1935-10-02 Closing of Tarbiat Schools
USBN #97 January 1936 p1
With regard to the closing of the Tarbiat Schools: the school authorities have, in enforcing the observance of Baha'i anniversaries, acted on the advice and direction of the Guardian. These Schools, being independent and official Baha'i institutions, could not very well ignore, much less violate the express provisions and laws of the Aqdás. Had they any connection with government institutions, or had their ownership and control been shared by non-Baha’is, the situation would have been different. This distinction between institutions that are under full or partial Baha'i control is of a fundamental importance. Institutions that are entirely managed by Baha'is are, for reasons that are only too obvious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith, especially those whose observance constitutes a matter of conscience. There is no reason, no justification whatever, that they should act other-wise, and any restriction which the government may impose upon them in this connection would necessarily constitute a violation of the individual's right to freedom in matters of religious belief. The situation is different when an institution is run partly by Baha'is, or is completely owned by the government. In this case the believers, while anxious to observe all prescribed Baha'i Feasts and Anniversaries, should also take into consideration the rights and interests of their non-Baha’i partners and associates, and not to force these to stop working when they are under no moral or religious obligation to do so.
On the first of Ridván the believers had for a number of years observed officially the festival by closing their schools on that day. No objection had bees raised by the authorities. The action was precipitated when the Assembly decided, as advised by the Guardian, to observe in the same manner the Anniversary of the Bab's Martyrdom, the observance of which is, in addition to eight other holidays, explicitly enjoined by 'Abdu'1-Bahá in one of His Tablets'
The point which should be always remembered is that the issue in question is essentially a matter of conscience, and as such is of a binding effect upon all believers. It has so been considered by the friends in Persia, not because of any specific instruction given to them by the Guardian, but solely in view of the fact that the celebration of the Anniversary of the Bab's martyrdom has been explicitly enjoined by the Master."
—Shoghi Effendi. through his secretary, in letter to the N, S. A. dated Haifa. October 2, 1935.