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"It is clear that the separation of a child from its natural parents is a tragedy that society must do its best to prevent or mitigate. It is also clear that in certain cases the actual separation may be better for the child than to continue living with a parent whose conduct and character make him unworthy of this sacred function, for the Guardian has explicitly stated that the severing of family ties and renunciation of responsibilities between parents and the children is, in certain cases, permissible under the law of God, but that the Universal House of Justice has to make the law governing such matters.
"Whenever the law of the land or the agreement of adoption prohibits future contact between an adopted child and its natural parents, the Bahá'í law does not require the child to seek the consent of those parents to its marriage.
"In the situation, however, where contact with the natural parent is permitted, it should be a matter of wise discretion at what stage contact, in cases where it has been broken, should be re-established. Just as love for one person need not reduce the love one bears to another, so unity with the adoptive parents need not destroy or reduce the unity a child has with its natural parents, or vice versa. The characters and attitudes of the individuals concerned will have an effect upon this...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 17, 1971)
470. A Bahá'í Cannot Take Vow to Educate Adopted Child in Another Religion
"A Bahá'í may not undertake a vow which commits him to any action contrary to the principles of the Faith. In other words, Mrs. ... cannot agree to rear a child in the Catholic Faith.___________________
+F1 (See also: VIII. J. 1. Laws of Marriage, Parental Consent, 1231-1254)Page 142
"Furthermore, if it is necessary to go through the Catholic marriage ceremony for the sake of the adoption, Mrs. ... must make it clear to the church authorities that she is a Bahá'í, intends to remain a Bahá'í, and that she cannot undertake any vow which is contrary to the laws and principles of her Faith."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 26, 1964)
471. A Bahá'í Who Swears to Rear His Children in Another Faith is Subject to Administrative Sanction
"...no Bahá'í can conscientiously swear to bring up his children in another religion; and of course he has no right to lie; therefore it becomes impossible for him to make such a promise on his marriage to a non-Bahá'í. Any Bahá'í doing this should be deprived of his voting rights; and, as he has already made plain before, Bahá'ís who go to the church and are married as Christians must also of necessity be deprived of their voting rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, May 13, 1956)472. Duty Towards Orphans
"In this holy Cause the question of orphans hath the utmost importance. The greatest consideration must be shown towards orphans; they must be taught, trained and educated. The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, especially, must by all means be given to them as far as possible.
"I supplicate God that thou mayest become a kind parent to orphaned children, quickening them with the fragrances of the Holy Spirit, so that they will attain the age of maturity as true servants of the world of humanity and as bright candles in the assemblage of mankind."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, p. 46)
"In answer to your letter of 28 September 1984 on the above subject, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to send you the following guidelines.
"The position of 'godparent' varies considerably from country to country, and from one Christian denomination to another.
"In many cases it involves the godparent in participation in a religious service as a member of the church in question, and in assumption of the obligation to bring the child up in the teachings of that church. It is clearly impossible for a Bahá'í to become a godparent in such circumstances. However, where individuals have undertaken vows as godparents prior to becoming Bahá'ís, the Faith does not require them to disavow their promise, but the new Bahá'í should inform the parents of his change in religion so that they may make a change in godparents if they so desire.
"In some countries a godfather or godmother is regarded by most people simply as a good friend of the family who sends gifts to the child annually. If that were all, there would, of course, be no objection to a Bahá'í's acceptingPage 143
to be a godfather or godmother. However, even in such countries it is likely that, beyond assuming this responsibility, the godparent would have to take part in the baptismal ceremony of the infant and, although many nominal Christians may treat such matters very lightly, a Bahá'í should be aware of the solemnity with which the church regards the rite and should not assume an undertaking which he cannot fulfil or do anything which would imply a denial of his faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, November 4, 1984)
474. Bahá'í Couple Should Not Have Their Child Baptized
"The House of Justice has noted your strong emphasis upon the social and economic aspects of co-parenthood in your country, and your mention of the religious basis for the custom. While the diminution of Christian fervor among the rank and file of Dominicans may be great, nevertheless the baptismal origin and other religious aspects of godparenthood cannot be minimized, particularly for rural people who may well be under pressure from parish priests. Your Assembly understands that a conscientious Bahá'í couple must not have their children baptized, nor should Bahá'ís ordinarily participate as godparents in a baptismal ceremony for this also may seem to imply their affiliation with the church...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, February 17, 1980)
475. A Bahá'í May Become Godparent of a Non-Bahá'í Child if Conditions Are Clear
"You ask whether a Bahá'í may 'become the godparent of the child of a non-Bahá'í if he made it clear that he is a Bahá'í, cannot promise to bring up the child in the Catholic religion, is not affiliated with the Church...'. He may do so, for in such a case all concerned are informed of his beliefs. If called for, an agreement may be drawn up, through the Local Assembly or a lawyer, which would define the social elements of the co-parental relationship while omitting the religious ones."(Ibid.)
476. Those Who Took Vows as Godparents Prior to Becoming Bahá'ís
"You ask about those who have undertaken vows as godparents prior to becoming Bahá'ís. Trustworthiness is one of the great qualities which must characterize Bahá'ís, and the new believer therefore, far from repudiating any commitments entered into before becoming a Bahá'í, must be ever more conscientious in discharging them. However there are certain actions which would violate Bahá'í principles and from which the believer must abstain. Others would be incompatible with his allegiance to the Faith, such as the promise made by a godparent to bring up the godchild in the teachings of the Catholic church. In such a case the new believer could suggest to the parents that because of his new understanding of Christianity they would probably prefer to cancel that part of the agreement, at the same time explaining his willingness to continue to discharge the social and economic functions of the godparenthood. The whole matter should be dealt with in a gentle and conciliatory manner, in the hope of retaining the friendship and trust of all concerned."(Ibid.)
"In the case of non-Bahá'ís who are godparents of Bahá'í children, the changed obligations of their roles may be quietly discussed with them by the Bahá'í parents, who would point out that they may now wish to be freed of their commitments, and that in any case the religious aspects of the relationship are no longer in effect."(Ibid.)
478. Two Bahá'ís May Enter into a Co-Parental Agreement
"You have asked about the possibility of two Bahá'ís entering into a co-parental agreement within the Faith, there is no objection to this."(Ibid.)
479. Must First Train Children in Principles of Religion
"...Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry."(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68)
"Encourage the children from their earliest years to master every kind of learning, and make them eager to become skilled in every art--the aim being that through the favouring grace of God, the heart of each one may become even as a mirror disclosing the secrets of the universe, penetrating the innermost reality of all things; and that each may earn worldwide fame in all branches of knowledge, science and the arts.
"Certainly, certainly neglect not the education of the children. Rear them to be possessed of spiritual qualities, and be assured of the gifts and favours of the Lord."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, pp. 27-28)
481. Incumbent Upon Bahá'í Children to Surpass Other Children
"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, p. 141)
482. Parents Held Responsible to God for Education of Children
"It is for this reason that, in this new cycle, education and training are recordedPage 145
in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary. That is, it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, 1982, pp. 126-127)483. Teachers of Children Serving Bahá'u'lláh
"...this teaching of the children is a service to the Blessed Perfection. Whosoever serves the world of humanity in this or any other way is serving His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh. Your heavenly reward is with Him. The education of children is one of the most great services. All these children are mine. If they are educated and illumined, it is as though my own children were so characterized..."
(Talk of Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land: Star of the West, Vol. XIII, No. 6, p. 172)
484. Failure to Educate Child is an Unpardonable Sin
"This is a sin unpardonable, for they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented: to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment. Verily, if that babe depart from this world at the age of infancy, it is sweeter and better. In this sense, death is better than life; deprivation than salvation; non-existence lovelier than existence; the grave better than the palace; the narrow, dingy tomb better than the spacious, regal home; for in the sight of mankind that child is abased and degraded and in the sight of God weak and defective. In gatherings it is ashamed and humiliated and in the arena of examination subdued and defeated by young and old. What a mistake is this! What an everlasting humiliation!"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 579)
485. Child Left in Natural State Grows Up in Ignorance...
"If a child is left in its natural state and deprived of education, there is no doubt that it will grow up in ignorance and illiteracy, its mental faculties dulled and dimmed; in fact it will become like an animal..."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 311, 1982 ed.)
486. If Babe Did Not Live at All, Better Than to Grow Ignorant
"Therefore the beloved of God and maid-servant of the Merciful must train their children with life and heart and teach them in the school of virtue and perfection. They must not be lax in this matter; they must not be inefficient. Truly, if a babe did not live at all it were better than to let it grow ignorant, for that innocent babe, in later life, would become afflicted with innumerable defects, responsible to and questioned by God, reproached and rejected by the people. What a sin this would be and what an omission!
"Beware! Beware! that ye fail not in this matter. Endeavour with heart, with life, to train your children, especially the daughters. No excuse is acceptable in this matter."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 579)Page 146
487. Training in Morals and Good Conduct is Far More Important Than Book Learning
"Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved--even though he be ignorant--is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the sciences and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned. If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 135-136)488. Pupil Must Be Encouraged+F1
"If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow-pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance, by the statement, 'You are most capable and if you endeavour you will attain the highest degree.'"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 77)
489. Station of Those Who Serve and Teach Children"O thou teacher of the children of the Kingdom!
"Thou hast arisen to perform a service which would justly entitle thee to vaunt thyself over all the teachers on earth. For the teachers of this world make use of human education to develop the powers, whether spiritual or material, of humankind, whilst thou art training these young plants in the gardens of God according to the education of Heaven, and art giving them the lessons of the Kingdom.
"The result of this kind of teaching will be that it will attract the blessings of God, and make manifest the perfections of man.
"Hold thou fast to this kind of teaching, for the fruits of it will be very great. The children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Bahá'ís. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, p. 34)
"Among these children many blessed souls will arise, if they be trained according to the Bahá'í Teachings. If a plant is carefully nurtured by a gardener, it will become good, and produce better fruit. These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened. Beginning in childhood they must receive instruction. They cannot be taught through books. Many elementary sciences must be made clear to them in the nursery; they must learn them in play, in amusement. Most ideas must be taught them through speech, not by book learning. One child must question the other concerning these things, and the other child must give the answer. In this way, they will make great progress. For example, mathematical problems must also be taught in the form___________________
+F1 (See also: VIII. C. Education and Training of Children)Page 147
of questions and answers. One of the children asks a question and the other must give the answer. Later on, the children will of their own accord speak with each other concerning these same subjects. The children who are at the head of the class must receive premiums. They must be encouraged and when any one of them shows good advancement, for the further development they must be praised and encouraged therein. Even so in godlike affairs. Oral questions must be asked and the answers must be given orally. They must discuss with each other in this manner."
(Talks of Abdu'l-Bahá: The Bahá'í World, Vol. IX, p. 543; Bahá'í Education, p. 73)491. A Wise Schoolmaster
"A wise schoolmaster should send his scholars out to play or to practice gymnastics for an hour, so that their minds and bodies may be refreshed, and during the hour of the lesson they may learn it better. If the teacher proves that his scholars are advancing, no on-looker has a right to object to his system, or to question his wisdom and say he wastes the boys' time. If a wise father plays with his children, who has a right to say it is not good for them? He calls them to come to him as the hen calls her chicks; he knows that they are little and must be coaxed along--coaxed along because they are young and tiny."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 8, p. 91)
492. Curriculum of Study: Must Follow Same Curriculum for Daughters and Sons
"He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it. Mothers will not give their sons as sacrifices upon the battle-field after twenty years of anxiety and loving devotion in rearing them from infancy, no matter what cause they are called upon to defend. There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights war will entirely cease among mankind."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 174-175)493. Beginning of Formal Education
"...From the age of five their formal education must begin. That is, during the daytime they should be looked after in a place where there are teachers, and should learn good conduct.
"Here they should be taught, in play, some letters and words and a little reading--as is done in certain countries where they fashion letters and words out of sweets and give them to the child. For example, they make an 'a' out of candy and say its name is 'a', or make a candy 'b' and call it 'b', and so on with the rest of the alphabet, giving these to the young child. In this way children will soon learn their letters...
"When the children are ready for bed, let the mother read or sing them the Odes of the Blessed Beauty, so that from their earliest years they will be educated by these verses of guidance."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, pp. 39-40)
"The subjects to be taught in children's schools are many, and for lack of time We can touch on only a few: First and most important is training in behaviour and good character; the rectification of qualities; arousing the desire to become accomplished and acquire perfections, and to cleave unto the religion of God and stand firm in His Laws; to accord total obedience to every just government, to show forth loyalty and trustworthiness to the ruler of the time, to be well wishers of mankind, to be kind to all.
"And further, as well as in the ideals of character, instruction in such arts and sciences as are of benefit, and in foreign tongues. Also, the repeating of prayers for the well-being of ruler and ruled; and the avoidance of materialistic works that are current among those who see only natural causation, and tales of love, and books that arouse the passions.
"To sum up, let all the lessons be entirely devoted to the acquisition of human perfections."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a Tablet published in The Bahá'í World, Vol. XVI, p. 37)
495. Formal Education Must Begin at the Age of Five
"The Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá concerning the education of children refers particularly to their formal education which He says must begin at the age of five. The Master makes it clear that during the daytime children of that age and older should be looked after in a place where there are teachers. They should learn good conduct and be taught how to spell and to read and He indicates that spelling and reading can be learned by the use of simple games. Children of all ages can benefit from the guidance given to mothers by Abdu'l-Bahá in which He advises that when the children are ready for bed their mothers should read or sing to them verses of Bahá'u'lláh so that from their earliest years the children will be educated by these words of the Blessed Beauty. The House of Justice adds that you should feel free to hold classes for children under the age of five provided you keep in mind that their attention span is relatively short and so the duration of their class periods should be measured accordingly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Spiritual Assembly of Newton, Kansas, March 24, 1976)
496. Nothing in Teachings States Child Must Not Be Separated from Parents for First Five Years
"There is nothing in the teachings specifically to state that a child must not be separated from its parents and its home for the first five years of its life. In a Tablet, however, Abdu'l-Bahá points out that formal education at school begins when the child is five years old. Shoghi Effendi has indicated in one of his letters that the formulation of a system of education based on the teachings can only be gradually undertaken, and has to be accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 10, 1975)
497. Mother Has Chief Responsibility for Bringing Up Child
"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 materialPage 149
and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which the child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer in India, November 16, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)
498. Mothers Ordained Primary Trainers of Children and Infants
"...It is incumbent upon you to train the children from their earliest babyhood!... It is incumbent upon you to attend to them under all aspects and circumstances, inasmuch as God--glorified and exalted is He!--hath ordained mothers to be the primary trainers of children and infants. This is a great and important affair and a high and exalted position, and it is not allowable to slacken therein at all!"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 606)
499. Training of Children in Case One of Parents is Non-Bahá'í
"The question of the training and education of children in case one of the parents is a non-Bahá'í is one which solely concerns the parents themselves, who should decide about it the way they find best and most conducive to the maintenance of the unity of their family, and to the future welfare of their children. Once the child comes of age, however, he should be given full freedom to choose his religion, irrespective of the wishes and desires of his parents."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 14, 1940: Dawn of a New Day, p. 86)
500. Greatest of All Services Rendered by Man to Almighty God--Teach Children to Deliver Speeches of High Quality
"Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children...
"It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day, and become an ensign of God's abounding grace; that these children, reared one and all in the holy Teachings, will develop natures like unto the sweet airs that blow across the gardens of the All-Glorious, and will waft their fragrance around the world.
"Ye should consider the question of goodly character as of the first importance. It is incumbent upon every father and mother to counsel their children over a long period, and guide them unto those things which lead to everlasting honour.
"Encourage ye the school children, from their earliest years, to deliver speeches of high quality, so that in their leisure time they will engage in giving cogent and effective talks, expressing themselves with clarity and eloquence."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 133-134)
501. Preferable that Child Should Receive First Training at Home Under Mother Instead of in the Nursery
"With reference to the question of the training of children: Given the emphasis placed by Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá on the necessity for the parents to train their children while still in their tender age, it would seem preferable that they should receive their first training at home at the hand of their mother, rather than be sent to a nursery.Page 150
Should circumstances, however, compel a Bahá'í mother to adopt the latter course, there can be no objection."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940)
502. Spiritual Assemblies Should Provide Mothers with Well-Planned Programme
"So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect. It is incumbent upon the Spiritual Assemblies to provide the mothers with a well-planned programme for the education of children, showing how, from infancy, the child must be watched over and taught. These instructions must be given to every mother to serve her as a guide, so that each will train and nurture her children in accordance with the Teachings."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 138)
503. Difficult to Teach and Refine Character Once Puberty is Passed
"It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.
"Our meaning is that qualities of the spirit are the basic and divine foundation, and adorn the true essence of man; and knowledge is the cause of human progress. The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, pp. 24-25)
504. Should Train Children to Memorize Prayers and Tablets+F1
"He is very glad to know that you attach importance to the training of the children, for whatever they learn in that early stage of their development will leave its traces upon their whole life. It becomes part of their nature.
"The Master used to attach much importance to the learning by heart of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. During His days it was a usual work of the children of the household to learn Tablets by heart; now, however, those children are grown up and do not have time for such a thing. But the practice is most useful to implant the ideas and spirit those words contain into the mind of the children.
"With 'the Dawn-Breakers' in your possession you could also arrange interesting stories about the early days of the Movement which the children would like to hear. There are also stories about the life of Christ, Muhammad and the other Prophets which if told to the children will break down any religious prejudice they may have learned from older people of little understanding."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of West Englewood, October 19, 1932)___________________
505. Sacred Duty of Children Towards Their Parents
"...The fruits that best befit the tree of human life are trustworthiness and godliness, truthfulness and sincerity; but greater than all, after recognition of the unity of God, praised and glorified be He, is regard for the rights that are due one's parents. This teaching hath been mentioned in all the Books of God, and reaffirmed by the Most Exalted Pen...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q. 106, p. 139)
"There are also certain sacred duties of children toward parents, which duties are written in the Book of God, as belonging to God. The (children's) prosperity in this world and the Kingdom depends upon the good pleasure of parents, and without this they will be in manifest loss."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, p. 50)
506. Children Should Be Trained to Understand Spiritual Significance of Bahá'í Meetings
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 14th September 1982 concerning the role of Local Spiritual Assemblies in guiding parents and children in standards of behaviour for children at community gatherings, such as Nineteen Day Feasts and Bahá'í Holy Day observances.
"Further to the letter we wrote on its behalf on 28th June 1977, the House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be. It is realized that some Bahá'í observances are lengthy and it is difficult for very small children to remain quiet for so long. In such cases one or other of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child. The Spiritual Assembly can also perhaps help the parents by providing for a children's observance, suited to their capacities, in a separate room during part of the community's observance. Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration thus becomes a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behaviour.
"In any case, the House of Justice points out that parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Bahá'í meetings. If children persist in creating a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting. This is not merely necessary to ensure the properly dignified conduct of Bahá'í meetings but is an aspect of the training of children in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, October 14, 1982)507. Few Children Are Really Bad
"He is sorry to hear your little boy is not developing satisfactorily; very few children are really bad. They do, however, sometimes have complicated personalities and need very wise handling to enable them to grow into normal, moral, happy adults. If you feel convinced your son will really benefit from going to ...'s school you could send him there. But in general we should certainly always avoid sending Bahá'í children to orthodox religious schools, especially Catholic, as the children receive the imprint of religious beliefs we as believers know are out-dated and no longer for this age. He will especially pray for the solution of this problem."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 30, 1947)Page 152
"Regarding your question about children fighting: The statement of the Master, not to strike back, should not be taken so extremely literally that Bahá'í children must accept to be bullied and thrashed. If they can manage to show a better way of settling disputes than by active self-defence, they should naturally do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1945)509. Physical Punishment
"As to your question about the use of physical punishment in child training, although there is a Tablet of the Master which considers beating as not permissible, this does not necessarily include every form of corporal punishment. In order to have a full grasp of the Master's attitude towards punishment, one has to study all His Tablets in this respect. For the time being no hard and fast rule can be laid down, and parents must use their own wise discretion in these matters until the time is ripe for the principles of Bahá'í education of children to be more clearly elucidated and applied."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 12, 1975)
510. Problem Child: Discipline of Some Sort Indispensable
"With regard to the statement attributed to Abdu'l-Bahá and which you have quoted in your letter regarding a 'problem child': These statements of the Master, however true in their substance, should never be given a literal interpretation. Abdu'l-Bahá could have never meant that a child should be left to himself, entirely free. In fact Bahá'í education, just like any other system of education is based on the assumption that there are certain natural deficiencies in every child, no matter how gifted, which his educators, whether his parents, school masters, or his spiritual guides and preceptors should endeavour to remedy. Discipline of some sort, whether physical, moral or intellectual, is indeed indispensable, and no training can be said to be complete and fruitful if it disregards this element. The child when born is far from being perfect. It is not only helpless, but actually is imperfect, and even is naturally inclined towards evil. He should be trained, his natural inclinations harmonized, adjusted and controlled, and if necessary suppressed or regulated, so as to insure his healthy physical and moral development. Bahá'í parents cannot simply adopt an attitude of non-resistance towards their children, particularly those who are unruly and violent by nature. It is not even sufficient that they should pray on their behalf. Rather they should endeavour to inculcate, gently and patiently, into their youthful minds such principles of moral conduct and initiate them into the principles and teachings of the Cause with such tactful and loving care as would enable them to become 'true sons of God' and develop into loyal and intelligent citizens of His Kingdom. This is the high purpose which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has clearly defined as the chief goal of every education."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1939: Bahá'í Education, pp. 65-66)511. It is Not Permissible to Strike a Child
"Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of childrenPage 153
is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it. Therefore is it incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits. Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, pp. 49-50)
512. Bahá'í Children Do Not Automatically Inherit Faith of Parents
"In letters replying to questions on the registration of children and youth the Universal House of Justice has attempted to avoid laying down rulings that are universally applicable. However, for the assistance of National Spiritual Assemblies it is now providing the following summary of guidelines and elucidations that have been given. We are to emphasize that no hard and fast lines should be drawn, and procedural matters must never be allowed to eclipse the spiritual reality of belief, which is an intensely personal relationship between the soul and its Creator.
"Unlike the children of some other religions, Bahá'í children do not automatically inherit the Faith of their parents. However, the parents are responsible for the upbringing and spiritual welfare of their children, and Spiritual Assemblies have the duty to assist parents, if necessary, in fulfilling these obligations, so that the children will be reared in the light of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and from their earliest years will learn to love God and His Manifestations and to walk in the way of God's Law. It is natural, therefore, to regard the children of Bahá'ís as Bahá'ís unless there is a reason to conclude the contrary. It is quite wrong to think of Bahá'í children as existing in some sort of spiritual limbo until the age of fifteen at which point they can 'become' Bahá'ís. In the light of this one can conclude the following:
Children born to a Bahá'í couple are regarded as Bahá'ís from the beginning of their lives, and their births should be registered by the Spiritual Assembly.
The birth of a child to a couple, one of whom is a Bahá'í, should also be registered unless the non-Bahá'í parent objects.
A Spiritual Assembly may accept the declaration of faith of a child of non-Bahá'í parents, and register him as Bahá'í child, provided the parents give their consent."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, July 19, 1982)513. Children Whose Parents Become Bahá'ís
"In the cases of children whose parents become Bahá'ís, much depends upon the ages and reactions of the children concerned. They will require great love andPage 154
understanding, and each case must be judged on its own merits. This applies to an added degree, of course, if only one of the parents has accepted the Faith, in which case the attitude of the other parent is an important factor; the aim of the Bahá'ís should be to foster family unity. The important thing is that the children, whether registered as Bahá'ís or not, should be made to feel welcome at Bahá'í children's classes and other community gatherings."(Ibid.)
"We have your letter of 18th August 1971 concerning the status of children under the age of 15 years who wish to become Bahá'ís. We share with you an extract of a letter on the subject written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary:
'Up to the age of 15 years, children are under the direction of their parents. At the age of 15, they may declare their Faith as a conviction, and be registered as Bahá'í youth, whether the parents are Bahá'ís or not. Children under the age of 15 of Bahá'í parents who wish to attend meetings and associate with the friends as Bahá'ís may do so. If non-Bahá'í parents permit a child of less than 15 to attend Bahá'í meetings, and in fact, to be a Bahá'í, this is likewise permissible.' (To the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, dated July 23, 1954)"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, August 29, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 205, September 1971, p. 14))
515. Age 15 Relates to Spiritual Functions and Obligations
"Regarding the age of fifteen fixed by Bahá'u'lláh: This relates only to purely spiritual functions and obligations and is not related to the degree of administrative capacity which is a totally different thing, and is, for the present, fixed at twenty-one."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 15, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 138, p. 1, September 1940)516. Children Under 15 Cannot Marry
"QUESTION: In a treatise in Persian on various questions, the age of maturity hath been set at fifteen; is marriage likewise conditional upon reaching maturity, or is it permissible before that time?
"ANSWER: Since the consent of both parties is required in the Book of God, and since, before maturity, their consent or lack of it cannot be ascertained, marriage is therefore conditional upon reaching maturity, and is not permissible before that time.
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q. 92, pp. 133-134)
517. Children Are of Age at 15 as Far as Keeping Laws of Aqdas
"Regarding children: At fifteen a Bahá'í is of age as far as keeping the laws of the Aqdas is concerned--prayer, fasting, etc. But children under fifteen should certainly observe the Bahá'í Holy Days, and not go to school, if this can be arranged on these nine days."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 25, 1947)Page 155
518. Children of Bahá'í Parents Considered as Bahá'ís
"Although the children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Bahá'ís, there is no objection at the present time, for purposes of keeping a correct census, and also ascertaining whether the young people are, sincerely, believers, and willing to do their share in service to the Faith, to asking them to make a declaration of their intention, at the age of fifteen or so. Originally the Guardian understands this was adopted in America to enable young Bahá'í men to make certain arrangements in connection with their application for non-combatant status, upon their attaining the age of military service. There is really nothing about it in the Teachings or in the Administration. Your Assembly is free to do as it pleases in this matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 17, 1954: From a compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian on various aspects of age and obligations)519. Registering Children Upon Attaining Age 15
"...the way in which Bahá'í children should be registered upon reaching the age 15 is within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly; there is no objection to using for this purpose the general enrolment card, if such a card is adopted, or a new and separate one specially for Bahá'í children attaining the age of fifteen. It is important, however, that whatever method of enrolment is used or card adopted, it is clear to such children that they had been Bahá'ís up to that time, and that on attaining the age of spiritual maturity they are reaffirming their belief in Bahá'u'lláh.
"The form and wording of an enrolment or registration card is also within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 28, 1975: From a compilation of letters written on behalf of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice regarding enrolment of children. Included in a letter from the House of Justice to the National Assembly of Ecuador, August 9, 1979)
520. Upon Attainment of Age 15 Child Must Reaffirm His Faith
"...Both children of Bahá'í parents, and children who, with their non-Bahá'í parents' consent, declare their faith in Bahá'u'lláh before they are fifteen years old, are regarded as Bahá'ís and it is within a Spiritual Assembly's discretion to request such children to undertake work of which they are capable in the service of the Faith, such as service on suitable committees. However, upon attaining the age of fifteen a child becomes spiritually mature and is responsible for stating on his own behalf whether or not he wishes to remain a member of the Bahá'í community. If he does not then reaffirm his faith, he must be treated, administratively, as a non-Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, December 12, 1975: Ibid.)521. Registration of Children of Bahá'í Parents
"In answer to your letter ... concerning the registration of children of Bahá'í parents the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that at the present time it prefers to leave the details of such matters to the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly. One National Assembly, for example, sends a very nice letterPage 156
to each Bahá'í child in its community on the occasion of its fifteenth birthday (unless, of course, it has reason to doubt that the child in question is a Bahá'í), explaining the meaning of attaining the age of maturity, and extending the good wishes of the Assembly for his or her future services to the Cause. This does not require an active response from every child but does provide each with an opportunity to make his or her position clear if desired.
"The House of Justice points out that the Assembly must wisely steer a course between seeming to doubt the faith of a child who has been brought up as a devout Bahá'í on the one hand, and seeming to compel a child to be a member of the Bahá'í community against his will, on the other."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 5, 1978: Ibid.)
522. May Be Circumstances in which Children Should Not Be Registered
"It is within the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly to determine whether children should be registered as Bahá'ís in cases where one parent is not a Bahá'í, although children of Bahá'í parents under age 15, are generally considered Bahá'ís, there may be circumstances in which they should not be registered as such, and this is also left to your discretion. Local Spiritual Assemblies should help by advising the parents to consider it one of their primary obligations to raise their children in a spirit of love and dedication towards the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, October 13, 1976)F. Miscellaneous Topics in Reference to Children
523. Children Should Be Free to Choose Their Own Religion
"Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter ... which you wrote concerning Catholic marriage and the promise that any resulting children should be Catholic.
"The basic principle of the Cause is independent investigation of truth. This applies to us as much as to our children. They should be free to choose for themselves any religion they wish. To promise that they will belong to a certain Faith and not to another is therefore not only contrary to our precepts, but is also a futile promise to give. How can we make the future generation think as we do or follow our dictates. God has made them free. All that we can do is to open their eyes and tell them of what we think to be the truth."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1931)
524. Teach Child to Say Greatest Name in Moments of Crisis
"He thinks you are wise in not separating yourself from your child; and he will pray that he may grow out of this condition, and gain in physical and spiritual strength. It would be a great advantage to him if you could teach him to say the Greatest Name, when he is himself going through a moment of crisis and suffering."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Bahá'í couple, December 4, 1954)525. Criticizing the Faith in Front of Children
"Regarding the question you asked about the attitude of criticizing the Faith inPage 157
front of children in a Bahá'í family: The Guardian feels that this is not something that one can lay down a general rule for. A great deal would depend on the age of the children, and whether they are able to think for themselves, and whether one of the parents has sufficient influence over them to offset the effect of the criticism of the other parent. It would seem that if the children are very young, and torn between the influences of both parents, it would be wiser to avoid discussing the Faith in front of them; but only encourage them when the staunch Bahá'í is alone with them, to revere and uphold the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 16, 1951)
526. The Real Object of Life--The Guardian Prays for Children
"The Guardian will pray that each of you may become a brilliant light in this dark world, and in due time, lead many seeking souls to the Splendor of the Cause of God. This is the real object of life, and he hopes all your training, will be a means of training your characters, and enriching your spirits, so you may teach the Faith, and become strong supporters of its institutions."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í children of Kenosha, Wisconsin, December 28, 1956)527. Teach Children to be Kind to Animals
"Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.
"Most human beings are sinners, but the beasts are innocent. Surely those without sin should receive the most kindness and love--all except animals which are harmful, such as bloodthirsty wolves, such as poisonous snakes, and similar pernicious creatures, the reason being that kindness to these is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well... Tenderness and loving-kindness are basic principles of God's heavenly Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter in mind."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 159-60)
528. Bahá'í Children Can Give to the Fund--Non-Bahá'í Children, No Ruling Made; Teacher to Solve Problem
"Any Bahá'í can give to the Cause's Funds, adult or child. No statement is required on this subject. Bahá'í children have always given to the Cause, everywhere. Whatever situation may arise in a class which non-Bahá'í children attend is for the teacher of the class to solve. No ruling should be made to cover such things."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 12, 1949: Lifeblood of the Cause, p. 18)
529. The Universal House of Justice Responds to Children's Questions Regarding the Catastrophe
"The heart-warming messages from the children attending the Indiana District Convention forwarded with your recent letter brought much joy to the UniversalPage 158
House of Justice, and the House of Justice asks if you will kindly relay to these dear ones its comments on the several questions posed by the children.
"When telling about the Faith to people who disagree with what you are saying, don't argue with them. Try to find a point of agreement and if you can't, then leave them alone. You have done what you can by speaking of the Faith. Now leave them to Bahá'u'lláh.
"Regarding the sad plight of the Bahá'ís in Iran and what children can do about it, the House of Justice suggests that you remember these dear friends in your daily prayers, and encourage your parents to support the efforts of their Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assembly to bring this terrible situation to the attention of the media and the authorities.
"One of the children asks, 'Why did they call it the Universal House of Justice?' In the Most Holy Book the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh has written, 'The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice shall be established...'; we know them by the name Local Spiritual Assemblies. Abdu'l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament, has stated 'and now concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers... By this House is meant the Universal House of Justice, that is, in all countries, a secondary House of Justice (National Spiritual Assembly) must be instituted, and these secondary Houses of Justice must elect the members of the Universal one.' When you study the wonderful Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá, and the explanations of Shoghi Effendi, you will find many references to this supreme administrative institution which will help you to understand why it is called the Universal House of Justice.
"Two of the questions are, in a way, interrelated: 'Will the sun die on us pretty soon?' and 'Will the world end if there is a nuclear war?' No doubt both are prompted by the current wave of rumors about impending calamities that are circulating amongst adults and which are overheard by the children.
"Without minimizing the serious situation facing a world heedless of Bahá'u'lláh's admonitions, it must be remembered that He also refers to the Golden Age of civilization to come. The House of Justice hopes that Bahá'í teachers and parents will do their utmost to encourage the children to study the explanations of the beloved Guardian about the twin processes at work in the world--the steady growth of the Faith, and the devastating forces of disintegration assailing the outworn institutions of present-day society.
"We are asked to assure you that the House of Justice will remember you and the children of your class at the Holy Threshold."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 29, 1981)Page 159
530. Bahá'ís Must Have No Affiliation with Churches
"...we, as Bahá'ís, must not have any affiliations with churches or political parties. But he feels certain that when you meditate on this matter you yourselves will see the wisdom of it. We, as Bahá'ís, can never be known as hypocrites or as people insincere in their protestations and because of this we cannot subscribe to both the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and ordinary church dogma. The churches are waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ; we believe He has come again in the Glory of the Father. The churches teach doctrines--various ones in various creeds--which we as Bahá'ís do not accept; such as the bodily Resurrection, confession, or, in some creeds, the denial of the Immaculate Conception. In other words, there is no Christian church today whose dogmas we, as Bahá'ís, can truthfully say we accept in their entirety--therefore to remain a member of the Church is not proper for us, for we do so under false pretences. We should, therefore, withdraw from our churches but continue to associate, if we wish to, with the church members and ministers.
"Our belief in Christ, as Bahá'ís, is so firm, so unshakeable and so exalted in nature that very few Christians are to be found now-a-days who love Him and reverence Him and have the faith in Him that we have. It is only from the dogmas and creeds of the churches that we dissociate ourselves; not from the spirit of Christianity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Vienna, June 24, 1947)531. We Must Have the Courage of Our Convictions
"...No Bahá'í can any longer dissimulate his faith and practise the laws and ordinances of a previous dispensation and call himself at the same time a believer. No compromise, no vacillation can any longer be tolerated. We must have the courage of our convictions and preserve the integrity of our glorious Cause...."
(Postscript by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer, May 21, 1933)
532. On Becoming a Bahá'í Should Withdraw from Church
"If a person is registered as a member of a church or similar religious organization he should withdraw from it on becoming a Bahá'í.
"In the case of new believers, it should be made clear to them in the course of teaching them the Faith that one cannot be a Bahá'í and also a member of another religious organization. This is simply a matter of straight-forwardness and honesty. A great part of the teaching of Jesus Christ concerned His Second Coming and the preparation of His followers to be ready for it. The Bahá'ís believe He has come. No Christian Church believes this; on the contrary, they either look for Him still, or have ceased to believe that He will come. For aPage 160
Bahá'í to be a member of a community which holds such beliefs is disloyalty to Christ and hypocrisy towards the Christians.
"You should not formalize the method by which the withdrawal from the church is to be made, and certainly nothing should be added to a declaration form, if you use one. It should be left to the Local Spiritual Assembly which is accepting the declaration to satisfy itself, as it deems best in each case, that the new believer has already resigned from the church, or does so within a reasonable time of his declaration.
"In regard to the old believers, your Assembly should tactfully, and in a kindly way, make the Bahá'í position clear to them and gently persuade them to resign from their former churches. This is a matter for great tact and discretion. If such a believer remains adamant you will have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, November 21, 1968: Canadian Bahá'í News, Special Section, March 1973, p. 6)533. Bahá'ís Are Ardent Believers in Christ
"The friends should by all means be encouraged to withdraw from church membership and be made to realize that, though we as Bahá'ís are ardent believers in Christ, we do not and cannot support, church institutions and doctrines when Christ has come again and brought new laws for the world today and its present needs; to adhere to forms, mostly man-made, and now out-moded and no longer needed, is meaningless. This does not mean they should no longer associate with the church members; they should cease to be registered members of it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 5, 1943)
534. Ministers Who Consider Themselves Bahá'ís Should Withdraw from Church Membership
"As he has already informed you, the Guardian feels that the time has now come to ask any ministers still affiliated with churches, but who consider themselves practising Bahá'ís, to withdraw from the church openly. This is following the example of the Hand of the Cause, former Archdeacon Townshend, who courageously defied the opinion of his fellow-clergymen, his relatives and the public, and stepped forth from his high office as a Bahá'í. When the friends realize that many of the first to accept the Báb were priests and suffered martyrdom for their act, it does not seem to be asking much that they should rally openly to the Kingdom of the Father which they believe in and for whose advent they cannot very well go on encouraging people in their churches to pray."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1956)535. Membership in Jewish Synagogue
"Concerning the membership of Mr. ... in the synagogue: As this concerns his non-Bahá'í Jewish wife and means a great deal to her--even involving the place of her burial--the Guardian does not feel it is right to request him to take a step which would deprive her of her own religious rights. On the otherPage 161
hand, he sees no reason why Mr. ... should not write a letter to the appropriate authority in this synagogue, explaining that he is a practising Bahá'í, but is keeping his synagogue membership for the benefit of his wife and children..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, May 8, 1947)
536. Withdrawal of Bahá'í Youth from Church Membership
"Your letter of 25th October has been received and we fully appreciate the problem posed in the case of youth who accept Bahá'u'lláh but whose parents strongly oppose their withdrawal from the Church. In such cases where the parents oppose their withdrawal and insistence upon it by the youth would undermine the unity of the family it is permissible for the withdrawal to be postponed until the youth attain the age of 21. This would not, of course, in any way affect his acceptance into the Bahá'í community. As you mention, this is the very time at which such a newly-declared believer needs all the deepening and confirmation he can receive."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, November 6, 1972)
537. For Sake of Family Unity Concession Made for Youth
"In reply to your letter of January 26th, we feel that while it is important to be flexible in requesting new believers, particularly youth who may encounter parental opposition, to withdraw from membership of other religious organizations, such flexibility cannot be allowed to extend to compromising Bahá'í law. Two Bahá'ís, when getting married, cannot have the religious ceremony of another Faith.
"As to the age of maturity, voting rights in the Bahá'í Administrative Order are acquired when a believer becomes 21 and you might well make that point the period for severance of those religious ties which members of the Bahá'í community cannot maintain. The main point is that while, for the sake of family unity, the concession has been made to youth on the matter of withdrawal from church membership, every effort should be made to encourage all believers, as well as Bahá'í youth, to observe requirements of Bahá'í membership even at the cost of some hardship or inconvenience."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 11, 1973)538. Bahá'í Attitude Toward the Church
"Regarding church matters: The article of Dr. Townshend should be widely circulated and used. No matter what the attitude of people towards the churches in general may be, it has nothing to do with our Bahá'í attitude, and Townshend has courageously stated this, and it has weight, in view of his former position in the church."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 18, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 226, December 1949, p. 2) (This letter is in reference to Dr. Townshend's article, The Old Churches and the New World Faith, which is published as a pamphlet)Page 162
"...Thou has written that they have expelled thee from the church and thy friends are manifesting aversion towards thee. This is the beginning of thy trials. There are greater trials than these. Therefore, be not sad, nay rather, be thou happy and full of glad-tidings. There is no harm done if they have expelled thee from the church.... Thou hast entered into the Heavenly Jerusalem and discovered the Way to the Holy of Holies of the Kingdom. That church is of stone and cement, whereas this Holy of Holies is of overwhelming Light.
"But the more the tormenting friends shun thee, go thou the nearer to them. The more they deride and blame thee, show thou forth the greater love and affection. Do not look upon their shortcomings. Look thou upon all of them as the people of God and endeavour thou in right-doing and well-meaning. Ignorant are they; understand they do not. Therefore they are avoiding, criticizing and scorning thee."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 504)540. Paying Church Tax
"...as regards paying the church tax. If there is a law in ... requiring citizens to pay such a tax, the believers should obey the law and do so. If there is no law covering this matter, but it is a question of a voluntary act and left to the individual they should not pay it.
"In case there is no law, and the Bahá'ís consequently stop paying this contribution to church upkeep, new contacts and believers should not be tactlessly told they must stop doing this, but first confirmed, and strengthened in their faith and then the wisdom and necessity of this step be brought home to them. Certainly no publicity should be given to such a delicate question. In other words, we as Bahá'ís must first clearly define the issue involved, set our goal before us, and work wisely, persistently and patiently towards its accomplishment.
"If, in connection with this church tax matter delicate situations arise, such a school teacher's position, it is for the Assembly to go into the matter and try and find the right solution, bearing in mind the goal towards which the friends are working: the right to be citizens in good standing, but not church members."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, October 26, 1949)541. Contributions to a Church
"The first case is that of the elderly Catholic woman who is suffering from severe heart disease and is thus liable to die at any time. In this case, as also in that of suffering believers, the Assemblies, whether Local or National, should act tactfully, patiently, and in a friendly and kindly spirit. Knowing how painful and dangerous it is for such believers to repudiate their former allegiances and friendships they should try to gradually persuade them of the wisdom and necessity of such an action, and instead of thrusting upon them a new principle to make them accept it inwardly, and out of pure conviction and desire. Too severe and immediate action in such cases is not only fruitless, but actually harmful. It alienates people instead of winning them to the Cause.Page 163
"The other point concerns the advisability of contributing to a church. In this case also the friends must realise that contributions to a church, specially when not regular, do not necessarily entail affiliation. The believers can make such offerings occasionally provided they are certain that while doing so they are not counted as members of any church. There should be no confusion between the terms affiliation and association. While affiliation with ecclesiastical organizations is not permissible, association with them should not only be tolerated but even encouraged. There is no better way to demonstrate the universality of the Cause than this. Bahá'u'lláh indeed, urges His followers to consort with all religions and nations with utmost friendliness and love. This constitutes the very spirit of His message to mankind."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 11, 1935)542. History of the Early Church
"...There is certainly an element of truth at the basis of the organization of the Christian Church. For instance, the primacy of Peter and his right to succession after Jesus have been established by the latter, though only orally and not in an explicit and definite language. The real reason why Christ did not make some explicit statement regarding His succession is not known, and cannot be known. For how can we, poor humans, claim to unravel the mysteries of God's mind and purpose, and to grasp the inscrutable dispensations of His providence. The utmost we can do is to give some explanations, but these must necessarily fail to give the fundamental reason to the problem we seek to solve."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)Page 164
543. Freedom to Appoint Any Bahá'í Qualified for the Work
"In going over the minutes of your recent N.S.A. meeting he noticed that you had decided to try as far as possible to eliminate National Spiritual Assembly members from the National Committees. Although he fully realizes your reasons for taking this decision, he feels it infringes on one of the fundamental principles of our administrative order which is freedom of choice--freedom of electors to elect anyone they please to Local or National bodies, and freedom of the members of these bodies to appoint any Bahá'í, who seems best qualified for the work, to function on Committees.
"The first consideration must always be the person best qualified for a job, and National Assembly members should in such matters not be either discriminated against, or in favour of, because of the position they occupy on the National body."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 16, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 198, August 1947, p. 3)544. Continuity of Committee Personnel
"Although National Assemblies and Local Assemblies may provide for continuity of Committee personnel by re-appointment of members each year, Assemblies should not appoint members of Committees for a term of more than one year."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 20, 1966)
545. Preferable Some Qualified Native Believers Serve on Committee
"There is no objection to a National Spiritual Assembly member serving on the National Teaching Committee, but if National Spiritual Assembly members were to predominate on the Committee the purpose of appointing it, which is to relieve the National Assembly of the details of the work, would be defeated. It is also preferable for some qualified native believers to serve on the National Teaching Committee so that they may thus be trained to carry on with the work.
"...the beloved Guardian paid great attention to the administrative arrangements for teaching and was highly in favour of one central National Teaching Committee with Regional Committees responsible to it. He once pointed out that absorption of the petty details of Bahá'í administration by the personnel of the National Spiritual Assembly is manifestly injurious to efficiency and an expert discharge of Bahá'í duties."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, June 23, 1971)Page 165
546. Desirability of Easy Meeting of National Teaching Committee--If Possible, Not to be Burdened with Other Duties
"...we ... suggest that for future consideration you should bear in mind the desirability of easy meetings of this important committee which would, of course, be facilitated by members being in the same vicinity. It is also desirable that the members of this vital right arm of the National Spiritual Assembly should, as far as possible, not be burdened with other duties. It has been found that the most effective arrangement is to have a strong, centrally located Teaching Committee--although not necessarily at the National Headquarters--with its members free to devote all their efforts and energies to the work of that committee. The Regional Teaching Committees are in a sense the executive agents of the National Teaching Committee and while there is no harm in members of the Regional Committees being also on the National Teaching Committee it is generally better for them to concentrate on the work in their own particular areas."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, June 23, 1971)
547. Committees Can Be Constituted with Eye for Improvement and Change
"...He feels that it would be good to infuse more new life--by using different believers of capacity--into National Committees. ...more young people and more people who are capable professional or business people in their private lives are now in the Faith than ever before, and such material should be tapped and exploited so that all Committees possess a certain amount of new blood and get an infusion of fresh ideas. As elections are by secret ballot only the education of the electorate can bring about changes on Assemblies which often stagnate from lack of fresh blood--but Committees appointed as they are by Spiritual Assemblies--can be constituted with an eye for improvement and change."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 31, 1945)
548. Assembly Should Use Discretion When Appointing Committee Members-- Incompatible Personalities on Committees
"We are asked by the Universal House of Justice to acknowledge your letter ... in which you ask for guidelines on the following questions:
"a. What attitude should a National Spiritual Assembly take when believers accept appointment to a committee but do not attend its meetings because of what you term incompatible personalities or lack of unity with other members of the committee, and yet they do not resign from the committee?
"As you are already aware, in your choice of members for committees, you must use careful judgement and discretion, with the aim of appointing a membership, which, from the outset, has good prospects of operating with full force. If, despite your efforts to do this, there is disharmony among the committee members, the following extract from a letter of 13 May 1945 written on behalf of the beloved Guardian may be helpful to you.
'Regarding the matter of ... and the inharmony that seems to exist among certain of the friends...: When Bahá'ís permit the dark forces of the world to enter into their own relationships within the Faith they gravely jeopardize its progress; it is the paramount duty of the believers, the Local Assemblies,Page 166
and particularly the N.S.A. to foster harmony, understanding and love amongst the friends. All should be ready and willing to set aside every personal sense of grievance--justified or unjustified--for the good of the Cause, because the people will never embrace it until they see in its community life mirrored what is so conspicuously lacking in the world: love and unity.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, August 19, 1985)
549. National Committees Ordinarily Appointed by and Responsible to the National Spiritual Assembly
"National Committees are ordinarily appointed by and responsible to the National Spiritual Assembly, but within the limits of wise discretion the National Spiritual Assembly may authorize a particular Committee to appoint a sub-committee or to ask individuals to assist it in carrying out its assigned functions.
"In calling these principles to the attention of the believers, however, care must be exercised not to dampen the enthusiasm or initiative of the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the North West Pacific Ocean, September 5, 1974)
550. Non-Members of Assemblies Should Be Given the Opportunity to Develop Administrative Skills
"In the list of national committees for 1983-84, it was noted that eight members of the National Assembly had been appointed to serve. Indeed, your treasurer will be on three committees, and your secretary on two. While it is understandable that those elected to a National Spiritual Assembly generally have great capacity to assume manifold duties, the House of Justice points out that the opportunity for non-members of Assemblies to develop administrative skills is lost when members of a National Assembly serve on a large number of national committees."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 28, 1983)
551. Not Necessary that Committee Appointments Expire at Ridvan
"As regards the appointment of committees on a yearly basis, we refer to the Guardian's instructions on page 141 of Bahá'í Administration that '...the renewal, the membership, and functions ... should be reconsidered separately each year by the incoming National Assembly....' Individuals appointed to committees should identify themselves with functions and objectives which normally extend beyond the term of their appointment. Just as members of the National Assembly relate themselves to goals of the Nine Year Plan, members of Local Assemblies and committees should do likewise, so that a single dynamic spirit may animate the important work for which each Assembly or committee is responsible.
"It is not necessary, however, that the term of committee appointments expire at Ridvan. It may be advisable, in order to provide continuity, to begin the committee year in June or July. Furthermore, the fact that, generally speaking, there are few radical changes in committee personnel should also make for continuity of thought and action."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, January 23, 1967)Page 167
552. All Committee Members Must Be Given Opportunity to Cast Ballot-- Election of Officers by Majority, Not Plurality+F1
"Concerning the question of the election of committee officers, the House of Justice has instructed us to explain that provided all members of the committee have been given the opportunity to be present at the meeting or to send their ballots by mail, the election of the committee's officers is valid, even if a member does not avail himself of the opportunity to vote. Of course, as you are no doubt aware, election of officers must be by majority vote, not plurality. The House of Justice also points out that it is preferable to have an odd number of members appointed to a committee. This would lessen the chance of a tie vote result."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, September 2, 1981)
553. If Member Has a Good Reason, He is Free to Suggest He Should Not Be Elected to Office
"...With regard to your question whether members of an Assembly and/or a committee may excuse themselves from being elected to serve as an officer:
"On several occasions the beloved Guardian pointed out that before the election of officers, if any member had a good reason in his own opinion why he should not be elected to one of the offices of the Assembly, he was free to suggest that he should not be so elected. The House of Justice also feels that as the work of the Faith expands and the duties of officers, particularly on National Spiritual Assemblies, acquire more importance, it is permissible and at times advisable to discuss the duties incumbent upon and required of each officer before ballots are cast."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, August 18, 1985)C. Structure and Function of National Committees
554. An Efficient Teaching Structure Must Be Adopted by the National Spiritual Assembly
"The teaching committee structure that each National Assembly may adopt to ensure best results in the extension of its teaching work is a matter left entirely to its discretion, but an efficient teaching structure there must be, so that the tasks are carried out with dispatch and in accordance with the administrative principles of our Faith. From among the believers native to each country, competent travelling teachers must be selected and teaching projects worked out. In the words of our beloved Guardian, commenting upon the teaching work in Latin America: 'strong and sustained support should be given to the vitally needed and meritorious activities started by the native ... travelling teachers, ... who, as the mighty task progresses, must increasingly bear the brunt of responsibility for the propagation of the Faith in their homelands.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in Mass Teaching Work, February 2, 1966)___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 101. Any Officer Elected Must Have Received at least Five Votes)Page 168
"The function of a National Teaching Committee is to take charge, under the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly, of the entire teaching program of the country. It should be given its terms of reference which will specifically define the general objectives and methods of the teaching on the homefront; it should be provided with a budget and be required to submit to the National Spiritual Assembly an overall plan for the accomplishment of its tasks. Once this plan has been approved, the Committee should be allowed to carry out its work, although of course you should receive regular reports of its progress and of its financial position.
"One of the great benefits deriving from such an arrangement is that the National Spiritual Assembly is freed from the day-to-day details of the teaching work and while retaining supervision of this most important method in its own hand, has an executive arm in its National Teaching Committee, which should be given the full confidence and support of the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Trinidad and Tobago, November 12, 1971)
556. National Committees Constituted to Serve Needs of Local Assemblies
"He feels that the Local Assemblies should be encouraged to realize that National Committees are constituted to serve their needs, not to dictate arbitrarily to them and to unify the work of the Cause... The Committees in question should be very tactful in dealing with a young Assembly which is beginning to 'feel its oats' as this spirit of independence, if properly handled, can lead it to be strong and independent rather than weak and always relying on other bodies to carry it forward. Assemblies, however, should certainly cooperate with National Committees and not refuse their assistance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 5, 1948: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 48)
557. National Assembly Should Issue Instructions to National Teaching Committee to Avoid Confusion
"To avoid confusion and follow the proper procedure the National Spiritual Assembly should issue its instructions to the National Teaching Committee who would then transmit them to the Regional Committee. Regional Committees, though appointed by the N.S.A., are the auxiliaries of the National Teaching Committee. The Guardian does not feel he should go into the details of this matter, as they should be arranged by the National Spiritual Assembly itself. He merely lays down the principle to be adhered to."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 28, 1943)558. Some Committees Need Larger Membership
"The Universal House of Justice has noted in the minutes of your meeting of 1st May 1985 that ... you have adopted a pattern of restricting the membership of each committee to three.
"While the House of Justice appreciates that some committees dealing with technical matters, such as the National Haziratu'l-Quds Committee, could very well have only three members, nevertheless there are some very importantPage 169
committees, such as the National Teaching and Deepening Committee, the Youth Committee and the Committee for Women and Education of Children, and so on, to which are assigned responsibility for significant aspects of Bahá'í community life, which should have a larger membership to enable consultation to take place more effectively."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Senegal, August 26, 1985)
D. Special Committees (Administrative, Ad Hoc, Emergency--National and Regional Teaching Committees)
559. Administrative Committees Have Authority Only as Given Them by National Spiritual Assembly
"Your letter of 24 May, 1985 to the Universal House of Justice has been received and we are asked to convey its response to your question concerning the role of administrative committees in dealing with personal problems.
"Your caution in clarifying the functions of appointed administrative committees is commendable, for such committees have authority and responsibilities only through the authority and duties given them by the National Assembly appointment. Personal problems arising in communities under activation by such committees should be referred, as you have suggested, to your Assembly for consultation and advice. Should you, knowing its membership, see fit to request a committee to assist in resolving a specific problem, it may do so with your authority; similarly you are free to authorize consultation on a personal problem by an individual having the expertise needed."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Leeward Islands, July 7, 1985)
560. Ad Hoc Committees Can Be Appointed to Deal with Personal Problems
"Regarding your letter of 19 September, 1984 addressed to the Universal House of Justice, we have been directed to convey the following with reference to the three points that you make.
"The first concerns cases of a personal nature which apparently have been on the increase and are consuming a great deal of the time of your Assembly during its meetings. In a letter addressed to your Assembly, dated 30th August 1971, advice was given by the House of Justice to you on this same point. However, for ease of reference, that portion is quoted:
'Personal problems are often best dealt with by the Local Spiritual Assembly or Assemblies concerned. There is no objection to the National Assembly's appointing a committee or committees to deal with such problems as come before it, provided that the final decision remains in the hands of the Assembly itself.'
"In addition to the foregoing, we have been instructed to quote the following passage from a letter addressed to another National Assembly:
'In reply to your letter of February 4th asking whether you may assign personal problems which a Local Spiritual Assembly is unable to deal withPage 170
to a nearby Local Spiritual Assembly, we feel that in such cases it would be better for your National Spiritual Assembly to appoint an ad hoc committee for each case, the membership of which could be drawn from one or two nearby communities as well as the community where the particular problem exists.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of El Salvador, October 22, 1984)
561. When an Assembly Lapses, Administrative Committee Can Be Named from Adult Believers of Community
"Your Assembly is empowered to name an administrative committee for the ... community. Such a committee should be viewed as being a temporary expedient for maintaining the life and vigour of the community until such time as the Local Assembly can be re-formed; it is not a replacement for the divine institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly.
"With reference to your specific questions, the Administrative Committee for ... can be named from among the adult believers of the community, without regard for their election or non-election to the now-lapsed Local Assembly. The single active youth can be called upon by the Committee for whatever duties he may be able to undertake. The Committee can continue the Local Bahá'í Fund and also will maintain the incorporation of the Local Assembly.
"The National Spiritual Assembly has the authority to call for a by-election for a Local Assembly in the absence of a quorum of local believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 8, 1983)
562. Scope of the Functions of the Emergency Committee
"It is entirely appropriate to appoint an emergency committee and to authorize it to take action between National Spiritual Assembly meetings. Your Assembly can also authorize such a committee to deal with routine matters in the interim between your Assembly meetings. In both cases full reports of such committee meetings should be made to all members of the Assembly and all decisions arrived at should be confirmed, or otherwise, at the next meeting of the National Assembly.
"You may decide on the number of the members of the National Assembly to compose such a committee. However, valid meetings of this committee can take place only when all its appointed members are duly notified. The House of Justice feels that giving notice by public service announcements on radio is not a satisfactory means of ensuring that all members have been notified. Finally, you are advised to have regular meetings of your National Assembly and not to allow the arrangement for routine and/or emergency actions to take the place of such meetings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Liberia and Guinea, June 15, 1977)
563. Latitude of Actions that May Be Taken by an Emergency Committee
"The latitude of actions that may be taken by an emergency committee of your National Assembly in any matter it deals with must be within the framework of guidance and authority given to it by your body.Page 171
"This same principle would apply to the actions in which two members of an emergency committee of three feel they have the right to take upon any matter before it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 2, 1982)
564. National Assembly Defines Limits Placed on Emergency Committee-- Decisions of Committee Are Subject to Subsequent Approval of Assembly as a Whole
"...it is for your Assembly to define the limits placed upon an emergency committee appointed by you from among your own membership to take action when absolutely necessary on emergencies which arise between meetings. Decisions of the committee of course always are subject to the subsequent approval of the National Assembly as a whole and you should assure yourselves that you are adequately informed of all its actions taken in your name."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Barbados and Windward Islands, July 2, 1971)565. Quorum of Emergency Committee Members
"With regard to the question as to whether a quorum of the Emergency Committee members may act, there are no standard rulings and conditions for Emergency Committees. Every National Spiritual Assembly must work out its own procedures in these matters. It may also provide procedures governing the attendance of members of the National Spiritual Assembly who are not also members of the Emergency Committee."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, October 24, 1971)
566. Special Committee Can Be Named to Assume Responsibility for Consolidation
"If a National Spiritual Assembly finds that its National Teaching Committee cannot devote sufficient attention to the work of consolidation, it should not hesitate to appoint, in addition, special committees whose tasks would be the conduct of the various activities which are essential for consolidation. Activities falling within this category include the organization of circuits of travelling teachers skilled in consolidation work; the holding of summer and winter schools, weekend institutes and conferences; the initiation and operation of tutorial schools; the dissemination of Bahá'í literature and the encouragement of its study by the friends; and the organization of special courses and institutes for Local Spiritual Assembly members."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)
567. Not Necessary for National Committees to be Centred at National Headquarters+F1
"It is not necessary, of course, that the National Teaching Committee be centred at National Headquarters and it need not be a large committee. It is essential, however, that the members appointed be so situated that they can meet frequently during the year and that they be dedicated, active, knowledgeable, creative and reliable. As the National Teaching Committee has high priority in your___________________
+F1 (See also: No. 546 Desirability of Easy Meetings of National Teaching Committee)Page 172
administrative responsibilities, you should consider, if necessary, the possibility of relieving its members of other committee responsibilities, in order that they may devote their fullest possible time and energy to the work of the Teaching Committee. Preferably at least one of the members should have secretarial skills and be capable of carrying the heavy burden of correspondence which results when plans are being implemented."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Trinidad and Tobago, November 12, 1971)
568. Regional Committees--Sub-Committees of National Teaching Committee
"...the Guardian has ... re-emphasized the necessity of avoiding overcentralization in the conduct of the affairs of the Cause, thereby relieving your Assembly of an unmanageable amount of detail and routine work, which would interfere with its clear and paramount duty of maintaining a thorough and vigilant supervision over the work of the Cause as a whole. Excessive de-centralization, on the other hand, would tend to nullify the principle which places ultimate authority and responsibility in the hands of the National Spiritual Assembly. His recent instruction regarding the relationship of the Regional Teaching Committees to the National Teaching Committee safeguards this principle which lies at the very basis of the Administrative Order. The Regional Committees, although appointed by the N.S.A., should, unlike all other Committees, be viewed as special adjuncts created specifically for the purpose of helping directly the National Teaching Committee in its all-important task of stimulating the teaching activities of the Faith.... In a sense they are sub-Committees of the National Teaching Committee, to whom their reports and all details of National Teaching activity should be constantly and directly referred."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 25, 1941)
569. Too Many Committees Confuse Rather Than Clarify the Work
"A National Teaching Committee, with the regional ones under it, will, he believes, run the work much better. Too many committees, like too many circulars, confuse rather than clarify the work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 30, 1952)
570. Relationship of National Teaching Committee to Regional Teaching Committees
"Regarding the question of the relationship of the National Teaching Committee to the Regional Teaching Committees which you had raised in your last two letters: The Guardian has carefully noted your views on the subject, and while he feels that, as a matter of principle, the appointment of the Regional Committees should be entrusted to the N.S.A., their immediate supervision and control, he believes, directly concern the National Teaching Committee, which body is solely responsible for the organization and conduct of the teachingPage 173
campaign throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. The N.S.A. has certainly ultimate jurisdiction over all these Committees, whether national or regional, but should, in view of the ever-expanding teaching activities of the Cause ..., leave to the N.T.C. the task of supervising and coordinating the teaching work of the Regional Committees. The immediate responsibility of these Committees is thus to the N.T.C., which in turn is directly and solely responsible to the N.S.A."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 28, 1941)
571. Auxiliary Board Member Can Serve on Certain Special Committees
"The House of Justice feels that committees such as the administrative committee of the Bahá'í International Health Agency, or committees responsible for aspects of social and economic development, which require professional expertise in their members, fall in a different category from other Bahá'í committees. Believers who have the necessary professional skills are often in short supply, and therefore the House of Justice has no objection to Auxiliary Board members' serving on such committees at the present time--indeed it is often highly desirable that they do so--provided, of course, that such service does not so occupy their time and energies that they are unable to carry out their highly important services for the Auxiliary Board."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, September 9, 1984)
572. Collaboration Between Auxiliary Board Members and National and Regional Teaching Committees
"It has become apparent that in some areas the progress of the teaching work requires closer collaboration between Auxiliary Board members and National or Regional Teaching Committees than heretofore. Following consultation with the International Teaching Centre on the matter, we have concluded that the possibilities provided by the present policy are adequate and that where a lack of collaboration has been felt it has arisen from an insufficiently full and frequent exchange of information between the institutions.
"While the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants should never attempt to direct the work of committees or become involved in the administrative work associated with the committees' functions, it is absolutely vital that they be kept fully informed of the committees' activities and plans and their hopes for the work in the area. Only then can the members of the Auxiliary Boards be confident that the services to which they are exhorting the believers and the projects in which they are encouraging them are in harmony with the overall plans and objectives of the National Spiritual Assembly and its committees.
"The existing policy and the reasons for it were conveyed to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and all National Spiritual Assemblies in our letter of 1 October 1969, a copy of which is attached. It should be noted that under this policy it is permissible and highly desirable to have a direct and regular exchange of information between the committees and the Auxiliary Board members. Moreover, at the outset of the work of the year or at times during the year when new plans are being evolved, it is often helpful to arrange for consultations to be held between the Auxiliary Board members and the National or Regional Teaching Committees before such plans are finalized.Page 174
"We are confident that a greater awareness of the importance of close collaboration between the two arms of the Administrative Order and of the ways available to achieve this will lead to a much-needed intensification of the teaching work in every land."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 6, 1977)573. National Youth Committee
"...if we say that no older person should take part in the organization of the youth it will be depriving them of the necessary experience needed to have a permanent and working institution.
"Shoghi Effendi believes that the best solution is to have some reasonable age limit for the actual membership of the body of the organization so that only the young people may take part in the different activities and have no older person usurp the floor or deprive them from their chances to train themselves, and express their ideas. At the same time the National Assembly could appoint on the National Committee that is to supervise their work some older and experienced persons who could co-operate with them and guide them in their activities. The National Committee should be composed of both people within the age limit and also older people."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 27, 1932)
574. Young Bahá'ís Under 21 May Serve on Committees
"The question of young Bahá'ís being permitted to serve on Committees other than the Youth Committee has been raised in a number of letters recently, and in considering the matter he felt that Bahá'í young people under 21 should not be denied the privilege of Committee work. Though they cannot be voting members of Bahá'í Communities (or exercise the electoral vote at all until they reach that age), and though they cannot, likewise, be elected to Assemblies, there is no reason why they should not serve the Cause on various Committees, as all Committees, National or Local, are subordinate to Assemblies, and their members are not elected but appointed, and appointed by Assemblies. We have many devoted and talented young believers who can be of great assistance to the Cause even though not yet legally of age."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, February 28, 1945)575. Local Committees
"...regarding local Bahá'í committees: These, though different in their functions enjoy equal rights, and are subject to responsibilities and obligations which, although varying in degree, are equally binding on them all.
"These local committees, being appointed by the Local Spiritual Assembly itself, are responsible to that body alone, and they can be dissolved, and their membership altered by it at any time. The local committees are the hands of the Spiritual Assembly that has appointed them ..., and as such are subject to its rulings.
"The Local Spiritual Assembly cannot delegate to any one of the localPage 175
committees the authority to exercise any control or supervision over any other committee or body which it has itself appointed. All local committees are directly and solely responsible to the Local Assembly which alone can exercise the power of supervision over them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1939)
576. Structure of National and Regional Teaching Committees
"...Whether it be the body of their elected national representatives, or its chief auxiliary institution, the National Teaching Committee, or its subsidiary organs, the regional teaching committees, or the local Spiritual Assemblies and their respective teaching committees, they who labor for the spread of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh should, through constant interchange of ideas, through letters, circulars, reports, bulletins and other means of communication with these established instruments designed for the propagation of the Faith, insure the smooth and speedy functioning of the teaching machinery of their Administrative Order. Confusion, delay, duplication of efforts, dissipation of energy will, thereby, be completely avoided, and the mighty flood of the grace of Bahá'u'lláh, flowing abundantly and without the least obstruction through these essential channels will so inundate the hearts and souls of men as to enable them to bring forth the harvest repeatedly predicted by Abdu'l-Bahá."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 52-53, 1984 ed.)Page 176
577. No Welfare, Well-Being Can Be Attained Except Through Consultation
"...Say: No man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, from a previously untranslated Tablet)578. Consultation and Compassion
"...The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 126)579. Consultation, Frank and Unfettered
"...Consultation, frank and unfettered, is the bedrock of this unique order. Authority is concentrated in the hands of the elected members of the National Assembly. Power and initiative are primarily vested in the entire body of the believers acting through their local representatives."
(From a postscript by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933)
580. The Purpose of Consultation--Should the People of a Village Consult One Another...
"The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man. Thus consultation is acceptable in the presence of the Almighty, and hath been enjoined upon the believers, so that they may confer upon ordinary and personal matters, as well as on affairs which are general in nature and universal.
"For instance, when a man hath a project to accomplish, should he consult with some of his brethren, that which is agreeable will of course be investigated and unveiled to his eyes, and the truth will be disclosed. Likewise on a higher level, should the people of a village consult one another about their affairs, the right solution will certainly be revealed. In like manner, the members of each profession, such as in industry, should consult, and those in commerce should similarly consult on business affairs. In short, consultation is desirable and acceptable in all things and on all issues."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Consultation: A Compilation, quoted in the Guardian's letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Persia, February 15, 1922, p. 8, Wilmette 1980 ed.)581. Each Bosom Must Be a Telegraph Station
"Each bosom must be a telegraph station--one terminus of the wire attached to the soul, the other, fixed in the Supreme Concourse--so that inspiration mayPage 177
descend from the Kingdom of Abha and questions of reality be discussed. Then opinions will coincide with truth; day by day there will be progression and the meetings become more radiant and spiritual. The attainment is conditioned upon unity and agreement. The more perfect the love and agreement, the more the divine confirmations and assistance of the Blessed Perfection will descend... In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated. Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate the reality with the greatest love and fellowship. Consult upon every matter and when one presents the point of view of the reality itself, that shall be acceptable to all. Then will spiritual unity increase among you, individual illumination will be greater, happiness more abundant and you will draw nearer and nearer to the Kingdom of God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 183)
582. Any Person Can Refer a Matter to the Assembly
"Regarding consultation: Any person can refer a matter to the Assembly for consultation whether the other party wishes to or not. In matters which affect the Cause the Assembly should, if it deems it necessary, intervene even if both sides don't want it to, because the whole purpose of the Assemblies is to protect the Faith, the Communities and the individual Bahá'ís as well."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 17, 1944)
583. Every Member to Express Freely and Openly His Views
"But before the majority of the Assembly comes to a decision, it is not only the right but the sacred obligation of every member to express freely and openly his views, without being afraid of displeasing or alienating any of his fellow-members. In view of this important administrative principle of frank and open consultation, the Guardian would advise you to give up the method of asking other members to voice your opinion and suggestions. This indirect way of expressing your views to the Assembly not only creates an atmosphere of secrecy which is most alien to the spirit of the Cause, but would also lead to many misunderstandings and complications. The Assembly members must have the courage of their convictions, but must also express whole-hearted and unqualified obedience to the well-considered judgment and directions of the majority of their fellow-members."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1935 )584. Abstaining Does Not Arise in Bahá'í Voting
"It is important to realize that the spirit of Bahá'í consultation is very different from that current in the decision-making processes of non-Bahá'í bodies.
"The ideal of Bahá'í consultation is to arrive at a unanimous decision. When this is not possible a vote must be taken. In the words of the beloved Guardian: '...when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of majority, which we are told by the Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced.'Page 178
"As soon as a decision is reached it becomes the decision of the whole Assembly, not merely of those members who happened to be among the majority.
"When it is proposed to put a matter to the vote, a member of the Assembly may feel that there are additional facts or views which must be sought before he can make up his mind and intelligently vote on the proposition. He should express this feeling to the Assembly, and it is for the Assembly to decide whether or not further consultation is needed before voting.
"Whenever it is decided to vote on a proposition all that is required is to ascertain how many of the members are in favour of it; if this is a majority of those present, the motion is carried; if it is a minority, the motion is defeated. Thus the whole question of 'abstaining' does not arise in Bahá'í voting. A member who does not vote in favour of a proposition is, in effect, voting against it, even if at the moment he himself feels that he has been unable to make up his mind on the matter."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1970: Consultation: A Compilation, p. 12, February 1978)
585. Majority Decisions--Instances When Assembly May Decide that All Nine Members Must Be Present
"Concerning a majority decision, ordinarily, the majority referred to is the majority of those present at a particular Assembly meeting. In any event, the Assembly can take no action unless at least a quorum of the members is present. There may be instances, however, in which the Assembly may specify that before voting on particularly important questions all nine members of the Assembly should be present and participate in the consultation and voting. This is within the discretion of the Assembly to decide."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 22, 1984)586. No Dissenting Votes in the Cause
"There are no dissenting votes in the Cause. When the majority of an Assembly decides a matter the minority, we are told by the Master, should accept this. To insist on having one's dissenting vote recorded is not good, and achieves no constructive end. We must learn to look upon the laws of the Cause and administrative principles and not the shortcomings of the individual members of an Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 19, 1950)
587. Suspend Consultation when Enmity and Threats Occur
"The honoured members of the Spiritual Assembly should exert their efforts so that no differences may occur, and if such differences do occur, they should not reach the point of causing conflict, hatred and antagonism, which lead to threats. When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Consultation: A Compilation, from a previously untranslated Tablet)Page 179
588. Take No Important Step in Personal Affairs Without Consultation
"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: Ibid.)
589. When a Believer Has a Problem Several Courses Open to Him
"Your letter of 14th February 1973 enquiring about the uses of Bahá'í consultation has been received.
"This is, of course, a matter in which rigidity should be avoided.
"When a believer has a problem concerning which he must make a decision, he has several courses open to him. If it is a matter that affects the interests of the Faith he should consult with the appropriate Assembly or committee, but individuals have many problems which are purely personal and there is no obligation upon them to take such problems to the institutions of the Faith; indeed, when the needs of the teaching work are of such urgency it is better if the friends will not burden their Assemblies with personal problems that they can solve by themselves.
"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 counsellors 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. There is also no objection whatever to a Bahá'í asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him.
"It should be borne in mind that all consultation is aimed at arriving at a solution to a problem and is quite different from the sort of group baring of the soul that is popular in some circles these days and which borders on the kind of confession that is forbidden in the Faith. On the subject of confession the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer: 'We are forbidden to confess to any person, as do the Catholics to their priests, our sins and shortcomings, or to do so in public, as some religious sects do. However, if we spontaneously desire to acknowledge we have been wrong in something, or that we have some fault of character, and ask another person's forgiveness or pardon, we are quite free to do so. The Guardian wants to point out, however, that we are not obliged to do so. It rests entirely with the individual.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 19, 1973: Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 12-13)
590. Assembly Cannot Require a Member to Absent Himself from Consultation
"In your letter of 4 April you enquire further about the principles governing the presence of a member of the National Assembly when a matter concerning him or her personally is being discussed.
"The first principle to bear in mind is that every member of an Assembly has an absolute and incontrovertible right to be present at every meeting of thatPage 180
body and to be fully informed of every matter coming before it.
"The second principle is that of detachment in consultation. The members of an Assembly must learn to express their views frankly, calmly, without passion or rancour. They must also learn to listen to the opinions of their fellow members without taking offence or belittling the views of another. Bahá'í consultation is not an easy process. It requires love, kindliness, moral courage and humility. Thus no member should ever allow himself to be prevented from expressing frankly his view because it may offend a fellow member; and, realizing this, no member should take offence at another member's statements.
"The third principle is that if a believer feels that he has been done an injustice by the Assembly, he should appeal the decision in the normal way."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, August 26, 1965)
591. A Member May Wish to Absent Himself While Own Situation Being Discussed
"We note that ... left the room while the National Assembly discussed ways and means of helping her. Naturally, if one wishes to absent himself while his own situation is being discussed by the National Assembly, there is no objection. The National Assembly cannot require a member to remove himself from the consultation, and he is fully entitled to remain."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, February 23, 1965)
"It should also be understood that a member may wish to absent himself from a meeting at which subjects in which he is personally involved are to be discussed. In such cases he may do so unless the Assembly requires him to be present."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, January 22, 1975)
592. Frank, Full, Unprejudiced Consultation Must Govern Work
"There cannot be in our Faith any room for the political maneuverings so common to the outside world. Frankness, full unprejudiced consultation, must govern all Assembly and committee work, and anything less than this is not only unworthy of a Bahá'í, but a direct disobedience to the Master's instructions and a sign of lack of faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 29, 1948)Page 181
"As regards the meaning of the Bahá'í Covenant: The Guardian considers the existence of two forms of Covenant both of which are explicitly mentioned in the literature of the Cause. First is the covenant that every Prophet makes with humanity or, more definitely, with His people that they will accept and follow the coming Manifestation Who will be the reappearance of His reality. The second form of covenant is such as the one Bahá'u'lláh made with His people that they should accept the Master. This is merely to establish and strengthen the succession of the series of Lights that appear after every Manifestation. Under the same category falls the covenant the Master made with the Bahá'ís that they should accept His administration after Him..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual, October 21, 1921)
"The Most Great Covenant is different from the Everlasting Covenant."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948 p. 3)
594. Firmness in the Covenant--"Be He an Insignificant Ant..."
"...Rest ye assured that if a soul ariseth in the utmost perseverance and raiseth the Call of the Kingdom and resolutely promulgateth 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: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 209)595. The Crimson Book
"...what Bahá'u'lláh did not elaborate but what He meant by the 'word' recorded in the Crimson Book was the power of the Covenant.
"The Crimson Book refers to the Book of His Covenant, and the reference above means the power for unity which the Covenant possesses and radiates. On Page 238 of God Passes By you will find the cross-reference to the Crimson Book and the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 5, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
596. Regarding Covenant Entered into on Mount Paran
"As for the reference in The Hidden Words regarding the Covenant entered into on Mount Paran, this signifieth that in the sight of God the past, the present and the future are all one and the same--whereas, relative to man, the past is gone and forgotten, the present is fleeting, and the future is within the realmPage 182
of hope. And it is a basic principle of the Law of God that in every Prophetic Mission, He entereth into a Covenant with all believers--a Covenant that endureth until the end of that Mission, until the promised day when the Personage stipulated at the outset of the Mission is made manifest. Consider Moses, He Who conversed with God. Verily, upon Mount Sinai, Moses entered into a Covenant regarding the Messiah, with all those souls who would live in the day of the Messiah. And those souls, although they appeared many centuries after Moses, were nevertheless--so far as the Covenant, which is outside time, was concerned--present there with Moses. The Jews, however, were heedless of this and remembered it not, and thus they suffered a great and clear loss."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 207)
597. To Withstand Tests Believers Need to be Deepened in the Covenant
"...the believers need to be deepened in their knowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. This is the stronghold of the faith of every Bahá'í, and that which enables him to withstand every test and the attacks of the enemies outside the Faith, and the far more dangerous, insidious, lukewarm people inside the Faith who have no real attachment to the Covenant, and consequently uphold the intellectual aspect of the teachings while at the same time undermining the spiritual foundation upon which the whole Cause of God rests.
"He feels you and your dear family should do all you can to teach the believers the Will and Testament and to strengthen their understanding of its important provisions; for all the authority of the administrative bodies, as well as of the Guardian himself, is mainly derived from this tremendous document."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 15, 1949)
598. The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá--Needs a Century to Comprehend
"The contents of the Will of the Master is far too much for the present generation to comprehend. It needs at least a century of actual working before the treasures of wisdom hidden in it can be revealed. How can we at this stage and with our limited understanding denounce its spirit and purport."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 25, 1930)
599. The Will and Testament Safeguards the Unity of the Cause
"What he considers, however, to be now of the utmost importance is for the believers, each and all, to cling firmly to the provisions of our beloved Master's Will and Testament, as by this means alone the unity of the Cause, and its safe and speedy growth can be maintained, safeguarded and insured. Such an absolute and unwavering fidelity to Abdu'l-Bahá'í Will, and firm adherence to the principles of the Administrative Order is indeed incumbent upon every one of the friends, without any distinction whatever. Upon this basis alone the Faith can be safeguarded and flourish."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 18, 1938)Page 183
"My purpose is to explain to you that it is your duty to guard the religion of God so that none shall be able to assail it outwardly or inwardly. If you find harmful teachings are being set forth by some individual no matter who that individual be, even though he should be my own son, know verily that I am completely severed from him. If anyone speaks against the Covenant, even though he be my own son, know that I am opposed to him. Those who speak falsehoods, who covet worldly things and seek to accumulate the riches of this earth are not of me. But when you find a person living up to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, following the precepts of the Hidden Words, know that he belongs to Bahá'u'lláh and verily I proclaim that he is of me..."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 456-457)B. Covenant-Breakers--Expulsion
"People who have withdrawn from the Cause because they no longer feel that they can support its Teachings and Institutions sincerely, are not Covenant-breakers--they are non-Bahá'ís and should just be treated as such. Only those who ally themselves actively with known enemies of the Faith who are Covenant-breakers, and who attack the Faith in the same spirit as these people, can be considered, themselves, to be Covenant-breakers. As you know, up to the present time, no one has been permitted to pronounce anybody a Covenant-breaker but the Guardian+F1 himself."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 30, 1957)602. Covenant-Breaking is a Spiritual Disease
"...Covenant-breaking is truly a spiritual disease, and the whole view-point and attitude of a Covenant-breaker is so poisonous that the Master likened it to leprosy, and warned the friends to breathe the same air was dangerous. This should not be taken literally; He meant when you are close enough to breathe the same air you are close enough to contact their corrupting influence. Your sister should never imagine she, loyal and devoted, has become a 'carrier'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 29, 1946)
603. Covenant-Breaking Like Contagious Consumption and Cancer
"...Thou hadst asked some questions; that why the blessed and spiritual souls, who are firm and steadfast, shun the company of degenerate persons. This is because, that just as the bodily diseases like consumption and cancer are contagious, likewise the spiritual diseases are also infectious. If a consumptive should associate with a thousand safe and healthy persons, the safety and health of these thousand persons would not affect the consumptive and would not cure him of his consumption. But when this consumptive associates with those___________________
thousand souls, in a short time the disease of consumption will infect a number of those healthy persons. This is a clear and self-evident question."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablet to an individual believer, October 1921: Star of the West, Vol. XII, No. 14, p. 233)604. Afflicted with Contagious Spiritual Disease
"Regarding Mr. ... question about the Covenant-breakers, Bahá'u'lláh and the Master in many places and very emphatically have told us to shun entirely all Covenant-breakers as they are afflicted with what we might try and define as a contagious spiritual disease; they have also told us, however, to pray for them. These souls are not lost forever. In the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh says that God will forgive Mirza Yahya if he repents. It follows, therefore, that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don't want to repent, unfortunately. If the leaders can be forgiven it goes without saying that their followers can also be forgiven.
"Also, it has nothing to do with unity in the Cause; if a man cuts a cancer out of his body to preserve his health and very life, no one would suggest that for the sake of unity it should be reintroduced into the otherwise healthy organism. On the contrary, what was once a part of him has so radically changed as to have become a poison."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 30, 1944: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 22-23)
605. Association with Non-Bahá'ís Who Are in Association with Covenant-Breakers
"We have your letter of 14th March 1970 asking whether it is forbidden for the friends to associate with non-Bahá'ís who are in close association with Covenant-Breakers.
"There are no hard and fast rules about such things. Under some conditions the involvement of the non-Bahá'í party may be superficial and harmless, in which case no action should be taken. For example, Bahá'ís have at times used non-Bahá'ís, such as lawyers, to contact Covenant-breakers in certain matters of business.
"If, however, the Covenant-breaker is using the non-Bahá'í party to spread his ideas among the friends, the matter should be reported to the Continental Board of Counsellors, and whatever they decide in such cases in consultation with the National Spiritual Assemblies concerned should be unreservedly accepted by the friends."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 2, 1970)606. Enemies of the Faith
"Now some of the mischief-makers, with many stratagems, are seeking leadership, and in order to reach this position they instill doubts among the friends that they may cause differences, and that these differences may result in their drawing a party to themselves. But the friends of God must be awake and must know that the scattering of these doubts hath as its motive personal desires and the achievement of leadership."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 214)Page 185
C. Believers Forbidden to Associate with Covenant-Breakers607. Ex-Communication
"Ex-communication is a spiritual thing.... Only actual enemies of the Cause are ex-communicated. On the other hand, those who conspicuously disgrace the Faith or refuse to abide by its laws can be deprived, as a punishment, of their voting rights; this in itself is a severe action, and he therefore always urges all National Assemblies (who can take such action) to first warn and repeatedly warn the evil-doer before taking the step of depriving him of his voting rights. He feels your Assembly must act with the greatest wisdom in such matters, and only impose this sanction if a believer is seriously injuring the Faith in the eyes of the public through his conduct or flagrantly breaking the laws of God. If such a sanction were lightly used the friends would come to attach no importance to it, or to feel the N.S.A. used it every time they got angry with some individual's disobedience to them. We must always remember that, sad and often childish as it seems, some of those who make the worst nuisances of themselves to their National Bodies are often very loyal believers, who think they are protecting the true interests of their Faith by attacking N.S.A. decisions!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, May 8, 1948)
608. No One Has the Right to See Covenant-Breakers Without Permission
"No one has any right to see the Covenant-Breakers without the permission of the N.S.A., and Mrs. ... in doing so should realize she is putting herself in contact with a dangerous, contagious, spiritual disease, as the Master pointed out over and over again! She is also disobeying express instructions of the Master and the Guardian by contacting Covenant-Breakers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two individual believers, May 5, 1947)
609. Bahá'ís Cannot Associate with Those Who Have Left the Cause and Are Associating with Covenant-Breakers
"There is no excuse for believers continuing to associate with ... and those who, knowing everything, still insist on doing so, should be shunned by their fellow-Bahá'ís. The same applies to people who have left the Cause and associate with.... The point is that if the believers know and meet with people who are acquainted with Covenant-breakers there is no harm in this, for such individuals are not Bahá'ís and have nothing to do with the issues concerned. But those who have left the Cause, knowing all about such matters, and deliberately associate with Covenant-breakers, are well aware of what they do, and we must not associate with them at all. It is for the Local Assembly, guided by the N.S.A., to enforce such decisions and protect the Cause in its area of jurisdiction.
"The friends should, without too much dwelling on these negative things, be made to understand that some people are spiritually sick and that their disease is, alas, contagious. Some recover from it, as did Mr. ... whose heart could not rest till he returned to the fold; others do not. The Master and Bahá'u'lláh have taught us that associating with these souls is not likely to heal them atPage 186
all, but on the contrary exposes one to grave danger of contagion. The history of the Faith has proved this over and over again. The only way we can prove to such people that they are wrong is to censure their conduct; if we sympathise with them we only fortify their perversity and waywardness."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 23, 1945)
610. Bahá'í May Remain at Non-Bahá'í Meeting if Covenant-Breaker Appears
"With regard to avoiding association with declared Covenant-breakers. Shoghi Effendi says that this does not mean that if one or more of these attends a non-Bahá'í meeting any Bahá'ís present should feel compelled to leave the meeting or to refuse to take part in the meeting, especially if that part has been prearranged. Also if in the course of some business transaction it should become necessary to negotiate with one of these people, in order to clear up the business, that is permissible, provided the association is confined to the matter of the business in hand. It is different if one of these people should come to Bahá'í meeting. Then it would become necessary to ask him in a most tactful and dignified way to leave the meeting as Bahá'ís are forbidden to associate with him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 16, 1925)611. Personal Relations with Covenant-Breakers
"To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking. Indeed, some of the Bahá'ís have the unpleasant duty to read such literature as part of their responsibilities for protecting the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. However, the friends are warned in the strongest terms against reading such literature because Covenant-breaking is a spiritual poison and the calumnies and distortions of the truth which the Covenant-breakers give out are such that they can undermine the faith of the believer and plant the seeds of doubt unless he is forearmed with an unshakable belief in Bahá'u'lláh and His Covenant and a knowledge of the true facts.
"Personal relations with Covenant-breakers, however, such as personal contact or entering into correspondence with one is strictly forbidden. In this connection, however, it is important to remember two qualifications:
"First, the civil rights of Covenant-breakers must be scrupulously upheld. For example, if a Bahá'í owes a debt to a person who breaks the Covenant he must be sure that it is repaid and that his obligations are met.
"Secondly, although the believers are required to avoid, if possible, all contact with Covenant-breakers it sometimes happens that contact on business matters cannot be avoided. For example, in one city the head of the rate collection department was a Covenant-breaker. In such situations the believers should restrict their contact with the Covenant-breaker to a purely formal business level and to an absolute minimum."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 29, 1974)Page 187
612. All Covenant-Breakers Regardless of Nature of Disobedience Must Be Treated in Exactly the Same Manner
"Reference is made to your letter of April 8th in which you ask: 'Does a disciplinary action for disobedience to the Guardian carry the same implications as Covenant-breaking of an ideological order?' There is no distinction between the two concepts. All Covenant-breakers, regardless of the nature of their disobedience to the Covenant should be treated in exactly the same manner."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1964)
613. Opposition Due to Ignorance or Lack of Proper Training is Not Covenant-Breaking
"Whenever we find a person who opposes some fundamental of our Faith, such as the Institution of the Guardianship, we must first be sure this is not due to ignorance or lack of proper training, before we take action. We must not suppose immediately that that person is necessarily tainted by the spirit of the Covenant-Breakers. If, however, this should prove to be the case, then strong action must be taken by the Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 24, 1948)
614. Role of Auxiliary Board Member for Protection+F1
"The need to protect the Faith from the attacks of its enemies, both within and outside the Faith, is not generally appreciated by the friends, particularly in the West where such attacks have so far been intermittent. One of the vital functions of the Protection Boards is the deepening of the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, and fostering the spirit of love and unity within the Bahá'í community."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela, October 1, 1979)615. God's Mercy Exceeds His Justice
"...we believe that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, and that through the repentance of a soul, the prayers and supplications of other souls, and the goodness of God, even a person who has passed away in great spiritual darkness can be forgiven, educated spiritually in the next world and progress.
"Owing to ...'s deliberate choice in leaving the Guardian to join the Covenant-breakers, and in his continuous association with them, it is evident he certainly has a spiritual disease."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 7, 1947)
616. To Be the Enemy of the Enemies of God is Good Characteristic
"To be the enemy of the enemies of God is a good characteristic. We are not against them personally, just as any intelligent man is not personally against a man who has a dangerous contagious disease. But he carefully isolates the sick individual so that the contagion will not spread. So we shun the spiritually sick, wishing for their cure, but keeping clear of them. You are right to take a firm stand regarding Orientals. One would think that world events would be opening the eyes of the Americans___________________
to certain unreliable and mischievous characteristics of nationals of the Middle East."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 22, 1951)
617. It is Better to be Too Vigilant Than to be Too Lax
"The Guardian feels that your attitude of vigilance and intense loyalty is quite right. In such matters as the Covenant it is far better to be too vigilant than too lax. However, he does not feel Mr. ... is lacking in firmness and Faith. Many of the Bahá'ís, ... while loyal to the Cause and the Guardian, do not fully grasp the implications of the Master's Will and the full station of the Guardians of the Cause. They need to study more deeply the spiritual side of the Teachings and the Will itself. And this he has advised the ... to do."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 5, 1949)
618. Possibly No Group Have Softer Tongues Than the Covenant-Breakers
"...It is a pity that some of the Western friends, with remarkable naivete, do not grasp the fact that there is absolutely nothing keeping those who have broken the Covenant, whether Bahá'u'lláh's or the Master's, out of the Cause of God except their own inner spiritually sick condition. If they were sound, instead of diseased, and wanted to enter the service of our Faith, they would apply direct to the Guardian, and he would be able to adjudge of their sincerity and, if sincere, would welcome them into the ranks of the faithful as he did with Sydney Sprague. Unfortunately a man who is ill is not made well just by asserting there is nothing wrong with him! Facts, actual states, are what count. Probably no group of people in the world have softer tongues, or proclaim more loudly their innocence, than those who in their heart of hearts, and by their every act, are enemies of the Center of the Covenant. The Master well knew this, and that is why He said we must shun their company, but pray for them. If you put a leper in a room with healthy people, he cannot catch their health; on the contrary they are very likely to catch his horrible ailment."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949)
619. National Assembly Should Consider Itself as Committee of Vigilance
"He feels that your Assembly should redouble its vigilance, in fact he feels that the National Assembly should consider itself, aside from its other duties, as a Committee of Vigilance to watch over the Faith and protect it from its internal enemies, and from the constantly carried on and insidious activities...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)
620. Bahá'ís Need More Than Anything Else in the World Deeper Understanding Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and Master
"The Guardian has been considerably disturbed by the inharmony that has arisen in... He feels that what the ... Bahá'ís need--and must have--more than anything else in the world is a far deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. This is the rock-foundation without which noPage 189
sound super-structure can be built. Neither the administration, nor the general teaching work of the Cause ..., will progress, or be able to accomplish anything, unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Bahá'ís. An intellectual grasp of the Teachings is purely superficial; with the first real test such believers are shaken from the bough! But once a Bahá'í has the profound conviction of the authority from God, vested in the Prophet, passed on to the Master, and by Him, to the Guardians, and which flows out through the Assemblies and creates order based on obedience--once a Bahá'í has this, nothing can shake him. He, therefore, urges you, and the other members of the ..., to devote as much time as you possibly can, to educating the believers in the Covenant."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 11, 1949)
D. Expulsion and Reinstatement; Protection Responsibilities; Books Written by Enemies of the Faith621. Expulsion of Covenant-Breakers
"The authority of expulsion and reinstatement will be exercised by the Hands of the Cause of God, subject in each instance to the approval of the Universal House of Justice."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Continental Board of Counsellors, June 24, 1968)
622. Protection Specific Function of the Hands of the Cause
"...although the Hands of the Cause of God have the specific functions of protection and propagation, and are specialized for these functions, it is also the duty of the Universal House of Justice and the Spiritual Assemblies to protect and teach the Cause--indeed teaching is a sacred obligation placed upon every believer by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 27, 1966: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 86)623. Expulsion and Reinstatement
"Authority for the expulsion and reinstatement of Covenant-breakers remains with the Hands of the Cause of God. All such matters will be investigated locally by the relative Continental Board of Counsellors in consultation with any Hand or Hands who may be in the area. The Continental Board of Counsellors and the Hands concerned will then make their reports to the International Teaching Center where they will be considered. The decision whether or not to expel or reinstate will be made by the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land who will, as at present, submit their decision to the Universal House of Justice for approval."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, June 8, 1973)
624. Accomplishments to be Attained with the Covenant of the Everlasting Father
"The progress of the Cause of God gathers increasing momentum and we mayPage 190
with confidence look forward to the day when this Community, in God's good time, shall have traversed the stages predicated for it by its Guardian, and shall have raised on this tormented planet the fair mansions of God's Own Kingdom wherein humanity may find surcease from its self-induced confusion and chaos and ruin, and the hatreds and violence of this time shall be transmuted into an abiding sense of world brotherhood and peace. All this shall be accomplished within the Covenant of the everlasting Father, the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From the message of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)
625. Course on Covenant-Breaking Should Be Included in Summer School Curriculum
"...and your Assembly cannot be too careful or vigilant in watching over the Community seeking out the sources of corruption and protecting the friends. He feels that a course on Covenant-breaking should be included in the Summer School curriculum, so that the friends may understand the nature of this evil, and how it has affected our Faith for one hundred years, and other Faiths in the past. The American Bahá'ís, aside from the older ones, do not seem to have any concept whatsoever of what a Covenant-breaker is, and the place to educate them in these matters is in the Summer Schools and on other occasions when they meet in large numbers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)
626. Should Not Accept Contributions from Those Who Lose Voting Rights: They Can Be Buried in Bahá'í Cemetery, Receive Charity
"...As contributions to Bahá'í funds are used to support the administration of the Faith, they should not be accepted from those who are deprived of their voting rights; but such believers, should not be prevented from being buried in a Bahá'í cemetery or receiving charity--which we even give to non-Bahá'ís--if in dire need."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 8, 1947 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: Dawn of a New Day, p. 123)627. Literature Written by Enemies of the Faith
"In reply to your letter of September 20, 1975, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that the friends should be advised to ignore these books and any similar ones which might be written by enemies of the Faith. There should certainly be no attempt made to destroy or remove such books from libraries. On the other hand there is no need at all for the friends to acquire them and, indeed, the best plan is to ignore them entirely."
(Referring to books by Hermann Zimmer and William Miller. Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, October 2, 1975)628. Books by Unenlightened Enemies of the Cause
"It is better not to read books by Covenant-breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by wellPage 191
meaning yet unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 19, 1945: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, pp. 107-108)629. Obedience to the Center of the Covenant
"...whosoever obeys the Center of the Covenant appointed by Bahá'u'lláh has obeyed Bahá'u'lláh, and whosoever disobeys Him has disobeyed Bahá'u'lláh...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 323)Page 192
630. Every Bahá'í is Encouraged to Make a Will and Testament
"In the 'Kitáb-i-Aqdas' Bahá'u'lláh has stated: 'It is incumbent upon everyone to write his testament. It behooveth him to adorn its heading with the Most Great Name, to testify therein to the oneness of God as manifested in the Day-Spring of His revelation and to set forth such good deeds as he may wish to be realized, that these may stand as his testimony in the worlds of Revelation and of Creation and be as a treasure stored up with his Lord, the Protector, the Trusted One.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 4, 1982)
631. By Preparing a Legal Will, the Believer Can Dispose of His Estate as He Chooses, Within Limits of Law
"According to the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the making of a will is essentially an obligation of the individual Bahá'í. Each believer is free to dispose of his estate in whatever manner he chooses, within the limits imposed by civil law and after payment of burial expenses and other debts and obligations. There are several ways a believer can leave instructions regarding his burial; there is no objection for such instructions to be included in the will, if the law permits, and the believer so wishes."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 1, 1980)
632. Neither National nor Local Assembly Should Be Named Executor, if the Institution So Prefers
"Should a believer express a desire to make a bequest to a National or Local Spiritual Assembly, you may furnish information as to the correct name and address of such institution, and you are free to inform those who ask that neither the National or Local Spiritual Assemblies should be named as executor of a will."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, January 14, 1971)
633. Bahá'ís Should Make Their Will Specifying the Desire for a Bahá'í Funeral--Should Inform the Assembly and the Non-Bahá'í Relatives
"The friends should be strongly advised to make wills specifying that they want their funerals to be conducted under the auspices of the Bahá'í Faith or at least in conformity with its requirements and they should make this known both to the Local Spiritual Assembly and to their own relatives, while they are still alive.Page 193
In this way it is quite possible that agreements may be reached with non-Bahá'í relatives before death takes place."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, August 18, 1972)
634. The Spiritual Assembly Must Carefully Consider Bequest of the Testator-- Unreasonable Demands May Be Refused
"In the eyes of Bahá'í law a will is sacred and thus, when a testator makes a bequest to a Spiritual Assembly and attaches thereto certain duties and conditions, the Assembly has the responsibility to fulfil them. However, if the will imposes an unreasonable financial burden or a condition which could become an unreasonable financial burden, or if fulfilment of the conditions would be prejudicial to the best interests of the Faith, the Assembly may have no alternative to refusing the bequest, for if it accepts the bequest it is in honour bound to fulfil the conditions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, January 10, 1978)
635. A Provision in the Will Contrary to Bahá'í Law Should Be Declared Null and Void by the Assembly
"On the other hand, if the testator, being a Bahá'í, makes a provision in his will that is contrary to Bahá'í law (e.g., to bury his remains in a place more than one hour's journey from the place of death), that provision is null and void in Bahá'í law and the Assembly must not fulfil it even if failure to do so would cause the bequest to be revoked in civil law. If failure to fulfil such a condition does not cancel the bequest in civil law, the Assembly is not required to refuse the bequest as it would have to do in the case of failure to fulfil a valid condition."(Ibid.)
636. Bahá'ís Are Free to Formulate Provisions of Their Wills--We Are Not Permitted to Challenge Provisions of Another's Will
"Shoghi Effendi urged Local Spiritual Assemblies to admonish the friends not to overlook the importance of wills. In letters written on his behalf we find the following important points.
1. The friends are free to formulate the provisions of their wills as they please, and the Spiritual Assembly has the obligation to support and enforce these provisions unless, of course, they are in conflict with the principles of the Faith.
2. While it is appropriate and advisable for the friends to deposit a copy of their wills with the Spiritual Assembly, they should not be required to do so, but should be left free in this matter.
3. It is not necessary for the Spiritual Assembly to publish the text of a 'model' will. Each believer should compose his will according to his own wish.
"Other points to remember are that an individual is entirely free to leave his or her possessions as he wishes, provided all his debts are paid, and provided there are no legal limits on the freedom of individuals to bequeath their property. A person's will is sacred and therefore a Bahá'í is not permitted to challenge the provisions of another's will. The civil law in relation to the making of wills is sometimes quitePage 194
complex. It is, therefore, highly advisable for an individual to consult a lawyer when he makes his will to ensure that his intention is not nullified by some possible breach of the requirements of the law in the drawing up or execution of the will. It is also highly desirable for a Bahá'í to take steps during his lifetime to ensure that he will be given a funeral in accordance with Bahá'í law and that his remains be not cremated. It may be possible to include such a provision in the will, or some other procedure may need to be followed, depending upon the civil law."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 4, 1986)B. Burial Laws
637. Forbidden to Carry Body More Than an Hour's Distance
"...It is forbidden you to transport the body of the deceased a greater distance than one hour's journey from the city; rather should it be interred, with radiance and serenity, in a nearby place."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K. 130, p. 66)
"QUESTION: Is the ordinance that the body of the deceased should be carried no greater distance than one hour's journey applicable to transport by both land and sea?
"ANSWER: This command applieth to distances by sea as well as by land, whether it is an hour by steamship or by rail; the intention is the hour's time, whatever the means of transport. The sooner the burial taketh place, however, the more fitting and acceptable will it be."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q. 16, pp. 111-112)638. Burial Law Binding on Believers in the West
"As to the law of burial, the Universal House of Justice suggests that you confine your statement to the following parts of this law which are now binding on the believers in the West:(1) That the body must be buried, not cremated.
(2) That the Prayer for the Dead is to be recited for a believer of the age of 15 years or over. This, as you know, is the prayer which appears as number CLXVII in Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh.
(3) That the body not be transported more than an hour's journey from the place of death. The method of transport is not specified, but the journey must not take longer than one hour."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 3, 1975)
639. Preparation for Burial--Embalming Not Permitted
"Regarding the questions which you ask, concerning Bahá'í burials ..., etc. At the present time, the Guardian is not stressing these matters, as their establishment might divert attention to the supreme tasks we have before us. However, the answers are as follows: Under the Bahá'í teachings it seems clear that the body is not to be embalmed. The burial should take place within an hour's travel time from the place of death. The preparation for the body forPage 195
burial is a careful washing, and placing in a shroud of white cloth, silk preferably. There is nothing in the teachings with regard to turning the body over to scientific institutions for scientific research, and therefore the individual may do as he wishes, until such a time as the Universal House of Justice may legislate on this matter, if they ever do. The practice in the Orient, is to bury the person within 24 hours of the time of death; sometimes even sooner; although there is no provision in the teachings as to the time limit."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 2, 1955)
640. Bahá'í Burial Law--Coffin Should Be of Crystal, Stone or Wood
"In brief, the Bahá'í law for the burial of the dead states that it is forbidden to carry the body for more than one hour's journey from the place of death; that the body should be wrapped in a shroud of silk or cotton, and on its finger should be placed a ring bearing the inscription 'I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate'; and that the coffin should be of crystal, stone or hard fine wood. A specific Prayer for the Dead (see note 10) is ordained, to be said before interment. As affirmed by Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian, this law precludes cremation of the dead. The formal prayer and the ring are meant to be used for those who have attained the age of maturity, i.e., 15 years of age...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 149, p. 229)
641. Foetus to be Treated With Respect, No Matter How Young
"From a Bahá'í point of view, the soul is present from conception and therefore the foetus, no matter how young, should not be treated with disrespect and carelessly discarded into an incinerator, if this can be prevented. The House of Justice knows of nothing in the Writings specifically referring to the burial of embryos, and, in previous instances, has left such details to the discretion of the parents. In one case it was reported to the World Centre that the parents had buried the foetus in a corner of their own garden and had said a few prayers for the progress of their child's soul."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 6, 1987)
642. Cremation is Contrary to Bahá'í Law--Bahá'í Relatives and the Spiritual Assembly Are Responsible
"As was explained to your Assembly in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice on 10 January 1978, if a Bahá'í makes a provision in his will that is contrary to Bahá'í law, that provision is null and void in Bahá'í law, and neither the Bahá'í relatives nor the Spiritual Assembly are permitted to fulfil it. Thus, if a Bahá'í states in his will that his remains are to be cremated he should, nevertheless, be buried in accordance with Bahá'í law unless there is some element of the civil law would prevent such an occurrence--in which case the civil law would have to be followed, but the Assembly, as indicated above, could take no part in it...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, December 9, 1984)Page 196
643. In Case of Death at Sea, Maritime Law is Applicable--Burial on Land is Preferable
"The laws of burial as revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas do not refer to the occurrence of death at sea. Until such time as the Universal House of Justice legislates on these matters, the friends when faced with such incidents should be guided by whatever civil or maritime law is applicable under the circumstances. Should land be reached, however, obviously the body must be buried on land in the nearest suitable place."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, quoted in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, October 20, 1974)
"Bahá'í laws of burial do not refer to burial at sea and the House of Justice has not yet legislated on the matter. However, it is preferable that Bahá'í burial should take place on land whenever this is possible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 23, 1985)
644. Believer Should Ensure that He Will Be Buried According to Bahá'í Law
"The friends should certainly be informed of the Bahá'í laws relating to burial and encouraged to do all they can to ensure that after their passing they are buried according to Bahá'í law. It is not always possible to ensure this by stating it in a Will and Assemblies should consult upon the matter, taking legal advice if necessary, and make the best arrangements possible to enable the Bahá'ís in their care to be buried in the Bahá'í way."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 31, 1972)645. Enfolding the Body of the Deceased
"In the Bayan, the Báb specified that the body of the deceased should be wrapped in five sheets of silk or cotton. Bahá'u'lláh confirmed this provision and added the stipulation that for 'those whose means are limited a single sheet of either fabric will suffice'.
"When asked whether the 'five sheets' mentioned in the law referred to 'five full-length shrouds' or 'five cloths which were hitherto customarily used', Bahá'u'lláh responded that the intention is the 'use of five cloths.'
"Concerning the way in which the body should be wrapped, there is nothing in the Bahá'í Writings to define how the wrapping of the body is to be done, either when 'five cloths' are used or only 'a single sheet'. At present, the Bahá'ís are free to use their judgement in the matter."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 151, pp. 229-230)
646. Face of the Dead Should Be Turned Toward the Qiblih
"The dead should be buried with their face turned towards the Qiblih. There is also a congregational prayer to be recited. Besides this there is no other ceremony to be performed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 6, 1935)Page 197
647. Hour's Journey May Be Calculated from City Limits
"We have been instructed by the Universal House of Justice to convey its reply to your enquiry of 20th June 1978 about the Bahá'í burial law concerning the one hour's travel from the place of death.
"The House of Justice advises that the place of death may be taken to be the city or town in which the believer passes away, and therefore the hour's journey may be calculated from the city limits to the place of burial. However, it should be borne in mind that the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh's law is to be buried near where one dies."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 9, 1978)
648. Graveyard More Than an Hour on Foot from a Village
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 10th August 1981 in which you ask for guidance in observing the law for the burial of the dead in cases where the graveyard is more than an hour's journey on foot from a village.
"If alternative means of transport are not available or practicable in cases such as you mention, another possibility is for the Bahá'ís of such a village to acquire a graveyard nearer to the village so that it can be reached within one hour from the village limits. If no such solution is feasible the believers will just have to do their best for the present to keep the journey as short as possible. In any case the House of Justice presumes that the journey is not likely to greatly exceed the one hour limit."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, September 21, 1981)649. The Burial Stone
"The placing of the burial stone on the dead has no other significance than to emphasize our profound conviction that our souls come from our Creator and to Him they return, and in Him we believe and trust."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 29, 1942)650. Bury the Dead in Silk
"The Báb has told us to bury the dead in silk (if possible) in coffins of crystal. Why? Because the body, though now dust, was once exalted by the immortal soul of man!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944)
651. Should Advise Bahá'ís in Military Service of Burial Laws
"You should also advise all individual Bahá'ís who are in service that they should take whatever measures are necessary to see that Bahá'í laws regarding burial are observed. Such individuals should also notify their families or next of kin about these laws and of their wish to be buried according to Bahá'í law."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 11, 1968)Page 198
652. Bahá'ís Are Permitted to Accept Land from the Government for Cemetery
"In response to your question about acquiring land from the Government for the specific purpose of establishing a Bahá'í cemetery, the House of Justice advises that it is permissible for Bahá'ís to be granted by government authorities the ownership or use of land for this purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, February 20, 1978)653. Disinterment
"You have stated in your letter that it is a custom there for the body to be disinterred after three years and put in a smaller casket for reburial. Since this is apparently not required by law, it would be best for you to advise the friends to make the necessary arrangements with the cemetery authorities so that disinterment of the body does not take place."(Ibid.)
654. At Present No Definite Regulations for Bahá'í Cemeteries
"At the present time there are no definite regulations for preparing Bahá'í cemeteries. However, in a Tablet of the Master's, He emphasizes the need for the cemetery to have a beautiful outward appearance and states that the graves should not be joined together but that each one should have a flower bed around its four sides. He also indicates that it would be pleasing if a pool were located in the center of the cemetery and beautiful trees were planted around it as well as around the cemetery itself."(Ibid.)
655. Should Not Refuse to Bury Bahá'í Who Lost Voting Rights--Assembly May Permit Burial of Non-Bahá'ís
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15th June 1984 asking whether it is permissible to bury non-Bahá'ís in a Bahá'í cemetery, and has asked us to convey the following to you.
"It would not be right to refuse to bury in a Bahá'í cemetery one who has lost his voting rights. Furthermore, it is quite possible that non-Bahá'í relatives of believers or others may be permitted to be buried in a Bahá'í cemetery. However, a deciding factor could be whether the area of land chosen for use as a Bahá'í cemetery would be large enough to permit burial of non-Bahá'ís. It is suggested that no hard and fast rules be adopted, but that each case be considered on its own merits."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, July 12, 1984)
656. The Most Great Name or Ringstone Symbol Not Appropriate on Gravestones
"Normally the building of structures or headstones on graves should be left to the family of the deceased, and all expenses should be covered by them.Page 199
"The use of the Most Great Name or the ringstone symbol on gravestones is not appropriate. In a letter dated September 17, 1971 to an individual believer we wrote the following:
'Concerning the questions you ask in your postscript, there is no specific ruling regarding the type of headstone that may be used at a grave site. However, regarding the inscription on a headstone, the beloved Guardian asked the believers not to use any form of the Greatest Name but a nine-pointed star may be used. Or, you may wish to have an appropriate text from the Sacred Writings inscribed on the headstone. The position of the body in the grave should be with the feet pointing toward the Qiblih, which is Bahji in Akka'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda, May 4, 1972)D. Funeral Services
657. Official Bahá'í Funeral Service for Believers Only
"An official Bahá'í funeral service should only be given for a believer, but there is no objection to the reading of Bahá'í prayers, or indeed to a Bahá'í conducting the funeral service of a non-Bahá'í, if this has been requested."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 20, 1946)
658. Utmost Simplicity and Flexibility Should Be Observed...
"Regarding the Bahá'í funeral service: It is extremely simple, as it consists only of a congregational prayer to be read before burial.... Your National Spiritual Assembly should take great care lest any uniform procedure or ritual in this matter be adopted or imposed upon the friends. The danger in this, as in some other cases regarding Bahá'í worship, is that a definite system or rigid rituals and practices be developed among the believers. The utmost simplicity and flexibility should be observed...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 10, 1936)
659. No Objection to Bahá'ís Attending Non-Bahá'í Funeral of Bahá'ís
"There is no objection to Bahá'ís attending the non-Bahá'í funeral service of a Bahá'í whose non-Bahá'í relatives have prevented the Bahá'í funeral from taking place. The Bahá'ís should, however, endeavour to offer Bahá'í prayers for the progress of the soul of their departed friend, if circumstances permit. If they cannot be offered on the occasion of the funeral they should be offered at another time."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, May 4, 1966)
660. Obligatory Prayer for the Dead--Permissible to Change Gender
"We have your letter of 23 December 1966 asking whether it is permissible to change the gender of the pronoun in Bahá'í prayers for the dead when the deceased person is a woman.
"The prayer for the dead which is obligatory appears on page 260 of 'Prayers and Meditations'. This prayer allows for a change in gender.Page 200
"Other prayers for the dead are optional, but if used they are to be used as revealed."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 17, 1967)
661. Prayer for the Dead to be Recited by One Believer
"The Prayer for the Dead is the only Bahá'í obligatory prayer which is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand in silence. Bahá'u'lláh has clarified that the Prayer for the Dead is required only when the deceased is an adult, that the recital should precede the interment of the deceased, and that there is no requirement to face the Qiblih when saying this prayer."(Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Notes, N. 10)
662. Non-Bahá'ís Can Be Present When Long Prayer for the Dead is Read
"There is no objection whatsoever to non-Bahá'ís being present when the long prayer for the dead is read, as long as they respect our manner of reading it by rising and standing as the Bahá'ís do on this occasion. Nor, indeed, is there any objection to non-Bahá'ís being present during the reading of any Bahá'í prayer for the departed."
(From letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946)663. Prayer for the Dead--Special Conditions
"The Prayer for the Dead should be recited at the funeral if the deceased is 15 years old or more. If there is no one at the funeral able to read, it is sufficient to say only that part of the Prayer which requires the repetition nineteen times of each of six short verses.
"The body must be placed in the grave in such a position that the feet point towards Akka (the Qiblih)."
(From a statement prepared by a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa and approved by the Universal House of Justice on June 14, 1982)
664. Any Prayer May Be Said for a Woman--Text Must Not Change
"In connection with the question you asked about the prayer for the dead: any of the prayers which were originally revealed for a man or a woman can be said for the opposite sex, but the text must not be changed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 10, 1946)665. Memorial Gatherings
"As you know, the offering of prayers on behalf of the departed, whether Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, is encouraged in our teachings, as such prayers are conducive to the progress of their souls in the world beyond. As to the holding of memorial gatherings at regular intervals, there is nothing in the teachings specifically prohibiting such gatherings, but we find general guidelines in the letters of the beloved Guardian, in which he warns the believers against adhering to the rites and customs of past systems and of former religions, and instead urges them to show forth the Bahá'í way of life and demonstrate the independent character of the teachings of the Faith.
"Advertising memorial gatherings by the family is entirely a personal matter for the family to decide. It is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual AssemblyChapter 2
whether Local Spiritual Assemblies may permit the use of their Bahá'í Centres for such gatherings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ghana, May 24, 1974)E. Cremation
"He feels that, in view of what Abdu'l-Bahá has said against cremation, the believers should be strongly urged, as an act of faith, to make provisions against their remains being cremated. Bahá'u'lláh has laid down as a law, in the Aqdas, the manner of Bahá'í burial, and it is so beautiful, befitting and dignified, that no believer should deprive himself of it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 7, 1947)
667. Body Can Be Left to Medical Science, Remains Not to be Cremated
"There is nothing in the teachings against leaving our bodies to medical science. The only thing we should stipulate is that we do not wish to be cremated, as it is against our Bahá'í laws.
"As many people make arrangements to leave their bodies to medical science for investigation, he suggests that you inquire, either through some lawyer friend or through some hospital, how you could do this, and then make the necessary provision in your Will, stipulating that you wish your body to be of service to mankind in death, and that, being a Bahá'í, you request that your remains not be cremated and not be taken more than an hour's journey from the place of your death.
"The spirit has no more connection with the body after it departs, but as the body was once the temple of the spirit, we Bahá'ís are taught that it must be treated with respect."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 22, 1957)
668. The Inner Temple Beholdeth Its Physical Frame
"As this physical frame is the throne of the inner temple, whatever occurs to the former is felt by the latter. In reality that which takes delight in joy or is saddened by pain is the inner temple of the body, not the body itself. Since this physical body is the throne whereon the inner temple is established, God hath ordained that the body be preserved to the extent possible, so that nothing that causeth repugnance may be experienced. The inner temple beholdeth its physical frame, which is its throne. Thus, if the latter is accorded respect, it is as if the former is the recipient. The converse is likewise true.
"Therefore, it hath been ordained that the dead body should be treated with the utmost honour and respect."
(The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 95)
669. Body Formed Gradually, Must Decompose Gradually
"Be assured that your letter was not a bother to us. Indeed, we were happy to learn that in the autumn years of your physical life your soul was illumined by the eternal light shed upon the world by Bahá'u'lláh.Page 202
"Concerning your question about cremation, the Bahá'í law stipulates burial. The instructions of Bahá'u'lláh contained in His Most Holy Book make this law clear. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual believer in 1955, comments that Abdu'l-Bahá '...also explained that burial is natural and should be followed.' The explanation of the Master referred to by Shoghi Effendi is found in Tablets revealed by Him. One of those was published in Star of the West, Volume XI, No. 19, page 317, from which we quote:
'Thy letter has been received. Due to scarcity of time, I write the answer briefly: The body of man, which has been formed gradually, must similarly be decomposed gradually. This is according to the real and natural order and Divine Law. If it had been better for it to be burned after death, in its very creation it would have been so planned that the body would automatically become ignited after death, be consumed and turned into ashes. But the divine order formulated by the heavenly ordinance is that after death, this body shall be transferred from one stage to another different from the preceding one, so that according to the relations which exist in the world, it may gradually combine and mix other elements, thus going through stages until it arrives in the vegetable kingdom, there turning into plants and flowers, developing into trees of the highest paradise, becoming perfumed and attaining the beauty of color.'
'Cremation suppresses it speedily from attainment to these transformations, the elements becoming so quickly decomposed that transformation to these various stages is checked.'
"When we realize that our physical bodies are composed of elements placed in the earth by their Creator, and which through the orderly processes of His Law are continually being used in the formation of beings, we can better understand the necessity for our physical bodies to be subjected to the gradual process of decomposition. As at the time of death, the real and eternal self of man, his soul, abandons its physical garment to soar in the realms of God, we may compare the body to a vehicle which has been used for the journey through earthly life and no longer needed once the destination has been reached."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1971)
670. Spiritual Assembly Cannot Arrange for the Cremation of the Remains of a Bahá'í
"Obviously a Spiritual Assembly cannot itself arrange for the cremation of the remains of a Bahá'í even if it was that person's wish that his body be disposed of in this way. Bahá'í relatives, likewise, are under the obligation of obeying the Bahá'í law and must not agree to the cremation of a Bahá'í. Where non-Bahá'í relatives of the deceased Bahá'í have charge of the body and are proposing to cremate the remains, the responsible Spiritual Assembly should do all it can to explain the Bahá'í attitude to the relatives in an effort to prevent the cremation. If these efforts fail, the Assembly can have nothing officially to do with the cremation of the body; the believers, however, are free to do as they wish about attending the funeral and the cremation and they may certainly offer a prayer for the progress of the soul of the deceased. The Assembly could, if it seemed appropriate, arrange a meeting at a time other than the funeral, at which the Prayer for the Dead could be said on behalf of the deceased."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, December 9, 1984)Page 203
671. Word "Bahá'í" in Centre of Nine-Pointed Star Can Be Used
"As regards your question: There is no reason why the word 'Bahá'í' should not appear in the centre of a nine-pointed star on the tombstone of dear Elsa Vento, but the ring-stone emblem should not be used, nor the Greatest Name."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1955)
672. Can Use Quotations from the Teachings on Tombstones
"In regard to your question regarding the use of the Greatest Name on tombstones of Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, the Guardian considers this too sacred to be placed in such a position in general use, and the friends should not use it on their tombstones. They can use quotations from the Teachings, if they wish to, but not the Greatest Name. Naturally, if anyone has already used it, it does not matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954)
673. Possible that Non-Bahá'í Relatives Can Be Buried in Bahá'í Cemetery
"...it is quite possible that non-Bahá'í relatives of believers or others may be permitted to be buried in a Bahá'í cemetery."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 3, 1975)F. Suicide+F1
"Regarding the 'In Memoriam' section of 'Bahá'í News': Although suicide is so strongly condemned in the teachings, it does not mean that a person has ceased to be a Bahá'í because he killed himself; he should, therefore, be mentioned, the same as other believers, in this section."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 29, 1945)
675. The Light Manifested by Bahá'u'lláh Can Ease Despair of Young People
"It is too bad that young and promising men, who if they remain living can render great services to humanity, should take away their life at a moment of despair.
"The world, especially in these days, is full of woes and sufferings. We should be brave and have a stout heart. Trials and tribulations should arouse in us added vigour and greater determination and not dampen our zeal and kill our spirit."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1933)676. Bahá'ís Are Free to Pray for the Dead
"A Bahá'í is certainly free to pray for those who have passed on regardless of the cause of their death, using the words of any of the prayers of his choice which have been revealed through the bounty of God. The manner in which the Supreme Being, in His justice as well as in His mercy, will deal with every individual soul is a mystery unknown to us on this earthly plane."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 21, 1978)___________________
677. One Should Put All Thought of Suicide and Death Out of Mind
"In reply to your letter of 1st May 1979, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to share with you the following excerpt from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary to a believer who asked about suicide.
'Suicide is forbidden in the Cause. God Who is the Author of all life can alone take it away, and dispose of it in the way He deems best. Whoever commits suicide endangers his soul, and will suffer spiritually as a result in the other Worlds Beyond.'
"The House of Justice admonishes you to put all thought of suicide and death out of your mind and concentrate on prayer and effort to serve the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1979)678. Consolation for the Bereaved Parent
"...He was very sad to hear of your sadness and difficulties. Should that be only due to the passing of your son, it is not fully justified, at least in the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. He explicitly states that, had we the vision to see the other world, and the mind to conceive its glory, we would not desire to remain here even for a moment. Man is destined by God to undergo a spiritual development that extends throughout eternity. His life upon this earth is only the first stage of that development. When we outgrow our physical form, and are considered by God ready to reap the fruit of our spiritual development, we proceed to the other world. We term it death only because of our shortsightedness. A more proper term would be 'a more abundant life'. It is a forward step we have taken. In the light of the teachings, therefore, the proper attitude for you, is to pray that God may encompass your son with His infinite blessings, that He may enhance his development and give him that felicity which awaits every ... soul.
"...the world is full of suffering. Bahá'u'lláh tells us that the deeper are the furrows it digs into our very being, the greater will be the fruit of our life and the more enhanced our spiritual development. All the Saints that shine in the history of society had to pass through tribulations. Their form was various but their effect has always been the same, namely, the purification of our heart and soul for receiving the light of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 9, 1931)G. Life after Death; the Soul
679. Gifts and Good Deeds in Memory of Those Passed On
"The Master has told us that gifts and good deeds done in memory of those who have passed on, are most helpful to the development of their souls in the realms beyond...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1952)
680. Man is Destined by God to Develop Spiritually Through Eternity
"With regard to the soul of man. According to the Bahá'í Teachings the human soul starts with the formation of the human embryo, and continues to develop and pass through endless stages of existence after its separation from the body. Its progress is thus infinite."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1937)Page 205
"In regard to your question concerning the truth of the statement that it takes a soul three days to make complete severance from the body, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no specific reference to this point in the Sacred Writings of the Cause. But as to the advisability of praying for the departed for forty days after their passing this is entirely an originally Moslem practice, and constitutes in no way an obligation on any believer. To pray for the dead is very beneficial and helpful and is always a source of comfort and satisfaction. But there is no reason why it should be confined to a definite period of forty days."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 9, 1934)
682. The Soul Will Continue to Ascend Through Many Worlds
"Concerning the future life, what Bahá'u'lláh says is that the soul will continue to ascend through many worlds. What those worlds are and what their nature is we cannot know. The same way that the child in the matrix cannot know this world so we cannot know what the other world is going to be."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)683. We Can Help Every Soul Attain High Station
"Concerning your question whether a soul can receive knowledge of the Truth in the world beyond. Such a knowledge is surely possible, and is but a sign of the loving mercy of the Almighty. We can, through our prayers, help every soul to gradually attain this high station, even if it has failed to reach it in this world. The progress of the soul does not come to an end with death. It rather starts along a new line. Bahá'u'lláh teaches that great and far-reaching possibilities await the soul in the other world. Spiritual progress in that realm is infinite, and no man, while on this earth, can visualize its full power and extent."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1935)684. Intercession in the Other World
"The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede, and this intercession is approved by God. But intercession in the other world is not like intercession in this world. It is another thing, another reality, which cannot be expressed in words."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, 1984 ed., p. 231)685. Bequests to the Poor
"If a wealthy man at the time of his death bequeaths a gift to the poor and miserable, and gives a part of his wealth to be spent for them, perhaps this action may be the cause of his pardon and forgiveness, and of his progress in the divine Kingdom.
"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 poorPage 206
for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy."(Ibid., pp. 231-232)
686. The Nature of the Soul After Death Can Never Be Described
"...The honor with which the Hand of Mercy will invest the soul is such as no tongue can adequately reveal, nor any other earthly agency describe. Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station.... The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 1983 ed., p. 156)687. There Are No Earth-Bound Souls
"There are no earth-bound souls. When the souls that are not good die they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone. They are spiritually dead. Their thoughts can have influence only when they are alive on the earth... But the good souls are given eternal life and sometimes God permits their thoughts to reach the earth to help the people."
(Questions answered by Abdu'l-Bahá in Akka: Daily Lessons, Received at Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 35-36)
688. There is No Power Exercised Over People by Evil Souls that Have Passed Away
"There is no power exercised over the people by those evil souls that have passed away. Good is stronger than evil and even when alive they had very little power. How much less have they after they are dead, and besides they are nowhere near this planet."(Ibid., pp. 43-44)
"There is no teaching in the Bahá'í Faith that 'soul mates' exist. What is meant is that marriage should lead to a profound friendship of spirit, which will endure in the next world, where there is no sex, and no giving and taking in marriage; just the way we should establish with our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters and friends a deep spiritual bond which will be ever-lasting, and not merely physical bonds of human relationship."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 4, 1954)Page 207
"As to the question that the holy and spiritual souls influence, help and guide the creatures after they have cast off this elemental mould--this is an established truth of the Bahá'ís..."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 543)691. The Soul Acts
"The soul acts in the physical world with the help of the body. When it is detached from the body, it acts without an intermediary...
"...The body is the horse, the soul is the rider, and sometimes the rider moves without a mount. But people who do not reflect say that when the soul has left the body it can no longer act. Spirit has no body. Reflect on this subject."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Divine Philosophy, 1928 ed., p. 127)692. The Other World is Within This World
"...The answer to the first question: The souls of the children of the Kingdom, after their separation from the body, ascend unto the realm of everlasting life. But if ye ask as to the place, know ye that the world of existence is a single world, although its stations are various and distinct. For example, the mineral life occupieth its own plane, but a mineral entity is without any awareness at all of the vegetable kingdom,...
"As to the second question: The tests and trials of God take place in this world, not in the world of the Kingdom.
"The answer to the third question is this, that in the other world the human reality doth not assume a physical form, rather doth it take on a heavenly form, made up of elements of that heavenly realm.
"And the answer to the fourth question: The centre of the Sun of Truth is in the supernal world--the Kingdom of God. Those souls who are pure and unsullied, upon the dissolution of their elemental frames, hasten away to the world of God, and that world is within this world. The people of this world, however, are unaware of that world, and are even as the mineral and the vegetable that know nothing of the world of the animal and the world of man."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 194-95)693. The Soul of a Murderer
"As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be. The answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime; that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for Divine Justice would not allow this."(Ibid., p. 179)
"...the possibility of securing union with his beloved in the next world is one which the Bahá'í Teachings are quite clear about. According to Bahá'u'lláh the soul retains its individuality and consciousness after death, and is able to commune with other souls. This communion, however, is purely spiritual in character, and is conditioned upon the disinterested and selfless love of the individuals for each other."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, March 10, 1936: Dawn of a New Day, p. 58)Page 208
"In His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh says that were we able to comprehend the facilities that await us in the world to come, death would lose its sting; nay rather we would welcome it as a gate-way to a realm immeasurably higher and nobler than this home of suffering we call our earth. You should therefore think of their blessings and comfort yourself for your momentary separation. In time all of us will join our departed ones and share their joys."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 13, 1932)
696. With Vision to See Blessings of Other World, No One Would Care to Remain in This World
"Bahá'u'lláh says that were we to have the proper vision to see the blessings of the other world we would not bear to endure one more hour of existence upon the earth. The reason why we are deprived of that vision is because otherwise no one would care to remain and the whole fabric of society will be destroyed.
"Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to think of her blessings and rejoice in her happiness. Should we have true faith in the words of the prophets we would not fear death nor feel despondent over the passing of our loved ones."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1932)
697. Good Souls Enter a State of Being Far Nobler and More Beautiful...
"...Such earnest souls, when they pass out of this life, enter a state of being far nobler and more beautiful than this one. We fear it only because it is unknown to us and we have little faith in the words of the Prophets who bring a true message of certainty from that realm of the spirit. We should face death with joy especially if our life upon this plane of existence has been full of good deeds."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1932)698. The Nature of the Soul
"...First concerning the human soul and its true nature. According to the Bahá'í conception, the soul of man, or in other words his inner spiritual self or reality, is not dualistic. There is no such thing, as the Zoroastrians believe, as a double reality in man, a definite higher self and a lower self. These two tendencies for good or evil are but manifestations of a single reality or self. The latter is capable of development in either way. All depends fundamentally on the training or education which man receives. Human nature is made up of possibilities both for good and evil. True religion can enable it to soar in the highest realm of the spirit, while its absence can, as we already witness around us, cause it to fall to the lowest depths of degradation and misery."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Alfred Lunt, May 25, 1936)
699. All Souls Progress Spiritually in the Next World--Relatives of the Believers Will at Least Partially Attain Kingdom
"With reference to Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet in which He says that all the relatives of believers will reach the Kingdom in the other world: By this is meant only a partial attainment. They can, however, progress indefinitely, as spiritual progress in the other world is limitless, and is not confined to those who have attained unto the knowledge and recognition of the Cause while still in this world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 30, 1940)Page 209
700. Certain Things Remain a Mystery to Us in Our Present Stage of Development
"Regarding your question concerning a deep and profound study of the teachings: Of course the Bahá'ís can and should meditate upon the significances of the writings, and endeavour to grasp their meaning to the uttermost. There can be no possible objection to this. However certain things are, by their very nature, a mystery to us, at least in our present stage of development. One of these is what the next world, the purely spiritual world, is like."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)
701. The Prophets Never Revealed What Happens to Us After Death--Belief in God and His Prophet Elicits Spiritual Growth
"You ask an explanation of what happens to us after we leave this world: This is a question which none of the Prophets have ever answered in detail, for the very simple reason that you cannot convey to a person's mind something entirely different from everything they have ever experienced. Abdu'l-Bahá gave the wonderful example of the relation of this life to the next life being like the child in the womb; it develops eyes, ears, hands, feet, a tongue, and yet it has nothing to see or hear, it cannot walk or grasp things or speak; all these faculties it is developing for this world. If you tried to explain to an embryo what this world is like it could never understand--but it understands when it is born, and its faculties can be used. So we cannot picture our state in the next world. All we know is that our consciousness, our personality, endures in some new state, and that that world is as much better than this one as this one is better than the dark womb of our mother was....
"Our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future. The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet Who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His Teachings, we find we are growing, even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)
702. Our Speculations on the Nature of Life After Death Have Little Validity
"The Guardian feels that, while there is no harm in speculation on these abstract matters, one should not attach too much importance to them. Science itself is far from having resolved the question of the nature of matter, and we cannot, in this physical world, grasp the spiritual one more than in a very fragmentary and inadequate manner."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1942)
703. God Can Be Known Only Through His Prophets--Heaven and Hell Are Conditions Within Our Own Beings
"We will have experience of God's spirit through His Prophets in the next world, but God is too great for us to know without this Intermediary. The Prophets know God, but how is more than our human minds can grasp. We believe we may attainPage 210
in the next world to seeing the Prophets. There is certainly a future life. Heaven and hell are conditions within our own beings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 14, 1947)704. The Journey of Spiritual Progress is Endless
"As we almost never attain any spiritual goal without seeing the next goal we must attain still beyond our reach, he urges you, who have come so far already on the path of spirituality, not to fret about the distance you still have to cover! It is an indefinite journey, and, no doubt in the next world the soul is privileged to draw closer to God than is possible when bound on this physical plane."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1955)
705. How to "Get to Heaven"--Is Dependent on Two Things
"To 'get to heaven' as you say is dependent on two things--faith in the Manifestation of God in His Day, in other words in this age in Bahá'u'lláh; and good deeds, in other words living to the best of our ability a noble life and doing unto others as we would be done by. But we must always remember that our existence and everything we have or ever will have is dependent upon the mercy of God and His bounty, and therefore He can accept into His heaven, which is really nearness to Him, even the lowliest if He pleases. We always have the hope of receiving His mercy if we reach out for it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 12, 1957)Page 211
"Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, p. 5)
707. Education of the Physical and Intellectual, Spiritual and Ethical Aspects of Man
"...Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í youth all over the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1931)
708. Man Said to be Greatest Representative of God
"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 centre 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: Bahá'í World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 332)
709. Modern Education Lacking in Ability to Produce a Mature Mind
"People today indeed do tend to be very superficial in their thinking, and it would seem as if the educational systems in use are sorely lacking in ability to produce a mature mind in a person who has reached supposedly adult life! All the outside influences that surround the individual seem to have an intensely distracting effect, and it is a hard job to get the average person to do any deep thinking or even a little meditation on the problems facing him and the world at large. Over and over again Bahá'u'lláh cried out against the heedlessness of humanity, and warns of the fate such an attitude must lead to. Did we not know what God plans___________________
+F1 (See also: XLVI. Social and Economic Development, LII. Youth)Page 212
to do, and will do, with the world in the future, we should certainly be as hopeless as many of the best thinkers of our generation have become."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)
710. Each Should Be Educated According to His Needs and Deserts
"Among other teachings and principles Bahá'u'lláh counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world. All mankind must be given a knowledge of science and philosophy; that is, as much as may be deemed necessary. All cannot be scientists or philosophers but each should be educated according to his needs and deserts."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 108)711. Education Extended to Prisoners
"...Kindness, training and education extended to prisoners is exceedingly important. Therefore as thou has exerted an effort in this, has awakened some of them, and hast been the cause of the turning of their faces to the divine Kingdom, this praiseworthy deed is highly acceptable. Assuredly persevere. Convey on my behalf to the two prisoners in San Quentin the utmost kindness, and tell them: 'That prison in the sight of wise souls is a school of training and development. Ye must strive with heart and soul that ye may become renowned in character and knowledge.'"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 116-117)
712. Humankind Are as Children in School, and Prophets Are Their Teachers
"O true companions! All humankind are as children in a school, and the Dawning-Points of Light, the Sources of divine revelation are the teachers, wondrous and without peer. In the school of realities they educate these sons and daughters, according to teachings from God, and foster them in the bosom of grace, so that they may develop along every line, show forth the excellent gifts and blessing of the Lord, and combine human perfections; that they may advance in all aspects of human endeavour, whether outward or inward, hidden or visible, material or spiritual, until they make of this mortal world a widespread mirror, to reflect that other world which dieth not."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid., p. 128)
"It is clear that learning is the greatest bestowal of God; that knowledge and the acquirement thereof is a blessing from Heaven. Thus it is incumbent upon the friends of God to exert such an effort and strive with such eagerness to promote divine knowledge, culture and the sciences, that ere long those who are school children today will become the most erudite of all the fraternity of the wise. This is a service rendered unto God Himself, and it is one of His inescapable commandments."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, Wilmette, 1977 ed., p. 38)Page 213
"...The academic life also has its fashions and fads, even though they are of a different nature from the fads of the man on the street.
"These fashions are not permanent; they are bound to change. Today the fad is a materialistic view of life and of the world. A day will soon come when it will become deeply religious and spiritual. In fact, we can discern the beginning of such a change in the writings of some of the most eminent souls and liberal minds. When the pendulum will start its full swing then we shall see all such eminent men turn again to God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)715. There is No Bahá'í Curriculum as Yet
"...there is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.
"These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and University programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world, is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1939)716. Three Cardinal Principles
"First: Whole-hearted service to the cause of education, the unfolding of the mysteries of nature, the extension of the boundaries of pure science, the elimination of the causes of ignorance and social evils, a standard universal system of instruction, and the diffusion of the lights of knowledge and reality.
"Second: Service to the cause of morality, raising the moral tone of the students, inspiring them with the sublimest ideals of ethical refinement, teaching them altruism, inculcating in their lives the beauty of holiness and the excellency of virtue and animating them with the excellences and perfections of the religion of God.
"Third: Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic--the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of onePage 214
family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood."
(From notes taken of talks given by Abdu'l-Bahá, as quoted in: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 9, p. 98)717. Characteristics of Bahá'í College Students
"You must become the shining candles of moral precepts and spiritual ideals and be the means of the illumination of others. Clothe your bodies with the robes of virtues. Characterize yourselves with the characteristics of the people of divine morality. Shun all manner of vices as you shun a poisonous snake or a leper. Let the corps of professors and the students be impressed with the purity and holiness of your lives so that they may take you as paragons of worthiness, examples of nobility of nature, observers of the moral laws, holding in subordination the lower element by the higher spirit, the conquerors of self and the masters of wholesome, vital forces in all the avenues of life. Strive always to be at the head of your classes through hard study and true merit. Be always in a prayerful state and appreciate the value of everything. Entertain high ideals and stimulate your intellectual and constructive forces."(Ibid.)
718. Abdu'l-Bahá Enjoins Bahá'ís to Excel All Other Students--Emphasis on Truthfulness
"I hope that while you are studying in this college you may so excel all other students in the various branches of knowledge taught therein that all of them may testify that the Bahai (Bahá'í) students have another power, are inspired with another effort, are imbued with a nobler ambition, are stimulated by higher motives and make wider and deeper exertions than others. If you do not surpass the others, then what distinction will there remain for you? Therefore, you must strive to be superior to them, so that everyone may bear testimony to this fact. You are now like the tender plants that are trained according to the knowledge and wisdom of the gardener. From now on, you must strive to beautify the moral aspect of your lives. Advise one another with utmost consideration, watch daily your words and deeds; thus from the very beginning you may characterize yourselves with divine ideals.
"The divine ideals are humility, submissiveness, annihilation of self, perfect evanescence, charity and loving-kindness. You must die to self and live in God. You must be exceedingly compassionate to one another and to all the people of the world. Love and serve mankind just for the sake of God and not for anything else. The foundation of your love toward humanity must be spiritual faith and divine assurance.
"Again: be ye most careful that, God forbid, not one single word contrary to truth issue from your mouths. One falsehood throws man from the highest station of honour to the lowest abyss of disgrace. Always guard yourselves against this enemy so that all you state may correspond with reality. Forever supplicate and entreat at the Court of Majesty and beg confirmation and assistance...."(Ibid., pp. 98-99)
"I hope that through the favor and bounty of the Blessed Beauty, His Holiness the Báb, and the ineffable blessings which hallow this holy Shrine,+F1 the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abha may encircle you, and that you may be characterized with the shining qualities and brilliant attributes of the Bahá'í life. May your morality become more defined day by day! May your faith and assurance be increased day by day! May your attraction to the Kingdom of Abha be intensified day by day! May your attainment in sciences and arts become more universal day by day! Perchance, God willing, you may become perfect and accomplished from every standpoint and be the means of the enlightenment of Persia."(Ibid., pp. 99-100)
"As to teaching work in colleges and universities, this is very important, for students as a whole are open-minded and little influenced by tradition. They would easily enter the Cause if the subject is properly presented and their intellect and sentiments properly satisfied. This, however, should be attempted only by persons who have had university training and are, therefore, acquainted with the mind of the intelligent and educated youth..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1932)721. When Studying at School or University
"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 behaviour 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.'
"When studying at school or university Bahá'í youth will often find themselves in the unusual and slightly embarrassing position of having a more profound insight into a subject than their instructors. The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh throw light on so many aspects of human life and knowledge that a Bahá'í must learn, earlier than most, to weigh the information that is given to him rather than to accept it blindly. A Bahá'í has the advantage of the divine Revelation for this Age, which shines like a searchlight on so many problems that baffle modern thinkers; he must therefore develop the ability to learn everything from those around him, showing proper humility before his teachers, but always relating what he hears to the Bahá'í teachings, for they will enable him to sort out the gold from the dross of human error."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'í Youth in every land, June 10, 1966)___________________
+F1 (The students were visiting the Tomb of the Báb)Page 216
722. Endowment Land Used for Site of Haziratu'l-Quds Ceases to be Endowment in the Bahá'í Sense+F1
"The Universal House of Justice acknowledges your letter of July 15 about the use of a local endowment for the site of the local Haziratu'l-Quds, and instructs us to send you the following reply.
"Endowments, whether local or national, are normally pieces of property held in the name of the National or Local Spiritual Assembly as an investment and asset. The Haziratu'l-Quds and the land on which it is built cannot be considered an endowment as this is a separate institution. If, therefore, endowment land is used for the site of a Haziratu'l-Quds, it ceases to be an endowment in the Bahá'í sense. Where a parcel of land owned as an endowment is sufficiently large to be subdivided, one part to remain as the endowment and the other to be the site of the Haziratu'l-Quds, it is permissible to do this but a clear demarcation must be made to distinguish clearly what is the endowment and what is the Haziratu'l-Quds. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, August 11, 1974)723. National Endowments
"A national endowment should be regarded as an investment in real estate owned by the National Spiritual Assembly. It may be anywhere in the country and can be a small, inexpensive piece of land donated by one of the friends, or else acquired out of the resources of the National Fund."
(From the Naw-Ruz message of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 1974)724. Local Endowments
"...A local endowment can be quite a small piece of land; it can be purchased by the Local Spiritual Assembly or more usually the gift of one or more of the believers. If the Local Assembly is incorporated, the endowment should be registered in its name, but if it is not, the endowment can be held by one or more of the believers on behalf of the community. For example, if one of the believers gives a small piece of land he can continue to hold it in his name, but it will be known that he does so on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly and that the land will in time be transferred legally to the Assembly when that is possible...."(Ibid.)
+F1 (See also: XXIII, Nos. 912-922, Haziratu'l-Quds)Page 217
725. Endowment Land--There is No Objection to Raising a Temporary Structure
"Endowment land cannot, at the same time, be used as another Bahá'í institution such as Haziratu'l-Quds or a Teaching Institute. There is no objection to erecting a temporary structure on endowment land for the convenience of the friends who may visit it or have gatherings there provided that if its use becomes of a permanent nature it would be necessary to acquire a new Endowment."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 30, 1971)
726. Endowment Land to be Regarded as an Investment for Local Assemblies
"...The principle involved is that the endowment land should not be used for any other Bahá'í purpose, and is to be regarded as an investment for the future advantage and benefit to the Local Spiritual Assembly. If the endowment plot is sufficiently large that not all of it is needed to serve as an endowment, it is permissible to designate a part of it as endowment property and the balance may be transferred to the use of the summer school. In such a case a line of demarcation should be made between the portion to be regarded as endowment and the portion to be used for summer or winter school purposes. This demarcation, which must be made in the Assembly's records, as well as on the site itself, is an internal domestic matter and need not be recorded in the Land Registry."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, April 15, 1979)
727. Endowment Property May Be Used for Sports Facilities or to Produce Income for the Work of the Faith
"In reply to your letter of 29 August 1985 in which you inquire about endowment property, we are instructed to say that while such property is regarded as an investment for the future benefit of the Bahá'í community, and as such should not be used for purposes of summer schools, conferences and other Bahá'í events except on a temporary basis, the Universal House of Justice sees no reason why it should not be used for sports facilities. It also might be farmed or otherwise developed to produce income, and such income or proceeds from a capital gain may be used for the general work of the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, September 30, 1985)
728. Summary of Principles which Should Govern Acceptance of Free Land for Bahá'í Use
"We are asked by the Universal House of Justice to acknowledge your letter of 20 August 1985 regarding the possibility of obtaining free land from the government in order to build a Haziratu'l-Quds, and to share the following principles which should govern any decision you will make in this regard.
1. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Bahá'ís for strictly Bahá'í purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Bahá'ís, whether individuals, institutions or governments.Page 218
2. There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Bahá'í cemeteries or for such institutions as are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools.
3. In countries where the only method to acquire property is to be granted by the authorities' free use of land, there is no objection to receiving such allocation of land (which excludes ownership) for the building of institutions of a strictly Bahá'í nature, such as a Haziratu'l-Quds, a Summer School, or a Teaching Institute.
4. If the government offers gifts of land to all religious communities in recognition of their status as a religious entity in the country, Bahá'ís may accept such properties under the provisions of points 1 and 2 above. They should make it clear to the government that they can embark upon the establishment of institutions of a humanitarian or charitable nature, only when conditions favourable to the establishment of such institutions are present."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 19, 1985)Page 219
"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."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1942)
"Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family ... if you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish; you will know what to do."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Pattern of Bahá'í Life, p. 24)
730. The Family: A Special Kind of Community--Each Member Has Rights and Responsibilities
"A family, however, 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' as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's book, 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___________________
+F1 (See also: XVI. D. 762-774. The Relationships Between Parents and Children)Page 220
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."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)731. The Family Progresses When There is Unity
"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 added to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 279)
"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, pp. 144-145, 1982 ed.)
732. Bahá'u'lláh Provides Way to Remove Hostility and Dissension from the World
"Consider the harmful effect of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when the beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement. First he has proclaimed the oneness of mankind and specialized religious teachings for existing human conditions."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 17, No. 7, p. 232)733. It is Important for Man to Raise a Family
"It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old... In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven--a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well-organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest true and sincere lovePage 221
towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family."
(From a talk of Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 13)734. Keys to Strengthening of Family
"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Bahá'í ideal of family life. 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.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 28, 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand)735. Mother-in-Law Problem
"Regarding your other question concerning the strained relationship between you and your mother-in-law and what you can do to alleviate the situation, we feel you should, with the help and consultation of your husband, persevere in your efforts to achieve unity in the family. From your description of the unfriendly attitude your mother-in-law displays toward you it is clear that you will not have an easy task. However, the important thing is that you, as a Bahá'í, are aware of Abdu'l-Bahá'í admonition to concentrate on an individual's good qualities and that this approach to your mother-in-law can strengthen you in your resolve to achieve unity. And furthermore, perseverance in prayer will give you the strength to continue your efforts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 6, 1970: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, p. 29)
736. A Truly Bahá'í Home--A Fortress Upon which the Cause Can Rely
"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...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 6, 1932: Ibid.)
737. The Home is an Institution Bahá'u'lláh Has Come to Strengthen and Not to Weaken
"Surely Shoghi Effendi would like to see you and the other friends give their whole time and energy to the Cause, for we are in great need for competent workers, but the home is an institution that Bahá'u'lláh has come to strengthen and not to weaken. Many unfortunate things have happened in Bahá'í homes just for neglecting this point. Serve the Cause but also remember your duties towards your home. It is for you to find the balance and see that neither makesPage 222
you neglect the other. We would have many more husbands in the Cause were the wives more thoughtful and moderate in their Bahá'í activities."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 14, 1929: Ibid.)
738. Preserve Bahá'í Families: Harmony, Unity and Love Highest Ideals in Human Relationships
"Whenever there is a Bahá'í family, those concerned should by all means do all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the Teachings, whereas harmony, unity and love are held up as the highest ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Bahá'ís, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America, November 9, 1956: Ibid., p. 20)
739. Rights and Prerogatives of Each Member of the Family
"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, p. 168, 1982 ed.)740. Violence in the Home
"No statements dealing directly with violence in the family have come to light from the Writings; however, the House of Justice feels that the absence of specific references to the subject should not be construed as implying that we do not have the necessary guidance in the Faith to treat the problems cited in your letter. Acts of violence might properly be regarded as a negation of the persistent emphasis on concord, understanding and unity which are at the heart of the Bahá'í Teachings, and the sacred Writings are replete with advice as to how these positive objectives may be attained. In His 'Tablet of the World' Bahá'u'lláh states,
'...The distinguishing feature that marketh the pre-eminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God's holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.'
"Elsewhere in the same Tablet the 'people of God' are forbidden 'to engage in contention and conflict.' In view of such statements and the stress laid by both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá on love and harmony as the hallmark of marriage, the law for which Bahá'u'lláh describes as a 'fortress for well-being and salvation;' and in view of Abdu'l-Bahá'í exhortation that each member of the family must uphold the rights of the others, it becomes obvious that violence in the family is antithetical to the spirit of the Faith and a practice to be condemned.Page 223
"If the broad structure of society is to remain intact, resolute efforts, including medical ones, as necessary, should be made to curb acts of aggression within families, particularly their extreme forms of wife beating and child abuse by parents. This is a matter of fundamental importance, for if the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the preeminent character of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace? The following statement by the beloved Master sheds illumination on these points:
'...Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, all fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families....'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 22, 1983)
741. Love Can Change Vile, Mean Person into Heavenly Soul
"The Guardian ... is very much grieved indeed to learn of the severe opposition which you are encountering from your husband because of your affiliation with the Cause. He can very well realize the terrible condition facing you, but feels confident that Bahá'u'lláh is guiding you to follow the right way, and is continually assisting and strengthening you in your efforts to solve this most serious and challenging problem of your life. The staunch and unwavering loyalty and devotion which you have thus far so splendidly demonstrated in your attitude to the Faith is truly remarkable and worthy of the highest praise and admiration. The persecutions from which you are now suffering have this one great advantage, namely to deepen your faith in the Cause, and to revive and refresh your energies for its service. You should, therefore, rejoice and welcome those sufferings in so far as they serve to further awaken your consciousness of being a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
"The Guardian wishes me specially to urge you to remain patient and confident, and above all to show your husband the utmost kindness and love, in return for all the opposition and hatred you receive from him. A conciliatory and friendly attitude in such cases is not only the duty of every Bahá'í but is also the most effective way of winning for the Cause the sympathy and admiration of its former foes and enemies. Love is, indeed, a most potent elixir that can transform the vilest and meanest of people into heavenly souls. May your example serve to further confirm the truth of this beautiful teaching of our Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1935)Page 224
742. Believer Must Be Patient with Non-Bahá'í Spouse, Attract with Loving Kindness, Wisdom, Tact
"As to your husband who, he is most sorry to hear, seems to be so antagonistic to the Cause, having fallen under the evil influence of Mr. ...: The Guardian wishes you to be patient with him, and to endeavour through loving kindness, wisdom and tact to enlist his consideration and sympathy for the Faith. However unfriendly his present attitude to the Cause may be, and no matter how seriously he may interfere in your activities as a believer, you should never lose hope of winning him to the Faith, nay even of guiding him to openly and actively assist you in your Bahá'í activities. With the unfailing help of Bahá'u'lláh and the example of your own conduct your task will assuredly be made easy and will be crowned with success."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 15, 1939)743. Teaching Relatives
"He would not advise you to in any way force the teachings on your husband, but rather through prayer, love and example attract his heart to what he will be forced to see has not only made you a happier person but a better wife and mother than ever before. It is often most difficult to teach those nearest to us, but the Guardian will earnestly pray that your husband and children will join you in serving this wonderful Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska, pp. 72-73)744. Earn Right to Plead on Behalf of Family
"He was sorry to hear that Mrs. ... is in an unhappy state of mind. 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 re-birth."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1942)
745. One Should Not Be Deceptive with Non-Bahá'í Spouse or Parents
"It seems to him that just as you leave your husband free to believe or not to believe in whatever pleases him, he should accord you the same rudimentary privilege. Surely the right to worship God in the way one believes to be right is the greatest fundamental freedom in the world? On the other hand no one should force one's own convictions on another and if Mr. ... objects to your Bahá'í affiliation you should carry on your activities not secretly, but not in such a way as to force him to be constantly conscious of them. In other words, you should, for his sake, sometimes forgo the pleasure of attending a Feast or meeting if there is something he wants you to do with him.
"The Guardian does not feel your daughter should deceive her father and not let him know she is a Bahá'í. She, like you, for his sake should be willing toPage 225
sacrifice her attendance at meetings sometimes, but he cannot very well force her to not believe and accept what she holds to be the Truth for this Age!
"Every sincere believer in God must inevitably make some sacrifices, and, however heavy these may be, they are insignificant compared to the blessing of accepting Bahá'u'lláh. This is certainly true of dear Mr. ... who has suffered because of the firmness of his faith. We cannot bow to the blindness of the world; all we can do is to be tactful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1948)
746. Duty of Believer to Endeavour to Lead Family to the Faith
"...If the believer is the only one of his family who has embraced the Faith, it is his duty to endeavour to lead as many other family members as possible to the light of divine guidance. As soon as a Bahá'í family unit emerges, the members should feel responsible for making the collective life of the family a spiritual reality, animated by divine love and inspired by the ennobling principles of the Faith. To achieve this purpose, the reading of the Sacred Writings and prayers should ideally become a daily family activity. As far as the teaching work is concerned, just as individuals are called upon to adopt teaching goals, the family itself could adopt its own goals. In this way the friends could make of their families strong healthy units, bright candles for the diffusion of the light of the Kingdom, and powerful centres to attract the heavenly confirmations."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)
747. If Family Members Are Hostile, Avoid Antagonizing Them, Leave Them to Themselves
"Not every one is ready to receive the Cause, but in every walk of life there are souls longing for this new Divine Outpouring, and sufficiently mature spiritually to accept it. The Bahá'ís, each according to his own opportunities, must seek out such people.
"The Guardian deeply regrets the hostile attitude of some members of your family towards the Cause you have arisen to serve, and he feels that you should do everything in your power to avoid antagonizing them--short, of course, of giving up your Faith and becoming inactive in it.
"As you cannot induce them to be interested in it, the best thing to do is what the Master always advised in such cases: leave them to themselves, and pray for them. The Guardian, you may be sure, will also pray for their illumination. Many people have, after bitterly opposing the Faith, been eventually won over by the patience, love, tact and prayers of their Bahá'í relative or friend."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1943)B. The Relationship Between Husband and Wife
"The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context ofPage 226
the Bahá'í ideal of family life. 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.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)
749. Honour and Privilege Ordained for Women: Obedience to Husbands
"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 honour 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 tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.'"(Ibid.)
"This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22th July 1943, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:
'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. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands which, of course, is not right, anymore than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.'"(Ibid.)
751. Time When Wife Should Defer to Husband and Time When Husband Should Defer to Wife
"In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wifePage 227
should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by Abdu'l-Bahá which is often read at Bahá'í weddings: 'Verily they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time.+F1'"(Ibid.)
752. In Tablet of the World Women and Men Envisaged as Breadwinners
"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 revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 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."(Ibid.)
"The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!
"In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)754. The Institution of Marriage
"The institution of marriage, as established by Bahá'u'lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfill the true function for which it has been instituted by God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939: Ibid.)755. Husband and Wife as a Single Soul
"...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, p. 122)756. Wife Should Treat Husband with Kindness
"As to thy respected husband: It is incumbent upon thee to treat him with great kindness, to consider his wishes and be conciliatory with him at all times, till he seeth that because thou hast directed thyself toward the Kingdom of God, thy tenderness for him and thy love for God have but increased, as well as thy concern for his wishes under all conditions."(Ibid., p. 122)
757. Tolerate Cruel Actions, Ill Treatment, Demonstrate Loving Kindness
"Hold thy husband dear and always show forth an amiable temper towards him, no matter how ill-tempered he may be. Even if thy loving kindness maketh him more bitter, manifest thou more kindliness, more tenderness, be more loving and tolerate his cruel actions and ill-treatment."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
758. Pray to Bahá'u'lláh for Help, Think of Abdu'l-Bahá as Perfect Example
"He feels you should by all means show your husband the greatest love and sympathy; if we are ever in any doubt as to how we should conduct ourselves as Bahá'ís we should think of Abdu'l-Bahá and study His life and ask ourselves what would He have done, for He is our perfect example in every way. And you know how tender He was, and how His affection and kindness shone like sunlight on everyone.
"Your husband and your child have a right to your love, and give you a wonderful opportunity of demonstrating your faith in the Cause.
"Also you should pray to Bahá'u'lláh to help unite you with your husband and make your home a true and happy home."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1946: Ibid.)
759. Bahá'ís Should Make Almost a Superhuman Effort to Avoid Divorce+F1
"He feels that you should by all means make every effort to hold your marriage together, especially for the sake of your children, who, like all children of divorced parents, cannot but suffer from conflicting loyalties, for they are deprived of the blessing of a father and mother in one home, to look after their interests and love them jointly.
"Now that you realize that your husband is ill, you should be able to reconcile yourself to the difficulties you have faced with him emotionally, and not take an unforgiving attitude, however much you may suffer.
"We know that Bahá'u'lláh has very strongly frowned upon divorce; and it is really incumbent upon the Bahá'ís to make almost a superhuman effort not to allow a Bahá'í marriage to be dissolved."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1953)___________________
760. Faith of Believer Attracts God's Mercy to Souls of Parents
"In reference to your questions about ancestors and descendants, we have been directed to say that while there are Tablets from Bahá'u'lláh stating that faith in the Manifestation of God on the part of a believer attracts God's mercy to the souls of departed parents the House of Justice knows of no text in Bahá'í Writings to support the statement that a believer's seven past generations and seven generations to descend from him are blessed when that person becomes a Bahá'í. You may also be familiar with the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá that 'it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence, and blessings for a man after his death.... Therefore children ... must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents.' (From "Some Answered Questions" pages 268-269)."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 23, 1978)
761. True Believer in Better Position to Intercede for Ancestors+F1
"We cannot take the teaching that if a believer remains steadfast till the end of his life he will be the means of the spiritual awakening of all his ancestors too literally, especially as it is only reported, and not in an authenticated form. However, we can be assured that the true and faithful believer will be in a much better position to intercede for his ancestors, and aid in their development than if he were not spiritually enlightened."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 12, 1942)D. The Relationships Between Parents and Children
762. The Most Important of All Duties After the Recognition of God--Due Regard for Rights of Parents
"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: Family Life, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
763. If Children Do Not Obey Parents--They Will Not Obey God
"The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please."(Ibid.)
"We have enjoined upon every son to serve his father. Thus have We decreed this command in the Book."(Ibid.)
"Regarding thy question about consultation of a father with his son, or a son with his father, in matters of trade and commerce, consultation is one of the fundamental elements of the foundation of the Law of God. Such consultation is assuredly acceptable, whether between father and son, or with others. There is nothing better than this. Man must consult in all things for this will lead him to the depths of each problem and enable him to find the right solution."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid.)
766. Father Must Give Son Advice--Son Must Obey Father
"The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instill into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.
"The son, on the other hand, 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."(Ibid.)
767. Parents Must Be Respected--Should Not Keep Child Back from Serving the Cause
"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."(Ibid.)
768. If One Must Make Choice Between Service to Bahá'u'lláh or Service to Parents
"We have caused thee to return to thy home as a token of Our Mercy unto thy mother, inasmuch as We have found her overwhelmed with sorrow. We have enjoined you in the Book 'to worship no one but God and to show kindness to your parents'.+F1 Thus hath the one true God spoken and the decree hath been___________________
fulfilled by the Almighty, the All-Wise. Therefore We have caused thee to return unto her and unto thy sister, that your mother's eyes may thereby be cheered, and she may be of the thankful.
"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.
"When We learned of her sadness, We directed thee to return unto her, as a token of mercy unto thee from Our presence, and as an admonishment for others.
"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: Ibid.)
"In regard to the questions you asked him: He feels sure that, although in some ways you may be a financial burden to your children, it is to them a privilege to look after you; you are their mother and have given them life, and through the bounty of Bahá'u'lláh they are now attracted to His Faith. Anything they do for you is small recompense for all you have done for them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1948: Ibid.)770. Pray for Parents
"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 Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 94, 1982 ed.)
"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!"(Abdu'l-Bahá: Ibid.)
771. Father Who Fails to Educate His Children Forfeits Rights of Fatherhood
"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 presentPage 232
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...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, December 28, 1980)
772. Mothers Are Not Necessarily Confined to the Home
"...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 women is confined to the home. On the contrary, Abdu'l-Bahá has stated:
'In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will 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)"and again:
'So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease;...'" (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 135)(Ibid.)
773. Underage Child Needs Parental Consent to Pioneer
"Regarding the Guardian's statement that pioneering is conditioned upon the consent of parents and that it would be necessary for them to concur, you have asked whether this ruling applies equally to children who are of age and those who are not. The Guardian's reply is that the ruling applies only to those who have not yet come of age."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, January 18, 1943)774. Parents and Children in the Pioneering Field
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 23 June, 1977 in which you express the ardent desire of yourself and your husband to see your children grow as active supporters of the Faith, and you ask whether, in view of the responsibilities of Bahá'í parents in the pioneering field, the seeming sufferings the children bear as the result of their parents' commitments in service to the Cause will somehow be compensated. We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to convey to you the following points:
"In considering this problem it is important to bear in mind the reality of the unity of the family, and the children's part in its activities. In a talk which Abdu'l-Bahá gave in America in 1912, He made this significant statement:Page 233
'According to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, the family being a human unit must be educated according to the rules of sanctity.... 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.... All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained.' (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 168, 1982 ed.)
"It should also be realized that a child, from early life, is a conscious and thinking soul, a member of his family with his own duties towards it, and is able to make his own sacrifices for the Faith in many ways. It is suggested that the children should be made to feel that they are given the privilege and opportunity of participating in the decisions as to the services their parents are able to offer, thus making their own conscious decision to accept those services with consequence for their own lives. Indeed, the children can be led to realize that it is the earnest wish of their parents to undertake such services with their children's whole-hearted support.
"There are many texts included in 'A Compilation on Bahá'í Education', from the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian, which indicate that 'children must, from their infancy, be raised to be spiritual and godly Bahá'ís. If such be their training, they will remain safe from every test.' (Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 36). Bahá'u'lláh Himself has written: 'As to the children: We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion; ... and in deeds that will further the victory of God's Cause...' (p. 8). They should even be trained from an early age to make their own sacrifices for the Faith, as indicated in these words: 'Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import...' (Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 31)."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1977)Page 234
"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."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 10, 1936)
776. Observance of the Fast is a Universal Obligation--Bahá'u'lláh Permits Certain Exceptions to Fasting
"Regarding the nineteen-day fast: Its observance has been enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh upon all the believers, once they attain the age of fifteen and until they reach seventy. Children of all countries, nationalities and classes who are fifteen years old are under this obligation. It matters not whether they mature later in one country than in another. The command of Bahá'u'lláh is universal, irrespective of any variance in the age of maturity in different countries and among different peoples.
"In the 'Aqdas' Bahá'u'lláh permits certain exceptions to this general obligation of fasting, among them are included those who do hard work, such as workers in heavy industries.
"But while a universal obligation, the observance of the nineteen day fast has been made by Bahá'u'lláh the sole responsibility of the individual believer. No Assembly has the right to enforce it on the friends, or to hold anybody responsible for not observing it. The believer is free, however, to ask the advice of his Assembly as to the circumstances that would justify him to conscientiously break such a fast. But he is by no means required to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1937)
777. Fasting has a Salutary Effect Both Physically and Spiritually
"Keeping the Fast is enjoined upon all Bahá'ís, regardless of nationality; it has a very salutary effect both physically and spiritually, and the friends should realize Bahá'u'lláh never would have instituted it if it were detrimental to the health."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1946)
778. The Doctor's Advice Should Be Sought if There is a Health Problem
"As to your question regarding the Fast: If there is any doubt in the mind of a person as to whether it will really be bad for that person's health to keep it, the best doctor's advice should be obtained. But generally speaking most people canPage 235
keep it, anywhere in the world, with no detriment to their health. It is very good for the health and, once one forms the habit, each year it becomes easier to keep, unless one is rundown. No one is obliged to keep it if it really harms them."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 14, 1947)779. The Divine Wisdom in Fasting
"The Divine wisdom in fasting is manifold. Among them is this: As during those days (i.e., the period of fasting which the followers afterward observe) the Manifestation of the Sun of Reality, through Divine inspiration, is engaged in the descent (revealing) of Verses, the instituting of Divine Law and the arrangement of teachings, through excessive occupation and intensive attraction there remains no condition or time for eating and drinking. For example, when His Holiness Moses went to Mount Tur (Sinai) and there engaged in instituting the Law of God, He fasted forty days. For the purpose of awakening and admonishing the people of Israel, fasting was enjoined upon them.
"Likewise, His Holiness Christ, in the beginning of instituting the Spiritual Law, the systematizing of the teachings and the arrangement of counsels, for forty days abstained from eating and drinking. In the beginning the disciples and Christians fasted. Later the assemblages of the chief Christians changed fasting into lenten observances.
"Likewise the Koran having descended in the month of Ramazan, fasting during that month became a duty.
"In like manner His Holiness the Supreme (the Báb), in the beginning of the Manifestation through the excessive effect of descending verses, passed days in which His nourishment was reduced to tea only.
"Likewise, the Blessed Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh), when busy with instituting the Divine Teachings and during the days when the Verses (The Word of God) descended continuously, through the great effect of the Verses and the throbbing of the heart, took no food except the least amount.
"The purpose is this: In order to follow the Divine Manifestations and for the purpose of admonition and the commemoration of their state, it became incumbent upon the people to fast during those days. For every sincere soul who has a beloved longs to experience that state in which his beloved is. If his beloved is in a state of sorrow, he desires sorrow; if in a state of joy, he desires joy; if in a state of rest, he desires rest; if in a state of trouble, he desires trouble.
"Now, since in this Millennial Day, His Holiness the Supreme (the Báb) fasted many days, and the Blessed Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh) took but little food or drink, it becomes necessary that the friends should follow that example...."
(From Table Talks by Abdu'l-Bahá, by Mrs. Corinne True: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)
780. Travellers Are Exempt from Fasting--If One Eats Unconsciously, Fast is Not Broken
"Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travellers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are travelling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours youPage 236
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."
(Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 9-10)781. Fasting in High Latitudes
"It is true that Bahá'u'lláh has ordained in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas that in the high latitudes where the duration of days and nights varies considerably clocks should be relied upon rather than the rising and setting of the sun. However, we feel that Dublin is too far south for the application of this law. You should thus judge the end of each day by the actual sunset."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)782. Smoking is a Form of Drinking
"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.)
"In the East, therefore, the friends abstain from smoking during the hours of fasting, and friends from the East living in the West do likewise. But, as stated in our letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, this application of the Divine Law has not been extended to the friends in the West for the present, and therefore it should not be made an issue."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 15, 1972)
783. Observance of Fast When Attending Military School
"With reference to your son's request for advice regarding the observance of the Bahá'í fast: Much as the Guardian realizes the difficulty which a believer of his position, attending a military school, will have to encounter if he wishes to strictly conform to the regulations of the fast, he nevertheless would advise him to make every effort to obtain from the school authorities the necessary permission. In case his request is refused the only alternative for him would be to obey his superiors."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 27, 1938)784. Prayer for the Fast
"O God! as I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions and animal traits. Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 18, p. 305)Page 237
785. Fear of God and Sense of Shame Protect Man from Unseemly Conduct
"...Verily I say: The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation. Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed and do not possess it."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1978 ed., p. 63)
786. Teach Children the Fear of God Through Concept of Oneness and the Laws
"That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)
787. The Knowledge which Will Largely Eliminate Fear
"In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32)
788. Lack of Faith in Immortality is a Cause of Fear, Weakened Will Power and Human Degradation
"The conception of annihilation is a factor in human degradation, fear and abjection. It has been conducive to the dispersion and weakening of human thought whereas the realization of existence and continuity has upraised man to sublimity of ideals, established the foundations of human progress and stimulated the development of heavenly virtues; therefore it behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death, which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. If he dwells on the thought of non-existence he will become utterly incompetent; with weakened will-power his ambition for progress will be lessened and the acquisition of human virtues will cease."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, 1971 ed., p. 265)Page 238
"You have asked the exact meaning of the term 'Fear of God' mentioned in Bahá'í Sacred Writings: It often means awe, but has also other connotations such as reverence, terror and fear."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1940)
"We have no way of knowing what science Bahá'u'lláh meant when He said it would largely eliminate fear; as no further mention of it was ever made in the teachings, the Guardian cannot identify anything with this statement. To do so would depart from his function as interpreter of the teachings; he cannot reveal anything apart from the given teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 30, 1952)790. Explaining Fear of God to Children
"In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 15, 1957)791. Fear Does Not Solve Problems
"He does not feel that fear--for ourselves or for others--solves any problem, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly, or how soon we may all pass through another ordeal worse than the last one.
"But what we do know is that all we can do as Bahá'ís is to teach and to exemplify the Faith. We cannot bear the burden of suffering of others, and we should not try to. All men are in God's hands, and even if they do get killed we know there is another life beyond this than can hold great hope and happiness for the soul.
"No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through, will come out as Bahá'u'lláh has promised.
"He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that if God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)792. Overcoming Fear
"He will certainly pray that you may entirely overcome your fear-complex. When you concentrate your thoughts on realizing that you now belong to Bahá'u'lláh,Page 239
are His servant whom He loves and will always help, if you ask Him to, and that the great spiritual strength of the Cause of God is behind you for you to draw upon, you will soon see your fears melting away."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)793. Forget Fears, Teach and Serve the Faith
"The Guardian urges you to forget all your fears, and with a tranquil heart and radiant spirit, to teach and serve the Faith all you can in Yonkers and its vicinity, while depending on God for your guidance and help. The teaching work is of the utmost importance in these days, and whoever engages in it will be reinforced by the Hosts on High."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1953)
794. Fear of God--Human Beings Need Element of Fear
"You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment, fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on the right path. Of course we should love God--but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His Justice!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 26, 1946: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)Page 240
"...The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feasts is to enable individual believers to offer any suggestion to the Local Assembly which in its turn will pass it to the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Assembly is, therefore, the proper medium through which local Bahá'í communities can communicate with the body of the national representatives...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 24, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice)796. The Lord's Supper--The Nineteen Day Feast
"You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.
"Each one of you must think how to make happy and pleased the other members of your Assembly, and each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high, and think of your own station as low."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 7, p. 120)797. Abdu'l-Bahá is Present in Heart and Soul
"Make ye an effort in every meeting that the Lord's Supper may become realised and the heavenly food descend. This heavenly food is knowledge, understanding, faith, assurance, love, affinity, kindness, purity of purpose, attraction of hearts and the union of souls.... When the meeting is conducted after this manner, then Abdu'l-Bahá also is present in heart and soul, though His body may not be with you."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, pp. 407-408)
798. Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts Not Obligatory
"Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory but very important, and every believer should consider it a duty and a privilege to be present on such occasions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 15, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)Page 241
"As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 91)800. Prophecies About Feasts
"...This is that 'divine table' (or food) of which mention is made in the prophecies: 'On that day they shall gather together at the divine table', and 'people shall come from the East and the West and arrive in His Kingdom'."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 422, 1940 ed.)
801. Visitors Can Take Part in Consultation, They Cannot Vote
"As to visitors to a Nineteen Day Feast, Bahá'ís from anywhere in the world should of course be warmly welcomed, and may take part in consultation. However, only members of the local community can vote on recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968)
802. Omit Consultative Part of Feast if Non-Bahá'í Appears
"The rule that only Bahá'ís may take part in Nineteen Day Feasts is not a new one, indeed it was often reiterated by the beloved Guardian. However, when a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá'í should be made welcome. Of course, if the non-Bahá'í is well known to the Bahá'ís and no hurt feelings would be caused, he might be asked to retire during the consultative part. In general, however, it is much better to avoid such problems where possible, and you seem to have taken the wisest course during your friends' last visit by taking them out for the evening, so avoiding the problem.
"During the period of consultation the Bahá'ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá'u'lláh and who might, thereby, gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive non-Bahá'í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Bahá'í Community of which he is not a part."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 24, 1970)
803. Voting Rights Cannot Be Removed for Failure to Attend Feast
"The Guardian has never heard of any ruling by which a believer who does not attend three consecutive 19 Day Feasts can be deprived of his voting rights. He does not consider that such action is justifiable at all. The whole question is whether a person considers himself a Bahá'í or not, and is willing to adherePage 242
to the principles of the Faith and accept the authority of the Guardian and the Administration--whether that individual is able, or always in a condition psychologically to attend Feasts and Bahá'í meetings is an entirely different subject...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)804. Non-Bahá'í Attendance at Nineteen Day Feast
"With regard to the attendance of non-Bahá'ís at a Nineteen Day Feast, you can explain to ... the essentially domestic, administrative nature of the Nineteen Day Feast.... The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf on 21 September, 1946:
'As regards your question concerning Nineteen Day Feasts ... as to non-Bahá'ís attending, this should by all means be avoided, but if non-believers come to a Nineteen Day Feast, they should not be put out, as this might hurt their feelings.'
"This is why, if a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá'í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá'í to attend.
"A non-Bahá'í who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, March 13, 1967)
805. The Nineteen Day Feast for Bahá'ís Exclusively--No Variation from this Principle Permitted
"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, as published in your January-February Bahá'í News, that non-Bahá'ís may attend 19 Day Feasts if 'the earnestness of their interest in the Faith' is vouched for by a declared believer.
"The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances.
"The 19 Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by the Báb, later confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These 19 Day Feasts are for the Bahá'ís, and the Bahá'ís exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted.
"Thus the Guardian feels you should rescind the action taken by your Assembly in opening the Feasts to 'near Bahá'ís', as it is not consistent with the spirit of the administrative order for non-Bahá'ís or near Bahá'ís to attend the 19 Day Feasts, particularly the administrative portion of the Feast."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, May 28, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, November 1975)
806. Bahá'í Groups, Isolated Believers and Friends Should Observe the Nineteen Day Feast
"In reply to your letter of November 8th we feel that all friends, whatever their circumstances, should be encouraged to observe the Nineteen Day Feast.Page 243
Obviously it can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, December 1, 1968, Bahá'í Journal of the British Isles, No. 190, March-April 1969)807. Where Nineteen Day Feast Should Be Held
"The matter of where the Nineteen Day Feasts should be held is certainly one for the Spiritual Assembly to decide; but the Haziratu'l-Quds seems the logical place on most occasions. Until the friends have a place of worship ... this building will also be used for devotional meetings, as well as for administrative purposes.
"If under some circumstances, some special Feast is offered in the home of one of the believers, with the approval of the Spiritual Assembly, there can be no objection; but, generally speaking, he feels it is better to use the Haziratu'l-Quds."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31)808. The Owner of the House Must Personally Serve
"...The owner of the house must personally serve the beloved ones. He must seek after the comfort of all and with the utmost humility he must show forth kindness to every one. If the Feast is arranged in this manner and in the way mentioned, that supper is the 'Lord's Supper', for the result is the same result and the effect is the same effect."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, pp. 468-469)
809. Children Up to Age Fifteen Permitted to Attend Feasts
"Up to the age of fifteen, children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Bahá'ís and are permitted to attend such functions as Feasts. Upon reaching the age of fifteen, however, the child must make his own declaration of faith if he wishes to continue as a Bahá'í. Again, the mechanics of enrollment are left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, March 27, 1968)810. District Nineteen Day Feasts
"Each city will have its own Spiritual Assembly, not a number of district ones. Naturally, district 19 Day Feasts can be held where there are very many Bahá'ís in one city."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1949: The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 29)Page 244
"We have your letter of October 12, 1971 concerning the date for the holding of the Nineteen Day Feast. It is preferable that Nineteen Day Feasts be held on the first day of the Bahá'í month, but if it should be difficult to do so, it is permissible to hold it on a succeeding day of the Bahá'í month. The matter is left to the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland, October 28, 1971, Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)
812. If Feast Clashes with Regular Day for Public Meeting
"The Nineteen Day Feast should be held, preferably, on the first day of the Bahá'í month, that is to say the Bahá'í day, beginning at sunset. If this is not possible for some good reason, for example that it clashes with the regular day for a public meeting, then it may be held later, but it must fall within that same Bahá'í month and should be on the nearest possible date."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1969)
813. Feast Should Be Held on Prescribed Day Before Sunset
"Regarding the time for holding of the Nineteen Day Feasts and elections: The Guardian would advise your Assembly to urge the friends to hold such gatherings on the prescribed day before sunset. If impossible, then it is permissible to hold them on the preceding day...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 24, 1939: Bahá'í Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 28)
814. Feast Can Be Celebrated During Intercalary Days, Also Month of Fasting
"...relative to the last Nineteen Day Feast, Shoghi Effendi sees no objection if the friends choose to celebrate it on one of the intercalary days. They may also celebrate it during the month of fasting, provided they abstain from food."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 2, 1929)
815. In High Latitudes Permissible to Go by the Clock
"As to whether the celebrating of the Feasts, Holy Days and the Fast should follow the rising and the setting of sun, in the high latitudes it is permissible to go by the clock."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Teaching Committee of Iceland October 28, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 213, May 1972, p. 7)
816. "Most Suitable" Day for Celebrations of the Nineteen Day Feast
"...You ask if it is within the discretion of a Local Spiritual Assembly, to schedule the Feasts at times other than the first day of a Bahá'í month, and point out that attendance was very low when the Feasts were held in the middle of a week, but that when held on a Saturday many more of the friends werePage 245
able to attend. It seems obvious, therefore, that the intent of the Local Assembly, in loving consideration of the members of its community, was to make the participation in a Nineteen Day Feast available to as many of the believers as possible. Perhaps the Assembly was basing its decision on Abdu'l-Bahá'í statement, taken from the compilation on the Nineteen Day Feast, that the 'object' of the Feast is 'concord, that through this fellowship hearts may become perfectly united...'
"Other passages from that same compilation are: 'This Feast is a bringer of joy. It is the groundwork of agreement and unity. It is the key to affection and fellowship... 'The believers of God must assemble and associate with each other in the utmost love, joy and fragrance.'
"On the other hand, since the beloved Guardian expressed a preference, and considered it 'most suitable', for the Feast to be held on the first day of each month, the House of Justice hopes that the friends everywhere will aim at scheduling their Nineteen Day Feasts in this way, and that the friends themselves will arrange their personal affairs to be able to attend.
"As in so many aspects of our beloved Faith, this is a matter of the gradual maturing of the Bahá'ís and of the institutions. The House of Justice feels that you should lovingly guide the Local Assemblies in this matter, but leave it to their discretion for the time being."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, October 10, 1985)C. Programme for the Nineteen Day Feast
"The question regarding the devotional part of the Feast has been obscured because once he used the term 'devotional' in its strict sense, which of course means prayer, and once loosely, in the sense in which the Bahá'ís usually understand it, and that is the meeting together and reading from the teachings which precedes the administrative--or consultative--aspect of the 19 Day Feast. The two statements in no way change the method of holding this part of the Feast which, in the East at any rate, is always opened with prayers and afterwards Tablets and excerpts from Bahá'u'lláh's, or the Master's or the Guardian's writings may be read or, for that matter, the Bible or the Qur'an quoted."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1949: Bahá'í Meetings, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)818. Programme for Devotions Outlined
"Concerning the matter of the devotions at Nineteen Day Feasts. We see no contradiction in the three statements of the beloved Guardian. In essence they all describe exactly the same procedure, namely, that the Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and the Master. Following these passages may be read from other Tablets, from the Holy Scriptures of previous Dispensations, and from the writings of the Guardian. It is clear, however, that the beloved Guardian would not wish his own words to be read as part of an arranged devotional programme in which they wouldPage 246
be interspersed among words of Holy Scripture. In other words, at the Nineteen Day Feast, where words of the Guardian are to be read they should follow any selections from the Scriptures and not be mixed with them. This does not mean, however, that subsequently in the Feast, any of these types of writings may not be read as suitable during the consultation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Hands of the Cause of God, August 25, 1965: cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)
819. Writings which Can Be Read in Spiritual Part of Feast
"The Writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh can certainly be read any time at any place; likewise the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá are read freely during the spiritual part of the Feast. The Guardian has instructed that during the spiritual part of the Feast, his own writings should not be read. In other words, during the spiritual part of the Feast, readings should be confined to the Writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and to a lesser extent, of the Master; but during that part of the Feast the Guardian's writings should not be read. During the period of administrative discussion of the Feast, then the Guardian's writings may be read. Of course, during the administrative part of the Feast there can be no objection to the reading of the Writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh or Abdu'l-Bahá."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1956: Ibid., p. 9)
820. Reading from Writings of the Guardian at Feast in Persia
"Concerning the permissibility of reading selections from the writings of the beloved Guardian at Nineteen Day Feasts in Persia: It is true, as you rightly point out, that the beloved Guardian in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States stated that only the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá should be read during the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast....
"...it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 15, 1972)821. Advisable to Read from Our Own Holy Writings
"First, he feels that although in principle there is certainly no reason why excerpts from other Sacred Scriptures should not be read in the spiritual part of our Feasts, that as this is particularly an occasion when Bahá'ís get together to deepen their own spiritual life, it is, generally speaking, advisable for them to read from their own holy Writings in the spiritual part of the Feast."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954: Bahá'í Meetings and the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 31, Wilmette, 1976)822. Music at Bahá'í Feasts
"Music is permitted during the spiritual part--or any part--of the 19 Day Feast."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 30, 1952: Ibid.)Page 247
823. Advisable Believers Make Use of Hymns, Poems and Chants
"With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that not only he approves of such a practice, but thinks it even advisable that the believers should make use, in their meetings, of hymns composed by Bahá'ís themselves, and also of such hymns, poems and chants as are based on the Holy Words."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 7, 1935: Ibid., p. 5)824. Instrumental Music May Be Used at Feasts
"Instrumental music may be used at the Bahá'í Feasts.
"There is no objection to showing appreciation by the clapping of hands.
"If an individual has a teaching appointment on the same evening as a 19 Day Feast, it is left to the individual to judge which is the most important."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 20, 1956: Ibid., p. 33)
825. Shoghi Effendi Provided for the Period of Consultation
"...In the Arabic Bayan the Báb called upon His followers to gather together once every nineteen days to show hospitality and fellowship. Bahá'u'lláh here confirms this and notes the unifying role of such occasions.
"Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi after Him have gradually unfolded the institutional significance of this injunction. Abdu'l-Bahá emphasized the importance of the spiritual and devotional character of these gatherings. Shoghi Effendi, besides further elaborating the devotional and social aspects of the Feast, has developed the administrative element of such gatherings and, in systematically instituting the Feast, has provided for a period of consultation on the affairs of the Bahá'í community, including the sharing of news and messages.(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: N. 82, p. 202)
"The Bahá'ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire--so natural in people--to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the 19 Day Feasts for the community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise, the Assembly members should fully consult, and in their decisions put the interest of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949: Bahá'í Meetings; The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 30)827. Selling of Items at the Nineteen Day Feast
"As to the sale of items during the Nineteen Day Feast, we leave this to your discretion, bearing in mind that the principal purpose of holding the Feast should not be diverted and that pressure should not be placed upon the friends to participate in the purchase of articles offered for sale. Neither should it become an habitual thing. It would be better if the sale was not conducted during the Feast itself, but held at a separate time before or after the Feast proper."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)___________________
"...I would like to comment that it has been found over the entire world that the most effective method of teaching the Faith is the fireside meeting in the home. Every Bahá'í as a part of his spiritual birthright, must teach, and the one avenue where he can do this most effectively is by inviting friends into his home once in 19 days, and gradually attracting them to the Cause. After the individuals have confidence in the pioneer, and the pioneer in the individuals, then they can be taught and confirmed in the Faith. This method is far more effective than advertising in newspapers, public lectures etc. The Guardian is encouraging the believers over the world, including those on the home fronts, to engage in this method of teaching."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Bahá'í Group of Key West, Florida, March 31, 1955: Bahá'í News, No. 292, pp. 9-10)829. Must Hold Fireside in Home Once in 19 Days
"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."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 6, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 317, July 1957, p. 4)
830. Service Once Rendered by Priest is the Service a Bahá'í is Expected to Render Individually to His Religion
"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, gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life--the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux Countries, July 5, 1957)831. That Home is a Garden of God
"Blessed art thou for having opened the door of thy home unto the people to come and hear of the Kingdom...Page 249
"Know that in every home where God is praised and prayed to, and His Kingdom proclaimed, that home is a garden of God and a paradise of His happiness."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 68)
832. Fireside in Home is Example of Individual Goal
"...It is now imperative for every Bahá'í to set for himself individual teaching goals. The admonition of Abdu'l-Bahá to lead at least one new soul to the Faith each year and the exhortation of Shoghi Effendi to hold a Bahá'í fireside in one's home every Bahá'í month are examples of individual goals. Many have capacities to do even more, but this alone will assure final and complete victory for the Plan."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 16, 1969: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 35)
833. Must Aid New Believers to Become "True Bahá'ís"--Then Introduce Them to the Community
"...One of the best ways to teach is what the Americans call a 'fireside', in other words a little group of your friends in your own home, to whom you can introduce a few believers whom you feel would be congenial and help confirm them. When you have made them true Bahá'ís, then take them to the community and let them be accepted. In this way they are protected from tests until their faith is really strong."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 18, 1950)
834. The Holy Spirit Quickens Friends--Must Become Channels for Its Diffusion
"...The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results; when each one invites friends into their homes once in 19 days, and introduces them to the Faith. Close association and loving service affects the hearts; and when the heart is affected, then the spirit can enter. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens, and the Friends must become channels for its diffusion."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1957)Page 250
"...To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Hidden Words, Persian No. 49)
836. God Does Not Ask from Any Soul Except According to His Ability
"...God does not ask from any soul except according to his ability. This contribution must come from all cities and villages from all the believers of God...
"...whosoever comes with one good act, God will give him tenfold. There is no doubt that the living Lord shall assist and confirm the generous soul."
(Abdu'l-Bahá to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)837. Responsibility of Every Bahá'í
"...Every Bahá'í, no matter how poor, must realize what a grave responsibility he has to shoulder in this connection, and should have confidence that his spiritual progress as a believer in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the Divine institutions of his Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 17, 1937: Extracts from a compilation of the Guardian's letters on Bahá'í Funds and Contributions published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)838. There Can Be No Limit to One's Contributions
"...There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, specially 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...."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 31, 1935: Life-blood of the Cause, p. 10)839. Service Every Believer Can Render
"...Contributing to the Fund is a service that every believer can render, be he poor or wealthy; for this is a spiritual responsibility in which the amount given is not important. It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift, and the unity of all the friends in this service which bring spiritual confirmations....Page 251
"Much of the present rapid expansion of the Faith is taking place in areas of great poverty where the believers, however much they sacrifice, cannot produce sufficient funds to sustain the work. It is these very areas which are the most fruitful in teaching, and a sum of money spent here will produce ten times--even a hundred times--the results obtainable in other parts of the world. Yet in the past months the Universal House of Justice has had to refuse a number of appeals for assistance from such areas because there just was not enough money in the International Fund.
"It should therefore be the aim of every local and national community to become not only self-supporting, but to expend its funds with such wisdom and economy as to be able to contribute substantially to the Bahá'í International Fund, thus enabling the House of Justice to aid the work in fruitful but impoverished areas, to assist new National Assemblies to start their work, to contribute to major international undertakings...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'ís of the East and West, December 18, 1963: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 19-20)
840. Commerce, Agriculture and Industries Blessed Many Times
"In brief, O ye friends of God, rest assured that in place of this contribution, your commerce, your agriculture and industries shall be blessed many times...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá to the friends in the East and the West: Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 17, p. 139)841. Believers Alone Have Bounty of Contributing
"The overwhelming majority of the Bahá'ís in the world are poor people, but it is to the believers, and to the believers alone, that Bahá'u'lláh has given the bounty of contributing the material things of this world for the progress of His Faith. It is not the amount of the contribution which is important, but the degree of self-sacrifice that it entails--for it is this that attracts the confirmations of God."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Bahá'í International Fund, April 13, 1975)
842. Should Not Incur Debts for Purpose of Contributing to Fund
"Even though Shoghi Effendi would urge every believer to sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of contributing towards the fund of the National Assembly, yet he would discourage the friends to incur debts for that purpose. We are asked to give what we have, not what we do not possess, especially if such an act causes suffering to others. In such matters we should use judgement and wisdom and take into our confidence other devoted Bahá'ís."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated May 4, 1932, to an individual believer: Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada, p. 7)B. Those Eligible to Contribute
"One of the distinguishing features of the Cause of God is its principle of non-acceptance of financial contributions for its own purposes from non-Bahá'ís: support of the Bahá'í Fund is a bounty reserved by Bahá'u'lláh to His declared followers. This bounty imposes full responsibility for financial support of the FaithPage 252
on the believers alone, every one of whom is called upon to do his utmost to ensure that the constant and liberal outpouring of means is maintained and increased to meet the growing needs of the Cause. Many Bahá'í communities are at present dependent on outside help, and for them the aim must be to become self-supporting, confident that the Generous Lord will, as their efforts increase, eventually enable them to offer for the progress of His Faith material wealth as well as their devotion, their energy and love."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Naw-Ruz 1974)844. Giving to the Fund is a Spiritual Privilege
"Giving to the Fund, therefore, is a spiritual privilege, not open to those who have not accepted Bahá'u'lláh, of which no believer should deny himself. It is both a responsibility and a source of bounty. This is an aspect of the Cause which, we feel, is an essential part of the basic teaching and deepening of new believers. The importance of contributing resides in the degree of sacrifice of the giver, the spirit of devotion with which the contribution is made and the unity of the friends in this service; these attract the confirmations of God and enhance the dignity and self-respect of the individuals and the community."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)
845. When a Soul Accepts Bahá'u'lláh He Becomes a Co-Worker in the Cause of God
"There is a profound aspect to the relationship between a believer and the Fund, which holds true irrespective of his or her economic condition. When a human soul accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and enters into the divine Covenant, that soul should progressively bring his or her whole life into harmony with the divine purpose--he becomes a co-worker in the Cause of God and receives the bounty of being permitted to devote his material possessions, no matter how meagre, to the work of the Faith."(Ibid.)
846. Those Who Openly Proclaim Recognition of Bahá'u'lláh Permitted to Contribute
"...Since only those who have openly proclaimed their recognition of Bahá'u'lláh are permitted to contribute financially to the establishment of His world order, it is apparent that more, much more, is required from the few now so privileged. Our responsibilities in this field are very great, commensurate indeed with the bounty of being the bearers of the Name of God in this Day."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)847. They Must Create a Sense of Belonging
"As it has already been pointed out, in various communications to you, it is important for the National Spiritual Assemblies to work out ways and means of creating a sense of belonging in the hearts of the believers. One of the ways this can be done is to bring to their attention the needs of the Fund."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)Page 253
848. Contributions from Children of Non-Bahá'ís or in Case One Parent is Bahá'í
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter asking whether children of non-Bahá'ís or children one of whose parents is a Bahá'í are allowed to contribute to Bahá'í funds, and we have been asked to say that in both cases, if the child wishes to be a Bahá'í and his parents do not object, he may be treated as any other Bahá'í child. However, if the parents object to their child's being a Bahá'í, his contribution may be accepted for charitable purposes, including use for Bahá'í schools where both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís are accepted as pupils."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, August 31, 1975)
849. Selling Items for the Benefit of the Bahá'í Fund
"As to the sale of personal items for the benefit of Bahá'í funds, we begin with the principle that any believer may sell personal services or goods to anyone and do with the proceeds as he wishes, including giving any or all of them to Bahá'í purposes. In doing so, however, he should not represent to non-Bahá'ís that such a sale is for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund as it is also a principle that it is improper to solicit funds from non-Bahá'ís in the name of the Faith for any purpose. This includes the sale of food and admission to entertainment."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, April 1, 1968)
850. It is Not Proper for a Bahá'í Institution to Sponsor a Fund-Raising Sale Open to Public
"...Neither do we think it is proper for a Bahá'í institution to sponsor a 'garage sale' of personal items contributed by believers for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund. This is not to say that an Assembly may not sell items of property to non-Bahá'ís for fair market value, but rather that non-Bahá'ís should not be led to purchase items at a fund-raising sale on the representation that the proceeds are to be used for Bahá'í purposes."(Ibid.)
851. Auctions Among Bahá'ís--Contributing to the Fund is a Spiritual Responsibility
"There is no objection to the friends' holding an auction among Bahá'ís for the purpose of contributing the proceeds to the fund, nor is there any objection to Bahá'ís selling their own property to non-Bahá'ís for its fair market value and later contributing the proceeds to the fund, although no representation should be made at the sale about the proceeds going to the Bahá'í fund. The House of Justice feels, however, that it is important for the friends never to lose sight of the fact that contributing to the funds of the Faith is a spiritual responsibility and privilege of profound significance in the spiritual life of the individual believer, and care must be taken not to trivialize this aspect of Bahá'í life or to treat it with a lack of dignity. At the same time, the Assemblies should not dampen the enthusiasm of those friends who, having only slender financial resources, devise imaginative ways of earning money for the work of the Faith.
"As your Assembly is considering sponsoring an auction under its direct auspices, the House of Justice suggests that you should ascertain whether thePage 254
holding of auctions is legally permissible, since we are informed that in some countries it is legal only if conducted by a licensed auctioneer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 8, 1984)852. Holding of Raffles
"The holding of raffles has not been specifically mentioned in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and the Universal House of Justice has not legislated on the matter. However, the House of Justice does not at present consider it desirable for Bahá'í institutions to raise funds by this method."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, January 15, 1984)
853. Guidelines Towards Establishing a Business Venture Owned by Bahá'ís
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 15 February concerning the proposal by a number of Bahá'ís to establish a private company whose shares would be owned by Bahá'ís and which would be managed for the financial profit of the friends and of the Faith. We are instructed to transmit its advice.
"Your objective to generate funds for the Faith is, of course, praiseworthy. In the past, as you may assume, similar proposals have been made to the House of Justice, and the following guidelines may be helpful from a letter to an individual:
'Concerning the formation of a company which you and other friends have suggested, the Universal House of Justice ... has decided that the time has not yet come to have the Bahá'í institutions involved in a business transaction in the way which was suggested.
'If the friends, however, are willing, spontaneously, to establish a profitable business in order to benefit themselves as well as the other friends it is meritorious and there is no objection.'
"Should such a business venture as you propose be undertaken--and there is nothing wrong with it in principle--it would be well to advise the Bahá'ís who participate to approach it on the basis of its viability as a business project and they should not underestimate the possibilities of financial loss.
"The House of Justice feels that the institutions of the Faith should neither themselves become involved in nor promote such a private business. The use of national endowments as collateral for such a business is not permissible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, April 5, 1982)
854. Reasons for Not Accepting Donations from Non-Bahá'ís for Administration of the Faith
"...He wishes me to stress again that under no circumstances the believers should accept any financial help from non-Bahá'ís for use in connection with specific administrative activities of the Faith such as the Temple construction fund, and other local or national Bahá'í administrative funds. The reason for this is twofold: First because the institutions which the Bahá'ís are gradually building are in the nature of gifts from Bahá'u'lláh to the world; and secondly the acceptance of funds from non-believers for specific Bahá'í use would, soonerPage 255
or later, involve the Bahá'ís into unforeseen complications and difficulties with others, and thus cause incalculable harm to the body of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 12, 1938)
855. Guidelines for Accepting Funds from Governmental and Other Non-Bahá'í Sources
"The crucial point in deciding whether or not funds may be accepted from non-Bahá'í sources is the purpose for which the funds are to be used. As you know, it is absolutely forbidden in the Faith to accept from non-Bahá'ís contributions towards the work of the Cause itself. However, in addition to the work of spreading the Faith and establishing its institutions, Spiritual Assemblies also engage in humanitarian activities, and contributions from non-Bahá'í sources may be accepted towards such activities. Indeed, although we never ask individual non-Bahá'ís for funds, it sometimes happens that a person who has a great admiration for the Faith insists on contributing. In such a case the contribution may be accepted, with the express provision that it will be used only for charitable and humanitarian purposes.
"Governments and their agencies occupy a special position because, of course, they are often very willing to assist those who are engaged in humanitarian service. Thus, where a Spiritual Assembly is undertaking a specifically humanitarian activity for which the government normally would supply financial assistance, the Assembly may accept such assistance. The activity that you instance, a meeting being held on behalf of Human Rights Day to advance one of the aims of the United Nations, is a case in point; there would be no objection to your accepting from 'INAC' its offer to pay for the invitation cards on that occasion.
"In relation to schools and other institutions of community service, government assistance is also acceptable, but here the Assembly needs to be aware that the acceptance of government funding often brings with it an obligation to accept a degree of governmental control, and these points must be carefully considered."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, March 6, 1983)
856. Should Recipient of Public Charity Contribute to the Bahá'í Fund?
"Concerning your question whether a person is to contribute to the Bahá'í Fund when he obtains his means of livelihood through public charity. Practically this is impossible, for a person who is so dependent upon the community cannot be of much help to others. Generally he does not have sufficient even for himself alone. In principle however, this is a secondary issue. Donations to the Cause are free. It is for every person to judge for himself whether he is in a position to contribute and whether he desires to do it; how he has obtained that sum is immaterial. A poor person may be readier than a rich man in sharing with others, and if he does, his sacrifice would be greater. A rich man's gift may not be a sacrifice, but a poor man's is sure to be."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 9, 1932)Page 256
857. Trustworthiness--A Prime Requisite for Those Responsible for the Funds
"A primary requisite for all who have responsibility for the care of the funds of the Faith is trustworthiness. This, as Bahá'u'lláh has stressed, is one of the most basic and vital of all human virtues, and its exercise has a direct and profound influence on the willingness of the believers to contribute to the Fund."
(From a Memorandum of Comments and Suggestions attached to a letter from the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 7, 1985)
858. Great Responsibility of Members of the National Spiritual Assembly-- Should Require Two Signatures for Withdrawal of Funds
"In view of the great responsibility placed upon the shoulders of the members of National Assemblies by those who elect them, we have urged National Assemblies to exercise the greatest care in the handling of their National Funds particularly as these funds represent in great part acts of sacrifice on the part of the friends. It is, of course, within your discretion how you delegate the manifold tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of your National Assembly but we earnestly urge you to reconsider the resolutions to which we referred and provide that two signatures be required for the withdrawal of funds, one of which would be that of an office-holder who is a member of your National Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 26, 1973: The Need for Care in Handling Bahá'í Funds, A Compilation of extracts published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, Canada)
859. The Treasurer of an Assembly Should Never Commingle His Own Funds and Those of the Faith
"...The Treasurer of a Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly, even if momentarily holding Bahá'í funds in his own name, must take the greatest care never to commingle his own funds with those of the Faith or to leave the funds of the Faith subject to the vagaries of fortune which can afflict any one of us."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 8, 1971: Ibid.)
860. Local Assembly of a Large Community Might Appoint a Committee to Assist Treasurer
"Regarding the local funds, it is suggested that until such time as the friends have developed the habit of contributing regularly and freely, any Local Spiritual Assembly which has a large community might appoint a small committee to assist the local Treasurer in the discharge of his responsibilities. Such committees could be appointed after consultation with the Auxiliary Board member or assistant for the area. Great care must be taken in the appointment of the members of the committees; they must be both trustworthy and conscientious and must be imbued with awareness of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of contributions to the funds."
(The Universal House of Justice: Development of the Local and National Funds of the Faith: Some Comments and Observations, published in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 31, Canada)861. Treasury Committees, Functions of
"...It is envisaged that these Treasury Committees would serve a number of functions:Page 257
--- To render general assistance to the Treasurer, as needed; for example members of the committee could assist with issuing receipts or keeping accounts.
--- To arrange for inspirational talks and discussions at Nineteen Day Feasts or at specially called meetings for the education of the friends in the spiritual and practical importance of contributing to the funds.
--- To receive donations of money on behalf of the local Treasurer and transmit these to him.
--- To receive gifts of produce and handicrafts. The committee would be responsible for arranging for their sale and for handing over the proceeds to the local Treasurer.
--- To receive from the friends written pledges of their hope or intention of making a contribution to the local or national funds, whether in cash or in kind, and to assist in collecting them."(Ibid.)
"As to the national fund, in those areas where there are problems as a result of lack of banking facilities, unreliable mail systems and general difficulties of communication, it would be desirable for the National Spiritual Assembly to appoint a national committee to assist the national Treasurer in a manner similar to that outlined above for Local Spiritual Assemblies. Further, it may even be necessary to subsidize, from the national fund, one or more trusted individuals, depending on the size of the national community, who would travel to rural areas to meet with local Treasury Committees, assist them in the execution of their functions, explain the needs of the national fund, collect the donations to the national fund from the local areas and transmit them to the national Treasurer."(Ibid.)
863. The Treasurer is Officer in Charge, but All National Spiritual Assembly Members Are Responsible
"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to ensure that contributions received are properly receipted, and satisfactory accounts kept of all receipts and disbursements. While the Treasurer normally is the officer in charge of such a sacred obligation, this does not mean that other members are thereby relieved of all responsibility, or are deprived of their right of access to details related to the current operation of the Assembly, in all its aspects.
"Such right and responsibility vested in the individual members of the Assembly do not vitiate the confidentiality of Bahá'í contributions, since the information made available to the Treasurer or other members of the Assembly is to be treated in strict confidence."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 11, 1977: Compilation of Extracts..., op. cit. No. 858)
864. Teach Trustworthiness Through Writings--Explain to Individuals that They Will Be Held Responsible for Money They Handle
"The distressing problems of the misuse of funds described in your letter can be resolved in the long run only through a process of loving education of the friends. It is through the dissemination among the believers of appropriate texts from the Writings of the Faith, through carefully prepared articles on this subject based onPage 258
the Holy Texts and published in your newsletter, and through talks at conferences, summer schools and other Bahá'í gatherings, as well as discussion of these fundamental issues with the friends at such meetings, that you will be able to gradually attain your objective.
"It is important for your Assembly, in future, to explain to persons who are entrusted with the money of the Faith that in view of the National Assembly's obligation to protect Bahá'í funds, the Assembly will hold them responsible for all monies they receive, and they should therefore render proper accounts to the National Spiritual Assembly, be faithful custodians of God's trust, and be assured that such honesty and faithfulness will be richly rewarded from on high."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 18, 1980: Ibid.)
865. The National Spiritual Assembly Should Require Annual Audit of Treasuer's Accounts
"The House of Justice has not established any uniform procedure for Bahá'í treasurers, since methods of accounting and the laws governing such matters vary considerably from country to country and from one situation to another. It advises that on such technical questions the National Assembly's Treasurer can seek the advice of a professional accountant. The National Spiritual Assembly should, of course, ensure that its books of account are audited annually and for this there is no objection to utilizing the services of a non-Bahá'í firm."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 13, 1981: Ibid.)866. Some Guidelines for Treasurers
"In general terms, however, the House of Justice feels that there are certain matters to which National Treasurers should give particular attention.
1. There is the relationship between the National Assembly and the individual believers and local communities. Through whatever correspondence he conducts with contributors to the National Fund and with committees which are drawing on the Fund for their work, the National Treasurer can be a powerful influence in establishing links of loving unity within the community.
2. The Treasurer must be sure to render regular and accurate financial statements to the National Spiritual Assembly so that it can properly plan its work within the means available to it.
3. It is the Treasurer's responsibility to prepare the annual financial report in time for the National Spiritual Assembly to consider it before presenting it at Convention. He also has to prepare the annual budget for the consideration and approval of the National Assembly.
4. The Treasurer should carefully monitor the use of the Fund so that he can warn the Assembly in good time if there is danger of over-spending.
5. In book-keeping, a system must be adopted to ensure that earmarked funds are kept absolutely distinct from those that are at the free disposition of the Assembly, and there should be safeguards to prevent the inadvertent spending of earmarked funds on matters other than those for which they are intended.
6. In addition to keeping accurate records of income and expenditure, the Treasurer should see that the assets of the Assembly are protected and that both assets and liabilities are carefully recorded.Page 259
7. The Treasurer should advise the Assembly to set aside sufficient sums on a regular basis to provide for the repair and maintenance of properties owned by the Faith, so that these can be kept in good condition and so that the normal work of the Cause is not interrupted by sudden requirements of large sums for repairs. Usually the task of maintaining the properties is assigned to a special committee or committees, which should be consulted by the Assembly and can suggest a suitable amount to be set aside annually.
8. While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to require only one signature on cheques drawn on the National Fund, experience has shown that it is better practice to require at least two signatures. This is a protection not only to the Fund itself but also to the Treasurer. The funds of the Faith are a sacred trust, and Assemblies should be meticulous in handling and accounting for them."(Ibid.)
867. Desirable for Assembly to Maintain Financial Reserve
"Since, in the nature of things, the levels of contributions and expenditures fluctuate, it is most desirable for an Assembly to hold a reserve adequate to bridge periods of relatively high expenditure and low income. This will help it to avoid making too frequent appeals for the friends to meet financial emergencies. Frequently issued appeals--as distinct from the regular giving of information--may tend to lose their effect. At a time of emergency, the Assembly may have to dip deeply into its reserves--an action that your Assembly has just taken--but they will need to be built up again in due course."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, February 12, 1987)
868. Duty of the National Assembly Not to Allow National Interests to be Jeopardized by Individual Considerations
"...it should be emphasized and clearly understood by the friends that the national interests and requirements of the Cause take absolute precedence over individual and private needs. It is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to so dispose of the national fund as not to allow the national interests of the Faith to be jeopardized by individual considerations that are obviously transient when compared to the lasting interests of the Cause of God. In rare and exceptional cases, when a believer has absolutely no other means of material sustenance, the National Spiritual Assembly may either contribute towards his expenses from the national fund, or make a special appeal to the body of the believers to that effect. It is for the family, the civil community and the Local Assembly to administer to such local and private needs of the individual. But in case none of these sources has the means to do so, the National Spiritual Assembly may, if it is convinced of the gravity, urgency and justice of the case, appropriate a part of its fund for that purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)
869. Assembly Should Neither Feel Embarrassed nor Ashamed in Turning to the Friends
"The National Assembly should neither feel embarrassed nor ashamed in turning to the friends, continuously appealing to them to exemplify their faith and devotion to the Cause by sacrificing for it, and pointing out to them that they will growPage 260
spiritually through their acts of self-abnegation, that the fear of poverty should not deter them from sacrificing for the Fund, and that the assistance and bounty of the Source of all good and of all wealth are unfailing and assured...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to selected National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)
"A corollary to the sacred obligation of the friends to contribute to the Funds of the Faith, is the direct and unavoidable responsibility of each Local and National Assembly to educate them in the spiritual principles related to Bahá'í contributions. Failure to educate the friends in this aspect of the Faith is tantamount to consciously depriving them of the spiritual benefits accruing from giving in the path of God."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving assistance from the Bahá'í International Fund, April 13, 1975)
870. The General and National Interests of the Cause Take Precedence Over the Local Ones--But It May Be Expedient to Develop Local Fund First
"The beloved Guardian has explained that the general and national interests of the Cause take precedence over local ones; thus contributions to local funds are secondary to those to national funds. However, the stability of the National Assembly rests on the firmness of the Local Spiritual Assemblies, and in the matter of educating the friends in the importance of the fund, it is often most practical and efficacious to concentrate at first on the development of the local funds and the efficient operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. Then, once the friends understand the principle, and learn from experience at a local level, they will then more easily understand the importance of the national fund and the work of the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)
871. Assembly Obligated to Advise Believers of All Funds+F1--International, Continental, National and Local
"In educating the friends to be conscious of contributing to the fund as a fundamental element of Bahá'í life, the Assembly should make them aware of the individual believer's prerogative of contributing directly to all the funds of the Faith: international, continental and national as well as local."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 12, 1987)872. Contributions Can Be Sent Direct to Haifa
"Would you please remind the believers in your respective communities that in addition to contributing to the International Fund by means of earmarked donations to the National Fund, they can send contributions direct to Haifa. Cheques should be made payable to BAHÁ'Í INTERNATIONAL FUND.
"This continues the policy established by the beloved Guardian who wrote that participation of individuals through 'contributions directly transmitted to the Holy___________________
+F1 (See also XXVI. The Institution of the Huququ'llah, Nos. 1031-1044)Page 261
Land' was 'imperative and beyond the scope of the jurisdiction of National and Local Assemblies.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 18, 1963)873. Continental Fund
"Nor should the believers, individually or in their Assemblies, forget the vitally important Continental Funds which provide for the work of the Hands of the Cause of God and their Auxiliary Boards. This divine institution, so assiduously fostered by the Guardian, and which has already played a unique role in the history of the Faith, is destined to render increasingly important services in the years to come."
(From a message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of East and West, December 18, 1963)
874. Pledges Can Be a Useful Means of Encouraging Contributions
"Pledges can be useful as a means of encouraging contributions and of bringing the financial needs of the Cause to the attention of the friends. This method can be particularly helpful in a situation where a Spiritual Assembly has a major task to perform, such as the building of a Haziratu'l-Quds or the establishment of a tutorial school, and needs to have some idea in advance of whether the funds for the project will be available. However, it would be entirely contrary to Bahá'í principles to bring any pressure to bear when calling for pledges or when endeavouring to collect them. Once a pledge has been given it is permissible to remind the donor, privately, of his expressed intention to contribute and to enquire courteously if it would be possible for him to honour his pledge, but Assemblies must be aware that such pledges are not an obligation in any legal sense; their redemption is entirely a matter of conscience. Lists of those making pledges must not be publicized."
(From the memorandum of comments and suggestions of the Universal House of Justice, op. cit., No. 858, p. 30)
875. Friends in Mass Teaching Areas Should Know Their Blessings and Responsibilities
"...The Assemblies should not hesitate, nor be diffident, in speaking of the Fund to the believers. The friends in the mass teaching areas, however poor or illiterate they may be, are full and equal members of the Bahá'í community; they should know their blessings and responsibilities. The mighty ones of this world rejected the call of Bahá'u'lláh, and it is now upon us ordinary men and women that He has conferred the inestimable bounty of raising up the Kingdom of God on earth. Service to God and His Cause is the heart of the life of every true believer and contributing to the Fund is a vital aspect of such service."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, December 29, 1970)876. "Bring and Buy" Meetings
"...In parts of Africa where the poverty of the friends may be similar to the conditions existing in some parts of your country, the Assemblies organizedPage 262
'Bring and Buy' meetings to which the friends may bring any material gift, such as eggs, fruit, vegetables, other foodstuffs, or local handicraft. These are placed before the friends, who may buy them at very reasonable prices for the benefit of the Funds. The friends must understand that whilst no Assembly or individual may force the friends to give to the Faith, such giving has been considered in our Teachings as a spiritual obligation and an act of sacrifice, which is closely related to the spiritual development of the individual believer."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, November 27, 1966)
877. Assembly May Sell Contributions in Kind Through a Professional Auctioneer
"There is clearly no objection to an Assembly's giving contributions in kind to a professional auctioneer to sell and then to use the proceeds for the fund. Whether it would be proper to hold such an 'ordinary auction' among Bahá'ís would depend upon the Assembly's judgement as to whether a properly dignified atmosphere could be observed and also whether it could be construed as bringing pressure to bear upon the friends to contribute which would, of course, be undesirable. In general the House of Justice prefers not to encourage such auctions for the fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)
878. It is Not Permissible to Impose a Tax or an Assessment on Local Spiritual Assemblies
"As to contributions to the National Fund, it is not permissible to impose a tax or an assessment on Local Assemblies, but you may certainly inform Local Assemblies of the needs of the National Fund and may suggest a certain percentage as a guide to them in making contributions. In doing this you may point out that support of the National Fund is an obligation not only of the believers, but of all Local Assemblies as well. It is permissible, however, for a Local Assembly to fix a percentage of its receipts as an amount to be contributed to the National Fund.
"The House of Justice appreciates the difficult task of educating the Local Assemblies and the believers in the importance of contributing regularly and sacrificially to the Fund and it feels sure that you frequently remind them of the principles of universal participation in this, as well as all other aspects of the Faith, possibly drawing on information contained in your file of circular letters sent from time to time by the House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies on the subject of the Fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 30, 1977)
879. Local Spiritual Assembly Decides for Itself How to Use Funds--National Spiritual Assembly Can Only Make a Suggestion
"When a donation is given to a Local Assembly, the Assembly itself should decide how the funds are to be used. The National Assembly may wish to suggest to the Local Spiritual Assembly ways in which the money could be more practically spent, but the final decision regarding the use of such funds rests with the local body.Page 263
"National Assemblies should avoid instructing their Local Spiritual Assemblies to allocate a certain percentage or portion of their local funds towards specific purposes. They may, however, suggest that the Local Assemblies contribute funds for priority projects at the national level and may also call to their attention national budget and suggest that the communities try to underwrite a part of the national budget. Any National Assembly is, of course, empowered to prevent an institution under its jurisdiction from taking any action regarding the use of funds which would not be to the best interests of the Cause. Such cases, however, are rare...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 17, 1985)880. Soliciting Funds from Other Countries
"We are asked to tell you that the present policy of the House of Justice discourages National Assemblies from appealing to one another for financial assistance unless such assistance is related to a project which has been defined as a goal of collaboration between the specific Assemblies concerned. If a National Assembly has adopted plans for specific teaching projects and is in genuine need of financial support from an outside source, instead of appealing to other National Assemblies it is encouraged to turn to the Continental Board of Counsellors who will consider the plans and request, and provide assistance to the extent feasible from funds made available to them from the World Centre."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 5, 1982)
881. Individual Bahá'ís Free to Contribute to Projects in Any Country They Wish
"As regards collection of funds in other countries, the House of Justice does not wish Bahá'í institutions of any country to appeal for funds to the Bahá'ís of another country, unless the National Spiritual Assembly of that country permits it. This does not mean that individuals are not free to contribute to a Bahá'í project in any country that they wish. For example, if a Bahá'í from another country comes to a conference in ... and he wishes to contribute to your school, there would be no objection. However, an organized and indiscriminate appeal for funds to individuals in other countries should not be made without the consent of the National Assembly of that country."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 6, 1985)D. Earmarked Funds
882. Purpose of Earmarking Funds Should Not Be Defeated
"Care must be taken that the purpose of earmarking is not defeated. Thus the use of earmarked funds to defray the expense of particular items in your budget has the effect of reducing, pro tanto, the amount of general contributions needed to be applied to the budget. In effect, this practice may result in there being no difference between an earmarked contribution and one not earmarked. For example: A friend may earmark a contribution for the Bahá'í International Fund. To apply this to the contributions to the Bahá'í International funds from your NationalPage 264
Fund would be wrong unless the earmarking so specifies. Funds earmarked merely to the Bahá'í International Fund should be sent to the World Centre in addition to whatever contribution is made from the National Fund."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 29, 1971: Ibid.)
883. Earmarked Funds for Specific Purchases or Projects
"We have been asked to call your attention to the principle that earmarked funds such as those for the purchase or maintenance of properties, for special teaching projects, etc. should not be used for other purposes, but should be held in a special account until expended for the purpose for which they were given. This is true whether the funds are from the World Centre, from individuals or from other sources. If the project for which the funds have been given is abandoned, the contribution should be returned to the donor unless he agrees that it may be used for other purposes. Strict adherence to the principles regarding the earmarking of funds is extremely important for many reasons, including the maintaining of the confidence of the friends in matters pertaining to the Fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 21, 1979)
884. When Earmarked Contribution is Impractical or Unwise...
"1. Although any donor, Assembly or individual, has the right to specify the purpose intended for any contribution of funds or property, if, in the judgement of your National Assembly, such contribution would be impractical or unwise for you to accept, you would be under no obligation to do so.
"2. If after consultation with the donor an agreement is not reached that you deem necessary, or you are unable to have the specified donation assigned to a more practicable purpose, the contribution should be returned to the donor."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 22, 1980: Ibid.)
885. Proceeds from Sale of Property Purchased with Earmarked Funds Retain Same Earmarking
"As to the proceeds from the sale of Bahá'í property, if it was acquired by the use of the general funds of the Faith and no earmarking of contributions is involved, the only principle to be applied is that first stated above, namely, that the national community should not be without a Haziratu'l-Quds, endowment or Temple site, as the case may be. If the property was donated or purchased with funds earmarked for that specific purpose, the proceeds of the sale of the property retain the earmarking unless the donor has specifically provided otherwise. If the donor or donors are living, they may, of course, release the earmarking. If the donor or donors are not living, or refuse to release the earmarking, the proceeds should be used for the same purpose. If that purpose has already been fulfilled (i.e., an alternate property has already been acquired), the surplus should be used to the extent possible in a manner having regard for the original intention of the donor or donors, e.g., to maintain or improve the property. In case of doubt, the matter should be referred to the Universal House of Justice."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)Page 265
886. The Proper Accounting for Earmarked Funds is Very Important
"This question of the proper accounting for earmarked funds is very important. The account books of any Assembly should be designed in a way that will always clearly distinguish between earmarked funds and funds freely at the disposition of the Assembly, so that there will be no danger of the Assembly's inadvertently commingling them and spending earmarked funds for the wrong purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 6, 1984: Ibid.)
887. Donor Has No Right to Change Earmarked Purpose Unless the Assembly Accepts the Request to Do So
"The beloved Guardian was very emphatic that contributions to Bahá'í funds, given for specified purposes, may be used only for those purposes, unless the donor consents to a change. If the Assembly cannot use the contribution for the purpose specified, it may refuse to accept it. Alternatively it could consult the donor and suggest that he release the contribution for general purposes or transfer it to another specified one, but no pressure should be exerted to force his acquiescence. On the other hand, once money has been contributed to an Assembly, it is the property of that Assembly, even though earmarked for a specific purpose, and the donor has no right to change its purpose unilaterally. The Assembly, however, may, at its own discretion, accept his request to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1984: Ibid.)
888. The Assembly Should Try to Preserve Real Value of Funds in Its Care-- Especially True of Earmarked Funds
"The Assembly is the trustee of the funds in its care, and its primary concern in investing such funds should be to try to preserve their real value. Obtaining a good income from such investments is also desirable, but is a secondary consideration and should not be sought if this would endanger the value of the principal. This is especially true in the case of earmarked funds, where the Assembly has a duty to the donor or donors to preserve the value of the fund until such time as it can be used for the designated purpose. In such a case, when the value of the currency is itself depreciating, one method of upholding the real value of the earmarked fund is to add back to the principal all income earned on it, even if the donor has not specifically earmarked the income to be earned on his contribution."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 19, 1985: Ibid.)
889. Often It is Better that the Friends Do Not Restrict Funds
"In general, although it is permitted for the friends to earmark contributions, it is apparent that it is often better that the friends allow the Assembly to use their contributions without restricting them. Furthermore, an Assembly is by no means obligated to accept an earmarked contribution; if it does, however, it is bound to respect the earmarking."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 21, 1980: Ibid.)Page 266
890. Care to be Taken Not to Violate Right of Earmarking--Earmarked Contribution Should Be Over and Above Assembly's Allocation to a Fund
"...care must be taken not to violate for any reason the right of the individual to earmark his contribution.
"The need, therefore, is to make clear to individual believers and Local Spiritual Assemblies how they should express their earmarkings so that the National Assembly can know whether a contribution is intended to be towards any particular segment of the national budget or to be a separate contribution merely passed through the National Assembly. In view of the Guardian's statement one should assume that, unless there is an indication to the contrary, an earmarked contribution is intended to be over and above the allocation made out of the National Fund."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)
891. Confidentiality of Believers' Contributions, Earmarked or Otherwise, Must Be Respected
"As a general rule the friends should realize that it is more consistent with the exalted standards expounded in our teachings for them at all times to offer their contributions freely, nobly and generously with the high sense of furthering the Cause of God in whatever form this may be achieved. However, if for some reason they wish to restrict the use of their contributions, or even make such donations known to others, they should not be prevented from carrying out their wish.
"In the light of the above, it would be useful to explain these guidelines to Mr. ... and if he confirms his wish, there is no objection to your placing a plaque in the name of the ... family in the Bahá'í Information Centre building in ... which he has donated to you.
"The guidance given in the second paragraph should be conveyed to the Local Spiritual Assembly of ... and they should be told that if they still wish to announce the contribution for their Haziratu'l-Quds at the Nineteen Day Feast they should know that they are not permitted to do so without the permission of the donor, as he is entitled to the confidentiality of his contributions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 30, 1979)Page 267
892. The Greatest Name is the Name of Comfort, Protection, etc.
"The Greatest Name should be found upon the lips in the first awakening moment of early dawn. It should be fed upon by constant use in daily invocation, in trouble, under opposition, and should be the last word breathed when the head rests upon the pillow at night. It is the name of comfort, protection, happiness, illumination, love and unity.
"I hope that thou mayest become informed of the concealed mystery and recondite symbol of the stone of the Most Great Name... The use of the Greatest Name and dependence upon it, cause the soul to strip itself of the husks of mortality and to step forth freed, reborn, a new creature...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: United States Supplement to Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 2, October 1964)
893. Bahá'ís May Greet Each Other with "Allah-u-Abha"
"The Bahá'ís are free to greet each other with Allah-u-Abha when they meet, if they want to, but they should avoid anything which to outsiders, in a western country, might seem like some strange oriental password. We must be very firm on principles and laws, but very normal and natural in our ways, so as to attract strangers!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1951)894. The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh
"The Greatest Name is the Name of Bahá'u'lláh. 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' is an invocation meaning: 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' 'Allah-u-Abha' is a greeting which means: 'God the All-Glorious'. Both refer to Bahá'u'lláh. By 'Greatest Name' is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the supreme Manifestation of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)
895. The Greatest Name is an Invocation and a Symbol of Our Faith
"Concerning your question regarding the 'Greatest Name': The Greatest Name is an invocation which means 'O Thou Glory of Glories!' The word 'Bahá'í or 'Glory', is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh. The Greatest Name is a distinctive mark of the Cause and a symbol of our Faith. The term of 'Allah-u-Abha,' on the other hand, is a form of Bahá'í greeting, and means 'God the All-Glorious.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 8, 1941)
896. Use of Greatest Name Symbol--Not Appropriate on Articles Put to Common Use
"The overriding consideration must always be the proper dignity with which thePage 268
Greatest Name should be used. Thus it would not be befitting to use it on drinking vessels or ash trays, plates for eating, and the like. There would, however, be no objection to its use on plaques or ornaments, jewellery or similar items which are not normally put to common use. The House of Justice instructs us to say that great care should be given to the accurate representation of the Persian calligraphy, since any deviation from an accepted representation can be distressing to Iranian believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium, March 12, 1980)
897. Guidelines on the Use of the Symbols of the Greatest Name on Stationery and in Paintings
"...We are requested by the Universal House of Justice to share with you the following guidelines on the use of the symbols of the Greatest Name.
"The Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual on 5 August 1949, stated:
'It is better not to encourage the use of this symbol on stationery and in paintings.'
"Likewise, the Universal House of Justice, in its letter to a National Assembly stated:
'We wish to call to your attention the impressions of the Greatest Name on the back of the envelope in which your letter was enclosed. The use of the Greatest Name is not befitting and we ask you to discontinue it.' (16 May 1971)
"In another communication regarding this subject, the following was written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly:
'...we are instructed to say that it would not be appropriate to use the symbol of the Greatest Name on the official stationery of a Local Spiritual Assembly.' (6 November 1984)
"While the House of Justice is reluctant to issue a list of the specific uses of the Greatest Name which should be avoided, the principal thing is for the friends to realize the great sacredness of this symbol, and to use it in ways which are dignified and appropriate...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands, June 3, 1987)898. Stickers, Use of Not Encouraged
"Regarding the sticker with 'World Fellowship' and the ring-stone symbol on it: He does not encourage the use of this type of thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1946: From a compilation of Extracts Concerning Guidance on the Use of the Greatest Name, attached to the above letter to the National Assembly of Hawaiian Islands)899. Tombstones Please Refer to No. 672.
"We have your letter of June 22, 1967 enclosing sketches of emblems which are intended to be used by Bahá'ís who wish to place them inside their automobiles.
"The use of such emblems is entirely within the discretion of your NationalPage 269
Assembly, but you should not use the Greatest Name on the emblem."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 16, 1967: Ibid.)
901. Believer Can Manufacture and Sell Items Using the Greatest Name
"Although there exists an instruction that the symbol of the Greatest Name should not be used on gravestones, no instruction has been found prohibiting the use of the symbol of the Greatest Name on any other particular item, such as jewellery, books or pamphlets. However, the Greatest Name should not be used in an undignified manner.
"Nothing has been found which would prohibit a believer from manufacturing and selling items using the Greatest Name provided that the manner in which the Greatest Name is used is dignified."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 25, 1975: Ibid.)
902. No Prohibition Against Use of Greatest Name, Names of the Manifestations or Names of Central Figures in Songs
"We have found nothing in the texts forbidding the use of the Greatest Name, the Names of the Manifestations of God or the names of the Central Figures of our Faith in the lyrics of music. However, we feel that when they are used they should be used with reverence and respect, both in the manner in which they are incorporated in the lyrics and in the manner of presentation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 14, 1968)
903. Reproducing Greatest Names on Jewellery Commercially
"When individual Bahá'ís reproduce on a limited scale the Greatest Name on items such as jewellery, and find ways of selling these items to others, they should normally be left free to engage in such an activity, without interference from Bahá'í institutions, except in cases when in the opinion of these institutions the interests of the Faith are being adversely affected.
"However, when the friends intend to produce and sell such items on a large scale they should first seek the permission of the National Assembly, which should generally be well disposed to permit the production and sale of these objects if in their judgement the interests of the Faith are not being prejudiced and the necessary standards of dignity and propriety are being upheld.
"In all cases where the friends wish to use the venue of a Bahá'í function or event, conducted under the auspices of a Bahá'í institution, in order to display and sell their products, they may engage in this activity only if the institution concerned gives them the permission to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 15, 1978)
904. Picture of the Greatest Name May Be Destroyed, if Necessary
"If it becomes necessary to destroy a picture of the Greatest Name, there is no objection to whatever method is used. It is quite proper to wear the ring stone as a pin."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 5, 1957)Page 270
"The use of the Greatest Name 95 times a day is not absolutely binding. This and other similar matters will be clearly and fully explained when the 'Aqdas' is published. At present, however, the friends should be careful not to lay an undue emphasis upon them.
"When using the Greatest Name the words 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used and not 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)
906. The Greatest Name or Picture of Abdu'l-Bahá Should Be Placed in a Dignified Position
"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or the picture of Abdu'l-Bahá be placed in a dignified position. They should not be placed on the floor, nor, on the other hand, should they be held above the heads of the people in the photograph. It would seem the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 10, 1952)B. Ringstone Emblem and Jewellery+F2
907. Ringstone Emblem is Form of the Greatest Name--Use of on Jewelry
"In reply to your letter of November 2nd about the use of the Greatest Name on brooches and other decorations, we quote below the text of a letter which we wrote on this subject in 1964 to another National Spiritual Assembly:
'The ring-stone emblem is one form of the Greatest Name. While the beloved Guardian has called attention to the sacredness of the Greatest Name, and has asked that it should always be placed in a dignified position, we do not find any instruction absolutely prohibiting the use of symbols of the Greatest Name on any particular item such as jewelry, books or pamphlets.
'We feel that the friends should exercise the greatest discrimination and good taste in its use'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 15, 1967)908. Bahá'ís Not Required to Wear Ringstone
"It was kind of you to think of making pins for the Bahá'ís; but he feels that this is too much like clubs and other organizations. Indeed the Bahá'ís do not even have to wear a Bahá'í ring-stone unless they care to do so. He thinks it is better not to add any other means of identification."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1956)909. Ringstone Inscription Explained
"The inscription upon the Bahá'í ringstone is the symbol of the Greatest Name, Baha, who is the Manifestation of the essence of God. It is also symbolic of the three planes representing the World of God, the World of Revelation and the World of Creation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 28, 1938)___________________
"Upon the horizon of Eternal Glory two luminous stars have arisen in brilliance: one to the right and one to the left ... this is the mystery of the appearance of the Beauty of Abha and of the Supreme Highness (the Báb). And though these two diagrams at the right and the left have the form of stars, they also represent the body of man, with the head, the two arms and the two legs, since this diagram has five points."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Scriptures, p. 479, 1923 ed.)911. Greatest Name--An Invocation
"He also wishes me to inform you that the symbol of the Greatest Name represents an invocation which can be translated either as 'O Glory of Glories' or 'O Glory of the All-Glorious'. The word glory used in this connection is a translation of the Arabic term 'Bahá'í the name of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 28, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 93, p. 1, July 1935)Page 272
"With reference to the use of your Haziratu'l-Quds we wish to point out that its main function is to serve as the National Administrative Headquarters of the Faith in your country, and anything else is secondary to that. If possible and convenient, believers may be accomodated from time to time, but it should not be regarded as a hotel facility. The work of the Cause is the prime matter and nothing should be allowed to interfere with that."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, October 23, 1963)913. Dancing Not Appropriate in Haziratu'l-Quds
"The beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer the questions raised in your recent letter regarding the proper use of the Haziratu'l-Quds.
"As in most cases the Bahá'ís have no other meeting-place in the city which has a Haziratu'l-Quds, and the Haziratu'l-Quds is a building that has a number of rooms, he sees no objection in allowing the youth to have their meetings there with their non-Bahá'í friends, but dancing he does not feel is appropriate. Bahá'í weddings and funerals can likewise be conducted in the Haziratu'l-Quds.
"The Haziratu'l-Quds, although Feasts and Holy Days are celebrated in it, must not be confounded with a Temple; it is an administrative headquarters. No doubt in the future it will be used for purely administrative purposes, but for the time being it must fill the role of being a true Centre and rallying-point for the Bahá'í Community."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, February 15, 1947)914. Local and National Haziratu'l-Quds
"The Haziratu'l-Quds is an Institution of the Faith and no distinction should be made between a National or Local Haziratu'l-Quds concerning its use. Other than the Haziratu'l-Quds dances may certainly be allowed at summer schools, etc., and it should be left to the discretion of the committee or Assembly in charge to make whatever arrangements are necessary."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, June 27, 1970)
915. Principles that Govern Acceptance of Gifts of LandPlease refer to No. 728.
916. National Spiritual Assembly Should Budget Annually for Maintenance of Properties
"Many properties have already been acquired in the course of previous plans. It is important that these properties be properly maintained in good repair. NationalPage 273
Spiritual Assemblies should set aside sums annually in their budgets for the maintenance of national properties so that when a repair becomes necessary the funds will be available without creating a sudden crisis for the national fund. As far as possible, local Haziratu'l-Quds and other local properties should be kept up by the local friends themselves.
"It is also important to make full use of the properties of the Faith for the purposes for which they were acquired. Well maintained and regularly used properties will not only be a means of fostering Bahá'í community life, but will add to the prestige and dignity of the Faith in the eyes of the non-Bahá'í public."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1979)
917. Responsibility of National Spiritual Assembly to Maintain and Improve Properties--Individual Bahá'ís Can Help in Many Ways
"National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world are required to assume, on a continuing basis, the responsibility of providing for the maintenance and improvement of their own Bahá'í properties, and they should instill into the consciousness of the believers the importance of their role in keeping the national headquarters in a representative and attractive condition. There are many ways in which the Bahá'ís can help to beautify and maintain their National Haziratu'l-Quds, not only by contributing by material means, but also by offering their time and labour to clean, paint, take care of minor repairs, work in the gardens, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uruguay, June 20, 1979)918. Purchase and Sale of Haziratu'l-Quds
"The Universal House of Justice has requested us to acknowledge your letter of May 6, 1981 concerning the proposed sale of your National Haziratu'l-Quds and to convey the following.
"The matter is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly bearing in mind the principle that you should not be without a National Haziratu'l-Quds; that is, you must obtain a new one, or at least have the transactions for obtaining it well advanced and secure, before disposing of the old one.
"In reply to your question about the location of the Secretariat of the National Assembly, we have been asked to say that your Assembly must operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and it is important and desirable that your Secretary reside as near as possible to the National Headquarters in order that the duties of the office may be attended to with dispatch. Enclosed for your consideration are excerpts from recent letters dealing with this subject."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Nicaragua, June 7, 1981)
919. National Haziratu'l-Quds Need Not Serve Needs of Local Spiritual Assembly--Preferable that National Secretary Live in Haziratu'l-Quds
"There is no requirement for the National Haziratu'l-Quds to include within its accommodations a public meeting hall, neither is there a requirement that it be a meeting place for the Local Spiritual Assembly in the city in which itPage 274
may be located. Its essential function is that it is the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly, and should have adequate facilities for its secretariat. Should there be adequate space and the National Assembly feels it convenient, there would be no objection to its leasing one or two rooms to the Local Spiritual Assembly, but this certainly is not an essential part of the National Haziratu'l-Quds. The facilities you choose to specify as criteria in the search for new quarters are a matter for your own decision.
"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, it is the generally preferred arrangement. Should it be impossible for the Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself, there would be no objection to his living nearby. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and that the National Assembly should operate from there."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, July 22, 1982)
920. The National Spiritual Assembly Must Operate from the National Haziratu'l-Quds--Eventually, Full Time Service Will Be Required of the National Secretary
"The first principle which has been established is that a National Spiritual Assembly must operate from its National Haziratu'l-Quds, which is the official Seat of the National Spiritual Assembly. During the early formative years of the Faith and the building up of the Administrative Order it has been permitted in certain instances for the National Secretary to reside away from the city in which the National Haziratu'l-Quds is located, but in these cases the principle has always been enforced that the National Spiritual Assembly itself operates from its proper address at the National Haziratu'l-Quds.... The aim should be to overcome this anomaly and for the National Secretary to reside close to, if not in, the National Haziratu'l-Quds itself. Inevitably the day will come when it will be necessary for your National Secretary to devote his entire time to the service of the National Spiritual Assembly and it will then be imperative for the Secretary to operate from the Haziratu'l-Quds."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, February 9, 1976)
921. Preferable Arrangement and Bahá'í Norm that the National Secretary Live in the Haziratu'l-Quds--Not to be Considered a "Right of Office"
"While it is not imperative for the National Secretary to live in the National Haziratu'l-Quds, and certainly the believer elected to the important post cannot claim such residence as a right of office, it is the generally preferred arrangement and is, in fact, the norm of Bahá'í practice. The vital thing is that the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly should be the National Haziratu'l-Quds and that the National Assembly should operate from there. This obviously requires the constant attendance of the Secretary since all mail for the Assembly should be received at and despatched from the Haziratu'l-Quds, and there are many other considerations of which you are all informed. However, the final decision must rest with your National Spiritual Assembly and should it be impossible for the National Secretary to live actually in the Haziratu'l-Quds itself therePage 275
would be no objection to the officer living near or within easy reach, particularly if it were on a temporary basis."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 22, 1974)
922. A District Haziratu'l-Quds Serves the Local Community as a Gathering Place for Bahá'ís of Wider Area
"A district Haziratu'l-Quds should be considered as the local Haziratu'l-Quds of the community in which it is situated, but as it is intended also to serve as a central gathering place for friends from a wider area it should be a more substantial structure than normally required for a local Haziratu'l-Quds. In keeping with this concept, such a building can be used for the holding of conferences, teaching institutes, deepening classes, etc., for the larger area.
"Whether someone should live in the district Haziratu'l-Quds is a matter for your Assembly to determine. However, it is usually desirable to have living accommodation available for someone to reside there to act as a caretaker for the property."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Surinam and French Guiana, August 15, 1982)Page 276
"Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause."(Bahá'u'lláh: Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K. 113, p. 60)
"...The prayers which were written for the purpose of healing are both for the spiritual and material healing. Therefore chant them for the spiritual and material healing. If healing is best for the patient surely it will be granted. For some who are sick, healing for them shall be the cause of other ills. Thus it is that wisdom does not decree the answer to some prayers.
"O maid-servant of God. The Power of the Holy Spirit heals both material and spiritual ills."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablet to Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, 1976 ed., p. 86)
925. The Greatest Name Influences Both Spiritual and Physical Matters
"That the Most Great Name exerciseth influence over both physical and spiritual matters is sure and certain."
(From a Tablet to an individual believer, by Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 2)
"O maid-servant of God! Continue in healing hearts and bodies and seek healing for sick persons by turning unto the Supreme Kingdom and by setting the heart upon obtaining healing through the power of the Greatest Name and by the spirit of the love of God."(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 629)
"There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced.
"Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions,Page 277
will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects.
"Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 151-152)
927. Two Processes of Healing--Prayer Alone Not Sufficient
"As you know Bahá'u'lláh has ordained that in case of illness we should always consult the most competent physicians. And this is exactly what the Guardian strongly advises you to do. For prayer alone is not sufficient. To render it more effective we have to make use of all the physical and material advantages which God has given us. Healing through purely spiritual forces is undoubtedly as inadequate as that which materialist physicians and thinkers vainly seek to obtain by resorting entirely to mechanical devices and methods. The best result can be obtained by combining the two processes, spiritual and physical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 12, 1934: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 9)
928. Spiritual and Material Healing Essential and Complementary
"With regard to your question concerning spiritual healing. Such a healing constitutes, indeed, one of the most effective methods of relieving a person from either his mental or physical pains and sufferings. Abdu'l-Bahá has in His 'Paris Talks' emphasized its importance by stating that it should be used as an essential means for effecting a complete physical cure. Spiritual healing, however, is not and cannot be a substitute for material healing, but it is a most valuable adjunct to it. Both are, indeed, essential and complementary."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1935: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters, April 1984, p. 10)
929. Physical Healing Must Be Reinforced by Spiritual Healing
"With reference to your question concerning spiritual healing. Its importance, as you surely know, has been greatly emphasized by Abdu'l-Bahá Who considered it, indeed, as an essential part of physical processes of healing. Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. And this last one can be best obtained through obedience to the laws and commandments of God as revealed to us through His Manifestations. Individual believers, however, can also help by imparting healing to others. But the success of their efforts depends entirely on their strict adherence to the Teachings, and also on the manner in which they impart them to others. According to Bahá'u'lláh man cannot obtain full guidance directly from God. He must rather seek it through His Prophets. Provided this principle is clearly understood and explained, the Guardian sees no harm that the friends should try to effect spiritual healing on others. Any such cure effected, however, shouldPage 278
be done in the name of Bahá'u'lláh and in accordance with His teachings. For God, and God alone, is the Supreme and Almighty Physician and all else are but instruments in His hands."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 23, 1935: Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8)
930. Healing of Illness--There is No Such Thing as "Bahá'í Healers"
"The Guardian knows nothing about your kind of healing, nor would he care to go into the question in detail, as he has no time for such matters. But he can lay down for your guidance certain broad principles: there is no such thing as Bahá'í healers or a Bahá'í type of healing. In His Most Holy Book (the Aqdas) Bahá'u'lláh says to consult the best physicians, in other words, doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine: He never gave us to believe He Himself would heal us through 'healers', but rather through prayer and the assistance of medicine and approved treatments.
"Now, as long as your healing is in no opposition to these principles, as long as you do not try and take the place of a regular doctor in trying to heal others, but only give them your kind of help through constructive suggestion-- or whatever it may be--and do not associate this help with being a channel of the direct grace of Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian sees no harm in your continuing your assistance to others. But you must conscientiously decide whether in view of the above you are really justified in continuing. He will pray for your guidance and happiness...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Ibid., p. 8)
931. To Associate Such Things with the Cause Ultimately Injures It
"He feels the attitude taken by you and the Assembly of Caracas towards the remarkable healing powers exhibited by ... has been the right one. To associate such things with the Cause directly would be only to ultimately injure its reputation and misrepresent it, as her powers--which are certainly very hard to find any logical explanation for--are not common to Bahá'ís, but rather a phenomenon seen among individuals, (rarely) of religious backgrounds.
"As to its being direct inspiration of Bahá'u'lláh, we certainly cannot say this. We can only be grateful that she has actually been able to help people who direly needed it. She herself being a devoted Bahá'í, there is no reason why she should not be known as one. But certainly it should in no way be connected with her healing powers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, September 30, 1949, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 8)932. Not a Unique Phenomenon
"The Guardian has already heard about ...'s seemingly remarkable powers of healing and he wrote the friends who communicated with him that he feels that she is naturally free to use this power, so far beyond our understanding, but not a unique phenomenon in history by any means, for the good of others, but that it is better not to directly associate it with the Faith.
"In other words this dear soul is a Bahá'í, and we are all proud that she is one. But she should not give the impression she is a Bahá'í healer, for we have no suchPage 279
thing, but rather that she is a Bahá'í by faith, whom God seems to have blessed with this precious bounty individually of being able to often heal others."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1949: Ibid., pp. 8-9)
933. To Be Able to Help Another Soul Who is Suffering
"The Guardian sees no reason why you should not continue to help sick people. As he wrote to some of the believers regarding this matter previously, as long as you do not say you are healing them as a Bahá'í, or because you are a Bahá'í (because we have no 'healers' in the Cause as such) there can be certainly no objection to your doing it. On the contrary to be able to help another soul who is in suffering is a great bounty from God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 5, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)
934. Try Not to Have the Faith Identified with Such Things
"He thinks your Assembly's decision regarding spiritual healing being demonstrated at a Bahá'í meeting was quite sound. We should try not to have the Faith identified with such things in the eyes of the public officially. What the believers do privately, which in no way contravenes the Teachings, is their own affair."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 25, 1953: Ibid., p. 9)935. Should Not Become Healer
"He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But he means you should not become a 'healer' such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Bahá'ís do not have."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 25, 1949: Ibid., p. 9)936. Healing by the Holy Spirit
"We have no reason to believe that the healing of the Holy Spirit cannot be attracted by ordinary human beings. But this is rare, a mystery, and a gift of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 26, 1950: Ibid., p. 9)937. Visiting the Sick
"We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 204)Page 280
938. However Critical and Hopeless Consult and Follow Treatment of Competent Physician
"As regards Miss ... Shoghi Effendi feels unspeakably grateful for all the kind assistance you have been continually extending to her father in this assuredly heart-rending, nay indeed calamitous situation facing him. You did certainly well, however critical and hopeless his daughter's case may have been considered by the doctors, to advise him to take her to a hospital, and give her the best treatment medical science could possibly offer. In doing so you have acted in full conformity with the counsel so tenderly and repeatedly given by Bahá'u'lláh that in case of illness one should invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 18, 1939: Selections from Bahá'í Writings on Some Aspects of Health and Healing, June 1974, p. 7)
939. Both Spiritual and Physical Forces Needed to Secure Speedy Recovery
"In the Book of Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh urges us, that when we obtain any physical ailment we should refer to the doctor and abide by his decision. Physical and spiritual forces have both to be used to secure the speedy recovery of the patients; no partial treatment is sufficient. So you should pray for your son and also be faithful in your obedience to the directions of the physicians who are trying to restore him to health."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 1, 1933)