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Summary of this letter, in outline format.

Ridván 1996:

by Foad Shodjai


1. Summary Outline

I. Three Year Plan "Background of Heartening Developments" (¶1-15)
  • A. Abundant manifestations of His grace (¶1)
  • B. Mount Carmel Project (¶2-3)
  • C. Signs of Progress (¶4-15)
II. Four Year Plan (¶16-33)
  • A. Backdrop
  • B. Aims at one major accomplishment: A significant advance in the process of entry by troops (¶17)
  • C. Concepts: (¶18)
  • D. Three constituents (¶20-26)
  • E. Institutes (¶27-31)
  • F. World Centre Goals (¶32-33)
III. Bahá'í World (¶34-35)
  • A. Formation of two National Spiritual Assemblies (¶34)
  • B. Two National Spiritual Assemblies cannot be elected (¶34)
  • C. Number of NSAs worldwide remains at 174 (¶34)
  • D. "Century of Light" (¶35)
IV. World at Large (¶36-39)
  • A. A period of accelerating transition (¶36)
  • B. Twin processes (¶36)
  • C. Recent world developments (¶37)
  • D. Establishment of Lesser Peace (¶38)
  • E. Opposition (¶40)
V. The Devine Tasks Set Before Us (¶41)
  • A. "spreading far and wide the knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" (¶41)
  • B. "enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers" (¶41)
  • C. Those of us who are alive to the vision of the Faith are particularly privileged to be consciously engaged in efforts intended to stimulate and eventually enhance such processes (¶41)
  • D. May you all... (¶42)
  • E. The advise of our infallible guide, Shoghi Effendi (¶42)

2. Detailed Outline

I. Three Year Plan "Background of Heartening Developments" (¶1-15)
    A. Abundant manifestations of His grace (¶1) B. Mount Carmel Project (¶2-3) C. Signs of Progress (¶4-15)
    • 1. Expansion and Consolidation (¶5-8)
      • a. Arena of teaching (¶5)
        • i. there was general increase of activities
        • ii. twelve new National Spiritual Assemblies
        • iii. veritable flood of traveling teachers
      • b. International Teaching Centre (ITC) (¶6)
        • i. spirit of enterprise shown by ITC
        • ii. constant direction and encouragement of CBC
        • iii. new methods for the deployment of pioneers
        • iv. unflagging attention to the educational needs of
          • a) the community
          • b) new believers
          • c) children's teachers
        • v. efforts to establish training institutes
      • c. Indigenous believers (¶7)
        • i. notable rise in assumption of responsibility
        • ii. have shown an admirable capacity for administering the affairs of the Cause
        • iii. upsurge of vigor, courage and creativity in Bahá'í island communities
        • iv. heightened commitment to the teaching work
        • v. growing maturity
      • d. Youth (¶8)
        • i. outstanding contributions
        • ii. invested immense amount of time, energy and zeal in the teaching work
        • iii. stimulated hundreds of new enrolments and...
        • iv. the formation of many Local Spiritual Assemblies
        • v. music and art distinguished their exertions
        • vi. dance and drama workshop was particularly effective
        • vii. participation in external affairs
        • viii. commitment to year of service widely demonstrated
        • ix. increase in formal training and achieving academic, professional and vocational excellence

    • 2. Social and Economic Development (¶4, 9-10)
      • a. In the field of education (¶9)
        • i. e.g. managing seven public schools
        • ii. farming projects in Africa
        • iii. improving status of women
        • iv. the Bahá'í International Community's Office for the Advancement of Women emerged
      • b. To improve health (¶10)
        • i. significant Bahá'í participation in government-sponsored programs
        • ii. Bahá'í groups initiated and carried out such programs
      • c. Firm establishment of a number of projects (¶10)
      • d. Three projects begun in a literacy campaign (¶10)
      • e. Resulted in proclamation of the Faith (¶10)

    • 3. External Affairs (¶4, 11-14)
      • a. Exceeding all previous records (¶11)
      • b. Boosted the proclamation of the Cause (¶11)
      • c. Board lines of progress (¶11)
        • i. the ease with which the Bahá'í communities sponsored and participated in public events
        • ii. the emergence of Bahá'ís as a force in society
        • iii. wide coverage... was beyond calculation
      • d. Specific developments that stood out (¶12)
        • i. the frequency with which high public officials would invite Bahá'ís
        • ii. the successful initiatives of Bahá'ís in influencing government action
        • iii. the establishment of Bahá'í academic programs
        • iv. the adoption of curricular material for public schools
        • v. the use of arts in proclamation events
      • e. Two major United Nations events (¶13)
        • i. the World Summit for Social and Development, Copenhagen
          • a) 250 friends from more than 40 countries involved
          • b) acquainted the participants and NGOs with the Teachings
          • c) "The Prosperity of Humankind" produced by BIC's OPI
        • ii. the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijin
          • a) more than 500 Bahá'ís attended in addition to the official delegation of the BIC
      • f. 50th anniversary of United Nations
        • i. "Turning Point for All Nations" by BIC's UN Office
        • ii. containing proposals for the development of UN
      • g. Prominent participation of Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum (¶14)
        • i. headed the delegation to the Summit on the Alliance between Religions and Conservation
        • ii. the keynote speaker at the Fourth International Dialogue on the Transition to Global Society

    • 4. Other significant marks of the period (¶15)
      • a. the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in the original Arabic was published
      • b. the Law of Huqúqu'lláh became more deeply rooted
      • c. the Trustee of Huqúqu'lláh took up residence in the Holy Land
        • i. this significant step means that all three Hands are now residing at the World Centre
        • ii. bringing inspiration to pilgrims, visitors, and staff
II. Four Year Plan (¶16-33)
    A. Backdrop
    • 1. an extraordinary period of our Faith (¶29)
    • 2. a turning point of epochal magnitude (¶29)
    • 3. most critical times in the life of the planet (¶41)
    • 4. meant to: (¶41)
      • a. prepare our community to cope with the accelerating changes
      • b. place the community in a position to:
        • i. withstand the weight of the accompanying tests and challenges
        • ii. make more visible the pattern of functioning to which the world can turn for aid and example

    • 5. special place in the scheme of Bahá'í and world history (¶41)
    • 6. brief span of time so charged with potentialities and hope for all humanity (¶42)
    B. Aims at one major accomplishment: A significant advance in the process of entry by troops (¶17) C. Concepts: (¶18)
    • 1. large scale, sustained growth of the Bahá'í world community
      • a. current circumstances demand it
      • b. existing opportunities allow it

    • 2. three constituent participants of Order of Bahá'u'lláh can foster such growth
      • a. by spiritually and mentally accepting it
      • b. by working towards embracing masses of new believers
      • c. effecting new believers' training and development
        • i. spiritual
        • ii. administrative
      • d. thereby multiplying the number of:
        • i. knowledgeable
        • ii. active teachers
        • iii. and, administrators believers
      • e. whose involvement with the work of the Cause will ensure:
        • i. a constant influx of new believers
        • ii. an uninterrupted evolution of Bahá'í Assemblies
        • iii. and, a steady consolidation of the Bahá'í community

    • 3. the "process" is already in progress (¶19)
      • a. communities are at different stages of it
      • b. all are tasked to achieve a level commensurate with their possibilities
      • c. individual and institutions are summoned to arise

    D. Three constituents (¶20-26)

    • 1. The Individual (¶20-22)
      • a. manifests the vitality of faith upon which depends (¶20)
        • i. the success of teaching work
        • ii. and the development of the community
      • b. Bahá'u'lláh's command to each believer (¶20)
        • i. to teach His Faith
        • ii. confers an inescapable responsibility
        • iii. which cannot be transferred to, or assumed by, any institution
      • c. the individual alone can exercise these capacities: (¶20)
        • i. the ability to take initiative
        • ii. to seize opportunities
        • iii. to form friendships
        • iv. to interact personally with others
        • v. to build relationships
        • vi. to win others to the Faith
        • vii. to convert into actions the decisions made by consultative bodies
      • d. Shoghi Effendi: It is the individual's duty to (¶20)
        • i. consider every avenue of approach
        • ii. capture the attention
        • iii. maintain the interest
        • iv. deepen the faith of those whom he seeks to bring into the fold of his Faith
      • e. To optimize the sue of these capacities the individual draws upon: (¶21)
        • i. his love for Bahá'u'lláh
        • ii. the power of the Covenant
        • iii. the dynamics of prayer
        • iv. the inspiration and education derived from regular reading and study of the holy Text
        • v. the transformative forces
        • vi. blessings promised by Bahá'u'lláh (quotation)
      • f. The absolute necessity of individual initiative and action (¶22)
        • i. underscored by Shoghi Effendi
        • ii. the support of the individual must be:
          • a) wholehearted
          • b) continuous
          • c) and generous
        • iii. without such support:
          • a) plan of NSA "foredoomed to failure"
          • b) the Master's Divine Plan "impeded"
          • c) the sustaining strength of Bahá'u'lláh "will be withheld"
        • iv. Regarding the sense of inadequacy---passage from Shoghi Effendi
          • a) "he wishes the friends to overcome" it
          • b) "not only paralyzes their efforts"
          • c) "but ... serve[s] to quench the flame of faith in their hearts"
          • d) "Everyone is a potential teacher"
          • e) "He has only to use what God has given him"
          • f) "and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust"

    • 2. The Institutions (¶23-24)
      • a. immense historical process ... entering a critical stage (¶23)
        • i. calls for a new state of mind on the part of:
          • a) members
          • b) those who elect them
      • b. designed by Bahá'u'lláh
      • c. canalize the forces of a new civilization
      • d. expansion of the Bahá'í community (¶23)
        • i. is required
        • ii. provides for the maturation of these institutions
        • iii. is a matter of immediate importance ... in all lands
      • e. the Spiritual Assemblies: (¶24)
        • i. must rise to a new stage in the exercise of their responsibilities as:
          • a) channels of devine guidance
          • b) planners of the teaching work
          • c) developers of human resources
          • d) builders of communities
          • e) loving shepherds of the multitudes
        • ii. these prospects can be realized through:
          • a) increasing the ability of their members to take counsel together in accordance with principles of the Faith
          • b) consult with friends ... through fostering the spirit of service
          • c) collaborating with Counsellors and Auxiliaries
          • d) cultivating their external relationships
      • f. progress in the evolution of institutions (¶24)
        • i. be manifest in the multiplication of localities
        • ii. enhances the believers' capacity to serve the Cause and fosters unified action
      • g. maturity of Spiritual Assembly (¶24)
        • i. regularity of its meetings
        • ii. efficiency of its functioning
        • iii. continuity of the growth of Bahá'í membership
        • iv. effectiveness of the interaction between the Assemblies and members of its community
        • v. the quality of the spiritual and social life of the community
        • vi. the overall sense of vitality of a community in the process of dynamic, ever-advancing development

    • 3. The Community (¶25-16)
      • a. Community Defined (¶25)
        • i. more than the sum of its members
        • ii. a comprehensive unit of civilization
        • iii. composed of
          • a) individuals
          • b) families
          • c) institutions
        • iv. originators and encouragers of
          • a) systems
          • b) agencies
          • c) organizations
        • v. working together with
          • a) a common purpose
          • b) for the welfare of people within
          • c) for the welfare of people without
        • vi. a composition of
          • a) diverse, interacting participants
          • b) achieving unity
          • c) unremitting quest for spiritual and social progress
        • vii. Bahá'is everywhere are at the beginning of the process of community building
      • b. The flourishing of the community demands a significant enhancement in patterns of behaviour (¶26)
        • i. unity and fellowship of the community
        • ii. dynamism of its activity and growth
        • iii. the component elements of community
          • a) adults
          • b) youth
          • c) children
        • iv. calls for integration of the component in:
          • a) spiritual
          • b) social
          • c) educational
          • d) and administrative
        • v. implies a collective will and sense of purpose to perpetuate the Assembly through annual election
        • vi. involves the practice of collective worship
          • a) it is essential to the spiritual life of the community
    E. Institutes (¶27-31)
    • 1. Human Resources---implications of entry by troops
      • a. determined, worldwide effort must be made
      • b. though important, not adequate for training of a rapidly expanding community:
        • i. endeavour of individuals to conduct classes at home
        • ii. sponsorship by the institutions of occasional courses
        • iii. informal activities of the community

    • 2. Permanent institutes (¶27)
      • a. to be regarded as
        • i. centers of learning (¶28)
      • b. goal---very practical outcome: (¶29)
        • i. raising up of large numbers of believers who are trained to foster and facilitate the process of entry by troops with efficiency and love
      • c. educating:
        • i. large number of new believers
        • ii. in the fundamental verities of the Faith
      • d. for:
        • i. training and assisting the individual to serve the Cause as their God-given talents allow
      • e. designed to provide programs of training
        • i. well-organized
        • ii. formally conducted
        • iii. on regular schedule

    • 3. Counsellors and Auxiliaries (¶28)
      • a. intensification of collaboration between CBC and NSA is required
      • b. well depend in very large measure on the involvement of CBC and ABMs
      • c. the role of Auxiliary Board Members in permanent institutes:
        • i. close working relationship with
          • a) the institute
          • b) the Local Spiritual Assembly
        • ii. provides for the scope of their responsibilities
        • iii. intimate involvement should become a part of the functions of these officers of the Faith

    • 4. Teachers of the institute
      • a. passage form Bahá'u'lláh
      • b. teachers of teachers
      • c. earmarked contributions for teacher of teachers

    • 5. The use of arts (¶31)
      • a. friends are asked to give a greater attention to arts
      • b. for proclamation
      • c. for expansion and consolidation
      • d. Shoghi Effendi held high hopes for the arts
      • e. passage from Shoghi Effendi
    F. World Centre Goals (¶32-33)
    • 1. Mount Carmel Project by Ridván 2000
      • a. Centre for the Study of the Text completed
      • b. Extension of the Archives Building completed
      • c. public road above the Shrine of the Báb lowered
      • d. connecting bridge over the public road with garden built
      • e. five of the upper terraces completed
      • f. the remaining upper four terraces and two at the foot of the mountain in advance stage of development

    • 2. Universal application of additional laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
    • 3. preparation of a new volume in English of Writings of Bahá'u'lláh
    • 4. further development of the functions of International Teaching Centre
    • 5. devising of measures for increasing number of pilgrims
    • 6. collaborate directly with forces leading towards the establishment of order in the world
    • 7. Office of Social and Economic Development (OSED)
      • a. expand its endeavour
      • b. improving its coordinating capacity
      • c. 100's of projects around the world

    • 7. External Affairs
      • a. influencing the process towards world peace
      • b. promotion of human rights
      • c. status of women
      • d. global prosperity
      • e. moral development
      • f. Bahá'í International Community's (BIC) United Nations Office
        • i. reinforce the ties between the Bahá'is and the UN
      • g. Office of Public Information (OPI)
        • i. assist the Bahá'í institutions
      • h. Dealing with governments
        • i. Defense the rights of the Bahá'is in Iran
        • ii. emancipate the Faith in Iran and other countries where it is proscribed
      • i. friends and institutions are urged to be alert to the importance of external affairs and give renewed attention to them
    III. Bahá'í World (¶34-35)
      A. Formation of two National Spiritual Assemblies (¶34)
      • 1. Moldova: Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum
      • 2. São Tomé: Mr. Fred Schecter
      B. Two National Spiritual Assemblies cannot be elected (¶34)
      • 1. Burundi
      • 2. Rwanda
      C. Number of NSAs worldwide remains at 174 (¶34) D. "Century of Light" (¶35)
      • 1. Holding at the World Centre of a major event:
        • a. mark the completion of buildings on the Arc
        • b. open the Terraces of the Shrine of the Báb to public
    IV. World at Large (¶36-39)
      A. A period of accelerating transition (¶36) B. Twin processes (¶36)
      • 1. One is an integrating process, the other is disruptive
      • 2. prompted by the impact of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation
      • 3. are gathering momentum
      • 4. will "bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet"
      • 5. out of the "universal fermentation" created by these processes, peace will emerge in stages
      C. Recent world developments (¶37)
      • 1. paradoxically, both shocking and reassuring
      D. Establishment of Lesser Peace (¶38)
      • 1. not dependent on any Bahá'í plan or action
      • 2. two main challenges facing Bahá'is---twin foci
        • a. to mount a teaching campaign
          • i. the community engaged in it
            • a) enthusiastically
            • b) systematically
            • c) personally
          • ii. extensive training programme
            • a) ensures the development of human resources
        • b. to complete the construction of Mount Carmel project
          • i. every sacrifice must be made
          • ii. provide a liberal outpouring of material means

      • 3. take heart from: (¶39)
        • a. the Word we treasure
        • b. the deeds of heroism and sacrifice of the Bahá'is of Iran
      E. Opposition (¶40)
      • 1. the experience of the Bahá'ís of Iran is a signal and an example to us all
      • 2. as the Master told us, opposition will rear its head on all the continents
      • 3. it may be of a different character from place to place
      • 4. it will no doubt be intensive
      • 5. the Lord of Hosts has promised to deliver to His people an overwhelming and decisive triumph
    V. The Divine Tasks Set Before Us (¶41)
      A. "spreading far and wide the knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" B. "enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers" C. Those of us who are alive to the vision of the Faith are particularly privileged to be consciously engaged in efforts intended to stimulate and eventually enhance such processes D. May you all... (¶42)
      • 1. arise to seize the tasks of this crucial moment
      • 2. each inscribe his or her mark on a brief span of time
      E. The advise of our infallible guide, Shoghi Effendi
      • 1. passage from Shoghi Effendi
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