The Bahá'í National Youth Committee gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Miriam Drevitch, Paul Khavari, James Markert, and J. F. Strain, who devoted hours to the initial research of passages from the writings: of the Office of Comunity Administration, which provided many additional passages; of Anne Atkinson, Robert Atkinson, Charles Cornwell, Nancy McSherry, Merrill Miller, and Helen Shenton, who helped prepare the manuscript for typesetting; and of Betty J. Fisher, Richard Hill, and especially Terrill Hayes, who gave the work its final form.
Design by Pepper Peterson Oldziey
In memory of the six youth whose complete love for the Blessed Beauty resulted in their executions on 18 June 1983 in Shiraz
- Shirin Dalvand
- Ruya Ishraqi
- Muna Mahmudnizhad
- Mahshid Nirumand
- Simin Sabiri
- Akhtar Thabit
with the hope that the Bahá'í youth of the world will be inspired to vindicate these sacrifices through a renewed sense of dedication and service to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh
- viii Foreword
- 1 1 Prayers for spiritual growth
- 1 Short obligatory prayer
- 1 Spiritual awakening
- 2 Spiritual qualities
- 3 Protection and assistance
- 4 Parents
- 4 Teaching and service
- 6 2 Relationship with God
- 7 Knowing and loving God
- 8 Faith and obedience: signs of knowing and loving God
- 8 Communing with God
- 8 Why we pray
- 11 When to pray
- 12 Using the obligatory prayers
- 14 To whom to pray
- 14 What prayers to use
- 15 Prayer and action
- 16 Fasting for love and purification
- 18 Sacrificing yourself to the love of God
- 21 3 The distinctive Bahá'í life
- 21 The call to spiritual distinction
- 23 The importance of a good character
- 24 The responsibilities of Bahá'í youth
- 25 Meeting the challenge
- 26 Transforming society by individual example
- 27 Aspects of Bahá'í character
- 30 4 Exemplary lives and heroic deeds
- 30 The vital role of Bahá'í youth
- 31 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Perfect Exemplar
- 34 The Holy Family
- 34 Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf
- 37 Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch
- 40 The Letters of the Living
- 40 Tahirih
- 41 Quddus and Mulla Husayn
- 43 The Dawn-Breakers
- 43 Badi'
- 45 Ruhu'llah
- 48 Today's Bahá'í youth and young adults
- 48 Sixteen-year-old boy
- 51 Muna Mahmudnizhad
- 53 Zarrin Muqimi
- 54 Ruya Ishraqi
- 56 5 Education
- 56 Transforming humanity through education
- 57 Combining spiritual education with human education
- 59 Attaining spiritual knowledge
- 62 Studying the Bahá'í writings
- 65 Acquiring human knowledge
- 66 Studying disciplines that will benefit humanity
- 69 Suggestions for studying specific courses
- 71 Balancing human and spiritual education
- 74 6 Teaching
- 74 Teaching by word and example
- 74 Talking about the Faith
- 76 Being an example
- 79 The power of love and fellowship
- 83 The responsibilities of youth
- 85 Ensuring success in teaching
- 85 Being filled with the love of God
- 87 Demonstrating love and fellowship
- 88 Demonstrating the power of the Faith through righteous deeds and a distinctive character
- 91 Deepening in and studying the writings
- 92 Consecration, dedication, and service
- 96 Attracting divine assistance
- 97 Who to teach
- 97 All humanity
- 98 Peers
- 99 Minorities
- 101 School and college students
- 103 Traveling teaching
- 104 Pioneering
- 109 7 Cleanliness and purity
- 109 Purity of character
- 113 Smoking tobacco
- 114 Alcohol
- 117 Drugs: hashish, LSD, marijuana, opium, peyote
- 119 Gambling and lotteries
- 120 Being distinguished for purity and sanctity
- 122 8 Interpersonal relationships
- 122 The relationship of children to parents
- 124 The bond of marriage
- 124 The relationship between husband and wife
- 127 Choosing a spouse
- 128 Engagement
- 129 The law of consent
- 131 The ceremony
- 132 Family relationships
- 132 Having children
- 135 Relationships among husband, wife, and children
- 139 Fostering harmony in the family
- 141 Using consultation to foster harmony
- 143 Chastity and sex
- 143 A chaste and holy life
- 148 Masturbation
- 150 Homosexuality
- 153 9 Social Relationships
- 153 Our relationship to the old world order
- 153 Obedience to government
- 154 Avoiding political affairs and activities
- 155 Nonparticipation, not indifference
- 156 Violence and self-defense
- 157 War and military duty
- 160 Membership in non-Bahá'í religious and other organizations
- 162 Associating with social movements
- 163 Our relationship to the new world order
- 163 Forging Bahá'í communities
- 164 Supporting Bahá'í communities
- 167 Fostering unity in the community
- 170 Supporting and strengthening Bahá'í youth
- 170 Supporting the Bahá'í funds
- 173 Participation in social and economic development
- 177 Achieving God's holy purpose for humanity
- 183 10 Youth can move the world
- 183 Messages from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth of the world
- 183 3 January 1984
- 186 8 May 1985
- 189 Bibliography
In January 1984 the Universal House of Justice addressed a historic message to the Bahá'í youth of the world. Although the immediate concern of the message was with the 1985 International Youth Year, the letter's impact was far greater, as its soul-stirring contents conveyed an exciting vision of the future opportunities and tasks of an entire generation. The response of the Bahá'í youth has subsequently led to plans beyond 1985 and to an upsurge of youth activity in many countries that may well signal the beginning of a moement that, in the worlds of the Universal House of Justice, has already "caught the imagination of the friends far and wide."
During the many consultations of the youth about the implications of a Bahá'í youth movement that would attract the support of thousands of youth on every continent, it became clear that the greatest challenge to each individual participant would be learning to live according to a spiritual discipline akin to that of the first generation of the youth of this Dispensation—of Mulla Husayn, Tahirih, Quddus, and Badi'. Striving for such a discipline, in turn, would imply achieving a new balance in life, a balance that would be conducive to heroic deeds and to a state of complete devotion. Indeed, each individual youth would have to struggle against the pressures of an environment that at its best interprets as moderation the notion of living comfortably according to the norms of mediocrity and that consistently tries to pull youth away from true spiritual excellence and from commitment to significant social change. The Bahá'í
youth would have to achieve a different vision of moderation and, to do so, would have to remind themselves constantly of the sacrifices of their brethren in Iran during the recent years.
It became clear in the deliberations that, in order to rise to their high destiny, the Bahá'í youth would have to analyze themselves, their potential, and the world with a logic different from the reasoning they have inherited from a materialistic society; they would have to see through the eyes of faith and systematically plan and achieve goals that would seem impossible to everyone untouched by the fire of their zeal. Yet practical questions always remained. How would the youth organize their lives to meet the challenges of their generation and of their own growth and preparation and, at the same time, follow the standards of dedication and action required by the special call of the Universal House of Justice that they "contribute significantly to shaping the societies of the coming century" and that they "move the world."
The answer clearly lies in the dynamic of a spiritual life very different from the present life-style fragmented by opposing social forces, forces that themselves are in conflict with the true human spirit. The challenge is to live a spiritual life that is whole, pure, intense, purposeful, active, and responsive to all the requirements of being a Bahá'í youth in this moment of history. The present compilation prepared by the Bahá'í National Youth Committee and the Publishing Trust of the Bahá'ís of the United States exactly tries to integrate the many aspects of such a spiritual life of service and dedication to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. It is hoped that it will become our close companion in all our endeavors as we participate in the unfoldment of the destiny of the present generation of Bahá'í youth throughout the world.
Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm.
+1 1 Prayers for spiritual growth
Short obligatory prayer
TO BE RECITED ONCE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, AT NOON
I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of Thy favor.
My God, my Adored One, my King, my desire! What tongue can voice my thanks to Thee? I was heedless, Thou didst awaken me. I had turned back from Thee, Thou didst graciously aid me to turn towards Thee. I was as one dead, Thou didst quicken me with the water of life. I was withered, Thou didst revive me with the heavenly stream of Thine utterance which hath flowed forth from the Pen of the All-Merciful.
O Divine Providence! All existence is begotten by Thy bounty; deprive it not of the waters of Thy generosity,
neither do Thou withhold it from the ocean of Thy mercy. I beseech Thee to aid and assist me at all times and under all conditions, and seek from the heaven of Thy grace Thine ancient favor. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of bounty, and the Sovereign of the kingdom of eternity.
O Lord! Help this daughter of the Kingdom to be exalted in both worlds; cause her to turn away from this mortal world of dust and from those who have set their hearts thereon and enable her to have communion and close association with the world of immortality. Give her heavenly power and strengthen her through the breaths of the Holy Spirit that she may arise to serve Thee.
Thou art the Mighty One.
Create in me a pure heart, O my God, and renew a tranquil conscience within me, O my Hope! Through the spirit of power confirm Thou me in Thy Cause, O my Best-Beloved, and by the light of Thy glory reveal unto me Thy path, O Thou the Goal of my desire! Through the power of Thy transcendent might lift me up unto the heaven of Thy holiness, O Source of my being, and by the breezes of Thine eternity gladden me, O Thou Who art my God! Let Thine everlasting melodies breathe tranquillity on me, O my Companion, and let the riches of Thine ancient countenance deliver me from all except Thee, O my Master, and let the tidings of the revelation of Thine incorruptible Essence bring me joy, O Thou Who art the most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden!
O thou Lord of wondrous grace! Bestow upon us new blessings. Give to us the freshness of the spring. We are saplings which have been planted by the fingers of Thy bounty and have been formed out of the water and clay of Thy tender affection. We thirst for the living waters of Thy favors and are dependent upon the outpourings of the
clouds of Thy generosity. Abandon not to itself this grove wherein our hopes aspire, nor withhold thereform the showers of Thy loving-kindness. Grant that from the clouds of Thy mercy may fall copious rain so that the trees of our lives may bring forth fruit and we may attain the most cherished desire of our hearts.
Protection and assistance
O God, my God! I have set out from my home, holding fast unto the cord of Thy love, and I have committed myself wholly to Thy care and Thy protection. I entreat Thee by Thy power through which Thou didst protect Thy loved ones from the wayward and the perverse, and from every contumacious oppressor, and every wicked doer who hath strayed far from Thee, to keep me safe by Thy bounty and thy grace. Enable me, then, to return to my home by Thy power and Thy might. Thou art, truly, the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration. Thou art God, potent art Thou to do what Thou desirest. No one can withstand Thy Will or thwart Thy Purpose.
O Lord! Unto Thee I repair for refuge, and toward all Thy signs I set my heart.
O Lord! Whether traveling or at home, and in my occupation or in my work, I place my whole trust in Thee.
Grant me then Thy sufficing help so as to make me independent of all things, O Thou Who art unsurpassed in Thy mercy!
Bestow upon me my portion, O Lord, as Thou pleasest, and cause me to be satisfied with whatsoever thou hast ordained for me.
Thine is the absolute authority to command.
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!
Teaching and service
Praise be to Thee, O Lord my God! I implore Thee, by Thy Name which none hath befittingly recognized, and whose import no soul hath fathomed; I beseech Thee, by Him Who is the Fountainhead of Thy Revelation and the Dayspring of Thy signs, to make my heart to be a receptacle of Thy love and of remembrance of Thee. Knit it, then, to Thy most great Ocean, that from it may flow out the loving waters of Thy wisdom and the crystal streams of Thy glorification and praise.
The limbs of my body testify to Thy unity, and the hair of my head declareth the power of Thy sovereignty and might. I have stood at the door of Thy grace with utter self-effacement and complete abnegation, and clung to the hem of Thy bounty, and fixed mine eyes upon the horizon of Thy gifts.
Do Thou destine for me, O my God, what becometh the greatness of Thy majesty, and assist me, by Thy strengthening grace, so to teach Thy Cause that the dead may speed out of their sepulchers, and rush forth towards Thee, trusting wholly in Thee, and fixing their gaze upon the orient of Thy Cause, and the dawning-place of Thy Revelation.
Thou, verily, art the Most Powerful, the Most High, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
O Thou kind Lord! Bestow heavenly confirmation upon this daughter of the kingdom, and graciously aid her that she may remain firm and steadfast in Thy Cause and that she may, even as a nightingale of the rose garden of mysteries, warble melodies in the Abhá Kingdom in the most wondrous tones, thereby bringing happiness to everyone. Make her exalted among the daughters of the kingdom and enable her to attain life eternal.
Thou art the Bestower, the All-Loving.
O Lord! Make this youth radiant, and confer Thy bounty upon this poor creature. Bestow upon him knowledge, grant him added strength at the break of every morn and guard him within the shelter of Thy protection so that he may be freed from error, may devote himself to the service of Thy Cause, may guide the wayward, lead the hapless, free the captives and awaken the heedless, that all may be blessed with Thy remembrance and praise. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.
O my God, aid Thou Thy servant to raise up the Word, and to refute what is vain and false, to establish the truth, to spread the sacred verses abroad, reveal the splendors, and make the morning's light to dawn in the hearts of the righteous.
Thou art, verily, the Generous, the Forgiving.
O God, my God! Aid Thou Thy trusted servants to have loving and tender hearts. Help them to spread, amongst all the nations of the earth, the light of guidance that cometh from the Company on high. Verily, Thou art the Strong, the Powerful, the Mighty, the All-Subduing, the Ever-Giving. Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Gentle, the Tender, the Most Bountiful.
Praise and glory be to Thee, O Lord my God! This is a choice sapling which Thou hast planted in the meads of Thy love and hast nurtured with the fingers of Thy Lordship.
Thou hast watered it from the well-spring of everlasting life which streameth forth from the gardens of Thy oneness and Thou hast caused the clouds of Thy tender mercy to shower Thy favors upon it. It hath now grown and developed beneath the shelter of Thy blessings which are manifest from the Dayspring of Thy divine essence. It hath burst forth into leaves and blossoms, is laden with fruit through the providence of Thy wondrous gifts and bounties and is stirred by the fragrant breeze wafting from the direction of Thy loving-kindness.
O Lord! Cause this sapling to become verdant, fresh and flourishing by the outpourings of Thy special bounty and favor, wherewith Thou hast endued the tabernacles of holiness in Thy eternal Kingdom and hast adorned the essences of unity in the arena of reunion.
O Lord! Assist him through Thy strengthening grace which proceedeth from Thine invisible Kingdom, aid him with such hosts as are hidden from the eyes of Thy servants and grant that he may have a sure footing in Thy presence. Unloose his tongue to make mention of Thee and gladden his heart to celebrate Thy praise. Illumine his face in Thy Kingdom, prosper him in the realm above and graciously confirm him to serve Thy Cause.
Thou art the All-Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Omnipotent.
O Thou kind Lord! Grant that these trees may become the adornment of the Abhá Paradise. Cause them to grow through Thy celestial bounty. Make them fresh and verdant, and besprinkle them with heavenly dewdrops. Attire them with robes of radiant beauty, and crown their heads with gorgeous blossoms. Adorn them with goodly fruit, and waft over them Thy sweet savours.
Thou art the Bestower, the All-Loving, the Most Radiant, the Most Resplendent.
2 Relationship with God
Knowing and loving God
1. All praise and glory be to God Who, through the power of His might, hath delivered His creation from the nakedness of non-existence, and clothed it with the mantle of life. From among all created things He hath singled out for His special favor the pure, the gem-like reality of man, and invested it with a unique capacity of knowing Him and of reflecting the greatness of His glory.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 77
2. O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh 4
3. Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him—a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation....
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 65
4. O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh 4
Faith and obedience: signs of knowing and loving God
5. O Son of Being! Walk in My statutes for love of Me and deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh 12
6. Man's highest station . . . is attained through faith in God in every Dispensation and by acceptance of what hath been revealed by Him, and not through learning; inasmuch as in every nation there are learned men who are versed in divers sciences. Nor is it attainable through wealth; for it is similarly evident that among the various classes in every nation there are those possessed of riches. Likewise are other transitory things.
True knowledge, therefore, is the knowledge of God, and this is none other than the recognition of His Manifestation in each Dispensation. Nor is there any wealth save in poverty in all save God and sanctity from aught else but Him—a state that can be realized only when demonstrated towards Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation.
The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab 89
7. It is certain that man's highest distinction is to be lowly before and obedient to his God; that his greatest glory, his most exalted rank and honor, depend on his close observance of the Divine commands and prohibitions. Religion is the light of the world, and the progress, achievement, and happiness of man result from obedience to the laws set down in the holy Books.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization 71
Communing with God
Why we pray
8. Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle
thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 295
9. O thou spiritual friend! Thou hast asked the wisdom of prayer. Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory, and man under no pretext whatsoever is excused from performing the prayer unless he be mentally unsound, or an insurmountable obstacle prevent him. The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state (i.e., prayer) man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion. The greatest happiness for a lover is to converse with his beloved, and the greatest gift for a seeker is to become familiar with the object of his longing; that is why with every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God, his greatest hope is to find an opportunity to entreat and supplicate before his Beloved, appeal for His mercy and grace and be immersed in the ocean of His utterance, goodness and generosity.
Beside all this, prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests.
10. Remembrance of God is like the rain and dew which bestow freshness and grace on flowers and hyacinths, revive them and cause them to acquire fragrance, redolence
and renewed charm. . . Strive thou, then, to praise and glorify God by night and by day, that thou mayest attain infinite freshness and beauty.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Spiritual Foundations 8—9
11. When a person becomes a Bahá'í, actually what takes place is that the seed of the spirit starts to grow in the human soul. This seed must be watered by the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. These gifts of the spirit are received through prayer, meditation, study of the Holy Utterances and service to the Cause of God. The fact of the matter is that service in the Cause is like the plough which ploughs the physical soil when seeds are sown. It is necessary that the soil be ploughed up, so that it can be enriched, and thus cause a stronger growth of the seed. In exactly the same way the evolution of the spirit takes place through ploughing up the soil of the heart so that it is a constant reflection of the Holy Spirit. In this way the human spirit grows and develops by leaps and bounds.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/6/54 to individual believer, in The Bahá'í Life 20
12. . . . the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites Man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine Religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man which has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Bahá'u'lláh, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and becomes a dead thing.
The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, as already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the religion of God.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/8/35 to Edris Rice-Wray Carson, in Bahá'í News, no. 102 (Aug. 1936) 3
When to pray
13. At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and with all his soul persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.
Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Iqan 194
14. Although the words "at dawn" are used in the Divine Book, nevertheless, such prayer is acceptable to God at dawn and after dawn to sunrise, and further until two hours after the sun has risen.
Bahá'u'lláh, "Questions and Answers," in Lights of Guidance 343
15. Supplication to God at morn and eve is conducive to the joy of hearts, and prayer causes spirituality and fragrance. Thou shouldst necessarily continue therein.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas 186
16. Praise be to God, thy heart is engaged in the commemoration of God, thy soul is gladdened by the glad tidings of God and thou art absorbed in prayer. The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 202
17. We may well emulate Bahá'í youth whose recent surge forward into the van of proclamation and teaching is one of
the most encouraging and significant trends in the Faith, and who storm the gates of heaven for support in their enterprises by long-sustained, precedent and continuing prayer. We are all able to call upon Bahá'u'lláh for His Divine, all-powerful aid, and He will surely help us. For He is the Hearer of prayers, the Answerer.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1972 to Bahá'ís of the world, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 1968—1973 91
Using the obligatory prayers
18. The daily obligatory prayers are three in number. . . . The believer is entirely free to choose any one of these three prayers, but is under the obligation of reciting one of them, and in accordance with any specific directions with which they may be accompanied."
Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Prayers 3
19. 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.
A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas 36
20. The hour of noon should, of course, be observed with the position of the sun, not in accordance with local time-standards. The short obligatory prayer may be said at any time between noon and sunset.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 8/8/69 to the Bahá'ís of the British Isles, in Lights of Guidance 343)
21. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/24/49 to individual believer, in Spiritual Foundations 19—20
22. As to the attitude of resentment which the young believers are inclined to assume regarding certain precepts of the Cause, such as obligatory prayers: there can and should be no compromise whatever in such matters that are specifically enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh. We should neither have any feeling of shame when observing such laws and precepts, nor should we overestimate their value and significance. Just as the friends have no difficulty in recognizing the value of the specific prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, such as the Tablets of Fasting and healing, so also they should recognize that the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones, and as such are essential.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/4/36 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 9—10
23. You should rest assured that your strict adherence to the laws and observances enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh is the one power that can effectively guide and enable you to overcome the tests and trials of your life, and help you to continually grow and develop spiritually.
The Guardian particularly appreciates the fact that you have been faithfully observing Bahá'u'lláh's injunction regarding the recital of the daily obligatory prayers, and have thereby set such a high example before your Bahá'í fellow-youth. These daily prayers have been endowed with a special potency which only those who regularly recite them can adequately appreciate. The friends should therefore endeavour to make daily use of these prayers, whatever the peculiar circumstances and conditions of their life.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/23/39 to individual believer, in Spiritual Foundations 16—17
To whom to pray
24. It behoveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid. Such becometh the rank of servitude, and the Lord will decree whatsoever He desireth, in accordance with His consummate wisdom.
Abdu'l-Bahá, in Spiritual Foundations 9
25. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/14/37 to individual believer, in Spiritual Foundations 15
26. In regard to your question: 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 some thing, 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/24/46 to individual believer, in Spiritual Foundations 18
What prayers to use
27. 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.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/7/74 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 339
Prayer and action
28. O maid-servant of God! Chant the Words of God and, pondering over their meaning, transform them into actions! I ask God to cause thee to attain a high station in the Kingdom of Life forever and ever.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Spiritual Foundations 9
29. Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble. Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks 81
30. . . . the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered acts of worship. If a man engageth with
all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in churches and temples. Thus as thou enterest a school of agriculture and strivest in the acquisition of that science thou art day and night engaged in acts of worship—acts that are accepted at the threshold of the Almighty. What bounty greater than this that science should be considered as an act of worship and art as service to the Kingdom of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 144—45
31. We work and pray for the unity of mankind, that all the races of the earth may become one race, all the countries one country, and that all hearts may beat as one heart, working together for perfect unity and brotherhood.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks 100
Fasting for love and purification
32. As regards fasting, it constitutes, together with the obligatory prayers, the two pillars that sustain the revealed Law of God. They act as stimulants to the soul, strengthen, revive and purify it, and thus insure its steady development.
The ordinance of fasting is, as is the case with these three prayers1, a spiritual and vital obligation enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh upon every believer who has attained the age of fifteen. In the Aqdas He thus writes: "We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity; this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. He has exempted from this those who are weak from illness or age, as a bounty from His Presence, and He is the Forgiving, the Generous." And in another passage He says: "We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period,
1. The three obligatory daily prayers, any one of which the believer is free to choose.
and at its close have designated for you Naw-Rúz as a feast. . . The traveler, the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by the fast. . . Abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book."
Also in the "Questions and Answers" that form an appendix to the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh reveals the following: "Verily, I say that God has appointed a great station for fasting and prayer. But during good health its benefit is evident, and when one is ill, it is not permissible to fulfill them." Concerning the age of maturity, He reveals in the appendix of that same Book: "The age of maturity is in the fifteenth year; women and men are alike in this respect." . . .
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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/10/36, in Bahá'í News, no. 98 (Mar. 1936) 1
33. Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travellers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are traveling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you 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.2
Shoghi Effendi, letter to Amelia Collins, in Bahá'í News, no. 167 (Jan. 1944) 2
34. 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.)
A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas 36 [Ed. - see https://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_synopsis_codification#note16 note 16]]
35. Fortunate are ye to have obeyed the commandment of God, and kept this fast during the holy season. For this material fast is an outer token of the spiritual fast; it is a symbol of self-restraint, the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 69—70
Sacrificing yourself to the love of God
36. He that giveth up himself wholly to God, God shall, assuredly, be with him; and he that placeth his complete trust in God, God shall, verily, protect him from whatsoever may harm him, and shield him from the wickedness of every evil plotter.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 233
37. O thou faithful one!
One of the requirements of faithfulness is that thou mayest sacrifice thyself and, in the divine path, close thine eye to every pleasure and strive with all thy soul that thou
2. Additional details on exemptions from the Fast and the like can be found in A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas 38—39.
mayest disappear and be lost, like unto a drop, in the ocean of the love of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas 552
38. Regarding the points you refer to in your letter: the complete and entire elimination of the ego would imply perfection—which man can never completely attain—but the ego can and should be ever-increasingly subordinated to the enlightened soul of man. This is what spiritual progress implies.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/19/41 to individual believer, in The Bahá'í Life 8
39. Regarding the questions you asked: self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Bahá'í writings; one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as "he hath known God who hath known himself", etc. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.
Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more Godly and noble side of our selves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/10/47 to individual believer, in The Bahá'í Life 15
40. . . . it is my hope . . . that day by day ye will love God in ever greater measure, and become more tightly bound to the Beauty that abideth forever, to Him Who is the Light of the world. For love of God and spiritual attraction do cleanse and purify the human heart and dress and adorn it with the spotless garment of holiness; and once the heart
is entirely attached to the Lord, and bound over to the Blessed Perfection, then will the grace of God be revealed.
This love is not of the body but completely of the soul. And those souls whose inner being is lit by the love of God are even as spreading rays of light, and they shine out like stars of holiness in a pure and crystalline sky. For true love, real love, is the love for God, and this is sanctified beyond the notions and imaginings of men.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 202—03
3 The distinctive Bahá'í life
The call to spiritual distinction
1. O loved ones of 'Abdu'l-Bahá!
Man’s life has its springtime and is endowed with marvelous glory. The period of youth is characterized by strength and vigor and stands out as the choicest time in human life. Therefore you should strive day and night so that endowed with heavenly strength, inspired with brilliant motives andaided by His celestial power and heavenly grace and confirmation, you may become the ornaments of the world of humanity, and preeminent among those who are initiated into true learning and the love of God. You must be distinguished amidst men by your sanctity and detachment, loftiness of purpose, magnanimity, determination, noble-mindedness, tenacity, the elevation of your aims and your spiritual qualities; that you may become the means of exaltation and glory for the Cause of God and the dawning places of His heavenly bestowals; that you may conduct yourselves in conformity with the counsels and exhortations of the Blessed Beauty—may my life be offered up for His loved ones—and by reflecting Bahá'í qualities and attributes, you may stand out distinguished from others. 'Abdu'l-Bahá eagerly anticipates that each one of you may become even as a fearless lion moving in the pastures of human perfection and a musk-laden breeze wafting over the meads of virtue.
The glory of glories rest upon you.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, O God, My God . . . 36
2. I desire distinction for you. The Bahá'ís must be distinguished from others of humanity. But this distinction must not depend upon wealth—that they should become more affluent than other people. I do not desire for you financial distinction. It is not an ordinary distinction I desire; not scientific, commercial, industrial distinction. For you I desire spiritual distinction—that is, you must become eminent and distinguished in morals. In the love of God you must become distinguished from all else. You must become distinguished for loving humanity, for unity and accord, for love and justice. In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world—for faithfulness and sincerity, for justice and fidelity, for firmness and steadfastness, for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world, for love toward every human being, for unity and accord with all people, for removing prejudices and promoting international peace. Finally, you must become distinguished for heavenly illumination and for acquiring the bestowals of God. I desire this distinction for you. This must be the point of distinction among you.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 190
3. We sincerely hope that the forefront of the volunteers, the Bahá'í youth will arise for the sake of God and, through their driving force, their ability to endure inhospitable and arduous conditions, and their contentment with the bare necessities of life, they will offer an inspiring example to the peoples and communities they set out to serve, will exert an abiding influence on their personal lives, and will promote with distinction the vital interests of God's Cause at this crucial stage in the fortunes of the Plan."
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 3/25/75, in Lights of Guidance 514
4. The youth today must show forth a greater maturity than any previous generation, for they are called upon to pass through perhaps the gravest crisis in the history of
the world, and they must meet their destiny with faith, steadfastness, assurance and poise.
Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Bahá'í World 12:562
The importance of a good character
5. A good character is, verily, the best mantle for men from God. With it He adorneth the temples of His loved ones. By My life! The light of a good character surpasseth the light of the sun and the radiance thereof. Whoso attaineth unto it is accounted as a jewel among men. The glory and the upliftment of the world must needs depend upon it. A goodly character is a means whereby men are guided to the Straight Path and are led to the Great Announcement. Well is it with him who is adorned with the saintly attributes and character of the Concourse on High.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 36
6. The most vital duty, in this day, is to purify your characters, to correct your manners, and improve your conduct. The beloved of the Merciful must show forth such character and conduct among His creatures, that the fragrance of their holiness may be shed upon the whole world, and may quicken the dead, inasmuch as the purpose of the Manifestation of God and the dawning of the limitless lights of the Invisible is to educate the souls of men, and refine the character of every living man. . . .
'Abdu'l-Bahá, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 26
7. He hopes that you will develop into Bahá'ís in character as well as in belief. The whole purpose of Bahá'u'lláh is that we should become a new kind of people, people who are upright, kind, intelligent, truthful, and honest and who live according to His great laws laid down for this new epoch in man's development. To call ourselves Bahá'ís is not enough,
our inmost being must become ennobled and enlightened through living a Bahá'í life.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 8/25/44 to Louhelen School Junior Youth Session, U.S.A., in The Bahá'í Life 10
The responsibilities of Bahá'í youth
8. This Cause, although it embraces with equal esteem people of all ages, has a special message and mission for the youth of your generation. It is their charter for their future, their hope, their guarantee of better days to come.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/16/42 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth iii
9. The present condition of the world—its economic instability, social dissensions, political dissatisfaction and international distrust—should awaken the youth from their slumber and make them inquire what the future is going to bring. It is surely they who will suffer most if some calamity sweep over the world. They should therefore open their eyes to the existing conditions, study the evil forces that are at play and then with a concerted effort arise and bring about the necessary reforms—reforms that shall contain within their scope the spiritual as well as social and political phases of human life.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/13/32 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 3
10. He urges you to make up your minds to do great, great deeds for the Faith; the condition of the world is steadily growing worse, and your generation must provide the saints, heroes, martyrs and administrators of future years. With dedication and will power you can rise to great heights!
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/2/51 to Junior Youth Session, U.S.A., in Bahá'í News, no. 253 (Mar. 1952) 1
Meeting the challenge
11. The responsibility of young believers is very great, as they must not only fit themselves to inherit the work of the older Bahá'ís and carry on the affairs of the Cause in general, but the world which lies ahead of them—as promised by Bahá'u'lláh—will be a world chastened by its sufferings, ready to listen to His Divine Message at last; and consequently a very high character will be expected of the exponents of such a religion. To deepen their knowledge, to perfect themselves in the Bahá'í standards of virtue and upright conduct, should be the paramount duty of every young Bahá'í.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/6/41 to the Bahá'í Youth of Bombay, in The Importance of Deepening 43
12. 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 behavior 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."
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 92—93
Transforming society by individual example
13. Arise, O people, and, by the power of God's might, resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies—gods that have inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshipers. These idols form the obstacle that impedeth man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection. We cherish the hope that the Hand of Divine power may lend its assistance to mankind, and deliver it from its state of grievous abasement.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 93
14. Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life's ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful. Then will the New Jerusalem be seen by mankind, who will enter through its gates and receive the Divine Bounty.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks 87
15. If we could perceive the true reality of things we would see that the greatest of all battles raging in the world today is the spiritual battle. If the believers like yourself, young and eager and full of life, desire to win laurels for true and undying heroism, then let them join in the spiritual battle — whatever their physical occupation may be — which involves the very soul of man. The hardest and the noblest task in the world today is to be a true Bahá'í; this requires that we defeat not only the current evils prevailing all over the world, but the weaknesses, attachments to the past,
prejudices, and selfishnesses that may be inherited and acquired within our own characters; that we give forth a shining and incorruptible example to our fellow-men.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 4/5/42 to individual believer, in Excellence in All Things 11
Aspects of Bahá'í character
16. Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 285
17. O ye lovers of this wronged one! Cleanse ye your eyes, so that ye behold no man as different from yourselves. See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness. And in this new and wondrous age, the Holy Writings say that we must be at one with every people; that we must see neither harshness nor injustice, neither malevolence, nor
hostility, nor hate, but rather turn our eyes toward the heaven of ancient glory. For each of the creatures is a sign of God, and it was by the grace of the Lord and His power that each did step into the world; therefore they are not strangers, but in the family; not aliens, but friends, and to be treated as such.
Wherefore must the loved ones of God associate in affectionate fellowship with stranger and friend alike, showing forth to all the utmost loving-kindness, disregarding the degree of their capacity, never asking whether they deserve to be loved. In every instance let the friends be considerate and infinitely kind. Let them never be defeated by the malice of the people, by their aggression and their hate, no matter how intense. If others hurl their darts against you, offer them milk and honey in return; if they poison your lives, sweeten their souls; if they injure you, teach them how to be comforted; if they inflict a wound upon you, be a balm to their sores; if they sting you, hold to their lips a refreshing cup.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 24
18. Act in accordance with the counsels of the Lord: that is, rise up in such wise, and with such qualities, as to endow the body of this world with a living soul, and to bring this young child, humanity, to the stage of adulthood. So far as ye are able, ignite a candle of love in every meeting, and with tenderness rejoice and cheer ye every heart. Care for the stranger as for one of your own; show to alien souls the same loving kindness ye bestow upon your faithful friends. Should any come to blows with you, seek to be friends with him; should any stab you to the heart, be ye a healing salve unto his sores; should any taunt and mock at you, meet him with love. Should any heap his blame upon you, praise ye him; should he offer you a deadly poison, give him the choicest honey in exchange; and should he threaten your life, grant him a remedy that will heal him evermore. Should he be pain itself, be ye his medicine; should he be thorns, be ye his roses and sweet herbs. Perchance such ways and words from you will make
this darksome world turn bright at last; will make this dusty earth turn heavenly, this devilish prison place become a royal palace of the Lord—so that war and strife will pass and be no more, and love and trust will pitch their tents on the summits of the world. Such is the essence of God's admonitions; such in sum are the teachings for the Dispensation of Baha.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 34
19. It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God is bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad-tidings are clear, evident and complete. For unless some illustrious souls step forth into the arena of service and shine out resplendent in the assemblage of men, the task of vindicating the truth of this Cause before the eyes of enlightened people would be formidable indeed. However, if the friends become embodiments of virtue and good character, words and arguments will be superfluous. Their very deeds will well serve as eloquent testimony, and their noble conduct will ensure the preservation, integrity and glory of the Cause of God.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/19/23 to the Bahá'ís of the East, in The Bahá'í Life 1—2
4 Exemplary lives and heroic deeds
The vital role of Bahá'í youth
1. From the very beginning of the Bahá'í Era, youth have played a vital part in the promulgation of God's Revelation. The Báb Himself was but twenty-five years old when He declared His Mission, while many of the Letters of the Living were even younger. The Master, as a very young man, was called upon to shoulder heavy responsibilities in the service of His Father in 'Iráq and Turkey; and His brother, the Purest Branch, yielded up his life to God in the Most Great Prison at the age of twenty-two that the servants of God might "be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." Shoghi Effendi was a student at Oxford when called to the throne of his Guardianship, and many of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh, who won imperishable fame during the Ten Year Crusade, were young people. Let it, therefore, never be imagined that youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 92
2. RECENT MARTYRDOMS COURAGEOUS STEADFAST YOUTH IN SHIRAZ, SCENE INAUGURATION MISSION MARTYR-PROPHET, REMINISCENT ACTS VALOUR YOUTHFUL IMMORTALS HEROIC AGE. CONFIDENT BAHA'I YOUTH THIS GENERATION WILL NOT ALLOW THIS FRESH BLOOD SHED ON VERY SOIL WHERE FIRST WAVE PERSECUTION FAITH TOOK PLACE REMAIN UNVINDICATED OR THIS SUBLIME SACRIFICE UNAVAILING. AT THIS HOUR OF AFFLICTION AND GRIEF, AND AS WE APPROACH ANNIVERSARY MARTYRDOM BLESSED BAB CALL ON BAHA'I YOUTH TO
REDEDICATE THEMSELVES TO URGENT NEEDS CAUSE BAHA'U'LLAH. LET THEM RECALL BLESSINGS HE PROMISED THOSE WHO IN PRIME OF YOUTH WILL ARISE TO ADORN THEIR HEARTS WITH HIS LOVE AND REMAIN STEADFAST AND FIRM. LET THEM CALL TO MIND EXPECTATIONS MASTER FOR EACH TO BE A FEARLESS LION, A MUSK-LADEN BREEZE WAFTING OVER MEADS VIRTUE. LET THEM MEDITATE OVER UNIQUE QUALITIES YOUTH SO GRAPHICALLY MENTIONED IN WRITINGS GUARDIAN WHO PRAISED THEIR ENTERPRISING AND ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT, THEIR VIGOUR, THEIR ALERTNESS, OPTIMISM AND EAGERNESS, AND THEIR DIVINELY-APPOINTED, HOLY AND ENTHRALLING TASKS. WE FERVENTLY PRAY AT SACRED THRESHOLD THAT ARMY OF SPIRITUALLY AWAKENED AND DETERMINED YOUTH, MAY IMMEDIATELY ARISE RESPONSE NEEDS PRESENT HOUR DEVOTE IN EVER GREATER MEASURE THEIR VALUED ENERGIES TO PROMOTE BOTH ON HOMEFRONTS AND IN FOREIGN FIELDS, CAUSE THEIR ALL-WATCHFUL AND EXPECTANT LORD. MAY THEY MANIFEST SAME SPIRIT SO RECENTLY EVINCED THEIR MARTYR BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, SCALE SUCH HEIGHTS OF ENDEAVOUR AS TO BECOME PRIDE THEIR PEERS CONSOLATION HEARTS PERSIAN BELIEVERS, AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FLAME HIS OMNIPOTENT HAND HAS KINDLED BURNS EVER BRIGHT AND THAT ITS LIFE-IMPARTING WARMTH AND RADIANCE SHALL SOON ENVELOP PERMEATE WHOLE EARTH."
The Universal House of Justice, telex dated 6/23/83 to Bahá'í youth throughout the world
'Abdu'l-Bahá, the Perfect Exemplar
3. He ['Abdu'l-Bahá] was only eight years old when—in the wake of a desperate and futile attempt on the life of Nasiri'd-Din Shah, by two half-crazed men—Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned, and the Babis were ferociously persecuted. Bahá'u'lláh's house was pillaged, His lands and goods were confiscated, and His family reduced from opulence to penury. One day, while in Europe, 'Abdu'l-Bahá recalled the sufferings of those bleak times:
- Detachment does not imply lack of means; it is marked by the freedom of the heart. In Tihran, we possessed everything at a nightfall, and on the morrow we were shown of it all,
- to the extent that we had no food to eat. I was hungry, but there was no bread to be had. My mother poured some flour into the palm of my hand, and I ate that instead of bread. Yet, we were contented.
- At that time of dire calamities and attacks mounted by the enemies I was a child of nine.1 They threw so many stones into our house that the courtyard was crammed with them . . . Mother took us for safety to another quarter, and rented a house in a back alley where she kept us indoors and looked after us. But one day our means of subsistence were barely adequate, and mother told me to go to my aunt's house, and ask her to find us a few qirans . . .2 I went and my aunt did what she could for us. She tied a five-qiran piece in a handkerchief and gave it to me. On my way home someone recognized me and shouted: "Here is a Babi": whereupon the children in the street chased me. I found refuge in the entrance to a house . . . There I stayed until nightfall, and when I came out, I was once again pursued by the children who kept yelling at me and pelted me with stones . . . When I reached home I was exhausted. Mother wanted to know what had happened to me. I could not utter a word and collapsed.
. . . . . . . .
One day 'Abdu'l-Bahá, anxious to see His Father, was taken to the dungeon. This is His account of that awesome visit:
- They sent me with a black servant to His blessed presence in the prison. The warders indicated the cell, and the servant carried me in on his shoulders. I saw a dark, steep place. We entered a small, narrow doorway, and went down two steps, but beyond those one could see nothing. In the middle of the stairway, all of a sudden we heard His blessed voice: "Do not bring him in here," and so they took me back. We sat outside, waiting for the prisoners to be led out.
1. In the reckoning of the lunar year.
2. Iranian silver coin of the period.
Suddenly they brought the Blessed Perfection3 out of the dungeon. He was chained to several others. What a chain! It was very heavy. The prisoners could only move it along with great difficulty. Sad and heart-rending it was.
Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Bahá 9—12
4. That blessed soul, following the ascension of the sacred Abhá Beauty, may our lives be sacrificed for the dust of His sacred threshold, and until the hour when His own luminous spirit rose up to the realms on high, for a period of thirty years had neither a peaceful day nor a night of quiet rest. Singly and alone, He set about to reform the world, and to educate and refine its peoples. He invited all manner of beings to enter the Kingdom of God; He watered the Tree of the Faith; He guarded the celestial Lote-Tree from the tempest; He defeated the foes of the Faith, and He frustrated the hopes of the malevolent; and always vigilant, He protected God's Cause and defended His Law.
That subtle and mysterious Being, that Essence of eternal glory, underwent trials and sorrows all the days of His life. He was made the target of every calumny and malicious accusation, by foes both without and within. His lot, in all His life, was to be wronged, and be subjected to toil, to pain and grief. Under these conditions, the one and only solace of His sacred heart was to hear good news of the progress of the Faith, and the proclaiming of God's Word, and the spreading of the holy Teachings, and the unity and fervour of the friends, and the staunchness of His loved ones. This news would bring smiles to His countenance; this was the joy of His precious heart.
Meanwhile He trained a number of the faithful and reared them with the hands of His grace, and rectified their character and behaviour, and adorned them with the excellence of the favoured angels of Heaven—that they might arise today with a new spirit, and stand forth with wondrous power, and confront the forces of idle fancy, and scatter the troops upon troops of darkness with the blazing light of long endurance and high resolve; that they might shine out even as lighted candles, and moth-like, flutter so close about the lamp of the Faith as to scorch their wings.
Bahiyyih Khanum, in Bahiyyih Khanum 142—43
The Holy Family
Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf
5. As far back as the concluding stages of the heroic age of the Cause, which witnessed the imprisonment of Bahá'u'lláh in the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán, the Greatest Holy Leaf, then still in her infancy, was privileged to taste of the cup of woe which the first believers of that Apostolic Age had quaffed.
How well I remember her recall, at a time when her faculties were still unimpaired, the gnawing suspense that ate into the hearts of those who watched by her side, at the threshold of her pillaged house, expectant to hear at any moment the news of Bahá'u'lláh's imminent execution! In those sinister hours, she often recounted, her parents had so suddenly lost their earthly possessions that within the space of a single day from being the privileged member of one of the wealthiest families of Tihrán she had sunk to the state of a sufferer from unconcealed poverty. Deprived of the means of subsistence her illustrious mother, the famed Navváb, was constrained to place in the palm of her daughter's hand a handful of flour and to induce her to accept it as a substitute for her daily bread.
And when at a later time this revered and precious member of the Holy Family, then in her teens, came to be entrusted by the guiding hand of her Father with missions that no girl of her age could, or would be willing to, perform, with what spontaneous joy she seized her opportunity and acquitted herself of the task with which she had been entrusted! The delicacy and extreme gravity of such functions as she, from time to time, was called upon to fulfil,
when the city of Baghdád was swept by the hurricane which the heedlessness and perversity of Mírzá Yahyá had unchained, as well as the tender solicitude which, at so early an age, she evinced during the period of Bahá'u'lláh's enforced retirement to the mountains of Sulaymáníyyih, marked her as one who was both capable of sharing the burden, and willing to make the sacrifice, which her high birth demanded.
How staunch was her faith, how calm her demeanour, how forgiving her attitude, how severe her trials, at a time when the forces of schism had rent asunder the ties that united the little band of exiles which had settled in Adrianople and whose fortunes seemed then to have sunk to their lowest ebb! It was in this period of extreme anxiety, when the rigours of a winter of exceptional severity, coupled with the privations entailed by unhealthy housing accommodation and dire financial distress, undermined once for all her health and sapped the vitality which she had hitherto so thoroughly enjoyed. The stress and storm of that period made an abiding impression upon her mind, and she retained till the time of her death on her beauteous and angelic face evidences of its intense hardships.
Not until, however, she had been confined in the company of Bahá'u'lláh within the walls of the prison-city of `Akká did she display, in the plentitude of her power and in the full abundance of her love for Him, those gifts that single her out, next to `Abdu'l-Bahá, among the members of the Holy Family, as the brightest embodiment of that love which is born of God and of that human sympathy which few mortals are capable of evincing.
Banishing from her mind and heart every earthly attachment, renouncing the very idea of matrimony, she, standing resolutely by the side of a Brother whom she was to aid and serve so well, arose to dedicate her life to the service of her Father's glorious Cause. Whether in the management of the affairs of His Household in which she excelled, or in the social relationships which she so assiduously cultivated in order to shield both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, whether in the unfailing attention she paid to the everyday needs of
her Father, or in the traits of generosity, of affability and kindness, which she manifested, the Greatest Holy Leaf had by that time abundantly demonstrated her worthiness to rank as one of the noblest figures intimately associated with the life-long work of Bahá'u'lláh.
Shoghi Effendi, in Bahiyyih Khanum 32—35
6. During the period of the sojourn in Baghdad, Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, was her mother's loving helper, working always beyond her strength, in the various household tasks No childish pleasures or companions were hers. Always with eyes on her mother, alert to spare her any fatigue, she rejoiced beyond measure when she could minister in any way to her or her illustrious father.
"My mother," she said, sometimes gave lessons to my brother `Abbas; at other times Mirza Musa would teach Him, and on some occasions he would be taught by His father."
"And your lessons?" I asked.
"But I never had any time for studies," she said, in a tone which spoke volumes of absolute self-effacement, and this is the keynote of her whole life, no thought of her unselfishness entered her mind.
Her thoughtfulness and consideration for all who came near her; the countless acts of never-failing kindness, were, in her eyes, all to be taken as a matter of course. Her one joy was to devote every moment of her existence to being of use to her mother and father, to whom she was passionately attached. This loving service was extended, as He grew older, to her brother `Abbas, Sarkar-i-Aqa, and these three were her being's end and aim.
Her life was spent in prayer to God and service to her loved ones, from the time when, as a small child of six, she cowered in the dark house alone with the tiny Purest Branch, a baby of two, in her little arms, listening in terror to the yells of the infuriated, cruel mob, not knowing if they were murdering her father, or whether they had seized her mother and the little eight-year-old `Abbas.
After those terrible days in Tihran, and the not less terrible journey to Baghdad, during the sojourn in this city,
she grew into a beautiful girl, very much like her lovely mother in grace of body and character, a gentle, slender maiden with large, grey-blue eyes, golden-brown hair, and warm, ivory-coloured skin. Her sense of humour was keen and her intelligence remarkable.
As she grew up, she implored her father to allow her to remain unmarried, that she might the better devote herself to her three dearly loved ones.
And so it was.
Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway 68—69
Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch
7. Mírzá Mihdí was taken to Baghdad to join the Family in the year AH 1276 (circa AD 1860). It was in that city that this pure and holy youth, noted for his meekness, came in touch with the Divine Spirit and was magnetized by the energizing forces of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. From that time on, he devoted every moment of his life to the service of his heavenly Father. He was Bahá’u’lláh’s companion in Baghdad, Adrianople and 'Akká, and served Him as an amanuensis towards the end of his life, leaving to posterity some Tablets in his handwriting. The last ten years of his life were filled with the hardship and suffering inflicted on Bahá’u’lláh and His companions in the course of the three successive banishments from Baghdad to 'Akká.
The Purest Branch resembled 'Abdu’l-Bahá, and throughout his short and eventful life he displayed the same spiritual qualities which distinguished his illustrious Brother. The believers loved and venerated him as they did 'Abdu’l-Bahá.
8. To the galling weight of these tribulations was now added the bitter grief of a sudden tragedy—the premature loss of the noble, the pious Mírzá Mihdí, the Purest Branch, `Abdu'l-Bahá's twenty-two year old brother, an amanuensis of Bahá'u'lláh and a companion of His exile from the days when, as a child, he was brought from Tihrán to Baghdád to
join his Father after His return from Sulamáníyyih. He was pacing the roof of the barracks in the twilight, one evening, wrapped in his customary devotions, when he fell through the unguarded skylight onto a wooden crate, standing on the floor beneath, which pierced his ribs, and caused, twenty-two hours later, his death, on the 23rd of Rabí'u'l-Avval 1287 A.H. (June 23, 1870). His dying supplication to a grieving Father was that his life might be accepted as a ransom for those who were prevented from attaining the presence of their Beloved.
In a highly significant prayer, revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in memory of His son—a prayer that exalts his death to the rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham's intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imám Husayn—we read the following: "I have, O my Lord, offered up that which Thou hast given Me, that Thy servants may be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united." And, likewise, these prophetic words, addressed to His martyred son: "Thou art the Trust of God and His Treasure in this Land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired."
After he had been washed in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh, he "that was created of the light of Bahá," to whose "meekness" the Supreme Pen had testified, and of the "mysteries" of whose ascension that same Pen had made mention, was borne forth, escorted by the fortress guards, and laid to rest, beyond the city walls, in a spot adjacent to the shrine of Nabí Salíh. . . .
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By 188
9. Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! Thou seest me in this day shut up in my prison, and fallen into the hands of Thine adversaries, and beholdest my son (The Purest Branch) lying on the dust before Thy face. He is Thy servant, O my Lord, whom Thou hast caused to be related to Him Who is the Manifestation of Thyself and the Day-Spring of Thy Cause.
At his birth he was afflicted through his separation
from Thee, according to what had been ordained for him through Thine irrevocable decree. And when he had quaffed the cup of reunion with Thee, he was cast into prison for having believed in Thee and in Thy signs. He continued to serve Thy Beauty until he entered into this Most Great Prison. Thereupon I offered him up, O my God, as a sacrifice in Thy path. Thou well knowest what they who love Thee have endured through this trial that hath caused the kindreds of the earth to wail, and beyond them the Concourse on high to lament.
I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by him and by his exile and his imprisonment, to send down upon such as loved him what will quiet their hearts and bless their works. Potent art Thou to do as Thou willest. No God is there but Thee, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.
Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations 34—35
10. Upon thee, O Branch of God! be the remembrance of God and His praise, and the praise of all that dwell in the Realm of Immortality, and of all the denizens of the Kingdom of Names. Happy art thou in that thou hast been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, until Thou didst sacrifice thyself before the face of thy Lord, the Almighty, the Unconstrained. Thou, in truth, hast been wronged, and to this testifieth the Beauty of Him, the Self-Subsisting. Thou didst, in the first days of thy life, bear that which hath caused all things to groan; and made every pillar to tremble. Happy is the one that remembereth thee, and draweth nigh, through thee, unto God, the Creator of the Morn.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in Shoghi Effendi, Guidance for Today and Tomorrow 73
11. The death of the Purest Branch must be viewed as Bahá’u’lláh’s own sacrifice, a sacrifice on the same level as the crucifixion of Christ and the martyrdom of the Báb. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, states that Bahá’u’lláh has exalted the death of the Purest Branch to the 'rank of those great acts of atonement associated with Abraham’s intended sacrifice of His son, with the crucifixion
of Jesus Christ and the martyrdom of the Imam Husayn…’ In another instance, Shoghi Effendi states that in the Bábí Dispensation, it was the Báb himself who sacrificed His life for the redemption and purification of mankind. In the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, it was the Purest Branch who gave his life releasing thereby all the forces necessary for bringing about the unity of mankind.
Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh 3:211
The Letters of the Living
12. A woman chaste and holy, a sign and token of surpassing beauty, a burning brand of the love of God, a lamp of His bestowal, was Jináb-i-Táhirih.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful 190
13. She, according to what is related, was skilled in diverse arts, amazed the understandings and thoughts of the most eminent masters by her eloquent dissertations on the exegesis and tradition of the Perspicuous Book, and was a mighty sign in the doctrines of the glorious Shaykh of Ahsá. At the Supreme Shrines she borrowed light on matters divine from the lamp of Kázim, and freely sacrificed her life in the way of the Báb. She discussed and disputed with the doctors and sages, loosing her tongue to establish her doctrine. Such fame did she acquire that most people who were scholars or mystics sought to hear her speech and were eager to become acquainted with her powers of speculation and deduction. She had a brain full of tumultuous ideas, and thoughts vehement and restless. In many places she triumphed over the contentious, expounding the most subtle questions.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, A Traveler's Narrative 19—20
14. . . . after the breakup at Badasht she was captured, and the oppressors sent her back under guard to Tihrán. There she was imprisoned in the house of Mahmúd Khán,
the Kalántar. But she was aflame, enamored, restless, and could not be still. The ladies of Tihrán, on one pretext or another, crowded to see and listen to her. It happened that there was a celebration at the Mayor's house for the marriage of his son; a nuptial banquet was prepared, and the house adorned. The flower of Tihran's ladies were invited, the princesses, the wives of vazírs and other great. A splendid wedding it was, with instrumental music and vocal melodies—by day and night the lute, the bells and songs. Then Táhirih began to speak; and so bewitched were the great ladies that they forsook the cithern and the drum and all the pleasures of the wedding feast, to crowd about Táhirih and listen to the sweet words of her mouth.
Thus she remained, a helpless captive. Then came the attempt on the life of the Sháh;+F16 a farmán was issued; she was sentenced to death. Saying she was summoned to the Prime Minister's, they arrived to lead her away from theKalántar's house. She bathed her face and hands, arrayed herself in a costly dress, and scented with attar of roses she came out of the house.
They brought her into a garden, where the headsmen waited; but these wavered and then refused to end her life. A slave was found, far gone in drunkenness; besotted, vicious, black of heart. And he strangled Táhirih. He forced a scarf between her lips and rammed it down her throat. Then they lifted up her unsullied body and flung it in a well, there in the garden, and over it threw down earth and stones. But Táhirih rejoiced; she had heard with a light heart the tidings of her martyrdom; she set her eyes on the supernal Kingdom and offered up her life.
Salutations be unto her, and praise. Holy be her dust, as the tiers of light come down on it from Heaven.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful 202—203
Quddus and Mulla Husayn
15. The first words which, in the company of the assembled believers, Quddus addressed to Mulla Husayn were the
following: "Now, at this very hour, you should arise and, armed with the rod of wisdom and of might, silence the host of evil plotters who strive to discredit the fair name of the Faith of God. You should face that multitude and confound their forces. You should place your reliance upon the grace of God, and should regard their machinations as a futile attempt to obscure the radiance of the Cause. You should interview the Sa'idu'l-'Ulama', that notorious and false-hearted tyrant, and should fearlessly disclose to his eyes the distinguishing features of this Revelation. From thence you should proceed to Khurasan. In the town 266
of Mashhad, you should build a house so designed as both to serve for our private residence and at the same time afford adequate facilities for the reception of our guests. Thither we shall shortly journey, and in that house we shall dwell. To it you shall invite every receptive soul who we hope may be guided to the River of everlasting life. We shall prepare and admonish them to band themselves together and proclaim the Cause of God. . . ."
Alone and with a heart wholly detached from all else but God, Mulla Husayn set out on his journey to Mashhad. His only companion, as he trod his way to Khurasan, was the thought of accomplishing faithfully the wishes of Quddus, and his one sustenance the consciousness of his unfailing promise. He went directly to the home of Mirza Muhammad-Baqir-i-Qa'ini, and was soon able to buy, in the neighbourhood of that house in Bala-Khiyaban, a tract of land on which he began to erect the house which he had been commanded to build, and to which he gave the name of Babiyyih, a name that it bears to the present day. Shortly after it was completed, Quddus arrived at Mashhad and abode in that house. A steady stream of visitors, whom the energy and zeal of Mulla Husayn had prepared for the acceptance of the Faith, poured into the presence of Quddus, acknowledged the claim of the Cause, and willingly enlisted under its banner. The all-observing vigilance with which Mulla Husayn laboured to diffuse the knowledge of the new Revelation, and the masterly manner in which Quddus
edified its ever-increasing adherents, gave rise to a wave of enthusiasm which swept over the entire city of Mashhad, and the effects of which spread rapidly beyond the confines of Khurasan. The house of Babiyyih was soon converted into a rallying centre for a multitude of devotees who were fired with an inflexible resolve to demonstrate, by every means in their power, the great inherent energies of their Faith.
Nabil-i-A'zam, The Dawn-Breakers 265—67
16. During the latter days [passed] in Adrianople Bahá'u'lláh composed a detailed epistle setting forth all matters clearly and minutely. He unfolded and expounded the main principles of the sect, and made clear and plain its ethics, manners, course, and mode of conduct: He treated certain political questions in detail, and adduced sundry proofs of His truthfulness: He declared the good intent, loyalty, and sincerity of the sect, and wrote some fragments of prayers, some in Persian, but the greater part in Arabic. He then placed it in a packet and adorned its address with the royal name of His Majesty the King of Persia, and wrote [on it] that some person pure of heart and pure of life, dedicated to God, and prepared for martyr-sacrifice, must, with perfect resignation and willingness, convey this epistle into the presence of the King. A youth named Mírzá Badí, a native of Khurásán, took the epistle, and hastened toward the presence of His Majesty the King. The Royal Train had its abode and station outside Tihrán, so he took his stand alone on a rock in a place far off but opposite to the Royal Pavilion, and awaited day and night the passing of the Royal escort or the attainment of admission into the Imperial Presence. Three days did he pass in a state of fasting and vigilance: an emaciated body and enfeebled spirit remained. On the fourth
day the Royal Personage was examining all quarters and directions with a telescope when suddenly his glance fell on this man who was seated in the utmost respectful attitude on a rock. It was inferred from the indications [perceived] that he must certainly have thanks [to offer], or some complaint or demand for redress and justice [to prefer]. [The King] commanded one of those in attendance at the court to inquire into the circumstances of this youth. On interrogation [it was found that] he carried a letter which he desired to convey with his own hand into the Royal Presence. On receiving permission to approach, he cried out before the pavilion with a dignity, composure, and respectfulness surpassing description, and in a loud voice, "O King, I have come unto thee from Sheba with a weighty message!" [The King] commanded to take the letter and arrest the bearer. His Majesty the King wished to act with deliberation and desired to discover the truth, but those who were present before him loosed their tongues in violent reprehension, saying, "This person has shown great presumption and amazing audacity, for he hath without fear or dread brought the letter of him against whom all peoples are angered, of him who is banished to Bulgaria and Sclavonia, into the presence of the King. If so be that he do not instantly suffer a grievous punishment there will be an increase of this great presumption." So the ministers of the court signified [that he should suffer] punishment and ordered the torture. As the first torment they applied the chain and rack, saying, "Make known thy other friends that thou mayest be delivered from excruciating punishment, and make thy comrades captive that thou mayest escape from the torment of the chain and the keenness of the sword." But, torture, brand, and torment him as they might, they saw naught but steadfastness and silence, and found naught but dumb endurance [on his part]. So, when the torture gave no result, they [first] photographed him (the executioners on his left and on his right, and he sitting bound in fetters and chains beneath the sword with perfect meekness and composure), and then slew and destroyed him. This photograph I sent for, and found worthy of contemplation, for he was seated
with wonderful humility and strange submissiveness, in utmost resignation.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, A Traveler's Narrative 58—59
17. Áqá Buzurg of Khurásán, the illustrious "Badí'" (Wonderful); converted to the Faith by Nabíl; surnamed the "Pride of Martyrs"; the seventeen-year old bearer of the Tablet addressed to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh; in whom, as affirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, "the spirit of might and power was breathed," was arrested, branded for three successive days, his head beaten to a pulp with the butt of a rifle, after which his body was thrown into a pit and earth and stones heaped upon it. . . . For a space of three years Bahá'u'lláh continued to extol in His writings the heroism of that youth, characterizing the references made by Him to that sublime sacrifice as the "salt of My Tablets."
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By 199
18. Ruhu'llah, the child-martyrs of the Bahá'í Faith, was a prodigy. At the age of twelve, his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, his powerful arguments in defense of his beloved Faith in the presence of the dreaded religious authorities of Persia, the beautiful poetry he wrote and his sweet, saintly nature won him admirers everywhere he went. Many of the noted enemies of the new Faith were charmed by his eloquence, while others came to look upon him as a living miracle.
At the time when Ruhu'llah, his father and Mirza Husayn had been arrested because of their beliefs and were being taken to Tihran in chains, the soldiers in charge were so attracted by the charm of this child of twelve that they wished to take the heavy chains from round his neck, but he would not have it so. "I am quite happy with these chains," he assured them, "besides, you must be faithful to your trust. You were given orders to take us to Tihran in chains, and it is your duty to obey those orders." He was never heard to complain of the discomforts of that long and arduous
journey, but seemed to derive great happiness from the many odes and prayers he chanted to himself as they rode along.
In the prison of Tihran, the Bahá'ís were treated with extreme cruelty. There were four of them there, all chained together with the "black pearl" which was put round their necks. This chain was so heavy that it was difficult for the men to keep their heads up. Ruhu'llah collapsed under its weight and two supports had to be put under the chain on each side of him to keep him in a sitting position.
The account of the incident is recorded by Mirza Husayn, who was chained with Varqa and Ruhu'llah in the prison. The summary of a part of this chronicle is as follows:
". . . Hajibu'd-Dawlih entered the prison with a number of executioners clad in their scarlet clothes, and gave orders that all the prisoners should be chained to their places. No one knew what he had in mind and a terrible fear seized everyone. Then the jailer came to us Bahá'ís and said: 'Come with me. You are wanted in court.' We got up to follow him, though we did not believe what he said. 'It is not necessary to put on your 'abas,' he told us, but Ruhu'llah insisted on wearing his. As we came out into the prison yard, we were surprised to see armed soldiers standing everywhere and wondered if they had come to shoot us. The executioners too were standing in a row, and Hajibu'd-Dawlih had a savage look in his eyes. But there was not a sound from anyone, and the silence was terrifying. At last Hajibu'd-Dawlih asked the jailer to open the locks on our chains and send us two by two. The jailer's hands were trembling so badly that he could not open the locks, so another man stepped forward and unlocked our chains. Varqa and Ruhu'llah were the first to be taken away. . . .
". . . Later on I saw one of the jailers who had shown us some kindness before. I caught hold of him and begged him to tell me what had happened. I made him swear by the martyred saints of Islam that he would tell me the truth
as he had seen it take place. This is what he recounted: '. . . Hajibu'd-Dawlih said to Varqa: "Which shall I kill first, you or your son?" Varqa replied: "It makes no difference to me." Then Hajibu'd-Dawlih drew his dagger and thrust it into Varqa's heart saying: "How do you feel now?" Varqa's words before he died were: "I am feeling much better than you are. Praise be to God!" Hajibu'd-Dawlih ordered four executioners to cut Varqa's body into pieces. The sight of so much blood was horrible to see. Ruhu'llah was watching all the time, overcome with grief. He kept on repeating: "Father, father, take me with you!" Hajibu'd-Dawlih came to him and said: "Don't weep. I shall take you with me and give you a proper salary. I shall ask the Shah to give you a position!" But Ruhu'llah replied: "I want neither a salary from you, nor a position from the Shah! I am going to join my father." Hajibu'd-Dawlih asked for a piece of rope, but no one could find any rope so they brought the bastinado and put Ruhu'llah's neck in it. Two of the jailers lifted the bastinado from either side and held it while Ruhu'llah gasped for breath. As soon as his body was still, they put him down and Hajibu'd-Dawlih called for the two other Bahá'ís to be brought in. But just then, the child's body made a sudden movement, raised itself from the floor and feel several feet away. Then it was still again. This incident shook Hajibu'd-Dawlih so badly that he did not have the nerve to carry on with any more killings.'
"You can imagine how we felt after hearing the details of the martyrdom of Varqa and Ruhu'llah. The picture came to life, and I could not put it out of my mind. My heart would not be consoled, and I wept for my beloved friends all through the night. Finally I fell asleep and had a dream. I saw Ruhu'llah coming towards me, looking extremely happy. He said: 'Did you see how 'Abdu'l-Bahá's promise came true?' Ruhu'llah had often told me with great pride that when he was saying farewell to 'Abdu'l-Bahá after visiting Him in the Holy Land, the Master had patted him on the shoulder and said: 'If God so ordains . . . He will proclaim His Cause through Ruhu'llah.'"
Faizi, Fire on the Mountain Top 86, 88—91
Today's Bahá'í youth and young adults
19. Bahá'í children and youth have contributed their own signifiicant share to the heroism demonstrated by the believers in Iran. In spite of the difficulties in communication, some accounts of their experiences have been received. Following are a few that have been translated. The names of persons and places have been omitted in most cases so as to protect those who have written the accounts.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/10/85 to all National Spiritual Assemblies
20. The following report is taken from a letter written by a boy 16 years of age.
The teacher in my high school was giving a lesson in sociology on the subject of cultural colonialism. As an example, he cited the Bahá'í Faith as a type of cultural colonialism. According to my spiritual obligation, I had to reply. I got permission and to the extent possible for me, I gave a speech on the Faith and countered the statement of my teacher. After a few days the principal called me to his office, accusing me of apostasy, stating that Islam is the last religion of God, etc. One of those present asked me what I believed. I told him I was a Bahá'í. The Haji, the principal, rose from his chair, agitated and shouting, "You have no place in this school! I thought you were a good boy! Now everything is changed and you have no right to go to your class until your situation is cleared!"
After a week there was a summons from the office of the Imam Jum'ih (High Priest of the town, who is usually appointed by the Central Government to carry out its policy). On the way I was trembling, thinking of what they might ask and what I should reply and what would be my fate. I entered the Imam's office in this condition, but as soon as I was confronted by him I was not the same person anymore. It was as if somebody had taken me by both hands. Not only did I not tremble but I was as erect as a column of steel. In the office of the Imam Jum'ih were eight of the 'Ulama with
turbans, and the bodyguard of the Imam were standing close behind me. After some time the Imam looked at me asking, "Do you have any business?" "No," I replied, "You have business with me."
After asking my name and the name of my father, he asked if I were a Muslim. I told him I was a Bahá'í. He asked what my father did. I told him he was unemployed. The Imam then started saying, "You are against Islam, the Qur'an, and Muhammad."
"No," I responded, "We believe in Islam, in the Qur'an, in Muhammad and the Imams, and we respect them."
"Now that you say that you are a Muslim and believe in the Qur'an . . ."
I interrupted him with an apology and said, "Sir, I never said that I was a Muslim. I only told you that I believe in Islam. I believe in Islam as you believe in Judaism and Christ and Christianity and believe in the Bible."
Then he said, "All right. Now that you believe in Islam, have you ever read any books of the Imams?"
"Yes, to the extent possible."
"If you have read these books, tell me where is it written that a wretched woman will give birth to a boy named Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad, called the Bab, and that he would be the Promised One?"
"First of all, it is not proper that you name a woman in a derogatory manner. We have famous women in history, like Mary, Khadijih, Fatimih, . . ."
He interrupted me saying, "Tell me where is it written in those books about the Bab?"
"It is not written in that way, but you show me in those books where it is written that He is not coming!"
(The report states that there was then a long discussion about the Faith and the writer quoted verses from the Qur'an and the Imams showing that the Promised One will bring a new religion.)
On this note another Mulla who was present changed the subject. He told me that the Bahá'ís are forces of Russia and that a Russian official called Dolgorouki confessed that he trained Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad to say first that he was the
Promised One, then to claim to be the Light of God, and ultimately to be God Himself.
I very boldly replied, "The Bahá'í Community does not know what tune to dance to. One says that we are forces of Russia; another says that we are American stooges; still another says we are agents of Britain and recently of Israel. You should know philosophy," I said. "If there is truth then there should be unanimity in the understanding of that truth. Everybody understands that when the water reaches 100 degrees it boils. For boiling water, one doesn't say when it reaches 80 degrees or 120 degrees it boils. Therefore, it is not fair for you to present a false thing."
The Imam suddenly shouted at me. "Be quiet! Islam is the last religion! No religion will come after it! You are not right! You are an apostate!"
I asked, "Sir, do you give me permission to speak?"
He replied, "No."
"Then I am afraid I must speak without your permission. We are not apostates. We are right, and the time for Islam is over."
He interrupted me sharply, shouting, "Islam is eternal!" and he quoted an Arabic verse which I could not understand. Then I quoted a verse from the Qur'an, saying every religion has an end. (Here the writer gives a long discourse about the meaning of this verse and at the end he quotes a verse from a reliable Shi'ih book of traditions to the effect that if Muslims are virtuous, the life of Islam will be 1000 years and if not, it will be 500.) Then I told him, "You have been virtuous and Islam has lasted 1000 years. Now is the time for the Faith, and no power on earth can arrest it!"
He shouted, "Shut up! Don't be impudent!" Then he continued to say that the Bahá'ís are adiing Israel. I replied that to do so would be a political act and we are not in politics.
He said that we had buildings in Israel. "You have a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar."
"They are our Holy Places."
"Take your Holy Places out of there!"
"Holy Places cannot e moved. If they could, why don't
you bring out the Mosque of Aqsa from Jerusalem?"
"The Mosque fits that place very well!"
"So do our Holy Places."
Again he shouted, "Shut up!" And then he added, "Get out of the room!"
Throughout the conversation I was very polite and soft-spoken, and then I bade farewell with great politeness, smiled, excused myself, and came out.
On the way out of the room, another Mulla said, "Look, my son, many of us have returned to the bosom of Islam. You have reached the age of maturity (15); you should follow those who have come back to Islam."
I replied, "Yes I have reached the age of maturity. I have accepted my Faith by my own choice. And to the last breath of my life I will support it. I am prepared to undergo any torture, any difficulty for my Faith! I don't consider my blood to be more red than that of my fellow Bahá'ís who are offering it to God."
The Imam said, "In that case, we have to expel you from school."
"Do whatever your duty demands."
After I left the office of the Imam Jum'ih, to my surprise again I started trembling. I went to my school and said goodbye to my fellow students, got my dismissal order and went back home.
(This dismissal order is now one of the documents preserved in the hands of the Bahá'ís.)
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/10/85 to all National Spiritual Assemblies
21. Muna ([Mahmudnizhad] was another young girl eighteen years of age when martyred [on 18 June 1983]. She was a teacher of Bahá'í children's classes and served on the Three Members Board and was arrested with her father, Yadollah Mahmudnezhad.
Twice the order for Muna's release was issued, but at the third stage in her trial the religious magistrate, Mr. Qazai,
after insulting and humiliating her, said, "Your father and mother have deceived and misled you." In reply Muna said, "Your honor, it is true that I learned about the Bahá'í Faith from my parents, but I have done my own reasoning. In the Bahá'í Faith one adheres to religion after investigation, not by imitation. You have many of our books; you can read and find out for yourself. My father and mother did not insist on my accepting their belief; neither did they force me to become a Bahá'í. If the religious magistrate thinks I should abandon my belief, I will never do so, and prefer submitting to the order of execution." The religious magistrate was astounded and said, "Young girl, what do you know about religion?" Muna exclaimed, "Your honor, I was brought here from the classroom in school; I have been in prison and going through trials for three months. What better proof of my religious certitude than my perseverance and steadfastness in the Faith? It is this Faith that gives me confidence to go through this trial in your presence. . . ." The religious magistrate, impressed by Muna's sincerity, asked her to say a prayer. Muna put away the file and, with the usual respect and humbleness, recited a prayer by 'Abdu'I-Baha: "O kind Lord, Thou art kinder to me than I am to myself. . . ." The religious magistrate remained silent for a while, then said to Muna, "What harm did you find in Islam that you have turned to Bahaism?" Muna's answer was: "The foundation of all religions is one. From time to time, according to the exigencies of time and place, God sends His Messenger to renew religion and guide the people in the right path. The Bahá'í religion upholds the truth in Islam, but if by Islam you mean the prevailing animosity, murder, and bloodshed in the country, a sample of which I have witnessed in prison, that is the reason I have chosen to be a Bahá'í."
Muna's answer was the subject of conversation among the friends for quite a while in prison. How did Muna dare to talk to the religious magistrate in this way?
Olya Ruhizadegan, "Extract from an Account Concerning the Interrogation of Muna Mahmudnizhad, One of the Ten Bahá'í Women Hanged in Shiraz on June 18, 1983," in World Order, 18 (Winter 1983—84) 28—29
22. When Zarrin [Muqimi] was taken to the religious magistrate to recant her Faith, and was told as usual either to recant or to be prepared for execution, she said in reply, "I have found the way to reality, and I am not prepared to give it away for any price. Therefore, I submit to the Court's verdict." On another occasion the judge asked Zarrin, "To what extent are you prepared to adhere to your belief?" Zarrin answered, "I hope to remain firm in my belief to the last moment." "But you must give up your belief!" retorted the judge. Zarrin, annoyed by the repetition of the same proposal, exclaimed, "Your honor, you have been conducting my trial for many days, and have asked the same question, and I have given you a definite and satisfactory answer. I don't think repeating the same thing is necessary!" But the judge rudely repeated the same proposal. Dear Zarrin started crying and with a loud voice said, "In what language do you want me to tell you? Why don't you leave me alone? My whole being is Bahá'u'lláh! My love is Bahá'u'lláh! My heart is dedicated to Bahá'u'lláh!" The infuriated judge shouted, "I will pull out your heart from your chest!" Zarrin replied, "Then my heart will call and cry out, 'Bahá'u'lláh! Bahá'u'lláh!'" The judge, moved by this display of sentiment, left the room.
After Zarrin's martyrdom, dear Mother described the event for me over the phone: "Saturday, June 18, 1983, I went to visit Zarrin as usual, taking fresh fruits with me. It was raining, and the weather was quite warm. At the visiting time Zarrin was brought behind the glass partition, and we started to talk. Her countenance seemed to have changed; she said to me, "Mother, please pray for me and implore God to give me perseverance!" She did not say good-bye to me when leaving, because she did not want to see me saddened. Zarrin had always told me not to hope for her freedom, but it did not occur to me that this was our last meeting. The friends (Bahá'ís) had been urged to recant for the last time, and most probably they would be executed. Visiting time was
over, and I returned home. The following day, Sunday, June 19, early in the morning I found out that ten women prisoners had been hanged during the night. I ran out of the house to inquire from the friends; in the street I met three friends. With tearful eyes they showed me a list; then I realized Zarrin was also martyred. I ran toward Adelabad prison, moaning and crying. This was the place most of our time had been spent the last eight months. I was allowed to go into the cold room. What I went through that day, and what I saw in that historic moment, I cannot describe. I entered the cold room. O, my God! I saw ten angels lying motionless next to each other. I knew all of them; I had been in the same prison with them. Mother and daughter were together. All had a pair of pants and a summer blouse on. Some of them had their chadur (long robe) tied around their waist; others had it thrown on the floor. What force kept me on my feet and breathing I don't know! I looked at all the ten angels, and found Zarrin among them reposed; I embraced her cold body, put my cheek on her delicate and cold cheek, and kissed the mark of rope on her lovely neck on behalf of all of you (Father, who was in prison; myself; and my brother, out of the country). Her face looked natural and composed."
"Extracts from an Account of the Life and Activities of Zarrin Moqimi, One of the Bahá'í Women Hanged in Shiraz on June 18, 1983," in World Order, 18 (Winter 1983—84) 27—28
23. The following is an account of what Ruya Ishraqi, a teen-age girl who was martyred with her parents, told a fellow prisoner. This prisoner was later released and conveyed Ruya's story in a letter.
On one of the days of the trial, she said to the judge, "I have not seen my father for the past 32 days. If you allow me to turn around and see for a minute the face of my father . . ." (Before the prisoners were taken to the trial session, they were first blindfolded, then deliberately taken
to wrong rooms and zig-zagged through the prison while abuses and insults were heaped upon them. Then they were taken to a wall, their blindfolds were removed, and they were then given their file and required to write a reply to the questions presented.) The judge hesitated for a moment. However, he agreed that Ruya could see her father in the adjoining room for a few minutes.
She kissed her father, telling him how she loved him and encouraging him to be brave and steadfast. Touching the face of her father, she asked why he had not shaved. The reply was they were not allowed to shave.
At the time Ruya was looking at her father with great love and kissing his face, the judge interfered saying, "Isn't it a pity that you refrain from saying only one word—that you are not Bahá'ís—by which you could avoid such trouble. If you say those word, all three of you will be free and all the frozen assets of your father will be given to him."
Ruya, with her customary smile and decisive look, replied, "The love between parents and children is natural, but my love for my Beloved is even greater than my love for my parents."
The judge asked, "Are you holding to this view until the moment of your execution?" And Ruya replied, "I pray and hope that to the last breath, I will stand firm in my love for my Beloved."
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/10/85 to all National Spiritual Assemblies
Transforming humanity through education
1. Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded. The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 161
2. 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 center 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, Some Answered Questions 236
3. . . . 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. This education is common to animals and man.
Human education signifies civilization and progress—that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished from the animal.
Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness."1 This is the goal of the world of humanity.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 8
Combining spiritual education with human education
4. The spiritually learned are lamps of guidance among the nations, and stars of good fortune shining from the horizons of humankind. They are fountains of life for such as lie in the death of ignorance and unawareness, and clear springs of perfections for those who thirst and wander in the wasteland of their defects and errors. They are the dawning places of the emblems of Divine Unity and initiates in the mysteries of the glorious Qur'án. They are skilled physicians for the ailing body of the world, they are the sure antidote to the poison that has corrupted human society. It is they who are the strong citadel guarding humanity, and the impregnable sanctuary for the sorely distressed, the anxious and tormented, victims of ignorance. "Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth."
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization 33
1. Cf. Gen. 1:26.
5. O ye young Bahá'í children. . . . Ye must therefore put forth a mighty effort, striving by night and day and resting not for a moment, to acquire an abundant share of all the sciences and arts, that the Divine Image, which shineth out from the Sun of Truth, may illumine the mirror of the hearts of men.
It is the longing desire of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to see each one of you accounted as the foremost professor in the academies, and in the school of inner significances, each one becoming a leader in wisdom.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 140—41
6. It is incumbent upon Bahá'í children to surpass other children in the acquisition of sciences and arts, for they have been cradled in the grace of God.
Whatever other children learn in a year, let Bahá'í children learn in a month. The heart of 'Abdu'l-Bahá longeth, in its love, to find that Bahá'í young people, each and all, are known throughout the world for their intellectual attainments. There is no question but that they will exert all their efforts, their energies, their sense of pride, to acquire the sciences and arts.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 141
7. I hope that thou mayest be protected and assisted under the providence of the True One, be occupied always in mentioning the Lord and display effort to complete thy profession. Thou must endeavour greatly so that thou mayest become unique in thy profession and famous in those parts, because attaining perfection in one's profession in this merciful period is considered to be worship of God. And whilst thou art occupied with thy profession, thou canst remember the True One.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 145—46
8. If the Bahá'ís want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need to be informed and able to discuss intelligently, intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems. We need Bahá'í scholars, not only people far, far more deeply aware of what our teachings
really are, but also well read and well educated people, capable of correlating our teachings to the current thoughts of the leaders of society.
We Bahá'ís should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our Faith.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/5/49 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 49
9. Young men and women in the Faith must be deep and thoughtful scholars of its teachings, so that they can teach in a way that will convince people that all the problems facing them have a remedy. They must grasp the Administration, so that they can wisely and efficiently administer the ever-growing affairs of the Cause; and they must exemplify the Bahá'í way of living. All this is not easy-but the Guardian is always encouraged to see the spirit animating such young believers as yourself. He has high hopes of what your generation will accomplish.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/12/44 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 45
10. The Universal House of Justice regards Bahá'í scholarship as of great potential importance for the development and consolidation of the Bahá'í community as it emerges from obscurity.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/3/79 to individual believer, qtd. in International Teaching Center, "A Statement on the Encouragement of Bahá'í Scholarship" (8/9/84) 1
Attaining spiritual knowledge
11. With fixed and steady gaze, born of the unerring eye of God, scan for a while the horizon of divine knowledge, and contemplate those words of perfection which the Eternal hath revealed, that haply the mysteries of divine wisdom, hidden ere now beneath the veil of glory and treasured within the tabernacle of His grace, may be made manifest unto you.
Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Iqan 16—17
12. It is my hope that you may put forth your most earnest endeavor to accomplish this end, that you may investigate and study the Holy Scriptures word by word so that you may attain knowledge of the mysteries hidden therein. Be not satisfied with words, but seek to understand the spiritual meanings hidden in the heart of the words.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 459
13. God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God. Turn to God, supplicate humbly at His threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision. Then will your eyes be filled with illumination, face to face you will behold the reality of God and your heart become completely purified from the dross of ignorance, reflecting the glories and bounties of the Kingdom.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 293
14. I strongly urge you to devote, while you are pursuing your studies, as much time as you possibly can to a thorough study of the history and teachings of our Beloved Cause. This is the prerequisite of a future successful career of service to the Bahá'í Faith in which I hope and pray you will distinguish yourself in the days to come.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/18/26 to an individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 21
15. It is his fervent hope and his heart's ardent prayer that you may increasingly deepen in your faith, and steadily gain in your understanding and appreciation of the teachings, and display such earnestness and perseverance in your Bahá'í studies as to gradually acquire the full knowledge, training and experience necessary for active and effective service to the Faith in the future.
Although still young in age, you should endeavour from now, through close association with your fellow-believers, and through your faithful application to your Bahá'í studies, to prepare yourself for that day when you will be called upon, as a grown-up and responsible member of the Community, to take full part in the activities of the Cause, and thus prove yourself worthy of being a member of the world-wide Fellowship created by Bahá'u'lláh.
The Guardian was truly pleased to note that you have already started reading some Bahá'í books, and would specially advise you to endeavour to commit to memory certain passages from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, and in particular, some of His prayers. This training would undoubtedly be of tremendous help to you in your future studies of the Cause, and would also serve to considerably deepen and enrich your own spiritual life at present.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 4/10/39 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 41—42
16. 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.
Shoghi Effendi, qtd. by the Universal House of Justice, in letter dated 5/27/66 to individual believer, in Wellspring of Guidance 88—89
17. the foundation of all their [young Bahá'ís] other accomplishments . . . is their study of the teachings, the spiritualization of their lives, and the forming of their characters in accordance with the standards of Bahá'u'lláh. As the moral standards of the people around us collapse and decay, whether of the centuries-old civilizations of the East, the more recent cultures of Christendom and Islám, or of the rapidly changing tribal societies of the world, the Bahá'ís must increasingly stand out as pillars of righteousness and forbearance. The life of a Bahá'í will be characterized by truthfulness and decency; he will walk uprightly among his fellowmen, dependent upon none save God, yet linked by bonds of love and brotherhood with all mankind; he will be entirely detached from the loose standards, the decadent theories, the frenetic experimentation, the desperation of present-day society, will look upon his neighbors with a bright and friendly face, and be a beacon light and a haven for all those who would emulate his strength of character and assurance of soul.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 94
Studying the Bahá'í writings
18. It behoveth us one and all to recite day and night both the Persian Arabic Hidden Words, to pray fervently and supplicate tearfully that we may be enabled to conduct ourselves in accordance with these divine counsels. These holy words have not been revealed to be heard but to be practiced.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening 11
19. He is indeed pleased to know that the book of Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh has been out in time to enable the friends to read it during the Fast, and he has every hope that the perusal of such a precious volume will help deepen, more than any other publication, the spirit of faith in the friends, and thus charge them
with all the spiritual power they require for the accomplishment of their tremendous duties towards the Cause.
Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening 48
20. He is particularly pleased to realize that the book of Gleanings is of such a tremendous inspiration to the Bahá'í youth, and that they all are making a careful study of its contents with the view of preparing themselves for proper teaching work. His hope is that this volume will enable them to gain a fuller consciousness of their functions and responsibilities, and to arise and set the example before the rest of the believers, not only in the field of teaching, but in all the other fields of Bahá'í activity as well. He is ardently supplicating Bahá'u'lláh on your behalf, and on behalf of the whole body of young Bahá'ís throughout the States, and specially the National Youth Committee, that you may be given the inspiration, knowledge and guidance to press forward to efficient and loyal service.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/2/36 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 40
21. Some of the younger believers, from letters and reports received here, seem to lack a firm grounding on such matters as the Will and Testament and the deeper spiritual teachings of the Faith. Whenever the grasp of these fundamentals is weak, the friends are almost sure to pay undue attention to secondary procedures, to quibble over details, to lose themselves in personalities, and to founder in a sea of unnecessary inharmony. This has nothing to do with their devotion, their loyalty, their zeal, their eagerness to serve. It is merely a question of not having received, perhaps through lack of sufficient teachers to carry on the all-important work of deepening the friends in their own faith, a strong enough education in the Covenant before the duties and responsibilities of the Administrative Order were thrust upon them.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/26/56 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, in The Importance of Deepening 52—53
22. The Guardian would advise that in their studies of the Will and Testament the young believers should use the "Dispensation", which will undoubtedly help them considerably to grasp the full implications of that sacred and historic Document which he has described as the "Charter of the New World Order".
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/9/39 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 41
23. He fully approves the idea of holding study classes, for the deeper the friends go in their understanding of the teachings the more firm and steadfast they will become and more unwavering in their support of the institutions of the Faith. Books such as the Iqán, Some Answered Questions and The Dawn-Breakers should be mastered by every Bahá'í. The first two books will reveal the significance of this divine revelation as well as the unity of all the Prophets of old. The last book will show how the Faith was ushered into the world and how its early adherents heroically faced martyrdom and suffering in their desire to establish the Cause throughout the world. Knowing the life of those heroes will create in us the urge to follow their footsteps and achieve the same.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/9/32 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 33
24. Shoghi Effendi undertook the translation of The Dawn-Breakers only after being convinced that its publication will arouse the friends to greater self-sacrifice and a more determined way of teaching. Otherwise he would not have devoted so much time to it.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/9/32 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 13
25. The Guardian feels that a sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also social and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people; as to what subjects within the Faith you should concentrate on he feels that young Bahá'ís
should gain a mastery of such books as the Gleanings
, the Dawnbreakers
, God Passes By
, the Iqan
, Some Answered Questions
and the more important Tablets. All aspects of the Faith should be deeply studied. . . .
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/9/32 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 46
Acquiring human knowledge
26. Look at the world and ponder a while upon it. It unveileth the book of its own self before thine eyes and revealeth that which the Pen of thy Lord, the Fashioner, the All-Informed, hath inscribed therein. It will acquaint thee with that which is within it and upon it and will give thee such clear explanations as to make thee independent of every eloquent expounder.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 141—42
27. All blessings are divine in origin, but none can be compared with this power of intellectual investigation and research, which is an eternal gift producing fruits of unending delight. . . . Therefore, you should put forward your most earnest efforts toward the acquisition of science and arts. The greater your attainment, the higher your standard in the divine purpose. The man of science is perceiving and endowed with vision, whereas he who is ignorant and neglectful of this development is blind. The investigating mind is attentive, alive; the callous and indifferent mind is deaf and dead. A scientific man is a true index and representative of humanity, for through processes of inductive reasoning and research he is informed of all that appertains to humanity, its status, conditions and happenings. He studies the human body politic, understands social problems and weaves the web and texture of civilization. In fact, science may be likened to a mirror wherein the infinite forms and images of existing things are revealed and reflected. It is the very foundation of all individual and national development. Without this basis of investigation, development is impossible.
Therefore, seek with diligent endeavor the knowledge and attainment of all that lies within the power of this wonderful bestowal.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 50
28. Consider carefully: all these highly varied phenomena, these concepts, this knowledge, these technical procedures and philosophical systems, these sciences, arts, industries and inventions—all are emanations of the human mind. Whatever people has ventured deeper into this shoreless sea, has come to excel the rest. The happiness and pride of a nation consist in this, that it should shine out like the sun in the high heaven of knowledge. . . . And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source of social good. 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 fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization 2—3
Studying disciplines that will benefit humanity
29. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. . . . In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 51—52
30. O My Servant! The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and
upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.
Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh 51
31. It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 26
32. I hope that you will use your understanding to promote the unity and tranquillity of mankind, to give enlightenment and civilization to the people, to produce love in all around you, and to bring about the universal peace.
Study the sciences, acquire more and more knowledge. Assuredly one may learn to the end of one's life! Use your knowledge always for the benefit of others; so may war cease on the face of this beautiful earth, and a glorious edifice of peace and concord be raised. Strive that your high ideals may be realized in the Kingdom of God on earth, as they will be in Heaven.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks 43
33. The individual should, prior to engaging in the study of any subject, ask himself what its uses are and what fruit and result will derive from it. If it is a useful branch of knowledge, that is, if society will gain important benefits from it, then he should certainly pursue it with all his heart. If not, if it consists in empty, profitless debates and in a vain concatenation of imaginings that lead to no result except acrimony, why devote one's life to such useless hairsplittings and disputes.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization 106
34. Thy letter was received. Praise be to God it imparted the good news of thy health and safety and indicated that thou art ready to enter an agricultural school. This is highly suitable. Strive as much as possible to become proficient in the science of agriculture, for in accordance
with the divine teachings the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered acts of worship. If a man engageth with all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in churches and temples. Thus as thou enterest a school of agriculture and strivest in the acquisition of that science thou art day and night engaged in acts of worship—acts that are accepted at the threshold of the Almighty. What bounty greater than this that science should be considered as an act of worship and art as service to the Kingdom of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 144—45
35. The Guardian . . . was gratified to learn of the progress of your academic studies, and of your future plans for the study and teaching of the Cause. The spirit which is moving and sustaining you in the service of the Faith is, indeed, remarkable, and through it you will undoubtedly be moved to render great and imperishable services to Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. The university training which you are receiving at present will be of immense help to you in your efforts to present the Message in intellectual circles. In these days when people are so skeptical about religion and look with so much contempt towards religious organizations and movements, there seems to be more need than ever for our young Bahá'ís to be well-equipped intellectually, so that they may be in a position to present the Message in a befitting way, and in a manner that would convince every unbiased observer of the effectiveness and power of the teachings.
In view of that Shoghi Effendi would urge you to persevere in your studies, and trusts that as a result you will be greatly assisted in your teaching activities.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/5/34 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 37—38
36. . . . it is the duty of the children to acquire knowledge of the arts and sciences and to learn a trade or a profession whereby they, in turn, can earn their living and support
their families. This, for a Bahá'í youth, is in itself a service to God, a service, moreover, which can be combined with teaching the Faith and often with pioneering. The Bahá'í community will need men and women of many skills and qualifications; for, as it grows in size the sphere of its activities in the life of society will increase and diversify. Let Bahá'í youth, therefore, consider the best ways in which they can use and develop their native abilities for the service of mankind and the Cause of God, whether this be as farmers, teachers, doctors, artisans, musicians, or any one of the multitude of livelihoods that are open to them.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 95
Suggestions for studying specific courses
37. The first attribute of perfection is learning and the cultural attainments of the mind, and this eminent station is achieved when the individual combines in himself a thorough knowledge of those complex and transcendental realities pertaining to God, of the fundamental truths of Qur'ánic political and religious law, of the contents of the sacred Scriptures of other faiths, and of those regulations and procedures which would contribute to the progress and civilization of this distinguished country. He should in addition be informed as to the laws and principles, the customs, conditions and manners, and the material and moral virtues characterizing the statecraft of other nations, and should be well versed in all the useful branches of learning of the day, and study the historical records of bygone governments and peoples. For if a learned individual has no knowledge of the sacred Scriptures and the entire field of divine and natural science, of religious jurisprudence and the arts of government and the varied learning of the time and the great events of history, he might prove unequal to an emergency, and this is inconsistent with the necessary qualification of comprehensive knowledge.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization 35—36
38. I hope thou wilt acquire great proficiency in writing literature, composition, eloquence of tongue and fluency of speech, . . . becoming an esteemed servant in the Threshold of Oneness and partaking of a share of the heavenly gifts, and progressing day by day until thou attain to the apex of the excellencies of this human world.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas 501
39. We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children had grown to speak about the Cause in public. Shoghi Effendi's hope is that they will, the three of them, become able and devoted speakers on the Cause and subjects akin to it. To do this properly they will need a firm foundation of scientific and literary training which fortunately they are obtaining. It is just as important for the Bahá'í young boys and girls to become properly educated in colleges of high standing as it is to be spiritually developed. The mental as well as the spiritual side of the youth has to be developed before he can serve the Cause efficiently.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/28/26 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Education 59
40. Public speaking is undoubtedly very important for a person who desires to teach, but this should be learned in schools and classes especially arranged for such training. We should not permit an inferior presentation of the Cause to the public for the sole reason that we desire to learn to do it better in the future. The youth should be encouraged to train themselves in public speaking while they are still pursuing their studies in schools or colleges.
41. Regarding the advice you requested from him concerning what studies you should specialize in with a view to teaching in the future: He would suggest either History, Economics or Sociology, as these are not only fields in which Bahá'ís take a great interest but also cover subjects which our teachings cast an entirely new light upon. Your
knowledge would be of use to the Cause in teaching it in the future, and you could also perhaps introduce the Bahá'í ideas into your lectures as an educator.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/13/44 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 15
42. Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly not one of the sciences that begins and ends in words. Fruitless excursions into metaphysical hair-splittings is meant, not a sound branch of learning like philosophy. . . .
As regards your own studies: he would advise you not to devote too much of your time to the abstract side of philosophy, but rather to approach it from a more historical angle. As to correlating philosophy with the Bahá'í teachings: this is a tremendous work which scholars in the future can undertake. We must remember that not only are all the teachings not yet translated into English, but they are not even all collected yet. Many important Tablets may still come to light which are at present owned privately.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/15/47 to individual believer, in The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community 445
43. When deciding what course of training to follow, youth can consider acquiring those skills and professions that will be of benefit in education, rural development, agriculture, economics, technology, health, radio and in many other areas of endeavour that are so urgently needed in the developing countries of the world. You can also devote time in the midst of your studies, or other activities, to travel teaching or service projects in the Third World.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 7/4/83 to European Youth Conference, Innsbruck, Austria
Balancing human and spiritual education
44. In this great dispensation, art (or a profession) is identical with an act of worship and this is a clear text of the Blessed Perfection. Therefore, extreme effort should be made in art and this will not prevent the teaching of the
people in that region. Nay, rather, each should assist the other in art and guidance. For instance, when the studying of art is with the intention of obeying the command of God this study will certainly be done easily and great progress will soon be made therein; and when others discover this fragrance of spirituality in the action itself, this same will cause their awakening. Likewise, managing art with propriety will become the means of sociability and affinity; and sociability and affinity themselves tend to guide others to the Truth.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í World Faith 377
45. Concerning the course of study you may follow: Shoghi Effendi prefers you find that subject you like most and for which you are best fitted. . . . The Cause is such that we can serve it no matter what our profession may be. The only necessity is that we be spiritually minded and not be guided by purely material considerations. We should also not let our studies detain us from deepening our knowledge of the literature of the Cause.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/9/31 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 30
46. The Guardian hopes that along with whatever other studies you take up, you will continually study the teachings and endeavour to acquire a profound knowledge of them. The importance of young Bahá'ís becoming thoroughly steeped in every branch of the teachings cannot be over-emphasized, as they have great teaching tasks ahead of them to accomplish.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/24/43 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 44—45
47. O thou true friend! Read, in the school of God, the lessons of the spirit, and learn from love's Teacher the innermost truths. Seek out the secrets of Heaven, and tell of the overflowing grace and favour of God.
Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind, this is so only on condition that
man's river flow into the mighty sea, and draw from God's ancient source His inspiration. When this cometh to pass, then every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every pupil a prodigal fountain of knowledge. If, then, the pursuit of knowledge lead to the beauty of Him Who is the Object of all Knowledge, how excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God.
The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.
It is incumbent upon thee to acquire the various branches of knowledge, and to turn thy face toward the beauty of the Manifest Beauty, that thou mayest be a sign of saving guidance amongst the peoples of the world, and a focal centre of understanding in this sphere from which the wise and their wisdom are shut out, except for those who set foot in the Kingdom of lights and become informed of the veiled and hidden mystery, the well-guarded secret.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 110
Teaching by word and example
Talking about the Faith
1. How vast is the tabernacle of the Cause of God! It hath overshadowed all the peoples and kindreds of the earth, and will, erelong, gather together the whole of mankind beneath its shelter. Thy day of service is now come. Countless Tablets bear the testimony of the bounties vouchsafed unto thee. Arise for the triumph of My Cause, and, through the power of thine utterance, subdue the hearts of men. Thou must show forth that which will ensure the peace and the well-being of the miserable and the down-trodden. Gird up the loins of thine endeavor, that perchance thou mayest release the captive from his chains, and enable him to attain unto true liberty.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 92
2. Say: Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Bahá, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds. Such a deed is acceptable only when he that teacheth the Cause is already a firm believer in God, the Supreme Protector, the Gracious, the Almighty.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 278
3. O ye beloved of God! Repose not yourselves on your couches, nay bestir yourselves as soon as ye recognize your Lord, the Creator, and hear of the things which have
befallen Him, and hasten to His assistance. Unloose your tongues, and proclaim unceasingly His Cause. This shall be better for you than all the treasures of the past and of the future, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 330
4. The Faith of the Blessed Beauty is summoning mankind to safety and love, to amity and peace; it hath raised up its tabernacle on the heights of the earth, and directeth its call to all nations. Wherefore, O ye who are God's lovers, know ye the value of this precious Faith, obey its teachings, walk in this road that is drawn straight, and show ye this way to the people. Lift up your voices and sing out the song of the Kingdom. Spread far and wide the precepts and counsels of the loving Lord, so that this world will change into another world, and this darksome earth will be flooded with light, and the dead body of mankind will arise and live; so that every soul will ask for immortality, through the holy breaths of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 2—3
5. Rest you assured that the breathings of the Holy Spirit will loosen your tongue. Speak, therefore; speak out with great courage at every meeting. When you are about to begin your address, turn first to Bahá'u'lláh and ask for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, then open your lips and say whatever is suggested to your heart; this, however, with the utmost courage, dignity and conviction.
Abdu'l-Bahá, tablet to individual believer, in Bahá'í Meetings 8—9
6. It is at such times that the friends of God avail themselves of the occasion, seize the opportunity, rush forth and win the prize. If their task is to be confined to good conduct and advice, nothing will be accomplished. They must speak out, expound the proofs, set forth clear arguments, draw irrefutable conclusions establishing the truth of the manifestation of the Sun of Reality. . . .
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching 11
7. To teach the Cause of God, to proclaim its truths, to defend its interests, to demonstrate, by words as well as by deeds, its indispensability, its potency, and universality, should at no time be regarded as the exclusive concern or sole privilege of Bahá'í administrative institutions, be they Assemblies, or committees. All must participate, however humble their origin, however limited their experience, however restricted their means, however deficient their education, however pressing their cares and preoccupations, however unfavorable the environment in which they live.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 45
8. The individual alone must . . . consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path, mix, in obedience to the counsels of the Author of His Faith, and in imitation of the One Who is its true Exemplar, with men and women, in all walks of life, seek to touch their hearts, through the distinction which characterizes his thoughts, his words and his acts, and win them over tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully and persistently, to the Faith he himself has espoused.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/19/56 to the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Citadel of Faith 148
Being an example
9. O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior. Valiant acts will ensure the triumph of this Cause, and a saintly character will reinforce its power. Cleave unto righteousness, O people of Bahá! This, verily, is the commandment which this wronged One hath given
unto you, and the first choice of His unrestrained Will for every one of you.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 93
10. Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds. Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 305
11. . . . the Faith of God must be propagated through human perfections, through qualities that are excellent and pleasing, and spiritual behavior. If a soul of his own accord advances toward God he will be accepted at the Threshold of Oneness, for such a one is free of personal considerations, of greed and selfish interests, and he has taken refuge within the sheltering protection of his Lord. He will become known among men as trustworthy and truthful, temperate and scrupulous, high-minded and loyal, incorruptible and God-fearing. In this way the primary purpose in revealing the Divine Law—which is to bring about happiness in the after life and civilization and the refinement of character in this—will be realized.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization 46
12. . . . is there any deed in the world that would be nobler than service to the common good? Is there any greater blessing conceivable for a man, than that he should become the cause of the education, the development, the prosperity and honor of his fellow-creatures? No, by the Lord God! The highest righteousness of all is for blessed souls to take hold of the hands of the helpless and deliver
them out of their ignorance and abasement and poverty, and with pure motives, and only for the sake of God, to arise and energetically devote themselves to the service of the masses, forgetting their own worldly advantage and working only to serve the general good.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization 103
13. The work in which you are engaged is dear and near to my heart and constitutes one of the most vital aspects of the manifold activities of our beloved Faith. The highest standards of purity, of integrity, of detachment and sacrifice must be maintained by the members of your group in order to enable you to play a decisive part in the spread and consolidation of the Faith. A tremendous responsibility has been laid upon you, and nothing short of a pure, a virtuous, an active and truly exemplary life can enable you to fulfil your high destiny. I will pray that you may be guided and strengthened to render the most effective service to the Cause and by your example lend a fresh impetus to the onward march of its new-born institutions.
Shoghi Effendi, postscript to letter dated 9/6/34 to Youth Council, Central States Summer School, Louhelen Ranch, U. S. A.
14. Every day has certain needs. In those early days the Cause needed Martyrs, and people who would stand all sorts of torture and persecution in expressing their faith and spreading the message sent by God. Those days are, however, gone. The Cause at present does not need martyrs who would die for the faith, but servants who desire to teach and establish the Cause throughout the world. To live to teach in the present day is like being martyred in those early days. It is the spirit that moves us that counts, not the act through which that spirit expresses itself; and that spirit is to serve the Cause of God with our heart and soul.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 8/3/32 to individual believer, in The Bahá'í Life 4
15. What is needed now is the awakening of all believers to the immediacy of the challenge so that each may assume his share of the responsibility for taking the Teachings to all humanity. Universal participation . . . must be pressed toward attainment in every continent, country and island of the globe. Every Bahá'í, however humble or inarticulate, must become intent on fulfilling his role as a bearer of the Divine Message. Indeed, how can a true believer remain silent while around us men cry out in anguish for truth, love and unity to descend upon this world?
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 11/16/69 to Bahá'ís of the world, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 34
16. In addition to teaching, every believer can pray. Every believer can strive to make his "own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh." Every believer can contribute to the Fund. Not all believers can give public talks, not all are called upon to serve on administrative institutions. But all can pray, fight their own spiritual battles, and contribute to the Fund. If every believer will carry out these sacred duties, we shall be astonished at the accession of power which will result to the whole body, and which in its turn will give rise to further growth and the showering of greater blessings on all of us.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 9/64 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 38
The power of love and fellowship
17. Consort with all men, O people of Bahá, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of
men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding. . . .
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 289
18. The friends of God should weave bonds of fellowship with others and show absolute love and affection towards them. These links have a deep influence on people and they will listen. When the friends sense receptivity to the Word of God, they should deliver the Message with wisdom. They must first try and remove any apprehensions in the people they teach. In fact, every one of the believers should choose one person every year and try to establish ties of friendship with him, so that all his fear would disappear. Only then, and gradually, must he teach that person. This is the best method.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching 12
19. O ye lovers of God! Be kind to all peoples; care for every person; do all ye can to purify the hearts and minds of men; strive ye to gladden every soul. To every meadow be a shower of grace, to every tree the water of life; be as sweet musk to the sense of humankind, and to the ailing be a fresh, restoring breeze. Be pleasing waters to all those who thirst, a careful guide to all who have lost their way; be father and mother to the orphan, be loving sons and daughters to the old, be an abundant treasure to the poor. Think ye of love and good fellowship as the delights of heaven, think ye of hostility and hatred as the torments of hell.
Indulge not your bodies with rest, but work with all your souls, and with all your hearts cry out and beg of God to grant you His succour and grace. Thus may ye make this world the Abha Paradise, and this globe of earth the parade ground of the realm on high. If only ye exert the effort, it is certain that these splendours will shine out, these clouds of mercy will shed down their rain, these life-giving winds will rise and blow, this sweet-smelling musk will be scattered far and wide.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 244—245
20. The love we bear mankind, our conviction that Bahá'u'lláh's Faith contains the only and the Divine remedy for all its ills, must be demonstrated today in action by bringing the Cause before the public. No doubt the majority are not yet able to see its true significance, but they must not be deprived, through our failure in obligation, of the opportunity of hearing of it. And there are many precious souls who are seeking for it and ready to embrace it.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/19/42 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 24
21. Through example, loving fellowship, prayer, and kindness the friends can attract the hearts of such people and enable them to realize that this is the Cause of God in deed, not merely words!
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/24/43 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 25
22. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/6/57 to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bennett, in Bahá'í News, no. 317 (July 1957) 4
23. 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, and gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/5/57 to the Bahá'ís of the Benelux countries, in The Individual and Teaching 39
24. The implications of this principle of the oneness of humanity are many and far-reaching, and it is on these that, the Guardian feels, our Bahá'í youth should dwell in their talks and activities, proving by their deeds as well as through their words, their faithful and whole-hearted adherence to this cornerstone principle of the Faith.
Above all they should strive to get rid of all their ancestral prejudices, whether of race, creed or class, and thus attract through the example of their lives many outsiders to the Cause. At a time when racial prejudice is becoming so widespread and intense, it should be their constant endeavor to associate and mingle with the members of all races, and thereby demonstrate to the world at large the hollowness, nay the stupidity of the racial doctrines and philosophies which are so increasingly poisoning the minds of the individuals, classes and nations throughout the world.
This is the high standard of thought and conduct which the Guardian wishes the Bahá'í youth to strictly and faithfully maintain. May they, each and all, arise and live up to its high and noble ideals!
Shoghi Effendi, in A New Way of Life 13
25. The real secret of universal participation lies in the Master's oft-expressed wish that the friends should love each other, constantly encourage each other, work together, be as one soul in one body, and in so doing become a true, organic, healthy body animated and illumined by the spirit. In such a body all will receive spiritual health and vitality from the organism itself, and the most perfect flowers and fruits will be brought forth.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 9/64, in Wellspring of Guidance 38—39
The responsibilities of youth
26. The activities, hopes and ideals of the Bahá'í Youth in America, as well as in all other parts of the world are close and dear to my heart. Upon them rests the supreme and challenging responsibility to promote the interests of the Cause of God in the days to come, to co-ordinate its world-wide activities, to extend its scope, to safeguard its integrity, to exalt its virtues, define its purpose, and translate its ideals and aims into memorable and abiding achievements. Theirs is a mighty task, at once holy, stupendous and enthralling. May the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh protect, inspire and sustain them in the prosecution of their divinely-appointed task!
Shoghi Effendi, postscript to letter dated 10/26/32 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth iii
27. It is on young and active Bahá'ís, like you, that the Guardian centres all his hopes for the future progress and expansion of the Cause, and it is on their shoulders that he lays all the responsibility for the upkeep of the spirit of selfless service among their fellow-believers. Without that spirit no work can be successfully achieved. With it triumph, though hardly won, is but inevitable. You should, therefore, try all your best to carry aflame within you the torch of faith, for through it you will surely find guidance, strength and eventual success.
. . . every one of them is able, in his own measure, to deliver the Message . . . Everyone is a potential teacher. He has only to use what God has given him and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/1/33 to individual believer in The Individual and Teaching 21
28. The obligation to teach is essentially the responsibility of young believers. Their whole training should therefore be directed in such a way as to make them competent teachers. It is for this very purpose Bahá'í summer schools, which constitute the very basis upon which the
Bahá'í universities of the future will be established, should be widely attended by young believers.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/15/36 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning 15
29. The Guardian is looking to the Youth of America to raise the Banner of the Faith to ever higher and more glorious heights.
The Youth should become severed from all things of the world and filled with the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit, arise to spread the Message and quicken the hearts.
The Divine Confirmations will surely come to each and everyone of you who arise to teach the Faith and extend the Administrative Institutions.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 8/8/57 to Bahá'í youth group of Denver, Colorado, in Bahá'í Youth 6
30. As to Bahá'í youth, legatees of the heroic early believers and now standing on their shoulders, we call upon them to redouble their efforts, in this day of widespread interest in the Cause of God, to enthuse their contemporaries with the divine Message and thus prepare themselves for the day when they will be veteran believers able to assume whatever tasks may be laid upon them. We offer them this passage from the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh:
- Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1982 to Bahá'ís of the world
31. Not yet having acquired all the responsibilities of a family or a long-established home and job, youth can the more easily choose where they will live and study or work. In the world at large young people travel hither and thither seeking amusement, education, and experiences. Bahá'í
youth, bearing the incomparable treasure of the Word of God for this Day, can harness this mobility into service for mankind and can choose their places of residence, their areas of travel, and their types of work with the goal in mind of how they can best serve the Faith.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66, in Wellspring of Guidance 95
32. This generation of Bahá'í youth enjoys a unique distinction. You will live your lives in a period when the forces of history are moving to a climax, when mankind will see the establishment of the Lesser Peace, and during which the Cause of God will play an increasingly prominent role in the reconstruction of human society. It is you who will be called upon in the years to come to stand at the helm of the Cause in face of conditions and developments which can, as yet scarcely be imagined. . . .
. . . Now is an opportunity to awaken the interest, set afire the hearts and enlist the active support of young people of every nation, class and creed in that continent. The key to success in this endeavour is, firstly, to deepen your understanding of the Teachings of the Cause so that you will be able to apply them to the problems of individuals and society, and explain them to your peers in ways that they will understand and welcome; secondly, to strive to model your behaviour in every way after the high standards of honesty, trustworthiness, courage, loyalty, forbearance, purity, and spirituality set forth in the Teachings; and, above all, to live in continual awareness of the presence and all-conquering power of Bahá'u'lláh, which will enable you to overcome every temptation and surmount every obstacle.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 7/4/83 to European Youth Conference, Innsbruck, Austria
Ensuring success in teaching
Being filled with the love of God
33. O Friends! You must all be so ablaze in this day with the fire of the love of God that the heat thereof may be
manifest in all your veins, your limbs and members of your body, and the peoples of the world may be ignited by this heat and turn to the horizon of the Beloved.
Bahá'u'lláh, in The Individual and Teaching 3
34. If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he forgoeth all created things, the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 51
35. By God besides Whom is none other God! Should any one arise for the triumph of our Cause, him will God render victorious though tens of thousands of enemies be leagued against him. And if his love for Me wax stronger, God will establish his ascendancy over all the powers of earth and heaven. Thus have We breathed the spirit of power into all regions.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 106
36. With hearts overflowing with the love of God, with tongues commemorating the mention of God, with eyes turned to the Kingdom of God, they must deliver the glad tidings of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts to all the people. Know ye of a certainty that whatever gathering ye enter, the waves of the Holy Spirit are surging over it, and the heavenly grace of the Blessed Beauty encompasseth that gathering.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 38—39
37. The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others? Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach severance to others!
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 51
38. When a speaker's brow shineth with the radiance of the love of God, at the time of his exposition of a subject, and he is exhilarated with the wine of true understanding, he becometh the centre of a potent force which like unto a magnet will attract the hearts. This is why the expounder must be in the utmost enkindlement.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching 11
39. Many are the souls who, in this Holy Cause, without either worldly means or knowledge, have set ablaze the hearts of others with the divine love and rendered the Faith imperishable services. The Guardian hopes that you will be able to do likewise.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/5/41 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India and Burma, in A Special Measure of Love 2
Demonstrating love and fellowship
40. O ye beloved of the Lord! Commit not that which defileth the limpid stream of love or destroyeth the sweet fragrance of friendship. By the righteousness of the Lord! Ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancour. Take pride not in love for yourselves but in love for your fellow-creatures. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 138
41. . . . the friends of God must manifest the mercy of the Compassionate Lord in the world of existence and must show forth the bounty of the visible and invisible King. They must purify their sight, and look upon mankind as the leaves, blossoms and fruits of the tree of creation, and must always be thinking of doing good to someone, of love, consideration, affection and assistance to somebody. They must see no enemy and count no one as an ill wisher. They must consider every one on the earth as a friend; regard the stranger as an intimate, and the alien as a companion. They must not be bound by any tie, nay, rather, they should be free from every bond. In this day the one who is
favored in the threshold of grandeur is the one who offers the cup of faithfulness and bestows the pearl of gift to the enemies, even to the fallen oppressor, lends a helping hand, and considers every bitter foe as an affectionate friend.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, tablet appended to His tablet to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, The Hague, in The Bahá'í World 15:36
42. The Guardian feels that the most effective way for the Bahá'ís to teach the Faith is to make strong friends with their neighbours and associates. When the friends have confidence in the Bahá'ís and the Bahá'ís in their friends, they should give the Message and teach the Cause. Individual teaching of this type is more effective than any other type.
The principle of the fireside meeting, which was established in order to permit and encourage the individual to teach in his own home, has been proven the most effective instrument for spreading the Faith.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/27/54 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 33
43. The Bahá'ís must realize that the success of this work depends upon the individual. The individual must arise as never before to proclaim the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The most effective way for them to carry on their work is for the individual to make many contacts, select a few who they feel would become Bahá'ís, develop a clo e friendship with them, then complete confidence, and finally teach them the Faith, until they become strong supporters of the Cause of God.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/13/55 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in The Individual and Teaching 34
Demonstrating the power of the Faith through righteous deeds and a distinctive character
44. Say: O people of God! That which can insure the victory of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, His hosts and helpers on
earth, have been set down in the sacred Books and Scriptures, and are as clear and manifest as the sun. These hosts are such righteous deeds, such conduct and character, as are acceptable in His sight. Whoso ariseth, in this Day, to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the hosts of a praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence from such an action will, most certainly, be diffused throughout the whole world.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 24
45. The teaching work should under all conditions be actively pursued by the believers because divine confirmations are dependent upon it. Should a Bahá'í refrain from being fully, vigorously and wholeheartedly involved in the teaching work he will undoubtedly be deprived of the blessings of the Abha Kingdom. Even so, this activity should be tempered with wisdom - not that wisdom which requireth one to be silent and forgetful of such an obligation, but rather that which requireth one to display divine tolerance, love, kindness, patience, a goodly character, and holy deeds. In brief, encourage the friends individually to teach the Cause of God and draw their attention to this meaning of wisdom mentioned in the Writings, which is itself the essence of teaching the Faith—but all this to be done with the greatest tolerance, so that heavenly assistance and divine confirmation may aid the friends.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching 12
46. Of these spiritual prerequisites of success, which constitute the bedrock on which the security of all teaching plans, Temple projects, and financial schemes, must ultimately rest, the following stand out as preeminent and vital, which the members of the American Bahá'í community will do well to ponder. Upon the extent to which these basic requirements are met, and the manner in which the American believers fulfill them in their individual lives, administrative activities, and social relationships, must depend the measure of the manifold blessings which the All-Bountiful Possessor can vouchsafe to them all. These requirements are none other than a high sense of moral rectitude in their social and
administrative activities, absolute chastity in their individual lives, and complete freedom from prejudice in their dealings with peoples of a different race, class, creed, or color.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 21—22
47. The gross materialism that engulfs the entire nation at the present hour; the attachment to worldly things that enshrouds the souls of men; the fears and anxieties that distract their minds; the pleasure and dissipations that fill their time, the prejudices and animosities that darken their outlook, the apathy and lethargy that paralyze their spiritual faculties—these are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Bahá'u'lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen.
To the degree that the home front crusader is himself cleansed of these impurities, liberated from these petty preoccupations and gnawing anxieties, delivered from these prejudices and antagonisms, emptied of self, and filled by the healing and the sustaining power of God, will he be able to combat the forces arrayed against him, magnetize the souls of those whom he seeks to convert, and win their unreserved, their enthusiastic and enduring allegiance to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
Delicate and strenuous though the task may be, however arduous and prolonged the effort required, whatsoever the nature of the perils and pitfalls that beset the path of whoever arises to revive the fortunes of a Faith struggling against the rising forces of materialism, nationalism, secularism, racialism, ecclesiasticism, the all-conquering potency of the grace of God, vouchsafed through the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, will, undoubtedly, mysteriously and surprisingly, enable whosoever arises to champion His Cause to win complete and total victory.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/19/56 to the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Citadel of Faith 149
Deepening in and studying the writings
48. Those who participate in such a campaign, whether in an organizing capacity, or as workers to whose care the execution of the task itself has been committed, must, as an essential preliminary to the discharge of their duties, thoroughly familiarize themselves with the various aspects of the history and teachings of their Faith. In their efforts to achieve this purpose they must study for themselves, conscientiously and painstakingly, the literature of their Faith, delve into its teachings, assimilate its laws and principles, ponder its admonitions, tenets and purposes, commit to memory certain of its exhortations and prayers, master the essentials of its administration, and keep abreast of its current affairs and latest developments.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 49
49. If the younger Bahá'í generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pains of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of the Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 4/26/23 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, in The Importance of Deepening 28
50. . . . a sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also of social and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people. . . .
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/4/46 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 26
51. I wish to urge the necessity of concentrating, at your next summer session, on the systematic study of the early history and principles of the Faith, on public speaking, and on a thorough discussion, both formally and informally,
of various aspects of the Cause. These I regard as essential preliminaries to a future intensive campaign of teaching in which the rising generation must engage, if the spread of the Cause is to be assured in that land. May you succeed in your efforts to attain that goal!
Shoghi Effendi, postscript to letter dated 11/2/32 to individual believer, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning 14
52. The interests of our beloved Faith require that the youth in particular exert every effort to spread it, while at the same time deepening their own knowledge of the Teachings and perfecting their private lives in accordance with the standards of conduct laid down by Bahá'u'lláh.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/19/41 to the Bahá'í youth of India, in Dawn of a New Day 180
Consecration, dedication, and service
53. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth. We are truly almighty. Whoso hath recognized Me, will arise and serve Me with such determination that the powers of earth and heaven shall be unable to defeat his purpose.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 137
54. When the friends do not endeavour to spread the message, they fail to remember God befittingly, and will not witness the tokens of assistance and confirmation from the Abha Kingdom nor comprehend the divine mysteries. However, when the tongue of the teacher is engaged in teaching, he will naturally himself be stimulated, will become a magnet attracting the divine aid and bounty of the Kingdom, and will be like unto the bird at the hour of dawn, which itself becometh exhilarated by its own singing, its warbling and its melody.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching 10
55. The Hosts of the Supreme Concourse are in martial array, poised between Earth and Heaven ready to rush to the assistance of those who arise to Teach the Faith. If one seeks the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, one can find it in rich abundance in the Teaching Field. The world is seeking as never before, and if the Friends will arise with new determination, fully consecrated to the noble task ahead of them, victory after victory will be won for the Glorious Faith of God.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/2/56 to Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Anchorage Recording District, in The Individual and Teaching 34—35
56. Today, as never before, the magnet which attracts the blessings from on high is teaching the Faith of God. The Hosts of Heaven are poised between heaven and earth, just waiting, and patiently, for the Bahá'í to step forth, with pure devotion and consecration, to teach the Cause of God, so they may rush to his aid and assistance. It is the Guardian's prayer that the Friends may treble their efforts, as the time is short—alas, the workers too few. Let those who wish to achieve immortality step forth and raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual victories they will gain.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/28/53 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 32
57. What is needed to achieve success in the teaching field is a complete dedication on the part of the individual, consecration to the glorious task of spreading the Faith, and the living of the Bahá'í life, because that creates the magnet for the Holy Spirit, and it is the Holy Spirit which quickens the new soul. Thus the individual should be as a reed, through which the Holy Spirit may flow, to give new life to the seeking soul.
One should search out those who are receptive to the Faith, and then concentrate on these persons in their teaching.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/19/53 to two individual believers, in The Individual and Teaching 32
58. Consecration, dedication and enthusiastic service is the Keynote to successful teaching. One must become like a reed through which the Holy Spirit descends to reach the student of the Faith. We give the Message, and explain the Teachings, but it is the Holy Spirit that quickens and confirms.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/16/55 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 33—34
59. It is not enough for the friends to make the excuse that their best teachers and their exemplary believers have arisen and answered the call to pioneer. A "best teacher" and an "exemplary believer" is ultimately neither more nor less than an ordinary Bahá'í who has consecrated himself to the work of the Faith, deepened his knowledge and understanding of its Teachings, placed his confidence in Bahá'u'lláh, and arisen to serve Him to the best of his ability. This door is one which we are assured will open before the face of every follower of the Faith who knocks hard enough, so to speak. When the will and the desire are strong enough, the means will be found and the way opened either to do more work locally, to go to a new goal town . . . or to enter the foreign pioneer field. . . .
. . . The Bahá'ís are the leaven of God, which must leaven the lump of their nation. In direct ratio to their success will be the protection vouchsafed, not only to them but to their country. These are the immutable laws of God, from which there is no escape: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required."
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/21/57 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in The Individual and Teaching 40
60. If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.
Today the need is so great on the part of humanity to
hear of the Divine Message, that the believers must plunge into the work, wherever and however they can, heedless of their own shortcomings, but ever heedful of the crying need of their fellow-men to hear of the teachings in their darkest hour of travail.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/4/42 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 24—25
61. Teaching is the source of Divine Confirmation. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 8/22/57 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 40
62. The Bahá'í teacher must be all confidence. Therein lies his strength and the secret of his success. Though single-handed, and no matter how great the apathy of the people around you may be, you should have faith that the hosts of the Kingdom are on your side, and that through their help you are bound to overcome the forces of darkness that are facing the Cause of God. Persevere, be happy and confident, therefore.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/30/37 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 23—24
63. Do not feel discouraged if your labours do not always yield an abundant fruitage. For a quick and rapidly-won success is not always the best and the most lasting. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Bahá'u'lláh has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with
a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the path safe and certain, and the assurances of Bahá'u'lláh as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/3/37 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 23
64. O my God, aid Thou Thy servant to raise up the Word, and to refute what is vain and false, to establish the truth, to spread the sacred verses abroad, reveal the splendors, and make the morning's light to dawn in the hearts of the righteous.
Thou art, verily, the Generous, the Forgiving.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Prayers 174
Attracting divine assistance
65. Whoso openeth his lips in this day, and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus hath it been foreordained in the realm of God's Revelation, by the behest of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 84
66. Whosoever quickens one soul in this Cause is like unto one quickening all the servants and the Lard shall bring him forth in the day of resurrection into the Ridván of oneness, adorned with the Mantle of Himself, the protector, the mighty, the generous! Thus will ye assist your Lord, and naught else sae this shall ever be mentioned in this day before God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.
Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í World Faith 206
67. Rest ye assured that if a soul arises in the utmost perseverance and raises the Call of the Kingdom and resolutely promulgates the Covenant—be he an insignificant ant-he shall be enabled to drive away the formidable elephant from the arena, and if he be a feeble moth he shall cut to pieces the plumage of the rapacious vulture.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, tablet dated 6/2/19 to Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Los Angeles, California, in Star of West, 10 (23 Nov. 1919) 265
Who to teach
68. Be unrestrained as the wind, while carrying the Message of Him Who hath caused the Dawn of Divine Guidance to break. Consider, how the wind, faithful to that which God hath ordained, bloweth upon all the regions of the earth, be they inhabited or desolate. Neither the sight of desolation, nor the evidences of prosperity, can either pain or please it. It bloweth in every direction, as bidden by its Creator. So should be every one that claimeth to be a lover of the one true God. It behoveth him to fix his gaze upon the fundamentals of His Faith, and to labor diligently for its propagation. Wholly for the sake of God he should proclaim His Message, and with that same spirit accept whatever response his words may evoke in his hearer. He who shall accept and believe, shall receive his reward; and he who shall turn away, shall receive none other than his own punishment.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 339
69. The Faith of the Blessed Beauty is summoning mankind to safety and love, to amity and peace; it hath raised up its tabernacle on the heights of the earth, and directeth its call to all nations. Wherefore, O ye who are God's lovers, know ye the value of this precious Faith, obey its teachings, walk in this road that is drawn straight, and show ye this way to the people. Lift up your voices and sing out the song of the Kingdom. Spread far and wide the precepts and
counsels of the loving Lord, so that this world will change into another world, and this darksome earth will be flooded with light, and the dead body of mankind will arise and live; so that every soul will ask for immortality, through the holy breaths of God.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 2—3
70. The believers ought to give the Message even to those who do not seem to be ready for it, because they can never judge the real extent to which the Word of God can influence the hearts and minds of the people, even those who appear to lack any power of receptivity to the Teachings.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/14/38 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 24
71. The paramount goal of the teaching work at the present time is to carry the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to every stratum of human society and every walk of life. An eager response to the teachings will often be found in the most unexpected quarters, and any such response should be quickly followed up, for success in a fertile area awakens a response in those who were at first uninterested.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 10/31/67 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in Wellspring of Guidance 124
72. To the Bahá'í youth of America . . . I feel a word should be addressed in particular, as I survey the possibilities which a campaign of such gigantic proportions has to offer to the eager and enterprising spirit that so powerfully animates them in the service of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Though lacking in experience and faced with insufficient resources, yet the adventurous spirit which they possess, and the vigor, the alertness, and optimism they have thus far so consistently shown, qualify them to play an active part in arousing the interest, and in securing the allegiance, of their fellow youth in those countries.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 69
73. He feels that teaching the Faith to the youth is of the utmost importance in these days, as they will not only become the workers of the future but will be able to widely spread the Message among their own generation.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/12/44 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 16—17
74. He was . . . very happy to see the Bahá'í youth are holding meetings and making every effort to mingle with other young people, through local clubs and groups, and thus bring the Cause to their notice.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/23/45 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 17
75. He urges you to redouble your efforts during the coming year, to teach the youth this great Message of Bahá'u'lláh. It is indeed the one hope for the spiritual and material security of the world; and although the response may be slow at first, through your perseverance and devotion, you will gradually succeed in attracting a very large group to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 4/7/52 to individual believer, in Dawn of a New Day 199
76. By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups of young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike.
A spirit of prejudice-free, loving comradeship with others is what will open the eyes of people more than any amount of words. Combined with such deeds you can teach the Faith easily.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/18/45 to newly formed Bahá'í group, in The Individual and Teaching 26
77. He urges you all to devote particular attention to the contact with racial minorities. In a country which has such a large element of prejudice against its coloured citizens as the United States, it is of the greatest importance that the Bahá'ís—and more especially the youth—should demonstrate actively our complete lack of prejudice and, indeed, our prejudice in favour of minorities.
We cannot very well prosecute a teaching campaign successfully in Africa if we do not in our home communities demonstrate to the fullest extent our love for the people who spring from the African population!
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/11/51 to Louhelen School Senior Youth Session, U.S.A., in Bahá'í Youth 18
78. 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." . . .
While the House of Justice favors the widest possible dissemination of accurate information about the Faith to Iranian Muslims, the time has not yet come in the West for Bahá'ís, especially Persians, to adopt the general goal of teaching the Cause to Iranian Muslims. As you know, Iranians have a number of societies and organizations; some are admittedly cultural, others are politically oriented, even if seemingly cultural in purpose. These organizations are frequented by people whose standards are not compatible with those of the Faith. Obviously, association with such groups could exert a baneful influence on some of the Bahá'ís, particularly the youth.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 3/6/83 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada
School and college students
79. It is in intellectual circles such as this that the believers should endeavour to teach, confident that no matter how limited their capacity may be, yet their efforts are continually guided and reinforced from on High. This spirit of confident hope, of cheerful courage, and of undaunted enthusiasm in itself, irrespective of any tangible results which it may procure, can alone ensure the ultimate success of our teaching efforts.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/31/36 to individual believer, in The Individual and Teaching 22
80. He was greatly pleased and highly encouraged with your slow but progressive work among members of the faculty and the student body in State College. It is high
time for the Bahá'ís to try and reach the thinking and educated youth of the country upon whom so much of the future depends, especially the stupendous task of applying the spirit and letter of the Bahá'í teachings to the requirements of the time—a work for which generations of preparation might be necessary.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/13/28 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 17
81. He was deeply interested in your work among the university students and hopes that it will bear much fruit. The youth is open-minded, unhampered by prejudice and ready to accept any message that satisfies his spiritual longings as well as intellectual demands. The work should, however, be both intensive and extensive. It is not sufficient that you should address many student bodies; persons have to be found to follow up that work, pick those who are interested to know more and ground them in the teachings. This task undoubtedly pertains to the teaching committee which should always be on the alert, see where there is a receptive group and send teachers to bring them into the Cause.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/20/31 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 17—18
82. The account of your work among the foreign students made Shoghi Effendi very happy. Not only will these young people get a good impression of American families and hospitality, but the spiritual training you try to give them will make their education so much more complete and worthwhile. This is beside the fact that in their heart is planted the seeds of the Bahá'í teachings which in time will germinate and bring forth wondrous fruits. All these young people when they return home will carry the Message with them and even though they do not become confirmed believers, they will remain friends always ready to render a service to the Bahá'í teachers they happen to meet. Shoghi Effendi hopes you will carry on that work but at the same time try to make them true Bahá'ís—in spirit as well as in faith.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/4/32 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 19
83. O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of "Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá" in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 39
84. Now is the time for you to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this world that perisheth, to be wholly severed from the physical world, become heavenly angels, and travel to these countries.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 34
85. Bahá'í youth should be encouraged to think of their studies and of their training for a trade or profession as part of their service to the Cause of God and in the context of a lifetime that will be devoted to advancing the interests of the Faith. At the same time, during their years of study, youth are often able to offer specific periods of weeks or months, or even of a year or more, during which they can devote themselves to travel teaching or to serving the Bahá'í community in other ways, such as conducting children's classes in remote villages. They should be encouraged to offer such service, which will in itself be admirable experience for the future, and the National Assembly should instruct an appropriate committee to receive such offers and to organize their implementation so as to derive the greatest possible advantage from them.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in Challenge 11
86. It is our hope that in the international travel teaching program now being launched the youth will assume a major role by devoting time during their vacations, and particularly during the long vacation at the end of the academic year, to the promotion of the teaching work in all
its aspects, not only within their own national communities but farther afield. Some youth may have financial resources of their own, others may be able and willing to work and save the funds necessary for such projects, still others may have the financial backing of their parents, relatives or friends. In other cases the Bahá'í funds may be able to supplement whatever resources the prospective traveling teacher may be able to supply.
The endurance of youth under arduous conditions, their vitality and vigour, and their ability to adapt themselves to local situations, to meet new challenges, and to impart their warmth and enthusiasm to those they visit, combined with the standard of conduct upheld by Bahá'í youth, make them potent instruments for the execution of the contemplated projects. Indeed, through these distinctive qualities they can become the spearhead of any enterprise and the driving force of any undertaking in which they participate, whether local or national. Our expectant eyes are fixed on Bahá'í youth!
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 5/25/75 to all National Spiritual Assemblies
87. They that have forsaken their country for the purpose of teaching Our Cause—these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through its power. A company of Our chosen angels shall go forth with them, as bidden by Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Wise. How great the blessedness that awaiteth him that hath attained the honor of serving the Almighty! By My life! No act, however great, can compare with it, except such deeds as have been ordained by God, the All-Powerful, the Most Mighty. Such a service is, indeed, the prince of all goodly deeds, and the ornament of every goodly act. Thus hath it been ordained by Him Who is the Sovereign Revealer, the Ancient of Days.
Whoso ariseth to teach Our Cause must needs detach himself from all earthly things, and regard, at all times,
the triumph of Our Faith as his supreme objective. This hath, verily, been decreed in the Guarded Tablet. And when he determineth to leave his home, for the sake of the Cause of his Lord, let him put his whole trust in God, as the best provision for his journey, and array himself with the robe of virtue. Thus hath it been decreed by God, the Almighty, the All-Praised.
If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he forgoeth all created things, the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him. Verily, thy Lord is the Omniscient, the All-Informed. Happy is the man that hath heard Our voice, and answered Our call. He, in truth, is of them that shall be brought nigh unto Us.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 334—35
88. It is also recorded in the blessed Gospel: Travel ye throughout the world and call ye the people to the Kingdom of God. Now this is the time that you may arise and perform this most great service and become the cause of the guidance of innumerable souls. Thus through this superhuman service the rays of peace and conciliation may illumine and enlighten all the regions and the world of humanity may find peace and composure.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 22
89. Let this be the paramount and most urgent duty of every Bahá'í. Let us make it the dominating passion of our life. Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth; sacrifice our personal interests, comforts, tastes and pleasures; mingle with the divers kindreds and peoples of the world; familiarize ourselves with their manners, traditions, thoughts and customs; arouse, stimulate and maintain universal interest in the Movement, and at the same time endeavor by all the means in our power, by concentrated and persistent attention, to enlist the unreserved allegiance and the active support of the more hopeful and receptive among our hearers.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/24/24, in Bahá'í Administration 69
90. Young people, being, for the most part, freer than the older believers, are in a position to arise as pioneers and move to new towns as settlers. A great number of the pioneers in America, who left their native cities, and often their native land, in order to fulfil the Seven Year Plan, were young people—some of them so young that the Spiritual Assemblies they helped to establish they were themselves not yet old enough to be elected to!
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/7/46 to National Youth Committee of the British Isles, in Lights of Guidance 514—15
91. Shall I continue my education, or should I pioneer now? Undoubtedly this same question is in the mind of every young Bahá'í wishing to dedicate his life to the advancement of the Faith. There is no stock answer which applies to all situations; the beloved Guardian gave different answers to different individuals on this question. Obviously circumstances vary with each individual case. Each individual must decide how he can best serve the Cause. In making this decision, it will be helpful to weigh the following factors:
- Upon becoming a Bahá'í one's whole life is, or should become devoted to the progress of the Cause of God, and every talent or faculty he possesses is ultimately committed to this overriding life objective. Within this framework he must consider, among other things, whether by continuing his education now he can be a more effective pioneer later, or alternatively whether the urgent need for pioneers, while possibilities for teaching are still open, outweighs an anticipated increase in effectiveness. This is not an easy decision, since oftentimes the spirit which prompts the pioneering offer is more important than one's academic attainments.
- One's liability for military service may be a factor in timing the offer of pioneer service.
- One may have outstanding obligations to others, including those who may be dependent on him for support.
- It may be possible to combine a pioneer project with a continuing educational program. Consideration may also be given to the possibility that a pioneering experience, even
- though it interrupts the formal educational program, may prove beneficial in the long run in that studies would later be resumed with a more mature outlook.
- The urgency of a particular goal which one is especially qualified to fill and for which there are no other offers.
- The fact that the need for pioneers will undoubtedly be with us for many generations to come, and that therefore there will be many calls in future for pioneering service.
- The principle of consultation also applies. One may have the obligation to consult others, such as one's parents, one's Local and National Assemblies, and the pioneering committees.
- Finally, bearing in mind the principle of sacrificial service and the unfailing promises Bahá'u'lláh ordained for those who arise to serve His Cause, one should pray and meditate on what his course of action will be. Indeed, it often happens that the answer will be found in no other way.
We assure the youth that we are mindful of the many important decisions they must make as they tread the path of service to Bahá'u'lláh. We will offer our ardent supplications at the Holy Threshold that all will be divinely guided and that they will attract the blessings of the All-Merciful.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 10/9/68 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 18—20
92. In the past, the policy adopted by some National Assemblies was to discourage young Bahá'ís from enrolling to serve in activities sponsored by non-Bahá'í voluntary organizations, as the Assemblies were under the impression that these young people would not be able to engage in direct teaching, nor participate, for the most part, in Bahá'í activities while serving abroad in such programs. Perhaps in some instances the Bahá'ís involved were not sure how to function as members of the Bahá'í community in order to give each aspect of their lives its proper due.
In the light of experience, however, it is now clear that we should have no misgivings in encouraging young Bahá'ís to enroll in such voluntary service organization programs as
the United Nations Volunteers, United States Peace Corps, Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO) and similar Canadian agencies, the British Volunteer Program (BVP) of the United Kingdom, and other voluntary service organizations. Other countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian lands are understood to have similar service organizations which are compatible with Bahá'í development goals as now tentatively envisaged.
Some of the advantages of such service to the Faith are worth mentioning. Volunteers will receive thorough orientation and sometimes will be taught basic skills which will enable them to help the Bahá'í community in projects undertaken in developing countries. Wherever they serve, these volunteers should be able to participate in Bahá'í activities and contribute to the consolidation of the Bahá'í community. The freedom to teach is to a large extent dependent upon the local interpretation of the group leader, but even if volunteers do not engage in direct teaching, being known as Bahá'ís and showing the Bahá'í spirit and attitude towards work and service should attract favorable attention and may, in many instances, be instrumental in attracting individuals to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. And finally, the period of overseas service often produces a taste for such service, and volunteers may well offer to directly promote the pioneer work either in the same country or in another developing country.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 12/13/83 to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'ís of Alaska, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Hawaiian Islands, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U. K., and the U.S.
93. This Cause, although it embraces with equal esteem people of all ages, has a special message and mission for the youth of your generation. It is their charter for their future, their hope, their guarantee of better days to come. Therefore the Guardian is especially happy that the young Bahá'ís are active in the pioneer work.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter to individual believer, in Bahá'í News, no. 161 (Mar. 1943) 1
7 Cleanliness and purity
Purity of character
1. O ye the beloved of the one true God! Pass beyond the narrow retreats of your evil and corrupt desires, and advance into the vast immensity of the realm of God, and abide ye in the meads of sanctity and of detachment, that the fragrance of your deeds may lead the whole of mankind to the ocean of God's unfading glory.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 31
2. A race of men, incomparable in character, shall be raised up which, with the feet of detachment, will tread under all who are in heaven and on earth, and will cast the sleeve of holiness over all that hath been created from water and clay.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 31
3. Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see—things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 317
4. The choice of clothing and the cut of the beard and its dressing are left to the discretion of men. But beware, O
people, lest ye make yourselves the playthings of the ignorant.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 23
5. GOD loveth those who are pure. Naught in the Bayán and in the sight of God is more loved than purity and immaculate cleanliness. . . .
God desireth not to see, in the Dispensation of the Bayán, any soul deprived of joy and radiance. He indeed desireth that under all conditions, all may be adorned with such purity, both inwardly and outwardly, that no repugnance may be caused even to themselves, how much less unto others.
The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab 80
6. O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To be pure and holy in all things is an attribute of the consecrated soul and a necessary characteristic of the unenslaved mind. The best of perfections is immaculacy and the freeing of oneself from every defect. Once the individual is, in every respect, cleansed and purified, then will he become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light.
First in a human being's way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters be led into it. Chaste eyes enjoy the beatific vision of the Lord and know what this encounter meaneth; a pure sense inhaleth the fragrances that blow from the rose gardens of His grace; a burnished heart will mirror forth the comely face of truth. . . .
My meaning is this, that in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human condition and further the development of man's inner reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit. It is even as a voice wondrously sweet, or a melody played:
although sounds are but vibrations in the air which affect the ear's auditory nerve, and these vibrations are but chance phenomena carried along through the air, even so, see how they move the heart. A wondrous melody is wings for the spirit, and maketh the soul to tremble for joy. The purport is that physical cleanliness doth also exert its effect upon the human soul.1
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 146—147
7. . . . desire is a flame that has reduced to ashes uncounted lifetime harvests of the learned, a devouring fire that even the vast sea of their accumulated knowledge could never quench. How often has it happened that an individual who was graced with every attribute of humanity and wore the jewel of true understanding, nevertheless followed after his passions until his excellent qualities passed beyond moderation and he was forced into excess. His pure intentions changed to evil ones, his attributes were no longer put to uses worthy of them, and the power of his desires turned him aside from righteousness and its rewards into ways that were dangerous and dark. A good character is in the sight of God and His chosen ones and the possessors of insight, the most excellent and praiseworthy of all things, but always on condition that its center of emanation should be reason and knowledge and its base should be true moderation.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization 59—60
8. A rectitude of conduct, an abiding sense of undeviating justice, unobscured by the demoralizing influences which a corruption-ridden political life so strikingly manifests; a chaste, pure, and holy life, unsullied and unclouded by the
1. Bahá'u'lláh, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, exhorts the believers "to be the essence of cleanliness." Specifically, one is "to wash one's feet," "to perfume one's self," "to bathe in clean water," "To cut one's nails," "to wash soiled things in clean water," "to be stainless in one's dress," and "to renew the furnishings of one's house" (A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas 51).
indecencies, the vices, the false standards, which an inherently deficient moral code tolerates, perpetuates, and fosters; a fraternity freed from that cancerous growth of racial prejudice, which is eating into the vitals of an already debilitated society—these are the ideals which the American believers must, from now on, individually and through concerted action, strive to promote, in both their private and public lives, ideals which are the chief propelling forces that can most effectively accelerate the march of their institutions, plans, and enterprises, that can guard the honor and integrity of their Faith, and subdue any obstacles that may confront it in the future.
This rectitude of conduct, with its implications of justice, equity, truthfulness, honesty, fair-mindedness, reliability, and trustworthiness, must distinguish every phase of the life of the Bahá'í community.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 45
9. Such a rectitude of conduct must manifest itself, with ever-increasing potency, in every verdict which the elected representatives of the Bahá'í community, in whatever capacity they may find themselves, may be called upon to pronounce. It must be constantly reflected in the business dealings of all its members, in their domestic lives, in all manner of employment, and in any service they may, in the future, render their government or people. It must be exemplified in the conduct of all Bahá'í electors, when exercising their sacred rights and functions. It must characterize the attitude of every loyal believer towards nonacceptance of political posts, nonidentification with political parties, nonparticipation in political controversies, and nonmembership in political organizations and ecclesiastical institutions. It must reveal itself in the uncompromising adherence of all, whether young or old, to the clearly enunciated and fundamental principles laid down by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His addresses, and to the laws and ordinances revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in His Most Holy Book. It must be demonstrated in the impartiality of every defender of the Faith against its enemies, in his fair-mindedness in recognizing any merits that enemy may
possess, and in his honesty in discharging any obligations he may have towards him. It must constitute the brightest ornament of the life, the pursuits, the exertions, and the utterances of every Bahá'í teacher, whether laboring at home or abroad, whether in the front ranks of the teaching force, or occupying a less active and responsible position.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 26—27
10. It must be remembered, however, that the maintenance of such a high standard of moral conduct is not to be associated or confused with any form of asceticism, or of excessive and bigoted puritanism. The standard inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh seeks, under no circumstances, to deny anyone the legitimate right and privilege to derive the fullest advantage and benefit from the manifold joys, beauties, and pleasures with which the world has been so plentifully enriched by an All-Loving Creator. "Should a man," Bahá'u'lláh Himself reassures us, "wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 33
11. . . . there are . . . forbidden things which do not cause immediate harm, and the injurious effects of which are only gradually produced: such acts are also repugnant to the Lord, and blameworthy in His sight, and repellent. The absolute unlawfulness of these, however, hath not been expressly set forth in the Text, but their avoidance is
necessary to purity, cleanliness, the preservation of health, and freedom from addiction.
Among these latter is smoking tobacco, which is dirty, smelly, offensive—an evil habit, and one the harmfulness of which gradually becometh apparent to all. Every qualified physician hath ruled—and this hath also been proven by tests—that one of the components of tobacco is a deadly poison, and that the smoker is vulnerable to many and various diseases. This is why smoking hath been plainly set forth as repugnant from the standpoint of hygiene. . . .
My meaning is that in the sight of God, smoking tobacco is deprecated, abhorrent, filthy in the extreme; and, albeit by degrees, highly injurious to health. It is also a waste of money and time, and maketh the user a prey to a noxious addiction. To those who stand firm in the Covenant, this habit is therefore censured both by reason and experience, and renouncing it will bring relief and peace of mind to all men. Furthermore, this will make it possible to have a fresh mouth and unstained fingers, and hair that is free of a foul and repellent smell. On receipt of this missive, the friends will surely, by whatever means and even over a period of time, forsake this pernicious habit. Such is my hope.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 147—148
12. . . . 'Abdu'l-Bahá advised against the smoking of tobacco. While the Teachings strongly condemn its use, they do not forbid it. To letters enquiring about this subject, the beloved Guardian replied through his secretary that we 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 this question should not be made an issue.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 4/8/65 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 271—272
13. It is forbidden for an intelligent person to drink that which depriveth him of his intelligence; it behoveth him
to engage in that which is worthy of man, not in the act of every heedless doubter.
Bahá'u'lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas, in "Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks" 1
14. O Son of Dust! Turn not away thine eyes from the matchless wine of the immortal Beloved, and open them not to foul and mortal dregs. Take from the hands of the divine Cup-bearer the chalice of immortal life, that all wisdom may be thine, and that thou mayest hearken unto the mystic voice calling from the realm of the invisible. Cry aloud, ye that are of low aim! Wherefore have ye turned away from My holy and immortal wine unto evanescent water?
Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh 43—44
15. Fear ye God, O people of the earth, and think not that the wine We have mentioned in Our Tablet is the wine which men drink, and which causeth their intelligence to pass away, their human nature to be perverted, their light to be changed, and their purity to be soiled. Our intention is indeed that wine which intensifieth man's love for God, for His Chosen Ones and for His loved ones, and igniteth in the hearts the fire of God and love for Him, and glorification and praise of Him. So potent is this wine that a drop thereof will attract him who drinketh it to the court of His sanctity and nearness, and will enable him to attain the presence of God, the King, the Glorious, the Most Beauteous. It is a wine that blotteth out from the hearts of the true lovers all suggestions of limitation, establisheth the truth of the signs of His oneness and divine unity, and leadeth them to the Tabernacle of the Well-Beloved, in the presence of God, the Sovereign Lord, the Self-Subsisting, the All-Forgiving, the All-Generous. We meant by this Wine, the River of God, and His favour, the fountain of His living waters, and the Mystic Wine and its divine grace, even as it was revealed in the Qur'an, if ye are of those who understand. He said, and how true is His utterance: "A wine delectable to those who drink it." And He had no purpose in
this but the wine We have mentioned to you, O people of certitude!
Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless, the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.
Bahá'u'lláh, in "Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks" 1
16. Intellect and the faculty of comprehension are God's gifts whereby man is distinguished from other animals. Will a wise man want to lose this Light in the darkness of intoxication? No, by God! This will not satisfy him! He will, rather, do that which will develop his powers of intelligence and understanding, and not increase his negligence, heedlessness and decline. This is an explicit text in the perspicuous Book, wherein God hath set forth every goodly virtue, and exposed every reprehensible act.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks" 2
17. The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases, weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, qtd. in The Advent of Divine Justice 33
18. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/15/26 to individual believer, in "Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks" 2
19. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/3/57 to individual believer, qtd. in letter dated 12/21/72 from the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ecuador, in Lights of Guidance 259
20. Bahá'ís should not serve alcoholic drinks at parties which they sponsor.
The Universal House of Justice, in Lights of Guidance 258
21. . . . on all occasions officially sponsored by Bahá'í Institutions or where the host is acting as a representative of the Cause alcohol should not be served. In private homes or in the course of business or professional activity it is left to the conscience of Bahá'ís themselves whether they serve alcoholic drinks to non-Bahá'ís but the obligation is very strong to observe the prohibition enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/8/68 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles, in Lights of Guidance 259
22. With regard to the question you have raised in connection with the sale of alcoholic liquors by the friends: he wishes me to inform you that dealings with such liquors, in any form, are highly discouraged in the Cause. The believers should, therefore, consider it their spiritual obligation to refrain from undertaking any business enterprise that would involve them in the traffic of alcoholic drinks.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/6/35 to a National Spiritual Assembly, in "Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks" 3
23. 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 the believers, the Guardian wishes all the friends to know that such foods, or beverages, are strictly prohibited.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/9/39 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 259
Drugs: hashish, LSD, marijuana, opium, peyote
24. 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.
O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of opium be prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance the human race may be delivered from this most powerful of plagues. And otherwise, woe and misery to whoso falleth short of his duty to his Lord.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 148—149
25. . . . 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 11/11/67 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands, in Lights of Guidance 271
26. 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 4/15/65 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Lights of Guidance 270
27. 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 11/9/63 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Lights of Guidance 271
Gambling and lotteries
28. The trials of man are of two kinds. (a) The consequences of his own actions. If a man eats too much, he ruins his
digestion; if he takes poison he becomes ill or dies. If a person gambles he will lose his money; if he drinks too much he will lose his equilibrium. All these sufferings are caused by the man himself, it is quite clear therefore that certain sorrows are the result of our own deeds. . . .
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks 49—50
29. Although we have not found any text which forbids the owning of race horses, 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:
- Horse races and bettings are a pernicious disease. It hath been seen in Europe what distress this hath caused. Thousands have become afflicted and bewildered. The friends of God must engage in work which is lawful and conducive to blessing, so that God's aid and bounty may always surround them.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/20/72 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, in "Extracts from Letters of the Universal House of Justice [on Lotteries and Gambling]" 1
30. 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 9/27/72 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in "Extracts from Letters of the Universal House of Justice [on Lotteries and Gambling]" 1
Being distinguished for purity and sanctity
31. 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 150
32. O Divine Providence! Bestow Thou in all things purity and cleanliness upon the people of Baha. Grant that they be freed from all defilement, and released from all addictions. Save them from committing any repugnant act, unbind them from the chains of every evil habit, that they may live pure and free, wholesome and cleanly, worthy to serve at Thy Sacred Threshold and fit to be related to their Lord. Deliver them from intoxicating drinks and tobacco, save them, rescue them, from this opium that bringeth on madness, suffer them to enjoy the sweet savours of holiness, that they may drink deep of the mystic cup of heavenly love and know the rapture of being drawn ever closer unto the Realm of the All-Glorious. For it is even as Thou hast said: "All that thou hast in thy cellar will not appease the thirst of my love—bring me, O cup-bearer, of the wine of the spirit a cup full as the sea!"
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 149—150
8 Interpersonal relationships
The relationship of children to parents
1. 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, in Family Life 2
2. 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. . . .
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, in Family Life 4—5
3. 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 94
4. 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.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Family Life 17
5. The son . . . 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.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Family Life 20-21
6. 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 for his sake, with greatest submission
and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 231—32
7. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/22/43 to individual believer, in Family Life 43—44
8. Although Bahá'í services should be undertaken with a spirit of sacrifice, one cannot lose sight of the importance given in our Holy Writings to the responsibilities placed on parents in relationship to their children, as well as to the duties of children towards their parents.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 11/19/78 to individual believer, in Family Life 60
The bond of marriage
The relationship between husband and wife
9. And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: "Marry, O people, that from you may appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants; this is one of My commandments unto you; obey it as an assistance to yourselves."
Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Prayers 105
10. O peerless Lord! In Thine almighty wisdom Thou hast enjoined marriage upon the peoples, that the generations of men may succeed one another in this contingent world,
and that ever, so long as the world shall last, they may busy themselves at the Threshold of Thy oneness with servitude and worship, with salutation, adoration and praise.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Prayers 105—106
11. Marriage, among the mass of the people, is a physical bond, and this union can only be temporary, since it is foredoomed to a physical separation at the close.
Among the people of Baha, however, marriage must be a union of the body and of the spirit as well, for here both husband and wife are aglow with the same wine, both are enamoured of the same matchless Face, both live and move through the same spirit, both are illumined by the same glory. This connection between them is a spiritual one, hence it is a bond that will abide forever. Likewise do they enjoy strong and lasting ties in the physical world as well, for if the marriage is based both on the spirit and the body, that union is a true one, hence it will endure. If, however, the bond is physical and nothing more, it is sure to be only temporary, and must inexorably end in separation.
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.
In the same way, when any souls grow to be true believers, they will attain a spiritual relationship with one another, and show forth a tenderness which is not of this world. They will, all of them, become elated from a draught of divine love, and that union of theirs, that connection, will also abide forever. Souls, that is, who will consign their own selves to oblivion, strip from themselves the defects of humankind, and unchain themselves from human bondage, will beyond any doubt be illumined with the heavenly splendours of oneness, and will all attain unto real union in the world that dieth not.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 117—118
12. 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 fulfill his or her life's purpose.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/6/73 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 110—11
13. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/3/36 to individual believer, qtd. by the Universal House of Justice in a letter dated 2/6/73 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 109—10
14. 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. Please give them both the Guardian's loving greetings.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/6/32 to individual believer, in Family Life 33
15. O ye two believers in God! 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.
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 122
Choosing a spouse
16. 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.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 118
17. 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 118
18. 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 3/30/67 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Lights of Guidance 276
19. O ye two who have believed in Him!
Your letter was received and its contents were noted. I pray God that ye may at all times be in the utmost love and harmony, and be a cause for the spirituality of the human world. This union will unquestionably promote love and affection between the black and the white, and will affect and encourage others. These two races will unite and merge together, and there will appear and take root a new generation sound in health and beauteous in countenance.
Abdu'l-Bahá, newly translated tablet attached to letter dated 4/15/85 on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'í Publishing Trust of the United States
20. 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 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/20/43 to John Stearns, in Lights of Guidance 277
21. 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.
This law, as you know, has not yet been given to the Bahá'ís of the west.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 11/7/72 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany, in Lights of Guidance 277
22. 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 be wise for them to do so in order to avoid later embarrassment if consents are withheld.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/17/71 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia, in Lights of Guidance 276
The law of consent
23. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/25/47 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í News, no. 202 (Dec. 1947) 2
24. It is perfectly true that Bahá'u'lláh's statement that the consent of all living parents 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'ís or non-Bahá'ís, 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/1/68 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Lights of Guidance 278
25. 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. . . .
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 8/12/41 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Lights of Guidance 279
26. 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/6/73 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 106—07
27. I notice that I have neglected to answer your question concerning . . . consent to her daughter's marriage: this must be given in order to be a Bahá'í Marriage. Bahá'u'lláh requires this and makes no provision about a parent changing his or her mind. So they are free to do so. Once the written consent is given and the marriage takes place, the parents have no right to interfere any more.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/15/54 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, in Messages to Canada 47
28. The pledge of marriage, the verse to be spoken individually by the bride and the bridegroom in the presence of at least two witnesses acceptable to the Spiritual Assembly is, as stipulated in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book):
- "We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God."
Bahá'í Prayers 104
29. Bahá'í marriage should at present not be pressed into any kind of a uniform mould. What is absolutely essential is what Bahá'u'lláh stipulated in the Aqdas: the friends can add to these selected writings if they please. . . .
Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration 14
30. If a Bahá'í marries a non-Bahá'í who wishes to have the religious ceremony of his own sect carried out, it must be quite clear that, first, the Bahá'í partner is understood to be a Bahá'í by religion, and not to accept the religion of the other party to the marriage through having his or her religious ceremony; and second, the ceremony must be of a
nature which does not commit the Bahá'í to any declaration of faith in a religion other than his own.
Under these circumstances the Bahá'í can partake of the religious ceremony of his non-Bahá’í partner. The Bahá'í should insist on having the Bahá'í ceremony carried out before or after the non-Bahá'í one, on the same day.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/20/54 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Lights of Guidance 279
31. O ye my two beloved children! The news of your union, as soon as it reached me, imparted infinite joy and gratitude. Praise be to God, those two faithful birds have sought shelter in one nest. I beseech God that He may enable them to raise an honoured family, for the importance of marriage lieth in the bringing up of a richly blessed family, so that with entire gladness they may, even as candles, illuminate the world. For the enlightenment of the world dependeth upon the existence of man. If man did not exist in this world, it would have been like a tree without fruit. My hope is that you both may become even as one tree, and may, through the outpourings of the cloud of loving-kindness, acquire freshness and charm, and may blossom and yield fruit, so that your line may eternally endure.
Upon ye be the Glory of the Most Glorious.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 120
32. Both Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab emphasize the need of children in marriage. The latter, for example, states that to beget children is the highest physical fruit of man's existence. But neither say whether the number of children should be limited or not. Or if it is to be limited what is the proper method to be used.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/3/32 to Mabel Hyde Paine, in Lights of Guidance 260
33. 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. Birth control, except in certain exceptional cases, is therefore not permissible.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/14/35 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 261
34. As to the use of intrauterine devices, we understand that there is a difference of professional opinion as to how they work, i.e., whether they prevent conception or whether they prevent the fertilized ovum from attaching to the wall of the uterus. However, the Guardian has stated that the individual life begins at conception. In using such devices, therefore, Bahá'ís will have to be guided by the best professional advice available and their own consciences. There is nothing in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, however, concerning the placing of foreign materials in the body for preventing birth.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 12/31/73 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 264
35. 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.1
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/4/37 to individual believer, qtd. in enclosure to letter dated 7/31/70 from the Universal House of Justice to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 262
36. 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.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 10/25/71 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 264
37. 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.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 5/23/75 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 264
1. 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.
38. Basically the deliberate taking of human life is forbidden in the Cause, but the Sacred Text envisages certain possible exceptions to this rule and allows for the Universal House of Justice to legislate upon them. One such possible exception is the matter of abortion. It is clear that it is absolutely forbidden for a woman to have an abortion merely because she wants to have one, but there may be circumstances in which an abortion might be justified. However, at the present time we do not wish to legislate on whether or in what circumstances abortion may be permitted, and therefore the whole matter is left to the consciences of those concerned who must carefully weigh the medical advice on the case in the light of the general guidance given in the Teachings.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/5/75 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Lights of Guidance 255
39. We have not discovered any specific reference in the texts to the problem of 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 7/31/70 to individual believer, in Lights of Guidance 261
Relationships among husband, wife, and children
40. 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 168
41. A family . . . 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" . . . 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 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.
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 honor 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 tranquility, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 12/28/80 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand, in Family Life 62—63
42. The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. If a child be trained from his infancy, he will, through the loving care of the Holy Gardener, drink in the crystal waters of the spirit and of knowledge, like a young tree amid the rilling brooks. And certainly he will gather to himself the bright rays of the Sun of Truth, and through its light and heat will grow ever fresh and fair in the garden of life. . . .
If, in this momentous task, a mighty effort be exerted, the world of humanity will shine out with other adornings, and shed the fairest light. Then will this darksome place grow luminous, and this abode of earth turn into Heaven.
The very demons will change to angels then, and wolves to shepherds of the flock, and the wild-dog pack to gazelles that pasture on the plains of oneness, and ravening beasts to peaceful herds; and birds of prey, with talons sharp as knives, to songsters warbling their sweet native notes.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education 30
43. While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly 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. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 129
44. 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 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. 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 woman is confined to the home. On the contrary, `Abdu'l-Bahá has stated:
- In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, women go neck and neck with the men. There is no movement where 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)
- So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease; . . . (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Vol. II, p. 369 [1982 ed., p. 135])
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, 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 12/28/80 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand, in Family Life 65—66
Fostering harmony in the family
45. Treat all thy friends and relatives, even strangers, with a spirit of utmost love and kindliness.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Family Life 18
46. When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person, whether he be of your family or of another.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Paris Talks 38
47. 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 144—145
48. 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 addeth to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 279
49. It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity should be maintained in the home. Of course this does not mean that any member of the family has a right to influence the faith of any other member; and if this is realized by all the members, then it seems certain that unity would be feasible.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/6/52 to individual believer, in Family Life 49
50. It made him very happy to know of the recent confirmation of your . . . friend, and of her earnest desire to serve and promote the Faith. He will certainly pray on her behalf that she may, notwithstanding the opposition of her parents and relatives, increasingly gain in knowledge and in understanding of the Teachings, and become animated with such zeal as to arise, and bring into the Cause a large number of her former coreligionists.
Under no circumstances, however, should she allow her parents to become completely alienated from her, but it is her bounden duty to strive, through patient, continued and loving effort, to win their sympathy for the Faith, and even, perhaps, to bring about their confirmation. . . .
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/6/38 to individual believer, in Family Life 36
51. 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 rebirth.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/9/42 to individual believer, in Family Life 41
52. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter to Roan Orloff (received 7/31/42), in Bahá'í News, no. 161 (Mar. 1943) 2
Using consultation to foster harmony
53. The Great Being saith: The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion. Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.
Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation 3
54. Man must consult on all matters, whether major or minor, so that he may become cognizant of what is good. Consultation giveth him insight into things and enableth him to delve into questions which are unknown. The light of truth shineth from the faces of those who engage in consultation. Such consultation causeth the living waters to flow in the meadows of man's reality, the rays of ancient glory to shine upon him, and the tree of his being to be adorned with wondrous fruit. The members who are consulting, however, should behave in the utmost love, harmony and sincerity towards each other. The principle of
consultation is one of the most fundamental elements of the divine edifice. Even in their ordinary affairs the individual members of society should consult.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation 9
55. Settle all things, both great and small, by consultation. Without prior consultation, take no important step in your own personal affairs. Concern yourselves with one another. Help along one another's projects and plans. Grieve over one another. Let none in the whole country go in need. Befriend one another until ye become as a single body, one and all. . . .
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation 9
56. A Bahá'í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the counsel of individual friends or of professional counselors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 3/19/73 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, in Family Life 59
57. 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."
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 12/28/80 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand, in Family Life 61—62
Chastity and sex
A chaste and holy life
58. O friends! Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been endowed, neither be neglectful of your high destiny. Suffer not your labors to be wasted through the vain imaginations which certain hearts have devised. Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 196
59. And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 118
60. . . . 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. It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures. It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs. It condemns the prostitution of art and of literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage, infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices. It can tolerate no compromise with the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its example, the pernicious character of such theories,
the falsity of such standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits, and the sacrilegious character of such excesses.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 30
61. It must be remembered, however, that the maintenance of such a high standard of moral conduct is not to be associated or confused with any form of asceticism, or of excessive and bigoted puritanism. The standard inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh seeks, under no circumstances, to deny anyone the legitimate right and privilege to derive the fullest advantage and benefit from the manifold joys, beauties, and pleasures with which the world has been so plentifully enriched by an All-Loving Creator.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice 33
62. Briefly stated the Bahá'í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practiced by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable 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.
The Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expression 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/5/38 to individual believer, qtd. in letter from the Universal House of Justice to individual believer, in "Obeying the Law of God in Our Own Lives" 2
63. Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, homosexuality and unfaithfulness. Refrain therefrom, O concourse of those who have
set their faces towards Him. By the righteousness of God! Yet have been created to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind enjoineth upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this eloquent, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in letter dated 12/9/71 from the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in "Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Homosexuality" 1
64. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/28/41 to individual believer, qtd. in letter from the Universal House of Justice to individual believer, in "Obeying the Law of God in Our Own Lives" 2
65. 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.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/1/47 to Joh nBernard Cornel, in Bahá'í News, no. 202 (Dec. 1947) 3
66. In the teachings there is nothing against dancing, but the friends should remember that the standard of Bahá'u'lláh is modesty and chastity. The atmosphere of modern
dance halls, where so much smoking and drinking and promiscuity goes on, is very bad, but decent dances are not harmful in themselves. There is certainly no harm in classical dancing or learning dancing in school. There is also no harm in taking part in dramas. Likewise in cinema acting. The harmful thing, nowadays, is not the art itself but the unfortunate corruption which often surrounds these arts. As Bahá'ís we need avoid none of the arts, but acts and the atmosphere that sometimes go with these professions we should avoid.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/19/41 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India, in Dawn of a New Day 153
67. 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 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/6/73 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in The Generation of the Half-Light 34
68. The Guardian has urged over and over again, the paramount necessity for Bahá'í Youth to exemplify the Teachings, most particularly the moral aspect of them. If they are not distinguished for their high conduct they cannot expect other young people to take the Cause very seriously.
He heartily agrees with you that unless we practise the Teachings we cannot possibly expect the Faith to grow, because the fundamental purpose of all religions—including
our own—is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be over-emphasized.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/6/46 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 8
69. He feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify a Bahá'í life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners—the Bahá'í young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Bahá'í youth to furnish it.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/19/46 to the Bahá'í youth attending Green Acre Bahá'í Summer School, U.S.A., in Bahá'í Youth 7—8
70. . . . the young Bahá'ís in every city should make a point of keeping in touch with local youth activities and clubs, and endeavouring to make their views known to as many young people in as many ways as possible. Above all they should set a high example to them; chastity, politeness, friendliness, hospitality, joyous optimism about the ultimate future happiness and well-being of mankind, should distinguish them and win over to them the love and admiration of their fellow youth. The thing which is most conspicuously lacking in modern life is a high standard of conduct and good character; the young Bahá'ís must demonstrate both, if they hope to seriously win over to the Faith members of their own generation, so sorely disillusioned and so contaminated by the laxity war gives rise to.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/20/45 to National Youth Committee, in Bahá'í Youth 7
71. We have considered your several letters and have noted your questions, and your view that many Bahá'í youth in
America are confused, and are pleading for guidance in simple clear language on how to meet daily situations, particularly those involving sex.
It is neither possible nor desirable for the Universal House of Justice to set forth a set of rules covering every situation. Rather is it 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 fulfil 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 toward 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 10/17/68 to individual believer, qtd. in "Bahá'í Teachings on Chastity and Sex" 3
72. 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. . . .
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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter to individual believer, copy of which was sent to Helen Hornby with letter dated 3/8/81, in Lights of Guidance 268—70
73. 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 by 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/21/54 to individual believer, in National Bahá'í Review (Mar. 1968) 2
74. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/26/50 to individual believer, in National Bahá'í Review (Mar. 1968) 2
75. 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 or 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.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 2/6/73 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 110—11
76. Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly homosexual—although to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people's moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration in society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct which is disgracing the Cause. The person should have it brought to his attention that such acts are condemned by Bahá'u'lláh, and that he must mend his ways, if necessary consult doctors, and make every effort to overcome this affliction, which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/20/53 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, in National Bahá'í Review (Mar. 1968) 2
77. As the friends can clearly note, Bahá'u'lláh denounces the person who engages in homosexual or other immoral relations with the censure: "Verily, he is not of Me"—a form of condemnation He applies to users of opium. In these days when in the United States an inherently deficient moral code tolerates and promotes indulgence in one's passions and all manner of sexual vices, the Bahá'ís should refuse to be influenced by the perversity of their society and its corruption, and through determination, prayer and daily vigilance, as well as active and wholehearted participation in Bahá'í service, and when necessary, with the assistance of competent and expert advice, release themselves from the bondage of their carnal desires and take refuge under the shadow of God's loving care and mercy.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 9/9/71 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in "Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Homosexuality" 4
9 Social Relationships
Our relationship to the old world order
Obedience to government
1. In every country where any of this people reside, they must behave towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness. This is that which hath been revealed at the behest of Him Who is the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days.
Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh 22—23
2. 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 own 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.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/3/48 to National Teaching Committee for Central America, in Bahá'í News, no. 215 (Jan. 1949) 1
3. Now, as the government of America is a republican form of government, it is necessary that all the citizens shall
take part in the elections of officers and take part in the affairs of the republic.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas 343
Avoiding political affairs and activities
4. O ye the beloved of the one true God! Pass beyond the narrow retreats of your evil and corrupt desires, and advance into the vast immensity of the realm of God, and abide ye in the meads of sanctity and of detachment, that the fragrance of your deeds may lead the whole of mankind to the ocean of God's unfading glory. Forbear ye from concerning yourselves with the affairs of this world and all that pertaineth unto it, or from meddling with the activities of those who are its outward leaders.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 241
5. O handmaid of the Lord! Speak thou no word of politics; thy task concerneth the life of the soul, for this verily leadeth to man's joy in the world of God. Except to speak well of them, make thou no mention of the earth's kings, and the worldly governments thereof. Rather, confine thine utterance to spreading the blissful tidings of the Kingdom of God, and demonstrating the influence of the Word of God, and the holiness of the Cause of God. Tell thou of abiding joy and spiritual delights, and godlike qualities, and of how the Sun of Truth hath risen above the earth's horizons: tell of the blowing of the spirit of life into the body of the world.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 92—93
6. We should—every one of us—remain aloof, in heart and in mind, in words and in deeds, from the political affairs and disputes of the Nations and of Governments. We should keep ourselves away from such thoughts. We should have no political connection with any of the parties and should join no faction of these different and warring sects.
Absolute impartiality in the matter of political parties should be shown by words and by deeds, and the love of the
whole humanity, whether a Government or a nation, which is the basic teaching of Bahá'u'lláh, should also be shown by words and by deeds. . . .
According to the exhortations of the Supreme Pen and the confirmatory explanations of the Covenant of God Bahá'ís are in no way allowed to enter into political affairs under any pretense of excuse; since such an action brings about disastrous results and ends in hurting the Cause of God and its intimate friends.
Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, no. 140 (Dec. 1940) 2
Nonparticipation, not indifference
7. It should be made unmistakably clear that such an attitude implies neither the slightest indifference to the cause and interests of their own country, nor involves any insubordination on their part to the authority of recognized and established governments. Nor does it constitute a repudiation of their sacred obligation to promote, in the most effective manner, the best interests of their government and people. It indicates the desire cherished by every true and loyal follower of Bahá'u'lláh to serve, in an unselfish, unostentatious and patriotic fashion, the highest interests of the country to which he belongs, and in a way that would entail no departure from the high standards of integrity and truthfulness associated with the teachings of his Faith.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/21/32 to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 65
8. 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. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity. . . .
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/28/31, in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 41—42
Violence and self-defense
9. Say: Fear God, O people, and refrain from shedding the blood of any one. Contend not with your neighbor, and be ye of them that do good. Beware that ye commit no disorders on the earth after it hath been well ordered, and follow not the footsteps of them that are gone astray.
Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh 277
10. . . . it is better to be killed than kill.
Bahá'u'lláh, qtd. in God Passes By 198
11. . . . vengeance, according to reason, is also blameworthy, because through vengeance no good result is gained by the avenger. So if a man strikes another, and he who is struck takes revenge by returning the blow, what advantage will he gain? Will this be a balm for his wound or a remedy for his pain? No, God forbid! In truth the two actions are the same: both are injuries; the only difference is that one occurred first, and the other afterward. Therefore, if he who is struck forgives, nay, if he acts in a manner contrary to that which has been used toward him, this is laudable. The law of the community will punish the aggressor but will not take revenge. This punishment has for its end to warn, to protect and to oppose cruelty and
transgression so that other men may not be tyrannical.
But if he who has been struck pardons and forgives, he shows the greatest mercy. This is worthy of admiration.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 267
12. A hitherto untranslated Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá . . . points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá'í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, he also indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to, a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. In another letter the Guardian has further point out that the assault of an irresponsible assailant upon a Bahá'í should be resisted by the Bahá'í, who would be justified, under such circumstances, in protecting his life.
The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the guidelines given in the above-mentioned statements. The question is basically a matter of conscience, and in each case the Bahá'í involved must use his judgment in determining when to stop in self-defense lest his action deteriorate into retaliation.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 5/26/69 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, in National Bahá'í Review, no. 32 (Aug. 1970) 3
War and military duty
13. O people! Spread not disorder in the land, and shed not the blood of any one, and consume not the substance of others wrongfully, neither follow every accursed prattler.
Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf 25
14. Today there is no greater glory for man than that of service in the cause of the Most Great Peace. Peace is light, whereas war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is guidance; war is error. Peace is the foundation of God; war is a satanic institution. Peace is the illumination of
the world of humanity; war is the destroyer of human foundations. When we consider outcomes in the world of existence, we find that peace and fellowship are factors of upbuilding and betterment, whereas war and strife are the causes of destruction and disintegration. . . . Consider the restlessness and agitation of the human world today because of war. Peace is health and construction; war is disease and dissolution. When the banner of truth is raised, peace becomes the cause of the welfare and advancement of the human world. In all cycles and ages war has been a factor of derangement and discomfort, whereas peace and brotherhood have brought security and consideration of human interests.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 123
15. . . . Bahá'ís should continue to apply, under all circumstances, for exemption from any military duties that necessitate the taking of life. There is no justification for any change of attitude on our part at the present time.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 7/20/46 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í News, no. 188 (Oct. 1946) 9
16. We have considered your letter of July 15, 1965 concerning Bahá'ís and military service. Reference is made to the statements of your National Assembly as reported in Bahá'í News for April, 1943:
- The National Assembly records its understanding of the Guardian's instructions concerning the duty of Bahá'ís in time of war as obligating each believer under the draft to apply for noncombatant status, in which status he gives full obedience to the military authority of his country; that this obligation does not mean he is a conscientious objector who refuses obedience to military authority, but on the other hand it makes it incumbent upon the Bahá'í to apply for and maintain the noncombatant status without regard to its consequences upon his personal safety, his convenience, the type of activity he must dischrage or the rank to which he may be assigned.
With this statement in mind, we think that Bahá'ís should be discouraged from seeking or continuing a career in the military, and that in any event they must, in obedience to the Guardian's clear instructions, apply for exemption from military duty which necessitates the taking of human life.
When the law imposes an obligation upon citizens to fulfill a term of military service, as the U.S. Selective Service Act does, and a Bahá'í may fulfill this term of service by enlisting, re-enlisting or by being commissioned as an officer, he may do so provided he does not in any way jeopardize his right to "apply for and maintain the noncombatant status" within the spirit of the above principle. We make no judgment as to whether the law in fact permits him to do this. This is for the believer to determine.1
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 9/20/65 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
17. It is still his firm conviction that the believers, while expressing their readiness to unreservedly obey any directions that the authorities may issue 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 in direct warfare with their fellow-humans of any other race or nation. 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, 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.
Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration 95—96
18. A Bahá'í may enlist voluntarily in the armed forces of a country in order to obtain a training in some trade or profession provided he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 12/29/80 to individual believer
19. The Universal House of Justice has considered your letter of 8 July 1982 concerning the decision you have taken in regard to service in the military, and the doubts which are now troubling you about whether your enlistment in the Army's flight school is in violation of the teachings of the Faith.
We are instructed to say that your action in requesting guidance from your National Spiritual Assembly was correct. The National Assembly in its reply to you of 7 June stated that it was up to you to decide whether or not to enlist, keeping in mind the guidance already given in its previous letter. Now that you have enlisted, the House of Justice is confident that you will do all you can to ensure that you are not required to undertake combatant status.
On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated 7/27/82 to individual believer
Membership in non-Bahá'í religious and other organizations
20. 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.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 6/15/35, in Bahá'í News, no. 93 (July 1935) 1
21. Generally speaking, the friends should not enter secret societies. It is certainly much better for the believers to dissociate themselves from such organizations. . . .
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter ot National Spiritual Assemblies, qtd. in letter dated 6/3/74 and written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to individual believer
22. . . . here are a few general guidelines that individual Bahá'ís should consider before joining any organization. When in doubt they should consult their local Spiritual Assembly or even the National Spiritual Assembly.
The Guardian did not elaborate on what is meant by "secret organizations," but the term certainly applies to all those organizations whose aims and objects are not available to everyone who wishes to know them and whose membership is not open to all persons without regard to race or religion. Furthermore, the organization must not engage in partisan politics. Neither should it be one that would not be acceptable anywhere in the world. . . .
As for fraternities and sororities, membership in these is
permissible provided membership does not exclude persons because of race, religion, or social position.
Membership in the League of Women Voters is permissible unless and until it becomes involved in partisan politics. Discussion of political issues in itself is not forbidden to Bahá'ís but they cannot support any particular party.
As for membership in the Grange, we assume this is permissible for Bahá'ís so long as it remains the educational and social movement we understand it to be.
The chief criteria for membership in any organization are: Are its aims or objects compatible with the Bahá'í laws and principles? Is membership open to persons of all racial and rleigious backgrounds? Is it free of partisan politics?
If any Bahá'í is in doubt about a particular organization, he can consult the administrative institutions. In doing so he should supply all possible information so that a decision can be based on facts.
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, "Criteria for Membership in Non-Bahá'í Organizations," in Bahá'í News, no. 108 (Mar. 1967), U.S. Supplement 2
Associating with social movements
23. 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. In their collaboration with such associations they would extend any moral and material assistance they can afford, after having fulfilled their share of support to those institutions that affect directly the interests of the Cause. They should always bear in mind, however, the dominating purpose of such a collaboration which is to secure in time the recognition by those with whom they are associated of the paramount necessity and the true significance of the Bahá'í Revelation in this day.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/20/27 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration 125—126
24. Membership in non-political organisations of this type is, indeed, the best method of teaching indirectly the Message by making useful and frequent contacts with well-known and influential persons who, if not completely won to the Faith, can at least become of some effective use to it.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 1/24/34, in The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community 91
25. It is surely very necessary that the Friends should keep in touch with the modern social movements, but their main objective should be to draw more people to the spirit and teachings of the Cause. They should learn from the experience of others and not permit themselves to go (off) at a tangent, and finally be so absorbed in other movements as to forget the Cause of God.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter to Mrs. Harding Urbana (received on 12/25/31), in Bahá'í News, no. 64 (July 1932) 4
Our relationship to the new world order
Forging Bahá'í communities
26. It behoveth all the beloved of God to become as one, to gather together under the protection of a single flag, to stand for a uniform body of opinion, to follow one and the same pathway, to hold fast to a single resolve. Let them forget their divergent theories and put aside their conflicting views since, God be praised, our purpose is one, our goal is one. We are the servants of one Threshold, we all draw our nourishment from the same one Source, we all are gathered in the shade of the same high Tabernacle, we all are sheltered under the one celestial Tree.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 230
27. . . . it is of the utmost importance that in accordance with the explicit text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book, in every locality, be it city or hamlet, where the number of adult (21 years and above) declared believers
, a local "Spiritual Assembly" be forthwith established. To it all local matters pertaining to the Cause must be directly and immediately referred for full consultation and decision. The importance, nay the absolute necessity of these local Assemblies is manifest when we realize that in the days to come they will evolve into the local Houses of Justice. . . .
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/12/23 to the Bahá'ís of America, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, and Australasia, in Bahá'í Administration 37
28. It is incumbent upon every one not to take any step without consulting the Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise every person will act independently and after his own judgment, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the Cause.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, qtd. in letter from Shoghi Effendi dated 3/5/22, in Bahá'í Administration 21
29. The divinely ordained institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá'í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá'í flock.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to Bahá'ís of the world
Supporting Bahá'í communities
30. The friends are called upon to give their whole-hearted support and cooperation to the Local Spiritual Assembly,
first by voting for the membership and then by energetically pursuing its plans and programmes, by turning to it in time of trouble or difficulty, by praying for its success and taking delight in its rise to influence and honour. This great prize, this gift of God within each community must be cherished, nurtured, loved, assisted, obeyed and prayed for.
Such a firmly founded, busy and happy community life as is envisioned when Local Spiritual Assemblies are truly effective, will provide a firm home foundation from which the friends may derive courage and strength and loving support in bearing the Divine Message to their fellow-men and conforming their lives to its benevolent rule.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to Bahá'ís of the world
31. And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centers of activity, upholding and promoting their interests with complete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding, genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigor. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountainhead from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must ultimately rest. May we not hope that now at last the dawn of a brighter day is breaking upon our beloved Cause?
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/24/24 to Bahá'ís throughout the continent of America, in Bahá'í Administration 67
32. His brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Bahá'í community life provides you
with an indispensable laboratory where you can translate into living and constructive action, the principles which you imbibe from the teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real spirit which runs throughout the Bahá'í teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can insure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Bahá'u'lláh enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith forever burning in your hearts!
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/2/33 to individual believer, in The Importance of Deepening 36—37
33. Paralleling the growth of his inner life through prayer, meditation, service, and study of the teachings, Bahá'í youth have the opportunity to learn in practice the very functioning of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Through taking part in conferences and summer schools as well as Nineteen Day Feasts, and in service on committees, they can develop the wonderful skill of Bahá'í consultation, thus tracing new paths of human corporate action.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 96
34. . . . youth may demonstrate the efficiency, the vigor, the access of unity which arise from true consultation and, by contrast, demonstrate the futility of partisanship, lobbying, debate, secret diplomacy, and unilateral action which characterize modern affairs. Youth also take part in the life of the Bahá'í community as a whole and promote a society in which all generations—elderly, middle-aged, youth, children—are fully integrated and make up an organic whole. By refusing to carry over the antagonisms and mistrust between the generations which perplex and bedevil modern society, they will again demonstrate the healing and life-giving nature of their religion.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 6/10/66 to Bahá'í youth in every land, in Wellspring of Guidance 96—97
35. Wherever a Bahá'í community exists, whether large or small, let it be distinguished for its abiding sense of security and faith, its high standard of rectitude, its complete freedom from all forms of prejudice, the spirit of love among its members and for the closely knit fabric of its social life. The acute distinction between this and present day society will inevitably arouse the interest of the more enlightened, and as the world's gloom deepens the light of Bahá'í life will shine brighter and brighter until its brilliance must eventually attract the disillusioned masses and cause them to enter the haven of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, Who alone can bring them peace and justice and an ordered life.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 8/68 to Hands of the Cause of God and Bahá'ís at First Bahá'í Oceanic Conference, Palermo, Sicily, in Messages from The Universal House of Justice 12
Fostering unity in the community
36. O handmaid of God, peace must first be established among individuals, until it leadeth in the end to peace among nations. Wherefore, O ye Bahá'ís, strive ye with all your might to create, through the power of the Word of God, genuine love, spiritual communion and durable bonds among individuals. This is your task.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 246
37. The great and fundamental teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are the oneness of God and unity of mankind. This is the bond of union among Bahá'ís all over the world. They become united among themselves, then unite others. It is impossible to unite unless united. Christ said, "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?" This proves there were dissensions and lack of unity among His followers. Hence His admonition to unity of action.
Now must we, likewise, bind ourselves together in the utmost unity, be kind and loving to each other, sacrificing all our possessions, our honor, yea, even our lives for each other. Then will it be proved that we have acted according to
the teachings of God, that we have been real believers in the oneness of God and unity of mankind.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace 156
38. How good it is if the friends be as close as sheaves of light, if they stand together side by side in a firm unbroken line. For now have the rays of reality from the Sun of the world of existence, united in adoration all the worshippers of this light; and these rays have, through infinite grace, gathered all peoples together within this wide-spreading shelter; therefore must all souls become as one soul, and all hearts as one heart. Let all be set free from the multiple identities that were born of passion and desire, and in the oneness of their love for God find a new way of life.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 76
39. In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá'u'lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear, the community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days. If we relax in our purpose, if we falter in our faith, if we neglect the varied opportunities given us from time to time by an all-wise and gracious Master, we are not merely failing in what is our most vital and conspicuous
obligation, but are thereby insensibly retarding the flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God's struggling Faith.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 4/12/27 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration 130—31
40. What impressed him most in the account of your services was the statement that the old and the young Bahá'ís are firmly united and co-operating in bearing the burdens of the Faith in that locality. Nothing will attract God's blessings and grace more than the unity of the friends, and nothing is more destructive of their highest purpose than divisions and misunderstandings. Cling therefore to unity if you desire to succeed and abide by the will of your Lord Bahá'u'lláh; for that is the true objective of His Mission in this world.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/11/32 to Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Teaneck, N.J., in Bahá'í Youth 21—22
41. . . . the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other's love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to fully draw on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/8/42 to Roan Orloff, in Bahá'í News, no. 217 (Mar. 1949) 4
42. As humanity plunges deeper into that condition of which Bahá'u'lláh wrote, "to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly," so must the believers increasingly stand out as assured, orientated, and fundamentally happy beings, conforming to a standard which, in direct contrast to the ignoble and amoral attitudes of modern society, is the source of their honor, strength, and maturity. It is this marked contrast between the vigor, unity, and discipline of the Bahá'í community on the one hand, and the increasing confusion, despair, and feverish tempo of a doomed society
on the other, which, during the turbulent years ahead, will draw the eyes of humanity to the sanctuary of Bahá'u'lláh's world-redeeming Faith.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1966, in Wellspring of Guidance 79—80
Supporting and strengthening Bahá'í youth
43. Give great attention and support to youth participation in community life and to their teaching the Cause to their own generation in high schools, colleges and elsewhere; encourage and offer guidance to Bahá'í youth to plan their lives to be of greatest service to the Faith, and provide means whereby their offers of specific periods of teaching and other service beyond normal teaching activities can be organized and used to the best advantage.
The Universal House of Justice, in Challenge 11
44. The winds of test and trial have blown upon our Faith more than once, and he strongly feels that old believers like yourself should do everything in their power to protect the younger Bahá'ís, to strengthen their faith, deepen them in the Covenant, and enable them to take full refuge in the Will and Testament of the beloved Master, that impregnable fortress He built for our safety when He Himself should have gone from our sight.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/26/41 to individual believer, in Bahá'í Youth 21
Supporting the Bahá'í funds
45. . . . the institutions of the local and national Funds, that are now the necessary adjuncts to all local and national spiritual assemblies, have not only been established by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablets He revealed to the Bahá'ís of the Orient, but their importance and necessity have been repeatedly emphasized by Him in His utterances and writings.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/27/29 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 6
46. All the friends of God . . . should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be. God doth not burden a soul beyond its capacity. Such contributions must come from all centres and all believers. . . . O friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Words of God 13
47. We must be like the fountain or spring that is continually emptying itself of all that it has and is continually being refilled from an invisible source. To be continually giving out for the good of our fellows undeterred by fear of poverty and reliant on the unfailing bounty of the Source of all wealth and all good—this is the secret of right living.
Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Lifeblood of the Cause 12
48. As to material sacrifices towards the welfare of the Cause, he wishes you to understand that the general interests of the Cause take precedence over the interests of the particular individuals. For instance contributions to the welfare of individuals are secondary to contributions towards the National and Local Funds and that of the Temple.
This is a general instruction. Of course helping the individuals in case one is able to help, is also desirable and merits appreciation.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/20/25 to individual believer, in Lifeblood of the Cause 4
49. Regarding the question you raised: in the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own conscience as regards the manner in which he should
spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Bahá'ís in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the System of Bahá'u'lláh — Divine in origin — that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Bahá'ís cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work, as this will lead to the healing of the nations.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/8/47 to individual believer, in Lifeblood of the Cause 12—13
50. He wishes you . . . to stress the importance of the institution of the National Bahá'í Fund, which, in these early days of the administrative development of the Faith, is the indispensable medium for the growth and expansion of the Movement. Contributions to this fund constitute, in addition, a practical and effective way whereby every believer can test the measure and character of his faith, and prove in deeds the intensity of his devotion and attachment to the Cause.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 9/25/34 to chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Lifeblood of the Cause 12
51. As to the idea of "giving what one can afford": this does by no means put a limit or even exclude the possibility of self-sacrifice. There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, especially 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. It is the spirit, not the mere fact of contributing, that we should always take into account when we stress the necessity for a universal and whole-hearted support of the various funds of the Cause.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 12/31/35 to individual believer, in Lifeblood of the Cause 10
52. Most urgently, may every believer give sacrificially of his substance, each in accordance with his means, to the funds of the Cause, local, national, continental and international, so that the material resources—the life-blood of all activities—will be adequate to the tremendous work that we have to perform in the months and years immediately ahead. It requires a concentration of effort, a unity of purpose and a degree of self-sacrifice to match the heroic exertions of the victors of past plans in the progress of the Cause.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/2/84 to followers of Bahá'u'lláh in every land
Participation in social and economic development
53. The administrative machinery of the Cause having now sufficiently evolved, its aim and object fairly well grasped and understood, and its method and working made more familiar to every believer, I feel the time is ripe when it should be fully and consciously utilized to further the purpose for which it has been created. It should, I strongly feel, be made to serve a twofold purpose. On one hand, it should aim at a steady and gradual expansion of the Movement along lines that are at once broad, sound and universal; and on the other it should insure the internal consolidation of the work already achieved. It should both provide the impulse whereby the dynamic forces latent in the Faith can unfold, crystallize, and shape
the lives and conduct of men, and serve as a medium for the interchange of thought and the coordination of activities among the divers elements that constitute the Bahá'í community.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5/11/26 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration 109
54. The matter of Teaching, its direction, its ways and means, its extension, its consolidation, essential as they are to the interests of the Cause, constitute by no means the only issue which should receive the full attention of these Assemblies. A careful study of Bahá'u'lláh's and `Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets will reveal that other duties, no less vital to the interests of the Cause, devolve upon the elected representatives of the friends in every locality. . . .
They must do their utmost to extend at all times the helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, irrespective of color, caste and creed.
They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, whenever possible, Bahá'í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 3/12/23 to the Bahá'ís of America, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, and Australasia, in Bahá'í Administration 37—38
55. The friends must never mistake the Bahá'í administration for an end in itself. It is merely the instrument of the spirit of the Faith. This Cause is a Cause which God has revealed to humanity as a whole. It is designed to benefit the entire human race, and the only way it can do this is to re-form the community life of mankind, as well as seeking to regenerate the individual. The Bahá'í Administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living.
On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 10/14/41 to individual believer, in The Local Spiritual Assembly 28
56. The soul-stirring events in Bahá'u'lláh's native land and the concomitant advance into the theater of world affairs of the agencies of His Administrative Order have combined to bring into focus new possibilities in the evolution of the Bahá'í world community. Our Ridván message this year captured these implications in its reference to the opening before us of a wider horizon in whose light can dimly be discerned new pursuits and undertakings upon which we must soon embark. These portend our greater involvement in the development of the social and economic life of peoples. . . .
. . .although it has hitherto been impracticable for Bahá'í institutions generally to emphasize development activities, the concept of social and economic development is enshrined in the sacred Teachings of our Faith. The beloved Master, through His illuminating words and deeds, set the example for the application of this concept to the reconstruction of society. Witness, for instance, what social and economic progress the Iranian believers attained under His loving guidance and, subsequently, with the unfailing encouragement of the Guardian of the Cause.
Now, after all the years of constant teaching activity, the community of the Greatest Name has grown to the stage at which the processes of this development must be incorporated into its regular pursuits; particularly is action compelled by the expansion of the Faith in Third World countries where the vast majority of its adherents reside. The steps to be taken must necessarily begin in the Bahá'í Community itself, with the friends endeavoring, through their application of spiritual principles, their rectitude of conduct and the practice of the art of consultation, to uplift themselves and thus become self-sufficient and self-reliant. Moreover, these exertions will conduce to the preservation of human honor, so desired by Bahá'u'lláh. In the process and as a consequence, the friends will undoubtedly extend the benefits of their efforts to society as a whole, until all mankind achieves the progress intended by the Lord of the Age. . . .
We go forward confident that the wholehearted involvement
of the friends in these activities will ensure a deeper consolidation of the community at all levels. Our engagement in the technical aspects of development should, however, not be allowed to supplant the essentials of teaching, which remains the primary duty of every follower of Bahá'u'lláh. Rather should our increased activities in the development field be viewed as a reinforcement of the teaching work, as a greater manifestation of faith in action. For, if expansion of the teaching work does not continue, there can be no hope of success for this enlarged dimension of the consolidation process.
Ultimately, the call to action is addressed to the individual friends, whether they be adult or youth, veteran or newly-enrolled. Let them step forth to take their places in the arena of service where their talents and skills, their specialized training, their material resources, their offers of time and energy and, above all, their dedication to Bahá’í principles, can be put to work in improving the lot of man.
May all derive enduring inspiration from the following statement written in 1933 by the hand of our beloved Guardian:
- The problems which confront the believers at the present time, whether social, spiritual, economic or administrative will be gradually solved as the number and the resources of the friends multiply and their capacity for service and for the application of Bahá’í principles develops. They should be patient, confident and active in utilizing every possible opportunity that presents itself within the limits now necessarily imposed upon them. May the Almighty aid them to fulfill their highest hopes.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 10/20/83 to Bahá'ís of the world
57. Bahá'í communities in many lands have attained a size and complexity that both require and make possible the implementation of a range of activities for their social and economic development which will not only be of immense value for the consolidation of these communities and the
development of their Bahá'í life, but will also benefit the wider communities within which they are embedded and will demonstrate the beneficial effects of the Bahá'í Message to the critical gaze of the world.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 1/2/84 to followers of Bahá'u'lláh in every land
58. The upsurge of zeal throughout the Bahá'í world for exploration of the new dimension of social and economic development is both heartwarming and uplifting to all our hopes. This energy within the community, carefully and wisely directed, will undoubtedly bring about a new era of consolidation and expansion, which in turn will attract further widespread attention, so that both aspects of change in the Bahá'í world community will be interactive and mutually propelling.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984 to Bahá'ís of the world
Achieving God's holy purpose for humanity
59. . . . the Ancient Beauty was ever, during His sojourn in this transitory world, either a captive bound with chains, or living under a sword, or subjected to extreme suffering and torment, or held in the Most Great Prison. Because of His physical weakness, brought on by His afflictions, His blessed body was worn away to a breath; it was light as a cobweb from long grieving. And His reason for shouldering this heavy load and enduring all this anguish, which was even as an ocean that hurleth its waves to high heaven—His reason for putting on the heavy iron chains and for becoming the very embodiment of utter resignation and meekness, was to lead every soul on earth to concord, to fellow-feeling, to oneness; to make known amongst all peoples the sign of the singleness of God, so that at last the primal oneness deposited at the heart of all created things would bear its destined fruit, and the
splendour of "No difference canst thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy,"3
would cast abroad its rays.
Now is the time, O ye beloved of the Lord, for ardent endeavour. Struggle ye, and strive. And since the Ancient Beauty was exposed by day and night on the field of martyrdom, let us in our turn labour hard, and hear and ponder the counsels of God; let us fling away our lives, and renounce our brief and numbered days. Let us turn our eyes away from empty fantasies of this world's divergent forms, and serve instead this pre-eminent purpose, this grand design.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 263
60. O ye believers of God! Be not concerned with the smallness of your numbers, neither be oppressed by the multitude of an unbelieving world. Five grains of wheat will be endued with heavenly blessing, whereas a thousand tons of tares will yield no results or effect. One fruitful tree will be conducive to the life of society, whereas a thousand forests of wild trees offer no fruits. The plain is covered with pebbles, but precious stones are rare. One pearl is better than a thousand wildernesses of sand, especially this pearl of great price, which is endowed with divine blessing. Erelong thousands of other pearls will be born from it. When that pearl associates and becomes the intimate of the pebbles, they also all change into pearls.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 86—87
61. Humanity, torn with dissension and burning with hate, is crying at this hour for a fuller measure of that love which is born of God, that love which in the last resort will prove the one solvent of its incalculable difficulties and problems. Is it not incumbent upon us, whose hearts are aglow with love for Him, to make still greater effort, to
manifest that love in all its purity and power in our dealings with our fellow-men? May our love of our beloved Master, so ardent, so disinterested in all its aspects, find its true expression in love for our fellow-brethren and sisters in the faith as well as for all mankind. I assure you, dear friends, that progress in such matters as these is limitless and infinite, and that upon the extent of our achievements along this line will ultimately depend the success of our mission in life.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 2/23/24 to Bahá'ís throughout America, in Bahá'í Administration 62
62. By the sublimity of their principles, the warmth of their love, the spotless purity of their character, and the depth of their devoutness and piety, let them demonstrate to their fellow-countrymen the ennobling reality of a power that shall weld a disrupted world.
We can prove ourselves worthy of our Cause only if in our individual conduct and corporate life we sedulously imitate the example of our beloved Master, Whom the terrors of tyranny, the storms of incessant abuse, the oppressiveness of humiliation, never caused to deviate a hair's breadth from the revealed Law of Bahá'u'lláh.
Such is the path of servitude, such is the way of holiness He chose to tread to the very end of His life. Nothing short of the strictest adherence to His glorious example can safely steer our course amid the pitfalls of this perilous age, and lead us on to fulfill our high destiny.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 4/12/27 to National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, in Bahá'í Administration 132
63. We are told by Shoghi Effendi that two great processes are at work in the world: the great Plan of God, tumultuous in its progress, working through mankind as a whole, tearing down barriers to world unity and forging humankind into a unified body in the fires of suffering and experience. This process will produce, in God's due time,
the Lesser Peace, the political unification of the world. Mankind at that time can be likened to a body that is unified but without life. The second process, the task of breathing life into this unified body—of creating true unity and spirituality culminating in the Most Great Peace—is that of the Bahá'ís, who are laboring consciously, with detailed instructions and continuing Divine guidance, to erect the fabric of the Kingdom of God on earth, into which they call their fellowmen, thus conferring upon them eternal life.
The working out of God's Major Plan proceeds mysteriously in ways directed by Him alone, but the Minor Plan that He has given us to execute, as our part in His grand design for the redemption of mankind, is clearly delineated. It is to this work that we must devote all our energies, for there is no one else to do it.
The Universal House of Justice, qtd. in letter dated 7/7/76 and written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to individual believer, in Bahá'í National Review, no. 101 (Sept. 1976) 2
64. Ours, dearly-beloved co-workers, is the paramount duty to continue, with undimmed vision and unabated zeal, to assist in the final erection of that Edifice the foundations of which Bahá'u'lláh has laid in our hearts, to derive added hope and strength from the general trend of recent events, however dark their immediate effects, and to pray with unremitting fervor that He may hasten the approach of the realization of that Wondrous Vision which constitutes the brightest emanation of His Mind and the fairest fruit of the fairest civilization the world has yet seen.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/28/31, in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh 48
65. The champion builders of Bahá'u'lláh's rising World Order must scale nobler heights of heroism as humanity plunges into greater depths of despair, degradation, dissension and distress. Let them forge ahead into the future serenely confident that the hour of their mightiest exertions and the supreme opportunity for their greatest exploits
must coincide with the apocalyptic upheaval marking the lowest ebb in mankind's fast-declining fortunes.
Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11/3/48 to the Bahá'ís of the United States, in Citadel of Faith 58
66. You are a community of victors, you occupy the front ranks of Bahá'u'lláh's invincible army of light, indeed, you must remain in the vanguard of its thrust. The soul-shaking events transpiring at this very moment in the motherland of our Faith make even more urgent than ever the necessity of multiplying the size of your community on which rest inescapable God-given responsibilities towards the world community, no less than towards itself. All your accomplishments proclaim your ability to excel in the fundamental goal of expanding your membership. The progress of the Cause in your country undoubtedly depends upon such expansion.
It is, of course, the individual believer who bears primary responsibility for securing this goal; therefore, it is primarily to the individual believer "on whom," as the beloved Guardian averred, "in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community," that our concern in this instance is addressed. For it is the individual who possesses the will to act as a teacher or not. No Spiritual Assembly, no teaching committee, no group of well-intentioned Bahá'ís, however much it exerts itself, may usurp the position occupied by the individual in this fundamental activity. Recognizing that the Spiritual Assemblies and their designated committees have devoted much to proclaiming the Faith through the mass media and sundry other means, that the enormous resources poured into such proclamation represent an investment in the teaching work which paves the way for the action of the individual teacher, and that publicity, however much it may arouse public interest in the Cause, is incapable of replacing personal teaching efforts, let the individual Bahá'í renew his resolve to "arise and respond to the call of teaching." Let him, acting on Shoghi Effendi's advice, "survey the possibilities which the particular circumstances in which he lives offer him, evaluate their
advantages, and proceed intelligently and systematically to utilize them for the achievement of the object he has in mind." Let him also strive to obtain adequate knowledge of the Teachings and reflect the virtues of that knowledge in his daily life. Finally, let him waste no time, forfeit no further opportunity.
The Universal House of Justice, telex dated 3/23/84 to the Bahá'ís of the United States
67. The rising sun of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation is having its visible effect upon the world and upon the Bahá'í community itself. Opportunities, long dreamed of for teaching, attended by showering confirmations, now challenge in ever-increasing numbers, every individual believer, every Local and National Spiritual Assembly. The potent seeds sown by `Abdu'l-Bahá are beginning to germinate within the divinely-ordained Order expounded and firmly laid by the beloved Guardian. Humanity is beaten almost to its knees, bewildered and shepherdless, hungry for the bread of life. This is our day of service; we have that heavenly food to offer. The peoples are disillusioned with deficient political theories, social systems and orders; they crave, knowingly or unknowingly, the love of God and reunion with Him. Our response to this growing challenge must be a mighty upsurge of effective teaching, imparting the divine fire which Bahá'u'lláh has kindled in our hearts until a conflagration arising from millions of souls on fire with His love shall at last testify that the Day for which the Chief Luminaries of our Faith so ardently prayed has at last dawned.
The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1982 to Bahá'ís of the world
10 Youth can move the world
Messages from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth of the world
3 January 1984
1. The designation of 1985 by the United Nations as International Youth Year opens new vistas for the activities in which the young members of our community are engaged. The hope of the United Nations in thus focusing on youth is to encourage their conscious participation in the affairs of the world through their involvement in international development and such other undertakings and relationships as may aid the realization of their aspirations for a world without war.
These expectations reinforce the immediate, vast opportunities begging our attention. To visualize, however imperfectly, the challenges that engage us now, we have only to reflect, in the light of our Sacred Writings, upon the confluence of favourable circumstances brought about by the accelerated unfolding of the Divine Plan over nearly five decades, by the untold potencies of the spiritual drama being played out in Iran, and by the creative energy stimulated by awareness of the approaching end of the twentieth century. Undoubtedly, it is within your power to contribute significantly to shaping the societies of the coming century; youth can move the world.
How apt, indeed how exciting, that so portentous an occasion should be presented to you, the young, eager followers of the Blessed Beauty, to enlarge the scope of
your endeavours in precisely that arena of action in which you strive so conscientiously to distinguish yourselves! For in the theme proposed by the United Nations—"Participation, Development, Peace"—can be perceived an affirmation that the goals pursued by you, as Bahá'ís, are at heart the very objects of the frenetic searchings of your despairing contemporaries.
You are already engaged in the thrust of the Seven Year Plan, which provides the framework for any further course of action you may now be moved by this new opportunity to adopt. International Youth Year will fall within the Plan's next phase; thus the activities you will undertake, and for which you will wish to prepare even now, cannot but enhance your contributions to the vitality of that Plan, while at the same time aiding the proceedings for the Youth Year. Let there be no delay, then, in the vigour of your response.
A highlight of this period of the Seven Year Plan has been the phenomenal proclamation accorded the Faith in the wake of the unabating persecutions in Iran; a new interest in its Teachings has been aroused on a wide scale. Simultaneously, more and more people from all strata of society frantically seek their true identity, which is to say, although they would not so plainly admit it, the spiritual meaning of their lives; prominent among these seekers are the young. Not only does this knowledge open fruitful avenues for Bahá'í initiative, it also indicates to young Bahá'ís a particular responsibility so to teach the Cause and live the life as to give vivid expression to those virtues that would fulfill the spiritual yearning of their peers.
For the sake of preserving such virtues much innocent blood has been shed in the past, and much, even today, is being sacrificed in Iran by young and old alike. Consider, for example, the instances in Shiraz last summer of the six young women, their ages ranging from 18 to 25 years, whose live were snuffed out by the hangman's noose. All faced attempted inducements to recant their Faith; all refused to deny their Beloved. Look also at the accounts of the astounding fortitude shown over and over again by children and youth who were subjected to the interrogations and abuses
of teachers and mullahs and were expelled from school for upholding their beliefs. It, moreover, bears noting that under the restrictions so cruelly imposed on their community, the youth rendered signal services, placing their energies a~ the disposal of Bahá'í institutions throughout the country. No splendour of speech could give more fitting testimony to their spiritual commitment and fidelity than these pure acts of selflessness and devotion. In virtually no other place on earth is so great a price for faith required of the Bahá'ís. Nor could there be found more willing, more radiant bearers of the cup of sacrifice than the valiant Bahá'í youth of Iran. Might it, then, not be reasonably expected that you, the youth and young adults living at such an extraordinary time, witnessing such stirring examples of the valour of your Iranian fellows, and exercising such freedom of movement, would sally forth, "unrestrained as the wind," into the field of Bahá'í action?
May you all persevere in your individual efforts to teach the Faith, but with added zest, to study the Writings, but with greater earnestness. May you pursue your education and training for future service to mankind, offering as much of your free time as possible to activities on behalf of the Cause. May those of you already bent on your life's work and who may have already founded families, strive toward becoming the living embodiments of Bahá'í ideals, both in the spiritual nurturing of your families and in your active involvement in the efforts on the home front or abroad in the pioneering field. May all respond to the current demands upon the Faith by displaying a fresh measure of dedication to the tasks at hand.
Further to these aspirations is the need for a mighty mobilization of teaching activities reflecting regularity in the patterns of service rendered by young Bahá'ís. The native urge of youth to move from place to place, combined with their abounding zeal, indicates that you can become more deliberately and numerously involved in these activities as traveling teachers. One pattern of this mobilization could be short-term projects, carried out at home or in other lands, dedicated to both teaching the Faith and improving the
living conditions of people. Another could be that, while still young and unburdened by family responsibilities, you give attention to the idea of volunteering a set period, say, one or two years, to some Bahá'í service, on the home front or abroad, in the teaching or development field. It would accrue to the strength and stability of the community if such patterns could be followed by succeeding generations of youth. Regardless of the modes of service, however, youth must be understood to be fully engaged, at all times, in all climes and under all conditions. In your varied pursuits you may rest assured of the loving support and guidance of the Bahá'í institutions operating at every level.
Our ardent prayers, our unshakable confidence in your ability to succeed, our imperishable love surround you in all you endeavor to do in the path of service to the Blessed Perfection.
THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
8 May 1985
2. We extend our loving greetings and best wishes to all who will meet in youth conferences yet to be held during International Youth Year. So eager and resourceful have been the responses of the Bahá'í youth in many countries to the challenges of this special year that we are moved to expressions of delight and high hope.
We applaud those youth who, in respect of this period, have already engaged in some activity within their national and local communities or in collaboration with their peers in other countries, and call upon them to preserve in their unyielding efforts to acquire spiritual qualities and useful qualifications. For if they do so, the influence of their highminded motivations will exert itself upon world developments conducive to a productive, progressive and peaceful future.
May the youth activities begun this year be a fitting prelude to and an ongoing, significant feature throughout the International Year of Peace, 1986.
The present requirements of a Faith whose responsibilities
rapidly increase in relation to its rise from obscurity impose an inescapable duty on the youth to ensure that their lives reflect to a marked degree the transforming power of the new Revelation they have embraced. Otherwise, by what example are the claims of Bahá'u'lláh to be judged? How is His healing Message to be acknowledged by a skeptical humanity if it produces no noticeable effect upon the young, who are seen to be among the most energetic, the most pliable and promising elements in any society?
The dark horizon faced by a world which has failed to recognize the Promised One, the Source of its salvation, acutely affects the outlook of the younger generations; their distressing lack of hope and their indulgence in desperate but futile and even dangerous solutions make a direct claim on the remedial attention of Bahá'í youth, who, through their knowledge of that Source and the bright vision with which they have thus been endowed, cannot hesitate to impart to their despairing fellow youth the restorative joy, the constructive hope, the radiant assurances of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation.
The words, the deeds, the attitudes, the lack of prejudice, the nobility of character, the high sense of service to others—in a word, those qualities and actions which distinguish a Bahá'í must unfailingly characterize their inner life and outer behaviour, and their interactions with friend or foe.
Rejecting the low sights of mediocrity, let them scale the ascending heights of excellence in all they aspire to do. May they resolve to elevate the very atmosphere in which they move, whether it be in the school rooms or halls of higher learning, in their work, their recreation, their Bahá'í activity or social service.
Indeed, let them welcome with confidence the challenges awaiting them. Imbued with this excellence and a corresponding humility, with tenacity and a loving servitude, today's youth must move towards the front ranks of the professions, trades, arts and crafts which are necessary to the further progress of humankind—this to ensure that the spirit of the Cause will cast its illumination on all these important areas of human endeavour. Moreover, while aiming
at mastering the unifying concepts and swiftly advancing technologies of this era of communications, they can, indeed they must also guarantee the transmittal to the future of those skills which will preserve the marvelous, indispensable achievements of the past The transformation which is to occur in the functioning of society will certainly depend to a great extent on the effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will inherit.
We commend these thoughts to your private contemplation and to the consultation you conduct about your future.
And we offer the assurance of our prayerful remembrances of you, our trust and confidence.
THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
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