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Compilations : Islands of the North Sea
Islands of the North Sea

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

I. Extract from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

Should they attempt to conceal His light on the Continent, He will assuredly rear His head in the midmost heart of the ocean and, raising His voice, proclaim: 'I am the life-giver of the world.'

Bahá'u'lláh, cited in World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 108 [1]

II. Extract from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Therefore, O ye believers of God! Show ye an effort and after this war spread ye the synopsis of the divine teachings in the British Isles, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Portugal, Rumania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Greece, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Monaco, San Marino, Balearic Isles, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Malta, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides and Orkney Islands.

In all these countries, like unto the morning stars shine ye forth from the horizon of guidance. Thus far ye have been untiring in your labors. Let your exertions henceforth increase a thousandfold. Summon the people in these countries, capitals, islands, assemblies and churches to enter the Abhá Kingdom. The scope of your exertions must needs be extended. The wider its range, the more striking will be the evidence of divine assistance.

Tablets of the Divine Plan (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1993), paras. 15-16, pp. 43-44 [2]

III. Extracts from letters and cables written by and on behalf of Shoghi Effendi


28 November 1951, cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, published in Messages to the Bahá'í World, 1950-1957 (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971), pp. 17-18 [3]


23 August 1952, from a cable from Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Conference [4]


From the 1953 convention message from Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, published in Unfolding Destiny: The Messages from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'í Community of the British Isles (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981), p. 297 [5]

The settlement of these virgin areas(3) is of such an emergency nature, that he feels pioneering in one of them takes precedence over every other type of Bahá'í service�whether it be in the teaching or administrative fields of the Faith. So important is it that the National Assembly may delay initiation of steps to fulfil other phases of the Plan, until all these areas are conquered for the Faith. Nothing, absolutely nothing, must be allowed to interfere with the placing of pioneers in each of the 131 goal countries....

... The Guardian feels the following areas are not difficult to settle, and he thinks you should arrange for their settlement at once; and he will appreciate cable advice of each settlement as they take place.

Channel Islands Malta
Hebrides Islands Cyprus
Shetland Islands

As the Guardian's dramatic cable indicates, an illuminated "Roll of Honour" on which will be inscribed the names of the "Knights of Bahá'u'lláh" who first enter these 131 virgin areas, will be placed inside the entrance door of the Inner Sanctuary of the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh....

5 June 1953, from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 303, 305-306 [6]

In spite of the smallness of their numbers, and the limited resources at their disposal, the members of the community living in the British Isles, including administrators and teachers, as well as the band of self-sacrificing pioneers who have already forsaken their homes and are labouring in distant fields in the African Continent, must, at whatever cost, disperse more widely and direct their footsteps to the virgin territories and islands assigned to their National Assembly, contributing thereby, directly and effectively, to the speedy and successful termination of the initial phase of a Crusade on which the immediate destinies of the entire community so largely depend.

25 June 1953, from a letter by Shoghi Effendi published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 312-313 [7]

The privileged prosecutors of so revolutionising, so gigantic, so sacred and beneficent a campaign are, on the morrow of its launching, and at such a crucial hour in the destinies of the European continent, summoned to undertake: ... the opening of the following thirty virgin territories and islands: ... Channel Islands, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Hebrides Islands, Malta, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles....

July 1953 message from Shoghi Effendi to the European Intercontinental Teaching Conference, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 317-318 [8]

The Roll of Honour designed to perpetuate the memory of the exploits of the spiritual conquerors is already inscribed with the names of the following pioneers, together with their respective territories, ... Eskil Ljungberg, Faroe Islands; Mildred Clark and Loyce Lawrence, Lofoten Islands; ... Zia'u'll�h Asgarzadeh, Evelyn Baxter, Channel Islands; ... Charles Dunning, Orkney Islands....

20 September 1953, cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, published in Messages to the Bahá'í World, 1950-1957 (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 51 [9]


11 September 1953, cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, p. 322 [10]


22 September 1953, cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, p. 322 [11]


10 October 1953, cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, p. 322 [12]


14 October 1953, cablegram from Shoghi Effendi, cf. Messages, pp. 226-227 [13]

Your loving letter of recent date has been received, telling of your settlement in Kirkwall, and the progress of your work.

The Guardian is praying for the success of your endeavours. It is his prayer that your difficult path may be straightened, and that through your services in the Orkney Islands, many will be confirmed in the Faith....

The overall principle is that pioneers, once in the virgin areas, should not leave unless it becomes absolutely necessary; and then only after consultation with the National Assembly who is in charge of the particular territory

13 December 1953, from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Knight of Bahá'u'lláh to the Orkney Islands [14]

The first twelve months of this decade-long enterprise unexampled in its scope, significance and potentialities in the world's spiritual history and launched simultaneously, amidst the climax of the world-wide festivities of a memorable Holy Year, in the American, the European, the African, the Asiatic and the Australian continents, have witnessed the hoisting of the banner of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in no less than a hundred virgin territories of the globe.... outlying outposts have been established in places as far apart as ... the Lofoten Islands in the heart of the European Northland ... the Faroe and Shetland Islands, the wind-swept and inhospitable archipelagos of the North Sea....

April 1954, from a letter by Shoghi Effendi, published in Messages, pp. 60-61 [15]

The prizes won in recent months, since the launching of the Ten Year Plan to which it stands committed, through the strenuous exertions and the shining example of its pioneers in the islands situated to the North, the West and the South of its homeland, as well as in the far away territories lying in the heart of the African Continent and situated on both its eastern and western shores, must, however great the sacrifices involved, be preserved. The acquisition of the national Haziratu'l-Quds in a centrally located area in a city that ranks as the chief metropolis of a vast Empire is yet another task of the utmost urgency and of the highest significance, the consummation of which should be considered as the chief objective and pre-eminent duty of this community's elected national representatives, and one which is bound to exert, in the days immediately ahead, a far-reaching and pervasive influence on the growth and unfoldment of the Faith which it is their privilege to serve and promote.

Of no less importance is the responsibility to reinforce the structure of the Administrative Order throughout the British Isles, and particularly in the newly opened territories of Scotland, Wales, Eire and Northern Ireland, through a rapid and unprecedented increase in the number of the avowed supporters of the Faith, and a multiplication of isolated centres, groups and assemblies that constitute the warp and woof of the fabric of its evolving Order.

17 June 1954, postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 338-339 [16]

The beloved Guardian has instructed me to inquire of your Assembly what the situation is surrounding the translation and publication of Bahá'í literature into the following languages:


These are not languages of the Ten Year Crusade, but languages which have been translated prior to the opening of the Ten Year Crusade. He is very anxious to know what the status is of these translations and publications. If no work has been done on them, he would urge that you have the work undertaken at an early date....

20 February 1955, from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, p. 344 [17]

The extension and consolidation, in the course of more than a decade, of the administrative base established so painstakingly for the prosecution of this community's far-flung mission, through the formation and multiplication of isolated centres, groups and local assemblies throughout the length and breadth of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire; the opening of the virgin islands lying in the neighbourhood of these territories and forming a part of the British Isles, constituting a most welcome and much needed reinforcement of the Administrative Structure raised so valiantly and patiently by its members in their island home; the magnificent success surpassing, in its quality and scope, the fondest expectations of the elected representatives of this community, which attended the spiritual conquest of a number of African territories, situated along the Western and Eastern shores of that continent and its very heart; the settlement of pioneers in two Mediterranean islands; ...these stand out as the most prominent and significant evidences of the uninterrupted development of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh under the wise leadership, and through the assiduous and incessant exertions, of the elected national representatives of this virile community.

5 August 1955, postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 353-354 [18]

All islands figuring in that Plan, over seventy in number, situated in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian Oceans, in the Mediterranean and the North Sea, have, likewise been opened except Nicobar Islands, Chagos Archipelago, Hainan Island, Sakhalin Island, Spitzbergen and Anticosti Island. The number of the islands of the globe to which the Message of Bahá'u'lláh has been carried since its inception now totals ninety-eight.

April 1956, from a letter by Shoghi Effendi, published in Messages, p. 93 [19]

Parallel with this highly vital and urgently needed exertion in foreign fields, a further intensification of effort is required on the homefront, and particularly throughout the newly opened islands bordering the homeland itself, now standing in such dire need of a flow of pioneers and a concentration of material resources unexampled in British Bahá'í history. There is no reason to doubt that the phenomenal progress achieved within the span of a few years, amidst an alien people, and in such distant and backward territories, will be duplicated, nay surpassed, among people of the same race, speaking the same language, of the same background, and living in such close proximity to the Administrative Centre in the British Isles, provided that a determination no less unyielding, and a dedication no less whole-hearted and complete, will be displayed by those who have already won such memorable victories in such far-off and inhospitable regions of the globe.

11 July 1956, postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 370-371 [20]

The number of islands now within the pale of the Faith, situated in the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans as well as in the Mediterranean and the North Sea, is now over a hundred, seventy-four of which have been opened since the inauguration of the World Spiritual Crusade, including five islands, situated in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and not listed as objectives of the Ten-Year Plan.

April 1957, from a letter of Shoghi Effendi, published in Messages, p. 106 [21]

The Guardian hopes that during the present year the home Assemblies will not only be maintained and groups prepared for assembly status next Ridvan, but that it will be possible to reinforce the work in the islands off the shores of the British Isles. The sooner a nucleus of local people is established in these goal places the sooner will the pioneers be able to move on to new fields and to lend their assistance to the teaching work either on the Home Front or in the Pacific area....

30 August 1957, from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 382-383 [22]

The year that has just elapsed, following upon the swift and spectacular success achieved by the firmly grounded, the progressive and alert British Bahá'í community in the heart of the African Continent�a success attested by the triumphant emergence of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central and East Africa�has witnessed a progress throughout the length and breadth of the Homefront, as well as in the northern islands in the neighbourhood of the British Isles, which, though not spectacular, nevertheless testifies to the earnestness, the devotion and the exemplary tenacity with which the members of this community are conducting, in all its aspects, the noble Mission entrusted to their care, and are grappling with the manifold problems involved in its prosecution.


The splendid work achieved, in such a short space of time, in a field so distant, and amongst a race so alien in its background, outlook and customs, must, if the significance of that Mission is to be properly assessed, be regarded as only a prelude to the series of future campaigns which the privileged members of the British Bahá'í community, residing and firmly rooted in the heart of a far-flung Commonwealth and Empire, will, if faithful to such a Mission, launch, in the years ahead, in the islands of the North Sea and of the Mediterranean, as well as in the remote territories situated in the Pacific area campaigns which, in their range and significance, must throw into shade the feats performed in the African Continent.

To be enabled to rise to this occasion, to ensure the energetic, the systematic and uninterrupted conduct of so vast and diversified an enterprise, amidst peoples and races fully as promising, and even more remotely situated, and presenting them with a challenge more severe than any which has faced them in the past, the small band of the ardent, the high minded, the resolute followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, charged by Destiny and by virtue of the enviable position they occupy, with so glorious a responsibility for the future awakening of the great masses, living under the shadow of, or whose governments are directly associated with, the British Crown, must needs in the years immediately ahead, acquire greater coherence, increase more rapidly in numbers, definitely emerge from obscurity, plumb greater depths of consecration, enrich its store of administrative experience, become definitely self-supporting, and associate itself more closely, through the body of its elected representatives and its future Hands, with the National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies on the European mainland and in all the other continents of the globe, and particularly with the Hands already appointed in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

The sooner these prime requisites, so essential for a further unfoldment of the mighty potentialities inherent in so splendid a Mission, are fulfilled, the sooner will the call be raised for the opening of a new chapter in the history of British Bahá'í achievements overseas.

The rapid multiplication of isolated centres, groups and local assemblies, particularly in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Eire; the incorporation of firmly grounded local spiritual assemblies; a greater measure of publicity; a wider dissemination of Bahá'í literature; a quick and substantial rehabilitation of the vitally important national Fund; a firmer grasp of the essential verities of the Faith; a more profound study of its history and a deeper understanding of the genesis, the significance, the workings, and the present status and achievements of its embryonic World Order and of the Covenant to which it owes its birth and vitality�these remain the rock-bottom requirements which alone can guarantee the opening and hasten the advent, of that blissful era which every British Bahá'í heart so eagerly anticipates, and the glories of which can, at present, be but dimly discerned.

Now, of a certainty, is not the time for the members of this gallant band, so thinly spread over the length and breadth of its island home, and reaching out, so laboriously yet so determinedly to the inhospitable islands fringing its northern and western coasts, to dwell, however tentatively, on the nature of the tantalising task awaiting them in the not distant future, or to seek to probe into its mysterious, divinely guided operation. Theirs is the duty to plod on, however tedious the nature of the work demanding their immediate attention, however formidable the obstacles involved in its proper execution, however prolonged the effort which its success necessitates, until the signs of its ultimate consummation, heralding the launching of what is sure to be the most spectacular phase of their Mission, are clearly discerned.

A responsibility, at once colossal, sacred and highly challenging, faces not only the body of the elected representatives of this community, but each and every one of its members. As the world spiritual Crusade, to the successful prosecution of which the British followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh have, singly and collectively, so markedly contributed, approaches its mid-point, the evidences of this indispensable quickening of the tempo of Bahá'í activity all over the British Isles and the islands situated in their neighbourhood and far beyond their confines, must become more manifest and rapidly multiply. The admiration and esteem in which a community, relatively small in numbers, strictly limited in resources, yet capable of such solid and enduring achievements, is held by its sister and daughter communities in every continent of the globe, far from declining must be further enhanced. The historic process originated as far back as the year which witnessed the formulation of the Six Year Plan on the occasion of the Centenary of the Declaration of The Báb in Shiraz, which gathered momentum, as a result of the inauguration of the Two Year Plan which followed the Centenary of The Báb's Martyrdom in Tabriz, which received a tremendous impetus, in consequence of the launching of the Ten Year Crusade, commemorating the centenary celebrations of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission in Tihran such a process must, as the centenary celebrations designed to commemorate the Declaration of that same Mission in Baghdad approaches, be so markedly accelerated, and yield such a harvest, as will astonish the entire Bahá'í world, and give the signal for the inauguration, by those who have so spontaneously set this process in motion, more than a decade ago, of a blissful era designed to carry the chief builders of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Order, throughout the unnumbered, the diversified and widely scattered Dependencies of the British Crown, to still greater heights of achievements in the service and for the glory of His Faith.

30 August 1957, from a postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, published in Unfolding Destiny, pp. 384-386 [23]

IV. Extracts from Letters written by and on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

... The British Bahá'í Community now enters a new phase in the fulfilment of its 'glorious mission.' This mission has two closely linked interdependent aspects 'the vital mission at home in their boroughs and counties' whose ultimate aim is the awakening of the masses of their countrymen to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and their enrolment under the banner of His Cause, which 'must be regarded as the base' for its 'glorious overseas mission.' Your home front goals are to

Open the Inner Hebrides Islands, the Isle of Wight and Guernsey, and to resettle and establish a group on the Isle of Man ...

Raise the number of Spiritual Assemblies to one hundred including one in every county of England, one each in the Isle of Wight, the Orkney Islands, the Outer Hebrides Islands, the Channel Islands and the Shetland Islands ...

... The great emphasis which Shoghi Effendi laid upon your work in the islands of the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Pacific, and particularly the beneficial results which he said would flow from the outpouring of pioneers and treasure in the 'islands bordering the homeland' should lead you to concentrate on these vital points when planning the overall strategy of your onward march.

Letter from the Universal House of Justice to the British Bahá'í Community, April 1964 [24]

You are now gathered in this Conference to deliberate on ways and means of accomplishing the goals which are set before you. Let every believer, as he considers in detail these various goals, bear in mind four supreme objectives: to carry the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to every stratum of society, not only in the towns and cities but also in the villages and country districts where the virus of materialism has had much less effect on the lives of men; to take urgent, wise and well-considered steps to spread the Faith to those countries of Eastern Europe in which it has not yet become established; to reinforce strongly the heroic band of pioneers in the islands of the Mediterranean and the North Sea�islands which are to play such an important role in the awakening of the entire continent �as well as to prosecute energetically the goals your are called upon to achieve in other continents and oceans; and to foster the cooperation between National Communities and between National Spiritual Assemblies and the Hands of the Cause of God which has contributed so markedly to the work of the Faith on that Continent and is so essential for its future development....

In 1953 Shoghi Effendi wrote that the continent of Europe had 'at last at this critical hour�this great turning point in its fortunes�entered upon what may well be regarded as the opening phase of a great spiritual revival that bids fair to eclipse any period in its spiritual history.' Those who have been privileged to witness the extraordinary strengthening and consolidation of the Cause in Europe during the course of the last eleven years are well aware of the reservoir of spiritual potential that has been building up and the transformation of the life of the European Bahá'í Community that has ensued. May the completion and dedication of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar be the signal for the unleashing of this potential, bringing about on the European mainland and in the islands around its shores a quickening of the process of individual conversion comparable to those events which have transpired with such astonishing suddenness in other continents of the globe.

July 1964, from the Universal House of Justice addressed to those gathered in the European Teaching Conference on the occasion of the dedication of the Mother Temple of Europe, published in Wellsprings of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968 (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 28-30 [25]

The specific goals assigned to your community are to:

... Greatly increase the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies and establish at least one in every county in England, Scotland and Wales, and in Guernsey ..., the Isle of Man and the Inner Hebrides;

... Develop and implement a Five Year Plan of expansion and consolidation in Orkney and Shetland.

Letter to the British Bahá'í Community, published in the UK Bahá'í Journal No. 222, April 1974, p. 3 [26]

Great attention should certainly be paid to the islands, and pioneers and funds allocated for the work there and the more this is done, the more you can hope for the beneficial results indicated by the beloved Guardian.

Letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, 1976 [27]

Acquire or rent modest Bahá'í Centres in the Orkneys, the Shetlands and the Western Isles....

January 1981, letter to the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom [28]

... the beloved Guardian laid very great stress on the establishment of the Cause in the 'Islands of the North Sea' and even assured the British friends that an outpouring of pioneers and treasure in those Islands would result in a very great expansion of the Cause in the whole of the British Isles. He expressed his great delight when Orkney and Shetland were opened to the Faith.

11 March 1987, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer [29]

The House of Justice was very happy indeed to see the eagerness of your committee to intensify the teaching work in Scotland, and your clear awareness of the special importance of the work in the islands. Undoubtedly the National Spiritual Assembly and the National Teaching Committee will be considering how your plans can best fit in with the overall work throughout the United Kingdom and will be moved by the beloved Guardian's striking correlation of advances in the islands with progress throughout the whole country.

On behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Scottish Teaching Committee, 1988 [30]

The [National Spiritual] Assembly is no doubt aware of the great significance which the Guardian attached to the teaching in the Islands of the North Sea and his guidance to the Bahá'í Community of the British Isles during the Ten Year Crusade, which included the importance of "the rapid multiplication of isolated centres, groups and local assemblies, particularly in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Eire" as one of "the rock-bottom requirements which alone can guarantee the opening and hasten the advent, of that blissful era which every British Bahá'í heart so eagerly anticipates, and the glories of which can, at present, be but dimly discerned."(7)

22 November 1989, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer [31]

An initial search of the Guardian's writings on the subject has not revealed any specific definition by him of "the islands of the North Sea." However, from a reading of his several messages during the Ten Year Crusade, it would seem that he used the term with a general signification rather than a strictly limited one, including such outlying groups as the Faroe Islands and the Hebrides....

The House of Justice asks us to take this opportunity to assure you of its prayers in the Holy Shrines for divine confirmations to surround the teaching work in the Faroes. It attaches great importance to the development of the Bahá'í community there, and eagerly looks forward to the day when it will be strong enough to have its own National Spiritual Assembly.

14 February 1995, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer [32]

There are areas which cry out for pioneers and travelling teachers; the mind turns, for example, to the work among the Sami and the other peoples of the arctic and sub-arctic areas as far north as Spitsbergen. We contemplate the significance of teaching the Faith in the islands of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the North Sea; ....

Ridvan 153 B.E. (1996), Universal House of Justice message to the Followers of Bahá'u'lláh in Europe [33]

End Notes

1. This compilation is dedicated to the late Roddy Grant, whose love of the islands inspired it (and who compiled many of the items) and to all the followers of Bahá'u'lláh resident on the offshore islands of the United Kingdom. I would also like to thank the Research Department of the Bahá'í World Centre for their kind assistance and Dr John Parris for supplying me with the text of the letter to the Scottish Teaching Committee (1988) Chris Manvell.

2. Election of the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy and Switzerland.

3. 131 virgin areas to be opened in the Ten Year Crusade.

4. Knight of Bahá'u'lláh to Orkney Islands.
5. Knight of Bahá'u'lláh to Shetland Islands.
6. Knight of Bahá'u'lláh to Western Isles.
7. Unfolding Destiny, p. 385.

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