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The Arts .............................................1
Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster ..........................15
Centres of Bahá'í Learning ..........................25
Chaste and Holy Life ................................45
Conservation of the Earth's Resources ...............65
Crisis and Victory .................................131
Bahá'í Education ...................................245
Bahá'í Elections ...................................315
Establishment of The Universal House of Justice ....319
Excellence in all Things ...........................367
Family Life ........................................385
Health, Healing ....................................459
Lifeblood of the Cause (Funds) .....................529Page 1
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS CONCERNING ARTS AND CRAFTSI. From the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh
1. Blessed are those who have fixed their gaze on the realm of glory and have followed the commandments of the Lord of Names. Blessed is he who in the days of God will engage in handicrafts. This is a bounty from God, for in this Most Great Dispensation it is acceptable in the sight of God for man to occupy himself in a trade which relieveth him of depending upon charity. The craft of every craftsman is regarded as worship.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
2. One of the names of God is the Fashioner. He loveth craftsmanship. Therefore any of His servants who manifesteth this attribute is acceptable in the sight of this Wronged One. Craftsmanship is a book among the books of divine sciences, and a treasure among the treasures of His heavenly wisdom. This is a knowledge with meaning, for some of the sciences are brought forth by words and come to an end with words.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
3. God grant that thou wilt exert thine utmost to acquire perfections, as well as proficiency in a craft.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
4. The one true God, exalted be He, loveth to witness handiworks of high craftsmanship produced by His loved ones. Blessed art thou, for what thy skill hath produced hath reached the presence of thy Lord, the Exiled, the Wronged. Please God every one of His friends may be enabled to acquire one of the crafts, and be confirmed in adhering to what hath been ordained in the Book of God, the All- Glorious, the All-Wise.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)
5. Teach ye your children so that they may peruse the divine verses every morn and eve. God hath prescribed unto every father to educate his ThePage 2
children, both boys and girls, in the sciences and in morals, and in crafts and professions....(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
6. It is incumbent upon the children to exert themselves to the utmost in acquiring the art of reading and writing.... Writing skills that will provide for urgent needs will be enough for some; and then it is better and more fitting that they should spend their time in studying those branches of knowledge which are of use.
As for what the Supreme Pen hath previously set down, the reason is that in every art and skill, God loveth the highest perfection.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
7. The fifth Taraz concerneth the protection and preservation of the stations of God's servants. One should not ignore the truth of any matter, rather should one give expression to that which is right and true. The people of Baha should not deny any soul the reward due to him, should treat craftsmen with deference, and, unlike the people aforetime, should not defile their tongues with abuse.
In this Day the sun of craftsmanship shineth above the horizon of the occident and the river of arts is flowing out of the sea of that region. One must speak with fairness and appreciate such bounty....
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" [rev, ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978) pp. 38-39)
8. The third Tajalli is concerning arts, crafts and sciences. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book on the day of His return....
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", pp. 51-52)
9. At the outset of every endeavour, it is incumbent to look to the end of it. Of all the arts and sciences, set the children to studying those which will result in advantage to man, will ensure his progress and elevate hisPage 3
rank. Thus the noisome odours of lawlessness will be dispelled, and thus through the high endeavours of the nation's leaders, all will live cradled, secure and in peace.
The Great Being saith: The learned of the day must direct the people to acquire those branches of knowledge which are of use, that both the learned themselves and the generality of mankind may derive benefits therefrom....
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", pp. 16 & 69)
10. The purpose of learning should be the promotion of the welfare of the people, and this can be achieved through crafts. It hath been revealed and is now repeated that the true worth of artists and craftsmen should be appreciated, for they advance the affairs of mankind. Just as the foundations of religion are made firm through the Law of God, the means of livelihood depend upon those who are engaged in arts and crafts. True learning is that which is conducive to the well-being of the world, not to pride and self-conceit, or to tyranny, violence and pillage.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
II. From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
11. Every person must have an occupation, a trade or a craft, so that he may carry other people's burdens, and not himself be a burden to others.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
12. Thou hast written regarding thy meeting with... He hath written that he desireth to teach thee one of the crafts and show thee affection and consideration. We beseech God that this purpose may be attained, and thou wilt learn such a skill, for according to the divine ordinances, every person must acquire a craft.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
13. He must study every day from morning till noon, so that he may learn how to read and write. From noon till about sunset he should acquire a craft. The children must both learn to read and acquire an art or skill.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
14. It is necessary for all to learn a craft, through which the people may earn their living. This commandment is universal.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
15. It is the commandment of the Blessed Beauty, may my life be a sacrifice at His Threshold, that whosoever engageth in a craft, should endeavour to acquire in it utmost proficiency. Should he do so, that craft becometh a form of worship.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
16. Another friend asked, "In the Tablets it is stated that we must be severed and detached. In another place it is stated that we must learn a trade or profession. Do not these two statements contradict each other?" 'Abdu'l-Bahá replied, "In the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, it is incumbent upon every soul to acquire a trade and an occupation. For example, I know how to weave or make a mat, and you know some other trade. This, in itself is an act of worship, provided that it is conducted on the basis of utmost honesty and faithfulness.
And this is the cause of prosperity. Yet, in spite of being so occupied, if the heart is not chained and tied to this world, and is not troubled by current events, neither hindered by wealth from rendering service to mankind, nor grieved because of poverty, - then this is human perfection. Otherwise in a state of poverty, to manifest generosity and in a state of weakness to claim justice - this can easily be (said, but it is not a proof of man's attainments and alertness."
(From an article written by Dr. Z. Baghdadi entitled "'Abdu'l-Bahá in America", published in "Star of the West", Vol. 19, No. 7, p. 219)
17. And further, according to the Divine commandments, every child must learn reading and writing, and acquire such branches of knowledge as are useful and necessary, as well as learning an art or skill. The utmost care must be devoted to these matters; any neglect of them, any failure to act on them, is not permissible.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
18. Among the greatest of all great services is the education of children,Page 5
and promotion of the various sciences, crafts and arts. Praised be God, ye are now exerting strenuous efforts toward this end. The more ye persevere in this most important task, the more will ye witness the confirmations of God, to such a degree that ye yourselves will be astonished.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
19. O ye recipients of the favours of God! In this new and wondrous Age, the unshakable foundation is the teaching of sciences and arts. According to explicit Holy Texts, every child must be taught crafts and arts, to the degree that is needful. Wherefore, in every city and village, schools must be established and every child in that city or village is to engage in study to the necessary degree.
It followeth that whatever soul shall offer his aid to bring this about will assuredly be accepted at the Heavenly Threshold, and extolled by the Company on High.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), Sec. 109, pp. 134-35.)
20. Thy letter was received. Praise be to God it imparted the good news of thy health and safety and indicated that thou art ready to enter an agricultural school. This is highly suitable. Strive as much as possible to become proficient in the science of agriculture, for in accordance with the divine teachings the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered acts of worship. If a man engageth with all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in churches and temples. Thus as thou enterest a school of agriculture and strivest in the acquisition of that science thou art day and night engaged in acts of worship - acts that are accepted at the threshold of the Almighty. What bounty greater than this that science should be considered as an act of worship and art as service to the Kingdom of God.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", 126, pp. 144-45)
21. O thou servant of the One true God! In this universal dispensation man's wondrous craftsmanship is reckoned as worship of the Resplendent Beauty.Page 6
Consider what a bounty and blessing it is that craftsmanship is regarded as worship. In former times, it was believed that such skills were tantamount to ignorance, if not a misfortune, hindering man from drawing nigh unto God. Now consider how His infinite bestowals and abundant favours have changed hell-fire into blissful paradise, and a heap of dark dust into a luminous garden.
It behoveth the craftsmen of the world at each moment to offer a thousand tokens of gratitude at the Sacred Threshold, and to exert their highest endeavour and diligently pursue their professions so that their efforts may produce that which will manifest the greatest beauty and perfection before the eyes of all men.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" 127, p. 145
22. Make every effort to acquire the advanced knowledge of the day, and strain every nerve to carry forward the divine civilization. Establish schools that are well organized, and promote the fundamentals of instruction in the various branches of knowledge through teachers who are pure and sanctified, distinguished for their high standards of conduct and general excellence, and strong in faith; scholars and educators with a thorough knowledge of sciences and arts.
Included must be promotion of the arts, the discovery of new wonders, the expansion of trade, and the development of industry. The methods of civilization and the beautification of the country must also be encouraged...(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
23. While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty. Give them the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", 102, p. 129)Page 7
III. From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individual believers unless otherwise cited
24. 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, namely the necessity of a profession. Of course you know that He always said His had been mat-making.(20 September 1929)
25. He sincerely hopes that as the Cause grows and talented persons come under its banner, they will begin to produce in art the divine spirit that animates their soul. Every religion has brought with it some form of art - let us see what wonders this Cause is going to bring along. Such a glorious spirit should also give vent to a glorious art. The Temple with all its beauty is only the first ray of an early dawn; even more wondrous things are to be achieved in the future.(11 December 1931)
26. Shoghi Effendi was very much interested to learn of the success of the "Pageant of the Nations" you produced. He sincerely hopes that all those who attended it were inspired by the same spirit that animated you while arranging it.
It is through such presentations that we can arouse the interest of the greatest number of people in the spirit of the Cause. The day will come when the Cause will spread like wildfire when its spirit and teachings will be presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing, especially among the mass of the people.
We have to wait only a few years to see how the spirit breathed by Bahá'u'lláh will find expression in the work of the artists. What you and some other Bahá'ís are attempting are only faint rays that precede the effulgent light of a glorious morn. We cannot yet value the part the Cause is destined to play in the life of society. We have to give it time. ThePage 8
material this spirit has to mould is too crude and unworthy, but it will at last give way and the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh will reveal itself in its full splendour.
(10 October 1932, cited in "Bahá'í News", 73 (May 1933) p. 7)
27. Although now is only the very beginning of Bahá'í art, yet the friends who feel they are gifted in such matters should endeavour to develop and cultivate their gifts and through their works to reflect, however inadequately, the Divine Spirit which Bahá'u'lláh has breathed into the world.(4 November 1937)
28. As regards producing a book of Bahá'í songs, your understanding that there is no cultural expression which could be called Bahá'í at this time (distinctive music, literature, art, architecture, etc., being the flower of the civilization and not coming at the beginning of a new Revelation), is correct. However, that does not mean that we haven't Bahá'í songs, in other words, songs written by Bahá'ís on Bahá'í subjects. There is no objection to getting out a compilation of these, but he does not think money should be spent in printing it, in view of the state of the National Fund, and the much more important work in the teaching field which needs to be undertaken this year. If you can get out such a book in a mimeographed form, he feels this would be sufficient to meet the needs at this time.
(21 September 1957 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)Revised August 1990
29. It is forbidden you to carry the body more than an hour's distance from the town; bury it with tranquillity and cheer in a nearby place.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
Question: Regarding the carrying of the dead where it is bidden that they should be buried within one hour's distance, does this law apply to transportation both by land and sea, or is it otherwise?
Answer: The law applieth to transportation by land as well as by sea, whether it be an hour's distance by boat or train. The purpose is the time-limit of one hour, no matter what means of conveyance is employed. However, the sooner the burial taketh place, the more fitting and preferable.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
30. Briefly the law for the burial of the dead states that it is forbidden to carry the body for more than one hour's journey from the place of death; that the body should be wrapped in a shroud of silk or cotton, and on its finger should be placed a ring bearing the inscription "I came forth from God, and return unto Him, detached from all save Him, holding fast to His Name, the Merciful, the Compassionate"; and that the coffin should be of crystal, stone or hard fine wood. A specific Prayer for the Dead is ordained, to be said before interment. It has been explained by 'Abdu'l Baha and the Guardian that this law prohibits cremation of the dead. The formal prayer and the ring are meant to be used for those who have attained the age of maturity. (p. 46)[1 See Extract 4]
("A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Bahá'u'lláh", (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1973), pp. 62-63)
31. The Prayer for the Dead is published in Prayers and Meditations of Bahá'u'lláh, No. CLXVII. It is the only Bahá'í obligatory prayer which is to be recited in congregation; it is to be recited by one believer while all present stand. There is no requirement to face the Qiblih when reciting this prayer. (p. 7)Page 10
("Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" p. 58)
Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of the Guardian:
32. Regarding the Bahá'í funeral service: it is extremely simple, as it consists only of a congregational prayer to be read before burial. This prayer will be made available to the friends when the "Aqdas" is translated and published. In the mean time your National Spiritual Assembly should take great care lest any uniform procedure or ritual in this matter be adopted or imposed upon the friends. The danger in this, as in some other cases regarding Bahá'í worship, is that a definite system of rigid rituals and practices be developed among the believers. The utmost simplicity and flexibility should be observed, and a selection from the Bahá'í Sacred Writings would serve the purpose at the present time, provided this selection is not rigidly and uniformly adopted on all such occasions.
(10 January 1936 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
33. Both the Bahá'í marriage service and the Bahá'í funeral service are extremely simple in character, and you must have certainly read in the "Bahá'í News" the explanation given by the Guardian on these two points. As already stated all forms of rigidity and uniformity in such matters should be avoided by the believers. What is of vital importance is to strictly observe the laws and directions specifically revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. These will be gradually brought to the attention of the friends and explained to them by the Guardian. In the mean time great care should be taken to prevent the introduction of unnecessary details and additions of a man-made nature to the body of the Teachings.(19 May 1936 to an individual believer)
34. There is no objection whatsoever to non-Bahá'ís being present when the long prayer for the dead is read, as long as they respect our manner of reading it by rising and standing as the Bahá'ís do on this occasion. Nor, indeed, is there any objection to non-Bahá'ís being present during the reading of any Bahá'í prayer for the departed. In reporting Bahá'í marriages it is much better to mention that the ceremony was performed by the Assembly, as this is the proper thing toPage 11
do, and an individual only acts for the Assembly on this occasion. As a funeral is not a legal ceremony more latitude can be allowed, especially as the family of the deceased may want some particular Bahá'í friend to officiate.. . .
Mr. and Mrs.... are naturally quite free to be buried in their own plot in the Cemetery, if that is what they desire.
An official Bahá'í funeral service should only be given for a believer, but there is no objection to the reading of Bahá'í prayers, or indeed to a Bahá'í conducting the funeral service of a non-Baha'i, if this has been requested.
(20 July 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
35. The body may be conveyed by any means to a distance that can be covered in one hour's journey.(5 August 1949 to an individual believer)
36. The Guardian thinks the ideal thing would be for the believers to have a Bahá'í Cemetery....(5 September 1950 to an individual believer)
37. Regarding the questions which you ask, concerning Bahá'í burials, etc. At the present time, the Guardian is not stressing these matters, as their establishment might divert attention from the supreme tasks we have before us. However, the answers are as follows: Under the Bahá'í teachings it seems clear that the body is not to be embalmed. The burial should take place within an hour's travel time from the place of death. The preparation for the body for burial is a careful washing, and placing in a shroud of white cloth, silk preferably. There is nothing in the teachings with regard to turning the body over to Scientific Institutions for scientific research, and therefore the individual may do as he wishes, until such a time as the Universal House of Justice may legislate on this matter, if they ever do. The practice in the Orient is to bury the person within 24 hours of the time of death, sometimes even sooner, although there is no provision in the teachings as to the time limit.(2 April 1955 to an individual believer)
38. There is nothing in the Teachings against leaving our bodies to medical science. The only thing we should stipulate is that we do not wish to be cremated, as it is against our Bahá'í Laws.
As many people make arrangements to leave their bodies to medical science for investigation, he suggests that you inquire, either through some lawyer friend or through some hospital, how you could do this, and then make the necessary provision in your Will, stipulating that you wish your body to be of service to mankind in death, and that, being a Baha'i, you request that your remains not be cremated and not be taken more than an hour's journey from the place you die. The spirit has no more connection with the body after it departs, but, as the body was once the temple of the spirit, we Bahá'ís are taught that it must be treated with respect.(22 March 1957 to an individual believer)
Extracts from Letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice:
39. For the burial of the dead the only requirements now binding in the West are to bury the body (not to cremate it), not to carry it more than a distance of one hour's journey from the place of death, and to say the Prayer for the Dead if the deceased is a believer over the age of 15.
(9 June 1974 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iceland)
40. You have asked whether it is permissible for the friends to chant a prayer collectively. There is a difference between chanting a prayer collectively and congregational prayer. The latter is a formal prayer usually led by an individual using a prescribed ritual. Congregational prayer in this form is forbidden in the Faith except in the case of the Prayer for the Dead. While reciting prayers in unison and spontaneously joining in the recitation of the Words of God is not forbidden, the friends should bear in mind the advice of the beloved Guardian on this subject when he stated that: although the friends are thus left free to follow their own inclination, ... they should take the utmost care that any manner they practice should not acquire too rigid a character, and thus develop into an institution. This is a point which the friends shouldPage 13
always bear in mind, lest they deviate from the clear path indicated in the Teachings."
[1 "Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", No.2 of Notes, p. 57.](6 February 1975 to an individual believer)
41. The Universal House of Justice advises that the place of death may be taken to be the city or town in which the believer passes away, and therefore the hour's journey may be calculated from the city limits to the place of burial. However, it should be borne in mind that the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh's law is to be buried near where one dies.
At the present time there are no definite regulations for preparing Bahá'í cemeteries. However, in a Tablet of the Master's, He emphasizes the need for the cemetery to have a beautiful outward appearance and states that the graves should not be joined together but that each one should have a flower bed around its four sides. He also indicates that it would be pleasing if a pool were located in the center of the cemetery and beautiful trees were planted around it as well as around the cemetery itself.
(20 February 1978 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil)
42. The Prayer for the Dead should be recited at the funeral if the deceased is 15 years old or more. If there is no one at the funeral able to read, it is sufficient to say only that part of the Prayer which requires the repetition nineteen times of each of six short verses.
The body must be placed in the grave in such a position that the feet point towards 'Akka (the Qiblih).
(From a statement prepared by a National Spiritual Assembly in Africa and approved by the Universal House of Justice on 14 June 1982)Revised August 1990
EXTRACTS FROM THE BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS ON BUDDHA, KRISHNA, ZOROASTER AND RELATED SUBJECTSFrom the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
43. Blessed souls whether Moses, Jesus, Zoroaster, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius, or Muhammad were the cause of the illumination of the world of humanity. How can we deny such irrefutable proof? How can we be blind to such light?...(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
44. Thou hast written regarding Buddha and Confucius. Buddha was an illustrious personage. Confucius became the cause of civilization, advancement and prosperity for the people of China. Now it is not the time when we discuss concerning the stations and positions of those who are passed away. We must concentrate our attention upon the present. What hath transpired in a former time is past. Now is the time when we restrict our discussion to the Most Great Luminary of Peace and Salvation in this Age, to talk of the Blessed Perfection [Bahá'u'lláh] and to voice His exhortations, behests and teachings. Buddha and Confucius were kings in bygone ages who have disappeared. Their sovereignty in this world is ended and their cycle is completed. Now the Throne of the Kingdom of ABHA is established and the Blessed Perfection is sitting upon the Throne of Grandeur. We must raise this Call, promulgate the Word of God and live in accord with the teachings and advices of the Beauty of ABHA
("Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 2 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Society, 1915), pp. 469-70)
45. There are prophecies concerning this Manifestation in the Buddhistic books, but they are in symbols and metaphors, and some spiritual conditions are mentioned therein, but the leaders of religion do not understand. They think these prophecies are material things; yet those signs are foreshadowing spiritual occurrences.
("Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 3 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Society, 1916), p. 565)Page 16
46. Buddha also established a new religion, and Confucius renewed morals and ancient virtues, but their institutions have been entirely destroyed. The beliefs and rites of the Buddhists and Confucianists have not continued in accordance with their fundamental teachings. The founder of Buddhism was a wonderful soul. He established the Oneness of God, but later the original principles of His doctrines gradually disappeared, and ignorant customs and ceremonials arose and increased until they finally ended in the worship of statues and images.. . .
So it is with religions; through the passing of time they change from their original foundation, the truth of the Religion of God entirely departs, and the spirit of it does not stay; heresies appear, and it becomes a body without a soul. That is why it is renewed.
The meaning is that the Buddhists and Confucianists now worship images and statues. They are entirely heedless of the Oneness of God and believe in imaginary gods like the ancient Greeks. But in the beginning it was not so; there were different principles and other ordinances.
("Some Answered Questions", (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), pp. 165-166)
47. ... Thou hadst written that in the sacred books of the followers of Zoroaster it is written that in the latter days, in three separate Dispensations, the sun must needs be brought to a standstill. In the first Dispensation, it is predicted, the sun will remain motionless for ten days; in the second for twice that time; in the third for no less than one whole month. The interpretation of this prophecy is this: the first Dispensation to which it refers is the Muhammadan Dispensation during which the Sun of Truth stood still or ten days. Each day is reckoned as one century. The Muhammadan Dispensation must have, therefore, lasted no less than one thousand years, which is precisely the period that has elapsed from the setting of the Star of the Imamate to the advent of the Dispensation proclaimed by the Báb. The second Dispensation referred to in this prophecy is the one inaugurated by the Báb Himself which began in the year 1260 A.H. and was brought to a close in the year 1280 A.H. As to the third Dispensation -- the Revelation proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh -- inasmuch as the Sun of Truth when attaining that station shineth in the plenitude of its meridian splendor its duration hath been fixed for a period of one whole month, which is the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the Zodiac. From this thou canst imagine the magnitude of the Bahá'íPage 17
cycle -- a cycle that must extend over a period of at least five hundred thousand years.
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 101-2)From the Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
48. ...The real teaching of Buddha is the same as the teaching of Jesus Christ. The teachings of all the Prophets are the same in character. Now men have changed the teaching. If you look at the present practice of the Buddhist religion, you will see that there is little of the Reality left. Many worship idols although their teaching forbids it.
Buddha had disciples and he wished to send them out into the world to teach, so he asked them questions to see if they were prepared as he would have them be. "When you go to the East and to the West," said the Buddha, "and the people shut their doors to you and refuse to speak to you, what will you do?" -- The disciples answered and said; "We shall be very thankful that they do us no harm." -- "Then if they do you harm and mock, what will you do?" -- 'We shall be very thankful that they do not give us worse treatment." -- "If they throw you into prison?" -- 'We shall still be grateful that they do not kill us." -- "What if they were to kill you?" the Master asked for the last time. "Still," answered the disciples, "we will be thankful, for they cause us to be martyrs. What more glorious fate is there than this, to die for the glory of God?" And the Buddha said: 'Well done!" The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything....
('Abdu'l-Bahá in London: Addresses, and Notes of Conversations", Commemorative ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 63-64)
49. The Message of Krishna is the message of love. All God's prophets have brought the message of love....
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", 11th ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 35)
50. A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West. Be free from prejudice, so will you love the Sun of Truth fromPage 18
whatsoever point in the horizon it may arise! You will realize that if the Divine light of truth shone in Jesus Christ it also shone in Moses and in Buddha. The earnest seeker will arrive at this truth....
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 137)From the Writings of Shoghi Effendi:
51. To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father," the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father," to Shi'ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.. . .
To His Dispensation the sacred books of the followers of Zoroaster had referred as that in which the sun must needs be brought to a standstill for no less than one whole month. To Him Zoroaster must have alluded when, according to tradition, He foretold that a period of three thousand years of conflict and contention must needs precede the advent of the World-Savior Shah-Bahram, Who would triumph over Ahriman and usher in an era of blessedness and peace.
He alone is meant by the prophecy attributed to Gautama Buddha Himself, that "a Buddha named Maitreye, the Buddha of universal fellowship" should, in the fullness of time, arise and reveal "His boundless glory." To Him the Bhagavad- Gita of the Hindus had referred as the "Most Great Spirit," the "Tenth Avatar," the "Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna."
("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 94-95)
From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to individual believers unless otherwise noted:
52. Concerning the passage in "The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh" in which the Guardian quotes 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í interpretation of the prophecy referring to the times when the sun would stand still in the heavens he wishes me to explain that the days referred to in this prophecy have to be reckoned differently. In the Sacred Scriptures of various religions therePage 19
are to be found frequent references to days, but these have been considered as indicating different periods of time, as for instance in the Qur'an a day is reckoned as one thousand years. The first ten days in the above-mentioned prophecy represent each a century, making thus a total of one thousand lunar years. As to the twenty days referring to the Bábi Dispensation, each of them represents only one lunar year, the total of twenty years marking the duration of the Revelation of the Báb. The thirty days in the last Dispensation should not be reckoned numerically, but should be considered as symbolizing the incomparable greatness of the Bahá'í Revelation, which, though not the final, is none the less thus far the fullest revelation of God to man. From a physical point of view, the thirty days represent the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the zodiac. They thus represent a culminating point in the evolution of this star. So also from a spiritual standpoint these thirty days should be viewed as indicating the highest, though not the final stage in the spiritual evolution of mankind.
(7 August 1934 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
53. As regards your study of the Hindu religion: The origins of this and many other religions that abound in India are not quite known to us, and even the Orientalists and the students of religion are not in complete accord about the results of their investigations in that field. The Bahá'í writings also do not refer specifically to any of these forms of religion current in India. So, the Guardian feels it impossible to give you any definite and detailed information on that subject. He would urge you, however, to carry on your studies in that field, although its immensity is wellnigh bewildering, with the view of bringing the Message to the Hindus. The task of converting this section of the Indian population is a most vital obligation, although the Guardian is fully aware of the many difficulties that it presents. Nevertheless the friends should do their best to make as many converts among the Hindus as they possibly can.(17 April 1936)
54. The number nine, which in itself is the number of perfection, is considered by the Bahá'ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá'í Revelation, which constitutes the ninth in the line of existingPage 20
religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the Religion of the Báb, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism,Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the religion of the Sabaeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones which are still existing. There have always been divine prophets and messengers, to many of whom the Qur'an refers. But the only ones existing are those mentioned above.(28 July 1936)
55. The nine religions to which you have referred include both the Bábi and the Bahá'í Dispensations, Bahá'u'lláh being the ninth Prophet in the series. The other Prophets included are Zoroaster, Krishna, Moses, the Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, the Prophet of the Sabaeans Whose name is unrecorded, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh.... Buddha appeared in the Adamic cycle....(13 July 1938)
56. Regarding Lao-Tse: the Bahá'ís do not consider him a prophet, or even a secondary prophet or messenger, unlike Buddha or Zoroaster, both of Whom were divinely appointed and fully independent Manifestations of God.
As to the religion of the Sabaeans, very little is known about the origins of this religion, though we Bahá'ís are certain of one thing, that the founder of it has been a divinely-sent Messenger. The country where Sabaeanism became widespread and flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith.(10 November 1939)
57. With reference to your question concerning the Sabaean and Hindu religions: there is nothing in the Teachings that could help us in ascertaining which one of these two Faiths is older. Neither history seems to be able to provide a definite answer to this question. The records concerning the origin of these religions are not sufficiently detailed and reliable to offer any conclusive evidence on this point.(9 November 1940)
58. Your question concerning Brahma and Krishna: such matters, as no reference occurs to them in the Teachings, are left for students of history and religion to resolve and clarify.(14 April 1941)
59. Zoroaster lived about a thousand years before Christ. There is no exact date in the teachings regarding the beginning of His Dispensation. The personages in Zenda- Avesta cannot be absolutely relied upon, as the Avesta is not to be regarded as the authentic compilation of the writings of the Prophet.
(30 July 1941 to a National Committee and an individual believer)
60. Confucius was not a Prophet. It is quite correct to say he is the founder of a moral system and a great reformer. The Buddha was a Manifestation of God, like Christ, but His followers do not possess His authentic writings.
(26 December 1941 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New) Zealand)
61. In the Bahá'í teachings it states that all the Prophets have foretold a Promised One Who is Bahá'u'lláh. We cannot be sure of the authenticity, word for word, of any of the past Holy Scriptures except the Qur'an, as they were either not written down during the Prophet's lifetime or have been changed in the course of time and the originals lost; what we can be sure of is that when Bahá'u'lláh or the Master stated that Zoroaster foretold a Promised One's coming, it is correct. The Zoroastrians have no way of contradicting this assertion of ours, as they themselves know their scriptures are not in the original form, and therefore not absolutely authentic.(22 June 1943)
62. There is no mention in the Bahá'í writings of any connection between the Near Eastern and Far Eastern Prophets. There are a very few references made to Buddha, which you have evidently seen. In "God Passes By" you will find that Bahá'u'lláh is the return of the Fifth Buddha, etc., and this is all the information the Guardian has, on this subject of Bahá'u'lláh's fulfilling Buddhistic prophecies, at present.Page 22
63. Regarding your questions: the only reason there is not more mention of the Asiatic Prophets is because Their names seem to be lost in the mists of ancient history. Buddha is mentioned, and Zoroaster, in our Scriptures -- both non- Jewish Prophets or non Semitic Prophets. We are taught there always have been Manifestations of God, but we do not have any record of Their names.(4 October 1950)
64. We cannot be sure of the authenticity of the scriptures of Buddha and Krishna, so we certainly cannot draw any conclusions about virgin birth mentioned in them. There is no reference to this subject in our teachings, so the Guardian cannot pronounce an opinion.
There are no dates in our teachings regarding the actual dates of the Prophets of the Adamic Cycle, so we cannot give any. Tentatively we can accept what historians may consider accurate. Naturally the dates referring to Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh we are sure of.
As our teachings do not state Zoroaster is the connecting link between the Euphrates and the Prophets in India we cannot assert this. Abraham and Krishna are two separate individuals, with no connection that we know of.(25 November 1950)
65. Regarding the question of days referring in some cases to years, and in some cases to centuries in the Tablet to a Zoroastrian follower of the Faith: The only answer we can give people who lack the faith to accept the words of the Master as being divinely inspired interpretations of the truth, is that the language of prophecy has always in the past been veiled in meaning, and that allusions are found in all the Holy Books which cannot be accepted literally, and have not been satisfactorily interpreted until the appearance of this Revelation when, we believe, the books of the past and their mysteries have been at last unsealed. Could anybody find a more logical interpretation of this allusion in the Zoroastrian literature than that given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, or one which fits a coherent interpretation of religious history as well as the Master's words do?(16 April 1951)
66. As there were no followers of the Báb or Bahá'u'lláh derived from the religions of the Far East in Their days, this may be the reason that They did not address any Tablets directly to these people. Also we must remember that every religion springs from some root, and just as Christianity sprang from Judaism, our own religion sprang from Islam, and that is why so many of the teachings deduce their proofs from Islam.(5 March 1957)
Extracts from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of JusticeContents:
Teaching the Public and Attracting Ethnic MinoritiesYouth Activities
67. He was very happy to hear of the success of the school, especially that it has been the means of bringing to light hitherto unsuspected capacities among the friends.... The Summer School has been carrying on the divine work of bringing forth jewels from the mine of humanity and it is the hope of Shoghi Effendi and the friend here that those who have been trained in the Summer School will carry on the work in the various localities from which they come...
(From a letter dated 21 October 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Green Acre Summer School, published in "Bahá'í News" (10 February 1926), p. 3)
68. Such gatherings will give a chance to friends from different localities to come together and exchange views on the different problems of the Cause and also attract new souls to the spirit and teachings of the Faith. Not only will their knowledge of the writings deepen but also the unity of the Cause will be strengthened and the work of teaching enhanced....
Shoghi Effendi was very glad to hear that so many new souls were confirmed there. As we see the suffering around us, caused by the prevailing financial crises, we should redouble our energy in bringing the message of comfort and peace to those desperate souls, and add to our labours that the golden age promised by Bahá'u'lláh may dawn sooner....
(From a letter dated 18 November 1931 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 63 (June 1932), p. 4)
69. 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 becoming daily more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in reforming the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troublesPage 27
and problems really are which baffle the mind of man. It is in these Summer Schools that this training should be provided for the friends.
(From a letter dated 27 January 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 63 (June 1932), p. 3)
70. The Guardian fully agrees with your idea that the permanent welfare of the Faith demands the steady development of local Bahá'í community life. This is the bedrock of Bahá'í national growth and development. Great emphasis, he feels, should be placed upon Bahá'í Summer Schools. A greater number of believers and visitors should be encouraged to attend them, their scope should, if not too expensive, be systematically widened, the atmosphere pervading them must be given a distinctive Bahá'í character, and the level of their discussions and the standard of their studies must be raised.
(From a letter dated 10 September 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
71. 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... We constantly receive letters from people who become Bahá'ís by visiting one of these centers and obtaining the Message there.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, received about 1 May 1932, quoted in "Bahá'í News" 67 (October 1932), p. 4)
72. Regarding your Summer School: he is indeed grateful to your assembly for the great success that has attended your efforts for the formation of this institution, the teaching value of which for England cannot be overestimated.... The Guardian would, therefore, urge all the believers to persevere in their efforts for raising the standard, both intellectual and spiritual, of their Summer School and to heighten its prestige in the eyes of the friends, and of the general non-Bahá'í public outside. 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 thePage 28
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 dated 17 October 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
73. He has noted with deepest satisfaction indeed that your meetings have been well attended this year, and that the programme had been made as varied and interesting as possible, and combined, as every Bahá'í Summer School should, the threefold features of devotion, study and recreation. Only through such a harmonious combination of these three elements can the institution of the Summer School yield the maximum of beneficent results, and fulfil its true function of deepening the knowledge, stimulating the zeal, and fostering the spirit of fellowship among the believers in every Bahá'í community.
The Guardian cherishes the hope that at the termination of your school this summer every one of the attendants will have derived such mental and spiritual benefits, and acquired such a fresh enthusiasm to serve as will enable him, upon his return to his local community, to labour with a determination and vigour that will excite the envy and admiration of his fellow-believers, and stimulate them to greater heights of consecration to the service of our beloved Cause.
(From a letter dated 15 August 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Central States Summer School)
74. He is truly delighted to know that the attendance at the school has been satisfactory, and that the young believers, in particular, have been most enthusiastic about it. What he feels now is most essential is for the National Spiritual Assembly to make arrangements to have this school held regularly every year, so that it may develop into an effective, and increasingly vital, instrument for the propagation of the Faith, and also for the education and training of Bahá'í teachers.
It is the Guardian's fervent hope that as this Institution expands, and fulfils the high hopes you all set upon it, it will be felt advisable by the National Spiritual Assembly to consider the possibilities of establishing,Page 29
in due time, one or two more of such schools, thus permitting those friends, who in view of their limited means are not in a position to travel over large distances, to avail themselves of the benefits derived from these nascent Bahá'í institutions of learning.
(From a letter dated 1 December 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
75. What other community has shown the foresight, the organizing ability, the enthusiastic eagerness, that have been responsible for the establishment and multiplication, throughout its territory, of those initial schools which, as time goes by, will, on the one hand, evolve into powerful centers of Bahá'í learning, and, on the other, provide a fertile recruiting ground for the enrichment and consolidation of its teaching force?...
(Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 9)
76. He ... hopes that from now on you will become a regular attendant at all future sessions at Louhelen, or at either one of the two remaining Summer Schools now operating in the States. Faithful attendance at any of these institutions of Bahá'í learning would be indeed the best preparation for all prospective Bahá'í teachers, and should as such be welcomed most heartily by all the believers.
(From a letter dated 22 August 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
77. He is indeed immeasurably delighted to know that thanks to your earnest and wise efforts, and to the loving assistance and co-operation of the friends, Louhelen Ranch is steadily progressing and is increasingly fulfilling those ideal conditions which it should be the aim of every Bahá'í summer school to create, maintain and enforce, namely: close association and fellowship, both social and spiritual, among the attendants, intellectual training in the history, principles and teachings of the Cause, and the application to one's life of the principles of moral conduct as explained and clarified by the Guardian himself in his "Advent of Divine Justice".
(From a letter dated 24 August 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)Page 30
78. Equally important as a factor in the evolution of the Administrative Order has been the remarkable progress achieved, particularly in the United States of America, by the institution of the summer schools designed to foster the spirit of fellowship in a distinctly Bahá'í atmosphere, to afford the necessary training for Bahá'í teachers, and to provide facilities for the study of the history and teachings of the Faith, and for a better understanding of its relation to other religions and to human society in general.
(Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 340)
79. 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. In this respect, the summer schools can be of the greatest help to the friends, new and old Bahá'ís alike, for in them they can study, and enjoy the feeling of Bahá'í companionship which is, alas, usually lacking in their home communities, owing to the smallness of their numbers.
(From a letter dated 18 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)Administration:
80. The Bahá'í summer schools were originated in America to meet the requirements of the friends. They have been adopted by other Bahá'í Communities the world over, but there is no reason why they should be called "summer schools". There is nothing rigid about the term, it is purely descriptive. The Guardian feels that although you can have the immediate affairs of your summer schools managed by a convenient Local Assembly, they should remain under the direct supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly as they are national in character and not purely local.
(From a letter dated 26 December 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)Page 31
81. 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 National Spiritual Assembly in respect to policy, etc. In other words they must be considered as a national and not a purely local institution....
(From a letter dated 18 April 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)
82. Bahá'í summer schools in the United States originated in the same informal manner as Yerrinbool; they were (and some still are) the property of individual believers who resided on them, but they are administered by Committees appointed by the National Spiritual Assembly and which usually include, out of courtesy and consideration, the owners. The American friends also desired to have many more summer schools, but the Guardian has so far not permitted them to add to the number, as it dissipates the energy and funds of the believers and would at present weaken those already existing.
(From a letter dated 13 May 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)
83. WELCOME EXPANSION SCOPE ANNUAL CONFERENCE THROUGH INAUGURATION SUMMER SCHOOL DESIGNED PROLONG SESSIONS CONFERENCE STIMULATE SPIRIT BAHÁ'Í FELLOWSHIP, DEEPEN UNDERSTANDING FUNDAMENTAL SPIRITUAL ADMINISTRATIVE PRINCIPLES FAITH, FIX PATTERN FUTURE INDEPENDENT NATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOLS TEN EUROPEAN GOAL COUNTRIES....
(Shoghi Effendi, cable dated 20 July 1950 to Third Bahá'í European Teaching Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, published in "Bahá'í News" 236 (October 1950), p. 1)
84. As regards the question you asked about a Summer School, there is no reason why a property should either be rented or bought for this purpose. You can arrange to hold a Summer School in any suitable place where the friends can find accommodation, and a hall can be rented for its sessions. This is what they have done in England for many years to great advantage. It is a simple and economical way of holding the School. ThePage 32
primary purpose of the School is to deepen the knowledge of the friends in the Teachings, to enable them to consort, as Baha'is, with each other, and to confirm any contacts who may have attended. The School may be held during the winter season or any other time of the year.
(From a letter dated 30 June 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska and an individual believer)Courses and Curriculum:
85. ... he sincerely trusts that these summer courses will serve to deepen the knowledge and the understanding of the friends and enable them to diffuse the teachings of the Faith to the struggling and almost hopeless world.
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 dated 5 August 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
86. Definite courses should be given along the different phases of the Bahá'í 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 dated 24 November 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
87. The basic purpose of all Bahá'í summer schools, whether in East or West, is to give the believers the opportunity to fully acquaint themselves, not only by mere study but through whole-hearted and activePage 33
collaboration in various Bahá'í activities, with the essentials of the Administration and in this way enable them to become efficient and able promoters of the Cause. The teaching of the Administration is, therefore, an indispensable feature of every Bahá'í summer school and its special significance can be better understood if we realize the great need of every believer today for a more adequate understanding of the social principles and laws of the Faith. It is now, when the Cause is passing through some of the most difficult stages of its development, that the friends should equip themselves with the necessary knowledge of the Administration. The Guardian wishes you, therefore, to stress again, in all the coming summer schools, this vital point and in this way add to the effectiveness and success of your efforts along this line.Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi;
I certainly advise you to concentrate next year on "The Dawn-Breakers" as well as on the needs, the principles and the purpose of Bahá'í Administration. The Cause in your land is still in its formative period. It needs men and women of vision, of capacity and understanding....
(From a letter dated 25 September 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers, published in "Bahá'í News" 78 (November 1933), p. 4)
88. He feels that in your next summer meetings continued emphasis should be laid upon the teaching of the administration, especially in its relation to the outside world, so as to impress the non-Bahá'í attendants at the School with the nature, character and world significance of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh. The teaching of the Administration should, indeed, be considered as forming a permanent and vital feature of every Bahá'í summer school. For upon its thorough and intelligent understanding by the entire community of the believers must inevitably depend the effectiveness and continued expansion of Bahá'í activities throughout the world.
(From a letter dated 6 November 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 34
89. With regard to the School's programme for the next summer: 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 the teaching of Islam as to be able to guide the believers in their study of that religion.
(From a letter dated 2 December 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Central States Summer School Committee and an individual believer)
90. As regards the study courses for the next year's session: the Guardian wishes you to cover the same subjects, namely the Administrative Order and Islam, but feels that these should be studied through more detailed and concentrated examination of all their aspects. An effort should be made to raise the standard of studies, so as to provide the Bahá'í student with a thorough knowledge of the Cause that would enable him to expound it befittingly to the educated public.
(From a letter dated 8 November 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
91. The course on character building, ... the Guardian feels, is particularly important and should be given due emphasis and studied carefully and thoroughly, especially by the young believers in attendance at the school. These 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 endeavour to uphold and promote, deserve serious study and meditation, and should constitute the main central theme of this year's programme at all the three Bahá'í Summer Schools in the States.
Since the purpose of the Summer School is not only to impart knowledge of the Teachings, but to infuse in the hearts of all those present such spirit as will enable them to translate the ideals of the Cause intoPage 35
daily deeds of constructive spiritual living, it is more than fitting therefore that this year's meetings should be principally devoted to the study of Bahá'í morals, not only in their theoretical aspect, but first and foremost in their relation to the present-day needs and requirements of Bahá'í community life.
The principles and methods laid down by the Guardian in his "Advent of Divine Justice" on the vital subject of Bahá'í ethics should indeed prove of valuable 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 dated 20 May 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
92. ... there is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.
These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and university programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world is one which [the] present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future.
(From a letter dated 7 June 1939 written of behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
93. 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 howeverPage 36
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 of this World Crusade.
(From a letter dated 11 May 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
94. He thinks the less time spend on such topics as "Current Events in the Light of the Bahá'í Faith", and "The Bahá'í Faith and Modern Science", the better. There is no harm in having an evening lecture by a qualified speaker once on each of these subjects, but he certainly does not feel that much time should be spent on them, for the very simple reason that there is so little that can be said on the subject. The Bahá'ís are not scientists, and cannot very well go into details of the relation of the Bahá'í Faith to modern science; and "Current Events in the Light of the Bahá'í Faith" is also a topic which can be dealt with briefly.
He feels that the most important thing for the Bahá'í Schools all over the world at present to do is to strongly impress upon the Bahá'í attendants the urgency of arising, not only to fulfil pioneer goals and to consolidate the work on the home front, which is getting weaker every year instead of stronger, but also to bring home to the friends the necessity of dispersing.
The Bahá'ís must realize that they belong to a world-wide Order, and not an American civilization. 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 dated 23 May 1954 written on behalf of the Shoghi Effendi to the Green Acre Program Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
95. Through the intensive study of Bahá'í Scriptures and of the early history of the Faith; through the organization of courses on the teachings and history of Islam; through conferences for the promotion ofPage 37
inter-racial amity; through laboratory courses designed to familiarize the participants with the processes of the Bahá'í Administrative Order; through special sessions devoted to Youth and child training; through classes in public speaking; through lectures on Comparative Religion; through group discussion on the manifold aspects of the Faith; through the establishment of libraries; through teaching classes; through courses on Bahá'í ethics and on Latin America; through the introduction of winter school sessions; through forums and devotional gatherings; through plays and pageants; through picnics and other recreational activities, these schools, open to Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís alike, have set so noble an example as to inspire other Bahá'í communities in Persia, in the British Isles, in Germany, in Australia, in New Zealand, in India, in 'Iraq and in Egypt to undertake the initial measures designed to enable them to build along the same lines institutions that bid fair to evolve into the Bahá'í universities of the future.(Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By" p. 341)
Teaching the Public and Attracting Ethnic Minorities:
96. The Summer Schools provide a splendid setting and environment to which the best element among the coloured race should be specially attracted. Through such association prejudice can be gradually eradicated, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í ardent wish fully realized.
The Guardian finds it impossible to overestimate the importance and urgency of this sacred duty that confronts both the Local and the National Assemblies.
(From a letter dated 28 July 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
97. The Guardian welcomes your suggestion to extend to various groups and clubs in Davison and the adjoining centres, whom you find to be well disposed and sympathetic towards the Faith, an invitation to attend certain special meetings at the Louhelen Summer School. He will pray that this plan you have conceived may result in further intensifying the campaign of teaching throughout those regions.
(From a letter dated 27 January 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)Page 38
98. He hopes your Committee will continue to endeavour in raising the standard, both intellectual and spiritual, of the school, and make it an attractive centre not only to the believers but especially to non-Baha'is. It is, indeed, the teaching value of the school which you should particularly emphasize. The courses, lectures and general activities conducted by the friends should be arranged in such a way as to attract the attention of the outside public to the Cause. The Summer School is a high occasion for teaching the Message.
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.
This is the aspect of the Summer School which the Guardian wishes your Committee to stress. He is confident that thereby the teaching work will receive a powerful impetus.
As regards the courses, he would advise you to continue laying emphasis on the history and teaching of Islam, and in particular on the Islamic origins of the Faith.
(From a letter dated 14 October 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
99. He was delighted to hear of the great success your "Winter Institute for Bahá'í Education" met with. Such progressive activities, especially when carried on in co- operation with local people who are not Baha'is, do a great deal of good, and not only expand the knowledge of the believers themselves but bring the Faith before the public in an excellent light....
(From a letter dated 9 February 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Phoenix, Arizona)Youth Activities:
100. Indeed it is very important for the Faith, to extend the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh amongst the youth, as it is through their activities, that the Cause of our Beloved Master will in future spread all over the American continent. They have upon their shoulders all the responsibilities for thePage 39
progress of the Movement; it is our duty to rear their spiritual feelings, enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance which has been shed before us by the Master.
The Guardian was pleased to learn of the interest and sympathetic understanding which are growing amongst these students. He hopes that, through your help, you will every year widen the scope of their activities and give them fresh opportunities to their sincere endeavours to spread the teachings.Postscript in the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi:
I wish to urge the necessity of concentrating, at your next summer session, on the systematic study of the early history and principles of the Faith, on public speaking, and on a thorough discussion, both formally and informally, of various aspects of the Cause. These I regard as essential preliminaries to a future intensive campaign of teaching in which the rising generation must engage, if the spread of the Cause is to be assured in that land. May you succeed in your efforts to attain that goal!
(From a letter dated 2 November 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)
101. He would advise you, however, to devote some more of your time to active teaching in public. To that end he would urge you to attend, if possible, all the sessions and meetings at the Geyserville Summer School, that you may not only deepen your knowledge of the Teachings, but also acquire the necessary training for expounding them to the public. The ambition of every young Bahá'í should be, indeed, to become a well-informed and competent teacher. For this very purpose the institution of [the] Bahá'í Summer School has been established, and its importance so strongly and repeatedly emphasized by the Guardian.
(From a letter dated 21 June 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
102. 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 Bahá'í summer schools, which constitute the very basis upon which the Bahá'íPage 40
universities of the future will be established, should be widely attended by young believers.
The Guardian would appeal to each and every member of your group to do his utmost to be present at least in one of the three summer schools now existing in the States. And for those young believers who will be travelling abroad during the summer months it is always possible to attend the German Bahá'í Summer School at Esslingen.
(From a letter dated 15 May written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Bahá'í Youth Groups in the United States)
103. Remembering the strong emphasis repeatedly laid by the Guardian on the importance of the institution of the summer school, both as a centre 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 fullness of time.
(From a letter dated 29 July 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Louhelen School)
104. As regards the questions you asked him: There is nothing in the teachings against dancing, and any arrangements for it at Summer Schools, etc., are left to the discretion of the Committee or Assembly in charge to make.
(From a letter dated 24 February 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Pioneers and Pioneering:
105. ... it should be the main concern of the teaching bodies in charge of the Central and South American teaching campaign to provide all such prospective pioneers with the fullest opportunity not only to acquire a perfect mastery of Spanish, but in addition to familiarize themselves, as thoroughly as possible, with the history, customs, and the social and religious background and traditions of the people in these LatinPage 41
American countries. The Summer School, one of whose chief aims is to train and prepare the believers to become well- qualified and competent teachers, offers indeed good prospects of developing into a training ground for all prospective Central and South American Bahá'í pioneers, and it would be therefore most opportune if the Committees in charge of our three Summer Schools decide to start classes for the teaching of Spanish, and of any such subjects as would be helpful for teaching in Spanish-speaking countries.
(From a letter dated 29 July 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
106. He was pleased to hear that you were able to attend the Summer School at Geyserville this year, as these institutions are of the greatest help to the friends and inspire them to carry on their often lonely pioneer work with renewed zeal.
(From a letter dated 22 November 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
107. Nor should any occasion be neglected by the pioneers of attending, if their personal circumstances permit, either the British or German Bahá'í summer schools, and of forging such links with these institutions as will not only assist them in the discharge of their duties, but enable them to initiate, when the time is ripe, an institution of a similar character, under the auspices of the European Teaching Committee - an institution which will be the forerunner of the summer schools that will have to be founded separately by the future Assemblies in their respective countries....
(From a letter dated 5 June 1947 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the West)Prospects for the Future:
108. Shoghi Effendi hopes that your summer school will increasingly develop and will become an important centre for the spread of the Message. You should try to raise its intellectual as well as its spiritual standard and to pave the way for its future development into one of the foremost Bahá'í universities in the West. Much stress should be laid on the thorough study of the history and of the teachings of the Cause, andPage 42
particularly of the nature, basis and outstanding features of the Administration....
(From a letter dated 1 October 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Esslingen, Germany)
109. He was also very pleased to hear that the Summer School is becoming an institution of national importance, and that the friends are increasingly attending it and realizing its great value in the life of the entire Community of believers. In a country such as India it might grow to be the first permanent institution of Bahá'í learning if the believers support it sufficiently and carry out their teaching campaign with whole-hearted devotion and zeal; for, with the influx of many new Bahá'ís into the Cause in that country, it should not be difficult to evolve it into a Bahá'í university as time goes by.
(From a letter dated 10 January 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)TEACHING INSTITUTES
110. 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 circular letter dated 14 May 1964 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies)
111. 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 uponPage 43
living the Bahá'í life, the importance of teaching, prayer, fasting, Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í elections, and contribution to the Fund.
(Prepared for inclusion with a letter dated 24 December 1964 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala)
112. We are happy to note plans for the Institute, but we feel that it would not be appropriate to issue a certificate for those who have completed the course. Instead, if you can afford it and if you feel it would be suitable you might give those who complete the course a pamphlet or piece of Bahá'í literature with an appropriate inscription.
(From a letter dated 14 July 1965 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Indian Ocean)
113. 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 dated 27 October 1965 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala)
114. Teaching Institutes activities may be carried on in the Haziratu'l-Quds as long as necessary, but you should keep in mind the goal of eventually acquiring a Teaching Institute elsewhere.
(From a letter dated 22 January 1968 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands)
115. 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 suchPage 44
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 dated 18 April 1971 to an individual believer)Revised September 1990
A Compilation Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice
Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations. It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures. It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs. It condemns the prostitution of art and of literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage, infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices....
("The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 30)Pages
116. They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples....
O ye peoples of the world! Know assuredly that My commandments are the lamps of My loving providence among My servants, and the keys of My mercy for My creatures. Thus hath it been sent down from the heaven of the Will of your Lord, the Lord of Revelation....
Say: From My laws the sweet smelling savour of My garment can be smelled, and by their aid the standards of victory will be planted upon the highest peaks. The Tongue of My power hath, from the heaven of My omnipotent glory, addressed to My creation these words: "Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty." Happy is the lover that hath inhaled the divine fragrance of his Best-Beloved from these words, laden with the perfume of a grace which no tongue can describe. By My life! He who hath drunk the choice wine of fairness from the hands of My bountiful favour, will circle around My commandments that shine above the Dayspring of My creation.
Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight!...
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), sec. 155, pp. 331-333)
117. Just as there are laws governing our physical lives, requiring that we must supply our bodies with certain foods, maintain them within a certain range of temperatures, and so forth, if we wish to avoid physical disabilities, so also there are laws governing our spiritual lives. These laws are revealed to mankind in each age by the Manifestation of God, and obedience to them is of vital importance if each human being, and mankind in general, is to develop properly and harmoniously. Moreover, these various aspects are interdependent. If an individual violates the spiritual laws for his own development he will cause injury not only toPage 47
himself but to the society in which he lives. Similarly, the condition of society has a direct effect on the individuals who must live within it.
(From a letter dated 6 February 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 105-6)
118. We have considered your several letters and have noted your questions, and your view that many Bahá'í youth in ... are confused, and are pleading for guidance in simple clear language on how to meet daily situations, particularly those involving sex.
It is neither possible nor desirable for the Universal House of Justice to set forth a set of rules covering every situation. Rather is it the task of the individual believer to determine, according to his own prayerful understanding of the Writings, precisely what his course of conduct should be in relation to situations which he encounters in his daily life. If he is to fulfil his true mission in life as a follower of the Blessed Perfection, he will pattern his life according to the Teachings. The believer cannot attain this objective merely by living according to a set of rigid regulations. When his life is oriented toward service to Bahá'u'lláh, and when every conscious act is performed within this frame of reference, he will not fail to achieve the true purpose of his life.
Therefore, every believer must continually study the sacred Writings and the instructions of the beloved Guardian, striving always to attain a new and better understanding of their import to him and to his society. He should pray fervently for Divine Guidance, wisdom and strength to do what is pleasing to God, and to serve Him at all times and to the best of his ability.
(From a letter dated 17 October 1968 written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
119. As to chastity, this is one of the most challenging concepts to get across in this very permissive age, but Bahá'ís must make the utmost effort to uphold Bahá'í standards, no matter how difficult they may seem at first. Such efforts will be made easier if the youth will understand that the laws and standards of the Faith are meant to free them from untold spiritualPage 48
and moral difficulties in the same way that a proper appreciation of the laws of nature enables one to live in harmony with the forces of the planet.
(From a letter dated 14 January 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)True Liberty
120. Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them....
Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.
Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the/certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All- Knowing.
Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 159, pp. 335-36)
121. ...with regard to the peoples who clamour for freedom: the moderate freedom which guarantees the welfare of the world of mankind and maintains and preserves the universal relationships, is found in its fullest power and extension in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982, sec. 227, p. 305)Page 49
122. The chosen ones of God ... should not look at the depraved condition of the society in which they live, nor at the evidences of moral degradation and frivolous conduct which the people around them display. They should not content themselves merely with relative distinction and excellence. Rather they should fix their gaze upon nobler heights by setting the counsels and exhortations of the Pen of Glory as their supreme goal. Then it will be readily realized how numerous are the stages that still remain to be traversed and how far off the desired goal lies -- a goal which is none other than exemplifying heavenly morals and virtues.
(From a letter dated 30 October 1924 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tihran, translated from the Persian)
123. It must be remembered, however, that the maintenance of such a high standard of moral conduct is not to be associated or confused with any form of asceticism, or of excessive and bigoted puritanism. The standard inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh, seeks, under no circumstances, to deny anyone the legitimate right and privilege to derive the fullest advantage and benefit from the manifold joys, beauties, and pleasures with which the world has been so plentifully enriched by an All-Loving Creator. "Should a man," Bahá'u'lláh Himself reassures us, "wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful."
(Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 33)
124. The Bahá'í standard is very high, more particularly when compared with the thoroughly rotten morals of the present world. But this standard of ours will produce healthier, happier, nobler people, and induce stabler marriages....
(From a letter dated 19 October 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 50
125. Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations. It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures. It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs. It condemns the prostitution of art and of literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage, infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of easy familiarity, and of sexual vices. It can tolerate no compromise with the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its example, the pernicious character of such theories, the falsity of such standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits, and the sacrilegious character of such excesses.
(Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 30)
126. He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is, assuredly, of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity.... And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, sec. 60, p. 118)
127. Purity and chastity have been, and still are, the most great ornaments for the handmaidens of God. God is My Witness! The brightness of the light of chastity sheddeth its illumination upon the worlds of the spirit, and its fragrance is wafted even unto the Most Exalted Paradise....
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 32)Page 51
128. Concerning the positive aspects of chastity the Universal House of Justice states that the Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse and holds that the institution of marriage has been established as the channel of its rightful expression. Bahá'ís do not believe that the sex impulse should be suppressed but that it should be regulated and controlled.
Chastity in no way implies withdrawal from human relationships. It liberates people from the tyranny of the ubiquity of sex. A person who is in control of his sexual impulses is enabled to have profound and enduring friendships with many people, both men and women, without ever sullying that unique and priceless bond that should unite man and wife.
(From a letter dated 8 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Moderation:
Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence. Consider for instance such things as liberty, civilization and the like. However much men of understanding may favourably regard them, they will, if carried to excess, exercise a pernicious influence upon men.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 169)
129. The choice of clothing and the cut of the beard and its dressing are left to the discretion of men. But beware, O people, lest ye make yourselves the playthings of the ignorant.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb- i-Aqdas", p. 23)
130. Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", p. 172)Page 52
131. We have permitted you to listen to music and singing. Beware lest such listening cause you to transgress the bounds of decency and dignity. Rejoice in the joy of My Most Great Name through which the hearts are enchanted and the minds of the well-favoured are attracted.
("Bahá'u'lláh, from a Tablet -- translated from the Arabic)
132. ...In the teachings there is nothing against dancing, but the friends should remember that the standard of Bahá'u'lláh is modesty and chastity. The atmosphere of modern dance halls, where so much smoking and drinking and promiscuity goes on, is very bad, but decent dances are not harmful in themselves. There is certainly no harm in classical dancing or learning dancing in school. There is also no harm in taking part in dramas. Likewise in cinema acting. The harmful thing, nowadays, is not the art itself but the unfortunate corruption which often surrounds these arts. As Bahá'ís we need avoid none of the arts, but acts and the atmosphere that sometimes go with these professions we should avoid.
(From a letter dated 30 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma)Daily Vigilance of Actions:
133. Arise, O people, and, by the power of God's might, resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies - gods that have inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshippers. These idols form the obstacle that impedeth man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 43, p. 93)O SON OF BEING!
134. Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.
("The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, Arabic no.31, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 11)
135. For desire is a flame that has reduced to ashes uncounted lifetime harvests of the learned, a devouring fire that even the vast sea of theirPage 53
accumulated knowledge could never quench. How often has it happened that an individual who was graced with every attribute of humanity and wore the jewel of true understanding, nevertheless followed after his passions until his excellent qualities passed beyond moderation and he was forced into excess. His pure intentions changed to evil ones, his attributes were no longer put to uses worthy of them, and the power of his desires turned him aside from righteousness and its rewards into ways that were dangerous and dark. A good character is in the sight of God and His chosen ones and the possessors of insight, the most excellent and praiseworthy of all things, but always on condition that its centre of emanation should be reason and knowledge and its base should be true moderation....
("The Secret of Divine Civilization", 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), pp. 59-60)Abandonment of Frivolous Conduct:
136. Thou art the day-star of the heavens of My holiness, let not the defilement of the world eclipse thy splendour. Rend asunder the veil of heedlessness, that from behind the clouds thou mayest emerge resplendent and array all things with the apparel of life.
("The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh", Persian no. 73, p. 47)
137. Disencumber yourselves of all attachment to this world and the vanities thereof. Beware that ye approach them not, inasmuch as they prompt you to walk after your own lusts and covetous desires, and hinder you from entering the straight and glorious Path.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 128, p. 276)
138. On page 25 of "The Advent of Divine Justice" the beloved Guardian is describing the requirements not only of chastity, but of "a chaste and holy life" -- both the adjectives are important. One of the signs of a decadent society, a sign which is very evident in the world today, is an almost frenetic devotion to pleasure and diversion, an insatiable thirst forPage 54
amusement, a fanatical devotion to games and sport, a reluctance to treat any matter seriously, and a scornful, derisory attitude towards virtue and solid worth. Abandonment of "a frivolous conduct" does not imply that a Bahá'í must be sour-faced or perpetually solemn. Humour, happiness,joy are characteristics of a true Bahá'í life. Frivolity palls and eventually leads to boredom and emptiness, but true happiness and joy and humour that are parts of a balanced life that includes serious thought, compassion and humble servitude to God, are characteristics that enrich life and add to its radiance.
[1 On page 25 in the 1956 U.S. edition; on page 30 in the 1984 U.S. edition.]
Shoghi Effendi's choice of words was always significant, and each one is important in understanding his guidance. In this particular passage, he does not forbid "trivial" pleasures, but he does warn against "excessive attachment" to them and indicates that they can often be "misdirected". One is reminded of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í caution that we should not let a pastime become a waste of time.
(From a letter dated 8 May 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Alcohol:
139. Become ye intoxicated with the wine of the love of God, and not with that which deadeneth your minds, O ye that adore Him! Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or woman....
(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of DivineJustice", p. 33)
140. The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases, weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind.
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 33)Drugs:
141. As to opium, it is foul and accursed. God protect us from the punishment He inflicteth on the user. According to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, it is forbidden, and its use is utterly condemned. Reason showeth that smoking opium is a kind of insanity, and experience attesteth that the user is completely cut off from the human kingdom. May God protect all against the perpetration of an act so hideous as this, an act which layeth in ruins the very foundation of what it is to be human,Page 55
and which causeth the user to be dispossessed for ever and ever. For opium fasteneth on the soul, so that the user's conscience dieth, his mind is blotted away, his perceptions are eroded. It turneth the living into the dead. It quencheth the natural heat. No greater harm can be conceived than that which opium inflicteth. Fortunate are they who never even speak the name of it; then think how wretched is the user.
("Selection from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 148-49)
142. Regarding hashish, you had pointed out that some Persians have become habituated to its use. Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek this fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful?...
Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but ... this wicked hashish extinguisheth the mind, freezeth the spirit, petrifieth the soul, wasteth the body and leaveth man frustrated and lost.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
143. Concerning the so-called "spiritual" virtues of the hallucinogens, ... spiritual stimulation should come from turning one's heart to Bahá'u'lláh, and not through physical means such as drugs and agents.
From the description given in your letter it appears that hallucinogenic agents are a form of intoxicant. As the friends, including the youth, are required strictly to abstain from all forms of intoxicants, and are further expected conscientiously to obey the civil law of their country, it is obvious that they should refrain from using these drugs.
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 dated 15 April 1965 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
144. ... Bahá'ís should not use hallucinogenic agents, including LSD, peyote and similar substances, except when prescribed for medicalPage 56
treatment. Neither should they become involved in experiments with such substances.
(From a letter dated 11 January 1967 written by the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)Bahá'í Attitude Toward Sex:
145. Briefly stated the Bahá'í conception of sex is based on the belief that chastity should be strictly practiced by both sexes, not only because it is in itself highly commendable ethically, but also due to its being the only way to a happy and successful marital life. Sex relationships of any form, outside marriage, are not permissible therefore, and whoso violates this rule will not only be responsible to God, but will incur the necessary punishment from society.
The Bahá'í Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expression such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been established. The Bahá'ís do not believe in the suppression of the sex impulse but in its regulation and control.
(From a letter dated 5 September 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
146. Concerning your question whether there are any legitimate forms of expression of the sex instinct outside of marriage; according to the Bahá'í Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse. The Bahá'í youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self- control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigour. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage, but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be overstressed.
(From a letter dated 13 December 1940 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 57
147. Chastity implies both before and after marriage an unsullied, chaste sex life. Before marriage absolutely chaste, after marriage absolutely faithful to one's chosen companion. Faithful in all sexual acts, faithful in word and in deed.
The world today is submerged, amongst other things, in an over-exaggeration of the importance of physical love, and a dearth of spiritual values. In as far as possible the believers should try to realize this and rise above the level of their fellow-men who are, typical of all decadent periods in history, placing so much over-emphasis on the purely physical side of mating. Outside of their normal, legitimate married life they should seek to establish bonds of comradeship and love which are eternal and founded on the spiritual life of man, not on his physical life. This is one of the many fields in which it is incumbent on the Bahá'ís to set the example and lead the way to a true human standard of life, when the soul of man is exalted and his body but the tool for his enlightened spirit. Needless to say this does not preclude the living of a perfectly normal sex life in its legitimate channel of marriage.
(From a letter dated 28 September 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Immoral Practices are Condemned:
148. Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery. Avoid them, O concourse of the faithful. By the righteousness of God! Ye have been called into being to purge the world from the defilement of evil passions. This is what the Lord of all mankind hath enjoined upon you, could ye but perceive it. He who relateth himself to the All-Merciful and committeth satanic deeds, verily he is not of Me. Unto this beareth witness every atom, pebble, tree and fruit, and beyond them this ever-proclaiming, truthful and trustworthy Tongue.
(Bahá'u'lláh, from a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
149. When we realize that Bahá'u'lláh says adultery retards the progress of the soul in the afterlife -- so grievous is it -- and that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects.
(From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 58
150. Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low-water mark in history is the question of immorality, and overemphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all too often the accepted attitude nowadays.
We must struggle against the evils in society by spiritual means, and by medical and social ones as well. We must be tolerant but uncompromising, understanding but immovable in our point of view.
(From a letter dated 21 May 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
151. A number of sexual problems, such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled and overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires. The exercise of self-control in this, as in so very many other aspects of life, has a beneficial effect on the progress of the soul. It should, moreover, be borne in mind that although to be married is highly desirable, and Bahá'u'lláh has strongly recommended it, it is not the central purpose of life. If a person has to wait a considerable period before finding a spouse, or if ultimately, he or she must remain single, it does not mean that he or she is thereby unable to fulfil his or her life's purpose.
(From a letter dated 6 February 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973", pp. 110-11)
152. Your letter asking for direct or indirect references in the Writings of the Faith to rape or sexual assault was referred to the Research Department, and we have been asked to convey to you the following comments.Page 59
"Lechery" is clearly forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh (see "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf", p. 49) and Shoghi Effendi has stated that a "chaste and holy life", according to the teachings of the Faith, implies a condemnation of "all manner" of "sexual vices".(See "Advent of Divine Justice", p. 25.)
[1 On page 25 in the 1956 U.S. Edition; on page 30 in the 1984 U.S. edition.]
As to the contents of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, one of the provisions of that Most Holy Book is "not to indulge one's passions" (see "Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", p. 50). Furthermore, reference should be made to one of the "prohibitions" mentioned on page 47 of the "Synopsis", namely "adultery". This word so appears in this book because entries in a synopsis should by necessity be brief, and by the original word used by Bahá'u'lláh in the Aqdas, i.e., "zina", adultery is generally and mainly intended. However, this by no means covers all the meanings of the concept of "zina" in legal language used in Arabic and Persian. One of the forms of "zina" -- i.e., when the illicit sexual intercourse is performed through force or violence -- is rape or sexual assault.
As to the punishments for such acts as rape, these will be determined in the future by the Universal House of Justice.
(From a letter dated 8 June 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
Application of the Principle of a Chaste and Holy Life:
153. ... [absolute chastity] is mainly and directly concerned with the Bahá'í youth, who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá'í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it....
As to a chaste and holy life it should be regarded as no less essential a factor that must contribute its proper share to the strengthening and vitalization of the Bahá'í community, upon which must in turn depend the success of any Bahá'í plan or enterprise.... All of them, be they men or women, must, at this threatening hour when the lights of religion are fading out, and its restraints are one by one being abolished, pause toPage 60
examine themselves, scrutinize their conduct, and with characteristic resolution arise to purge the life of their community of every trace of moral laxity that might stain the name, or impair the integrity, of so holy and precious a Faith.
A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behaviour and conduct of all Baha'is, both in their social relations with the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labours and meritorious exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message, and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It must be upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá'í summer school and any other occasions on which Bahá'í community life is organized and fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission of the Bahá'í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá'í community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the youth of their own country.
("The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 22; pp. 29-30)THE POWER OF EXAMPLE
154. Whoso ariseth, in this Day, to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the hosts of a praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence flowing from such an action will, most certainly, be diffused throughout the whole world.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, sec. 131, p. 287)
155. A Bahá'í is known by the attributes manifested by him, not by his name: he is recognized by his character, not by his person.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet- translated from the Persian)Page 61
156. ...by upholding Bahá'í law in the face of all difficulties we not only strengthen our own characters but influence those around us.
(From a letter dated 6 February 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973", p. 107)The Importance of Deeds:
157. Guidance hath ever been given bywords, and now it is given by deeds. Every one must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones. Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds. In this wise We counsel you in this holy and resplendent tablet.
("The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh", Persian no. 76, pp. 48-49)
158. One righteous act is endowed with a potency that can so elevate the dust as to cause it to pass beyond the heaven of heavens. It can tear every bond asunder, and hath the power to restore the force that hath spent itself and vanished....
Be pure, O people of God, be pure; be righteous, be righteous....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 131, p. 287)
159. The Guardian has urged, over and over again, the paramount necessity for Bahá'í Youth to exemplify the Teachings, most particularly the moral aspect of them. If they are not distinguished for their high conduct they cannot expect other young people to take the Cause very seriously.
He heartily agrees with you that unless we practise the Teachings we cannot possibly expect the Faith to grow, because the fundamental purpose of all religions -- including our own -- is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be over- emphasized.
(From a letter dated 6 September 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 62
160. The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct....
(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in "The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 24-25)
161. Let your acts be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All- Wise.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 139, p. 305)
162. These are the days for rendering the divine Cause victorious and effective aid! The victory of God's Faith is dependent upon teaching; and teaching is conditional upon righteous actions and goodly deeds and conduct. The foundation-stone of a life lived in the way of God is the pursuit of moral excellence and the acquisition of a character endowed with qualities that are well-pleasing in His sight. The Bahá'ís should adorn themselves with this holy raiment; with this mighty sword they should conquer the citadels of men's hearts. People have grown weary and impatient of rhetoric and discourse, of preaching and sermonizing. In this day, the one thing that can deliver the world from its travail and attract the hearts of its peoples is deeds, not words; example, not precept; saintly virtues, not statements and charters issued by governments and nations on socio-political affairs. In all matters, great or small, word must be the complement of deed, and deed the companion of word: each must supplement, support and reinforce the other. It is in this respect that the Bahá'ís must seek distinction...
(From a letter dated 8 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís in Bombay - translated from the Persian)
163. It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God is bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad- tidings are clear, evident and complete. For unless some illustriousPage 63
souls step forth into the arena of service and shine out resplendent in the assemblage of men, the task of vindicating the truth of this Cause before the eyes of enlightened people would be formidable indeed. However, if the friends become embodiments of virtue and good character, words and arguments will be superfluous. Their very deeds will well serve as eloquent testimony, and their noble conduct will ensure the preservation, integrity and glory of the Cause of God.
(From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the East - translated from the Persian)
164. There is no doubt that the standard of spotless chastity inculcated by Bahá'u'lláh in His teachings can be attained by the friends only when they stand forth firmly and courageously as uncompromising adherents of the Bahá'í way of life, fully conscious that they represent teachings which are the very antithesis of the corrosive forces which are so tragically destroying the fabric of man's moral values. The present trend in modern society and its conflict with our challenging principles of moral conduct, far from influencing the believers to compromise their resolve to adhere undeviatingly to the standards of purity and chastity set forth for them by their Faith, must stimulate them to discharge their sacred obligations with determination and thus combat the evil forces undermining the foundations of individual morality.
(From a letter dated 22 May 1966 written by the Universal House of Justice to two believers)
165. It is the challenging task of the Bahá'ís to obey the law of God in their own lives, and gradually to win the rest of mankind to its acceptance.
In considering the effect of obedience to the laws on individual lives, one must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next. Here one must learn to control and direct one's animal impulses, not to be a slave to them. Life in this world is a succession of tests and achievements, of falling short and of making new spiritual advances. Sometimes the course may seem very hard, but one can witness, again and again, that the soul who steadfastly obeys the law of Bahá'u'lláh, however hard it may seem, grows spiritually, while the one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness is seen to have been following a chimera: he does not attain the happinessPage 64
he sought, he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself.
(From a letter dated 6 February 1973 written by the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 106)Revised July 1990
1.1 Nature as a Reflection of the Divine ...................... 67
1.2 The Earth One Country ..................................... 67
1.3 Man's Station and Responsibility .......................... 681.4 Approach Toward the Physical World -
Interaction of Spiritual and Material ..................... 692. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MAN AND NATURE
2.1.1 A Unified System........................................ 71
2.1.2 Subject to Law and Organization ........................ 72
2.1.3 Change and Motion ...................................... 73
2.1.4 Diversity .............................................. 74
2.1.5 Serves the Human World ................................. 75
2.1.6 Imperfection of Nature ................................. 762.2 Attitudes and Values
2.2.1 Appreciation ........................................... 77
2.2.2 Moderation ............................................. 78
2.2.3 Kindness to Animals .................................... 79
2.2.4 Development of Nature................................... 80
2.2.5 Importance of Agriculture .............................. 81
2.2.6 Use of Science ......................................... 823. PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT
3.1 Preservation of Resources .................................... 83
3.2 Control of Natural Resources ................................. 83
3.3 Approaches to Protecting the Environment ..................... 84
4. PROSPECT FOR THE FUTURE .......................................... 86
5. REFERENCES ....................................................... 87Page 67
The approach of the world-wide Bahá'í community to the conservation and protection of the earth's resources is based on a number of fundamental principles derived from the Bahá'í Writings. These include:1.1 NATURE AS A REFLECTION OF THE DIVINE
Nature is held in high regard. Bahá'u'lláh states that the contemplation of nature creates an awareness of the "signs" and "tokens" of God and constitutes proof of His existence. Thus:
...whatever I behold I readily discover that it maketh Thee known unto me, and it remindeth me of Thy signs, and of Thy tokens, and of Thy testimonies. By Thy glory! Every time I lift up mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thy highness and Thy loftiness, and Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty. And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.
Nature reflects the "names and attributes of God". It is the expression of "God's Will ... in ... the contingent world". Bahá'u'lláh writes:
Say: Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name,
the Maker, Creator. Its manifestations are diversified
by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs
for men of discernment. Nature is God's Will and is its
expression in and through the contingent world. It is a
dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, theAll-Wise.
Bahá'u'lláh expounds a world view which acknowledges that the "earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens" and He calls for thePage 68
promotion of "the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth".
'Abdu'l-Bahá draws attention to the increasing interdependence of the world and the fact that "self- sufficiency" is no longer possible. He envisages that the trend towards a united world will increase and will manifest itself in the form of "unity of thought in world undertakings" and in other important realms of existence. One critical area for unified action is that of preserving the resources of the planet.1.3 MAN'S STATION AND Responsibility
'Abdu'l-Bahá indicates that man, "by reason of the ideal and heavenly force latent and manifest in him", occupies a station that is "higher and nobler" than nature, that "man is ruler over nature's sphere and province".
It is evident, therefore, that man is ruler over nature's
sphere and province. Nature is inert; man is progressive.
Nature has no consciousness; man is endowed with it.
Nature is without volition and acts perforce, whereas manpossesses a mighty will. Nature is incapable of
discovering mysteries or realities, whereas man is
especially fitted to do so. Nature is not in touch with
the realm of God; man is attuned to its evidences. Nature
is uninformed of God; man is conscious of Him. Man
acquires divine virtues; nature is denied them. Man can
voluntarily discontinue vices; nature has no power to
modify the influence of its instincts. Altogether it is
evident that man is more noble and superior, that in himthere is an ideal power surpassing nature. He has
consciousness, volition, memory, intelligent power,divine attributes and virtues of which nature is
completely deprived and bereft; therefore, man is higher
and nobler by reason of the ideal and heavenly forcelatent and manifest in him.
Man, possessed of an inner faculty which plants and animals do not have, a power which enables him to discover the secrets of nature and gain mastery over the environment, has a special responsibility to use his God-given powers for positive ends. The Universal House of Justice indicates that "the proper exercise of this responsibility is the key to whether his inventive genius produces beneficial results, or creates havoc in the material world".Page 69
1.4 APPROACH TOWARD THE PHYSICAL WORLD -INTERACTION OF SPIRITUAL AND MATERIAL
'Abdu'l-Bahá stresses that the development of the physical world and the happiness of mankind are dependent on both the "call of civilization, of the progress of the material world" and the "soul-stirring call of God, Whose spiritual teachings are safeguards of the everlasting glory, the eternal happiness and illumination of the world of humanity". He states:However, until material achievements, physical
accomplishments and human virtues are reinforced byspiritual perfections, luminous qualities and
characteristics of mercy, no fruit or result shall issuetherefrom, nor will the happiness of the world of
humanity, which is the ultimate aim, be attained. For
although, on the one hand, material achievements and the
development of the physical world produce prosperity,
which exquisitely manifests its intended aims, on theother hand dangers, severe calamities and violent
Consequently, when thou lookest at the orderly pattern
of kingdoms, cities and villages, with the attractiveness
of their adornments, the freshness of their natural
resources, the refinement of their appliances, the easeof their means of travel, the extent of knowledge
discoveries and scientific researches, thou wouldst
conclude that civilization conduceth to the happiness and
the progress of the human world. Yet shouldst thou turn
thine eye to the discovery of destructive and infernal
machines, to the development of forces of demolition and
the invention of fiery implements, which uproot the tree
of life, it would become evident and manifest unto thee
that civilization is conjoined with barbarism. Progressand barbarism go hand in hand, unless material
civilization be confirmed by Divine Guidance, by the
revelations of the All-Merciful and by godly virtues, and
be reinforced by spiritual conduct, by the ideals of the
Kingdom and by the outpourings of the Realm of Might....
Therefore, this civilization and material progress
should be combined with the Most Great Guidance so that
this nether world may become the scene of the appearanceof the bestowals of the
achievements may be conjoined with the effulgences of
the Merciful. This in order that the beauty and perfection
of the world of man may be unveiled and be manifested before
all in the utmost grace and splendour. Thus everlasting gloryand happiness shall be revealed.
Bahá'u'lláh describes the fate of those whose lives demonstrate a heedlessness of spiritual values and a failure to act in conformity with such values. He comments:
...ye walk on My earth complacent and self-satisfied,
heedless that My earth is weary of you and everythingwithin it shunneth you....
Shoghi Effendi asserts that man's negligence contributes to the decline of the "present-day Order" and impacts on the environment in a practical way:
The violent derangement of the world's equilibrium; the
trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the
radical transformation of human society; the rolling upof the present-day Order; the fundamental changes
development of infernal engines of war; the burning of
cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth
-- these stand out as the signs and portents that must
either herald or accompany the retributive calamity
which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer
of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society
which, for the most part, and for over a century, has
turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God's Messenger in this
day -- a calamity which must purge the human race of the
dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component
parts into a firmly knit world-embracing Fellowship -- a
Fellowship destined, in the fullness of time, to be
incorporated in the framework, and to be galvanized bythe spiritualizing influences, of a mysteriously
expanding, divinely appointed Order, and to flower, in
the course of future Dispensations, into a Civilization,the like of which mankind has, at no stage in its
The relationship between man and nature is very complex. An appreciation of the dimensions of this subject requires consideration of some of the characteristics of nature described in the Bahá'í Writings andPage 71
an awareness of certain values and attitudes that guide individual behaviour and the establishment of priorities.2.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF NATURE
'Abdu'l-Bahá indicates that the "temple of the world" has been "fashioned after the image and likeness of the human body". He explains that:
By this is meant that even as the human body in this
world, which is outwardly composed of different limbs and
organs, is in reality a closely integrated, coherent
entity, similarly the structure of the physical world is
like unto a single being whose limbs and members areinseparably linked together.
Were one to observe with an eye that discovereth the
realities of all things, it would become clear that the
greatest relationship that bindeth the world of being
together lieth in the range of created things themselves,
and that co-operation, mutual aid and reciprocity are
essential characteristics in the unified body of the
world of being, inasmuch as all created things are
closely related together and each is influenced by the
other or deriveth benefit therefrom, either directly orindirectly.
Consider for instance how one group of created things
constituteth the vegetable kingdom, and another the
animal kingdom. Each of these two maketh use of certain
elements in the air on which its own life dependeth,
while each increaseth the quantity of such elements as
are essential for the life of the other. In other words,
the growth and development of the vegetable world is
impossible without the existence of the animal kingdom,
and the maintenance of animal life is inconceivable
without the co-operation of the vegetable kingdom. Of
like kind are the relationships that exist among all
created things. Hence it was stated that co-operation and
reciprocity are essential properties which are inherent
in the unified system of the world of existence, and
without which the entire creation would be reduced tonothingness.
In another passage 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the interconnectedness of "every part of the universe" and the importance of maintaining balance in the system:
Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, thesecret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-
relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part
of the universe is connected with every other part by
ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance,nor any slackening whatever....
'Abdu'l-Bahá states that "The phenomenal world is entirely subject to the rule and control of natural law." He contrasts nature's "absolute organization" and its lack of "intelligence" and "will" with man's ability to "[command] the forces of Nature" through discovery of "the constitution of things":
This Nature is subjected to an absolute organization,
to determined laws, to a complete order and a finished
design, from which it will never depart to such a degree,
indeed, that if you look carefully and with keen sight,
from the smallest invisible atom up to such large bodies
of the world of existence as the globe of the sun or the
other great stars and luminous spheres, whether you
regard their arrangement, their composition, their form
or their movement, you will find that all are in the
highest degree of organization and are under one law fromwhich they will never depart.
But when you look at Nature itself, you see that it has
no intelligence, no will. For instance, the nature of
fire is to burn; it burns without will or intelligence.
The nature of water is fluidity; it flows without will
or intelligence. The nature of the sun is radiance; it
shines without will or intelligence. The nature of vapour
is to ascend; it ascends without will or intelligence.
Thus it is clear that the natural movements of all things
are compelled; there are no voluntary movements except
those of animals and, above all, those of man. Man is
able to resist and to oppose Nature because he discovers
the constitution of things, and through this he commands
the forces of Nature; all the inventions he has made are
due to his discovery of the constitution of things. Forexample, he invented the telegraph, which
of communication between the East and the West. It is evident,then, that man rules over Nature.
Now, when you behold in existence such organizations,
arrangements and laws, can you say that all these are the
effect of Nature, though Nature has neither intelligence
nor perception? If not, it becomes evident that this
Nature, which has neither perception nor intelligence,
is in the grasp of Almighty God, Who is the Ruler of the
world of Nature; whatever He wishes, He causes Nature tomanifest.
creation. It is seen in the passage of the seasons.'Abdu'l-Bahá writes:
The earth is in motion and growth; the mountains, hills
and prairies are green and pleasant; the bounty is
overflowing; the mercy universal; the rain is descending
from the cloud of mercy; the brilliant Sun is shining;
the full moon is ornamenting the horizon of ether;
The great ocean-tide is flooding every little stream;
the gifts are successive; the favours consecutive; and
the refreshing breeze is blowing, wafting the fragrant
perfume of the blossoms. Boundless treasure is in the
hand of the King of Kings! Lift the hem of thy garmentin order to receive it.
Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its
garb. The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is
past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new
year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at
hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the
deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from
the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are
standing like advance guards before the cypress and
jessamine trees; while the birds are singing among the
rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens,
announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that
spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is
causing the real essence of all things to move andquiver.
'Abdu'l-Bahá states that "absolute repose does not exist in nature", that "movement is essential to existence". In relation to existence He describes the processes of "composition and decomposition":Page 74
decomposition, of existence and non-existence. Every
created thing in the contingent world is made up of many
and varied atoms, and its existence is dependent on the
composition of these. In other words, through the divine
creative power a conjunction of simple elements taketh
place so that from this composition a distinct organism
is produced. The existence of all things is based uponthis principle. But when the order is deranged,
decomposition is produced and disintegration setteth in,then that thing ceaseth to exist. That is, the
annihilation of all things is caused by decomposition and
disintegration. Therefore attraction and composition
between the various elements is the means of life, and
discord, decomposition and division produce death. Thus
the cohesive and attractive forces in all things lead to
the appearance of fruitful results and effects, while
estrangement and alienation of things lead to disturbance
and annihilation. Through affinity and attraction all
living things like plants, animals and men come intoexistence, while division and discord bring about
He also explains that, in the physical world, the course of evolution is in the direction of increasing levels of complexity:
In the physical creation, evolution is from one degree
of perfection to another. The mineral passes with its
mineral perfections to the vegetable; the vegetable, with
its perfections, passes to the animal world, and so onto that of humanity....
'Abdu'l-Bahá describes diversity as "the essence of perfection and the cause of the appearance of the bestowals" of God, and He states:
Consider the flowers of a garden: though differing in
kind, colour, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are
refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the
breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun,
this diversity increaseth their charm, and addeth untotheir beauty. Thus when that unifying force, the
penetrating influence of the Word of God, taketh effect,
the difference of customs, manners, habits, ideas,
opinions and dispositions embellisheth the world of
humanity. This diversity, this difference is like the
naturally created dissimilarity and variety of thePage 75
limbs and organs of the human body, for each one contributeth
to the beauty, efficiency and perfection of the whole....How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers and
plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruits, the branches
and the trees of that garden were all of the same shape
and colour! Diversity of hues, form and shape, enricheth
and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth the effectthereof...
The extent of the diversity of the "world of created beings" is underlined in the following passage:
... the forms and organisms of phenomenal being and
existence in each of the kingdoms of the universe are
myriad and numberless. The vegetable plane or kingdom,
for instance, has its infinite variety of types and
material structures of plant life -- each distinct anddifferent within itself, no two exactly alike in
composition and detail -- for there are no repetitions in
nature, and the augmentative virtue cannot be confined
to any given image or shape. Each leaf has its own
particular identity -- so to speak, its own individualityas a leaf....
'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the "causes and circumstances"
of the "perfection" of the mineral, vegetable and
animal worlds, and He distinguishes this from their "real
prosperity" which conduces to the honour of the
various kingdoms. The honour and exaltation of every
existing being depends upon causes and circumstances.
The excellency, the adornment and the perfection of the
earth is to be verdant and fertile through the bounty of
the clouds of springtime. Plants grow; flowers and
fragrant herbs spring up; fruit-bearing trees become full
of blossoms and bring forth fresh and new fruit. Gardens
become beautiful, and meadows adorned; mountains and
plains are clad in a green robe, and gardens, fields,
villages and cities are decorated. This is the prosperityof the mineral world.
The height of exaltation and the perfection of the
vegetable world is that a tree should grow on the bank
of a stream of fresh water, that a gentle breeze should
blow on it, that the warmth of the sun should shine on
it, that a gardener should attend to its cultivation,Page 76
and that day by day it should develop and yield fruit. But
its real prosperity is to progress into the animal and human
world, and replace that which has been exhausted in thebodies of animals and men.
The exaltation of the animal world is to possess perfect members, organs and powers, and to have all its needs supplied. This is its chief glory, its honour and exaltation. So the supreme happiness of an animal is to have possession of a green and fertile meadow, perfectly pure flowing water, and a lovely, verdant forest. If these things are provided for it, no greater prosperity can be imagined. For example, if a bird builds its nest in a green and fruitful forest, in a beautiful high place, upon a strong tree, and at the top of a lofty branch, and if it finds all it needs of seeds and water, this is its perfect prosperity.
But real prosperity for the animal consists in passing from the animal world to the human world, like the microscopic beings that, through the water and air, enter into man and are assimilated, and replace that which has been consumed in his body. This is the great honour and prosperity for the animal world; no greater honour can be conceived for it.2.1.6 Imperfection of Nature
Two views of nature are contrasted -- one which holds that the "world of nature is complete", and one that declares that it is "incomplete" because "it has need of intelligence and education". 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that the "mineral, vegetable, animal and human worlds are all in need of an educator":
The materialists hold to the opinion that the world of
nature is complete. The divine philosophers declare that
the world of nature is incomplete. There is a widedifference between the two. The materialists call
attention to the perfection of nature, the sun, moon and
stars, the trees in their adornment, the whole earth and
the sea -- even unimportant phenomena revealing the most
perfect symmetry. The divine philosophers deny this
seeming perfection and completeness in nature's kingdom,
even though admitting the beauty of its scenes and
aspects and acknowledging the irresistible cosmic forces
which control the colossal suns and planets. They hold
that while nature seems perfect, it is, nevertheless,imperfect because
education. In proof of this they say that man, though he
be a very god in the realm of material creation, is himself
in need of an educator. Man undeveloped by education is savage,
animalistic, brutal. Laws and regulations, schools,
colleges and universities have for their purpose the
training of man and his uplift from the dark borderlandof the animal kingdom....
When we consider existence, we see that the mineral, vegetable, animal and human worlds are all in need of an educator.
If the earth is not cultivated, it becomes a jungle where useless weeds grow; but if a cultivator comes and tills the ground, it produces crops which nourish living creatures. It is evident, therefore, that the soil needs the cultivation of the farmer. Consider the trees: if they remain without a cultivator, they will be fruitless, and without fruit they are useless; but if they receive the care of a gardener, these same barren trees become fruitful, and through cultivation, fertilization and engrafting the trees which had bitter fruits yield sweet fruits....
The same is true with respect to animals: notice that when the animal is trained it becomes domestic, and also that man, if he is left without education, becomes bestial, and, moreover, if left under the rule of nature, becomes lower than an animal, whereas if he is educated he becomes an angel....2.2 ATTITUDES AND VALUES
The Bahá'í Writings articulate certain spiritual values and attitudes that guide the relationship of man toward nature. These include:2.2.1 Appreciation
An awareness of the fact that the earth is the "source" of man's "prosperity" is tempered by the realization that "the honour and exaltation of man must be something more than material riches". Thus: Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognizant of this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and vainglory....Page 78
What is it of which ye can rightly boast? Is it on your
food and your drink that ye pride yourselves, on the
riches ye lay up in your treasuries, on the diversity and
the cost of the ornaments with which ye deck yourselves?
If true glory were to consist in the possession of such
perishable things, then the earth on which ye walk must
needs vaunt itself over you, because it supplieth you,
and bestoweth upon you, these very things, by the decree
of the Almighty. In its bowels are contained, according
to what God hath ordained, all that ye possess. From it,
as a sign of His mercy, ye derive your riches. Behold
then your state, the thing in which ye glory! Would thatye could perceive it!
Then it is clear that the honour and exaltation of man
must be something more than material riches. Materialcomforts are only a branch, but the root of the
exaltation of man is the good attributes and virtues
which are the adornments of his reality. These are the
divine appearances, the heavenly bounties, the sublime
emotions, the love and knowledge of God; universal
wisdom, intellectual perception, scientific discoveries,
justice, equity, truthfulness, benevolence, natural
courage and innate fortitude; the respect for rights and
the keeping of agreements and covenants; rectitude in all
circumstances; serving the truth under all conditions;
the sacrifice of one's life for the good of all people;
kindness and esteem for all nations; obedience to the
teachings of God; service in the Divine Kingdom; the
guidance of the people, and the education of the nations
and races. This is the prosperity of the human world!
This is the exaltation of man in the world! This iseternal life and heavenly honour!
The Bahá'í Writings encourage detachment from "this world and the vanities thereof", since "attachment" distracts the individual from awareness of God. This does not, however, constitute a form of asceticism or imply a rejection of life's pleasures. Bahá'u'lláh explains:
Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of
the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the
benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he
alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and
God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whetherPage 79
of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people,
of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive
not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks
and praise unto Him, and be of them that are trulythankful.
In all matters moderation is desirable. If a thing is
carried to excess, it will prove a source of evil....2.2.3 Kindness to Animals
Bahá'u'lláh calls for man to "show kindness to animals" and He warns against "hunting to excess". In relation to the former, 'Abdu'l-Bahá writes:
Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that
the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion,
rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness
to every living creature. For in all physical respects,
and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame
feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not
grasped this truth, however, and he believeth thatphysical sensations are confined to human beings,
And yet in truth, what difference is there when it
cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and
the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast.
There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do
worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can
lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured
he can have recourse to the authorities and these will
protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is
mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case
to the authorities. If a man inflict a thousand ills upon
a beast, it can neither ward him off with speech nor hale
him into court. Therefore is it essential that ye show
forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and thatye be even kinder to him than to your fellow-man.
Train your children from their earliest days to be
infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be
sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry,
let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst,if weary, let them see that it rests.
innocent. Surely those without sin should receive the
most kindness and love -- all except animals which are
harmful... But to blessed animals the utmost kindness
must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and
loving-kindness are basic principles of God's heavenly
Kingdom. Ye should most carefully bear this matter inmind.
The Bahá'í Writings also assert that the consumption of meat is not a prerequisite to health:
Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence
therefrom, ... he [man] is not in need of meat, nor is
he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would
live with the utmost vigour and energy.... Truly, the
killing of animals and the eating of their meat is
somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can
content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such
as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedlybe better and more pleasing.
In the Bahá'í view, physical creation is dynamic and evolving from "one degree of perfection to another". It is, however, "incomplete", since it lacks "intelligence and education". It stands in need of development by man in order to create not only a higher degree of order and beauty, which are standards upheld in the Bahá'í teachings, but also to increase its fertility and productivity. In relation to the creation of order and beauty in the realm of nature 'Abdu'l-Bahá writes:
Nature is the material world. When we look upon it, we
see that it is dark and imperfect. For instance, if we
allow a piece of land to remain in its natural condition,
we will find it covered with thorns and thistles; useless
weeds and wild vegetation will flourish upon it, and it
will become like a jungle. The trees will be fruitless,lacking beauty and symmetry...
And if, as thou passest by fields and plantations, thou
observest that the plants, flowers and sweet-smelling
herbs are growing luxuriantly together, forming a pattern
of unity, this is an evidence of the fact that that
plantation and garden is flourishing under the care of
a skilful gardener. But when thou seest it in a state of
disorder and irregularity thou inferrest that it hath
lacked the training of an efficient farmer and thus hathproduced weeds and tares.
'Abdu'l-Bahá also mentions the contribution of cultivation as a means of increasing the fertility of the earth and its productivity. He states:
If we should relegate this plot of ground to its natural
state, allow it to return to its original condition, it
would become a field of thorns and useless weeds, but by
cultivation it will become fertile soil, yielding a
harvest. Deprived of cultivation, the mountain slopes
would be jungles and forests without fruitful trees. The
gardens bring forth fruits and flowers in proportion tothe care and tillage bestowed upon them by the
A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will
yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener'scare, will grow into a great tree....
While the world of nature stands in need of development,
man's approach to such development must be tempered by
moderation, a commitment to protecting the "heritage [of]
future generations", and an awareness of the sanctity
of nature that pervades the Writings of the Bahá'í Faith.
For example, Bahá'u'lláh states: Blessed is the spot, and
the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart,
and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the
valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and
the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and Hispraise glorified.
Bahá'u'lláh states that "Special regard must be paid to agriculture." He characterizes it as an activity which is "conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world". 'Abdu'l-Bahá asserts that The fundamental basis of the community is agriculture,- -tillage of the soil....
He describes agriculture as "a noble science" whose practice is an "act of worship", and He encourages both women and men to engage in "agricultural sciences". He indicates that should an individual "become proficient in this field, he will become a means of providing for the comfort of untold numbers of people".
In relation to the economic and social development of the nations, the Universal House of Justice underlines the importance of "agriculture and the preservation of the ecological balance of the world".Page 82
Science is described as "the governor of nature and its mysteries, the one agency by which man explores the institutions of material creation":
...man through the exercise of his scientific, intellectual
power ... can modify, change and control nature according
to his own wishes and uses. Science, so to speak, is thebreaker of the laws of nature.
Consider, for example, that man according to natural law
should dwell upon the surface of the earth. By overcoming this law
and restriction, however, he sails in ships over the ocean,
mounts to the zenith in airplanes and sinks to the depths
of the sea in submarines. This is against the fiat of nature
and a violation of her sovereignty and dominion. Nature's
laws and methods, the hidden secrets and mysteries of the universe,
human inventions and discoveries, all our scientific acquisitions
should naturally remain concealed and unknown, but man through his
intellectual acumen searches them out of the plane of the invisible,
draws them into the plane of the visible, exposes and explains them.
For instance, one of the mysteries of nature is electricity.
According to nature this force, this energy, should remain latent
and hidden, but man scientifically breaks through the very laws
of nature, arrests it and even imprisons it for his use.
In brief, man through the possession of this ideal endowment
of scientific investigation is the most noble product ofcreation, the governor of nature....
'Abdu'l-Bahá links scientific endeavour with the implementation of a noble goal. He states:
This endowment is the most praiseworthy power of man, for
through its employment and exercise the betterment of the
human race is accomplished, the development of the virtues of
mankind is made possible and the spirit and mysteries of Godbecome manifest....
And He enumerates the general principle that ...any agency whatever, though it be the instrument of mankind's greatest good, is capable of misuse. Its proper use or abuse depends on the varying degrees of enlightenment, capacity, faith, honesty, devotion and highmindedness of the leaders of public opinion.Page 83
A number of issues pertinent to the protection of the environment are addressed in the Writings of the Bahá'í Faith. Several of these are set out below.3.1 PRESERVATION OF RESOURCES
Shoghi Effendi links the preservation and reclamation of the earth's resources with both the "protection of the] physical world and [the] heritage [of] future generations". He affirms that the work of such groups as the Men of the Trees and the World Forestry Charter is "essentially humanitarian", and he applauds their "noble objective" of reclaiming the "desert areas [of] Africa".
It is interesting to note that among the "powers and duties" of the Universal House of Justice are "the advancement and betterment of the world" and "the development of countries".3.2 CONTROL OF NATURAL RESOURCES
The Bahá'í Writings envisage that the protection, exploration, and exploitation of the earth's "unimaginably vast resources" must, inevitably, in the long term, come under the jurisdiction of a "world federal system". Such a system, based on recognition of the "unity of the human race", will not only exercise "unchallengeable authority" over the earth's resources, but it will also ensure economic and social justice. Shoghi Effendi writes:
The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh,
implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in
which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely
and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its
state members and the personal freedom and initiative of
the individuals that compose them are definitely and
completely safeguarded.... In such a world society,
science and religion, the two most potent forces in human
life, will be reconciled, will co-operate, and will
harmoniously develop.... The economic resources of the
world will be organized, its sources of raw materials
will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be
co-ordinated and developed, and the distribution of itsproducts will be equitably regulated.
National rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will cease,
and racial animosity and prejudice will be replaced by
racial amity, understanding and co-operation. The causes
of religious strife will be permanently removed, economic
barriers and restrictions will be completely abolished,
and the inordinate distinction between classes will be
obliterated. Destitution on the one hand, and gross
accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear.
The enormous energy dissipated and wasted on war, whether
economic or political, will be consecrated to such endsas will extend the range of human inventions and
productivity of mankind, to the extermination of disease,
to the extension of scientific research, to the raising
of the standard of physical health, to the sharpening and
refinement of the human brain, to the exploitation of the
unused and unsuspected resources of the planet, to the
prolongation of human life, and to the furtherance of any
other agency that can stimulate the intellectual, the
moral, and spiritual life of the entire human race.
A world federal system, ruling the whole earth andexercising unchallengeable authority over its
unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the
ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from thecurse of war and its miseries, and bent on the
exploitation of all the available sources of energy on
the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is
made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained byits universal recognition of one God and by its
allegiance to one common Revelation -- such is the goal
towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forcesof life, is moving.
The conservation and protection of the environment must be addressed on the individual and societal levels. Shoghi Effendi, in a letter written on his behalf, states:We cannot segregate the human heart from the
environment outside us and say that once one of these is
reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with
the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is
itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the
other and every abiding change in the life of man is theresult of these mutual reactions.
No movement in the world directs its attention upon
both these aspects of human life and has full measures
for their improvement, save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.And this is its distinctive feature. If we desire
therefore the good of the world we should strive to
spread those teachings and also practise them in our own
life. Through them will the human heart be changed, and
also our social environment provides the atmosphere in
which we can grow spiritually and reflect in full thelight of God shining through the revelation of
And, with regard to the solution of the world's problems, he indicates that:
We need a change of heart, a reframing of all our conceptions and a new orientation of our activities. The inward life of man as well as his outward environment have to be reshaped if human salvation is to be secured.
On a governmental level, the Universal House of Justice calls for "global cooperation of the family of nations in devising and adopting measures designed to preserve the ecological balance this earth was given by its Creator". The House of Justice asserts:
Until such time as the nations of the world understand and follow the admonitions of Bahá'u'lláh to whole-heartedly work together in looking after the best interests of all humankind, and unite in the search for ways and means to meet the many environmental problems besetting our planet, the House of Justice feels that little progress will be made towards their solution....
The Universal House of Justice sets out the role of the individual Bahá'í and of Bahá'í communities in relation to saving "the wildlife and natural condition of the world"  as follows:
...the best way in which you can help to save the wildlife and natural condition of the world is to exert every effort to bring the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to the attention of your fellow-men and to win their allegiance to His Cause.
As the hearts of men are changed, and they begin to work in unity in the light of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, they can begin to implement many practical improvements to the condition of the world. This is already beginning in the efforts at social and economic development in those areas where large Bahá'í communities have been founded.Page 86
Of course, you can also assist those with whom you come into contact who have an interest in improving the environment, but the fundamental solution is the one that Bahá'u'lláh has brought.
In addition to addressing the issue on a fundamental spiritual level, collaboration with individuals and groups interested in improving the environment is encouraged. The Bahá'í communities are called upon to make the conservation of the environment an integral part of their ongoing activities by
...assisting in endeavours to conserve the environment in ways which blend with the rhythm of life of our community...4. PROSPECT FOR THE FUTURE
'Abdu'l-Bahá sketches the following picture of the future state of life on earth:
The Lord of all mankind hath fashioned this human realm
to be a Garden of Eden, an earthly paradise. If, as it
must, it findeth the way to harmony and peace, to love
and mutual trust, it will become a true abode of bliss,
a place of manifold blessings and unending delights.
Therein shall be revealed the excellence of humankind,
therein shall the rays of the Sun of Truth shine forthon every hand.
1. Bahá'u'lláh, "Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), sec. CLXXVI, p. 272.2. ibid.
4. Bahá'u'lláh, "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), sec. XC, p. 178.
5. Bahá'u'lláh, "Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 142.6. ibid.
7. "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. CXVII, p. 250.8. ibid.
9. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l- Baha" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 15, p. 32.10. ibid.
11. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", 2nd.ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 178.12. ibid.
15. Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 19 May 1971 written on its behalf to an individual believer.
16. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 225, p. 283.17. ibid.
19. Bahá'u'lláh, "the Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), Persian no. 20, pp. 28-29.
20. Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated April 1957, published in "Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 103.21. ibid.
22. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet translated from the Persian.23. ibid.
25. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 137, p. 157.26. ibid.
27. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p.17.
28. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Some Answered Questions", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 3.29. ibid.
34. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. III (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930), p. 641.
35. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. II (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1940), pp. 318-19.
36. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l- Baha in Paris in 1911-1912", 10th ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p.88.37. ibid., p. 89.
38. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 225, p. 289.39. ibid., pp. 289-90.
40. "Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 66.
41. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 225, p. 291.42. ibid.
43. "Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", p.51.
44. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 285.45. "Some Answered Questions", p. 78.
49. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, p. 329.50. ibid.
53. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 329.54. "Some Answered Questions, p. 7.
55. Bahá'u'lláh, "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 44.56. ibid.
59. "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. CXVIII, pp. 252-53.60. "Some Answered Questions, pp. 79-80.
61. "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. CXXVIII, p. 276.62. ibid.
64. Bahá'u'lláh, "Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", p. 69.
65. "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. CXXV,p. 265.
66. Universal House of Justice, "A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Bahá'u'lláh", 1st ed. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1973), note 34, p. 63.
67. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 138, pp. 158-60.
68. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet translated from the Persian.
69. "Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912 ,p.66.
70. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912",p.329.71. ibid.
73. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 225, p. 290.
74. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 353.
75. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 104, p. 132.
76. Shoghi Effendi, from a cable dated 23 May 1951 to the New Earth Luncheon, London, U.K
77. Bahá'u'lláh, in "Bahá'í Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá", 1985 ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), frontispiece.
78. "Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i- Aqdas", p. 90.79. ibid., p. 89.
80. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in "Star of the West", vol. 4, no. 6 (24 June 1913), p. 103.
81. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet translated from the Persian. 82. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 126, p. 145.
83. ibid., and "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 283.
84. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet translated from the Persian.
85. Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, from a letter dated 31 March 1985 to an Association for Bahá'í Studies.
86. "The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 29.87. ibid., p. 30.
89. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 16.
90. Shoghi Effendi, from a cable dated 23 May 1951 to the New Earth Luncheon, London, U.K
91. Shoghi Effendi, from a cable dated 21 May 1956 to the World Forestry Charter Luncheon, London, U.K.92. ibid.
93. Shoghi Effendi, from a cable dated 22 May 1957 to the World Forestry Charter Luncheon, London, U.KPage 91
94. Universal House of Justice, "The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice" (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1972), p. 5.95. ibid.
97. Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 11 March 1936, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 204.98. ibid.
102. Secretary to Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 17 February 1933 to an individual believer.
103. Secretary to Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 27 May1932 to an individual believer.
104. Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, from a letter dated 18 October 1981 to an individual believer.105. ibid.
106. Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, from a letter dated 14 June 1984 to an individual believer.107. ibid.
108. Universal House of Justice, from the 1989 Ridvan Message to the Bahá'ís of the World.
109. "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 220, p. 275. 91Page 93
166. The Great Being saith: The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion. Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 168)
167. Say: no man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
168. Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
169. Such matters should be determined through consultation, and whatever emergeth from the consultation of those chosen, that indeed is the command of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
170. In all things it is necessary to consult. This matter should be forcibly stressed by thee, so that consultation may be observed by all. The intent of what hath been revealed from the Pen of the Most High is that consultation may be fully carried out among the friends, inasmuch as it is and will always be a cause of awareness and of awakening and a source of good and well-being.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
171. It behooveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. ItPage 94
is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive.
(Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1977), p. 21)
172. If in the first group of people who have gathered, unanimity is not achieved, new people shall be added, after which a group equal in number to the Greatest Name or fewer or greater shall be chosen from their midst by lots; whereupon the consultation shall be renewed; whatever is the result shall be obeyed. If the second time opinions again differ, repeat the process a third time. This time obey the majority vote. Verily He directeth whom He willeth to the straight Path.[1 Nine]
[2 173."This statement appears in 'Questions and Answers',described by Shoghi Effendi as an appendix to the 'Kitáb-i-Aqdas'. It was revealed before Spiritual Assemblies had been established and was in answer to a question about the Bahá'í teaching on consultation. The emergence of Spiritual Assemblies, to which the friends may always turn, in no way prohibits them from following, if they wish, the procedure outlined in the above passage when they desire to consult on their personal problems. The quotation clearly indicates Bahá'u'lláh's preference for unanimity."
(From a letter dated 28 February 1978 written on behalf of
the Universal House of Justice to all National SpiritualAssemblies)]
(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic and Persian)From the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
174. ...lt is incumbent upon every one not to take any step without consulting the Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise every person will act independently and after his own judgment, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the Cause.
(Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932, p. 21)Page 95
175. The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Baha shall be vouchsafed to them.... The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion, a decision be carried unanimously, well and good; but if the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail.
(Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 21-22)
176. ... The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be non-existent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that assembly be brought to naught. The second condition: They must when coming together turn their faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm of Glory. They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one's views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden. The honored members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another, nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth, and should differences of opinion arise a majority of voices must prevail, and all must obey and submit to the majority. It is again not permitted that any one of the honored members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced. In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace ofPage 96
estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness.... If this be so regarded, that assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation that proceed from the Evil One.... Should they endeavor to fulfil these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that assembly shall become the center of the Divine blessings, the hosts of Divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of Spirit.
(Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 22-23)
177. One consecrated soul is preferable to a thousand other souls. If a small number of people gather lovingly together, with absolute purity and sanctity, with their hearts free of the world, experiencing the emotions of the Kingdom and the powerful magnetic forces of the Divine, and being at one in their happy fellowship, that gathering will exert its influence over all the earth. The nature of that band of people, the words they speak, the deeds they do, will unleash the bestowals of Heaven, and provide a foretaste of eternal bliss. The hosts of the Company on high will defend them, and the angels of the Abha Paradise, in continuous succession, will come down to their aid.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 39, p. 81)
178. If they agree upon a subject, even though it be wrong, it is better than to disagree and be in the right, for this difference will produce the demolition of the divine foundation. Though one of the parties may be in the right and they disagree that will be the cause of a thousand wrongs, but if they agree and both parties are in the wrong, as it is in unity the truth will be revealed and the wrong made right.
("Bahá'í World Faith: Selected Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 411)
179. The question of consultation is of the utmost importance, and is one of the most potent instruments conducive to the tranquillity and felicity of the people. For example, when a believer is uncertain about his affairs, or when he seeketh to pursue a project or trade, the friends should gatherPage 97
together and devise a solution for him. He, in his turn, should act accordingly. Likewise in larger issues, when a problem ariseth, or a difficulty occurreth, the wise should gather, consult, and devise a solution. They should then rely upon the one true God, and surrender to His Providence, in whatever way it may be revealed, for divine confirmations will undoubtedly assist. Consultation, therefore, is one of the explicit ordinances of the Lord of mankind.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
180. Man must consult on all matters, whether major or minor, so that he may become cognizant of what is good. Consultation giveth him insight into things and enableth him to delve into questions which are unknown. The light of truth shineth from the faces of those who engage in consultation. Such consultation causeth the living waters to flow in the meadows of man's reality, the rays of ancient glory to shine upon him, and the tree of his being to be adorned with wondrous fruit. The members who are consulting, however, should behave in the utmost love, harmony and sincerity towards each other. The principle of consultation is one of the most fundamental elements of the divine edifice. Even in their ordinary affairs the individual members of society should consult.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
181. Every one of the friends should highly praise the other and each should regard himself as evanescent and as naught in the presence of others. All matters should be consulted upon in the meeting and whatever is the majority vote should be carried out. I swear by the one true God, it is better that all should agree on a wrong decision, than for one right vote to be singled out, inasmuch as single votes can be sources of dissension, which lead to ruin. Whereas, if in one case they take a wrong decision, in a hundred other cases they will adopt right decisions, and concord and unity are preserved. This will offset any deficiency, and will eventually lead to the righting of the wrong.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
182. The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man. ThusPage 98
consultation is acceptable in the presence of the Almighty, and hath been enjoined upon the believers, so that they may confer upon ordinary and personal matters, as well as on affairs which are general in nature and universal.
For instance, when a man hath a project to accomplish, should he consult with some of his brethren, that which is agreeable will of course be investigated and unveiled to his eyes, and the truth will be disclosed. Likewise on a higher level, should the people of a village consult one another about their affairs, the right solution will certainly be revealed. In like manner, the members of each profession, such as in industry, should consult , and those in commerce should similarly consult on business affairs. In short, consultation is desirable and acceptable in all things and on all issues.
(Cited in letter dated 15 February 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Persia)
183. Regarding thy question about consultation of a father with his son, or a son with his father, in matters of trade and commerce, consultation is one of the fundamental elements of the foundation of the Law of God. Such consultation is assuredly acceptable, whether between father and son, or with others. There is nothing better than this. Man must consult in all things for this will lead him to the depths of each problem and enable him to find the right solution.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
184. The honoured members of the Spiritual Assembly should exert their efforts so that no differences may occur, and if such differences do occur, they should not reach the point of causing conflict, hatred and antagonism, which lead to threats. When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
185. Settle all things, both great and small, by consultation. Without prior consultation, take no important step in your own personal affairs. Concern yourselves with one another. Help along one another's projectsPage 99
and plans. Grieve over one another. Let none in the whole country go in need. Befriend one another until ye become as a single body, one and all...
[1 Cf "Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev.ed.] (Haifa Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), Sec. 102, pp. 128-29.](From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
185/1. Every meeting which is organized for the purpose of unity and concord will be conducive to changing strangers into friends, enemies into associates, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá will be present in His heart and soul with that meeting.
(Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas" vol.2 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Society, 1915), p. 553)
186. In this Cause consultation is of vital importance, but spiritual conference and not the mere voicing of personal views is intended. In France I was present at a session of the senate, but the experience was not impressive. Parliamentary procedure should have for its object the attainment of the light of truth upon questions presented and not furnish a battleground for opposition and self- opinion. Antagonism and contradiction are unfortunate and always destructive to truth. In the parliamentary meeting mentioned, altercation and useless quibbling were frequent; the result, mostly confusion and turmoil; even in one instance a physical encounter took place between two members. It was not consultation but comedy.
The purpose is to emphasize the statement that consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth. He who expresses an opinion should not voice it as correct and right but set it forth as a contribution to the consensus of opinion; for the light of reality becomes apparent when two opinions coincide. A spark is produced when flint and steel come together. Man should weigh his opinions with the utmost serenity, calmness and composure. Before expressing his own views he should carefully consider the views already advanced by others. If he finds that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, he should accept it immediately and not willfully hold to an opinion of his own. By this excellent method he endeavors to arrive at unity and truth. Opposition and division are deplorable. It is better then to have the opinion of a wise,Page 100
sagacious man; otherwise, contradiction and altercation, in which varied and divergent views are presented, will make it necessary for a judicial body to render decision upon the question. Even a majority opinion or consensus may be incorrect. A thousand people may hold to one view and be mistaken, whereas one sagacious person may be right. Therefore, true consultation is spiritual conference in the attitude and atmosphere of love. Members must love each other in the spirit of fellowship in order that good results may be forthcoming. Love and fellowship are the foundation.
The most memorable instance of spiritual consultation was the meeting of the disciples of Jesus Christ upon the mount after His ascension. They said, "Jesus Christ has been crucified, and we have no longer association and intercourse with Him in His physical body; therefore, we must be loyal and faithful to Him, we must be grateful and appreciate Him, for He has raised us from the dead, He made us wise, He has given us eternal life. What shall we do to be faithful to Him?" And so they held council. One of them said, "We must detach ourselves from the chains and fetters of the world; otherwise, we cannot be faithful." The others replied, "That is so." Another said, "Either we must be married and faithful to our wives and children or serve our Lord free from these ties. We cannot be occupied with the care and provision for families and at the same time herald the Kingdom in the wilderness. Therefore, let those who are unmarried remain so, and those who have married provide means of sustenance and comfort for their families and then go forth to spread the message of glad-tidings." There were no dissenting voices; all agreed, saying, "That is right." A third disciple said, "To perform worthy deeds in the Kingdom we must be further self-sacrificing. From now on we should forego ease and bodily comfort, accept every difficulty, forget self and teach the Cause of God." This found acceptance and approval by all the others. Finally a fourth disciple said, "There is still another aspect to our faith and unity. For Jesus' sake we shall be beaten, imprisoned and exiled. They may kill us. Let us receive this lesson now. Let us realize and resolve that though we are beaten, banished, cursed, spat upon and led forth to be killed, we shall accept all this joyfully, loving those who hate and wound us." All the disciples replied, "Surely we will -- it is agreed; this is right." Then they descended from the summit of the mountain, and each went forth in a different direction upon his divine mission.Page 101
This was true consultation. This was spiritual consultation and not the mere voicing of personal views in parliamentary opposition and debate.
("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 72-73)
187. The first duty of the members is to effect their own unity and harmony, in order to obtain good results. If there be no unity, or the Committee becomes the cause of inharmony, undoubtedly, it is better that it does not exist....
Therefore, when the unity of the members of the Committee is established, their second duty is to read the verses and communes, to be in a state of commemoration and mindfulness, that they may see each other as if in the presence of God.
(Published in "Star of the West", vol 8, no. 9 (20 August 1917), p. 114)From the Writings of Shoghi Effendi:
188. Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá'í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion and prudence on the one hand and fellowship, candour and courage on the other.
(23 February 1924 to the Bahá'ís of America, published in "Bahá'í Administration, pp. 63-64)
189. The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. They must regard themselves in no other light but that of chosen instruments for a more efficient and dignified presentation of the Cause of God. They should never be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments of the body of the Cause, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and solePage 102
promoters of its teachings and principles. They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavour by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candour, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity, to win not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they should serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must at all times avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations. They should, within the limits of wise discretion, take the friends into their confidence, acquaint them with their plans, share with them their problems and anxieties, and seek their advice and counsel. And when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious, and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority, which we are told by our Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced. To this voice the friends must heartily respond, and regard it as the only means that can ensure the protection and advancement of the Cause.
(23 February 1924 to the Bahá'ís of America, published in Bahá'í Administration, p. 64)
190. Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored, and inexperienced among the friends will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given assembly.
(29 January 1925 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration", p. 79)
191. Indeed it has ever been the cherished desire of our Master 'Abdu'l-Bahá that the friends in their councils, local as well as national, should by their candour, their honesty of purpose, their singleness of mind, and the thoroughness of their discussions achieve unanimity in all things.
(29 January 1925 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration", p. 80)Page 103
192. Consultation, frank and unfettered, is the bedrock of this unique Order.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 18 November 1933 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
From Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise indicated.]
193. Concerning the attendance of certain individuals at the meeting of the Assemblies and at the invitation of that body: This Shoghi Effendi considers to be as expert advice, which is absolutely necessary for good administration. The members of the Assembly are not supposed to know everything on every subject, so they can invite a person, versed in that question, to attend their meetings and explain his views. But naturally he will have no right to vote.
(23 October 1926 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, published in "Unfolding Destiny: The Messages from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'í Community of the British Isles" (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981), p. 59)
194. We are often told by the Master that under such circumstances we should consult our friends, especially the Assemblies, and seek their advice. It would be nice if you should follow that advice and take some of the friends into your confidence. Maybe God's will is best attained through consultation.(12 November 1930)
195. With proper consultation some method is sure to be found. There is no need to wait until an Assembly is constituted to start consulting. The view of two earnest souls is always better than one.(16 June 1932)
196. The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Bahá'í activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continual exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can bestPage 104
safeguard and foster its interests. Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task.(30 August 1933)
197. The believers should have confidence in the directions and orders of their Assembly, even though they may not be convinced of their justice or right. Once the Assembly, through a majority vote of its members, comes to a decision the friends should readily obey it. Specially those dissenting members within the Assembly whose opinion is contrary to that of the majority of their fellow-members should set a good example before the community by sacrificing their personal views for the sake of obeying the principle of majority vote that underlies the functioning of all Bahá'í Assemblies.
But before the majority of the Assembly comes to a decision, it is not only the right but the sacred obligation of every member to express freely and openly his views, without being afraid of displeasing or alienating any of his fellow- members. In view of this important administrative principle of frank and open consultation, the Guardian would advise you to give up the method of asking other members to voice your opinion and suggestions. This indirect way of expressing your views to the Assembly not only creates an atmosphere of secrecy which is most alien to the spirit of the Cause, but would also lead to many misunderstandings and complications. The Assembly members must have the courage of their convictions, but must also express whole-hearted and unqualified obedience to the well-considered judgement and directions of the majority of their fellow-members.(28 October 1935)
198. Through the clash of personal opinions, as 'Abdu'l-Bahá has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and Divine guidance revealed. The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an Assembly, for these, as experience has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfil a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations. But once the opinion of the majority has been ascertained, all the members should automatically andPage 105
unreservedly obey it, and faithfully carry it out. Patience and restraint, however, should at all times characterize the discussions and deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances.(18 April 1939)
199. In your last question, concerning cases when those needed for consultation are not available and a person is uncertain on the course to be followed in an important matter, you ask whether it is permissible for him to resort to the practice of "istikharihn using the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The Guardian has stated that in such cases what is necessary and essential is for the person to turn his heart wholly to God and to beseech aid from the Source of Grace and inspiration and nothing else. If it is possible to postpone the decision it would be preferable and more proper to do so, until the means for consultation are made available.
[1 This is a process of divination, such as is done through bibliomancy, when a Holy Book is opened at random and guidance is sought for one's problem by reading passages of the Book on the opened page.](23 April 1941- translated from the Persian)
200. The remedy to Assembly inharmony cannot be in the resignation or abstinence of any of its members. It must learn, in spite of disturbing elements, to continue to function as a whole, otherwise the whole system would become discredited through the introduction of exceptions to the rule.
The believers, loving the Cause above all else and putting its interests first, must be ready to bear the hardships entailed, of whatever nature they may be. Only through such persistence and self-sacrifice can we ever hope to preserve on the one hand our divine institutions intact, and on the other force ourselves to become nobler, better instruments to serve this glorious Faith.(20 November 1941)
201. The questions you ask in your letter about individual guidance have two aspects, one might say. It is good that people should turn to God and beseech His aid in solving their problems and guiding their acts, indeedPage 106
every day of their lives, if they feel the desire to do so. But they cannot possibly impose what they feel to be their guidance on anyone else, let alone on Assemblies or Committees, as Bahá'u'lláh has expressly laid down the law of consultation and never indicated that anything else superseded it.(25 January 1943)
202. The Guardian advises that you should refer to other doctors, and follow the majority vote.
[1 This advice was given by the Guardian in a case when the inquirer sought the Guardian's counsel, since one doctor's view was that an operation was needed, while another doctor did not consider such an operation necessary.](14 February 1945 - translated from the Arabic)
203. You have pointed out that on consultative bodies it may sometimes happen that in a given case the view of one of the members is better and has greater merit than that of the others, but these members are not prepared to accept such a view. The Guardian stated that it is necessary and imperative to consult frankly and with pure motives before arriving at a decision. Once the decision is taken, it is incumbent upon all to follow the majority view, and to enforce and put it into effect, even if the decision is a wrong one.(1 February 1946 - translated from the Persian)
204. We all have a right to our opinions, we are bound to think differently; but a Bahá'í must accept the majority decision of his Assembly, realizing that acceptance and harmony -- even if a mistake has been made -- are the really important things, and when we serve the Cause properly, in the Bahá'í way, God will right any wrongs done in the end.
...Bahá'ís are not required to vote on an Assembly against their consciences. It is better if they submit to the majority view and make it unanimous. But they are not forced to. What they must do, however, is to abide by the majority decision, as this is what becomes effective. They must not go around undermining the Assembly by saying they disagreed with the majority. In other words, they must put the Cause first and not their own opinions. He (a Spiritual Assembly member) can ask the Assembly to reconsider a matter, but he has no right to force them orPage 107
create inharmony because they won't change. Unanimous votes are preferable, but certainly cannot be forced upon Assembly members by artificial methods such as are used by other societies.(19 October 1947)
205. The Bahá'ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire -- so natural in people -- to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation.
(30 June 1949 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, published in "The Light of Divine Guidance: The Messages from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria" [vol 1], (Hofheim-Langenhain: Baha'i- Verlag 1982), p. 152)
206. There are no dissenting votes in the Cause. When the majority of an Assembly decides a matter the minority, we are told by the Master, should accept this. To insist on having one's dissenting vote recorded is not good, and achieves no constructive end.(19 March 1950)
207. The Guardian regrets that, in the light of the Master's statement that the deliberations of Assemblies must be secret and confidential, it is not possible to have a non- Assembly member in the National Spiritual Assembly meeting. You must always remember that, in matters of principle, there can be no deviation; in America it may be possible for you to find a wholly trustworthy believer; but if your Assembly is permitted to have non-Assembly secretaries present, then the same privilege must be accorded oriental and Latin American Assemblies; and can these other countries be assured of finding people of the calibre you have found? Highly personal subjects, damaging to the honour and happiness of others, are often taken up by National Assemblies, and the danger that confidence will be betrayed is already great enough with the 9 chosen representatives of the whole Community, let alone introducing non-Assembly members. You will just have to make your minutes a little more compact and sacrifice, if necessary, a certain amount of efficiency in order to follow this very important principle.
(5 July 1950 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)Page 108
From Letters written by the Universal House of Justice:
208. Although Local Spiritual Assemblies are primarily responsible for counseling believers regarding personal problems, there may be times, when in the judgement of the National or Local Assembly, it would be preferable to assign counselling or advisory duties to individuals or committees. This is within the discretion of the Assembly.
(27 March 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia)
209. It is important to realise that the spirit of Bahá'í consultation is very different from that current in the decision-making processes of non-Bahá'í bodies.
The ideal of Bahá'í consultation is to arrive at a unanimous decision. When this is not possible a vote must be taken. In the words of the beloved Guardian: "...when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority, which we are told by the Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced".
As soon as a decision is reached it becomes the decision of the whole Assembly, not merely of those members who happened to be among the majority.
When it is proposed to put a matter to the vote, a member of the Assembly may feel that there are additional facts or views which must be sought before he can make up his mind and intelligently vote on the proposition. He should express this feeling to the Assembly, and it is for the Assembly to decide whether or not further consultation is needed before voting.
Whenever it is decided to vote on a proposition all that is required is to ascertain how many of the members are in favour of it; if this is a majority of those present, the motion is carried; if it is a minority, the motion is defeated. Thus the whole question of "abstaining" does not arise in Bahá'í voting. A member who does not vote in favour of a proposition is, in effect, voting against it, even if at that moment he himself feels that he has been unable to make up his mind on the matter.
(6 March 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)Page 109
210. Your letter of 14 February 1973 enquiring about the uses of Bahá'í consultation has been received.
This is, of course, a matter in which rigidity should be avoided.
When a believer has a problem concerning which he must make a decision, he has several courses open to him. If it is a matter that affects the interests of the Faith he should consult with the appropriate Assembly or committee, but individuals have many problems which are purely personal and there is no obligation upon them to take such problems to the institutions of the Faith; indeed, when the needs of the teaching work are of such urgency it is better if the friends will not burden their Assemblies with personal problems that they can solve by themselves.
A Bahá'í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the counsel of individual friends or of professional counselors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision. There is also no objection whatever to a Baha'i's asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him.
It should be borne in mind that all consultation is aimed at arriving at a solution to a problem and is quite different from the sort of group baring of the soul that is popular in some circles these days and which borders on the kind of confession that is forbidden in the faith. On the subject of confession the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer: 'We are forbidden to confess to any person, as do the Catholics to their priests, our sins and shortcomings, or to do so in public, as some religious sects do. However, if we spontaneously desire to acknowledge we have been wrong in something, or that we have some fault of character, and ask another person's forgiveness or pardon, we are quite free to do so. The Guardian wants to point out, however, that we are not obliged to do so. It rests entirely with the individual."
(19 March 1973 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)Page 110
From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice:
211. The statement which you quote in the second paragraph of your letter is taken from a Tablet of 'Abdu'l- Baha which was addressed by Him to the friends in Tihran at a time when, without the knowledge and permission of the Spiritual Assembly and contrary to government regulations, one of the friends undertook to print the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The instructions of 'Abdu'l-Bahá which you quote were issued on that occasion and in that context.[1 See extract number 8.]
The Universal House of Justice has pointed out that when Shoghi Effendi enumerates the functions of a Local Spiritual Assembly in "Bahá'í Administration" page 37, he indicates that the local matters to be referred to the Local Spiritual Assembly are those "pertaining to the Cause". This does not mean, of course, that personal problems may not be referred to Bahá'í Assemblies. The Local Spiritual Assembly, however, is not the only institution or agency to which the friends may turn for consultation on personal matters. Such consultation could be held with members of one's family, with friends, or with experts. For example in one of His Tablets 'Abdu'l-Bahá envisages the possibility of experts in one profession conferring together.(8 April 1975 to an individual believer
Materials assembled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice
A Covenant in the religious sense is a binding agreement between God and man, whereby God requires of man certain behaviour in return for which He guarantees certain blessings, or whereby He gives man certain bounties in return for which He takes from those who accept them an undertaking to behave in a certain way. There is, for example, the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers, promising that in the fulness of time a new Manifestation will be sent, and taking from them the undertaking to accept Him when this occurs. There is also the Lesser Covenant that a Manifestation of God makes with His followers that they will accept His appointed successor after Him. If they do so, the Faith can remain united and pure. If not, the Faith becomes divided and its force spent. It is a Covenant of this kind that Bahá'u'lláh made with His followers regarding 'Abdu'l-Bahá and that 'Abdu'l-Bahá perpetuated through the Administrative Order...
(23 March 1975, from a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Page 113
I. A Covenant: "...a binding agreement between God and man..."
212. The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Day Spring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good... It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other....
They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its! peoples.... Hasten to drink your fill, O men of understanding They that have violated the Covenant of God by breaking His commandments, and have turned back on their heels, these have erred grievously in the sight of God, the All-Possessing, the Most High.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 2nd rev. ed (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), Sec. 155, pp. 330-31)
213. Follow not, therefore, your earthly desires, and violate not the Covenant of God, nor break your pledge to Him. With firm determination, with the whole affection of your heart, and with the full force of your words, turn ye unto Him, and walk not in the ways of the foolish.... Break not the bond that uniteth you with your Creator, and be not of those that have erred and strayed from His ways....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, Sec. 153, p. 328)
214. Great is thy blessedness inasmuch as thou hast been faithful to the Covenant of God and His Testament... Dedicate thyself to the service of the Cause of thy Lord, cherish His remembrance in thy heart and celebrate His praise in such wise that every wayward and heedless soul may thereby be roused from slumber.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988, p. 262)Page 114
215. ...ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a centre of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: "This man is unquestionably a Baha'i, for his manners, his behaviour, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Baha'is." Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God. For He hath, through irrefutable Texts, entered into a binding Covenant with us all, requiring us to act in accordance with His sacred instructions and counsels.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 71)
II. "...the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers..."The Pattern:
216. The Lord of the universe hath never raised up a prophet nor hath He sent down a Book unless He hath established His covenant with all men, calling for their acceptance of the next Revelation and of the next Book; inasmuch as the outpourings of His bounty are ceaseless and without limit.
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb", [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p.87)
217. Abraham, on Him be peace, made a covenant concerning Moses and gave the glad-tidings of His coming. Moses made a covenant concerning the promised Christ, and announced the good news of His advent to the world. Christ made a covenant concerning the Paraclete and gave the tidings of His coming. The Prophet Muhammad made a covenant concerning the Báb, and the Báb was the One promised by Muhammad, for Muhammad gave the tidings of His coming. The Báb made a Covenant concerning the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh, and gave the glad-tidings of His coming for the Blessed Beauty was the One promised by the Báb. Bahá'u'lláh made a covenant concerning a Promised One Who willPage 115
become manifest after one thousand or thousands of years. That Manifestation is Bahá'u'lláh's Promised One, and will appear after a thousand or thousands of years. He, moreover, with His Supreme Pen, entered into a great Covenant and Testament with all the Bahá'ís whereby they were all commanded to follow the Centre of the Covenant after His ascension, and depart, not even to a hair's breadth, from obeying Him.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet - translated from the Persian, published in "Bahá'í World Faith" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 358)The advent of Bahá'u'lláh:
218. This is the Day, O my Lord, which Thou didst announce unto all mankind as the Day whereon Thou wouldst reveal Thy Self, and shed Thy radiance, and shine brightly over all Thy creatures. Thou hast, moreover, entered into a covenant with them, in Thy Books, and Thy Scriptures, and Thy Scrolls, and Thy Tablets, concerning Him Who is the Day-Spring of Thy Revelation, and hast appointed the Bayan to be the Herald of this Most Great and all-glorious Manifestation, and this most resplendent and most sublime Appearance.
("Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 275)
The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh concerning the next Manifestation:
219. Verily God will raise up Him Whom God shall make manifest, and after Him Whomsoever He willeth, even as He hath raised up prophets before the Point of the Bayan. He in truth hath power over all things.
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb", p. 144)
220. Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying imposter.... Should a man appear, ere the lapse of a full thousand years -- each year consisting of twelve months according to the Qur'an, and of nineteen months of nineteen days each, according to the Bayan -- and if such a man reveal to your eyes all the signs of God, unhesitatingly reject him!
(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 132)Page 116
221. Centuries, nay, countless ages, must pass away ere the Day-Star of Truth shineth again in its mid-summer splendor, or appeareth once more in the radiance of its vernal glory... Concerning the Manifestations that will come down in the future "in the shadows of the clouds," know, verily, that in so far as their relation to the Source of their inspiration is concerned, they are under the shadow of the Ancient Beauty. In their relation, however, to the age in which they appear, each and every one of them "doeth whatsoever He willeth."
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters", p. 167)
III. The Letter Covenant: "...that Bahá'u'lláh made with His followers regarding 'Abdu'l-Bahá..."Appointment:
222. It is incumbent upon the Aghsan, the Afnan and My kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root." The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch ('Abdu'l-Bahá). Thus have We graciously revealed unto you our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Powerful.
(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters, p. 134)
223. In accordance with the explicit text of the Kitáb-i- Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh hath made the Center of the Covenant the Interpreter of His Word -- a Covenant so firm and mighty that from the beginning of time until the present day no religious Dispensation hath produced its like.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh -Selected Letters" p. 136)
224. Today, the most important affair is firmness in the Covenant, because firmness in the Covenant wards off differences.Page 117
. . .Bahá'u'lláh covenanted, not that I ('Abdu'l-Bahá) am the Promised One, but that 'Abdu'l-Bahá is the Expounder of the Book and the Centre of His Covenant, and that the Promised One of Bahá'u'lláh will appear after one thousand or thousands of years. This is the Covenant which Bahá'u'lláh made. If a person shall deviate, he is not acceptable at the Threshold of Bahá'u'lláh. In case of differences, 'Abdu'l-Bahá must be consulted. They must revolve around his good pleasure. After 'Abdu'l-Bahá, whenever the Universal House of Justice is organized it will ward off differences.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "Star of the West", vol. 4, no. 14 (November 1913), p. 237-38)
225. Inasmuch as great differences and divergences of denominational belief had arisen throughout the past, every man with a new idea attributing it to God, Bahá'u'lláh desired that there should not be any ground or reason for disagreement among the Baha'is. Therefore, with His own pen He wrote the Book of His Covenant, addressing His relations and all people of the world, saying, "Verily, I have appointed One Who is the Center of My Covenant. All must obey Him; all must turn to Him; He is the Expounder of My Book, and He is informed of My purpose. All must turn to Him. Whatsoever He says is correct, for, verily, He knoweth the texts of My Book. Other than He, no one doth know My Book." The purpose of this statement is that there should never be discord and divergence among the Bahá'ís but that they should always be unified and agreed.... Therefore, whosoever obeys the Center of the Covenant appointed by Bahá'u'lláh has obeyed Bahá'u'lláh, and whosoever disobeys Him has disobeyed Bahá'u'lláh....
Beware! Beware! lest anyone should speak from the authority of his own thoughts or create a new thing out of himself. Beware! Beware! According to the explicit Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh you should care nothing at all for such a person. Bahá'u'lláh shuns such souls.
("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 322-23)
226. He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá'u'lláh's peerless and all-enfolding Covenant,Page 118
His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá'í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá'í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being "round Whom all names revolve," the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation -- styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name 'Abdu'l-Bahá. He is, above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God" -- an expression by which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has chosen to designate Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter of 8 February 1934, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters", p. 134)
227. Bahá'u'lláh, the Revealer of God's Word in this Day, the Source of Authority, the Fountainhead of Justice, the Creator of a new World Order, the Establisher of the Most Great Peace, the Inspirer and Founder of a world civilization, the Judge, the Lawgiver, the Unifier and Redeemer of all mankind, has proclaimed the advent of God's Kingdom on earth, has formulated its laws and ordinances, enunciated its principles, and ordained its institutions. To direct and canalize the forces released by His Revelation He instituted His Covenant, whose power has preserved the integrity of His Faith, maintained its unity and stimulated its world-wide expansion throughout the successive ministries of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. It continues to fulfil its life-giving purpose through the agency of the Universal House of Justice whose fundamental object, as one of the twin successors of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, is to ensure the continuity of that divinely-appointed authority which flows from the Source of the Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers, and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings.
(Universal House of Justice, "The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice" (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1972), pp. 3-4)Page 119
228. As to the most great characteristic of the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, a specific teaching not given by any of the Prophets of the past: It is the ordination and appointment of the Center of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it impossible for anyone to create a new sect or faction of belief.
("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", pp. 455-56)
229. To direct and canalize these forces let loose by this Heaven-sent process, and to insure their harmonious and continuous operation after His ascension, an instrument divinely ordained, invested with indisputable authority, organically linked with the Author of the Revelation Himself, was clearly indispensable. That instrument Bahá'u'lláh had expressly provided through the institution of the Covenant, an institution which he had firmly established prior to His ascension. This same Covenant He had anticipated in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, had alluded to it as He bade His last farewell to the members of His family, who had been summoned to His bed-side, in the days immediately preceding His ascension, and had incorporated it in a special document which He designated as "the Book of My Covenant," and which He entrusted, during His last illness, to His eldest son 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
Written entirely in His own hand ... this unique and epoch- making Document, designated by Bahá'u'lláh as His "Most Great Tablet," and alluded to by Him as the "Crimson Book" in His "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf," can find no parallel in the Scriptures of any previous Dispensation, not excluding that of the Báb Himself. For nowhere in the books pertaining to any of the world's religious systems, not even among the writings of the Author of the Bábi Revelation, do we find any single document establishing a Covenant endowed with an authority comparable to the Covenant which Bahá'u'lláh had Himself instituted.
(Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), pp. 237-38)
230. ...There is, though, a great difference between this and previous Dispensations, for Bahá'u'lláh has written that this is "the Day which shallPage 120
not be followed by night" ("God Passes By", p. 245). He has given us His Covenant which provides for a continuing centre of divine guidance in the world. The Bahá'í Faith has not lacked for ambitious men who would seize the reins of authority and distort the Faith for their own ends, but in every case they have broken themselves and dashed their hopes on the rock of the Covenant.
(14 January 1979, from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
IV. The Lesser Covenant: "...that 'Abdu'l-Bahá perpetuated through the Administrative Order..."Twin Successors:
231. O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches),the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi -- the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness, -- as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the expounder of the words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents.
("The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1968), p. 11)
232. And now, concerning the House of Justice which God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error, it must be elected by universal suffrage, that is, by the believers. Its members must be manifestations of the fear of God and day-springs of knowledge and understanding, must be steadfast in God's faith and the well-wishers of all mankind.("The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 14)
233. Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House ofPage 121
Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself.
("The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l- Baha", p. 19)
234. They [Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá] have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter of 21 March 1930, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters", pp. 19-20)
235. ...under the Covenant of God, Shoghi Effendi was, during his ministry as Guardian of the Cause, the point of authority in the Faith to which all were to turn... The same thing applies to the position occupied by the Universal House of Justice in its relationship to the friends.
(9 November 1981, from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Authority:
236. The sacred and youthful branch, the guardian of the Cause of God as well as the Universal House of Justice, to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God.("The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 11)
237. ...it is made indubitably clear and evident that the Guardian of the Faith has been made the Interpreter of the Word and that the Universal House of Justice has been invested with the function of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the teachings. The interpretation of the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, is as authoritative and binding as the enactments of the International House of Justice, whose exclusive right and prerogative is to pronounce upon and deliver the final judgment on such laws and ordinances as Bahá'u'lláh has not expressly revealed. Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other. Neither will seek to curtail the specific and undoubted authority with which both have been divinely invested.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter of 8 February 1934, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters" pp. 149-50)
238. In the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Faith, in the enactment of the legislation necessary to supplement the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the members of the Universal House of Justice, it should be borne in mind, are not, as Bahá'u'lláh's utterances clearly imply, responsible to those whom they represent, nor are they allowed to be governed by the feelings, the general opinion, and even the convictions of the mass of the faithful, or of those who directly elect them. They are to follow, in a prayerful attitude, the dictates and promptings of their conscience. They may, indeed they must, acquaint themselves with the conditions prevailing among the community, must weigh dispassionately in their minds the merits of any case presented for their consideration, but must reserve for themselves the right of an unfettered decision. "God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth," is Bahá'u'lláh's incontrovertible assurance. They, and not the body of those who either directly or indirectly elect them, have thus been made the recipients of the divine guidance which is at once the life-blood and ultimate safeguard of this Revelation....
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter of 8 February 1934, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters", p. 153)Page 123
239. At the time of our beloved Shoghi Effendi's death it was evident, from the circumstances and from the explicit requirements of the Holy Texts, that it had been impossible for him to appoint a successor in accordance with the provisions of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá....
[1 Shoghi Effendi had no children and all the surviving Aghsan had broken the Covenant.]
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 9 March 1965, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968" p. 44)
240. After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consultation which included consideration of the views of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 6 October 1963, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968, p. 11)The Universal House of Justice:
241. The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh is unbroken, its all- encompassing power inviolate. The two unique features which distinguish it from all religious covenants of the past are unchanged and operative. The revealed Word, in its original purity, amplified by the divinely guided interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, remains immutable, unadulterated by any man-made creeds or dogmas, unwarrantable inferences, or unauthorized interpretations. The channel of Divine guidance, providing flexibility in all the affairs of mankind, remains open through that institution which was founded by Bahá'u'lláh and endowed by Him with supreme authority and unfailing guidance, and of which the Master wrote: "Unto this body all things must be referred." How clearly we can see the truth of Bahá'u'lláh's assertion: "The Hand of Omnipotence hath established His Revelation upon an enduring foundation. Storms of human strife are powerless to undermine its basis, nor will men's fanciful theories succeed in damaging its structure."
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated October 1963, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968, p. 13)Page 124
242. The Universal House of Justice, which the Guardian said would be regarded by posterity as "the last refuge of a tottering civilization," is now, in the absence of the Guardian, the sole infallibly guided institution in the world to which all must turn, and on it rests the responsibility for ensuring the unity and progress of the Cause of God in accordance with the revealed Word.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 27 May 1966, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", p. 90)
243. The infallibility of the Universal House of Justice, operating within its ordained sphere, has not been made dependent upon the presence in its membership of the Guardian of the Cause.......
However, quite apart from his function as a member and sacred head for life of the Universal House of Justice, the Guardian, functioning within his own sphere, had the right and duty "to define the sphere of the legislative action" of the Universal House of Justice. In other words, he had the authority to state whether a matter was or was not already covered by the Sacred Texts and therefore whether it was within the authority of the Universal House of Justice to legislate upon it.... The question therefore arises: In the absence of the Guardian, is the Universal House of Justice in danger of straying outside its proper sphere and thus falling into error? Here we must remember three things: First, Shoghi Effendi, during the thirty-six years of his Guardianship, has already made innumerable such definitions, supplementing those made by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and by Bahá'u'lláh Himself. As already announced to the friends, a careful study of the Writings and interpretations on any subject on which the House of Justice proposes to legislate always precedes its act of legislation. Second, the Universal House of Justice, itself assured of Divine guidance, is well aware of the absence of the Guardian and will approach all matters of legislation only when certain of its sphere of jurisdiction, a sphere which the Guardian has confidently described as "clearly defined." Third, we must not forget the Guardian's written statement about these two institutions: "Neither can, nor will ever, infringe upon the sacred and prescribed domain of the other."
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 27 May 1966, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", pp. 82-84)Page 125
244. The Universal House of Justice, beyond its function as the enactor of legislation, has been invested with the more general functions of protecting and administering the Cause, solving obscure questions and deciding upon matters that have caused difference....
(From a letter dated 7 December 1969, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 38-39)
245. Upon the Universal House of Justice, in the words of the Guardian, "has been conferred the exclusive right of legislating on matters not expressly revealed in the Bahá'í Writings." Its pronouncements, which are susceptible of amendment or abrogation by the House of Justice itself, serve to supplement and apply the Law of God. Although not invested with the function of interpretation, the House of Justice is in a position to do everything necessary to establish the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh on this earth. Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding "authoritative" or "inspired" interpretations or usurping the function of Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice.
(The Universal House of Justice, from a letter dated 9 March 1965, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", pp. 52-53)
246. In the Bahá'í Faith there are two authoritative centers appointed to which the believers must turn, for in reality the Interpreter of the Word is an extension of that center which is the Word itself. The Book is the record of the utterance of Bahá'u'lláh, while the divinely inspired Interpreter is the living Mouth of that Book -- it is he and he alone who can authoritatively state what the Book means. Thus one center is the Book with its Interpreter, and the other is the Universal House of Justice guided by God to decide on whatever is not explicitly revealed in the Book. This pattern of centers and their relationships is apparent at every stage in the unfoldment of the Cause. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh tells the believers to refer after His passing to the Book, and to "Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root." In the Kitáb-i-'Ahdi (the Book of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant), He makes itPage 126
clear that this reference is to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In the Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh also ordains the institution of the Universal House of Justice, and confers upon it the powers necessary for it to discharge its ordained functions. The Master in His Will and Testament explicitly institutes the Guardianship, which Shoghi Effendi states was clearly anticipated in the verses of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, reaffirms and elucidates the authority of the Universal House of Justice, and refers the believers once again to the Book: "Unto the Most Holy Book everyone must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice," and at the very end of the Will He says: "All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error."
(From a letter dated 7 December 1969, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973", pp. 42-43)
V. Response to the Lesser Covenant that "...the Faith can remain united and pure."
247. ...the power of the Covenant will protect the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh from the doubts of the people of error. It is the fortified fortress of the Cause of God and the firm pillar of the religion of God. Today no power can conserve the oneness of the Bahá'í world save the Covenant of God; otherwise differences like unto a most great tempest will encompass the Bahá'í world. It is evident that the axis of the oneness of the world of humanity is the power of the Covenant and nothing else.... Therefore, in the beginning the believers must make their steps firm in the Covenant so that the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh may encircle them from all sides, the cohorts of the Supreme Concourse may become their supporters and helpers, and the exhortations and advices of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, like unto the pictures engraved on stone, may remain permanent and ineffaceable in the tablets of all hearts.
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is" rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1977), p. 49)
248. Walk, therefore, with a sure step and engage with the utmost assurance and confidence in the promulgation of the divine fragrances, the glorification of the Word of God and firmness in the Covenant. RestPage 127
ye assured that if a soul ariseth in the utmost perseverance and raiseth the Call of the Kingdom and resolutely promulgateth the Covenant, be he an insignificant ant he shall be enabled to drive away the formidable elephant from the arena, and if he be a feeble moth he shall cut to pieces the plumage of the rapacious vulture.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 209)
249. The progress of the Cause of God gathers increasing momentum and we may with confidence look forward to the day when this Community, in God's good time, shall have traversed the stages predicated for it by its Guardian, and shall have raised on this tormented planet the fair mansions of God's Own Kingdom wherein humanity may find surcease from its self-induced confusion and chaos and ruin, and the hatreds and violence of this time shall be transmuted into an abiding sense of world brotherhood and peace. All this shall be accomplished within the Covenant of the everlasting Father, the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh.
(The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 1973 to the Bahá'ís of the World)
250. The Bahá'ís must cling firmly to the knowledge that the Cause is safely in God's hands, that the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh is incorruptible and that they can have complete confidence in the ability of the Universal House of Justice to function "under the care and protection of the Abha Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of His Holiness, the Exalted One"....
(28 May 1975, from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)VI. The power of the Covenant:
251. Today the pulsating power in the arteries of the body of the world is the spirit of the Covenant -- the spirit which is the cause of life. Whosoever is vivified with this spirit, the freshness and beauty of life become manifest in him, he is baptized with the Holy Spirit, he is born again, is freed from oppression and tyranny, from heedlessness and harshness which deaden the spirit, and attains to everlasting life.Page 128
Praise thou God that thou art firm in the Covenant and the Testament and art turning thy face to the Luminary of the world, His Highness Bahá'u'lláh.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "Star of the West, vol. 14, No. 7 (October 1923), p. 225)
252. It is indubitably clear, that the pivot of the oneness of mankind is nothing else but the power of the Covenant.... The power of the Covenant is as the heat of the sun which quickeneth and promoteth the development of all created things on earth. The light of the Covenant, in like manner, is the educator of the minds, the spirits, the hearts and souls of men.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "God Passes By", pp. 238-39)
253. Today, the Lord of Hosts is the defender of the Covenant, the forces of the Kingdom protect it, heavenly souls tender their services, and heavenly angels promulgate and spread it broadcast. If it is considered with insight, it will be seen that all the forces of the universe, in the last analysis serve the Covenant.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", p 228)
254. No power can eliminate misunderstandings except that of the Covenant. The power of the Covenant is all-embracing, and resolveth all difficulties, for the Pen of Glory hath explicitly declared that whatever misunderstanding may arise should be referred to the Centre of the Covenant....
('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
255. Were it not for the protecting power of the Covenant to guard the impregnable fort of the Cause of God, there would arise among the Baha'is, in one day, a thousand different sects as was the case in former ages. But in this Blessed Dispensation, for the sake of the permanency of the Cause of God and the avoidance of dissension amongst the people of God, the Blessed Beauty (may my soul be a sacrifice unto Him), has through the Supreme Pen written the Covenant and the Testament...
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "Bahá'í World Faith", pp. 357-58)Page 129
256. Launched through these very acts into the troublesome seas of ceaseless tribulation, piloted by the mighty arm of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and manned by the bold initiative and abundant vitality of a band of sorely-tried disciples, the Ark of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant has, ever since those days, been steadily pursuing its course contemptuous of the storms of bitter misfortune that have raged, and which must continue to assail it, as it forges ahead towards the promised haven of undisturbed security and peace.
[1 Events associated with the introduction of the Faith in the West]
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 21 April 1933, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters", p. 84)
257. The Covenant is the "axis of the oneness of the world of humanity" because it preserves the unity and integrity of the Faith itself and protects it from being disrupted by individuals who are convinced that only their understanding of the Teachings is the right one -- a fate that has overcome all past Revelations. The Covenant is, moreover, embedded in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh Himself. Thus, as you clearly see, to accept Bahá'u'lláh is to accept His Covenant; to reject His Covenant is to reject Him.
(3 January 1982, from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Revised November 1990
Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of JusticePages
II."The resistless march of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh"Shoghi Effendi, "Messages to America: Selected
Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of
North America 1932-1946", p.51 ..............151-169III. "The security of our precious Faith..."
Shoghi Effendi, "Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-
1957", p. 123 ...............................169-185IV. Index
I. "The hosts of the world...are from every side launching their assault..."
('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in "The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 16)EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH:
258. In the beginning of every Revelation adversities have prevailed, which later on have been turned into great prosperity.
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 82)
259. Consider the former generations. Witness how every time the Day Star of Divine bounty hath shed the light of His Revelation upon the world, the people of His Day have arisen against Him, and repudiated His truth. They who were regarded as the leaders of men have invariably striven to hinder their followers from turning unto Him Who is the Ocean of God's limitless bounty....
Thou hast known how grievously the Prophets of God, His Messengers and Chosen Ones, have been afflicted. Meditate a while on the motive and reason which have been responsible for such a persecution. At no time, in no Dispensation, have the Prophets of God escaped the blasphemy of their enemies, the cruelty of their oppressors, the denunciation of the learned of their age, who appeared in the guise of uprightness and piety. Day and night they passed through such agonies as none can ever measure, except the knowledge of the one true God, exalted be His glory.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), sec. 23, pp. 56-58)
260. Know ye that trials and tribulations have, from time immemorial, been the lot of the chosen Ones of God and His beloved, and such of His servants as are detached from all else but Him, they whom neither merchandise nor traffic beguile from the remembrance of the Almighty, they that speak not till He hath spoken, and act according to His commandment. Such is God's method carried into effect of old, and such will it remain in the future....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 64, p. 129)Page 133
261. By My life! Mine heart groaneth and mine eyes weep sore for the Cause of God and for them that understand not what they say and imagine what they cannot comprehend.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 100, p. 203)
262. And if a nightingale soar upward from the clay of self and dwell in the rose bower of the heart, and in Arabian melodies and sweet Iranian songs recount the mysteries of God -- a single word of which quickeneth to fresh, new life the bodies of the dead, and bestoweth the Holy Spirit upon the moldering bones of this existence -- thou wilt behold a thousand claws of envy, a myriad beaks of rancor hunting after Him and with all their power intent upon His death.
[1 This refers to Bahá'u'lláh's own Manifestation.]...
O My friend! Many a hound pursueth this gazelle of the desert of oneness; many a talon claweth at this thrush of the eternal garden. Pitiless ravens do lie in wait for this bird of the heavens of God, and the huntsman of envy stalketh this deer of the meadow of love.
("The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1986), p. 20; p. 41)
263. It is clear and evident that whenever the Manifestations of Holiness were revealed, the divines of their day have hindered the people from attaining unto the way of truth. To this testify the records of all the scriptures and heavenly books. Not one Prophet of God was made manifest Who did not fall a victim to the relentless hate, to the denunciation, denial, and execration of the clerics of His day!......
We foresee that in every city people will arise to suppress the Blessed Beauty, that the companions of that Lord of being and ultimate Desire of all men will flee from the face of the oppressor and seek refuge from him in the wilderness, whilst others will resign themselves and, with absolute detachment, will sacrifice their lives in His path....
("Kitáb-i-Iqan, 2nd. ed (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983) pp. 165-166; p. 248)Page 134
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS AND UTTERANCES OF 'ABDU'L-BAHÁ:
264. The prestige of the Faith of God has immensely increased. Its greatness is now manifest. The day is approaching when it will have cast a tremendous tumult in men's hearts. Rejoice, therefore, O denizens of America, rejoice with exceeding gladness!
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", rev. ed. (Wilmette:Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 79)
265. In these days the Cause of God, the world over, is fast growing in power and, day by day, is spreading further and further to the utmost bounds of the earth. Its enemies, therefore, from all the kindreds and peoples of the world, are growing aggressive, malevolent, envious and bitterly hostile. It is incumbent upon the loved ones of God to exercise the greatest care and prudence in all things, whether great or small, to take counsel together and unitedly resist the onslaught of the stirrers up of strife and the movers of mischief...
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 194, p. 233)
266. O thou exalted bough of the divine Lote-Tree! ...When thou art disdained and rejected by the wicked doers be not cast down; and at the power and stiff-neckedness of the presumptuous be neither vexed nor sick at heart; for such is the way of heedless souls, from time out of mind. "O the misery of men! No Messenger cometh unto them but they laugh Him to scorn!"[1 Qur'an 36:29]
Indeed, the attacks and the obstructiveness of the ignorant but cause the Word of God to be exalted, and spread His signs and tokens far and wide. Were it not for this opposition by the disdainful, this obduracy of the slanderers, this shouting from the pulpits, this crying and wailing of great and small alike, these accusations of unbelief levelled by the ignorant, this uproar from the foolish -- how could news of the advent of the Primal Point and the bright dawning of the Day-star of Baha ever have reached to east and west? How else could the planet have been rocked from pole to pole? How else could Persia have become the focalPage 135
point of scattering splendours, and Asia Minor the radiating heart of the beauty of the Lord? However else could the flame of the Manifestation have spread into the south? By what means could the cries of God have been heard in the far north? How else could His summons have been heard in the continents of America and of Africa the dark? How else could the cockcrow of Heaven have penetrated those ears? How else could the sweet parrots of India have come upon this sugar, or nightingales have lifted up their warblings out of the land of 'Iraq? What else could set the east and west to dancing, how else could this Consecrated Spot become the throne of the Beauty of God? How else could Sinai behold this burning brightness, how could the Advent's flame adorn that mount? How else could the Holy Land be made the footstool of God's beauty, and the holy vale of Towa become the site of excellence and grace, the sacred spot where Moses put off His shoes? How could the breaths of heaven be carried across the Vale of Holiness, how could the sweet- scented, airy streams that blow out of the Abha gardens ever be perceived by those that dwell on the Verdant Isle? How else could the pledges of the Prophets, the joyous tidings of the holy Seers of old, the stirring promises given unto this Sacred Place by the Manifestations of God, ever have been fulfilled? All these blessings and bestowals, the very means of proclaiming the Faith, have come about through the scorn of the ignorant, the opposition of the foolish, the stubbornness of the dull-witted, the violence of the aggressor. Had it not been for these things, the news of the Báb's advent would not, to this day, have reached even into lands hard by. Wherefore we should never grieve over the blindness of the unwitting, the attacks of the foolish, the hostility of the low and base, the heedlessness of the divines, the charges of infidelity brought against us by the empty of mind. Such too was their way in ages past, nor would it be thus if they were of those who know; but they are benighted, and they come not close to understanding what is told them.
[1 Qur'an 20:12. Also referred to as the "Sacred Vale".][2 cf. Qur'an 4:80]
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" sec. 195, pp. 234-36)
267 ...the friends in the West will unquestionably have their share of the calamities befalling the friends in the East. It is inevitable that, walkingPage 136
the pathway of Bahá'u'lláh, they too will become targets for persecution by the oppressors.
Now ye, as well, must certainly become my partners to some slight degree, and accept your share of tests and sorrows. But these episodes shall pass away, while that abiding glory and eternal life shall remain unchanged forever. Moreover, these afflictions shall be the cause of great advancement.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" sec. 196, pp. 238-39)
268. This day the powers of all the leaders of religion are directed towards the dispersion of the congregation of the All-Merciful, and the shattering of the Divine Edifice. The hosts of the world, whether material, cultural or political are from every side launching their assault, for the Cause is great, very great. Its greatness is, in this day, clear and manifest to men's eyes. It is therefore incumbent upon all who have come within the shade of the protecting wing of God's gracious providence to evince, by His divine and merciful assistance, such conspicuous steadfastness and firmness as will arrest the gaze and astound the minds of all.
At the time of the ascension of the Spirit (Jesus Christ), the company of those who accepted the new Revelation numbered no more than a few souls. So intense was the alarm and perturbation to which that event gave rise that, for a time, these souls were quite overcome by their agitation and confusion. Then, a few days later, a woman by the name of Mary Magdalene arose, and, by her own example, instilled into them a constancy and firmness which enabled them to arise for the propagation of the Word of God. Although to outward seeming they were no more than fishermen and dyers, yet, through the holy confirmations of the Cause of God, they carried the divine fragrances far and wide, sweetening the breaths of all who inhaled their fragrance and bringing new life to every understanding heart.
Take courage, then, O ye trusted friends of God, from the appearance of this mighty and all-swaying power, which was like unto a spirit that permeated the body of the world, making it vibrant with its pulse, and causing the pillars of idolatry to shake and tremble.
(The first three sentences are from Shoghi Effendi's translation cited in "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 6. The remainder of the extract is newly translated.)Page 137
269. ...a large multitude of people will arise against you, showing oppression, expressing contumely and derision, shunning your society, and heaping upon you ridicule. However, the Heavenly Father will illumine you to such an extent that, like unto the rays of the sun, you shall scatter the dark clouds of superstition, shine gloriously in the midst of Heaven and illumine the face of the earth. You must make firm the feet at the time when these trials transpire, and demonstrate forbearance and patience. You must withstand them with the utmost love and kindness; consider their oppression and persecution as the caprice of children, and do not give any importance to whatever they do. For at the end the illumination of the Kingdom will overwhelm the darkness of the world and the exaltation and grandeur of your station will become apparent and manifest... Rest ye assured.
(Cited in "Bahá'í News" ["Star of the West"], vol. 1, no. 10 (8 September 1910), pp. 1-2)
270. Erelong the wicked-doers in that land will arise to heap denunciations upon the true believers, and vent their spite upon the company of the faithful. Each day they will inflict a galling wound, each hour a stunning blow. Rebuking the friends for the love they bear Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l- Baha, they will consider justified their denunciations, their scorn and malice, and spare no effort to do the friends whatever injury it lieth within their power to inflict. Such conduct is at one with the modes and practices of the people aforetime: in bygone centuries, in the days of the appearance of the holy Manifestations, the people acted in just this manner; and now, in these days, it is inevitable that they will repeat such actions, nay, act with greater perversity than before... Hence it is certain that thou wilt be afflicted with adversities, tests and injuries for the sake of the Blessed Beauty; yet these afflictions shall be the purest bounties and bestowals, and a token of thy acceptance at the Divine Threshold.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
271. But after I leave, some people may arise in opposition, heaping persecutions upon you in their bitterness, and in the newspapers there may be articles published against the Cause. Rest ye in the assurance of firmness. Be well poised and serene, remembering that this is only as the harmless twittering of sparrows and that it will soon pass away....Page 138
Therefore, my purpose is to warn and strengthen you against accusations, criticisms, revilings and derision in newspaper articles or other publications. Be not disturbed by them. They are the very confirmation of the Cause, the very source of upbuilding to the Movement. May God confirm the day when a score of ministers of the churches may arise and with bared heads cry at the top of their voices that the Bahá'ís are misguided. I would like to see that day, for that is the time when the Cause of God will spread. Bahá'u'lláh has pronounced such as these the couriers of the Cause. They will proclaim from pulpits that the Bahá'ís are fools, that they are a wicked and unrighteous people, but be ye steadfast and unwavering in the Cause of God. They will spread the message of Bahá'u'lláh.
("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 428-430)EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF SHOGHI EFFENDI:
272. I am however assured and sustained by the conviction, never dimmed in my mind, that whatsoever comes to pass in the Cause of God, however disquieting, in its immediate effects, is fraught with infinite Wisdom and tends ultimately to promote its interests in the world. Indeed, our experiences of the distant past, as well as of recent events, are too numerous and varied to permit of any misgiving or doubt as to the truth of this basic principle- -a principle which throughout the vicissitudes of our sacred mission in this world we must never disregard or forget....
True, the Cause as every other movement has its own obstacles, complications and unforeseen difficulties, but unlike any other human organization it inspires a spirit of Faith and Devotion which can never fail to induce us to make sincere and renewed efforts to face these difficulties and smooth any differences that may and must arise.
(From a letter dated 23 December 1922 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev.ed.], (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 27-28)Page 139
273. On one hand the remarkable revelations of the Beloved's Will and Testament, so amazing in all its aspects, so emphatic in its injunctions, have challenged and perplexed the keenest minds, whilst the ever-increasing confusion of the world, threatened as never before with disruptive forces, fierce rivalries, fresh commotions and grave disorder, have wellnigh overwhelmed the heart and damped the zeal of even the most enthusiastic believer in the destiny of mankind.
And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warnings of Our beloved Master, Who, in particular during the concluding years of His mission on earth, laid stress on the "severe mental tests" that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West - tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.
(From a letter dated 14 November 1923 to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" p. 50)
274. That the Cause of God should in the days to come witness many a challenging hour and pass through critical stages in preparation for the glories of its promised ascendancy in the New World has been time and again undeniably affirmed by our departed Master, and is abundantly proved to us all by its heroic past and turbulent history....
(From a letter dated 23 February 1924 to the Bahá'ís of America, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", pp. 60-61)
275. We cannot believe that as the Movement grows in strength, in authority and in influence, the perplexities and the sufferings it has had to contend with in the past will correspondingly decrease and vanish. Nay, as it grows from strength to strength, the fanatical defendants of the strongholds of Orthodoxy, whatever be their denomination, realizing the penetrating influence of this growing Faith, will arise and strain every nerve to extinguish its light and discredit its name....
(From a letter dated 12 February 1927 to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 123)
276. For let every earnest upholder of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh realize that the storms which this struggling Faith of God must needs encounter, as the process of the disintegration of society advances, shall be fiercer thanPage 140
any which it has already experienced. Let him be aware that so soon as the full measure of the stupendous claim of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh becomes to be recognized by those time- honoured and powerful strongholds of orthodoxy, whose deliberate aim is to maintain their stranglehold over the thoughts and consciences of men, that this infant Faith will have to contend with enemies more powerful and more insidious than the cruellest torture-mongers and the most fanatical clerics who have afflicted it in the past. What foes may not in the course of the convulsions that shall seize a dying civilization be brought into existence, who will reinforce the indignities which have already been heaped upon it!
We have only to refer to the warnings uttered by 'Abdu'l- Baha in order to realize the extent and character of the forces that are destined to contest with God's holy Faith. In the darkest moments of His life, under 'Abdu'l Hamid's regime, when He stood ready to be deported to the most inhospitable regions of Northern Africa, and at a time when the auspicious light of the Bahá'í Revelation had only begun to break upon the West, He in His parting message to the cousin of the Báb, uttered these prophetic and ominous words: "HOW GREAT, HOW VERY GREAT IS THE CAUSE! HOW VERY FIERCE THE ONSLAUGHT OF ALL THE PEOPLES AND KINDREDS OF THE EARTH! ERE LONG SHALL THE CLAMOUR OF THE MULTITUDE THROUGHOUT AFRICA, THROUGHOUT AMERICA, THE CRY OF THE EUROPEAN AND OF THE TURK, THE GROANING OF INDIA AND CHINA, BE HEARD FROM FAR AND NEAR. ONE AND ALL THEY SHALL ARISE WITH ALL THEIR POWER TO RESIST HIS CAUSE. THEN SHALL THE KNIGHTS OF THE LORD, ASSISTED BY HIS GRACE FROM ON HIGH, STRENGTHENED BY FAITH, AIDED BY THE POWER OF UNDERSTANDING, AND REINFORCED BY THE LEGIONS OF THE COVENANT, ARISE AND MAKE MANIFEST THE TRUTH OF THE VERSE: 'BEHOLD THE CONFUSION THAT HATH BEFALLEN THE TRIBES OF THE DEFEATED!"'
Stupendous as is the struggle which His words foreshadow, they also testify to the complete victory which the upholders of the Greatest Name are destined eventually to achieve. Peoples, nations, adherents of divers faiths, will jointly and successively arise to shatter its unity, to sap its force, and to degrade its holy name. They will assail not only the spirit which itPage 141
inculcates, but the administration which is the channel, the instrument, the embodiment of that spirit. For as the authority with which Bahá'u'lláh has invested the future Bahá'í Commonwealth becomes more and more apparent, the fiercer shall be the challenge which from every quarter will be thrown at the verities it enshrines.
(From a letter dated 21 March 1930 to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters, pp. 17-18)
277. The separation that has set in between the institutions of the Bahá'í Faith and the Islamic ecclesiastical organizations that oppose it -- a movement that has originated in Egypt and is now spreading steadily throughout the Middle East, and will in time communicate its influence to the West -- imposes upon every loyal upholder of the Cause the obligation of refraining from any word or action that might prejudice the position which our enemies have, in recent years and of their own accord, proclaimed and established. This historic development, the beginnings of which could neither be recognized nor even anticipated in the years immediately preceding 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í passing, may be said to have signalized the Formative Period of our Faith and to have paved the way for the consolidation of its Administrative Order. As this movement gains momentum, as it receives added impetus from the attitude and future action of the civil authorities in Persia, it will inevitably manifest its repercussions in the West and will rouse the leaders of the Church and finally the civil authorities to challenge the claims and eventually to recognize the independent status of the Religion of Bahá'u'lláh.... Our adversaries in the East have initiated the struggle. Our future opponents in the West will, in their turn, arise and carry it a stage further. Ours is the duty, in anticipation of this inevitable contest, to uphold unequivocally and with undivided loyalty the integrity of our Faith and demonstrate the distinguishing features of its divinely appointed institutions.
(From a letter dated 15 June 1935 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1947), pp. 4-5)Page 142
278. That the forces of irreligion, of a purely materialistic philosophy, of unconcealed paganism have been unloosed, are now spreading, and, by consolidating themselves, are beginning to invade some of the most powerful Christian institutions of the western world, no unbiased observer can fail to admit. That these institutions are becoming increasingly restive, that a few among them are already dimly aware of the pervasive influence of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, that they will, as their inherent strength deteriorates and their discipline relaxes, regard with deepening dismay the rise of His New World Order, and will gradually determine to assail it, that such an opposition will in turn accelerate their decline, few, if any, among those who are attentively watching the progress of His Faith would be inclined to question.
This menace of secularism that has attacked Islam and is undermining its remaining institutions, that has invaded Persia, has penetrated into India, and raised its triumphant head in Turkey, has already manifested itself in both Europe and America, and is, in varying degrees, and under various forms and designations, challenging the basis of every established religion...
(From a letter dated 11 March 1936 to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", pp. 180-81)
279. Pregnant indeed are the years looming ahead of us all. The twin processes of internal disintegration and external chaos are being accelerated every day and are inexorably moving towards a climax.... The Community of the Most Great Name, the leaven that must leaven the lump, the chosen remnant that must survive the rolling up of the old, discredited, tottering Order and assist in the unfoldment of a new one in its stead, is standing ready, alert, clear- visioned, and resolute.... Fierce and manifold will be the assaults with which governments, races, classes and religions, jealous of its rising prestige and fearful of its consolidating strength, will seek to silence its voice and sap its foundations. Unmoved by the relative obscurity that surrounds it at the present time, and undaunted by the forces that will be arrayed against it in the future, this community, I cannot but feel confident, will, no matter how afflictive the agonies of a travailing age, pursue its destiny, undeflected in its course,Page 143
undimmed in its serenity, unyielding in its resolve, unshaken in its convictions.
(From a letter dated 5 July 1938 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946"), pp. 13-14)
280. How can the beginnings of a world upheaval, unleashing forces that are so gravely deranging the social, the religious, the political, and the economic equilibrium of organized society, throwing into chaos and confusion political systems, racial doctrines, social conceptions, cultural standards, religious associations, and trade relationships -- how can such agitations, on a scale so vast, so unprecedented, fail to produce any repercussions on the institutions of a Faith of such tender age whose teachings have a direct and vital bearing on each of these spheres of human life and conduct? Little wonder, therefore, if they who are holding aloft the banner of so pervasive a Faith, so challenging a Cause, find themselves affected by the impact of these world-shaking forces. Little wonder if they find that in the midst of this whirlpool of contending passions their freedom has been curtailed, their tenets contemned, their institutions assaulted, their motives maligned, their authority jeopardized, their claim rejected....
Nor should any of the manifold opportunities, of a totally different order, be allowed to pass unnoticed which the evolution of the Faith itself, whether at its world center, or in the North American continent, or even in the most outlying regions of the earth, must create, calling once again upon the American believers to play a part, no less conspicuous than the share they have previously had in their collective contributions to the propagation of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. I can only for the moment cite at random certain of these opportunities which stand out preeminently, in any attempt to survey the possibilities of the future:
... the deliverance of Bahá'í communities from the fetters of religious orthodoxy in such Islamic countries as Persia, 'Iraq, and Egypt, and the consequent recognition, by the civil authorities in those states, of the independent status and religious character of Bahá'í National and Local Assemblies; the precautionary and defensive measures to be devised, coordinated,Page 144
and carried out to counteract the full force of the inescapable attacks which organized efforts of ecclesiastical organizations of various denominations will progressively launch and relentlessly pursue; and, last but not least, the multitudinous issues that must be faced, the obstacles that must be overcome, and the responsibilities that must be assumed, to enable a sore-tried Faith to pass through the successive stages of unmitigated obscurity, of active repression, and of complete emancipation, leading in turn to its being acknowledged as an independent Faith, enjoying the status of full equality with its sister religions, to be followed by its establishment and recognition as a State religion, which in turn must give way to its assumption of the rights and prerogatives associated with the Bahá'í state, functioning in the plenitude of its powers, a stage which must ultimately culminate in the emergence of the worldwide Bahá'í Commonwealth, animated wholly by the spirit, and operating solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of Bahá'u'lláh.
In the conduct of this twofold crusade the valiant warriors struggling in the name and for the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh must, of necessity, encounter stiff resistance, and suffer many a setback. Their own instincts, no less than the fury of conservative forces, the opposition of vested interests, and the objections of a corrupt and pleasure-seeking generation, must be reckoned with, resolutely resisted, and completely overcome. As their defensive measures for the impending struggle are organized and extended, storms of abuse and ridicule, and campaigns of condemnation and misrepresentation, may be unloosed against them. Their Faith, they may soon find, has been assaulted, their motives misconstrued, their aims defamed, their aspirations derided, their institutions scorned, their influence belittled, their authority undermined, and their Cause, at times, deserted by a few who will either be incapable of appreciating the nature of their ideals, or unwilling to bear the brunt of the mounting criticisms which such a contest is sure to involve. "Because of 'Abdu'l-Bahá," the beloved Master has prophesied, many a test will be visited upon you. Troubles will befall you, and suffering afflict you."
Let not, however, the invincible army of Bahá'u'lláh, who in the West, and at one of its potential storm-centers is to fight, in His name and forPage 145
His sake, one of its fiercest and most glorious battles, be afraid of any criticism that might be directed against it. Let it not be deterred by any condemnation with which the tongue of the slanderer may seek to debase its motives. Let it not recoil before the threatening advance of the forces of fanaticism, of orthodoxy, of corruption, and of prejudice that may be leagued against it. The voice of criticism is a voice that indirectly reinforces the proclamation of its Cause. Unpopularity but serves to throw into greater relief the contrast between it and its adversaries, while ostracism is itself the magnetic power that must eventually win over to its camp the most vociferous and inveterate amongst its foes....
(From a letter dated 25 December 1938 to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 2-3; pp. 14-15; pp. 41-42)
281. Nor should a survey of the outstanding features of so blessed and fruitful a ministry omit mention of the prophecies which the unerring pen of the appointed Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant has recorded! These foreshadow the fierceness of the onslaught that the resistless march of the Faith must provoke in the West, in India and in the Far East when it meets the time-honored sacerdotal orders of the Christian, the Buddhist and Hindu religions. They foreshadow the turmoil which its emancipation from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will cast in the American, the European, the Asiatic and African continents....
("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987) p. 315)
282. No matter how long the period that separates them from ultimate victory; however arduous the task; however formidable the exertions demanded of them; however dark the days which mankind, perplexed and sorely-tried, must, in its hour of travail, traverse; however severe the tests with which they who are to redeem its fortunes will be confronted; however afflictive the darts which their present enemies, as well as those whom Providence, will, through His mysterious dispensations raise up from within or from without, may rain upon them, however grievous the ordeal of temporary separation from the heart and nerve-center of their Faith which future unforeseeable disturbances may impose upon them, I adjure them, by the precious blood that flowed in such great profusion, by the lives of the unnumbered saints and heroes who were immolated,Page 146
by the supreme, the glorious sacrifice of the Prophet-Herald of our Faith, by the tribulations which its Founder, Himself, willingly underwent, so that His Cause might live, His Order might redeem a shattered world and its glory might suffuse the entire planet - I adjure them, as this solemn hour draws nigh, to resolve never to flinch, never to hesitate, never to relax, until each and every objective in the Plans to be proclaimed, at a later date, has been fully consummated.
(From a letter dated 30 June 1952 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Messages to the Bahá'í World, 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971), pp. 38-39)
283. ...undeterred by the clamor which the exponents of religious orthodoxy are sure to raise, or by the restrictive measures which political leaders may impose; undismayed by the smallness of their numbers and the multitude of their potential adversaries; armed with the efficacious weapons their own hands have slowly and laboriously forged in anticipation of this glorious and inevitable encounter with the organized forces of superstition, of corruption and of unbelief; placing their whole trust in the matchless potency of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, in the all-conquering power of His might and the infallibility of His glorious and oft- repeated promises, let them press forward...
(From a letter dated 25 June 1953 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 120)
284. The administrative problems which face you are divers and complex. The opposition which a nascent Faith must needs meet, particularly from the leaders of religious orthodoxy in the Islamic countries of the North, will, as the institutions of that Faith multiply, become more apparent and grow in severity....
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 2 July 1956 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of North West Africa)
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI:
285. For the history of the Cause, particularly in Persia, is a clear illustration of the truth that such persecutions invariably serve toPage 147
strengthen the believers in their faith, by stimulating the spiritual powers latent in their hearts, and by awakening in them a new and deeper consciousness of their duties and responsibilities towards the Faith. Indeed, the mere progress of the Cause, by provoking the hatreds and jealousies of peoples and nations, creates for itself such difficulties and obstacles as only its divine spirit can overcome. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has emphatically stated that the enmity and opposition of the world will increase in direct proportion to the extension and progress of the Faith. The greater the zeal of the believers and the more striking the effect of their achievements, the fiercer will be the opposition of the enemy.
(20 January 1935 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
286. He is, indeed, fully alive to the difficulties which the friends, not only in your centre but all around the world, are daily encountering in their attempt to establish and perfect the administrative machinery of the Faith. These difficulties and obstacles, however, he considers to be inevitable, inherent as they are in the very process through which the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is destined to develop and to eventually establish its ascendancy in the world. Not only are such difficulties inevitable, but they should be viewed, indeed, as constituting a God-given test whereby the friends can, and will assuredly, enrich and perfect the spiritual and moral energies latent in them, and in this way help in establishing that Divine civilization promised to them by God.
Trials and sufferings, Bahá'u'lláh has repeatedly warned us in His Tablets, are even as the oil that feeds the lamp. The Cause cannot reveal its full splendour unless and until it encounters and successfully overcomes the very obstacles that every now and then stand in its way, and for some time appear to threaten its very foundations. Such obstacles, tests and trials are indeed blessings in disguise, and as such are bound to help in promoting the Faith.(31 July 1935 to an individual believer)
287. ...though he has been made truly grieved to learn of the continued and malignant opposition which the enemies of the Cause in ..., and particularly the clerical element, are directing against the believers in that centre. He wishes you, however, to urge the friends not to feel in the least disheartened or discouraged, but to pursue with renewed determination,Page 148
unity and vigour their sacred task of spreading and establishing the Faith, confident in the glorious future awaiting them. The greater the number of persecutions, and the more intense they become in character, the deeper their faith should be in the unique mission entrusted to them by Bahá'u'lláh, and the greater their zeal to help in hastening is complete fulfilment.
This Cause, as every Divine Cause, cannot be effectively established unless it encounters and valiantly triumphs over the forces of opposition with which it is assailed. The history of the Faith is in itself a sufficient proof of that. Trials and persecutions have always been, and will continue to be, the lot of the chosen ones of God. But these they should consider as blessings in disguise, as through them their faith will be quickened, purified and strengthened. Bahá'u'lláh compares such afflictive trials to the oil which feeds the lamp of the Cause of God.
The friends should, therefore, not assume an attitude of mere resignation in the face of persecutions. They should rather welcome them, and utilize them as [a] means for their own spiritual uplift and also for the promotion of the Cause. As the Faith grows stronger and attracts the serious attention and consideration of the world outside, the friends must expect a similar, if not a greater, increase in the forces of opposition which from every direction, both secular and religious, will be massed to undermine the very basis of its existence. The final outcome of such a struggle, which will be surely gigantic, is clear to us believers. A Faith born of God and guided by His Divine and all-pervasive spirit cannot but finally triumph and firmly establish itself, no matter how persistent and insidious the forces with which it has to contend. The friends should be confident, and act with the utmost wisdom and moderation, and should particularly abstain from any provocative act. The future is surely theirs.(24 June 1936 to an individual believer)
288. His fears are rather for those friends who, due to their insufficient realization of the divine power that mysteriously operates in the Faith, are prone to look at such developments as constituting the death-knell of the Cause. In his communications to the ... friends during the last few weeks he has always stressed the fact, and he wishes you to do the same in all your conversations and correspondence with them, that the Cause is bound sooner or later to suffer from all kinds of attacks and persecutions,Page 149
that these in fact constitute the life-blood of its institutions, and as such constitute an inseparable and intrinsic part of its development and growth. Trials and tribulations, as Bahá'u'lláh says, are the oil that feed the lamp of the Cause, and are indeed blessings in disguise. The friends should therefore be confident that all these attacks to which the Cause is now subjected in ... are a necessary part of the development of the Cause, and that their outcome would be beneficial to its best interests.(31 August 1937 to an individual believer)
289. Later on, when the very progress of the Cause on the one hand, and the corresponding decline in ecclesiastical organizations on the other will inevitably incite Christian ecclesiastical leaders to vehemently oppose and undermine the Faith, the believers will then have a real chance to defend and vindicate the Cause....
(25 May 1938 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
290. It seems both strange and pitiful that the Church and clergy should always, in every age, be the most bitter opponents of the very Truth they are continually admonishing their followers to be prepared to receive! They have become so violently attached to the form that the substance itself eludes them!
However, such denunciations as those your minister made publicly against you and the Bahá'í Faith can do no harm to the Cause at all; on the contrary they only serve to spread its name abroad and mark it as an independent religion.(7 February 1945 to an individual believer)
291. It is too bad that some of the Friends have left the Faith due to the pressure of the Church leaders. Of course, it was inevitable that Church leaders would oppose us. The Master has predicted that this would occur; and likewise the very nature of events whereby the Faith grows and develops taking members away from the Church will cause a reaction of the Church against us. We must bear in mind that every attack from the religious leaders in the past has been a means for the development of thePage 150
Faith itself because those who listen to the attacks can't help but be affected by the purity and sincerity of the Faith.(19 June 1957 to an individual believer)
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE:
292. The marvellous victories won in the name of Bahá'u'lláh, ... and the triumphs increasingly being achieved by His dedicated and ardent lovers in every land, will no doubt serve to rouse the internal and external enemies of the Faith to fresh attempts to attack the Faith and dampen the enthusiasm of is supporters...
...the progressive unfoldment and onward march of the Faith of God are bound to raise up adversaries, indubitably foreshadowing the world-wide opposition which is to come, and unequivocally giving the assurance of ultimate victory.
We feel strongly that ... the time has come for them [the friends] to clearly grasp the inevitability of the critical contests which lie ahead, give you their full support in repelling with confidence and determination "the darts" which will be levelled against them by "their present enemies, as well as those whom Providence will, through His mysterious dispensations raise up from within or from without," and aid and enable the Faith of God to scale loftier heights, win more signal triumphs, and traverse more vital stages in is predestined course to complete victory and world-wide ascendancy.
(26 November 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE:
293. ...the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that it is to be expected that books will be written against the Faith attempting to distort is teachings, to denigrate is accomplishments, to vilify is Founders and leaders and to destroy is very foundations. The friends should not be unduly exercised when these books appear and certainly no issue should be made of them.
(30 March 1976 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Hong Kong)Page 151
294. As your teaching and proclamation work progresses there is bound to be more and more confrontation with the older religious institutions in ..., and it is the kind of staunchness evinced by ... which will bring respect to the Cause and attract the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh.
(7 June 1981 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ireland)
295. ...ln these days Bahá'ís can expect the flame of fanaticism to be kindled among the enemies of the Faith in Muslim countries. In meeting attacks the friends should learn to combine the spirit of steadfastness and courage with love and wisdom. They should avoid argument and conflict and conduct themselves in such manner that they do not provoke retaliation. This includes the use of discretion in their teaching activities.
(22 August 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bangladesh)
296. Given the rise in most parts of the world of religious bigotry and fundamentalism, it may be timely for your National Assembly to try to arm the Bahá'ís against such attacks as appear in this book, which is so typical of the approach of Christian churches. Sooner or later, as you know, these churches will rise against the Cause.
[1 "A Guide to Cults and New Religions", John Boykin]
You are therefore requested to consider asking a qualified person or group of persons to prepare suitable materials, perhaps for a booklet, which the friends may use in dealing with misrepresentations of the Bahá'í Teachings by Christians.
(18 October 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
II. "The resistless march of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh (Shoghi Effendi, "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, p. 51)EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH
Say: Tribulation is a horizon unto My Revelation. The day star of grace shineth above it, and sheddeth a light which neither the clouds of men's idle fancy nor the vain imaginations of the aggressor can obscure.
Follow thou the footsteps of thy Lord, and remember His servants even as He doth remember thee, undeterred by either the clamor of thePage 152
heedless ones or the sword of the enemy.... Spread abroad the sweet savors of thy Lord, and hesitate not, though it be for less than a moment, in the service of His Cause. The day is approaching when the victory of thy Lord, the Ever- Forgiving, the Most Bountiful, will be proclaimed.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 17, pp. 42-43)
298. Behold how in this Dispensation the worthless and foolish have fondly imagined that by such instruments as massacre, plunder and banishment they can extinguish the Lamp which the Hand of Divine power hath lit, or eclipse the Day Star of everlasting splendor. How utterly unaware they seem to be of the truth that such adversity is the oil that feedeth the flame of this Lamp! Such is God's transforming power. He changeth whatsoever He willeth; He verily hath power over all things....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, sec. 29, p. 72)
299. Say: The fierce gales and whirlwinds of the world and its peoples can never shake the foundation upon which the rocklike stability of My chosen ones is based. Gracious God! What could have prompted these people to enslave and imprison the loved ones of Him Who is the Eternal Truth? ... The day, however, is approaching when the faithful will behold the Day Star of justice shining in its full splendor from the Day Spring of glory. Thus instructeth thee the Lord of all being in this, His grievous Prison.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 162, pp. 341-342)
300. With every fresh tribulation He manifested a fuller measure of Thy Cause, and exalted more highly Thy word.
("Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), sec. 31, p. 37)
301. Should they attempt to conceal His light on the continent, He will assuredly rear His head in the midmost heart of the ocean and, raising His voice, proclaim: "I am the lifegiver of the world!" ... And if they cast Him into a darksome pit, they will find Him seated on earth's loftiest heights calling aloud to all mankind: "Lo, the Desire of the world is come in His majesty, His sovereignty, His transcendent dominion!" And if He be buried beneath the depths of the earth, His Spirit soaring to the apexPage 153
of heaven shall peal the summons: "Behold ye the coming of the Glory; witness ye the Kingdom of God, the most Holy, the Gracious, the All-Powerful!..."
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", p. 108)
302. At this moment We call to remembrance Our loved ones and bring them the joyous tidings of God's unfailing grace and of the things that have been provided for them in My lucid Book. Ye have tolerated the censure of the enemies for the sake of My love and have steadfastly endured in My Path the grievous cruelties which the ungodly have inflicted upon you. Unto this I Myself bear witness, and I am the All- Knowing. How vast the number of places that have been ennobled with your blood for the sake of God. How numerous the cities wherein the voice of your lamentation hath been raised and the wailing of your anguish uplifted. How many the prisons into which ye have been cast by the hosts of tyranny. Know ye of a certainty that He will render you victorious, will exalt you among the peoples of the world and will demonstrate your high rank before the gaze of all nations. Surely He will not suffer the reward of His favoured ones to be lost.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988), pp. 246-47)
303. Verily God rendereth His Cause victorious at one time through the aid of His enemies and at another by virtue of the assistance of His chosen ones. Concerning those pure and blessed souls, Our Pen of Glory hath revealed that which excelleth the whole world, its treasures and whatsoever existeth therein. Erelong shall the heedless and the doers of wickedness be repaid for that which their hands have wrought.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
304. Whatsoever occurreth in the world of being is light for His loved ones and fire for the people of sedition and strife. Even if all the losses of the world were to be sustained by one of the friends of God, he would still profit thereby, whereas true loss would be borne by such as are wayward,Page 154
ignorant and contemptuous. Although the author of the following saying had intended it otherwise, yet We find it pertinent to the operation of God's immutable Will:
[1 Sa'di, Muslihu'd-Din of Shiraz (d. 691 A.H./1292 A.D.),famed author of the "Gulistan" and other poetical works.]
"Even or odd, thou shalt win the wager." The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. In fire they remain cold, and from water they emerge dry. Their affairs are at variance with the affairs of men. Gain is their lot, whatever the deal. To this testifieth every wise one with a discerning eye, and every fair-minded one with a hearing ear.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS AND UTTERANCES OF 'ABDU'L-BAHÁ
305. The friends of God are supported by the Kingdom on high and they win their victories through the massed armies of the most great guidance. Thus for them every difficulty will be made smooth, every problem will most easily be solved.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 279)
306. Soon will the Western regions become as radiant as the horizons of the East, and the Sun of Truth shine forth with a refulgence that will cause the darkness of error to fade away and vanish. Great is the multitude who will rise up to oppose you, who will oppress you, heap blame upon you, rejoice at your misfortunes, account you people to be shunned, and visit injury upon you; yet shall your heavenly Father confer upon you such spiritual illumination that ye shall become even as the rays of the sun which, as they chase away the sombre clouds, break forth to flood the surface of the earth with light. It is incumbent upon you, whensoever these tests may overtake you, to stand firm, and to be patient and enduring. Instead of repaying like with like, ye should requite opposition with the utmost benevolence and loving-kindness, and on no account attach importance to cruelties and injuries, but rather regard them as the wanton acts of children. For ultimately the radiance of the Kingdom will overwhelm the darkness of the world of being, and the holy, exalted character of your aims will become unmistakably apparent. Nothing shallPage 155
remain concealed: the olive oil, though stored within the deepest vault, shall one day burn in brightness from the lamp atop the beacon. The small shall be made great, and the powerless shall be given strength; they that are of tender age shall become the children of the Kingdom, and those that have gone astray shall be guided to their heavenly home.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
307. Thou hadst written concerning the growth in stature of the Cause of God in thy country. There is no doubt that the Faith of God will progress from day to day in that land, for it will be aided by the strengthening power of the Holy Spirit and the confirmation of the Word of God. Nor is there any doubt that members of the Christian clergy will rise up against it in implacable hostility, wishing to injure and oppress you, and seeking to assail you with doubts; for the spread of the Cause of God will lead to the waning of their fortunes -- as the fortunes of the Pharisees had waned before them -- and entail the loss of the dignity and standing that they now enjoy amongst men.
Reflect upon the time of Jesus and the deeds wrought by the Jewish divines and Pharisees. Such deeds will, in this day, be repeated at the hands of these Christian clergymen. Be not perturbed, however; be firm and constant, for it is certain that a company of souls shall, with infinite love, arise to enter into the Kingdom of God. These souls shall recompense you for the vexations, the humiliations, and disdain to which you are subjected by the clergy: to the injuries inflicted by these latter they shall respond with acts of kindness, until eventually, as the experience of former times hath shown, the children of the Kingdom shall gain the ascendancy, and victory shall be theirs. Rest ye confident of this.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
308. All who stand up in the cause of God will be persecuted and misunderstood. It hath ever been so, and will ever be. Let neither enemy nor friend disturb your composure, destroy your happiness, deter your accomplishment. Rely wholly upon God. Then will persecution and slander make you the more radiant. The designs of your enemies will rebound upon them. They, not you, will suffer.
Oppression is the wind that doth fan the fire of the Love of God. Welcome persecution and bitterness. A soldier may bear arms, but untilPage 156
he hath faced the enemy in battle he hath not earned his place in the king's army. Let nothing defeat you. God is your helper. God is invincible. Be firm in the Heavenly Covenant. Pray for strength. It will be given to you, no matter how difficult the conditions.
("Star of the West", vol. 4, no. 5 (5 June 1913), p. 88 - revised translation)
309. And now, if you act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, you may rest assured that you will be aided and confirmed. You will be rendered victorious in all that you undertake, and all the inhabitants of the earth will be unable to withstand you. You are conquerors, because the power of the Holy Spirit assisteth you. Above and beyond all physical and phenomenal forces, the Holy Spirit itself shall aid you.
("Star of the West", vol. 8. no. 8 (1 August 1917), p. 103 - revised translation)EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF SHOGHI EFENDI:
310. If, in days to come, that land should be overtaken by diverse afflictions and calamities; if, to the rigours of the present times there should be added the outbreak of widespread civil upheavals; if the country's already dark horizons should become still gloomier and more foreboding, you should neither be filled with trepidation and despondency, nor allow yourselves to be deflected, though it be to the extent of a hair's breadth, from that sound and well-considered course that you have been following up till now -- from continuing, in other words, your persistent, tireless, and unremitting labours to increase the number of the Bahá'í administrative institutions, to strengthen their foundations, to enhance the fair name that they enjoy, and to consolidate the respect and standing in which they are held. The release of this innocent and wronged community from the bonds of captivity, and its deliverance from the clutches of the enemy and oppressor, cannot but be accompanied by general commotions and disturbances; likewise the attainment by the people of Baha to a position in which they will enjoy true honour, comfort and tranquillity must inevitably encounter the hostility and resistance, the clamorous opposition and tumultuous protests of all those who harbour enmity and rancour towards them. If, therefore,the troubled waters of the sea of adversity should grow yet morePage 157
turbulent, if the storm of tribulation should increase in vehemence and assail that sore-tried community from all six sides with fresh disasters, then know unhesitatingly and with unwavering conviction, that the hour of deliverance, the appointed time when the promises of old are to reach their glorious fulfilment, has drawn nigh, and that the means for the accomplishment of supreme and overwhelming victory by the hard-pressed followers of the Greatest Name in that land have all been readied and prepared. Fixity of purpose and unfaltering resolution are the qualities that must needs be manifested by the people of Baha if they are successfully to traverse these last remaining stages, and witness, at the highest levels, and in a manner that will fill them with astonishment, the realization of their profoundest hopes and of their most deeply cherished desires. Such is the way of God -- "and no change canst thou find in the way of God".[1 Iran]
(From a letter dated 11 January 1928 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Persia - translated from the Persian)
311. ...it behooves us, while expectantly watching from a distance the moving spectacle of the struggling Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, to seek abiding solace and strength from the reflection that whatever befalls this Cause, however grievous and humiliating the visitations that from time to time may seem to afflict the organic life or interfere with the functions of the administrative machinery of the Bahá'í Faith, such calamities cannot but each eventually prove to be a blessing in disguise designed, by a Wisdom inscrutable to us all, to establish and consolidate the sovereignty of Bahá'u'lláh on this earth.
(From a letter dated 1 January 1929 to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932", p. 164)
312. Numerous and powerful have been the forces that have schemed, both from within and from without, in lands both far and near, to quench its light and abolish its holy name. Some have apostatized from its principles, and betrayed ignominiously its cause. Others have hurled against it the fiercest anathemas which the embittered leaders of any ecclesiastical institution are able to pronounce. Still others have heapedPage 158
upon it the afflictions and humiliations which sovereign authority can alone, in the plentitude of its power, inflict.
The utmost its avowed and secret enemies could hope to achieve was to retard its growth and obscure momentarily its purpose. What they actually accomplished was to purge and purify its life, to stir it to still greater depths, to galvanize its soul, to prune its institutions, and cement its unity. A schism, a permanent cleavage in the vast body of its adherents, they could never create.
They who betrayed its cause, its lukewarm and faint-hearted supporters, withered away and dropped as dead leaves, powerless to cloud its radiance or to imperil its structure. Its most implacable adversaries, they who assailed it from without, were hurled from power, and, in the most astonishing fashion, met their doom. Persia had been the first to repress and oppose it. Its monarchs had miserably fallen, their dynasty had collapsed, their name was execrated, the hierarchy that had been their ally and had propped their declining state, had been utterly discredited. Turkey, which had thrice banished its Founder and inflicted on Him cruel and lifelong imprisonment, had passed through one of the severest ordeals and far-reaching revolutions that its history has recorded, had shrunk from one of the most powerful empires to a tiny Asiatic republic, its Sultanate obliterated, its dynasty overthrown, its Caliphate, the mightiest institution of Islam, abolished.
Meanwhile the Faith that had been the object of such monstrous betrayals, and the target for such woeful assaults, was going from strength to strength, was forging ahead, undaunted and undivided by the injuries it had received. In the midst of trials it had inspired its loyal followers with a resolution that no obstacle, however formidable, could undermine. It had lighted in their hearts a faith that no misfortune, however black, could quench. It had infused into their hearts a hope that no force, however determined, could shatter.
(From a letter dated 11 March 1936 to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters" pp. 195-96)
313. ...every apparent trial with which the unfathomable wisdom of the Almighty deems it necessary to afflict His chosen community serves only to demonstrate afresh its essential solidarity and to consolidate its inward strength...Page 159
For such demonstrations of the interpositions of an ever- watchful Providence they who stand identified with the Community of the Most Great Name must feel eternally grateful. From every fresh token of His unfailing blessing on the one hand, and of His visitation on the other, they cannot but derive immense hope and courage....
Though small in numbers, and circumscribed as yet in your experiences, powers, and resources, yet the Force which energizes your mission is limitless in its range and incalculable in its potency. Though the enemies which every acceleration in the progress of your mission must raise up be fierce, numerous, and unrelenting, yet the invisible Hosts which, if you persevere, must, as promised, rush forth to your aid, will, in the end, enable you to vanquish their hopes and annihilate their forces. Though the ultimate blessings that must crown the consummation of your mission be undoubted, and the Divine promises given you firm and irrevocable, yet the measure of the goodly reward which every one of you is to reap must depend on the extent to which your daily exertions will have contributed to the expansion of that mission and the hastening of its triumph.
(From a letter dated 25 December 1938 to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "The Advent of Divine Justice" p. 2; p. 16)
314. Dear friends! Manifold, various, and at times extremely perilous, have been the tragic crises which the blind hatred, the unbounded presumption, the incredible folly, the abject perfidy, the vaulting ambition of the enemy have intermittently engendered within the pale of the Faith. From some of its most powerful and renowned votaries, at the hands of its once trusted and ablest propagators, champions, and administrators, from the ranks of its most revered and highly-placed trustees whether as companions, amanuenses, or appointed lieutenants of the Herald of the Faith, of its Author, and of the Centre of His Covenant, from even those who were numbered among the kindred of the Manifestation, not excluding the brother, the sons and daughters of Bahá'u'lláh, and the nominee of the Báb Himself, a Faith, of such tender age, and enshrining so priceless a promise, has sustained blows as dire and treacherous as any recorded in the world's religious history.Page 160
From the record of its tumultuous history, almost every page of which portrays a fresh crisis, is laden with the description of a new calamity, recounts the tale of a base betrayal, and is stained with the account of unspeakable atrocities, there emerges, clear and incontrovertible, the supreme truth that with every fresh outbreak of hostility to the Faith, whether from within or from without, a corresponding measure of outpouring grace, sustaining its defenders and confounding its adversaries, has been providentially released, communicating a fresh impulse to the onward march of the Faith, while this impetus, in its turn, would, through its manifestations, provoke fresh hostility in quarters heretofore unaware of its challenging implications -- this increased hostility being accompanied by a still more arresting revelation of Divine Power and a more abundant effusion of celestial grace, which, by enabling the upholders of that Faith to register still more brilliant victories, would thereby generate issues of still more vital import and raise up still more formidable enemies against a Cause that cannot but in the end resolve those issues and crush the resistance of those enemies, through a still more glorious unfoldment of its inherent power.
The resistless march of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, viewed in this light, and propelled by the stimulating influences which the unwisdom of its enemies and the force latent within itself both engender, resolves itself into a series of rhythmic pulsations, precipitated, on the one hand, through the explosive outbursts of its foes, and the vibrations of Divine Power, on the other, which speed it, with ever-increasing momentum, along that predestined course traced for it by the Hand of the Almighty. As opposition to the Faith, from whatever source it may spring, whatever form it may assume, however violent its outbursts, is admittedly the motive-power that galvanizes, on the one hand, the souls of its valiant defenders, and taps for them, on the other, fresh springs of that Divine and inexhaustible Energy, we who are called upon to represent, defend, and promote its interests, should, far from regarding any manifestation of hostility as an evidence of the weakening of the pillars of the Faith, acclaim it as both a God-sent gift and a God-sent opportunity which, if we remain undaunted, we can utilize for the furtherance of His Faith and the routing and complete elimination of its adversaries.
The Heroic Age of the Faith, born in anguish, nursed in adversity, and terminating in trials as woeful as those that greeted its birth, has beenPage 161
succeeded by that Formative Period which is to witness the gradual crystallization of those creative energies which the Faith has released, and the consequent emergence of that World Order for which those forces were made to operate.
Fierce and relentless will be the opposition which this crystallization and emergence must provoke. The alarm it must and will awaken, the envy it will certainly arouse, the misrepresentations to which it will remorselessly be subjected, the set-backs it must, sooner or later, sustain, the commotions to which it must eventually give rise, the fruits it must in the end garner, the blessings it must inevitably bestow and the glorious, the Golden Age it must irresistibly usher in, are just beginning to be faintly perceived, and will, as the old Order crumbles beneath the weight of so stupendous a Revelation, become increasingly apparent and arresting.
(From a letter dated 12 August 1941 to the Bahá'ís of America, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946, pp. 50-52)
315. We can discover a no less distinct gradation in the character of the opposition it has had to encounter ... an opposition which, now, through the rise of a divinely appointed Order in the Christian West, and its initial impact on civil and ecclesiastical institutions, bids fair to include among its supporters established governments and systems associated with the most ancient, the most deeply entrenched sacerdotal hierarchies in Christendom. We can, at the same time, recognize, through the haze of an ever- widening hostility, the progress, painful yet persistent, of certain communities within its pale through the stages of obscurity, of proscription, of emancipation, and of recognition -- stages that must needs culminate in the course of succeeding centuries, in the establishment of the Faith, and the founding, in the plenitude of its power and authority, of the world-embracing Bahá'í Commonwealth.......
Despite the blows leveled at its nascent strength, whether by the wielders of temporal and spiritual authority from without, or by black-hearted foes from within, the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh had, far from breaking or bending, gone from strength to strength, from victory to victory. Indeed its history, if read aright, may be said to resolve itself intoPage 162
a series of pulsations, of alternating crises and triumphs, leading it ever nearer to its divinely appointed destiny....
The tribulations attending the progressive unfoldment of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh have indeed been such as to exceed in gravity those from which the religions of the past have suffered. Unlike those religions, however, these tribulations have failed utterly to impair its unity, or to create, even temporarily, a breach in the ranks of its adherents. It has not only survived these ordeals, but has emerged, purified and inviolate, endowed with greater capacity to face and surmount any crisis which its resistless march may engender in the future.
Whatever may befall this infant Faith of God in future decades or in succeeding centuries, whatever the sorrows, dangers and tribulations which the next stage in its world- wide development may engender, from whatever quarter the assaults to be launched by its present or future adversaries may be unleashed against it, however great the reverses and setbacks it may suffer, we, who have been privileged to apprehend, to the degree our finite minds can fathom, the significance of these marvelous phenomena associated with its rise and establishment, can harbor no doubt that what it has already achieved in the first hundred years of its life provides sufficient guarantee that it will continue to forge ahead, capturing loftier heights, tearing down every obstacle, opening up new horizons and winning still mightier victories until its glorious mission, stretching into the dim ranges of time that lie ahead, is totally fulfilled.
("God Passes By", Foreward p. xvii; p. 409; p.410; p. 412)
316. Such reflections, far from engendering in our minds and hearts the slightest trace of perplexity, of discouragement or doubt, should reinforce the basis of our convictions, demonstrate to us the incorruptibility, the strange workings and the invincibility of a Faith which, despite the assaults which malignant and redoubtable enemies from the ranks of kings, princes and ecclesiastics have repeatedly launched against it, and the violent internal tests that have shaken it for more than a century, and the relative obscurity of its champions, and the unpropitiousness of the times and the perversity of the generations contemporaneous with its rise and growth, has gone from strength to strength, has preserved its unity and integrity, has diffused its light overPage 163
five continents, reared the institutions of its Administrative Order and spread its ramifications to the four corners of the earth, and launched its systematic campaigns in both the Western and Eastern Hemispheres.
For such benefits, for such an arresting and majestic vindication of the undefeatable powers inherent in our precious Faith, we can but bow our heads in humility, awe and thanksgiving, renew our pledge of fealty to it, and, each covenanting in his own heart, resolve to prove faithful to that pledge, and persevere to the very end, until our earthly share of servitude to so transcendent and priceless a Cause has been totally and completely fulfilled.
(From a letter dated 15 June 1946 to the Bahá'ís of America, published "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946", p. 104)
317. Indeed this fresh ordeal that has, in pursuance of the mysterious dispensations of Providence, afflicted the Faith, at this unexpected hour, far from dealing a fatal blow to its institutions or existence, should be regarded as a blessing in disguise, not a "calamity" but a "providence" of God, not a devastating flood but a "gentle rain" on a "green pasture," a "wick" and "oil" unto the "lamp" of His Faith, a "nurture" for His Cause, "water for that which has been planted in the hearts of men," a "crown set on the head" of His Messenger for this Day.
[1 "The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh", Arabic no. 51, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 15 "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 1]
Whatever its outcome, this sudden commotion that has seized the Bahá'í world, that has revived the hopes and emboldened the host of the adversaries of the Faith intent on quenching its light and obliterating it from the face of the earth, has served as a trumpet call in the sounding of which the press of the world, the cries of its vociferous enemies, the public remonstrances of both men of good will and those in authority have joined, proclaiming far and wide its existence, publicizing its history, defending its verities, unveiling its truths, demonstrating the character of its institutions and advertising its aims and purposes.Page 164
For though the newly launched World Spiritual Crusade -- constituting at best only the Minor Plan in the execution of the Almighty's design for the redemption of mankind -- has, as a result of this turmoil paralyzing temporarily the vast majority of the organized followers of Bahá'u'lláh within His birthplace, suffered a severe setback, yet the over-all Plan of God, moving mysteriously and in contrast to the orderly and well-known processes of a clearly devised Plan, has received an impetus the force of which only posterity can adequately assess.
(In a letter dated 20 August 1954 to the Bahá'ís of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", pp. 139-40)
318. However severe their trials, and disheartening the present situation may appear, they must remember that the Faith to which they owe allegiance has weathered, not so very long ago, storms of a far greater severity that seemed, at times, capable of engulfing and of obliterating its nascent institutions. The newly planted sapling of a divinely conceived administrative order, having driven deep its roots in German soil, bent momentarily under the hurricane which so violently swept over it, and no sooner had the tempest spent its force than it righted itself, and, growing with a fresh vigour, put forth branches and offshoots that now overshadow the entire land, and even stretch out as far as the heart of Austria.
The experience of so miraculous a recovery from so devastating an ordeal should, alone, prove sufficient to infuse an invigorating spirit into those who have been subjected to it, as well as into the new generation who are still close enough to those events to appreciate its extreme violence, such as will not only enable them to withstand onslaughts of still greater severity, but impel them, both young and old, men and women alike, to struggle, with redoubled vigour and deeper consecration, to meet the pressing and the manifold requirements of the present hour.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 14 August 1957 written on his behalf to a National Spiritual Assembly, in "The Light of Divine Guidance, vol. 1 (Hofheim-Langenhain: Baha'i-Verlag GmbH, 1982), pp. 303-304)Page 165
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI:
319. There is always an important difference between friends and tested friends. No matter how precious the first type may be, the future of the Cause rests upon the latter. Up to the present the German friends were considered as loving Baha'is, from now on they can be ranked as tested ones.
In every country where such difficulties arise, they generally end with added energy and more intensive service of the Cause....
(4 April 1930 to an individual believer, published in "The Light of Divine Guidance", vol. 1, pp. 34-35)
320. The friends . . . should not feel bewildered, for they have the assurance of Bahá'u'lláh that whatever the nature and character of the forces of opposition facing His Cause, its eventual triumph is indubitably certain.(30 August 1937 to an individual believer)
321. Let them know, however, for a certainty that the onslaught of both the disbeliever and the oppressor will become a means of promulgating this Divine Cause, of proclaiming the Word of God and of consolidating the foundations of His holy Faith; and that its enemies will ultimately be completely overwhelmed, that the Cause of God will emerge victorious, and that His Word will reign supreme.
(21 October 1946 to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
322. He very deeply appreciates your Assembly's assurance of its abiding loyalty to him and to the Master's Will and Testament. As you can well imagine this disaffection of the Master's Family has been a very sad and heavy blow to him; but, although for many years he shielded them with his silence, in the end he was forced to speak out in order to protect the Faith. For a hundred years our beloved Cause has suffered from these internal afflictions, and the way the believers, generation after generation, have met this test with steadfast faith, loyalty and devotion, is one of the signs that this is the Cause of God, divinely protected through the Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master.
(30 June 1949 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, published in "The Light of Divine Guidance", vol. 1, p. 149)Page 166
323. He urges you not to be discouraged or depressed, but rest assured that Bahá'u'lláh will assist you. Every set- back this Cause receives is invariably a means of ensuring a future victory, for God will never permit His Faith to be put out or uprooted.
(From a letter dated 26 January 1950 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Panama)
324. Although this may temporarily prove an embarrassment to your work, and a set-back, there is no doubt that it signalizes a step forward in the advance of the Faith; for we know that our beloved Faith must eventually clash with the entrenched orthodoxies of the past; and that this conflict cannot but lead to greater victories, and to ultimate emancipation, recognition and ascendancy.
(From a letter dated 8 April 1951 to two believers)
325. The Faith is moving at a tremendous rate, and with tremendous force at the present time. Certainly if it is suppressed in one place, the power of the Cause is such that it must rise with greater strength in another place; and thus the persecutions of the Persian Bahá'ís have caused the Faith to surge ahead in Africa. This certainly must be a solace to the suffering of the Bahá'ís of Persia.
(From a letter dated 26 September 1955 to an individual believer)
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE:
326. It should not be surmised that the events which have taken place in all corners of the globe, including the sacred land of Iran, have occurred as isolated incidents without any aim and purpose. According to the words of our beloved Guardian, "The invisible hand is at work and the convulsions taking place on earth are a prelude to the proclamation of the Cause of God". This is but one of the mysterious forces of this supreme Revelation which is causing the limbs of mankind to quake and those who are drunk with pride and negligence to be thunderstruck and shaken....
In such an afflicted time, when mankind is bewildered and the wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Baha, who have confidence in His unfailing grace and divine guidance, are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definitePage 167
result, and all are essential instruments for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth. In other words, on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of His loving guidance are, in this Formative Age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic-stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.
(10 February 1980 to the Iranian believers resident in other countries throughout the world)
327. The inveterate enemies of the Faith imagine that their persecutions will disrupt the foundations of the Faith and tarnish its glory. Alas! Alas for their ignorance and folly! These acts of oppression, far from weakening the resolve of the friends, have always served to inflame their zeal and galvanize their beings. In the words of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, "...they thought that violence and interference would cause extinction and silence and lead to suppression and oblivion; whereas interference in matters of conscience causes stability and firmness and attracts the attention of men's sight and souls, which fact has received experimental proof many times and often."
Every drop of blood shed by the valiant martyrs, every sigh heaved by the silent victims of oppression, every supplication for divine assistance offered by the faithful, has released, and will continue mysteriously to release, forces over which no antagonist of the Faith has any control, and which, as marshalled by an All-Watchful Providence, have served to noise abroad the name and fame of the Faith to the masses of humanity in all continents, millions of whom had previously been totally ignorant of the existence of the Faith or had but a superficial, and oft- times erroneous, understanding of its teachings and history.
The current persecution has resulted in bringing the name and character of our beloved Faith to the attention of the world as neverPage 168
before in its history. As a direct result of the protests sent by the world-wide community of the Most Great Name to the rulers in Iran, of the representations made to the media when those protests were ignored, of direct approach by Bahá'í institutions at national and international level to governments, communities of nations, international agencies and the United Nations itself, the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has not only been given sympathetic attention in the world's councils, but also its merits and violated rights have been discussed and resolutions of protest sent to the Iranian authorities by sovereign governments, singly and in unison. The world's leading newspapers, followed by the local press, have presented sympathetic accounts of the Faith to millions of readers, while television and radio stations are increasingly making the persecutions in Iran the subject of their programmes. Commercial publishing houses are beginning to commission books about the Faith....
Indeed, this new wave of persecution sweeping the Cradle of the Faith may well be seen as a blessing in disguise, a "providence" whose "calamity" is, as always, borne heroically by the beloved Persian community. It may be regarded as the latest move in God's Major Plan, another trumpet blast to awaken the heedless from their slumber and a golden opportunity offered to the Bahá'ís to demonstrate once again their unity and fellowship before the eyes of a declining and skeptical world, to proclaim with full force the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to high and low alike, to establish the reverence of our Faith for Islam and its Prophet, to assert the principles of non-interference in political activities and obedience to government which stand at the very core of our Faith, and to provide comfort and solace to the breasts of the serene sufferers and steadfast heroes in the forefront of a persecuted community....(26 January 1982 to the Bahá'ís of the World)
328. Shoghi Effendi perceived in the organic life of the Cause a dialectic of victory and crisis. The unprecedented triumphs, generated by the adamantine steadfastness of the Iranian friends, will inevitably provoke opposition to test and increase our strength. Let every Bahá'í in the world be assured that whatever may befall this growing Faith of God is but incontrovertible evidence of the loving care with which the King of Glory and His martyred Herald, through the incomparable Centre of HisPage 169
Covenant and our beloved Guardian, are preparing His humble followers for ultimate and magnificent triumph....(2 January 1986 to the Bahá'ís of the World)
329. The opening of that Plan coincided with the recrudescence of savage persecution of the Bahá'í community in Iran, a deliberate effort to eliminate the Cause of God from the land of its birth. The heroic steadfastness of the Persian friends has been the mainspring of tremendous international attention focussed on the Cause, eventually bringing it to the agenda of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and, together with world-wide publicity in all the media, accomplishing its emergence from the obscurity which characterized and sheltered the first period of its life. This dramatic process impelled the Universal House of Justice to address a Statement on Peace to the Peoples of the World and arrange for its delivery to Heads of State and the generality of the rulers.(Ridvan 1986 to the Bahá'ís of the World)
III. "The security of our precious Faith..." (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957", p. 123)EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH:
330. ..."Say: O people of God! Beware lest the powers of the earth alarm you, or the might of the nations weaken you, or the tumult of the people of discord deter you, or the exponents of earthly glory sadden you. Be ye as a mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained." "Say: Beware, O people of Baha, lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will, through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of omnipotent might."
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 82)
331. It is incumbent upon all men, each according to his ability, to refute the arguments of those that have attacked the Faith of God. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the All-Powerful, the Almighty. He thatPage 170
wisheth to promote the Cause of the one true God, let him promote it through his pen and tongue, rather than have recourse to sword or violence.... If any man were to arise to defend, in his writings, the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man, however inconsiderable his share, shall be so honored in the world to come that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can depict the loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe its splendor. For whosoever standeth firm and steadfast in this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power shall be given him as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh" sec. 154, pp.329-30)
332. We exhort the men of the House of Justice and command them to ensure the protection and safeguarding of men, women and children. It is incumbent upon them to have the utmost regard for the interests of the people at all times and under all conditions. Blessed is the ruler who succoureth the captive, and the rich one who careth for the poor, and the just one who secureth from the wrong doer the rights of the downtrodden, and happy the trustee who observeth that which the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days hath prescribed unto him.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas" pp. 69-70)
333. And likewise, He saith: "Say to them that are of a fearful heart: be strong, fear not, behold your God." This blessed verse is a proof of the greatness of the Revelation, and of the greatness of the Cause, inasmuch as the blast of the trumpet must needs spread confusion throughout the world, and fear and trembling amongst all men. Well is it with him who hath been illumined with the light of trust and detachment. The tribulations of that Day will not hinder or alarm him. Thus hath the Tongue of Utterance spoken, as bidden by Him Who is the All-Merciful. He, verily, is the Strong, the All-Powerful, the All-Subduing, the Almighty....[1 Isaiah 35:4]
334. You should exhort all the friends to patience, to acquiescence, and to tranquillity, saying: O ye loved ones of God in that land! Ye are glorified in all the worlds of God because of your relationship to Him Who is the Eternal Truth, but in your lives on this earthly plane, which pass away as a fleeting moment, ye are afflicted with abasement. For the sake of the one true God, ye have been reviled and persecuted, ye have been imprisoned, and surrendered your lives in His path. Ye should not, however, by reason of the tyrannical acts of some heedless souls, transgress the limits of God's commandments by contending with anyone.
Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt. You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt. No father will surrender his sons to devouring beasts; no shepherd will leave his flock to ravening wolves. He will most certainly do his utmost to protect his own.
If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God's all- encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one's cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter. Our intent is that all the friends should fix their gaze on the Supreme Horizon, and cling to that which hath been revealed in the Tablets. They should strictly avoid sedition, and refrain from treading the path of dissension and strife. They should champion their one true God, exalted be He, through the hosts of forbearance, of submission, of an upright character, of goodly deeds, and of the choicest and most refined words.
("The Bahá'í World" vol. XVIII (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1986) pp. 10-11)EXTRACTS FROM THE Writings OF 'ABDU'L-BAHÁ:
335. O army of God! When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 74)Page 172
336. Wherefore must the loved ones of God, laboriously, with the waters of their striving, tend and nourish and foster this tree of hope. In whatsoever land they dwell, let them with a whole heart befriend and be companions to those who are either close to them, or far removed. Let them, with qualities like unto those of heaven, promote the institutions and the religion of God. Let them never lose heart, never be despondent, never feel afflicted. The more antagonism they meet, the more let them show their own good faith; the more torments and calamities they have to face, the more generously let them pass round the bounteous cup. Such is the spirit which will become the life of the world, such is the spreading light at its heart: and he who may be and do other than this is not worthy to serve at the Holy Threshold of the Lord.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 258)