Citadel of Faith

Letters to the American Bahá'í Community

My Appeal to This God-Chosen Community

The response of the American Bahá'í Community to the urgent call to arise and remedy a critical situation has been such as to excite my highest admiration and exceed the hopes of all those who had waited with anxious hearts for this dangerous corner to be turned at such an important stage in the prosecution of the Second Seven Year Plan.

The rapidity with which the challenge has been met, the strenuous efforts which have been systematically exerted, the zeal and devotion which have been so abundantly demonstrated, the resolution and self-sacrifice which have been so strikingly displayed by the members of a community, burdened with such mighty responsibilities and intent on maintaining its lead among its sister communities in East and West, confer great luster on this latest episode in the history of the prosecution of the Divine Plan. I am moved to offer its high-minded and valiant members my heartfelt congratulations on so conspicuous a victory, and on the preservation of an unblemished record of achievements in the service of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.

The formation of the Canadian National Assembly, the conclusion of the preliminary steps for the completion of the interior ornamentation of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, the rapid multiplication and consolidation of the institutions of the Faith throughout Latin America, the steady expansion of the activities aiming at the proclamation of the Faith to the masses, the recognition secured, on behalf of the national institutions of a world community, from the United Nations Organization, above all the phenomenal success achieved through the constitution of no less than eight spiritual assemblies in seven of the goal countries selected as targets for the transatlantic operation of the Plan, now crowned by the holding of the first teaching conference on the continent of Europe--all these have served to immortalize the second year of the Second Seven Year Plan and round out the mighty feat accomplished throughout the states and provinces of the North American continent--the base from which the operation of a divinely impelled and constantly expanding Plan are being conducted.

Emboldened by the enduring and momentous successes won, on so many fronts, in such distant fields, among such a diversity of peoples, and in the face of such formidable obstacles, by a community now launched, in both hemispheres, on its world-encircling mission, I direct my appeal to the entire membership of this God-chosen community, to its associates and daughter communities in the Dominion of Canada, in Central and South America, and in the continent of Europe, to proclaim, in the course of this current year, to their sister communities in East and West and by deeds no less resplendent than those of the past, their inflexible resolve to prosecute unremittingly the Plan entrusted to their care, and emblazon on their shields the emblems of new victories in its service.

The placing, with care and promptitude, of the successive contracts, designed to ensure the uninterrupted progress of the interior ornamentation of the Temple, at a time when the international situation is fraught with so many complications and perils; the acceleration of the twofold process designed to preserve the status of the present assemblies throughout the states of the Union and multiply their number; the constant broadening of the bases on which the projected Latin American national assemblies are to be securely founded; the steady expansion of the work initiated to give wider publicity to the Faith in the North American continent and in circles associated with the United Nations; and, last but not least, the constitution of firmly established assemblies in each of the remaining goal countries in Europe and the simultaneous initiation, in the countries already provided with such assemblies, of measures aiming at the formation of several nuclei calculated to reinforce the structural basis of an infant Administrative Order--these stand out as the primary and inescapable duties which the members of your Assembly--the mainspring of the multitudinous activities carried on in your homeland, in the Latin American field, and on the European front--must in this third year of the Second Seven Year Plan, befittingly discharge.

That the launching of one of these fundamental activities to be conducted by your Assembly during the present year--the commencement of the interior ornamentation of the Mother Temple of the West--should have so closely synchronized with the placing of the first two contracts for the completion of the Sepulcher of the Báb, as contemplated by `Abdu'l-Bahá, is indeed a phenomenon of singular significance. This conjunction of two events of historic importance, linking, in a peculiar degree, the most sacred House of Worship in the American continent with the most hallowed Shrine on the slopes of Mount Carmel, brings vividly to mind the no less remarkable coincidence marking the simultaneous holding, on a Naw-Rúz Day, of the first convention of the American Bahá'í Community and the entombment by the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant of the remains of the Báb in the newly constructed vault of His Shrine.[See God Passes By, p. 276] The simultaneous arrival of those remains in the fortress city of `Akká and of the first pilgrims from the continent of America;[See God Passes By, p. 257-8] the subsequent association of the founder of the American Bahá'í Community with `Abdu'l-Bahá in the laying of the cornerstone of the Báb's Mausoleum on Mount Carmel; the holding of the Centenary of His Declaration beneath the dome of the recently constructed Mashriqu'l-Adhkár at Wilmette, on which solemn occasion His blessed portrait was unveiled, on western soil, to the eyes of His followers; and the unique distinction now conferred on a member[William Sutherland Maxwell of Montreal] of the North American Bahá'í Community of designing the dome, envisaged by `Abdu'l-Bahá, as the final and essential embellishment of the Báb's Sepulcher--all these have served to associate the Herald of our Faith and His resting-place with the fortunes of a community which has so nobly responded to His summons addressed to the "peoples of the West" in His Qayyúmu'l-Asma'.

"This Sublime Shrine has remained unbuilt ...," `Abdu'l-Bahá, looking at the Shrine from the steps of His House on an August day in 1915, remarked to some of His companions, at a time when the Báb's remains had already been placed by Him in the vault of one of the six chambers He had already constructed for that purpose. "God willing, it will be accomplished. We have carried its construction to this stage."

The initiation in these days of extreme peril in the Holy Land of so great and holy an enterprise, founded by Bahá'u'lláh Himself whilst still a Prisoner in `Akká and commenced by `Abdu'l-Bahá during the darkest and most perilous days of His ministry, recalls to our minds, furthermore, the construction of the superstructure of the Temple in Wilmette during one of the severest financial crises that has afflicted the United States of America, and the completion of its exterior ornamentation during the dark days of the last World War. Indeed, the tragic and moving story of the transfer of the Báb's mutilated body from place to place ever since His Martyrdom in Tabriz, its fifty-year concealment in Persia; its perilous and secret journey by way of Tihrán, Isfáhán, Kirmanshan, Baghdád, Damascus, Beirut and `Akká to the Mountain of God, its ultimate resting place; its concealment for a further period of ten years in the Holy Land itself; the vexatious and long-drawn-out negotiations for the purchase of the site chosen by Bahá'u'lláh Himself for its entombment; the threats of `Abdu'l-Hamid, the Turkish tyrant, the accusations levelled against its Trustee, the plots devised, and the inspection made, by the scheming members of the notorious Turkish Commission of Inquiry; the perils to which the bloodthirsty Jamál Páshá exposed it; the machinations of the arch-breaker of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, of His brother and of His son, respectively, aiming at the frustration of `Abdu'l-Bahá's design, at the prevention of the sale of land within the precincts of the Shrine itself, and the multiplication of the measures taken for the preservation and consolidation of the properties purchased in its vicinity and dedicated to it--all these are to be regarded as successive stages in the history of the almost hundred year long process destined to culminate in the consummation of Bahá'u'lláh's irresistible purpose of erecting a lasting and befitting memorial to His Divine Herald and Co-Founder of His Faith.

As the mission entrusted by `Abdu'l-Bahá to the followers of His Faith in the North American continent gathers momentum, unfolds its potentialities, and raises to new heights of heroism and renown its valiant prosecutors, events of still greater significance will, no doubt, transpire, which will serve to enhance the value of the work which the prosecutors of the Plan are carrying out, to widen their vision, to reinforce their exertions, to sustain their spirit, to ennoble their heritage, to noise abroad their fame, to facilitate their assumption of the unique functions distinguishing their stewardship to the Faith, and to hasten the advent of the day, which shall witness, in the Golden Age that is still unborn, their "elevation to the throne of an everlasting dominion," the day whereon "the whole earth" will "resound with the praises" of their "majesty and greatness."

[May 18, 1948]

Citadel of Faith
Letters to the American Bahá'í Community
pages 51-55

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