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1229. A Homosexual Relationship Subverts the Purpose of Human Life
"There should be real incentive for you to courageously face the problems inherent in the situation you describe in your letter, and to firmly resolve to change your way of life. But you must desire to do so. Both you and your Bahá'í friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship subverts the purpose of human life and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, is so abhorrent; the Creator of all mankind will help you both to return to a path that leads to true happiness."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1982)
1230. Homosexuality, Immorality and Adultery Are Forbidden in the Faith
"The question of how to deal with homosexuals is a very difficult one. Homosexuality is forbidden in the Bahá'í Faith by Bahá'u'lláh; so, for that matter, are immorality and adultery. If one is going to start imposing heavy sanctions on people who are the victims of this abnormality, however repulsive it may be to___________________
+F1 (Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 106, 1982 U.S. edition)Page 369
others, then it is only fair to impose equally heavy sanctions on any Bahá'ís who step beyond the moral limits defined by Bahá'u'lláh. Obviously at the present time this would create an impossible and ridiculous situation.
"He feels, therefore, that, through loving advice, through repeated warnings, any friends who are flagrantly immoral should be assisted, and, if possible, restrained. If their activities overstep all bounds and become a matter of public scandal, then the Assembly can consider depriving them of their voting rights. However, he does not advise this course of action, and feels it should only be resorted to in very flagrant cases."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 20, 1955)J. Laws of Marriage
1231. Knowledge of Character Responsibility of Two Parties and Parents
"Bahá'í law places the responsibility for ascertaining knowledge of the character of those entering into the marriage contract on the two parties involved, and on the parents, who must give consent to the marriage.
"The obligation of the Spiritual Assembly is to ascertain that all requirements of civil and Bahá'í law have been complied with, and, having done so, the Assembly may neither refuse to perform the marriage ceremony nor delay it."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1967)
1232. Must Become Thoroughly Acquainted with Characters of Each Other
"Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity....
"The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Bahá'í marriage."(Ibid.)
1233. Law Requiring Parental Consent Should Encourage Young People to Consider Marriage Seriously
"Bahá'u'lláh definitely says that the consent of the parents should be obtained before the marriage is sanctioned and that undoubtedly has great wisdom. It will at least detain young people from marrying without considering the subject thoroughly. It is in conformity with this teaching of the Cause that Shoghi Effendi cabled that the consent of your parents should be obtained.
"I personally believe that if you retain your love as a pure and close friendship and continue your studies until you bring them to a close then you will be in a better position to judge and perhaps your parents would be given time to give the subjectPage 370
better consideration. Time can always provide things and settle disputes that temporary endeavour and heated discussion cannot help."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 29, 1929)
1234. Consent Required of Parents for Adults, for Second Marriages, for Bahá'ís or Non-Bahá'ís
"About the consent of parents for marriage: This is required before and also after the man or woman is twenty-one years of age. It is also required in the event of a second marriage, after the dissolution of the first whether through death or through divorce.
"The parental consent is also a binding obligation irrespective of whether the parents are Bahá'ís or not, whether they are friendly or opposed to the Cause. In the event of the death of both parents, the consent of a guardian is not required."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)
1235. The Law of Parental Consent is to Strengthen Family Relationships
"Bahá'u'lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage. This applies whether the parents are Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, divorced for years or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator. We Bahá'ís must realize that in present-day society the exact opposite process is taking place: young people care less and less for their parents' wishes, divorce is considered a natural right, and obtained on the flimsiest and most unwarrantable and shabby pretexts. People separated from each other, especially if one of them has had full custody of the children, are only too willing to belittle the importance of the partner in marriage also responsible as a parent for bringing those children into this world. The Bahá'ís must, through rigid adherence to the Bahá'í laws and teachings, combat these corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 25, 1947)
1236. Consent of Parents Law of Great Importance Affecting the Foundation of Human Society
"In many cases of breach of marriage laws the believers apparently look upon the law requiring consent of parents before marriage as a mere administrative regulation, and do not seem to realize that this is a law of great importance affecting the very foundations of human society. Moreover they seem not to appreciate that in the Bahá'í Faith the spiritual and administrative aspects are complementary and that the social laws of the Faith are as binding as the purely spiritual ones."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 29, 1965: Canadian Bahá'í News, No. 265, February 1973, p. 11)
1237. Consent of All Living Parents Places a Grave Responsibility on Each Parent
"It is perfectly true that Bahá'u'lláh's statement that the consent of all living parentsPage 371
is required for marriage places a grave responsibility on each parent. When the parents are Bahá'ís they should, of course, act objectively in withholding or granting their approval. They cannot evade this responsibility by merely acquiescing in their child's wish, nor should they be swayed by prejudice; but, whether they be Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, the parents' decision is binding, whatever the reason that may have motivated it. Children must recognize and understand that this act of consenting is the duty of a parent. They must have respect in their hearts for those who have given them life, and whose good pleasure they must at all times strive to win."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 1, 1968)
1238. Parents May Seek Advice of Spiritual Assembly, But Decision Rests with the Parents
"In reply to your letter of 9 March, 1979 requesting comment on an item in the Minutes of a Local Spiritual Assembly concerning parental consent to marriage, the Universal House of Justice directs us to say that while parents may seek advice of an Assembly about whether they should consent to the marriage of their children and the Assembly may give such advice, the decision rests with the parents and the Assembly cannot assume that responsibility."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 5, 1979)
1239. The Opposition of Family Members Other Than Parents Does Not Affect Validity of the Marriage
"In this connection, the Guardian feels the necessity of bringing to your attention the fact that the validity of a Bahá'í marriage is conditioned upon the consent of the two parties and their parents only. So that in case the other members of your family show any dislike or opposition to your sister's union with Mr. ..., their objection does under no circumstances invalidate it. Your parents' approval would be sufficient even though all the rest of your family may violently oppose it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Bahá'í couple, March 31, 1937)
1240. Marriage to Non-Bahá'í, Consent of Parents of Both Parties Required
"Regarding the question whether it is necessary to obtain the consent of the parents of a non-Bahá'í participant in a marriage with a Bahá'í: As Bahá'u'lláh has stated that the consent of the parents of both parties is required in order to promote unity and avoid friction, and as the Aqdas does not specify any exceptions to this rule, the Guardian feels that under all circumstances the consent of the parents of both parties is required."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 12, 1941)
1241. The Child May Ask Parents to Reconsider--May Request Assistance of Assembly
"It is clear from your letter that you understand the basic requirement that parental consent is necessary to having a Bahá'í marriage and that parents may give or withhold consent for their own reasons. If in a given case the parents at first withhold consent, there is no harm in the child's asking his parents to reconsider,Page 372
bearing in mind that he has to abide by their decision. The child, on the other hand, may not wish to pursue the matter; it is left entirely to his own judgement of the circumstances whether to request reconsideration or not.
"There have been instances when parties have appealed to Bahá'í institutions (local and national) to assist them in removing any misunderstanding that may have stood in the way of a positive decision on the part of their parents. But there are no hard and fast rules in these matters. Each case is dealt with according to the prevailing circumstances at the time."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 28, 1984)
1242. Consent of Parents Often Withheld for Reasons of Bigotry
"...the Bahá'í law requiring consent of parents to marriage. All too often nowadays such consent is withheld by non-Bahá'í parents for reasons of bigotry or racial prejudice; yet we have seen again and again the profound effect on those very parents of the firmness of the children in the Bahá'í law, to the extent that not only is the consent ultimately given in many cases, but the character of the parents can be affected and their relationship with their child greatly strengthened.
"Thus, by upholding Bahá'í law in the face of all difficulties we not only strengthen our own characters but influence those around us."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; copies to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February 6, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 106-107)
1243. If Parents Are Alive, Consent Must Be Obtained
"Regarding your question of applying the sanction of suspension of voting rights to people who marry without the consent of parents, this should be done from now on. The law of the Aqdas is explicit and not open to any ambiguity at all. As long as the parents are alive, the consent must be obtained; it is not conditioned on their relationship to their children. If the whereabouts of the parents is not known legally, in other words, if they are legally dead, then it is not necessary for the children to obtain their consent, obviously. It is not a question of the child not knowing the present whereabouts of its parents, it is a question of a legal thing--if the parents are alive, they must be asked."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, June 26, 1956: Bahá'í News, No. 335, January 1959, p. 2)
1244. Circumstances Under which Parental Consent for Bahá'í Marriage Not Required
"In reply to your letter about the problem of ... who is unable to locate the natural father of her fiance we are glad to offer you the following guidance:
"The only circumstances under which parental consent for Bahá'í marriage is not required are the following:1. If the parent is dead.
2. If the parent has absented himself to the degree that he can be adjudged legally dead.
3. If the parent is certified insane and therefore legally incompetent to give consent.Page 373
5. It is possible under Bahá'í Law, in certain very rare cases, to recognize that a state of disownment exists. All such cases should be referred to the Universal House of Justice.
"The problem therefore is reduced to the simple question of whether your National Assembly accepts that Miss ...'s father-in-law elect cannot be traced and therefore may, to your satisfaction, be presumed to be legally dead. You should of course ascertain that Miss ... has made every effort possible to trace her fiance's father."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, May 30, 1971)
1245. Withdrawal from the Faith in Order to Evade Law of Bahá'u'lláh is Not Possible for True Believer
"The responsibilities laid upon parents as they give consideration to the question of consent to marriage of their children is directed to their conscience and therefore it is not possible to apply sanctions. On the other hand, the Bahá'í law requiring children to obtain the consent of their parents to marriage is subject to sanction, and as you know these are matters set forth in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and in the instructions of the beloved Guardian.
"At some time or other, every law of Bahá'u'lláh may impose a test upon the faith of a believer and the question is whether the believer will meet the test or not. As you are aware, withdrawal from the Faith in order to evade a law of Bahá'u'lláh is not possible to a true believer."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 22, 1968)
1246. Parents Give Consent to Marriage, Not to a Bahá'í Religious Ceremony
"1. Your understanding about withdrawal of consent by one or more of the parents prior to a Bahá'í marriage is correct; namely, if such withdrawal occurs, the marriage cannot take place.
"2. The principle of the Bahá'í law requiring parental consent to marriage is that the parents consent to the marriage of the man to the woman concerned. It does not require that they consent to the performance of any particular ceremony. Obviously, where the parents are Bahá'ís, it is taken for granted that the marriage of a Bahá'í couple will be by the performance of the Bahá'í ceremony. In some cases, however, it would be difficult for non-Bahá'í parents to give consent to the participation of their son or daughter in a Bahá'í religious ceremony, and in these cases the distinction of principle is important. In other words, if the non-Bahá'í parents consent to the marriage of the couple, the Bahá'í ceremony can be held unless they expressly object to the holding of the Bahá'í ceremony, in which case the marriage cannot take place."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)
1247. Every Reasonable Avenue of Search Must Be Exhausted to Find Parent-- The Responsible Assembly Must Be Satisfied This Has Been Done
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 8 May 1986 presenting Miss ..., problem of consent to her marriage by her putative father. We are asked to convey its response.Page 374
"It seems clear that Miss ... has a slender connection with her genetic father. Nevertheless, despite his long absence and his lack of any relationship with either mother or daughter, Miss ... is obligated to make every effort, however discreetly carried out, to ascertain his whereabouts, including such steps as contacting persons, firms or agencies, and even advertising in newspapers if necessary. The Local or National Assembly accepts that Miss ...'s father-in-law elect cannot be traced and the National Assembly may offer its assistance to the couple, if needed. When the Assembly is satisfied that every reasonable avenue of search has been exhausted without discovering the missing parent, the Assembly may permit the marriage to take place."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 2, 1986)
1248. One May Ask Others to Approach Parent on His or Her Behalf
"If the father has been certified mentally incompetent, then no consent is required. Otherwise his consent must be obtained.
"If the young lady is concerned about approaching her father directly she may ask others to do this on her behalf. We suggest also that the Local Assembly be asked to assist."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 18, 1968)
1249. Marriages Are Supposed to Promote Unity and Harmony--Alienated Parent and Child Might Be Brought Together
"He feels that marriage is primarily a thing that the two young people must decide upon. If the young Bahá'í girl you mentioned desires to marry the son of the Hindu ... and her parents consent, and his parents consent, then there is nothing to prevent the union, as long as Bahá'í laws are followed.
"The Guardian suggests that the young man himself seek out his father, and explain to him that he wishes to marry a Bahá'í girl according to civil law, and then with a brief Bahá'í ceremony following it for her sake, and ask his father's permission and blessing. Marriages are supposed, as Bahá'u'lláh says, Himself, to promote unity and harmony in the world, and not dissension and alienation.
"It would be a wonderful opportunity if this marriage could bring the father and son, alienated from each other, together, at least in a moment of friendly and filial contact. In order to live up to the Bahá'í laws for the new age we are entering upon, we have to make sacrifices. If the Bahá'ís themselves will not sacrifice for their Faith, who will? It may often be difficult, but the results will be seen in a more rapid spread of the Cause and a greater unity amongst the Community itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 12, 1953)
1250. Summary of Requirements for Adopted Children in Respect to Consent
"Regarding the matter of adopted children, the consent of all natural parents must be obtained wherever this is legally possible but no effort should be made to trace the natural parents if this contravenes the provision of the adoption certificate or the laws of the country. If there is no such legal bar to approaching the natural parents and if it is legally established that the man in question is the father, the child must obtain his consent if he is alive. If the presumed father has disappeared to thePage 375
degree that he can be presumed legally dead then his consent is not required. Furthermore, if the assumed natural father denies that he is the father of the child the following principles apply: if his name appears on the birth certificate of the child and if the law of the country presumes that the name on the birth certificate is that of the father, then he should be considered as the father for the purpose of obtaining consent. If the name of the father given on the birth certificate is not a conclusive presumption of parenthood and if the man in question has always denied that he is the father of the child, the child is not required to seek the consent of this man unless it has been legally established that he is the father notwithstanding his denial."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 24, 1965)
1251. Adopted Children and the Special Significance of Their Relationship with the Natural Parents
"We acknowledge receipt of your letter of November 13, 1973 expressing concern that the provision of the Bahá'í marriage law requiring consent of living natural parents creates a double standard in your family because you have adopted children as well as your own.
"We appreciate your concern and are in sympathy with your worthy aspiration to attain unity in your family group. However, the unity of your family need not be imperilled because your adopted children when ready for marriage must obtain consent of their natural parents. Just as love for one person need not reduce the love one bears to another, so unity with the adoptive parents need not destroy nor reduce the unity a child may have with its natural parents, or vice versa. The characters and attitudes of the individuals concerned will have an effect upon this.
"You also state that unless there is a broader concept of the meaning of 'natural parent', you feel the law creates disharmony. Perhaps the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary was quoted to you by your National Spiritual Assembly, but we draw your attention to that portion we have underlined because it refers to the special significance of the relationship between children and their natural parents.
'Bahá'u'lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage.... This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator.'
"In short, love for the foster parents and unity with their home should not exclude love for a child's natural parents, although it is likely a child will become very much more a part of the home in which he lives and grows up.
"Of course, wherever 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. However, children may very well wish to obtain the consent of their foster parents although not obliged to do so."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 11, 1973)1252. Uniform Adoption Law
"We have your letter of 23 July informing us of the Uniform Adoption LawPage 376
which makes it the practice to withhold the names of natural parents from the adoptive parents and the child, and asking for advice as to what is required under the laws of Bahá'í marriage regarding consent of the natural parents.
"In cases where the Uniform Adoption Law prevents the disclosure of the names of the natural parents, the child is under no obligation to seek their consent to marriage, but in those cases where it is possible for the child to know his natural parents, consent must be obtained provided there is nothing in the law or in the adoption contract which prevents him from doing so."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, August 7, 1966: Bahá'í Bulletin of Australia; No. 145, September 1966, p. 2)
1253. Duty of Assembly to Ascertain if Consent is Freely Given. It is Desirable to Have Signed Consent, is Not Requirement Under Law
"In the Bahá'í Faith it is the right of each individual to choose without duress his future partner in marriage and the freedom of the parents in exercising their right to give or refuse consent is unconditional. While it is desirable to have a signed consent from each parent it is not a requirement under Bahá'í Law. The responsible Spiritual Assembly must satisfy itself that consents are freely given but it should not insist upon a signed document. Reliable evidence of oral consents is quite sufficient; some parents freely give their consents orally while refusing to write their consents."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guyana, April 11, 1978)
1254. If Parents Do Not Name Future Spouse in Letter of Consent
"Basically, Bahá'í Law pertaining to marriage requires that the parties intending to marry must obtain consent of all living natural parents. Further, the responsibility of the parents in giving their consent is unrestricted and unconditioned, but in discharging this duty they are responsible for their decision to God. Should the parents in their letter of consent, as you indicated, not name a specific future spouse, the House of Justice states that it could be accepted and it would be permissible to perform a Bahá'í marriage ceremony on the basis of such a letter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 9, 1975)2. Bahá'í Engagement
"As for the question regarding marriage under the Law of God: First thou must choose one who is pleasing to thee, and then the matter is subject to the consent of father and mother. Before thou makest thy choice, they have no right to interfere."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 118)
1256. Period of Engagement and Announcement of Engagement
"The Laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas regarding the period of engagement have not been made applicable to believers in the West, and therefore there is no requirement that the parties to a marriage obtain consent of the parents before announcing their engagement. However, there is no objection to informing the believers that it wouldPage 377
be wise for them to do so in order to avoid later embarrassment if consents are withheld."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, January 17, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, February 1971, No. 198)
1257. If Both Parties Are Persian Engagement Should Not Exceed 95 Days
"...the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that according to its ruling, the law of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas that the lapse of time between engagement and marriage should not exceed ninety-five days, is binding on Persian believers wherever they reside, if both parties are Persian. This law is not applicable, however, if one of the parties is a western believer.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, October 31, 1977)
1258. The Ninety-Five Days Should Commence When the Two Parties Have Been Betrothed
"In principle, according to the decisive text of Abdu'l-Bahá, the period of ninety-five days should commence only when the two parties have been betrothed, and the marriage is agreed. Therefore, the breaking of an engagement, although possible, should rarely occur. The Assemblies should, when the reason for breaking or extending the fixed period of engagement is valid, render every assistance to the parties involved to remove their difficulties and facilitate their observance of the ordinance of the Book.
"However, if the revoking, extending, or renewing of engagement in the judgement of the Assembly is an intentional disregard of the law of the Book, then the National Spiritual Assembly should, in each case, carefully consult and carry out whatever action they may decide..."
(Translated from a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 29, 1971)
1259. The Breaking of an Engagement Does Not Violate Bahá'í Law
"...the breaking of an engagement, though not always desirable, does not violate Bahá'í marriage law."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 11, 1969)
1260. It is Unlawful to Announce a Marriage Earlier Than 95 Days Before Wedding
"...it is unlawful to announce a marriage earlier than ninety-five days before the wedding."
(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Questions and Answers, Q 43, p. 120)
1261. It is Unlawful to Become Engaged to a Girl Before She Attains Maturity+F1
"It is unlawful to become engaged to a girl before she reaches the age of maturity."(Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 150)
1262. The Bahá'í Teachings Raise Marriage to the Status of a Divine Institution; However, There is a Small Section of Humanity Who Should Not Marry...
"The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race--which is the very flower of the entire creation--and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.
"That there should be, however, certain individuals who by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.
"The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Bahá'í Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation.
"This is what the Guardian would advise you to do, and he will pray that you may be guided in reaching the right decision in this assuredly delicate and indeed most vital matter confronting you at present. Whether your illness is the result of any inherent constitutional weakness and inherited predisposition is a question which you should refer to experts in the medical field, though even expert physicians themselves may in very few cases find it exceedingly hard, if not altogether impossible, to give a final and decisive answer."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939)
1263. The Institution of Marriage as Conceived and Established by Bahá'u'lláh Constitutes the Foundation of Social Life
"It must be first clearly emphasized that the institution of marriage as conceived and established by Bahá'u'lláh is extremely simple though of a vital social importance, constituting as it does the very foundation of social life. Compared to matrimonial conceptions and forms current amongst existing religions, the Bahá'í conception of marriage is practically void of all ceremonies. There is no officiating priesthood. The two contracting parties simply appear before the Spiritual Assembly and express their desire to be united with the bonds of marriage. There is a short formula which they have to pronounce before the members, and a marriage certificate which they both have to sign. In the Cause we do not have what is commonly called the 'Aqid'. The appearance of the two parties before the Assembly has only an administrative importance. It carries with it no spiritual or sacramental obligation of significance. I mean only the mere act of appearing before the Assembly, not marriage itself, which is of course essentially a spiritual and moral act of union."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, July 6, 1935)Page 379
1264. The Physical Aspect of Marital Union is Subordinate to the Moral and Spiritual Purposes and Functions
"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 fulfil 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: Family Life, pp. 18-19)
1265. Marriage Between Two Bahá'ís Can Be a Potent Force in the Lives of Others
"He hastens to wish you both every happiness in your forthcoming marriage, and he hopes that it will not only be a blessing to you both, but to the Faith as well.
"A marriage between two souls, alive to the Message of God in this day, dedicated to the service of His Cause, working for the good of humanity, can be a potent force in the lives of others and an example and inspiration to other Bahá'ís, as well as to non-believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 4, 1943)
1266. Bahá'í Union Must Be a True Relationship that Will Endure
"When, therefore, the people of Bahá undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 117)
1267. Moral Duty to Marry But Marriage is Not an Obligation
"...Of course, under normal circumstances, every person should consider it his moral duty to marry. And this is what Bahá'u'lláh has encouraged the believers to do. But marriage is by no means an obligation. In the last resort it is for the individual to decide whether he wishes to lead a family life or live in a state of celibacy."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 3, 1936; cited by the Universal House of Justice in a letter to an individual believer, February 6, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 109-110)
1268. Bahá'u'lláh Has Urged Marriage as the Natural and Rightful Way of Life
"He realizes your desire to get married is quite a natural one, and he will pray that God will assist you to find a suitable companion with whom you can be truly happy and united in the service of the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh has urged marriage upon all people as the natural and rightful way of life. He has also, however, placed strongPage 380
emphasis on its spiritual nature, which, while in no way precluding a normal physical life, is the most essential aspect of marriage. That two people should live their lives in love and harmony is of far greater importance than that they should be consumed with passion for each other. The one is a great rock of strength on which to lean in time of need; the other a purely temporary thing which may at any time die out."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to Mr. John Stearns, January 20, 1943--the first pioneer to Ecuador)
1269. The Bahá'í Faith Does Not Contemplate Any Form of "Trial Marriage"
"Concerning the three definitions of 'companionate marriage' which you give in your letter: the first, which is defined as living together without being married, on either a trial or immoral basis, is obviously unacceptable in Bahá'í teachings and is, moreover, an offence which, if persisted in, could call for deprivation of voting rights. The second and third, namely (2) a marriage where the couple agree ahead of time that they will not have children, ever, and (3) a marriage in which the couple would not have children until they are sure that they wish to stay married, divorce by mutual consent being envisaged before children are born, are private situations which would be undetectable by anyone who has not been confided in by either the husband or the wife. Thus, unlike the first type of 'companionate marriage' they do not constitute blatant immorality and no question of the removal of voting rights would arise. Nevertheless they are also both contrary to the spirit of Bahá'í law. The Bahá'í Teachings do not contemplate any form of 'trial marriage'. A couple should study each other's character and spend time getting to know each other before they decide to marry, and when they do marry it should be with the intention of establishing an eternal bond. They should realize, moreover, that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children. A couple who are physically incapable of having children may, of course, marry, since the procreation of children is not the only purpose of marriage. However, it would be contrary to the spirit of the Teachings for a couple to decide voluntarily never to have any children."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 3, 1982)
1270. Regarding Couples Living Together Without Being Married
"When considering cases of couples who are living together without being married it is important to distinguish those who started this association after becoming Bahá'ís from those who were in this condition already at the time of accepting the Faith. The House of Justice is sure that your Assembly is aware that it is not permissible for Bahá'ís to enter into such an immoral relationship and that any believers who do so must be counselled by the Assembly and warned to correct their conduct, either by separating or by having a Bahá'í marriage ceremony in accordance with the provisions of Bahá'í law. If, after repeated warnings, the believers concerned do not conform to Bahá'í law, the Assembly has no choice but to deprive them of their voting rights.
"The situation of those who were living in such a relationship when they accepted the Faith is less clear-cut, and the House of Justice has instructed us to send your Assembly the following summary of the applicable principles which was preparedPage 381
in response to a similar question by another National Spiritual Assembly.
1. In general, marriages entered into by parties prior to their enrolment in the Faith are recognized as valid under Bahá'í law, and in such cases an additional Bahá'í marriage ceremony is not permitted. This applies whether the marriage was established under civil or religious law or under tribal custom.
2. A couple living together merely as man and mistress when either or both become Bahá'í are not married in the eyes of Bahá'í law, and must either have a Bahá'í marriage in accordance with the provisions of Bahá'í law, or cease living together. In other words, the Assembly must deal with the situation as it would in any other case of immoral behaviour, explaining the requirements of the law, giving repeated warnings, and ultimately, if the offender does not comply, he must forfeit his voting rights.
3. Because of unusual conditions in certain countries and certain cases it sometimes happens that a person will become a Bahá'í when he or she is living in a situation which does not clearly fit within either of the above definitions. Such a case occurs, for example, where a couple have established firm ties of union and are living together in such a way that they appear to be married and are accepted as such by those around them; the union has stood the test of time and there may even be children, and yet, in fact, the couple are not actually married in any of the ways defined above. The principle followed here is that we do not pry into people's lives and insist on their undoing those ties they have established before becoming believers, but the union is accepted as a marriage in the eyes of Bahá'í law. The Guardian upheld this principle in situations which arise in some Catholic countries where, because of the relationship between church and state divorce is impossible, and one or both of the parties may still be legally married to someone else. Where it is possible for such a couple to regularize their position in civil law by having a civil marriage ceremony, they may certainly do so, but it is neither necessary nor permissible for them to have a Bahá'í marriage ceremony, since, in the eyes of Bahá'í law, they are already united in marriage."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, September 7, 1981)
1271. The Basic Difference Between the Two Categories of Relationships
"The basic difference between the two categories of relationships is that common law marriage is considered by the parties concerned as a solemn contract with the sole intention of establishing a family but which, because of legal complications, cannot be duly registered, whereas in companionate marriage and the like the parties concerned initiate and maintain their relationship either on a trial basis or on other immoral grounds, both of which are condemned in our Teachings.
"We feel that by applying these principles in each of the cases you cite in your letter, with wisdom, kindness and love you will be able gradually to educate the friends in the fundamentals of our Teachings and enable them to overcome their moral difficulties."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, November 21, 1967)
1272. Faith Accepts in Certain Cases Unions which Are "Immoral But Accepted" by Society in which the People Live
"As you will see, the Bahá'í Faith accepts as man and wife couples who, prior toPage 382
becoming Bahá'ís, have had a valid marriage ceremony, whether this be civil, religious or by tribal custom, even if this has resulted in a polygamous union. Furthermore, the Faith accepts in certain cases unions which are 'immoral but accepted' by the society in which the people live. In all these cases, because the union is accepted by the Faith, there is no question of a couple's having a Bahá'í wedding ceremony subsequently because, as the Guardian says, 'Bahá'í marriage is something you perform when you are going to be united for the first time, not long after the union takes place'. If, however, such a couple would like to have a meeting of their friends at which Bahá'í prayers and readings are said on behalf of their marriage now that they are Bahá'ís, there is no objection to their doing so, although it must be understood that this does not constitute a Bahá'í marriage ceremony."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, June 23, 1969)
1273. Legalizing Existing Situation Does Not Require Bahá'í Marriage
"The matter of regularising a situation in civil law is quite separate and largely depends upon the requirements of the law. If a couple whose union is recognized by the Faith but is not valid in civil law wish to have a civil marriage, they may most certainly do so. This is purely a rectification of the civil position and does not require the holding of a Bahá'í marriage ceremony."(Ibid.)
1274. Difference Between Companionate Marriage and Common Law Marriage
"We have reviewed your letter of October 25 asking questions concerning the application of Bahá'í marriage laws in your community.
"The problem you describe in your letter is more or less common to the other territories in Latin America, and during the lifetime of the Guardian similar problems were presented to him by National Assemblies operating at the time in Latin America. The replies given by the Guardian indicate that distinction should be made between companionate marriage and flagrant immorality on the one hand, and common law marriage contracted because of the present relationship of law and the church in those areas on the other. Whilst the first type of relationship is immoral and therefore cannot be tolerated, the second type of relationship, if contracted before a person has become a Bahá'í, may be accepted by the institutions of the Faith without requiring the person to undo such ties."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, November 21, 1967)
1275. Companionate Marriage and Flagrantly Immoral Relationships
"Regarding companionate marriage and flagrant immorality, we quote below two passages from letters written on behalf of the Guardian:
'The Guardian has instructed me to say that companionate marriage, where there is no legal or religious marriage, is an immoral relationship and we cannot accept as believers those who are openly behaving in this way.' (To the NSA of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, dated September 26, 1957)
'As regards flagrantly immoral relationships, such as a man living with aPage 383
mistress, this should be brought to his attention in a loving manner, and he should be urged to either marry the woman if he is free to do so, or to give up this conduct, so detrimental to the Faith and to his own spiritual progress.'" (To the NSA of Central America, dated February 9, 1957)
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, November 21, 1967)
1276. Violation of Marriage Law, Ascertain if Bahá'í Informed of Requirements
"...For the present, your Assembly should follow the guidance already given by the beloved Guardian, keeping in mind that suspension of voting rights is not an automatic procedure.
"In all marriage cases, including those you list, your Assembly must first ascertain if the Bahá'í in question was informed of the requirements for Bahá'í marriage, and of his own responsibilities in connection therewith. In cases involving disregard of Bahá'í laws other than that of marriage, you should be slow to impose this severe sanction."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, April 14, 1965)1277. Incorrect Information Given by Assembly
"Similarly, you should take into account a believer's good intention if he acted in accordance with incorrect advice or instruction given to him by his Local Spiritual Assembly or another Bahá'í institution."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 11, 1965)
1278. Bahá'ís Ignorant of Law in a Different Category Altogether
"At the present stage in the development of the Bahá'í Community, Bahá'ís who failed to have a Bahá'í marriage through ignorance of the law are in a different category altogether from those who wittingly broke the law. The latter must have a Bahá'í ceremony in order to regain their voting rights; but the former should be treated in the same manner as those Bahá'ís who married before they entered the Faith and those Bahá'ís who married without a Bahá'í ceremony before the law was applied: they should be considered married and not be required to have a Bahá'í ceremony."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 20, 1966)
1279. Be Patient and Forbearing in Application of Laws to Indigenous People: Must Not Pry into People's Personal Lives
"There are, however, as you will see from the 21 November letter to Paraguay, situations which are not accepted by the Bahá'í Faith, and when people who are living in such immoral situations become Bahá'ís they must rectify their condition or be subject to loss of their voting rights. We wish to emphasize, however, that although all immorality is condemned in the Teachings, it is only flagrant immorality that is now sanctionable. You should not pry into people's affairs, and only in cases of flagrant immorality should you consider imposing sanctions, and then only after you have patiently explained to the believers concerned the Bahá'í laws involved and given them ample time to comply. Particularly in the applicationPage 384
of these laws to indigenous people should you be patient and forbearing. The emphasis should be on education rather than on rigid enforcement of the law immediately.
"When someone who is already a Bahá'í knowingly violates Bahá'í marriage law he is subject to loss of his voting rights. Apart from the cases mentioned in paragraph four above, believers wishing to be married must have a Bahá'í ceremony, and this is true even if only one of the parties is a Bahá'í...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, June 23, 1969)1280. Bigamy Not Permitted
"The situation facing you is admittedly difficult and delicate, but no less grave and indeed vital are the responsibilities which it entails and which, as a faithful and loyal believer, you should conscientiously and thoroughly assume. The Guardian, therefore, while fully alive to the special circumstances of your case, and however profound his sympathy may be for you in this challenging issue with which you are so sadly faced, cannot, in view of the emphatic injunctions contained in the Teachings, either sanction your demand to contract a second marriage while your first wife is still alive and is united with you in the sacred bonds of matrimony, or even suggest or approve that you divorce her just in order to be permitted to marry a new one.
"For the Bahá'í Teachings do not only preclude the possibility of bigamy, but also, while permitting divorce, consider it a reprehensible act, which should be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, and when grave issues are involved, transcending such ... considerations as physical attraction or sexual compatibility and harmony. 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 fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer who, having married his first wife out of compassion, now wished permission to marry a woman with whom he had fallen in love, saying that his wife was agreeable to his taking this second wife, May 8, 1939: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, pp. 4-5)
1281. Summary of Bahá'í Requirements Concerning Marriages with Followers of Other Religions
"In your letter of 1st July 1979 you requested the Universal House of Justice to provide you with a statement on the Bahá'í requirements concerning marriages with followers of other Faiths. The House of Justice has instructed us to send you the following summary.
1. When a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Bahá'í, and the non-Bahá'í wishes to have the ceremony of his (or her) own religion, the Bahá'í party may take part in it under the following conditions:Page 385
1.1 That all concerned, including the officiating priest, know that he is a Bahá'í.
1.2 That he does not, by having the ceremony, renounce his faith.
1.3 That he does not undertake any vow to act contrary to Bahá'í principles (such as to bring up the children in another Faith).
1.4 That the ceremony be held on the same day as the Bahá'í ceremony, either before or after it.
2. If a civil ceremony is required by law in addition to the two religious ceremonies, all three ceremonies must be held on the same day.
3. If a Bahá'í has the marriage ceremony of another religion and, in so doing, violates any of the above requirements, he is liable to loss of his voting rights.
4. If voting rights are removed and the offender requests reinstatement, they may be restored if the Assembly is satisfied that the believer is repentant, subject to the following conditions:
4.1 If the Bahá'í dissimulated his faith or undertook a vow contrary to Bahá'í principles in order to have the ceremony of another religion, and if the holding of the ceremony was dependent upon such an act, he must dissolve the marriage. His voting rights may then be restored, but, if he still wishes to be married to the same woman, he can be so only if they marry in accordance with the requirements of Bahá'í law.
4.2 If the Bahá'í dissimulated his faith or undertook a vow contrary to Bahá'í principles, and the holding of the marriage ceremony of the other faith was not dependent upon such an act, it is not necessary to dissolve the marriage, but the Bahá'í must do whatever is necessary to officially inform the appropriate authorities that he was a Bahá'í at the time of his marriage, and to withdraw the vow. Following the taking of these steps the Bahá'í's voting rights may be restored on condition that a Bahá'í marriage ceremony be held immediately after their restoration.
4.3 If the Bahá'í neither dissimulated his faith nor undertook any vow contrary to Bahá'í principles, and his only offence was failure to have the Bahá'í ceremony on the same day as the ceremony of the other religion (or the civil ceremony), his voting rights may be restored on condition that a Bahá'í marriage ceremony be held immediately after their restoration.
5. The holding of a Bahá'í marriage ceremony, which would permit the restoration of voting rights is subject to the same requirements as any other Bahá'í marriage, and if a Bahá'í has had a civil ceremony of another religion without a Bahá'í ceremony and without obtaining consent of parents, the Assembly, before granting the Bahá'í ceremony, must be satisfied that the consent of the parents is freely given.
6. If a Bahá'í has a civil marriage or the marriage of another religion, and the Assembly is satisfied that this was because he (or she) was genuinely ignorant of Bahá'í law on the subject, the Assembly may excuse the fault. In such a case the person is recognized as married in the same way as if he had been married before accepting the Faith. It is thus neither necessary nor possible for him to have a Bahá'í ceremony."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Greece, July 15, 1980)Page 386
1282. Mixed Marriages (i.e., Bahá'í and Non-Bahá'í)
"With reference to your question regarding mixed marriages, that is to say between Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís, in all such cases the believer must insist that the Bahá'í ceremony should, as far as he is concerned, be performed in its entirety, but should also give full freedom to the other contracting party to carry out the non-Bahá'í rite or ceremony be it Muslim, Christian or otherwise, provided the latter does not invalidate the Bahá'í marriage act. This is the general principle which your N.S.A. should explain to the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iraq, April 16, 1936)
1283. Roman Catholic Marriage Requirements with Non-Catholics
"We wish to advise you also of a recent instruction by Pope Paul VI, which liberalizes the Roman Catholic attitude to marriage with non-Catholics. It is now permissible for Catholics to enter into 'mixed marriages' and the requirement to bring up children in the Roman Catholic religion need not be enforced. The National Assembly of Italy reports a recent marriage between a Bahá'í and a Catholic in which the officiating priest for the Catholic ceremony required no written undertaking but declared that the couple should promise to bring up their children religiously. Of course, this liberalism on the part of the Roman Catholic Church in no way affects the Bahá'í laws of marriage, including the obligation to make clear to all concerned that one is a Bahá'í and to abstain from undertaking a vow contrary to the principles of the Faith. You may find, in the case of a Bahá'í marrying a Catholic, less difficulty than formerly if a Catholic priest of the newer liberal persuasion can be found."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, January 9, 1967)
1284. In Reality No Individual Performs the Marriage Ceremony and if for Any Reason Non-Bahá'í Refuses to Recite Verse, Bahá'í Cannot Marry that Person
"When a Bahá'í marriage ceremony takes place, there is no individual, strictly speaking, who 'performs' it--no Bahá'í equivalent to a minister of the Church. The couple themselves perform the ceremony by each saying, in the presence of at least two witnesses, the prescribed verse 'We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' This ceremony is performed under the authority of a Spiritual Assembly which has the responsibility for ensuring that the various requirements of Bahá'í law, such as obtaining the consent of the parents, are met, to whom the witnesses must be acceptable, and which issues the marriage certificate.
"The sincerity with which the sacred verse is spoken is a matter for the consciences of those who utter it. According to the explicit text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, both the bride and groom must, in the presence of witnesses, recite the prescribed verse; this is an essential requirement of the marriage ceremony. Thus if a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Bahá'í and this person for any reason refuses to utter this verse, then the Bahá'í cannot marry that person."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Norway, May 23, 1985)1285. Marriage of Bahá'í to Atheist
"The laws conditioning Bahá'í marriage are found in the 'Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas' under C., Laws of Personal Status, beginning onPage 387
Page 39 of that publication. No Bahá'í marriage can be valid without the recitation of the prescribed verse by both parties."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in answer to a letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador regarding an atheist who agreed to the Bahá'í ceremony but since he did not believe in God did not wish to repeat the marriage verse using the name of God. Letter dated December 19, 1974)1286. Marriage by Proxy
"In reply to your letter of October 19th asking whether a young believer in your jurisdiction may be married by proxy; we do not approve of the proposed proxy marriage."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 26, 1967)
1287. Hindu Ceremony is Possible for Bahá'í, Provided...
"As regards marriage between a Bahá'í and a Hindu, having a Hindu ceremony is possible only if the people concerned, including the officiating priest, are aware that the Bahá'í remains a Bahá'í although taking part in the Hindu marriage ceremony in deference to his or her Hindu partner."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, May 4, 1970: 19-Day Feast Circular of India, February 2, 1971, p. 7)1288. Inter-Racial Marriage
"In regard to your question concerning the nature and character of Bahá'í marriage. As you have rightfully stated, such a marriage is conditioned upon the full approval of all four parents. Also your statement to the effect that the principle of the oneness of mankind prevents any true Bahá'í from regarding race itself as a bar to union is in complete accord with the Teachings of the Faith on this point. For both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá never disapproved of the idea of inter-racial marriage, nor discouraged it. The Bahá'í Teachings, indeed, by their very nature transcend all limitations imposed by race, and as such can and should never be identified with any particular school of racial philosophy."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 27, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 90, p. 1, March 1935)1289. Marriage Between Relatives
"The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to acknowledge your letter of 15 December 1980 in which you ask what prohibitions, in addition to the one on marrying one's step-mother, there may be restricting marriage between relatives, and to say that the House of Justice has not as yet seen fit to make regulations on the subject of marriage with one's kindred. For the present, therefore, decisions are left to the consciences of the individual Bahá'ís who must, of course, obey the civil law. Consideration must also be given to the prevailing customs and traditions in each country so that any action in this respect will not reflect upon the Faith in an adverse way."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 15, 1981)1290. Marriage Ceremony for Two Non-Bahá'ís
"There is no objection to performing a Bahá'í marriage for two non-Bahá'ís, if theyPage 388
desire to have our simple ceremony. This, on the contrary, is yet another way of demonstrating our liberality."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 25, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 202, December 1947, p. 2)1291. The "So-Called" Marriage Tablet
"With regard to your question concerning the so-called Marriage Tablet printed on page 47 of the supplement of the British Prayer Book, this is not a Tablet, but a talk ascribed to the Master by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab. It was given some time in December, 1918 about Sohrab's marriage. It cannot be regarded as Bahá'í scripture as 'nothing can be considered as scripture for which we do not have an original text,' as the beloved Guardian pointed out. The friends may use this talk, but it is not to be considered as scripture."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, January 18, 1971: Bahá'í Journal of the United Kingdom, No. 218, August 1973, p. 2)
1292. Wedding Plans Should Be Left Entirely in the Hands of the Bride and Groom
"An Assembly has the overriding duty to protect the good name of the Faith in relation to any activity of the friends, but it should always exercise great care not to restrict the individual's freedom of action unnecessarily. Normally the size of the wedding celebration, the place in which it is to be held and who is to be invited are all left entirely to the discretion of the bride and groom and an Assembly should interpose an objection only if it is quite certain that the Cause will really be injured if it does not do so.
"In the case of any Bahá'í wedding, delayed or otherwise, the date on the certificate must be the date the ceremony is performed."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 20, 1966)
1293. Believers Should Not Attend Weddings of Bahá'ís Marrying Contrary to Bahá'í Law
"Further to your letter of 5 September 1974, the Universal House of Justice has now had an opportunity to consider your question about believers attending weddings of Bahá'ís who are marrying contrary to Bahá'í law, and we have been asked to convey to you the following.
"If it is known beforehand that a believer is violating such laws, it would be inappropriate for the friends to attend the ceremony. This is out of respect for Bahá'í law. However, if without realizing the situation believers find themselves in attendance at a ceremony in the course of which it is apparent that such a violation is occurring, they should not make an issue of it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, November 11, 1974: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 243, September 1975, p. 4)
1294. The Compulsory Part of a Bahá'í Wedding is the Pledge of Marriage in the Presence of Two Assembly Witnesses
"When the consent of the parents is obtained, the only other requirement for the ceremony is the recitation by both parties in the presence of two witnesses of thePage 389
specifically revealed verse: 'We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' The following quotations from letters written by the Guardian's secretary indicate the desirability of the Bahá'í marriage ceremony being simple:
'There is no ritual, according to the Aqdas, and the Guardian is very anxious that none should be introduced at present and no general form accepted. He believes the ceremony should be as simple as possible....'
'The only compulsory part of a Bahá'í wedding is the pledge of marriage, the phrase to be spoken separately by the Bride and Bridegroom in turn, in the presence of Assembly witnesses.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 23, 1984)
1295. When a Bahá'í Marries a Non-Bahá'í Both Ceremonies Can Be Held in the Place of Worship of Another Religion, if Requested, and Provided that...
"In response to your email of 6 February 1986 we have been instructed by the Universal House of Justice to send you the following clarifications:
--- When two Bahá'ís are marrying, the wedding ceremony should not be held in the place of worship of another religion, nor should the forms of the marriage of other religions be added to the simple Bahá'í ceremony.
--- When a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Bahá'í, and the religious wedding ceremony of the non-Bahá'í partner is to be held in addition to the Bahá'í ceremony, both ceremonies may, if requested, be held in the place of worship of the other religion provided that:
--- Equal respect is accorded to both ceremonies. In other words, the Bahá'í ceremony, which is basically so simple, should not be regarded as a mere formal adjunct to the ceremony of the other religion.
--- The two ceremonies are clearly distinct. In other words, they should not be commingled into one combined ceremony."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 26, 1986)
1296. Witnesses Can Be Any Two Trustworthy People Acceptable to Assembly: Makes Possible for Lone Pioneer to Have Bahá'í Marriage in a Remote Post
"...The only requirement, however, is that the bride and groom, before two witnesses, must state 'We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' These two witnesses may be chosen by the couple or by the Spiritual Assembly, but must in any case be acceptable to the Assembly; they may be its chairman and secretary, or two other members of the Assembly, or two other people, Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í, or any combination of these. The Assembly may decide that all marriage certificates it issues are to be signed by the chairman and secretary, but that is a different matter and has nothing to do with the actual ceremony or the witnesses.
"...you state that the two witnesses at the marriage must be Bahá'ís. Although this is the usual practice, it is not essential. The witnesses can be any two trustworthy people whose testimony is acceptable to the Spiritual Assembly under whose jurisdiction the marriage is performed. This fact makes it possible for a lone pioneer in a remote post to have a Bahá'í marriage."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, August 8, 1969)Page 390
1297. Two Essential Obligations Regarding Education of Children
"In all cases of marriage of Bahá'ís to followers of other religions the Bahá'í has two essential obligations as regards the children:
a. He must not educate or assume a vow to educate the children of the marriage in a religion other than his own.
b. He must do whatever he can to provide for the training of the children in the Bahá'í teachings.
"...Bearing in mind the obligation of the Bahá'í parent to offer his child a Bahá'í education, there is no objection to the attendance of the child of a Bahá'í parent, or even a Bahá'í child, at a parochial school if circumstances require."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 10, 1966)
1298. Bahá'í Ceremony Should Be as Simple as Possible, No Rituals
"Regarding the question you raise in your letter about the Bahá'í marriage. As you know there is no ritual, according to the Aqdas, and the Guardian is very anxious that none should be introduced at present and no general forms accepted. He believes this ceremony should be as simple as possible, the parties using the words ordained by Bahá'u'lláh, and excerpts from the writings and prayers being read if desired. There should be no commingling of the old forms with the new and simple one of Bahá'u'lláh, and Bahá'ís should not be married in the Church or any other acknowledged place of worship of the followers of other Faiths...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 13, 1944)1299. Meaning of Consummation of Marriage
"The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to give the following answer to your letter of 24 June in which you ask questions about the principle that the Bahá'í and other wedding ceremony must take place on the same day.
i. In a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian he pointed out that this requirement is because of a provision in Bahá'í law that marriage must be consummated within twenty-four hours of the ceremony.
ii. Both ceremonies must precede the consummation of the marriage, and both the ceremonies and the consummation must take place within the same 24-hour period. As the House of Justice does not wish to go beyond this at this time we are asked to tell you that it is within the discretion of your Assembly to fix the time at which the 24-hour period is to begin."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, dated 31 July 1979)
"The consummation of marriage by a couple is, as you aptly state, an intimate and private matter outside the scrutiny of others. While consummation normally implies a sexual relationship, the Bahá'í law requiring consummation to take place within twenty-four hours of the ceremony can be considered as fulfilled if the couple has commenced cohabitation with the intention of setting up the family relationship."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 28 July, 1978)Page 391
1300. Consummation of Marriage Must Take Place Within Twenty-Four Hours of Bahá'í Marriage Ceremony
"As to cases involving another ceremony in addition to the Bahá'í one, the friends should bear in mind that according to Bahá'í law the consummation of the marriage must take place within twenty-four hours of the Bahá'í marriage ceremony. If other marriage ceremonies are to be held in addition to the Bahá'í one, all the ceremonies must precede consummation of the marriage and, together with the consummation, fall within one twenty-four hour period. Naturally any requirements of civil law as to the order in which the ceremonies should be held must be observed."
(From the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, February 17, 1976)
1301. Reporting Bahá'í Marriage: Individual Only Acts for Assembly
"...In reporting Bahá'í marriages it is much better to mention that the ceremony was performed by the Assembly, as this is the proper thing to do, and an individual only acts for the Assembly on this occasion. As a funeral is not a legal ceremony more latitude can be allowed, especially as the family of the deceased may want some particular Bahá'í friend to officiate."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Bahá'í News, No. 188, p. 3, October 1946)K. Divorce
1302. Attitude of Present-Day Society Towards Divorce
"The Universal House of Justice has noted with increasing concern that the undisciplined attitude of present-day society towards divorce is reflected in some parts of the Bahá'í World Community. Our Teachings on this subject are clear and in direct contrast to the loose and casual attitude of the 'permissive society' and it is vital that the Bahá'í Community practise these Teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 18, 1980)
1303. There Are No Grounds for Divorce in the Faith--Divorce Should Only Be Considered if There is a Strong "Aversion" to One's Partner
"Concerning the definition of the term 'aversion' in relation to Bahá'í divorce law, the Universal House of Justice points out that there are no specific 'grounds' for Bahá'í divorce such as there are in some codes of civil law. Bahá'í law permits divorce but, as both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have made very clear, divorce is abhorred. Thus, from the point of view of the individual believer he should do all he can to refrain from divorce. Bahá'ís should be profoundly aware of the sanctity of marriage and should strive to make their marriages an eternal bond of unity and harmony. This requires effort and sacrifice and wisdom and self-abnegation. A Bahá'í should consider the possibility of divorce only if the situation is intolerable and he or she has a strong aversion to being married to the other partner. This is the standard held up to the individual. It is not a law, but an exhortation. It is a goal to which we should strive."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 3, 1982)Page 392
1304. Youth Should Be So Deepened in the Teachings that the Thought of Divorce Will Be Abhorrent to Them
"From the point of view of the Spiritual Assembly, however, the matter is somewhat different. The Spiritual Assembly should always be concerned that the believers in its community are being deepened in their understanding of the Bahá'í concept of marriage, especially the young people, so that the very thought of divorce will be abhorrent to them. When an application for divorce is made to a Spiritual Assembly, its first thought and action should be to reconcile the couple and to ensure that they know the Bahá'í teachings on the matter. God willing, the Assembly will be successful and no year of waiting need be started. However, if the Assembly finds that it is unable to persuade the party concerned to withdraw the application for divorce, it must conclude that, from its point of view, there appears to be an irreconcilable antipathy, and it has no alternative to setting the date for the beginning of the year of waiting. During the year the couple have the responsibility of attempting to reconcile their difference, and the Assembly has the duty to help them and encourage them. But if the year of waiting comes to an end without reconciliation the Bahá'í divorce must be granted as at the date of the granting of the civil divorce if this has not already taken place."(Ibid.)
1305. The Party Who is the Cause of Divorce Will Become Victim of Formidable Calamities
"It can be seen, therefore, that 'aversion' is not a specific legal term that needs to be defined. Indeed a number of other terms are used in describing the situation that can lead to divorce in Bahá'í law, such as 'antipathy', 'resentment', 'estrangement', 'impossibility of establishing harmony' and 'irreconcilability'. The texts, however, point out that divorce is strongly condemned, and should be viewed as 'a last resort' when 'rare and urgent circumstances' exist, and that the partner who is the 'cause of divorce' will 'unquestionably' become the 'victim of formidable calamities'."(Ibid.)
1306. The Friends Must Strictly Refrain from Divorce
"Formerly in Persia divorce was very easily obtained. Among the people of the past Dispensation a trifling matter would cause divorce. However, as the light of the Kingdom shone forth, souls were quickened by the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh, then they totally eschewed divorce. In Persia now divorce doth not take place among the friends, unless a compelling reason existeth which maketh harmony impossible. Under such rare circumstances some cases of divorce take place.
"Now the friends in America must live and conduct themselves in this way. They must strictly refrain from divorce unless something ariseth which compelleth them to separate because of their aversion for each other, in that case with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly they may decide to separate. They must then be patient and wait one complete year. If during this year harmony is not re-established between them, then their divorce may be realized. It should not happen that upon the occurrence of a slight friction of displeasure between husband and wife, the husband would think of union with some other woman or, God forbid, the wife also think of another husband. This is contrary to the standard of heavenly value and true chastity. The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves, and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The lovePage 393
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. If one of these two become the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce: A Compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, January 1980)
1307. Divorce is Conditional Upon the Approval and Permission of the Spiritual Assembly
"Regarding divorce, the Guardian stated that it is discouraged, deprecated and against the good pleasure of God. The Assembly must circulate among the friends whatever has been revealed from the Pen of Abdu'l-Bahá in this connection so that all may be fully reminded. Divorce is conditional upon the approval and permission of the Spiritual Assembly. The members of the Assembly must in such matters independently and carefully study and investigate each case. If there should be valid grounds for divorce and it is found that reconciliation is utterly impossible, that antipathy is intense and its removal is not possible, then the Assembly may approve the divorce."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, July 7, 1938--translated from the Persian: Ibid., p. 3)1308. Should Think of Future of Children
"He was very sorry to hear that you and your husband are still so unhappy together. It is always a source of sorrow in life when married people cannot get on well together, but the Guardian feels that you and your husband, in contemplating divorce, should think of the future of your children and how this major step on your part will influence their lives and happiness.
"If you feel the need of advice and consultation he suggests you consult your Local Assembly; your fellow Bahá'ís will surely do all they can to counsel and help you, protect your interests and those of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 16, 1945: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, p. 4)
1309. Divorce Concerns Children's Entire Future and Their Attitude Towards Marriage
"There is no doubt about it that the believers in America, probably unconsciously influenced by the extremely lax morals prevalent and the flippant attitude towards divorce which seems to be increasingly prevailing, do not take divorce seriously enough and do not seem to grasp the fact that although Bahá'u'lláh has permitted it, He has only permitted it as a last resort and strongly condemns it.
"The presence of children, as a factor in divorce, cannot be ignored, for surely it places an even greater weight of moral responsibility on the man and wife in considering such a step. Divorce under such circumstances no longer just concerns them and their desires and feelings but also concerns the children's entire future andPage 394
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 19, 1947: Ibid., p. 5)
1310. One May Discover He Has Not Purchased Either Freedom or Happiness
"He was very sorry to hear that you are contemplating separation from your husband. As you no doubt know, Bahá'u'lláh considers the marriage bond very sacred; and only under very exceptional and unbearable circumstances is divorce advisable for Bahá'ís.
"The Guardian does not tell you that you must not divorce your husband; but he does urge you to consider prayerfully, not only because you are a believer and anxious to obey the laws of God, but also for the sake of the happiness of your children, whether it is not possible for you to rise above the limitations you have felt in your marriage hitherto, and make a go of it together.
"We often feel that our happiness lies in a certain direction; and yet, if we have to pay too heavy a price for it in the end we may discover that we have not really purchased either freedom or happiness, but just some new situation of frustration and disillusion."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 5, 1951: Extracts from the Bahá'í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, pp. 5-6)
1311. Cannot Use the Cause or Service to It as Reason for Divorce
"Shoghi Effendi wishes me to add this note in connection with your marriage; he does not feel that any believer, under any circumstances whatsoever, can ever use the Cause or service to it as a reason for abandoning their marriage; divorce, as we know, is very strongly condemned by Bahá'u'lláh, and only grounds of extreme gravity justify it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 7, 1947: Ibid., p. 4)
1312. Every Effort Should Be Made to Salvage Marriage--In Case of Pioneers, It is Even More Important
"He has been very sorry to hear that your marriage seems to have failed utterly. I need not tell you as a Bahá'í that every effort should be made by any Bahá'í to salvage their marriage for the sake of God, rather than for their own sake. In the case of pioneers, it is even more important, because they are before the public eye. However, in such matters it is neither befitting nor right that the Guardian should bring pressure on individuals. He can only appeal to you and ... to try again; but if you cannot rise to this test, that is naturally a personal matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 13, 1956: Ibid., p. 6)1313. Bahá'í Family Should Be Preserved
"Wherever 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 the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America, November 9, 1956: Ibid., p. 6)Page 395
1314. One Year of Waiting Whether Bahá'í When Married or Not
"As regards Bahá'í divorce as mentioned in your letter of June 12th: Bahá'ís (whether one party or both are believers) should follow the Bahá'í law of divorce, i.e., one year of waiting, and not neglect this divinely given law. Whether they were Bahá'ís when married or not has nothing to do with it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 12, 1952)
1315. If Divorce is Illegal Within a Country, Bahá'ís Are Bound by Law of the Country
"In answer to the question raised in your letter of June 5 as regards divorce: The Guardian says that if within a country divorce, because of affiliation of church and State in this matter, is considered illegal, the Bahá'ís must be bound by this law. At the present time they must under no circumstances raise such matters with any Government in question. This means that it is not right for a believer to get a divorce outside of, say Colombia, and then remarry outside and return there, where his divorce would be illegal."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, July 11, 1951)1316. If One Party is Mentally Ill
"We have reviewed your letter of January 21, 1964 requesting instructions as to how to handle Bahá'í divorce when one of the parties is mentally ill.
"Far from being required to live together during the year of patience, the parties are in fact prohibited from doing so.
"The Bahá'í divorce must be handled either by the Local Assembly or by the National Assembly, but either may handle it at the discretion of your Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, February 23, 1964)
1317. Bahá'ís Who Intend to Divorce Must Consult with Local or National Assembly
"However, it is necessary that Bahá'ís who intend to divorce be aware that they must consult with their Local or National Assembly, that basically a year of waiting must ensue before divorce can be effected, and that the Assembly has certain responsibilities toward the couple concerned about which they will be informed through consultation with the Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 16, 1967)
1318. The Believers Should Know that Although Divorce is Permitted in Bahá'í Law, It is Condemned
"It is, of course, important for the friends to realise that although divorce is permitted in Bahá'í law, it is nevertheless condemned, and great efforts should be made to avoid it. It is always the hope that, during the year of patience, affection between the couple will recur and that divorce will not be necessary. Therefore, although normal social relationships between each of the partners andPage 396
members of both sexes is permissible, it is quite contrary to the spirit of the teachings for either party to be courting a new partner during the year of waiting. This should be made clear to the couple and they should be exhorted to conduct themselves as Bahá'ís. However, this is not an area in which the Assembly should resort to sanctions if either or both of the pair disregard this principle. Naturally, if one of the parties conducts himself or herself in a way that is blatantly or flagrantly immoral the matter should be handled as any other similar case would be, but from your cables we understand that this is not the situation in the case at present before you."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 15, 1973)
1319. The Assembly Should Determine that Irreconcilable Antipathy Exists Before Setting the Date of the Beginning of the Year of Waiting
"Regarding the case of the married couple who have separated and wish to set the date of the beginning of the year of waiting retroactively, we are directed to say that the conclusions expressed in the fourth paragraph of your letter are correct; that is, that the Local Assembly should determine, before setting the date of the beginning of the year of waiting, that irreconcilable antipathy exists. While a Local or National Assembly may request the advice of the Continental Board of Counsellors and their Board members, and should be grateful for their assistance, it is the Assembly's responsibility to conduct its own investigation and come to a decision. Assemblies are, of course, discouraged from probing unnecessarily into details of personal lives and the examination of a divorce problem should not go beyond what is necessary to ascertain whether or not such antipathy does, indeed, exist.
"When a Spiritual Assembly receives an application for Bahá'í divorce its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. If this is not possible, and the couple separates, further efforts at reconciliation should be made during the ensuing year.
"While there are circumstances in which the date of waiting may be fixed retroactively, the situation you describe of the husband leaving for the purpose of finding work cannot be accepted as one of them."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, May 30, 1983)
1320. Procedure for an Assembly When Application for Divorce is Received
"The procedure, briefly, is that when a Spiritual Assembly receives an application for divorce its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. When it determines that this is not possible, it should then set the date of the beginning of the year of waiting. That could be the date on which the Assembly reaches the decision, unless the couple are still living together, in which case it must be postponed until they separate. If the couple had already separated some time before, the Assembly may back-date the beginning of the year; however, the earliest date on which it can be set is the date on which the couple last separated with the intention of obtaining a divorce."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, September 11, 1986)
1321. The Setting of the Date of the Beginning of the Year of Patience is Not Automatic
"...The setting of the date of the beginning of the year of patience is not automatic.Page 397
The Assembly must first determine whether grounds for a Bahá'í divorce exist and should make every effort to reconcile the parties. If the aversion existing between the parties is found to be irreconcilable then the Assembly may set the date for the beginning of the year of waiting..."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 7, 1970)
1322. Beginning of the Year of Patience Normally Commences When Parties Notify Assembly of their Separation with Intent to Divorce
"Thus the date of the beginning of the year of patience normally commences when one of the parties notifies the Assembly that they have separated with the intention of divorce. However, the Assembly may establish the beginning of the year of patience on a prior date provided it is satisfied such prior date reflects the actual date of separation and there is good reason for so doing."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 26, 1965)
1323. Duties of Assembly or Committee on Divorce Procedures
"In the opening paragraphs of your letter you speak of your Committee adjudicating upon divorce settlements, and the House of Justice feels that the use of the word 'adjudicate' may lie at the root of some of the problems that the committee is facing. In a country like the United Kingdom, where divorce is subject to the civil law, the function of the Assembly (or its committee) in dealing with a divorce case is not primarily a matter of adjudication. Its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. If it finds that it is unable to do this, it then sets the beginning of the year of waiting and continues, as circumstances permit and wisdom dictates, throughout the running of the year, its attempts at reconciliation.
"One of the duties of the committee is to see that the requirements of Bahá'í law governing the year of waiting are not violated--that is to say, that the two parties live apart and that proper provisions are made for the financial support of the wife and children. As you will see from the enclosures, this is a matter that needs to be considered for each case on its own merits. If the matter can be amicably arranged between the parties, well and good. If not, the basic principle of Bahá'í law is that the husband is responsible for the support of his wife and children so long as they are married; that is until the granting of the divorce. In a particular case, however, it may have been the wife who was the bread-winner of the family, or both the husband and wife may have been earning income. The Assembly should not ignore such specific situations and change them merely because a year of waiting is running. The application of these principles should not be in the form of an adjudication which the Assembly will require the couple to accept, but as a basis for an arrangement which the couple will amicably agree to and present to the court for endorsement. If the Assembly is unable to get the couple to agree, it should leave the matter to the civil court."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 24, 1983)1324. Dating During the Year of Patience
"It is always the hope that, during the year of patience, affection between the couplePage 398
will recur and that divorce will not be necessary. Therefore, although normal social relationships between each of the partners and members of both sexes are permissible, it is quite contrary to the spirit of the teachings for either party to be courting a new partner during the year of waiting. This should be made clear to the couple if necessary and they should be exhorted to conduct themselves as Bahá'ís. However, this is not an area in which the Assembly should resort to sanctions if either or both of the pair disregard this principle. Naturally, if one of the parties conducts himself or herself in a way that is blatantly or flagrantly immoral the matter should be handled as any other similar case would be."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 6, 1974)
1325. Summary--Relating to the Fixing of the Date of Separation
1. The first task of the National Spiritual Assembly is to attempt to reconcile the couple, but if it finds that this is not possible and that an irreconcilable antipathy exists, it must register the beginning of the year of waiting. The Assembly may meet with the couple together or separately in its attempts to reconcile them. If there are compelling reasons for doing so, the Assembly may set a date retroactively for the beginning of the year of waiting, but this date can in no case be earlier than the last day the couple separated with the intention of having a divorce.
2. Attempts at reconciliation should continue during the year of waiting. Divorce, though permitted in the Bahá'í Faith, is abhorred and it is the hope that during the year of waiting the couple may become reconciled and divorce avoided.
3. With this in mind, it is more within the spirit of Bahá'í law for Bahá'ís to postpone the initiation of civil proceedings, (if the law of the country requires a civil divorce) until the end of the year of waiting. However, if such postponement gives rise to inequity or to a legal prejudice against the possibility of a civil divorce, it is, of course, permissible for the civil proceedings to be initiated during the year of waiting.
4. In most countries a civil divorce is required and, where this is so, the Bahá'í divorce does not become effective until the civil divorce has been granted. If the year of waiting has run its course when the civil divorce is granted, the Bahá'í divorce becomes automatically effective on that date. If the couple become reconciled before the granting of the civil divorce, even if the year of waiting has already elapsed, they have merely to inform the Spiritual Assembly and resume their marital status.
5. In case the civil divorce is actually granted before the end of the year of waiting and the couple become reconciled within that time between the granting of the civil divorce and the end of the year of waiting, they are, of course, still married in the eyes of the Bahá'í law and need only a civil marriage to restore the marriage bond.
6. The parties to a divorce must live apart in separate residences during the year of waiting. Any cohabitation of the parties stops the running of the year of waiting. If thereafter a divorce is desired a new date for the beginning of a new year of waiting must be set by the Assembly.
7. It is the responsibility of the husband to provide support for his wife and children during the year of waiting.Page 399
8. It is the responsibility of the Assembly to assist the divorced couple to arrive at an amicable settlement of their financial affairs and arrangement for the custody and support of the children rather than let these matters be a subject of litigation in the civil courts. If the Assembly is unable to bring the couple to an agreement on such matters then their only recourse is to the civil court.
"These are some of the general guidelines your Assembly should have in mind in divorce cases...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 20, 1977)
1326. It is Not Possible to Shorten the Period of Waiting
"It is not possible to shorten the period of waiting as this is a provision of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. However, a National Spiritual Assembly may, if circumstances justify it, backdate the beginning of the year provided that this is not earlier than the date the parties last separated with the intention of obtaining a divorce. It is not clear in the case you have cited whether the parties lived together during the period between June 1975 and the date you set for the beginning of the year of waiting on January 15th. If the parties were separated during this period and living in separate residences, then you could consider backdating the beginning of the year of waiting."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly, July 18, 1976)
1327. The Assembly is Obliged to Consider Application for a Year of Waiting
"An Assembly is obliged to consider an application for a year of waiting from either party to a marriage, whether the other party wants the divorce or not. In this specific case you should therefore follow the usual procedure."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 28, 1985)
1328. During Period of Legal Separation Dating in the Spirit of Courtship is Outside Bounds of Propriety
"The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to transmit its reply to your letter of 8 October concerning dating during the time of legal separation of one party.
"While the Bahá'í woman should not be forbidden to have occasional meetings in the spirit of friendship with a man legally separated from his wife, dating in the spirit of courtship is outside the bounds of Bahá'í propriety, even where the interpersonal relationship of the couple is not blatant or flagrant, casting reflections upon the strict morality required of Bahá'ís. The Bahá'í should be advised to break off the acquaintanceship should it appear to progress beyond friendship, for the non-Bahá'í man is, as you correctly state, still married; the legal separation may carry with it the hope and prospect of restoration of his marriage, a possibility which should not be obstructed by involvement with another woman. In cases such as this one, counsel rather than sanctions are called for, should the involvement of the Bahá'í woman require intervention."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 6, 1981)Page 400
1329. Parties May Withdraw Their Application for Divorce at Any Time During the Year of Waiting
"It is not within the discretion of the parties to a Bahá'í divorce to extend the year of waiting and ask for the Bahá'í divorce 'at whatever time they feel so inclined.' If there has been no reconciliation of the parties in the meantime, the Bahá'í divorce becomes final at the end of the year of waiting unless the granting of the civil divorce is delayed beyond that time.
"The parties may, however, withdraw their application for Bahá'í divorce at any time during the year of waiting. Should they later desire to apply for divorce, a new year of waiting would have to be commenced."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 4, 1974)
1330. Assembly Should Not Interfere into Marital Affairs Until Believers Bring Their Problems to the Assembly
"...There should be no intervention into the marital affairs of individuals in a Bahá'í community unless and until the parties themselves bring a problem to the Assembly. Prior to that it is not the business of the Assembly to counsel the parties. These are but two or three instances illustrating that the commentary should not be added to the quotations."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 22, 1968)
1331. There is No Law to Remove Voting Rights for Obtaining Civil Divorce Before the Year of Waiting Terminates
"...There is no Bahá'í law requiring the removal of voting rights for obtaining a civil divorce before the end of the year of waiting. It is, of course, preferred that civil divorce action be not instituted or completed before the end of the year unless there are special circumstances justifying such action. If a Bahá'í should marry another prior to the end of the year of waiting however, voting rights should be suspended as, under Bahá'í law, he is still regarded as married whether or not the civil divorce has been granted. On the other hand, if a non-Bahá'í partner, having obtained a civil divorce, marries during the year of waiting, the Bahá'í partner is released from the need to wait further."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 20, 1974)1332. Annulment or Divorce
"...a divorce or annulment is called for only when the Bahá'í partner has denied his faith.
"When reinstatement calls for a divorce or annulment of an improperly contracted marriage, no year of waiting is necessary because Bahá'í divorce is not involved. The purpose of the year of waiting is to attempt the saving of a marital relationship which was originally accepted as valid in the eyes of Bahá'ís, and is now in jeopardy. A delayed Bahá'í marriage, conducted for reasons of fulfilment of Bahá'í law and in the full spirit of the Bahá'í ceremony, should not be viewed as a mockery but as the confirmation of a union contracted outside Bahá'í law."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 27, 1969)Chapter 3
"Concerning ... divorce: He has no right to demand from his wife a refund of the marriage expenses he incurred. In the Aqdas it is quite clear that the husband must not only give the dowry but must support his wife until the time when the divorce is completed. In view of this she is not required to repay expenses of the marriage, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: Dawn of a New Day, p. 118)
1334. Not Wise to Announce New Marriage Plans Before Divorce is Final
"It is not within the spirit of Bahá'í law for one to become involved in the announcement of new marriage plans while he or she is still legally married to another. There is no objection to urging the friends not to go so far as to seek consent of parents before the divorce becomes final in all respects, but no sanctions should be applied to enforce such exhortation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, January 17, 1971: Australian Bahá'í Bulletin, No. 198, February 1971, p. 8)
1335. Guidance Regarding Financial Support in Divorce Cases
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 9 December 1982 requesting guidance on the responsibility of Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies in the matter of financial support in divorce cases. It has instructed us to send you the following reply.
"In some cases, usually those of Iranian believers whose marriage is not recognized in civil law and who, therefore, do not need and cannot have a civil divorce, the divorce must be entirely adjudicated by the Spiritual Assembly. We enclose a summary of points written on behalf of the House of Justice in answer to questions on this matter, which should be of assistance should such a case occur in Canada.
"In general, however, a Bahá'í couple in Canada who are obtaining a divorce must, in addition to the Bahá'í divorce, obtain a civil divorce, and the civil divorce decree will usually cover all such matters as division of property, provision of support and custody of children. The function of the Spiritual Assembly in such ancillary aspects of the divorce is thus advisory rather than judicatory. In order to prevent, if possible, a public dispute between Bahá'ís in front of the law courts, the Assembly should attempt to bring the couple to an amicable arrangement about all such questions, which can then be submitted to the court for its endorsement. If the efforts of the Assembly are of no avail, then the matter must be left to the civil court to decide.
"Once the divorce decree with its related provisions has been handed down by the court, it is the obligation of both parties, as good Bahá'ís, to obey it and, if either is lax in so doing, the Assembly should advise him or her about his or her duties and press for their fulfilment. The wronged party, however, should at the same time be left free to apply to the civil authorities for the enforcement of the decision. Unfortunately such enforcement is notoriously difficult, especially when the parties subsequently reside in different countries. It is here that the action of the Spiritual Assembly, reinforcing the decision of the civil courts, can often be of help. Except in circumstances of unusual gravity or cases where the responsible party fails to obeyPage 402
a court decision to provide support for the children, an Assembly should not contemplate imposing sanctions for lack of compliance in these matters. Actual enforcement should normally be left to the action of the civil courts.
"The House of Justice believes that the above should provide all the guidance you require in your collaboration with the National Spiritual Assembly of ... over the divorce of ... and .... In the case of ... and ... you state that there is unlikely to be a civil judgement covering the question of financial support of the wife by the husband following the divorce. The House of Justice states that there is no general requirement in Bahá'í law for a husband to continue to support his former wife beyond the ending of the year of waiting and the granting of the divorce. Therefore, in the absence of a ruling by the civil court or of an agreement between the couple registered with the Spiritual Assembly, there is nothing further for your Assembly to do in this case."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, January 13, 1983)
1336. It is Preferable that Couple Should Amicably Agree on the Custody of the Children--The Husband is Obligated to Support Wife and Children Until Divorce is Granted and He Has Continuing Obligation to Support His Children
"The following points are summarized from guidance of the Universal House of Justice given to Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers so that they may arrive at decisions in accordance with the spirit of Bahá'í Law either in coming to an amicable agreement to present to the civil courts, or in making a decision when no civil divorce decree is involved.
1. The decisions in each case must be made in light of the particular conditions of that case. The guidelines given below are general in nature and should be applied as far as possible unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary.2. Custody of Children
2.1 It is preferable that the couple amicably agree on the custody of the children and submit their agreement to the Assembly for endorsement. Normally in the case of very young children custody is given to the mother unless there are compelling reasons which make this inadvisable.
2.2 Regardless of which parent is given custody, the children should be so educated that they may develop a proper Bahá'í attitude towards, and due regard for, both parents. Fair and practical arrangements should be made to protect the rights of the parent not having custody to associate with the children and spend time with them.
2.3 Usually custody arrangements continue until the child comes of age unless, of course, new circumstances transpire during this period which call for a review of the arrangements.3. Financial Support
3.1 The husband is obligated to support the wife and children until the granting of the Bahá'í divorce. This normally takes place at the end of the year of waiting unless it has to be postponed pending the granting of a civil divorce.Page 403
3.2 Following the granting of the divorce the father continues to be under the obligation of providing the necessary funds for the support of the children, but he has no continuing obligation to support his former wife."
(The Universal House of Justice: Considerations Affecting Custody of Children and Provision of Financial Support in Cases Not Adjudicated in Civil Law, a summary, January 5, 1983)
1337. Wife Support During Year of Patience and After Divorce--Assembly Should Encourage Husband to Honor His Responsibilities in Paying Required Support Money
"The House of Justice wrote to another National Spiritual Assembly on 5 April 1970 as follows:
'The only provision in Bahá'í law regarding the support of the wife is that which makes the husband responsible for her support during the year of waiting. This does not mean, however, that further support is prohibited; all such matters will require legislation in the future. At the present time it is the responsibility of the Assembly to arrange an amicable and just financial settlement between the couple, and any such arrangement must, obviously, take into consideration the financial situation of both parties and their relative responsibilities.'
"While it is obvious that the Assembly should encourage the husband to honour his Bahá'í responsibilities in paying the required support money, matters of support may be covered by the civil courts when a civil divorce is applied for and, in such a case, the wife would, of course, be able to invoke whatever civil remedy is available. In any case, at the present time National Spiritual Assemblies should not normally apply sanctions in cases of failure to comply with support requirements."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, February 6, 1978)1338. No Husband Should Batter His Wife
"It is clear from Bahá'í teachings that no husband should batter his wife. As to divorce, while it is permitted by Bahá'u'lláh, it is heavily discouraged and the greatest efforts must be made to avoid it. In Bahá'í society the only grounds for divorce are an irreconcilable antipathy between the parties."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 27, 1986)Page 404
1339. The Best Remedy for Hate is Love, as Hate is the Absence of Love
"The best remedy for hate is love, as hate is the absence of love! In this respect you must show forth the love of God to others, Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike, and thus do your part to dispel the darkness in this world. This is what the beloved Master expects of His servants."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 12, 1949)
1340. The Standard which Must Govern the Conduct of Believers Toward Each Other is Love
"...If between the friends true love--based on the love of God--could become manifest, the Cause would spread very rapidly. Love is the standard which must govern the conduct of one believer towards another. The administrative order does not change this, but unfortunately sometimes the friends confuse the two, and try to be a whole spiritual assembly,--with the discipline and justice and impartiality that body must show,--to each other, instead of being forgiving, loving and patient to each other as individuals."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 18, 1950)
1341. We Must Love God and Thus Love for All Men Becomes Possible
"We must never take one sentence in the Teachings and isolate it from the rest: it does not mean we must not love, but we must reach a spiritual plane where God comes first and great human passions are unable to turn us away from Him. All the time we see people who either through the force of hate or the passionate attachment they have to another person, sacrifice principle or bar themselves from the Path of God.
"We know absence of light is darkness, but no one would assert darkness was not a fact. It exists even though it is only the absence of something else. So evil exists too, and we cannot close our eyes to it, even though it is a negative existence. We must seek to supplant it by good, and if we see an evil person is not influenceable by us, then we should shun his company for it is unhealthy.
"We must love God, and in this state, a general love for all men becomes possible. We cannot love each human being for himself but our feeling towards humanity should be motivated by our love for the Father who created all men.
"The Bahá'í Faith teaches man was always potentially man, even when passing through lower stages of evolution. Because he has more powers, and subtler powers than the animal, when he turns towards evil he becomes more vicious than an animal because of these very powers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)
1342. The Kind of Love Every Believer Should Cultivate
"You mention the fact that at times you feel strongly attracted to people whomPage 405
you have never known before; this is surely the kind of love which every Bahá'í should cultivate. For we Bahá'ís should come to love all human beings, whether believers or not, alien or friendly. The love which Bahá'u'lláh wishes us to acquire is a love that embraces the whole mankind. The reason why one feels attracted is due to such gifts and qualities with which the soul is endowed and which exert a powerful and latent influence."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1937)
1343. Abdu'l-Bahá Explained the Meaning of Bahá'u'lláh's Words Regarding Love of Humanity
"As regards the meaning of Bahá'u'lláh's words regarding love of humanity, the Master often explained it to mean that man should love his family, then his native town, then his province, then his nation, but should not stop there and acquire a narrow nationalism, but grow to love the whole-wide world and mankind at large. Bahá'ís love their country but should also love the world, that is, other peoples."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 5, 1950)
1344. Spiritual Relationships Are Far More Important Than Rules and Regulations
"He urges you to do all you can to promote unity and love amongst the members of the Community there, as this seems to be their greatest need.
"So often young communities, in their desire to administer the Cause, lose sight of the fact that these spiritual relationships are far more important and fundamental than the rules and regulations which must govern the conduct of Community affairs."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)
1345. The People of the World Need to See the Love Engendered by the Faith in the Hearts of the Believers
"The people of the world not only need the laws and principles of the Bahá'í Faith--they desperately need to see the love that is engendered by it in the hearts of its followers, and to partake of that atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, forbearance and active kindness which should be the hall-mark of a Bahá'í Community."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 5, 1942)
1346. The Morbid and Turbulent Influence of the Dark Forces of the World is Felt by All
"The believers, to better understand their own internal condition, should realize that the forces of darkness in the world are so prevalent and strong that their morbid and turbulent influence is felt by all. They should therefore consciously strive to be more loving, more united, more dedicated and prayerful than ever before, in order to fight against the atmosphere of present day society which is unloving, disunited, careless of right and wrong, and heedless of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 20, 1946)
1347. We Must Pray to be Protected from the Contamination of Society
"The friends must, at all times, bear in mind that they are, in a way, like soldiersPage 406
under attack. The world is at present in an exceedingly dark condition spiritually; hatred and prejudice, of every sort, are literally tearing it to pieces. We, on the other hand, are the custodians of the opposite forces, the forces of love, of unity, of peace and integration, and we must constantly be on our guard, whether as individuals or as an Assembly or Community, lest through us these destructive, negative forces enter into our midst. In other words, we must beware lest the darkness of society become reflected in our acts and attitudes, perhaps all unconsciously. Love for each other, the deep sense that we are a new organism, the dawn-breakers of a New World Order, must constantly animate our Bahá'í lives, and we must pray to be protected from the contamination of society which is so diseased with prejudice."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Atlanta, February 5, 1947)1348. Heroism is Needed by the Believers
"These, indeed, are the days when heroism is needed on the part of the believers. Self-sacrifice, courage, indomitable hope and confidence are the characteristics they should show forth, because these very attributes cannot but fix the attention of the public and leads them to enquire what, in a world so hopelessly chaotic and bewildered, leads these people to be so assured, so confident, so full of devotion? Increasingly, as time goes by, the characteristics of the Bahá'ís will be that which captures the attention of their fellow-citizens. They must show their aloofness from the hatreds and recriminations which are tearing at the heart of humanity, and demonstrate by deed and word their profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 26, 1941)
1349. God's Ways Do Not Necessarily Coincide with Human Devices and Policies
"...God's ways and methods do not coincide necessarily with human devices and man-made policies. We should certainly exert our utmost in order that God's Faith may be widely proclaimed and firmly established. But we should under no circumstances be led to think that such a triumph depends solely or even mainly on our own efforts, however effective, united and fruitful they may be. We are but instruments in the hands of the Almighty and it would be certainly a sign of shortsightedness on our part to believe that we are the controlling agents of the divine machinery of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 10, 1934)
1350. If Divided, Both Sides to a Difference Are Wrong; If United, They Are Both Right
"During the days of Bahá'u'lláh some of the prominent teachers of the Cause in Persia were divided as to the station of Bahá'u'lláh and at last wrote to Him for arbitration. In answer Bahá'u'lláh said that if they were united both sides were right and if they were divided both were wrong. The Master often denied Himself any station just to maintain the unity of the friends for that was His primary object."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Yonkers, April 20, 1931)Page 407
1351. Bahá'ís Cannot Voluntarily Enlist Where Subject to Taking Human Life
"Bahá'ís cannot voluntarily enlist in any branch of the Armed Forces where they would be subject to orders to engage in the taking of human life."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Fiji Islands, August 2, 1971)1352. Bahá'ís Are Not Conscientious Objectors
"Our position as Bahá'ís is not that we won't obey our Government or support the country if attacked, it is that we do not believe in, or wish to take part in, killing our fellow-men. We are not conscientious objectors at all; we will serve, but wish, as there is a provision in the law in the U.S.A. covering our attitude, to be classified as non-combatants. If you need to consult on this matter, you should refer to the N.S.A., as this question continually arises, and they can give you advice which will be the most accurate and applicable to present conditions."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 15, 1952)
1353. There Are Many Avenues Through which the Believers Can Assist in Time of War
"It is still his firm conviction that the believers, while expressing their readiness to unreservedly obey any directions that the authorities may issue concerning national service in time of war, should also, and while there is yet no outbreak of hostilities, appeal to the government for exemption from active military service in a combatant capacity, stressing the fact that in doing so they are not prompted by any selfish considerations, but by the sole and supreme motive of upholding the Teachings of their Faith, which make it a moral obligation for them to desist from any act that would involve them into direct warfare with their fellow-humans of any other race or nation.
"The Bahá'í Teachings, indeed, condemn, emphatically and unequivocally, any form of physical violence, and warfare in the battlefield is obviously a form, and perhaps the worst form, which such violence can assume.
"There are many other avenues through which the believers can assist in times of war by enlisting in services of a non-combatant nature--services that do not involve the direct shedding of blood--such as ambulance work, anti-air raid precaution service, office and administrative works, and it is for such types of national service that they should volunteer.
"It is immaterial whether such activities would still expose them to dangers, either at home or in the front, since their desire is not to protect their lives, but to desist from any acts of wilful murder.
"The friends should consider it their conscientious duty, as loyal members of the Faith, to apply for such exemption, even though there may be slight prospect of their obtaining the consent and approval of the authorities to their petition. It is mostPage 408
essential that in times of such national excitement and emergency as those through which so many countries in the world are now passing that the believers should not allow themselves to be carried away by the passions agitating the masses, and act in a manner that would make them deviate from the path of wisdom and moderation, and lead them to violate, however reluctantly and indirectly, the spirit as well as the letter of the Teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, June 4, 1939)
1354. Bahá'ís Recognize the Right and Duty of Governments to Protect Their People
"...Bahá'ís recognize the right and duty of governments to use force for the maintenance of law and order and to protect their people. Thus, for a Bahá'í, the shedding of blood for such a purpose is not necessarily essentially wrong. The Bahá'í Faith draws a very definite distinction between the duty of an individual to forgive and 'to be killed rather than to kill' and the duty of society to uphold justice. This matter is explained by Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Some Answered Questions'. In the present condition of the world Bahá'ís try to keep themselves out of the internecine conflicts that are raging among their fellow men and to avoid shedding blood in such struggles, but this does not mean that we are absolute pacifists. This point is explained in the following statement written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf on 21 November, 1935:
'With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Bahá'í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá'í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the 'golden mean'. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.
'The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man's heart.'
"A further quotation which may help this dear friend to understand this matter is the passage about the establishment of the Lesser Peace on page 65 of 'The Secret of Divine Civilization'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 9, 1967)
1355. It is Their Duty as Loyal and Devoted Citizens to Offer Their Services to Their Country
"He has noted your Assembly's request for his advice as to what forms of national service the friends may volunteer for in times of emergency. While the believers, hePage 409
feels, should exert every effort to obtain from the authorities a permit exempting them from active military service in a combatant capacity, it is their duty at the same time, as loyal and devoted citizens, to offer their services to their country in any field of national service which is not specifically aggressive or directly military. Such forms of national work as air raid precaution service, ambulance corps, and other humanitarian work or activity of a noncombatant nature, are the most suitable types of service the friends can render, and which they should gladly volunteer for, since in addition to the fact that they do not involve any violation of the spirit or principle of the Teachings, they constitute a form of social and humanitarian service which the Cause holds sacred and emphatically enjoins."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 27, 1938)
1356. "Specifically Aggressive or Directly Military" Activities Are to be Avoided
"From study of the beloved Guardian's letters it is apparent that what he wanted the friends to avoid is 'specifically aggressive or directly military' activities. As regards indirect activities it would be extremely difficult in modern society for anyone to disassociate himself from activities which, in the long run and by devolution, are inimical to the human race."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 29, 1967)
1357. A Bahá'í May Enlist in the Armed Forces if Not Made Liable for Combatant Service
"...there is no objection to a Bahá'í enlisting voluntarily in the armed forces of a country in order to obtain a training in some trade or profession, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service.
"There is likewise no objection to a Bahá'í seeking or continuing a career in the armed forces, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 13, 1981)
1358. National Service Through Professions Useful to Mankind--National Spiritual Assembly Has Responsibility to Counsel Youth
"Whenever circumstances of military or paramilitary service arise the Bahá'í friends should do their utmost to avoid taking part. If, however, they are compelled to do so they should then do everything possible to ensure that they are engaged only in non-combatant services. When the question of National Service, such as you describe in Guyana, includes training in skills and professions useful to mankind, such as agriculture, the friends may certainly volunteer for such services, provided they are definitely assured that their training will not subject them later to call up for military service in combatant roles.
"If compelled to enter training of a military kind the friends should endeavour to be assigned to such non-combatant activities as stretcher bearing, the medical corps, administrative duties, and other essential departments of military organizations which would not involve them directly in the taking of life.
"It is therefore for your National Spiritual Assembly to decide whether the National Service programme in Guyana is a permissible occupation for Bahá'í youth andPage 410
if so whether on a voluntary basis, or if under compulsion, what steps can be taken to enable Bahá'í youth to serve as non-combatants."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana, September 14, 1975)
1359. Bahá'ís Are Not Asking to be Given a Safe Berth During Hours of National Crisis
"Regarding your question about military service, the Guardian sees no reason why the Bahá'í in question should not bring a test case, and press the matter. It is now, since he has become a follower of Bahá'u'lláh, against his conscience to kill his fellow-men; and he should have the right to explain his position and ask to be exempted from combatant service. During the hearing of such cases, the Bahá'ís should make it absolutely clear that we do not fear being placed in danger, and are not asking to be given a safe berth in hours of national crisis--quite the contrary--any dangerous service that Bahá'ís can render their fellow-men during the agonies of war, they should be anxious to accept."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, February 25, 1951)Page 411
"We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 51, p. 38)
1361. Music is an Important Means to the Education and Development of Humanity
"Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life; wherefore, the Teachings of God, whether they be in the form of anthems or communes or prayers, when they are melodiously sung, are most impressive."
(From talks of Abdu'l-Bahá: Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 7, also, Star of the West, Vol. XV, p. 130)
1362. It is Necessary that the Schools Teach Music
"...The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure and melodies have great influence on them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art, the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52)1363. Music as a Praiseworthy Science
"O servant of Baha! Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody and raise such hymns of praise at the Mashriqu'l-AdhkarPage 412
as to enrapture the Concourse on High. By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, from a recently translated Tablet to an individual believer: Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 5, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Oakham, England)1364. Music as One of the Arts
"Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should be any cultivation of 'Bahá'í Music' any more than we are trying to develop a Bahá'í school of painting or writing. The believers are free to paint, write and compose as their talents guide them. If music is written incorporating the sacred writings, the friends are free to make use of it, but it should never be considered a requirement at Bahá'í meetings to have such music. The further away the friends keep from any set forms, the better, for they must realize that the Cause is absolutely universal, and what might seem a beautiful addition to their mode of celebrating a Feast, etc., would perhaps fall on the ears of people of another country as unpleasant sounds--and vice versa. As long as they have music for its own sake it is all right, but they should not consider it Bahá'í music."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Ibid., p. 11)1365. Prayers Set to Music
"It is entirely proper to set prayers to music, and the friends are free to sing prayers in unison. Indeed, assuming that the music is appropriate and that the believers do not make a ritual out of it, it is highly praiseworthy for choirs to sing appropriate verses revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master....
"We would assume also that the friends will always keep in mind that whether read, chanted or sung, prayers should be uttered with a proper sense of reverence."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, February 6, 1973)1366. Singing and Chanting Prayers in Unison
"We have your letter of 22nd January, 1973 asking whether it is proper for choirs or groups to sing or chant prayers in unison.
"In answering a similar letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa about congregational singing in services at the House of Worship we said:
'Singing by a congregation present at a service in the House of Worship should not be confused with congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh for the dead...
'Regarding singing in the Temple, we must bear in mind the reference made by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to the need for the person who enters the Temple to sit silently and listen to the chanting of the verses of God...Page 413
'In connection with the desire of the Africans to sing, this aptitude in them should be encouraged. The Guardian elucidated this principle in a letter written on his behalf by his Secretary: 'Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children be encouraged in the Auditorium, and that rigidity in the Bahá'í service be scrupulously avoided.' (Bahá'í News, September, 1931)"(Ibid.)
1367. Not Appropriate to Set Obligatory Prayers to Music
"We have not come across any instructions which would prohibit the setting of the obligatory prayers to music. However, because of their special nature, we do not consider it appropriate to do so."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 6, 1966)
1368. Standing on the Threshold of Bahá'í Culture, We Cannot Foresee Forms and Characteristics of the Future Arts
"Regarding your future plans: The Guardian feels that, as your music is your career and means of livelihood, you should carefully consider whether it is not necessary to your future that you go on with your education in this field. If you feel this is a matter which you, alone, are not able to decide, he would advise you to seek the advice of your Spiritual Assembly.
"Also, you raise the question of what will be the source of inspiration to Bahá'í musicians and composers: the music of the past or the Word? We cannot possibly foresee, standing as we do on the threshold of Bahá'í culture, what forms and characteristics the arts of the future, inspired by this mighty new Revelation, will have. All we can be sure of is that they will be wonderful; as every Faith has given rise to a culture which flowered in different forms, so too our beloved Faith may be expected to do the same thing. It is premature to try and grasp what they will be at present."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 23, 1942)
1369. The Greatest Name and the Names of the Manifestations of God or the Central Figures Should Be Used with Respect
"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)1370. Music More Helpful Before a Talk
"Music is one of the important arts. It has a great effect upon the human spirit. Musical melodies are a certain something which prove to be accidental upon etheric vibrations, for voice is nothing but the expression of vibrations, which, reaching the tympanum, affect the nerves of hearing. Musical melodies are, therefore, those peculiar effects produced by, or from, vibration. However, they have the keenest effect uponPage 414
the spirit. In sooth, although music is a material affair, yet its tremendous effect is spiritual, and its greatest attachment is to the realm of the spirit. If a person desires to deliver a discourse, it will prove more effectual after musical melodies. The ancient Greeks, as well as Persian philosophers, were in the habit of delivering their discourses in the following manner: first, playing a few musical melodies, and when their audience attained a certain receptivity thereby they would leave their instruments at once and begin their discourse. Among the most renowned musicians of Persia was one named Barbod, who, whenever a great question had been pleaded for at the court of the King, and the Ministry had failed to persuade the King, they would at once refer the matter to Barbod, whereupon he would go with his instrument to the court and play the most appropriate and touching music, the end being at once attained, because the King was immediately affected by the touching musical melodies, certain feelings of generosity would swell up in his heart, and he would give way. You may try this: if you have a great desire and wish to attain your end, try to do so on a large audience after a great solo has been rendered, but it must be on an audience on which music is effective, for there are some people who are like stones, and music cannot affect stones.
"It was for this reason that His Holiness David sang the psalms in the Holy of Holies at Jerusalem with sweet melodies. In this Cause the art of music is of paramount importance. The Blessed Perfection, when He first came to the barracks (Acca) repeated this statement: 'If among the immediate followers there had been those who could have played some musical instrument, i.e., flute or harp, or could have sung, it would have charmed every one.' In short, musical melodies form an important role in the associations, or outward and inward characteristics, or qualities of man, for it is the inspirer or motive power of both the material and spiritual susceptibilities. What a motive power it is in all feelings of love! When man is attached to the love of God, music has a great effect upon him."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: 'Table Talk', cited in Compilation of Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 6, Oakham, England)1371. Music Helps to Communicate with the Soul
"The Guardian values the hymns that you are so beautifully composing. They certainly contain the realities of the Faith, and will indeed help you to give the Message to the young ones. It is the music which assists us to affect the human spirit; it is an important means which helps us to communicate with the soul. The Guardian hopes that through this assistance you will give the Message to the people, and will attract their hearts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 15, 1932: Ibid., p. 10)Page 415
1372. The Number Nine is Reverenced for Two Reasons by Bahá'ís
"Concerning the number nine: The Bahá'ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those who are interested in numbers as a sign of perfection. The second consideration which is the more important one is that it is the numerical value for the word 'Bahá'í (B=2, h=5, a=1, and there is an accent at the end of the word which is also = 1; the 'a' after the 'B' is not written in Persian so it does not count.) In the Semitic languages--both Arabic and Hebrew--every letter of the alphabet had a numerical value, so instead of using figures to denote numbers they used letters and compounds of letters. Thus every word had both a literal meaning and also a numerical value. This practice is no more in use but during the time of Bahá'u'lláh and The Báb it was quite in vogue among the educated classes, and we find it very much used in the Bayan. As the word Bahá also stood for the number nine it could be used interchangeably with it.
"Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is however enough to make the Bahá'ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 19, 1932)
1373. The Number Nine is Considered by Bahá'ís as Sacred
"The number nine which in itself is the number of perfection is considered by the Bahá'ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the religion of The Báb, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the religion of the Sabeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones still existing. There have always been divine Prophets and Messengers, to many of whom the Quran refers. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, February 1937, p. 2)
1374. The Number Nine Symbolizes the Nine Great World Religions and Perfection and is the Numerical Value of Baha
"First, regarding the significance of the number nine: Its importance as a symbol used so often in various connections by the believers lies in three facts: first, it symbolizes the nine great world religions of which we have any definite historical knowledge, including The Bábi and Bahá'í Revelations; second, it represents the number of perfection, being the highest single number; third, it is the numerical value of the word 'Baha'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 9, 1939)Page 416
1375. Nine as the Highest Digit Symbolizes Comprehensiveness, Culmination
"Regarding your various questions: We must avoid giving the impression of being all tied up with peculiar religious theories; on the other hand, the 9 sides of the Temple, and the 9-pointed star require an explanation, and he feels the best one is this:
"Nine is the highest digit, hence symbolizes comprehensiveness, culmination; also, the reason it is used in the Temple's form is because 9 has the exact numerical value of 'Bahá'í (in the numerology connected with the Arabic alphabet) and Bahá is the name of the Revealer of our Faith, Bahá'u'lláh. The 9-pointed star is not a part of the teachings of our Faith, but only used as an emblem representing '9'. In telling people of the 9 religions of the world, that is, existing religions, we should not give this as the reason the Temple has 9 sides. This may have been an idea of the architect, and a very pleasing idea, which can be mentioned in passing, but the Temple has 9 sides because of the association of 9 with perfection, unity and 'Baha'.
"The Guardian feels that with intellectuals and students of religion the question of exactly which are the 9 existing religions is controversial, and it would be better to avoid it. He does not want the friends to be rigid in these matters, but use their judgment and tact; sometimes one statement is exactly the right thing for one type of mind and the wrong thing for another.
"Strictly speaking the 5-pointed star is the symbol of our Faith, as used by The Báb and explained by Him. But the Guardian does not feel it is wise or necessary to complicate our explanations of the Temple by adding this."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)
1376. The Báb Utilized the Numerical Value of Words to Symbolize Spiritual Concepts
"The Báb made use of the numerical value of words to symbolize spiritual concepts. The Persian for 'The Letters of the Living' is 'Huruf-i-Hay'; there were 18 of these first disciples of The Báb and the numerical value of the word 'Hay' is 18. These 18 letters, together with The Báb Himself, constitute the first 'Vahid' of the Revelation. The word 'Vahid' has a numerical value of 19, and means 'Unity'. It symbolizes the unity of God, and thus the number 19 itself symbolizes the unity of God, and it was used by The Báb as the basis for His Calendar. One may also note the reference on 'The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas' to 19 or 95 mithqals of gold or silver in connection with the laws of marriage and of Huqúqu'llah."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 13, 1980)1377. Superstition Concerning the Number 13
"Such suppositions regarding lucky or unlucky numbers are purely imaginary. The superstition concerning thirteen had its origin in the fact that His Holiness Jesus Christ was surrounded by twelve disciples and that Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth member of their gathering. This is the source of the superstition, but it is purely imaginary. Although Judas was outwardly a disciple, in reality he was not. Twelve is the original number of significance and completion. Jacob had twelve sons, from whomPage 417
descended twelve tribes. The disciples of Jesus were twelve; the Imams of Muhammad were twelve. The zodiacal signs are twelve, the months of the year are twelve, etc."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 196-197, 1982 ed.)Page 418
1378. No Need to Fear Opposition if the Inner Life Be Sound and Vigorous
"There is no need to fear opposition from without if the life within be sound and vigorous. Our Heavenly Father will always give us the strength to meet and overcome tests if we turn with all our hearts to Him, and difficulties if they are met in the right spirit only make us rely on God more firmly and completely."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 14, 1925)
1379. Refuting Attacks and Criticisms Against the Cause Devolve Upon the National Spiritual Assembly to Consider
"The matter of refuting attacks and criticisms directed against the Cause through the press is, he feels, one which devolves on the N.S.A. to consider. This body, whether directly or through the agency of its committees, should decide as to the advisability of answering any such attacks, and also should carefully examine and pass upon any statements which the friends wish to send to the press to this effect. Only through such supervision and control of all Bahá'í press activities can the friends hope to avoid confusion and misunderstanding in their own minds and in the mind of the general public whom they can reach through the press."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1938)
1380. The Cause Cannot Be Effectively Established Unless It Encounters and Triumphs Over the Forces of Opposition
"The Guardian has been very much interested regarding your letter of May 18th, though he has been made truly grieved to learn of the continued and malignant opposition which the enemies of the Cause in Lima, and particularly the clerical element, are directing against the believers in that centre. He wishes you, however, to urge the friends not to feel in the least disheartened or discouraged, but to pursue with renewed determination, unity and vigour their sacred task of spreading and establishing the Faith, confident in the glorious future awaiting them. The greater the number of persecutions, and the more intense they become in character, the deeper their faith should be in the unique mission entrusted to them by Bahá'u'lláh, and the greater their zeal to help in hastening its complete fulfilment.
"This Cause, as every divine Cause, cannot be effectively established unless it encounters and valiantly triumphs over the forces of opposition with which it is assailed. The history of the Faith is in itself a sufficient proof of that. Trials and persecutions have always been, and will continue to be, the lot of the chosen ones of God. But these they should consider as blessings in disguise, as through them their faith will be quickened, purified and strengthened. Bahá'u'lláh compares such afflictive trials to the oil which feeds the lamp of the Cause of God.
"The friends should, therefore, not assume an attitude of mere resignation in the face of persecutions; they should rather welcome them, and utilize them as means for their own spiritual uplift and also for the promotion of the Cause. As the FaithPage 419
grows stronger and attracts the serious attention and consideration of the world outside, the friends must expect a similar, if not a greater, increase in the forces of opposition which from every direction, both secular and religious, will be massed to undermine the very basis of its existence. The final outcome of such a struggle, which will be surely gigantic, is clear to us believers. A Faith born of God and guided by His Divine and all-pervasive spirit cannot but finally triumph and firmly establish itself, no matter how persistent and insidious the forces with which it has to contend. The friends should be confident, and act with the utmost wisdom and moderation, and should particularly abstain from any provocative act. The future is surely theirs."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1936)
1381. Bahá'í Wife Should Show Utmost Love and Kindness to Husband in Spite of His Opposition to Faith
"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 insofar 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)
1382. How to Rehabilitate Our Perturbed Society and Eliminate War
"...He was very glad to see that you are active in representing the Cause among Peace Societies and gradually bringing them to contact our principles on that all-important subject. The sooner they come to appreciate the significance of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, the sooner will they be able to bring about the realization of their object and hope and rehabilitate our perturbed society.
"War is really nothing more but the result of existing forces. Should we desire to end that devastating consequence we should go back to the basic causes and remedy those evils. We should eliminate the hatreds, national bigotry, mistrust and self aggrandisement as well as economic, social and religious differences which now prevail in the world if we desire to establish an abiding peace. And nothing can achievePage 420
this save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, for they change the human heart and also prescribe definite precepts that would render our social environment healthy and peaceful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1932)
1383. The Church and the Clergy Often Are the Most Bitter Opponents of the Cause
"It seems both strange and pitiful that the Church and clergy should always, in every age, be the most bitter opponents of the very Truth they are continually admonishing their followers to be prepared to receive! They have become so violently attached to the form that the substance itself eludes them!
"However, such denunciations as those your minister made publicly against you and the Bahá'í Faith can do no harm to the Cause at all; on the contrary, they only serve to spread its name abroad and mark it as an independent religion."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 7, 1945)Page 421
1384. Affiliation with Faith Alone is Insufficient
"So far as non-Bahá'ís affiliating with the Bahá'í Faith is concerned, either a person becomes a Bahá'í and accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the divine Manifestation for this day, or he does not. The tenets of the Bahá'í Faith are simple as outlined by the Guardian, but they do not permit of any variations. In other words, if any members of the ... Movement wish to become Bahá'ís, they will be most welcome; but they can only become Bahá'ís on the basis of accepting Bahá'u'lláh as a divine Manifestation, and of course, with this goes the acceptance of The Báb as the Forerunner, and Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant, and the present Administrative Order.
"When a person has reached the sea of immortality, it is idle to keep seeking elsewhere...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Japan, July 24, 1953: Japan Will Turn Ablaze, pp. 76-77)1385. Affiliation with Non-Bahá'í Organizations
"Regarding association with the World Fellowship of Faiths and Kindred Societies, Shoghi Effendi wishes to reaffirm and elucidate the general principle that Bahá'í elected representatives as well as individuals should refrain from any act or word that would imply a departure from the principles, whether spiritual, social or administrative, established by Bahá'u'lláh. Formal affiliation with and acceptance of membership in organizations whose programs or policies are not wholly reconcilable with the Teachings is of course out of the question.... To merely address such gatherings on one or two occasions on a subject which is in harmony with the spirit of the Teachings does not constitute acceptance by the Bahá'í speaker of the entire program of the Fellowship. We should welcome and seize every opportunity that presents itself, however modest it may be, to give a wider publicity to the Cause, to demonstrate its all-inclusiveness and liberal attitude, its independence and purity, without committing ourselves, whether by word or deed, to programs or policies that are not in strict conformity with the tenets of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi hopes that this principle will guide your distinguished Assembly in its dealings with various associations which will increasingly seek, in the days to come, the support of Bahá'í individuals and Assemblies for the attainment of their ends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 17, 1933)
1386. Association and Affiliation Defined for Bahá'í Purposes
"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 toPage 422
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: Compilation on Association with Non-Bahá'í Organizations, Bahá'í World Centre)
1387. Bahá'ís Belonging to Churches, Synagogues, Freemasonry and the Like
"As regards the question of Bahá'ís belonging to churches, synagogues, Freemasonry, etc., the friends must realize that now that the Faith is over 100 years old, and its own institutions arising, so to speak, rapidly above-ground, the distinctions are becoming ever sharper, and the necessity for them to support whole-heartedly their own institutions and cut themselves off entirely from those of the past, is now clearer than ever before. The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focused on us; and, as humanity's plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Bahá'ís, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions wholeheartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary.
"There is another aspect to this question which the friends should seriously ponder, and that is that, whereas organizations such as Freemasonry may have been in the past entirely free from any political taint, in the state of flux the world is in at present, and the extraordinary way in which things become corrupted and tainted by political thought and influences, there is no guarantee that such an association might not gradually or suddenly become a political instrument. The less Bahá'ís have to do, therefore, with such things, the better."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 5, 1955)
1388. Bahá'ís Requested to Withdraw from Masonic and Other Secret Societies
"As regards your question about Masonry, the Bahá'ís, the Guardian feels very strongly, must learn at the present time to think internationally and not locally. Although each believer realizes that he is a member of one great spiritual family, a member of the New World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, he does not often carry this thought through to its logical conclusion: which is that if the Bahá'ís all over the world each belong to some different kind of society or church or political party, the unity of the Faith will be destroyed, because inevitably they will become involved in doctrines and policies that are in some way against our Teachings, and often against another group of people in another part of the world, or another race, or another religious block.
"Therefore, all the Bahá'ís everywhere have been urged to give up their old affiliations and withdraw from membership in the Masonic and other secret Societies in order to be entirely free to serve the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh as a united body. Such groups as Masonry, however high the local standard may be, are in other countries gradually being influenced by the issues sundering the nations at present.
"The Guardian wants the Bahá'ís to disentangle themselves from anything thatPage 423
may in any way, now or in the future, compromise their independent status as Bahá'ís and the supra-national nature of their Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 17, 1956)
1389. Why Bahá'ís Are Requested to Withdraw from Membership in the Church, Synagogue, etc.
"The point is not that there is something intrinsically wrong with Masonry, which no doubt has many very high ideals and principles, and has had a very good influence in the past.
"The reasons why the Guardian feels that it is imperative for the Bahá'ís to be dissociated from masonry at this time, and I might add, other secret associations, is that we are the building blocks of Bahá'u'lláh's New World Order ... the Bahá'ís should be absolutely independent, and stand identified only with their own teachings. That is why they are requested to withdraw from membership in the church, the synagogue, or whatever other previous religious organization they may have been affiliated with, to have nothing whatsoever to do with secret societies, or with political movements, etc. It protects the Cause, it reinforces the Cause, and it asserts before all the world its independent character.
"Another reason is that unfortunately the tremendous political influences in the world today are seeping deeper and deeper into men's minds; and movements which in the past were absolutely uninfluenced by any political tinge of thought now in many places are becoming infiltrated with political side-taking and political issues; and it becomes all the more important for the Bahá'ís to withdraw from them in order to protect the Faith.
"The Guardian believes that you, as an intelligent man, a Bahá'í, will see the need for this. It is only by all living according to general principles that we can knit the fabric of the Faith all over the world into a closer unity.
"He is fully aware that certain individuals are struck much more forcibly by such requests than others. This has been the case with some of the old Bahá'ís in England, who have been Masons from their boyhood on; but, as it is his duty to protect the Faith, he can only appeal to the Bahá'ís to assist him in doing so; and to consider the general good, rather than their personal feelings, however deep they may be, in such matters."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 12, 1956)1390. Resignation from the Masonic Order
"As regards your question about the Masonic Order, he considers that the honest and courageous thing for you to do is to inform your Lodge that you no longer consider yourself, for purely personal reasons, a Mason; and would like to have your name taken off their list. If they should press you for an explanation, which he imagines is unlikely, everybody being free to do as they please in this world, you can explain to them that in the present chaotic period the world is passing through, with so many streams and counterstreams of political thoughts and prejudices of all kinds, racial, religious, etc., storming the minds of men, that you wish to disentangle yourself from all association with the past and to stand alone, free in your own ideas.
"He does not think that such an explanation will prejudice the Masons or theirPage 424
friends, or arouse in them a feeling of anger against the Faith, or indeed need involve the Faith at all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1956)
1391. The Believers Should Dissociate Themselves from Secret Organizations
"...Generally speaking, the friends should not enter secret societies. It is certainly much better for the believers to dissociate themselves from such organizations..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, March 2, 1951)
1392. Theosophists: One Cannot Be Bahá'í and Theosophist at the Same Time
"A Bahá'í cannot at the same time be a Theosophist; many theosophists have become believers and very enlightened ones, but as we do not believe in reincarnation we obviously cannot be active as Theosophists and Bahá'ís at the same time."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, June 28, 1950: Dawn of a New Day, p. 140)
"With regard to the Theosophists and their activities; although they obviously try to copy and claim as their own some of the principles of the Cause, yet the Guardian feels that it would be of no advantage to oppose them and to refute their arguments. The best attitude for the friends to adopt in such cases at the present time is to totally disregard and even neglect their opponents. This has invariably been his advice to the friends, whether in the East or the West."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 64-65)
1393. World Government Organization--Should Be Non-Partisan and Non-Discriminatory
"There is no objection to the Bahá'ís associating with such organizations as the World Government Organization.... However, great care should be taken to make sure these organizations are absolutely non-partisan in their political views and lean neither to East or West."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 1950: Bahá'í News, No. 241, March 1951, p. 15)
"Bahá'ís should certainly not belong to clubs or societies that practice any form of discrimination."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, April 23, 1957)
1394. New History Society--Avowed Enemies of the Faith
"As regards ..., he should be kindly but firmly admonished by your Assembly that he cannot consider himself spiritually a Bahá'í and be associated with the avowed enemies of the Faith such as the New History Society; and that he should discontinue supporting their work or having anything to do with them; otherwise, he will find that he has been deprived wholly of his association with the Bahá'í Cause; in other words, he will not only lose his voting rights, but be outside the Faith."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 24, 1957)Page 425
1395. Social Organizations, Relief Work--The Believers Are Building a Refuge for Mankind
"He feels that, although your desire to partake actively of the dangers and miseries afflicting so many millions of people today is natural and a noble impulse, there can be no comparison between the value of Bahá'í work and any other form of service to humanity.
"If the Bahá'ís could evaluate their work properly they would see that whereas other forms of relief work are superficial in character, alleviating the sufferings and ills of men for a short time at best, the work they are doing is to lay the foundation of a new spiritual Order in the world founded on the Word of God, operating according to the laws He has laid down for this age. No one else can do this work except those who have fully realized the meaning of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, whereas almost any courageous, sincere person can engage in relief work, etc.
"The believers are building a refuge for mankind. This is their supreme sacred task and they should devote every moment they can to this task."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 24)
1396. Membership in Non-Bahá'í Religious Organizations
"Concerning membership in non-Bahá'í religious associations. The Guardian wishes to re-emphasize the general principle already laid down in his communications to your Assembly and also to the individual believers that no Bahá'í who wishes to be a wholehearted and sincere upholder of the distinguishing principles of the Cause can accept full membership in any non-Bahá'í ecclesiastical organization. For such an act would necessarily imply only a partial acceptance of the Teachings and laws of the Faith, and an incomplete recognition of its independent status, and would thus be tantamount to an act of disloyalty to the verities it enshrines. For it is only too obvious that in most of its fundamental assumptions the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is completely at variance with outworn creeds, ceremonies and institutions. To be a Bahá'í and at the same time accept membership in another religious body is simply an act of contradiction that no sincere and logically-minded person can possibly accept. To follow Bahá'u'lláh does not mean accepting some of His teachings and rejecting the rest. Allegiance to His Cause must be uncompromising and whole-hearted...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 15, 1935)1397. Teaching in a Mission School
"He does not think there is any objection to your teaching in a mission school, as long as it is clearly understood that you are, yourself, a Bahá'í; and if you do not have to teach their brand of religion to the pupils. There are many people nowadays employed in mission work in different parts of the world who do not belong to the Church; and, wherever such a tolerant relationship is possible, there can certainly be no objection from our side.
"Naturally it would be better if you could get a job where you would be completely independent of such relationships...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 1, 1954)Page 426
"The Guardian agrees with you that the Bahá'ís should be very careful not to criticize or rather attack the church. As we believe the church of Rome to be the inheritor, so to speak, of Christ's teachings, the direct line, however perverted by men's doctrines, it certainly does not befit us to show antagonism towards it. We know it is out-dated. Tact is required!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 22, 1950)1399. A Bahá'í Cannot Be a Spiritist
"...the Guardian feels it incumbent upon him to make it quite clear that membership in every Bahá'í organization excludes the possibility of joining any religious or political association, even though such an alliance does not involve a complete repudiation of Bahá'í principles and doctrines. It would be utterly impossible to reconcile the teachings of the Faith with all the views and conceptions which any existing group, whether religious or political, may advocate. In view of that, it seems but logical that a Bahá'í cannot be a spiritist at the same time. Not that the ideas which the spiritists proclaim are each and all in direct opposition to the Bahá'í teachings. As a matter of fact there are some good points in spiritism. But this is not sufficient justification for a believer to accept membership in a spiritist organization.
"While Shoghi Effendi would urge you to dissociate yourself from the spiritists, he wishes you at the same time to act with caution and wisdom. Your separation from the spiritists should be gradual, and in a way that would not arouse the antagonism of your friends and relatives. Too sudden and abrupt a change is, indeed, harmful not only to you but to those who through you have been attracted to the Cause...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 14, 1934)
1400. Relationship of Bahá'í Community to the United Nations
"The outstanding development in the relationship of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations was the accreditation of the Community as a non-governmental organization with consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Bahá'í International Community now has a permanent representative at the United Nations and maintains an office in New York."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)
1401. All Social Movements Have Some Spark of Truth
"There are so many movements in the world at present akin to various Bahá'í principles; indeed we can almost say that the principles of Bahá'u'lláh have been adapted by thinking people all over this planet. But what they do not realize, and what the Bahá'ís must therefore teach them, is that these principles, however perfect, will never be able to create a new society unless and until they are animated by the spirit which alone changes the hearts and characters of men, and that spirit is recognition of their divine origin in a teacher sent from God, in other words, Bahá'u'lláh. When they recognize this, their hearts will change and a change of heart is what people need, not merely a change of intellectual outlook."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Bahá'í Youth of Lima, Peru, November 17, 1945)Page 427
1402. A Bahá'í Should Not Seek Financial Help from a Religious Organization as a Bahá'í
"The questions raised in your letter of 9 January 1985 have been considered by the Universal House of Justice, and we are asked to inform you that Bahá'ís should not seek financial assistance from a religious organization as Bahá'ís. However, if some charitable organization, operated by the followers of another religion, grants scholarships to individuals, for example, a Bahá'í may accept such general assistance as an individual, but not as a Bahá'í.
"The House of Justice states that while Mr. ... may continue to receive assistance from the Catholic Commission, other Bahá'í refugees should not ask or receive aid from that body if the nature of the aid is different from what is explained above. The time will come when the Bahá'í Faith is strong enough to extend financial assistance to Catholics and others. At that time, it would be possible for Bahá'ís to partake of the facilities of the Catholic Commission. However, at present, when mutual reciprocity cannot be established, the House of Justice advises that it is not dignified for Bahá'ís to apply for such assistance."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru, February 7, 1985)
1403. Membership in Trade Unions--Election Procedures
"The Alaska Public Employees Association appears to be a type of union organization. As long as this and other associations, such as the special interest groups you mention, are not affiliated with any political party and are not involved in political activities there is no objection to Bahá'ís belonging to them nor to their holding office in them.
"As for participation in elections of non-Bahá'í organizations which are open to Bahá'ís but which employ electional methods different from Bahá'í practices, believers need not avoid the election procedures carried out in such organizations.
"In all such activities the friends should bear in mind the following exhortation so clearly set forth by the beloved Guardian in a letter dated February 20, 1927 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada:
'Fully aware of the repeated statements of Abdu'l-Bahá that universality is of God, Bahá'ís in every land are ready, nay anxious, to associate themselves by word and deed with any association of men which, after careful scrutiny, they feel satisfied is free from every tinge of partisanship and politics and is wholly devoted to the interests of all mankind.... They should always bear in mind, however, the dominating purpose of such collaboration, which is to secure in time the recognition by those with whom they are associating of the paramount necessity and the true significance of the Bahá'í Revelation in this day.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, January 4, 1979)1404. As to Participation in Strikes
"As to participation in strikes, when one of the believers who was employed in a factory as a supervisor to labourers and who felt that a strike was likely at the factory asked the Guardian what the Bahá'í attitude should be if a strike were called, the Guardian's secretary in a letter dated June 30, 1937 wrote on his behalf:
'With regard to your question concerning the Bahá'í attitude towards labourPage 428
problems; these cannot assuredly be solved, Abdu'l-Bahá tells us, through the sheer force of physical violence. Non-cooperation too, even though not accompanied by acts of violence, is ineffective. The conflict between labour and capital can best be solved through the peaceful and constructive methods of cooperation and of consultation.
'The Bahá'ís, therefore, are advised to avoid, as much as they can, getting mixed in labour strikes and troubles, and particularly to desist from all acts of physical violence which indeed run counter to the very spirit of the Cause. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh stands for peace, harmony, and cooperation between the individuals and nations of the world.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Luxembourg, April 4, 1973)Page 429
"As to your question as to what races should be regarded as coming under the heading of 'Orientals' in connection with Abdu'l-Bahá'í warnings: there is no doubt He was primarily thinking of the Near Eastern races of Islamic extraction, who have every reason to look upon the Faith either with contempt as a mere heresy within, or sect of, Islam, or with hatred as a potential threat to the supremacy of their religion. Likewise, it is these Near Eastern races, particularly the Persian, who have been most persistently exposed to the propaganda and bad example of the Covenant-breakers, old and new, and from whose ranks these very Covenant-breakers have sprung. These circumstances, combined with the fact that, like His Prophetic Forebears, Bahá'u'lláh appeared amongst the people most in need of enlightenment--and hence at their lowest ebb morally--are the reasons for not only Abdu'l-Bahá'í and his own repeated warnings concerning Orientals, but also for the conduct, so often demonstrated, unfortunately, by these same Orientals, and which amply justifies our attitude of great precaution and wariness concerning receiving them in our midst and believing their declarations to be sincere. Shoghi Effendi also feels that the Moslems of India should likewise be included in this category, owing to their respective religious and racial background."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 9, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 197, July 1947, pp. 6-7)
1406. The Mere Name of Bahá'í Does Not Constitute a Bahá'í
"...the Guardian wishes the Bahá'ís to bear in mind the repeated counsels of the Master that the friends should be on their guard when dealing with Easterners. Not only should they trust no one unless he bears some letter of introduction from his Assembly but also after he is permitted in the Bahá'í group they should be very careful in their dealings with him. This does not mean that they should be unkind to him or have a constant suspicion that would gradually alienate him from the Cause, but to be on their guard lest he misuses their trust. The case of Ahmed Sohrab is a very good example of what an Easterner can do. He thinks to be doing shrewd business when a westerner would consider the act to be deceitful. As Bahá'u'lláh says often in His Tablets the friends should develop a flair wherewith they can detect the good from the evil person. Mere name of Bahá'í does not constitute a Bahá'í. His character also has to be Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 18, 1932)
1407. Avoid Making Any Effort to Convert Orientals to the Faith--i.e., Muslims from the Middle East, Pakistan and India
"As a general rule the friends should not seek out contacts among Orientals (i.e.,Page 430
those of Muslim background from the Middle East, Pakistan and India), whether students or not. However, when contact with Orientals occurs in the course of normal social events the friends, as in all other cases, should show courtesy and kindness, but in these days when the political situation is so confused the friends should consciously avoid making any effort to convert Orientals to the Faith.
"Should such individuals, however, show real interest in the Faith even to the point of wishing to declare, your National Assembly should be contacted by either the Local Spiritual Assembly or the individual teacher so that you in turn can contact the National Spiritual Assembly of the country of origin of the applicant, giving that Assembly full particulars and requesting it to inform you whether there is any objection to the enrolment of that particular individual. Nevertheless, if it appears that the Oriental wishing to declare is contemplating a return to his own country soon, you should follow your present practice of requesting that he declare to the proper administrative institution of his own country."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1968)
1408. Iranian Bahá'ís Need Not Avoid All Contact with Iranian Muslims--However, They Should Not Seek Them Out for Friendly Contacts nor for Teaching
"The House of Justice feels that the friends, and sometimes the Bahá'í institutions, have tended to over-react to the instructions given from time to time about contacting and teaching Muslims from Iran and other places in the Middle East, and they often take to extremes the cautions given in such instructions. The friends sometimes think they should shun such people entirely or that any contact with them is considered a breach of Bahá'í law. We are asked to point out that the House of Justice has never forbidden the friends to contact Iranian Muslims, as such a general prohibition would be contrary to the spirit of the Faith. However, given the history and the current situation of the Faith in Iran, it has urged the friends in the West to act toward these people with wisdom and caution. In fact, the House of Justice has clarified the matter on various occasions by stating the following to National Spiritual Assemblies:
'The instructions of the beloved Guardian regarding teaching orientals from the Middle East are to be upheld, even more so at this time because of the present situation in Iran. Iranian Muslims in particular should not be sought out in order to teach them the Faith. It cannot be categorically said, however, that the friends should have no contact with Iranian Muslims. Some of the Bahá'ís have relatives who are Iranian Muslims, some have close Iranian Muslim friends who happen to reside in the West, and they should not relinquish these friendships. At the same time it should be stressed to the Iranian Bahá'ís that while they should not cut themselves off from their Muslim relatives and friends--a step which could create animosity and turn them against the Faith--they should not normally seek out Iranian Muslims in order to initiate friendly contacts with them or teach them the Faith.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1983)Page 431
1409. In Certain Cases Iranian Muslims Could Be Considered for Enrolment--Each Instance to be Referred to the Universal House of Justice for Approval
"Moreover, the House of Justice feels that there are a number of cases in which Iranian Muslims could be considered for enrolment as Bahá'ís; for example, in cases where the Muslim spouse of a Bahá'í has shown his or her interest and sincerity and has never engaged in opposing the Cause. Another example is when an Iranian is a permanent resident of the United States or Canada and apparently has no ulterior motives, such as assuming Bahá'í membership to resolve his visa problems. Proposed enrolments should be referred to the House of Justice for approval so that, if necessary, the matter can be taken up with the Iranian National Assembly. Of course, even in the cases cited enrolment cannot always be immediately effected. Consideration must be given to other factors: the reaction of relatives in Iran could be a factor in determining the timeliness of enrolling such persons. In such instances it could be explained to them that although they have accepted the Faith in their hearts and are regarded as Bahá'ís in belief, their enrolment must be postponed because of the situation in Iran. Meanwhile, the Bahá'ís should maintain friendly contacts with them and deepen them in their knowledge of the Faith."(Ibid.)
1410. Bahá'í Professionals Should Not Refuse to Make Themselves Available Professionally to Iranian Muslims
"Already a number of Bahá'í professionals are being approached by Iranian Muslims seeking their expertise. It would be unwise for these Bahá'ís to refuse to make themselves available to them professionally. However, cultural and social contacts should take place only with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate Bahá'í institution."(Ibid.)
1411. The Ministers of the House of Justice to Promote Peace
"First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 89)
1412. The Time and Means Through which the Lesser and the Most Great Peace Will Be Established
"With reference to the question you have asked concerning the time and means through which the Lesser and Most Great Peace, referred to by Bahá'u'lláh, will be established, following the coming World War. Your view that the Lesser Peace will come about through the political efforts of the states and nations of the world, and independently of any direct Bahá'í plan or effort, and the Most Great Peace established through the instrumentality of the believers, and by the direct operation of the laws and principles revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the functioning of the Universal House of Justice as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í super-state--your view on this subject is quite correct and in full accord with the pronouncements of the Guardian as embodied in the 'Unfoldment of World Civilization'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1939)
1413. Unless the Message of Bahá'u'lláh Reaches into the Hearts of Men and Transforms Them, There Can Be No Peace
"Indeed when we see the increasing darkness in the world today we can fully realize that unless the Message of Bahá'u'lláh reaches into the hearts of men and transforms them, there can be no peace and no spiritual progress in the future.
"His constant hope is that the believers will conduct themselves, individually and in their Bahá'í Community life, in such a manner as to attract the attention of others to the Cause. The world is not only starving for lofty principles and ideals, it is, above all, starving for a shining example which the Bahá'ís can and must provide."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 22, 1945)
1414. Predictions of Peace, Prophecy of Daniel--1335 Days
"Now concerning the verse in Daniel, the interpretation whereof thou didst ask, namely, 'Blessed is he who cometh unto the thousand three hundred and thirty five days'. These days must be reckoned as solar and not lunar years. For according to this calculation a century will have elapsed from the dawn of the Sun of Truth, then will the teachings of God be firmly established upon the earth, and the DivinePage 433
Light shall flood the world from the East even unto the West. Then, on this day, will the faithful rejoice."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: From a Tablet to a Kurdish friend: The Passing of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 31, Shoghi Effendi and Lady Blomfield)
"...The 1335 days is figured according to the solar calendar, but in adjusting the 1335 days, one must take into consideration the time at which the prophecies were given and change them into solar time, which would bring the date to 1963.
"There is one thing of importance for the Bahá'ís to understand; and that is, that this prophecy refers to happenings within the Faith, not occurrences outside the Faith. It refers specifically to the spread of the Faith over the face of the earth. This will be accomplished when the Bahá'í Faith is firmly established in all the virgin areas outlined in the Ten-Year Crusade, and the other goals of the Crusade are completed. Thus it behooves us to work day and night in order to accomplish this glorious goal."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 4, 1946: Some Extracts from Letters written on behalf of the Guardian on the subject of the Prophecy of Daniel: A Compilation from the World Centre to the compiler)1415. Prerequisite to Peace
"The prerequisite to real success is a harmonious gathering. When the friends begin to have peace at home they can teach the people to have peace between the nations and classes."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1926)1416. Radiation of Thought Will Not Bring Peace
"I might add that he does not believe any radiations of thought or healing, from any group, is going to bring peace. Prayer, no doubt, will help the world, but what it needs is to accept Bahá'u'lláh's system so as to build up the World Order on a new foundation, a divine foundation!..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 6, 1948: Extracts From the Guardian's Letters, Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 8: A Compilation from the World Centre, February 1970)
1417. No Greater Bliss Than to Find One Has Become the Cause of Peace
"...Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellowmen. No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3)
1418. Volition and Action Are Necessary Before International Peace Can Be Established.
"All of us know that international peace is good, that it is conducive to human welfare and the glory of man, but volition and action are necessary before it can be established. Action is essential. Inasmuch as this century is a century of light, capacity for action is assured to mankind. Necessarily the divine principles will be spread among menPage 434
until the time of action arrives. Surely this has been so, and truly the time and conditions are ripe for action now."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 ed., p. 121)
1419. Every Means that Produces War Must Be Checked
"In short, every means that produces war must be checked and the causes that prevent the occurrence of war be advanced--so that physical conflict may become an impossibility. On the other hand, every country must be properly delimited, its exact frontiers marked, its national integrity secured, its permanent independence protected, and its vital interests honoured by the family of nations. These services ought to be rendered by an impartial, international Commission. In this manner all causes of friction and differences will be removed. And in case there should arise some disputes between them, they could arbitrate before the Parliament of Man, the representatives of which should be chosen from among the wisest and most judicious men of all the nations of the world."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp 115-116, cited in Peace, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, August 1985)
1420. Every Century Holds the Solution of One Predominating Problem
"Every century holds the solution of one predominating problem. Although there may be many problems, yet one of the innumerable problems will loom large and become the most important of all. ...in this luminous century the greatest bestowal of the world of humanity is Universal Peace, which must be founded, so that the realm of creation may obtain composure, the East and the West, which include in their arms the five continents of the globe, may embrace each other, mankind may rest beneath the tent of oneness of the world of humanity, and the flag of universal peace may wave over all the regions...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. V, pp. 115-117)
1421. Do Not Rest Until the Peace Foretold by the Prophets is Permanently Established
"The world is in great turmoil, and what is most pathetic is that it has learned to keep away from God, Who alone can save it and alleviate its sufferings. It is our duty, we who have been trusted with the task of applying the divine remedy given by Bahá'u'lláh, to concentrate our attention upon the consummation of this task and not rest until the peace foretold by the Prophets of God is permanently established."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 9, 1931: Peace, op. cit.)
1422. To Disregard the Bahá'í Solution for Peace is to Build on Foundations of Sand
"...He is firmly convinced that through perseverance and concerted action the cause of Peace will eventually triumph over all the dark forces which threaten the welfare and progress of the world to-day. But such purely human attempts are undoubtedly ineffective unless inspired and guided by the power of faith. Without the assistance of God, as given through the message of Bahá'u'lláh, peace can never be safely and adequately established. To disregard the Bahá'í solution for world peace is to build on foundations of sand. To accept and apply it is to make peace not a mere dream, or an ideal, but a living reality. This is the point which the Guardian wishes youPage 435
to develop, to emphasize again and again, and to support by convincing arguments. The Bahá'í peace program is, indeed, not only one way of attaining that goal. It is not even relatively the best. It is, in the last resort, the sole effective instrument for the establishment of the reign of peace in this world. This attitude does not involve any total repudiation of other solutions offered by various philanthropists. It merely shows their inadequacy compared to the Divine Plan for the unification of the world. We cannot escape the truth that nothing mundane can in the last resort be enduring, unless supported and sustained through the power of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 25, 1933: Ibid.)
1423. The Unification of Mankind is Assured by Bahá'u'lláh and No Power Can Prevent It
"Whatever our shortcomings may be, and however formidable the forces of darkness which besiege us to-day, the unification of mankind as outlined and ensured by the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will in the fullness of time be firmly and permanently established. This is Bahá'u'lláh's promise, and no power on earth can in the long run prevent or even retard its adequate realization. The friends should, therefore, not lose hope, but fully conscious of their power and their role they should persevere in their mighty efforts for the extension and the consolidation of Bahá'u'lláh's universal dominion on earth."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 6, 1933: Ibid.)
1424. Bahá'u'lláh's Teachings Will Establish a Universal Consciousness and a Universal Way of Life
"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh will establish a new way of life for humanity. Those who are Bahá'ís must endeavour to establish this way of life just as rapidly as possible. Now that the hour has arrived when the Bahá'í Faith is gaining prominence, and is being viewed and reviewed by so many peoples, it is necessary that the adherents of the Faith should live up to the high ideals of the Faith in every way. In this way they can demonstrate that the Bahá'í Faith does create a new way of life, which brings to the individual a complete association with the Will of God, and thus the establishment of a peaceful and universal society. Divisional attachments are of man, while universal service is of God.
"The Guardian is now anxious that all the friends achieve a universal consciousness and a universal way of life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 20, 1955: Ibid.)1425. Peace Will Come
"It is true that Abdu'l-Bahá made statements linking the establishment of the unity of nations to the twentieth century. For example: '...The fifth candle is the unity of nations--a unity which, in this century, will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland....' And, in 'The Promised Day is Come', following a similar statement quoted from 'Some Answered Questions', Shoghi Effendi makes this comment: 'This is the stage which the world is now approaching, the stage of world unity, which, as Abdu'l-Bahá assures us, will, in this century, be securely established.'Page 436
"There is also this statement from a letter written in 1946 to an individual believer on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary:
'...All we know is that the Lesser and the Most Great Peace will come--their exact dates we do not know. The same is true as regards the possibility of a future war; we cannot state dogmatically it will or will not take place--all we know is that mankind must suffer and be punished sufficiently to make it turn to God.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, July 29, 1974: Ibid.)
1426. The Aims and Purpose of the Faith Are to Eliminate War and Establish Peace and Unity
"...the Bahá'í Faith aims to eliminate all war, including nuclear. The fundamental purpose of our Faith is unity and the establishment of peace. This goal, which is the longing of people throughout an increasingly insecure world, can only be achieved through the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Since it is only the Bahá'ís who can give these Teachings to mankind, the friends must weigh carefully how they will spend their time and energy and guard against associating with activities which unduly distract them from their primary responsibility of sharing the Message of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 4, 1982: Ibid.)1427. Nuclear Disarmament
"At the present time, the subject of nuclear disarmament has become very much a political issue, with demonstrations taking place not only in the United States but also in England and some western European countries. To single out nuclear disarmament falls short of the Bahá'í position and would involve the Faith in the current disputes between nations. It is very clear that Bahá'ís believe disarmament, not only of nuclear weapons but of biological, chemical and all other forms, is essential."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 12, 1983: Ibid.)
1428. The Transition from the Present System of National Sovereignty to a System of World Government
"Concerning the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a system of the world government, the House of Justice fully agrees with your view that the Bahá'ís must now do all in their power to promote this transition. This requires several related activities, all of which are goals of the present Seven Year Plan. One is the establishment as rapidly as possible of firmly grounded efficiently functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies in every part of the world, so that seekers everywhere will have a point of reference to which they can turn for guidance and for the Teachings of the Faith. A second is the deepening of the believers, of all ages, in their understanding of and obedience to the Teachings. A third is the proclamation of the Faith to all strata of society, and in particular to those in authority and to leaders of thought so that those who hold the direction of peoples in their hands will learn accurately about the nature and tenets of the Faith and will grow to respect it and implement its principles. A fourth is the promotion of Bahá'í scholarship, so that an increasing number of believers will be able to analyse the problems of mankind in every field and to show how the Teachings solve them. A fifth is the development of relationsPage 437
between the Bahá'í International Community and the United Nations both directly with the highest U.N. institutions and at a grass-roots level in areas of rural development, education, etc.
"As you are no doubt aware, the Guardian indicated that the development of mankind from its present chaotic condition to the stage of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth would be a long and gradual one. The coming into existence of a World Authority and the initiation of the Lesser Peace is one major transformation in this process, and will be followed by other stages of the development of the Faith as outlined by Shoghi Effendi in his writings. Undoubtedly, as these developments are taking place, the counsel the institutions of the Faith can give to governments, the pattern of world administration offered by the Bahá'í community and the great humanitarian projects which will be launched under the aegis of the Universal House of Justice will exercise a great influence on the course of progress."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 19, 1983: Ibid.)1429. Bahá'ís Are Not Pacifists
"...It is true that Bahá'ís are not pacifists since we uphold the use of force in the service of justice and upholding law. But we do not believe that war is ever necessary and its abolition is one of the essential purposes and brightest promises of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation. His specific command to the kings of the earth is: 'Should any one among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice.' (Tablet to Queen Victoria, 'The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh', p. 13) The beloved Guardian has explained that the unity of mankind implies the establishment of a world commonwealth, a world federal system, '...liberated from the curse of war and its miseries ... in which Force is made the servant of Justice...' whose world executive 'backed by an international Force ... will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth.' This is obviously not war but the maintenance of law and order on a world scale. Warfare is the ultimate tragedy of disunity among nations where no international authority exists powerful enough to restrain them from pursuing their own limited interests. Bahá'ís therefore ask to serve their countries in non-combatant ways during such fighting; they will doubtless serve in such an international Force as Bahá'u'lláh envisions, whenever it comes into being."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 11, 1984: Ibid.)
1430. The Lesser Peace Will Initially Be a Political Unity
"Bahá'u'lláh's principal mission in appearing at this time in human history is the realization of the oneness of mankind and the establishment of peace among the nations; therefore, all the forces which are focused on accomplishing these ends are influenced by His Revelation. We know, however, that peace will come in stages. First, there will come the Lesser Peace, when the unity of nations will be achieved, then gradually the Most Great Peace-- the spiritual as well as social and political unity of mankind, when the Bahá'í World Commonwealth, operating in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Most Holy Book of the Bahá'í Revelation, will have been established through the efforts of the Bahá'ís.
"As to the Lesser Peace, Shoghi Effendi has explained that this will initially be a political unity arrived at by decision of the governments of various nations; it will not be established by direct action of the Bahá'í community. This does not mean,Page 438
however, that the Bahá'ís are standing aside and waiting for the Lesser Peace to come before they do something about the peace of mankind. Indeed, by promoting the principles of the Faith, which are indispensable to the maintenance of peace, and by fashioning the instruments of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, which we are told by the beloved Guardian is the pattern for future society, the Bahá'ís are constantly engaged in laying the groundwork for a permanent peace, the Most Great Peace being their ultimate goal.
"The Lesser Peace itself will pass through stages: at the initial stage the governments will act entirely on their own without the conscious involvement of the Faith; later on, in God's good time, the Faith will have a direct influence on it in ways indicated by Shoghi Effendi in his 'The Goal of a New World Order'. In connection with the steps that will lead to this latter stage, the Universal House of Justice will certainly determine what has to be done, in accordance with the guidance in the Writings, such as the passage you quoted from 'Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh', page 89. In the meantime, the Bahá'ís will undoubtedly continue to do all in their power to promote the establishment of peace."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1985: Ibid.)Page 439
1431. Any Narrative Not Authenticated by a Text Should Not Be Trusted
"Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' notes. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Baha, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet)
1432. Privilege of Friends to Share Results of These Visits
"Regarding the notes taken by pilgrims at Haifa. The Guardian has stated that he is unwilling to sign the notes of any pilgrim, in order that the literature consulted by the believers shall not be unduly extended... This means that the notes of pilgrims do not carry the authority resident in the Guardian's letters written over his own signature. On the other hand each pilgrim brings back information and suggestions of a most precious character, and it is the privilege of all the friends to share in the spiritual results of these visits."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States: Bahá'í News, No. 281, p. 4, July 1954)
1433. Pilgrims' Notes Are Hearsay and Cannot Claim the Authority of the Sacred Text
"The instructions of the Master and the Guardian make it very clear that Pilgrims' notes are hearsay and cannot claim the authority and binding power of the Sacred Text.... Moreover, the fact that the pilgrim writing of his experience is a reliable or well-known believer, or that the reported statement seems to be repeated in the notes of several pilgrims, does not in itself confer authority upon the pilgrim's note in question."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 23, 1980)1434. The Notes of Pilgrims Are for Their Own Use
"Shoghi Effendi has often said that the notes of the pilgrims should be for their own personal use and bear absolutely no authority. What he desires to convey to the friends at large he will always say in his general letters."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933)1435. The Difference Between Talks and Tablets
"Shoghi Effendi has laid down the principle that the Bahá'ís should not attribute much importance to talks reported to have been given by the Master, if these have not in one form or other obtained His sanction.
"Bahá'u'lláh has made it clear enough that only those things that have been revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the friends. Hearsays mayPage 440
be matters of interest but can in no way claim authority. This basic teaching of Bahá'u'lláh was to preserve the Faith from being corrupted like Islam which attributes binding authority to all the reported sayings of Muhammad.
"This being a basic principle of the Faith, we should not confuse Tablets that were actually revealed and mere talks attributed to the founders of the Cause. The first have absolute binding authority while the latter can in no way claim our obedience. The highest thing this can achieve is to influence the activities of the one who has heard the saying in person.
"Those talks of the Master that were later reviewed by Him, corrected or in some other form considered authentic by Himself, such as the 'Some Answered Questions', these could be considered as Tablets and therefore be given the necessary binding power. All the other talks such as are included in Ahmad's diary or the diary of pilgrims, do not fall under this category and could be considered only as interesting material to be taken for what they are worth.
"For this reason Shoghi Effendi has not been encouraging the publication of reported sayings that were not authenticated by the Master Himself. And when he said that they may be published if quotation marks are taken away, Shoghi Effendi tried to prevent the friends from considering as actual words of the Master things that were not authenticated by Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the United States Publishing Committee, December 29, 1931)1436. Stories Told About Abdu'l-Bahá
"He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about Abdu'l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they should not also be given prominence or official recognition."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 2, 1935)
1437. Only Signed or Sealed Tablets Are Considered Authentic
"According to the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh no authority can be attached to a mere hearsay, no matter through whom it may come. The Tablets that bear the seal or signature of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master are the only parts of the literature that have any authority and that constitute the basis of our belief. All other forms of literature may bear points of interest but they cannot be considered as authentic. This is the view that Shoghi Effendi took towards the talks of Abdu'l-Bahá that Ahmad Sohrab had incorporated in his book, and it is the attitude that he would take towards any other reported saying, naturally unless the Master has appended His signature to that talk and thereby given it the authority of a Tablet such as is the case with 'Some Answered Questions' that was actually corrected by Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 18, 1931)
1438. Pilgrim's Notes Reporting the Master's Words on Embracing and Kissing
"The pilgrim's note reports the Master as saying: 'Women and men must notPage 441
embrace each other when not married, or not about to be married. They must not kiss each other... If they wish to greet each other, or comfort each other, they may take each other by the hand.' In a letter to an individual written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is said: 'The Master's words to ..., which you quoted, can certainly be taken as the true spirit of the teachings on the subject of sex. We must strive to achieve this exalted standard.' (October 19, 1947)"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 10, 1974)1439. Haifa Notes Collected by Mrs. Maxwell
"With reference to the Haifa notes collected by dear Mrs. Maxwell: These have exactly the same status as all other pilgrims' notes, and as such there should be no objection to their circulation among the believers. While these notes taken down by the pilgrims do not constitute as official pronouncements made by the Guardian, and therefore should not be imposed on the friends, those who wish to share them with the members of the Community should, under no circumstances, be prevented from doing so. Though not strictly official, and in some instances inaccurate and misleading, these notes, as experience has shown, can be of tremendous help, guidance and inspiration to many individual believers, and their value as such should therefore be readily admitted."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 28, 1939)Page 442
"The Guardian wishes me to draw the attention of the friends through you that they should be very careful in their public utterance not to mention any political figures--either side with them or denounce them. This is the first thing to bear in mind. Otherwise they will involve the friends in political matters, which is infinitely dangerous for the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 12, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 72, April 1933, p. 3)1441. Politicians: Non-Political Government Jobs
"Actual politicians, he feels, will for the most part never be willing to forget their ambitions, work and prestige in order to embrace the Faith, but association with all people, in government occupation or otherwise, who are progressive minded, is advisable, as we publicize the Faith this way and may meet receptive souls. There is no objection to Bahá'ís serving in government jobs that are purely non-political."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 30, 1947)
1442. No Bahá'í Can Be Regarded as Republican or Democrat
"...no vote cast or office undertaken by a Bahá'í should necessarily constitute acceptance, by the voter or office holder, of the entire programme of any political party. No Bahá'í can be regarded as either Republican or Democrat, as such. He is above all else, the supporter of the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, with which, I am firmly convinced, the programme of no political party is completely harmonious...."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 85, July, 1934, p. 2)1443. Voting in Civil Elections
"As regards the non-political character of the Faith,... The friends may vote, if they can do it, without identifying themselves with one party or another. To enter the arena of party politics is surely detrimental to the best interests of the Faith and will harm the Cause. It remains for the individuals to so use their right to vote as to keep aloof from party politics, and always bear in mind that they are voting on the merits of the individual, rather than because he belongs to one party or another. The matter must be made perfectly clear to the individuals, who will be left free to exercise their discretion and judgement. But if a certain person does enter into party politics and labours for the ascendency of one party over another, and continues toPage 443
do it against expressed appeals and warnings of the Assembly, then the Assembly has the right to refuse him the right to vote in Bahá'í elections."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 16, 1933)1444. Avoid Identification with Political Parties
"We have received your letter of 12 December 1973 concerning the problem of ... who says that it is very difficult for him to keep his job as a teacher in a public school without being registered as a member of one of the political parties now in the government.
"A similar question has arisen in some other countries, particularly in Africa where the one-party system is in use. Although we understand that there is more than one political party in your country, we think it would be helpful to you to have a summary of the instructions we have given to African Assemblies, and this is enclosed.
"We suggest that ...'s case might offer your Assembly an opportunity to seek an appointment with the proper government official or officials to explain the Bahá'í position on non-interference in political affairs, as well as on obedience and loyalty to government. Your approach should be to seek advice on what can be done in ...'s situation and in similar cases to avoid identification with party politics while at the same time showing the utmost loyalty to the government. Certainly this would afford your Assembly yet another opportunity to proclaim the Faith and its principles and to seek the respect and understanding of the officials."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, December 28, 1973)
1445. For Bahá'ís Living in Countries Where the Political Structure is Based on a One-Party System
"1. The beloved Guardian repeatedly emphasized the principle of refusing to join any political party. In 'The Advent of Divine Justice', in speaking of the rectitude of conduct which must manifest itself in the Bahá'í community, he said: 'It must characterize the attitude of every loyal believer towards non-acceptance of political posts, non-identification with political parties, non-participation in political controversies, and non-membership in political organizations...'
"2. a. If the National Spiritual Assembly is satisfied that membership in the party is not compulsory according to the law of the land, but is promoted merely by persuasion, encouragement, and inducement through the granting of privileges and even threats, then the Bahá'ís should refrain from joining the party, whatever the personal sacrifices may be.
"b. If, however, it is ascertained by the National Spiritual Assembly, that the law requires every citizen to belong to the party, Bahá'ís may pay money equivalent to the dues involved, without accepting membership of the party. There is no objection to their carrying receipts indicating that the contribution has been made.Page 444
"c. If alternative 2b. is not possible, Bahá'ís have no choice but to accept membership, without becoming active in the party, such as holding offices."
(From a Summary of Instructions of the Universal House of Justice attached to the above cited letter to Bolivia, December 28, 1973)
1446. No Loyal Believer Should Commit Himself to a Political Program
"...no loyal believer should under any circumstances commit himself in any way to a political program or policy formulated and upheld by a political party. For affiliation with such a party necessarily entails repudiation of some principles and teachings of the Cause, or partial recognition of some of its fundamental verities. The friends should, therefore, keep aloof from party politics. What they should mainly keep away from under all circumstances and in all its forms is partisanship."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 17, 1935)
1447. Bahá'ís Should Refrain from Voting, if They Must Identify with a Political Party or Doctrine
"The main principle, as you know, is that the friends should refrain from participating in any political election, unless they ascertain that in casting their vote for this or that candidate they are not affiliating themselves with any political party or organization, and are not identifying themselves with any political program. The whole question hinges on the matter of identification, and not on voting in itself.
"The application of this principle the Guardian has left to the individuals who are conscientiously required to submit their own special cases in which they are doubtful to their assemblies for consideration and guidance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)
1448. Enrolment When Political Affiliation or Activities Are Involved
"No additional requirements should be laid upon new members at the time of their declaration of belief. Rather, your Assembly should undertake to make the issues clear with such friends so that prospective new adherents may know beforehand of the position of the Faith in regard to political connections. When it is found that, in spite of this, a new Bahá'í still has political associations or activities, he should be lovingly and patiently educated so that he will withdraw from them. Some will be able to achieve this immediately, but others will need time to sever their connections discreetly. This can be a delicate matter and requires an awareness of each individual's particular situation and obligations. Of course, if such a believer does not respond to the Assembly's efforts to disengage him from politics, he must be warned and, if this still produces no effect, the Assembly would ultimately have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Dominican Republic, July 12, 1984)
1449. Membership in Any Political Party Entails Repudiation of Principles of Peace and Unity
"The Bahá'í Community is a world-wide organization seeking to establish truePage 445
and universal peace on earth. If a Bahá'í works for one political party to overcome another it is a negation of the very spirit of the Faith. Membership in any political party, therefore, necessarily entails repudiation of some or all of the principles of peace and unity proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. As Abdu'l-Bahá stated: 'Our party is God's party; we do not belong to any party.'
"If a Bahá'í were to insist on his right to support a certain political party, he could not deny the same degree of freedom to other believers. This would mean that within the ranks of the Faith, whose primary mission is to unite all men as one great family under God, there would be Bahá'ís opposed to each other. Where, then, would be the example of unity and harmony which the world is seeking?
"If the institutions of the Faith, God forbid, became involved in politics, the Bahá'ís would find themselves arousing antagonism instead of love. If they took one stand in one country, they would be bound to change the views of the people in another country about the aims and purposes of the Faith. By becoming involved in political disputes, the Bahá'ís instead of changing the world or helping it, would themselves be lost and destroyed. The world situation is so confused and moral issues which were once clear have become so mixed up with selfish and battling factions, that the best way Bahá'ís can serve the highest interests of their country and the cause of true salvation for the world is to sacrifice their political pursuits and affiliations and whole-heartedly and fully support the system of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa, February 8, 1970)
1450. Regarding a Bahá'í Producing Television Advertising for a Political Campaign
"In reply to your query of 24 September concerning the involvement of a Bahá'í in producing television advertising for a political campaign, the Universal House of Justice has directed us to convey its advice that the person in question should refrain from activities promoting the campaign of a politician, although this should not be construed as a restriction on non-Bahá'í associates."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, October 29, 1979)
1451. Bahá'ís Can Neither Campaign for Office nor Undertake Partisan Political Activities--They May Hold Appointive Posts which Are Not Political
"In the case of Mr. ..., it is important that you ascertain precisely what his membership on a village council entails, and how he achieved such membership, i.e., by election or appointment. Your Assembly should understand that Bahá'ís do not engage in political activities nor belong to political parties, but may freely undertake non-political administrative work with governments, may hold appointive posts which are not political in character, or may serve on local councils if they do not campaign for office and are not required to undertake partisan political activities."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Leeward Islands, February 15, 1982)Page 446
1452. No Objection to a Bahá'í Being Elected as a Neighbourhood Captain or Serving on a Neighbourhood Council, Provided...
"There is no objection to a Bahá'í being elected a Barrio Captain or serving on a Barrio Council provided:
1. He is not required to become a member of a political party.
2. Service as a Barrio Captain or as a member of the Barrio Council does not involve him in partisan politics.
3. That he does not campaign for election to office. There is no objection to allowing one's name to be placed in nomination if nominations are required by law. If nominations are not obligatory and the voter is allowed to write on the ballot paper and vote for the names of those he wishes to be elected, this procedure should be followed by the Bahá'ís.
"It would be preferable, of course, if the election of members of a Barrio Council and Barrio Captains could be strictly in accordance with Bahá'í principles. We would appreciate knowing whether this can be done in ... or whether it may be possible to amend the laws so that this procedure can be adopted in villages where the population is entirely or predominately Bahá'í."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Philippines, April 24, 1972)B. Governments and Civil Authorities
1453. Shun Politics Like the Plague and be Obedient to the Government in Power
"The cardinal principle which we must follow, (in connection with your questions), is obedience to the Government prevailing in any land in which we reside. We cannot, because, say, we do not personally like a totalitarian form of government, refuse to obey it when it becomes the ruling power. Nor can we join underground Movements which are a minority agitating against the prevailing government.
"If a state of Revolution and complete chaos exists in a Country, so that it is impossible to say there is one government in power, then the friends must consult with their National or their Local Assembly, and be guided by what the Assembly considers the proper action to take; in other words which party might be best considered the legal governing authority.
"We see, therefore, that we must do two things--shun politics like the plague, and be obedient to the Government in power in the place where we reside. We cannot start judging how a particular government came into power, and therefore whether we should obey it or not. This would immediately plunge us into politics. We must obey in all cases except where a spiritual principle is involved, such as denying our Faith. For these spiritual principles we must be willing to die. What we Bahá'ís must face is the fact that society is rapidly disintegrating--so rapidly that moral issues which were clear half a century ago are now hopelessly confused, and what is more, thoroughly mixed up with battling political interests. That is why the Bahá'ís must turn all their forces into the channel of building up the Bahá'í Cause and its administration. They can neither change nor help the world in any other way at present. If they become involved in the issues the Governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up the Bahá'í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1948)Page 447
1454. The Bahá'í Cause is Above Political Parties, But the Believers Are Obliged to Whole-Heartedly Obey Existing Political Regime
"At the outset it should be made indubitably clear that the Bahá'í Cause being essentially a religious movement of a spiritual character stands above every political party or group, and thus cannot and should not act in contravention to the principles, laws, and doctrines of any government. Obedience to the regulations and orders of the state is, indeed, the sacred obligation of every true and loyal Bahá'í. Both Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have urged us all to be submissive and loyal to the political authorities of our respective countries. It follows, therefore, that our ... friends are under the sacred obligation to whole-heartedly obey the existing political regime, whatever be their personal views and criticisms of its actual working. There is nothing more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than open rebellion against the governmental authorities of a country, specially if they do not interfere in and do not oppose the inner and sacred beliefs and religious convictions of the individual...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 11, 1934)
1455. The Bahá'ís Should Obey the Government Even at Risk of Sacrificing Administrative Affairs--In Matters of Faith No Compromise Allowed, Even Though Outcome is Death
"For whereas the friends should obey the government under which they live, even at the risk of sacrificing all their administrative affairs and interests, they should under no circumstances suffer their inner religious beliefs and convictions to be violated and transgressed by any authority whatever. A distinction of a fundamental importance must, therefore, be made between spiritual and administrative matters. Whereas the former are sacred and inviolable, and hence cannot be subject to compromise, the latter are secondary and can consequently be given up and even sacrificed for the sake of obedience to the laws and regulations of the government. Obedience to the state is so vital a principal of the Cause that should the authorities in ... decide to-day to prevent the Bahá'ís from holding any meeting or publishing any literature they should obey... But, as already pointed out, such an allegiance is confined merely to administrative matters which if checked can only retard the progress of the Faith for some time. In matters of belief, however, no compromise whatever should be allowed, even though the outcome of it be death or expulsion."(Ibid.)
1456. Principle of Obedience to Government Does Not Oblige Bahá'í Teachings to be Identified with Political Program
"There is one more point to be emphasized in this connection. The principle of obedience to government does not place any Bahá'í under the obligation of identifying the teachings of his Faith with the political program enforced by the government. For such an identification, besides being erroneous and contrary to both the spirit as well as the form of the Bahá'í Message, would necessarily create a conflict within the conscience of every loyal believer.
"For reasons which are only too obvious the Bahá'í philosophy of social and political organization cannot be fully reconciled with the political doctrines and conceptions that are current and much in vogue to-day. The wave of nationalism,Page 448
so aggressive and so contagious in its effects, which has swept not only over Europe but over a large part of mankind is, indeed, the very negation of the gospel of peace and of brotherhood proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. The actual trend in the political world is, indeed, far from being in the direction of the Bahá'í teachings. The world is drawing nearer and nearer to a universal catastrophe which will mark the end of a bankrupt and of a fundamentally defective civilization.
"From such considerations we can well conclude that we as Bahá'ís can in no wise identify the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh with man-made creeds and conceptions, which by their very nature are impotent to save the world from the dangers with which it is being so fiercely and so increasingly assailed."(Ibid.)
"Bahá'ís are permitted to apply to the International Communication agency for employment with the United States Foreign Service..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 7, 1979)
"The House of Justice feels that it would be permissible for you to accept the position of Vice-Consul on the understanding that you are not required to become involved in political activities. The House of Justice urges you to pay particular attention to this matter so that you do not enter upon a course that, at a later stage, would inevitably lead you into political affairs such as policy-making discussions with the Consul General on political matters. The House of Justice feels sure that you are aware of this point and of the delicate line that must be drawn."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 15, 1984)
1458. Bahá'ís Must Be Loyal to Their Spiritual Assembly and at the Same Time to Civil Government, Whether Tribal Council, a Cacique or a Municipal Authority
"As to your query about the Local Spiritual Assembly, it is indeed a divine institution, created by Bahá'u'lláh in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the Local House of Justice. Abdu'l-Bahá has clearly set out its provenance, authority and duties and has explained the differences between it and other administrative institutions, whether of the past or the present. We refer you to the book 'Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá'í sections 37, 38, and 40.
"It is clear that while Local Spiritual Assemblies must supervise all Bahá'í matters in their areas, including arrangement for the Nineteen Day Feast, the observance of the Holy Days, the election of the members of the Assembly, promoting the teaching work, caring for the spiritual welfare and Bahá'í education of the friends and children, etcetera, they and the friends themselves must at the same time be good citizens and loyal to the civil government, whether it be a Tribal Council, a Cacique or a municipal authority.
"In another national community, where the number of believers had increased to the point where the population of some villages had become 100% or almost 100% Bahá'í, the House of Justice upheld the above principles and stated that in each such village, while they should elect their Local Spiritual Assembly, they shouldPage 449
continue to elect the local Council as required by the Government, and the functions of these two bodies should be kept distinct, even if their memberships were identical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, April 13, 1983)
1459. Elective or Appointive Posts in Government Should Be Accepted Only if They Do Not Contravene Given Guidelines
"It is better if the friends avoid accepting either elective or appointive posts of the nature described in your letter... Such posts should only be accepted if in the process of obtaining the appointment, in winning the election, or in discharging their duties they do not contravene Bahá'í principles. This includes the following:"That they do not campaign for election.
"That they do not contravene the guidelines set forth by the beloved Guardian in the following passage:
'Let them refrain from associating themselves, whether by word or by deed, with the political pursuits of their respective nations, with the policies of their governments and the schemes and programs of parties and factions. In such controversies they should assign no blame, take no side, further no design, and identify themselves with no system prejudicial to the best interests of that world-wide Fellowship which it is their aim to guard and foster. Let them beware lest they allow themselves to become the tools of unscrupulous politicians, or to be entrapped by the treacherous devices of the plotters and the perfidious among their countrymen. Let them so shape their lives and regulate their conduct that no charge of secrecy, of fraud, of bribery or of intimidation may, however ill-founded, be brought against them. Let them rise above all particularism and partisanship, above the vain disputes, the petty calculations, the transient passions that agitate the face, and engage the attention, of a changing world. It is their duty to strive to distinguish, as clearly as they possibly can, and if needed with the aid of their elected representatives, such posts and functions as are either diplomatic or political from those that are purely administrative in character, and which under no circumstances are affected by the changes and chances that political activities and party government, in every land, must necessarily involve. Let them affirm their unyielding determination to stand, firmly and unreservedly, for the way of Bahá'u'lláh, to avoid the entanglements and bickerings inseparable from the pursuits of the politician, and to become worthy agencies of that Divine Polity which incarnates God's immutable Purpose for all men.'
"The application of the above principles is left to the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, October 12, 1977)
1460. The Faith is Not Opposed to True Interests of Any Nation
"The Faith is not opposed to the true interests of any nation, nor is it against any party or faction. It holds aloof from all controversies and transcends them all, while enjoining upon its followers loyalty to government and a sane patriotism. This love for their country the Bahá'ís show by serving its well-being in their daily activity, or working in the administrative channels of the government instead of through partyPage 450
politics or in diplomatic or political posts. The Bahá'ís may, indeed are encouraged to mix with all strata of society, with the highest authorities and with leading personalities as well as with the mass of the people, and should bring the knowledge of the Faith to them; but in so doing they should strictly avoid becoming identified, or identifying the Faith, with political pursuits and party programmes."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assemblies of Africa, February 8, 1970)
1461. Not Our Purpose to Violate Any Country's Constitution
"...Let them proclaim that in whatever country they reside, and however advanced their institutions, or profound their desire to enforce the laws, and apply the principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh, they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of such laws and the application of such principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments. Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavoring to conduct and perfect the administrative affairs of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country's constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 21, 1933: World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 65-66)1462. Bahá'ís Obey the Law, Federal or State
"...Bahá'ís obey the laws, Federal or state, unless submission to these laws amounts to a denial of their Faith. We live the Bahá'í life, fully and continuously, unless prevented by the authorities. This implies, if it does not categorically state, that a Bahá'í is not required to make a judgment as to the precedence of Federal or state law--this is for the courts to decide."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1965: National Bahá'í Review, No. 32, August, 1970, p. 1)
1463. Obedience to Just Governments--What It Means
"Regarding your question about politics and the Master's Will: The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be two-fold, complete obedience to the government of the country they reside in, and no interference whatsoever in political matters or questions. What the Master's statement really means is obedience to a duly constituted Government, whatever that Government may be in form. We are not the ones, as individual Bahá'ís, to judge our Government as just or unjust--for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Bahá'í fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity. We must build up our Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us.
"The Guardian does not think any part of this statement of his is suitable for publication in the Press. The less 'politics' is associated in any way with the name Bahá'í, the better. It should always be made clear that we are a religious non-political community, working for humanitarian ends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Teaching Committee for Central America, July 3, 1948)Page 451
"In reply to your letter of September 12th the Universal House of Justice asks us to refer you to a letter on this subject written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on July 11th, 1956 to your National Spiritual Assembly:
'Regarding taking oaths, there is nothing in the Teachings on this subject. As a Bahá'í is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh to be truthful, he would express his truthfulness, no matter what the formality of the law in any local place required of him. There can be no objection to Bahá'ís conforming to the requirements of the law court whatever they may be in such matters, as in no case would they constitute in any way a denial of their own beliefs as Bahá'ís.'
"The above direction makes it clear that Bahá'ís may take an oath, if required, on any sacred book. The Universal House of Justice considers that it may be preferable for them to do so on a Bahá'í book, if possible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, September 20, 1973)
1465. Implicit Obedience to Administrative Regulations
"To all administrative regulations which the civil authorities have issued from time to time, or will issue in the future in that land, as in all other countries, the Bahá'í community, faithful to its sacred obligations towards its government, and conscious of its civic duties, has yielded, and will continue to yield implicit obedience...."
(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 372, Wilmette, 1987 ed.)
1466. There is No Objection to Taking Case to Civil Court if Assembly and Bahá'ís Are Unable to Negotiate a Settlement of a Dispute
"...The House of Justice ... states that believers should take their differences to the Spiritual Assembly and abide by the decision of the Assembly. However, if Bahá'ís cannot negotiate a settlement of a dispute between them, and if the Spiritual Assembly cannot succeed in arbitrating a solution to the dispute, then there is no objection to the Bahá'ís having recourse to the civil courts. The Assembly should not hesitate to refuse to act in a case which it is satisfied is more properly a question for the law courts. However, the Assembly does not have the authority to prohibit a believer from having recourse to the civil courts if he decides to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 9, 1983)
1467. Let the World Know the Real Aim of Bahá'u'lláh
"...We should let the world know what the real aim of Bahá'u'lláh was. Up to the present the Unity of Mankind was only of an academic importance. Now it is becoming more and more a subject for international statesmen to think of. It is coming to the field of practical politics. It is therefore a wonderful chance for us to come to the front and expound the teaching which is the goal and aim of the social precepts of Bahá'u'lláh. Shoghi Effendi hopes that the friends will re-echo this call to an organic unity of mankind until it forms part of the conscious faith of every living man inPage 452
the world. Great judgment should be however practiced lest we be misunderstood and our Faith be classed among radical movements."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 28, 1932)
1468. Non-Interference in Political Affairs--We Must Shun Pronouncements About Systems of Politics and Not Write About Current Political Affairs
"There is one fundamental point which Shoghi Effendi wishes me to emphasize. By the principle of non-interference in political matters we should not mean that only corrupt politics and partial and sectarian politics are to be avoided, but that any pronouncement on any current system of politics connected with any government must be shunned. We should not only take sides with no political party, group or system actually in use, but we should also refuse to commit ourselves to any statement which may be interpreted as being sympathetic or antagonistic to any existing political organization or philosophy. The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be one of complete aloofness. They are neither for nor against any system of politics. Not that they are the ill-wishers of their respective governments but that due to certain basic considerations arising out of their teachings and of the administrative machinery of their Faith they prefer not to get entangled in political affairs and to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by their countrymen.
"In the light of this principle it becomes clear that to contribute articles on current political affairs to any newspaper must inevitably lead the writer to express, directly or in an indirect manner, his view and his criticisms on the subject. He is, in addition, always liable to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by the politicians. The best thing to do, therefore, is simply not to write on current politics at all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 2, 1934)
1469. One Method by which One Can Criticize the Present Day Socio-Political Order
"There is, however, one case in which one can criticize the present social and political order without being necessarily forced to side with or oppose any existing regime. And this is the method adopted by the Guardian in his 'Goal of a New World Order'. His criticisms of the world conditions beside being very general in character are abstract; that is, instead of condemning existing institutional organizations it goes deeper and analyzes the basic ideas and conceptions which have been responsible for their establishment. This being a mere intellectual and philosophical approach to the problem of world political crisis, there is no objection if you wish to try such a method, which immediately carries you from the field of practical politics to that of political theory. But in view of the fact that no clear-cut line can be drawn between theory and practice you should be extremely careful not to make too free a use of such a method."(Ibid.)
"As to your query whether or not there will be kingship throughout the world in future, the Universal House of Justice calls to your attention Shoghi Effendi's statement on page 219 of 'God Passes By':Page 453
'The establishment of a constitutional form of government, in which the ideals of republicanism and the majesty of kingship, characterized by Him as 'one of the signs of God', are combined, He recommends as a meritorious achievement.'
"In 'The Promised Day Is Come' on pages 73 to 76, the Guardian quotes many passages from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh lauding the principle of kingship and envisaging an increase of monarchies in the future. The House of Justice suggests that a study of this section of the book will provide you with the understanding you seek."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 29, 1977)1471. President Wilson and Dr. Jordan
"With regard to Ex-President Wilson and Dr. Jordan, it seems fairly clear that both of these men were considerably influenced by the Bahá'í Teachings; but at the same time it is well to avoid making dogmatic statements that they 'got all their principles from Bahá'u'lláh', or the like, as we are not in a position to prove such statements, and to make claims which we cannot prove weakens instead of strengthening our position."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1925)C. Government Employees
1472. Those Engaged in Government Service Should Perform Their Duties with Utmost Fidelity, Trustworthiness...
"As for those who are engaged in government service, they should perform their duties with the utmost fidelity, trustworthiness, rectitude, uprightness, integrity and high-mindedness. Let them not tarnish their good repute by pursuing personal interests, nor, for the sake of transient worldly benefits, make themselves objects of public odium and outcasts of the Threshold of Grandeur."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated Tablet: Trustworthiness: A Cardinal Bahá'í Virtue, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, January 1987)
1473. Government Employees Should Perform Deeds and Actions of the Highest Degree of Rectitude and Honesty
"Ye who are the sincere well-wishers of the state, who are the dutiful and compliant subjects of the government, should occupy yourselves in constant service. Anyone who entereth the employ of the government should show forth in all his deeds and actions the highest degree of rectitude and honesty, of temperance and self-discipline, of purity and sanctity, of justice and equity. If, God forbid, he should be guilty of the least breach of trust, or approach his duties in a slack or desultory fashion, or extort so much as a farthing from the populace, or seek to further his own selfish interests and personal gain--then it is certain that he shall be deprived of the outpourings of God's grace."(Ibid.)
1474. Those Who Are Selected to Serve the Public Should Perform Their Duties in a Spirit of the True Servitude
"Those persons who are selected to serve the public, or are appointed to administrative positions, should perform their duties in a spirit of true servitude and readyPage 454
compliance. That is to say, they should be distinguished by their goodly disposition and virtuous character, content themselves with their allotted remuneration and act with trustworthiness in all their doings. They should keep themselves aloof from unworthy motives, and be far removed above covetous designs; for rectitude, probity and righteousness are among the most potent means for attracting the grace of God and securing both the prosperity of the country and the welfare of the people. Glory and honour for man are not to be found in fortunes and riches, least of all in those which have been unlawfully amassed through extortion, embezzlement and corruption practised at the expense of an exploited populace. Supreme honour, nobility and greatness in the human world, and true felicity in this life and the life to come--all consist in equity and uprightness, sanctity and detachment. If a man would seek distinction, he should suffice himself with a frugal provision, seek to better the lot of the poor of the realm, choose the way of justice and fair-mindedness, and tread the path of high-spirited service. Such a one, needy though he be, shall win imperishable riches and attain unto everlasting honour."(Ibid., p. 11)
1475. Those Who Enter Service of the Government Should Shun All Forms of Venality and Corruption
"If any of the friends should enter into service of the government, they should make their occupation a means of drawing nearer to the divine Threshold: they should act with probity and uprightness, rigorously shun all forms of venality and corruption, and content themselves with the salaries they are receiving, taking pride, rather, in the degree of sagacity, competence and judgement that they can bring to their work. If a person content himself with a single loaf of bread, and perform his duties with as much justice and fair-mindedness as lieth within his power, he will be the prince of mortals, and the most praiseworthy of men. Noble and distinguished will he be, despite his empty purse! Pre-eminent will he rank among the free, although his garb be old and worn! For man, praise and glory reside in virtuous and noble qualities; honour and distinction in nearness to the divine Threshold."(Ibid.)
1476. If One Abuses His Position with the Government Through Corrupt or Mercenary Behavior...
"If one of the friends ... be appointed to a high administrative office, he should strive diligently, to perform the duties committed to his charge with perfect honesty, integrity, sincerity, rectitude and uprightness. If, however, he abuse his position through corrupt or mercenary behaviour, he will be held in detestation at the Threshold of Grandeur and incur the wrath of the Abha Beauty--nay, he shall be forsaken by the One True God and all who adore Him. So far from acting thus, he should content himself with his salary and allowance, seek out the way of righteousness, and dedicate his life to the service of state and people. Such must be the conduct and bearing of the Bahá'ís. Whoso transgresseth these bounds shall fall at length into manifest loss."(Ibid.)
1477. If a Man Deals Faithlessly with a Just Government, He Deals Faithlessly with God
"All government employees, whether of high or low rank, should, with perfect integrity, probity and rectitude, content themselves with the modest stipends and allowances that are theirs. They should keep their hands unsullied and preserve their fair name from blemish.... If a man deals faithlessly with a just government he shall have dealt faithlessly with God; and if he render it faithful service he shall have rendered that service to God."(Ibid.)
1478. Content with Wages Received, They Should Not Stain Their Character Through Acts of Bribery and Fraud nor Misappropriate a Single Penny
"Those souls who are employed in government departments should approach their duties with entire detachment, integrity and independence of spirit, and with complete consecration and sanctity of purpose. Content with the wages they are receiving, they should see that they do not stain their fair character through acts of bribery and fraud. Were one of the friends in this day to misappropriate so much as a single penny, the sacred mantle of God's Cause would become sullied by his action and the shame of it would attach to the whole community. Heaven forbid! Nay, rather, the government and people should come to repose such trust in the Bahá'ís as to wish to commit all affairs of state throughout the provinces into the chaste, pure hands of God's well-beloved."(Ibid.)
1479. A Prayerful Condition is the Best of Conditions, Especially in Private and at Midnight
"The prayerful condition is the best of all conditions, for man in such a state communeth with God, especially when prayer is offered in private and at times when one's mind is free, such as at midnight. Indeed, prayer imparteth life."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, from a recently translated Tablet: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, 1980)
1480. The Reason for Privacy When Communing with God
"The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and not be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communion. Thus if haply thou dost live in the Day of Resurrection, the mirror of thy heart will be set towards Him Who is the Day-Star of Truth; and no sooner will His light shine forth than the splendour thereof shall forthwith be reflected in thy heart. For He is the Source of all goodness, and unto Him revert all things. But if He appeareth while thou hast turned unto thyself in meditation, this shall not profit thee, unless thou shalt mention His Name by words He hath revealed. For in the forthcoming Revelation it is He Who is the Remembrance of God, whereas the devotions which thou art offering at present have been prescribed by the Point of the Bayan, while He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan--a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it."
(The Báb: Selections from the Writings of The Báb, pp. 93-94)
1481. The More Detached and Pure the Prayer the More Acceptable to God
"The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved of God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God."(Ibid., pp 77-78)
"...There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged--nay enjoined-- to pray, andPage 457
they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual...
"The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if he desires to do so."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1943: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
1483. With Prayer and Meditation Must Go Action and Example
"Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 15, 1944: Ibid.)1484. The Importance and Power of Meditation
"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person, not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Ibid.)
1485. Every Day Upon Arising One Should Compare Today with Yesterday and Pray...
"...Every day, in the morning when arising one should compare today with yesterday and see in what condition you are. If you see your belief is stronger and your heart more occupied with God and your love increased and your freedom from the world greater then thank God and ask for the increase of these qualities. You must begin to pray and repent for all that you have done which is wrong and you must implore and ask for help and assistance that you may become better than yesterday so that you may continue to make progress."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. VIII, No. 6, p. 68)
1486. How to Pray--One Must Start Out with the Right Concept of God
"...we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian--we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance, you can ask Bahá'u'lláh for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1946)Page 458
1487. Wiser to Use Meditations Given by Bahá'u'lláh--Not Set Form Recommended by Someone Else
"As to your question about prayer and whether it is necessary to recite the prayers of only the Central Figures of our Faith, we have been asked to quote here the following two excerpts on this subject, from letters written by Shoghi Effendi's secretary on his behalf:
'...as the Cause embraces members of all races and religions we should be careful not to introduce into it the customs of our previous beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh has given us the obligatory prayers, also prayers before sleeping, for travellers, etc. We should not introduce a new set of prayers He has not specified, when He has given us already so many, for so many occasions.'
'He thinks it would be wiser for the Bahá'ís to use the Meditations given by Bahá'u'lláh, and not any set form of meditation recommended by someone else; but the believers must be left free in these details and allowed to have personal latitude in finding their own level of communion with God.'
"As to the reading of prayers or selections from the Sacred Writings of other religions: Such readings are permissible, and indeed from time to time are included in the devotional programmes of Bahá'í Houses of Worship, demonstrating thereby the universality of our Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 7, 1974)1488. Turn to Manifestation
"While praying it would be better to turn one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937: Dawn of a New Day, p. 67)1489. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh
"You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá'u'lláh: It all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh.
"Under no circumstances, however, can we, while repeating the prayers, insert the name Bahá'u'lláh where the word 'God' is used. This would be tantamount to a blasphemy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 14, 1937)1490. Praying to Bahá'u'lláh--As the Door
"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá'u'lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavors: Messages to Alaska, p. 71)Page 459
1491. We May Turn to the Guardian in Prayer, But Should Not Confuse His Station with that of a Prophet
"We pray to God, or to Bahá'u'lláh, as we please. But if in our thoughts we desire to turn to the Guardian first and then address our prayer, there is no objection, as long as we always bear in mind he is only the Guardian, and do not confuse his station with that of the Prophet or even of the Master."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1947)
1492. Turning Toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Prayer
"In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)
1493. Through Abdu'l-Bahá One Can Address Bahá'u'lláh
"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949)1494. People Who Desire to Meet and Pray
"In some places the Bahá'ís have held meetings for prayer, for people who desire to meet and pray. As we have such wonderful prayers and meditations in our writings, the reading of these with friends who are interested in and crave for this type of small meeting is often a step towards attracting them to the Faith. Perhaps you can start such an activity in your city."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 4, 1956: Bahá'í Meetings, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, November 1975)1495. Prayers Should Be Read as Printed
"Regarding your question as to the changing of pronouns in Bahá'í prayers: The Guardian does not approve of such changes, either in the specific prayers or in any others. They should be read as printed without changing a single word."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 171, November 1944, p. 3)
1496. Strictly Adhere to the Text of the Holy Writings
"In regard to your question as to whether it is permissible to substitute the plural pronoun for the singular in prayers worded in the singular, the Guardian would strongly urge your N.S.A. to inform the friends to strictly adhere to the text of the Holy Writings, and not to deviate even a hair-breadth from what has been revealed by the Holy Pen. Besides, it should be noted that congregational prayer has been discouraged by Bahá'u'lláh, and that it is allowed only in the case of the prayer for the dead."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)Page 460
"In quoting prayers any part may be used, but should be quoted as it is, however short."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)1498. Specific Time for Remembrance of God
"...Moreover the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay, rather impossible, that any enterprise should prosper and develop short of Divine bestowals and confirmations...."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the Bahá'ís of the East, December 19, 1923: Living the Life, p. 1)1499. Dawn Prayers
"Blessed is he who, at the hour of dawn, centring his thoughts on God, occupied with His remembrance, and supplicating His forgiveness, directeth his steps to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and, entering therein, seateth himself in silence to listen to the verses of God, the Sovereign, the Mighty, the All-Praised...."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 115, p. 61)
"QUESTION: Concerning the remembrance of God in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar 'at the hour of dawn'.
"ANSWER: Although the words 'at the hour of dawn' are used in the Book of God, it is acceptable to God at the earliest dawn of day, between dawn and sunrise, or even up to two hours after sunrise."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: Q 15, p. 111)
"One of the characteristics of Bahá'í society will be the gathering of the believers each day during the hours between dawn and two hours after sunrise to listen to the reading and chanting of the Holy Word. In many communities at the present time, especially in rural ones, such gatherings would fit naturally into the pattern of the friends' daily life, and where this is the case it would do much to foster the unity of the local community and deepen the friends' knowledge of the Teachings if such gatherings could be organized by the Local Spiritual Assembly on a regular basis. Attendance at these gatherings is not to be obligatory, but we hope that the friends will more and more be drawn to take part in them. This is a goal which can be attained gradually."
(From the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Naw-Ruz, 1974)
1501. We Should Not Make a Practice of Saying Grace or of Teaching It to Our Children
"He does not feel that the friends should make a practice of saying grace or of teaching it to children. This is not part of the Bahá'í Faith, but a Christian practice, and as the Cause embraces members of all races and religions we should be careful not to introduce into it the customs of our previous beliefs. Bahá'u'lláh has given us the obligatory prayers, also prayers before sleeping, for travellers, etc. We should not introduce a new set of prayers He has not specified, when He has given us already so many, for so many occasions."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 27, 1947)1502. Congregational Prayer Only for the Dead
"The daily prayers are to be said each one for himself, aloud or silent makes no difference.Page 461
There is no congregational prayer except that for the dead. We read healing and other prayers in our meetings, but the daily prayer is a personal obligation, so someone else reading it is not quite the same thing as saying it for yourself..."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 220, June 1949, pp. 2-3)1503. Prayers May Be Recited in Unison
"You have asked whether it is permissible for the friends to chant a prayer collectively. There is a difference between chanting a prayer collectively and congregational prayer. The latter is a formal prayer usually led by an individual using a prescribed ritual. Congregational prayer in this form is forbidden in the Faith except in the case of the Prayer for the Dead. While reciting prayers in unison and spontaneously joining in the recitation of the Words of God is not forbidden, the friends should bear in mind the advice of the beloved Guardian on this subject when he stated that:
'...although the friends are thus left free to follow their own inclination, ... they should take the utmost care that any manner they practice should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution. This is a point which the friends should always bear in mind, lest they deviate from the clear path indicated in the Teachings.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 6, 1975)1504. One Person Should Read the Funeral Prayer
"We have received your letter of 14th December inquiring which funeral prayer is considered as the desirable one for use in Europe, whether there is any obligatory prayer and what instructions are concerning standing at a Bahá'í funeral service.
"The only obligatory prayer for use at Bahá'í funerals is the prayer No. 167 in 'Prayers and Meditations'. This prayer should be recited by one of those present and all present should stand while it is being read. There is no requirement to face the Qiblih or any other particular direction while this prayer is being read.
"The reading of any other prayers or writings at a Bahá'í funeral is entirely optional. In general it is desirable to keep the service simple and dignified."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Finland, January 31, 1971)
1505. Recital or Chanting of Prayers--Prayer is Essentially Communion Between God and Man
"...There is no objection to the recital or chanting of prayers in the Oriental language, but there is also no obligation whatever of adopting such a form of prayer at any devotional service in the auditorium of the Temple. It should neither be required nor prohibited. The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers, Bahá'u'lláh has given us no strict or special rulings in matters of worship whether in the Temple or elsewhere. Prayer is essentially communion between man and God, and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 15, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 93, July 1935, p. 1)Page 462
"Concerning the Healing Prayer, the Guardian wishes me to inform you that there is no special ruling for its recital. The believer is free to recite it as many times and in the way he wishes. There are also no obligatory prayers for the Fast. But there are some specific ones revealed by Bahá'u'lláh for that purpose."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, October 17, 1934)1507. Effectiveness of Healing Prayer
"The Healing Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh can be effective even though used by non-believers. But their effectiveness is of course greater in the case of those who fully accept the Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 19, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 134, March 1940, p. 2)1508. Prayers Answered Through Action
"...It is not sufficient to pray diligently for guidance, but this prayer must be followed by meditation as to the best methods of action and then action itself. Even if the action should not immediately produce results, or perhaps not be entirely correct, that does not make so much difference, because prayers can only be answered through action and if someone's action is wrong, God can use that method of showing the pathway which is right."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1957: The Individual and Teaching, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, 1977)
1509. Pray to be Protected from Contamination of Society
"...Love for each other, the deep sense that we are a new organism, the dawn-breakers of a New World Order, must constantly animate our Bahá'í lives, and we must pray to be protected from the contamination of society which is so diseased with prejudice."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Atlanta, Georgia, February 5, 1947: Living the Life, p. 13)1510. Five Steps of Prayer
"Regarding the five steps of prayer outlined by the Guardian and recorded by Mrs. Moffett in her booklet the 'Call to Prayer': These, he wishes me to explain, are merely personal suggestions and need not, therefore, be adopted strictly and universally by the believers."
(From a letter dated June 30, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1511. Reciting Any Prayer Nine Times Not Obligatory
"There is no obligation for a believer to recite always any prayer nine times. Ritualism is certainly to be avoided in all matters affecting Bahá'í worship...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 26, 1939)Page 463
1512. The Spiritual Man Prays Only for Love of God
"In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven... When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him... The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God."
(Report of Abdu'l-Bahá'í words quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 105, Wilmette 1976 ed: The Importance of Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, A Compilation)
1513. Prayer Beads, Chanting, Congregational Prayer, etc.
"In the matter of the distribution and use of prayer beads, in this and other matters of secondary importance he does not wish that any hard and fast rules be set up. The believers should not be required to use prayer beads, nor should they be prevented from doing so, as the Teachings do not contain any specific instructions on the subject."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 4, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 137, July 1940, p. 3)1514. Reading Prayers on the Radio
"You have asked specifically about reading prayers on the radio. Of course this is permissible, but you will be cautious concerning the setting of the prayers, i.e., what kind of materials may be presented before and after the prayers ... so that they are assured of that dignity and reverence which they deserve. There may also be considerations of timing (the hours of the day best chosen, Sunday as the customary day of religious observance, etc.), in relation to the customs of the station, of the area, or other. Such recorded disc programs as 'Words for the World' include prayers, of course."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 8, 1973)1515. Bahá'í Children, Communes and Prayers
"...Every day at first light, ye gather the Bahá'í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children's hearts; that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Education, p. 28)
"...there is no objection to children who are as yet unable to memorize a whole prayer learning certain sentences only."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 27, 1947)
1516. Mothers or Others Delegated Should Choose Excerpts from the Sacred Word for Children to Memorize
"The Guardian feels that it would be better for either the mothers of Bahá'í children--or some Committee your Assembly might delegate the task to--to choose excerptsPage 464
from the Sacred Word to be used by the child rather than just something made up. Of course prayer can be purely spontaneous, but many of the sentences and thoughts combined in Bahá'í writings of a devotional nature are easy to grasp, and the revealed Word is endowed with a power of its own."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 8, 1942)
1517. There Are No Special Instructions for Repeating Prayers of The Báb+F1
"Concerning the prayer for difficulty revealed by The Báb: He wishes me to inform you that it is not accompanied by any instructions for its recital.+F1"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 6, 1937)
"Regarding your questions: The Guardian feels it is not necessary to repeat The Báb's prayer so many times.+F2"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 30, 1950)1518. Community Prayer Sessions
"The Guardian wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to the friends coming together for meditation and prayer. Such a communion helps in fostering fellowship among the believers, and as such is highly commendable."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1937: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
1519. Bahá'ís Should Be Taught to Meditate, But Also to Guard Against Superstitious Practices
"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if any one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945)
1520. "O Subduer of Winds", an Invocation for Moments of Danger
"Regarding the invocation 'Ya Musakin el Ariah': It literally means 'O Subduer of Winds'. The believers are not required to recite it, but may do so in moments of personal danger."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)___________________
+F1 Written in response to a question as to how often this prayer should be repeated to produce the greatest results.
+F2 Written in response to a question about the repetition 114 times in the morning for 19 days of the prayer of The Báb, 'Say! God sufficeth all things above all things...' (See also: No. 1528)Page 465
1521. There Are Mysteries and a Wisdom in Every Word and Movement of the Obligatory Prayers
"Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, p. 85)1522. Obligatory Prayers
"As obligatory prayers require either genuflection or ablution and orienting toward Bahji, they cannot truly be said by one person for a group of people without it being in effect a form of congregational prayer, so he thinks it better to avoid it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 31, 1946: Bahá'í News, No. 197, July 1947, p. 6)
1523. Turning Towards Akka in Prayer is a Physical Symbol of an Inner Reality --One Who Does Not Understand the Acts Accompanying the Long Prayer Can Use the Short
"He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards Akka where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight-- from which it receives life and growth--so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.
"Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 24, 1949: Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, op. cit.)
1524. If a Believer is Ill or Physically Unable to Perform Genuflexions
"As regards the questions about the proper use of the Long Obligatory Prayer: All the writings of the Faith may be read and should be read for the instruction and inspiration of the friends. This includes the specific prayers. If a believer is physically incapable of performing the genuflexions accompanying one of the prayers, and yet he longs to say it as an obligatory prayer, then he may do so. By physically incapable is meant a real physical incapacity which a physician would attest as genuine."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, February 17, 1955)Page 466
1525. The Medium Prayer--Repeating the Greatest Name 95 times
"With regard to the three daily obligatory prayers:... The Bahá'í worshipper is free to choose any of these three prayers. The short prayer consists of one verse to be recited once a day at noon. The medium prayer should be recited three times a day: in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. It is accompanied by certain physical gestures such as kneeling, raising the hands, etc. The long prayer which is also accompanied by regulations should be recited once every twenty-four hours. The adoption of one of these three prayers is a spiritual obligation imposed upon all the believers. For as Abdu'l-Bahá says in His Writings--prayer and fasting are the twin pillars that sustain the Law of God.
"As regards the repeating of the Greatest Name ninety-five times, this also has been mentioned by Bahá'u'lláh but He has given no directions as to how the prayer beads should be used in this connection."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 25, 1937)
1526. Physical Gestures and Washing Hands and Face in Connection with Obligatory Prayers Are Laws of Bahá'u'lláh
"...The genuflections and washing of hands and face (as clearly put down in 'Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh', which he himself translated), associated with the two longer daily prayers (obligatory prayers) are laws of Bahá'u'lláh, applicable to any Bahá'í whether of Muslim background, Christian background or otherwise. It is blasphemy to suggest otherwise. However, the Bahá'ís have been left free by Bahá'u'lláh to choose one of the 3 obligatory prayers, and those who prefer not to perform these acts can say the very short one."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)
1527. Each One Must Say His Obligatory Prayer by Himself
"As to the obligatory prayer: Each one must say his prayer alone by himself, and this is not conditional on a private place; that is, both at home and in the worshipping-place, which is a gathering-place, it is allowable for one to say his prayer; but each person must say his prayer by himself. But if they chant supplications together, in a good and effective voice, that is very good."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 464)
1528. Regarding Reading The Báb's Prayer 500 Times
"On page 1 of your October News letter you have quoted The Báb's prayer for the removal of difficulties and have added: 'Bahá'u'lláh has said to repeat this prayer 500 times by day and by night that it may aid us to recognize Him and our souls will be illumined.'
"The above statement gives the impression that the repetition of the said prayer 500 times is one of the prescribed devotionals of the Faith, and has a specified effect on the believer who observes this form of prayer.
"We do not feel it is justified to infer such conclusions from the reference in 'God Passes By', page 119, which you mention. The passage in question obviously refers to a specific circumstance in the life of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad before the declaration of His Mission, and should not be presented to the believers as one of the prescribed observances of the faith."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 24, 1971)Page 467
1529. The Medium Prayer to be Recited Morning, Noon and Evening--Three Times a Day
"...The friends are free to choose any one of these three prayers, but have to follow the instructions revealed by Bahá'u'lláh concerning them. The long prayer should be recited once in every 24 hours, and is accompanied by certain physical acts. The short prayer, consisting of one verse, should be recited once a day at noon; while the medium prayer should be said three times a day; in the morning, at noon and in the evening. The believer is entirely free to choose any one of these three prayers for daily use."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937)
1530. Definition of "Morning", "Noon" and "Evening"
"By 'morning', 'noon' and 'evening', mentioned in connection with the Obligatory Prayers, is meant respectively the intervals between sunrise and noon, between noon and sunset, and from sunset till two hours after sunset."(Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 146)
1531. In High Latitudes the National Spiritual Assembly May Fix Hours of Prayer and Fasting by the Clock.
"Concerning the times for prayer and fasting, it is correct that, in the high latitudes, where the lengths of day and night vary considerably from season to season of the year, it is permissible to observe the laws of prayer and fasting in accordance with the clock rather than with the rising and setting of the sun. As Iceland lies in such latitudes, it is for your Assembly to decide this matter for the believers in your country. All should then abide by whatever your Assembly lays down."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 27, 1976: Notes on Obligatory Prayers and Ablutions, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
1532. Based on Texts in the "Kitáb-i-Aqdas" and "Questions and Answers"--The Universal House of Justice Permits Use of Clock
"There are two texts, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and its annexe, which refer to the use of clocks. In the Book itself it is written that in lands where the days and nights are long the hours of prayer shall be determined by reference to clocks and other timepieces. In the 'Questions and Answers', in answer to the more general question whether, in determining time, it is permissible to make use of timepieces, Bahá'u'lláh states that it is permissible.
"Although in the first instance the Sacred Text specifically mentions the use of clocks for determining the times of prayer it does not limit their use to that purpose, and the Universal House of Justice, on the basis of the more general statement in the 'Questions and Answers', has permitted their use also in determining the hours of fasting, leaving the application of the law to the National Spiritual Assembly in each country that lies in the high latitudes.
"In the case of fasting, as Mr. ... correctly comments, there is little difference between sunrise and sunset as observed astronomically and hours of fasting as fixed by the clock, because the fast falls just before the Equinox. However, by this ruling it is possible for the believers in the high latitudes to use the same standard for both prayer and fasting, as well as for fixing the ending of each day in the Bahá'í calendar in determining the time for the starting of each Holy Day and the holding of thePage 468
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 13, 1978: Ibid.)
1533. "Allah-u-Abha" is the Form of the Greatest Name to be Used in the Long Obligatory Prayer
"Shoghi Effendi has explained that 'Allah-u-Abha' should be used when the Greatest Name is to be repeated three times in the Long Obligatory Prayer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 28, 1977: Ibid.)1534. Instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer
"The Universal House of Justice received your letter of 7 January 1975, enquiring about the correct way of following certain instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer, and has asked us to give you this reply.
"In following the direction stating: 'Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in supplication, and say ... ': the believer does not have to read twice the paragraph which follows. Whether the believer raises his hands twice before the reciting of the paragraph, or commences the reciting after having raised his hands once, and raises them a second time soon thereafter, is left to his choice.
"As to the direction which states: 'Let him then raise his hands thrice, and say ... ', an individual believer asked the beloved Guardian the following question:
'...the direction to raise the hands thrice and say "Greater is God than every great one." Does this mean after every raising of the hands, or only to be said once, after the three raisings?'
"Shoghi Effendi's secretary answered on his behalf as follows: 'The hands should be raised three times and each time the sentence be repeated in conjunction with the act.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 13, 1975: Ibid.)
1535. Instructions for the Medium Obligatory Prayer
"Each phrase which one may substitute is for a particular portion of the prayer, and the instructions are quite specific where the substitutions may be made. For instance, the longest verse in the prayer begins with the same words as those which may be substituted; that is, after the instructions 'Then let him stand up, and facing the Qiblih, let him say: God testifieth that there is none other God but Him.' The second phrase which may be substituted, which states, 'it would suffice were he, while seated,...' may be used in place of the concluding paragraph which carries the instruction 'Let him, then, be seated and say:'--and, again, the substituted words follow exactly the first sentence of that final paragraph."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 23, 1981: Ibid.)
1536. The Correct Position for "Sitting" During Obligatory Prayers
"...one of the believers asked the Guardian a question about the correct position for sitting. From the context it seems clear that this question is related to the medium Prayer, but this is not explicitly stated. The Guardian's reply states that sitting onPage 469
a chair is permissible, but to sit on the floor is preferable and more fitting."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982: Ibid.)
1537. Ablutions and Movements to Accompany the Recitation of the Long Obligatory Prayer
"Concerning the movements to accompany the recitations of the Long Obligatory Prayer, in response to an enquiry from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Near East, the House of Justice stated in a letter dated September 1, 1975:
'Ablutions are necessary for all three Obligatory Prayers.' 'Reciting the words specified in the medium Obligatory Prayer pertains only to that prayer, i.e., for the short and long Obligatory Prayers it would be sufficient to wash one's hands and face in preparation for each of these two prayers.'
"However, the Universal House of Justice has stated to National Spiritual Assemblies in the West that no issue should be made of this matter at the present time and since it has not been clarified and applied in detail to the western believers, they are under no obligation to go beyond the instructions given by the beloved Guardian in 'Prayers and Meditations' in which ablutions are prescribed only in connection with the medium Obligatory Prayer.
"The instruction to raise one's hands occurs once in the medium Obligatory Prayer and five times in the long Obligatory Prayer. The term used in the original Arabic for the first, second and fourth occasions in the long Prayer is the same as that used in the medium Prayer. Therefore it would be entirely correct for the worshipper, when raising his hands on these occasions during the recitation of the long Obligatory Prayer, to follow the more specific instructions given in English by the Guardian in his translation of the medium one. On the third and fifth occasions the instruction is given in the long Prayer, the words 'in supplication' are omitted. The House of Justice does not wish at this time to give any specific guidance in this connection; it leaves the matter to the discretion of the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 1, 1982: Ibid.)
1538. Ablutions Before Obligatory Prayers and Repetition of the Greatest Name
"It hath been ordained that every believer in God, the Lord of Judgement, shall, each day, having washed his hands and then his face, seat himself and, turning unto God, repeat 'Allah-u-Abha' ninety-five times. Such was the decree of the Maker of the Heavens when, with majesty and power, He established Himself upon the thrones of His Names. Perform ye likewise, ablutions for the Obligatory Prayer; this is the command of God, the Incomparable, the Unrestrained."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 18, p. 26)
1539. The Verse to be Recited When There is No Water
"...Let him that findeth no water for ablution repeat five times the words 'In the Name of God, the Most Pure, the Most Pure', and then proceed to his devotions. Such is the command of the Lord of all worlds...."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 10, p. 23)
"The Báb said that whenever 'He Whom God will make manifest' appears, accept Him. He never said don't accept Him until after the lapse of 1000 years. Also Bahá'u'lláh says that in the year 9 of The Bábi Dispensation the time was ripe for the Revelation of 'He Whom God will make manifest.' As The Báb was not only a Manifestation but a Herald of this Bahá'í Faith, the interval between His revelation and that of Bahá'u'lláh was of shorter duration. His Dispensation in a sense will last as long as Bahá'u'lláh's lasts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, December 27, 1941: Dawn of a New Day, p. 94)1541. Declaration of The Báb
"...The believers must hold gatherings for the Bahá'ís at exactly 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset on May 22nd ..., as this is the exact time when The Báb declared His mission to Mulla Husayn...."(Ibid., June 22, 1943, p. 105)
1542. The Declaration of The Báb and the Birthday of Abdu'l-Bahá
"...regarding the declaration of The Báb and the birthday of the Master: The Báb declared His Mission on the fourth day of the month of Jamadi I, two hours and eleven minutes after sunset, corresponding with the evening of May 22nd. But as the Bahá'í day begins after sunset, and not after midnight as in the West, The Báb's declaration is celebrated on the fifth day of Jamadi I, corresponding to the 23rd of May. Abdu'l-Bahá was born in the course of that same night, but the exact hour of His birth has not been ascertained."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 25, 1936)1543. The Bayan
"In the Bayan The Báb says that every religion of the past was fit to become universal. The only reason why they failed to attain that mark was the incompetence of their followers. He then proceeds to give a definite promise that this would not be the fate of the Revelation of 'Him Whom God would make manifest', that it will become universal and include all the people of the world. This shows that we will ultimately succeed. But could we not through our shortcomings, failures to sacrifice, and reluctance to concentrate our efforts in spreading the Cause, retard the realizationPage 471
of that ideal. And what would that mean? It shall mean that we will be held responsible before God, that the race will remain longer in its state of waywardness, that wars would not be so soon averted, that human suffering will last longer."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, February 20, 1932: Living the Life, pp. 3-4)1544. The Iqan and the Bayan
"The Báb specified that the 'Bayan' is not completed and that 'He Whom God would manifest' (Bahá'u'lláh) would complete it, though not in its actual form, but only spiritually in the form of another book. The 'Iqan' is believed to be its continuation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 17, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 78)1545. Reason for Severe Laws Revealed by The Báb
"...The severe laws and injunctions revealed by The Báb can be properly appreciated and understood only when interpreted in the light of His own statements regarding the nature, purpose and character of His own Dispensation. As these statements clearly reveal, The Bábi Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution and its duration had therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of sweeping and drastic reforms. These drastic measures enforced by The Báb and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shi'ah orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá'u'lláh. To assert the independence of the new Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the approaching Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, The Báb had therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of them were never enforced. But the mere fact that He revealed them was in itself a proof of the independent character of His Dispensation and was sufficient to create such widespread agitation, and excite such opposition on the part of the clergy that led them to cause His eventual martyrdom."(Ibid., pp. 77-78)
"...The portrait of The Báb should be regarded as an inestimable privilege and blessing to behold, as past generations were denied a glimpse of the Face of the Manifestation, once He had passed on."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 2)1547. Hour of Birth of The Báb
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1548. The Term "Afnan" Refers to Relatives of The Báb
"The term 'afnan' means literally small branch, and refers to the relatives of The Báb, both men and women. As The Báb's only son died while in infancy, the former had no direct descendants. The 'afnan' are, therefore, all indirectly related to The Báb.Page 472
"As to 'aghsan', it also means branch. But it is a bigger branch than 'afnan'. It refers to Bahá'u'lláh's descendants."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 25, 1934)