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1549. The Sacrifice of 19 Lambs by The Báb Was Prior to His Revelation
"As regards your question concerning the sacrifice of 19 choice lambs which The Báb is reported to have made on the day of Nahr: This is indeed an Islamic custom. But the sacrifice in question was performed by The Báb prior to the revelation of His own laws, and at a time, therefore, when the laws and practices of Islam had not yet been entirely abrogated by Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1939)B. Bahá'u'lláh
"There are no Prophets, so far, in the same category as Bahá'u'lláh, as He culminates a great cycle begun with Adam."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)
1551. Bahá'u'lláh Has Appeared in God's Greatest Name
"...By 'Greatest Name' is meant that Bahá'u'lláh has appeared in God's Greatest Name, in other words, that He is the Supreme Manifestation of God."(Ibid., p. 41)
1552. Bahá'u'lláh Conversed with Moses in the Burning Bush
"Bahá'u'lláh is not the Intermediary between other Manifestations and God. Each has His own relation to the Primal Source. But in the sense that Bahá'u'lláh is the greatest Manifestation to yet appear, the One Who consummates the Revelation of Moses; He was the One Moses conversed with in the Burning Bush. In other words Bahá'u'lláh identifies the glory of the Godhead on that occasion with Himself. No distinction can be made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all proceed from One Source, and are of One Essence. But Their stations and functions in this world are different."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)
1553. Bahá'u'lláh is Not God--But Through Him We Can Know God
"As regards your question: Bahá'u'lláh is, of course, not God and not the Creator; but through Him we can know God, and because of this position of Divine Intermediary, in a sense, He (or the other Prophets) is all we can ever know of that Infinite Essence which is God. Therefore, we address ourselves in prayer and thought to Him, or through Him to that Infinite Essence behind and beyond Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 4, 1951)1554. Why He Uses the Pronoun "We"
"When Bahá'u'lláh uses the plural--'We', 'Our' etc.--He is merely using a formPage 473
which is regal and has greater power than the singular 'I'. We have this same usage in English, when the King says 'we'. The Pope does the same thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1951)
1555. There is No Record of a Prophet Similar in Station to Bahá'u'lláh
"Regarding your questions: There is no record in history, or in the teachings, of a Prophet similar in station to Bahá'u'lláh having lived 500,000 years ago. There will, however, be one similar to Him in greatness after the lapse of 500,000 years, but we cannot say definitely that His Revelation will be inter-planetary in scope. We can only say that such a thing may be possible. What Bahá'u'lláh means by His appearance in 'other worlds' He has not defined, as we could not visualize them in our present state, hence He was indefinite, and we cannot say whether He meant other planets or not...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 24, 1941)1556. Hour of Bahá'u'lláh's Birth
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)
1557. The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, Certain Passages Clarified
"Concerning the meaning of the passage on p. 12 of the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' beginning with the words 'But for Him no Divine Messenger...', this refers to the reality of God in Him and not to His Person.
"Page 20, first line, of the same pamphlet: The passage refers to any opportunities that are missed through neglect and not to any particular event.
"Page 21, line 20: The meaning of the passage should not be taken literally. The purpose is to emphasize the theme and heighten its effect.
"Page 24, line 20: It refers to the reality of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1937)
1558. Reckoning of Days Mentioned in the "Dispensation"
"Concerning the passage in the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' in which the Guardian quotes Abdu'l-Bahá'í interpretation of the prophecy referring to the times when the sun would stand still in the heavens, he wishes me to explain that the days referred to in this prophecy have to be reckoned differently. In the Sacred Scripture of various religions there are to be found frequent references to days, but these have been considered as indicating different periods of time, as for instance in the Quran a day is reckoned as one thousand years. The first ten days in the above-mentioned prophecy represent each a century, making thus a total of one thousand lunar years. As to the twenty days referring to The Bábi Dispensation, each of them represents only one lunar year, the total of twenty years marking the duration of the Revelation of The Báb. The thirty days in the last Dispensation should not be reckoned numerically, but should be considered as symbolizing the incomparable greatness of the Bahá'í Revelation which, though not final, is nonetheless thus far the fullest revelation of God to man. From a physical point of view, the thirty days represent the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the zodiac. They thusPage 474
represent a culminating point in the evolution of this star. So also from a spiritual standpoint these thirty days should be viewed as indicating the highest, though not the final, stage in the spiritual evolution of mankind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 7, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 87, September 1934, p. 1)
1559. Bahá'u'lláh Was a Descendent of Abraham Through Both Katurah and Sarah--Jesse, Son of Sarah, Was the Father of David and Ancestor of Bahá'u'lláh
"Regarding your question concerning the Jesse from whom Bahá'u'lláh is descended: The Master says in 'Some Answered Questions', referring to Isaiah, chapter 11, verses 1 to 10, that these verses apply 'Word for word to Bahá'u'lláh'. He then identifies this Jesse as the father of David in the following words: '...for Joseph was of the descendants of Jesse the father of David...', thus identifying the Jesse of Isaiah, chapter 11, with being the father of David. Bahá'u'lláh is thus the descendant of Jesse, the father of David.
"The Guardian hopes that this will clarify the matter for you. It is a tremendous and fascinating theme, Bahá'u'lláh's connection with the Faith of Judaism, and one which possesses great interest to Jew and Christian alike."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 11, 1942)
"Regarding your question concerning the descent of Bahá'u'lláh from Abraham: The Master has stated that Bahá'u'lláh is a descendant of Abraham through a son of his, other than Isaac and Ishmael, from his wife Katurah...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 24, 1943)1560. As the Return of Christ
"In accepting Bahá'u'lláh you have accepted Christ in His appearance as the Father, as He Himself so clearly foretold. The Catholic Church does not believe this; on the contrary, it still awaits the return of Christ. If you decide, in order to be buried next to your dear husband, to return to the Church, you either would have to, in good faith, deny Bahá'u'lláh or you would be just using the Church as a means to satisfying a desire of your own, which would certainly not be an upright and conscientious thing to do!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1950)1561. Appearance of Later Prophets
"After Bahá'u'lláh many Prophets will, no doubt, appear, but they will be all under His shadow. Although they may abrogate the laws of the Dispensation, in accordance with the needs and requirements of the age in which they appear, they nevertheless draw their spiritual force from this mighty Revelation. The Faith of Bahá'u'lláh constitutes, indeed, the stage of maturity in the development of mankind. His appearance has released such spiritual forces which will continue to animate, for many long years to come, the world in its development. Whatever progress may be achieved in later ages--after the unification of the whole human race is achieved--will be but improvements in the machinery of the world. For the machinery itself has already been created by Bahá'u'lláh. The task of continually improving and perfecting this machinery is one which later Prophets will be called upon to achieve. They will move and work within the orbit of the Bahá'í cycle."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1935)Page 475
"As to the meaning of the quotation, 'My fears are for Him Who will be sent down unto you after Me', this refers to the Manifestation Who is to come after a thousand or more years, Who like all previous Messengers of God will be subjected to persecutions, but will eventually triumph over them. For men of ill-will have been and will always continue to be in this world, unless mankind reaches a state of complete and absolute perfection--a condition which is not only improbable but actually impossible to attain. The fundamental difference, however, between this Dispensation and all previous ones is this, that in this Revelation the possibility of permanent schism between the followers of the Prophet has been prevented through the direct and explicit instructions providing for the necessary instruments designed to maintain the organic unity of the body of the faithful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 1, 1934, Bahá'í News, No. 89, p. 1, January 1935)1563. He Does Not Ask Us to Follow Him Blindly
"Just as in the past the Prophets have been persecuted and their Mission was ridiculed, so has the Message of Bahá'u'lláh been scoffed at as a mere impractical idealism. From His earliest youth He was put in chains, expatriated and persecuted. But what do we observe in this Day? ...the principles He advocated are the only solution for practical political politics, the spiritual truths He voiced are the crying needs of man and the very things he requires for his moral and spiritual development.
"He does not ask us to follow Him blindly; as He says in one of His Tablets, God has endowed man with a mind to operate as a torchlight and guide him to the truth. Read His Words, consider His teachings and measure their value in the light of contemporary problems and the truth will surely be revealed to you. Read books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, Nabil's Narrative, and you will appreciate the truth of His mission, as well as the true spirit He creates in whosoever follows His ways."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 5, January 1934)1564. Christ and Bahá'u'lláh
"The beloved Guardian has been very impressed with the latest book written by our dear departed coworker, George Townshend, 'Christ and Bahá'u'lláh'.
"This book outlines clearly the relationship of Christ and Bahá'u'lláh, and presents the manners in which the Bahá'ís are setting up the Kingdom of God for which the Christians are praying.
"It is challenging, and surely will affect many religious leaders.
"The Guardian feels your Assembly should make this book the basis of a very active teaching campaign."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 19, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 316, p. 5, June 1957)
1565. Duration of the Bahá'í Cycle and Dispensation
"Concerning your question relative to the duration of the Bahá'í Dispensation. There is no contradiction between Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the Iqan about thePage 476
renewal of the City of God once every 1000 years, and that of the Guardian in the 'Dispensation' to the effect that the Bahá'í cycle will extend over a period of at least 500,000 years. The apparent contradiction is due to the confusion of the terms cycle and dispensation. For while the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh will last for at least one thousand years, His cycle will extend still further to at least 500,000."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 102, August 1936, pp. 2-3)
1566. No Explanation Given for 500,000 Year Period of Bahá'í Cycle
"Abdu'l-Bahá has given no explanation regarding the 500,000 year period of the Bahá'í cycle. Individual believers are free to work out for themselves the explanation they desire, so long as they do not impose their views on others."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)1567. Identifies Himself with Other Prophets
"As to the list of the prophets with whom Bahá'u'lláh identified Himself in the passage found on pages 26 and 27 of 'The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh', their names are as follows: Abraham, Moses, Joseph, John the Baptist, Jesus, Imam Husayn, on whom Bahá'u'lláh has conferred an exceptionally exalted station, (and) The Báb."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 7, 1936)
1568. Bahá'u'lláh Did Not Name "Letters of the Living" for Himself
"There were no 'Letters of the living' for Bahá'u'lláh, as there had been for The Báb's Dispensation. Dayyan was evidently the 3rd to believe in Bahá'u'lláh; who the second and the others were we don't know. The Báb, being the Manifestation, cannot be considered the first in this sense."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)1569. The "Trustees" of Knowledge
"We cannot be sure to whom Bahá'u'lláh refers as the 'trustees' of knowledge."(Ibid.)
"Those words uttered by the Luminaries of Truth must needs be pondered, and should their significance be not grasped, enlightenment should be sought from the Trustees of the depositories of Knowledge, that these may expound their meaning, and unravel their mystery...."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Iqan, pp. 181-182)
1570. The Bahá'í Faith is a Way of Life Not a Mere Philosophical or Social Doctrine
"For the Bahá'í Faith is above all a way of life. It is not a mere philosophical or social doctrine. It is a closely-knit and harmoniously functioning community, a worldwide spiritual fraternity which seeks to reform the world first and foremost by bringing about a deep inner spiritual change in the heart of individuals. To live the Teachings of the Cause should be the paramount concern of every true believer, and the only way to do so is to commune both in spirit and through actual concrete means with the entire community of the faithful. The Bahá'í Cause encourages communityPage 477
life and makes it a duty for every one of its followers to become a living, a fully active and responsible member of the world-wide Bahá'í fellowship."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 13, 1936)
1571. The Teachings Should Be Conceived of as One Great Whole with Many Facets
"He feels that many of the perplexities that arise in your mind could be dissipated if you always conceived of the teachings as one great whole with many facets. Truth may, in covering different subjects, appear to be contradictory, and yet it is all one if you carry the thought through to the end. For instance the statement on life after death and the condition of believers and non-believers; you might say that a wonderful believer is like a diamond blazing in the sun, an unawakened soul like one in a dark room. But we must couple this concept with the other part of the teachings, that God's Mercy exceeds His Justice, and that soul can progress in the world beyond; the unillumined soul can become brilliant."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 24, 1947)
1572. The Whole Theory of Divine Revelation Rests on the Infallibility of the Prophets
"Regarding your Bahá'í friend who does not fully understand the infallibility of the Manifestation of God: You should influence that person to study the matter more deeply, and to realize that the whole theory of Divine Revelation rests on the infallibility of the Prophet, be He Christ, Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh, or one of the others. If they are not infallible, then They are not Divine, and thus lose that essential link with God which, we believe, is the bond that educates men and causes all human progress."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 11, 1942)
1573. There Are a Minimum of Rituals in the Bahá'í Faith and No Man-Made Dogmas
"In response to your letter of 3rd September 1979 asking if there are dogmas and rites in the Bahá'í Faith, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to convey its reply.
"A dogma is a principle, tenet or teaching, especially an authoritative teaching, and in these senses it is apparent that the Faith has 'dogmas'. The word is also used, however, to describe that body of rigid doctrines that have accumulated in a religion after the passing of its Founder; such man-made dogmas are entirely absent from the Bahá'í Faith, nor can it ever acquire them.
"Concerning rituals, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer on 24th June 1949:
'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.'Page 478
"Thus it can be seen that the Faith has certain simple rites prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh, such as the obligatory prayers, the marriage ceremony and the laws for the burial of the dead, but its teachings warn against developing them into a system of uniform and rigid rituals incorporating man-made forms and practices, such as exist in other religions where rituals usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices performed by a member of the clergy. In another letter written on behalf of the Guardian his secretary stated:
'In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.' (Translated from the Persian).
"In freeing the believers from the religious rituals of the past and from those customs which are contrary to Bahá'í principles, the institutions of the Faith should be careful not to press the friends to arbitrarily discard those local traditions which are harmless and often colourful characteristics of particular peoples and tribes. In 'The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh', on page 41, we read:
'Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world....'"
(From a letter written of behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 16, 1979)C. Explanation of Some Bahá'í Teachings
1574. What is Meant by a Personal God--God is Not Anthropomorphic
"What is meant by a personal God is a God Who is conscious of His creation, Who has a Mind, a Will, a Purpose, and not, as many scientists and materialists believe, an unconscious and determined force operating in the universe. Such conception of the Diving Being, as the Supreme and ever present Reality in the world, is not anthropomorphic, for it transcends all human limitations and forms, and does by no means attempt to define the essence of Divinity which is obviously beyond any human comprehension. To say that God is a personal Reality does not mean that He has a physical form, or does in any way resemble a human being. To entertain such belief would be sheer blasphemy."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1575. Man Lives in a Three Dimensional Plane of Consciousness
"When we say that man lives in a three dimensional plane of consciousness, we should not interpret such statement in mathematical terms, though the basic idea at its root is certainly correct."(Ibid.)
1576. Possibly Indians of America Were Influenced by Prophets in Asia
"It is possible the Indians of the Americas were influenced in the remote past by Prophets in Asia. But again, as there is nothing in our teachings about it, we cannot do more than speculate."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)1577. Mustaghath
"The meaning of 'Mustaghath' is: 'He Who is invoked for help.'"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 14, 1947)
1578. Reference in Gospel of St. John to Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh
"The passage in the Gospel of St. John 14:26, is a reference to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, through Whose coming this prophecy was fulfilled."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1579. "Lord" and "God" Refer to the Creator in Bahá'í Writings
"In the Bahá'í Writings 'Lord' and 'God' refer to the Creator, not the Manifestations of God; in a few passages the word 'Lord' refers to the Manifestation, but usually it means 'God'!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 4, 1950)1580. Copper Can Be Transmuted into Gold
"Considering that a century ago, nobody knew the nature of matter, and couldn't split any kind of an atom, it should not surprise the scientist that Abdu'l-Bahá states that copper can be transmuted into gold.
"There may come a time, for all we know, when the mass of many atoms can be changed by scientists. We have no way of proving or disproving at present the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá. Just because we cannot demonstrate a contention in the Bahá'í Teachings does not mean the contention is not true.
"The same holds true of the statement of Bahá'u'lláh in the Iqan, regarding transmutation of copper into gold after seventy years, under certain conditions.
"We as Bahá'ís must assume that, as He had access to all knowledge, He was referring to a definite physical condition which theoretically might exist. Because we don't know what this condition is in scientific terms does not refute Bahá'u'lláh's statement at all.
"The Guardian hopes that Mr. ... will not let so small a thing stand in his path. The principle of Faith is to accept anything the Manifestation of God says, once you have accepted Him as being the Manifestation. That is really the crux of the whole matter. It is a question of confidence."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 14, 1955)1581. Creatures Are to be Found on Every Planet
"Regarding the passage on p. 163 of the 'Gleanings': The creatures which Bahá'u'lláh states to be found on every planet cannot be considered to be necessarily similar or different from human beings on this earth. Bahá'u'lláh does not specifically state whether such creatures are like or unlike us. He simply refers to the fact that there are creatures on every planet. It remains for science to discover one day the exact nature of these creatures."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1937)Page 480
"I have asked the Guardian concerning the exact meaning of the word 'Dayspring'. Literally it means 'Dawn'. It is sometimes used in the sense of 'Horizon' or 'Rising point', and taken figuratively it is equivalent to fountain or source. It can also be used as referring to a Manifestation of God, as in the following expression 'Dayspring of Truth'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 19, 1935)
1583. Absolute Being Can Be Attributed Only to God--His Creation Has Relative Existence, a Separate Reality
"In a Tablet Bahá'u'lláh says that even though absolute being can be attributed only to God we cannot say that other objects have no being. A table has an existence even though its existence compared with the existence of the carpenter who is its maker is almost nothing. Compared to God nothing has existence but this does not mean that even stones do not have being. It is speaking relatively. Moreover, God reveals Himself in all things in the sense that He is the Source of their being and the Cause of their existence. Without Him all things will shrink down to nothing. This however does not mean that all things are parts of God as the pantheist believes. The pantheist says that only God exists, objects are mere modes of His attributes. Bahá'u'lláh however says that objects have a separate reality that is created by God. The Master explains these things in the 'Some Answered Questions', especially in one of the last chapters. There are also many Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh explaining these matters. Most of them, however, have not yet been translated into English. Let us hope that some day this work will be done and the friends will appreciate how Bahá'u'lláh has solved their problems."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 26, 1932)
1584. Meaning of "Sciences that Begin and End in Words"
"What Bahá'u'lláh meant primarily with 'sciences that begin and end in words' are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain nowhere.
"Bahá'u'lláh surely never meant to include story writing under such a category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents very necessary in our present social and economic life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 30, 1932)
1585. Atomic Energy--"A Strange and Wonderful Instrument"
"The words of Bahá'u'lláh regarding 'a strange and wonderful instrument...' can, in the light of what the Master said in San Francisco, be taken as a reference to the great destructive power atomic energy can be made to release."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1946)
1586. Bahá'u'lláh Exhorts Man to Try to Develop His Dormant Qualities
"The passage in the 'Epistle to the Son of the Wolf' in which Bahá'u'lláh says: 'Give that which is asked of you' means that man must always try to develop and revealPage 481
the qualities that are to be found potentially in him. It is an urge to self-improvement and individual progress, and has, therefore, no connection with that passage in the 'Aqdas' wherein Bahá'u'lláh forbids mendicity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)
1587. The "Veils" Are Very Thin at the Time of the Manifestation
"As to the words of Abdu'l-Bahá about the 'vineyard will not then be so easy to find', etc. This supports many such remarks: He explained often that at the time of the Manifestation the veils are very thin, so to speak. Many souls accepted seemingly spontaneously, on the basis of a dream, or just hearing the Cause existed! But later, this first phase passes, and the people require more arguments and proof, acceptance comes less as a flash of spiritual insight and more as an intellectual process. This is quite different from the future glory of the Cause and the divine origin of its institutions, graphically outlined by Him. When the Master says the Local and National Assemblies are the 'Voice of truth', He means here that they must be obeyed, not that they are infallible."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1947)
1588. Today It is a Greater Responsibility to Reject the Manifestation
"It is certainly a much greater responsibility to reject the Manifestation in this day than it was in the past Dispensations, inasmuch as man, and indeed humanity as a whole, have been endowed with a greater measure of spiritual receptivity than ever before, and consequently it would be a much graver sin to repudiate the revealed Truth now than it would have been the case in bygone ages and centuries."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1939)
1589. Cornerstone of All the Teachings--Oneness of Humanity
"It is most essential that the believers should be quite clear on this point, as the principle of the oneness of humanity is the cornerstone of all the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and should be presented as such, without the least hesitation, by the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 11, 1937; cited by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1968)1590. "He Who Loves His Kind"
"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the passage of 'he who loves his kind', the statement of Bahá'u'lláh does not refer to any special race or class of people. Rather it includes the entire human race, irrespective of any class, creed or colour. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is not a particularistic appeal to a group of people. It is a Universal Message and all-inclusive appeal. His principle of the oneness of mankind is world-wide in its spirit, in its application, and covers the entire field of human relationships."(Ibid.)
"Regarding the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh', the sentence beginning with the words 'From it (earth) have We created you', is a quotation from the Quran....Page 482
"By 'second time' is meant the spiritual resurrection of man, that is to say, his acceptance of the Divine Manifestation. But Muslims have given this term a literal interpretation: the physical resurrection of man. Bahá'u'lláh is using this same interpretation current among Muslims to defeat their argument."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 8, 1936)
1592. Second Time--Means the Spiritual Resurrection of Man
"With regard to the Racine Assembly's request for an explanation of the passage on page 231 of the 'Gleanings' beginning with the words: 'From it (earth) have We created you...': this is a verse from the Quran... Bahá'u'lláh in quoting this passage seeks to refute the argument of the Muslims, who attach a purely literal interpretation to this verse of the Quran, and therefore consider it as implying bodily resurrection. To these Muslims He says, you who literally believe that the human body will return to dust and will be raised from it again, and therefore attach so much importance to this mortal world, how then can you wax so proud, and boast over things which are but perishable and consequently void of any true and lasting value."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Racine Assembly, February 7, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 124, p. 6, April 1939)
1593. The Day of Resurrection, of Judgement, and the Tomb
"...Concerning the meaning of 'Resurrection': Although this term is often used by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings, as in the passage quoted in your letter, its meaning is figurative. The tomb mentioned is also allegorical, i.e., the tomb of unbelief. The Day of Resurrection, according to Bahá'í interpretation, is the Judgement Day, the Day when unbelievers will be called upon to give account of their actions, and whether the world has prevented them from acknowledging the new Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Dawn of a New Day, p. 79)
1594. Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh Primarily for This Planet
"...On page 231 of the same book (Gleanings): No particular force is meant. It is symbolic of the regenerative power with which a righteous act is endowed.
"As to your question whether the power of Bahá'u'lláh extends over our solar system and to higher worlds: While the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, it should be noted, is primarily for this planet, yet the spirit animating it is all-embracing, and the scope therefore cannot be restricted or defined."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 14, 1938)1595. Abhá Kingdom
"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the term 'Abhá Kingdom', it is another term for the spiritual world beyond the grave."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)1596. "Singled Out"
"The term 'singled out' on p. 172 of the 'Gleanings' means chosen one or favoured one."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 26, 1939, from Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, p. 5)Page 483
"The passage on p. 156 of 'Gleanings' regarding the evolution of the soul after death clearly proves that the soul after its separation from the body keeps its individuality and its consciousness both in relation to other souls and to the human beings in the world."(Ibid.)
"The word 'perish' on p. 190 of 'Gleanings' does not mean that the human soul will cease to exist, but will be deprived of all spiritual capacity and understanding."(Ibid.)
"Also on p. 183, the passage: 'No man can attain everlasting life...' should not be taken literally: by 'everlasting life' is meant spiritual felicity, communion with the Divine Spirit."(Ibid.)
1600. Differences of Station and Classes in Society
"As regards the meaning of the passage of page 188 of the 'Gleanings': It is an emphasis by Bahá'u'lláh on the importance of maintaining differences of station and classes in society and does not refer to the question of race."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 22, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)1601. "Hidden Words"
"As to the passage No. 13 of the Arabic Hidden Words: That which Bahá'u'lláh declares we can find abiding within us is the power of the Divine Spirit, the reflection of the light of His Revelation. This reflection of the Divine Spirit, however, can in no way be compared to the Revelation which God discloses to His Prophets and Messengers. The similarity in the terminology should not confuse this distinction which is most fundamental."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, December 7, 1935)
1602. Iqan, Kitáb-I-Iqan--"City of God", Meaning of
"...as to the meaning of the passage in the 'Iqan' in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to the renewal of the 'City of God' once in about a thousand years: this, as the word about implies, is simply an approximate date, and should not therefore be taken literally."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)1603. "Who Out of Utter Nothingness"
"The statement in the 'Gleanings', pp. 64-65, 'who out of utter nothingness...', etc., should be taken in a symbolic and not a literal sense. It is only to demonstrate the power and greatness of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand 1923-1957, p. 41)Page 484
"Regarding your questions: By 'Government', on page 210 of the 'Bahá'í World' Vol. VI, is meant the executive body which will enforce the laws when the Bahá'í Faith has reached the point when it is recognized and accepted entirely by any particular nation. On page 205, indem, the 'Hosts of His Testament' refers to those who are firm in the Will and Testament of Bahá'u'lláh and who defend and uphold it.
"The word 'cord', so often mentioned in the teachings, means both the Faith itself and also the power of the Faith which sustains those who cling to it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 18, 1941; also see The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 14-15)1605. Sura of the Sun, Explanation of
"The passage in Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet in which He explains the sura of 'The Sun' should not be interpreted literally. It does not mean that after the Day of Resurrection praise and peace will cease to be vouchsafed to the Prophet. Rather it means to the end of time, i.e., indefinitely and for all times."(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 79-80)
"The intercession spoken of by Bahá'u'lláh in one of His prayers which you have quoted is a purely spiritual act and is applicable to Muhammad as well as to all Prophets. This passage, however, refers more particularly to that kind of intercession in which Muslims believe, though the manner and circumstances of it, according to Bahá'í belief, are mysterious and unknowable."(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 80)
1607. "Knowledge Consists of Twenty-Seven Letters..."
"Regarding the passage beginning with the words: 'Knowledge consists of twenty-seven letters': this should not be interpreted literally. It only indicates the relative greatness and superiority of the new Revelation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)1608. Tablet of Ahmad--The Word "Ungodly"
"In the passage 'eschew all fellowship with the ungodly,' Bahá'u'lláh means that we should shun the company of those who disbelieve in God and are wayward. The word 'ungodly' is a reference to such perverse people. The words 'Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones' should not be taken in their literal sense. Bahá'u'lláh's advice is that again we should flee from the enemies of God and instead seek the fellowship of His lovers."(Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 200)
"The Tablet of Ahmad was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh to be read when one feels himself in exceptionally difficult circumstances. There is nothing obligatory about its use, and every person has to decide for himself whether he desires to learn it by heart or not...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Kenosha, April 14, 1932)1609. The Tablet of the Holy Mariner
"The Tablet of the Holy Mariner was revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad. ThePage 485
Holy Mariner is a reference to Bahá'u'lláh Himself, and the Ark mentioned in that Tablet is the Ark of His Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 8, 1936)
"Concerning the Tablet of the Holy Mariner, it is one of the most significant Tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh during the last days of His stay in Baghdad, and refers to the sad though momentous events which were to transpire soon after His arrival in Adrianople. Its main significance lies in the fact that in it Bahá'u'lláh clearly foreshadows the grave happenings which eventually led to the defection of Subh-i-Azal, and to the schism which the latter thought to create within the ranks of the faithful."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 10, 1934)
1610. Tablet to the Presidents of the Republics of the Americas
"Bahá'u'lláh never revealed a Tablet to the President of the U.S.A. In His Book the Aqdas He revealed words addressed to the Presidents of the Republics of the Americas, but no single Tablet was ever revealed to any one of them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 21, 1942)1611. Tablet of Joseph
"The Tablet of Joseph does not refer to Joseph Smith.
"Joseph Smith we do not consider a Prophet, minor or otherwise. Certainly no references he made would have foretold the coming of this Revelation in his capacity as a Prophet."(Ibid.)
"By 'verities of the Faith' he means the great teachings and fundamentals enshrined in our Bahá'í literature; these we can find by reading the books, studying under Bahá'í scholars at summer schools and in classes, and through the aid of study outlines."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)
1613. Meaning of the Word "Patron" in Seven Valleys
"Regarding your question about the meaning of the words on page 50 of the Seven and Four Valleys: This is a verse of the Quran which Bahá'u'lláh quotes; the word patron here means helper--in other words when God misleads a soul, he shall find no other helper. You would find Sale's translation and comments on the Quran helpful in getting at the story back of such verses as this one."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 18, 1946)D. Abdu'l-Bahá
"...The herald who proclaimed the written names is Abdu'l-Bahá Who announceth the names of those who deserve salvation and are firm in the Covenant of God...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 681)Page 486
"...Thou shalt, after thy departure, discover what We have revealed unto thee, and shalt find all thy doings recorded in the Book wherein the works of all them that dwell on earth, be they greater or less than the weight of an atom, are noted down...."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 226)1616. Chief Objectives of Abdu'l-Bahá'í Ministry
"As to the three aims which Shoghi Effendi has stated in his 'America and the Most Great Peace' to have been the chief objectives of Abdu'l-Bahá'í ministry, it should be pointed out that the first was the establishment of the Cause in America. The erection of the Bahá'í Temple in Ishqabad and the building on Mt. Carmel of a mausoleum marking the resting-place of The Báb were the two remaining ones."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 14, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 51, February 1934, p. 5)1617. Experiences with Abdu'l-Bahá
"It is very important that the Bahá'ís should accurately record their experiences with the Master and events in the Cause's progress for these things form data for future histories of the Cause. They have not, however, the authority of the revealed Word of the Tablets,..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 23, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)1618. Stories 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 also should not 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)1619. Day of the Covenant, Day of the Ascension
"The Day of the Covenant Nov. 26th, and the Day of the Ascension, Nov. 28th, anniversaries of the birth and the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá, must be observed by the friends coming together, but work is not prohibited. In other words the friends must regard observance of these two anniversaries as obligatory--but suspension of work is not to be regarded as obligatory."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, January 21, 1951: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 89)
1620. When the Interpreter of the Writings Says Nothing on a Subject Then the Individual is Free to Accept or Refute
"As regards what Mirza Abu'l Fazl has said concerning the Seven Religions of the past, Shoghi Effendi wishes to emphasize that what is truly authoritative are the words of the Master. In all such cases we should try and find out what He has saidPage 487
and abide by His words, even though they seem in conflict with the findings of modern scholars. If He does not say anything on the subject, then the individual is free to accept, or refute what scholars, such as Abu'l Fazl, say. Through the discussion of these (statements by scholars), the truth will ultimately be found, but at no time should their decision be considered as final."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 23, 1933: On Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism and Related Subjects, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, p. 1)1621. Praying to Abdu'l-Bahá
"...he wishes me to explain that although Abdu'l-Bahá'í station is not that of a Manifestation of God, nevertheless supplications may be addressed to Him. It is essential, however, that every believer should realize that while doing so he is directing his thoughts towards the Master as an intermediary between him and the Manifestation, and not as the Source of Divine Revelation and spiritual guidance. Provided this distinction is clearly established there can be no harm or objection in addressing prayers to Abdu'l-Bahá."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 1, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 89, February 1935, p. 4)1622. Through Him 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 the Guardian to an individual believer, January 31, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 222, August 1949, p. 2)1623. Photographs of Abdu'l-Bahá
"In connection with the selection of particular photographs of Abdu'l-Bahá for circulation among the friends, the Guardian strongly feels that no definite ruling should be laid down establishing the superiority or distinction of any particular photograph. The friends should be left quite free to use their individual independent judgement in this matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 15, 1940: Bahá'í News, No. 138, September 1940, p. 1)1624. Photograph Placed in a Dignified Position
"It is quite important that the Greatest Name or a picture of Abdu'l-Bahá be placed in a dignified position. They should not be placed on the floor nor, on the other hand, should they be held above the heads of the people in the photograph. It would seem that the proper position would be for them to be held about chest height."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States: Bahá'í News, No. 265, March 1953, p. 4)1625. Preservation of Relics
"Regarding the preservation of relics associated with Abdu'l-Bahá, the general principle should be that any object used by Him in person should be preserved forPage 488
posterity, whether in the Local or the National archives. It is the duty and responsibility of the Bahá'í Assemblies to ascertain carefully whether such objects are genuine or not, and to exercise the utmost care and caution in the matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 28, 1936: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 34)1626. Ages of the Faith and Epochs of the Ages
"The Guardian wishes me to explain that there is no relationship between the epochs of the Divine Plan, and the epochs of the Ages of the Faith.
"The Faith is divided into three Ages: the Heroic, the Formative, the Golden Age, as has been outlined in his writings. The Heroic Age closed with the Ascension of Abdu'l-Bahá. The Formative Age is divided into epochs. The first epoch lasted 25 years. We are now actually in the second epoch of the Formative Age. How long the Formative Age will last is not known--and there will probably be a number of epochs in it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1953)1627. The Divine Plan
"The Divine Plan of Abdu'l-Bahá is divided into epochs. The first Seven Year Plan constituted the first stage of the first epoch; the second Seven Year Plan constitutes the second stage;--while the 10 year Crusade will constitute the third stage of the first epoch of the Divine Plan. The first epoch of the Divine Plan will conclude with the conclusion of the 10 year Crusade."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 18, 1953)
1628. The Tablets of the Divine Plan Are the Charter for Teaching
"As you are no doubt aware, the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which were revealed by Abdu'l-Bahá during the First World War, are the Charter for the teaching of the Faith. All the teaching plans launched by the beloved Guardian, as well as those subsequently directed by the Universal House of Justice, are stages in the implementation of this master plan conceived by the Centre of the Covenant for the diffusion of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 29, 1977)1629. Apostolic and Heroic Age of the Faith
"...the Apostolic and Heroic Age of our Faith fell into three distinct epochs, of nine, of thirty-nine and of twenty-nine years duration, associated respectively with The Bábi Dispensation and the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and of Abdu'l-Bahá. This Primitive Age of the Bahá'í Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the American Bahá'ís, June 5, 1947)1630. The Application of the Term "Iron Age"
"The term 'Iron Age' suggests the age of labour, of construction; a relativelyPage 489
primitive epoch as opposed to a 'Golden Age', an age of fulfilment, fruition, attainment."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1947)E. Hidden Words
1631. The "Hidden Words"--A Collection of Gem-Like Utterances
"...the Hidden Words was originally designated the 'Hidden Book of Fatimih,' and was identified by its Author with the Book of that same name, believed by Shi'ah Islam to be in the possession of the promised Qa'im, and to consist of words of consolation addressed by the angel Gabriel, at God's command, to Fatimih, and dictated to the Imam Ali, for the sole purpose of comforting her in her hour of bitter anguish after the death of her illustrious Father. The significance of this dynamic spiritual leaven cast into the life of the world for the reorientation of the minds of men, the edification of their souls and the rectification of their conduct can best be judged by the description of its character given in the opening passage by its Author: 'This is that which hath descended from the Realm of Glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old....'"(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 140)
"With regard to your question concerning the meaning of the name 'Hidden Words'. It is, indeed, one of the most suggestive titles of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. These words are called hidden due to the fact that men have had neither the knowledge nor a true sense of appreciation of them before they were revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. It is through Him, Who is the sole Mouthpiece of God in this age, that spiritual realities and truths have been once more reinterpreted and revealed afresh to mankind. Bahá'u'lláh's Message is thus the only key to a true understanding of the mysteries that envelop man's spiritual life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 1, 1935)1633. The Hidden Words Have No Sequence
"The Hidden Words have no sequence. They are jewel-like thoughts cast out of the mind of the Manifestation of God to admonish and counsel men...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 22, 1949)
1634. Passages in which Bahá'u'lláh Refers to Man as "Son of Spirit"
"As to your second question concerning those passages in the 'Hidden Words' in which Bahá'u'lláh refers to man as 'Son of Spirit', 'Son of existence', 'Son of humanity' etc., the word 'son' used in this connection is a kind of collective noun, meaning mankind and has, therefore, no connotation of any sex differentiation between man and woman whatever."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 19, 1935)1635. Hidden Words (Arabic) No. 13 Explained
"Thou hast asked about the statement in the Hidden Words which reads, 'O Son of Spirit! Turn thy face so that thou mayest find Me within thee, Powerful, Mighty, and Supreme.' This is the statement to which His Holiness, the Christ, referred His Apostles in the Gospel, saying: 'The Father is in the Son and the Son is in you.'Page 490
"This is evident that, when the hearts are purified and through the divine education and heavenly teachings become the manifestators of infinite perfections, they are like clear mirrors and the Sun of Truth will reflect with might, power and omnipotence in such mirrors, and to such an extent that whatsoever is brought before them is illumined and ignited. This is a brief interpretation because of lack of time. Therefore, do thou reflect and ponder over it, so that the doors of significance may be opened before thine eyes."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extract from Tablet to Thornton Chase, June 1911: Star of the West, Vol. II, Nos. 7 and 8, pp. 11-12)F. Christ
"Regarding the date of the birth of Jesus Christ: Abdu'l-Bahá'í statement on this subject should be considered by the Bahá'ís as the standard, and as the basis of their calculation."
(From a letter dated July 10, 1939 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)1637. Christ, Virgin Birth of
"First regarding the birth of Jesus Christ. In light of what Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá have stated concerning this subject it is evident that Jesus came into this world through the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, and that consequently His birth was quite miraculous. This is an established fact, and the friends need not feel at all surprised, as the belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized."
(From a letter dated December 31, 1937 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)1638. Miracles Are Always Possible
"Again with regard to your question relative to the birth of Jesus: He wishes me to inform you that there is nothing further he can add to the explanation he gave you in his previous communication regarding this point. One thing, however, he wishes again to bring to your attention, namely that miracles are always possible, even though they do not constitute a regular channel whereby God reveals His power to mankind. To reject miracles on the ground that they imply a breach of the laws of nature is a very shallow, well-nigh a stupid argument, inasmuch as God Who is the Author of the universe can, in His Wisdom and Omnipotence, bring any change, no matter how temporary, in the operation of the laws which He Himself has created.
"The Teachings do not tell us of any miraculous birth besides that of Jesus."
(From a letter dated February 27, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1639. Bahá'í Teachings in Agreement with Doctrines of Catholic Church Concerning the Virgin Birth
"With regard to your question concerning the Virgin Birth of Jesus: On this point, as on several others, the Bahá'í Teachings are in full agreement with the doctrines of the Catholic Church. In the 'Kitáb-i-Iqan' (Book of Certitude) p. 56, and in a few other Tablets still unpublished, Bahá'u'lláh confirms, however indirectly, the Catholic conception of the Virgin Birth. Also Abdu'l-Bahá in the 'SomePage 491
Answered Questions', Chap. XII, p. 73, explicitly states that 'Christ found existence through the Spirit of God' which statement necessarily implies, when viewed in the light of the text, that Jesus was not the son of Joseph."
(From a letter dated October 14, 1945 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)
1640. Christ's Brothers and Sisters Were Born in the Natural Way
"We believe that Christ only was conceived immaculately. His brothers and sisters would have been born in the natural way and conceived naturally."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to Dr. Shook, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)1641. High Station of Mary--False Accusations
"It would be sacrilege for a Bahá'í to believe that the parents of Jesus were illegally married and that the latter was consequently of an illegal union. Such a possibility cannot be even conceived by a believer who recognizes the high station of Mary and the Divine Prophethood of Jesus Christ. It is this same false accusation which the people of His Day attributed to Mary that Bahá'u'lláh indirectly repudiated in the Iqan. The only alternative therefore is to admit that the birth of Jesus has been miraculous. The operation of miracles is not necessarily irrational or illogical. It does by no means constitute a limitation of the Omnipotence of God. The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God's power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom. Mystery is therefore an inseparable part of true religion, and as such, should be recognized by the believers."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 1, 1935: Canadian Bahá'í News, February 1968, p. 11)1642. "Dove" Simply a Metaphor
"...The story about the dove is simply a metaphor. No dove came down. Amongst the people, John the Baptist felt that the Holy Spirit was in Christ. The Holy Spirit was always with Christ. He knew about His mission from early childhood."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. XIV, p. 274)
1643. The Bahá'í Faith Recognizes the Divine Origin of Christianity and the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary
"As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá'u'lláh as the 'Spirit of God,' is proclaimed as the One Who 'appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost,' and is even extolled as the Essence of the Spirit. His motherPage 492
is described as 'that veiled and immortal, that most beauteous countenance,' and the station of her Son eulogized as a 'station which hath been exalted above the imaginings of all that dwell on earth', whilst Peter is recognized as one whom God has caused 'the mysteries of wisdom and of utterance to flow out of his mouth'...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Promised Day is Come, pp. 109-110)
1644. Regarding the Station of Jesus--All Prophets Can Be Regarded as Sons of God for They All Reflect His Light
"As regards your questions concerning the station of Jesus Christ, and His return as explained in the Gospel. It is true that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God, but this, as explained by Bahá'u'lláh in the Iqan, does not indicate any physical relationship whatever. Its meaning is entirely spiritual, and points out to the close relationship existing between Him and the Almighty God. Nor does it necessarily indicate any inherent superiority in the station of Jesus over other Prophets and Messengers. As far as their spiritual nature is concerned all Prophets can be regarded as Sons of God, as they all reflect His light, though not in an equal measure, and this difference in reflection is due to the conditions and circumstances under which they appear."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937)
1645. According to the Gospel Jesus Gave Only Two Material Ordinances
"...in regard to the material ordinances and ceremonies instituted by Jesus, the Guardian would suggest that you should point out that, only so far as it is recorded in the Gospel, Jesus gave two material ordinances only. Our knowledge of Jesus' life and teachings is rather fragmentary and so it would be more correct if you specify that these ordinances are only those recorded in the Gospel, and they may not be the only ones. There may be other teachings and ordinances too, of which no record is left."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 12, 1933)
1646. The Crucifixion as Recorded in the New Testament is Correct
"...Though we cannot imagine exactly what the Manifestations of the remote past were like, we can be sure of two things: They must have been able to reach their fellow-men in a normal manner--as Bahá'u'lláh reached His generation, and They were sent from God and thus Divine Beings. The crucifixion as recounted in the New Testament is correct. The meaning of the Quranic version is that the spirit of Christ was not crucified. There is no conflict between the two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)
1647. The Father Himself Has Come and Fulfilled the Mission of Christ the Son
"A Catholic background is an excellent introduction to the Faith, and one that Mrs. ... should feel gratified for having had. Though doctrines of the church today are no longer needed--as the Father Himself has come, and thus fulfilled the mission of Christ the Son--yet the foundation they lay of spiritual discipline, and their emphasis on spiritual values and adherence to moral laws, is very important and very close to our own beliefs."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two believers, August 17, 1941)Page 493
1648. Bahá'ís Do Not Believe in a Bodily Resurrection After the Crucifixion
"...We do not believe that there was a bodily resurrection after the Crucifixion of Christ, but that there was a time after His Ascension when His disciples perceived spiritually His true greatness and realized He was eternal in being. This is what has been reported symbolically in the New Testament and been misunderstood. His eating with His disciples after the resurrection is the same thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)
1649. Bahá'ís Should Try to Find a Spiritual Meaning to the So-Called Miraculous Events Recorded in the Gospel
"Concerning the resurrection of Christ, he wishes to call your attention to the fact that in this as well as in practically all the so-called miraculous events recorded in the Gospel we should, as Bahá'ís, seek to find a spiritual meaning and to entirely discard the physical interpretation attached to them by many of the Christian sects. The resurrection of Christ was, indeed, not physical but essentially spiritual, and is symbolic of the truth that the reality of man is to be found not in his physical constitution, but in his soul. A careful perusal of the 'Iqan' and of the 'Some Answered Questions' makes this indubitably clear."
(From a letter written to an individual believer on behalf of the Guardian, August 14, 1934)
1650. Jesus Christ Established Beyond a Doubt the Primacy of Peter+F1
"Now with regard to your questions. First concerning the statement of Jesus Christ 'Thou art Peter and upon this rock etc.'; this saying of Jesus establishes beyond any doubt the primacy of Peter and also the principle of succession, but is not explicit enough regarding the nature and functioning of the Church itself. The Catholics have read too much into that statement, and derived from it certain conclusions which are quite unjustifiable."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 7, 1938)
1651. Regarding the Signs that Would Herald the Advent of the New Manifestation
"Now as regards the signs that would herald the advent of the new Manifestation. The Guardian wishes you to read over very carefully Bahá'u'lláh's explanation as recorded in the 'Iqan'. There it is made clear that what is meant by the appearance of the Son of God after the calamitous events preceding His coming is the revelation of His full glory and its recognition and acceptance by the peoples of the world, and not his physical appearance. For Bahá'u'lláh, Whose advent marks the return of the Son in the Glory of the Father, has already appeared, and the signs predicted in the Gospel have not yet fully been realized. Their complete fulfilment, however, would mark the beginning of the recognition of His full station by the peoples of the world. Then and only then will His appearance be made completely manifest."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1937)1652. The Quran Concerning Christ
"Regarding the passage you enclosed about the Quran: In reality there is no contradiction at all; when the Quran denies Christ is the Son of God it is not refuting His Words but the false interpretation of them by the Christians who read___________________
into them a relationship of an almost corporeal nature, whereas Almighty God has no parents or offspring. What is meant by Christ, is His spirit's relation to the Infinite Spirit, and this the Quran does not deny. It is in a sense attributable--this kind of Sonship--to all the Prophets."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 19, 1945)
1653. The Reformation Was a Challenge to Man-Made Organization of the Church
"What contribution the Reformation did really make was to seriously challenge, and partly undermine, the edifice which the Fathers of the Church had themselves reared, and to discard and demonstrate the purely human origin of the elaborate doctrines, ceremonies and institutions which they had devised. The Reformation was a right challenge to the man-made organization of the Church, and as such was a step in advance. In its origins, it was a reflection of the new spirit which Islam had released, and a God-sent punishment to those who had refused to embrace its truth."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)
1654. The Period of Turmoil which Accompanies a New Manifestation
"The passage in the Gospel of Matthew 19:30 is a reference to the period of turmoil that accompanies the appearance of a new Manifestation, at which time the humble and the lowly who accept the new Revelation will be raised and the outwardly high, but inwardly corrupt and low, will be abased and degraded."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)1655. Ecclesiastics 12:6--Man's Neglect of God
"The passage in Ecclesiastics 12:6 should be interpreted allegorically, and not be taken in its literal meaning. It has reference to the effect of man's neglect of God his creator."(Ibid.)
"In the book of Genesis 1:26--This passage simply means that there is a spark of divinity in man, and not that man is co-equal with the Manifestation of God. Again the friends should avoid literal interpretations of The Bible."(Ibid.)
"The passage in the Gospel of St. John 14:26 is a reference to the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, through Whose coming this prophecy was fulfilled."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)
1658. We Do Not Believe in Genesis Literally--The World Was Not Created in Seven Days
"We Bahá'ís do not believe in Genesis literally. We know this world was not created in seven days, or six, or eight, but evolved gradually over a period of millions of years, as science has proved. As to where the idea of a seven-day week originated, it is certainly very ancient and you should refer to scholars for an answer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)Page 495
1659. The Years of Noah Are Not Years as We Count Them and We Cannot Substantiate Stories of the Old Testament
"The years of Noah are not years as we count them, and as our teachings do not state that this reference to years means His dispensation, we cannot interpret it this way.
"We have no way of substantiating the stories of the Old Testament other than references to them in our teachings, so we cannot say exactly what happened at the battle of Jericho."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1950)
1660. When Abdu'l-Bahá States that We Believe What is in The Bible, He Means in Substance
"When Abdu'l-Bahá states we believe what is in The Bible, He means in substance. Not that we believe every word of it to be taken literally or that every word is the authentic saying of the Prophet."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer and cited on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 13, 1986 in a letter to a believer)G. Islam
"There is a disagreement among Oriental scholars relative to the exact date of the birth of Muhammad. You should refer to authorities on the subject, such as Sale, whose translation of the Quran has become almost classical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 162, p. 5, April 1943)1662. Biblical References to Muhammad and Ali
"References in The Bible to 'Mt. Paran' and 'Paraclete' refer to Muhammad's Revelation: Deuteronomy 33:2, Genesis 21:21, Numbers 12:16, Numbers 13:3. Genesis 17:20 refers to the twelve Imams and in the Revelation of St. John, chapter 11, where it mentions two witnesses, it refers to Muhammad and Ali.
"The figures 1290 date from the declaration of Muhammad, ten years before His flight to Medina."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941)1663. Islam
"Islam attained a very high spiritual state, but western scholars are prone to judging it by Christian standards. One cannot call one world Faith superior to another, as they all come from God; they are progressive, each suited to certain needs of the times."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, p. 3, August 1948)Page 496
1664. Muhammad's Teachings Heightened and Guarded the Cause of Human Development
"Shoghi Effendi hopes that your lectures will not only serve to deepen the knowledge of the believers in the doctrines and culture of Islam, but will set their hearts afire with the love of everything that vitally pertains to Muhammad and His Faith.
"There is so much misunderstanding about Islam in the West in general that you have to dispel. Your task is rather difficult and requires a good deal of erudition. Your chief task is to acquaint the friends with the pure teachings of the Prophet as recorded in the Quran, and then to point out how these teachings have, throughout succeeding ages, influenced nay guided the course of human development. In other words you have to show the position and significance of Islam in the history of civilization.
"The Bahá'í view on that subject is that the Dispensation of Muhammad, like all other Divine Dispensations, has been fore-ordained, and that as such forms an integral part of the Divine plan for the spiritual, moral and social, development of mankind. It is not an isolated religious phenomenon, but is closely and historically related to the Dispensation of Christ, and those of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. It was intended by God to succeed Christianity, and it was therefore the duty of the Christians to accept it as firmly as they had adhered to the religion of Christ.
"You should also cautiously emphasize the truth that due to the historical order of its appearance, and also because of the obviously more advanced character of its teachings, Islam constitutes a fuller revelation of God's purpose for mankind. The so-called Christian civilization of which the Renaissance is one of the most striking manifestations is essentially Muslim in its origins and foundations. When medieval Europe was plunged in darkest barbarism, the Arabs regenerated and transformed by the spirit released by the religion of Muhammad were busily engaged in establishing a civilization the like of which their contemporary Christians in Europe had never witnessed before. It was eventually through Arabs that civilization was introduced to the West. It was through them that the philosophy, science and culture which the old Greeks had developed found their way to Europe. The Arabs were the ablest translators, and linguists of their age, and it is thanks to them that the writings of such well-known thinkers as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were made available to the Westerners. It is wholly unfair to attribute the efflorescence of European culture during the Renaissance period to the influence of Christianity. It was mainly the product of the forces released by the Muhammadan Dispensation.
"From the standpoint of institutionalism Islam far surpasses true Christianity as we know it in the Gospels. There are infinitely more laws and institutions in the Quran than in the Gospel. While the latter's emphasis is mainly, not to say wholly, on individual and personal conduct, the Quran stresses the importance of society. This social emphasis acquires added importance and significance in the Bahá'í Revelation. When carefully and impartially compared, the Quran marks a definite advancement on the Gospel, from the standpoint of spiritual and humanitarian progress.Page 497
"The truth is that Western historians have for many centuries distorted the facts to suit their religious and ancestral prejudices. The Bahá'ís should try to study history anew, and to base all their investigations first and foremost on the written Scriptures of Islam and Christianity."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 27, 1936)
1665. Clarification of Certain Issues Regarding Islam, the Imam Husayn, the Imamate, etc.
"Ali's appointment was clear to the Khalifs, who actually disregarded the Prophet's oral statements.
"The usurpation occurred immediately after the Prophet's death.
"Ali did not feel unqualified, but wished to avoid schism, which, unfortunately, could not be prevented.
"The schisms that have afflicted the religions preceding the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh establish its distinction from all previous Revelations, and single it out among all other Dispensations, as stated by Abdu'l-Bahá.
"The guidance vouchsafed to the Imams regarding the laws and institutions of Islam was absolute and unqualified. Their infallibility was derived directly from the Manifestation.
"The Báb's descent from the Imam Husayn is no doubt a proof of the validity of the Imamate. According to Nabil the dream The Báb had made him first conscious of His Revelation.
"The precedence of the name Husayn over Ali does establish the greatness of Imam Husayn.
"Imam Husayn has, as attested by the Iqan, been endowed with special grace and power among the Imams, hence the mystical reference to Bahá'u'lláh as the return of Imam Husayn, meaning the Revelation in Bahá'u'lláh of those attributes with which Imam Husayn had been specifically endowed.
"Joseph was one of the 'Sent Ones' of the Quran, meaning a Manifestation of God.
"The friends should uphold Islam as a revealed Religion in teaching the Cause but need not make, at present, any particular attempt to teach it solely and directly to non-Bahá'ís at this time.
"The mission of the American Bahá'ís is, no doubt, to eventually establish the truth of Islam in the West.
"The spirit of Islam, no doubt, was the living germ of modern Civilization; which derived its impetus from the Islamic culture in the Middle Ages, a culture that was the fruit of the Faith of Muhammad."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 30, 1941)1666. How to Study the Quran
"It is certainly most difficult to thoroughly grasp all the Surihs of the Quran, as it requires a detailed knowledge of the social, religious and historical background of Arabia at the time of the appearance of the Prophet. The believers cannot possibly hope, therefore, to understand the Surihs after the first or even second or third reading. They have to study them again and again, ponder over their meaning, with the help of certain commentaries, and explanatory notes as found, for instance in the admirable translation made by Sale, endeavor to acquire as clear and correct understanding of their meaningPage 498
and import as possible. This is naturally a slow process, but future generations of believers will certainly come to grasp it. For the present, the Guardian agrees, that it would be easier and more helpful to study the book according to subjects, and not verse by verse and also in the light of The Báb's, Bahá'u'lláh's, and Abdu'l-Bahá'í interpretations which throw such floods of light on the whole of the Quran."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 22, 1939: Bahá'í News, No. 134, pp. 2-3, March 1940)1667. Meaning of "Jin" or "Genii"
"Regarding your question as to the meaning of Jin or Genii referred to in the Quran, these are not beings or creatures that are actually living, but are symbolic references to the power of men of evil and may be likened to evil spirits. But the point to bear in mind is that these have no positive existence of any kind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 26, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)1668. Caliphate and Imamate
"Both Caliphate and Imamate means successorship. Either term could be used."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
1669. Muhammad Says that the Jews Did Not Crucify Christ
"Regarding your question relative to Surih 4, 156 of the 'Quran' in which Muhammad says that the Jews did not crucify Jesus, the Christ, but one like Him; what is meant by this passage is that although the Jews succeeded in destroying the physical body of Jesus, yet they were impotent to destroy the divine reality in Him."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 19, 1938)
1670. Muhammadanism is a Fuller Revelation Than Any One Preceding It
"...Muhammadanism is not only the last of the world religions, but a fuller Revelation than any one preceding it. The Quran is not only more authoritative than any previous religious gospel, but it contains also much more ordinances, teachings and precepts, which taken together constitute a fuller Revelation of God's purpose and law to mankind than Christianity, Judaism or any other previous Dispensation. This view is in complete accord with the Bahá'í philosophy of progressive revelation, and should be thoroughly accepted and taught by every loyal Christian Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 12, 1933)
1671. Muhammad's Teachings Fostered the National State
"Regarding your questions: It is not the City State, but the National State which Muhammad's teachings fostered. Christ had nothing to do with the City State concept in any direct manner."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 22, 1949)
1672. The Plurality of Wives in Muslim Countries Does Not Conform with the Teachings of Muhammad
"Concerning the question of plurality of wives among the Muslims: This practicePage 499
current in all Islamic countries does not conform with the explicit teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. For the Quran, while permitting the marriage of more than one wife, positively states that this is conditioned upon absolute justice. And since absolute justice is impossible to enforce, it follows, therefore, that polygamy cannot and should not be practised. The Quran, therefore, enjoins monogamy and not polygamy as has hitherto been understood."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 29, 1939)1673. Imam Husayn
"The names of those cited in Bahá'u'lláh's prayer in the Dispensation are quite correct as you have them.
"The Prophets 'regarded as One and the same person' include the Lesser Prophets as well, and not merely Those Who bring a 'Book'. The station is different, but they are Prophets and Their nature thus different from that of ours.
"In the prayer mentioned above Bahá'u'lláh identifies Himself with Imam Husayn. This does not make him a Prophet, but his position was very unique, and we know Bahá'u'lláh claims to be the 'return' of the Imam Husayn. He, in other words, identifies His Spirit with these Holy Souls gone before; that does not, of course, make Him in any way their reincarnation. Nor does it mean all of them were Prophets.
"Your constant and devoted Bahá'í services are deeply valued by the Guardian, you may be sure, and he will pray in the Holy Shrines that your labours may be blessed and your power to confirm the souls increased."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 8, 1949)H. Israel
"The word Israel, used throughout The Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people, and not to the chosen ones of this day."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939)1675. Position of Jerusalem
"...whereas Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Christendom it is not the administrative centre of either the Church of Rome or any other Christian denomination. Likewise, although it is regarded by Moslems as the spot where one of its most sacred shrines is situated, the Holy Sites of the Muhammadan Faith and the centre of its pilgrimages are to be found in Arabia, not in Palestine. The Jews alone offer somewhat of a parallel to the attachment which the Bahá'ís have for this country inasmuch as Jerusalem holds the remains of their Holy Temple and was the seat of both the religious and political institutions associated with their past history. But even their case differs in one respect from that of the Bahá'ís, for it is in the soil of Palestine that the three Central Figures of our religion are buried, and it is not only the centre of Bahá'í pilgrimages from all over the world but also the permanent seat of our Administrative Order...."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Chairman of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, July 14, 1947: Bahá'í News, No. 199, September 1947, p. 3)Page 500
"You can see that from all the parts of the world tribes of Jews are coming to the Holy Land; they live in villages and lands which they make their own, and day by day they are increasing to such an extent, that all Palestine will become their home."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, p. 66, 1985 ed.)1677. Gathering of Israel
"You have asked Me a question with regard to the gathering of the children of Israel in Jerusalem in accordance with the prophecy.
"Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies, is a revered Temple, a sublime name, for it is the City of God... The gathering of Israel at Jerusalem means, therefore, and prophesies, that Israel as a whole is gathering beneath the banner of God and will enter the Kingdom of the Ancient of Days. For the celestial Jerusalem, which has as its center the Holy of Holies, is a City of the Kingdom, a Divine City. The East and West are but a small corner of that City.
"Moreover, materially as well (as spiritually), the Israelites will gather in the Holy Land. This is irrefutable prophecy, for the ignominy which Israel has suffered for well-nigh twenty-five hundred years will now be changed into eternal glory, and in the eyes of all, the Jewish people will become glorified to such an extent as to draw the jealousy of its enemies and the envy of its friends."
(According to information received by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States several years ago this Tablet was revealed by the Master in the year 1897 to a Jewish Community in the Orient: Bahá'í News, No. 250, December 1951, p. 5)1678. Journey of the Israelites
"It was both spiritual and physical. They journeyed to the Promised Land and geography and history both prove that this was a physical journey.
"Moses viewed the Promised Land but died before it was reached, having given over his charge to Joshua.
"The crossing of the Red Sea has a spiritual meaning. It was a spiritual journey, through and above the sea of corruption and iniquity of the Pharaoh and his people, or army. By the help of God through Moses, the Israelites were able to cross this sea safely and reach the Promised Land (spiritual state) while Pharaoh and his people were drowned in their own corruption.
"The Egyptian History recorded even trifling events. Had such a wonderful thing happened as the parting of the physical sea it would also have been recorded."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 45, 1979 ed.)1679. Erroneous Belief
"The belief, according to which Judah represents the Jews and Israel the Chosen people, is erroneous."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)1680. Ten Tribes of Israel
"The Teachings throw no light on the question as to what became of the ten tribes of Israel, or whether they were absorbed into some other nation or not."(Ibid.)
1681. The Jews Have a Great Spiritual Destiny and Will Enter the Faith in Large Groups
"Regarding your question concerning the future of the Jews: They certainly have, as explicitly stated by the Master, a great spiritual destiny, and will gradually enter the Faith in large groups."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 13, 1937)
1682. Greek Philosophers Visited Israel's Scholars and Religious Leaders
"It is furthermore a matter of record in numerous historical works that the philosophers of Greece such as Pythagoras acquired the major part of their philosophy, both divine and material, from the disciples of Solomon. And Socrates after having eagerly journeyed to meet with some of Israel's most illustrious scholars and divines, on his return to Greece established the concept of the oneness of God and the continuing life of the human soul after it has put off its elemental dust. Ultimately, the ignorant among the Greeks denounced this man who had fathomed the inmost mysteries of wisdom, and rose up to take his life; and then the populace forced the hand of their ruler, and in council assembled they caused Socrates to drink from the poisoned cup."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 77, 1975 ed.)I. Prophets and Prophecies of Various Religions
1683. Bahá'u'lláh is the Culmination of the Adamic Cycle and the Inaugurator of the Bahá'í Cycle
"The Adamic Cycle inaugurated 6000 years ago by the Manifestation of God called Adam is only one of the many bygone cycles. Bahá'u'lláh, as you say, is the culmination of the Adamic Cycle. He is also the Inaugurator of the Bahá'í Cycle.
"Obviously there must have been Prophets and Manifestations in the ages preceding the Adamic Cycle. This is supported by the following statement revealed by Bahá'u'lláh.
'And now regarding thy question, "How is it that no records are to be found concerning the Prophets that have preceded Adam, the Father of Mankind, or of the Kings that lived in the days of those Prophets?" Know thou that the absence of any reference to them is no proof that they did not actually exist. That no records concerning them are now available, should be attributed to their extreme remoteness, as well as to the vast changes which the earth hath undergone since their time.'
"With regard to your question about the creation story, we are asked to quote the following from an unpublished Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá.
'Know ye that the Torah is that which was revealed in the Tablets to Moses, may peace be upon Him, or that to which He was bidden. But the stories are historical narratives and were written after Moses, may peace be upon Him.'
"Concerning the story of Adam and Eve, Abdu'l-Bahá, in 'Some Answered Questions', explains that it cannot be taken literally. You are asked to refer to pages 122-126 of this book for the symbolic meaning of the story."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 13, 1986)Page 502
"The Buddha was a Manifestation of God, like Christ, but His followers do not possess His authentic writings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, December 26, 1941: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, p. 41)
1685. Confucius Was Not a Prophet But a Great Reformer
"Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer."(Ibid.)
"As regards the question concerning prophecies of Daniel in 'Some Answered Questions'... The seventy weeks comes right to the martyrdom of Christ. The sixty-nine weeks must be understood to mean that after 69 weeks He was crucified, which, as the Master points out, brings us to the last week, the week between 69 and 70, when He ascended."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)1687. King David
"The David referred to by The Báb, and stated by Him to have preceded Moses, is not the same one as King David, the father of King Solomon, who lived in the tenth century B.C. and who obviously lived many years, and indeed many centuries after Moses. Abdu'l-Bahá has explained this in a Tablet."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 17, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 76-77)1688. Genesis 22:9--Sacrifice of Ishmael
"As to the question raised by the Racine Assembly in connection with Bahá'u'lláh's statement in the 'Gleanings' concerning the sacrifice of Ishmael: Although this statement does not agree with that made in The Bible, Genesis 22:9, the friends should unhesitatingly, and for reasons that are only too obvious, give precedence to the sayings of Bahá'u'lláh which, it should be pointed out, are fully corroborated by the Quran, which book is more authentic than The Bible including both the New and the Old Testaments. The Bible is not wholly authentic, and in this respect is not to be compared with the Quran, and should be wholly subordinated to the authentic writings of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 28, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 103, p. 1, October 1936)1689. Lot
"Genesis XIX, 29-38--the text makes it quite clear that Lot was not responsible for the action committed by His two daughters, as they gave him wine and made him drunk."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 201)1690. Zoroaster--Was Not Abraham
"Zoroaster was not Abraham; the Muslims, some of them, contend that theyPage 503
were the same, but we believe they were two distinct Prophets. There is a misunderstanding in the reference in 'Bahá'í Proofs' to this matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 41)1691. Beginning of Zoroastrian Era
"1. Regarding the beginning of the Zoroastrian era, in one of His Tablets Abdu'l-Bahá states that Zoroaster lived about 750 years after Moses; in a letter to an individual believer the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf: 'Zoroaster lived about a thousand years before Christ. There is no exact date in the teachings regarding the beginning of His Dispensation.'
"2. Concerning your second question referring to a purported Tablet of The Báb stating that there were thirty Zoroasters, the Research Department states that no text from The Báb has been found on this subject. However, Mirza Abu'l-Fazal has stated in his writings that there appeared in Iran many prophets prior to the Dispensation of Zoroaster."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, May 13, 1979, to Mrs. Gayle Woolson)1692. Hindu Religion
"...The origins of this and many other religions that abound in India are not quite known to us, and even the Orientalists and the students of religions are not in complete accord about the results of their investigations in that field. The Bahá'í writings also do not refer specifically to any of these forms of religion current in India. So, the Guardian feels it impossible to give you any definite and detailed information on that subject. He would urge you, however, to carry on your studies in that field, although its immensity is well-nigh bewildering, with the view of bringing the Message to the Hindus...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 198)1693. Sabeanism
"With reference to your question concerning the Sabean and Hindu religions: There is nothing in the Teachings that could help us in ascertaining which one of these two Faiths is older. Neither history seems to be able to provide a definite answer to this question. The records concerning the origin of these religions are not sufficiently detailed and reliable to offer any conclusive evidence on this point."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 9, 1940: Extracts from the Guardian's letters on Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism and Related Subjects, op. cit.)1694. Lao-Tse and the Sabeans
"Regarding Lao-Tse: The Bahá'ís do not consider him a prophet, or even a secondary prophet or messenger, unlike Buddha or Zoroaster, both of whom were divinely-appointed and fully independent Manifestations of God.
"As to the religion of the Sabeans very little is known about the origins of this religion, though we Bahá'ís are certain of one thing, that the founder of it has been a divinely-sent Messenger. The country where Sabeanism became widespread andPage 504
flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 10, 1939)
1695. There Were No Followers of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh from the Far East During Their Ministry
"As there were no followers of The Báb or Bahá'u'lláh derived from the religions of the Far East in Their days, this may be the reason that they did not address any Tablets directly to these people. Also we must remember that every religion springs from some root, and just as Christianity sprang from Judaism, our own religion sprang from Islam, and that is why so many of the teachings deduct their proofs from Islam."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 5, 1957)
"The teachings bear no reference to any genealogical tie between the Prophets of the Near and Far East."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1941)
1696. Hinduism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism (Following are some quotations taken from a compilation of extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian on these and related subjects, enclosed with a letter to an individual believer on November 30, 1980 from the Universal House of Justice)
Lesser Prophets: "Regarding your questions: We cannot possibly add names of people we (or anyone else) think might be Lesser Prophets to those found in the Quran, The Bible and our own Scriptures. For only these can we consider authentic Books."(March 13, 1950, to an individual believer)
Asiatic Prophets: "Regarding your questions: The only reason there is not more mention of the Asiatic prophets is because their names seem to be lost in the mists of ancient history. Buddha is mentioned and Zoroaster in our scriptures--both non-Jewish prophets or non-semitic prophets. We are taught there always have been Manifestations of God, but we do not have any record of their names."(October 4, 1950, to an individual believer)
Scriptures of Buddha and Krishna: "We cannot be sure of the authenticity of the scriptures of Buddha and Krishna, so we certainly cannot draw any conclusions about virgin births mentioned in them. There is no reference to this subject in our teachings, so the Guardian cannot pronounce an opinion.
"As our teachings do not state Zoroaster is the connecting link between the Euphrates and the Prophets in India, we cannot assert this.
"Abraham and Krishna are two separate individuals, with no connection that we know of.
"We know no more about the prophets mentioned in the Iqan than what Bahá'u'lláh states in that Book."(November 25, 1950, to an individual believer)
Brahma and Krishna: "Your question concerning Brahma and Krishna: Such matters, as no reference occurs to them in the Teachings, are left for students of history and religion to resolve and clarify."(April 14, 1941, to an individual believer)
Actual Dates of Prophets of Adamic Cycle Not Given: "There are no dates in our teachings regarding the actual dates of the Prophets of the Adamic Cycle, so we cannotPage 505
give any. Tentatively we can accept what historians may consider accurate. Naturally the dates referring to Muhammad, The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh we are sure of."(November 25, 1950, to an individual believer)
"Existence is of two kinds: One is the existence of God which is beyond the comprehension of man. He, the invisible, the lofty and the incomprehensible, is preceded by no cause but rather is the originator of the Cause of Causes. He, the Ancient, has had no beginning and is the All-Independent. The second kind of existence is the human existence. It is a common existence, comprehensible to the human mind, is not ancient, is dependent and has a cause to it. The mortal substance does not become eternal and vice-versa; the human kind does not become a Creator and vice-versa. The transformation of the innate substance is impossible.
"In the world of existence, that which is comprehensible, is in three stages of mortality: the first stage is the mineral world, next the vegetable world, and in the latter the mineral world does exist but has a distinctive feature which is the vegetable characteristic. Likewise, in the animal world, the mineral and vegetable characteristics are present and in addition the characteristics of the animal world are to be found: it has the faculties of hearing and of sight. In the human world the characteristics of the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds are found and in addition those of the human kind are existing. That is the intellectual characteristic, which discovers the realities of things and comprehends the all-important facts.
"Man, therefore, on the plane of the contingent beings is the most perfect being. By man is meant the perfect individual, who is like unto a mirror in which the divine perfections are manifested and reflected. But the sun does not condescend from the height of its sanctity to enter into the mirror, but when the latter is purified and turned towards the Sun of Truth, the perfections of this Sun, consisting of light and heat, are reflected and manifested in that mirror. These souls are the Divine Manifestations of God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Translated by Shoghi Rabbani, July 20, 1919: Star of the West, Vol. XI, No. 10, p. 159)
1698. Manifestations Had Some Consciousness of Their Station
"The Manifestations no doubt had some consciousness of Their station, but what the nature of that consciousness was we do not know."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)1699. The Souls of the Prophets Are Pre-Existent
"The soul or spirit of the individual comes into being with the conception of his physical body.
"The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being.
"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.
"We find God only through the Intermediary of His Prophet. We see the Perfection of God in His Prophets. Time and space are physical things; God the Creator isPage 506
not in a 'place' as we conceive of place in physical terms. God is the Infinite Essence, the Creator. We cannot picture Him or His state; if we did, we would be His equals, not His Creatures. God is never flesh, but mirrored in the attributes of His Prophets, we see His Divine characteristics and perfections.
"Shoghi Effendi advises you to study 'Some Answered Questions' and the 'Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh' which help you to grasp these questions."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)
"Regarding your question concerning the passage in 'Seven Valleys' referring to pre-existence. This in no way presupposes the existence of the individual soul before conception. The term has not been absolutely accurately translated, and what is meant is that man's soul is the repository of the ancient, Divine mysteries of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 5, 1948)1700. Hadrat--His Holiness
"In Persian it is impolite not to use the word Hadrat before the name of the Prophet, so that strictly speaking a proper translation should always have 'His Holiness Moses' etc. However, as this seems peculiar in English, and not in the best usage of our language, he feels it can be dispensed with. Pronouns referring to the Manifestation, or the Master, should, however, invariably be capitalized."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 8, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 216, p. 1, February 1949)1701. Fundamental Purpose of All Religions
"...the fundamental purpose of all religions--including our own--is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be overemphasized.
"He urges you not to allow yourself to be discouraged, as all these temporary conditions will pass away as the Faith grows, but to concentrate on the constructive work of teaching and exemplifying the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 6, 1946: Bahá'í Youth, p. 8)1702. Fundamentals of Religions
"The fundamentals of all divinely-instituted religions cannot be rigidly classified. No definite or exhaustive list of them can be set up, as we have no means of ascertaining that what we consider to be those fundamentals are common to all such religions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)1703. Cosmic Religion
"Regarding the question you have asked in connection with a passage in Dr. Einstein's 'Cosmic Religion': According to the Bahá'í conception there is and can be no incompatibility between the idea of causal law and that of an omnipotent and omniscient God, Who, if He deems it fit, may at times interfere with the normal sequence of events in the world, and thus retard or altogether stop the operation of certain laws, whether in the physical universe, or in any other worlds of nature and man.
"The other statement reported to have been made by Dr. Einstein to the effectPage 507
that the ethical behavior of man 'requires no support from religion' is incompatible with the Bahá'í viewpoint which emphatically stresses the fact that no sound ethics can exist and become effective unless based on revealed religion. To dissociate ethics from religion is to render the former not only void of any firm foundation but without the necessary driving power."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)1704. Core of Religious Faith
"For the core of religious faith is that mystical feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 8, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 102, August 1936, p. 2)1705. Oneness of Mankind Cornerstone of Teachings
"With reference to your question as to the meaning of the passage 'he who loves his kind', the statement of Bahá'u'lláh does not refer to any special race or class of people. Rather it includes the entire human race, irrespective of any class, creed or colour. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is not a particularistic appeal to a group of people. It is a Universal Message, an all-inclusive appeal. His principle of the Oneness of Mankind is worldwide in its spirit, in its application, and covers the entire field of human relationships.
"It is most essential that the believers should be quite clear on this point as the principle of the oneness of humanity is the corner-stone of all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, and should be presented as such, without the least hesitation, by the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 11, 1937, cited in a letter by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1968)
1706. Primary Importance of the Cause Among Existing Religions
"The primary importance of the Cause among the existing religions of the world is that, whereas the others have no coherent program upon which they are united, the Movement is rich with the very spirit and teachings the world needs for solving its present international problems...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 14, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 59, February 1932, p. 2)
1707. Meaning of "Mysterious Power that Creates New Spiritual Worlds"
"You inquired regarding the meaning of the sentence, 'The mysterious power that creates new spiritual worlds'. This, Shoghi Effendi believes, refers to the transcendental Essence of God Who is the Creator of this world and the worlds to come; for Bahá'u'lláh says, 'God's worlds are infinite'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Spiritual Assembly of Eliot, Maine, March 27, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 73, May 1933, p. 2)Page 508
1708. Meaning of Personal God: Value of Religion Please refer to No. 1574
1709. Religion Should Change Our Acts as Well as Our Thoughts
"...The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His teachings, we find we are growing even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)1710. World Religion Day, Purpose of
"Your letter of September 30, with the suggestion that 'there should be one day in the year in which all of the religions should agree' is a happy thought, and one which persons of good will throughout the world might well hail. However, this is not the underlying concept of World Religion Day, which is a celebration of the need for and the coming of a world religion for mankind, the Bahá'í Faith itself. Although there have been many ways of expressing the meaning of this celebration in Bahá'í communities in the United States, the Day was not meant primarily to provide a platform for all religions and their emergent ecumenical ideas. In practice, there is no harm in the Bahá'í communities' inviting the persons of other religions to share their platforms on this Day, providing the universality of the Bahá'í Faith as the fulfillment of the hopes of mankind for a universal religion are clearly brought forth."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Chicago, October 22, 1968)1711. Significance of Remains of the Prophets
"...There is no special physical significance in the remains of the Prophets or relics of Their Persons. But there is a profound spiritual significance in the sense that Their dust was the physical mirror of the greatness of God. In other words we know God through His Prophets, Who have bodies, these bodies--Their very dust--are precious through association. It is natural for people to be touched by a lock of hair or some token of one they loved; how much more should we treasure and feel moved by a relic of the Beloved of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 13, 1944: Bahá'í News, No. 210)1712. The Atoms of the Prophets Are Just Atoms
"The reflection of the qualities of holy souls can take place at any time; it is not confined to the period when the Manifestation is on this Earth.
"The atoms of the Prophets are just atoms, like all others, but the association of this great spiritual power with them leaves in the place They are laid to rest a spiritual atmosphere, if one can use this expression. They are, no doubt, endowed with a tremendous spiritual influence and far-reaching power. But the physical character of Their atoms are not different from other peoples, any more than Their bodies and physical functions are different."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949)Page 509
"Regarding the four and twenty elders: The Master, in a Tablet, stated that they are The Báb, the 18 Letters of the Living and five others who would be known in the future. So far we do not know who these five others are."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 22, 1943: Bahá'í News, No. 171, November 1944, p. 2)1714. Perfection of God Found in His Prophets
"We find God only through the Intermediary of His Prophet. We see the Perfection of God in His Prophets. Time and space are physical things; God, the Creator, is not a 'place'; as we conceive of place in physical terms. God is the Infinite Essence, the Creator. We cannot picture Him or His state, but if we did, we would be His equals, not His creatures. God is never flesh, but mirrored in the attributes of His Prophets we see His Divine characteristics and perfections."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: High Endeavors, Messages to Alaska, p. 70)1715. References to Bahá'u'lláh
"As to the questions thou hast asked: Concerning Malachi, chapter 3, verses 16, 17 and 18 refer to the friends of God, and in St. Matthew, chapter 25, the object of verses 31, 32 and 33 is the Blessed Beauty. As to Micah, chapter 5, the 4th verse refers to Christ. In Zephaniah, chapter 1, verses 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, and in Zechariah, chapter 2, verses 10, 11, 12 and 13, and in St. Luke, chapter 21, verses 20 to the end--all these refer to the century of the Blessed Beauty."
(Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, translated by Shoghi Rabbani, June 4, 1919: Star of the West, Vol. X, No. 12, p. 232)1716. The Ark and the Flood
"The statement in 'Seven Days of Creation' certainly cannot be considered authoritative or correct. The Ark and the Flood we believe are symbolical."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 28, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)1717. Generation, the Word Has Different Meanings
"...the word generation has a different meaning in different places. Christ referred to the Christ Dispensation, or cycle, and the other refers to the physical generation.
"For example, if a man does a great injustice to another in his life, then, after his death, his son will be despised for having had such a father and in some cases the injury might be so serious that the effect would reach to the grandson, etc., or a man may, by wrong living, fall into consumption and give that disease to his children unto the third or fourth generation.
"Both physically and mentally the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, 1979 ed., pp. 45-46)1718. The Cross--This Figure Exists in All Things
"As for the symbol of the cross, appointed in former times: Know verily, that the cross form is a wonderful figure and consists of two right lines placed crosswise--one perpendicular to the other--and this figure exists in all things.Page 510
"Meditate upon these words and pay attention to the tissue in all existing substances, either plant, animal or man, and thou wilt see that they all are formed of the cross figure or two crosswise lines. Consider this intently with true meditation. Then thou wilt be taught by the Holy Ghost that it is for this reason that God hath chosen this symbol to be displayed as the token of sacrifice in all periods of the ages.
"As for the crescent: It hath reference to the beginning of the religion of God which shall grow to be a full moon.
"As for the stars: They are types of guides; for, verily, the star is a guide to people, even in the most gloomy darkness, on both land and sea. In former centuries, people were guided by the pole-star in whatever direction they went."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, pp. 598-599)
1719. The Teachings of Swedenborg and Emerson Should Be Considered as Advanced Stirrings of the Time
"...The teachings of such spiritually enlightened souls as Swedenborg, Emerson, and others should be considered as the advanced stirrings in the minds of great souls foreshadowing that Revelation which was to break upon the world through The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. Anything they say which is not substantiated by the Teachings, however, we cannot regard as absolute truth, but merely as the reflection of their own thoughts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 6, 1943)1720. Emanuel Swedenborg
"In connection with your question regarding the reference made by Abdu'l-Bahá to 'His Highness Emanuel' in Vol. III of His Tablets, this obviously refers to The Báb as the text shows it clearly and is in no way a reference to Swedenborg."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 9, 1938: Bahá'í News, No. 134, March 1940, p. 2)
1721. Abdu'l-Bahá Praised Emanual Swedenborg for His Efforts for Social and Religious Reconstruction
"...concerning Emanuel Swedenborg and his writings: While Abdu'l-Bahá praised the man and his noble efforts for social and religious reconstruction there is nothing in the Master's Writings that can justify the believers in giving him any special station or importance beside that of an enlightened and constructive thinker of wide spiritual vision. There can be therefore no official Bahá'í attitude in respect of the man or his work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 7, 1939)
1722. Because of the Progressiveness of the Teachings of Swedenborg He Can Be Considered a Herald of This Day
"Regarding your questions: The rational faculty is a manifestation of the power of the soul. The soul is the mirror of reflection. Swedenborg, because of the extreme progressiveness of his teachings may, in a way, be considered a herald of this Day. There is nothing definite in the Teachings concerning the subconscious mind's relation to the spirit of man."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 26, 1943)Page 511
1723. People Like Emerson Were No Doubt Inspired by God
"The point of view expressed in your letter was of special interest because it was typical of those sincere and seeking souls who are trying to obtain peace and inward certainty by reading the universally-minded writers of our age. People like Emerson were undoubtedly inspired by God, for many of the thoughts that quicken us in this day were uttered and stimulated by them. Only gradually will we come to appreciate their work and place them in the growing world of ours. The tendency of these writers, however, is rather to diminish rather than to enhance the position of the prophet in civilization. These bid us come into communion with God by looking within us. They tell us that the prophets were humans and that we can become like them if we only strive. This renders religion the religion of the few, the religion of only those who have experiences."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 29, 1929)
1724. The Difference Between the Gnostics and the Religionists
"Abdu'l-Bahá says that the main difference between the gnostics and the religionists is that the gnostics maintain the existence of only two worlds, the world of God and the world of the creature. The prophets, however, maintained the existence of three worlds: the world of God, the world of the Will or the Word, and the world of created things. The prophets, therefore, maintained that a knowledge of God is impossible. As Abdu'l-Bahá says, man can never know God or even imagine Him. If he does, that object is not God but an imaginary idol."(Ibid.)
1725. Christ Referred to the World of the Prophets as the "Word", Abdu'l-Bahá Calls It the "Will"
"There is, therefore, only one way to God and that is through the realization of his Manifestation or Prophet in that age. Christ called the world of the prophets 'the word' in the verse of 'the word became flesh' while Abdu'l-Bahá calls it the Will. Anyhow it is only through these that we can know God. These manifest the divine attributes and therefore by knowing them we can know God. The mystic path that the traveller should follow is therefore to the Prophet. By coming in contact with Him will he obtain peace."(Ibid.)
1726. God Will Continue to Send His Prophets that Man May Obtain His Highest Goal
"If these are the only means through which man can obtain his highest goal, namely the knowledge of God, could we believe that God has ceased to send them? As Bahá'u'lláh says, will it not be a blasphemy to say that God's bounty existed in the past and that ever since the time of Christ it stopped to pour--and for all eternity. No, God has ever sent and will ever send these prophets who would represent God on this earth and by reflecting the divine attributes give us a knowledge of Him."(Ibid.)
"Regarding your question concerning Joseph Smith and the 'Book of Mormon':Page 512
as the Bahá'í Teachings quite clearly outline the succession of Prophets from the days of Christ as being Muhammad, The Báb, and finally Bahá'u'lláh, it is obvious that Joseph Smith is not a Manifestation of God.
"The Bahá'ís should deal with the members of all religious sects, however, with the greatest tolerance and friendliness, and try to point out to them the significance of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh to the world in this great Day. The Guardian would advise you to teach the Mormons like everyone else, the Faith, when you find them receptive. They have many good principles, and their teachings regarding chastity, not drinking or smoking, etc., are quite similar to ours, and should form a point of common interest."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 18, 1941: Bahá'í News, No. 416, November 1965)1728. Status of Joseph Smith
"As for the status of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Faith, he is not considered by Bahá'ís to be a prophet, minor or otherwise. But of course he was a religious teacher sensitive to the spiritual currents flowing in the early 19th century directly from the appearance of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh and the Revelation of Their Messages of hope and divine Guidance. In this respect you might find chapter ten in the late Hand of the Cause George Townshend's book, 'Christ and Bahá'u'lláh,' interesting."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 7, 1977)1729. The Mormons Have High Principles and Ideals
"The Mormons are a people with high principles and ideals, and the step spiritually into the Cause is not as difficult for them as for many others not possessing their faith and devotion. However, the very zeal with which they serve their own Faith makes it difficult for them to grasp the greater vision of our Holy Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: cited in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 16, 1976)Page 513
"They come from other minds: they are reflected. One should not become a mirror for them--to reflect them, neither should one try to control them for this is impossible: it only aggravates the difficulty, causing more to appear.
"One should constantly turn the mirror of his heart squarely toward God so that the Light of the Sun of Truth may be reflected there.
"This is the only cure for attacks of evil thoughts. The face of the mirror should be turned toward God and the back of the mirror toward the evil thoughts."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 35, 1979 ed.)1731. Evil Spirits
"As to the question of evil spirits, demons and monsters, any references made to them in the Holy Books have symbolic meaning. What is currently known among the public is but sheer superstition."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá: Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena, p. 3)1732. Influence of Evil Spirits
"You have asked regarding the influence of evil spirits. Evil spirits are deprived of eternal life. How then can they exercise any influence? But as eternal life is ordained for holy spirits, therefore their influence exists in all the divine worlds."
(From a Tablet of Abdu'l-Bahá to Mrs. Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 78, 1979 ed.)1733. Evil Spirits Refer to Lower Nature of Man
"The reality underlying this question is that the evil spirit, Satan or whatever is interpreted as evil, refers to the lower nature in man. This baser nature is symbolized in various ways. In man there are two expressions: One is the expression of nature; the other the expression of the spiritual realm. The world of nature is defective. Look at it clearly, casting aside all superstition and imagination... God has never created an evil spirit; all such ideas and nomenclature are symbols expressing the mere human or earthly nature of man. It is an essential condition of the soil of earth that thorns, weeds and fruitless trees may grow from it. Relatively speaking, this is evil; it is simply the lower state and baser product of nature."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 294-295, 1982 ed.)1734. Evil Exists
"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. AllPage 514
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."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 4, 1950: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects, A Compilation from the Universal House of Justice, February 14, 1973 to National Spiritual Assemblies)
1735. Psychic Powers in Children--Dangerous to Cultivate
"What Abdu'l-Bahá always pointed out in this matter is that these psychic powers were not to be used in this world, and that, indeed, it was dangerous to cultivate them here. They should be left dormant, and not exploited, even when we do so with the sincere belief we are helping others. We do not understand their nature and have no way of being sure of what is true and what is false in such matters.
"If children are inclined to be psychic they should not be blamed for it too harshly; they should not be encouraged to strengthen their powers in this direction."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 4, 1946: Ibid.)1736. The Fourth Dimension
"There is nothing in the teachings of our Faith about the Fourth Dimension, and he feels that with all the practical work the Bahá'ís have to do during the next ten years you should put such abstruse subjects out of your mind entirely. They can do no good and will lead you nowhere."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 19, 1953: Ibid.)1737. Avoid Psychic Phenomena
"With reference to psychic phenomena referred to in your letter: These in most cases are an indication of a deep psychological disturbance. The friends should avoid as much as possible giving undue consideration to such matters."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 20, 1937: Extracts from the Guardian's letters on Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects, February 1970)1738. Possession
"Regarding your question relative to the condition of those people who are described in the Gospel as being possessed of devils: This should be interpreted figuratively; devil or satan is symbolic of evil and dark forces yielding to temptation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 20, 1938: Ibid.)
1739. Should Strive to Have Pure Thoughts and Dreams
"...That truth is often imparted through dreams no one who is familiar withPage 515
history, especially religious history, can doubt. At the same time dreams and vision are always coloured and influenced more or less by the mind of the dreamer and we must beware of attaching too much importance to them. The purer and more free from prejudice and desire our hearts and minds become, the more likely is it that our dreams will convey reliable truth, but if we have strong prejudices, personal likings and aversions, bad feelings or evil motives, these will warp and distort any inspirational impression that comes to us.... In many cases dreams have been the means of bringing people to the truth or of confirming them in the Faith. We must strive to become pure in heart and 'free from all save God'. Then our dreams as well as our waking thoughts will become pure and true. We should test impressions we get through dreams, visions or inspirations, by comparing them with the revealed Word and seeing whether they are in full harmony therewith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 16, 1925: Ibid.)
1740. Difficult to Distinguish Truth from Imagination
"First concerning visions: It is very difficult to distinguish between true visions which are true spiritual experiences of the soul and imaginations which have no reality in spiritual truths. True visions, however, can be granted to those who are spiritually pure and receptive, and are not therefore confined to the Prophets alone."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 26, 1939, to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 152, p. 2, April 1942)
1741. Difference Between Divine Revelation and Personal Experience
"As regards ...'s claim to have direct revelations from God: Such visions and communications as he may receive cannot, from the standpoint of the Cause, be well considered in the nature of a direct and authoritative revelation from God such as experiences by Divine Prophets and Messengers. There is a fundamental difference between Divine Revelation as vouchsafed by God to His Prophets, and the spiritual experiences and visions which individuals may have. The latter should, under no circumstances, be construed as constituting an infallible source of guidance, even for the person experiencing them.
"The Guardian wishes you to fully explain and clarify this point to ... that he may have no illusion regarding the true Bahá'í attitude on this and similar matters.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi dated November 1, 1940, to an individual believer, Mrs. Kathryn Frankland: Ibid.)1742. True Mystical Experiences Rare
"Regarding your question: In His chapter on 'Visions and Communications with Spirits' in 'Some Answered Questions', the Master evidently desires to point out that there can be, under certain rare circumstances, such as those experienced by the Prophets, communion with some soul gone before into the invisible world, but that most of this type of experience which people often claim to have with departed souls is nothing but the product of their own imaginations--however real it may seem to them to be.
"We have no way of knowing historically, at present, whether the experiencePage 516
Saul had of Samuel was an actual spiritual intercourse. It is not the product of imagination, however, as The Bible unmistakably affirms it.
"Truly mystical experiences based on reality are very rare, and we can readily see how dangerous it is for people to go groping about in the darkness of their imagination after the true thing. That is why, as you point out, we are warned against all psychical practices by the Master.
"If we are going to have some deeply spiritual experience we can rest assured God will vouchsafe it to us without our having to look for it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated October 25, 1942, to an individual believer: Ibid.)1743. No Need for Individual Revelations
"The Guardian thinks that it is best to assume that generally speaking when people claim they are receiving messages or communications from the Master or Bahá'u'lláh, etc., it is a psychic experience or their imagination, and that they are not in real contact with them. These Holy Beings have the channels of the Cause through which to guide us. They do not need to go outside these and send individual revelations."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated December 22, 1947, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 3)1744. Let the Future Take Care of Itself
"In the second place he would advise you to consider the voice you heard a phenomenon which might be your subconscious mind, might be some psychic influence, but whatever it was you should not let it disturb you and certainly not place much importance on it. No one knows what the future holds for him, or to what degree he is spoiling it or creating it; therefore the thing to do is one's daily best and let the future take care of itself. It would be very unwise for you to let this experience of a voice--the origin and purpose of which you have no way of knowing--influence you in any way or to set any store on its observations."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated April 9, 1948, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)
1745. Development of Psychic Faculties Weakens Spiritual Capacities
"...The Guardian would suggest that you study very carefully the statement of Abdu'l-Bahá in connection with the question of visions, dreams, etc., as Abdu'l-Bahá has very fully explained this delicate subject. You will find references to this in 'Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era,' 'Some Answered Questions' and the Books of Tablets. The Guardian likewise has commented on this matter.
"Briefly, there is no question that visions occasionally do come to individuals, which are true and have significance. On the other hand, this comes to an individual through the grace of God, and not through the exercise of any of the human faculties. It is not a thing which a person should try to develop. When a person endeavors to develop faculties so that they might enjoy visions, dreams etc., actually what they are doing is weakening certain of their spiritual capacities; and thus under such circumstances, dreams and visions have no reality, and ultimately lead to the destruction of the character of the person."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated May 6, 1952, to an individual believer: Ibid.)Page 517
"Astronomy is a science, astrology does not come under the same category, but we should be patient with people who believe in it, and gradually wean them away from reliance on such things."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated December 24, 1941, to an individual believer: Ibid.)1747. Non-Sensical Pseudo-Science
"Yes, the Guardian considers 'astrology', which is a pseudo-science, as for the most part 'non-sensical', as it is mostly made up of superstitious beliefs and practices."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated July 10, 1939, to an individual believer: Ibid.)1748. Horoscopes
"We should attach no importance to astrology or horoscopes. No exact science is involved, though sometimes some truth seems involved, but the percentage is small."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated January 15, 1951, to an individual believer: Ibid.)1749. Fruitless Sciences
"Fruitless sciences is what Bahá'u'lláh refers to, like metaphysical hair splittings, and other abstract things carried to the extreme.
"The friends should be encouraged not to waste time on such things as astrology etc., which you mention. They cannot be forbidden to do so. The exercise of our free will to choose to do the right things is much more important."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated July 30, 1956, to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 230, p. 1, April 1950)1750. Influence of the Stars and Planets
"Concerning your question as to the influence of the stars and planets on the life of a believer: Such ideas should be entirely dissociated from the Teachings. The passage on p. 133 of the 'Gleanings' bears no reference whatsoever to this matter.
"As to illness or poverty: Such calamities may be either irrevocable or, and it is often the case, they may be avoided. There is no reference in the Teachings as to whether the stars have any influence on healing such diseases. These astrological ideas are for the most part sheer superstitions."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 17, 1937: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)1751. Numerology
"...it is absolutely essential that the teachings should not be confused with the obscure ideas related to numerology and astrology and the like. Individuals interested in them are free to believe in and credit such ideas and to make any inferences and deductions they desire from them, but under no circumstances are they expected to identify them with the principles and teachings of the Cause. We must at this stage preserve the purity and sanctity of the Bahá'í teachings. I will pray that you may be guidedPage 518
in your efforts, and may succeed in safeguarding and promoting the interests of our beloved Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1928: Ibid.)
1752. Neither Numerology nor Astrology Needed by the Believers
"There is nothing in the teachings which leads us to believe numerology or astrology are needed by the believers to guide them in any way."
(From a letter dated June 25, 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)1753. Automatic Writing
"This power is neither heavenly nor spiritual; neither is it an influence from disembodied spirits. It is the human spirit--magnetism within the self of the one doing the writing.
"When the thoughts have taken possession of the mind and are not consciously directed, one becomes subject to their promptings and, unconsciously, or automatically, takes a pencil and writes them down. The oftener this is done the stronger becomes the magnetic prompting.
"For instance, one may learn a lesson or poem by heart, and he repeats and repeats it so often that the thoughts take possession of him and he will repeat it unconsciously even in his sleep. This is magnetism belonging to the human spirit.
"Or, he may walk many times upon a certain road and he takes his walk so often he is able to take it unconsciously or automatically. This power is his own magnetism.
"A mother rocks and rocks her Bábe to sleep in a cradle, but the thoughts of the child's sleep may so take possession of her mind that sometimes she is able to put him to sleep without the aid of the cradle. This effect is produced by the mother's magnetism.
"In regard to automatic writing, if one will pray very earnestly, and pray sufficiently, the mind will turn against the automatic writing and one will be freed from the effects of that power.
"Pray, and pray, and not be misled by the seeming beauty of the writings."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, pp. 37-38, Wilmette 1979)
1754. World's Greatest Writers and Painters Have Not Been Under Psychic Influence
"...he feels that the methods you are pursuing in regard to receiving inspired written messages, and your way of approaching your painting are really psychic, and that you should give them up for your own good. Some of Bahá'u'lláh's and Abdu'l-Bahá'í Tablets are so poorly translated that it is almost impossible to grasp the true meaning, and one is misled into thinking that by getting into a practically psychic state the Holy Spirit will guide one. This is not what is meant: the world's greatest writers and painters have not been under psychic influence, but through innate ability, practice and study, have given us their masterpieces; this is the normal way for inspiration to reach us, through the channels of our own abilities, and not through control by forces which the Master warned us against and which we do not understand, and which--as you yourself know--are neither consistent nor reliable."
(From a letter dated February 24, 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)Page 519
"Regarding your question in connection with ...'s desire to be informed about 'table writing' and such things: Though there is no specific reference in the teachings to this particular thing, Shoghi Effendi feels very strongly that, in view of other statements about avoiding all psychic dabbling and exercise of psychic faculties, this should also be avoided by the Bahá'ís and such messages be disregarded."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated June 24, 1941, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)1756. Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena
"There is no ambiguity about the Master's attitude towards psychic forces. He very strongly warned the believers against using them."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, August 9, 1945, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles: Ibid.)
1757. Numerology, Physiognomy--Too Much Exaggerated
"The Master has said that there is a certain amount of truth in numerology, physiognomy etc. but it is too much exaggerated by those who advocate them."
(From a letter dated October 27, 1926 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)1758. Telepathy
"The Teachings bear no reference to the question of telepathy. It is a matter that concerns psychology."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, February 28, 1938, to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)1759. Be Not Afraid Anyone Can Affect Your Mind
"You should not be afraid anyone can affect your mind. Even when we want to catch the thoughts of those we love most we cannot do so, how much less other people succeed in penetrating our minds."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated January 18, 1951, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 4)1760. Spiritualists
"He is of the opinion that to pay much attention to persons who are imbued with spiritualistic ideas is rather useless, because what they have, though it has a germ of truth, has much of personal imagination added to it. Moreover, when after much effort they become Bahá'ís, they are reluctant to turn a completely new sheet in their life and begin to conceive Bahá'í ideals in spiritualistic terms. There are thousands of other pure souls who are more ready for the teachings and who would accept it unreservedly. So we had better concentrate our attention upon them. The Cause everywhere has suffered from spiritualists with psychic pretended powers, and it is high time to take a step along that line."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian dated July 10, 1928, to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 1)Page 520
"The planets and stars have no spiritual effect in the earthly world, but the parts of the universe which are in endless space are closely connected with each other. This connection produces material effects. Outside of the Bounty of the Holy Spirit all that thou hearest concerning mesmerism or trumpet communications from the dead are sheer imagination."
(Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablet to Ella Goodall Cooper: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, p. 85, 1976 ed.)1762. Materialization of Spirits Through Mediums
"Regarding the materialization of spirits through mediums: A person finding himself in a state of trance, or unconsciousness, is like one who sleeps; whatever he feels and sees he imagines to be matter and of material things, but in reality they are wholly immaterial."(Ibid., p. 82)
"As regards the question you asked in your letter about a concealed group of masters in the Himalayas or anywhere else, there is no foundation whatsoever for this in the Bahá'í Writings. We as Bahá'ís must not believe in the divine origin of any such things which have not been mentioned in our own Sacred Scriptures by either The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh or the Master.
"There is nothing whatsoever to lead us to believe that there is any foundation or truth in these mystical stories of beings that are 'behind the scenes', so to speak. We must avoid such thoughts and teachings, and try to wean others away from them as we give them the Message."
(From a letter dated May 11, 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Spiritualism, Psychic Phenomena and Related Subjects)1764. Pyramids
"We have nothing in our writings about the so-called prophecies of the Pyramids; so he does not think you need attach any importance to them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated November 21, 1949, to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 230, p. 1, April 1950: Spiritualism, Reincarnation and Related Subjects)1765. Pyramid of Cheops
"Also no reference is to be found in the Bahá'í Teachings regarding the pyramid of Cheops, and as to its being considered a monument of prophecy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, dated July 10, 1939, to an individual believer: Ibid.)1766. Protection of the Holy Spirit
"The friends must realize the Power of the Holy Spirit which is manifest and quickening them at this time through the appearance of Bahá'u'lláh. There is no force of heaven or earth which can affect them if they place themselves wholly under the influence of the Holy Spirit and under its guidance. Such individuals who are subject to the negative influences of the world are those who are not properly consecrated in the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 11, 1957)Page 521
1767. Heaven and Hell Conditions Within Our Own Beings--The Prophets Know God...
"To answer you briefly: What the original state of the Universe was, no one as yet knows. But we believe God is a spiritual Being and did create it; how, we do not know. We will have experience of God's spirit through His Prophets in the next world, but God is too great for us to know without this Intermediary. The Prophets know God, but how is more than our human minds can grasp. We believe we attain in the next world to seeing the Prophets. There is certainly a future life. Heaven and hell are conditions within our own beings."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 14, 1947: High Endeavours, Messages to Alaska, pp. 49-50)
1768. Psychic Arts--The Influence of Such Arts is Dependent on Conviction of the Person Affected
"The House of Justice fully appreciates that in ... and ... there are many instances of individuals being affected adversely by the psychic arts of other people. This is an observable phenomenon in many parts of the world and must, as you say, be taken into account by those who would teach the Faith. The important thing for Bahá'ís to understand is that the influence of such 'arts' is dependent on the conviction, even the subconscious conviction, of the person affected and, similarly, the power of the 'priests' to overcome the influence is likewise an outcome of the sufferer's conviction that it is from the 'priest' that he or she will be able to obtain help.
"The Manifestation of God describes the reality which is conducive to the happiness, health and development of mankind. His Teachings serve as a compass to help us find our way in the new world. They outline not only what is good for mankind but also the steps to be taken to secure individual freedom and well-being. Within this framework it is important to understand the statements in the Writings about evil spirits and psychic phenomena."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 30, 1984)
1769. Bahá'ís Recognize that Evil is Negative and Can Take Control of Our Life But We Have the Power to Become Free of Such Forces
"Bahá'ís recognize that evil is negative and has no existence in its own right, but that does not mean that there is no power in evil. Do not Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá warn us repeatedly of the spiritual infection of Covenant-breaking? In one of His Tablets, Abdu'l-Bahá wrote:
'If you seek immunity from the sway of the forces of the contingent world, hang the 'Most Great Name' in your dwelling, wear the ring of the 'Most Great Name' on your finger, place the picture of Abdu'l-Bahá in your home and always recite the prayers that I have written. Then you will behold the marvellous effect they produce. Those so-called forces will prove but illusions and will be wiped out and exterminated.'
"In a letter dated 26th November 1939 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer we find the following: 'Evil forces do take control of our life, but it is within our power to free ourselves from falling under their subjection.'
"There are, therefore, specific actions that Bahá'ís can take when confrontedPage 522
with the kind of situation of which you write, but the principal way in which they can overcome them is to deepen themselves in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh so that they will come to recognize the lack of any true reality to such negative forces.(Ibid.)
1770. Evil Souls Who Have Passed Away Can Exercise No Power Over the People
"One of the Bahá'í pilgrims from the West who asked Abdu'l-Bahá about the power exercised by evil souls who had passed to the next world, recorded His answer as 'There is no power exercised over the people by those evil souls that have passed away. Good is stronger than evil and even when alive they had very little power. How much less have they after they are dead...'
"Also, in a letter to an individual believer, written on behalf of the Guardian on 18th January 1951, it is stated: 'You should not be afraid any one can affect your mind. Even when we want to catch the thoughts of those we love most we cannot do so, how much less can other people succeed in penetrating our minds.'
"In relation to individuals seeking the advice of 'priests' to assist their healing when the cause of their illness is diagnosed as 'supernatural forces', we enclose for your study a passage from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá and several extracts from letters written on behalf of the Guardian to individual believers on the subject of spiritual healing."(Ibid.)
1771. The Solution to Such Beliefs and Problems Involves a Process of Educating the Friends in the Teachings
"Concerning your appeal for a solution to the problem, we are instructed to say that the approach is twofold. It involves a process of educating the friends, deepening their understanding of the Teachings and their trust in the power of the Cause, and gradually weaning them away from those illusions and practices which are potentially destructive of their spiritual and material well-being.
"You are encouraged to ponder the advice contained in the following statement written on behalf of the beloved Guardian to an individual believer who was troubled about matters that are similar, although not identical, to those which concern the friends in Trinidad and Tobago:
'We must use the Writings of the Prophets as our measurement. If Bahá'u'lláh had attached the slightest importance to occult experiences, to the seeing of auras, to the hearing of mystic voices; if He had believed that reincarnation was a fact, He, Himself, would have mentioned all of these things in His Teachings. The fact that He passed over them in silence shows that to Him, they had either no importance or no reality, and were consequently not worthy to take up His time as the Divine Educator of the human race.
'We must turn our faces away from these things, and toward the actual practice of His Teachings in our everyday life through our Bahá'í Administration, and in our contact with other people and the examples we give.'"(Ibid.)
1772. What is Commonly Called Evil Spirits is Normally an Imaginary Creation But Evil Influences Both in This World and the Next
"In regard to your question concerning evil spirits and their influence upon souls,Page 523
Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that what is generally called evil spirit is a purely imaginary creation and has no reality whatever. But as to evil, there is no doubt that it exerts a very strong influence both in this world and in the next. Abdu'l-Bahá in the 'Some Answered Questions' gives us a thorough and true analysis of the problem of evil. You should preferably refer to that book for further explanation on that point."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 1, 1934)
1773. Occult Practices of Certain Hindus Introduced in the States Are Completely Contrary to the Teachings and Should Be Avoided by the Friends
"...indeed, such occult practices as certain Hindus have introduced in the States, and which some superficial and superstitious individuals have adopted and are trying, by all sorts of devices, to popularize, are absolutely foreign, nay positively opposed to the very spirit and letter of the Teachings, and the believers, therefore, should strictly and at all times avoid the company of such people, lest they may unconsciously and inevitably fall under their baneful influence and become gradually alienated from the Cause.
"...The friends also should be warned not to indulge in such activities that draw their inspiration from Hindu occultist sources, as these do not only lead them away from the Cause, but can cause them considerable mental harm, and thus permanently injure their mind as well as their body."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to two believers, August 5, 1939)
1774. Spiritual Experiences Can Have Great Influence On Us But the Call Today is to Try to Save the Human Race--This is the Duty of Every Soul
"Spiritual experiences have undoubtedly great influence on us individually and, therefore, arouse deep interest, but of paramount importance in this day is to forget them and go out into the world trying to save the human race from its threatening condition. This is the call of the day, this is the duty of every soul who desires to follow the path traced by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 7, 1933)Page 524
"Shoghi Effendi is also most anxious for the Message to reach the aboriginal inhabitants of the Americas. These people, for the most part downtrodden and ignorant, should receive from the Bahá'ís a special measure of love, and every effort be made to teach them. Their enrollment in the Faith will enrich them and us and demonstrate our principle of the Oneness of Man far better than words or the wide conversion of the ruling races ever can."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Meso-America and the Antilles, July 11, 1951: A Special Measure of Love, p. 5)
1776. Tablets of the Divine Plan--Natives of America May Become Great Standard Bearers of the Faith
"The Guardian attaches the utmost importance, as you know, to the teaching of the natives of America.
"In the Tablets of the Divine Plan, the Master pays the utmost attention to this most important matter. He states that if the Power of the Holy Spirit today properly enters into the minds and the hearts of the natives of the great American continents that they will become great standard bearers of the Faith, similar to the Nomads (Arabians) who became the most cultured and enlightened people under the Mohammadan civilization."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador and Venezuela, August 22, 1957)
1777. Prejudice and Condescension--Contact with City Indians
"He adds one suggestion (he does not know if it is practicable or not): Can contact not be made with Indians who have become more or less absorbed into the life of the white element of the Country and live in or visit the big cities? There, people, finding the Bahá'ís sincerely lacking in either prejudice--or that even worse attitude, condescension--might not only take interest in our teachings, but also help us to reach their people in the proper way.
"It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of present-day churches."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Bahá'í para los Indigenas de Sur America, September 21, 1951)Page 525
"The Americas have been a melting pot and a meeting place for the races of men, and the need is acute for the fulfillment of God's promises of the realization of the oneness of mankind. Particularly do the Master and the Guardian point to the Afro-Americans and the Amerindians, two great ethnic groups whose spiritual powers will be released through their response to the Creative Word. But our Teachings must touch all, must include all people. And, in this hour of your tireless activity what special rewards shall come to those who will arise, summoned by Abdu'l-Bahá'í words: 'Now is the time to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this phenomenal realm, be wholly severed from the physical world, become angels of heaven, and travel and teach through all these regions.'"
(The Universal House of Justice's Message to the Caribbean Conference, May 1971)
1779. First Member of His Race to Embrace the Cause
"Even Mrs. Hearst's butler, a negro named Robert Turner, the first member of his race to embrace the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in the West, had been transported by the influence exerted by Abdu'l-Bahá in the course of that epoch-making pilgrimage. Such was the tenacity of his faith that even the subsequent estrangement of his beloved mistress from the Cause she had spontaneously embraced failed to becloud its radiance, or to lessen the intensity of the emotions which the loving-kindness showered by Abdu'l-Bahá upon him had excited in his breast."(Shoghi Effendi: God Passes By, p. 259)
"He was very pleased to have the first pioneer from America go forth under this organized African campaign; he was doubly happy that it should have been an American Negro who went. This is highly appropriate and surely has delighted the heart of Abdu'l-Bahá Who watched over the race with particular love, tenderness and understanding. The ever increasing part the coloured friends are taking in the work of the Cause, and especially of late years in the pioneer work gratifies the Guardian immensely. And now, to add further to the record of their services, they can count a member of their race a Hand of the Cause. When we read in the Will and Testament how great is the function of the Hands we appreciate to what an exalted station our dear brother Louis Gregory attained...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 23, 1951: Bahá'í News, No. 252, February 1952, p. 1)1781. Guardian's Appeal to Negro Race
"...I appeal particularly to its dearly beloved members belonging to the Negro race to participate in the contemplated project marking a significant milestone in the world unfoldment of the Faith..."(Shoghi Effendi: Citadel of Faith, p. 87)
"...he urges the friends to concentrate on teaching the negroes. They should be courageous in their racial stand, particularly as so many non-Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'í organizations are showing marked courage at this time... The friends mustPage 526
remember that the cardinal principle of their Faith is the Oneness of Mankind. This places an obligation on them far surpassing the obligation which Christian charity and brotherly love places upon the Christians. They should demonstrate this spirit of oneness constantly and courageously..."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 321, November 1957)1783. Compared with Pupil of the Eye
"...RECALL WITH PROFOUND EMOTION MESSAGE BELOVED GUARDIAN OCCASION 1953 CONFERENCE WHEREIN HE EXTOLLED PUREHEARTED SPIRITUALLY RECEPTIVE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AFRICA WHOM Bahá'u'lláh COMPARED PUPIL EYE THROUGH WHICH LIGHT OF SPIRIT SHINETH FORTH AND FOR WHOSE CONVERSION BOTH GUARDIAN AND MASTER BEFORE HIM YEARNED AND LABOURED..."
(From the cable of the Universal House of Justice to the Africa International Conference, October 6, 1967)1784. Work of Negro Has Been of Greatest Help
"The Negro believers must be just as active as their white brothers and sisters in spreading the Faith, both among their own race and members of other races. It has been a great step forward in the Cause's development in America to have Negro pioneers go forth, and their work has been of the greatest help and very productive of results."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two individual believers, March 19, 1944)
1785. The Negroes Have a Contribution to Make to Bahá'u'lláh's World Order
"The negroes, though they themselves may not realize it, have a contribution to make to the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. His Teachings and the society He has come to establish are for every race and every nation, and each one of them has his own part to play and the gift of his own qualities and talents to give to the whole world.
"The Cause of God has room for all. It would, indeed, not be the Cause of God if it did not take in and welcome everyone--poor and rich, educated and ignorant, the unknown, and the prominent--God surely wants them all, as He created them all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, December 10, 1942)
1786. Pure-Hearted, Spiritually Receptive Negro Race
"I welcome with open arms the unexpectedly large number of the representatives of the pure-hearted and the spiritually receptive Negro race, so dearly loved by Abdu'l-Bahá, for whose conversion to His Father's Faith He so deeply yearned and whose interests He so ardently championed in the course of His memorable visit to the North American continent. I am reminded, on this historic occasion, of the significant words uttered by Bahá'u'lláh Himself, Who, as attested by the Center of the Covenant, in His Writings, 'compared the coloured people to the black pupil of the eye', through which 'the light of the spirit shineth forth'."
(Shoghi Effendi: Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 135-136)1787. Faces Are as Pupil of the Eye
"As to ... and ..., verily the faces of these are as the pupil of the eye; althoughPage 527
the pupil is created black, yet it is the source of light. I hope God will make these black ones the glory of the white ones and as the depositing of the lights of love of God. And I ask God to assist them in all circumstances, that they may be encompassed with the favours of their Loving Lord throughout centuries and ages."(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. II, p. 292)
1788. The Principle of the Oneness of Mankind Precludes Possibility of Considering Race as a Bar to Social Interaction
"In regard to your question concerning the Bahá'í attitude towards the Coloured Race. It is only evident that the principle of the oneness of mankind--which is the main pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve--precludes the possibility of considering race as a bar to any intercourse, be it social or otherwise. The Faith, indeed, by its very nature and purpose, transcend all racial limitations and differences, and proclaims the basic and essential unity of the entire human race. Racial prejudice, of whatever nature and character, is therefore severely condemned, and as such should be wiped out by the friends in all their relations, whether private or social."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1935)1789. The Guardian Addresses the Negro
"...Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds. Let neither think that the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40, Wilmette, 1990)1790. Addressed to Members of the White Race
"...I hope that ye may cause that downtrodden race to become glorious, and to be joined with the white race, to serve the world of man with the utmost sincerity, faithfulness, love, and purity. This opposition, enmity, and prejudice among the white race and the coloured cannot be effaced except through faith, assurance, and the teachings of the Blessed Beauty... This question of the union of the white and the black is very important, for if it is not realized, erelong great difficulties will arise, and harmful results will follow ... enmity will be increased day by day, and the final result will be hardship and may end in bloodshed."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 39)1791. Let the White Make a Supreme Effort
"Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade themPage 528
through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40)1792. Unity in Diversity
"The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of a different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them, and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 38)
1793. The Guardian Addresses Both Races--Neither Race Can Claim to be Absolved from Obligation
"...White and Negro, high and low, young and old, whether newly converted to the Faith or not, all who stand identified with it must participate in, and lend their assistance, each according to his or her capacity, experience, and opportunities, to the common task of fulfilling the instructions, realizing the hopes, and following the example, of Abdu'l-Bahá. Whether coloured or noncoloured, neither race has the right, or can conscientiously claim, to be regarded as absolved from such an obligation, as having realized such hopes, or having faithfully followed such an example. A long and thorny road, beset with pitfalls, still remains untravelled, both by the white and the Negro exponents of the redeeming Faith of Bahá'u'lláh....
"...If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian, communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New, who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh should feel it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community...."
(Shoghi Effendi: The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 35)1794. God Makes No Distinction
"God maketh no distinction between the white and the black. If the hearts are pure both are acceptable unto Him. God is no respecter of persons on account of either colour or race. All colours are acceptable unto Him, be they white, black, or yellow. Inasmuch as all were created in the image of God, we must bring ourselvesPage 529
to realize that all embody divine possibilities... God did not make these divisions; these divisions have had their origin in man himself. Therefore, as they are against the plan and purpose of God they are false and imaginary."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 37)1795. Prejudice Destroys Edifice of Humanity
"Bahá'u'lláh tells us that prejudice in its various forms destroys the edifice of humanity. We are adjured by the Divine Messenger to eliminate all forms of prejudice from our lives. Our outer lives must show forth our beliefs. The world must see that, regardless of each passing whim or current fashion of the generality of mankind, the Bahá'í lives his life according to the tenets of his Faith. We must not allow the fear of rejection by our friends and neighbours to deter us from our goal: to live the Bahá'í life. Let us strive to blot out from our lives every last trace of prejudice-- racial, religious, political, economic, national, tribal, class, cultural, and that which is based on differences of education or age. We shall be distinguished from our non-Bahá'í associates if our lives are adorned with this principle."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1972)
1796. Object of Inter-Racial Work--Japanese, Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, Negroes
"He feels that, as the main object of the Bahá'í inter-racial work is to abolish prejudice against any and every race and minority group, it is obviously proper for them to include in particular any group that is receiving especially bad treatment--such as the Japanese Americans are being subjected to. There is also no reason why work should not be done among, and in cooperation with, the Mexicans, the Chinese, and so on.
"He has always been very anxious to have the Indians taught and enlisted under the banner of the Faith, in view of the Master's remarkable statements about the possibilities of their future and that they represent the aboriginal American population.
"The Negroes, likewise, are, one might say, a key problem and epitomise the feelings of colour prejudice so rife in the United States. That is why he has constantly emphasized the importance of the Bahá'ís actively and continuously demonstrating that in the Faith this cruel and horrible taint of discrimination against, and contempt for, them does not exist but is, on the contrary, supplanted by a feeling of esteem for their great gifts and a complete lack of prejudice against associating with them in every field of life.
"The work of the Race Unity Committee should include, as far as is feasible, contacts with all minority groups, and wherever there is a particularly stout prejudice against a special group--such as the feeling against the Japanese in the Western states and the Negroes in the Southern, etc.,--efforts should be made to counteract it by showing publicly the Bahá'í example of loving tolerance and brotherly association."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 30, 1945)1797. Just Interest of Minorities
"To discriminate against any tribe because they are in a minority is a violation ofPage 530
the spirit that animates the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. As followers of God's Holy Faith it is our obligation to protect the just interests of any minority element within the Bahá'í Community. In fact in the administration of our Bahá'í affairs, representatives of minority groups are not only enabled to enjoy equal rights and privileges, but they are even favoured and accorded priority. Bahá'ís should be careful never to deviate from this noble standard even if the course of events of public opinion should bring pressure to bear upon them. The principles in the Writings are clear, but usually it is when these principles are applied that questions arise...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa, February 8, 1970)
1798. The Coloured Friends Need the Faith--Have Suffered and Been Downtrodden
"The coloured friends need the Faith very much as they have suffered and been downtrodden in the past a great deal and they must realize that in the propagation of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh lies their hope for a better future, just as much as the hope of the entire world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 8, 1942)
1799. Guilty Before God to Allow Prejudice to Manifest Itself
"If we allow prejudice of any kind to manifest itself in us, we shall be guilty before God of causing a setback to the progress and real growth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It is incumbent upon every believer to endeavour with a fierce determination to eliminate this defect from his thoughts and acts. The fundamental purpose of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race..."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Assemblies, July 13, 1972)1800. To Be a Bahá'í is to be Different
"It is indeed strange that the cultured class, the people of thought and experience, are often more filled with prejudice than just plain ordinary souls who have not enjoyed such advantages. They are so afraid of seeming in any way 'different' from their fellows, and of course to be a Bahá'í is to be different!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 15, 1950)1801. Bahá'ís Are Not Perfect
"He does not doubt--though it grieves him to have to admit it--that there are believers who have not overcome their racial prejudices. The Bahá'ís are not perfect, but they have made a great step forward by embracing the Faith of God. We must be patient with each other, and realize that each one of us has some faults to overcome, of one kind or another.
"You, he feels, need to use greater wisdom and forbearance in dealing with your fellow-Bahá'ís and with difficult situations. To be courageous--as you evidently are--to rebel against the injustices of race prejudice and fight them is not enough, you must also show some patience for those who suffer from this terrible American ailment of Negro prejudice and act with wisdom in overcoming it, instead of going at it so vehemently that you alienate the Bahá'ís instead of leading them to greater manifestations of the Bahá'í spirit of brotherhood and racial amity....Page 531
"He hopes that you will concentrate your energies on serving the Faith.
"This is the only real solution to man's problems, all others are more or less palliatives, but we who are identified with Bahá'u'lláh's message can alone build up the pattern for the future through helping to establish our Administrative Order and assisting in its proper functioning. This is the fundamental thing."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer during the year 1949)
1802. Abdu'l-Bahá Foretold for the Indians of America a Great Future if They Accepted the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh
"The original population of the United States was very dear to Abdu'l-Bahá'í heart, and He foretold for the Indians a great future if they accepted and became enlightened by the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
"To believe in the Mouthpiece of God in His Day confers very great blessings, not only on individuals, but on races, and He hopes that you who are now numbered amongst the followers of Bahá'u'lláh will give His Message to many more of your tribe, and in this way hasten for your people a bright and happy future."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1947)1803. Bahá'ís Approve of Inter-Racial Unions
"He thinks you did well to marry, and he is glad you married an American Indian. We Bahá'ís approve of inter-racial unions, and you should do all you can to make your marriage a success and make your husband happy."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 31, 1950)1804. Campus Protest Against Racial Prejudice
"In connection with the subject matter of Mr. Blackwell's letter and your reference to it, the Guardian feels that, as he said in his letter to Mr. Blackwell, there was no objection at all to the students taking part in something so obviously akin to the spirit of our teachings as a campus demonstration against race prejudice. The Bahá'ís did not inaugurate this protest, they merely were proud to have a voice as Bahá'ís in such a protest, took part, and he thinks they did quite right and violated no administrative principle."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1948)
1805. The Bahá'í Must Scrupulously Avoid Involvement in Political Issues Therefore Cannot Participate in Anti-Apartheid Demonstrations
"In reply to your letter of 15 July 1985 seeking further clarification on the issue of apartheid, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to point out that as the policy of apartheid derives from racial discrimination, it cannot be accepted by Bahá'ís wherever, and in whatever form, it may be practised.
"While the friends should, of course, support the principles of the Faith, including those advocating the oneness of mankind, and may associate with groups and engage in activities which promote these principles, they must scrupulously take care not to become involved in political issues. As stated in the letter to you dated 16 April 1985, participation in anti-apartheid demonstrations and protest activities couldPage 532
be construed as involvement in politics, and therefore should be avoided.
"...The world around us is seething with unrest caused by the conflicting interests of governments, peoples, races and individuals. Each of these contending parties has some good and some evil on its side, and, whereas we will unhesitatingly uphold Bahá'í principles, we will never become embroiled in these internecine conflicts by identifying ourselves with one or other of the parties, however much in our hearts we may sympathize with its aims.
"The positive attitude to the question of racial prejudice is radiant and whole-hearted exemplification of the principle of the oneness of mankind, first among the members of your National Spiritual Assembly and then throughout the Bahá'í community...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, August 18, 1985)
1806. Teaching Multi-Racial Students in the Universities and Other Minority Groups in America, Such as Czechs, Poles, Russians...
"...urge the Bahá'ís, wherever they may be, to devote more attention to the minorities. This is particularly true in places where there are universities where foreign students belonging to the black, yellow and brown races are studying. In this way, the friends cannot only obey one of the most beautiful principles of our Faith, to show hospitality to the stranger in our midst, but also demonstrate the universality of our Teachings and the true brotherhood that animates us, and in addition, confirm Bahá'ís who may go back to the distant place of the earth--the Pacific, Africa, Asia, etc., and be of inestimable help to the newly-born Bahá'í Communities.
"Likewise the friends should carry their friendship and their teachings to other minority groups in America, such as the Italians, the Jews, the Czechs, the Poles, the Russians, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Inter-Racial Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 27, 1957)
1807. Racial Prejudice is Simply a Negation of Faith
"The attitude of the Cause towards the problem of race, be it in America or elsewhere, has been repeatedly clarified by the Guardian. To the faithful followers of Bahá'u'lláh who fully grasp the essential implications of the principle of the oneness of mankind so much emphasized in His teachings, racial prejudice, in all its forms, is simply a negation of faith, a repudiation of the belief in the brotherhood of man which is, beyond doubt, the cornerstone of the Religion of God. Loyalty to this basic principle should, therefore, be whole-hearted and unqualified."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 11, 1936)
1808. It is the Responsibility of the Believers to Combat and Uproot Racial Prejudice in Their Midst
"In America, where racial prejudice is still so widely prevalent, it is the responsibility of the believers to combat and uproot it with all their force, first by endeavouring to introduce into the Cause as many racial and minority groups as they canPage 533
approach and teach, and second, by stimulating close fellowship and intercourse between them and the rest of the Community.
"It should be the paramount concern of your Committee to foster this aim through every means available. Not only the coloured people, who because of the increasing receptivity they are evincing to the Message and truly deserve special attention, but all other minorities, whether racial or religious, Jews, Red Indians, all alike should be contacted and confirmed. The greater the receptivity of a particular class or group, the stronger should wax the desire and determination of the believers to attract and teach its members. At a time when the whole world is steeped in prejudices of race, class, and nation, the Bahá'ís, by upholding firmly and loyally this cardinal principle of their Faith, can best hope to vindicate its truth, and establish its right to bring order and peace out of the chaos and strife of this war-torn world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 20, 1941)1809. God Has Richly Endowed the Negro Race
"You already are well aware of the importance he attaches to teaching the negroes the Faith and breaking down the shameful wall of prejudice that has for so long shut out from each other the black and white citizens of America.
"The qualities of heart so richly possessed by the Negro are much needed in the world today--their great capacity for faith, their loyalty and devotion to their religion when once they believe, their purity of heart. God has richly endowed them, and their contribution to the Cause is much needed, especially as there is a lack of Negro Bahá'í teachers who can go out to their own people, along with their white brothers and sisters, and convince them of the active universality of our Faith. He will especially pray that you may confirm souls of capacity in this field."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, September 27, 1941)
1810. The Negro Race and the White Race Must Do All in Their Power to Destroy the Prejudice which Exists on Both Sides
"The negro race has been, and still is, the victim of unjust prejudice, and it is obviously the duty of every Bahá'í, negro or white, to do all in their power to destroy the prejudices which exist on both sides. They can do this not only by exemplifying the true Bahá'í spirit in all their associations and acts, but also by taking an active part in any progressive movements aimed at the betterment of the lot of those who are underprivileged, as long as these movements are absolutely non-political and non-subversive in every respect.
"Movements for social progress and social justice, as long as they are disassociated from both political and religious partisanship, should be supported by those Bahá'ís who feel urged to undertake such work. Consequently there is no reason why you should not work for the betterment of your race through channels that in no way conflict with our Bahá'í attitude."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 23, 1941)
1811. The Negro Bahá'ís Have a Great Responsibility Towards Their Own Race and Fellow Believers
"The Guardian feels very strongly that the negro Bahá'ís have great responsibilities,Page 534
both towards their own race and towards their fellow-believers. They must not only arise to teach the Cause to the members of their own race, but must do all in their power to ensure that within the Bahá'í Community itself the negro and white believers understand and love each other and are truly as one soul in different bodies. Our allegiance as believers is to Bahá'u'lláh; we must fix our attention and devotion on Him and His will and, heedless of the shortcomings of our fellow-Bahá'ís, act as He would have us towards them."(Ibid.)
1812. Principle of the Oneness of Mankind--Incompatible with Racial Prejudices
"Regarding the solution of the racial problem: The believers should of course realize that the principle of the oneness of mankind which is the cornerstone of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh is wholly incompatible with all forms of racial prejudice. Loyalty to this foundation principle of the Faith is the paramount duty of every believer and should be therefore whole-hearted and unqualified. For a Bahá'í racial prejudice, in all its forms, is simply a negation of faith, an attitude wholly incompatible with the very spirit and actual teachings of the Cause.
"But while the friends should faithfully and courageously uphold this Bahá'í principle of the essential unity of all human races, yet in the methods they adopt for its application and further realization on the social plane they should act with tact, wisdom and moderation. These two attitudes are by no means exclusive. Bahá'u'lláh urges us to always act wisely and moderately. Bahá'ís do not believe that the spread of the Cause and its principles and teachings can be effected by means of radical and violent methods. While they are loyal to all these Teachings yet they believe in the necessity of resorting to peaceful and friendly means for the realization of their aims."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 22, 1936)1813. The Evil Forces of Prejudice
"The believers must realize that the forces of prejudice are, along with so many other evil practices, growing at present stronger in the darkness surrounding humanity. The Bahá'ís must exercise not only tact and judgement, but courage and confidence in the aid of Bahá'u'lláh, which He will vouchsafe to those who attempt to live up to His teachings, in their whole approach to this racial question. Too much hesitance, too great timidity in the face of public opinion, can be just as bad as too much disregard of the actual situation and the problems it involves."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 23, 1941)
1814. The Negroes Should Be Proud and Happy in the Praises which Bahá'u'lláh Bestowed Upon Them and Other Downtrodden Races
"As we neither feel nor acknowledge any distinction between the duties and privileges of a Bahá'í, whoever he may be, it is incumbent upon the negro believers to rise above this great test which the attitude of some of their white brethren may present. They must prove their innate equality not by words but by deeds. They must accept the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh for the sake of the Cause, love it, and cling to it, and teach it, and fight for it as their own Cause, forgetful of the shortcomings of others. Any other attitude is unworthy of their faith.Page 535
"Proud and happy in the praises which even Bahá'u'lláh Himself has bestowed upon them, they must feel He revealed Himself for them and every other downtrodden race, loves them, and will help them to attain their destiny.
"The whole race question in America is a national one and of great importance. But the negro friends must not waste their precious opportunity to serve the Faith, in these momentous days, by dwelling on the admitted shortcomings of the white friends. They must arise and serve and teach, confident of the future they are building, a future in which we know these barriers will have once and for all been overcome!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1942)
1815. The Guardian Encourages Participation with Non-Political Progressive Groups
"Regarding your question: The Guardian does not see how Bahá'í participation with other organizations and religious bodies in a non-political meeting to promote civic unity and welfare along some line can be considered political. Much as the friends must guard against in any way ever seeming to identify themselves or the Cause with any political party, they must also guard against the other extreme of never taking part with other progressive groups, in conferences or committees designed to promote some activity in entire accord with our teachings--such as, for instance, better race relations."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 21, 1948)
1816. The Whites Should Welcome Negroes in Their Homes and Even Marry Them if They Wish--Both Sides Have Prejudice to Overcome
"He feels it is time that the Bahá'ís stopped worrying entirely about the white element in a community, and that they should concentrate on showing the negro element that this is a Faith which produces full equality and which loves and wants minorities. The Bahá'ís should welcome the negroes to their homes, make every effort to teach them, associate with them, even marry them if they want to. We must remember that Abdu'l-Bahá Himself united in Bahá'í marriage a coloured and a white believer. He could not do more.
"Also, as the Guardian has been pointing out to the pilgrims, the Faith must be representative of the population. In a great many places in the South the majority of the population is still negro. This should be reflected in the Bahá'í Community, fearlessly. Both the white Bahá'ís and the coloured Bahá'ís must steadily work to attain this objective of bringing the Faith to the coloured people, and of confirming many of them in it. Both sides have prejudices to overcome; one, the prejudice which is built up in the minds of a people who have conquered and imposed their will, and the other the reactionary prejudice of those who have been conquered and sorely put upon."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Inter-Racial Teaching Committee, May 27, 1957)
1817. The Sufferings and Tribulations of the Jews Will Terminate During the Bahá'í Era
"...You should certainly endeavour to establish further contacts with your Jewish fellow-citizens, as their spiritual destiny is assuredly bright. The age-long sufferings and tribulations which the Jews all over the world have so cruelly experienced willPage 536
be terminated during the Bahá'í era, as they will be gradually led to embrace the Faith which, indeed, constitutes the only means of salvation to their race."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 22, 1937)1818. The Glorious Destiny of the Jews
"...If the Jews study the teachings they will find in them the hopes and aspirations that they have always cherished. Bahá'u'lláh bears a wonderful message to the Jews and many of them have come to appreciate it and are active in carrying it to others of their race. Through Bahá'u'lláh, the Master tells us, they shall regain their ancient glory and become loved by all the people of the whole world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 14, 1932)
1819. Believers of Jewish Descent Should Call Themselves Bahá'ís
"He feels you did the right thing to have yourself under 'Religion' registered as a Bahá'í. Unfortunately, owing to this obnoxious and vicious race prejudice of every sort which afflicts the world today, the term Jew has come more to mean a race than a religion. You certainly, as your father feels, should never wish to disassociate yourself from a group of people who have contributed as much to the world as the Jews have. On the other hand your actual religion today is Bahá'í, and he feels that Jews should, when they become Bahá'ís, always give this as their Faith, but as their racial descent they should give 'Jewish'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 15, 1948)Page 537
"It is clear from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh about the nature of the soul and of life after death as published in 'Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh', that the Bahá'í position on this subject is wholly incompatible with the theory of reincarnation. We suggest that you refer this friend to the explanation of 'return' as given by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Iqan and the statements made by Abdu'l-Bahá in 'Some Answered Questions'.
"...for your additional information we give the following quotations from letters written on behalf of the beloved Guardian on this subject:
'No revelation from God has ever taught reincarnation; this is a man-made conception. The soul of man comes into being at conception.' (To an individual believer, April 1, 1946)
'The Bahá'í view of 'reincarnation' is essentially different from the Hindu conception. The Bahá'ís believe in the return of the attributes and qualities, but maintain that the essence or the reality of things cannot be made to return. Every being keeps its own individuality, but some of his qualities can be transmitted. The doctrine of metempsychosis upheld by the Hindus is fallacious.' (To an individual believer, March 27, 1938)
'Evolution in the life of the individual starts with the formation of the human embryo and passes through various stages, and even continues after death in another form. The human spirit is capable of infinite development.
'Man's identity or rather his individuality is never lost. His reality as a person remains intact throughout the various states of his development. He does not preexist in any form before coming into this world.' (To an individual believer, November 26, 1939)
'We as Bahá'ís are not influenced by the categorical assertions of scholars. We believe that what Bahá'u'lláh has revealed and Abdu'l-Bahá has written is from God, and divinely inspired; that Bahá'u'lláh is a Manifestation of God, and has access to a knowledge denied to ordinary human beings.'" (Letter written to an individual believer, April 22, 1954 on behalf of the Guardian)
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Monaco, August 5, 1969)1821. Everybody is Entitled to Their Own Opinion
"Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. If they do not set it forth with conviction, they are failing in their duty to expose their ideas sincerely and graphically; but because they believe something firmly themselves does not in anyway imply that what they believe is the truth. Between the truth which comes from God through His Prophets, and the glimmerings, often misunderstood and misinterpreted, of truth which comePage 538
from the philosophers and thinkers, there is an immense difference. We must never, under any circumstances, confuse the two."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 22, 1954: Ibid.)
1822. Learning Can Be the Veil Between the Soul of Man and Truth
"Bahá'u'lláh has said that learning can be the veil between the soul of man and the eternal truth; in other words, between man and the knowledge of God. We have seen that many people who become very advanced in the study of modern physical sciences are led to deny God, and to deny His Prophets. That does not mean that God and the Prophets have not and do not exist. It only means that knowledge has become a veil between their hearts and the light of God.
"It would be absolutely impossible for anyone to answer all the questions that might be asked by the curious, whether scholars or ordinary people, on any subject. If the Prophets of God only came to this world in order to answer people's questions, and elucidate all the 'nonsense', for the most part, that people have gotten together and formed into cults and philosophies, they would have no time to instruct man by their example and through their teachings in a new way of life."(Ibid.)
1823. Have Not Had Time to Evolve Bahá'í Scholars Who Can Deal with These Subjects
"We must turn aside from these vain imaginings and suppositions and philosophizings of the world, and fix our eyes upon the clear stream of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Out of these teachings, and the society which they will create on this planet, will come a solution to all of the problems of men. Gradually, greater scholars, more deeply spiritual thinkers, will be able to answer from a Bahá'í standpoint many of these questions. It is not necessary that they should be in the divine text; they can be studied and learned in the future; but at present we have not had time to evolve the Bahá'í scholars who can deal with these subjects in detail, and take upon themselves to answer the abstruse points and the many unfounded doctrines which are advanced by modern philosophers."(Ibid.)
1824. Unlikely You Will Be Able to Convert People Who Study These Topics
"It is very unlikely that you will be able either to successfully argue with, or to convert, any of the people who study these topics you have mentioned in your letter. They are more interested in mystical things, and in mystery itself, than in this present world in which we live, and how to solve its problems. They enjoy abstractions and complications. Minds such as these are not going to be able to accept the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, which is for here and now, and which involves the purification of the mind, and as application of His teachings to daily life...."(Ibid.)
1825. What Bahá'u'lláh Means by Faculty of Sight and Hearing
"What Bahá'u'lláh means by the faculty of sight and hearing is the physical faculty, not a spiritual abstraction. He means that we have been given eyes and ears to appreciate what goes on in this world, by Almighty God; in other words, we canPage 539
read the Teachings and listen to the Message of the Prophet. This is to be taken literally."(Ibid.)
"We know from His Teachings that reincarnation does not exist. We come on to this planet once only. Our life here is like The Báby in the womb of its mother, which develops in that state what is necessary for its entire life after it is born. The same is true of us. Spiritually we must develop here what we will require for the life after death. In that future life, God, through His Mercy, can help us to evolve characteristics which we neglected to develop while we were on this earthly plane. It is not necessary for us to come back and be born into another body in order to advance spiritually and grow closer to God.
"This is the Bahá'í Teaching, and this is what the followers of Bahá'u'lláh must accept, regardless of what experiences other people may feel they have. You yourself must surely know that modern psychology has taught that the capacity of the human mind for believing what it imagines is almost infinite. Because people think they have a certain type of experience, they think they remember something of a previous life, does not mean they actually had the experience, or existed previously. The power of their mind would be quite sufficient to make them believe firmly such a thing had happened."(Ibid.)
1827. We Must Use Writings of the Prophets as Our Measurement
"We must use the Writings of the Prophets as our measurement. If Bahá'u'lláh had attached the slightest importance to occult experiences, to the seeing of auras, to the hearing of mystic voices; if He had believed that reincarnation was a fact, He, Himself, would have mentioned all of these things in His Teachings. The fact that He passed over them in silence shows that to Him, they had either no importance or no reality, and were consequently not worthy to take up His time as the Divine Educator of the human race."(Ibid.)
1828. Reverence and Respect Toward the Holy Places
"You have asked about visiting holy places and the observance of marked reverence toward these resplendent spots. Holy places are undoubtedly centres of the outpouring of Divine grace, because on entering the illumined sites associated with martyrs and holy souls, and by observing reverence, both physical and spiritual, one's heart is moved with great tenderness...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 61)
1829. The Record of Abdu'l-Bahá'í Voice Should Be Listened to with the Utmost Reverence
"...the friends to exercise restraint and caution in the use and distribution of the record of the Master's voice. In my view, it should be used only on special occasions and be listened to with the utmost reverence. The dignity of the Cause, I am sure, would suffer from too wide and indiscriminate use of one of the most precious relics of our departed Master."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, November 26, 1923)1830. Viewing the Film of Abdu'l-Bahá
"Regarding the use of the Master's film, the greatest care must be exercised lest we cheapen its value by too frequent and indiscriminate exhibition either amongst the believers or the non-Bahá'ís. Only on special occasions, such as important anniversaries, should the film be shown and its solemn sacred character should be duly emphasized."
(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi, February 28, 1928)
1831. Portrayal of Any of the Manifestations of God Forbidden
"Your understanding that the portrayal of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh in works of art is forbidden, is correct. The Guardian made it clear that this prohibition refers to all the Manifestations of God; photographs, or reproductions of portraits, of the Master may be used in books, but no attempt should be made to portray Him in dramatic or other works where He would be one of the 'dramatic personae'. However, there can be no objection to symbolic representation of such Holy Figures, provided it does not become a ritual and that the symbol used is not irreverent."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 3, 1972)
1832. Showing Reverence Differs from Culture to Culture
"Problems arise when there are disagreements among the friends as to what is dignified and reverent. The Universal House of Justice is reluctant to specify such mattersPage 541
in detail and urges the believers not to make an issue of them. If a believer is seriously worried about a particular case, he may refer it to his National Spiritual Assembly and should abide by the Assembly's decision."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 12, 1980)1833. Photograph of Bahá'u'lláh
"There is no objection that the believers look at the picture of Bahá'u'lláh, but they should do so with the utmost reverence, and should also not allow that it be exposed openly to the public, even in their private homes."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 6, 1939)B. Spirituality
"Man is the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality--that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspect may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic powers, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among creatures; but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is their such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man. Thus the reflection of the Divine Light was in man, as in Christ, and see how loved and honoured He is!..."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, pp. 235-236, Wilmette, 1984 ed.)1835. Requisites for Spiritual Growth
"Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by Abdu'l-Bahá in His Talks and Tablets. One can summarise them briefly in this way:
1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.
2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought. 3. Prayerful meditation on the teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.
4. Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.5. Teaching the Cause of God.
6. Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 1, 1983)Page 542
1836. Points Towards the Attainment of True Spirituality--Spiritual Exercises of Prayer and Meditation
"These points, expressed in other words, have already been conveyed to the friends ... by the Counsellors, but the House of Justice wishes to stress them, because they represent the path towards the attainment of true spirituality that has been laid down by the Manifestation of God for this age.
"It is striking how private and personal the most fundamental spiritual exercises of prayer and meditation are in the Faith. Bahá'ís do, of course, have meetings for devotions, as in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar or at Nineteen Day Feasts, but the daily obligatory prayers are ordained to be said in the privacy of one's chamber, and meditation on the Teachings is, likewise, a private individual activity, not a form of group therapy. In His talks Abdu'l-Bahá describes prayer as 'conversation with God', and concerning meditation He says that 'while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed!'"(Ibid.)
1837. Bahá'u'lláh Specified No Procedure to be Followed in Meditation and No Method Should Be Taught in Summer Schools
"There are, of course, other things that one can do to increase one's spirituality. For example, Bahá'u'lláh has specified no procedures to be followed in meditation, and individual believers are free to do as they wish in this area, provided that they remain in harmony with the teachings, but such activities are purely personal and should under no circumstances be confused with those actions which Bahá'u'lláh Himself considered to be of fundamental importance for our spiritual growth. Some believers may find that it is beneficial to them to follow a particular method of meditation, and they may certainly do so, but such methods should not be taught at Bahá'í Summer Schools or be carried out during a session of the School because, while they may appeal to some people, they may repel others. They have nothing to do with the Faith and should be kept quite separate so that enquirers will not be confused."(Ibid.)
1838. For Private Meditation, Believer May Desire to Use the Greatest Name
"It would seem that there are ... many believers who draw particular benefit from meditation. The House of Justice suggests that for their private meditations they may wish to use the repetition of the Greatest Name, Allah-u-Abha, ninety-five times a day which, although not yet applied in the West, is among the Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. (See p. 46 of the 'Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas'.)
"The House of Justice is confident that if the believers ... will conscientiously strive to increase their spirituality in the six ways outlined above, and become aware in their inmost beings that in all their services they are but vehicles for the confirming power of God, they will attract the hearts of their fellow citizens and penetrate the miasma of materialism that veils the sight of so many of their countrymen. Effort, activity,Page 543
unity and constant reliance on the power of Bahá'u'lláh will assuredly overcome all obstacles."(Ibid.)
"...in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness and refinement, exalt the human condition and further the development of man's inner reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 146-147)
1840. The Obligatory Prayers and Reading Sacred Scriptures Every Morning and Evening Nourish Growth of Spirituality
"The law of the Obligatory Prayers is, of course, binding on the friends in Europe, and regular, whole-hearted obedience to this law will in itself nourish the growth of spirituality. Nor should the friends neglect Bahá'u'lláh's exhortation to read the Sacred Scriptures every morning and evening."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 31, 1983)
1841. The Foundation of Spirituality is Steadfastness in the Covenant
"The thing the ... believers must do is to deepen themselves in the Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá. Mere intellectual understanding of the Teachings is not enough. Deep spirituality is essential, and the foundation of true spirituality is steadfastness in the Covenant."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 31, 1949)
1842. People Are So Markedly Lacking in Spirituality These Days
"People are so markedly lacking in spirituality these days that the Bahá'ís should consciously guard themselves against being caught in what one might call the undertow of materialism and atheism, sweeping the world these days. Skepticism, cynicism, disbelief, immorality and hard-heartedness are rife, and as the friends are those who stand for the antithesis of all these things they should beware lest the atmosphere of the present world affects them without their being conscious of it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 19, 1945)
1843. There is a Need for a True Spiritual Awareness
"The need is very great, everywhere in the world, in and outside the Faith, for a true spiritual awareness to pervade and motivate peoples' lives. No amount of administrative procedure or adherence to rules can take the place of this soul-characteristic, this spirituality which is the essence of Man. He is very glad to see you are stressing this and aiding the friends to realize its supreme importance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 25, 1945)Page 544
1844. Spiritual Education and Progress Depend on Recognition of the Infallibility of the Manifestation of God
"Regarding your Bahá'í friend who does not fully understand the infallibility of the Manifestation of God: You should influence that person to study the matter more deeply, and to realize that the whole theory of Divine Revelation rests on the infallibility of the Prophet, be He Christ, Muhammad, Bahá'u'lláh, or one of the Others. If They are not infallible, then They are not divine, and thus lose that essential link with God which, we believe, is the bond that educates men and causes all human progress."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 11, 1942)
1845. Prayer Absolutely Indispensable--To Attain Spirituality
"...How to attain spirituality is indeed a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory answer has been given or found, that the modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundations of man's moral and spiritual life... It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform.
"For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship.
"It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer...
"The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, as already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the religion of God."
(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 8, 1935: Bahá'í Youth, p. 10)Page 545
"The growing maturity of a world-wide religious community which all these processes indicate is further evidenced in the reaching out, by a number of national communities, to the social and economic life of their countries, exemplified by the founding of tutorial schools, the inception of radio stations, the pursuit of rural development programs and the operation of medical and agricultural schemes.
"A wider horizon is opening before us, illumined by a growing and universal manifestation of the inherent potentialities of the Cause for ordering human affairs. In this light can be discerned not only our immediate tasks but, more dimly, new pursuits and undertakings upon which we must shortly become engaged."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the world, Ridvan 1983)
1847. The Concept of Social and Economic Development is Enshrined in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh
"...Thus, we can readily appreciate that although it has hitherto been impracticable for Bahá'í institutions generally to emphasize development activities, the concept of social and economic development is enshrined in the sacred Teachings of our Faith. The beloved Master, through His illuminating words and deeds, set the example for the application of this concept to the reconstruction of society. Witness, for instance, what social and economic progress the Iranian believers attained under His loving guidance and, subsequently, with the unfailing encouragement of the Guardian of the Cause."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, October 20, 1983)
1848. His Teachings Emphasize Bringing into Being a World Unified in All Essential Aspects of Life
"From the beginning of His stupendous Mission, Bahá'u'lláh urged upon the attention of nations the necessity of ordering human affairs in such a way as to bring into being a world unified in all the essential aspects of its life. In unnumbered verses and Tablets He repeatedly and variously declared the 'progress of the world' and the 'development of nations' as being among the ordinances of God for this day. The oneness of mankind, which is at once the operating principle and ultimate goal of His Revelation, implies the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth. The indispensability of thisPage 546
coherence is unmistakably illustrated in His ordination of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the spiritual centre of every Bahá'í community round which must flourish dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of mankind."(Ibid.)
1849. Steps to be Taken to Attain This Goal Must Begin in the Bahá'í Community
"Now, after all the years of constant teaching activity, the Community of the Greatest Name has grown to the stage at which the processes of this development must be incorporated into its regular pursuits; particularly its action compelled by the expansion of the Faith in Third World countries where the vast majority of its adherents reside. The steps to be taken must necessarily begin in the Bahá'í Community itself, with the friends endeavouring, through their application of spiritual principles, their rectitude of conduct and the practice of the art of consultation, to uplift themselves and thus become self-sufficient and self-reliant. Moreover, these exertions will conduce to the preservation of human honour, so desired by Bahá'u'lláh. In the process and as a consequence, the friends will undoubtedly extend the benefits of their efforts to society as a whole, until all mankind achieves the progress intended by the Lord of the Age."(Ibid.)
1850. Establishment of Office of Social and Economic Development in the World Centre
"It is indeed propitious that systematic attention be given to this vital sphere of Bahá'í endeavour. We are happy, therefore, to announce the establishment at the World Centre of the Office of Social and Economic Development, which is to assist the Universal House of Justice to promote and coordinate the activities of the friends throughout the world in this new field."(Ibid.)
1851. The Powers Released by Bahá'u'lláh Match the Needs of the Time
"...The powers released by Bahá'u'lláh match the needs of the times. We may therefore be utterly confident that the new throb of energy now vibrating throughout the Cause will empower it to meet the oncoming challenges of assisting, as maturity and resources allow, the development of the social and economic life of peoples, of collaborating with the forces leading towards the establishment of order in the world, of influencing the exploitation and constructive uses of modern technology, and in all these ways enhancing the prestige and progress of the Faith and uplifting the conditions of the generality of mankind."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1983)
1852. Progress in Development Field Depends on Stirrings at the Grass Roots
"We call now upon National Spiritual Assemblies to consider the implications of this emerging trend for their respective communities, and to take well-conceived measures to involve the thought and actions of Local Spiritual Assemblies andPage 547
individuals in the devising and implementing of plans, within the constraints of existing circumstances and available resources. Progress in the development field will largely depend on natural stirrings at the grassroots, and it should receive its driving force from those sources rather than from an imposition of plans and programs from the top."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, October 20, 1983)
1853. The Major Tasks of National Spiritual Assemblies
"...The major task of National Assemblies, therefore, is to increase the local communities' awareness of needs and possibilities, and to guide and coordinate the efforts resulting from such awareness. Already in many areas the friends are witnessing the confirmations of their initiatives in such pursuits as the founding of tutorial and other schools, the promotion of literacy, the launching of rural development programs, the inception of educational radio stations, and the operation of agricultural and medical projects. As they enlarge the scope of their endeavours other modes of development will undoubtedly emerge."(Ibid.)
1854. Applying Systematically Principles of the Faith to Upraising Quality of Human Life
"This challenge evokes the resourcefulness, flexibility and cohesiveness of the many communities composing the Bahá'í world. Different communities will, of course, perceive different approaches and different solutions to similar needs. Some can offer assistance abroad, while, at the outset, others must of necessity receive assistance; but all, irrespective of circumstances or resources, are endowed with the capacity to respond in some measure; all can share; all can participate in the joint enterprise of applying more systematically the principles of the Faith to upraising the quality of human life. The key to success is unity in spirit and in action."(Ibid.)
1855. Universal House of Justice Calls Individual to Action
"Ultimately, the call to action is addressed to the individual friends, whether they be adult or youth, veteran or newly-enrolled. Let them step forth to take their places in the arena of service where their talents and skills, their specialized training, their material resources, their offers of time and energy and, above all, their dedication to Bahá'í principles, can be put to work in improving the lot of man."(Ibid.)
1856. The Nature and Extent of Believers' Involvement Must Vary from Country to Country
"...the House of Justice wishes us to stress that the nature and extent of the believers' involvement in social and economic development must vary from country to country, both in relation to the general conditions of that country and in relation to the stage of development of the Bahá'í community. It is only because a number of Bahá'í communities have sufficiently increased their membership numerically, and have developed strongly functioning Bahá'í administrative institutions that the HousePage 548
of Justice has been able to contemplate the launching of this new stage in the work of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 30, 1984: Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development, A Compilation prepared by the International Teaching Centre of communications written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 1985)B. Agriculture
1857. Strive to Become Proficient in the Science of Agriculture
"...Strive as much as possible to become proficient in the science of agriculture, for in accordance with the Divine Teachings, the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered as acts of worship. If a man engages with all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in the churches and temples. Thus as thou entereth a school of agriculture and strivest in the acquisition of that science, thou art day and night engaged in acts of worship--acts that are accepted at the threshold of the Almighty. What bounty greater than this that science should be considered as an act of worship and art as service to the Kingdom of God."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, pp. 377-378)
1858. Solution to Economic Problem Should Begin with the Farmer
"The question of economics must commence with the farmer and then be extended to the other classes inasmuch as the number of farmers is greater than all other classes, many many times greater. Therefore, it is fitting that the economic problem be first solved with the farmer, for the farmer is the first active agent in the body politic. In brief, from among the wise men in every village a board should be organized and the affairs of that village should be under the control of that board."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Extract from a Tablet to an individual believer, October 4, 1912, translation corrected in the World Centre, December 1985)
1859. A General Warehouse Will Be Founded which Will Have Seven Revenues
"...Likewise a general storehouse should be founded with the appointment of a secretary. At the time of the harvest, with the approval of the members of that board, a determined percentage of the entire harvest should be appropriated for the storehouse.
"The storehouse is to have seven revenues: Tithes, taxes on animals, wealth without inheritors, all things found whose owners cannot be discovered, a third of all treasures (money) found in the earth, a third of the mines, and voluntary contributions."On the other hand, there are seven expenditures:
1. General running expenses of the institution--salaries etc., and the administration of public safety, including the department of hygiene.2. Tithes to the general government (State).
7. Supplying any deficiency for the expenses of the poor.
"The first revenue is the tithe. For example, if the income of a farmer is five hundred dollars and his necessary expenses are five hundred dollars, no tithes will be collected from him. Another's expenses being five hundred and his income one thousand dollars, one tenth will be taken from him, for he hath more than his needs; if he giveth one tenth his livelihood will not be disturbed. Another's expenses are one thousand dollars, and his income is five thousand dollars; as he hath four thousand dollars surplus, he will be required to give one and a half tenths. Another hath necessary expenses of one thousand dollars; but his income is ten thousand dollars; from him two tenths will be required. The necessary expenses of another person are five thousand dollars, and his income one hundred thousand; therefore, one fourth will be required from him. On the other hand, a person's income may be two hundred, but his needs absolutely essential for his livelihood are five hundred dollars; provided he hath not failed in effort and exertion or his farm hath not been blessed with a harvest, such a one must be helped from the general storehouse, so that he may not remain in need and may live in ease."(Ibid.)
1860. Bahá'í System Prevents Extremes of Wealth and Poverty
"...Of course conditions in the East differ where the Countries are rarely industrial and mostly agricultural; we should have to apply different laws from the West and that is why the principles of the Movement strike at the root which is common to them both. Abdu'l-Bahá has developed in various of His talks, which you will find in different compilations, the principles upon which the Bahá'í economic system would be based. A system that prevents among others the gradual control of wealth in the hands of a few and the resulting state of both extremes, wealth and poverty."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 28, 1927: Extracts from the Bahá'í Writings on the Subject of Agriculture and Related Subjects, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)
1861. Should Not Confuse Methods Explained by Abdu'l-Bahá with Present Day Systems
"As to your fourth question, Shoghi Effendi believes that it is preferable not to confuse the methods explained by the Master with present systems. They may have many resemblances but also many points of difference. Moreover these general statements we have in the teachings have to be explained and applied by the House of Justice before we can really appreciate their significance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 21, 1932: Ibid.)
1862. Regarding Problems of Ownership, Control and Distribution of Capital
"Regarding your questions concerning the Bahá'í attitude on various economic problems, such as the problem of ownership, control and distribution of capital, and of other means of production, the problem of trusts and monopolies, and such economic experiments as social cooperatives; the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh andPage 550
Abdu'l-Bahá do not provide specific and detailed solutions to all such economic questions which mostly pertain to the domain of technical economics, and as such do not concern directly the Cause. True, there are certain guiding principles in Bahá'í Sacred Writings on the subject of economics, but these do by no means cover the whole field of theoretical and applied economics, and are mostly intended to guide further Bahá'í economic writers and technicians to evolve an economic system which would function in full conformity with the spirit and the exact provisions of the Cause on this and similar subjects. The International House of Justice will have, in consultation with economic experts, to assist in the formulation and evolution of the Bahá'í economic system of the future. One thing, however, is certain, that the Cause neither accepts the theories of the Capitalistic economics in full, nor can it agree with the Marxists and Communists in their repudiation of the principle of private ownership and of the vital sacred rights of the individual."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 10, 1930: Ibid.)1863. Voluntary Sharing
"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh advocate voluntary sharing, and this is a greater thing than the equalization of wealth. For equalization must be imposed from without, while sharing is a matter of free choice."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Peace More Than an End to War, Wilmette, p. 115)
1864. Spirit that Permeates Economic Life Will Crystallize into Definite Institutions
"As you say, the Writings are not so rich on this subject and many issues at present baffling the minds of the world are not even mentioned. The primary consideration is the spirit that has to permeate our economic life and this will gradually crystallize itself into definite institutions and principles that will help to bring about the ideal conditions foretold by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 20, 1931: Bahá'í News, No. 90, March 1935, p. 2)1865. Social Inequality
"...social inequality is the inevitable outcome of the natural inequality of men. Human beings are different in ability and should, therefore, be different in their social and economic standing. Extremes of wealth and poverty should, however, be totally abolished. Those whose brains have contributed to the creation and improvement of the means of production must be fairly rewarded, though these means may be owned and controlled by others."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 26, 1935)1866. "Equality is a Chimera!"
"Equality is a chimera! It is entirely impracticable! Even if equality could be achieved it could not continue--and if its existence were possible, the whole order of the world would be destroyed. The law of order must always obtain in the world of humanity. Heaven has so decreed in the creation of man."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, p. 152, London, 1969 ed.)Page 551
"...The Master has definitely stated that wages should be unequal, simply because that men are unequal in their ability, and hence should receive wages that would correspond to their varying capacities and resources. This view seems to contradict the opinion of some modern economists. But the friends should have full confidence in the words of the Master, and should give preference to His statements over those voiced by our so-called modern thinkers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1935)
1868. Application of Spiritual Principles to Economic System
"...There are practically no technical teachings on economics in the Cause, such as banking, the price system, and others. The Cause is not an economic system, nor can its Founders be considered as having been technical economists. The contribution of the Faith to this subject is essentially indirect, as it consists in the application of spiritual principles to our present-day economic system. Bahá'u'lláh has given us a few basic principles which should guide future Bahá'í economists in establishing such institutions which will adjust the economic relationships of the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 103, October 1936, p. 2)
1869. Profit Sharing Recommended to Solve One Form of Economic Problems
"No, Bahá'u'lláh did not bring a complete system of economics to the world.
"Profit-sharing is recommended as a solution to one form of economic problems.
"There is nothing in the teachings against some kind of capitalism; its present form, though, would require adjustments to be made."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 19, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 210, August 1948, p. 3)
1870. Man Will Always Have to Toil to Earn His Living
"...Whatever the progress of the machinery may be, man will have always to toil in order to earn his living. Effort is an inseparable part of man's life. It may take different forms with the changing conditions of the world, but it will be always present as a necessary element in our earthly existence. Life is after all a struggle. Progress is attained through struggle, and without such a struggle life ceases to have a meaning; it becomes even extinct. The progress of machinery has not made effort unnecessary. It has given it a new form, a new outlet."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 26, 1935)
1871. Religion Alone Can Enable Man to Adjust the Economic Relationships of Society
"...By the statement 'the economic solution is divine in nature' is meant that religion alone can, in the last resort, bring in man's nature such a fundamental change as to enable him to adjust the economic relationships of society. It is only in this way that man can control the economic forces that threaten to disrupt the foundations of his existence, and thus assert his mastery over the forces of nature."(Ibid.)
1872. A New Universal Attitude Needs to be Fostered--Based on Spiritual Verities
"The inordinate disparity between rich and poor, a source of acute suffering, keeps the world in a state of instability, virtually on the brink of war. Few societies have dealt effectively with this situation. The solution calls for the combined application of spiritual, moral and practical approaches. A fresh look at the problem is required, entailing consultation with experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines, devoid of economic and ideological polemics, and involving the people directly affected in the decisions that must urgently be made. It is an issue that is bound up not only with the necessity for eliminating extremes of wealth and poverty but also with those spiritual verities the understanding of which can produce a new universal attitude. Fostering such an attitude is itself a major part of the solution."
(The Universal House of Justice: The Promise of World Peace, pp. 10-11, Haifa, 1985)D. Projects
1873. Participation in Projects Depends Largely on Certain Conditions in the Community
"The suggestions (concerning possible development projects) are now referred to you so that you may initiate consultation at the grass roots level of the local Bahá'í communities, involving Local Spiritual Assemblies of that area. In addition to projecting Counsellor ...'s broad ideas, you should seek the suggestions of the believers regarding local needs and initiatives. Your Assembly is also asked to consider the practicability of such projects and conduct a survey of the localities, indicating which of these would be able to host the projects. Among the criteria of capacity would be the following:
1. Strength of the community and its ability to benefit from projects spiritually as well as materially, including the beneficial effects of collective action upon the community and its participants.
2. Willingness of the local believers to participate, collaborate and support the projects.
3. Degree and dimension of the local contributions to the projects in terms of manpower (labour), materials and resources.
4. Presence of able people to manage the human resources and direct the energies of the friends, including strong liaisons between volunteers (international and national) and local believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 9, 1983: A Compilation on Social and Economic Development)
1874. The Primary Objective of Such Projects Should Be Service to the Community, Not as a Business
"While it is the wish of the House of Justice to see social and economic development become a part of the life of Bahá'í communities, great care should be exercised that our limited efforts are directed to projects whose primary objective is not business but service to the community. Such projects as engagement in commercial activities and the erection of factories will surely divert the attention of Bahá'í institutions from directly promoting the Cause at this time. The Counsellors will be able to advisePage 553
and guide you in selecting, if favourable conditions exist, modest projects which promote the welfare of members of the Bahá'í community, as well as the betterment of their fellow men."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 8, 1983: Ibid.)
1875. Social and Economic Development Projects Should Meet Needs and Aspirations of Local Believers
"...Bahá'ís who wish to start a business as a group effort in the service of the Faith are advised to consult with their Local or National Spiritual Assemblies. Projects of economic and social development undertaken by Bahá'í institutions, or assisted by them, should usually be quite modest at first, so that experience can be gained. They should be suited to the local situation and meet the particular needs and aspirations of the local believers. Gradually, as knowledge and experience are gained, each National Spiritual Assembly can encourage and develop larger projects and perhaps include even the whole national community in appropriate endeavours."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 7, 1984: Ibid.)1876. Two Fundamental Principles
"There are two principles which the House of Justice feels are fundamental to the generality of such projects of social and economic development, although, of course, there will be exceptions. The first is that they must be built on a substructure of existing, sufficiently strong local Bahá'í communities. The second is that the long-term conduct of the project should aim at self-sufficiency and not be dependent upon continuing financial support from outside.
"The first principle implies that the projects of social and economic development now to be undertaken are a natural stage of the growth of the Bahá'í community and are needed by the community itself although they will, of course, benefit a much wider segment of society. The Bahá'í world is in no position financially or from the point of view of manpower, to launch undertakings for the economic and social development of populations in areas where there are but few believers. The greatest need of all peoples is for the Faith itself, so that they may know the destiny towards which they as individuals and as members of society must strive, and will learn from the teachings those virtues and methods which will enable them to work together in harmony, forbearance and trustworthiness.
"The second principle must take into account that any project started by the Cause should be designed to grow soundly and steadily, and not to collapse from attrition. In other words, external assistance and funds, Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í, may be used for capital acquisitions, to make surveys, to initiate activities, to bring in expertise, but the aim should be for each project to be able to continue and to develop on the strength of local Bahá'í labour, funds and enthusiasm even if all external aid should be cut off."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, May 8, 1984)
1877. Social and Economic Development Must Be Placed on a Spiritual Basis to Prove Productive
"...It cannot be over-emphasized that venturing into social and economicPage 554
development rests upon the fundamental principles enshrined in the Teachings concerning the inter-relationship between the spiritual and material aspects of life, and if social and economic activity is not placed on a spiritual basis it may well prove counter-productive or even harmful, as without a spiritual base the people are likely to become corrupt or materialistic.
"As the friends deepen their understanding of the message of the Universal House of Justice dated 20 October 1983, they will rise to the challenge and re-orient their thoughts and actions to meet the situations which they encounter in their daily life, drawing on the wisdom of consultation and sustained by the high and noble spiritual principles of our Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 12, 1984)1878. Suggestions for Projects Are Welcome
"Suggestions for projects for development are welcome from whatever source they spring but ideally they should emanate from the local communities and receive support of the Local and National Assemblies; it should not be necessary to send people to countries to solicit projects. However, if a community has the desire to plan a special project, it is free to call upon people with experience to assist in the planning, design and implementation of the scheme."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre, November 1, 1983: A Compilation on Social and Economic Development)
1879. Projects May Receive Help in Finances and Manpower from Bahá'í Sources
"The message of the House of Justice dated 20th October 1983 has clearly set out the concepts, defined the objectives and outlined the guiding principles for the selection and implementation of Bahá'í development projects, programmes or activities. The vast majority of Bahá'í projects will be primarily generated at the grass roots, and, initially as required, will receive help from Bahá'í sources, in terms of finances and manpower. The projects will, as you have surmised, be non-profit making, concerned mainly with activities closely related to education, health and hygiene, agriculture and simple community development activities. It is hoped that all these types of projects will reflect the strength of the spiritual principles enshrined in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
"It is important that our undertakings be modest in their scope at the present time. Then, as we gain in confidence and experience and as our resources increase, our work will encompass expanded objectives, and the friends will explore new areas of social and economic activity."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 23, 1983: Ibid.)E. Objectives for Social and Economic Development
1880. The Preservation of Cultural Identities and Customs
"Bahá'ís should obviously be encouraged to preserve their inherited cultural identities, as long as the activities involved do not contravene the principles of the Faith. The perpetuation of such cultural characteristics is an expression of unity in diversity.Page 555
Although most of these festive celebrations have no doubt stemmed from religious rituals in bygone ages, the believers should not be deterred from participating in those in which, over the course of time, the religious meaning has given way to purely culturally oriented practices. For example, Naw-Ruz itself was originally a Zoroastrian religious festival, but gradually its Zoroastrian connotation has almost been forgotten. Iranians, even after their conversion to Islam, have been observing it as a national festival. Now Naw-Ruz has become a Bahá'í Holy Day and is being observed throughout the world, but, in addition to the Bahá'í observance, many Iranian Bahá'ís continue to carry out their past cultural traditions in connection with this Feast. Similarly, there are a number of national customs in every part of the world which have cultural rather than religious connotations."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, May 26, 1982)1881. Arts, Crafts and Sciences
"The third Tajalli is concerning arts, crafts and sciences. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book on the day of His return. Happy are those possessed of a hearing ear. In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Thus hath the Tongue of Grandeur spoken in this Most Great Prison."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, pp. 51-52)
1882. Wealth is Praiseworthy--If Acquired by Efforts and Grace of God, and if Expended for Philanthropic Purposes
"Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree, if it is acquired by an individual's own efforts and the grace of God, in commerce, agriculture, art and industry, and if it be expended for philanthropic purposes. Above all, if a judicious and resourceful individual should initiate measures which would universally enrich the masses of the people, there could be no undertaking greater than this, and it would rank in the sight of God as the supreme achievement, for such a benefactor would supply the needs and insure the comfort and well-being of a great multitude. Wealth is most commendable, provided the entire population is wealthy. If, however, a few have inordinate riches while the rest are impoverished, and no fruit or benefit accrues from that wealth, then it is only a liability to its possessor. If, on the other hand, it is expended for the promotion of knowledge, the founding of elementary and other schools, the encouragement of art and industry, the training of orphans and the poor--in brief, if it is dedicated to the welfare of society--its possessor will stand out before God and man as the most excellent of all who live on earth and will be accounted as one of the people of paradise."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 24-25, Wilmette, 1975)1883. The Promotion of Education
"The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It isPage 556
inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward. The principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance. Today the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex needs of time."(Ibid., p. 109)
1884. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar--The Spiritual Precedes the Material
"A symbol of this process may be seen in the House of Worship and its dependencies. The first part to be built is the central edifice which is the spiritual heart of the community. Then, gradually, as the outward expression of this spiritual heart, the various dependencies, those 'institutions of social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant' are erected and function. This process begins in an embryonic way long before a Bahá'í community reaches the stage of building its own Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, for even the first local centre that a Bahá'í community erects can begin to serve not only as the spiritual and administrative centre and gathering place of the community, but also as the site of a tutorial school and the heart of other aspects of community life. The principle remains, however, that the spiritual precedes the material. First comes the illumination of hearts and minds by the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, and then the grass roots stirring of the believers wishing to apply these teachings to the daily life of their community. Such stirrings can be fostered, encouraged and assisted by the national and continental institutions of the Faith, but without them any activities introduced from above might well prove abortive."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, May 8, 1984)
1885. The Spiritual Principle Induces an Attitude, a Dynamic, a Will, an Aspiration
"There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is imminent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them."
(The Universal House of Justice: The Promise of World Peace, p. 28, Wilmette, 1985)G. Tutorial Schools
1886. The Importance of Establishing Tutorial Schools
"The importance of establishing such schools has repeatedly been emphasized byPage 557
the House of Justice. They not only are instruments for the immediate consolidation of Bahá'í communities and neighbourhood areas, but also serve to train Bahá'í children and youth in rendering services to the Faith and demonstrate the fact that Bahá'ís are engaged in humanitarian services to the community at large. By their establishment, Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike are assisted. In addition, such schools foster a healthy relationship between Bahá'í communities and institutions, inasmuch as they are called upon to help the communities by providing teachers, facilities, etc. Some of the local friends may be inspired to contribute land and/or building materials for the schools, or may wish to help in their construction."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, January 3, 1983)
1887. Bahá'í Youth and Young Adults Should Be Willing to Become Teachers
"The Universal House of Justice is confident there are literally hundreds of Bahá'í youth and young adults who would willingly and happily become teachers in tutorial schools, especially if the National Spiritual Assembly assured them of adequate wages and secure employment. It may be possible for their salaries to be paid by charging reasonable tuition fees to students attending the schools. This in itself would be a major step in educating new believers to contribute to the Fund, and would help the schools to become self-supporting."(Ibid.)
1888. School Should Be Planned by Bahá'ís in Consultation with Non-Bahá'ís
"The establishment of a school is presumably to meet the needs of the Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í community. It should be planned by the Bahá'ís and if advisable, in consultation with the non-Bahá'ís; it should be presented as an effort of the community; the collaboration and the cooperation of all should be invited and assured.
"If adequate manpower is available, it should be managed by the Bahá'í community and its management be responsible to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the locality in which it is situated, or the National Spiritual Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uruguay, June 18, 1986)
1889. A Privately Owned Kindergarten Could Be Considered a Social and Economic Activity for Statistics
"In regard to the kindergarten which belongs to a Bahá'í pioneer family, it could be considered as a private social and economic activity and would be listed as such, although it is clearly recognized that the Bahá'í community does not have any responsibility for the management or operation of such a school.
"The individual initiative of the friends should be carefully nurtured and encouraged so that they may, guided by the spiritual principles of our Faith, arise to fulfil their spiritual responsibilities."(Ibid.)
1890. Contributions from Non-Bahá'ís for Maintenance of Tutorial Schools
"Your letter ... about accepting donations from non-Bahá'ís for the maintenance of tutorial schools has been received, and we have been asked to reply as follows.
"Bahá'ís may receive contributions from non-Bahá'ís for charitable activities whosePage 558
beneficiaries are non-Bahá'ís as well. However, it is very important to ensure that the acceptance of funds from any source should in no way affect the school's direction and policy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, January 13, 1978)Page 559
"The basic purpose of all Bahá'í Summer Schools, whether in East or West, is to give the believers the opportunity to fully acquaint themselves, not only by mere study but through whole-hearted and active collaboration in various Bahá'í activities, with the essentials of the Administration and in this way enable them to become efficient and able promoters of the Cause...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 25, 1933: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 8, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice, Wilmette, 1980 ed.)