are advised to avoid, as much as they can, getting mixed in labour strikes and troubles, and particularly to desist from all acts of physical violence which indeed run counter to the very spirit of the Cause. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh stands for peace, harmony, and cooperation between the individuals and nations of the world.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Luxembourg, April 4, 1973)



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XXXVI. ORIENTALS


1405. Warning Concerning Oriental Moslems

"As to your question as to what races should be regarded as coming under the heading of 'Orientals' in connection with Abdu'l-Bahá's warnings: there is no doubt He was primarily thinking of the Near Eastern races of Islamic extraction, who have every reason to look upon the Faith either with contempt as a mere heresy within, or sect of, Islam, or with hatred as a potential threat to the supremacy of their religion. Likewise, it is these Near Eastern races, particularly the Persian, who have been most persistently exposed to the propaganda and bad example of the Covenant-breakers, old and new, and from whose ranks these very Covenant-breakers have sprung. These circumstances, combined with the fact that, like His Prophetic Forebears, Bahá'u'lláh appeared amongst the people most in need of enlightenment--and hence at their lowest ebb morally--are the reasons for not only Abdu'l-Bahá's and his own repeated warnings concerning Orientals, but also for the conduct, so often demonstrated, unfortunately, by these same Orientals, and which amply justifies our attitude of great precaution and wariness concerning receiving them in our midst and believing their declarations to be sincere. Shoghi Effendi also feels that the Moslems of India should likewise be included in this category, owing to their respective religious and racial background."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 9, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 197, July 1947, pp. 6-7)


1406. The Mere Name of Bahá'í Does Not Constitute a Bahá'í

"...the Guardian wishes the Bahá'ís to bear in mind the repeated counsels of the Master that the friends should be on their guard when dealing with Easterners. Not only should they trust no one unless he bears some letter of introduction from his Assembly but also after he is permitted in the Bahá'í group they should be very careful in their dealings with him. This does not mean that they should be unkind to him or have a constant suspicion that would gradually alienate him from the Cause, but to be on their guard lest he misuses their trust. The case of Ahmed Sohrab is a very good example of what an Easterner can do. He thinks to be doing shrewd business when a westerner would consider the act to be deceitful. As Bahá'u'lláh says often in His Tablets the friends should develop a flair wherewith they can detect the good from the evil person. Mere name of Bahá'í does not constitute a Bahá'í. His character also has to be Bahá'í."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 18, 1932)


1407. Avoid Making Any Effort to Convert Orientals to the Faith--i.e., Muslims from the Middle East, Pakistan and India

"As a general rule the friends should not seek out contacts among Orientals (i.e.,



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those of Muslim background from the Middle East, Pakistan and India), whether students or not. However, when contact with Orientals occurs in the course of normal social events the friends, as in all other cases, should show courtesy and kindness, but in these days when the political situation is so confused the friends should consciously avoid making any effort to convert Orientals to the Faith.

"Should such individuals, however, show real interest in the Faith even to the point of wishing to declare, your National Assembly should be contacted by either the Local Spiritual Assembly or the individual teacher so that you in turn can contact the National Spiritual Assembly of the country of origin of the applicant, giving that Assembly full particulars and requesting it to inform you whether there is any objection to the enrolment of that particular individual. Nevertheless, if it appears that the Oriental wishing to declare is contemplating a return to his own country soon, you should follow your present practice of requesting that he declare to the proper administrative institution of his own country."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)


1408. Iranian Bahá'ís Need Not Avoid All Contact with Iranian Muslims--However, They Should Not Seek Them Out for Friendly Contacts nor for Teaching

"The House of Justice feels that the friends, and sometimes the Bahá'í institutions, have tended to over-react to the instructions given from time to time about contacting and teaching Muslims from Iran and other places in the Middle East, and they often take to extremes the cautions given in such instructions. The friends sometimes think they should shun such people entirely or that any contact with them is considered a breach of Bahá'í law. We are asked to point out that the House of Justice has never forbidden the friends to contact Iranian Muslims, as such a general prohibition would be contrary to the spirit of the Faith. However, given the history and the current situation of the Faith in Iran, it has urged the friends in the West to act toward these people with wisdom and caution. In fact, the House of Justice has clarified the matter on various occasions by stating the following to National Spiritual Assemblies:

'The instructions of the beloved Guardian regarding teaching orientals from the Middle East are to be upheld, even more so at this time because of the present situation in Iran. Iranian Muslims in particular should not be sought out in order to teach them the Faith. It cannot be categorically said, however, that the friends should have no contact with Iranian Muslims. Some of the Bahá'ís have relatives who are Iranian Muslims, some have close Iranian Muslim friends who happen to reside in the West, and they should not relinquish these friendships. At the same time it should be stressed to the Iranian Bahá'ís that while they should not cut themselves off from their Muslim relatives and friends--a step which could create animosity and turn them against the Faith--they should not normally seek out Iranian Muslims in order to initiate friendly contacts with them or teach them the Faith.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1983)



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1409. In Certain Cases Iranian Muslims Could Be Considered for Enrolment--Each Instance to be Referred to the Universal House of Justice for Approval

"Moreover, the House of Justice feels that there are a number of cases in which Iranian Muslims could be considered for enrolment as Bahá'ís; for example, in cases where the Muslim spouse of a Bahá'í has shown his or her interest and sincerity and has never engaged in opposing the Cause. Another example is when an Iranian is a permanent resident of the United States or Canada and apparently has no ulterior motives, such as assuming Bahá'í membership to resolve his visa problems. Proposed enrolments should be referred to the House of Justice for approval so that, if necessary, the matter can be taken up with the Iranian National Assembly. Of course, even in the cases cited enrolment cannot always be immediately effected. Consideration must be given to other factors: the reaction of relatives in Iran could be a factor in determining the timeliness of enrolling such persons. In such instances it could be explained to them that although they have accepted the Faith in their hearts and are regarded as Bahá'ís in belief, their enrolment must be postponed because of the situation in Iran. Meanwhile, the Bahá'ís should maintain friendly contacts with them and deepen them in their knowledge of the Faith."

(Ibid.)


1410. Bahá'í Professionals Should Not Refuse to Make Themselves Available Professionally to Iranian Muslims

"Already a number of Bahá'í professionals are being approached by Iranian Muslims seeking their expertise. It would be unwise for these Bahá'ís to refuse to make themselves available to them professionally. However, cultural and social contacts should take place only with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate Bahá'í institution."

(Ibid.)



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XXXVII. PEACE


1411. The Ministers of the House of Justice to Promote Peace

"First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 89)


1412. The Time and Means Through which the Lesser and the Most Great Peace Will Be Established

"With reference to the question you have asked concerning the time and means through which the Lesser and Most Great Peace, referred to by Bahá'u'lláh, will be established, following the coming World War. Your view that the Lesser Peace will come about through the political efforts of the states and nations of the world, and independently of any direct Bahá'í plan or effort, and the Most Great Peace established through the instrumentality of the believers, and by the direct operation of the laws and principles revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the functioning of the Universal House of Justice as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í super-state--your view on this subject is quite correct and in full accord with the pronouncements of the Guardian as embodied in the 'Unfoldment of World Civilization'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1939)


1413. Unless the Message of Bahá'u'lláh Reaches into the Hearts of Men and Transforms Them, There Can Be No Peace

"Indeed when we see the increasing darkness in the world today we can fully realize that unless the Message of Bahá'u'lláh reaches into the hearts of men and transforms them, there can be no peace and no spiritual progress in the future.

"His constant hope is that the believers will conduct themselves, individually and in their Bahá'í Community life, in such a manner as to attract the attention of others to the Cause. The world is not only starving for lofty principles and ideals, it is, above all, starving for a shining example which the Bahá'ís can and must provide."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1945)


1414. Predictions of Peace, Prophecy of Daniel--1335 Days

"Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask, namely, 'Blessed is he who cometh unto the thousand three hundred and thirty five days'. These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the Divine



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Light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: From a Tablet to a Kurdish friend: The Passing of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 31, Shoghi Effendi and Lady Blomfield)

"...The 1335 days is figured according to the solar calendar, but in adjusting the 1335 days, one must take into consideration the time at which the prophecies were given and change them into solar time, which would bring the date to 1963.

"There is one thing of importance for the Bahá'ís to understand; and that is, that this prophecy refers to happenings within the Faith, not occurrences outside the Faith. It refers specifically to the spread of the Faith over the face of the earth. This will be accomplished when the Bahá'í Faith is firmly established in all the virgin areas outlined in the Ten-Year Crusade, and the other goals of the Crusade are completed. Thus it behooves us to work day and night in order to accomplish this glorious goal."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 4, 1946: Some Extracts from Letters written on behalf of the Guardian on the subject of the Prophecy of Daniel: A Compilation from the World Centre to the compiler)


1415. Prerequisite to Peace

"The prerequisite to real success is a harmonious gathering. When the friends begin to have peace at home they can teach the people to have peace between the nations and classes."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1926)


1416. Radiation of Thought Will Not Bring Peace

"I might add that he does not believe any radiations of thought or healing, from any group, is going to bring peace. Prayer, no doubt, will help the world, but what it needs is to accept Bahá'u'lláh's system so as to build up the World Order on a new foundation, a divine foundation!..."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Extracts From the Guardian's Letters, Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8: A Compilation from the World Centre, February 1970)


1417. No Greater Bliss Than to Find One Has Become the Cause of Peace

"...Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellowmen. No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3)


1418. Volition and Action Are Necessary Before International Peace Can Be Established.

"All of us know that international peace is good, that it is conducive to human welfare and the glory of man, but volition and action are necessary before it can be established. Action is essential. Inasmuch as this century is a century of light, capacity for action is assured to mankind. Necessarily the divine principles will be spread among men



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until the time of action arrives. Surely this has been so, and truly the time and conditions are ripe for action now."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 121)


1419. Every Means that Produces War Must Be Checked

"In short, every means that produces war must be checked and the causes that prevent the occurrence of war be advanced--so that physical conflict may become an impossibility. On the other hand, every country must be properly delimited, its exact frontiers marked, its national integrity secured, its permanent independence protected, and its vital interests honoured by the family of nations. These services ought to be rendered by an impartial, international Commission. In this manner all causes of friction and differences will be removed. And in case there should arise some disputes between them, they could arbitrate before the Parliament of Man, the representatives of which should be chosen from among the wisest and most judicious men of all the nations of the world."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp 115-116, cited in Peace, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, August 1985)


1420. Every Century Holds the Solution of One Predominating Problem

"Every century holds the solution of one predominating problem. Although there may be many problems, yet one of the innumerable problems will loom large and become the most important of all. ...in this luminous century the greatest bestowal of the world of humanity is Universal Peace, which must be founded, so that the realm of creation may obtain composure, the East and the West, which include in their arms the five continents of the globe, may embrace each other, mankind may rest beneath the tent of oneness of the world of humanity, and the flag of universal peace may wave over all the regions...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp. 115-117)


1421. Do Not Rest Until the Peace Foretold by the Prophets is Permanently Established

"The world is in great turmoil, and what is most pathetic is that it has learned to keep away from God, Who alone can save it and alleviate its sufferings. It is our duty, we who have been trusted with the task of applying the divine remedy given by Bahá'u'lláh, to concentrate our attention upon the consummation of this task and not rest until the peace foretold by the Prophets of God is permanently established."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 9, 1931: Peace, op. cit.)


1422. To Disregard the Bahá'í Solution for Peace is to Build on Foundations of Sand

"...He is firmly convinced that through perseverance and concerted action the cause of Peace will eventually triumph over all the dark forces which threaten the welfare and progress of the world to-day. But such purely human attempts are undoubtedly ineffective unless inspired and guided by the power of faith. Without the assistance of God, as given through the message of Bahá'u'lláh, peace can never be safely and adequately established. To disregard the Bahá'í solution for world peace is to build on foundations of sand. To accept and apply it is to make peace not a mere dream, or an ideal, but a living reality. This is the point which the Guardian wishes you



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to develop, to emphasize again and again, and to support by convincing arguments. The Bahá'í peace program is, indeed, not only one way of attaining that goal. It is not even relatively the best. It is, in the last resort, the sole effective instrument for the establishment of the reign of peace in this world. This attitude does not involve any total repudiation of other solutions offered by various philanthropists. It merely shows their inadequacy compared to the Divine Plan for the unification of the world. We cannot escape the truth that nothing mundane can in the last resort be enduring, unless supported and sustained through the power of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 25, 1933: Ibid.)


1423. The Unification of Mankind is Assured by Bahá'u'lláh and No Power Can Prevent It

"Whatever our shortcomings may be, and however formidable the forces of darkness which besiege us to-day, the unification of mankind as outlined and ensured by the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will in the fullness of time be firmly and permanently established. This is Bahá'u'lláh's promise, and no power on earth can in the long run prevent or even retard its adequate realization. The friends should, therefore, not lose hope, but fully conscious of their power and their role they should persevere in their mighty efforts for the extension and the consolidation of Bahá'u'lláh's universal dominion on earth."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 6, 1933: Ibid.)


1424. Bahá'u'lláh's Teachings Will Establish a Universal Consciousness and a Universal Way of Life

"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh will establish a new way of life for humanity. Those who are Bahá'ís must endeavour to establish this way of life just as rapidly as possible. Now that the hour has arrived when the Bahá'í Faith is gaining prominence, and is being viewed and reviewed by so many peoples, it is necessary that the adherents of the Faith should live up to the high ideals of the Faith in every way. In this way they can demonstrate that the Bahá'í Faith does create a new way of life, which brings to the individual a complete association with the Will of God, and thus the establishment of a peaceful and universal society. Divisional attachments are of man, while universal service is of God.

"The Guardian is now anxious that all the friends achieve a universal consciousness and a universal way of life."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 20, 1955: Ibid.)


1425. Peace Will Come

"It is true that Abdu'l-Bahá made statements linking the establishment of the unity of nations to the twentieth century. For example: '...The fifth candle is the unity of nations--a unity which, in this century, will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland....' And, in 'The Promised Day is Come', following a similar statement quoted from 'Some Answered Questions', Shoghi Effendi makes this comment: 'This is the stage which the world is now approaching, the stage of world unity, which, as Abdu'l-Bahá assures us, will, in this century, be securely established.'



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"There is also this statement from a letter written in 1946 to an individual believer on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary:

'...All we know is that the Lesser and the Most Great Peace will come--their exact dates we do not know. The same is true as regards the possibility of a future war; we cannot state dogmatically it will or will not take place--all we know is that mankind must suffer and be punished sufficiently to make it turn to God.'"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, July 29, 1974: Ibid.)


1426. The Aims and Purpose of the Faith Are to Eliminate War and Establish Peace and Unity

"...the Bahá'í Faith aims to eliminate all war, including nuclear. The fundamental purpose of our Faith is unity and the establishment of peace. This goal, which is the longing of people throughout an increasingly insecure world, can only be achieved through the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Since it is only the Bahá'ís who can give these Teachings to mankind, the friends must weigh carefully how they will spend their time and energy and guard against associating with activities which unduly distract them from their primary responsibility of sharing the Message of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 4, 1982: Ibid.)


1427. Nuclear Disarmament

"At the present time, the subject of nuclear disarmament has become very much a political issue, with demonstrations taking place not only in the United States but also in England and some western European countries. To single out nuclear disarmament falls short of the Bahá'í position and would involve the Faith in the current disputes between nations. It is very clear that Bahá'ís believe disarmament, not only of nuclear weapons but of biological, chemical and all other forms, is essential."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 12, 1983: Ibid.)


1428. The Transition from the Present System of National Sovereignty to a System of World Government

"Concerning the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a system of the world government, the House of Justice fully agrees with your view that the Bahá'ís must now do all in their power to promote this transition. This requires several related activities, all of which are goals of the present Seven Year Plan. One is the establishment as rapidly as possible of firmly grounded efficiently functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies in every part of the world, so that seekers everywhere will have a point of reference to which they can turn for guidance and for the Teachings of the Faith. A second is the deepening of the believers, of all ages, in their understanding of and obedience to the Teachings. A third is the proclamation of the Faith to all strata of society, and in particular to those in authority and to leaders of thought so that those who hold the direction of peoples in their hands will learn accurately about the nature and tenets of the Faith and will grow to respect it and implement its principles. A fourth is the promotion of Bahá'í scholarship, so that an increasing number of believers will be able to analyse the problems of mankind in every field and to show how the Teachings solve them. A fifth is the development of relations



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between the Bahá'í International Community and the United Nations both directly with the highest U.N. institutions and at a grass-roots level in areas of rural development, education, etc.

"As you are no doubt aware, the Guardian indicated that the development of mankind from its present chaotic condition to the stage of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth would be a long and gradual one. The coming into existence of a World Authority and the initiation of the Lesser Peace is one major transformation in this process, and will be followed by other stages of the development of the Faith as outlined by Shoghi Effendi in his writings. Undoubtedly, as these developments are taking place, the counsel the institutions of the Faith can give to governments, the pattern of world administration offered by the Bahá'í community and the great humanitarian projects which will be launched under the aegis of the Universal House of Justice will exercise a great influence on the course of progress."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 19, 1983: Ibid.)


1429. Bahá'ís Are Not Pacifists

"...It is true that Bahá'ís are not pacifists since we uphold the use of force in the service of justice and upholding law. But we do not believe that war is ever necessary and its abolition is one of the essential purposes and brightest promises of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation. His specific command to the kings of the earth is: 'Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.' (Tablet to Queen Victoria, 'The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh', p. 13) The beloved Guardian has explained that the unity of mankind implies the establishment of a world commonwealth, a world federal system, '...liberated from the curse of war and its miseries ... in which Force is made the servant of Justice...' whose world executive 'backed by an international Force ... will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth.' This is obviously not war but the maintenance of law and order on a world scale. Warfare is the ultimate tragedy of disunity among nations where no international authority exists powerful enough to restrain them from pursuing their own limited interests. Bahá'ís therefore ask to serve their countries in non-combatant ways during such fighting; they will doubtless serve in such an international Force as Bahá'u'lláh envisions, whenever it comes into being."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 11, 1984: Ibid.)


1430. The Lesser Peace Will Initially Be a Political Unity

"Bahá'u'lláh's principal mission in appearing at this time in human history is the realization of the oneness of mankind and the establishment of peace among the nations; therefore, all the forces which are focused on accomplishing these ends are influenced by His Revelation. We know, however, that peace will come in stages. First, there will come the Lesser Peace, when the unity of nations will be achieved, then gradually the Most Great Peace-- the spiritual as well as social and political unity of mankind, when the Bahá'í World Commonwealth, operating in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Most Holy Book of the Bahá'í Revelation, will have been established through the efforts of the Bahá'ís.

"As to the Lesser Peace, Shoghi Effendi has explained that this will initially be a political unity arrived at by decision of the governments of various nations; it will not be established by direct action of the Bahá'í community. This does not mean,



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however, that the Bahá'ís are standing aside and waiting for the Lesser Peace to come before they do something about the peace of mankind. Indeed, by promoting the principles of the Faith, which are indispensable to the maintenance of peace, and by fashioning the instruments of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, which we are told by the beloved Guardian is the pattern for future society, the Bahá'ís are constantly engaged in laying the groundwork for a permanent peace, the Most Great Peace being their ultimate goal.

"The Lesser Peace itself will pass through stages: at the initial stage the governments will act entirely on their own without the conscious involvement of the Faith; later on, in God's good time, the Faith will have a direct influence on it in ways indicated by Shoghi Effendi in his 'The Goal of a New World Order'. In connection with the steps that will lead to this latter stage, the Universal House of Justice will certainly determine what has to be done, in accordance with the guidance in the Writings, such as the passage you quoted from 'Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh', page 89. In the meantime, the Bahá'ís will undoubtedly continue to do all in their power to promote the establishment of peace."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1985: Ibid.)



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XXXVIII. PILGRIMS' NOTES


1431. Any Narrative Not Authenticated by a Text Should Not Be Trusted

"Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' notes. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Baha, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet)


1432. Privilege of Friends to Share Results of These Visits

"Regarding the notes taken by pilgrims at Haifa. The Guardian has stated that he is unwilling to sign the notes of any pilgrim, in order that the literature consulted by the believers shall not be unduly extended... This means that the notes of pilgrims do not carry the authority resident in the Guardian's letters written over his own signature. On the other hand each pilgrim brings back information and suggestions of a most precious character, and it is the privilege of all the friends to share in the spiritual results of these visits."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States: Bahá'í News, No. 281, p. 4, July 1954)


1433. Pilgrims' Notes Are Hearsay and Cannot Claim the Authority of the Sacred Text

"The instructions of the Master and the Guardian make it very clear that Pilgrims' notes are hearsay and cannot claim the authority and binding power of the Sacred Text.... Moreover, the fact that the pilgrim writing of his experience is a reliable or well-known believer, or that the reported statement seems to be repeated in the notes of several pilgrims, does not in itself confer authority upon the pilgrim's note in question."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 23, 1980)


1434. The Notes of Pilgrims Are for Their Own Use

"Shoghi Effendi has often said that the notes of the pilgrims should be for their own personal use and bear absolutely no authority. What he desires to convey to the friends at large he will always say in his general letters."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933)


1435. The Difference Between Talks and Tablets

"Shoghi Effendi has laid down the principle that the Bahá'ís should not attribute much importance to talks reported to have been given by the Master, if these have not in one form or other obtained His sanction.

"Bahá'u'lláh has made it clear enough that only those things that have been revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the friends. Hearsays may



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be matters of interest but can in no way claim authority. This basic teaching of Bahá'u'lláh was to preserve the Faith from being corrupted like Islam which attributes binding authority to all the reported sayings of Muhammad.

"This being a basic principle of the Faith, we should not confuse Tablets that were actually revealed and mere talks attributed to the founders of the Cause. The first have absolute binding authority while the latter can in no way claim our obedience. The highest thing this can achieve is to influence the activities of the one who has heard the saying in person.

"Those talks of the Master that were later reviewed by Him, corrected or in some other form considered authentic by Himself, such as the 'Some Answered Questions', these could be considered as Tablets and therefore be given the necessary binding power. All the other talks such as are included in Ahmad's diary or the diary of pilgrims, do not fall under this category and could be considered only as interesting material to be taken for what they are worth.

"For this reason Shoghi Effendi has not been encouraging the publication of reported sayings that were not authenticated by the Master Himself. And when he said that they may be published if quotation marks are taken away, Shoghi Effendi tried to prevent the friends from considering as actual words of the Master things that were not authenticated by Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the United States Publishing Committee, December 29, 1931)


1436. Stories Told About Abdu'l-Bahá

"He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about Abdu'l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they should not also be given prominence or official recognition."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 2, 1935)


1437. Only Signed or Sealed Tablets Are Considered Authentic

"According to the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh no authority can be attached to a mere hearsay, no matter through whom it may come. The Tablets that bear the seal or signature of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master are the only parts of the literature that have any authority and that constitute the basis of our belief. All other forms of literature may bear points of interest but they cannot be considered as authentic. This is the view that Shoghi Effendi took towards the talks of Abdu'l-Bahá that Ahmad Sohrab had incorporated in his book, and it is the attitude that he would take towards any other reported saying, naturally unless the Master has appended His signature to that talk and thereby given it the authority of a Tablet such as is the case with 'Some Answered Questions' that was actually corrected by Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 18, 1931)


1438. Pilgrim's Notes Reporting the Master's Words on Embracing and Kissing

"The pilgrim's note reports the Master as saying: 'Women and men must not



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embrace each other when not married, or not about to be married. They must not kiss each other... If they wish to greet each other, or comfort each other, they may take each other by the hand.' In a letter to an individual written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is said: 'The Master's words to ..., which you quoted, can certainly be taken as the true spirit of the teachings on the subject of sex. We must strive to achieve this exalted standard.' (October 19, 1947)"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 10, 1974)


1439. Haifa Notes Collected by Mrs. Maxwell

"With reference to the Haifa notes collected by dear Mrs. Maxwell: These have exactly the same status as all other pilgrims' notes, and as such there should be no objection to their circulation among the believers. While these notes taken down by the pilgrims do not constitute as official pronouncements made by the Guardian, and therefore should not be imposed on the friends, those who wish to share them with the members of the Community should, under no circumstances, be prevented from doing so. Though not strictly official, and in some instances inaccurate and misleading, these notes, as experience has shown, can be of tremendous help, guidance and inspiration to many individual believers, and their value as such should therefore be readily admitted."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 28, 1939)



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XXXIX. POLITICS AND GOVERNMENTS

A. Politics


1440. Political Figures

"The Guardian wishes me to draw the attention of the friends through you that they should be very careful in their public utterance not to mention any political figures--either side with them or denounce them. This is the first thing to bear in mind. Otherwise they will involve the friends in political matters, which is infinitely dangerous for the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 12, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 72, April 1933, p. 3)


1441. Politicians: Non-Political Government Jobs

"Actual politicians, he feels, will for the most part never be willing to forget their ambitions, work and prestige in order to embrace the Faith, but association with all people, in government occupation or otherwise, who are progressive minded, is advisable, as we publicize the Faith this way and may meet receptive souls. There is no objection to Bahá'ís serving in government jobs that are purely non-political."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 30, 1947)


1442. No Bahá'í Can Be Regarded as Republican or Democrat

"...no vote cast or office undertaken by a Bahá'í should necessarily constitute acceptance, by the voter or office holder, of the entire programme of any political party. No Bahá'í can be regarded as either Republican or Democrat, as such. He is above all else, the supporter of the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, with which, I am firmly convinced, the programme of no political party is completely harmonious...."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 85, July, 1934, p. 2)


1443. Voting in Civil Elections

"As regards the non-political character of the Faith,... The friends may vote, if they can do it, without identifying themselves with one party or another. To enter the arena of party politics is surely detrimental to the best interests of the Faith and will harm the Cause. It remains for the individuals to so use their right to vote as to keep aloof from party politics, and always bear in mind that they are voting on the merits of the individual, rather than because he belongs to one party or another. The matter must be made perfectly clear to the individuals, who will be left free to exercise their discretion and judgement. But if a certain person does enter into party politics and labours for the ascendency of one party over another, and continues to



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do it against expressed appeals and warnings of the Assembly, then the Assembly has the right to refuse him the right to vote in Bahá'í elections."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 16, 1933)


1444. Avoid Identification with Political Parties

"We have received your letter of 12 December 1973 concerning the problem of ... who says that it is very difficult for him to keep his job as a teacher in a public school without being registered as a member of one of the political parties now in the government.

"A similar question has arisen in some other countries, particularly in Africa where the one-party system is in use. Although we understand that there is more than one political party in your country, we think it would be helpful to you to have a summary of the instructions we have given to African Assemblies, and this is enclosed.

"We suggest that ...'s case might offer your Assembly an opportunity to seek an appointment with the proper government official or officials to explain the Bahá'í position on non-interference in political affairs, as well as on obedience and loyalty to government. Your approach should be to seek advice on what can be done in ...'s situation and in similar cases to avoid identification with party politics while at the same time showing the utmost loyalty to the government. Certainly this would afford your Assembly yet another opportunity to proclaim the Faith and its principles and to seek the respect and understanding of the officials."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, December 28, 1973)


1445. For Bahá'ís Living in Countries Where the Political Structure is Based on a One-Party System

"1. The beloved Guardian repeatedly emphasized the principle of refusing to join any political party. In 'The Advent of Divine Justice', in speaking of the rectitude of conduct which must manifest itself in the Bahá'í community, he said: 'It must characterize the attitude of every loyal believer towards non-acceptance of political posts, non-identification with political parties, non-participation in political controversies, and non-membership in political organizations...'

"2. a. If the National Spiritual Assembly is satisfied that membership in the party is not compulsory according to the law of the land, but is promoted merely by persuasion, encouragement, and inducement through the granting of privileges and even threats, then the Bahá'ís should refrain from joining the party, whatever the personal sacrifices may be.

"b. If, however, it is ascertained by the National Spiritual Assembly, that the law requires every citizen to belong to the party, Bahá'ís may pay money equivalent to the dues involved, without accepting membership of the party. There is no objection to their carrying receipts indicating that the contribution has been made.



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"c. If alternative 2b. is not possible, Bahá'ís have no choice but to accept membership, without becoming active in the party, such as holding offices."

(From a Summary of Instructions of the Universal House of Justice attached to the above cited letter to Bolivia, December 28, 1973)


1446. No Loyal Believer Should Commit Himself to a Political Program

"...no loyal believer should under any circumstances commit himself in any way to a political program or policy formulated and upheld by a political party. For affiliation with such a party necessarily entails repudiation of some principles and teachings of the Cause, or partial recognition of some of its fundamental verities. The friends should, therefore, keep aloof from party politics. What they should mainly keep away from under all circumstances and in all its forms is partisanship."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 17, 1935)


1447. Bahá'ís Should Refrain from Voting, if They Must Identify with a Political Party or Doctrine

"The main principle, as you know, is that the friends should refrain from participating in any political election, unless they ascertain that in casting their vote for this or that candidate they are not affiliating themselves with any political party or organization, and are not identifying themselves with any political program. The whole question hinges on the matter of identification, and not on voting in itself.

"The application of this principle the Guardian has left to the individuals who are conscientiously required to submit their own special cases in which they are doubtful to their assemblies for consideration and guidance."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)


1448. Enrolment When Political Affiliation or Activities Are Involved

"No additional requirements should be laid upon new members at the time of their declaration of belief. Rather, your Assembly should undertake to make the issues clear with such friends so that prospective new adherents may know beforehand of the position of the Faith in regard to political connections. When it is found that, in spite of this, a new Bahá'í still has political associations or activities, he should be lovingly and patiently educated so that he will withdraw from them. Some will be able to achieve this immediately, but others will need time to sever their connections discreetly. This can be a delicate matter and requires an awareness of each individual's particular situation and obligations. Of course, if such a believer does not respond to the Assembly's efforts to disengage him from politics, he must be warned and, if this still produces no effect, the Assembly would ultimately have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, July 12, 1984)


1449. Membership in Any Political Party Entails Repudiation of Principles of Peace and Unity

"The Bahá'í Community is a world-wide organization seeking to establish true



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and universal peace on earth. If a Bahá'í works for one political party to overcome another it is a negation of the very spirit of the Faith. Membership in any political party, therefore, necessarily entails repudiation of some or all of the principles of peace and unity proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. As Abdu'l-Bahá stated: 'Our party is God's party; we do not belong to any party.'

"If a Bahá'í were to insist on his right to support a certain political party, he could not deny the same degree of freedom to other believers. This would mean that within the ranks of the Faith, whose primary mission is to unite all men as one great family under God, there would be Bahá'ís opposed to each other. Where, then, would be the example of unity and harmony which the world is seeking?

"If the institutions of the Faith, God forbid, became involved in politics, the Bahá'ís would find themselves arousing antagonism instead of love. If they took one stand in one country, they would be bound to change the views of the people in another country about the aims and purposes of the Faith. By becoming involved in political disputes, the Bahá'ís instead of changing the world or helping it, would themselves be lost and destroyed. The world situation is so confused and moral issues which were once clear have become so mixed up with selfish and battling factions, that the best way Bahá'ís can serve the highest interests of their country and the cause of true salvation for the world is to sacrifice their political pursuits and affiliations and whole-heartedly and fully support the system of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa, February 8, 1970)


1450. Regarding a Bahá'í Producing Television Advertising for a Political Campaign

"In reply to your query of 24 September concerning the involvement of a Bahá'í in producing television advertising for a political campaign, the Universal House of Justice has directed us to convey its advice that the person in question should refrain from activities promoting the campaign of a politician, although this should not be construed as a restriction on non-Bahá'í associates."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, October 29, 1979)


1451. Bahá'ís Can Neither Campaign for Office nor Undertake Partisan Political Activities--They May Hold Appointive Posts which Are Not Political

"In the case of Mr. ..., it is important that you ascertain precisely what his membership on a village council entails, and how he achieved such membership, i.e., by election or appointment. Your Assembly should understand that Bahá'ís do not engage in political activities nor belong to political parties, but may freely undertake non-political administrative work with governments, may hold appointive posts which are not political in character, or may serve on local councils if they do not campaign for office and are not required to undertake partisan political activities."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Leeward Islands, February 15, 1982)



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1452. No Objection to a Bahá'í Being Elected as a Neighbourhood Captain or Serving on a Neighbourhood Council, Provided...

"There is no objection to a Bahá'í being elected a Barrio Captain or serving on a Barrio Council provided:

1. He is not required to become a member of a political party.

2. Service as a Barrio Captain or as a member of the Barrio Council does not involve him in partisan politics.

3. That he does not campaign for election to office. There is no objection to allowing one's name to be placed in nomination if nominations are required by law. If nominations are not obligatory and the voter is allowed to write on the ballot paper and vote for the names of those he wishes to be elected, this procedure should be followed by the Bahá'ís.

"It would be preferable, of course, if the election of members of a Barrio Council and Barrio Captains could be strictly in accordance with Bahá'í principles. We would appreciate knowing whether this can be done in ... or whether it may be possible to amend the laws so that this procedure can be adopted in villages where the population is entirely or predominately Bahá'í."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Philippines, April 24, 1972)

B. Governments and Civil Authorities


1453. Shun Politics Like the Plague and be Obedient to the Government in Power

"The cardinal principle which we must follow, (in connection with your questions), is obedience to the Government prevailing in any land in which we reside. We cannot, because, say, we do not personally like a totalitarian form of government, refuse to obey it when it becomes the ruling power. Nor can we join underground Movements which are a minority agitating against the prevailing government.

"If a state of Revolution and complete chaos exists in a Country, so that it is impossible to say there is one government in power, then the friends must consult with their National or their Local Assembly, and be guided by what the Assembly considers the proper action to take; in other words which party might be best considered the legal governing authority.

"We see, therefore, that we must do two things--shun politics like the plague, and be obedient to the Government in power in the place where we reside. We cannot start judging how a particular government came into power, and therefore whether we should obey it or not. This would immediately plunge us into politics. We must obey in all cases except where a spiritual principle is involved, such as denying our Faith. For these spiritual principles we must be willing to die. What we Bahá'ís must face is the fact that society is rapidly disintegrating--so rapidly that moral issues which were clear half a century ago are now hopelessly confused, and what is more, thoroughly mixed up with battling political interests. That is why the Bahá'ís must turn all their forces into the channel of building up the Bahá'í Cause and its administration. They can neither change nor help the world in any other way at present. If they become involved in the issues the Governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up the Bahá'í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1948)



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1454. The Bahá'í Cause is Above Political Parties, But the Believers Are Obliged to Whole-Heartedly Obey Existing Political Regime

"At the outset it should be made indubitably clear that the Bahá'í Cause being essentially a religious movement of a spiritual character stands above every political party or group, and thus cannot and should not act in contravention to the principles, laws, and doctrines of any government. Obedience to the regulations and orders of the state is, indeed, the sacred obligation of every true and loyal Bahá'í. Both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have urged us all to be submissive and loyal to the political authorities of our respective countries. It follows, therefore, that our ... friends are under the sacred obligation to whole-heartedly obey the existing political regime, whatever be their personal views and criticisms of its actual working. There is nothing more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than open rebellion against the governmental authorities of a country, specially if they do not interfere in and do not oppose the inner and sacred beliefs and religious convictions of the individual...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 11, 1934)


1455. The Bahá'ís Should Obey the Government Even at Risk of Sacrificing Administrative Affairs--In Matters of Faith No Compromise Allowed, Even Though Outcome is Death

"For whereas the friends should obey the government under which they live, even at the risk of sacrificing all their administrative affairs and interests, they should under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever. A distinction of a fundamental importance must, therefore, be made between spiritual and administrative matters. Whereas the former are sacred and inviolable, and hence cannot be subject to compromise, the latter are secondary and can consequently be given up and even sacrificed for the sake of obedience to the laws and regulations of the government. Obedience to the state is so vital a principal of the Cause that should the authorities in ... decide to-day to prevent the Bahá'ís from holding any meeting or publishing any literature they should obey... But, as already pointed out, such an allegiance is confined merely to administrative matters which if checked can only retard the progress of the Faith for some time. In matters of belief, however, no compromise whatever should be allowed, even though the outcome of it be death or expulsion."

(Ibid.)


1456. Principle of Obedience to Government Does Not Oblige Bahá'í Teachings to be Identified with Political Program

"There is one more point to be emphasized in this connection. The principle of obedience to government does not place any Bahá'í under the obligation of identifying the teachings of his Faith with the political program enforced by the government. For such an identification, besides being erroneous and contrary to both the spirit as well as the form of the Bahá'í Message, would necessarily create a conflict within the conscience of every loyal believer.

"For reasons which are only too obvious the Bahá'í philosophy of social and political organization cannot be fully reconciled with the political doctrines and conceptions that are current and much in vogue to-day. The wave of nationalism,



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so aggressive and so contagious in its effects, which has swept not only over Europe but over a large part of mankind is, indeed, the very negation of the gospel of peace and of brotherhood proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. The actual trend in the political world is, indeed, far from being in the direction of the Bahá'í teachings. The world is drawing nearer and nearer to a universal catastrophe which will mark the end of a bankrupt and of a fundamentally defective civilization.

"From such considerations we can well conclude that we as Bahá'ís can in no wise identify the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh with man-made creeds and conceptions, which by their very nature are impotent to save the world from the dangers with which it is being so fiercely and so increasingly assailed."

(Ibid.)


1457. Employment with the Foreign Service

"Bahá'ís are permitted to apply to the International Communication agency for employment with the United States Foreign Service..."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 7, 1979)

"The House of Justice feels that it would be permissible for you to accept the position of Vice-Consul on the understanding that you are not required to become involved in political activities. The House of Justice urges you to pay particular attention to this matter so that you do not enter upon a course that, at a later stage, would inevitably lead you into political affairs such as policy-making discussions with the Consul General on political matters. The House of Justice feels sure that you are aware of this point and of the delicate line that must be drawn."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 15, 1984)


1458. Bahá'ís Must Be Loyal to Their Spiritual Assembly and at the Same Time to Civil Government, Whether Tribal Council, a Cacique or a Municipal Authority

"As to your query about the Local Spiritual Assembly, it is indeed a divine institution, created by Bahá'u'lláh in His Kitab-i-Aqdas as the Local House of Justice. Abdu'l-Bahá has clearly set out its provenance, authority and duties and has explained the differences between it and other administrative institutions, whether of the past or the present. We refer you to the book 'Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá', sections 37, 38, and 40.

"It is clear that while Local Spiritual Assemblies must supervise all Bahá'í matters in their areas, including arrangement for the Nineteen Day Feast, the observance of the Holy Days, the election of the members of the Assembly, promoting the teaching work, caring for the spiritual welfare and Bahá'í education of the friends and children, etcetera, they and the friends themselves must at the same time be good citizens and loyal to the civil government, whether it be a Tribal Council, a Cacique or a municipal authority.

"In another national community, where the number of believers had increased to the point where the population of some villages had become 100% or almost 100% Bahá'í, the House of Justice upheld the above principles and stated that in each such village, while they should elect their Local Spiritual Assembly, they should



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continue to elect the local Council as required by the Government, and the functions of these two bodies should be kept distinct, even if their memberships were identical."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, April 13, 1983)


1459. Elective or Appointive Posts in Government Should Be Accepted Only if They Do Not Contravene Given Guidelines

"It is better if the friends avoid accepting either elective or appointive posts of the nature described in your letter... Such posts should only be accepted if in the process of obtaining the appointment, in winning the election, or in discharging their duties they do not contravene Bahá'í principles. This includes the following:

"That they do not campaign for election.

"That they do not contravene the guidelines set forth by the beloved Guardian in the following passage:

'Let them refrain from associating themselves, whether by word or by deed, with the political pursuits of their respective nations, with the policies of their governments and the schemes and programs of parties and factions. In such controversies they should assign no blame, take no side, further no design, and identify themselves with no system prejudicial to the best interests of that world-wide Fellowship which it is their aim to guard and foster. Let them beware lest they allow themselves to become the tools of unscrupulous politicians, or to be entrapped by the treacherous devices of the plotters and the perfidious among their countrymen. Let them so shape their lives and regulate their conduct that no charge of secrecy, of fraud, of bribery or of intimidation may, however ill-founded, be brought against them. Let them rise above all particularism and partisanship, above the vain disputes, the petty calculations, the transient passions that agitate the face, and engage the attention, of a changing world. It is their duty to strive to distinguish, as clearly as they possibly can, and if needed with the aid of their elected representatives, such posts and functions as are either diplomatic or political from those that are purely administrative in character, and which under no circumstances are affected by the changes and chances that political activities and party government, in every land, must necessarily involve. Let them affirm their unyielding determination to stand, firmly and unreservedly, for the way of Bahá'u'lláh, to avoid the entanglements and bickerings inseparable from the pursuits of the politician, and to become worthy agencies of that Divine Polity which incarnates God's immutable Purpose for all men.'

"The application of the above principles is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, October 12, 1977)


1460. The Faith is Not Opposed to True Interests of Any Nation

"The Faith is not opposed to the true interests of any nation, nor is it against any party or faction. It holds aloof from all controversies and transcends them all, while enjoining upon its followers loyalty to government and a sane patriotism. This love for their country the Bahá'ís show by serving its well-being in their daily activity, or working in the administrative channels of the government instead of through party



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politics or in diplomatic or political posts. The Bahá'ís may, indeed are encouraged to mix with all strata of society, with the highest authorities and with leading personalities as well as with the mass of the people, and should bring the knowledge of the Faith to them; but in so doing they should strictly avoid becoming identified, or identifying the Faith, with political pursuits and party programmes."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assemblies of Africa, February 8, 1970)


1461. Not Our Purpose to Violate Any Country's Constitution

"...Let them proclaim that in whatever country they reside, and however advanced their institutions, or profound their desire to enforce the laws, and apply the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavoring to conduct and perfect the administrative affairs of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country's constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 21, 1933: World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 65-66)


1462. Bahá'ís Obey the Law, Federal or State

"...Bahá'ís obey the laws, Federal or state, unless submission to these laws amounts to a denial of their Faith. We live the Bahá'í life, fully and continuously, unless prevented by the authorities. This implies, if it does not categorically state, that a Bahá'í is not required to make a judgment as to the precedence of Federal or state law--this is for the courts to decide."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1965: National Bahá'í Review, No. 32, August, 1970, p. 1)


1463. Obedience to Just Governments--What It Means

"Regarding your question about politics and the Master's Will: The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be two-fold, complete obedience to the government of the country they reside in, and no interference whatsoever in political matters or questions. What the Master's statement really means is obedience to a duly constituted Government, whatever that Government may be in form. We are not the ones, as individual Bahá'ís, to judge our Government as just or unjust--for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Bahá'í fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity. We must build up our Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us.

"The Guardian does not think any part of this statement of his is suitable for publication in the Press. The less 'politics' is associated in any way with the name Bahá'í, the better. It should always be made clear that we are a religious non-political community, working for humanitarian ends."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Teaching Committee for Central America, July 3, 1948)



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1464. Taking of Oaths

"In reply to your letter of September 12th the Universal House of Justice asks us to refer you to a letter on this subject written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on July 11th, 1956 to your National Spiritual Assembly:

'Regarding taking oaths, there is nothing in the Teachings on this subject. As a Bahá'í is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh to be truthful, he would express his truthfulness, no matter what the formality of the law in any local place required of him. There can be no objection to Bahá'ís conforming to the requirements of the law court whatever they may be in such matters, as in no case would they constitute in any way a denial of their own beliefs as Bahá'ís.'

"The above direction makes it clear that Bahá'ís may take an oath, if required, on any sacred book. The Universal House of Justice considers that it may be preferable for them to do so on a Bahá'í book, if possible."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 20, 1973)


1465. Implicit Obedience to Administrative Regulations

"To all administrative regulations which the civil authorities have issued from time to time, or will issue in the future in that land, as in all other countries, the Bahá'í community, faithful to its sacred obligations towards its government, and conscious of its civic duties, has yielded, and will continue to yield implicit obedience...."

(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 372, Wilmette, 1987 ed.)


1466. There is No Objection to Taking Case to Civil Court if Assembly and Bahá'ís Are Unable to Negotiate a Settlement of a Dispute

"...The House of Justice ... states that believers should take their differences to the Spiritual Assembly and abide by the decision of the Assembly. However, if Bahá'ís cannot negotiate a settlement of a dispute between them, and if the Spiritual Assembly cannot succeed in arbitrating a solution to the dispute, then there is no objection to the Bahá'ís having recourse to the civil courts. The Assembly should not hesitate to refuse to act in a case which it is satisfied is more properly a question for the law courts. However, the Assembly does not have the authority to prohibit a believer from having recourse to the civil courts if he decides to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 9, 1983)


1467. Let the World Know the Real Aim of Bahá'u'lláh

"...We should let the world know what the real aim of Bahá'u'lláh was. Up to the present the Unity of Mankind was only of an academic importance. Now it is becoming more and more a subject for international statesmen to think of. It is coming to the field of practical politics. It is therefore a wonderful chance for us to come to the front and expound the teaching which is the goal and aim of the social precepts of Bahá'u'lláh. Shoghi Effendi hopes that the friends will re-echo this call to an organic unity of mankind until it forms part of the conscious faith of every living man in



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the world. Great judgment should be however practiced lest we be misunderstood and our Faith be classed among radical movements."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 28, 1932)


1468. Non-Interference in Political Affairs--We Must Shun Pronouncements About Systems of Politics and Not Write About Current Political Affairs

"There is one fundamental point which Shoghi Effendi wishes me to emphasize. By the principle of non-interference in political matters we should not mean that only corrupt politics and partial and sectarian politics are to be avoided, but that any pronouncement on any current system of politics connected with any government must be shunned. We should not only take sides with no political party, group or system actually in use, but we should also refuse to commit ourselves to any statement which may be interpreted as being sympathetic or antagonistic to any existing political organization or philosophy. The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be one of complete aloofness. They are neither for nor against any system of politics. Not that they are the ill-wishers of their respective governments but that due to certain basic considerations arising out of their teachings and of the administrative machinery of their Faith they prefer not to get entangled in political affairs and to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by their countrymen.

"In the light of this principle it becomes clear that to contribute articles on current political affairs to any newspaper must inevitably lead the writer to express, directly or in an indirect manner, his view and his criticisms on the subject. He is, in addition, always liable to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by the politicians. The best thing to do, therefore, is simply not to write on current politics at all."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 2, 1934)


1469. One Method by which One Can Criticize the Present Day Socio-Political Order

"There is, however, one case in which one can criticize the present social and political order without being necessarily forced to side with or oppose any existing regime. And this is the method adopted by the Guardian in his 'Goal of a New World Order'. His criticisms of the world conditions beside being very general in character are abstract; that is, instead of condemning existing institutional organizations it goes deeper and analyzes the basic ideas and conceptions which have been responsible for their establishment. This being a mere intellectual and philosophical approach to the problem of world political crisis, there is no objection if you wish to try such a method, which immediately carries you from the field of practical politics to that of political theory. But in view of the fact that no clear-cut line can be drawn between theory and practice you should be extremely careful not to make too free a use of such a method."

(Ibid.)


1470. Kingship in the Future

"As to your query whether or not there will be kingship throughout the world in future, the Universal House of Justice calls to your attention Shoghi Effendi's statement on page 219 of 'God Passes By':



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'The establishment of a constitutional form of government, in which the ideals of republicanism and the majesty of kingship, characterized by Him as 'one of the signs of God', are combined, He recommends as a meritorious achievement.'

"In 'The Promised Day Is Come' on pages 73 to 76, the Guardian quotes many passages from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh lauding the principle of kingship and envisaging an increase of monarchies in the future. The House of Justice suggests that a study of this section of the book will provide you with the understanding you seek."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 29, 1977)


1471. President Wilson and Dr. Jordan

"With regard to Ex-President Wilson and Dr. Jordan, it seems fairly clear that both of these men were considerably influenced by the Bahá'í Teachings; but at the same time it is well to avoid making dogmatic statements that they 'got all their principles from Bahá'u'lláh', or the like, as we are not in a position to prove such statements, and to make claims which we cannot prove weakens instead of strengthening our position."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1925)

C. Government Employees


1472. Those Engaged in Government Service Should Perform Their Duties with Utmost Fidelity, Trustworthiness...

"As for those who are engaged in government service, they should perform their duties with the utmost fidelity, trustworthiness, rectitude, uprightness, integrity and high-mindedness. Let them not tarnish their good repute by pursuing personal interests, nor, for the sake of transient worldly benefits, make themselves objects of public odium and outcasts of the Threshold of Grandeur."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet: Trustworthiness: A Cardinal Bahá'í Virtue, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, January 1987)


1473. Government Employees Should Perform Deeds and Actions of the Highest Degree of Rectitude and Honesty

"Ye who are the sincere well-wishers of the state, who are the dutiful and compliant subjects of the government, should occupy yourselves in constant service. Anyone who entereth the employ of the government should show forth in all his deeds and actions the highest degree of rectitude and honesty, of temperance and self-discipline, of purity and sanctity, of justice and equity. If, God forbid, he should be guilty of the least breach of trust, or approach his duties in a slack or desultory fashion, or extort so much as a farthing from the populace, or seek to further his own selfish interests and personal gain--then it is certain that he shall be deprived of the outpourings of God's grace."

(Ibid.)


1474. Those Who Are Selected to Serve the Public Should Perform Their Duties in a Spirit of the True Servitude

"Those persons who are selected to serve the public, or are appointed to administrative positions, should perform their duties in a spirit of true servitude and ready



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compliance. That is to say, they should be distinguished by their goodly disposition and virtuous character, content themselves with their allotted remuneration and act with trustworthiness in all their doings. They should keep themselves aloof from unworthy motives, and be far removed above covetous designs; for rectitude, probity and righteousness are among the most potent means for attracting the grace of God and securing both the prosperity of the country and the welfare of the people. Glory and honour for man are not to be found in fortunes and riches, least of all in those which have been unlawfully amassed through extortion, embezzlement and corruption practised at the expense of an exploited populace. Supreme honour, nobility and greatness in the human world, and true felicity in this life and the life to come--all consist in equity and uprightness, sanctity and detachment. If a man would seek distinction, he should suffice himself with a frugal provision, seek to better the lot of the poor of the realm, choose the way of justice and fair-mindedness, and tread the path of high-spirited service. Such a one, needy though he be, shall win imperishable riches and attain unto everlasting honour."

(Ibid., p. 11)


1475. Those Who Enter Service of the Government Should Shun All Forms of Venality and Corruption

"If any of the friends should enter into service of the government, they should make their occupation a means of drawing nearer to the divine Threshold: they should act with probity and uprightness, rigorously shun all forms of venality and corruption, and content themselves with the salaries they are receiving, taking pride, rather, in the degree of sagacity, competence and judgement that they can bring to their work. If a person content himself with a single loaf of bread, and perform his duties with as much justice and fair-mindedness as lieth within his power, he will be the prince of mortals, and the most praiseworthy of men. Noble and distinguished will he be, despite his empty purse! Pre-eminent will he rank among the free, although his garb be old and worn! For man, praise and glory reside in virtuous and noble qualities; honour and distinction in nearness to the divine Threshold."

(Ibid.)


1476. If One Abuses His Position with the Government Through Corrupt or Mercenary Behavior...

"If one of the friends ... be appointed to a high administrative office, he should strive diligently, to perform the duties committed to his charge with perfect honesty, integrity, sincerity, rectitude and uprightness. If, however, he abuse his position through corrupt or mercenary behaviour, he will be held in detestation at the Threshold of Grandeur and incur the wrath of the Abha Beauty--nay, he shall be forsaken by the One True God and all who adore Him. So far from acting thus, he should content himself with his salary and allowance, seek out the way of righteousness, and dedicate his life to the service of state and people. Such must be the conduct and bearing of the Bahá'ís. Whoso transgresseth these bounds shall fall at length into manifest loss."

(Ibid.)



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1477. If a Man Deals Faithlessly with a Just Government, He Deals Faithlessly with God

"All government employees, whether of high or low rank, should, with perfect integrity, probity and rectitude, content themselves with the modest stipends and allowances that are theirs. They should keep their hands unsullied and preserve their fair name from blemish.... If a man deals faithlessly with a just government he shall have dealt faithlessly with God; and if he render it faithful service he shall have rendered that service to God."

(Ibid.)


1478. Content with Wages Received, They Should Not Stain Their Character Through Acts of Bribery and Fraud nor Misappropriate a Single Penny

"Those souls who are employed in government departments should approach their duties with entire detachment, integrity and independence of spirit, and with complete consecration and sanctity of purpose. Content with the wages they are receiving, they should see that they do not stain their fair character through acts of bribery and fraud. Were one of the friends in this day to misappropriate so much as a single penny, the sacred mantle of God's Cause would become sullied by his action and the shame of it would attach to the whole community. Heaven forbid! Nay, rather, the government and people should come to repose such trust in the Bahá'ís as to wish to commit all affairs of state throughout the provinces into the chaste, pure hands of God's well-beloved."

(Ibid.)



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XL. PRAYER AND MEDITATION

A. Prayer and Meditation


1479. A Prayerful Condition is the Best of Conditions, Especially in Private and at Midnight

"The prayerful condition is the best of all conditions, for man in such a state communeth with God, especially when prayer is offered in private and at times when one's mind is free, such as at midnight. Indeed, prayer imparteth life."

(Abdu'l-Bahá, from a recently translated Tablet: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, 1980)


1480. The Reason for Privacy When Communing with God

"The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and not be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communion. Thus if haply thou dost live in the Day of Resurrection, the mirror of thy heart will be set towards Him Who is the Day-Star of Truth; and no sooner will His light shine forth than the splendour thereof shall forthwith be reflected in thy heart. For He is the Source of all goodness, and unto Him revert all things. But if He appeareth while thou hast turned unto thyself in meditation, this shall not profit thee, unless thou shalt mention His Name by words He hath revealed. For in the forthcoming Revelation it is He Who is the Remembrance of God, whereas the devotions which thou art offering at present have been prescribed by the Point of the Bayan, while He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan--a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it."

(The Bab: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, pp. 93-94)


1481. The More Detached and Pure the Prayer the More Acceptable to God

"The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved of God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God."

(Ibid., pp 77-78)


1482. The Inspiration Received Through Meditation

"...There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged--nay enjoined-- to pray, and



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they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual...

"The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if he desires to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1943: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)


1483. With Prayer and Meditation Must Go Action and Example

"Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 15, 1944: Ibid.)


1484. The Importance and Power of Meditation

"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person, not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Ibid.)


1485. Every Day Upon Arising One Should Compare Today with Yesterday and Pray...

"...Every day, in the morning when arising one should compare today with yesterday and see in what condition you are. If you see your belief is stronger and your heart more occupied with God and your love increased and your freedom from the world greater then thank God and ask for the increase of these qualities. You must begin to pray and repent for all that you have done which is wrong and you must implore and ask for help and assistance that you may become better than yesterday so that you may continue to make progress."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. VIII, No. 6, p. 68)


1486. How to Pray--One Must Start Out with the Right Concept of God

"...we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian--we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance, you can ask Bahá'u'lláh for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1946)



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1487. Wiser to Use Meditations Given by Bahá'u'lláh--Not Set Form Recommended by Someone Else

"As to your question about prayer and whether it is necessary to recite the prayers of only the Central Figures of our Faith, we have been asked to quote here the following two excerpts on this subject, from letters written by Shoghi Effendi's secretary on his behalf:

'...as the Cause embraces members of all races and religions we should be careful not to introduce into it the customs of our previous beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh has given us the obligatory prayers, also prayers before sleeping, for travellers, etc. We should not introduce a new set of prayers He has not specified, when He has given us already so many, for so many occasions.'

'He thinks it would be wiser for the Bahá'ís to use the Meditations given by Bahá'u'lláh, and not any set form of meditation recommended by someone else; but the believers must be left free in these details and allowed to have personal latitude in finding their own level of communion with God.'

"As to the reading of prayers or selections from the Sacred Writings of other religions: Such readings are permissible, and indeed from time to time are included in the devotional programmes of Bahá'í Houses of Worship, demonstrating thereby the universality of our Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1974)


1488. Turn to Manifestation

"While praying it would be better to turn one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937: Dawn of a New Day, p. 67)


1489. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh

"You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá'u'lláh: It all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh.

"Under no circumstances, however, can we, while repeating the prayers, insert the name Bahá'u'lláh where the word 'God' is used. This would be tantamount to a blasphemy."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 14, 1937)


1490. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh--As the Door

"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá'u'lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavors: Messages to Alaska, p. 71)



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1491. We May Turn to the Guardian in Prayer, But Should Not Confuse His Station with that of a Prophet

"We pray to God, or to Bahá'u'lláh, as we please. But if in our thoughts we desire to turn to the Guardian first and then address our prayer, there is no objection, as long as we always bear in mind he is only the Guardian, and do not confuse his station with that of the Prophet or even of the Master."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1947)


1492. Turning Toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Prayer

"In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)


1493. Through Abdu'l-Bahá One Can Address Bahá'u'lláh

"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949)


1494. People Who Desire to Meet and Pray

"In some places the Bahá'ís have held meetings for prayer, for people who desire to meet and pray. As we have such wonderful prayers and meditations in our writings, the reading of these with friends who are interested in and crave for this type of small meeting is often a step towards attracting them to the Faith. Perhaps you can start such an activity in your city."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 4, 1956: Bahá'í Meetings, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, November 1975)


1495. Prayers Should Be Read as Printed

"Regarding your question as to the changing of pronouns in Bahá'í prayers: The Guardian does not approve of such changes, either in the specific prayers or in any others. They should be read as printed without changing a single word."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 171, November 1944, p. 3)


1496. Strictly Adhere to the Text of the Holy Writings

"In regard to your question as to whether it is permissible to substitute the plural pronoun for the singular in prayers worded in the singular, the Guardian would strongly urge your N.S.A. to inform the friends to strictly adhere to the text of the Holy Writings, and not to deviate even a hair-breadth from what has been revealed by the Holy Pen. Besides, it should be noted that congregational prayer has been discouraged by Bahá'u'lláh, and that it is allowed only in the case of the prayer for the dead."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)



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1497. In Quoting Prayers

"In quoting prayers any part may be used, but should be quoted as it is, however short."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)


1498. Specific Time for Remembrance of God

"...Moreover the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay, rather impossible, that any enterprise should prosper and develop short of Divine bestowals and confirmations...."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the Bahá'ís of the East, December 19, 1923: Living the Life, p. 1)


1499. Dawn Prayers

"Blessed is he who, at the hour of dawn, centring his thoughts on God, occupied with His remembrance, and supplicating His forgiveness, directeth his steps to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and, entering therein, seateth himself in silence to listen to the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Mighty, the All-Praised...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 115, p. 61)

"QUESTION: Concerning the remembrance of God in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar 'at the hour of dawn'.

"ANSWER: Although the words 'at the hour of dawn' are used in the Book of God, it is acceptable to God at the earliest dawn of day, between dawn and sunrise, or even up to two hours after sunrise."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas: Q 15, p. 111)


1500. Morning Prayers

"One of the characteristics of Bahá'í society will be the gathering of the believers each day during the hours between dawn and two hours after sunrise to listen to the reading and chanting of the Holy Word. In many communities at the present time, especially in rural ones, such gatherings would fit naturally into the pattern of the friends' daily life, and where this is the case it would do much to foster the unity of the local community and deepen the friends' knowledge of the Teachings if such gatherings could be organized by the Local Spiritual Assembly on a regular basis. Attendance at these gatherings is not to be obligatory, but we hope that the friends will more and more be drawn to take part in them. This is a goal which can be attained gradually."

(From the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Naw-Ruz, 1974)


1501. We Should Not Make a Practice of Saying Grace or of Teaching It to Our Children

"He does not feel that the friends should make a practice of saying grace or of teaching it to children. This is not part of the Bahá'í Faith, but a Christian practice, and as the Cause embraces members of all races and religions we should be careful not to introduce into it the customs of our previous beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh has given us the obligatory prayers, also prayers before sleeping, for travellers, etc. We should not introduce a new set of prayers He has not specified, when He has given us already so many, for so many occasions."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 27, 1947)


1502. Congregational Prayer Only for the Dead

"The daily prayers are to be said each one for himself, aloud or silent makes no difference.



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There is no congregational prayer except that for the dead. We read healing and other prayers in our meetings, but the daily prayer is a personal obligation, so someone else reading it is not quite the same thing as saying it for yourself..."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 220, June 1949, pp. 2-3)


1503. Prayers May Be Recited in Unison

"You have asked whether it is permissible for the friends to chant a prayer collectively. There is a difference between chanting a prayer collectively and congregational prayer. The latter is a formal prayer usually led by an individual using a prescribed ritual. Congregational prayer in this form is forbidden in the Faith except in the case of the Prayer for the Dead. While reciting prayers in unison and spontaneously joining in the recitation of the Words of God is not forbidden, the friends should bear in mind the advice of the beloved Guardian on this subject when he stated that:

'...although the friends are thus left free to follow their own inclination, ... they should take the utmost care that any manner they practice should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution. This is a point which the friends should always bear in mind, lest they deviate from the clear path indicated in the Teachings.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 6, 1975)


1504. One Person Should Read the Funeral Prayer

"We have received your letter of 14th December inquiring which funeral prayer is considered as the desirable one for use in Europe, whether there is any obligatory prayer and what instructions are concerning standing at a Bahá'í funeral service.

"The only obligatory prayer for use at Bahá'í funerals is the prayer No. 167 in 'Prayers and Meditations'. This prayer should be recited by one of those present and all present should stand while it is being read. There is no requirement to face the Qiblih or any other particular direction while this prayer is being read.

"The reading of any other prayers or writings at a Bahá'í funeral is entirely optional. In general it is desirable to keep the service simple and dignified."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Finland, January 31, 1971)


1505. Recital or Chanting of Prayers--Prayer is Essentially Communion Between God and Man

"...There is no objection to the recital or chanting of prayers in the Oriental language, but there is also no obligation whatever of adopting such a form of prayer at any devotional service in the auditorium of the Temple. It should neither be required nor prohibited. The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers, Bahá'u'lláh has given us no strict or special rulings in matters of worship whether in the Temple or elsewhere. Prayer is essentially communion between man and God, and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 15, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 93, July 1935, p. 1)



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1506. Healing Prayer and Prayers for the Fast

"Concerning the Healing Prayer, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no special ruling for its recital. The believer is free to recite it as many times and in the way he wishes. There are also no obligatory prayers for the Fast. But there are some specific ones revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for that purpose."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)


1507. Effectiveness of Healing Prayer

"The Healing Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh can be effective even though used by non-believers. But their effectiveness is of course greater in the case of those who fully accept the Revelation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 19, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 134, March 1940, p. 2)


1508. Prayers Answered Through Action

"...It is not sufficient to pray diligently for guidance, but this prayer must be followed by meditation as to the best methods of action and then action itself. Even if the action should not immediately produce results, or perhaps not be entirely correct, that does not make so much difference, because prayers can only be answered through action and if someone's action is wrong, God can use that method of showing the pathway which is right."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1957: The Individual and Teaching, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, 1977)


1509. Pray to be Protected from Contamination of Society

"...Love for each other, the deep sense that we are a new organism, the dawn-breakers of a New World Order, must constantly animate our Bahá'í lives, and we must pray to be protected from the contamination of society which is so diseased with prejudice."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Atlanta, Georgia, February 5, 1947: Living the Life, p. 13)


1510. Five Steps of Prayer

"Regarding the five steps of prayer outlined by the Guardian and recorded by Mrs. Moffett in her booklet the 'Call to Prayer': These, he wishes me to explain, are merely personal suggestions and need not, therefore, be adopted strictly and universally by the believers."

(From a letter dated June 30, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


1511. Reciting Any Prayer Nine Times Not Obligatory

"There is no obligation for a believer to recite always any prayer nine times. Ritualism is certainly to be avoided in all matters affecting Bahá'í worship...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 26, 1939)



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1512. The Spiritual Man Prays Only for Love of God

"In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven... When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him... The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God."

(Report of Abdu'l-Bahá's words quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 105, Wilmette 1976 ed: The Importance of Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, A Compilation)


1513. Prayer Beads, Chanting, Congregational Prayer, etc.

"In the matter of the distribution and use of prayer beads, in this and other matters of secondary importance he does not wish that any hard and fast rules be set up. The believers should not be required to use prayer beads, nor should they be prevented from doing so, as the Teachings do not contain any specific instructions on the subject."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 4, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 137, July 1940, p. 3)


1514. Reading Prayers on the Radio

"You have asked specifically about reading prayers on the radio. Of course this is permissible, but you will be cautious concerning the setting of the prayers, i.e., what kind of materials may be presented before and after the prayers ... so that they are assured of that dignity and reverence which they deserve. There may also be considerations of timing (the hours of the day best chosen, Sunday as the customary day of religious observance, etc.), in relation to the customs of the station, of the area, or other. Such recorded disc programs as 'Words for the World' include prayers, of course."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 8, 1973)


1515. Bahá'í Children, Communes and Prayers

"...Every day at first light, ye gather the Bahá'í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children's hearts; that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, p. 28)

"...there is no objection to children who are as yet unable to memorize a whole prayer learning certain sentences only."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 27, 1947)


1516. Mothers or Others Delegated Should Choose Excerpts from the Sacred Word for Children to Memorize

"The Guardian feels that it would be better for either the mothers of Bahá'í children--or some Committee your Assembly might delegate the task to--to choose excerpts



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from the Sacred Word to be used by the child rather than just something made up. Of course prayer can be purely spontaneous, but many of the sentences and thoughts combined in Bahá'í writings of a devotional nature are easy to grasp, and the revealed Word is endowed with a power of its own."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1942)


1517. There Are No Special Instructions for Repeating Prayers of the Bab+F1

"Concerning the prayer for difficulty revealed by the Bab: He wishes me to inform you that it is not accompanied by any instructions for its recital.+F1"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1937)

"Regarding your questions: The Guardian feels it is not necessary to repeat the Bab's prayer so many times.+F2"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)


1518. Community Prayer Sessions

"The Guardian wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to the friends coming together for meditation and prayer. Such a communion helps in fostering fellowship among the believers, and as such is highly commendable."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1937: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)


1519. Bahá'ís Should Be Taught to Meditate, But Also to Guard Against Superstitious Practices

"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if any one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945)


1520. "O Subduer of Winds", an Invocation for Moments of Danger

"Regarding the invocation 'Ya Musakin el Ariah': It literally means 'O Subduer of Winds'. The believers are not required to recite it, but may do so in moments of personal danger."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)


___________________
+F1 Written in response to a question as to how often this prayer should be repeated to produce the greatest results.


+F2 Written in response to a question about the repetition 114 times in the morning for 19 days of the prayer of the Bab, 'Say! God sufficeth all things above all things...' (See also: No. 1528)



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B. Obligatory Prayer


1521. There Are Mysteries and a Wisdom in Every Word and Movement of the Obligatory Prayers

"Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 85)


1522. Obligatory Prayers

"As obligatory prayers require either genuflection or ablution and orienting toward Bahji, they cannot truly be said by one person for a group of people without it being in effect a form of congregational prayer, so he thinks it better to avoid it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1946: Bahá'í News, No. 197, July 1947, p. 6)


1523. Turning Towards Akka in Prayer is a Physical Symbol of an Inner Reality --One Who Does Not Understand the Acts Accompanying the Long Prayer Can Use the Short

"He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards Akka where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight-- from which it receives life and growth--so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.

"Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1949: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)


1524. If a Believer is Ill or Physically Unable to Perform Genuflexions

"As regards the questions about the proper use of the Long Obligatory Prayer: All the writings of the Faith may be read and should be read for the instruction and inspiration of the friends. This includes the specific prayers. If a believer is physically incapable of performing the genuflexions accompanying one of the prayers, and yet he longs to say it as an obligatory prayer, then he may do so. By physically incapable is meant a real physical incapacity which a physician would attest as genuine."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 17, 1955)



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1525. The Medium Prayer--Repeating the Greatest Name 95 times

"With regard to the three daily obligatory prayers:... The Bahá'í worshipper is free to choose any of these three prayers. The short prayer consists of one verse to be recited once a day at noon. The medium prayer should be recited three times a day: in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. It is accompanied by certain physical gestures such as kneeling, raising the hands, etc. The long prayer which is also accompanied by regulations should be recited once every twenty-four hours. The adoption of one of these three prayers is a spiritual obligation imposed upon all the believers. For as Abdu'l-Bahá says in His Writings--prayer and fasting are the twin pillars that sustain the Law of God.

"As regards the repeating of the Greatest Name ninety-five times, this also has been mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh but He has given no directions as to how the prayer beads should be used in this connection."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 25, 1937)


1526. Physical Gestures and Washing Hands and Face in Connection with Obligatory Prayers Are Laws of Bahá'u'lláh

"...The genuflections and washing of hands and face (as clearly put down in 'Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh', which he himself translated), associated with the two longer daily prayers (obligatory prayers) are laws of Bahá'u'lláh, applicable to any Bahá'í whether of Muslim background, Christian background or otherwise. It is blasphemy to suggest otherwise. However, the Bahá'ís have been left free by Bahá'u'lláh to choose one of the 3 obligatory prayers, and those who prefer not to perform these acts can say the very short one."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)


1527. Each One Must Say His Obligatory Prayer by Himself

"As to the obligatory prayer: Each one must say his prayer alone by himself, and this is not conditional on a private place; that is, both at home and in the worshipping-place, which is a gathering-place, it is allowable for one to say his prayer; but each person must say his prayer by himself. But if they chant supplications together, in a good and effective voice, that is very good."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 464)


1528. Regarding Reading the Bab's Prayer 500 Times

"On page 1 of your October News letter you have quoted the Bab's prayer for the removal of difficulties and have added: 'Bahá'u'lláh has said to repeat this prayer 500 times by day and by night that it may aid us to recognize Him and our souls will be illumined.'

"The above statement gives the impression that the repetition of the said prayer 500 times is one of the prescribed devotionals of the Faith, and has a specified effect on the believer who observes this form of prayer.

"We do not feel it is justified to infer such conclusions from the reference in 'God Passes By', page 119, which you mention. The passage in question obviously refers to a specific circumstance in the life of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad before the declaration of His Mission, and should not be presented to the believers as one of the prescribed observances of the faith."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 24, 1971)



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1529. The Medium Prayer to be Recited Morning, Noon and Evening--Three Times a Day

"...The friends are free to choose any one of these three prayers, but have to follow the instructions revealed by Bahá'u'lláh concerning them. The long prayer should be recited once in every 24 hours, and is accompanied by certain physical acts. The short prayer, consisting of one verse, should be recited once a day at noon; while the medium prayer should be said three times a day; in the morning, at noon and in the evening. The believer is entirely free to choose any one of these three prayers for daily use."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937)


1530. Definition of "Morning", "Noon" and "Evening"

"By 'morning', 'noon' and 'evening', mentioned in connection with the Obligatory Prayers, is meant respectively the intervals between sunrise and noon, between noon and sunset, and from sunset till two hours after sunset."

(Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 146)


1531. In High Latitudes the National Spiritual Assembly May Fix Hours of Prayer and Fasting by the Clock.

"Concerning the times for prayer and fasting, it is correct that, in the high latitudes, where the lengths of day and night vary considerably from season to season of the year, it is permissible to observe the laws of prayer and fasting in accordance with the clock rather than with the rising and setting of the sun. As Iceland lies in such latitudes, it is for your Assembly to decide this matter for the believers in your country. All should then abide by whatever your Assembly lays down."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 27, 1976: Notes on Obligatory Prayers and Ablutions, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)


1532. Based on Texts in the "Kitab-i-Aqdas" and "Questions and Answers"--The Universal House of Justice Permits Use of Clock

"There are two texts, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and its annexe, which refer to the use of clocks. In the Book itself it is written that in lands where the days and nights are long the hours of prayer shall be determined by reference to clocks and other timepieces. In the 'Questions and Answers', in answer to the more general question whether, in determining time, it is permissible to make use of timepieces, Bahá'u'lláh states that it is permissible.

"Although in the first instance the Sacred Text specifically mentions the use of clocks for determining the times of prayer it does not limit their use to that purpose, and the Universal House of Justice, on the basis of the more general statement in the 'Questions and Answers', has permitted their use also in determining the hours of fasting, leaving the application of the law to the National Spiritual Assembly in each country that lies in the high latitudes.

"In the case of fasting, as Mr. ... correctly comments, there is little difference between sunrise and sunset as observed astronomically and hours of fasting as fixed by the clock, because the fast falls just before the Equinox. However, by this ruling it is possible for the believers in the high latitudes to use the same standard for both prayer and fasting, as well as for fixing the ending of each day in the Bahá'í calendar in determining the time for the starting of each Holy Day and the holding of the



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Nineteen Day Feasts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 13, 1978: Ibid.)


1533. "Allah-u-Abha" is the Form of the Greatest Name to be Used in the Long Obligatory Prayer

"Shoghi Effendi has explained that 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used when the Greatest Name is to be repeated three times in the Long Obligatory Prayer."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 28, 1977: Ibid.)


1534. Instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer

"The Universal House of Justice received your letter of 7 January 1975, enquiring about the correct way of following certain instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer, and has asked us to give you this reply.

"In following the direction stating: 'Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in supplication, and say ... ': the believer does not have to read twice the paragraph which follows. Whether the believer raises his hands twice before the reciting of the paragraph, or commences the reciting after having raised his hands once, and raises them a second time soon thereafter, is left to his choice.

"As to the direction which states: 'Let him then raise his hands thrice, and say ... ', an individual believer asked the beloved Guardian the following question:

'...the direction to raise the hands thrice and say "Greater is God than every great one." Does this mean after every raising of the hands, or only to be said once, after the three raisings?'

"Shoghi Effendi's secretary answered on his behalf as follows: 'The hands should be raised three times and each time the sentence be repeated in conjunction with the act.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 13, 1975: Ibid.)


1535. Instructions for the Medium Obligatory Prayer

"Each phrase which one may substitute is for a particular portion of the prayer, and the instructions are quite specific where the substitutions may be made. For instance, the longest verse in the prayer begins with the same words as those which may be substituted; that is, after the instructions 'Then let him stand up, and facing the Qiblih, let him say: God testifieth that there is none other God but Him.' The second phrase which may be substituted, which states, 'it would suffice were he, while seated,...' may be used in place of the concluding paragraph which carries the instruction 'Let him, then, be seated and say:'--and, again, the substituted words follow exactly the first sentence of that final paragraph."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 23, 1981: Ibid.)


1536. The Correct Position for "Sitting" During Obligatory Prayers

"...one of the believers asked the Guardian a question about the correct position for sitting. From the context it seems clear that this question is related to the medium Prayer, but this is not explicitly stated. The Guardian's reply states that sitting on



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a chair is permissible, but to sit on the floor is preferable and more fitting."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982: Ibid.)


1537. Ablutions and Movements to Accompany the Recitation of the Long Obligatory Prayer

"Concerning the movements to accompany the recitations of the Long Obligatory Prayer, in response to an enquiry from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Near East, the House of Justice stated in a letter dated September 1, 1975:

'Ablutions are necessary for all three Obligatory Prayers.' 'Reciting the words specified in the medium Obligatory Prayer pertains only to that prayer, i.e., for the short and long Obligatory Prayers it would be sufficient to wash one's hands and face in preparation for each of these two prayers.'

"However, the Universal House of Justice has stated to National Spiritual Assemblies in the West that no issue should be made of this matter at the present time and since it has not been clarified and applied in detail to the western believers, they are under no obligation to go beyond the instructions given by the beloved Guardian in 'Prayers and Meditations' in which ablutions are prescribed only in connection with the medium Obligatory Prayer.

"The instruction to raise one's hands occurs once in the medium Obligatory Prayer and five times in the long Obligatory Prayer. The term used in the original Arabic for the first, second and fourth occasions in the long Prayer is the same as that used in the medium Prayer. Therefore it would be entirely correct for the worshipper, when raising his hands on these occasions during the recitation of the long Obligatory Prayer, to follow the more specific instructions given in English by the Guardian in his translation of the medium one. On the third and fifth occasions the instruction is given in the long Prayer, the words 'in supplication' are omitted. The House of Justice does not wish at this time to give any specific guidance in this connection; it leaves the matter to the discretion of the friends."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982: Ibid.)


1538. Ablutions Before Obligatory Prayers and Repetition of the Greatest Name

"It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat 'Allah-u-Abha' ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, He established Himself upon the thrones of His Names. Perform ye likewise, ablutions for the Obligatory Prayer; this is the command of God, the Incomparable, the Unrestrained."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 18, p. 26)


1539. The Verse to be Recited When There is No Water

"...Let him that findeth no water for ablution repeat five times the words 'In the Name of God, the Most Pure, the Most Pure', and then proceed to his devotions. Such is the command of the Lord of all worlds...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, K 10, p. 23)



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XLI. PROPHETS-MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD

A. The Báb


1540. Duration of the Bab's Dispensation

"The Bab said that whenever 'He Whom God will make manifest' appears, accept Him. He never said don't accept Him until after the lapse of 1000 years. Also Bahá'u'lláh says that in the year 9 of the Babi Dispensation the time was ripe for the Revelation of 'He Whom God will make manifest.' As the Bab was not only a Manifestation but a Herald of this Bahá'í Faith, the interval between His revelation and that of Bahá'u'lláh was of shorter duration. His Dispensation in a sense will last as long as Bahá'u'lláh's lasts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 27, 1941: Dawn of a New Day, p. 94)


1541. Declaration of the Bab

"...The believers must hold gatherings for the Bahá'ís at exactly 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset on May 22nd ..., as this is the exact time when the Bab declared His mission to Mulla Husayn...."

(Ibid., June 22, 1943, p. 105)


1542. The Declaration of the Bab and the Birthday of Abdu'l-Bahá

"...regarding the declaration of the Bab and the birthday of the Master: The Bab declared His Mission on the fourth day of the month of Jamadi I, two hours and eleven minutes after sunset, corresponding with the evening of May 22nd. But as the Bahá'í day begins after sunset, and not after midnight as in the West, the Bab's declaration is celebrated on the fifth day of Jamadi I, corresponding to the 23rd of May. Abdu'l-Bahá was born in the course of that same night, but the exact hour of His birth has not been ascertained."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 25, 1936)


1543. The Bayan

"In the Bayan the Bab says that every religion of the past was fit to become universal. The only reason why they failed to attain that mark was the incompetence of their followers. He then proceeds to give a definite promise that this would not be the fate of the Revelation of 'Him Whom God would make manifest', that it will become universal and include all the people of the world. This shows that we will ultimately succeed. But could we not through our shortcomings, failures to sacrifice, and reluctance to concentrate our efforts in spreading the Cause, retard the realization



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of that ideal. And what would that mean? It shall mean that we will be held responsible before God, that the race will remain longer in its state of waywardness, that wars would not be so soon averted, that human suffering will last longer."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, February 20, 1932: Living the Life, pp. 3-4)


1544. The Iqan and the Bayan

"The Bab specified that the 'Bayan' is not completed and that 'He Whom God would manifest' (Bahá'u'lláh) would complete it, though not in its actual form, but only spiritually in the form of another book. The 'Iqan' is believed to be its continuation."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 17, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 78)


1545. Reason for Severe Laws Revealed by the Bab

"...The severe laws and injunctions revealed by the Bab can be properly appreciated and understood only when interpreted in the light of His own statements regarding the nature, purpose and character of His own Dispensation. As these statements clearly reveal, the Babi Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution and its duration had therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of sweeping and drastic reforms. These drastic measures enforced by the Bab and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shi'ah orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. To assert the independence of the new Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the approaching Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the Bab had therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of them were never enforced. But the mere fact that He revealed them was in itself a proof of the independent character of His Dispensation and was sufficient to create such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual martyrdom."

(Ibid., pp. 77-78)


1546. Portrait of the Bab

"...The portrait of the Bab should be regarded as an inestimable privilege and blessing to behold, as past generations were denied a glimpse of the Face of the Manifestation, once He had passed on."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 2)


1547. Hour of Birth of the Bab

"The Bab was born before dawn."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


1548. The Term "Afnan" Refers to Relatives of the Bab

"The term 'afnan' means literally small branch, and refers to the relatives of the Bab, both men and women. As the Bab's only son died while in infancy, the former had no direct descendants. The 'afnan' are, therefore, all indirectly related to the Bab.



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"As to 'aghsan', it also means branch. But it is a bigger branch than 'afnan'. It refers to Bahá'u'lláh's descendants."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 25, 1934)


1549. The Sacrifice of 19 Lambs by the Bab Was Prior to His Revelation

"As regards your question concerning the sacrifice of 19 choice lambs which the Bab is reported to have made on the day of Nahr: This is indeed an Islamic custom. But the sacrifice in question was performed by the Bab prior to the revelation of His own laws, and at a time, therefore, when the laws and practices of Islam had not yet been entirely abrogated by Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1939)

B. Bahá'u'lláh


1550. No Prophet in Same Category as Bahá'u'lláh

"There are no Prophets, so far, in the same category as Bahá'u'lláh, as He culminates a great cycle begun with Adam."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)


1551. Bahá'u'lláh Has Appeared in God's Greatest Name

"...By 'Greatest Name' is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the Supreme Manifestation of God."

(Ibid., p. 41)


1552. Bahá'u'lláh Conversed with Moses in the Burning Bush

"Bahá'u'lláh is not the Intermediary between other Manifestations and God. Each has His own relation to the Primal Source. But in the sense that Bahá'u'lláh is the greatest Manifestation to yet appear, the One Who consummates the Revelation of Moses; He was the One Moses conversed with in the Burning Bush. In other words Bahá'u'lláh identifies the glory of the Godhead on that occasion with Himself. No distinction can be made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all proceed from One Source, and are of One Essence. But Their stations and functions in this world are different."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)


1553. Bahá'u'lláh is Not God--But Through Him We Can Know God

"As regards your question: Bahá'u'lláh is, of course, not God and not the Creator; but through Him we can know God, and because of this position of Divine Intermediary, in a sense, He (or the other Prophets) is all we can ever know of that Infinite Essence which is God. Therefore, we address ourselves in prayer and thought to Him, or through Him to that Infinite Essence behind and beyond Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 4, 1951)


1554. Why He Uses the Pronoun "We"

"When Bahá'u'lláh uses the plural--'We', 'Our' etc.--He is merely using a form



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which is regal and has greater power than the singular 'I'. We have this same usage in English, when the King says 'we'. The Pope does the same thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1951)


1555. There is No Record of a Prophet Similar in Station to Bahá'u'lláh

"Regarding your questions: There is no record in history, or in the teachings, of a Prophet similar in station to Bahá'u'lláh having lived 500,000 years ago. There will, however, be one similar to Him in greatness after the lapse of 500,000 years, but we cannot say definitely that His Revelation will be inter-planetary in scope. We can only say that such a thing may be possible. What Bahá'u'lláh means by His appearance in 'other worlds' He has not defined, as we could not visualize them in our present state, hence He was indefinite, and we cannot say whether He meant other planets or not...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 24, 1941)


1556. Hour of Bahá'u'lláh's Birth

"Bahá'u'lláh was born at dawn."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


1557. The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, Certain Passages Clarified

"Concerning the meaning of the passage on p. 12 of the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' beginning with the words 'But for Him no Divine Messenger...', this refers to the reality of God in Him and not to His Person.

"Page 20, first line, of the same pamphlet: The passage refers to any opportunities that are missed through neglect and not to any particular event.

"Page 21, line 20: The meaning of the passage should not be taken literally. The purpose is to emphasize the theme and heighten its effect.

"Page 24, line 20: It refers to the reality of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)


1558. Reckoning of Days Mentioned in the "Dispensation"

"Concerning the passage in the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' in which the Guardian quotes Abdu'l-Bahá's interpretation of the prophecy referring to the times when the sun would stand still in the heavens, he wishes me to explain that the days referred to in this prophecy have to be reckoned differently. In the Sacred Scripture of various religions there are to be found frequent references to days, but these have been considered as indicating different periods of time, as for instance in the Qur'an a day is reckoned as one thousand years. The first ten days in the above-mentioned prophecy represent each a century, making thus a total of one thousand lunar years. As to the twenty days referring to the Babi Dispensation, each of them represents only one lunar year, the total of twenty years marking the duration of the Revelation of the Bab. The thirty days in the last Dispensation should not be reckoned numerically, but should be considered as symbolizing the incomparable greatness of the Bahá'í Revelation which, though not final, is nonetheless thus far the fullest revelation of God to man. From a physical point of view, the thirty days represent the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the zodiac. They thus



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represent a culminating point in the evolution of this star. So also from a spiritual standpoint these thirty days should be viewed as indicating the highest, though not the final, stage in the spiritual evolution of mankind."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 7, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 87, September 1934, p. 1)


1559. Bahá'u'lláh Was a Descendent of Abraham Through Both Katurah and Sarah--Jesse, Son of Sarah, Was the Father of David and Ancestor of Bahá'u'lláh

"Regarding your question concerning the Jesse from whom Bahá'u'lláh is descended: The Master says in 'Some Answered Questions', referring to Isaiah, chapter 11, verses 1 to 10, that these verses apply 'Word for word to Bahá'u'lláh'. He then identifies this Jesse as the father of David in the following words: '...for Joseph was of the descendants of Jesse the father of David...', thus identifying the Jesse of Isaiah, chapter 11, with being the father of David. Bahá'u'lláh is thus the descendant of Jesse, the father of David.

"The Guardian hopes that this will clarify the matter for you. It is a tremendous and fascinating theme, Bahá'u'lláh's connection with the Faith of Judaism, and one which possesses great interest to Jew and Christian alike."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 11, 1942)

"Regarding your question concerning the descent of Bahá'u'lláh from Abraham: The Master has stated that Bahá'u'lláh is a descendant of Abraham through a son of his, other than Isaac and Ishmael, from his wife Katurah...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 24, 1943)


1560. As the Return of Christ

"In accepting Bahá'u'lláh you have accepted Christ in His appearance as the Father, as He Himself so clearly foretold. The Catholic Church does not believe this; on the contrary, it still awaits the return of Christ. If you decide, in order to be buried next to your dear husband, to return to the Church, you either would have to, in good faith, deny Bahá'u'lláh or you would be just using the Church as a means to satisfying a desire of your own, which would certainly not be an upright and conscientious thing to do!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1950)


1561. Appearance of Later Prophets

"After Bahá'u'lláh many Prophets will, no doubt, appear, but they will be all under His shadow. Although they may abrogate the laws of the Dispensation, in accordance with the needs and requirements of the age in which they appear, they nevertheless draw their spiritual force from this mighty Revelation. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh constitutes, indeed, the stage of maturity in the development of mankind. His appearance has released such spiritual forces which will continue to animate, for many long years to come, the world in its development. Whatever progress may be achieved in later ages--after the unification of the whole human race is achieved--will be but improvements in the machinery of the world. For the machinery itself has already been created by Bahá'u'lláh. The task of continually improving and perfecting this machinery is one which later Prophets will be called upon to achieve. They will move and work within the orbit of the Bahá'í cycle."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1935)



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1562. Fears for Next Manifestation

"As to the meaning of the quotation, 'My fears are for Him Who will be sent down unto you after Me', this refers to the Manifestation Who is to come after a thousand or more years, Who like all previous Messengers of God will be subjected to persecutions, but will eventually triumph over them. For men of ill-will have been and will always continue to be in this world, unless mankind reaches a state of complete and absolute perfection--a condition which is not only improbable but actually impossible to attain. The fundamental difference, however, between this Dispensation and all previous ones is this, that in this Revelation the possibility of permanent schism between the followers of the Prophet has been prevented through the direct and explicit instructions providing for the necessary instruments designed to maintain the organic unity of the body of the faithful."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 1, 1934, Bahá'í News, No. 89, p. 1, January 1935)


1563. He Does Not Ask Us to Follow Him Blindly

"Just as in the past the Prophets have been persecuted and their Mission was ridiculed, so has the Message of Bahá'u'lláh been scoffed at as a mere impractical idealism. From His earliest youth He was put in chains, expatriated and persecuted. But what do we observe in this Day? ...the principles He advocated are the only solution for practical political politics, the spiritual truths He voiced are the crying needs of man and the very things he requires for his moral and spiritual development.

"He does not ask us to follow Him blindly; as He says in one of His Tablets, God has endowed man with a mind to operate as a torchlight and guide him to the truth. Read His Words, consider His teachings and measure their value in the light of contemporary problems and the truth will surely be revealed to you. Read books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, Nabil's Narrative, and you will appreciate the truth of His mission, as well as the true spirit He creates in whosoever follows His ways."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 5, January 1934)


1564. Christ and Bahá'u'lláh

"The beloved Guardian has been very impressed with the latest book written by our dear departed coworker, George Townshend, 'Christ and Bahá'u'lláh'.

"This book outlines clearly the relationship of Christ and Bahá'u'lláh, and presents the manners in which the Bahá'ís are setting up the Kingdom of God for which the Christians are praying.

"It is challenging, and surely will affect many religious leaders.

"The Guardian feels your Assembly should make this book the basis of a very active teaching campaign."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 19, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 316, p. 5, June 1957)


1565. Duration of the Bahá'í Cycle and Dispensation

"Concerning your question relative to the duration of the Bahá'í Dispensation. There is no contradiction between Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the Iqan about the



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renewal of the City of God once every 1000 years, and that of the Guardian in the 'Dispensation' to the effect that the Bahá'í cycle will extend over a period of at least 500,000 years. The apparent contradiction is due to the confusion of the terms cycle and dispensation. For while the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh will last for at least one thousand years, His cycle will extend still further to at least 500,000."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 102, August 1936, pp. 2-3)


1566. No Explanation Given for 500,000 Year Period of Bahá'í Cycle

"Abdu'l-Bahá has given no explanation regarding the 500,000 year period of the Bahá'í cycle. Individual believers are free to work out for themselves the explanation they desire, so long as they do not impose their views on others."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


1567. Identifies Himself with Other Prophets

"As to the list of the prophets with whom Bahá'u'lláh identified Himself in the passage found on pages 26 and 27 of 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', their names are as follows: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, John the Baptist, Jesus, Imam Husayn, on whom Bahá'u'lláh has conferred an exceptionally exalted station, (and) the Bab."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 7, 1936)


1568. Bahá'u'lláh Did Not Name "Letters of the Living" for Himself

"There were no 'Letters of the living' for Bahá'u'lláh, as there had been for the Bab's Dispensation. Dayyan was evidently the 3rd to believe in Bahá'u'lláh; who the second and the others were we don't know. The Bab, being the Manifestation, cannot be considered the first in this sense."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)


1569. The "Trustees" of Knowledge

"We cannot be sure to whom Bahá'u'lláh refers as the 'trustees' of knowledge."

(Ibid.)

"Those words uttered by the Luminaries of Truth must needs be pondered, and should their significance be not grasped, enlightenment should be sought from the Trustees of the depositories of Knowledge, that these may expound their meaning, and unravel their mystery...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 181-182)


1570. The Bahá'í Faith is a Way of Life Not a Mere Philosophical or Social Doctrine

"For the Bahá'í Faith is above all a way of life. It is not a mere philosophical or social doctrine. It is a closely-knit and harmoniously functioning community, a worldwide spiritual fraternity which seeks to reform the world first and foremost by bringing about a deep inner spiritual change in the heart of individuals. To live the Teachings of the Cause should be the paramount concern of every true believer, and the only way to do so is to commune both in spirit and through actual concrete means with the entire community of the faithful. The Bahá'í Cause encourages community



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life and makes it a duty for every one of its followers to become a living, a fully active and responsible member of the world-wide Bahá'í fellowship."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 13, 1936)


1571. The Teachings Should Be Conceived of as One Great Whole with Many Facets

"He feels that many of the perplexities that arise in your mind could be dissipated if you always conceived of the teachings as one great whole with many facets. Truth may, in covering different subjects, appear to be contradictory, and yet it is all one if you carry the thought through to the end. For instance the statement on life after death and the condition of believers and non-believers; you might say that a wonderful believer is like a diamond blazing in the sun, an unawakened soul like one in a dark room. But we must couple this concept with the other part of the teachings, that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, and that soul can progress in the world beyond; the unillumined soul can become brilliant."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 24, 1947)


1572. The Whole Theory of Divine Revelation Rests on the Infallibility of the Prophets

"Regarding your Bahá'í friend who does not fully understand the infallibility of the Manifestation of God: You should influence that person to study the matter more deeply, and to realize that the whole theory of Divine Revelation rests on the infallibility of the Prophet, be He Christ, Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh, or one of the others. If they are not infallible, then They are not Divine, and thus lose that essential link with God which, we believe, is the bond that educates men and causes all human progress."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 11, 1942)


1573. There Are a Minimum of Rituals in the Bahá'í Faith and No Man-Made Dogmas

"In response to your letter of 3rd September 1979 asking if there are dogmas and rites in the Bahá'í Faith, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to convey its reply.

"A dogma is a principle, tenet or teaching, especially an authoritative teaching, and in these senses it is apparent that the Faith has 'dogmas'. The word is also used, however, to describe that body of rigid doctrines that have accumulated in a religion after the passing of its Founder; such man-made dogmas are entirely absent from the Bahá'í Faith, nor can it ever acquire them.

"Concerning rituals, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer on 24th June 1949:

'Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers--are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.'



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"Thus it can be seen that the Faith has certain simple rites prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh, such as the obligatory prayers, the marriage ceremony and the laws for the burial of the dead, but its teachings warn against developing them into a system of uniform and rigid rituals incorporating man-made forms and practices, such as exist in other religions where rituals usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices performed by a member of the clergy. In another letter written on behalf of the Guardian his secretary stated:

'In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.' (Translated from the Persian).

"In freeing the believers from the religious rituals of the past and from those customs which are contrary to Bahá'í principles, the institutions of the Faith should be careful not to press the friends to arbitrarily discard those local traditions which are harmless and often colourful characteristics of particular peoples and tribes. In 'The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh', on page 41, we read:

'Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world....'"

(From a letter written of behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 16, 1979)

C. Explanation of Some Bahá'í Teachings


1574. What is Meant by a Personal God--God is Not Anthropomorphic

"What is meant by a personal God is a God Who is conscious of His creation, Who has a Mind, a Will, a Purpose, and not, as many scientists and materialists believe, an unconscious and determined force operating in the universe. Such conception of the Diving Being, as the Supreme and ever present Reality in the world, is not anthropomorphic, for it transcends all human limitations and forms, and does by no means attempt to define the essence of Divinity which is obviously beyond any human comprehension. To say that God is a personal Reality does not mean that He has a physical form, or does in any way resemble a human being. To entertain such belief would be sheer blasphemy."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)


1575. Man Lives in a Three Dimensional Plane of Consciousness

"When we say that man lives in a three dimensional plane of consciousness, we should not interpret such statement in mathematical terms, though the basic idea at its root is certainly correct."

(Ibid.)



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1576. Possibly Indians of America Were Influenced by Prophets in Asia

"It is possible the Indians of the Americas were influenced in the remote past by Prophets in Asia. But again, as there is nothing in our teachings about it, we cannot do more than speculate."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)


1577. Mustaghath

"The meaning of 'Mustaghath' is: 'He Who is invoked for help.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 14, 1947)


1578. Reference in Gospel of St. John to Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh

"The passage in the Gospel of St. John 14:26, is a reference to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, through Whose coming this prophecy was fulfilled."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)


1579. "Lord" and "God" Refer to the Creator in Bahá'í Writings

"In the Bahá'í Writings 'Lord' and 'God' refer to the Creator, not the Manifestations of God; in a few passages the word 'Lord' refers to the Manifestation, but usually it means 'God'!"

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)


1580. Copper Can Be Transmuted into Gold

"Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn't split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that Abdu'l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold.

"There may come a time, for all we know, when the mass of many atoms can be changed by scientists. We have no way of proving or disproving at present the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá. Just because we cannot demonstrate a contention in the Bahá'í Teachings does not mean the contention is not true.

"The same holds true of the statement of Bahá'u'lláh in the Iqan, regarding transmutation of copper into gold after seventy years, under certain conditions.

"We as Bahá'ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist. Because we don't know what this condition is in scientific terms does not refute Bahá'u'lláh's statement at all.

"The Guardian hopes that Mr. ... will not let so small a thing stand in his path. The principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says, once you have accepted Him as being the Manifestation. That is really the crux of the whole matter. It is a question of confidence."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1955)


1581. Creatures Are to be Found on Every Planet

"Regarding the passage on p. 163 of the 'Gleanings': The creatures which Bahá'u'lláh states to be found on every planet cannot be considered to be necessarily similar or different from human beings on this earth. Bahá'u'lláh does not specifically state whether such creatures are like or unlike us. He simply refers to the fact that there are creatures on every planet. It remains for science to discover one day the exact nature of these creatures."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1937)



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1582. "Dayspring" Defined

"I have asked the Guardian concerning the exact meaning of the word 'Dayspring'. Literally it means 'Dawn'. It is sometimes used in the sense of 'Horizon' or 'Rising point', and taken figuratively it is equivalent to fountain or source. It can also be used as referring to a Manifestation of God, as in the following expression 'Dayspring of Truth'."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 19, 1935)


1583. Absolute Being Can Be Attributed Only to God--His Creation Has Relative Existence, a Separate Reality

"In a Tablet Bahá'u'lláh says that even though absolute being can be attributed only to God we cannot say that other objects have no being. A table has an existence even though its existence compared with the existence of the carpenter who is its maker is almost nothing. Compared to God nothing has existence but this does not mean that even stones do not have being. It is speaking relatively. Moreover, God reveals Himself in all things in the sense that He is the Source of their being and the Cause of their existence. Without Him all things will shrink down to nothing. This however does not mean that all things are parts of God as the pantheist believes. The pantheist says that only God exists, objects are mere modes of His attributes. Bahá'u'lláh however says that objects have a separate reality that is created by God. The Master explains these things in the 'Some Answered Questions', especially in one of the last chapters. There are also many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh explaining these matters. Most of them, however, have not yet been translated into English. Let us hope that some day this work will be done and the friends will appreciate how Bahá'u'lláh has solved their problems."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 26, 1932)


1584. Meaning of "Sciences that Begin and End in Words"

"What Bahá'u'lláh meant primarily with 'sciences that begin and end in words' are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain nowhere.

"Bahá'u'lláh surely never meant to include story writing under such a category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents very necessary in our present social and economic life."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 30, 1932)


1585. Atomic Energy--"A Strange and Wonderful Instrument"

"The words of Bahá'u'lláh regarding 'a strange and wonderful instrument...' can, in the light of what the Master said in San Francisco, be taken as a reference to the great destructive power atomic energy can be made to release."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1946)


1586. Bahá'u'lláh Exhorts Man to Try to Develop His Dormant Qualities

"The passage in the 'Epistle to the Son of the Wolf' in which Bahá'u'lláh says: 'Give that which is asked of you' means that man must always try to develop and reveal



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the qualities that are to be found potentially in him. It is an urge to self-improvement and individual progress, and has, therefore, no connection with that passage in the 'Aqdas' wherein Bahá'u'lláh forbids mendicity."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)


1587. The "Veils" Are Very Thin at the Time of the Manifestation

"As to the words of Abdu'l-Bahá about the 'vineyard will not then be so easy to find', etc. This supports many such remarks: He explained often that at the time of the Manifestation the veils are very thin, so to speak. Many souls accepted seemingly spontaneously, on the basis of a dream, or just hearing the Cause existed! But later, this first phase passes, and the people require more arguments and proof, acceptance comes less as a flash of spiritual insight and more as an intellectual process. This is quite different from the future glory of the Cause and the divine origin of its institutions, graphically outlined by Him. When the Master says the Local and National Assemblies are the 'Voice of truth', He means here that they must be obeyed, not that they are infallible."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1947)


1588. Today It is a Greater Responsibility to Reject the Manifestation

"It is certainly a much greater responsibility to reject the Manifestation in this day than it was in the past Dispensations, inasmuch as man, and indeed humanity as a whole, have been endowed with a greater measure of spiritual receptivity than ever before, and consequently it would be a much graver sin to repudiate the revealed Truth now than it would have been the case in bygone ages and centuries."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1939)


1589. Cornerstone of All the Teachings--Oneness of Humanity

"It is most essential that the believers should be quite clear on this point, as the principle of the oneness of humanity is the cornerstone of all the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and should be presented as such, without the least hesitation, by the friends."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 11, 1937; cited by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1968)


1590. "He Who Loves His Kind"

"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the passage of 'he who loves his kind', the statement of Bahá'u'lláh does not refer to any special race or class of people. Rather it includes the entire human race, irrespective of any class, creed or colour. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is not a particularistic appeal to a group of people. It is a Universal Message and all-inclusive appeal. His principle of the oneness of mankind is world-wide in its spirit, in its application, and covers the entire field of human relationships."

(Ibid.)


1591. "From It (Earth) We Have Created You"

"Regarding the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh', the sentence beginning with the words 'From it (earth) have We created you', is a quotation from the Qur'an....



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"By 'second time' is meant the spiritual resurrection of man, that is to say, his acceptance of the Divine Manifestation. But Muslims have given this term a literal interpretation: the physical resurrection of man. Bahá'u'lláh is using this same interpretation current among Muslims to defeat their argument."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1936)


1592. Second Time--Means the Spiritual Resurrection of Man

"With regard to the Racine Assembly's request for an explanation of the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings' beginning with the words: 'From it (earth) have We created you...': this is a verse from the Qur'an... Bahá'u'lláh in quoting this passage seeks to refute the argument of the Muslims, who attach a purely literal interpretation to this verse of the Qur'an, and therefore consider it as implying bodily resurrection. To these Muslims He says, you who literally believe that the human body will return to dust and will be raised from it again, and therefore attach so much importance to this mortal world, how then can you wax so proud, and boast over things which are but perishable and consequently void of any true and lasting value."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Racine Assembly, February 7, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 124, p. 6, April 1939)


1593. The Day of Resurrection, of Judgement, and the Tomb

"...Concerning the meaning of 'Resurrection': Although this term is often used by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings, as in the passage quoted in your letter, its meaning is figurative. The tomb mentioned is also allegorical, i.e., the tomb of unbelief. The Day of Resurrection, according to Bahá'í interpretation, is the Judgement Day, the Day when unbelievers will be called upon to give account of their actions, and whether the world has prevented them from acknowledging the new Revelation."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Dawn of a New Day, p. 79)


1594. Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh Primarily for This Planet

"...On page 231 of the same book (Gleanings): No particular force is meant. It is symbolic of the regenerative power with which a righteous act is endowed.

"As to your question whether the power of Bahá'u'lláh extends over our solar system and to higher worlds: While the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, it should be noted, is primarily for this planet, yet the spirit animating it is all-embracing, and the scope therefore cannot be restricted or defined."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 14, 1938)


1595. Abha Kingdom

"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the term 'Abha Kingdom', it is another term for the spiritual world beyond the grave."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)


1596. "Singled Out"

"The term 'singled out' on p. 172 of the 'Gleanings' means chosen one or favoured one."

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 26, 1939, from Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 5)



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1597. Evolution of the Soul

"The passage on p. 156 of 'Gleanings' regarding the evolution of the soul after death clearly proves that the soul after its separation from the body keeps its individuality and its consciousness both in relation to other souls and to the human beings in the world."

(Ibid.)


1598. "Perishing"

"The word 'perish' on p. 190 of 'Gleanings' does not mean that the human soul will cease to exist, but will be deprived of all spiritual capacity and understanding."

(Ibid.)


1599. "No Man Attaineth Everlasting Life"

"Also on p. 183, the passage: 'No man can attain everlasting life...' should not be taken literally: by 'everlasting life' is meant spiritual felicity, communion with the Divine Spirit."

(Ibid.)


1600. Differences of Station and Classes in Society

"As regards the meaning of the passage of page 188 of the 'Gleanings': It is an emphasis by Bahá'u'lláh on the importance of maintaining differences of station and classes in society and does not refer to the question of race."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)


1601. "Hidden Words"

"As to the passage No. 13 of the Arabic Hidden Words: That which Bahá'u'lláh declares we can find abiding within us is the power of the Divine Spirit, the reflection of the light of His Revelation. This reflection of the Divine Spirit, however, can in no way be compared to the Revelation which God discloses to His Prophets and Messengers. The similarity in the terminology should not confuse this distinction which is most fundamental."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, December 7, 1935)


1602. Iqan, Kitab-I-Iqan--"City of God", Meaning of

"...as to the meaning of the passage in the 'Iqan' in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to the renewal of the 'City of God' once in about a thousand years: this, as the word about implies, is simply an approximate date, and should not therefore be taken literally."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)


1603. "Who Out of Utter Nothingness"

"The statement in the 'Gleanings', pp. 64-65, 'who out of utter nothingness...', etc., should be taken in a symbolic and not a literal sense. It is only to demonstrate the power and greatness of God."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957, p. 41)



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1604. "Hosts of His Testament" and "Cord"

"Regarding your questions: By 'Government', on page 210 of the 'Bahá'í World' Vol. VI, is meant the executive body which will enforce the laws when the Bahá'í Faith has reached the point when it is recognized and accepted entirely by any particular nation. On page 205, indem, the 'Hosts of His Testament' refers to those who are firm in the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh and who defend and uphold it.

"The word 'cord', so often mentioned in the teachings, means both the Faith itself and also the power of the Faith which sustains those who cling to it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 18, 1941; also see The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 14-15)


1605. Sura of the Sun, Explanation of

"The passage in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet in which He explains the sura of 'The Sun' should not be interpreted literally. It does not mean that after the Day of Resurrection praise and peace will cease to be vouchsafed to the Prophet. Rather it means to the end of time, i.e., indefinitely and for all times."

(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 79-80)


1606. Intercession

"The intercession spoken of by Bahá'u'lláh in one of His prayers which you have quoted is a purely spiritual act and is applicable to Muhammad as well as to all Prophets. This passage, however, refers more particularly to that kind of intercession in which Muslims believe, though the manner and circumstances of it, according to Bahá'í belief, are mysterious and unknowable."

(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 80)


1607. "Knowledge Consists of Twenty-Seven Letters..."

"Regarding the passage beginning with the words: 'Knowledge consists of twenty-seven letters': this should not be interpreted literally. It only indicates the relative greatness and superiority of the new Revelation."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


1608. Tablet of Ahmad--The Word "Ungodly"

"In the passage 'eschew all fellowship with the ungodly,' Bahá'u'lláh means that we should shun the company of those who disbelieve in God and are wayward. The word 'ungodly' is a reference to such perverse people. The words 'Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones' should not be taken in their literal sense. Bahá'u'lláh's advice is that again we should flee from the enemies of God and instead seek the fellowship of His lovers."

(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 200)

"The Tablet of Ahmad was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh to be read when one feels himself in exceptionally difficult circumstances. There is nothing obligatory about its use, and every person has to decide for himself whether he desires to learn it by heart or not...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Kenosha, April 14, 1932)


1609. The Tablet of the Holy Mariner

"The Tablet of the Holy Mariner was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad. The



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Holy Mariner is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh Himself, and the Ark mentioned in that Tablet is the Ark of His Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)

"Concerning the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, it is one of the most significant Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh during the last days of His stay in Baghdad, and refers to the sad though momentous events which were to transpire soon after His arrival in Adrianople. Its main significance lies in the fact that in it Bahá'u'lláh clearly foreshadows the grave happenings which eventually led to the defection of Subh-i-Azal, and to the schism which the latter thought to create within the ranks of the faithful."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 10, 1934)


1610. Tablet to the Presidents of the Republics of the Americas

"Bahá'u'lláh never revealed a Tablet to the President of the U.S.A. In His Book the Aqdas He revealed words addressed to the Presidents of the Republics of the Americas, but no single Tablet was ever revealed to any one of them."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 21, 1942)


1611. Tablet of Joseph

"The Tablet of Joseph does not refer to Joseph Smith.

"Joseph Smith we do not consider a Prophet, minor or otherwise. Certainly no references he made would have foretold the coming of this Revelation in his capacity as a Prophet."

(Ibid.)


1612. Meaning of "Verities of the Faith"

"By 'verities of the Faith' he means the great teachings and fundamentals enshrined in our Bahá'í literature; these we can find by reading the books, studying under Bahá'í scholars at summer schools and in classes, and through the aid of study outlines."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)


1613. Meaning of the Word "Patron" in Seven Valleys

"Regarding your question about the meaning of the words on page 50 of the Seven and Four Valleys: This is a verse of the Qur'an which Bahá'u'lláh quotes; the word patron here means helper--in other words when God misleads a soul, he shall find no other helper. You would find Sale's translation and comments on the Qur'an helpful in getting at the story back of such verses as this one."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 18, 1946)

D. Abdu'l-Bahá


1614. Abdu'l-Bahá

"...The herald who proclaimed the written names is Abdu'l-Bahá Who announceth the names of those who deserve salvation and are firm in the Covenant of God...."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 681)



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1615. All Thy Doings Recorded

"...Thou shalt, after thy departure, discover what We have revealed unto thee, and shalt find all thy doings recorded in the Book wherein the works of all them that dwell on earth, be they greater or less than the weight of an atom, are noted down...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 226)


1616. Chief Objectives of Abdu'l-Bahá's Ministry

"As to the three aims which Shoghi Effendi has stated in his 'America and the Most Great Peace' to have been the chief objectives of Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry, it should be pointed out that the first was the establishment of the Cause in America. The erection of the Bahá'í Temple in Ishqabad and the building on Mt. Carmel of a mausoleum marking the resting-place of the Bab were the two remaining ones."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 14, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 51, February 1934, p. 5)


1617. Experiences with Abdu'l-Bahá

"It is very important that the Bahá'ís should accurately record their experiences with the Master and events in the Cause's progress for these things form data for future histories of the Cause. They have not, however, the authority of the revealed Word of the Tablets,..."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 23, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)


1618. Stories About Abdu'l-Bahá

"He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about Abdu'l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they also should not be given prominence or official recognition."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 2, 1935)


1619. Day of the Covenant, Day of the Ascension

"The Day of the Covenant Nov. 26th, and the Day of the Ascension, Nov. 28th, anniversaries of the birth and the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá, must be observed by the friends coming together, but work is not prohibited. In other words the friends must regard observance of these two anniversaries as obligatory--but suspension of work is not to be regarded as obligatory."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, January 21, 1951: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 89)


1620. When the Interpreter of the Writings Says Nothing on a Subject Then the Individual is Free to Accept or Refute

"As regards what Mirza Abu'l Fazl has said concerning the Seven Religions of the past, Shoghi Effendi wishes to emphasize that what is truly authoritative are the words of the Master. In all such cases we should try and find out what He has said



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and abide by His words, even though they seem in conflict with the findings of modern scholars. If He does not say anything on the subject, then the individual is free to accept, or refute what scholars, such as Abu'l Fazl, say. Through the discussion of these (statements by scholars), the truth will ultimately be found, but at no time should their decision be considered as final."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 23, 1933: On Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism and Related Subjects, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, p. 1)


1621. Praying to Abdu'l-Bahá

"...he wishes me to explain that although Abdu'l-Bahá's station is not that of a Manifestation of God, nevertheless supplications may be addressed to Him. It is essential, however, that every believer should realize that while doing so he is directing his thoughts towards the Master as an intermediary between him and the Manifestation, and not as the Source of Divine Revelation and spiritual guidance. Provided this distinction is clearly established there can be no harm or objection in addressing prayers to Abdu'l-Bahá."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 1, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 89, February 1935, p. 4)


1622. Through Him One Can Address Bahá'u'lláh

"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing. His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 31, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 222, August 1949, p. 2)


1623. Photographs of Abdu'l-Bahá

"In connection with the selection of particular photographs of Abdu'l-Bahá for circulation among the friends, the Guardian strongly feels that no definite ruling should be laid down establishing the superiority or distinction of any particular photograph. The friends should be left quite free to use their individual independent judgement in this matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 15, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 138, September 1940, p. 1)


1624. Photograph Placed in a Dignified Position

"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or a picture of Abdu'l-Bahá be placed in a dignified position. They should not be placed on the floor nor, on the other hand, should they be held above the heads of the people in the photograph. It would seem that the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States: Bahá'í News, No. 265, March 1953, p. 4)


1625. Preservation of Relics

"Regarding the preservation of relics associated with Abdu'l-Bahá, the general principle should be that any object used by Him in person should be preserved for



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posterity, whether in the Local or the National archives. It is the duty and responsibility of the Bahá'í Assemblies to ascertain carefully whether such objects are genuine or not, and to exercise the utmost care and caution in the matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 28, 1936: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 34)


1626. Ages of the Faith and Epochs of the Ages

"The Guardian wishes me to explain that there is no relationship between the epochs of the Divine Plan, and the epochs of the Ages of the Faith.

"The Faith is divided into three Ages: the Heroic, the Formative, the Golden Age, as has been outlined in his writings. The Heroic Age closed with the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá. The Formative Age is divided into epochs. The first epoch lasted 25 years. We are now actually in the second epoch of the Formative Age. How long the Formative Age will last is not known--and there will probably be a number of epochs in it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1953)


1627. The Divine Plan

"The Divine Plan of Abdu'l-Bahá is divided into epochs. The first Seven Year Plan constituted the first stage of the first epoch; the second Seven Year Plan constitutes the second stage;--while the 10 year Crusade will constitute the third stage of the first epoch of the Divine Plan. The first epoch of the Divine Plan will conclude with the conclusion of the 10 year Crusade."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1953)


1628. The Tablets of the Divine Plan Are the Charter for Teaching

"As you are no doubt aware, the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which were revealed by Abdu'l-Bahá during the First World War, are the Charter for the teaching of the Faith. All the teaching plans launched by the beloved Guardian, as well as those subsequently directed by the Universal House of Justice, are stages in the implementation of this master plan conceived by the Centre of the Covenant for the diffusion of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 29, 1977)


1629. Apostolic and Heroic Age of the Faith

"...the Apostolic and Heroic Age of our Faith fell into three distinct epochs, of nine, of thirty-nine and of twenty-nine years duration, associated respectively with the Babi Dispensation and the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and of Abdu'l-Bahá. This Primitive Age of the Bahá'í Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the American Bahá'ís, June 5, 1947)


1630. The Application of the Term "Iron Age"

"The term 'Iron Age' suggests the age of labour, of construction; a relatively



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primitive epoch as opposed to a 'Golden Age', an age of fulfilment, fruition, attainment."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)

E. Hidden Words


1631. The "Hidden Words"--A Collection of Gem-Like Utterances

"...the Hidden Words was originally designated the 'Hidden Book of Fatimih,' and was identified by its Author with the Book of that same name, believed by Shi'ah Islam to be in the possession of the promised Qa'im, and to consist of words of consolation addressed by the angel Gabriel, at God's command, to Fatimih, and dictated to the Imam Ali, for the sole purpose of comforting her in her hour of bitter anguish after the death of her illustrious Father. The significance of this dynamic spiritual leaven cast into the life of the world for the reorientation of the minds of men, the edification of their souls and the rectification of their conduct can best be judged by the description of its character given in the opening passage by its Author: 'This is that which hath descended from the Realm of Glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old....'"

(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 140)


1632. The Meaning of the Name "Hidden Words"

"With regard to your question concerning the meaning of the name 'Hidden Words'. It is, indeed, one of the most suggestive titles of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. These words are called hidden due to the fact that men have had neither the knowledge nor a true sense of appreciation of them before they were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It is through Him, Who is the sole Mouthpiece of God in this age, that spiritual realities and truths have been once more reinterpreted and revealed afresh to mankind. Bahá'u'lláh's Message is thus the only key to a true understanding of the mysteries that envelop man's spiritual life."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 1, 1935)


1633. The Hidden Words Have No Sequence

"The Hidden Words have no sequence. They are jewel-like thoughts cast out of the mind of the Manifestation of God to admonish and counsel men...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1949)


1634. Passages in which Bahá'u'lláh Refers to Man as "Son of Spirit"

"As to your second question concerning those passages in the 'Hidden Words' in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to man as 'Son of Spirit', 'Son of existence', 'Son of humanity' etc., the word 'son' used in this connection is a kind of collective noun, meaning mankind and has, therefore, no connotation of any sex differentiation between man and woman whatever."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1935)


1635. Hidden Words (Arabic) No. 13 Explained

"Thou hast asked about the statement in the Hidden Words which reads, 'O Son of Spirit! Turn thy face so that thou mayest find Me within thee, Powerful, Mighty, and Supreme.' This is the statement to which His Holiness, the Christ, referred His Apostles in the Gospel, saying: 'The Father is in the Son and the Son is in you.'



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"This is evident that, when the hearts are purified and through the divine education and heavenly teachings become the manifestators of infinite perfections, they are like clear mirrors and the Sun of Truth will reflect with might, power and omnipotence in such mirrors, and to such an extent that whatsoever is brought before them is illumined and ignited. This is a brief interpretation because of lack of time. Therefore, do thou reflect and ponder over it, so that the doors of significance may be opened before thine eyes."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extract from Tablet to Thornton Chase, June 1911: Star of the West, Vol. II, Nos. 7 and 8, pp. 11-12)

F. Christ


1636. Date of Birth of Jesus Christ

"Regarding the date of the birth of Jesus Christ: Abdu'l-Bahá's statement on this subject should be considered by the Bahá'ís as the standard, and as the basis of their calculation."

(From a letter dated July 10, 1939 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


1637. Christ, Virgin Birth of

"First regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. In light of what Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have stated concerning this subject it is evident that Jesus came into this world through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, and that consequently His birth was quite miraculous. This is an established fact, and the friends need not feel at all surprised, as the belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized."

(From a letter dated December 31, 1937 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


1638. Miracles Are Always Possible

"Again with regard to your question relative to the birth of Jesus: He wishes me to inform you that there is nothing further he can add to the explanation he gave you in his previous communication regarding this point. One thing, however, he wishes again to bring to your attention, namely that miracles are always possible, even though they do not constitute a regular channel whereby God reveals His power to mankind. To reject miracles on the ground that they imply a breach of the laws of nature is a very shallow, well-nigh a stupid argument, inasmuch as God Who is the Author of the universe can, in His Wisdom and Omnipotence, bring any change, no matter how temporary, in the operation of the laws which He Himself has created.

"The Teachings do not tell us of any miraculous birth besides that of Jesus."

(From a letter dated February 27, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


1639. Bahá'í Teachings in Agreement with Doctrines of Catholic Church Concerning the Virgin Birth

"With regard to your question concerning the Virgin Birth of Jesus: On this point, as on several others, the Bahá'í Teachings are in full agreement with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. In the 'Kitab-i-Iqan' (Book of Certitude) p. 56, and in a few other Tablets still unpublished, Bahá'u'lláh confirms, however indirectly, the Catholic conception of the Virgin Birth. Also Abdu'l-Bahá in the 'Some



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Answered Questions', Chap. XII, p. 73, explicitly states that 'Christ found existence through the Spirit of God' which statement necessarily implies, when viewed in the light of the text, that Jesus was not the son of Joseph."

(From a letter dated October 14, 1945 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


1640. Christ's Brothers and Sisters Were Born in the Natural Way

"We believe that Christ only was conceived immaculately. His brothers and sisters would have been born in the natural way and conceived naturally."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to Dr. Shook, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)


1641. High Station of Mary--False Accusations

"It would be sacrilege for a Bahá'í to believe that the parents of Jesus were illegally married and that the latter was consequently of an illegal union. Such a possibility cannot be even conceived by a believer who recognizes the high station of Mary and the Divine Prophethood of Jesus Christ. It is this same false accusation which the people of His Day attributed to Mary that Bahá'u'lláh indirectly repudiated in the Iqan. The only alternative therefore is to admit that the birth of Jesus has been miraculous. The operation of miracles is not necessarily irrational or illogical. It does by no means constitute a limitation of the Omnipotence of God. The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God's power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom. Mystery is therefore an inseparable part of true religion, and as such, should be recognized by the believers."

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 1, 1935: Canadian Bahá'í News, February 1968, p. 11)


1642. "Dove" Simply a Metaphor

"...The story about the dove is simply a metaphor. No dove came down. Amongst the people, John the Baptist felt that the Holy Spirit was in Christ. The Holy Spirit was always with Christ. He knew about His mission from early childhood."

(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. XIV, p. 274)


1643. The Bahá'í Faith Recognizes the Divine Origin of Christianity and the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary

"As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Spirit of God,' is proclaimed as the One Who 'appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost,' and is even extolled as the Essence of the Spirit. His mother



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is described as 'that veiled and immortal, that most beauteous countenance,' and the station of her Son eulogized as a 'station which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth', whilst Peter is recognized as one whom God has caused 'the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth'...."

(Shoghi Effendi: The Promised Day is Come, pp. 109-110)


1644. Regarding the Station of Jesus--All Prophets Can Be Regarded as Sons of God for They All Reflect His Light

"As regards your questions concerning the station of Jesus Christ, and His return as explained in the Gospel. It is true that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, but this, as explained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Iqan, does not indicate any physical relationship whatever. Its meaning is entirely spiritual, and points out to the close relationship existing between Him and the Almighty God. Nor does it necessarily indicate any inherent superiority in the station of Jesus over other Prophets and Messengers. As far as their spiritual nature is concerned all Prophets can be regarded as Sons of God, as they all reflect His light, though not in an equal measure, and this difference in reflection is due to the conditions and circumstances under which they appear."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937)


1645. According to the Gospel Jesus Gave Only Two Material Ordinances

"...in regard to the material ordinances and ceremonies instituted by Jesus, the Guardian would suggest that you should point out that, only so far as it is recorded in the Gospel, Jesus gave two material ordinances only. Our knowledge of Jesus' life and teachings is rather fragmentary and so it would be more correct if you specify that these ordinances are only those recorded in the Gospel, and they may not be the only ones. There may be other teachings and ordinances too, of which no record is left."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 12, 1933)


1646. The Crucifixion as Recorded in the New Testament is Correct

"...Though we cannot imagine exactly what the Manifestations of the remote past were like, we can be sure of two things: They must have been able to reach their fellow-men in a normal manner--as Bahá'u'lláh reached His generation, and They were sent from God and thus Divine Beings. The crucifixion as recounted in the New Testament is correct. The meaning of the Qur'anic version is that the spirit of Christ was not crucified. There is no conflict between the two."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)


1647. The Father Himself Has Come and Fulfilled the Mission of Christ the Son

"A Catholic background is an excellent introduction to the Faith, and one that Mrs. ... should feel gratified for having had. Though doctrines of the church today are no longer needed--as the Father Himself has come, and thus fulfilled the mission of Christ the Son--yet the foundation they lay of spiritual discipline, and their emphasis on spiritual values and adherence to moral laws, is very important and very close to our own beliefs."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two believers, August 17, 1941)



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1648. Bahá'ís Do Not Believe in a Bodily Resurrection After the Crucifixion

"...We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the Crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His Ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after the resurrection is the same thing."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)


1649. Bahá'ís Should Try to Find a Spiritual Meaning to the So-Called Miraculous Events Recorded in the Gospel

"Concerning the resurrection of Christ, he wishes to call your attention to the fact that in this as well as in practically all the so-called miraculous events recorded in the Gospel we should, as Bahá'ís, seek to find a spiritual meaning and to entirely discard the physical interpretation attached to them by many of the Christian sects. The resurrection of Christ was, indeed, not physical but essentially spiritual, and is symbolic of the truth that the reality of man is to be found not in his physical constitution, but in his soul. A careful perusal of the 'Iqan' and of the 'Some Answered Questions' makes this indubitably clear."

(From a letter written to an individual believer on behalf of the Guardian, August 14, 1934)


1650. Jesus Christ Established Beyond a Doubt the Primacy of Peter+F1

"Now with regard to your questions. First concerning the statement of Jesus Christ 'Thou art Peter and upon this rock etc.'; this saying of Jesus establishes beyond any doubt the primacy of Peter and also the principle of succession, but is not explicit enough regarding the nature and functioning of the Church itself. The Catholics have read too much into that statement, and derived from it certain conclusions which are quite unjustifiable."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 7, 1938)


1651. Regarding the Signs that Would Herald the Advent of the New Manifestation

"Now as regards the signs that would herald the advent of the new Manifestation. The Guardian wishes you to read over very carefully Bahá'u'lláh's explanation as recorded in the 'Iqan'. There it is made clear that what is meant by the appearance of the Son of God after the calamitous events preceding His coming is the revelation of His full glory and its recognition and acceptance by the peoples of the world, and not his physical appearance. For Bahá'u'lláh, Whose advent marks the return of the Son in the Glory of the Father, has already appeared, and the signs predicted in the Gospel have not yet fully been realized. Their complete fulfilment, however, would mark the beginning of the recognition of His full station by the peoples of the world. Then and only then will His appearance be made completely manifest."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937)


1652. The Qur'an Concerning Christ

"Regarding the passage you enclosed about the Qur'an: In reality there is no contradiction at all; when the Qur'an denies Christ is the Son of God it is not refuting His Words but the false interpretation of them by the Christians who read


___________________
+F1 (See also: Nos. 542, 1643)



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into them a relationship of an almost corporeal nature, whereas Almighty God has no parents or offspring. What is meant by Christ, is His spirit's relation to the Infinite Spirit, and this the Qur'an does not deny. It is in a sense attributable--this kind of Sonship--to all the Prophets."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 19, 1945)


1653. The Reformation Was a Challenge to Man-Made Organization of the Church

"What contribution the Reformation did really make was to seriously challenge, and partly undermine, the edifice which the Fathers of the Church had themselves reared, and to discard and demonstrate the purely human origin of the elaborate doctrines, ceremonies and institutions which they had devised. The Reformation was a right challenge to the man-made organization of the Church, and as such was a step in advance. In its origins, it was a reflection of the new spirit which Islam had released, and a God-sent punishment to those who had refused to embrace its truth."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)


1654. The Period of Turmoil which Accompanies a New Manifestation

"The passage in the Gospel of Matthew 19:30 is a reference to the period of turmoil that accompanies the appearance of a new Manifestation, at which time the humble and the lowly who accept the new Revelation will be raised and the outwardly high, but inwardly corrupt and low, will be abased and degraded."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)


1655. Ecclesiastics 12:6--Man's Neglect of God

"The passage in Ecclesiastics 12:6 should be interpreted allegorically, and not be taken in its literal meaning. It has reference to the effect of man's neglect of God his creator."

(Ibid.)


1656. There is a Spark of Divinity in Man

"In the book of Genesis 1:26--This passage simply means that there is a spark of divinity in man, and not that man is co-equal with the Manifestation of God. Again the friends should avoid literal interpretations of the Bible."

(Ibid.)


1657. Reference to Bahá'u'lláh in St. John

"The passage in the Gospel of St. John 14:26 is a reference to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, through Whose coming this prophecy was fulfilled."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)


1658. We Do Not Believe in Genesis Literally--The World Was Not Created in Seven Days

"We Bahá'ís do not believe in Genesis literally. We know this world was not created in seven days, or six, or eight, but evolved gradually over a period of millions of years, as science has proved. As to where the idea of a seven-day week originated, it is certainly very ancient and you should refer to scholars for an answer."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)



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1659. The Years of Noah Are Not Years as We Count Them and We Cannot Substantiate Stories of the Old Testament

"The years of Noah are not years as we count them, and as our teachings do not state that this reference to years means His dispensation, we cannot interpret it this way.

"We have no way of substantiating the stories of the Old Testament other than references to them in our teachings, so we cannot say exactly what happened at the battle of Jericho."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)


1660. When Abdu'l-Bahá States that We Believe What is in the Bible, He Means in Substance

"When Abdu'l-Bahá states we believe what is in the Bible, He means in substance. Not that we believe every word of it to be taken literally or that every word is the authentic saying of the Prophet."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer and cited on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 13, 1986 in a letter to a believer)

G. Islam


1661. The Date of Birth of Muhammad is Unknown

"There is a disagreement among Oriental scholars relative to the exact date of the birth of Muhammad. You should refer to authorities on the subject, such as Sale, whose translation of the Qur'an has become almost classical."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 162, p. 5, April 1943)


1662. Biblical References to Muhammad and Ali

"References in the Bible to 'Mt. Paran' and 'Paraclete' refer to Muhammad's Revelation: Deuteronomy 33:2, Genesis 21:21, Numbers 12:16, Numbers 13:3. Genesis 17:20 refers to the twelve Imams and in the Revelation of St. John, chapter 11, where it mentions two witnesses, it refers to Muhammad and Ali.

"The figures 1290 date from the declaration of Muhammad, ten years before His flight to Medina."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)


1663. Islam

"Islam attained a very high spiritual state, but western scholars are prone to judging it by Christian standards. One cannot call one world Faith superior to another, as they all come from God; they are progressive, each suited to certain needs of the times."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)



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1664. Muhammad's Teachings Heightened and Guarded the Cause of Human Development

"Shoghi Effendi hopes that your lectures will not only serve to deepen the knowledge of the believers in the doctrines and culture of Islam, but will set their hearts afire with the love of everything that vitally pertains to Muhammad and His Faith.

"There is so much misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general that you have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a good deal of erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends with the pure teachings of the Prophet as recorded in the Qur'an, and then to point out how these teachings have, throughout succeeding ages, influenced nay guided the course of human development. In other words you have to show the position and significance of Islam in the history of civilization.

"The Bahá'í view on that subject is that the Dispensation of Muhammad, like all other Divine Dispensations, has been fore-ordained, and that as such forms an integral part of the Divine plan for the spiritual, moral and social, development of mankind. It is not an isolated religious phenomenon, but is closely and historically related to the Dispensation of Christ, and those of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. It was intended by God to succeed Christianity, and it was therefore the duty of the Christians to accept it as firmly as they had adhered to the religion of Christ.

"You should also cautiously emphasize the truth that due to the historical order of its appearance, and also because of the obviously more advanced character of its teachings, Islam constitutes a fuller revelation of God's purpose for mankind. The so-called Christian civilization of which the Renaissance is one of the most striking manifestations is essentially Muslim in its origins and foundations. When medieval Europe was plunged in darkest barbarism, the Arabs regenerated and transformed by the spirit released by the religion of Muhammad were busily engaged in establishing a civilization the like of which their contemporary Christians in Europe had never witnessed before. It was eventually through Arabs that civilization was introduced to the West. It was through them that the philosophy, science and culture which the old Greeks had developed found their way to Europe. The Arabs were the ablest translators, and linguists of their age, and it is thanks to them that the writings of such well-known thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made available to the Westerners. It is wholly unfair to attribute the efflorescence of European culture during the Renaissance period to the influence of Christianity. It was mainly the product of the forces released by the Muhammadan Dispensation.

"From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true Christianity as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more laws and institutions in the Qur'an than in the Gospel. While the latter's emphasis is mainly, not to say wholly, on individual and personal conduct, the Qur'an stresses the importance of society. This social emphasis acquires added importance and significance in the Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared, the Qur'an marks a definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of spiritual and humanitarian progress.



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"The truth is that Western historians have for many centuries distorted the facts to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices. The Bahá'ís should try to study history anew, and to base all their investigations first and foremost on the written Scriptures of Islam and Christianity."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 27, 1936)


1665. Clarification of Certain Issues Regarding Islam, the Imam Husayn, the Imamate, etc.

"Ali's appointment was clear to the Khalifs, who actually disregarded the Prophet's oral statements.

"The usurpation occurred immediately after the Prophet's death.

"Ali did not feel unqualified, but wished to avoid schism, which, unfortunately, could not be prevented.

"The schisms that have afflicted the religions preceding the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh establish its distinction from all previous Revelations, and single it out among all other Dispensations, as stated by Abdu'l-Bahá.

"The guidance vouchsafed to the Imams regarding the laws and institutions of Islam was absolute and unqualified. Their infallibility was derived directly from the Manifestation.

"The Bab's descent from the Imam Husayn is no doubt a proof of the validity of the Imamate. According to Nabil the dream the Bab had made him first conscious of His Revelation.

"The precedence of the name Husayn over Ali does establish the greatness of Imam Husayn.

"Imam Husayn has, as attested by the Iqan, been endowed with special grace and power among the Imams, hence the mystical reference to Bahá'u'lláh as the return of Imam Husayn, meaning the Revelation in Bahá'u'lláh of those attributes with which Imam Husayn had been specifically endowed.

"Joseph was one of the 'Sent Ones' of the Qur'an, meaning a Manifestation of God.

"The friends should uphold Islam as a revealed Religion in teaching the Cause but need not make, at present, any particular attempt to teach it solely and directly to non-Bahá'ís at this time.

"The mission of the American Bahá'ís is, no doubt, to eventually establish the truth of Islam in the West.

"The spirit of Islam, no doubt, was the living germ of modern Civilization; which derived its impetus from the Islamic culture in the Middle Ages, a culture that was the fruit of the Faith of Muhammad."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 30, 1941)


1666. How to Study the Qur'an

"It is certainly most difficult to thoroughly grasp all the Surihs of the Qur'an, as it requires a detailed knowledge of the social, religious and historical background of Arabia at the time of the appearance of the Prophet. The believers cannot possibly hope, therefore, to understand the Surihs after the first or even second or third reading. They have to study them again and again, ponder over their meaning, with the help of certain commentaries, and explanatory notes as found, for instance in the admirable translation made by Sale, endeavor to acquire as clear and correct understanding of their meaning



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and import as possible. This is naturally a slow process, but future generations of believers will certainly come to grasp it. For the present, the Guardian agrees, that it would be easier and more helpful to study the book according to subjects, and not verse by verse and also in the light of the Bab's, Bahá'u'lláh's, and Abdu'l-Bahá's interpretations which throw such floods of light on the whole of the Qur'an."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 22, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 134, pp. 2-3, March 1940)


1667. Meaning of "Jin" or "Genii"

"Regarding your question as to the meaning of Jin or Genii referred to in the Qur'an, these are not beings or creatures that are actually living, but are symbolic references to the power of men of evil and may be likened to evil spirits. But the point to bear in mind is that these have no positive existence of any kind."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 26, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)


1668. Caliphate and Imamate

"Both Caliphate and Imamate means successorship. Either term could be used."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)


1669. Muhammad Says that the Jews Did Not Crucify Christ

"Regarding your question relative to Surih 4, 156 of the 'Qur'an' in which Muhammad says that the Jews did not crucify Jesus, the Christ, but one like Him; what is meant by this passage is that although the Jews succeeded in destroying the physical body of Jesus, yet they were impotent to destroy the divine reality in Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 19, 1938)


1670. Muhammadanism is a Fuller Revelation Than Any One Preceding It

"...Muhammadanism is not only the last of the world religions, but a fuller Revelation than any one preceding it. The Qur'an is not only more authoritative than any previous religious gospel, but it contains also much more ordinances, teachings and precepts, which taken together constitute a fuller Revelation of God's purpose and law to mankind than Christianity, Judaism or any other previous Dispensation. This view is in complete accord with the Bahá'í philosophy of progressive revelation, and should be thoroughly accepted and taught by every loyal Christian Bahá'í."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 12, 1933)


1671. Muhammad's Teachings Fostered the National State

"Regarding your questions: It is not the City State, but the National State which Muhammad's teachings fostered. Christ had nothing to do with the City State concept in any direct manner."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 22, 1949)


1672. The Plurality of Wives in Muslim Countries Does Not Conform with the Teachings of Muhammad

"Concerning the question of plurality of wives among the Muslims: This practice



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current in all Islamic countries does not conform with the explicit teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. For the Qur'an, while permitting the marriage of more than one wife, positively states that this is conditioned upon absolute justice. And since absolute justice is impossible to enforce, it follows, therefore, that polygamy cannot and should not be practised. The Qur'an, therefore, enjoins monogamy and not polygamy as has hitherto been understood."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 29, 1939)


1673. Imam Husayn

"The names of those cited in Bahá'u'lláh's prayer in the Dispensation are quite correct as you have them.

"The Prophets 'regarded as One and the same person' include the Lesser Prophets as well, and not merely Those Who bring a 'Book'. The station is different, but they are Prophets and Their nature thus different from that of ours.

"In the prayer mentioned above Bahá'u'lláh identifies Himself with Imam Husayn. This does not make him a Prophet, but his position was very unique, and we know Bahá'u'lláh claims to be the 'return' of the Imam Husayn. He, in other words, identifies His Spirit with these Holy Souls gone before; that does not, of course, make Him in any way their reincarnation. Nor does it mean all of them were Prophets.

"Your constant and devoted Bahá'í services are deeply valued by the Guardian, you may be sure, and he will pray in the Holy Shrines that your labours may be blessed and your power to confirm the souls increased."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 8, 1949)

H. Israel


1674. Israel

"The word Israel, used throughout the Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people, and not to the chosen ones of this day."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)


1675. Position of Jerusalem

"...whereas Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Christendom it is not the administrative centre of either the Church of Rome or any other Christian denomination. Likewise, although it is regarded by Moslems as the spot where one of its most sacred shrines is situated, the Holy Sites of the Muhammadan Faith and the centre of its pilgrimages are to be found in Arabia, not in Palestine. The Jews alone offer somewhat of a parallel to the attachment which the Bahá'ís have for this country inasmuch as Jerusalem holds the remains of their Holy Temple and was the seat of both the religious and political institutions associated with their past history. But even their case differs in one respect from that of the Bahá'ís, for it is in the soil of Palestine that the three Central Figures of our religion are buried, and it is not only the centre of Bahá'í pilgrimages from all over the world but also the permanent seat of our Administrative Order...."

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, July 14, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 199, September 1947, p. 3)
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1676. All Palestine to Become Home

"You can see that from all the parts of the world tribes of Jews are coming to the Holy Land; they live in villages and lands which they make their own, and day by day they are increasing to such an extent, that all Palestine will become their home."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, p. 66, 1985 ed.)


1677. Gathering of Israel

"You have asked Me a question with regard to the gathering of the children of Israel in Jerusalem in accordance with the prophecy.

"Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, is a revered Temple, a sublime name, for it is the City of God... The gathering of Israel at Jerusalem means, therefore, and prophesies, that Israel as a whole is gathering beneath the banner of God and will enter the Kingdom of the Ancient of Days. For the celestial Jerusalem, which has as its center the Holy of Holies, is a City of the Kingdom, a Divine City. The East and West are but a small corner of that City.

"Moreover, materially as well (as spiritually), the Israelites will gather in the Holy Land. This is irrefutable prophecy, for the ignominy which Israel has suffered for well-nigh twenty-five hundred years will now be changed into eternal glory, and in the eyes of all, the Jewish people will become glorified to such an extent as to draw the jealousy of its enemies and the envy of its friends."

(According to information received by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States several years ago this Tablet was revealed by the Master in the year 1897 to a Jewish Community in the Orient: Bahá'í News, No. 250, December 1951, p. 5)


1678. Journey of the Israelites

"It was both spiritual and physical. They journeyed to the Promised Land and geography and history both prove that this was a physical journey.

"Moses viewed the Promised Land but died before it was reached, having given over his charge to Joshua.

"The crossing of the Red Sea has a spiritual meaning. It was a spiritual journey, through and above the sea of corruption and iniquity of the Pharaoh and his people, or army. By the help of God through Moses, the Israelites were able to cross this sea safely and reach the Promised Land (spiritual state) while Pharaoh and his people were drowned in their own corruption.

"The Egyptian History recorded even trifling events. Had such a wonderful thing happened as the parting of the physical sea it would also have been recorded."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 45, 1979 ed.)


1679. Erroneous Belief

"The belief, according to which Judah represents the Jews and Israel the Chosen people, is erroneous."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)


1680. Ten Tribes of Israel

"The Teachings throw no light on the question as to what became of the ten tribes of Israel, or whether they were absorbed into some other nation or not."

(Ibid.)



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1681. The Jews Have a Great Spiritual Destiny and Will Enter the Faith in Large Groups

"Regarding your question concerning the future of the Jews: They certainly have, as explicitly stated by the Master, a great spiritual destiny, and will gradually enter the Faith in large groups."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1937)


1682. Greek Philosophers Visited Israel's Scholars and Religious Leaders

"It is furthermore a matter of record in numerous historical works that the philosophers of Greece such as Pythagoras acquired the major part of their philosophy, both divine and material, from the disciples of Solomon. And Socrates after having eagerly journeyed to meet with some of Israel's most illustrious scholars and divines, on his return to Greece established the concept of the oneness of God and the continuing life of the human soul after it has put off its elemental dust. Ultimately, the ignorant among the Greeks denounced this man who had fathomed the inmost mysteries of wisdom, and rose up to take his life; and then the populace forced the hand of their ruler, and in council assembled they caused Socrates to drink from the poisoned cup."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 77, 1975 ed.)

I. Prophets and Prophecies of Various Religions


1683. Bahá'u'lláh is the Culmination of the Adamic Cycle and the Inaugurator of the Bahá'í Cycle

"The Adamic Cycle inaugurated 6000 years ago by the Manifestation of God called Adam is only one of the many bygone cycles. Bahá'u'lláh, as you say, is the culmination of the Adamic Cycle. He is also the Inaugurator of the Bahá'í Cycle.

"Obviously there must have been Prophets and Manifestations in the ages preceding the Adamic Cycle. This is supported by the following statement revealed by Bahá'u'lláh.

'And now regarding thy question, "How is it that no records are to be found concerning the Prophets that have preceded Adam, the Father of Mankind, or of the Kings that lived in the days of those Prophets?" Know thou that the absence of any reference to them is no proof that they did not actually exist. That no records concerning them are now available, should be attributed to their extreme remoteness, as well as to the vast changes which the earth hath undergone since their time.'

"With regard to your question about the creation story, we are asked to quote the following from an unpublished Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá.

'Know ye that the Torah is that which was revealed in the Tablets to Moses, may peace be upon Him, or that to which He was bidden. But the stories are historical narratives and were written after Moses, may peace be upon Him.'

"Concerning the story of Adam and Eve, Abdu'l-Bahá, in 'Some Answered Questions', explains that it cannot be taken literally. You are asked to refer to pages 122-126 of this book for the symbolic meaning of the story."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 13, 1986)



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1684. Buddha Was a Manifestation Like Christ

"The Buddha was a Manifestation of God, like Christ, but His followers do not possess His authentic writings."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 41)


1685. Confucius Was Not a Prophet But a Great Reformer

"Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer."

(Ibid.)


1686. Daniel, Prophecies of

"As regards the question concerning prophecies of Daniel in 'Some Answered Questions'... The seventy weeks comes right to the martyrdom of Christ. The sixty-nine weeks must be understood to mean that after 69 weeks He was crucified, which, as the Master points out, brings us to the last week, the week between 69 and 70, when He ascended."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)


1687. King David

"The David referred to by the Bab, and stated by Him to have preceded Moses, is not the same one as King David, the father of King Solomon, who lived in the tenth century B.C. and who obviously lived many years, and indeed many centuries after Moses. Abdu'l-Bahá has explained this in a Tablet."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 17, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 76-77)


1688. Genesis 22:9--Sacrifice of Ishmael

"As to the question raised by the Racine Assembly in connection with Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the 'Gleanings' concerning the sacrifice of Ishmael: Although this statement does not agree with that made in the Bible, Genesis 22:9, the friends should unhesitatingly, and for reasons that are only too obvious, give precedence to the sayings of Bahá'u'lláh which, it should be pointed out, are fully corroborated by the Qur'an, which book is more authentic than the Bible including both the New and the Old Testaments. The Bible is not wholly authentic, and in this respect is not to be compared with the Qur'an, and should be wholly subordinated to the authentic writings of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 28, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 103, p. 1, October 1936)


1689. Lot

"Genesis XIX, 29-38--the text makes it quite clear that Lot was not responsible for the action committed by His two daughters, as they gave him wine and made him drunk."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 201)


1690. Zoroaster--Was Not Abraham

"Zoroaster was not Abraham; the Muslims, some of them, contend that they



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were the same, but we believe they were two distinct Prophets. There is a misunderstanding in the reference in 'Bahá'í Proofs' to this matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)


1691. Beginning of Zoroastrian Era

"1. Regarding the beginning of the Zoroastrian era, in one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Bahá states that Zoroaster lived about 750 years after Moses; in a letter to an individual believer the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf: 'Zoroaster lived about a thousand years before Christ. There is no exact date in the teachings regarding the beginning of His Dispensation.'

"2. Concerning your second question referring to a purported Tablet of the Bab stating that there were thirty Zoroasters, the Research Department states that no text from the Bab has been found on this subject. However, Mirza Abu'l-Fazal has stated in his writings that there appeared in Iran many prophets prior to the Dispensation of Zoroaster."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, May 13, 1979, to Mrs. Gayle Woolson)


1692. Hindu Religion

"...The origins of this and many other religions that abound in India are not quite known to us, and even the Orientalists and the students of religions are not in complete accord about the results of their investigations in that field. The Bahá'í writings also do not refer specifically to any of these forms of religion current in India. So, the Guardian feels it impossible to give you any definite and detailed information on that subject. He would urge you, however, to carry on your studies in that field, although its immensity is well-nigh bewildering, with the view of bringing the Message to the Hindus...."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 198)


1693. Sabeanism

"With reference to your question concerning the Sabean and Hindu religions: There is nothing in the Teachings that could help us in ascertaining which one of these two Faiths is older. Neither history seems to be able to provide a definite answer to this question. The records concerning the origin of these religions are not sufficiently detailed and reliable to offer any conclusive evidence on this point."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 9, 1940: Extracts from the Guardian's letters on Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism and Related Subjects, op. cit.)


1694. Lao-Tse and the Sabeans

"Regarding Lao-Tse: The Bahá'ís do not consider him a prophet, or even a secondary prophet or messenger, unlike Buddha or Zoroaster, both of whom were divinely-appointed and fully independent Manifestations of God.

"As to the religion of the Sabeans very little is known about the origins of this religion, though we Bahá'ís are certain of one thing, that the founder of it has been a divinely-sent Messenger. The country where Sabeanism became widespread and



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flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 10, 1939)


1695. There Were No Followers of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh from the Far East During Their Ministry

"As there were no followers of the Bab or Bahá'u'lláh derived from the religions of the Far East in Their days, this may be the reason that they did not address any Tablets directly to these people. Also we must remember that every religion springs from some root, and just as Christianity sprang from Judaism, our own religion sprang from Islam, and that is why so many of the teachings deduct their proofs from Islam."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 5, 1957)

"The teachings bear no reference to any genealogical tie between the Prophets of the Near and Far East."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1941)


1696. Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism (Following are some quotations taken from a compilation of extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian on these and related subjects, enclosed with a letter to an individual believer on November 30, 1980 from the Universal House of Justice)

Lesser Prophets: "Regarding your questions: We cannot possibly add names of people we (or anyone else) think might be Lesser Prophets to those found in the Qur'an, the Bible and our own Scriptures. For only these can we consider authentic Books."

(March 13, 1950, to an individual believer)

Asiatic Prophets: "Regarding your questions: The only reason there is not more mention of the Asiatic prophets is because their names seem to be lost in the mists of ancient history. Buddha is mentioned and Zoroaster in our scriptures--both non-Jewish prophets or non-semitic prophets. We are taught there always have been Manifestations of God, but we do not have any record of their names."

(October 4, 1950, to an individual believer)

Scriptures of Buddha and Krishna: "We cannot be sure of the authenticity of the scriptures of Buddha and Krishna, so we certainly cannot draw any conclusions about virgin births mentioned in them. There is no reference to this subject in our teachings, so the Guardian cannot pronounce an opinion.

"As our teachings do not state Zoroaster is the connecting link between the Euphrates and the Prophets in India, we cannot assert this.

"Abraham and Krishna are two separate individuals, with no connection that we know of.

"We know no more about the prophets mentioned in the Iqan than what Bahá'u'lláh states in that Book."

(November 25, 1950, to an individual believer)

Brahma and Krishna: "Your question concerning Brahma and Krishna: Such matters, as no reference occurs to them in the Teachings, are left for students of history and religion to resolve and clarify."

(April 14, 1941, to an individual believer)

Actual Dates of Prophets of Adamic Cycle Not Given: "There are no dates in our teachings regarding the actual dates of the Prophets of the Adamic Cycle, so we cannot



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give any. Tentatively we can accept what historians may consider accurate. Naturally the dates referring to Muhammad, the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh we are sure of."

(November 25, 1950, to an individual believer)


1697. Existence is of Two Kinds

"Existence is of two kinds: One is the existence of God which is beyond the comprehension of man. He, the invisible, the lofty and the incomprehensible, is preceded by no cause but rather is the originator of the Cause of Causes. He, the Ancient, has had no beginning and is the All-Independent. The second kind of existence is the human existence. It is a common existence, comprehensible to the human mind, is not ancient, is dependent and has a cause to it. The mortal substance does not become eternal and vice-versa; the human kind does not become a Creator and vice-versa. The transformation of the innate substance is impossible.

"In the world of existence, that which is comprehensible, is in three stages of mortality: the first stage is the mineral world, next the vegetable world, and in the latter the mineral world does exist but has a distinctive feature which is the vegetable characteristic. Likewise, in the animal world, the mineral and vegetable characteristics are present and in addition the characteristics of the animal world are to be found: it has the faculties of hearing and of sight. In the human world the characteristics of the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds are found and in addition those of the human kind are existing. That is the intellectual characteristic, which discovers the realities of things and comprehends the all-important facts.

"Man, therefore, on the plane of the contingent beings is the most perfect being. By man is meant the perfect individual, who is like unto a mirror in which the divine perfections are manifested and reflected. But the sun does not condescend from the height of its sanctity to enter into the mirror, but when the latter is purified and turned towards the Sun of Truth, the perfections of this Sun, consisting of light and heat, are reflected and manifested in that mirror. These souls are the Divine Manifestations of God."

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, July 20, 1919: Star of the West, Vol. XI, No. 10, p. 159)


1698. Manifestations Had Some Consciousness of Their Station

"The Manifestations no doubt had some consciousness of Their station, but what the nature of that consciousness was we do not know."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)


1699. The Souls of the Prophets Are Pre-Existent

"The soul or spirit of the individual comes into being with the conception of his physical body.

"The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being.

"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him, realizing that through H