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1892. Undue Time Should Not Be Spent on Philosophic and Esoteric Subjects
"The reports we have received on summer school sessions held in Europe this year indicate that some of them spend undue time on philosophic and esoteric subjects and insufficient emphasis on the Bahá'í Faith and its Teachings.
"The beloved Guardian stressed that one of the important purposes of Bahá'í summer schools is to deepen the knowledge of the believers in the history and Teachings of the Faith so that they can become better teachers. To this end he emphasized the study of Islam and the Qur'an so that the friends would have a background against which to study the Bahá'í Writings, and he urged study of the principles of Bahá'í Administration.
"In addition he stated that summer schools should become high occasions for teaching the Message. To an individual believer he wrote: 'Through daily association with the believers, non-Bahá'ís will come to see the Cause functioning as an active and living community entirely dedicated to the service of what is best and highest in the world. The lectures will familiarize them with the principles underlying the New World Order, while their participation in the social life of the believers will enable them to see the way in which these very same principles are put into operation.'
"It is requested that National Assemblies review summer school and winter school curricula in light of these important principles. At this time, when the prosecution of the Nine Year Plan to final victory is of supreme importance, it is also urged that during summer school sessions opportunities be provided to impress upon the believers the urgent need for pioneering and teaching.
"We pray that summer schools may become increasingly effective in educating the friends so that they in turn may become useful channels for the diffusion of the Divine fragrances."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies of Europe, September 26, 1969)Page 560
"How wonderful it would be if all the friends could arrange to spend at least a few days in one of these summer schools and take an active part in their development. These centers could attract many souls if properly arranged and made interesting; those non-Bahá'ís who visit them will then have some time to get into the spirit of the place and make a study of the Cause...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, received about May 1, 1932: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 2)1894. Lecture Method Not Sufficient
"Shoghi Effendi feels that the real purpose of these Summer Schools is to deepen the knowledge of the friends. Lectures are very essential for they give a wonderful picture of the subject matter. But it is not sufficient to have a picture; the friends should deepen their knowledge and this can be achieved if, together with the lectures, there are study classes and seminar work carried on by the same lecturer. The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social, economic and political conditions are daily becoming more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in informing the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the minds of men. It is in these Summer Schools that this training should be provided for the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 27, 1932: Ibid., pp. 1-2)1895. Supervised by National Assembly
"Regarding the Summer Schools in general: Although there is no objection to their being under the direct management of a special Committee elected for that purpose, they must be generally supervised by the N.S.A. in respect to policy, etc. In other words, they must be considered as a national and not a purely local institution.
"For purposes of convenience the N.S.A. may appoint as members of such Committees, those who are situated near the Summer Schools and are able to pay direct attention to their affairs."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, April 18, 1942: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 45)
1896. Summer Schools Inseparable Part of Teaching Campaign
"...The institution of the Summer School constitutes a vital and inseparable part of any teaching campaign, and as such ought to be given the full importance it deserves in the teaching plans and activities of the believers. It should be organized in such a way as to attract the attention of the non-believers to the Cause and thus become an effective medium for teaching. Also it should afford the believers themselves an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the Teachings, through lectures and discussions and by means of close and intense community life."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 17, 1936: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, pp. 2-3)Page 561
"...They must try and introduce the Bahá'í atmosphere of life and thought into their Summer Schools, rather than making the Summer School an episode and a pleasant vacation period, during which they learn a little more about the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, May 23, 1954: Ibid., p. 12)1898. Dancing, Nothing in Teachings Against
"As regards the questions you asked him: There is nothing in the teachings against dancing, and any arrangements for it at summer schools, etc., is left to the discretion of the Committee or Assembly in charge to make."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 24, 1947: Ibid., p. 16)1899. Topics to be Discussed
"The wide range of the topics that are to be discussed and studied by the friends cover most of the important aspects of the Cause and such a plan will undoubtedly give them a broad and a sound knowledge of the essentials of the Faith. Special stress, however, should be put on the history of the Movement as well as on the guiding principles of Bahá'í Administration; for on these two points most of the believers are not adequately informed. It is, therefore, a great opportunity for them to strengthen the basis of their beliefs and to try to deepen their understanding of the basis of the present-day Bahá'í administrative system."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 5, 1932: Ibid., p. 7)
1900. The Summer School Curriculum Should Concentrate on Deepening the Student's Grasp of the Teachings
"He feels ... that some of the courses are not sufficiently Bahá'í in nature, but carry the student off into an unnecessary study of special techniques--history, psychology or whatever it may be, which however valuable these topics may be in training the human mind and fitting the individual for contact with others, are a waste of time, in view of the very limited period that most of the Bahá'ís spend at a Bahá'í summer school.
"The friends should concentrate on deepening their grasp of the Teachings, particularly on studying what has already been done, and what must be done to fulfil the goals...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 11, 1954)
1901. It is Important that Courses on Covenant-Breaking Be Included in the Summer School Curriculum
"...your Assembly cannot be too careful or vigilant in watching over the Community, seeking out the sources of corruption and protecting the friends. He feels that a course in Covenant-breaking should be included in the Summer School curriculum, so that the friends may understand the nature of this evil, and how it has affected our Faith for one hundred years, and other Faiths in the past. The American Bahá'ís, aside from the older ones, do not seem to have any concept whatsoever of what a Covenant-breaker is, and the place to educate them in these matters is in the SummerPage 562
Schools and on other occasions when they meet in large numbers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957)
1902. Indispensable for Students to Study the Pattern of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
"A careful look at the subjects mentioned in your program clearly reveals the fact that the friends have at last come to realize how indispensible it is for them to deepen their knowledge of the background and of the administrative development of the Cause. These were, indeed, the two main points which they had hitherto neglected to study, and the time has come when they have to attach to them all the importance they deserve. Particularly remarkable has been your effort in regard to the study of the Administration--an important new feature in the history of the Cause, the study of which is becoming increasingly indispensable to every thoughtful student of the Faith. It is hoped that in the next few years all our Bahá'í Summer Schools, whether in the States or abroad, will make a conscious and thorough attempt to fully acquaint the friends with the origin, nature and peculiar significance of the nascent administrative institutions of the Cause, which constitute a humble, though a very exact pattern, of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. It is of the utmost importance that from now the believers should get familiar with the rudiments of the Administration, that they may not follow the path which the followers of older religions have trodden and which have led to their eventual downfall."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 20, 1933)
1903. The Importance of the Study of Islam--Need Competent Lecturers and Writers, Not Necessarily Bahá'ís
"First is the importance of the study of Islam--which subject is still new to the majority of the believers, but whose importance for a proper and sound understanding of the Cause is absolutely indispensible. Your Committee should therefore continue to emphasize the study of this all-important subject, and make every effort to provide the attendants with all the facilities required, such as textbooks, competent lecturers and writers, who though not necessarily Bahá'ís, should have a correct knowledge and sound appreciation of Islam, so as to be able to impress its true significance and mission upon all the attendants at the school."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 14, 1939)
1904. Teaching of the Qur'an is Absolutely Indispensable
"...the Guardian would certainly advise, and even urge the friends to make a thorough study of the Qur'an as the knowledge of this Sacred Scripture is absolutely indispensable for every believer who wishes to adequately understand and intelligently read the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Although there are very few persons among our Western Bahá'ís who are capable of handling such a course in a scholarly way, yet, the mere lack of such competent teachers should encourage and stimulate the believers to get better acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures of Islam. In this way, there will gradually appear some distinguished Bahá'ís who will be so well versed in thePage 563
teachings of Islam as to be able to guide the believers in their study of that religion."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 2, 1935: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 9)1905. Character Building and Ethics
"The course on character building ... the Guardian feels, is particularly important and should be given due emphasis and studied carefully and thoroughly specially by the young believers in attendance at the school. Those standards of Bahá'í conduct, which he himself has set forth in his last general epistle, 'The Advent of Divine Justice', and which it should be the paramount duty of every loyal and conscientious believer to endeavor to uphold and promote, deserve serious study and meditation, and should constitute the main central theme of this year's program....
"The principles and methods laid down by the Guardian in his 'Advent of Divine Justice' on this vital subject of Bahá'í ethics, should indeed prove of invaluable inspiration and guidance to all the students and friends attending the Summer School classes, and thus prepare them to better appreciate the privileges, and more adequately discharge the responsibilities, of their citizenship in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 20, 1939: Ibid., p. 10)1906. Few Days Not Sufficient to Learn Everything
"Definite courses should be given along the different phases of the Faith and in a manner that will stimulate the students to proceed in their studies privately once they return home, for the period of a few days is not sufficient to learn everything. They have to be taught the habit of studying the Cause constantly, for the more we read the Words the more will the truth they contain be revealed to us."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 24, 1932)
1907. Bahá'í Youth Attendant at Louhelen Shoulder Responsibility in Connection with Development of the Bahá'í University
"Remembering the strong emphasis repeatedly laid by the Guardian on the importance of the institutions of the summer school, both as a center for the preparation and training of prospective teachers and pioneers, and for the commingling and fellowship of various elements in the Bahá'í Community, the Bahá'í Youth, on whom Louhelen Ranch has exercised a particular and indeed irresistible appeal, and whose sessions they have so frequently and in such large numbers attended, have a peculiar responsibility to shoulder in connection with its development into that ideal Bahá'í University of the future, which should be the aim of every existing Bahá'í Summer School to establish in the fulness of time.
"Through their regular attendance at each and every session of the school, and their participation in all phases of its activities, intellectual, spiritual, social and recreational, and above all by their faithful and close adherence to those high standards of Bahá'í life and conduct, they can best and most effectively contribute towards the growthPage 564
of that institution and attract to it the attention and interest of the non-Bahá'í world outside."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Louhelen School, July 29, 1939)B. Bahá'í Teaching Institutes
"...this is essentially an activity aimed at deepening the knowledge of the friends to prepare them for active participation in the teaching work. In some countries it may continue to be an activity conducted either in local Bahá'í Centres or possibly housed in hired quarters, like most Summer Schools. However, in other countries, and particularly in mass teaching areas, it may have to be a modest structure acquired or erected in the rural areas where the majority of the believers reside rather than in capital cities, to obviate transportation expenses for those attending."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 14, 1964: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 19)
1909. Institute Should Be Centre of Complex Activities
"Your Institutes should not only be seats of Bahá'í learning but also centres from which mass teaching and consolidation work over a large area must be inspired and conducted. The Institute is not merely a building, nor solely a place where Bahá'í classes can be held for a few days. It should be the centre of complex activities which systematically assist your Assembly in the achievement of its goal in teaching and consolidation."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India: June 23, 1966)1910. Subjects to be Taught
"The material to be taught is prepared ahead of time, presented in simple language, and translated into the vernacular...
"The subjects taught usually consist of Bahá'í History, Laws and Teachings, and the Administrative Order. Special emphasis is laid upon living the Bahá'í life, the importance of teaching, prayer, fasting, Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í elections, and contribution to the Fund."
(From 'Suggestions on Operation of Teaching Institutes': enclosure in letter dated 24 December, 1964, from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala: Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 19)
1911. Issuing Diplomas Discouraged--Sometimes They Are Misused
"We have also noted that you intend to give graduation diplomas to the friends who attend the institutes. Your desire to acknowledge devoted attendance at the institutes is most commendable, but we feel it would be preferable in future to give a suitable gift, such as a book, rather than a diploma. From experience in other areas of the world we have learned that such diplomas sometimes are misused by their recipients. For this reason we have discouraged their use."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, October 27, 1965: Ibid., p. 20)Page 565
1912. A Teaching Institute at Present is a Function and Not Necessarily a Building
"We greatly appreciate your desire to serve the Cause and at the same time honour the beloved Hand of the Cause and wonder whether more feasible plans would appeal to you. For instance, you might consider establishing a fund to maintain Bahá'í tutors in villages, who would teach not only reading and writing but the elements of the Faith as well. We have always stressed to those National Spiritual Assemblies which establish Teaching Institutes that at the present time such an Institute is a function and not necessarily a building and there are many places where such educational work can be pursued if a number of teachers can be supported. On the other hand, we have no idea of the size of the principal you have in mind for your endowment and wonder whether a very simple school where not only children but adult literary classes could be held, would meet your intention."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 18, 1971: Ibid.)Page 566
1913. Incumbent on Believers to Read Sacred Writings Daily
"Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide. Whoso faileth to recite them hath not been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament, and whoso turneth away from these holy verses in this Day is of those who throughout eternity have turned away from God. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all...."(Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 149, p. 73)
1914. Deepening--What It Means--No Limit to the Study of the Cause
"To deepen in the Cause means to read the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form. There are many who have some superficial idea of what the Cause stands for. They, therefore, present it together with all sorts of ideas that are their own. As the Cause is still in its early days we must be most careful lest we fall under this error and injure the Movement we so much adore.
"There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we read the writings the more truths we can find in them the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 25, 1926)1915. Deepening Generates Stimulus
"...Deepening the newly-enrolled believers generates tremendous stimulus which results in further expansion. The enrollment of new believers, on the other hand, creates a new spirit in the community and provides additional potential manpower that will reinforce the consolidation work."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to All National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964)1916. Study with Others
"He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Bahá'ís who are anxious to do so the deeper teachings of our Faith, and through example, effort and prayer bring about a change."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 30, 1949: Living the Life, p. 16)
1917. Study Classes--Little Knowledge is Dangerous--Quote from the Tablets
"It is also very important to hold study classes and go deep in the Teachings. A great harm is done by starting to teach without being firmly grounded in the literature. 'Little knowledge is dangerous' fully applies to the teaching work. The friendsPage 567
should read the Writings and be able to quote from the Tablets when discussing subjects pertaining to the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 9, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 67, October 1932, p. 4)1918. Deepen Their Knowledge
"...the friends should deepen their knowledge and this can be achieved if, together with the lectures, there are study classes and seminar work carried on by the same lecturer...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 27, 1932: Bahá'í Summer Schools, p. 1)
1919. Understanding the Import of His Teachings Motivates New Believers to Dedicate Their Lives to His Service
"Shoghi Effendi trusts, however, that these souls who are attracted by the teachings would be made to live the life and also deepen their knowledge of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh. For it is only by fully appreciating the spiritual and social import of His mission that we can be willing to dedicate our life to its service.
"By holding study classes where the Word is read and understood and obtaining a thorough knowledge of the spirit that animated the early believers we can make sure that these newcomers are grounded in the teachings and made into real and devoted believers. Books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, Nabil's Narrative and Dr. Esselmont's book should be read and read over again by every soul who desires to serve the Movement or considers himself an active member of the group."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 9, 1932)1920. Study and Application
"Without the study and application of the administration the teachings of the Cause becomes not only meaningless, but loses in effectiveness and in scope."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 31, 1935: Bahá'í News, No. 105, p. 1, February 1937)
1921. Spiritual Teachings of Faith--Will and Testament, Firm Grounding Needed
"...Some of the ... believers, from letters and reports received here, seem to lack a firm grounding on such matters as the Will and Testament and the deeper spiritual teachings of the Faith. Whenever the grasp of these fundamentals is weak, the friends are almost sure to pay undue attention to secondary procedures, to quibble over details, to lose themselves in personalities, and to founder in a sea of unnecessary inharmony. This has nothing to do with their devotion, their loyalty, their zeal, their eagerness to serve. It is merely a question of not having received, perhaps through lack of sufficient teachers to carry on the all-important work of deepening the friends in their own faith, a strong enough education in the Covenant before the duties and responsibilities of the Administrative Order were thrust upon them."(Shoghi Effendi: Messages to Canada, pp. 58-59)
"Concerning the best method of presenting the Master's Will to the newcomers, Shoghi Effendi is of the opinion that the N.S.A. should first make some suitable extracts from the Testament, and to send these to all the Local Assemblies for their use, so that there may be full unity in circulating the provisions of the Will among the new believers... The main thing, as it appears to the Guardian, is that the full station of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá be clearly explained, and that the origins, nature and working of the Administrative Order of the Faith be clearly stated. The full implications of such a recognition are evidently beyond the comprehension of any new believer. Such a knowledge can be acquired gradually and only when the essentials of the Faith have been clearly recognized and adequately understood."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 21, 1934: Bahá'í News, No. 211, September 1948, p. 1)
1923. The Cause Needs People Whose Faith Stands on a Rock, No Trial Can Move
"Another essential thing is that those who do embrace the Faith should be constantly urged to study the literature of the Cause. It is not sufficient that our numbers should increase, we want people whose faith stands on a rock and no trial can move. We want people who in turn arise and carry the message to other people and guide other souls."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 13, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 64, July 1932, p. 4)1924. Education of New Believers
"It is not enough to bring people into the Faith; one must educate them and deepen their love for it and their knowledge of its teachings, after they declare themselves. As the Bahá'ís are few in number, especially the active teachers, and there is a great deal of work to be done, the education of these new believers is often sadly neglected, and then results are seen such as the resignations you have had recently."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 18, 1957: A Special Measure of Love, p. 19)
1925. Regarding Spiritual Children, Each Soul Receives Gift of Faith for Himself, Independent of Teachers
"As to your question about the spiritual children of people who enter the Cause with some old ideas still clinging to them: Everyone should study the Faith for himself, and just because a person's Bahá'í teacher has some concept not strictly Bahá'í, it does not stand to reason that the new believer must be saddled with it; old believers, as well as new, should constantly endeavour to grow more fully into the Bahá'í pattern of thought and of life. Each soul receives the gift of faith for himself, and from then on is a Bahá'í in his own right, independent of his teacher."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 17, 1945)
1926. One Cannot Catch the Spirit of the Cause Through the Reading of Books Alone
"It behooves you now to try to deepen your knowledge of the history and the teachings of the Faith and get acquainted with the principles that stand at the basis of itsPage 569
present-day Administration. The best way to attain that goal is through continued cooperation with the friends and through participation in their spiritual activities. For you cannot catch the spirit of the Cause through the reading of books alone. You should reinforce the knowledge you get through Bahá'í Writings with a whole-hearted association with the friends."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 20, 1932)
1927. Imperative Need to Deepen in the Cause--God's Purpose for Man
"A detailed and exact knowledge of the present structure of Bahá'í administration, or of the By-laws of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies or of the many and varied applications of Bahá'í law under the diverse conditions prevailing around the world, while valuable in itself, cannot be regarded as the sort of knowledge primarily intended by deepening. Rather is suggested a clearer apprehension of the purpose of God for man, and particularly of His immediate purpose as revealed and directed by Bahá'u'lláh, a purpose as far removed from current concepts of human well-being and happiness as is possible...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 113)
1928. The Study of Dawn-Breakers Will Arouse the Friends to Renewed Zeal
"The reading of the Dawn-Breakers is sure to arouse the friends to renewed zeal and added perseverance in spreading the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Consider to what extent the Báb and those early leaders of the Faith suffered. It was not through a blind religious zeal but because they desired to bring about for the future generations that promised era that the Faith of the Báb promised to start--an era of peace, good-will and full realization of the spiritual significance of the life of man upon the earth. They suffered that we may be happy. They died that we may live in perfect bliss. What a sacred debt, therefore, we owe to them! How much we ought to labour to repay them for their sacrifices, and how willing and earnest we should be in consecrating our life in the path they trod!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 27, 1933)
1929. Theme Pursued in Effort to Deepen--What is God's Purpose for the Human Race?
"...this is the theme we must pursue in our efforts to deepen in the Cause. What is Bahá'u'lláh's purpose for the human race? For what ends did He submit to the appalling cruelties and indignities heaped upon Him? What does He mean by a 'new race of men'? What are the profound changes which He will bring about? The answers are to be found in the Sacred Writings of our Faith and in their interpretation by Abdu'l-Bahá and our beloved Guardian. Let the friends immerse themselves in this ocean, let them organize regular study classes for its constant consideration, and as reinforcements to their effort, let them remember conscientiously the requirements of daily prayers and reading of the Word of God enjoined upon all Bahá'ís by Bahá'u'lláh."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 114-115)1930. Presenting Greatest Name Prematurely
"He feels that it is not necessary to present, prematurely, to every new Bahá'í the teachings regarding the use of the Greatest Name. Some souls need and are readyPage 570
for this; others are not. Judgement must be used in such matters. It is more essential to stress the importance of prayer and to urge the use of one of the obligatory prayers."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 11, 1949: Bahá'í News, No. 228, February 1950, p. 4)
1931. One Must Deepen His Knowledge of the Literature in Order to Teach Others and Render Service to the Faith
"...Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will exert all your effort to deepen your knowledge of the literature of the movement, until you become fully acquainted with its spirit and tenets. Unless you do obtain such a firm hold you will never be able to teach others and render real service to the promulgation of the Faith. Of special importance is the Book of the Iqan which explains the attitude of the Cause towards the prophets of God and their mission in the history of society. Besides this there is 'Some Answered Questions' of the Master and the 'Dawn-Breakers' of Nabil. Every Bahá'í should master these books and be able to explain their contents to others. Besides their importance, they are interesting and most absorbing."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1932)
1932. The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh Deal with Many Aspects of Man's Inner and Communal Life
"The Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are so great, and deal with so many aspects of both the inner life of man and his communal life, that it takes years to really plumb them to the depths. He has brought spiritual food for the soul of the individual, to help each one to find himself and become a finer and better developed personality; and also He has brought the laws and principles needed to enable all men to live in harmony together in a great, united world. The Guardian hopes you, together with ..., will do all in your power to help the believers to understand both aspects of the teachings, and to develop both as individuals and as a community, an ever higher, finer way of life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 12, 1942)
1933. Progress of Cause Now to be Characterized by Increasing Relationship with Non-Bahá'í World--Our Preparation Must Be Continual Deepening
"There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Bahá'í world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for and response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1984)Page 571
1934. Pioneers--Homeless and Wanderers in the Path of God
"O ye homeless and wanderers in the Path of God! Prosperity, contentment, and freedom, however much desired and conducive to the gladness of the human heart, can in no wise compare with the trials of homelessness and adversity in the pathway of God; for such exile and banishment are blessed by the divine favour, and are surely followed by the mercy of Providence. The joy of tranquillity in one's home, and the sweetness of freedom from all cares shall pass away, whilst the blessings of homelessness shall endure forever, and its far-reaching results shall be made manifest.
"Abraham's migration from His native land caused bountiful gifts of the All-Glorious to be made manifest, and the setting of Canaan's brightest star unfolded to the eyes the radiance of Joseph. The flight of Moses, the Prophet of Sinai, revealed the Flame of the Lord's burning Fire, and the rise of Jesus breathed the breaths of the Holy Spirit into the world. The departure of Muhammad, the Beloved of God, from the city of His birth was the cause of the exaltation of God's Holy Word, and the banishment of the Sacred Beauty led to the diffusion of the light of His divine Revelation throughout all regions."Take ye good heed, O people of insight!"
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 280-281)1935. Not for a Moment Are Ye Alone
"O ye My soldiers of the Kingdom! Be ye valiant and fearless! Day by day add to your spiritual victories. Be ye not disturbed by the constant assaults of the enemies. Attack ye like unto the roaring lions. Have no thought of yourselves, for the invisible armies of the Kingdom are fighting on your side. Enter ye the battlefield with the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Know ye of a certainty that the powers of the Kingdom of Abha are with you. The hosts of the heaven of Truth are with you. The cool breezes of the Paradise of Abha are wafting over your heated brows. Not for a moment are ye alone. Not for a second are ye left to yourselves. The beauty of Abha is with you. The Glorious God is with you. The King of Kings is with you."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. XIII, No. 5, p. 113)1936. Flee Their Homelands
"...The hour is ripe to disencumber themselves of worldly vanities, to mount the steed of steadfastness, unfurl the banner of renunciation, don the armor of utter consecration to God's Cause, gird themselves with the girdle of a chaste and holy life, unsheathe the sword of Bahá'u'lláh's utterance, buckle on the shield of His love, carry as sole provision implicit trust in His promise, flee their homelands, and scatter far and wide to capture the unsurrendered territories of the entire planet."
(From cablegram of the Guardian, May 5, 1953: Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 49)
1937. House of Justice Defines "Pioneer" and "Pioneering"--There Can Be No Question of "Recalling" a Pioneer from His Field of Service
"From the Bahá'í point of view it is quite clear that a pioneer can be likened to neither an employee nor a minister....Page 572
"...We wish to share with you the following points of fundamental importance.
"1. The Secretary of the beloved Guardian wrote to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, on his behalf, on August 12, 1944:
'Regarding the question of paid teachers: As we have no clergy or priests there is no paid career open to Bahá'í teachers. This, however, does not mean that teachers going out to spread the Faith, and unable to support themselves, should not receive money from the National Spiritual Assembly or a Local Assembly. At present it would be quite impossible to spread the Cause if those who arise to serve it as teachers or pioneers were not given financial assistance. All must realize, however, that the moneys they receive are only to enable them to fulfil their objectives, and that they cannot consider themselves permanently entitled to be supported by the Cause. In America the pioneers have made every effort to establish themselves in some position in the place they have gone to settle in, and thus be freed from the necessity of drawing further upon Bahá'í Funds.'
"and to the British National Spiritual Assembly on May 29, 1946:
'Pioneers who volunteer for work, if they are not able to support themselves, should be supported by the National Fund until they either find work or their task is completed.
'Likewise, travelling teachers should be assisted financially to carry out the 'projects' assigned to them. The friends should not for a moment confuse this type of support with the creation of a paid clergy. Any Bahá'í can, at the discretion of the N.S.A., receive this necessary assistance, and it is clearly understood it is temporary and only to carry out a specific plan.
'Bahá'u'lláh Himself has not only enjoined on every one the duty of teaching His Faith, but stated if you cannot go yourself, to send someone in your stead.'
"and in a letter to Mr. Ioas, Chairman of your own National Teaching Committee, on March 5, 1934:
'Concerning the abolition of the institution of paid national teachers, the Guardian wishes to re-affirm his former statements on this matter, and to stress once more that great care be taken to avoid the difficulties and the misunderstandings which in former days had caused so much trouble among the friends. The main point to be emphasized in this connection is that of making the teaching of the Cause not the work of a limited group but the chief duty and responsibility of every Bahá'í. This is why no salaried teachers should any longer exist. But occasionally to defray the expenses of a teaching trip of a certain Bahá'í, particularly when it is done spontaneously, can do no harm to the Cause. Such an action, provided it is done with care and only when circumstances make it necessary, constitutes no violation of the principles already referred to. The danger in all activities of this nature is to give the impression that the teaching of the Cause is an institution, depending on the support of paid teachers. Those who willingly and with utmost detachment arise to promote the Cause should, undoubtedly, be helped in every way. But they have no claim whatever on the financial help which some friends may freely choose to extend to them.'
"2. As stated in our circular letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in teaching work among the masses, dated 25th June, 1964: '...no Bahá'í teacher anywhere should consider himself as permanently employed by the Faith. We doPage 573
not have in the Cause of God any paid career open to Bahá'í teachers....' 'Likewise, when pioneer projects are envisaged, it must be made clear to the pioneer that he must make every effort to establish himself in some position in his pioneering post and thus become freed from the necessity of drawing further on Bahá'í funds.'
"3. The duties of teaching and pioneering are enjoined upon all believers. There are no special categories of believers for these functions. Any Bahá'í who spreads the Message of Bahá'u'lláh is a teacher, any Bahá'í who moves to another area to spread the Faith is a pioneer.
"4. The duty of the Assembly to give financial assistance to a believer who cannot support himself is a general one, and is in no way limited to those who may perform specific services for the Faith.
"5. No special training is required for a pioneer. A believer who leaves his home spontaneously and goes to teach the Faith elsewhere without consulting anybody is as much a pioneer as one who goes after consultation with the committee responsible. This is a matter of principle, no matter how desirable it may be that all prospective pioneers first consult to ensure the best use of their services.
"6. Similarly, there can be no question of 'recalling' a pioneer from his field of service. If a committee is providing a pioneer with financial assistance it can terminate this assistance whenever it judges it right and proper, in which case it would, in all justice, offer the pioneer his travel expenses to return to his home or to go to some place where he could earn his living--but this is quite different in principle from recalling the pioneer. In many instances the pioneer's intention when going to his chosen goal is to put his roots down and make it his home.
"7. A pioneer who goes to the area of jurisdiction of another National Spiritual Assembly comes under the authority of that Assembly, and the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States ceases to have any authority over him. The matter of financial assistance to such a pioneer, should he need it, is arranged on a basis of expediency. Usually, for simplicity's sake, the National Assembly of origin continues to give assistance direct to the pioneer concerned until he becomes self-supporting or until his own National Spiritual Assembly is able to take over the responsibility. As far as the matter of control is concerned, it would be quite in order and perfectly legal to arrange for the pioneer to receive his budget without having any contact whatsoever with the United States National Spiritual Assembly.
"8. A pioneer has no special administrative status except in the case where he goes to a new area where there are no Bahá'ís. He then usually remains the channel of communication between the new Bahá'í group, as it is formed, and the National Committee in charge, until such time as a Local Spiritual Assembly is formed. At that point his special status ceases altogether. Any services he may perform in advising or teaching the new believers spring from the fact that he is an older believer, and not from his being a pioneer. Many pioneers who go to places where Bahá'ís of long standing already live often receive the counsel and spiritual support of the older native believers rather than vice-versa. Similarly there is no special significance in the dwelling of a pioneer--it frequently happens that the homes of some of the new believers, being less cramped than the quarters of the pioneer, are the places used for meetings of the community."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 2, 1965)Page 574
"The place of settlement of any pioneer depends on his circumstances. If therefore, he can not settle in the localities suggested by the receiving National Spiritual Assembly, this does not mean that he should not be considered a pioneer. Any believer who arises and leaves his home to journey to another country for the purpose of teaching the Cause is a pioneer.
"As you know, one of the objectives of every pioneer is to settle and become self-supporting, if possible. If the localities where this condition can be met are not the same as the goals of the National Assembly, such goals may have to be filled by the National Assembly making use of homefront pioneers. The friends are free to go wherever they like and even those supported by the Fund should not be subjected to rigid rules."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 30, 1971)
1939. Every Bahá'í, Especially Those Who Leave Their Homes to Serve in Foreign Lands, Should Turn Their Gaze to Marion Jack
"For over thirty years, with an enlarged heart, and many other ailments, she remained at her post in Bulgaria. Never well-to-do, she often suffered actual poverty and want; want of heat, want of clothing, want of food, when her money failed to reach her because Bulgaria had come under the Soviet zone of influence. She was bombed, lost her possessions, she was evacuated, she lived in drafty, cold dormitories for many, many months in the country, she returned valiant to the capital of Bulgaria after the war, and continued, on foot, to carry out her teaching work.
"The Guardian himself urged her strongly, when the war first began to threaten to cut her off in Bulgaria, to go to Switzerland. She was a Canadian subject, and ran great risks by remaining, not to mention the danger and the privations of war. However, she begged the Guardian not to insist, and assured him her one desire was to remain with her spiritual children. This she did, up to the last breath of her glorious life. Her tomb will become a national shrine, immensely loved and revered, as the Faith rises in stature in that country.
"He thinks that every Bahá'í, and most particularly those who have left their homes and gone to serve in foreign fields, should know of, and turn their gaze to, Marion Jack."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, May 24, 1954)
1940. A Self-Supporting Pioneer Cannot Be Required to Settle in Any Given Locality
"In regard to pioneering, this is a matter requiring the greatest degree of consultation and encouragement. Naturally, if an Assembly is supporting a pioneer from the Fund, it can decide to withdraw such support if the pioneer refuses to go to the post that he had agreed to serve in, or if, for any other reason, the Assembly decides that the project should not be continued, but in so doing the Assembly must give the pioneer ample opportunity to become self-supporting. If, however, a pioneer is entirely self-supporting, an Assembly has no right to direct him to live in one place or another; it, or its appropriate committee, should consult with the pioneer, explain the needs,Page 575
offer assistance to enable the pioneer to become established in the post where he is needed, and in consultation with him, decide where it would be best for him to settle, but the ultimate decision rests with the believer himself. You have believers coming from abroad as pioneer to Austria, and you certainly hope that they will settle in those cities which most urgently need help, but, if a self-supporting pioneer feels that he cannot go where you would like him to, you should then consider how best you can make use of his services wherever he may be."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, March 30, 1970)
1941. Only if Especially Required for a Specific Locality Can a Pioneer Be Required to Settle There
"...When pioneers arise to settle in foreign fields, they do not, and in fact cannot, be required to commit themselves to settle in a given locality, unless they are especially recruited for such a purpose and they understand and accept the nature of the local living conditions they are to face.
"At this stage of the development of the Faith, best results are achieved when the National Spiritual Assembly or one of its appropriate committees deals with each case separately, consults with the pioneer concerned individually, takes into consideration his personal circumstances, points out the needs of the Faith in the locality requiring pioneer support, and encourages him to move to the area in question, if feasible."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, March 20, 1980: cited in a compilation included with a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 23, 1981)
1942. The Guardian's Exhortations to Bahá'ís to Leave Centres Where Large Numbers Had Congregated Were to Disperse Them to Needy Goals--The Spiritual Importance of Remaining at Their Posts
"The beloved Guardian's exhortations to the Bahá'ís to leave those centers where large numbers had congregated was not primarily for the sake of their safety but in order to disperse them to greatly needy pioneer goals. These urgings, which were in the form of admonitions, were often repeated by the Guardian himself, and have been reiterated by the Universal House of Justice, not only by calling on the friends to disperse, but also by drawing to their attention the spiritual importance of remaining at their posts. While it is correct to say that a number of these pioneers, because of a variety of personal reasons, and at time insuperable visa difficulties, unfortunately did not remain at their posts and returned to their original homelands, it is equally true to say that the majority of the pioneers, who were able and free to continue serving in the pioneer field, steadfastly remained at their posts."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 5, 1980: Ibid.)
1943. All Bahá'ís Have the Duty to Teach and Serve; Some Who Settle for Personal Purposes May Fill Pioneer Goals
"Whether a Bahá'í is in a place because he pioneered there or has settled there for some other reason does not affect the duty of teaching and serving the CausePage 576
laid upon him by Bahá'u'lláh. Generally, a person who goes to a country expressly as a pioneer should be counted as such. There are also many who, although they go primarily for some other purpose, nevertheless fill a goal or are very active in the service of the Faith, and there is no reason not to record them as pioneers in your files. The decision whether to consider a person as a pioneer for the purposes of your records must be made in each individual case."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a Continental Pioneer Committee, September 22, 1974: cited in a compilation regarding the definition of a pioneer sent to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, February 22, 1984)1944. Iranians Who Settle in the Americas
"Regarding your query whether Iranians who settle in the Americas should be considered as filling assigned pioneer goals, each case should be judged by itself according to the circumstances. Consideration should be given to such questions as: Does the National Spiritual Assembly of the country involved feel that the individual concerned fills a pioneer goal? Is it the intent of the individual to remain if possible in that place? Would the National Spiritual Assembly responsible for sending a pioneer consider the post filled? Otherwise, the believer concerned could be considered as filling a supplementary goal."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Continental Pioneer Committee, November 28, 1979: Ibid.)
1945. Persians Can Render Utmost Service to the Teaching Work, But They Must Settle as Pioneers and be in the Minority
"He feels the Persians can render the utmost assistance to the teaching work, wherever they settle; but they must go on the basis of pioneers, and take up residence where they can render the best service to the Cause of God. It does little good for the Faith to have large groups of Persians settled in a city, and thus constitute an Assembly. When they move the Assembly falls. What we need in all areas is native believers. The pioneers should be in the minority, and aid the natives to shoulder the responsibilities of the Faith.
"Thus he feels you should encourage the friends leaving Persia, to settle in outlying areas, in smaller cities, where there are no Bahá'ís, or few, and teach there."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 17, 1957: cited in a compilation included with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, August 23, 1981)
1946. Whether Youth and Children Should Be Listed as Pioneers
"Regarding your question on whether children and youth should be listed as pioneers, the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to share with you the following excerpts from letters addressed to National Spiritual Assemblies who asked similar questions:
'...if a Bahá'í child, that is to say one under the age of 15, has gone to a country to serve the Cause, he should be numbered among the pioneers. Children born to pioneers in the country of their pioneer service are not considered pioneers, although of course, for completeness of your information on pioneer families you may wish to keep a note of them in your files.'"
(From a letter dated 2nd March 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)Page 577
'...CHILDREN CERTAINLY PIONEERS BUT THOSE UNDER 15 CANNOT COUNT FILL QUOTAS SET.' (Cable dated 15 April, 1982 from the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
"Therefore, children under the age of 15, even though they are pioneers, should not be added to the list which you send to the World Centre as they do not count towards filling the goals given; however, youth 15 years of age and over should be listed, and when children reach the age of 15 and register as Bahá'ís they should be included.
"We must stress that the above definitions are merely guidelines intended to assist you in keeping your records of pioneer goals and their fulfilment. They are not to be regarded as definitions of the term 'pioneer' in any general sense."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Surinam, June 19, 1984)
1947. The Native Believers Should Be Encouraged to Become the Pivot of the Teaching Activities
"The House of Justice noted your comments about how heavily certain of your communities rely on resident pioneers; that in fact the pioneers have become the pivot of the teaching activities of the Faith in these communities. Your comment underscores how important it is to encourage the believers native to the community themselves to seek out friends and neighbours to investigate the Faith. The House of Justice understands that it is not easy for believers who have always relied on ministers or priests to now be responsible for their own spiritual development. The very act of teaching the Cause will help them to realize their own worth and enable them to fulfil their individual spiritual responsibilities."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahamas, April 20, 1986)
1948. Pioneering is the Highest Form of Bahá'í Cooperation in Marriage
"He appreciates very much the pioneer services you have rendered. He hopes that from now on you and your dear husband will be able to serve the Faith unitedly and devotedly together, as that is the highest form of Bahá'í cooperation in marriage."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1955)
1949. Neither Persian nor American Pioneers Should Congregate in a Few Chosen Places
"The Guardian feels that the Persians should not congregate in a few chosen places, but rather that they should, ... spread out in the various cities of these countries where there are no Bahá'ís. If this is done, it will greatly facilitate the teaching work in those countries, and at the same time will overcome the problem of establishing Persian colonies....
"One of the problems ... is that so many of the Persian pioneers congregate in certain cities, and this creates actually a Persian colony, and little or nothing seems to be done about teaching the natives. If the Persian pioneers dispersed to various cities, then of course they would automatically begin to teach the natives, because they would not be burdened with the necessity of Assembly functioning and association with other Persian Bahá'ís.Page 578
"The same situation exists with regard to American pioneers in these countries. They all want to congregate in one place, and thus little or nothing is done for the country itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 5, 1956)
1950. Pioneer Should Not Leave Post Until There is Nothing Else to Do--They Should Confirm Native People Like Enoch Olinga Who Will Ignite the Flame of Faith in Others
"...He constantly impresses upon the pioneers in all countries that they should not leave their posts unless there is nothing else possible for them to do; otherwise the effort, time and sacrifice which have been put into the work there are lost to the Faith.
"He has emphasized on more than one occasion that the important thing for the pioneer to do is to bend his energies toward teaching the native people of the country. He should teach and confirm them, and assist them to gradually shoulder their responsibilities in the Faith and become the active supporters and upholders of its institutions. This means that the Cause then is built on a solid foundation, and is not being carried forward by people who have gone to that country from other lands. Then too, in most people there is a certain degree of hidden feeling of racial distinction, whether or not they realize or admit it; and those other than natives may be called upon to experience great tests upon accepting the Faith, because of its principle of complete freedom from prejudice.
"This does not mean that people other than natives are not to be taught, if you find they are really spiritually prepared for the Message of Bahá'u'lláh; but the important thing is to strive to teach and confirm a few native people, who will not only themselves become quickened with its spirit, but who will in turn, like Enoch Olinga from Uganda, quickly ignite the flame of the Faith in the hearts of others of their countrymen."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 2, 1955)
1951. Initial Obscurity Surrounding Work of Pioneer--Protection to Faith
"The pioneers and settlers, as well as the National Assemblies responsible for the administration of the Faith in areas assigned to them, should ever bear in mind that in the initial states of the establishment of the Faith in any territory the obscurity surrounding the work of the pioneer or the local Bahá'ís is in itself a protection to the Faith. Patience, tact and wisdom should be exercised. Public attention should not be attracted to the Faith until such time as the believers see the Faith touch more and more of the hearts of receptive souls responding to its Divine Call."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 5, 1966)1952. The Purpose of Dispersal
"By dispersal the Guardian means the friends should get away entirely from the large centres of population and, leaving a nucleus of about 15 Bahá'ís to maintain the Local Assembly, go settle, live and teach in new towns, cities and even villages. Naturally, it is no service to the Cause to disperse if it breaks up an existing Assembly. The purpose of dispersal is to create more Assemblies over a wider area. Until a givenPage 579
assembly can spare some of its local Community to go out and settle, they should by all means at least do extension teaching.
"In the instance you cited about the friend who with independent means was willing to go out and sell her home and move to a new area, he feels she would have done better to go. You had more than 9 members in your Community; you could have found another place to meet. This is just the type of pioneering the Guardian is urging. Those who can go should go. Others will arise locally to take their places."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 19, 1955)
1953. Pioneers Entering Pioneer Field Should Realize They Go as National Spiritual Assembly Representatives--To Represent the Cause
"...The principle is that pioneers entering the pioneer field should realize that they are going there to represent the Cause, in fact, to be the Cause. Their minds and their hearts should be centered in their new tasks and in their new environment. The should not be thinking of when they can return home, or when they can go somewhere else. Only when the Faith is firmly established should they give any thought to moving, and then, only in consultation with the National Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 28, 1954)
1954. The Work of the Pioneer is the Most Important Task an Individual Can Perform; Its Blessings Are Great
"The Guardian is well aware of the great sacrifices required of the devoted pioneers, and of the problems they must meet and conquer. This is why he feels that the work of the pioneers is the most important Bahá'í task any individual can perform today--more important than serving on a National Assembly, or any administrative post.
"While it carries great responsibilities and difficulties, yet its spiritual blessings are so great, they overshadow everything else; and the opportunities for special victories of the Faith so abundant; the soul who once tastes the elixir of pioneering service, seldom will do anything else."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 5, 1954)
1955. When an Administrative Body is Established, the Pioneer Ceases to Have a Unique Status
"The pioneer, as soon as an administrative body has been established, ceases to have any unique status in the Community. But of course the service he has rendered remains very great, and he should continue to do his utmost for the Cause in conjunction with the Assembly and the other believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two individual believers, March 24, 1945)1956. Pioneers Enhance Prestige of Faith
"The pioneers themselves must realize that not only are they fulfilling the wishes of Bahá'u'lláh, and doing that which the Master Himself said He longed to do; namely, to go, if necessary on foot, and carry His Father's Message to all the regions of the earth; but they are enhancing the prestige of the Faith to a remarkable degreePage 580
in the eyes of the public, and especially in the eyes of officials. There is no doubt that the rapid forward march of the Faith recently has attracted a far greater measure of attention on the part of thoughtful people, and people of position in society and in educational fields, than has been the case for almost one hundred years."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954: Bahá'í News, No. 283, p. 1, September 1954)
1957. Perseverance of Pioneers Assured Reward in Both Worlds
"The pioneers who have already settled or are settling in their posts, particularly in virgin unoccupied territories, must be reminded that their movement to their goals is far from being a short stay designed to class a particular territory or island as opened, or label it as having received one or more pioneers, even if, in some cases, new believers native to the land have been enrolled. It is basically and clearly intended to establish the Faith of God securely and firmly in the hearts of people of the area and to ensure that its divinely-ordained institutions are understood, adopted and operated by them. The perseverance of the pioneers in their posts, however great the sacrifices involved, is an act of devoted service, which, as attested by our teachings, will have an assured reward in both worlds. The admonitions of the Guardian on this subject are too numerous to cite and amply demonstrate the vital nature of this clear policy."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 5, 1966)
1958. Isolated Pioneers Are Like a Lighthouse of Bahá'u'lláh
"...It is hard for the friends to appreciate, when they are isolated in one of these goal territories, and see that they are making no progress in teaching others, are living in inhospitable climes for the most part, and are lonesome for Bahá'í companionship and activity, that they represent a force for good, that they are like a lighthouse of Bahá'u'lláh shining at a strategic point and casting its beam out into the darkness. This is why he so consistently urges these pioneers not to abandon their posts."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 18, 1957: Messages to Canada, p. 68)
1959. Struggles of a Pioneer--God Will Assist All Those Who Arise to Serve Him
"Your struggles have been richly blessed and must serve as an example to other pioneers and a sure proof that God will assist all those who arise to serve Him. It is part of the preciousness of this great work being done in the teaching field that it should be done through real sacrifices and not without heartaches attending it. There is a tendency in the American outlook on life at present to believe that suffering is produced by clumsiness and is not only avoidable but not a good thing, and not essential. While there is some truth in this attitude, we as Bahá'ís cannot but believe that suffering is often an essential part of our service. The Prophets suffered bitterly, so did all the Saints and Martyrs, and often 'fed on the fragments of those broken hearts', as Bahá'u'lláh says in one of His beautiful prayers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 4, 1949)Page 581
1960. Even if Bereft of Every Human Knowledge, Everyone Who with a Pure, Detached Heart Arises to Serve His Cause is Promised Bahá'u'lláh's Divine Assistance
"...Do not feel discouraged if your labours do not always yield an abundant fruitage. For a quick and rapidly-won success is not always the best and the most lasting. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Bahá'u'lláh has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the path safe and certain, and the assurances of Bahá'u'lláh as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1937)
1961. Bahá'u'lláh is Always on the Watch, Ready to Come to Our Assistance
"Such pioneer work is always difficult and unless we are strong-hearted and have faith in our Cause, we are apt to be discouraged. We should always bear in mind that Bahá'u'lláh is always on the watch ready to come to our assistance if we only rise to serve Him with the spirit of self consecration and absolute detachment. His promises along those lines are very forceful and clear, we are only to act upon them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 11, 1931)
1962. In the Best and Highest Sense of the Term "Missionary" It Can Be Applied to Our Teachers--There is No Objection to the Word Appearing on Passports
"He sees no objection to the word 'Missionary' appearing on your Passport as long as it is clearly understood what kind of a 'missionary' a Bahá'í pioneer is. In the best and highest sense of the term it certainly could be applied to our teachers. Unfortunately this word has often been associated with a narrow-minded, bigoted type of proselytizing quite alien to the Bahá'í method of spreading our teachings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 7, 1945)
1963. Assembly Should Arrange to Replace Pioneer Before He Leaves Post
"No pioneer should leave his post unless there is some very urgent reason and then only after consultation with the appropriate committee or National Assembly. If it is found someone must leave their post because of very urgent matters, then the National Assembly should arrange to replace the pioneer before the pioneer leaves...."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian: Messages to Canada, p. 43)
1964. No Service in Entire Bahá'í World as Important as Pioneering Work in Virgin Areas
"...he feels there is no service in the entire Bahá'í world as important as their pioneering work in the virgin areas. They have achieved a great station of service. They are the representative of the Faith in these virgin areas. They have thePage 582
inestimable privilege of bringing the light of Bahá'u'lláh to those hitherto deprived of Divine Guidance for this day. The Guardian has repeatedly pointed out that they can and should become the spiritual conquerors of these new lands."(Ibid., p. 43)
1965. Pioneers in Virgin Areas Cannot Vote in National Elections
"...all pioneers in virgin areas, or new Bahá'ís who are confirmed in those virgin areas, are not part of the National Bahá'í Community, and cannot vote in elections.
"The virgin areas are separate, administratively, and under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly responsible for their development. The same ruling applies to any Assemblies which might develop in these virgin areas. They do not become part of the National Bahá'í Community."(Ibid., p. 50)
1966. Pioneers Should Work in Close Harmony with Local Believers
"...all National Spiritual Assemblies receiving pioneer support should devise ways and means for the pioneers and local believers to work together in close harmony, thus taking full advantage of the help and support that pioneers are anxious to offer, often at great sacrifice, to the teaching or deepening work of the community to which they have gone, and demonstrating to a sceptical world the undivided solidarity and exemplary unity of the followers of the Most Great Name."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 6, 1969)C. Publicity and Proclamation
"Publicity itself should be well conceived, dignified, and reverent. A flamboyant approach which may succeed in drawing much initial attention to the Cause may ultimately prove to have produced a revulsion which would require great effort to overcome. The standard of dignity and reverence set by the beloved Guardian should always be upheld particularly in musical and dramatic items; and photographs of the Master should not be used indiscriminately. This does not mean that activities of the youth, for example, should be stultified; one can be exuberant without being irreverent or undermining the dignity of the Cause.
"Every land has its own conditions... National Spiritual Assemblies need not follow or copy programs initiated in other countries...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, July 2, 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 118)
1968. Mass Distribution of Reply Paid Inquiry Cards
"The details of such matters are within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly to decide in the light of certain fundamental principles and in the context of the situation in each country.
"In deciding such a matter you should bear in mind not only the effectiveness of the project from the teaching point of view, but also its bearing upon the dignity of the Faith. Any leaflet used in such a way should be brief, contain the minimum of quotations from the Sacred Writings, and be designed primarily to arouse thePage 583
interest of the reader so that he will request more information, and should not, at that stage, be intended to convince or convert the reader."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, December 9, 1971)
1969. Importance of Reaching Distinguished Persons with the Teachings
"Your letters with the wonderful reports of your activities in teaching the Cause and interesting distinguished persons always bring him much joy and pleasure. He wished he had a large number of your type, so devoted to the Faith and so determined to spread its message throughout the world.
"Even though the men you contact do not immediately embrace the Cause and whole-heartedly support it, yet the Word of God that has penetrated their mind and heart will not remain idle. They will be bound, once they read something or lend an attentive ear, to unconsciously modify their views, for the Message will be gradually working in their subconscious mind and thereby moulding their views and interests. One day the Cause will pass the threshold of their consciousness and they will become completely converted. But even before that day, they will be expressing that spirit in their deliberations and thereby helping the progress of the cause of peace throughout the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 3, 1932)
1970. Eminent Men Are Often Captives of Their Cherished Ideas, But When the Pendulum Starts to Swing...
"He sincerely hopes and prays that the literature and letters you are sending to eminent men in the different parts of the country will bear their desired effect and that the Word of God will gradually permeate into their heart and win it. It however takes time. Such men are generally captive into the hands of some cherished ideas and principles which they cannot give up so quickly. The mere fact that a person is learned does not mean that he is free from prejudices. The academic life also has its fashions and fads even though they are of different nature from the fads of the man in the street.
"These fashions are not permanent; they are bound to change. Today the fad is a materialistic view of life and of the world. A day will soon come when it will become deeply religious and spiritual. In fact we can discern the beginning of such a change in the writings of some of the most eminent souls and liberal minds. When the pendulum will start its full swing then we shall see all such eminent men turn again to God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 18, 1932)
1971. Proclaiming the Faith to Modern Thinkers and Leaders of Society
"It is really strange how much modern thinkers are, of their own accord, drawing nearer to the teachings of the Faith and voicing views very much like ours. It shows clearly the truth of the saying of the Master that the spirit of the Movement has permeated the hearts of all the people of the world. It is God's hands operating and guiding the nations and intellectual men and leaders of society to a gradual acceptance of His Message revealed through Bahá'u'lláh.
"The way we can hasten the development of this process is by doing our share in spreading the words of God far and wide. Even though we may not see any case of sudden conversion on the part of these intellectuals, yet they are bound toPage 584
be influenced in their views and look to the Faith with greater admiration and with a more willing desire to be led by its precepts. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, wishes me to encourage you in your work, in sending appropriate literature to such men of learning."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 7, 1933)D. Radio
"It is our hope that the great power of radio for proclamation, teaching and deepening may be mobilized wherever possible, and with the promising initiatives which have occurred in Ecuador and elsewhere we now anticipate the development of more widespread uses of the medium which will be of service to the Cause and to mankind."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 7, 1974)1973. Historic Forward Step in Proclamation
"The religious and cultural content of your programs is important alike for achieving the goals of the Faith and bringing education and service to the non-Bahá'ís' community....
"Your perception of Bahá'í needs and their satisfaction through radio broadcasts has prepared you for what may well, in time, be hailed as an historic forward step in proclamation, expansion and deepening through the medium of radio, a medium which the beloved Guardian hoped would be exploited on behalf of the Cause of God. We congratulate you and look forward to news of your progress in this significant initial program."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 12, 1974)
1974. Bring to Attention of the Public the Fact that the Faith Exists
"In connection with the radio work ... he would suggest that the main consideration is to bring to the attention of the public the fact that the Faith exists, and its teachings. Every kind of broadcast, whether of passages from the writings, or on topical subjects, or lectures, should be used. The people need to hear the word 'Bahá'í' so that they can, if receptive, respond and seek the Cause out. The primary duty of the friends everywhere in the world is to let the people know such a Revelation is in existence; their next duty is to teach it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 24, 1943: A Compilation on the 'Use of Radio and Television in Teaching', April 1, 1975, from the World Centre)
1975. Examples of Prudence to be Exercised in Presenting History and Teachings of the Faith
"He feels that the projected radio broadcasts are of the utmost importance as they afford you an opportunity of bringing to many listeners a sense of the greatness of the Cause. In this connection he has some advice to give you: You should stick carefully to facts and beware of putting any interpretations of facts into it. YourPage 585
best sources are Nabil's Narrative and Martha Root's book on Tahirih, as far as she is concerned, and, of course the general literature of our Faith. The Guardian advises you not to introduce into a series for public consumption anything obscure or mystical. By all means avoid the scene in the Presence of Bahá'u'lláh between Tahirih and Quddus. Her separation from her husband and children, her teaching in Baghdad, her imprisonment and death, and her poems, make a beautiful and moving tale. He would not call her the first suffragette, for this certainly was strictly speaking no part of her concept."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a group of believers, November 9, 1949)
1976. Voluntary Contributions May Be Accepted--However, Fund-Raising Activities Should Not Be Carried Out by Bahá'í Radio
"The Universal House of Justice sees no objection to accepting voluntary donations spontaneously contributed by non-Bahá'ís for your radio activities. In a letter written to a National Spiritual Assembly on behalf of the House of Justice, the following advice was given. '...A point to bear in mind is that a Bahá'í radio station should strictly uphold a standard for its operations that will guard its programs against being confused in the public mind with the radio programs sponsored by other religious groups. The latter programs often involve fund-raising activities which, if associated with Bahá'í programs, would eventually undermine the prestige of the Faith and expose its institutions to certain dangers.'
"The donations accepted from non-Bahá'ís must be used toward providing services or programs which are not a direct Bahá'í teaching."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 15, 1985)E. Teaching
"Whosoever ariseth to aid our Cause, God will render him victorious over ten times ten thousand souls, and, should he wax in his love for Me, him will We cause to triumph over all that is in the heaven and all that is on earth."
(Bahá'u'lláh: cited by Shoghi Effendi in Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 101)1978. Teaching Enjoined on Believers in Aqdas
"In the Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh considers teaching as a spiritual obligation imposed upon every devoted believer and servant of His Faith. Should the friends become fully conscious of this duty and arise to do their share, this Cause will soon permeate every home throughout the world and the Kingdom of God will be established."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Bahá'í News, No. 85, p. 8, July 1934)1979. Meditate on Methods of Teaching
"The sanctified souls should ponder and meditate in their hearts regarding the methods of teaching. From the texts of the wondrous, heavenly Scriptures they should memorize phrases and passages bearing on various instances, so that in the course of theirPage 586
speech they may recite divine verses whenever the occasion demandeth it, inasmuch as these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman. So potent is their influence that the hearer will have no cause for vacillation...."(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 200)
1980. The Teachings Are Not Given to Us to Treasure and Hide
"The world is in great turmoil and its problems seem to become daily more acute. We should therefore not sit idle; otherwise we would be failing in carrying out our sacred duty. Bahá'u'lláh has not given us His teachings to treasure them and hide them for our personal delight and pleasure. He gave them to us that we may pass them from mouth to mouth until all the world becomes familiar with them and enjoys their blessings and uplifting influence."
(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)1981. Abdu'l-Bahá Teaches How to Teach
"...in the city of Baghdad, I talked with a learned man, Mulla Hassan, some of whose relatives were believers. No matter how hard they tried to give him the Message, he would not accept it. Once, they brought him to my house when I was just getting up from my sleep and combing my hair. They said, 'We have brought so-and-so here and we beg you to come and speak with him; perhaps, he will become a believer.' I said, 'Very well,' and then I turned to the Blessed Beauty and prayed: 'O Blessed Beauty, confirm me!' Afterwards, I talked to him, and in the same hour he became a believer. He became exceedingly good and was so enkindled that, although he was of high rank, he used to go into the kitchen and cook things with his own hand to entertain the friends."
(Talk by Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land, translated by Dr. Zia Baghdadi: Star of the West, Vol. IX, No. 3, p. 36)1982. Recompense of Martyr Assuredly Recorded
"In this day, the beloved of God must not hesitate or delay an instant in teaching the Cause of the Manifestation; and reconciling words of the religion of majestic oneness; because, verily, in this day, to the soul who is the cause of guidance to another soul the recompense of a martyr in the way of God will be assuredly recorded by the pen of the Cause for his deed. This is from the Bounty of God unto thee. Do according to what thou hast been commanded and do not be of those who tarry."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Scriptures, p. 204)
"Teaching the Faith is not conditioned by what occupation we have, or how great our knowledge is, but rather on how much we have studied the Teachings, to what degree we live the Bahá'í life, and how much we long to share this Message with others. When we have these characteristics, we are sure, if we search, to find receptive souls.
"You should persevere and be confident that, with effort, success can be yours."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi by his secretary to an American believer, 1957: Bahá'í News, No. 351, p. 2, May 1960)Page 587
"Shoghi Effendi has seen, through the experience of the international teachers that keep him informed regarding their activities, that intensive work is ultimately of a more lasting nature. It has proven to be far better that a teacher should spend a month or two in one center and wait until a group is formed, than to cover a large area and not stay enough in a center to help the progress of those interested to the stage that they would feel themselves able to embrace the Cause and identify themselves with it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 30, 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 67, October 1932, pp. 4-5)1985. Teachers Must Be Satisfied with Little Food
"As regards the teachers, they must completely divest themselves from the old garments and be invested with a new garment. According to the statement of Christ, they must attain to the station of rebirth--that is, whereas in the first instance they were born from the womb of the mother, this time they must be born from the womb of the world of nature. Just as they are now totally unaware of the experiences of the foetal world, they must also forget entirely the defects of the world of nature. They must be baptized with the water of life, the fire of the love of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit; be satisfied with little food, but take a large portion from the heavenly table. They must disengage themselves from temptation and covetousness, and be filled with the spirit. Through the effect of their pure breath, they must change the stone into the brilliant ruby and the shell into pearl. Like unto the cloud of vernal shower, they must transform the black soil into the rose garden and orchard. They must make the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the extinguished one enkindled and set aglow, and the dead quickened."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 96)
1986. Develop a System of Travelling Teacher Circuits
"In this connection we feel you would be well advised to develop a system of travelling teacher circuits. There is no doubt whatever that the constant movement of teachers, even though circulating within a small radius, can have a highly stimulating effect on the teaching work. Permanent settlers, a constant stream of visiting teachers to speak at regular firesides, is a pattern which has not yet been bettered."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, January 20, 1966: Bahá'í Journal, No. 173, p. 1, March 4, 1966)
1987. Travelling Teachers Reinforce Work of Pioneers
"While pioneers provide a very valuable long-term reinforcement of a community and are often the only feasible means for opening new areas--and here we are speaking not only of pioneers from foreign lands but of homefront pioneers as well, the use of whom must be greatly developed in most countries--a second vital reinforcement of the work is provided by travelling teachers. As mentioned in the message sent to all believers at Ridvan, a new international travel teaching program is now being launched. National Assemblies and their committees, therefore, need to develop a threefold integrated program for travel teaching. Firstly, there should be within each national community regular circuits of local travelling teachers, that is to say ofPage 588
believers who are members of that national community, whether native or pioneers, who are able and willing to devote time to this activity. Secondly, and integrated with these circuits, provision should be made for planned visits of travelling teachers from abroad. Thirdly, each National Assembly should establish an agency and a procedure for taking advantage of the unheralded arrival of visitors from abroad, or of sudden offers from believers on the homefront, who would be able to give valuable help in the fields of travel teaching or proclamation if properly organized. Such an agency would, of course, be responsible for evaluating the capacity of those who offer services because while an unexpected offer can often provide a very valuable teaching opportunity, it is also true to say that some Bahá'í communities have been exhausted and their work hindered by the arrival of a succession of travelling Bahá'ís who were not really suited, for lack of a language or for other reasons, to assist with teaching in the area concerned. Friends who travel spontaneously in this way can do valuable teaching themselves but should not expect the assistance of local administrative institutions if they have not arranged the trip in advance."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)1988. What Visiting Teachers Are Supposed to Do
"Visiting teachers, who are, at least in a general way, supposed to be more competent and able than the rest, are undoubtedly of great help. But these can never replace the mass of individual believers and fulfil what must be inevitably accomplished through the collective effort and wisdom of the community at large. What visiting teachers are supposed to do is to give the final touch to the work that has been done, to consolidate rather than supplement individual efforts and thereby direct them in a constructive and suitable channel. Their task is to encourage and inspire individual believers, and to broaden and deepen their vision of the task that is to be done. And this, not by virtue of any inherent spiritual right, but in the spirit of simple and wholehearted cooperation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 1, 1933)1989. Travelling Teachers Have No Special Status
"From time to time we receive reports that pioneers or travelling teachers who are subsidized by the International Fund or receive letters of encouragement from the Universal House of Justice are assumed to have some special status or authority.
"In order that there be no misunderstanding, it should be made clear that such individuals have no special status and have no authority or standing other than that of any believer residing in the area where he is pioneering or teaching.
"Furthermore, pioneers and travelling teachers are under the jurisdiction of the National Spiritual Assembly of the country or area in which they are travelling or residing, as the case may be, and they must be obedient to the instructions of these National Spiritual Assemblies."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 3, 1970)1990. Travelling Expenses of Teachers
"He believes that the continuous expenditure of a considerable sum to provide forPage 589
travelling expenses of teachers who are in need constitutes in these days the chief obligation of the National Fund. An effort should be made to facilitate, as much as possible, the extension of the teaching work by helping those who are financially unable to reach their destination, and once there, to encourage them to settle and earn the means of their livelihood."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 14, 1936: Bahá'í News, No. 105, February 1937, p. 1: Lifeblood of the Cause, p. 15)
1991. No Bahá'í Teachers Permanently Employed by Faith
"The beloved Guardian elucidated this basic principle of Bahá'í administration through his repeated letters to National Assemblies from which we quote: 'At present it would be quite impossible to spread the Cause if those who arise to serve it as teachers or pioneers were not given financial assistance. All must realize, however, that the monies they receive are only to enable them to fulfil their objectives, and that they cannot consider themselves permanently entitled to be supported by the Cause.' (From a letter to the N.S.A. of India and Burma dated August 12, 1944)
"Each National Assembly, through its auxiliary Teaching Committees, should be able to so plan the time and efforts of its band of subsidized traveling teachers that no impression of permanency is given. As far as possible each 'project' must be definite in objective and in duration.
"Likewise, when pioneer projects are envisaged, it must be made clear to the pioneer that he must make every effort to establish himself in some position in his pioneering post and thus become freed from the necessity of drawing further on Bahá'í funds."
(From a letter by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in Mass Teaching Work, June 25, 1964)
1992. Travelling Teachers Should Be Assisted Financially to Carry Out Assigned Projects
"Likewise travelling teachers should be assisted financially to carry out the 'projects' assigned to them. The friends should not for a moment confuse this type of support with the creation of a paid clergy. Any Bahá'í can, at the discretion of the N.S.A., receive this necessary assistance, and it is clearly understood it is temporary and only to carry out a specific plan. Bahá'u'lláh Himself has not only enjoined on everyone the duty of teaching His Faith, but stated if you cannot go yourself, to send someone in your stead. The National Assembly, through and with its National Teaching Committee, should take immediate steps to get pioneers out into the goal towns and teachers circulating about, to not only support and inaugurate the new work, but to stimulate the existing Assemblies and groups, and help them to expand."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, May 29, 1946)
1993. We Have No One in the Faith Whose Position is Comparable to Professional Clergymen or Priests
"We have no people in the Bahá'í Faith whose position is comparable to professional clergymen or priests. No paid teachers, in other words. However, it is difficultPage 590
to see how the ever-increasing work of the Cause is to be run unless those devoting all their time to it are not supported from the Fund while doing so. This is administrative work, and there is no objection to those doing it being paid a regular salary if they have not the independent means to do it free of any charge. We cannot lay down a rule that no one receiving remuneration for Bahá'í administrative work should be elected to Assemblies, as this would interfere with the free choice of electing the best qualified people for such service on Assemblies."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947)1994. Support by the Fund Only Temporary
"...this is a Cause in which every believer is called upon to teach. If at the present time certain friends are supported by the Fund to enable them to devote all their time to the vital and urgent work of expansion and consolidation, this is but a temporary arrangement designed to meet the exigencies of this period of crisis in human history. It must never be allowed to replace the individual voluntary efforts of the friends, but rather should stimulate and reinforce them.
"If every Bahá'í will arise whole-heartedly to support and develop the institutions of the Cause--primarily the Local Spiritual Assemblies--and to teach the Faith, all will be astonished at the vast achievements which can be made with comparatively little assistance from the National Fund."
(From a letter by the Universal House of Justice to various National Spiritual Assemblies, July 27, 1971)
1995. Travelling Teachers and Believers Who Travel Frequently
"It has been reported to the Universal House of Justice by the Continental Board of Counsellors in South America that your National Spiritual Assembly has ruled that full-time travelling teachers are to be considered as not having a fixed residence and are therefore not eligible in any local community for elective service. We have been asked to share with you the following excerpt of a letter written to the National Spiritual Assembly of North West Africa dated 5 December, 1972, setting forth the general policy regarding believers who are travelling most of the time.
'At present no hard and fast rule can be laid down for determining the places of residence of the officers of a ship or its crew, or the personnel manning aircraft when such individuals have no fixed home and no family ties to commit them to any specific place of residence. The National Spiritual Assembly should, in each case, discuss the matter with the person involved and decide where his Bahá'í membership shall count. Factors such as the frequency of recurrence of his visits to any locality, opportunities to participate in local Bahá'í activities, the extent of the period of his stay each time he visits, and his own choice should all be taken into consideration in arriving at a decision.'
"We have been instructed to say that it would not be proper for rules to be laid down that travelling teachers should not be considered as having a fixed place of residence. If one of them should be elected to a Local Spiritual Assembly the question would then arise as to whether his anticipated travels necessitating his frequent absence from the Assembly would constitute a valid reason for him to resign as a member of that Assembly."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 26, 1978)Page 591
"a. Visiting pioneers or teachers may find in some places newly enrolled believers not so enthusiastic about their religion as expected, or not adjusting to standards of Bahá'í life, or they may find them thinking of material benefits they may hope to derive from their new membership. We should always remember that the process of nursing the believer into full spiritual maturity is slow, and needs loving education and patience.
"b. Some teaching committees, in their eagerness to obtain results, place undue emphasis on obtaining a great number of declarations to the detriment of the quality of teaching.
"c. Some travelling teachers, in their desire to show the result of their services, may not scrupulously teach their contacts, and in some rare cases, if God forbid, they are insincere, may even give false reports."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Teaching the Masses, dated July 13, 1964: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 35-36)
1997. Each One of the Believers is Like an Ark of Salvation
"I desire that you may see the divine ships. These ships are the blessed sails who are traversing the sea of Divine mercy; their propellors are the powers of spiritual love and their captains are the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. No ship is ever wrecked in this sea; its waves are life-giving. Each one of the friends of God is like unto an ark of Salvation. Each ark saves many souls from the storms of troubles. The signs and traces of these sails are never-ending and eternal. The future centuries and cycles are like the sea on the surface of which these arks glide blissfully toward their spiritual destination."
(Talk by Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. VIII, No. 8, p. 104, August 11, 1917)1998. First Condition of a Religious Teacher
"It is a wonderful, priceless boon to be a vessel carrying food from God. It cannot be bought with gold. The first condition of a religious teacher is to believe in God; the second, to turn his face toward God; the third to be severed from all save God. Such teachers will constitute illumined lamps of guidance, the stars of the heaven of mercy, the trees of the orchard of Abha, flowers of the garden of mystery and torches of the path of salvation.
"Teaching the Cause of God is not only through the tongue; it is through deeds, a good disposition, happiness of nature, kindness and sympathy, good fellowship, trustworthiness, holiness, virtue, purity of ideals, and lastly, speech."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í News, No. 243, May 1951, p. 8)
1999. Importance of Teaching--Terrible Problems Confronting Humanity
"The more one observes the conditions of the world and the terrible problems confronting humanity, the more deeply one realizes that the only remedy is that which Bahá'u'lláh has brought, and yet, alas, the masses of the people seem to not yet be aware that the way out of our problems can only be a divine way, given by something far greater than human understanding! However, many souls are seriously thinking and seeking, and the Bahá'ís must try to bring the knowledge of the teachings to all, so that those prepared to accept may not be denied the Message!"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: Ibid., p. 72)Page 592
2000. Need Teachers of Spiritual Capacity, Knowledge of Covenant
"...the National Assembly should pay particular attention to getting teachers with spiritual capacity and a deep knowledge of the Covenant out to the weaker communities on circuit teaching trips, and that an effort should be made for them to stay for some time in each place. It is evident that one of the reasons that the work on the home front in America is so seriously lagging is that the Bahá'ís themselves, though undoubtedly devoted, loyal and conscientious, are not always very deeply grounded in the spiritual fundamentals of their Faith. This produces a maladjustment, so to speak, in the nature of their service to the Cause; and only through a deeper understanding of their Faith and the inner spiritual strength that this understanding brings, will they be able to reinforce themselves to meet their tasks, to see the joy of discharging their duties and grasping their privileges."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 19, 1956: Bahá'í News, No. 307, September 1956, p. 1)2001. Everyone is a Potential Teacher
"...Not until all the friends come to realize that everyone is able, in his own measure, to deliver the Message can they ever hope to reach the goal that has been set for them by a loving and wise Master. It is no use for some able and eloquent teacher to take all the responsibility for the spread of the Cause. For such a thing is not only contrary to the spirit of the Teachings, but to the explicit text of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá, both of Whom place the obligation of teaching not on any particular class as in former ecclesiastical organizations but on every faithful and loyal follower of the Cause. The teaching of the Word is thus made universal and compulsory. How long, then, shall we wait to carry out this command, the full wisdom of which only future generations will be able to appreciate? We have no special teachers in this Cause. Everyone is a potential teacher. He has only to use what God has given him and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer: The Bahá'í World, p. 126, Vol. V)F. Mass Teaching
2002. Distribution of Bahá'í Material in Mail Boxes of Homes and Apartments
"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter ... concerning the distribution of Bahá'í material to the mail boxes of the houses and apartments in a locality, and it has instructed us to send you the following reply.
"The details of all such matters are within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly to decide in the light of certain principles and in the context of the situation in each country.
"The principles the House of Justice wishes National Assemblies to observe in this connection are:
1. The dignity of the Faith should be carefully safeguarded in all Bahá'í activities.
2. It is important that no teaching activity should be an encroachment on people's privacy nor should it force the teachings upon unwilling listeners.Page 593
"In general the House of Justice feels that there would be no objection in principle to mailing or distributing to mail boxes such items as invitations to meetings or introductory circular letters, or brief informative leaflets. Any leaflet used in such a way should be designed primarily to arouse the interest of the reader so that he will seek more information. It should not be intended to convince or convert the reader at that stage. A number of National Spiritual Assemblies have produced introductory circulars of this nature, which have a reply-paid card attached. It is not, of course, essential that the card be part of the leaflet provided that the leaflet itself is restrained and dignified. However, each National Spiritual Assembly must decide what is proper to be done in its own country.
"The quotation which you ask for is as follows: 'He feels that to distribute Bahá'í pamphlets from door-to-door ... is undignified and might create a bad impression of the Faith. No doubt, it is the eagerness and devotion of the friends that led them to make this proposal, but he does not think that the best interests of the Cause are served by such a method....'"
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Assembly of Iceland, December 6, 1981)
2003. Great Care Should Be Exercised in Selecting Teachers to Teach
"Great care and discretion should be exercised in the selection of teachers who will be contacting people who are mostly illiterate and cannot benefit from reading for themselves the written word, and are largely dependent on what they hear. Teachers, be they local or from outside, should be acutely aware of this. The spiritual calibre and moral quality of these teachers is of great importance, and particularly they should be of pure spirit and have a true love for the Cause. They should have the capacity to convey that spirit and that love to others. Furthermore, they should avoid pressure tactics in their efforts to obtain declarations of faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated May 5, 1982, attached to a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany dated February 6, 1986 and entitled "Statement of the Universal House of Justice Regarding Teaching the Faith")
2004. Exercise Care in Presenting Cause to Avoid Misconceptions
"Bahá'u'lláh, in 'The Hidden Words', Says 'O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved...', and on page 55 of 'The Advent of Divine Justice', a letter which is primarily directed towards exhorting the friends to fulfil their responsibilities in teaching the Faith, Shoghi Effendi writes: 'Care, however, should, at all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to proselytize and bring undue pressure upon them, those whom they wish to win over to their Cause'. Some Bahá'ís sometimes overstep the proper bounds, but this does not alter the clear principle."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, January 3, 1982: Teaching and Commitment, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)Page 594
2005. Mankind Has the Right to Hear the Message of Bahá'u'lláh
"The responsibility of the Bahá'ís to teach the Faith is very great. The contraction of the world and the onward rush of events require us to seize every chance open to us to touch the hearts and minds of our fellow-men. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh is God's guidance for mankind to overcome the difficulties of this age of transition and move forward into the next stage of its evolution, and human beings have the right to hear it. Those who accept it incur the duty of passing it on to their fellow-men. The slowness of the response of the world has caused and is causing great suffering; hence the historical pressure upon Bahá'ís to exert every effort to teach the Faith for the sake of their fellow-men. They should teach with enthusiasm, conviction, wisdom and courtesy, but without pressing their hearer, bearing in mind the words of Bahá'u'lláh 'Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him aware of the truth with kindly manner and most convincing exhortation. If your hearer respond, he will have responded to his own behoof, and if not, turn ye away from him, and set your face towards God's sacred Court, the seat of resplendent holiness.' (Gleanings CXXVIII)"
(Extract from "Statement of the Universal House of Justice Regarding Teaching the Faith", op. cit. No. 2003)2006. The Purpose of Consolidation
"Consolidation activities promote the individual spiritual development of the friends, help to unite and strengthen Bahá'í community life, establish new social patterns for the friends, and stimulate the teaching work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)2007. True Consolidation
"...true consolidation is to ensure that the love of Bahá'u'lláh and devotion to His Faith are firmly rooted in the hearts of the believers; this is the essential foundation for the subsequent addition of increased knowledge of the Teachings and the development of the Bahá'í way of life."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, November 3, 1974)2008. Proclamation, Expansion and Consolidation
"The House of Justice ... has instructed us to point out that proclamation, expansion, and consolidation are really three different aspects of teaching which to some degree merge into one another and therefore it is largely for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide how it will allocate these different aspects to committees in light of the volume of the work and the condition in each country."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 27, 1975)
2009. Consolidation is that Aspect of Teaching which Assists Believers to Deepen Their Knowledge of the Teachings...
"Consolidation is as vital a part of the teaching work as expansion. It is that aspect of teaching which assists the believers to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Teachings, and fans the flame of their devotion of Bahá'u'lláh and His Cause, so that they will, of their own volition, continue the process of their spiritual development, promote the teaching work, and strengthen the functioning of their administrative institutions. Proper consolidation is essential to the preservation ofPage 595
the spiritual health of the community, to the protection of its interests, to the upholding of its good name, and ultimately to the continuation of the work of expansion itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, April 17, 1981)
2010. Consolidation is an Essential and Inseparable Element of Teaching
"...they must remember that consolidation is an essential and inseparable element of teaching, and if they go to a remote area and enrol believers whom no one is going to be able to visit again in the near future, they may well be doing a disservice to those people and to the Faith. To give people this glorious Message and then leave them in the lurch produces disappointment and disillusionment, so that, when it does become possible to carry out properly planned teaching in that area, the teachers may well find the people resistant to the Message. The first teacher who was careless of consolidation, instead of planting and nourishing the seeds of faith has, in fact, 'inoculated' the people against the divine Message and made subsequent teaching very much harder."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all Continental Pioneer Committees, April 16, 1981: Teaching and Commitment, A Compilation of the Universal House of Justice)2011. Expansion and Consolidation Are Co-Equal
"Simultaneous and co-equal with this vast, ordered and ever-growing teaching effort, the work of consolidation must go hand in hand. In fact these two processes must be regarded as inseparable parts of the expansion of the Faith. While the work of teaching inevitably goes first, to pursue it alone without consolidation would leave the community unprepared to receive the masses who must sooner or later respond to the life-giving message of the Cause... Consolidation must comprise not only the establishment of Bahá'í administrative institutions, but a true deepening in the fundamental verities of the Cause and in its spiritual principles, understanding of its prime purpose in the establishment of the unity of mankind, instruction in its standards of behaviour in all aspects of private and public life, in the particular practice of Bahá'í life in such things as daily prayer, education of children, observance of the laws of Bahá'í marriage, abstention from politics, the obligation to contribute to the Fund, the importance of the Nineteen Day Feast and opportunity to acquire a sound knowledge of the present-day practice of Bahá'í administration."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
2012. The Purpose of Teaching is Not Complete with a Declaration of Faith
"Teaching the Faith embraces many diverse activities, all of which are vital to success, and each of which reinforces the other. Time and again the beloved Guardian emphasized that expansion and consolidation are twin and inseparable aspects to teaching that must proceed simultaneously, yet one still hears believers discussing the virtues of one as against the other. The purpose of teaching is not complete when a person declares that he has accepted Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age; the purpose of teaching is to attract human beings to the divine Message and so imbue them with its spirit that they will dedicate themselves to its service, and this world will become another world and its people another people. Viewed in this light a declaration of Faith is merely a milestone along the way--albeit aPage 596
very important one. Teaching may also be likened to kindling a fire, the fire of faith, in the hearts of men. If a fire burns only so long as the match is held to it, it cannot truly be said to have been kindled; to be kindled it must continue to burn of its own accord. Thereafter more fuel can be added and the flame can be fanned, but even if left alone for a period, a truly kindled fire will not be extinguished by the first breath of wind."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)
2013. Qualities Necessary--Pure Spirit and Love--Illiterates Cannot Read for Themselves
"It must be realized that people who are mostly illiterate cannot have the benefit of reading for themselves the written word and of deriving directly from it the spiritual sustenance they need for the enrichment of their Bahá'í lives. They become dependent, therefore, to a large extent on their contacts with visiting teachers. The spiritual calibre or moral quality of these teachers assumes, therefore, great importance. The National Spiritual Assembly or the Teaching Committees responsible for the selection of these teachers should bear in mind that their choice must depend, not only on the knowledge or grasp of the teachings on the part of the teachers, but primarily upon their pure spirit and their true love for the Cause, and their capacity to convey that spirit and love to others."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies engaged in mass teaching, October 26, 1967)
2014. Simplicity in Giving the Message--The Unsophisticated People Form Majority
"The unsophisticated people of the world--and they form the large majority of its population--have the same right to know of the Cause of God as others. When the friends are teaching the Word of God they should be careful to give the Message in the same simplicity as it is enunciated in our Teachings. In their contacts they must show genuine and divine love. The heart of an unlettered soul is extremely sensitive, and any trace of prejudice on the part of the pioneer or teacher is immediately sensed."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964)
2015. Poorer Classes Should Be Taught--Confirm People
"There is no doubt that the poorer classes should be taught the Cause and given every opportunity to embrace it. More especially in order to demonstrate to people our cardinal lack of prejudice--class prejudice as much as any other kind of prejudice. However, he feels that the great point is to confirm people of true capacity and ability--from whatever social stratum they may be-- because the Cause needs now, and will ever increasingly need, souls of great ability who can bring it before the public at large, administer its ever-growing affairs, and contribute to its advancement in every field."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer, October 30, 1941: A Special Measure of Love, p. 2)2016. Teaching Campaigns
"He fully approves of the concept of uniting the believers' labors throughPage 597
focussing them on nation-wide teaching campaigns and so on. But he feels that the friends should constantly be encouraged to bear in mind certain salient facts: Bahá'u'lláh has brought a new system and new laws and standards of personal as well as racial conduct into the world. Although outside agencies have been to a certain extent illumined by the radiance of His Message and doctrines, and are exerting efforts to bring the world into that orbit of universal peace and harmony He has set for it, these outside forces cannot achieve what only the followers of His Faith can. The believers must not take their eyes off their own immediate tasks of patiently consolidating their administrative institutions, building up new Assemblies in North, Central and South America, and laboring to perfect the Bahá'í pattern of life, for these are things that no other group of people in the world can do or will do, and they alone are able to provide the spiritual foundation and example on which the larger world schemes must ultimately rest.
"At the same time every effort should be made to broadcast the Teaching at this time, and correlate them to the plight of humanity and the plans for its future. Both tasks should go forward simultaneously--internal consolidation and expansion, and a wider contact with the masses, maintained through public meetings, radio, publicity, etc."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 29, 1945: Bahá'í News, No. 175, June 1945, p. 3)2017. Aim of All Bahá'í Institutions and Teachers
"The aim, therefore, of all Bahá'í institutions and Bahá'í teachers is to advance continually to new areas and strata of society, with such thoroughness, that, as the spark of faith kindles the hearts of the hearers, the teaching of the believers continues until and even after they shoulder the responsibilities as Bahá'ís and participate in both the teaching and administrative work of the Faith.
"There are now many areas in the world where thousands of people have accepted the Faith so quickly that it has been beyond the capacity of the existing Bahá'í communities to consolidate adequately these advances. The people in these areas must be progressively deepened in their understanding of the Faith, in accordance with well-laid plans, so that the communities may, as soon as possible, become sources of great strength to the work of the Faith and begin to manifest the pattern of Bahá'í life."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)2018. Challenge to Every Believer and Institution
"Every individual follower of Bahá'u'lláh, as well as the institutions of the Faith, at local, national, continental and world levels, must now meet the challenge to raise the intensity of teaching to a pitch never before attained, in order to realize that vast increase called for in the Plan. For those believers living in countries where they have freedom to teach their Faith, this challenge is more sharply pointed by the oppressive measures imposed on the Faith elsewhere."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)
2019. Challenge to Local and National Administrative Institutions
"The challenge to the local and national administrative institutions of the Faith isPage 598
to organize and promote the teaching work through systematic plans, involving not only the regular fireside meetings in the homes of the believers, the public meetings, receptions and conferences, the weekend, summer and winter schools, the youth conferences and activities, all of which are so vigorously upheld at present, but in addition through a constant stream of visiting teachers to every locality..."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)2020. Challenge to the Individual Bahá'í
"The challenge to the individual Bahá'í in every field of service, but above all in teaching the Cause of God, is never-ending. With every fresh affliction visited upon mankind our inescapable duty becomes more apparent, nor should we ever forget that if we neglect this duty, 'others', in the words of Shoghi Effendi, 'will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.'"
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1966)2021. How Can True Believer Remain Silent
"Every Bahá'í, however humble or inarticulate, must become intent on fulfilling his role as a bearer of the Divine Message. Indeed, how can a true believer remain silent while around us men cry out in anguish for truth, love and unity to descend upon this world?"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, November 16, 1969)
2022. Charitable and Humanitarian Aspects of Faith--Be Careful Not to Emphasize
"When teaching among the masses, the friends should be careful not to emphasize the charitable and humanitarian aspects of the Faith as a means to win recruits. Experience has shown that when facilities such as schools, dispensaries, hospitals, or even clothes and food are offered to the people being taught, many complications arise. The prime motive should always be the response of man to God's message, and the recognition of His Messenger. Those who declare themselves as Bahá'ís should become enchanted with the beauty of the Teachings, and touched by the love of Bahá'u'lláh. The declarants need not know all the proofs, history, laws, and principles of the Faith, but in the process of declaring themselves they must, in addition to catching the spark of faith, become basically informed about the Central Figures of the Faith, as well as the existence of laws they must follow and an administration they must obey."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 13, 1964)
2023. Honoraria or Expenses for Talking on the Faith at Non-Bahá'í Events
"As to honoraria, obviously it is preferable for individuals to present the Faith without receiving any fee. However, there is no objection to a Bahá'í receiving his travel and other expenses in connection with the talk."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 25, 1966)2024. Teachers as Administrators
"There is no reason why teachers should not also be administrators; but an activePage 599
teacher does not have much time for committee work. Unfortunately there are more people qualified to do the administrative work than the teaching work-- and teachers are greatly needed."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 15, 1947)
2025. Bahá'ís Should Be Aware that Opening a New Territory or Town is Only the First Move
"It must be made quite clear to the Bahá'ís that opening a new territory or a new town, for that matter, meritorious as it is, is nevertheless only the first move. The consolidation of the Bahá'í work undertaken there is the most important thing of all. Victories are won usually through a great deal of patience, planning and perseverance, and rarely accomplished at a single stroke."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, July 24, 1955)2026. The Basic Objective of Teaching
"It is reassuring to know that you understand that the basic objective of teaching is to promote the Cause of God--not merely to increase numbers for numbers' sake. However, care should be exercised in applying this principle lest we become so rigid as to exclude from our rolls those waiting souls who have been touched by the spirit of the Faith without being very knowledgeable about all the Teachings.
"A Local Spiritual Assembly should be formed in any locality where nine or more adult believers reside. The fact that some of them are not well grounded in the Faith is not a reason for delaying formation of the Assembly, but is a matter to be dealt with separately."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, November 23, 1975)
2027. The Guardian Encouraged Early Enrollment of New Believers
"...As you are aware, the beloved Guardian encouraged early enrollment of new believers upon their declarations, and not the creation of obstacles to their acceptance. After declaration, follow-up with deepening is imperative, and it may be that some will fall away. However, those who remain are the true fruits of the teaching endeavor and may include persons of great merit who might have been lost to the Cause through arbitrary early judgements."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 18, 1980)2028. Indirect Teaching: What It Constitutes
"As to your question as to what constitutes indirect teaching: It essentially consists in presenting some of the humanitarian or social teachings of the Cause which are shared by those whom we are teaching, as a means of attracting them to those aspects of the Faith which are more challenging in character, and are specifically and solely Bahá'í. The teaching of Esperanto, for instance, has been a very useful way of presenting the Cause indirectly to many people. It has opened many doors of contact for the believers, and has lately proved to be of tremendous help in introducing the Teachings into important social and intellectual circles."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 28, 1937)Page 600
"As you know, the Master attached the utmost importance to the teaching of the Indians in America. The Guardian therefore hopes that your Assembly will devote considerable energy to this most important matter so that contacts are made with Indians in all of the Countries under your jurisdiction and some of these Indians become confirmed in the Faith.
"If the light of Divine Guidance enters properly into the lives of the Indians, it will be found that they will arise with a great power and will become an example of spirituality and culture to all of the people in these countries.
"The Master has likened the Indians in your Countries to the early Arabian Nomads at the time of the appearance of Muhammad. Within a short period of time they became the outstanding examples of education, of culture and of civilization for the entire world. The Master feels that similar wonders will occur today if the Indians are properly taught and if the power of the Spirit properly enters into their living."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America and Mexico, August 22, 1957)2030. Teaching the Muslims
"...Teaching Muslims the Faith requires to a great degree a knowledge of the Qur'an, so that you can bring them proofs from their own texts. If you have not mastered this yet, he suggests that you do so with the help of some of the Bahá'ís from the Islamic background. In this way you will attract the well-educated Muslims, and they will be deeply appreciative that an American should know so much about their religion."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 9, 1956)
2031. It is the Holy Spirit that Confirms and the Individual Should Become as a Reed Through which the Spirit May Descend
"One should remember it is not the individual who confirms another, but the Holy Spirit which confirms. Thus the individual must become as a reed, through which the spirit may descend, and quicken souls. Thus the best way to develop capacity in teaching the Faith is to teach. As one teaches, he gains more knowledge himself, he relies more on the guidance of the spirit, and expands his own character. This is why Bahá'u'lláh made it incumbent on all to teach the Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 24, 1956)
2032. Many People Are Ready for and Longing to Find These Teachings
"There are many, many people ready for and longing to find these Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. The friends must, through prayers for guidance, and through trying to contact different types of groups, seek out these hungry souls and confirm them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 5, 1948)
2033. The Teacher Should Use Whatever Method of Expression that Will Attract the Listener
"English is, compared to Latin and oriental languages, lacking (as spoken in dailyPage 601
use) in flowery terms, and the Guardian feels that in teaching you should always use whatever method will most attract your hearers. If such terms as 'The Glory of God' are not suited to certain individuals' mentality you should refrain from using them until they draw really close to the spirit of the Cause. The teaching is of primary, the words of secondary importance."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 23, 1945)
2034. Audacity in Teaching is Essential, But with Tact, Wisdom and Consideration
"...It is certainly necessary, nay indeed vitally urgent, that the believers should make no compromise in teaching the Cause, and should not allow any consciousness of their limited means and resources to deter them from presenting the Teachings in their entirety, and with absolute courage and firm conviction. It is the realization that they are but the instruments of the Divine Will, and as such are endowed with a potency with which no earthly power, be it fame, wealth, human knowledge and capacity, can possibly compare, that should inspire them with an indomitable courage and determination to teach and deliver the Message to whomsoever they contact, and thus insure the faithful execution of the divine trust committed to their charge by Bahá'u'lláh.
"As the Guardian himself has pointed out, audacity in teaching is essential, but no less important is the necessity for the exercise of the utmost tact, wisdom and consideration, in approaching either separate individuals or large public audiences. Only when these qualities have been duly combined and harmonized can the teaching work be carried on effectively, and produce lasting results."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 2, 1939)
2035. Regarding Those Who Are Enrolled, But Do Not Consider Themselves Bahá'ís
"With regard to those who do not consider themselves Bahá'ís on the basis of the argument that they signed the Declaration Card without actually knowing the significance of what they were doing, you should determine who these people are. You should then deepen their knowledge of the Faith. If they feel, after receiving sufficient information, that they do not wish to be Bahá'í, then their names should be removed from the Bahá'í membership list."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, June 23, 1985)
2036. The Most Successful Way for the Individual to Carry on the Teaching Work
"The Bahá'ís must realize that the success of this work depends upon the individual. The individual must arise as never before to proclaim the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The most effective way for them to carry on their work is for the individual to make many contacts, select a few whom they feel would become Bahá'ís, develop a close friendship with them, then complete confidence, and finally teach them the Faith, until they become strong supporters of the Cause of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 13, 1955)Page 602
"Perhaps the greatest test Bahá'ís are ever subjected to is from each other; but for the sake of the Master they should be ever ready to overlook each other's mistakes, apologize for harsh words they have uttered, forgive and forget. He strongly recommends to you this course of action."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 18, 1945: Living the Life, p. 12)
2038. Growing Pains Every Bahá'í Community Experiences
"Often these trials and tests which all Bahá'í Communities inevitably pass through seem terrible at the moment, but in retrospect we understand that they were due to the frailty of human nature, to misunderstanding, and to the growing pains which every Bahá'í community must experience."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 25, 1956: Ibid., p. 19)
2039. Failures, Tests and Trials Are Means of Purifying Our Spirits
"We must always look ahead and seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past. Failures, tests, and trials, if we use them correctly, can become the means of purifying our spirit, strengthening our characters, and enable us to rise to greater heights of service."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 14, 1941: Ibid., p. 7)
2040. God Sometimes Causes Us to Suffer Much that We May Become Strong in His Cause
"You must not be sad. This affliction will make you spiritually stronger. Do not be sad. Cheer up! Praise be to God, you are dear to Me, I will tell you a story:
'A certain ruler wished to appoint one of his subjects to a high office: so, in order to train him, the ruler cast him into prison and caused him to suffer much. The man was surprised at this, for he expected great favours. The ruler had him taken from prison and beaten with sticks. This greatly astonished the man, for he thought the ruler loved him. After this he was hanged on the gallows until he was nearly dead. After he recovered he asked the ruler, 'If you love me, why did you do these things?' The ruler replied: 'I wish to make you prime minister. By having gone through these ordeals you are better fitted for that office. I wish you to know how it is yourself. When you are obliged to punish, you will know how it feels to endure these things. I love you so I wish you to become perfect.'
"Even so with you. After this ordeal you will reach maturity. God sometimesPage 603
causes us to suffer much and to have many misfortunes that we may become strong in His Cause. You will soon recover and be spiritually stronger than ever before. You will work for God and carry the Message to many of your people."
(Words of Abdu'l-Bahá on October 10, 1912 to Mr. Tinsley who was recovering from an accident in San Francisco, California: Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 12, p. 205)2041. A Man May Forget God While Happy
"While a man is happy he may forget his God; but when grief comes and sorrows overwhelm him, then will he remember his Father Who is in Heaven, and Who is able to deliver him from his humiliations.
"Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, pp. 50-51)
2042. Difficulties Are Means for the Spirit to Grow
"Thus you might look upon your own difficulties in the path of service. They are the means of your spirit growing and developing. You will suddenly find that you have conquered many of the problems which upset you, and then you will wonder why they should have troubled you at all. An individual must centre his whole heart and mind on service to the Cause, in accordance with the high standards set by Bahá'u'lláh. When this is done, the Hosts of the Supreme Concourse will come to the assistance of the individual, and every difficulty and trial will gradually be overcome."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 6, 1954: Living the Life, p. 19)
2043. Is It Right to Tell Untruth to Save Another?
"As to the question whether it is right to tell an untruth in order to save another, he feels that under no condition should we tell an untruth but at the same time try and help the person in a more legitimate manner. Of course it is not necessary to be too outspoken until the question is directly put to us."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 21, 1927: Living the Life, p. 3)
2044. No Comfort in This World--Some Under Pressure Commit Suicide
"...No comfort can be secured by any soul in this world, from monarch down to the most humble commoner. If once this life should offer a man a sweet cup, a hundred bitter ones will follow; such is the condition of this world. The wise man, therefore, doth not attach himself to this mortal life and doth not depend upon it; at some moments, even, he eagerly wisheth for death that he may thereby be freed from these sorrows and afflictions. Thus it is seen that some, under extreme pressure of anguish, have committed suicide."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 200)
2045. We Can Turn Our Stumbling Blocks Into Stepping Stones
"...We Bahá'ís can always, with the aid of Bahá'u'lláh, Who, is ever ready to strengthen and assist us, turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and utilizePage 604
the often violent forces released by sincere but perhaps misguided friends, as a positive stream of power by turning them into productive channels instead of destructive ones."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, June 30, 1949)
2046. Life Afflicts Us with Very Severe Trials which We Must Accept Patiently
"Life afflicts us with very severe trials sometimes, but we must always remember that when we accept patiently the Will of God He compensates us in other ways. With faith and love we must be patient, and He will surely reward us."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 30, 1951)2047. Many Tests Are Due to Our Own Nature
"He was very sorry to hear that you have had so many tests in your Bahá'í life. There is no doubt that many of them are due to our own nature. In other words, if we are very sensitive, or if we are in some way brought up in a different environment from the Bahá'ís amongst whom we live, we naturally see things differently and may feel them more acutely; and the other side of it is that the imperfections of our fellow-Bahá'ís can be a great trial to us.
"We must always remember that in the cesspool of materialism, which is what modern civilization has to a certain extent become, Bahá'ís--that is some of them--are still to a certain extent affected by the society from which they have sprung. In other words, they have recognized the Manifestation of God, but they have not been believers long enough, or perhaps not tried hard enough, to become 'a new creation'.
"He feels that, if you close your eyes to the failings of others, and fix your love and prayers upon Bahá'u'lláh, you will have the strength to weather this storm, and will be much better for it in the end, spiritually. Although you suffer, you will gain a maturity that will enable you to be of greater help to both your fellow-Bahá'ís and your children."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 5, 1956)
2048. Only Through Suffering Can Nobility of Character Be Made Manifest--The Energy We Spend Enduring the Intolerance of Others is Not Lost
"As to the inconveniences you have experienced during the last ten years, the best consolation I can imagine for you is your own quotation of the Hidden Words, 'My calamity is my providence.' We must bear with one another. It is only through suffering that the nobility of character can make itself manifest. The energy we expend in enduring the intolerance of some individuals of our community is not lost. It is transformed into fortitude, steadfastness and magnanimity. The lives of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá are the best examples for this. Sacrifices in the path of one's religion produce always immortal results, 'Out of the ashes rises the phoenix'."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 30, 1923)
2049. Suffering Seems to be Part of the Polish God Employs to Enable Us to Reflect More of His Attributes
"...Suffering, of one kind or another, seems to be the portion of man in this world. Even the Beloved Ones, the Prophets of God, have never been exempt fromPage 605
the ills that are to be found in our world; poverty, disease, bereavement,-- they seem to be part of the polish God employs to make us finer, and enable us to reflect more of His attributes! No doubt in the future, when the foundation of society is laid according to the Divine plan, and men become truly spiritualized, a vast amount of our present ills and problems will be remedied. We who toil now are paving the way for a far better world, and this knowledge must uphold and strengthen us through every trial."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1943)
2050. Sometimes Things which Seem Difficult to Understand Have a Simple, Reasonable Explanation
"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... He hopes you will ... rest assured inwardly that for these things which sometimes seem difficult to understand there is usually a quite simple and reasonable explanation."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, February 24, 1947: The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, A Compilation from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, January 1983)Page 606
2051. Founding of Temple Marks Inception Kingdom of God on Earth
"The founding of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will mark the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 17, 1916, p. 137)
2052. Temple Ordained to be Ark to Ride Tidal Wave
"...Divinely-founded Temple ordained to be the Ark destined to ride triumphant the tidal wave of world-encircling calamities and offering sole refuge to storm-tossed sufferers of sinful, steadily sinking civilization...."
(Cablegram from Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 23, 1939: Messages to America, p. 30)
2053. First Institute by the Disciples Was a Temple
"The Mashrak-el-Azcar is the most important matter and the greatest divine institute. Consider how the first institute of His Holiness Moses, after His exodus from Egypt, was the 'Tent of Martyrdom' which He raised and which was the travelling Temple. It was a tent which they pitched in the desert, wherever they abode, and worshipped in it. Likewise, after His Holiness Christ--may the spirit of the world be a sacrifice to Him!--the first institute by the disciples was a Temple. They planned a church in every country. Consider the Gospel (read it) and the importance of the Mashrak-el-Azcar will become evident."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. III, p. 633)
2054. Effect on Those Who Build It--Arise for the Service of Temple
"Not only does the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar have an effect upon those who built it but upon the whole world... Whosoever arises for the service of this building shall be assisted with great power from His Supreme Kingdom, and upon him spiritual and heavenly blessings shall descend which shall fill his heart with wonderful consolation and enlighten his eyes by beholding the Glorious and Eternal God."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Year Book, Vol. 1, pp. 60-62)2055. Accessories to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and its accessories: When these institutions-- college, hospital, hospice, and establishments for the incurables, university for the study of higher sciences and giving post-graduate courses, and other philanthropic buildings--are built, its doors will be open to all the nations and all religions. There will be drawn___________________
absolutely no line of demarcation. Its charities will be dispensed irrespective of colour and race. Its gates will be flung wide to mankind; prejudice toward none, love for all. The central building will be devoted to the purpose of prayer and worship. Thus for the first time religion will become harmonized with science and science will be the handmaid of religion, both showering their material and spiritual gifts on all humanity. In this way the people will be lifted out of the quagmires of slothfulness and bigotry."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Star of the West, Vol. 21, No. 1, 1930, p. 20)
2056. One of the Most Vital Institutions in the World is the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar
"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is one of the most vital institutions in the world, and it hath many subsidiary branches. Although it is a House of Worship, it is also connected with a hospital, a drug dispensary, a traveller's hospice, a school for orphans, and a university for advanced studies. Every Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is connected with these five things. My hope is that the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will now be established in America, and that gradually the hospital, the school, the university, the dispensary and the hospice, all functioning according to the most efficient and orderly procedures, will follow. Make these matters known to the beloved of the Lord, so that they will understand how very great is the importance of this 'Dawning-Point of the Remembrance of God.' The Temple is not only a place for worship; rather, in every respect is it complete and whole."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 99-100, Wilmette, 1982 ed.)
2057. The Relationship of an Administrative Building to the Temple is Worship and Service
"As to the question of the relationship of an administrative building to the Temple: This also will have to be defined in future, but whatever the actual form which such relationship may assume, and whatever its details, it should be based on the general principle that these two sets of Bahá'í institutions embody two vital and distinct, yet inseparable aspects of Bahá'í life: worship and service. The central edifice of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, which is exclusively devoted to purpose of worship, represents the spiritual element, and therefore fulfils a primary function in every Bahá'í Community, whereas all other Temple accessories, whether of a strictly administrative, cultural or humanitarian character, are secondary, and come next in importance to the House of Worship itself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 28, 1939)B. Worship in the Temple
"You had asked about places of worship and the underlying reason therefor. The wisdom in raising up such building is that at a given hour, the people should know it is time to meet, and all should gather together, and, harmoniously attuned one to another, should engage in prayer; with the result that out of this coming together, unity and affection shall grow and flourish in the human heart."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: from a newly translated extract cited in a compilation on the Temple from the World Centre)Page 608
"As to the character of the meetings in the Auditorium of the Temple, he feels that they should be purely devotional in character; Bahá'í addresses and lectures should be strictly excluded. For the present, he feels that there would be no objection to having Bahá'í meetings including addresses and the business sessions of the Convention held in the Foundation Hall. Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children be encouraged in the Auditorium and that rigidity in the Bahá'í service be scrupulously avoided. The more universal and informal the character of Bahá'í worship in the Temple the better. Images and pictures, with the exception of the Greatest Name, should be strictly excluded. Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master as well as sacred Writings of the Prophets should be read or chanted as well as hymns based upon Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í sacred Writings."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 2, 1931)2060. Non-Bahá'í Public Welcome
"Let the friends not hesitate to welcome to their observances, even to those of a devotional character, the non-Bahá'í public, many of whom may well be attracted by the prayers and expressions of gratitude of the believers, no less than by the exalted tone of passages from Bahá'í Writings."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, June 25, 1967: Wellspring of Guidance, p. 116)2061. Worship in Temple
"As regard the whole question of the Temple and services held in it: He wishes to emphasize that he is very anxious, now that this first and greatest Temple of the West has been built, and will, within a few years, be used for worship and regular services by the Bahá'ís, that no forms, no rituals, no set customs be introduced over and above the bare minimum outlined in the teachings. The nature of these gatherings is for prayer, meditation and the reading of writings from the Sacred Scriptures of our Faith and other Faiths; there can be one or a number of readers; any Bahá'í chosen, or even, non-Bahá'í, may read. The gatherings should be simple, dignified, and designed to uplift the soul and educate it through hearing the Creative Word. No speeches may be made, no extraneous matter introduced.
"The use of pulpits is forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh: if, in order to be more clearly heard, the person stands on a low platform, there is no objection, but this should not be incorporated as an architectural feature of the building....
"Vocal music alone may be used and the position of the singers or singer is also a matter for your Assembly to decide; but again, there should be no fixed point, no architectural details marking a special spot. Acoustics should certainly be the main consideration in placing the singers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 11, 1947: Insert with Bahá'í News, No. 232, June 1950)2062. Talking in the Temple
"It is understood of course that there is to be no talking in the auditorium of the Temple. However, the Guardian does feel that in an emergency, it may be necessary to carry on a conversation for a very limited period, in a subdued tone of voice.Page 609
The Guardian feels that in matters of this type, careful judgement must be used."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 1953: Archives)
2063. Scriptures of Other Religions, Readers, Music in the House of Worship
"Your Assembly is free to use its discretion in choosing excerpts from the generally recognized scriptures of the older religions.
"With reference to your query about the use of several readers in unison, this is permissible provided it does not seem or become theatrical in the view of your Assembly. Concerning the placement of the reader the beloved Guardian has already indicated, 'the reader should stand where he or she will best be seen and heard by all.'
"Music in the House of Worship is to be vocal only, whether by singers or a singer. It does not matter if a guest a capella choir or soloist is used, provided such use is not made the occasion to publicize services of Worship and the precautions you mention are taken. No doubt the excellent recordings available today would assure the highest quality of performance at low cost, but all references to vocal music in the central Edifice imply the physical presence of the singers."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 13, 1964)
2064. The Auditorium May Be Used for Special Prayers by Visiting Groups, Bahá'í or Non-Bahá'í
"...provided the general rules governing the nature of services in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar are observed, there is no objection to your Assembly permitting the use of the auditorium for special prayer meetings by visiting groups at times when no general service is scheduled, and such meetings could include memorial services for departed souls, whether Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í. However, in some religions it is customary to hold memorial services for the departed at a specific time after the death--for example, in Islam it is forty days after the passing. The Guardian has stated that such practices have nothing to do with the Faith, the friends should be quite clear on this matters, and should preferably discontinue the practice. Therefore, in all such things the National Spiritual Assembly should be careful to ensure that no set practices or forms arise."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, November 24, 1976)2065. The Chanting of Tablets in the Temple
"As regards the chanting of Tablets in the Temple, Shoghi Effendi wishes in this connection to urge the friends to avoid all forms of rigidity and uniformity in matter of worship. There is no objection to the reciting or chanting of prayers in oriental languages, but there is also no objection whatever of adopting such a form of prayer at any devotional service in the auditorium of the Temple. It should neither be required nor prohibited. The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers Bahá'u'lláh has given us, no strict or special ruling in matters of worship whether in the Temple or elsewhere.Page 610
Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 15, 1935)
2066. Questions and Answers Concerning Services in the House of Worship
"With reference to your letter of August 2, 1964, and the questions you have asked concerning services at the House of Worship, we have now had opportunity to study your questions in the light of available texts, and we are glad to share with you our conclusions.
"We will set forth your question, ... and then make our comments at the end of each section:
A. Is congregational singing the same as congregational worship? Is it permissible to have singing in which anyone can join? If so, is it permissible for 'Allah-u-Abha' or 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha' to be sung?
"Singing by a congregation present at a service in the House of Worship should not be confused with congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh for the dead. As the Guardian in a letter written on his behalf by his secretary pointed out: 'When the Aqdas is published the form of congregational prayer prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh will be made clear to all the friends.' (Bahá'í Procedure, 1942, page 5) Regarding singing in the Temple, we must bear in mind the reference made by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas to the need for the person who enters the Temple to sit silently and listen to the chanting of the verses of God, as well as the statements made by the Guardian regarding 'the reader' or 'a number of readers' or a 'choir'.
"In connection with the desire of the Africans to sing, this aptitude in them should be encouraged. The Guardian elucidated this principle in a letter written on his behalf by his secretary: 'Shoghi Effendi would urge that choir singing by men, women and children be encouraged in the Auditorium, and that rigidity in the Bahá'í service be scrupulously avoided.' (Bahá'í News, September, 1931)."
B. Could we develop musical programs with words not necessarily from Sacred Scriptures? Could Christian hymn tunes with Bahá'í words be used?
"We feel that the first question is covered by the following instruction given by the Guardian: 'Prayers ... should be read or chanted, as well as hymns based upon Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í sacred Writings.' (Bahá'í News, September 1931). As regards using hymn tunes of other religions there is no objection to this. As the Guardian once pointed out, we do not have at this time distinctive music which could be called Bahá'í, as such a cultural expression is the flower of the civilization and does not come at the beginning of a new Revelation."
C. Is it necessary at the present time to uphold at all costs a standard of excellence in Temple singing? If so, should it be a Western or an African standard?
"In everything we do we should always try to attain a standard of excellence. Bearing in mind the basic principle of unity in diversity and the undesirability of attempting uniformity, the National Assembly should do all possible to ensure the dignified presentation of whatever is sung in the Temple, African, Western or other."Page 611
D. ...may the reader preface his reading by 'This reading is from ...' or words to the effect? Is it permissible to make short comments which might add 'following readings are on the subject of humility...' or 'the following healing prayer is for...'
"There is no objection to the reader very briefly stating at the beginning of his reading, the reference and source of the passage he is about to read. Beyond this, any other comment regarding the passage to be read is inappropriate. If in the future, your Assembly is able to overcome the difficulty of making a printed program available, it would be far better to have such a program."
E. May the writings of Abdu'l-Bahá be used in the Temple as these are most easily translatable and many are already prepared in the most common local language--Luganda?
"The Guardian's advice on this point is: 'Prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master as well as Sacred Writings of the Prophets should be read or chanted.' (Bahá'í News, September 1931). In response to a specific question put to the Guardian regarding the Public Talks and Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá, the Guardian advised that these should not be used in the devotional services in the Temple...."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa, August 19, 1965)C. Temple Guiding and Other Activities
2067. The Temple Guide Has a Very Sacred Obligation
"Regarding the guide work at the Temple...: The Guardian attaches the highest importance to it, inasmuch as it affords a splendid opportunity for presenting the Message on a very large scale. The responsibilities which this function calls for are as vital and far reaching as the privileges and bounties it confers on the individual believer. The Bahá'í guide has indeed a very sacred obligation to discharge. Not only he has to perfect his knowledge of the Cause, but should develop all those qualities of tact, wisdom, and of ability to present the Message which every Bahá'í teacher requires. It is the duty of those who are in charge of organizing the guide work at the Temple to make every effort to widen its scope, raise the standard of its personnel, and thus increase its effectiveness."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 17, 1937)2068. Bahá'í Guides Should Be Well Informed
"You have asked as to what information the Bahá'í guides at the Temple should give the visitors; any information, whether in connection with the purely architectural side of the Edifice or with its spiritual and social significance, should be offered to the inquirers, and it is therefore essential that all those who have been appointed as guides should be well informed regarding every aspect of the Temple.
"The Temple Guide Committee should see to it that every one of the guides fulfils these requirements, and should offer them every advice and suggestion they need in the discharge of their task."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 14, 1939)Page 612
"The essential requisite of guides is that they should know the Temple and the teachings so as to be able to answer questions and attract the hearts of the people through their spirit as well as their words. It is a very important position as it often marks the very first contact of a person with the Faith and on it may hinge that individual's future attitude towards the Cause. Perhaps some of the older Bahá'ís, who are not able to climb so many stairs, could answer questions and interest enquirers and a more active person show people over the building and explain the technical points?"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 5, 1944)2070. Work at the Temple on Holy Days
"The beloved Guardian made it absolutely clear that the command to cease work during the nine Holy Days is a matter for conscientious obedience by every individual believer. In the case of businesses and other undertakings entirely under Bahá'í control, they must also close down during the Bahá'í Holy Days, even though non-Bahá'ís may be members of their staffs.
"It is fully appreciated that the Bahá'í Temple must be open for worship on the Holy Days and therefore it is permitted to provide, to the minimum extent possible, essential services. Those necessary tasks, such as cleaning and other preparation of the building, which can be carried out on the previous day should be so done and only those duties which must be performed should be undertaken on the Holy Day. In the case of the Temple it is immaterial whether the workers are Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís since it is the duty of the Faith to observe, especially in respect of its own institutions, the command to cease work on the Holy Days."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Panama, August 12, 1977)
2071. Land Grant from Government Not Acceptable for Temple Site
"...it is not permissible to accept a free grant of land from the government to be used as a Temple site. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Bahá'ís for strictly Bahá'í purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Bahá'ís, whether individuals, institutions or governments. There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Bahá'í cemeteries or for such institutions that are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belize, June 15, 1972)Page 613
2072. Both Women and Men Have Been Created in the Image of God
"Know thou, O handmaid, that in the sight of Baha, women are accounted the same as men, and God hath created all humankind in His own image, and after His own likeness. That is, men and women alike are the revealers of His names and attributes, and from the spiritual viewpoint there is no difference between them. Whosoever draweth nearer to God, that one is the most favoured, whether man or woman. How many a handmaid, ardent and devoted, hath, within the sheltering shade of Baha, proved superior to the men, and surpassed the famous of the earth.
"The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law of God, is confined to men;+F1 this for a wisdom of the Lord God's which will erelong be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, 1978 World Centre edition, pp. 79-80)
2073. Clarification Exclusion of Women on House of Justice
"Your letter of March 26th, 1971 asking for clarification of the exclusion of women from membership in the Universal House of Justice in view of the great principle of the Cause of the equality of men and women has been received and we offer you the following comments.
"In a Tablet to an early woman believer Abdu'l-Bahá stated: 'O maidservant of God! Know thou that in the sight of God, the conduct of women is the same as that of men... From the spiritual point of view ... there is no difference between women and men...' He added, however: 'As to the House of Justice: according to the explicit text of the Law of God, its membership is exclusively reserved to men. There is divine wisdom in this which will presently be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.'
"The beloved Guardian in reply to the same query from a believer pointed out in a letter written on his behalf on July 15th 1947: 'People must just accept the fact that women are not eligible to the International House of Justice. As the Master says the wisdom of this will be known in the future, we can only accept, believing it is right, but not able to give an explanation calculated to silence an ardent feminist!'
"We must have faith in the Supreme Manifestation of God and His Exemplar, Whose prescience is revealed in such provisions which will one day 'be made manifest even as the mid-day sun.'"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, May 26, 1971)___________________
+F1 (From other extracts it is evident that the limitation of membership to men applies only to the Universal House of Justice, and not to the National and Local Houses of Justice.)Page 614
2074. The Membership of the Universal House of Justice is Confined to Men; This is Not a Function Designated for Women
"As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, Abdu'l-Bahá states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 28, 1936: Women, A Compilation, p. 9)
2075. Women Are Destined to Attain to the Very Highest Station of the World of Humanity--Bahá'u'lláh Has Willed It So!
"In this Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present condition; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious. For His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh Hath Willed It so! At the time of elections the right to vote is the inalienable right of women, and the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it.
"But there are certain matters, the participation in which is not worthy of women. For example, at the time when the community is taking up vigorous defensive measures against the attack of foes, the women are exempt from military engagements. It may so happen that at a given time warlike and savage tribes may furiously attack the body politic with the intention of carrying on a wholesale slaughter of its members; under such a circumstance defence is necessary, but it is the duty of men to organize and execute such defensive measures and not the women--because their hearts are tender and they cannot endure the sight of the horror of carnage, even if it is for the sake of defence. From such and similar undertakings the women are exempt.
"As regards the constitution of the House of Justice, Bahá'u'lláh addresses the men. He says: 'O ye men of the House of Justice!'
"But when its members are to be elected, the right which belongs to women, so far as their voting and their voice is concerned, is indisputable. When the women attain to the ultimate degree of progress, then according to the exigency of the time and place and their great capacity, they shall obtain extraordinary privileges. Be ye confident on these accounts. His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh has greatly strengthened the cause of women, and the rights and privileges of women is one of the greatest principles of Abdu'l-Bahá. Rest ye assured! Ere long the days shall come when the men addressing the women, shall say: 'Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! Verily ye are worthy of every gift. Verily ye deserve to adorn your heads with the crown of everlastingPage 615
glory, because in sciences and arts, in virtues and perfections ye shall become equal to man, and as regards tenderness of heart and the abundance of mercy and sympathy ye are superior'."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, 1961, U.K. edition, pp. 182-184)
2076. Reference to the "Men of Justice" Cited in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is Based on a Certain Principle Deriving from Bahá'u'lláh
"To the general premise that women and men have equality in the Faith, this, as often explained by Abdu'l-Bahá, is a fundamental principle deriving from Bahá'u'lláh and therefore His mention of the 'Men of Justice' in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas should be considered in light of that principle."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 29, 1976: Women)
2077. All Mankind Are the Creatures of One God--"Man" is a Generic Term Applying to All Humanity
"In this day man must investigate reality impartially and without prejudice in order to reach the true knowledge and conclusions. What, then, constitutes the inequality between man and woman? Both are human. In powers and function each is the complement of the other. At most it is this: that woman has been denied the opportunities which man has so long enjoyed, especially the privilege of education....
"The truth is that all mankind are the creatures and servants of one God, and in His estimate all are human. Man is a generic term applying to all humanity. The Biblical statement 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness' does not mean that woman was not created. The image and likeness of God apply to her as well. In Persian and Arabic there are two distinct words translated into English as man: one meaning man and woman collectively, the other distinguishing man as male from woman the female. The first word and its pronoun are generic, collective; the other is restricted to the male. This is the same in Hebrew.
"To accept and observe a distinction which God has not intended in creation is ignorance and superstition...
"It is my hope that the banner of equality may be raised throughout the five continents where as yet it is not fully recognized and established. In this enlightened world of the West woman has advanced an immeasurable degree beyond the women of the Orient. And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible. For the world of humanity consists of two parts or members: one is woman; the other is man. Until these two members are equal in strength, the oneness of humanity cannot be established, and the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality. God willing, this is to be so."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, pp. 74-77)
2078. Bahá'u'lláh Made Women Respected by Proclaiming that All Women Be Educated--In Some Societies It was Preferable that She Should Not Know Reading and Writing
"The status of woman in former times was exceedingly deplorable, for it was the belief of the Orient that it was best for woman to be ignorant. It was considered preferable that she should not know reading or writing in order that she might not bePage 616
informed of the events in the world. Woman was considered to be created for rearing children and attending to the duties of the household. If she pursued educational courses, it was deemed contrary to chastity; hence women were made prisoners of the household. The houses did not even have windows opening upon the outside world. Bahá'u'lláh destroyed these ideas and proclaimed the equality of man and woman. He made woman respected by commanding that all women be educated, that there be no difference in the education of the two sexes and that man and woman share the same rights. In the estimation of God there is no distinction of sex. One whose thought is pure, whose education is superior, whose scientific attainments are greater, whose deeds of philanthropy excel, be that one man or woman, white or coloured, is entitled to full rights and recognition; there is no differentiation whatsoever."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 166)
2079. The New Age Will Be an Age Less Masculine; the Feminine and Masculine Elements Will Be More Evenly Balanced
"The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting--force is losing its weight and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine, and more permeated with the feminine ideals--or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, 1976 U.S. edition, p. 156)
2080. Woman Would Be the Peer of Men if Equal Opportunity Were Granted
"It has been objected by some that woman is not equally capable with man and that she is deficient by creation. This is pure imagination. The difference in capability between man and woman is due entirely to opportunity and education. Heretofore woman has been denied the right and privilege of equal development. If equal opportunity be granted her there is no doubt she would be the peer of man. History will evidence this...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 135)
2081. With the Same Educational Advantages Women Will Show Equal Capacity for Scholarship
"In the world of humanity ... the female sex is treated as though inferior, and is not allowed equal rights and privileges. This condition is due not to nature, but to education. In the Divine Creation there is no such distinction. Neither sex is superior to the other in the sight of God. Why then should one sex assert the inferiority of the other, withholding just rights and privileges as though God had given His authority for such a course of action? If women received the same educational advantages as those of men, the result would demonstrate the equality of capacity of both for scholarship.
"In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, 1961 U.K. edition, p. 161)Page 617
"...if woman be fully educated and granted her rights, she will attain the capacity for wonderful accomplishments and prove herself the equal of man. She is the coadjutor of man, his complement and helpmeet. Both are human, both are endowed with potentialities of intelligence and embody the virtues of humanity. In all human powers and functions they are partners and co-equals. At present in spheres of human activity woman does not manifest her natal prerogatives owing to lack of education and opportunity. Without doubt education will establish her equality with men...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 136-137, 1982 ed.)
2083. The Need to Educate and Guide Women in Their Primary Responsibility as Mothers
"The House of Justice regards the need to educate and guide women in their primary responsibility as mothers as an excellent opportunity for organizing women's activities. Your efforts should focus on helping them in their function as educators of the rising generation. Women should also be encouraged to attract their husbands and male members of their families to the Faith so that the Bahá'í community will be representative of the society of which it forms a part. Gradually the spirit of unity and fellowship, as set forth in our teachings, will be reflected in the life of Bahá'í families."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, February 29, 1984: Women)
2084. No Nation Can Achieve Success Unless Education is Accorded to All Its Citizens
"The cause of universal education, which has already enlisted in its service an army of dedicated people from every faith and nation, deserves the utmost support that the governments of the world can lend it. For ignorance is indisputably the principle reason for the decline and fall of people and the perpetuation of prejudice. No nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Lack of resources limits the ability of many nations to fulfil this necessity, imposing a certain ordering of priorities.
"The decision-making agencies involved would do well to consider giving first priority to the education of women and girls, since it is through educated mothers that the benefits of knowledge can be most effectively and rapidly diffused throughout society. In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice, October 1985: Ibid.)
2085. If Mother is Educated Then Her Children Will Be Well Taught
"If the mother is educated then her children will be well taught. When the mother is wise, then will the children be led into the path of wisdom. If the mother be religious she will show her children how they should love God. If the mother is moral she guides her little ones into the ways of uprightness... Therefore, surely, God is not pleased that so important an instrument as woman should suffer from want of training in order to attain the perfections desirable and necessary for her great life's work! Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respectedPage 618
since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven. Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of heart. Human virtues belong equally to all!"(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, p. 162, U.K. 1941 ed.)
2086. The Assumption of Superiority by Men Will Continue to be Depressing to the Ambition of Women
"In brief, the assumption of superiority by man will continue to be depressing to the ambition of woman, as if her attainment of equality was creationally impossible; woman's aspiration toward advancement will be checked by it, and she will gradually become hopeless. On the contrary, we must declare that her capacity is equal, even greater than man's. This will inspire her with hope and ambition, and her susceptibilities for advancement will continually increase. She must not be told and taught that she is weaker and inferior in capacity and qualification. If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, 'You are most capable, and if you endeavour, you will attain the highest degree'."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, pp. 76-77)
2087. The Boldness which the Women Who Enlisted in the Ranks of the Faith Have Evinced is One of the Miracles which Distinguish This Sacred Dispensation
"Abdu'l-Bahá has pointed out that 'Among the miracles which distinguish this sacred Dispensation is this, that women have evinced a greater boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of the Faith.' Shoghi Effendi has further stated that this 'boldness' must, in the course of time, 'be more convincingly demonstrated, and win for the beloved Cause victories more stirring than any it has as yet achieved.' Although obviously the entire Bahá'í world is committed to encouraging and stimulating the vital role of women in the Bahá'í community as well as in society at large, the Five Year Plan calls specifically on eighty National Spiritual Assemblies to organize Bahá'í activities for women. In the course of the current year which has been designated 'International Women's Year' as a world-wide activity of the United Nations, the Bahá'ís, particularly in these eighty national communities, should initiate and implement programs which will stimulate and promote the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of Bahá'í community life, so that through their accomplishments the friends will demonstrate the distinction of the Cause of God in this field of human endeavour."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975: Women, A Compilation)2088. The Women's Liberation Movement
"Concerning the point you raised in your letter ... that the women's liberation movement in ... is assuming extreme positions which are having some influence on impressionable Bahá'í young women, we feel it would be helpful if your Assembly were to stress the unique position that women occupy by being members of thePage 619
Bahá'í Faith particularly through participation in the administration of its affairs on both a local and national scale."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, April 9, 1971: Ibid.)
2089. What Abdu'l-Bahá Meant by Women Arising for Peace
"What Abdu'l-Bahá meant about the women arising for peace is that this is a matter which vitally affects women, and when they form a conscious and overwhelming mass of public opinion against war, there can be no war. The Bahá'í women are already organized through being members of the Faith and the Administrative Order. No further organization is needed. But they should, through teaching and through the active moral support they give to every movement directed towards peace, seek to exert a strong influence on other women's minds in regard to this essential matter."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 24, 1945: Ibid.)
2090. The Emancipation of Women and the Achievement of Full Equality is One of the Most Important Prerequisites for Peace
"The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world's population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge."
(From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice, October 1985)
2091. The Hearts of Women Are More Tender and Susceptible Than the Hearts of Men and They Are More Philanthropic and Responsive Toward the Needy and Suffering
"Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most capable and efficient, that their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men, that they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering, that they are inflexibly opposed to war and are lovers of peace. Strive that the ideal of international peace may become realized through the efforts of womankind, for man is more inclined to war than woman, and a real evidence of woman's superiority will be her service and efficiency in the establishment of universal peace."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 284)2092. Woman by Nature is Opposed to War
"...imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated.Page 620
"The evident reasons underlying this are as follows: Woman by nature is opposed to war; she is an advocate of peace. Children are reared and brought up by the mothers who give them the first principles of education and labour assiduously in their behalf. Consider, for instance, a mother who has tenderly reared a son for twenty years to the age of maturity. Surely she will not consent to having that son torn asunder and killed in the field of battle. Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of international peace."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 375)
2093. The Woman Has Greater Moral Courage Than Man and is of the Greater Importance to the Race
"The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion...
"The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis."
(Abdu'l-Bahá in London, 1982 U.K. edition, pp. 102-103)
2094. The Duty of Women in Being the First Educators of Mankind
"The duty of women in being the first educators of mankind is clearly set forth in the Writings. It is for every woman, if and when she becomes a mother, to determine how best she can discharge on the one hand her chief responsibility as a mother and on the other, to the extent possible, to participate in other aspects of the activities of the society of which she forms a part."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 22, 1981: Women, A Compilation)
2095. At Present the Equality of Men and Women is Not Universally Applied
"The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its progress we must take the lead in practising this Bahá'í principle. Bahá'í women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their communities."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1984)
2096. One of the Factors in Bringing About International Peace is Woman's Suffrage
"Question: Is it not a fact that universal peace cannot be accomplished until there is political democracy in all the countries of the world?
"Answer: It is very evident that in the future there shall be no centralization in the countries of the world, be they constitutional in government, republican or democratic in form. The United States may be held up as the example of future government--that is to say, each province will be independent in itself, but there will be federal union protecting the interests of the various independent states. It may not be a republican or a democratic form. To cast aside centralization which promotesPage 621
despotism is the exigency of the time. This will be productive of international peace. Another fact of equal importance in bringing about international peace is woman's suffrage. That is to say, when perfect equality shall be established between men and women, peace may be realized for the simple reason that womankind in general will never favour warfare. Women will not be willing to allow those whom they have so tenderly cared for to go to the battlefield. When they shall have a vote, they will oppose any cause of warfare. Another factor which will bring about universal peace is the linking together of the Orient and the Occident."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 167)
2097. Equality of Men and Women is Conducive to the Abolition of Warfare
"When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never by willing to sanction it."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 175)
2098. The Principle of Equality Can Be Effectively and Universally Established When Pursued in Conjunction with All Other Aspects of Bahá'í Life
"The principle of the equality between women and men, like the other teachings of the Faith, can be effectively and universally established among the friends when it is pursued in conjunction with all the other aspects of Bahá'í life. Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one's self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 25, 1984: Women, A Compilation)
2099. God Does Not Inquire, "Art Thou Woman or Art Thou Man?"
"In reality, God has created all mankind, and in the estimation of God there is no distinction as to male and female. The one whose heart is pure is acceptable in His sight, be that one man or woman. God does not inquire, 'Art thou woman or art thou man?' He judges human actions. If these are acceptable in the threshold of the Glorious One, man and woman will be equally recognized and rewarded."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 133)
2100. Woman Must Study the Industrial and Agricultural Sciences in Order to Assist Mankind in that which is Most Needful
"Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 283)Page 622
2101. When Woman Receives Education and Full Rights to the Prerogatives of Man, She Will Refuse to Send Her Sons to the Battlefield and She Will Abolish Warfare Among Mankind
"...the principle of religion has been revealed by Bahá'u'lláh that woman must be given the privilege of equal education with man and full right to his prerogatives. That is to say, there must be no difference in the education of male and female in order that womankind may develop equal capacity and importance with man in the social and economic equation. Then the world will attain unity and harmony. In past ages humanity has been defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among mankind."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 108)
2102. Abdu'l-Bahá Regards Such Inequalities as Remain Between the Sexes in This Age as Being "Negligible"
"Abdu'l-Bahá asserts: 'In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed.' That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature; the important thing is that He regards such inequalities as remain between the sexes as being 'negligible'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, January 8, 1981: Women, A Compilation)
2103. The World of Humanity Consists of Two Complementary Parts: Male and Female. If One is Defective the Other Will Necessarily Be Incomplete
"The world of humanity consists of two parts: male and female. Each is the complement of the other. Therefore, if one is defective, the other will necessarily be incomplete, and perfection cannot be attained. There is a right hand and a left hand in the human body, functionally equal in service and administration. If either proves defective, the defect will naturally extend to the other by involving the completeness of the whole; for accomplishment is not normal unless both are perfect. If we say one hand is deficient, we prove the inability and incapacity of the other; for single-handed there is no full accomplishment. Just as physical accomplishment is complete with two hands, so man and woman, the two parts of the social body, must be perfect. It is not natural that either should remain undeveloped; and until both are perfected, the happiness of the human world will not be realized."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 134)
2104. Universal Peace is Impossible Without Universal Suffrage: It is Historically True that Every Influential Undertaking in the World Where Woman Was a Participant Has Attained Importance
"Again, it is well established in history that where woman has not participated inPage 623
human affairs the outcomes have never attained a state of completion and perfection. On the other hand, every influential undertaking of the human world wherein woman has been a participant has attained importance. This is historically true and beyond disproof even in religion. Jesus Christ had twelve disciples and among His followers a woman known as Mary Magdalene. Judas Iscariot had become a traitor and hypocrite, and after the crucifixion the remaining eleven disciples were wavering and undecided. It is certain from the evidence of the Gospels that the one who comforted them and re-established their faith was Mary Magdalene...
"The most momentous question of this day is international peace and arbitration, and universal peace is impossible without universal suffrage."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 U.S. edition, p. 134-135)Page 624
"It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage in some occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We have made this--your occupation-- identical with the worship of God, the True One. Reflect, O people, upon the Mercy of God and upon His favors, then thank Him in mornings and evenings."(Bahá'u'lláh: Bahá'í World Faith, p. 195)
2106. Idle People Have No Place in the World Order
"With reference to Bahá'u'lláh's command concerning the engagement of the believers in some sort of profession: The Teachings are most emphatic on this matter, particularly the statement in the 'Aqdas' to this effect which makes it quite clear that idle people who lack the desire to work can have no place in the new World Order. As a corollary of this principle, Bahá'u'lláh further states that mendicity should not only be discouraged but entirely wiped out from the face of society. It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood. Every individual, no matter how handicapped and limited he may be, is under the obligation of engaging in some work or profession, for work, specially when performed in the spirit of service, is according to Bahá'u'lláh a form of worship. It has not only a utilitarian purpose, but has a value in itself, because it draws us nearer to God, and enables us to better grasp His purpose for us in this world. It is obvious, therefore, that the inheritance of wealth cannot make anyone immune from daily work."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 22, 1937)
2107. Abdu'l-Bahá Advocates the Need for a Profession--He Said His Was Mat-Making
"In connection with your dear husband, Shoghi Effendi would consider it in full and happy accord with the expressed desire of the Master that every man should have some permanent work. Much as he desires to see you both devote your entire energies to a well-thought out, progressive and attractive presentation of the Cause--a thing he feels we lack lamentably--he would be very pleased to see your husband follow what the Master often repeated even to His own immediate family, namelyPage 625
the necessity of a profession. Of course you know that He always said His had been mat-making."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1929)
2108. Bahá'u'lláh Commands that Everyone Should Engage in Some Sort of Profession
"The Guardian fully realizes that from the material standpoint it would be quite easy for you to devote all your time to the service of the Cause, and he deeply appreciates the strong desire you have expressed to consecrate your full life to this noble aim, which should certainly be the chief and constant ambition of every loyal believer.
"But he thinks that in view of Bahá'u'lláh's emphatic command, as recorded in His Book of Laws, that every person should be engaged in some sort of profession, it would be better and more in conformity with the Teachings if you remain in your profession and teach the Cause at the same time. As you rightly suggest, the middle path, that is to say practicing one's profession and also teaching the Cause, is the best way for you to follow."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 30, 1936)2109. Division of Time
"The advice that Shoghi Effendi gave you regarding the division of your time between serving the Cause and attending to your other duties was also given to many other friends both by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. It is a compromise between the two verses of the 'Aqdas': one making it incumbent upon every Bahá'í to serve the promotion of the Faith and the other that every soul should be occupied in some form of occupation that will benefit society. In one of His Tablets Bahá'u'lláh says that the highest form of detachment in this day is to be occupied with some profession and be self-supporting. A good Bahá'í, therefore, is the one who so arranges his life as to devote time both to his material needs and also to the service of the Cause."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933)2110. Art is Worship
"In the Bahá'í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship.... Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer...."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Paris Talks, pp. 176-177)
2111. Working for the Cause Does Not Constitute Professional Activity
"For it must be clearly understood that working for the Cause does not and cannot constitute a sort of professional activity of the type current in ecclesiastical organizations, whether Christian, Muslim or otherwise. We have no priesthood, no specialized class of people who can make the Cause their only life-work. In the Bahá'í Cause, where practical considerations are harmoniously combined with those ofPage 626
a more theoretical character, where idealism and realism are each duly recognized and are fused into a harmonious whole, men and women are commanded to work for the Cause not as a substitute to their daily professional occupation but in addition to them."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 30, 1936)2112. Practice Economy
"Thou hast asked regarding the means of livelihood. Trust in God and engage in your work and practice economy; the confirmations of God shall descend and you will be enabled to pay off your debts. Be ye occupied always with the mention of Bahá'u'lláh and seek ye no other hope and desire save Him."(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í World Faith, p. 375)
"...All humanity must obtain a livelihood by sweat of the brow and bodily exertion; at the same time seeking to lift the burden of others, striving to be the source of comfort to souls and facilitating the means of living. This in itself is devotion to God. Bahá'u'lláh has thereby encouraged action and stimulated service...."
(Abdu'l-Bahá: Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 187)2114. Retirement from Work
"As to the question of retirement from work for individuals who have reached a certain age, this is a matter on which the International House of Justice will have to legislate as there are no provisions in the Aqdas concerning it."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 22, 1937: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 12)2115. Work in the Cause at Whatever Age
"Even though you are 79 years old, that does not seem in your case to be any handicap; and in this Cause, as the Guardian has told us there is work for everyone of some sort, of whatever age he or she may be."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 23, 1954: cited by the Universal House of Justice, December 14, 1970)
2116. "Occupy Yourselves with that which Profiteth Yourselves and Others"
"It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like, We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others. Thus hath it been decreed in this Tablet from whose horizon the day-star of wisdom and utterance shineth resplendent."
(Bahá'u'lláh: Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, 1978 World Centre ed., p. 26)
2117. Must a Wife and Mother Work for Her Livelihood as Her Husband Does?
"You ask about the admonition that everyone must work, and want to know if this means that you, a wife and mother, must work for a livelihood as your husband does.Page 627
We are requested to enclose for your perusal an excerpt, 'The twelfth Glad-Tidings', from Bahá'u'lláh's 'Tablet of Bisharat'. You will see that the directive is for the friends to be engaged in an occupation which will be of benefit to mankind. Homemaking is a highly honourable and responsible work of fundamental importance for mankind."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 16, 1982: Women)
2118. The Man Has Primary Responsibility for the Financial Support of the Family and the Woman is the Chief and Primary Educator of the Children
"With regard to your question whether mothers should work outside the home, it is helpful to consider the matter from the perspective of the concept of a Bahá'í family. This concept is based on the principle that the man has primary responsibility for the financial support of the family, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This by no means implies that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and adjusted to suit particular family situations, nor does it mean that the place of the woman is confined to the home. Rather, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women could also be breadwinners. As you rightly indicated, Abdu'l-Bahá encouraged women to 'participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world'."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 9, 1984: Ibid.)
2119. Concerning the Amount of Time a Mother May Spend Outside the Home
"In relation to your specific queries, the decision concerning the amount of time a mother may spend in working outside the home depends on circumstances existing within the home, which may vary from time to time. Family consultation will help to provide the answers."(Ibid.)
2120. The Importance of the Mother's Role Derives from the Fact that She is the First Educator of the Child
"The great importance attached to the mother's role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in womb. When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. This does not mean that the father does not also love, pray for, and care for his baby, but as he has the primary responsibility of providing for the family, his time to be with his child is usually limited, while the mother is usually closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the whole of its life. As the child grows older and more independent, the relative nature of its relationship with its mother and father modifies and the father can play a greater role."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 23, 1984)Page 628
2121. Guidelines in Respect to Membership in Trade Unions and Participation in Strikes
"On the question of trade unions the Guardian's secretary made the following comment on his behalf in a letter dated 2 February 1951. 'Regarding your question about trade unions: The Guardian considers that this is a matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to advise the believers on. As long as the trade unions are not members of any particular political party, there does not seem to be any objection to the Bahá'ís belonging to them.'
"...the British National Spiritual Assembly wrote to the Guardian as follows: 'In this country the law recognises strikes as legal when called by properly constituted authorities such as a Trade Union, and our own understanding is that in such circumstances the Bahá'í teaching, in spite of Abdu'l-Bahá'í express disapproval of strikes, neither requires nor forbids an individual to strike but leaves him free to decide for himself in the particular circumstances of his case what is the proper course of action.'
"The Guardian's secretary replied on his behalf in a letter dated July 11, 1956: 'As regard strikes, the Guardian feels that your own understanding of the matter as expressed in your letter is quite correct, and he does not see the necessity of adding anything to it. We should avoid becoming rigid and laying down any more rules and regulations of conduct.'
"Based on the above guidelines, we are to emphasize the following points. 1. A Bahá'í can become a member of a trade union as long as he is not required to also join a political party. 2. Abdu'l-Bahá in general disapproved of strikes. The Bahá'í attitude is that when the law recognizes strikes as legal, as when called by a properly constituted authority such as a trade union, the Bahá'í teaching neither requires nor forbids an individual to participate in the strike but leaves him free to decide for himself what is the proper course of action in the particular circumstances."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 23, 1985)Page 629
2122. Our Expectant Eyes Are Fixed on Bahá'í Youth!
"The endurance of youth under arduous conditions, their vitality and vigour, and their ability to adapt themselves to local situations, to meet new challenges, and to impart their warmth and enthusiasm to those they visit, combined with the standard of conduct upheld by Bahá'í youth, make them potent instruments for the execution of the contemplated projects. Indeed, through these distinctive qualities they can become the spearhead of any enterprise and the driving force of any undertaking in which they participate, whether local or national. Our expectant eyes are fixed on Bahá'í youth!"
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975)2123. Teenagers
"You who are at present in your teens, or twenties, must realize that tomorrow, to a large extent, the burden of the Cause will rest on your shoulders; you will have to be the administrators and teachers and scholars of the Faith. Now is the time to prepare yourselves for your future duties.
"He hopes you will study the teachings deeply, their spiritual, moral, and administrative precepts, and at the same time take as active a part as possible in the life of your respective Bahá'í communities."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 183)2124. Special Message and Mission for Youth
"This Cause, although it embraces with equal esteem people of all ages, has a special message and mission for the youth of your generation. It is their charter for their future, their hope, their guarantee of better days to come. Therefore, the Guardian is especially happy that the young Bahá'ís are active in the pioneer work."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, June 16, 1942: Bahá'í News, No. 161, p. 1, March 1943)
2125. Youth Should Open Their Eyes to Existing Situation of World Conditions and Inquire About What the Future is Going to Bring
"The present condition of the world--its economic instability, social dissensions, political dissatisfaction and international distrust--should awaken the youth from their slumber and make them enquire what the future is going to bring. It is surely they who will suffer most if some calamity sweeps over the world. They should therefore open their eyes to the existing conditions, study the evil forces that are at play and then with a concerted effort arise and bring about the necessary reforms--reforms that shall contain within their scope the spiritual as well as social and political phases of human life."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 13, 1932)Page 630
2126. To Make Their Views Known to Others the Young People Should Keep in Touch with Local Youth Activities
"...the young Bahá'ís in every city should make a point of keeping in touch with local youth activities and clubs, and endeavouring to make their views known to as many young people in as many ways as possible. Above all they should set a high example to them; chastity, politeness, friendliness, hospitality, joyous optimism about the ultimate future happiness and well-being of mankind should distinguish them and win over to them the love and admiration of their fellow youth. The thing which is most conspicuously lacking in modern life is a high standard of conduct and good character; the young Bahá'ís must demonstrate both, if they hope to seriously win over to the Faith members of their own generation, so sorely disillusioned and so contaminated by the laxity war gives rise to."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Youth Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, October 20, 1945)
2127. Youth Should Be Scholars of the Faith--Material Training and Material Progress Are Insufficient
"In regard to your questions in your letter of June 15th:
No. 1. The Guardian has always advised young people to study deeply such subjects as History, Economics and Sociology as they are all related to the teachings and aid in understanding the Faith.
No. 2. A course on the Faith suitable for university use should be worked out by some body of Bahá'ís and educators and approved by the N.S.A.
No. 3. The greatest need of youth today is character training. Prayer is only one factor in this; they must learn to live up to the ethical teachings of the Faith...
No. 4. Once young people become convinced of the existence of the soul they should not need much convincing that material training and material progress are not sufficient. The soul needs training and help too.
"He feels that teaching the Faith to the youth is of the utmost importance in these days, as they will not only become the workers of the future but will be able to widely spread the Message among their own generation. He approves of your devoting as much time to this work as feasible...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 12, 1944)2128. Saints, Heroes, Martyrs and Administrators
"He urges you to make up your minds to do great, great deeds for the Faith; the condition of the world is steadily growing worse, and your generation must provide the saints, heroes, martyrs and administrators of future years. With dedication and will power you can rise to great heights."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 2, 1951: Bahá'í Youth, p. 6)2129. Cause Doomed to Stagnation if Youth Fail
"...If the younger Bahá'í generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pain of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of thePage 631
Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation...."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 3)
2130. The Responsibility for Teaching is Placed on the Shoulders of the Bahá'í Youth
"...The responsibilities that have been laid upon your shoulders are manifold, and unless you exert your utmost to carry them out there can be not much hope for any further progress in the field of Bahá'í teaching activity. The obligation to teach is essentially the responsibility of young believers. Their whole training should therefore be directed in such a way as to make them competent teachers. It is for this very purpose that Bahá'í Summer Schools, which constitute the very basis upon which the Bahá'í universities of the future will be established, should be widely attended by young believers."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to five Bahá'í Youth Groups in the United States, May 15, 1936)
2131. Youth Will Inherit the Work of the Older Bahá'ís
"The responsibility of young believers is very great, as they must not only fit themselves to inherit the work of the older Bahá'ís and carry on the affairs of the Cause in general, but the world which lies ahead of them--as promised by Bahá'u'lláh--will be a world chastened by its sufferings, ready to listen to His Divine Message at last; and consequently a very high character will be expected of the exponents of such a religion. To deepen their knowledge, to perfect themselves in the Bahá'í standards of virtue and upright conduct, should be the paramount duty of every young Bahá'í."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 179-180)
2132. The Need of Modern Youth for a Type of Ethics Founded on Pure Religious Faith
"...He quite agrees ... that the dangers facing the modern youth are becoming increasingly grave, and call for immediate solution. But as experience clearly shows, the remedy to this truly sad and perplexing situation is not to be found in traditional and ecclesiastical religion. The dogmatism of the church has been discarded once for all. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith such as the one revealed to the world by Bahá'u'lláh. Religion, as in the past, is still the world's sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man's individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal.
"The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 17, 1936: Bahá'í Youth, pp. 8-9)2133. Associate in a Friendly Spirit with Others
"By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups ofPage 632
young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such an association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike. A spirit of prejudice-free, loving comradeship with others is what will open the eyes of people more than any amount of words."
(From a letter of the Guardian to the Dayton Bahá'í Youth Group, January 18, 1945)
2134. From Beginning Bahá'í Era Youth Played Vital Part
"...From the very beginning of the Bahá'í Era, youth have played a vital part in the promulgation of God's Revelation. The Báb Himself was but twenty-five years old when He declared His Mission, while many of the Letters of the Living were even younger. The Master, as a very young man, was called upon to shoulder heavy responsibilities in the service of His Father in Iraq and Turkey, and His brother, the Purest Branch, yielded up his life to God in the Most Great Prison at the age of twenty-two that the servants of God might 'be quickened, and all that dwell on earth be united'. Shoghi Effendi was a student at Oxford when called to the throne of his guardianship, and many of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh, who won imperishable fame during the Ten Year Crusade, were young people. Let it, therefore, never be imagined that youth must await their years of maturity before they can render invaluable services to the Cause of God."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to Bahá'í youth in every land, June 10, 1966)2135. We May Well Emulate the Youth
"...We may well emulate Bahá'í youth whose recent surge forward into the van of proclamation and teaching is one of the most encouraging and significant trends in the Faith, and who storm the gates of heaven for support in their enterprises by long-sustained, precedent and continuing prayer. We are all able to call upon Bahá'u'lláh for His Divine, all-powerful aid, and He will surely help us. For He is the Hearer of prayers, the Answerer."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1972)2136. Upsurge of Bahá'í Youth
"The first, the heartwarming upsurge of Bahá'í youth, has changed the face of teaching work; impenetrable barriers have been broken or over passed by eager teams of young Bahá'ís, dedicated and prayerful, presenting the Divine Message in ways acceptable to their own generation from which it has spread and is spreading throughout the social structure. The entire Bahá'í world has been thrilled by this development. Having rejected the values and standards of the old world, Bahá'í youth are eager to learn and adapt themselves to the standards of Bahá'u'lláh and so to offer the Divine Programme to fill the gap left by the abandonment of the old order."
(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1973)
2137. Youth Should Be Encouraged to Think of Their Studies
"Bahá'í youth should be encouraged to think of their studies and of their training for a trade or profession as part of their service to the Cause of God and in the context of a lifetime that will be devoted to advancing the interests of the Faith. At the same time, during their years of study, youth are often able to offer specific periods of weeks or months, or even of a year or more, during which they can devotePage 633
themselves to travel teaching or to serving the Bahá'í community in other ways, such as conducting children's classes in remote villages. They should be encouraged to offer such service, which will in itself be admirable experience for the future, and the National Assembly should instruct an appropriate committee to receive such offers and to organize their implementation so as to derive the greatest possible advantage from them."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1974)2138. Youth Will Arise for the Sake of God
"We sincerely hope that the forefront of the volunteers, the Bahá'í youth will arise for the sake of God and, through their driving force, their ability to endure inhospitable and arduous conditions, and their contentment with the bare necessities of life, they will offer an inspiring example to the peoples and communities they set out to serve, will exert an abiding influence on their personal lives, and will promote with distinction the vital interests of God's Cause at this crucial stage in the fortunes of the Plan."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 25, 1975)
2139. The House of Justice Calls on the Bahá'í Youth as "Legatees of the Heroic Early Believers" to Redouble Their Efforts in Spreading the Divine Message
"As to Bahá'í youth, legatees of the heroic early believers and now standing on their shoulders, we call upon them to redouble their efforts, in this day of widespread interest in the Cause of God, to enthuse their contemporaries with the divine Message and thus prepare themselves for the day when they will be veteran believers able to assume whatever tasks may be laid upon them. We offer them this passage from the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh:
'Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm'."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan 1982)
2140. Youth Should Not Indict Non-Bahá'í Friends for They Only See a World Crumbling But We See a New World Being Built Up
"Even though the Bahá'í youth should feel with the condition in which they see their non-Bahá'í friends and not indict them for it, they should not let themselves be carried by the wave of world events as they are being carried. Whereas they see before them only a world that is crumbling down we are also seeing a new world being built up. Whereas they experience the destruction of old institutions that commanded their respect, we are beholding the dawn of a new era with its strict commands and new social bonds. Their materialistic outlook shows them the futility of all things while our faith in a regenerated and spiritualized man makes us look to the future and build for it. To make them follow our ways we should sympathize with their plight but should not follow their ways. We should take our stand on a higher plane of moral and spiritual life and, setting for them the true example, urge them up to ourPage 634
level. The young people should read what Bahá'u'lláh and the Master say on such matters and follow them conscientiously. That is if they desire to be true to the teachings and establish them throughout the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 26, 1932: Bahá'í Youth, A Compilation, pp. 4-5)
2141. Education, One of the Most Fundamental Factors of True Civilization
"Being a Bahá'í you are certainly aware of the fact that Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í Youth all over the world."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 9, 1931: Bahá'í Youth, pp. 10-11)
2142. Future Peace--Great Responsibility Borne by Youth
"A very great responsibility for the future peace and well-being of the world is borne by the youth of today. Let the Bahá'í youth by the power of the Cause they espouse be the shining example for their companions."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 15, 1965)
2143. The Universal House of Justice Calls on Bahá'í Youth to Rededicate Themselves to the Urgent Needs of the Cause
"RECENT MARTYRDOMS COURAGEOUS STEADFAST YOUTH IN SHIRAZ, SCENE INAUGURATION MISSION MARTYR-PROPHET, REMINISCENT ACTS VALOUR YOUTHFUL IMMORTALS HEROIC AGE. CONFIDENT BAHÁ'Í YOUTH THIS GENERATION WILL NOT ALLOW THIS FRESH BLOOD SHED ON VERY SOIL WHERE FIRST WAVE PERSECUTION FAITH TOOK PLACE REMAIN UNVINDICATED OR THIS SUBLIME SACRIFICE UNAVAILING. AT THIS HOUR OF AFFLICTION AND GRIEF, AND AS WE APPROACH ANNIVERSARY MARTYRDOM BLESSED BÁB CALL ON BAHÁ'Í YOUTH TO REDEDICATE THEMSELVES TO URGENT NEEDS CAUSE BAHÁ'U'LLÁH. LET THEM RECALL BLESSINGS HE PROMISED THOSE WHO IN PRIME OF YOUTH WILL ARISE TO ADORN THEIR HEARTS WITH HIS LOVE AND REMAIN STEADFAST AND FIRM. LET THEM CALL TO MIND EXPECTATIONS MASTER FOR EACH TO BE A FEARLESS LION, A MUSK-LADEN BREEZE WAFTING OVER MEADS VIRTUE. LET THEM MEDITATE OVER UNIQUE QUALITIES YOUTH SO GRAPHICALLY MENTIONED IN WRITINGS GUARDIAN WHO PRAISED THEIR ENTERPRISING AND ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT, THEIR VIGOUR, THEIR ALERTNESS, OPTIMISM AND EAGERNESS, AND THEIR DIVINELY-APPOINTED, HOLY AND ENTHRALLING TASKS. WE FERVENTLY PRAY AT SACRED THRESHOLD THAT ARMY OF SPIRITUALLY AWAKENED AND DETERMINED YOUTH, MAY IMMEDIATELY ARISE RESPONSE NEEDS PRESENT HOUR DEVOTE IN EVER GREATER MEASURE THEIR VALUED ENERGIES TO PROMOTE BOTH ON HOMEFRONTS AND INPage 635
FOREIGN FIELDS, CAUSE THEIR ALL-WATCHFUL AND EXPECTANT LORD. MAY THEY MANIFEST SAME SPIRIT SO RECENTLY EVINCED THEIR MARTYR BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, SCALE SUCH HEIGHTS OF ENDEAVOUR AS TO BECOME PRIDE THEIR PEERS CONSOLATION HEARTS PERSIAN BELIEVERS, AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FLAME HIS OMNIPOTENT HAND HAS KINDLED BURNS EVER BRIGHT AND THAT ITS LIFE-IMPARTING WARMTH AND RADIANCE SHALL SOON ENVELOP PERMEATE WHOLE EARTH."
(From a cable of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth throughout the world, June 24, 1983)
2144. The Bahá'í Youth of Today Have the Distinction of Seeing the Establishment of the Lesser Peace and the Reconciliation of Society
"This generation of Bahá'í youth enjoys a unique distinction. You will live your lives in a period when the forces of history are moving to a climax, when mankind will see the establishment of the Lesser Peace, and during which the Cause of God will play an increasingly prominent role in the reconstruction of human society. It is you who will be called upon in the years to come to stand at the helm of the Cause in face of conditions and developments which can, as yet, scarcely be imagined."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the European Youth Conference in Innsbruck, July 4, 1983)
2145. The Key to Success is to Deepen Your Understanding of the Teachings and be Able to Explain Them to Your Peers
"European Bahá'í youth in particular face tremendous and challenging tasks in the immediate future. Can one doubt that the manner in which the governments of the European nation have rallied to the defence of the persecuted Bahá'ís in Iran will draw down blessings from on high upon this continent? And who among the people of Europe are more likely to be kindled by the challenge and hope of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh than the youth? Now is an opportunity to awaken the interest, set afire the hearts and enlist the active support of young people of every nation, class and creed in that continent. The key to success in this endeavour is, firstly, to deepen your understanding of the Teachings of the Cause so that you will be able to apply them to the problems of individuals and society, and explain them to your peers in ways that they will understand and welcome; secondly, to strive to model your behaviour in every way after the high standards of honesty, trustworthiness, courage, loyalty, forbearance, purity and spirituality set forth in the Teachings; and, above all, to live in continual awareness of the presence and all-conquering power of Bahá'u'lláh, which will enable you to overcome every temptation and surmount every obstacle."(Ibid.)
2146. Youth and Fellow Believers Exhorted to Arise and Revolutionize the Progress of the Cause
"A vibrant band of Bahá'í youth on the European continent, committed to the promotion of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and the upholding of His laws and principles, determined to work in harmony and unity with their fellow believers of all ages and classes, can revolutionize the progress of the Cause. With a rapid increase in the sizePage 636
of the Bahá'í communities in Europe, the believers of that continent, the cradle of western civilization, will be the better able to serve as a fountainhead of pioneers, travelling teachers and financial assistance to the Bahá'í communities of the Third World.
"A particular challenge to the Bahá'í youth of Europe is the vast eastern half of the continent that is as yet scarcely touched by the light of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It is not easy to settle in those lands, but with ingenuity, determination and reliance upon the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh it is certainly possible both to settle and to persevere in service in goals which demand a spirit of self-sacrifice, detachment and purity of heart worthy of those who would emulate the shining example set by the martyrs in Iran, so many of whom are youth, who have given their lives rather than breathe one word that would be a betrayal of the trust of God placed upon them.
"With love and utmost longing we call upon you to immerse yourselves in the divine Teachings, champion the Cause of God and His Law, and arise for the quickening of mankind."(Ibid.)
2147. Courses of Study that One Can Pursue to Acquire Skills Needed to Assist the Developing Countries
"When deciding what course of training to follow, youth can consider acquiring those skills and professions that will be of benefit in education, rural development, agriculture, economics, technology, health, radio and in many other areas of endeavour that are so urgently needed in the developing countries of the world. You can also devote time in the midst of your studies, or other activities, to travel teaching or service projects in the Third World."(Ibid.)
2148. Simultaneously with the Proclamation Engendered by the Persecutions in Iran, More People Are Seeking Their True Identity
"A highlight of this period of the Seven Year Plan has been the phenomenal proclamation accorded the Faith in the wake of the unabating persecutions in Iran; a new interest in its Teaching has been aroused on a wide scale. Simultaneously, more and more people from all strata of society frantically seek their true identity, which is to say, although they would not so plainly admit it, the spiritual meaning of their lives; prominent among these seekers are the young. Not only does this knowledge open fruitful avenues for Bahá'í initiative, it also indicates to young Bahá'ís a particular responsibility so to teach the Cause and live the life as to give vivid expression to those virtues that would fulfil the spiritual yearning of their peers."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth of the world, January 3, 1984)
2149. Persevere in Your Individual Efforts to Teach the Faith, Study the Writings, Serve Mankind, Volunteer for Projects
"May you all persevere in your individual efforts to teach the Faith, but with added zest, to study the Writings, but with greater earnestness. May you pursue your education and training for future service to mankind, offering as much of your free time as possible to activities on behalf of the Cause. May those of you already bent on your life's work and who may have already founded families, strive towardsPage 637
becoming the living embodiments of Bahá'í ideals, both in the spiritual nurturing of your families and in your active involvement in the efforts on the home front or abroad in the pioneering field. May all respond to the current demands upon the Faith by displaying a fresh measure of dedication to the tasks at hand.
"Further to these aspirations is the need for a mighty mobilization of teaching activities reflecting regularity in the patterns of service rendered by young Bahá'ís. The native urge of youth to move from place to place, combined with their abounding zeal, indicates that you can become more deliberately and numerously involved in these activities as travelling teachers. One pattern of this mobilization could be short-term projects, carried out at home or in other lands, dedicated to both teaching the Faith and improving the living conditions of people. Another could be that, while still young and unburdened by family responsibilities, you give attention to the idea of volunteering a set period, say one or two years, to some Bahá'í service, on the home front or abroad, in the teaching or development field. It would accrue to the strength and stability of the community if such patterns could be followed by succeeding generations of youth. Regardless of the modes of service, however, youth must be understood to be fully engaged, at all times, in all climes and under all conditions. In your varied pursuits you may rest assured of the loving support and guidance of the Bahá'í institutions operating at every level."(Ibid.)
2150. The Assembly Should Encourage the Invaluable Aid of Youth as Travelling Teachers, to Hold Youth Class, Etc.
"The incalculable value of Bahá'í youth in the service of our Faith cannot be overlooked. They should be enlisted as travelling teachers, going on foot when necessary, in the mountains and jungles to visit, teach and encourage the local Bahá'ís and to help them to elect their Local Spiritual Assemblies should the friends be either unaware of the procedure required, or perhaps illiterate and in need of help in casting their ballots. The youth should be encouraged to hold youth classes, to convey to their peers the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, to learn to give courses and lectures on the Teachings, and above all, to exemplify by their high moral behavior that which makes the Bahá'ís outstanding in a corrupt and decadent society."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of Ecuador, Ridvan 1984)
2151. Youth Must Be Encouraged to Devise and Execute Their Own Teaching Plans
"Bahá'í youth, now rendering exemplary and devoted service in the forefront of the army of life, must be encouraged, even while equipping themselves for future service, to devise and execute their own teaching plans among their contemporaries."
(From the Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the world, Ridvan 1984)
2152. The House of Justice Applauds Efforts of Youth to Acquire Spiritual Qualities
"We applaud those youth who, in respect of this period,+F1 have already engaged in some activity within their national and local communities or in collaboration with their peers in other countries, and call upon them to persevere in their unyielding___________________
efforts to acquire spiritual qualities and useful qualifications. For if they do so, the influence of their high-minded motivations will exert itself upon world developments conducive to a productive, progressive and peaceful future."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í youth of the world, May 8, 1985)
2153. The Youth Have the Inescapable Duty of Reflecting the Transforming Power of the Faith to Society
"The present requirements of a Faith whose responsibilities rapidly increase in relation to its rise from obscurity impose an inescapable duty on the youth to ensure that their lives reflect to a marked degree the transforming power of the new Revelation they have embraced. Otherwise, by what example are the claims of Bahá'u'lláh to be judged? How is His healing Message to be acknowledged by a skeptical humanity if it produces no noticeable effect upon the young, who are seen to be among the most energetic, the most pliable and promising elements in any society?
"The dark horizon faced by a world which has failed to recognize the Promised One, the Source of its salvation, acutely affects the outlook of the younger generations; their distressing lack of hope and their indulgence in desperate but futile and even dangerous solutions make a direct claim on the remedial attention of Bahá'í youth, who, through their knowledge of that Source and the bright vision with which they have thus been endowed, cannot hesitate to impart to their despairing fellow youth the restorative joy, the constructive hope, the radiant assurances of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation.
"The words, the deeds, the attitudes, the lack of prejudice, the nobility of character, the high sense of service to others--in a word, those qualities and actions which distinguish a Bahá'í--must unfailingly characterize their inner life and outer behaviour, and their interactions with friend or foe."(Ibid.)
2154. The Youth Must Aspire to Excellence, Move Towards Front Ranks of Professions, Trades, Arts and Crafts
"Rejecting the low sights of mediocrity, let them scale the ascending heights of excellence in all they aspire to do. May they resolve to elevate the very atmosphere in which they move, whether it be in the school rooms or halls of higher learning, in their work, their recreation, their Bahá'í activity or social service.
"Indeed, let them welcome with confidence the challenges awaiting them. Imbued with this excellence and a corresponding humility, with tenacity and a loving servitude, today's youth must move towards the front ranks of the professions, trades, arts and crafts which are necessary to the further progress of humankind--this to ensure that the spirit of the Cause will cast its illumination on all these important areas of human endeavour. Moreover, while aiming at mastering the unifying concepts and swiftly advancing technologies of this era of communications, they can, indeed they must also guarantee the transmittal to the future of those skills which will preserve the marvelous, indispensable achievements of the past. The transformation which is to occur in the functioning of society will certainly depend to a great extent on the effectiveness of the preparations the youth make for the world they will inherit."(Ibid.)
2155. The Youth Must Constantly Strive to Exemplify a Bahá'í Life which is the Opposite of the Moral Decay of Society
"He feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify Bahá'í life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners--the Bahá'í young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Bahá'í youth to furnish it."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Youth who attended the Green Acre Summer School, August 4, 1946, September 19, 1946)
2156. Contact with Racial Minorities in a Country with Such a Large Element of Prejudice is Important
"He urges you all to devote particular attention to the contact with racial minorities. In a country which has such a large element of prejudice against its colored citizens as the United States, it is of the greatest importance that the Bahá'ís--and more especially the youth--should demonstrate actively our complete lack of prejudice and, indeed, our prejudice in favour of minorities."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the friends who were present at the Senior Youth Session, Louhelen Bahá'í School, November 11, 1951)
2157. The Bahá'í Faith is a Religion that Belongs to the Youth
"If ever it could be said that a religion belonged to the youth, then surely the Bahá'í Faith today is that religion. The whole world is suffering, it is sunk in misery, crushed beneath its heavy problems. The task of healing its ills and building up its future devolves mainly upon the youth. They are the generation who, after the war, will have to solve the terrible difficulties created by the war and all that brought it about. And they will not be able to upbuild the future except by the laws and principles laid down by Bahá'u'lláh. So their task is very great and their responsibility very grave."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í children and youth of Peoria, May 8, 1942)2158. Second Declaration: No Such Thing
"There is no such thing as a 'second declaration' in Bahá'í administration. The procedure to be followed in a youth's claiming, or being granted, voting rights at the age of 21 is within the discretion of the National Assembly."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Austria, June 29, 1967)
2159. The Solution to Difficulties which Stand in the Way of Co-Operation Between Young and Old Believers
"...the Guardian fully realizes the difficulties that stand in the way of co-operation between the young and old believers. This is a problem that confronts the Cause almost everywhere, specially in those communities where the number of young and old Bahá'ís is nearly the same. The solution, as in all such cases, is to be found through intelligentPage 640
and mutual compromise. The old believers have to give up something of their old conceptions and ways of working in order to better adapt themselves to the changing social conditions and circumstances. The young too must learn to act with wisdom, tact and moderation, and to take advantage and benefit from the age-long experience of their older fellow-believers. The old and the young have each something specific to contribute to the progress and welfare of the Bahá'í community. The energy of youth should be tempered and guided by the wisdom of old age."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 4, 1936)
2160. Laws and Precepts which Some Young Believers Are Inclined to Resent
"As to the attitude of resentment which the young believers are inclined to assume regarding certain precepts of the Cause such as obligatory prayers: There can and should be no compromise whatever in such matters that are specifically enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh. We should neither have any feeling of shame when observing such laws and precepts, nor should we over-estimate their value and significance. Just as the friends have no difficulty in recognizing the value of the specific prayers revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, such as the Tablets of Fasting and Healing, so also they should recognize that the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones, and as such are essential."(Ibid.)
2161. After Each Prayer Supplicate God to Bestow Mercy and Forgiveness Upon Your Parents
"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: 'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved."
(The Báb: Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 94)2162. Reaching the Age of Nineteen
"...it behooveth man, upon reaching the age of nineteen, to render thanksgiving for the day of his conception as an embryo. For had the embryo not existed, how could he have reached his present state? Likewise had the religion taught by Adam not existed, this Faith would not have attained its present state...."(Ibid., p. 89)
2163. Regarding a National Committee to Supervise the Work of the Youth
"The Guardian fully appreciates the significance of the problems involved. Surely there should be no division according to general outlook among the friends. Should we do such a thing we will soon have parties and factions among the Bahá'ís--a thing which is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the Faith.
"At the same time if we say that no older person should take part in the organization of the youth it will be depriving them of the necessary experience needed to have a permanent and working institution.
"Shoghi Effendi believes that the best solution is to have some reasonable age limitPage 641
for the actual membership of the body of the organization so that only the young people may take part in the different activities and have no older person usurp the floor or deprive them from their chances to train themselves, and express their ideas. At the same time the National Assembly could appoint on the National committee that is to supervise their work some older and experienced persons who could co-operate with them and guide them in their activities. The National committee should be composed of both people within the age limit and also older people."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 27, 1932)