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Compiled by: The Research Department of the Universal House of JusticeEXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF Bahá'u'lláh:
818. 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 His praise glorified.
("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)
819. The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please.
(Translated from the Persian, published in "Bahá'í Education", compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 4)
820. We have enjoined upon every son to serve his father. Thus have We decreed this command in the Book.
(From "Questions & Answers" - translated from the Arabic)
821. The fruits of the tree of existence are trustworthiness, loyalty, truthfulness and purity. After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one's parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God...
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)
822. Blessed is the house that hath attained unto My tender mercy, wherein My remembrance is celebrated, and which is ennobled by thePage 386
presence of My loved ones, who have proclaimed My praise, cleaved fast to the cord of My grace and been honoured by chanting My verses. Verily they are the exalted servants whom God hath extolled in the Qayyumu'l-Asma' and other scriptures. Verily He is the All-Hearing, the Answerer, He Who perceiveth all things.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
823. These blessed words were uttered by the Tongue of
Grandeur in the Land of Mystery, exalted and glorified isHis utterance:
One of the distinguishing characteristics of this most great Dispensation is that the kin of such as have recognized and embraced the truth of this Revelation and have, in the glory of His name, the Sovereign Lord, quaffed the choice, sealed wine from the chalice of the love of the one true God, will, upon their death, if they are outwardly non-believers, be graciously invested with divine forgiveness and partake of the ocean of His Mercy.
This bounty, however, will be vouchsafed only to such souls as have inflicted no harm upon Him Who is the Sovereign Truth nor upon His loved ones. Thus hath it been ordained by Him Who is the Lord of the Throne on High and the Ruler of this world and of the world to come.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
824. We have caused thee to return to thy home as a token of Our mercy unto thy mother, inasmuch as We have found her overwhelmed with sorrow. We have enjoined you in the Book "to worship no one but God and to show kindness to your parents". Thus hath the one true God spoken and the decree hath been fulfilled by the Almighty, the All-Wise. Therefore We have caused thee to return unto her and unto thy sister, that your mother's eyes may thereby be cheered, and she may be of the thankful.[1 Quran 46:15.]
Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.Page 387
When We learned of her sadness, We directed thee to return unto her, as a token of mercy unto thee from Our presence, and as an admonishment for others.
Beware lest ye commit that which would sadden the hearts of your fathers and mothers. Follow ye the path of Truth which indeed is a straight path. Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them, choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee. Observe therefore that which thy Lord, the Mighty, the Gracious, hath prescribed unto thee.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
825. It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: "Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!" Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved.
("Selections from the Writings of The Báb", [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 94)
826. O my God! Let the outpourings of Thy bounty and blessings descend upon homes whose inmates have embraced Thy Faith, as a token of Thy grace and as a mark of loving- kindness from Thy presence....
("Selections from the Writings of The Báb", p. 200)EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF `Abdu'l-Bahá:
827. As to the terminology I used in my letter, bidding thee to consecrate thyself to service in the Cause of God, the meaning of it is this: limit thy thoughts to teaching the Faith. Act by day and night according to the teachings and counsels and admonitions of Bahá'u'lláh. This doth not preclude marriage. Thou canst take unto thyself a husband and at the same time serve the Cause of God; the one doth not preclude the other. Know thou the value of these days; let not this chance escape thee. Beg thou God to make thee a lighted candle, so that thou mayest guide a great multitude through this darksome world.Page 388
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 100)
828. Marriage, among the mass of the people, is a physical bond, and this union can only be temporary, since it is foredoomed to a physical separation at the close.
Among the people of Baha, however, marriage must be a union of the body and of the spirit as well, for here both husband and wife are aglow with the same wine, both are enamoured of the same matchless Face, both live and move through the same spirit, both are illumined by the same glory. This connection between them is a spiritual one, hence it is a bond that will abide forever. Likewise do they enjoy strong and lasting ties in the physical world as well, for if the marriage is based both on the spirit and the body, that union is a true one, hence it will endure. If, however, the bond is physical and nothing more, it is sure to be only temporary, and must inexorably end in separation.
When, therefore, the people of Bahá undertake to marry, the union must be a true relationship, a spiritual coming together as well as a physical one, so that throughout every phase of life, and in all the worlds of God, their union will endure; for this real oneness is a gleaming out of the love of God.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 117)
829. Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity....
The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Bahá'í marriage.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 118)Page 389
830. And above all other unions is that between human
beings, especially when it cometh to pass in the love of
God. Thus is the primal oneness made to appear; thus is laidthe foundation of love in the spirit....
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 119)
831. Thy wife is not in harmony with thee, but praise be to God, the Blessed Beauty is pleased with thee and is conferring upon thee the utmost bounty and blessings. But still try to be patient with thy wife, perchance she may be transformed and her heart may be illumined....
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 121)
832. As to thy respected husband: it is incumbent upon thee to treat him with great kindness, to consider his wishes and be conciliatory with him at all times, till he seeth that because thou hast directed thyself toward the Kingdom of God, thy tenderness for him and thy love for God have but increased, as well as thy concern for his wishes under all conditions.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 122)
833. O ye two believers in God! The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other.
If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm. Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 122)
834. O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God's sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 139)Page 390
835. O dear one of `Abdu'l-Bahá! Be the son of thy father and be the fruit of that tree. Be a son that hath been born of his soul and heart and not only of water and clay. A real son is such one as hath branched from the spiritual part of man. I ask God that thou mayest be at all times confirmed and strengthened.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", p. 140)
836. Note ye how easily, where unity existeth in a given family, the affairs of that family are conducted; what progress the members of that family make, how they prosper in the world. their concerns are in order, they enjoy comfort and tranquility, they are secure, their position is assured, they come to be envied by all. Such a family but addeth to its stature and its lasting honour, as day succeedeth day...
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abu'l-Baha", p. 279)
837. Comfort thy mother and endeavour to do what is conducive to the happiness of her heart....
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, "Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 1 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930), p, 74)
838. Deliver my longings and greetings to the consolation of thine eye,... Verily I love them both even as a compassionate father loveth his dear children. As to thee, have for them an abundant love and exert thine utmost in training them, so that their being may grow through the milk of the love of God, forasmuch as it is the duty of parents to perfectly and thoroughly train their children.
[1 "Consolation of thine eye" - idiomatic Persian expression meaning "son".]
There are also certain sacred duties on children toward parents, which duties are written in the Book of God, as belonging to God. The [children's] prosperity in this world and the Kingdom depends upon the good pleasure of parents, and without this they will be in manifest loss.
("Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 2 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930), pp. 262-63)
839. As to thy question concerning the husband and wife, the tie between them and the children given to them by God: Know thou, verily, thePage 391
husband is one who hath sincerely turned unto God, is awakened by the call of the Beauty of El-Bahá and chanteth the verses of Oneness in the great assemblies; the wife is a being who wisheth to be overflowing with and seeketh after the attributes of God and His names; and the tie between them is none other than the Word of God. Verily, it [the Word of God] causeth the multitudes to assemble together and the remote ones to be united. Thus the husband and wife are brought into affinity, are united and harmonized, even as though they were one person. Through their mutual union, companionship and love great results are produced in the world, both material and spiritual. The spiritual result is the appearance of divine bounties. The material result is the children who are born in the cradle of the love of God, who are nurtured by the breast of the knowledge of God, who are brought up in the bosom of the gift of God, and who are fostered in the lap of the training of God. Such children are those of whom it was said by Christ, "Verily, they are the children of the Kingdom!"
("Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 3 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930), pp. 605-6)
840. The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves, and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love between husband and wife must not be purely physical, nay, rather, it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!
In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife....(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
841. You have asked whether a husband would be able to prevent his wife from embracing the divine light or a wife dissuade her husband from gaining entry into the Kingdom of God. In truth neither of them could prevent the other from entering into the Kingdom, unless the husband hath an excessive attachment to the wife or the wife to the husband. Indeed when either of the two worshippeth the other to the exclusion ofPage 392
God, then each could prevent the other from seeking admittance into His Kingdom.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
842. I beseech God to graciously make of thy home a centre for the diffusion of the light of divine guidance, for the dissemination of the Words of God and for enkindling at all times the fire of love in the hearts of His faithful servants and maidservants. Know thou of a certainty that every house wherein the anthem of praise is raised to the Realm of Glory in celebration of the Name of God is indeed a heavenly home, and one of the gardens of delight in the Paradise of God.(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)
843. If thou wouldst show kindness and consideration to thy parents so that they may feel generally pleased, this would also please Me, for parents must be highly respected and it is essential that they should feel contented, provided they deter thee not from gaining access to the Threshold of the Almighty, nor keep thee back from walking in the way of the Kingdom. Indeed it behoveth them to encourage and spur thee on in this direction.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
844. O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind!(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
845. Treat all thy friends and relatives, even strangers, with a spirit of utmost love and kindliness.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
846. Exert yourselves, that haply ye may be enabled to acquire such virtues as shall honour and distinguish you amongst all women. Of a surety, there is no greater pride and glory for a woman than to be a handmaid in God's Court of Grandeur; and the qualities that shall merit her this station are an alert and wakeful heart; a firm conviction of the unity of God, the Peerless; a heartfelt love for all His maidservants; spotless purity and chastity; obedience to and consideration for her husband; attention to the education and nurturing of her children; composure, calmness, dignity and self-possession; diligence in praising God, and worshipping Him both night and day; constancy and firmness in His holy Covenant; and the utmost ardour, enthusiasm, and attachment to His Cause....(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
847. 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)
848. Your affectionate brother hath written and mentioned your names, and hath highly praised and commended you. Observe how drawn he is to you, and how he loveth you. Thus should a brother be, so affectionate and soul- uplifting, unlike `Abdu'l-Bahá'í brother, who is more bitter than venom.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
849. The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instil into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.Page 394
The son, on the other hand, must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
850. Hold thy husband dear and always show forth an amiable temper towards him, no matter how ill-tempered he may be. Even if thy loving-kindness maketh him more bitter, manifest thou more kindliness, more tenderness, be more loving and tolerate his cruel actions and ill- treatment.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
851. The variety of inherited qualities comes from strength and weakness of constitution -- that is to say, when the two parents are weak, the children will be weak; if they are strong, the children will be robust. In the same way, purity of blood has a great effect; for the pure germ is like the superior stock which exists in plants and animals. For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.
Besides this, an especial blessing is conferred on some families and some generations. Thus it is an especial blessing that from among the descendants of Abraham should have come all the Prophets of the children of Israel. This is a blessing that God has granted to this descent: to Moses from His father and mother, to Christ from His mother's line; also to Muhammad and The Báb, and to all the Prophets and the HolyPage 395
Manifestations of Israel. The Blessed Beauty is also a lineal descendant of Abraham, for Abraham had other sons besides Ishmael and Isaac who in those days migrated to the lands of Persia and Afghanistan, and the Blessed Beauty is one of their descendants.[1 Bahá'u'lláh.]
Hence it is evident that inherited character also exists, and to such a degree that if the characters are not in conformity with their origin, although they belong physically to that lineage, spiritually they are not considered members of the family, like Canaan, who is not reckoned as being of the race of Noah.[1 Cf. Gen. 9:25.]
("Some Answered Questions", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 213)
852. Also a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for their children; and often when the children have reached the age of maturity, the parents pass on to the other world. Rarely does it happen that a father and mother in this world see the reward of the care and trouble they have undergone for their children. Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence, and must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents. So you ought, in return for the love and kindness shown you by your father, to give to the poor for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy.("Some Answered Questions", pp. 231-32)
853. If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it, destruction and dispersion are inevitable....
("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. 144-45)
854. According to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh the family, being a human unit, must be educated according to the rules of sanctity. All the virtues must be taught the family. The integrity of the family bond must bePage 396
constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother -- none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father, the father, likewise, has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be conserved, yet the unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all.
("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by `Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912", p. 168)
855. The child must not be oppressed or censured because it is undeveloped; it must be patiently trained....
("The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by `Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912" pp. 180-81)
856. When you love a member of your family or a compatriot, let it be with a ray of the Infinite Love! Let it be in God, and for God! Wherever you find the attributes of God love that person, whether he be of your family or of another....
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by `Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912" 10th ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 38)
857. This is in truth a Bahá'í house. Every time such a house or meeting place is founded it becomes one of the greatest aids to the general development of the town and country to which it belongs. It encourages the growth of learning and science and is known for its intense spirituality and for the love it spreads among the peoples.
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by `Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912" pp. 72-73)
858. Consider the harmful effects of discord and dissension in a family; then reflect upon the favours and blessings which descend upon that family when unity exists among its various members. What incalculable benefits and blessings would descend upon the great human family if unity and brotherhood were established! In this century when thePage 397
beneficent results of unity and the ill effects of discord are so clearly apparent, the means for the attainment and accomplishment of human fellowship have appeared in the world. His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed and provided the way by which hostility and dissension may be removed from the human world. He has left no ground or possibility for strife and disagreement. First He has proclaimed the oneness of mankind and specialized religious teachings for existing human conditions.
(From a Tablet, published in "Star of the West" vol. 17, no. 7, (October 1926), p. 232)
859. My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whosoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined....
(From a Tablet, published in "Star of the West", vol. 9, no. 3, (28 April 1918), p. 40)
860. It is highly important for man to raise a family. So long as he is young, because of youthful self-complacency, he does not realize its significance, but this will be a source of regret when he grows old.... In this glorious Cause the life of a married couple should resemble the life of the angels in heaven -- a life full of joy and spiritual delight, a life of unity and concord, a friendship both mental and physical. The home should be orderly and well-organized. Their ideas and thoughts should be like the rays of the sun of truth and the radiance of the brilliant stars in the heavens. Even as two birds they should warble melodies upon the branches of the tree of fellowship and harmony. They should always be elated with joy and gladness and be a source of happiness to the hearts of others. They should set an example to their fellow-men, manifest a true and sincere love towards each other and educate their children in such a manner as to blazon the fame and glory of their family.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN BY SHOGHI EFFENDI TO INDIVIDUAL BELIEVES:
861. I urge you to concentrate for a time upon whatever means you think will eventually secure the good-will, tolerance and sympathy of your husband. Show him the utmost kindness and consideration, and try, at the opportune moment to make him realize the purpose and spirit of the Faith. I will pray for the success of your efforts in this connection and wish you happiness from all my heart.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 20 March 1928 written on his behalf to an individual believer)
862. I cannot refrain, out of my great love and sympathy for you, from adding a few words myself in order to impress upon you the necessity of showing continually the utmost regard, consideration and love to your dear and respected husband. I have great hopes that upon your attitude, and consideration for him will chiefly depend his ultimate acceptance of the Cause which you love so dearly and serve so well. My profound sympathy is with you in your domestic cares which I know weigh heavily on your heart. I will continue to supplicate for you from the very depths of my heart. I pray that you may achieve in your manifold activities your heart's fondest desire.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 20 December 1928 written on his behalf to an individual believer)
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI:
The following are from letters to individual believers unless otherwise stated
863. When such difference of opinion and belief occurs between husband and wife it is very unfortunate for undoubtedly it detracts from that spiritual bond which is the stronghold of the family bond, especially in times of difficulty. The way, however, that it could be remedied is not by acting in such wise as to alienate the other party. One of the objects of the Cause is actually to bring about a closer bond in the homes. In all such cases, therefore, the Master used to advise obedience to the wishes of the other party and prayer. Pray that your husband may gradually see the light and at the same time so act as to draw him nearer rather thanPage 399
prejudice him. Once that harmony is secured then you will be able to serve unhampered.(15 July 1928)
864. Under such circumstances the Master used to ask the friends to be lavish in their love and become exceptionally obedient to their husbands. Such individuals have to see through acts that the Cause has not come to break up family ties but to strengthen them; it has not come to eliminate love but to strengthen it; it has not been created to weaken social institutions but to strengthen them.(14 October 1928)
865. Surely Shoghi Effendi would like to see you and the other friends give their whole time and energy to the Cause, for we are in great need for competent workers, but the home is an institution that Bahá'u'lláh has come to strengthen and not to weaken. Many unfortunate things have happened in Bahá'í homes just for neglecting this point. Serve the Cause but also remember your duties towards your home. It is for you to find the balance and see that neither makes you neglect the other. We would have many more husbands in the Cause were the wives more thoughtful and moderate in their Bahá'í activities.(14 May 1929)
866. A truly Bahá'í home is a true fortress upon which the Cause can rely while planning its campaigns. If ... and ... love each other and would like to marry, Shoghi Effendi does not wish them to think that by doing so they are depriving themselves of the privilege of service; in fact such a union will enhance their ability to serve. There is nothing more beautiful than to have young Bahá'ís marry and found truly Bahá'í homes, the type Bahá'u'lláh wishes them to be. Please give them both the Guardian's loving greetings.(6 November 1932)
867. A God that is only loving or only just is not a perfect God. The Divinity has to possess both of these aspects as every father ought to express both in his attitude towards his children. If we ponder a while, we will see thatPage 400
our welfare can be ensured only when both of these divine attributes are equally emphasized and practised.(29 April 1933)
868. There is no limit to our offerings to the Temple. The more we give, the better it is for the Cause and for ourselves. But your case is a special one, since your husband is not a believer. If you can succeed in convincing him of the importance of your donations to the Cause, so much the better. But you should never oppose him on this matter and allow anything [to] disturb the peace and unity of your family life....(21 September 1933)
869. The Guardian wishes me specially to urge you to remain patient and confident, and above all to show your husband the utmost kindness and love, in return for all the opposition and hatred you receive from him. A conciliatory and friendly attitude in such cases is not only the duty of every Bahá'í but is also the most effective way of winning for the Cause the sympathy and admiration of its former foes and enemies. Love is, indeed, a most potent elixir that can transform the vilest and meanest of people into heavenly souls. May your example serve to further confirm the truth of this beautiful teaching of our Faith.(6 December 1935)
870. The Guardian ... has learned with deep concern of your family difficulties and troubles. He wishes me to assure you of his fervent prayers on your behalf and on behalf of your dear ones at home, that you may be guided and assisted from on High to compose your differences and to restore complete harmony and fellowship in your midst. While he would urge you to make any sacrifice in order to bring about unity in your family, he wishes you not to feel discouraged if your endeavours do not yield any immediate fruit. You should do your part with absolute faith that in doing so you are fulfilling your duty as a Baha'i. The rest is assuredly in God's hand.
As regards your husband's attitude towards the Cause: unfriendly though that may be you should always hope that, through conciliatory and friendly means, and with wise, tactful and patient effort you can gradually succeed in winning his sympathy for the Faith. Under noPage 401
circumstances should you try to dictate and impose upon him by force your personal religious convictions. Neither should you allow his opposition to the Cause [to] seriously hinder your activities... You should act patiently, tactfully and with confidence that your efforts are being guided and reinforced by Bahá'u'lláh.(23 July 1937)
871. It made him very happy to know of the recent confirmation of your ... friend, and of her earnest desire to serve and promote the Faith. He will certainly pray on her behalf that she may, notwithstanding the opposition of her parents and relatives, increasingly gain in knowledge and in understanding of the Teachings, and become animated with such zeal as to arise, and bring into the Cause a large number of her former co-religionists.
Under no circumstances, however, should she allow her parents to become completely alienated from her, but it is her bounden duty to strive, through patient, continued and loving effort, to win their sympathy for the Faith, and even, perhaps, to bring about their confirmation...(6 July 1938)
872. As regards your plans: the Guardian fully approves indeed of your view that no matter how urgent and vital the requirements of the teaching work may be you should under no circumstances neglect the education of your children, as towards them you have an obligation no less sacred than towards the Cause.
Any plan or arrangement you may arrive at which would combine your twofold duties towards your family and the Cause, and would permit you to resume active work in the field of pioneer teaching, and also to take good care of your children so as to not jeopardize their future in the Cause would meet with the whole-hearted approval of the Guardian.(17 July 1938)
873. The institution of marriage, as established by Bahá'u'lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union, considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and onlyPage 402
on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God.(8 May 1939)
874. While the Guardian highly appreciates your desire to take a more active part in the teaching field, he realizes also that in deference to the wishes of your husband, towards whom you have duties no less sacred and binding than those facing you as a believer, you should endeavour to so arrange your plans as not to be too far away from him, particularly as he himself is anxious that you should not break up, however temporarily, your home life.(5 June 1939)
875. The Guardian is, nevertheless, thankful that he does not object in principle to your attending Bahá'í meetings, and gives you full freedom to participate in all local Bahá'í activities. Even though he may insist on your obtaining his consent in such matters, you should not feel hurt or discouraged, but rather should continue, in a friendly and conciliatory way, to endeavour [to] win his sympathy towards the Cause. You can have no serious reason for any real grievance against him, unless he unduly interferes in your Bahá'í work, and prevents you from discharging your vital spiritual and administrative obligations towards the Faith. The Guardian will pray in the mean time that your hopes of seeing him well confirmed and active in the Cause may be fulfilled, and that also you may be guided to adopt towards him such [a] true Bahá'í attitude as will serve to further awaken his sympathies for the Faith, and quicken the spiritual energies latent in his heart to the point of bringing about his full confirmation in the Cause. Rest assured, and confidently persist in your efforts.(5 August 1939)
876. The task of bringing up a Bahá'í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá'í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would bePage 403
most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development, and it should therefore be the paramount concern of your wife ... to endeavour from now imparting to her new-born son such spiritual training as would enable him later on to fully assume and adequately discharge all the responsibilities and duties of Bahá'í life.(16 November 1939)
877. He has noted with feelings of genuine admiration your longing to serve in the field of pioneer teaching, but is sorry to hear that your domestic circumstances do not permit you to carry out this dear wish of your heart. While he heartily appreciates your eagerness to labour for the Faith in distant and hitherto unopened territories, he feels that, in view of your husband's opposition, and also in consideration of the need of your children for your close help and guidance, you should, for the present, endeavour instead to work in virgin localities in the vicinity of ... or of the adjoining towns.(7 November 1940)
878. The question of the training and education of children in case one of the parents is a non-Bahá'í is one which solely concerns the parents themselves, who should decide about it the way they find best and most conducive to the maintenance of the unity of their family, and to the future welfare of their children. Once the child comes of age, however, he should be given full freedom to choose his religion, irrespective of the wishes and desires of his parents.
(14 December 1940 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India and Burma)
879. ...now that you both feel the sincere desire to unite in your efforts to make your married life happy, Shoghi Effendi advises you to do everything in your power, through love and kindness, to win your husband to your side and to remove his prejudice against the Cause.(27 November 1941)
880. She should certainly not grieve if she finds that her family are not receptive to the teachings -- for not every soul is spiritually enlightened. Indeed, many members of the families of the Prophets themselves have remained unconverted even in face of the example and persuasion of the Manifestation of God; therefore, the friends should not be distressed by such things but rather leave the future of those they love in the hand of God, and by their services and devotion to the Faith, win the right to plead for their ultimate spiritual rebirth....(9 March 1942)
881. Deep as are family ties, we must always remember that the spiritual ties are far deeper; they are everlasting and survive death, whereas physical ties, unless supported by spiritual bonds, are confined to this life. You should do all in your power, through prayer and example, to open the eyes of your family to the Bahá'í Faith, but do not grieve too much over their actions. Turn to your Bahá'í brothers and sisters who are living with you in the light of the Kingdom.(8 May 1942)
882. Our Faith is just as much for children as for older people, and it rejoices his heart when he sees both working together to bring this great Message of good to all mankind.(30 November 1942 to two believers)
883. Regarding the Guardian's statement that pioneering is conditioned upon the consent of parents and that it would be necessary for them to concur, you have asked whether this ruling applies equally to children who are of age and those who are not. The Guardian's reply is that the ruling applies only to those who have not yet come of age.
(From a letter dated 18 January 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Persia)
884. Bahá'u'lláh has urged marriage upon all people as the natural and rightful way of life. He has also, however, placed strong emphasis on its spiritual nature, which, while in no way precluding a normal physical life, is the most essential aspect of marriage. That two people should live their lives in love and harmony is of far greater importance than that theyPage 405
should be consumed with passion for each other. The one is a great rock of strength on which to lean in time of need; the other a purely temporary thing which may at any time die out.(20 January 1943)
885. The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents' and children's, wives' and husbands' relations in America, meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands, which, of course, is not right, any more than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.(22 July 1943)
886. He feels you should by all means show your husband the greatest love and sympathy; if we are ever in any doubt as to how we should conduct ourselves as Bahá'ís we should think of `Abdu'l-Bahá and study His life and ask ourselves what would He have done, for He is our perfect example in every way. And you know how tender He was, and how His affection and kindness shone like sunlight on everyone.
Your husband and your child have a right to your love, and give you a wonderful opportunity of demonstrating your faith in the Cause.
Also you should pray to Bahá'u'lláh to help unite you with your husband and make your home a true and happy home.(9 March 1946)
887. He was very sorry to see you are having trouble in your home because of the Bahá'í Faith. He feels that you should do all in your power to promote love and harmony between your husband and yourself, for your own sakes and for the sake of your children. You should, however, point out to him that every man is free to seek God for himself, and that, although you will never seek to influence him or even discuss the Bahá'í Faith with him, if he does not want to, he should leave you free to attend the meetings. The Guardian hopes that through patience, tact and prayer, you will gradually overcome his prejudice.(16 March 1946)
888. A Bahá'í is never forced to stay in a particular place; if you could not earn a living in ... and wished to be near your aged parents, you were quite right to leave....(1 April 1946)
889. Shoghi Effendi wishes me to add this note in connection with your marriage: he does not feel that any believer, under any circumstances whatsoever, can ever use the Cause or service to it as a reason for abandoning their marriage; divorce, as we know, is very strongly condemned by Bahá'u'lláh, and only grounds of extreme gravity justify it....(7 April 1947)
890. He feels, in regard to your family problems, that you should take these matters up with your Assembly, if you desire advice; one of the duties of these Assemblies is to advise and aid the friends, and it is your privilege to turn to your Assembly....(10 April 1947 to two believers)
891. He was very happy to hear of your desire to assist the pioneer work... He does not feel that your activities in this field, however, should be a source of inharmony between you and your dear husband, and he assures you he will pray for him in the Holy Shrines, that God may awaken him to a realization of the meaning of our Faith and quicken him in its service.(30 April 1947)
892. Bahá'u'lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage. This applies whether the parents are Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, divorced for years or not. This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator. We Bahá'ís must realize that in present-day society the exact opposite process is taking place: young people care less and less for their parents' wishes, divorce is considered a natural right, and obtained on the flimsiest and most unwarrantable and shabbyPage 407
pretexts. People separated from each other, especially if one of them has had full custody of the children, are only too willing to belittle the importance of the partner in marriage also responsible as a parent for bringing those children into this world. The Bahá'ís must, through rigid adherence to the Bahá'í laws and teachings, combat these corrosive forces which are so rapidly destroying home life and the beauty of family relationships, and tearing down the moral structure of society.
(25 October 1947 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
893. In regard to the questions you asked him: he feels sure that, although in some ways you may be a financial burden to your children, it is to them a privilege to look after you; you are their Mother and have given them life, and through the bounty of Bahá'u'lláh they are now attracted to His Faith. Anything they do for you is small recompense for all you have done for them.(20 September 1948)
894. Your responsibility towards your son and your husband is very great, and the Guardian hopes your work will soon reach a point where you can return, at least for sometime, to them, and give them that love and encouragement which is a woman's great contribution to home life.(5 August 1949)
895. He was particularly pleased to hear your family relationships are so satisfactory, and feels you are doing the right thing by deferring to your husband's wishes and remaining abroad longer.
The Guardian has long felt that the American Bahá'ís are not, in some cases, living up to the ideal of marriage set forth by Bahá'u'lláh. They are prone to being influenced by the current light and selfish attitude of the people towards the marriage bond. Consequently when he sees you are successfully living up to the Bahá'í standard, putting your best into it and preserving this sacred tie you have with your husband, he is very happy indeed. He hopes you will be in a position to be an example to others. For he disapproves of the way some Bahá'ís, in the name of serving the Cause, disencumber themselves of their husbands, or go and get new ones!Page 408
896. It is one of the essential teachings of the Faith that unity should be maintained in the home. Of course this does not mean that any member of the family has a right to influence the faith of any other member; and if this is realized by all the members, then it seems certain that unity would be feasible.(6 July 1952)
897. The Guardian will pray that your mother may become a Baha'i, and very actively serve the Cause of God. It should be borne in mind that by your leading a consecrated Bahá'í life, your mother will be affected perhaps as much or more than by reading and studying. When one sees the effect of the Bahá'í Teachings on another person 's life, that very often has a very great effect.(12 July 1952)
898. He feels that you should by all means make every effort to hold your marriage together, especially for the sake of your children, who, like all children of divorced parents, cannot but suffer from conflicting loyalties, for they are deprived of the blessing of a father and mother in one home, to look after their interests and love them jointly.
Now that you realize that your husband is ill, you should be able to reconcile yourself to the difficulties you have faced with him emotionally, and not take an unforgiving attitude, however much you may suffer.
We know that Bahá'u'lláh has very strongly frowned upon divorce; and it is really incumbent upon the Bahá'ís to make almost a superhuman effort not to allow a Bahá'í marriage to be dissolved.(6 March 1953)
899. The Guardian fully appreciates your desire to go forth as a pioneer at this time, and to help establish the Faith in the virgin areas, but you should not go against the wishes of your husband, and force him to give up everything in order that you might serve the Faith in this manner. We must bear in mind the wishes and the rights of those who are closely connected in our lives.Page 409
If your husband wishes you to remain where you are, certainly there is a vast field for teaching there....(31 July 1953)
900. Your sons, even though they will not be able at first to serve with you in pioneering, are certainly helping you to do so because of their devoted spirit and their complete co-operation. Life at best is so full of unexpected vicissitudes that leaving your boys at home does not, he feels, present any added risks. They are devoted to the Cause and will no doubt be inspired by your example.(10 August 1953 to two believers)
901. With regard to your question as to your going out as a pioneer ... the Guardian feels, in view of the aversion of Bahá'u'lláh to divorce, that it is not right for a Baha'i, even for the purpose of pioneering, to break up a marriage. He, therefore, urges you to endeavour with all your powers to become reconciled with your husband, as he considers this is more important than that you should go forth to a virgin territory to pioneer.(27 August 1953)
902. ...he wishes me to say that he favours your pioneering. However, if you consider that your going to one of the Pacific Islands as a pioneer, will destroy your relationship with your father, then he would suggest that perhaps your wife could go now, and then you can see how things work out for your joining her later.(27 September 1953)
903. The Guardian, in view of the fact that your husband does not really wish to be separated from you, but on the contrary is desirous of keeping your marriage together, feels that you, as a Baha'i, have no right to destroy it because of your desire to serve the Faith.
Marriage is a very sacred institution. Bahá'u'lláh said its purpose is to promote unity. If the friends neglect, for the sake of the Cause, this institution, they place the Faith in a poor light before the public. In these days the people of the world are so immoral, and treat the marriage institution so lightly; and we, as Bahá'ís, in contrast to the people of thePage 410
world, are trying to create a high moral standard, an reinstate the sanctity of marriage.
If your husband will allow you to do a certain amount
of teaching work, and occasionally to travel in the
interests of the Faith, all the better; but he does not
think the Faith should be made the thing which destroysyour family life.
904. He feels, in view of your husband's circumstances and feelings, and also considering that your two older children will naturally want to see you, and indeed should see you at times so that you can help them in their Bahá'í lives, that the wise thing for you to do is to pioneer with your husband somewhere in the States, where your services will be of the greatest value.(29 July 1954)
905. He appreciates very much the pioneer services you have rendered. He hopes that from now on you and your dear husband will be able to serve the Faith unitedly and devotedly together, as that is the highest form of Bahá'í cooperation in marriage.(3 March 1955)
906. If the condition of the health of your parents is such that your presence is really needed, then you should not leave them. If, however, there is some other relative who could care for them, then you could help with the work in ... and aid the friends in establishing the Faith on a solid foundation there.(28 October 1955)
907. He will pray that the opposition of your husband and sister may be changed, through your own acts of love, kindness, and the patience and tolerance you show to them.(20 March 1956)
908. Wherever there is a Bahá'í family, those concerned should by all means do all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the Teachings, whereas harmony, unity and love are heldPage 411
up as the highest ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Bahá'ís, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not.
(9 November 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central America)
909. He feels that, now that you have found the thing you were searching for inwardly, and have this added joy in your life of our glorious Faith, you should be kinder to your husband and more considerate than ever, and do everything in your power to make him feel that this has not taken you away from him, but only made your love for him, and your desire to be a good wife to him, greater. Whether he will ultimately be able to become a Bahá'í or not, is something that only time can tell; but there is no doubt where your duty lies, and that is to make him appreciate the fact that your new affiliation has not interfered in any way with his home life or his marriage, but, on the contrary, has strengthened both.
It is difficult when one has found what one knows is the truth, to sit by and see a dear and close relative completely blind to it. The temptation is to try and "stir them up and make them see the light", but this is often disastrous. Silence, love and forbearance will win greater victories in such cases. However, your husband has no right to ask you to give up being a Baha'i. That is going too far. Nobody should trespass on the sacred bond every human being has a right to have with their Creator.(20 April 1957)
910. However, as you no doubt know, Bahá'u'lláh has stated that the purpose of marriage is to promote unity, so you should bear this in mind when dealing with your non-Bahá'í relatives; they cannot be expected to feel the way we do on questions of racial amity, and we must not force our views on them, but rather lovingly and wisely seek to educate them.(30 August 1957)
EXTRACTS FROM MESSAGES OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE:
(The following are addressed to individual believers unless otherwise stated)
911. Regarding your other question concerning the strained relationship between you and your mother-in-law and what you can do to alleviate the situation, we feel you should, with the help and consultation of yourPage 412
husband, persevere in your efforts to achieve unity in the family. From your description of the unfriendly attitude your mother-in-law displays toward you it is clear that you will not have an easy task. However, the important thing is that you, as a Baha'i, are aware of 'Abdu'l- Bahá'í admonition to concentrate on an individual's good qualities and that this approach to your mother-in-law can strengthen you in your resolve to achieve unity. And furthermore, perseverance in prayer will give you the strength to continue your efforts.(6 September 1970)
912. A Bahá'í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the counsel of individual friends or of professional counsellors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision....
(19 March 1973 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada)
913. That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be startling, for the primary orientation of the infant is to its mother. This provision of nature in no way minimizes the role of the father in the Bahá'í family. Again, equality of status does not mean identity of function.(23 June 1974)
914. In considering the problems that you and your wife are experiencing, the House of Justice points out that the unity of your family should take priority over any other consideration. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, we must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it. For example, service to the Cause should not produce neglect of the family. It is important for you to arrange your time so that your family life is harmonious and your household receives the attention it requires.
Bahá'u'lláh also stressed the importance of consultation. We should not think this worthwhile method of seeking solutions is confined to the administrative institutions of the Cause. Family consultation employingPage 413
full and frank discussion, and animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance, can be the panacea for domestic conflict....(1 August 1978)
915. Although Bahá'í services should be undertaken with a spirit of sacrifice, one cannot lose sight of the importance given in our Holy Writings to the responsibilities placed on parents in relationship to their children, as well as to the duties of children towards their parents.(19 November 1 978)
916. The House of Justice suggests that all statements in the Holy Writings concerning specific areas of the relationship between men and women should be considered in the light of the general principle of equality between the sexes that has been authoritatively and repeatedly enunciated in the Sacred Texts. In one of His Tablets `Abdu'l-Bahá asserts: "In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed." That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature; the important thing is that `Abdu'l-Bahá regards such inequalities as remain between the sexes as being "negligible".
The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Bahá'í ideal of family life. Bahá'u'lláh came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Bahá'í family as within the community as a whole should express "the keynote of the Cause of God" which, the beloved Guardian has stated, "is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation."
A family, however, is a very special kind of "community". The Research Department has not come across any statements which specifically name the father as responsible for the "security, progress and unity of the family" as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's book, but it can be inferred from a number of the responsibilities placed upon him, thatPage 414
the father can be regarded as the "head" of the family. The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural relationships. The parents have the inescapable duty to educate their children -- but not vice versa; the children have the duty to obey their parents -- the parents do not obey the children; the mother -- not the father -- bears the children, nurses them in Bábyhood, and is thus their first educator; hence daughters have a prior right to education over sons and, as the Guardian's secretary has written on his behalf, "The task of bringing up a Bahá'í i child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá'í Writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development..."A corollary of this responsibility of the mother is her right to be supported by her husband -- a husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife. This principle of the husband's responsibility to provide for and protect the family can be seen applied also in the law of intestacy which provides that the family's dwelling place passes, on the father's death, not to his widow, but to his eldest son; the son at the same time has the responsibility to care for his mother.
It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties, and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which `Abdu'l-Bahá gives the following exhortation:O Handmaids of the All-Sufficing God!
Exert yourselves, that haply ye may be enabled to acquire
such virtues as shall honour and distinguish you amongst
all women. Of a surety, there is no greater pride and
glory for a woman than to be a handmaid in God's Court of
Grandeur; and the qualities that shall merit her this
station are an alert and wakeful heart; a firm conviction
of the unity of God, the Peerless; a heartfelt love for
all His maidservants; spotless purity and chastity;
obedience to and consideration for her husband; attention
to the education and nurturing of her children; composure,
calmness, dignity and self-possession; diligence inPage 415
praising God, and worshipping Him both night and day;
constancy and firmness in His holy Covenant; and theutmost ardour, enthusiasm, and attachment to His
[1 The quotation in the original letter has been replaced by this revised translation.]
This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22 July 1943, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:
The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents' and children's, wives' and husbands' relations in America, meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands, which, of course, is not right, any more than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.
In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wife should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by `Abdu'l-Bahá which is often read at Bahá'í weddings: "Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time."
These are all relationships within the family, but there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women than in the home, and this too we should consider in the context of Bahá'í society, not in that of past or present social norms. For example, although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood.Page 416
Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this does not by any means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home. On the contrary, `Abdu'l-Bahá has stated:
In the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, women are advancing
side by side with men. There is no area or instance where
they will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and
will enter, in the future, into all branches of the
administration of society. Such will be their elevation
that, in every area of endeavour, they will occupy thehighest levels in the human world....
[1 The quotation in the original letter which was taken from "Paris Talks", p. 182, has been replaced by this revised translation.]and again:
So it will come to pass that when women participate fully
and equally in the affairs of the world, when they
enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws andpolitics, war will cease;...
In the Tablet of the World, Bahá'u'lláh Himself has envisaged that women as well as men would be breadwinners in stating:
Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a
trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through
trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training
and education of children, to be spent for this purpose
with the knowledge of the Trustees of the Hot se ofJustice.
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i- Aqdas", p. 90)
A very important element in the attainment of such equality is Bahá'u'lláh's provision that boys and girls must follow essentially the same curriculum in schools.
(28 December 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand)
(Compiled for inclusion with a letter dated 18 February 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies)Revised July 1990
The Nineteen Day Feast, its framework, purpose and possibilities, have in recent years become a subject of increasing inquiry among the friends. It occupied much of the consultation at the Sixth International Bahá'í Convention last year, and we feel the time has come for us to offer clarifications.
The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh encompasses all units of human society; integrates the spiritual, administrative and social processes of life; and canalizes human expression in its varied forms towards the construction of a new civilization. The Nineteen Day Feast embraces all these aspects at the very base of society. Functioning in the village, the town, the city, it is an institution of which all the people of Bahá are members. It is intended to promote unity, ensure progress, and foster joy.
"If this feast be held in the proper fashion," `Abdu'l-Bahá states, "the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world." To ensure this glorious outcome the concept of the Feast must be adequately understood by all the friends. The Feast is known to have three distinct but related parts: the devotional, the administrative, and the social. The first entails the recitation of prayers and reading from the Holy Texts. The second is a general meeting where the Local Spiritual Assembly reports its activities, plans and problems to the community, shares news and messages from the World Centre and the National Assembly, and receives the thoughts and recommendations of the friends through a process of consultation. The third involves the partaking of refreshments and engaging in other activities meant to foster fellowship in a culturally determined diversity of forms which do not violate principles of the Faith or the essential character of the Feast.
Even though the Feast requires strict adherence to the threefold aspects in the sequence in which they have been defined, there is muchPage 420
room for variety in the total experience. For example, music may be introduced at various stages, including the devotional portion; `Abdu'l-Bahá recommends that eloquent, uplifting talks be given; originality and variety in expressions of hospitality are possible; the quality and range of the consultation are critical to the spirit of the occasion. The effects of different cultures in all these respects are welcome factors which can lend the Feast a salutary diversity, representative of the unique characteristics of the various societies in which it is held and therefore conducive to the upliftment and enjoyment of its participants.
It is notable that the concept of the Feast evolved in stages in relation to the development of the Faith. At its earliest stage in Iran, the individual friends, in response to Bahá'u'lláh's injunctions, hosted gatherings in their homes to show hospitality once every nineteen days and derived inspiration from the reading and discussion of the Teachings. As the community grew. `Abdu'l-Bahá delineated and emphasized the devotional and social character of the event. After the establishment of Local Spiritual Assemblies, Shoghi Effendi introduced the administrative portion and acquainted the community with the idea of the Nineteen Day Feast as an institution. It was as if a symphony, in three movements, had now been completed.
But it is not only in the sense of its gradual unfoldment as an institution that the evolution of the Feast must be regarded; there is a broader context yet. The Feast may well be seen in its unique combination of modes as the culmination of a great historic process in which primary elements of community life -- acts of worship, of festivity and other forms of togetherness -- over vast stretches of time have achieved a glorious convergence. The Nineteen Day Feast represents the new stage in this enlightened age to which the basic expression of community life has evolved. Shoghi Effendi has described it as the foundation of the new World Order, and in a letter written on his behalf, it is referred to as constituting "a vital medium for maintaining close and continued contact between the believers themselves, and also between them and the body of their elected representatives in the local community".
Moreover, because of the opportunity which it provides for conveying messages from the national and international levels of the administration and also for communicating the recommendations of the friends to those levels, the Feast becomes a link that connects the local community in aPage 421
dynamic relationship with the entire structure of the Administrative Order. But considered in its local sphere alone there is much to thrill and amaze the heart. Here it links the individual to the collective processes by which a society is built or restored. Here, for instance, the Feast is an arena of democracy at the very root of society, where the Local Spiritual Assembly and the members of the community meet on common ground, where individuals are free to offer their gifts of thought, whether as new ideas or constructive criticism, to the building processes of an advancing civilization. Thus it can be seen that aside from its spiritual significance, this common institution of the people combines an array of elemental social disciplines which educate its participants in the essentials of responsible citizenship.
If the Feast is to be properly experienced, beyond an understanding of the concept must also be the preparation of it and the preparation for it. Although the Local Spiritual Assembly is administratively responsible for the conduct of the Feast, it often calls upon an individual or a group of individuals to make preparations -- a practice which is consonant with the spirit of hospitality so vital to the occasion. Such individuals can act as hosts and are sometimes concerned with the selection of the prayers and readings for the devotional portion; they may also attend to the social portion. In small communities the aspect of personal hospitality is easy to carry out, but in large communities the Local Spiritual Assemblies, while retaining the concept of hospitality, may find it necessary to devise other measures.
Important aspects of the preparation of the Feast include the proper selection of readings, the assignment, in advance, of good readers, and a sense of decorum both in the presentation and the reception of the devotional programme. Attention to the environment in which the Feast is to be held, whether indoors or outdoors, greatly influences the experience. Cleanliness, arrangement of the space in practical and decorative ways -- play a significant part. Punctuality is also a measure of good preparation.
To a very large extent, the success of the Feast depends on the quality of the preparation and participation of the individual. The beloved Master offers the following advice: "Give ye great weight to the Nineteen Day gatherings, so that on these occasions the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful may turn their faces toward the Kingdom,Page 422
chant the communes, beseech God's help, become joyfully enamoured each of the other, and grow in purity and holiness, and in the fear of God, and in resistance to passion and self. Thus will they separate themselves from this elemental world, and immerse themselves in the ardours of the spirit."
In absorbing such advice, it is illuminating indeed to view the Nineteen Day Feast in the context in which it was conceived. It is ordained in the "Kitáb-i-Aqdas" in these words: "It hath been enjoined upon you once a month to offer hospitality, even should ye serve no more than water, for God hath willed to bind your hearts together, though it be through heavenly and earthly means combined". It is clear, then, that the Feast is rooted in hospitality, with all its implications of friendliness, courtesy, service, generosity and conviviality. The very idea of hospitality as the sustaining spirit of so significant an institution introduces a revolutionary new attitude to the conduct of human affairs at all levels, an attitude which is critical to that world unity which the Central Figures of our Faith laboured so long and suffered so much cruelty to bring into being. It is in this divine festival that the foundation is laid for the realization of so unprecedented a reality.
That you may all attain the high mark set for the Feast as a "bringer of joy", the "groundwork of agreement and unity", the "key to affection and fellowship" will remain an object of our ardent supplications at the Holy Threshold.With loving Bahá'í greetings,
General Statements .............................. 425
The Threefold Feast Celebration ................. 432
Feast Times ..................................... 435
Feast Location .................................. 436
Attendance of Believers at the Feast ............ 439
Restrictions Upon Feast Attendance .............. 443
Youth and Children at Feasts .................... 446The Feast Celebration: Prayers and
Scriptural Readings ........................... 448
The Feast Celebration: Consultation ............. 451
The Feast Celebration: Socializing .............. 455The Blending of Cultures in the Feast
Celebration ..................................... 456Page 425
917. It hath been enjoined upon you once a month to offer hospitality, even should ye serve no more than water; for God hath willed to bind your hearts together, though it be through heavenly and earthly means combined.
(From the "Kitáb-i-Aqdas", provisional translation)From the Writings and Utterances of `Abdu'l-Bahá
Thou hast written . . . concerning the Feast. This festivity, which is held on a day of the nineteen-day month, was established by His Holiness The Báb, and the Blessed Beauty directed, confirmed and warmly encouraged the holding of it. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance. You should unquestionably see to it with the greatest care, and make its value known, so that it may become solidly established on a permanent basis. Let the beloved of God gather together and associate most lovingly and spiritually and happily with one another, conducting themselves with the greatest courtesy and self-restraint. Let them read the holy verses, as well as essays which are of benefit, and the letters of `Abdu'l-Bahá; encourage and inspire one another to love each and all; chant the prayers with serenity and joy; give eloquent talks, and praise the matchless Lord.
The host, with complete self-effacement, showing kindness to all, must be a comfort to each one, and serve the friends with his own hands.
If the Feast is befittingly held, in the manner described, then this supper will verily be the Lord's Supper, for its fruits will be the very fruits of that Supper, and its influence the same.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
919. As to the Nineteen Day Feast, ye must give this your most careful attention, and firmly establish it. For this Feast bringeth bliss and unity and love to the lovers of God.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)Page 426
920. Ye have written of the Nineteen Day festivities. This Feast is a bringer of joy. It is the groundwork of agreement and unity. It is the key to affection and fellowship. It diffuseth the oneness of mankind.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
921. O ye loyal servants of the Ancient Beauty! In every cycle and dispensation, the feast hath been favoured and loved, and the spreading of a table for the lovers of God hath been considered a praiseworthy act. This is especially the case today, in this dispensation beyond compare, this most generous of ages, when it is highly acclaimed, for it is truly accounted among such gatherings as are held to worship and glorify God. Here the holy verses, the heavenly odes and laudations are intoned, and the heart is quickened, and carried from itself.
The primary intent is to kindle these stirrings of the spirit, but at the same time it follows quite naturally that those present should partake of food, so that the world of the body may mirror the spirit's world, and flesh take on the qualities of soul; and just as the spiritual delights are here in profusion, so too the material delights.
Happy are ye, to be observing this rule, with all its mystic meanings, thus keeping the friends of God alert and heedful, and bringing them peace of mind, and joy.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 48, pp. 90- 91)
922. Thy letter hath been received. Thou didst write of the Nineteen Day festivity, and this rejoiced my heart. These gatherings cause the divine table to descend from heaven, and draw down the confirmations of the All- Merciful. My hope is that the breathings of the Holy Spirit will be wafted over them, and that each one present shall, in great assemblies, with an eloquent tongue and a heart flooded with the love of God, set himself to acclaiming the rise of the Sun of Truth, the dawn of the Day-Star that lighteth all the world.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 49, p. 91)
923. Give ye great weight to the Nineteen Day gatherings, so that on these occasions the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful mayPage 427
turn their faces toward the Kingdom, chant the communes, beseech God's help, become joyfully enamoured each of the other, and grow in purity and holiness, and in the fear of God, and in resistance to passion and self. Thus will they separate themselves from this elemental world, and immerse themselves in the ardours of the spirit.
(From a Tablet to the local Spiritual Assembly of Spokane, Washington - translated from the Persian)
924. I beg of God, out of His endless bounties, that many such gatherings will be held, and that the Nineteen Day festivity will also be observed, so that men and women believers will occupy themselves with making mention of God, and praising and glorifying Him, and guiding the people aright.
(From a Tablet to the Bahá'ís of Stuttgart, Germany - translated from the Persian)925. O thou who art steadfast in the Covenant!
Your detailed letter hath been received, but because of the press of work a brief answer must suffice. You have asked as to the Feast in every Bahá'í month. This Feast is held to foster comradeship and love, to call God to mind and supplicate Him with contrite hearts, and to encourage benevolent pursuits. That is, the friends should there dwell upon God and glorify Him, read the prayers and holy verses, and treat one another with the utmost affection and love. Should trouble arise between two of the friends, let both be invited in, and efforts be made to compose their differences. Let all discussion centre on the doing of charitable acts and holy deeds, that laudable results may be the fruit thereof.
[1 Cf. "Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 50, p. 91.]
(From a Tablet to an individual - translated from the Persian)
926. As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.]. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 51, p. 91)Page 428
927. As to the Nineteen Day festivity, it is of the utmost importance that the friends should gather at a meeting where, in complete attunement and love, they should engage in the remembrance of God and His praise, and converse as to the glad tidings of God, and proofs of the Advent of Bahá'u'lláh, and should recount the high deeds and sacrifices of the lovers of God in Persia, and tell of the martyrs' detachment from the world, and their ecstasy, and of how the believers there stood by one another and gave up everything they had. The Nineteen Day festivity is, therefore, of very great importance.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
928. ... make of the Feasts occasions of joy and fellowship reminiscent of the feasts that our forebears used to hold in connection with their commemoration of the Lord's Supper...[1 The Nineteen Day Feasts.]
[2 The agape or "love-feast" of the early Christians.]
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
929. Vigorous steps must be taken to establish the Nineteen Day reception throughout the whole community. Since this Feast is confined to believers only, conclusive proofs must there be set forth as to the people of the Bayan, so that newcomers, unaware of the situation, may be made aware of it.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)
930. It befitteth the friends to hold a gathering, a meeting, where they shall glorify God and fix their hearts upon Him, and read and recite the Holy Writings of the Blessed Beauty -- may my soul be the ransom of His lovers! The lights of the All-Glorious Realm, the rays of the Supreme Horizon, will be cast upon such bright assemblages, for these are none other than the Mashriqu'l- Adhkars, the Dawning-Points of God's Remembrance, which must, at the direction of the most Exalted Pen, be established in every hamlet and city... These spiritual gatherings must be held with the utmost purity and consecration, so that from the site itself, and its earth and the air about it, one will inhale the fragrant breathings of the Holy Spirit.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 55, pp. 93-94)Page 429
931. Thou hast written of that meeting held in the quarter where standeth the city gate of 'Abdu'l-'Azim. Do not call it a meeting. Call it a confluence of holy souls; a convocation of those who love the Lord; a retreat for the people of the All-Merciful; a palace-hall for all who sing His praise. For the members of that gathering are each one a lighted taper, and that council a mansion of the moon and stars. It hath been blessed by the Lord of all mankind, and hath made current the Feast as set forth in the Most Holy Book.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)
932. And thou, O my dear daughter, stay thou at all times in close touch with my honoured daughter, Mrs...., and be thou her friend. Rest you assured that the breaking of the Holy Spirit will loosen your tongue. Speak, therefore; speak out with great courage at every meeting. When you are about to begin your address, turn first to Bahá'u'lláh and ask for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, then open your lips and say whatever is suggested to your heart; this, however, with the utmost courage, dignity and conviction. It is my hope that from day to day your gatherings will grow and flourish, and that those who are seeking after truth will hearken therein to reasoned arguments and conclusive proofs. I am with you heart and soul at every meeting; be sure of this.
[1 Cf. "Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 216, pp. 269-70]
Hold you the Nineteen Day Feasts with utmost dignity.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
933. You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.
O God! Dispel all those elements which are the cause of discord, and prepare for us all those things which are the cause of unity and accord! O God! Descend upon us Heavenly Fragrance and change this gatheringPage 430
into a gathering of Heaven! Grant to us every benefit and every food. Prepare for us the Food of Love! Give to us the Food of Knowledge! Bestow upon us the Food of Heavenly Illumination!
In your hearts remember these things, and then enter theUnity Feast.
Each one of you must think how to make happy and pleased the other members of your Assembly, and each one must consider all those who are present as better and greater than himself, and each one must consider himself less than the rest. Know their station as high, and think of your own station as low. Should you act and live according to these behests, know verily, of a certainty, that that Feast is the Heavenly Food. That Supper is the "Lord's Supper"! I am the Servant of that gathering.
("Star of the West", vol. IV, no. 7 (13 July 1913), p. 120)
934. The Nineteen Day Feast was inaugurated by The Báb and ratified by Bahá'u'lláh, in His holy book, the Akdas [sic], so that people may gather together and outwardly show fellowship and love, that the divine mysteries may be disclosed. The object is concord, that through this fellowship hearts may become perfectly united, and reciprocity and mutual helpfulness be established. Because the members of the world of humanity are unable to exist without being banded together, cooperation and mutual helpfulness is the basis of human society. Without the realization of these two great principles no great movement is pressed forward...
In brief, this is my hope: that the Nineteen Day Feast become the cause of great spiritual solidarity between the friends, that it may bring believers into the bond of unity, and we will then be so united together that love and wisdom will spread from this centre to all parts. This Feast is a divine Feast. It is a Lord's supper. It attracts confirmation of God like a magnet. It is the cause of the enlightenment of hearts.
Every day great feasts and banquets are being spread with the object of material enjoyment and relish of food. People partake of certain delicacies and waters from various fountains, that they may have a good time. Balls and dances follow. All these are for the body, but this fellowship is of the enjoyment of God, for the partaking of spiritual food, for the elucidation of spiritual subjects, for the discussion and interpretation of the teachings and counsels of God. It is absolute spirituality.Page 431
It is my hope that the Nineteen Day Feast may become firmly established and organized so that the holy realities are behind this meeting may leave behind all prejudices and conflict, and make their hearts as a treasury of love. Even if there is the slightest feeling between certain souls -- a lack of love -- it must be made to entirely disappear. There must be the utmost translucency and purity of intention.
They must enjoy the love of God, acquire the power for the promotion of the happiness of mankind and the Word of God. With such high mention must this Feast become an established institution. When they gather in this meeting, all those present must turn their faces toward the Kingdom of Abha, and from their hearts supplicate, invoke and entreat toward the lofty throne, beg of God's forgiveness for all shortcomings, read the teachings and arise to His service.
Then spread the feast and give refreshments. Assuredly great results will be the outcome of such meetings. Material and spiritual benefits will be assured. All who are present will be intoxicated with the breezes of the Love of God, and the Breath of the Holy Spirit will with tremendous power inspire the hearts.
If this meeting be established on such a rock, it will become a power which will attract heavenly confirmations, be the means of the appearance of the Light of God, and the reality of every subject will become unfolded. Such a meeting will be under the protection of God. It is my hope that you will continually hold these meetings and that each time it will become more and more the centre of all the virtues, the point for the effulgence of God.May your hearts be enlightened!
(From a talk by `Abdu'l-Bahá given at a Nineteen Day Feast in London, England, 29 December 1912, quoted in "Bahá'í News Letter" 33 (July 1929), pp. 1-2)Page 432
935. Still other factors promoting the development of that Order and contributing to its consolidation have been the systematic institution of the Nineteen Day Feast, functioning in most Bahá'í communities in East and West, with its threefold emphasis on the devotional, the administrative and the social aspects of Bahá'í community life...
("God Passes By". rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 342)
From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1 To individual believers except where noted.]
936. Regarding the nature of the Nineteen Day Feasts, the Guardian feels that the excellent statement on their nature, function and purpose published in one of the recent issues of the "News Letter" is so comprehensive and faithful in its presentation that he does not find it necessary to restate and enlarge upon the matter. He has no objection, however, if you feel the need to elaborate the thought expressed in that statement, stressing particularly the spiritual, administrative and social aspects of this vital Bahá'í institution.
[1 The statement to which reference is made in extract 20 is as follows:
This institution, established by Bahá'u'lláh, has been described by the Guardian as the foundation of the new World Order. The National Spiritual Assembly understands that it is incumbent upon every believer,
unless ill or absent from the city, to attend each of these Feasts.
In a general letter issued to Local Spiritual Assemblies several years ago, it was pointed out that the
Guardian instructs that the Nineteen Day Feast be held according to the following program: the first part,
entirely spiritual in character, is devoted to readings from Bahá'í Sacred Writings; the second part consists of general consultation on the affairs of the Cause, at which time the Local Spiritual Assembly reports its activities to the community, asks for suggestions and consultation, and also delivers messages received from the Guardian and the National Assembly. The third part is the material feast and social meeting of all the friends. Only voting believers are invited to attend the Nineteen Day Feasts, but young people of less than twenty-one years of age, who are declared believers, especially when members of a Bahá'í family, can also be present.
These meetings may be regarded as the very heart of our Bahá'í community life. When properly conducted, and attended by a Bahá'í community which fully appreciates their importance, the Nineteen Day Feasts serve to renew and deepen our spirit of faith, increase our capacity for united action, remove misunderstandings and keep us fully informed of all important Bahá'í activities, local, national and international in scope.
(Statement of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 75(July 1933), p. 8)]
(6 September 1933 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 79 (November 1933), p. 3)Page 433
937. As to your question concerning Bahá'í Feasts, Shoghi Effendi strongly feels that on such occasions the friends should emphasize both the spiritual and the administrative elements. For these are equally essential to the success of every Bahá'í festival. To maintain the right balance between them is, therefore, the duty and responsibility of every individual Bahá'í or group. Until the believers learn to combine the two, there can be no hope of their gaining any real and permanent benefit from such religious celebrations. A good part of the Feast must of course be devoted to the reading of the Holy Words. For it is through them that the friends can get the inspiration and the vision they need for the successful accomplishment of their work for the Cause.(27 May 1934)
938. With regard to your question concerning the Nineteen Day Feasts: These gatherings are no doubt of a special importance to the friends, as they have both a social and an administrative significance, and as such should be regularly attended by all confirmed believers. They should also be observed according to the Bahá'í calendar every nineteen days.(12 April 1935)
939. Concerning the nature of the Nineteen Day Feast: In the "Aqdas", Bahá'u'lláh has clearly revealed the spiritual and social character of this institution. Its administrative significance, however, has been stressed by the Guardian in direct response to the growing needs of the Bahá'í community in this formative period of the Bahá'í Era for better training in the principles and practice of Bahá'í administration.
(29 July 1935 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)Page 434
940. Regarding the Nineteen Day Feast: in a previous letter to the National Spiritual Assembly the Guardian had made it clear that, although not a binding ordinance, this Feast has been regarded by Bahá'u'lláh as highly desirable and meritorious. In the "Aqdas" He has specially emphasized its spiritual and devotional character, and also its social importance in the Bahá'í community as a means for bringing about closer fellowship and unity among the believers. The administrative significance of this Feast has been stated by the Guardian in view of the increasing need among the friends for better training in the principles and methods of Bahá'í Administration.
The significance of the Nineteen Day Feast is thus threefold. It is a gathering of a devotional, social and administrative importance. When these three features are all combined, this Feast can and will surely yield the best and the maximum of results. The friends, however, should be on their guard lest they overstress the significance of this institution created by Bahá'u'lláh. They should also take care not to underrate or minimize its importance.
(2 October 1935 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
941. He was very glad to know you are holding the Feasts, as these form a rallying-point for the friends and help to unite them and deepen them in the Faith.(5 March 1946)
From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
942. A group, of course, is not an administrative body and there is no objection to the members of a group making decisions within their scope on any occasion when all of them happen to be together, even if this should be at a Nineteen Day Feast. The Nineteen Day Feast can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of the friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group, it may well hold the FeastPage 435
in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing.
(31 October 1972 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland)
943. Regarding changing the order of the Feast, it is clear from Shoghi Effendi's instructions that the Nineteen Day Feast programme should start with the spiritual part, and not with the social part, which includes refreshments, or breaking bread together... However, if it is found that some sort of association among the friends or the serving of food and refreshments will be helpful, if this takes place at the outset, there is no objection to this practice, provided it is clear that it is not part of the Feast.
(23 January 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)3. Feast Times
944. As to your question relative to the last Nineteen Day Feast, Shoghi Effendi sees no objection if the friends choose to celebrate it on one of the intercalary days. They may also celebrate it during the month of fasting, provided they abstain from food.(2 August 1934 to an individual believer)
945. Your third question concerns the day on which the Feast should be held every month. The Guardian stated in reply that no special day has been fixed, but it would be preferable and most suitable if the gathering of the friends should be held on the first day of each Bahá'í month.
(1 December 1936 to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
946. Regarding the time for the holding of the Nineteen Day Feasts and elections: the Guardian would advise your Assembly to urge the friends to hold such gatherings on the prescribed day before sunset. If impossible, then it is permissible to hold them on the preceding day. InPage 436
connection with the nine holy days however the friends should consider it obligatory to celebrate them on the prescribed day before sunset.
(24 December 1939 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
947. The Naw-Ruz Feast should be held on March 21 before sunset and has nothing to do with the Nineteen Day Feast. The Nineteen Day Feast is administrative in function whereas the Naw-Ruz is our New Year, a Feast of hospitality and rejoicing.
(5 July 1950 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
From a Letter Written by the Universal House of Justice
948. As to your questions concerning the times for Feasts and Holy Days: The Bahá'í Day is from sunset to sunset, therefore if in summer the sun sets too late to enable the Nineteen Day Feast to be held on the preceding evening, it should be held on the day itself. As long as the meeting begins before sunset it is considered to be held on the day which comes to an end with that sunset. Naturally Nineteen Day Feasts should be held on the first day of the Bahá'í month if possible, but if it should be difficult to do so, for example if it coincides with a regular public meeting evening, it is permissible to hold it on the following day, i.e. on a succeeding day of the Bahá'í month.
(23 June 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly Finland)4. Feast Locations
From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Individual Believers
949. There is no objection to holding meetings in the open air as long as they are conducted with dignity.(22 November 1941)
950. Each city will have its own Spiritual Assembly, not a number of district ones. Naturally, district Nineteen Day Feasts can be held where there are very many Bahá'ís in one city.(31 March 1949)
951. The matter of where the Nineteen Day Feasts should be held is certainly one for the Spiritual Assembly to decide; but the Haziratu'l-Quds seems the logical place on most occasions. Until the friends have a place of worship in ..., this building will also be used for devotional meetings, as well as for administrative purposes.
If, under some circumstances, some special Feast is offered in the home of one of the believers, with the approval of the Spiritual Assembly, there can be no objection; but, generally speaking, he feels it is better to use the Haziratu'l-Quds.(18 February 1954)
From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
952. We understand and appreciate the problems involved in the holding of Nineteen Day Feasts in the large cities such as New York and Los Angeles and we have no objection to your Assembly authorizing the Local Assembly to provide for the holding of the Feast in different localities as an experiment, if the Local Assembly so wishes, bearing in mind the following precautions: The tendency in metropolitan areas is towards segregation, and therefore the Local Assembly should be alert to prevent a similar pattern developing in Bahá'í meetings by reason of the location of the Feast. The Local Assembly should be watchful that neither the unity of the community nor control by the Local Assembly is dissipated by this practice.
(23 January 1967 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
953. Your letter of August 9th posing the problem of holding Nineteen Day Feasts and other Bahá'í activities in the two communities ... which have grown so large that it is impossible to conduct such activities in homes is welcomed by us, and we hope you will meet this problem before long in other communities.
We leave it to your discretion as to whether these large communities should purchase adequate facilities to accommodate the believers atPage 438
Feasts and other Bahá'í activities, rent facilities, or hold several simultaneous Feasts, still utilizing homes.
(21 August 1972 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska)
954. Difficulties of travelling to the Nineteen Day Feasts, and other occasions, which may be met in certain parishes can be overcome by your authorizing the Local Assembly in such a parish to hold more than one Feast within its area. There is no need to establish rigid boundaries for such a purpose, and the friends should be allowed to attend the Feast in their parish most convenient to them; but all should note that every Feast in the area is a portion of the same Feast under the jurisdiction of the Local Spiritual Assembly. Occasions should be provided for the entire Bahá'í community of the parish to meet together, and Feast days need not be excluded from such occasions.
(14 January 1980 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Barbados and the Windward Islands)
955. As to the question of holding meetings to commemorate Bahá'í Holy Days on a regional basis, the House of Justice has ruled that it may be desirable in certain areas for the believers in neighbouring localities to join together with other communities in observing Holy Days and certain events. Such matters should be referred to and determined by National Spiritual Assemblies. Observance of the Nineteen Day Feasts and other local activities, however, should be held in the respective civil areas.
(20 March 1986 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
956. The problems implied by your inquiry are not insurmountable. For instance, the Local Spiritual Assembly could be authorized to appoint an administrative committee in each of a number of sub-units of the city; and these committees could deal with the urgent needs of the friends in these areas on behalf of the Assembly; and if found desirable, the Spiritual Assembly could authorize the holding of separate Nineteen Day Feasts in several sub- units. In such a decentralized system, the Local Spiritual Assembly would have to provide for the overall coordination of the efforts of the friends in all sub- units of the city.Page 439
The sub-division of the city should be seen merely as an administrative necessity meant to serve the good of the whole community; in this sense, the Assembly should guard strenuously against creating too many sub-units, contenting itself with the minimum action in this respect. Given the racial and social stratification of large cities, the Spiritual Assembly would also have to exert the utmost care not to allow the Bahá'í community of . . . to become, in effect, racially or socially fragmented, even though one race or stratum may be dominant in a sub- unit of the city. One of the questions that should remain uppermost in the minds of the Assembly, the committees and the individual friends is how to uphold at all times. through their functions and deeds, the primary principle and goal of our Faith, namely, the unity of the human race.
(20 December 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)5. Attendance of Believers at the Feast
From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1 To individual believers except where noted.]
957. In regard to the Nineteen Day Feasts, Shoghi Effendi is of the opinion that the believers should be impressed with the importance of attending these gatherings which, in addition to their spiritual significance, constitute a vital medium for maintaining close and continued contact between the believers themselves, and also between them and the body of their elected representatives in the local community.
No radical action, such as the expulsion of any believer from the community, should, however, be taken in case anyone fails to attend these Feasts. It is for every individual believer to realize what the Cause requires from him in this matter. Any threat or menace can be of no avail, unless it is based on appeal to individual conscience and responsibility.(22 December 1934)
958. Also regarding the Nineteen Day Feasts: these are not strictly obligatory, but the believers should endeavour to regularly attend them, mainly for the following two reasons: first, because they foster the spirit of service and fellowship in the community and secondly, in view of thePage 440
fact that they afford the believers a splendid opportunity to fully discuss the affairs of the Cause and to find ways and means for continued improvement in the conduct of Bahá'í activities.(30 November 1936)
959. Attendance at Nineteen Day Feasts is not obligatory, but highly desirable, and effort should be made by the friends not to deprive themselves of this spiritual and communal rallying-point once in every Bahá'í month.(23 December 1948)
960. The Guardian has never heard of any ruling by which a believer who does not attend three consecutive Nineteen Day Feasts can be deprived of his voting rights. He does not consider that such action is justifiable at all. The whole question is whether a person considers himself a Bahá'í or not, and is willing to adhere to the principles of the Faith and accept the authority of the Guardian and the Administration -- whether that individual is able, or always in a condition psychologically to attend Feasts and Bahá'í meetings is an entirely different subject. If a person makes it quite clear that they do not wish to be considered an active member of the Bahá'í Community and be affiliated with it and exert their voting right, then their name should be removed from the voting list; but if a person considers himself or herself a Baha'i, and for various reasons is not able to be active in the affairs of the Community, then they should certainly not be removed from our voting list, least of all at present, when the number of the Bahá'í Community is so small.
(2 March 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)
961. He fully appreciates the difficult position your Assembly will be placed in if you adhere to the principle that the members of an Assembly and voting members of a community must live within the civic limits. However, he feels that Paris can be no exception to this general rule which he wishes the Bahá'ís to adhere to all over the world, in spite of any temporary inconvenience it may cause.
This does not mean that the Bahá'ís of Paris living outside the civic limits should not attend the Nineteen Day Feast and the Bahá'í Holy Days; on the contrary, they should take an active part in the affairs of thePage 441
community in the sense of assisting with the teaching work, while at the same time not being active in the administrative work. He feels sure that in the end you will find that, far from having been weakened, your community will grow and be strengthened by this adherence to principle.
(20 February 1953 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Paris)
962. It is inconceivable and wholly inadmissible that any Bahá'ís in a Community should be permitted to hold a Feast in their home and refuse admission to another believer; and your Assembly should write accordingly in very strong terms to the ... Assembly, pointing out that the Guardian is not only surprised to learn of this situation, but disapproves of it in the strongest terms.
Any Bahá'í may attend a Feast -- a local Baha'i, a Bahá'í from out of town, certainly an isolated Bahá'í from the neighbourhood.
(27 May 1957 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, published in "Unfolding Destiny: The Message from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'í Community of the British Isles" (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. 1981), p. 380)
From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
963. In reply to your letter of November 8th we feel that all friends, whatever their circumstances, should be encouraged to observe the Nineteen Day Feast. Obviously it can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing.
As to visitors to a Nineteen Day Feast, Bahá'ís from anywhere in the world should of course be warmly welcomed, and may take part in consultation. However, only members of the local community can vote on recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly.
(1 December 1968 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)Page 442
964. It is not quite correct to say that a Nineteen Day Feast is changed into a Unity Feast as a result of the presence of non-Bahá'ís. What can happen is that the consultative portion of the Feast has to be postponed.... If it is decided to postpone part or all of the consultative portion of the Feast, the House of Justice states that it is within the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly to decide whether another meeting should be held during the Bahá'í month to complete it, or whether it can be postponed until the following Nineteen Day Feast.
(5 September 1983 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany)
965. A Bahá'í who is visiting another community may participate fully in the consultation of the Nineteen Day Feast, but has no right to vote on recommendations being made to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Out of courtesy, however, a visitor would normally refrain from taking too much time of the consultation. Any Baha'i, whether an isolated believer or a member of a local community or group, may convey his suggestions and recommendations to the National Spiritual Assembly at any time and thus take part in the consultative aspect of Bahá'í community life. Isolated believers and the members of groups may also, of course, attend the Nineteen Day Feasts of communities when they wish to.
(23 July 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
966. With respect to your question asking whether a Local Spiritual Assembly may cancel its Nineteen Day Feast in order to attend Feast in another community, the House of Universal Justice advises that the Nineteen Day Feast should not be cancelled. However, there is no objection to two or more local communities holding a joint Nineteen Day Feast occasionally, although it is not proper to allow such joint Feasts to be held on a regular basis. If members of a community find that the plan to hold such a joint Feast would produce inconvenience to them, they should take the matter up with their Local Spiritual Assembly.
(26 April 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Page 443
967. As regards your question concerning the Nineteen Day Feasts: this is really a matter of secondary importance, and should be decided by the Assembly; meetings which have been publicly advertised for a certain date cannot, obviously, be cancelled. As to non-Bahá'ís attending: this should by all means be avoided, but if non-believers come to a Nineteen Day Feast, they should not be put out, as this might hurt their feelings.(21 September 1946 to two believers)
968. The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, as published in your January-February Bahá'í News, that non-Bahá'ís may attend Nineteen Day Feasts if "the earnestness of their interest in the Faith" is vouched for by a declared believer.
The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances. The Nineteen Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by The Báb, later confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These Nineteen Day Feasts are for the Bahá'ís, and the Bahá'ís exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted.
Thus the Guardian feels you should rescind the action taken by your Assembly in opening the Feasts to "near Bahá'ís", as it is not consistent with the spirit of the administrative order for non-Bahá'ís or near Bahá'ís to attend the Nineteen Day Feasts, particularly the administrative portion of the Feast.
The Guardian realizes that the spirit which animated you in making the suggested proposal, in order that the teaching work might go forward more aggressively; but he feels in the long run it would be detrimental to the Faith, and therefore should be rescinded as indicated above.
(28 May 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)Page 444
From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
969. The principle universally applicable is that non-Bahá'ís are not invited to the Nineteen Day Feast. If in Persia it has happened that non-Bahá'ís are present at a Nineteen Day Feast this is an exception and not a rule. It is well understood in Persia that if a non-Bahá'í should inadvertently attend a Nineteen Day Feast he would be treated courteously. However, it is equally important for the friends to understand that they should refrain from inviting non-Bahá'ís to these special gatherings, ordained by Bahá'u'lláh not only for spiritual refreshment and unity, but also for consultation between the Spiritual Assembly and the body of believers on the domestic affairs of the community.
(4 February 1974 written by the Universal House of Justice a Local Spiritual Assembly)
970. In reply to your memorandum of 16 November 1975 requesting elucidation of a statement from the Guardian published on page 367 of Volume IV of "Amr va Khalq", ... later instructions of the beloved Guardian clearly forbid attendance at the Nineteen Day Feast by those deprived of their voting rights and the quotation published in "Amr va Khalq" should therefore be replaced by another statement by the Guardian.
(24 November 1975, memorandum written by the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre)
971. The main thing to remember is that a group is not an administrative institution within the Bahá'í Administrative Order; it is, however, the embryo of a Local Spiritual Assembly and while remaining under the direct authority of the National Spiritual Assembly should obviously be encouraged to prepare itself for the time when it will establish that divine institution. There is no objection whatever to its electing officers such as a secretary, chairman and treasurer, holding Nineteen Day Feasts and observances of the Holy Days, undertaking teaching and extension work, so long as it is always understood that the directive authority is the National Spiritual Assembly and not the group itself.
(13 June 1974 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay)Page 445
972. It can be explained, in a friendly manner, that the Nineteen Day Feast is an entirely private religious and domestic occasion for the Bahá'í community when its internal affairs are discussed and its members meet for personal fellowship and worship. No great issue should be made of it for there is certainly nothing secret about the Feast but it is organized for Bahá'ís only.
(4 November 1967 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium)
973. Regarding the Nineteen Day Feast, the principle universally applicable is that non-Bahá'ís are not invited to attend, and if you are asked about this you can explain that the nature of the Feast is essentially domestic and administrative. During the period of consultation the Bahá'ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá'u'lláh and who might thereby gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive Bahá'í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Bahá'í community of which he is not a part. A non-Bahá'í who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him.
(12 August 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
974. The following guidance on this subject was sent to a believer on 24 March 1970 by the House of Justice:
... when a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá'í should be made welcome....
No doubt you are familiar with this instruction. Likewise, occasionally if the Feast is held in the home of the family where the spouse is not a Baha'i, it would be discourteous not to allow the non-Bahá'í member of the family to attend at least the social and spiritual parts of the Feast.
(8 January 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia)Page 446
975. ... if a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá'í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá'í to attend. From all of the foregoing it can be seen that, basically, the resolution of this difficulty is a matter of loving education.
(23 January 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)7. Youth and Children at Feasts
From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
976. Concerning your inquiry asking if children under fifteen of non-Bahá'í parents could attend Nineteen Day Feasts or other events held exclusively for Bahá'ís when the children consider themselves as Bahá'ís, such children may be permitted to attend Bahá'í functions provided that their parents have given their consent. This applies only, of course, to children under the age of fifteen years.
(4 August 1970 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Nicaragua)
977. Concerning the declaration of young people under the age of 18, ... we can accept a child of the age of 15 and over as a Bahá'í even if his parents do not consent and this remains true even though according to the law of Finland they cannot be officially transferred to the Bahá'í register. You should not, therefore, exclude such believers from the Nineteen Day Feasts. However, although such believers should not be swayed from their belief by their parents' objections, they should, in view of the stress that the Teachings place upon the respect due to parents and in view of the law in Finland, obey their parents as far as taking part in Bahá'í activities is concerned. Their aim should be to gradually awaken in their parents' hearts the same love for Bahá'u'lláh that has fired their own and not to antagonize their parents needlessly or contribute in any way to disharmony in their families at this crucial point in their development.
(1 March 1972 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Finland)Page 447
978. The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 11 October 1976 inquiring whether children placed in the home of Bahá'ís for temporary or prolonged care are permitted to attend Bahá'í functions, and we have been asked to inform you that such children may be permitted to attend the Nineteen Day Feasts and other Bahá'í functions, and that no distinction should be made between them and the children of Bahá'ís in this regard.
(31 October 1976 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a Bahá'í group)
979. ... the House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be. It is realized that some Bahá'í observances are lengthy and it is difficult for very small children to remain quiet for so long. In such cases one or other of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child. The Spiritual Assembly can also perhaps help the parents by providing for a children's observance, suited to their capacities, in a separate room during part of the community's observance. Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration thus becomes a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behaviour.
In any case, the House of Justice points out that parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Bahá'í meetings. If children persist in creating a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting. This is not merely necessary to ensure the properly dignified conduct of Bahá'í meetings but is an aspect of the training of children in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents.
(14 October 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
980. It would not be administratively proper for a Bahá'í youth under 21 years of age to act as Chairman of the Nineteen Day Feast. However, no great issue should be made of this as it is a purely private matter.
(22 February 1984 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy)Page 448
981. In response to the question you have raised in your letter of 18 October 1984 concerning the place of children in the community, especially with regard to Nineteen Day Feasts, we are asked to share with you the following quotation from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly on the subject. Since children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Bahá'ís, they are to be encouraged to attend all Feasts, there to share the reading of the Writings and prayers and be bathed in the spirit of the community. It is the hope of the House of Justice that every Feast will be a feast of love when the children will give and receive the tangible affection of the community and its individual members. The House of Justice noted the suggestion you have made about holding Feasts on a weekend close to the first day of the Bahá'í month to facilitate the attendance of children and their parents. This is a matter for the Local Assembly to discuss and decide upon ...
(22 November 1984 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
8. The Feast Celebration: Prayers and Scriptural Readings
From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi[1 To individual believers except where noted.]
982. With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that he not only approves of such a practice, but thinks it even advisable that the believers should make use in their meetings of hymns composed by Bahá'ís themselves, and also of such hymns, poems and chants as are based on the Holy Words.(April 1935)
983. Regarding your questions: the Devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast means the reading of prayers by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. If, after this, there is a period of reading of the teachings, his [the Guardian's] writings may be included, but this does not form part of the devotional aspect of the meeting.(15 December 1947)
984. Regarding the question you asked him about the Bahá'í sacred writings: These should be regarded as the writings of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, and only these should be read during the purely devotional part of the Feast.
(11 May 1948 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand)
985. During the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast any part of the writings of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and the Master can be read, also from The Bible and Quran, as these are all sacred scriptures. This part of the meeting need not be confined to prayers, though prayers can and should be read during it.(18 October 1948)
986. The question regarding the devotional part of the Feast has been obscured because once he used the term "devotional" in its strict sense, which of course means prayer, and once loosely, in the sense in which the Bahá'ís usually understand it, and that is the meeting together and reading from the teachings which precedes the administrative -- or consultative -- aspect of the Nineteen Day Feast. The two statements in no way change the method of holding this part of the Feast which, in the East at any rate, is always opened with prayers and afterwards Tablets and excerpts from Bahá'u'lláh's, or the Master's or the Guardian's, writings may be read or, for that matter, The Bible or Quran quoted.
(11 April 1949 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
987. Music is permitted during the spiritual part -- or any part -- of the Nineteen Day Feast.
(30 June 1952 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
Regarding the questions you raised in your letter:
988. First, he feels that, although in principle there is certainly no reason why excerpts from other Sacred Scriptures should not be read in the spiritual part of our Feasts, as this is particularly an occasion when Bahá'ís get together to deepen their own spiritual life, it is, generally speaking, advisable for them to read from their own holy Writings in the spiritual part of the Feast.(18 February 1954)
989. The Writings of The Báb and Bahá'u'lláh can certainly be read any time at any place; likewise the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá are read freely during the spiritual part of the Feast. The Guardian has instructed that during the spiritual part of the Feast, his own Writings should not be read. In other words, during the spiritual part of the Feast, readings should be confined to the Writings of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and, to a lesser extent, of the Master; but during that part of the Feast the Guardian's Writings should not be read. During the period of administrative discussion of the Feast, then the Guardian's Writings may be read. Of course during the administrative part of the Feast there can be no objection to the reading of the Writings of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh or `Abdu'l-Bahá.(27 April 1956)
990. Instrumental music may be used at the Bahá'í Feasts. There is no objection to showing appreciation by the clapping of hands.
If an individual has a teaching appointment on the same evening as a Nineteen Day Feast, it is left to the individual to judge which is the most important.(20 August 1956)
From Letters Written by the Universal House of Justice
991. We have noted in your Minutes of 27 December, page 1, a statement, "It was agreed to advise the friends in ... that it was not correct to sing a song composed by a Bahá'í at the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast."
It is not clear what your framework of reference for consultation happened to be, nor if a direct question was referred to your National Assembly for decision. However, we feel that it will be helpful to you to know that songs whose words are the primary Writings of The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh or `Abdu'l-Bahá are all quite fitting for the devotional portion of the Feast. Indeed, the Persian chants are such songs, out of a different tradition; they are a way of giving music to the holy Word, and each person who chants does it in a way which mirrors his feeling and expression of the Words he is uttering. As for songs whose words are poetic and the composition of persons other than the Figures of the Faith, these may bePage 451
desirable but in their proper place, for, as you know, "music is the language of the spirit."
Inasmuch as the spirit of our gathering is so much affected by the tone and quality of our worship, of our feeling and appreciation of the Word of God for this day, we would hope that you would encourage the most beautiful possible expression of the human spirits in your communities, through music among other modes of feeling.
(22 February 1971 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana)
992. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts.(15 October 1972 to an individual believer)
[See also extract 71, referring to the use of the Guardian's Persian writings in the devotional portion of the Feast in Eastern Bahá'í communities.]9. The Feast Celebration: Consultation
993. The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feasts is to enable individual believers to offer any suggestion to the Local Assembly, which in its turn will pass it to the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Assembly is, therefore, the proper medium through which local Bahá'í communities can communicate with the body of the national representatives. The Convention should be regarded as a temporary gathering, having certain specific functions to perform during a limited period of time. Its status is thus limited in time to the Convention sessions, the function of consultation at all other times being vested in the entire body of the believers through the Local Spiritual Assemblies.
(18 November 1933 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)Page 452
994. The chief opportunity which the friends have for discussion on administrative questions is during the Nineteen Day Feasts, at which time the members of the Assembly can meet with the body of the believers and discuss in common the affairs of the Cause, and suggest new policies and methods. But even then no reference to individuals should be made.(27 March 1938 to an individual believer)
995. Now with reference to your last dear letter in which you had asked whether the believers have the right to openly express their criticism of any Assembly action or policy: it is not only the right, but the vital responsibility of every loyal and intelligent member of the Community to offer fully and frankly, but with due respect and consideration to the authority of the Assembly, any suggestion, recommendation or criticism he conscientiously feels he should in order to improve and remedy certain existing conditions or trends in his local Community, and it is the duty of the Assembly also to give careful consideration to any such views submitted to them by any one of the believers. The best occasion chosen for this purpose is the Nineteen Day Feast, which, besides its social and spiritual aspects, fulfils various administrative needs and requirements of the Community, chief among them being the need for open and constructive criticism and deliberation regarding the state of affairs within the local Bahá'í Community. But again it should be stressed that all criticisms and discussions of a negative character which may result in undermining the authority of the Assembly as a body should be strictly avoided. For otherwise the order of the Cause itself will be endangered, and confusion and discord will reign in the Community.(13 December 1939 to an individual believer)
996. The Bahá'ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire -- so natural in people -- to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the Nineteen Day Feasts for the Community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise the Assembly members shouldPage 453
fully consult, and in their decisions put the interests of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing.
(30 June 1949 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria)
From Letters Written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
997. As you no doubt realize by this time, enrolling large numbers of new believers in a short period of time brings with it many problems of consolidation, but we are certain that you will be able to handle these problems and move on to even greater achievements.
We note from reading your minutes that the enthusiasm of some of the new believers is being tested by the reading of long, wordy letters at Nineteen Day Feasts, and we think that something should be done about this. While it is important that the believers be informed about important messages from the Holy Land and other important items, it is true that the reading of messages at Nineteen Day Feasts can become a very boring and trying experience particularly for new believers not acquainted with many aspects of Bahá'í administration. We think you should consider other ways and means by which believers could be informed of vital and necessary information, such as through bulletins, institutes and other meetings.
(6 September 1971 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Hawaiian Islands)
998. As cited in Article IV of the By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, "While retaining the sacred right of final decision in all matters pertaining to the Bahá'í community, the Spiritual Assembly shall ever seek the advice and consultation of all members of the community, keep the community informed of all its affairs, and invite full and free discussion on the part of the community of all matters affecting Faith".
The actual voting on recommendations made at Nineteen Day Feasts to decide whether they should be forwarded to the Local Assembly is a secondary matter which may be left for decision by the Local Spiritual Assemblies themselves. It is not prohibited that the Local Assembly secretary record suggestions made at Nineteen Day Feasts forPage 454
consideration by the Assembly. The important point to keep in mind is the provision made in the By-Laws as mentioned above.
(21 January 1982, memorandum written by the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre)
999. Bahá'í youth between the ages of 15 and 21 may certainly take part in discussions, and should be encouraged to do so, but they may not vote on recommendations to the Assembly until they 21.
(16 September 1979 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom)
1000. As a Local Spiritual Assembly is responsible for the organization of Nineteen Day Feasts, and is expected to make a report of its activities to the community at the Feast, in addition to responding to suggestions submitted to it, a Local Assembly should meet at least once a Bahá'í month. However, the Universal House of Justice does not wish to draw hard and fast rules in this matter, and prefers to leave this question to the discretion of each National Assembly.
If a local community, under the direction of its Local Assembly, observes Nineteen Day Feasts regularly, and it occasionally has a joint Feast with one or more other communities, you may credit in your statistics each Assembly for having held its own Nineteen Day Feast. You, of course, realize that joint Feasts do not fulfil the purpose of the Nineteen Day Feast in its strict sense, and should not become a regular practice among the friends.
(15 February 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Transkei)
1001. If the friends at a Nineteen Day Feast agree with a recommendation, either unanimously or by a majority, it constitutes a recommendation from the Feast to the Assembly. On the other hand, if an individual believer makes a suggestion that other friends do not take up, it may still be considered by the Assembly....
(27 July 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany)Page 455
1002. There are a number of factors involved in understanding the nature of appropriate interaction between a believer and his or her Local Spiritual Assembly during the consultative part of the Nineteen Day Feast. Chief among these is an appreciation of the purpose of this most important Institution of the Cause. `Abdu'l-Bahá described the Feast in these terms:
This Feast is a bringer of joy. It is the groundwork of agreement and unity. It is the key to affection and fellowship. It diffuseth the oneness of mankind.
(25 July 1984 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina) [see also extract 4]
1003. The By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly clearly imply the roles of the chairman and vice-chairman for meetings of the Assembly. For Feasts, the chairman or an appointed representative of the Spiritual Assembly presides during the period of consultation. However, this is not specified in the By-Laws and is a secondary matter left to the discretion of the National Assembly in each country; that Assembly may either adopt a uniform procedure for Local Assemblies to follow, or leave the matter to the discretion of the Local Assembly itself....
(23 December 1986 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)10. The Feast Celebration: Socializing
From a Memorandum Written by the Universal House of Justice
1004. We can understand the desire of some of the friends to provide a warm welcome at the Feasts to newly declared believers and particularly youth, and we see no objection to the Assembly giving a reception before the actual Feast to achieve this purpose. As the Feast is frequently held in the evening, the Assembly might consider it desirable to arrange for the believers to have a light evening meal together before the Feast is held or it could, for example, arrange for social activities of an appropriate kind while the friends are gathering prior to the actual commencement of thePage 456
Nineteen Day Feast. This should not, however, take the place of the social part of the Feast itself.
(21 January 1973, to the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land)
11. The Blending of Cultures in the Feast Celebration
From Letters written by or on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
1005. We have considered your letter of March 11, 1970 concerning the difficulties you are experiencing in getting the Indian believers on reservations to hold regular Nineteen Day Feasts.
In applying instructions about Nineteen Day Feasts, as well as other matters of administration, to indigenous believers it is important that the process of weaning them away from the old forms should be accomplished gradually so as not to destroy their spirit, and your Assembly should not be too rigid in these matters.
(3 April 1970 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
1006. The International Teaching Centre has sent us a copy of your letter of 10 October 1982 asking about language problems brought about by the influx of Iranians who do not understand English. It is important that the Iranian friends be encouraged to make the effort to learn the language used in the country and become integrated into the life and activities of the community.
The Nineteen Day Feasts and other official gatherings of the friends should be conducted in whatever is the conventional local language. This does not mean, of course, that at such gatherings some of the readings could not be in the language of the immigrants, or that, if these friends so wish, some classes and conferences may not be held and conducted in their own language for their benefit. The essential thing is, as stated above, to promote the integration of the immigrants into the community and avoid feelings of estrangement or disunity on account of language.
(10 November 1982 written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)Page 457
1007. The Local Spiritual Assembly of ... is correct in its decision to conduct the Nineteen Day Feasts in Spanish and to not translate the proceedings in Persian, especially in view of the fact that some of the Spanish friends are becoming alienated from the community. Although the Iranian believers should make every effort to attend the Nineteen Day Feasts, they should not expect such meetings to be conducted in Persian. They should try to learn Spanish, particularly if they are planning to make their home in Spain. There is no objection, however, to Persian friends if they so wish having special meetings for fellowship and deepening conducted in Persian.
(6 February 1983 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Spain)
1008. You have asked for suggestions regarding the preparation of the handbook on Bahá'í Holy Days which you are planning to publish. It is important that notwithstanding whatever details you set forth therein, it be made clear that the contents do not constitute procedures that must be rigidly adhered to. Dignity and reverence befitting the occasion should obviously characterize observances of Bahá'í Holy Days by the friends, but this does not mean that cultural traditions which do not contravene Bahá'í principles may not, and cannot, find expression in the local observances and meetings of the friends.
(1 August 1983 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
1009. In answer to your question about the presence of pets during Bahá'í meetings held in homes in Europe, the House of Justice asks us to explain that the European attitude to pets is very different from that of the people of, for example, North Africa, and that this is a minor matter of which no issue should be made.
(29 August 1983 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
1010. Wherever linguistic problems exist, the House of Justice welcomes the holding of special classes and gatherings for the Iranian friends in addition to the regular community meetings, so that they will have the opportunity to study the Holy Writings in their own language and will bePage 458
kept informed of what is going on in the Bahá'í community of Canada. Nineteen Day Feasts and Local Spiritual Assembly meetings should be conducted in English or French, as the case may be, since these are the languages of your country. If, however, it is possible to make arrangements for the Iranians who have not yet learned the language to benefit in some way from the topics discussed at such meetings without interfering with the smooth running of the meetings, this factor could be taken into consideration.
(7 February 1984 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
1011. The House of Justice has given the advice to Spiritual Assemblies faced with questions of possible conflict between tribal practices and Bahá'í law, that such Assemblies should distinguish between aspects of tribal community life which are related to fundamental laws (such as monogamy) and matters of lesser importance, from which the friends can and should extricate themselves gradually. Furthermore, the House of Justice has offered the advice that: The institutions of the Faith should be careful not to press the friends to arbitrarily discard those local traditions which are harmless and often colourful characteristics of particular peoples and tribes. Were a new Bahá'í suddenly to cease following the customs of his people, it is possible that they might misunderstand the true nature of the Bahá'í Faith, and the Bahá'ís could be regarded as having turned against the traditions of the land ...
(25 October 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to two believers)Revised November 1990
SELECTIONS FROM Bahá'í WRITINGS ON SOME ASPECTS OF HEALTH, HEALING, NUTRITION AND RELATED MATTERS
April 1984 Compiled by: The Research Department of the Universal House of JusticeEXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF Bahá'u'lláh
1012. Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians. Verily, We have not abolished recourse to material means, rather have We affirmed it through this Pen which God hath made the Dawning Place of His luminous and resplendent Cause.
("Kitáb-i-Aqdas" - provisional translation from the Arabic)
1013. We have granted you permission to study such sciences as will benefit you, not those which lead to idle disputes. Better is this for you, did ye but know.
("Kitáb-i-Aqdas" - provisional translation from the Arabic)
1014. Whatever competent physicians or surgeons prescribe for a patient should be accepted and complied with, provided that they are adorned with the ornament of justice. If they were to be endued with divine understanding, that would certainly be preferable and more desirable.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1015. Well is it with the physician who cureth ailments in My hallowed and dearly-cherished Name.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
1016. In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality.("Kitáb-i-Badi"' - translated from the Persian)
1017. Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments. Consider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), sec. 80, pp. 153-54)O BEFRIENDED STRANGER!
1018. The candle of thine heart is lighted by the hand of My power, quench it not with the contrary winds of self and passion. The healer of all thine ills is remembrance of Me, forget it not. Make My love thy treasure and cherish it even as thy very sight and life.
("The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh", Persian no. 32, rev. ed. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 43)
1019. Do not neglect medical treatment when it is necessary, but leave it off when health has been restored.... Treat disease through diet, by preference, refraining from the use of drugs; and if you find what is required in a single herb, do not resort to a compounded medicament. Abstain from drugs when the health is good, but administer them when necessary.
(Cited in J. E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 106)
1020. Verily the most necessary thing is contentment under all circumstances; by this one is preserved from morbid conditions and from lassitude. Yield not to grief and sorrow: they cause the greatest misery. Jealousy consumeth the body and anger doth burn the liver: avoid these two as you would a lion.(Cited in "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", p. 108)
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS AND UTTERANCES OF `Abdu'l-Bahá
1021. Thou shouldst endeavour to study the science of medicine. It is extremely useful and serveth as the greatest instrument for the dissemination of the Cause. It is absolutely imperative that thou acquire this bounty. Strive day and night that thou mayest become highly qualified in this science. And when thou wishest to dispense treatment set thy heart toward the Abhá Kingdom, entreating divine confirmations.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1022. Thou shouldst continue thy profession and at the same time try to serve the Kingdom of God.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1023. Thou hast written about thy poor sight. According to the explicit divine text the sick must refer to the doctor. This decree is decisive and everyone is bound to observe it. While thou art there thou shouldst consult the most skilled and the most famed eye specialist.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1024. One must obey the command of God and submit to medical opinion. Thou hast undertaken this journey to comply with His command and not for the sake of healing, since healing is in the hand of God, not in the hand of doctors.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1025. That the Most Great Name exerciseth influence over both physical and spiritual matters is sure and certain.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1026. The child must, from the day of his birth, be provided with whatever is conducive to his health; and know ye this: so far as possible, the mother's milk is best for, more agreeable and better suited to the child, unless she should fall ill or her milk should run entirely dry....(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1027. When thou wishest to treat nervous pains turn thy whole being to the realm on high with thine heart detached from aught else besides Him and thy soul enraptured by the love of God. Then seek confirmation of the Holy Spirit from the Abhá Kingdom, while touching the affected part with utmost love, tenderness and attraction to God. When all these things are combined, be assured that healing will take place.(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)
1028. Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food also is meat.
But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut the fruit. Therefore he 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. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. 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 undoubtedly be better and more pleasing.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1029. Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying that these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created for meat- eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man are made for eating fruit, cereals and vegetables. These four teeth, however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds. But eating meat is not forbidden or unlawful, nay, the point is this, that it is possible for man to live without eating meat and still be strong. Meat is nourishing and containeth the elements of herbs, seeds and fruits; therefore sometimes it is essential for the sick and for the rehabilitation of health. There is no objection in the Law of God to the eating of meat if it is required. So if thy constitution is rather weak and thou findest meat useful, thou mayest eat it.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1030. Thy letter was received. I hope that thou mayest be protected and assisted under the providence of the True One, be occupied always in mentioning the Lord and display effort to complete thy profession. Thou must endeavour greatly so that thou mayest become unique in thy profession and famous in those parts, because attaining perfection in one's profession in this merciful period is considered to be worship of God. And whilst thou art occupied with thy profession, thou canst remember the True One.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu 'l-Baha" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 128, pp. 145-46)
1031. O ye, God's loved ones! Experience hath shown how greatly the renouncing of smoking, of intoxicating drink, and of opium, conduceth to health and vigour, to the expansion and keenness of the mind and to bodily strength. There is today a people who strictly avoid tobacco, intoxicating liquor and opium. This people is far and away superior to the others, for strength and physical courage, for health, beauty and comeliness. A single one of their men can stand up to ten men of another tribe. This hath proved true of the entire people: that is, member for member, each individual of this community is in every respect superior to the individuals of other communities.Page 464
Make ye then a mighty effort, that the purity and sanctity which, above all else, are cherished by `Abdu'l-Bahá, shall distinguish the people of Baha; that in every kind of excellence the people of God shall surpass all other human beings; that both outwardly and inwardly they shall prove superior to the rest; that for purity, immaculacy, refinement, and the preservation of health, they shall be leaders in the vanguard of those who know. And that by their freedom from enslavement, their knowledge, their self-control, they shall be first among the pure, the free and the wise.
[1 Possibly `Abdu'l-Bahá was referring to the Sikhs; the description appears to apply to them.]
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 129, p. 150)
1032. O thou distinguished physician! ... Praise be to God that thou hast two powers: one to undertake physical healing and the other spiritual healing. Matters related to man's spirit have a great effect on his bodily condition. For instance, thou shouldst impart gladness to thy patient, give him comfort and joy, and bring him to ecstasy and exultation. How often hath it occurred that this hath caused early recovery. Therefore, treat thou the sick with both powers. Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 130, pp. 150-51)
1033. Although ill health is one of the unavoidable conditions of man, truly it is hard to bear. The bounty of good health is the greatest of all gifts.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu 'l-Baha", sec. 132, p. 151)
1034. When giving medical treatment turn to the Blessed Beauty, then follow the dictates of thy heart. Remedy the sick by means of heavenly joy and spiritual exultation, cure the sorely afflicted by imparting to them blissful glad tidings and heal the wounded through His resplendent bestowals. When at the bedside of a patient, cheer and gladden his heart and enrapture his spirit through celestial power. Indeed, such a heavenly breath quickeneth every mouldering bone and reviveth the spirit of every sick and ailing one.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá" sec. 131, p. 151)Page 465
1035. There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is by the treatment of physicians; the second consisteth in prayers offered by the spiritual ones to God and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practised.
Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst also accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects.
Now, if thou wishest to know the true remedy which will heal man from all sickness and will give him the health of the divine kingdom, know that it is the precepts and teachings of God. Focus thine attention upon them.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec 133, pp. 151-52)
1036. O thou who art attracted to the fragrant breathings of God! I have read thy letter addressed to Mrs. Lua Getsinger. Thou hast indeed examined with great care the reasons for the incursion of disease into the human body. It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.
But man hath perversely continued to serve his lustful appetites, and he would not content himself with simple foods. Rather, he prepared for himself food that was compounded of many ingredients, of substances differing one from the other. With this, and with the perpetrating of vile and ignoble acts, his attention was engrossed, and he abandoned the temperance and moderation of a natural way of life. The result was the engendering of diseases both violent and diverse.Page 466
For the animal, as to its body, is made up of the same constituent elements as man. Since, however, the animal contenteth itself with simple foods and striveth not to indulge its importunate urges to any great degree, and committeth no sins, its ailments relative to man's are few. We see clearly, therefore, how powerful are sin and contumacy as pathogenic factors. And once engendered these diseases become compounded, multiply, and are transmitted to others. Such are the spiritual, inner causes of sickness.
The outer, physical causal factor in disease, however, is a disturbance in the balance, the proportionate equilibrium of all those elements of which the human body is composed. To illustrate: the body of man is a compound of many constituent substances, each component being present in a prescribed amount, contributing to the essential equilibrium of the whole. So long as these constituents remain in their due proportion, according to the natural balance of the whole -- that is, no component suffereth a change in its natural proportionate degree and balance, no component being either augmented or decreased -- there will be no physical cause for the incursion of disease.
For example, the starch component must be present to a given amount, and the sugar to a given amount. So long as each remaineth in its natural proportion to the whole, there will be no cause for the onset of disease. When, however, these constituents vary as to their natural and due amounts -- that is, when they are augmented or diminished -- it is certain that this will provide for the inroads of disease.
This question requireth the most careful investigation. The Báb hath said that the people of Bahá must develop the science of medicine to such a high degree that they will heal illnesses by means of foods. The basic reason for this is that if, in some component substance of the human body, an imbalance should occur, altering its correct, relative proportion to the whole, this fact will inevitably result in the onset of disease. If, for example, the starch component should be unduly augmented, or the sugar component decreased, an illness will take control. It is the function of a skilled physician to determine which constituent of his patient's body hath suffered diminution, which hath been augmented. Once he hath discovered this, he must prescribe a food containing the diminished element in considerable amounts, to re- establish the body's essentialPage 467
equilibrium. The patient, once his constitution is again in balance, will be rid of his disease.
The proof of this is that while other animals have never studied medical science, nor carried on researches into diseases or medicines, treatments or cures -- even so, when one of them falleth a prey to sickness, nature leadeth it, in fields or desert places, to the very plant which, once eaten, will rid the animal of its disease. The explanation is that if, as an example, the sugar component in the animal's body hath decreased, according to a natural law the animal hankereth after a herb that is rich in sugar. Then, by a natural urge, which is the appetite, among a thousand different varieties of plants across the field, the animal will discover and consume that herb which containeth a sugar component in large amounts. Thus the essential balance of the substances composing its body is re-established, and the animal is rid of its disease.
This question requireth the most careful investigation. When highly-skilled physicians shall fully examine this matter, thoroughly and perseveringly, it will be clearly seen that the incursion of disease is due to a disturbance in the relative amounts of the body's component substances, and that treatment consisteth in adjusting these relative amounts, and that this can be apprehended and made possible by means of foods.
It is certain that in this wonderful new age the development of medical science will lead to the doctors' healing their patients with foods. For the sense of sight, the sense of hearing, of taste, of smell, of touch -- all these are discriminative faculties, their purpose being to separate the beneficial from whatever causeth harm. Now, is it possible that man's sense of smell, the sense that differentiates odours, should find some odour repugnant, and that odour be beneficial to the human body? Absurd! Impossible! In the same way, could the human body, through the faculty of sight -- the differentiator among things visible -- benefit from gazing upon a revolting mass of excrement? Never! Again, if the sense of taste, likewise a faculty that selecteth and rejecteth, be offended by something, that thing is certainly not beneficial; and if, at the outset, it may yield some advantage, in the long run its harmfulness will be established.
And likewise, when the constitution is in a state of equilibrium, there is no doubt that whatever is relished will be beneficial to health. ObservePage 468
how an animal will graze in a field where there are a hundred thousand kinds of herbs and grasses, and how, with its sense of smell, it snuffeth up the odours of the plants, and tasteth them with its sense of taste; then it consumeth whatever herb is pleasurable to these senses, and benefitteth therefrom. Were it not for this power of selectivity, the animals would all be dead in a single day; for there are a great many poisonous plants, and animals know nothing of the pharmacopoeia. And yet, observe what a reliable set of scales they have, by means of which to differentiate the good from the injurious. Whatever constituent of their body hath decreased, they can rehabilitate by seeking out and consuming some plant that hath an abundant store of that diminished element; and thus the equilibrium of their bodily components is re- established, and they are rid of their disease.
At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. In the same way, in the character, the conduct and the manners of men, universal modifications will be made.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu 'l-Baha", sec. 134, pp. 152-156)
1037. According to the explicit decree of Bahá'u'lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec 135, p. 156)
1038. It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor's instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec 136, p. 156)
1039. O handmaid of God! The prayers which were revealed to ask for healing apply both to physical and spiritual healing. Recite them, then,Page 469
to heal both the soul and the body. If healing is right for the patient, it will certainly be granted; but for some ailing persons, healing would only be the cause of other ills, and therefore wisdom doth not permit an affirmative answer to the prayer.
O handmaid of God! The power of the Holy Spirit healeth both physical and spiritual ailments.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec 139, pp. 161-62)
1040. ...every branch of learning, conjoined with the love of God, is approved and worthy of praise; but bereft of His love, learning is barren -- indeed, it bringeth on madness. Every kind of knowledge, every science, is as a tree: if the fruit of it be the love of God, then is it a blessed tree, but if not, that tree is but dried-up wood, and shall only feed the fire.
O thou loyal servant of God and thou spiritual healer of man! Whensoever thou dost attend a patient, turn thy face toward the Lord of the heavenly Kingdom, ask the Holy Spirit to come to thine aid, then heal thou the sickness.
("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", sec 154, p. 181)
1041. ...if a doctor consoles a sick man by saying, "Thank God you are better, and there is hope of your recovery," though these words are contrary to the truth, yet they may become the consolation of the patient and the turning point of the illness. This is not blameworthy.
("Some Answered Questions", 1st pocket-sized ed. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), pp. 215-16)
1042. If the health and well-being of the body be expended in the path of the Kingdom, this is very acceptable and praiseworthy; and if it be expended to the benefit of the human world in general -- even though it be to their material benefit -- and be a means of doing good, that is also acceptable. But if the health and welfare of man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal plane, and in devilish pursuits -- then disease were better than such health; nay, death itself were preferable to such a life. If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for serving the Kingdom. I hope that thou mayest attain perfect insight, inflexible resolution, complete health, and spiritual and physical strength in orderPage 470
that thou mayest drink from the fountain of eternal life and be assisted by the spirit of divine confirmation.
(Cited in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", pp. 114-15)
1043. I ever pray on her behalf and beg from God His divine remedy and healing. As in this Dispensation consultation with expert doctors is highly advisable and acting in accordance with their prescriptions obligatory, it is well for her to undergo an operation if deemed necessary by such doctors.
(Cited in "Star of the West", vol. 12, no. 7 July 1921), p. 134)
1044. Therefore, it is evident that this spirit is different from the body, and that the bird is different from the cage, and that the power and penetration of the spirit is stronger without the intermediary of the body. Now, if the instrument is abandoned, the possessor of the instrument continues to act. For example, if the pen is abandoned or broken, the writer remains living and present; if a house is ruined, the owner is alive and existing. This is one of the logical evidences for the immortality of the soul.
There is another: this body becomes weak or heavy or sick, or it finds health; it becomes tired or rested; sometimes the hand or leg is amputated, or its physical power is crippled; it becomes blind or deaf or dumb; its limbs may become paralyzed; briefly, the body may have all the imperfections. Nevertheless, the spirit in its original state, in its own spiritual perception, will be eternal and perpetual; it neither finds any imperfection, nor will it become crippled. But when the body is wholly subjected to disease and misfortune, it is deprived of the bounty of the spirit, like a mirror which, when it becomes broken or dirty or dusty, cannot reflect the rays of the sun nor any longer show its bounties.
We have already explained that the spirit of man is not in the body because it is freed and sanctified from entrance and exit, which are bodily conditions. The connection of the spirit with the body is like that of the sun with the mirror. Briefly, the human spirit is in one condition. It neither becomes ill from the diseases of the body nor cured by its health; it does not become sick, nor weak, nor miserable, nor poor, nor light, nor small -- that is to say, it will not be injured because of the infirmities of the body, and no effect will be visible even if the body becomes weak, orPage 471
if the hands and feet and tongue be cut off, or if it loses the power of hearing or sight. Therefore, it is evident and certain that the spirit is different from the body, and that its duration is independent of that of the body; on the contrary, the spirit with the utmost greatness rules in the world of the body; and its power and influence, like the bounty of the sun in the mirror, are apparent and visible. But when the mirror becomes dusty or breaks, it will cease to reflect the rays of the sun.("Some Answered Questions", pp. 228-29)
1045. Question. -- Some people heal the sick by spiritual means -- that is to say, without medicine. How is this?
Answer. -- Know that there are four kinds of curing and healing without medicine. Two are due to material causes, and two to spiritual causes.
Of the two kinds of material healing, one is due to the fact that in man both health and sickness are contagious. The contagion of disease is violent and rapid, while that of health is extremely weak and slow. If two bodies are brought into contact with each other, it is certain that microbic particles will pass from one to the other. In the same way that disease is transferred from one body to another with rapid and strong contagion, it may be that the strong health of a healthy man will alleviate a very slight malady in a sick person. That is to say, the contagion of disease is violent and has a rapid effect, while that of health is very slow and has a small effect, and it is only in very slight diseases that it has even this small effect. The strong power of a healthy body can overcome a slight weakness of a sick body, and health results. This is one kind of healing.
The other kind of healing without medicine is through the magnetic force which acts from one body on another and becomes the cause of cure. This force also has only a slight effect. Sometimes one can benefit a sick person by placing one's hand upon his head or upon his heart. Why? Because of the effect of the magnetism, and of the mental impression made upon the sick person, which causes the disease to vanish. But this effect is also very slight and weak.
Of the two other kinds of healing which are spiritual -- that is to say, where the means of cure is a spiritual power -- one results from the entire concentration of the mind of a strong person upon a sick person, when the latter expects with all his concentrated faith that a cure will be effectedPage 472
from the spiritual power of the strong person, to such an extent that there will be a cordial connection between the strong person and the invalid. The strong person makes every effort to cure the sick patient, and the sick patient is then sure of receiving a cure. From the effect of these mental impressions an excitement of the nerves is produced, and this impression and this excitement of the nerves will become the cause of the recovery of the sick person. So when a sick person has a strong desire and intense hope for something and hears suddenly the tidings of its realization, a nervous excitement is produced which will make the malady entirely disappear. In the same way, if a cause of terror suddenly occurs, perhaps an excitement may be produced in the nerves of a strong person which will immediately cause a malady. The cause of the sickness will be no material thing, for that person has not eaten anything, and nothing harmful has touched him; the excitement of the nerves is then the only cause of the illness. In the same way the sudden realization of a chief desire will give such joy that the nerves will be excited by it, and this excitement may produce health.
To conclude, the complete and perfect connection between the spiritual doctor and the sick person -- that is, a connection of such a kind that the spiritual doctor entirely concentrates himself, and all the attention of the sick person is given to the spiritual doctor from whom he expects to realize health -- causes an excitement of the nerves, and health is produced. But all this has effect only to a certain extent, and that not always. For if someone is afflicted with a very violent disease, or is wounded, these means will not remove the disease nor close and heal the wound -- that is to say, these means have no power in severe maladies, unless the constitution helps, because a strong constitution often overcomes disease. This is the third kind of healing.
But the fourth kind of healing is produced through the power of the Holy Spirit. This does not depend on contact, nor on sight, nor upon presence; it is not dependent upon any condition. Whether the disease be light or severe, whether there be a contact of bodies or not, whether a personal connection be established between the sick person and the healer or not, this healing takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit.("Some Answered Questions", pp. 254-256)
1046. Yesterday at table we spoke of curative treatment and spiritual healing, which consists in treating maladies through the spiritual powers.
Now let us speak of material healing. The science of medicine is still in a condition of infancy; it has not reached maturity. But when it has reached this point, cures will be performed by things which are not repulsive to the smell and taste of man -- that is to say, by aliments, fruits and vegetables which are agreeable to the taste and have an agreeable smell. For the provoking cause of disease -- that is to say, the cause of the entrance of disease into the human body -- is either a physical one or is the effect of excitement of the nerves.
But the principal causes of disease are physical, for the human body is composed of numerous elements, but in the measure of an especial equilibrium. As long as this equilibrium is maintained, man is preserved from disease; but if this essential balance, which is the pivot of the constitution, is disturbed, the constitution is disordered, and disease will supervene.
For instance, there is a decrease in one of the constituent ingredients of the body of man, and in another there is an increase; so the proportion of the equilibrium is disturbed, and disease occurs. For example, one ingredient must be one thousand grams in weight, and another five grams, in order that the equilibrium be maintained. The part which is one thousand grams diminishes to seven hundred grams, and that which is five grams augments until the measure of the equilibrium is disturbed; then disease occurs. When by remedies and treatments the equilibrium is reestablished, the disease is banished. So if the sugar constituent increases, the health is impaired; and when the doctor forbids sweet and starchy foods, the sugar constituent diminishes, the equilibrium is reestablished, and the disease is driven off. Now the readjustment of these constituents of the human body is obtained by two means -- either by medicines or by aliments; and when the constitution has recovered its equilibrium, disease is banished. All the elements that are combined in man exist also in vegetables; therefore, if one of the constituents which compose the body of man diminishes, and he partakes of foods in which there is much of that diminished constituent, then the equilibrium will be established, and a cure will be obtained. So long as the aim is the readjustment of the constituents of the body, it can be effected either by medicine or by food.Page 474
The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal, but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the wilderness, the animal's physician is the power of taste and smell. The sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured. The cause of his healing is this. When the sugar ingredient has become diminished in his constitution, he begins to long for sweet things; therefore, he eats an herb with a sweet taste, for nature urges and guides him; its smell and taste please him, and he eats it. The sugar ingredient in his nature will be increased, and health will be restored.
It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection, treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature. This discourse is brief; but, if God wills, at another time, when the occasion is suitable, this question will be more fully explained.("Some Answered Questions", pp. 257-59)
1047. We should all visit the sick. When they are in sorrow and suffering, it is a real help and benefit to have a friend come. Happiness is a great healer to those who are ill. In the East it is the custom to call upon the patient often and meet him individually. The people in the East show the utmost kindness and compassion to the sick and suffering. This has greater effect than the remedy itself. You must always have this thought of love and affection when you visit the ailing and afflicted.
("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. 204)
1048. All true healing comes from God! There are two causes for sickness, one is material, the other spiritual. If the sickness is of the body, a material remedy is needed, if of the soul, a spiritual remedy.
If the heavenly benediction be upon us while we are being healed then only can we be made whole, for medicine is but the outward and visible means through which we obtain the heavenly healing. Unless thePage 475
spirit be healed, the cure of the body is worth nothing. All is in the hands of God, and without Him there can be no health in us!
There have been many men who have died at last of the very disease of which they have made a special study. Aristotle, for instance, who made a special study of the digestion, died of a gastronomic malady. Aviseu was a specialist of the heart, but he died of heart disease. God is the great compassionate Physician who alone has the power to give true healing.
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by `Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", 11th ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), p. 19)
1049. When an illness is slight a small remedy will suffice to heal it, but when the slight illness becomes a terrible disease, then a very strong remedy must be used by the Divine Healer....
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu 'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912" p. 27)
1050. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by `Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", p. 177)
1051. The healing that is by the power of the Holy Spirit needs no special concentration or contact. It is through the wish or desire and the prayer of the holy person. The one who is sick may be in the East and the healer in the West, and they may not have been acquainted with each other, but as soon as that holy person turns his heart to God and begins to pray, the sick one is healed. This is a gift belonging to the Holy Manifestations and those who are in the highest station.(Cited in "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era" p. 109)
1052. "What will be the food of the future?" "Fruit and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this natural food."
(Julia M. Grundy. "Ten Days in the Light of 'Akka", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), pp. 8-9)Page 476
EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI
(The following are from letters to individual believers unless otherwise stated)
1053. In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Bahá'í Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it. It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable. This is, however, a very controversial question and the Bahá'ís are free to express their views on it.(9 July 1931)
1054. `Abdu'l-Bahá does often state that the medical science will much improve. With the appearance of every Revelation a new insight is created in man and this in turn expresses itself in the growth of science. This has happened in past dispensations and we find its earliest fruits in our present day. What we see however is only the beginning. With the spiritual awakening of man this force will develop and marvelous results will become manifest.(14 January 1932 to two believers)
1055. Bahá'u'lláh tells us that in case of disease we should pray but at the same time refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decision. Shoghi Effendi wishes you therefore to find whether your son has really become ill, and if he is, then follow the directions of the doctor. Being versed in the medical sciences they can treat better than even a loving mother can. You can render your assistance by praying for him and at the same time helping the physicians to treat him.(9 April 1933)
1056. In the "Book of Aqdas" Bahá'u'lláh urges us that when we obtain any physical ailment we should refer to the doctor and abide by his decision. Physical and spiritual forces have both to be used to secure the speedy recovery of the patients; no partial treatment is sufficient....(1 June 1933)
1057. Healing through purely spiritual forces is undoubtedly as inadequate as that which materialist physicians and thinkers vainly seek to obtain by resorting entirely to mechanical devices and methods. The best result can be obtained by combining the two processes: spiritual and physical.(12 March 1934)
1058. With regard to your question concerning spiritual healing: Such a healing constitutes, indeed, one of the most effective methods of relieving a person from either his mental or physical pains and sufferings. `Abdu'l-Bahá has in His "Paris Talks" emphasized its importance by stating that it should be used as an essential means for effecting a complete physical cure. Spiritual healing, however, is not and cannot be a substitute for material healing, but it is a most valuable adjunct to it. Both are, indeed, essential and complementary.(16 February 1935)
1059. With reference to your question concerning spiritual healing: Its importance, as you surely know, has been greatly emphasized by `Abdu'l-Bahá, Who considered it, indeed, as an essential part of physical processes of healing. Physical healing cannot be complete and lasting unless it is reinforced by spiritual healing. And this last one can be best obtained through obedience to the laws and commandments of God as revealed to us through His Manifestations. Individual believers, however, can also help by imparting healing to others. But the success of their efforts depends entirely on their strict adherence to the Teachings, and also on the manner in which they impart them to others. According to Bahá'u'lláh man cannot obtain full guidance directly from God. He must rather seek it through His Prophets. Provided this principle is clearly understood and explained, the Guardian sees no harm that the friends should try to effect spiritual healing in others. Any such cure effected, however, should be done in the name of Bahá'u'lláh and in accordance with His teachings. For God, and God alone, is the Supreme and Almighty Physician, and all else are but instruments in His hands.(23 May 1935)
1060. As to your question concerning the meaning of physical suffering and its relation to mental and spiritual healing: Physical pain is a necessaryPage 478
accompaniment of all human existence, and as such is unavoidable. As long as there will be life on earth, there will be also suffering, in various forms and degrees. But suffering, although an inescapable reality, can nevertheless be utilized as a means for the attainment of happiness. This is the interpretation given to it by all the Prophets and saints, who, in the midst of severe tests and trials, felt happy and joyous and experienced what is best and holiest in life. Suffering is both a reminder and a guide. It stimulates us to better adapt ourselves to our environmental conditions, and thus leads the way to self- improvement. In every suffering one can find a meaning and a wisdom. But it is not always easy to find the secret of that wisdom. It is sometimes only when all our suffering has passed that we become aware of its usefulness. What man considers to be evil turns often to be a cause of infinite blessings. And this is due to his desire to know more than he can. God's wisdom is, indeed, inscrutable to us all, and it is no use pushing too far trying to discover that which shall always remain a mystery to our mind.(29 May 1935)
1061. Regarding your questions concerning the condition of the soul during illness: The passages in the "Gleanings" make it quite clear that physical ailments, no matter how severe, cannot bring any change in the inherent condition of the soul. As Bahá'u'lláh says: "The spirit is permanent and steadfast in its station". The veil or hindrance that interposes between soul and body during physical disease is sickness itself. Sickness reveals a lack of balance in the human organism, an absence of equilibrium in the forces essential for the normal functioning of the human body.
[1 The words quoted here are from a translation appearing in Bahá'í Scriptures p. 228. The passage as translated by Shoghi Effendi appears in Gleanings section LXXX, as follows: "...the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments."](8 March 1936)
1062. As to your question regarding the possibility of an artificial production of life by means of an incubator: this is essentially a matter that concerns science, and as such should be investigated and studied by scientists.(31 December 1937)
1063. As to the possibility of conception without the presence of a male sperm in the future: this is a question which lies entirely within the province of science, and which future scientists will have to investigate.(27 February 1938)
1064. The Teachings bear no reference to the question of telepathy. It is a matter that concerns psychology.(28 February 1938)
1065. The eating of pork is not forbidden in the Bahá'í Teachings.(27 March 1938)
1066. These investigations you have so painstakingly pursued in the field of medical science, and on a subject which is still puzzling the minds of all the leading scientists in the world, cannot but be of a captivating interest and of a great value to all medical research workers.
It is significant that you as a believer should have undertaken a work of this nature, as we all know that the powers released by the Manifestation of Bahá'u'lláh in this day are destined in the course of time to reveal themselves through the instrumentality of His followers, and in every conceivable field of human endeavour.
That you should increasingly prove, through your continued researches in the domain of medicine, to be one of those instruments is the fervent hope of our beloved Guardian....(29 November 1938)
1067. Such hindrances, no matter how severe and insuperable they may at first seem, can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined and continued effort....(6 February 1939)
1068. The Bahá'í Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially- conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race -- which is the very flower of the entire creation -- and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.Page 480
That there should be, however, certain individuals who by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.
The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Bahá'í Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the mean time, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation.(15 April 1939)
1069. Also with regard to the practice of circumcision; the Teachings bear no reference to this matter, and it is therefore not enjoined upon the believers.
(14 December 1940 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
1070. Regarding your question about vaccination: these are technical matters which have not been specifically mentioned in the teachings, and consequently the Guardian cannot make any statement about them. No doubt medical science will progress tremendously as time goes by, and the treatment of disease become more perfect.(22 January 1944)
1071. As to your question about healing: although there is no objection to your helping others to regain their health, he does not feel you should associate the name Bahá'í with your work, as it gives a wrong impression; we have no "Bahá'í healers" as Christian Science and various other sects have. You are a Bahá'í and a healer, and that is quite different.(13 December 1945)
1072. The Tablet to a Physician was addressed to a man who was a student of the old type of healing prevalent in the East and familiar with the terminology used in those days, and He addresses him in terms used by the medical men of those days. These terms are quite different from those used by modern medicine, and one would have to have a deep knowledge of this former school of medicine to understand the questions Bahá'u'lláh was elucidating.
The Guardian never goes into technical matters, as this is not his work. Bahá'u'lláh has recommended that people seek the help and advice of experts and doctors; He does not say which school they should belong to.
Likewise there is nothing in the teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw; exercise or not exercise; resort to specific therapies or not; nor is it forbidden to eat meat.
Bahá'u'lláh says teaching is the greatest of all services, but He does not mean one should give up medicine to teach.(18 December 1945)
1073. The greatest form of healing which the Bahá'ís can practice is to heal the spiritually sick souls of men by giving this greatest of all Messages to them. We can also try to help them, both physically and spiritually, through prayer.(25 March 1946)
1074. There is nothing in the teachings which would forbid a Bahá'í to bequeath his eyes to another person or for a Hospital; on the contrary it seems a noble thing to do.(6 September 1946)
1075. He feels you should certainly think of your future and earning your living, and if chiropractic is the work you wish to go in for, you should continue your education; when you are finished it would be highly meritorious to enter the pioneer field, as for many years to come Bahá'í teachers will be needed in distant lands.(31 March 1947)
1076. ...you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It -- the body -- is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation....(23 November 1947)
1077. Very little is as yet known about the mind and its workings. But one thing is certain: Bahá'ís can and do receive a very remarkable help and protection in this world, one which often surprises their doctors very much!(9 April 1948)
1078. The Guardian knows nothing about your kind of healing, nor would he care to go into the question in detail, as he has no time for such matters. But he can lay down for your guidance certain broad principles: there is no such thing as Bahá'í healers or a Bahá'í type of healing. In His Most Holy Book (the Aqdas) Bahá'u'lláh says to consult the best physicians, in other words doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine; He never gave us to believe He Himself would heal us through 'healers', but rather through prayer and the assistance of medicine and approved treatments.
Now, as long as your healing is in no opposition to these principles, as long as you do not try and take the place of a regular doctor in trying to heal others, but only give them your kind of help through constructive suggestion -- or whatever it may be -- and do not associate this help with being a channel of the direct grace of Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian sees no harm in your continuing your assistance to others. But you must conscientiously decide whether in view of the above you are really justified in continuing. He will pray for your guidance and happiness.(8 June 1948)
1079. He does not feel that you should try to do anything special about the capacity you feel to help people when they are ill. This does not mean you should not use it, when the occasion arises, such as it did recently. But hePage 483
means you should not become a "healer" such as the Christian Scientists have, and we Bahá'ís do not have.(25 December 1949)
1080. We have no reason to believe that the healing of the Holy Spirit cannot be attracted by ordinary human beings. But this is rare, a mystery, and a gift of God.(26 March 1950)
1081. There is nothing in our teachings about Freud and his method. Psychiatric treatment in general is no doubt an important contribution to medicine, but we must believe it is still a growing rather than a perfected science. As Bahá'u'lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Bahá'ís are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when advisable, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right, it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us.
(15 June 1950 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
1082. ...as we are a religion and not qualified to pass on scientific matters we cannot sponsor different treatments. We are certainly free to pass on what we have found beneficial to others.(30 September 1950)
1083. The Guardian sees no reason why you should not continue to help sick people. As he wrote some of the believers regarding this matter previously, as long as you do not say you are healing them as a Baha'i, or because you are a Bahá'í (because we have no "healers" in the Cause as such) there can be certainly no objection to your doing it. On the contrary, to be able to help another soul who is in suffering is a great bounty from God.(5 October 1950)
1084. There is nothing in the Teachings about chiropractic as a method of healing. People are free to turn to it if they please and find help through it.(10 February 1951)
1085. Regarding your question: there are very few people who can get along without eight hours sleep. If you are not one of those, you should protect your health by sleeping enough. The Guardian himself finds that it impairs his working capacity if he does not try and get a minimum of seven or eight hours.(15 September 1951 to two believers)
1086. There is nothing in the teachings about Socialized Medicine. All these details are for the House of Justice to decide.(18 February 1951)
1087. Every day medical science is progressing, and it is quite possible that some new form of treatment or some new doctor may be able to get you on your feet. He will certainly pray that this may be so.(24 February 1952)
1088. So you see he cannot possibly pronounce on the merits of Dianetics. The believers are free to investigate new things, and use them if they prove of real value and no harm.(30 August 1952)
1089. He was sorry to hear you have been ill, and urges
you to cooperate fully with your doctors in order to
regain your health as soon as possible and be free toserve the Cause. (19 July 1953)
1090. The beloved Guardian says that the question of circumcision has nothing to do with the Bahá'í Teachings; and the believers are free to do as they please in the matter.(27 March 1954)
1091. He is pleased to see that you are feeling better, and will certainly pray for your full recovery. Before having any serious operation, you should consult more than one qualified physician.(8 April 1954)
1092. Regarding various matters raised in your letters: There is nothing in the Teachings to prevent a Bahá'í from willing his body for medical research after death. However, it should be made clear that the remains must be buried eventually and not cremated, as this is according to Bahá'í law.
(26 June 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
1093. 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 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)
EXTRACTS OF LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
(The following are from letters to individual believers unless otherwise stated)
1094. One of the friends of Persia wrote to Shoghi Effendi and asked this question: "Is it true that `Abdu'l-Bahá has said that biochemical homeopathy, which is a form of food medicine, is in conformity with the Bahá'í medical concept?" The beloved Guardian's reply to this question in a letter dated 25th November, 1944 was as follows: "This statement is true, and the truth thereof will be revealed in the future."
(The question and answer are translated from the Persian.)
The Universal House of Justice has also asked us to inform you that it does not wish the above statement to be circulated in isolation from the many and varied other texts in the Writings on medicine. However, you may share it with any of your friends who are interested.(12 November 1975)
1095. No specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Bahá'í teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that "It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures." The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even incorrectly understand....In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh has stated:
"Whenever ye fall ill, refer to competent physicians. Verily, We have not abolished recourse to material means, rather have We affirmed it through this Pen which God hath made the Dawning Place of His luminous and resplendent Cause." The secretaries of the Guardian have conveyed his guidance on this point in many letters to individual believers in passages such as these: "...refer to competent physicians, and abide by their considered decisions"; "...invariably consult and follow the treatment of competent and conscientious physicians..." and "...consult the best physicians ... doctors who have studied a scientific system of medicine." Thus the obligation to consult physicians and to distinguish between doctors who are well trained in medical sciences and those who are not is clear, but the Faith should not be associated with any particular school of medical theory or practice. It is left to each believer to decide for himself which doctors he should consult, bearing in mind the principles enunciated above.
In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. Here too, as in all other things, the believers should be conscious of the two principles of moderation and courtesy in the way they express their opinions and in deciding whether they should refuse food offered to them or request special foods.Page 487
There are, of course, instances where a believer would be fully justified in abstaining from or eating only certain foods for some medical reason, but this is a different matter and would be understood by any reasonable person.(24 January 1977)
1096. In matters of health, particularly regarding diet and nutrition, the House of Justice advises the friends to seek the help and advice of experts and doctors. This is what Bahá'u'lláh has recommended and He does not indicate which school of thought or practice they should belong to. However, as you particularly ask about references in the Old Testament as they relate to meat and fish, the House of Justice has asked us to quote for you the following excerpt taken from a letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary to an individual believer:
"...there is nothing in the teachings about whether people should eat their food cooked or raw; exercise or not exercise; resort to specific therapies or not; nor is it forbidden to eat meat."(19 June 1977)
1097. The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 19th January 1978 enquiring the Bahá'í point of view on the vivisection of animals. The beloved Guardian was asked a similar question to which his secretary replied on his behalf, on 29 November 1955: "As there is no definite and conclusive statement on Vivisection in the Bahá'í Teachings, this is a matter which the International House of Justice will have to pass upon in the future."
The House of Justice does not wish to legislate upon this matter at the present time. It is left to the consciences of the individual friends, who should make their decisions in light of the teachings concerning animals and their treatment.
In this connection the House of Justice instructs us to say that in a Tablet in which He stresses the need for kindness to animals, `Abdu'l-Bahá states that it would be permissible to perform an operation on a living animal for the purposes of research even if the animal were killed thereby, but that the animal must be well anaesthetized and that the utmost care must be exercised that it does not suffer.
(9 March 1978 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy)Page 488
1098. In matters of diet, as in medicine, the Universal House of Justice feels that the believers should be aware that a huge body of scientific knowledge has been accumulated as a guide to our habits and practices. But it must be clearly understood that no specific school of nutrition or medicine has been associated with the Bahá'í teachings. What we have are certain guidelines, indications and principles which will be carefully studied by experts and will, in the years ahead, undoubtedly prove to be invaluable sources of guidance and inspiration in the development of these medical sciences. Moreover, in this connection the Guardian's secretary has stated on his behalf that "It is premature to try and elaborate on the few general references to health and medicine made in our Holy Scriptures."
The believers must guard against seizing upon any particular text which may appeal to them and which they may only partially or even in correctly understand.(11 July 1978)
(Compiled for inclusion with a letter dated 3 September 1984 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Bisbee, Arizona)Revised July 1990
[1 All passages are extracts from previously untranslated Tablets.]
1099. O Zayn! Upon thee be My glory and My loving- kindness. Nothing that existeth in the world of being hath ever been or ever will be worthy of mention. However, if a person be graciously favoured to offer a penny-worth -- nay even less -- in the path of God, this would in His sight be preferable and superior to all the treasures of the earth. It is for this reason that the one true God -- exalted be His glory -- hath in all his heavenly Scriptures praised those who observe His precepts and bestow their wealth for His sake. Beseech ye God that He may enable everyone to discharge the obligation of Huqúq, inasmuch as the progress and promotion of the cause of God depend on material means. If His faithful servants could realize how meritorious are benevolent deeds in these days, they would all arise to do that which is meet and seemly. In His hand is the source of authority and He ordaineth as He willeth. He is the Supreme Ruler, the Bountiful, the Equitable the Revealer, the All-Wise.
1100. The one true God -- exalted be His glory -- hath ever been and will continue to be exalted above every expression of praise and is sanctified from the world of existence and all the riches therein. Whatsoever proceedeth from Him produceth a fruit the benefits of which revert to the individuals themselves. Ere long will they perceive the truth of that which the Tongue of Grandeur hath uttered aforetime and will utter hereafter. And such benefits will indeed accrue if the Huqúq is offered with the utmost joy and radiance and in the spirit of perfect humility and lowliness.
1101. Entreat thou the one true God to enable his faithful servants fulfil that which is conducive to the good of this world and the world to come. This is the commandment of God that hath been prescribed in His weighty and inviolable Book. Today is the Day of God when the preservation of the dignity of His Cause must be given precedence over all other things. He ordaineth that which will confer benefit on all mankind. Verily He is the Compassionate, the All-Bountiful. In this connection the Pen of Glory hath revealed that which will enable everyPage 490
man of perception to inhale the fragrance of His loving- kindness and bounty. In truth the benefits arising from the above-mentioned injunction revert to the individuals themselves. Unto this every discerning one that observeth His precepts will bear witness.
1102. It is incumbent upon everyone to discharge the obligation of Huqúq. The advantages gained from this deed revert to the persons themselves. However the acceptance of the offerings dependeth on the spirit of joy, fellowship and contentment that the righteous souls who fulfil this injunction will manifest. If such is the attitude acceptance is permissible, and not otherwise. Verify thy Lord is the All-Sufficing, the All-Praised.
1103. O Zayn! Such souls as comply with the injunction of God prescribed in the Book are regarded as most excellent in the same estimation of God. There can be no doubt whatsoever is revealed from the heaven of divine commandment is by virtue of His wisdom and is in the best interests of the people themselves. Moreover, although these insignificant amounts are not worthy of mention, they are well pleasing, since the donors offer them for the sake of God. If the offering be but a single grain it is regarded as the crowning glory of all the harvests of the world.
1104. It is clear and evident that the payment of the Right of God is conducive to prosperity, to blessing, and to honour and divine protection. Well is it with them that comprehend and recognize this truth and woe betide them that believe not. And this is on condition that the individual should observe the injunctions prescribed in the Book with the utmost radiance, gladness and willing acquiescence. It behoveth you to counsel the friends to do that which is right and praiseworthy. Whoso hearkeneth to this call, it is to his own behoof, and whoso faileth bringeth loss upon himself. Verily our Lord of Mercy is the All-Sufficing, the All-Praised.
1105. Huqúqu'llah is indeed a great law. It is incumbent upon all to make this offering, because it is the source of grace, abundance, and of all good. It is a bounty which shall remain with every soul in every world of the worlds of God, the All-Possessing, the All-Bountiful.Page 491
1106. As to the question of Huqúq: Reference to this matter is in no wise permissible. We have formerly enjoined upon you and Jinab-i-Amin that which will redound to the glory and dignity of the Word of God and of His Cause. Touching on this particular subject We have bidden thus: Ye may relinquish the whole world but must not allow the detraction of even one jot or tittle from the dignity of the Cause of God. Jinab-i-Amin -- upon him be My glory -- must also refrain from mentioning this matter, for it is entirely dependent upon the willingness of the individuals themselves. They are well acquainted with the commandment of God and are familiar with that which was revealed in the Book. Let him who wisheth observe it, and let him who wisheth ignore it. Verily, thy Lord is the Self-Sufficing, the All-Praised. Indeed, independence of all things is a door of guidance unto His faithful servants. Well is it with them that have severed themselves from the world and have arisen to serve His Cause. Verily, they are numbered with the people of Bahá at the court of His resplendent Beauty.1107. O Abu'l Hasan:
[1 Known as Jinab-i-Amin, Trustee of the Huqúq in the days of Bahá'u'lláh.]
May my Glory rest upon thee! Fix thy gaze upon the glory of the Cause. Speak forth that which will attract the hearts and the minds. To demand the Huqúq is in no wise permissible. This command was revealed in the Book of God for various necessary matters ordained by God to be dependent upon material means. Therefore, if someone, with utmost pleasure and gladness, nay with insistence, wisheth to partake of this blessing, thou mayest accept. Otherwise, acceptance is not permissible.
1108. Should a person acquire one hundred mithqals of gold, nineteen mithqals thereof belong unto God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Take heed, O people, lest ye deprive yourselves of this great bounty. We have prescribed this law unto you while We are wholly independent of you and of all that are in the heavens and on the earth. Indeed there lie concealed in this command, mysteries and benefits which are beyond the comprehension of anyone save God, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed. Say, through this injunction God desireth to purify your possessions andPage 492
enable you to draw nigh unto such stations as none can attain, except those whom God may please. Verily, He is the Generous, the Gracious, the Bountiful.[1 See section 105]
O people! Act not treacherously in the matter of Huqúqu'llah and dispose not of it, except by His leave. Thus hath it been ordained in His Epistles as well as in this glorious Tablet.
Whoso dealeth dishonestly with God will in justice be exposed, and whoso fulfilleth the things he hath been commanded, divine blessings will descend upon him from the heaven of the bounty of his Lord, the Bestower, the Bountiful, the Most Generous, the Ancient of Days. Verily He desireth for you the things that are inscrutable to you at present, though the people themselves will readily discover them when their souls take their flight and the trappings of their earthly gaieties are rolled up. Thus warneth you the Author of the Preserved tablet.
1109. Question: Payment of Huqúqu'llah hath been revealed in the Aqdas. Are the residence, its appendages and necessary furniture among those possessions on which the Huqúq is payable?
Answer: It hath been said in the Laws revealed in Persian: "... in this most great Dispensation We have exempted the residence and the household furnishings, that is, such furnishings as are needful."
1110. Question: Is Huqúqu'llah payable on such equipment of a store as is necessary for the carrying on of business or is such equipment treated as are the household furnishings?
Answer: It is under the same ruling as the household furnishings.
1111. Question: If the deceased hath left the Huqúq or his debts unpaid, shall payment be made proportionately from his residence, personal clothing and other property or are the residence and personal clothing set apart for the male off-spring and shall the debts be paid out of remaining property; if such property is insufficient, what shall be done with the debts?
Answer: The debts of Huqúq shall be paid out of the remaining property; should the property be insufficient, payment shall be made out of the residence and personal clothing.Page 493
1112. Question: It hath been revealed in the divine Tablets that if a person acquireth the equivalent of nineteen mithqals of gold, he must pay the Right of God on that sum. How much of that sum shall be paid?
Answer: God hath commanded that nineteen be paid out of every hundred. This should be the basis of computation. The sum due on nineteen can then be determined.
1113. Question: When the possessions exceed nineteen, must they equal another nineteen before the Huqúq is again payable, or is the Huqúq due on any exceeding sum?
Answer: The Huqúq is not payable on any exceeding sum, unless it reacheth another nineteen.
1114. Question: If a person hath, for example, one hundred tumans, payeth the Huqúq on this, loseth half the sum in unsuccessful transactions and then regaineth the amount on which the Huqúq is payable, must he offer the Huqúq or not?[1 Tuman is a Persian unit of currency.]
Answer: In such an event the Huqúq is not payable.
1115. Question: If, after payment of the Huqúq, the original sum is entirely lost, and then in the course of business transactions it is regained, must the Huqúq be paid a second time?
Answer: In this event as well the Huqúq is not payable.
1116. The minimum amount subject to Huqúqu'llah is reached when one's possessions are worth the number of Vahid (19); that is, whenever one owneth 19 mithqals of gold, or acquireth possessions attaining this value, after having deducted therefrom the yearly expenses, the Huqúq becometh applicable and its payment is obligatory.
1117. As to the question thou has asked concerning the minimum amount of property on which Huqúq is payable, this was mentioned in His exalted and glorious presence and the following is what the Tongue of Grandeur uttered in reply: This matter was revealed in the Most Holy Book in conformity with the pronouncement in the Bayan. Later, however, as aPage 494
token of wisdom on Our part, We laid down the ruling whereby the minimum amount of property liable to the payment of Huqúq is fixed at Nineteen. The purpose underlying this law is to ensure that the General Treasury is strengthened in the future. Further details may be furnished later.
1118. According to that which is revealed in the Most Holy Book, Huqúqu'llah is fixed at the rate of 19 mithqals out of every 100 mithqals worth of gold. This applies to possessions in gold, in silver or other properties.
Moreover certain rights have been fixed for the House of Justice. However before its establishment and the appearance of its members, the appropriation of such funds is and will be subject to the approval of Him Who is the Eternal Truth. Beseech ye God -- exalted be His glory -- to enable the people to honour the obligation of Huqúq, for had everyone perceived the advantage of such a deed and desisted from withholding the right of God, the friends in that region would not have experienced any hardship.
1119. Question: May a person designate in his will certain of his properties to be spent after his death for charitable purposes, apart from the Huqúq and his other obligations; or hath he no right to anything except the expenses of enshrouding, transportation and burial, and is everything else for the inheritors as commanded by God?
Answer: A person is free in the disposition of his possessions. If he hath paid the Huqúq and is not in debt to others, whatever he writeth in his will and testifieth to is acceptable. God hath permitted him to do as he willeth with what God hath bestowed on him.
1120. A number of people in various regions are at present illumined with the light of faith, but with the exception of a few, they have not been privileged as yet to observe the injunctions revealed from His presence.
Previously We wrote to thee that had the friends there observed the payment of Huqúqu'llah, the people of that region would have enjoyed ease and comfort. Before this law was revealed there was no obligation onPage 495
the part of any soul. The Pen of Glory held back from revealing laws and ordinances for a number of years, and this was a token of His heavenly grace. Were the people of the world to recognize what inestimable benefits the ordinances of the All-Merciful would bring forth, they would arise to fulfil His commandments and would observe His bidding ...[1 Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin]
The Pen of the Most High hath ordained that the Huqúqu'llah is payable on nineteen mithqals of gold. That is, the Huqúq is levied on money equalling this amount. As to other possessions in silver or otherwise, it is payable when they equal this in value, not in number. The Huqúqu'llah is payable only once; for example if a person acquireth a thousand mithqals in gold and payeth the Huqúq thereof, the Right of God ceaseth to be applicable to that amount, except in regard to what accrueth to it through commerce and transactions; when such profits reach the prescribed minimum, one must carry out what God hath decreed. When, however, the original sum changeth hands, the Huqúq is again payable as it was the first time; in this event the Right of God must be given.
Beseech ye God -- magnified be His glory -- to grant that His loved ones may be privileged to take a portion from the ocean of His good-pleasure, for this would serve as the means for the salvation of mankind, and may of their own accordance carry out that which would purify them and cause them to attain everlasting life ...
The Primal Point hath said that they should pay Huqúqu'llah on the value of whatsoever they possess, but notwithstanding, We have in this greatest Dispensation exempted the residence and household furnishings; that is, such furnishings as are needful.
Thou has asked which is to take precedence: the Huqúqu'llah, the debts of the deceased, or the cost of burial. It is God's command that the cost of burial take precedence, then payment of debts, then the Right of God. Verily He is the One Who will pay due recompense, the All- Rewarding, the All-Generous. If the property is not equal to the debts, the estate must be distributed in direct proportion to each debt. The settlement of debts is a most important command set forth in the Book. Well is it with him who ascendeth unto God, without any obligations to Huqúqu'llah and to His servants. It is evident that the Huqúqu'llah hath priority over all other liabilities; however, as a token of mercy, He Who isPage 496
the Dawning-Place of Revelation hath commanded that which hath been revealed by His life-giving and omniscient Pen in this Tablet.
1121. It hath been decreed by God that a property which is not lucrative, that is, yieldeth no profit, is not subject to the payment of Huqúq. Verily He is the Ordainer, the Bountiful.
1122. The payment of the Right of God is conditional upon one's financial ability. If a person is unable to meet his obligation, God will verily excuse him. He is the All- Forgiving, the All-Generous.
1123. This is the Book of Generosity which hath been revealed by the King of Eternity. Whoso adorneth himself with this virtue hath distinguished himself and will be blessed by the All-Merciful from His exalted Kingdom of Glory. However, despite his high rank and prominent position, were he to pass beyond the limits, he would be regarded among the prodigal by the All-Knowing, the All- Wise. Cling ye unto moderation. This is the commandment that He Who is the All-Possessing, the Most High hath enjoined upon you in His Generous Book. O ye that are the exponents of generosity and the manifestations thereof! Be generous unto them whom ye find in manifest poverty. O ye that are possessed of riches! Take heed lest outward appearance deter you from benevolent deeds in the path of God, the Lord of all mankind.
Say: I swear by God! No one is despised in the sight of the Almighty for being poor. Rather is he exalted, if he is found to be of them who are patient. Blessed are the poor that are steadfast in patience, and woe betide the rich that hold back Huqúqu'llah and fail to observe that which is enjoined upon them in His Preserved Tablet. Say: Pride not yourselves on earthly riches ye possess. Reflect upon your end and upon the recompense of your works that hath been ordained in the Book of God, the Exalted, the Mighty. Blessed is the rich man whom earthly possessions have been powerful to hinder from turning unto God, the Lord of all names. Verily he is accounted among the most distinguished of men before God, the Gracious, the All- Knowing.
Say: The appointed Day is come. This is the Springtime of benevolent deeds, were ye of them that comprehend. Strive ye with all your might, OPage 497
people, that ye may bring forth that which will truly profit you in the worlds of your Lord, the All-Glorious, the All-Praised.
Say: Hold ye fast unto praiseworthy characteristics and goodly deeds and be not of them that tarry. It behoveth everyone to cleave tenaciously unto that which is conducive to the exaltation of the Cause of God, your Lord, the Mighty, the Powerful.
Say: Behold ye not the world, its changes and chances, and its varying colours? Wherefore are ye satisfied with it and with all the things therein? Open your eyes and be of them that are endued with insight. The day is fast approaching when all these things will have vanished as fast as the lightning, nay even faster. Unto this beareth witness the Lord of the Kingdom in this wondrous Tablet. Wert thou to be enraptured by the uplifting ecstasy of the verses of God, thou wouldst yield thanks unto thy Lord and say: "Praise be unto Thee, O Desire of the hearts of them that hasten to meet Thee!" Rejoice then with exceeding gladness, inasmuch as the Pen of Glory hath turned unto thee and hath revealed in thy honour that which the tongues of creation and the tongues of transcendence are powerless to describe.
1124. They that have kept their promises, fulfilled their obligations, redeemed their pledges and vows, rendered the Trust of God and His Right unto Him -- these are numbered among the inmates of the all-highest Paradise. Thus from His mighty Prison doth the Wronged One announce unto them this glad-tiding. Blessed are the servants and maidservants that have performed their deeds and blessed is the man that hath cleaved tenaciously unto praiseworthy acts and fulfilled that which is enjoined upon him in the Book of God, the Lord of the worlds.
1125. For a number of years Huqúq was not accepted. How numerous the offerings that on reaching Our presence were returned to the donors, because they were not needed then. However in recent years We have, in view of the exigencies of the times, accepted the payment of the Huqúq, but have forbidden solicitation thereof. Everyone must have the utmost regard for the dignity of the Word of God and for the exaltation of His Cause. Were a person to offer all the treasures of the earth at the cost of debasing the honour of the Cause of God, were it even less than a grain of mustard, such an offering would not be permissible. All the world hathPage 498
belonged and will always belong to God. If one spontaneously offereth Huqúq with the utmost joy and radiance it will be acceptable, and not otherwise. The benefit of such deeds reverteth unto the individuals themselves. This measure hath been ordained in view of the necessity for material means, for "averse is God from putting aught into effect through its means." Thus instructions were given to receive the Huqúq.
1126. Well is it with those who have met their obligations in respect of the Right of God and observed that which is prescribed in the Book ... This payment of Huqúq is conclusively established in the Book of God, yet for a number of years it had been forbidden to receive it. Later, however, in view of certain considerations and in order to arrange some essential matters, permission was granted to accept such payments. Verily He is the Ordainer, the Compassionate, the Forgiving, the Bountiful.
1127. As to the Huqúqu'llah: This is the source of blessings, and the mainspring of God's loving-kindness and tender love vouchsafed unto men. Verily He can dispense with whatsoever hath been and will be. Until two years ago the matter of Huqúq was undisclosed. When it was revealed it was by virtue of His grace. If a person be privileged to fulfil that which is prescribed in the Most Holy Book, it would assuredly be better for him, and to his greater behoof. However the observation of this injunction dependeth upon one's circumstances. Verily He speaketh the truth and guideth aright.
1128. Thou has written concerning the minimum amount of property on which Huqúqu'llah is payable. This is as set forth to Jinab-i-Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin -- upon him be the glory of the Most Glorious. The minimum sum liable to Huqúq is based on the number Nineteen, in accordance with the text of the blessed, the Most Holy Book. Therein reference is made to the amount of Huqúq payable and not to the minimum sum on which Huqúq falls due. Verily, He is the Expounder both in the Beginning and in the End. Until the present year no mention had been made regarding the Huqúqu'llah. To wit, this servant had never heard a single word uttered by the Tongue of Holiness as beingPage 499
indicative of payment of Huqúq. However in this year. His binding decree hath been put into effect and His commandment hath shone forth above the horizon of divine Revelation. Thus whosoever is willing to offer Huqúqu'llah spontaneously and in a spirit of radiant acquiescence it would be graciously accepted.[1 The amanuensis of Huqúqu'llah]
The Trustees should receive these offerings and, as instructed, notify His Holy Presence. Although the Most Holy Book had been revealed some years ago with the injunction concerning the Right of God clearly set forth therein, nevertheless the permission authorizing receipt of Huqúq was not granted until this year. Verily He is the Ordainer, the Omnipotent, the Gracious, the Most Exalted.
1129. Thine intention to pay a visit to the blessed House is acceptable and well-pleasing in the sight of this Wronged One, provided it is accomplished in a spirit of joy and radiance and would not prove contrary to the dictates of wisdom.
Say: O people, the first duty is to recognize the one true God -- magnified be his Glory -- the second is to show forth constancy in His Cause and, after these, one's duty is to purify one's riches and earthly possessions according to that which is prescribed by God. Therefore it beseemeth thee to meet thine obligation to the Right of God first, then to direct thy steps toward His blessed House. This hath been brought to thine attention as a sign of favour.
1130. Whoso is privileged to pay the Right of God will be numbered with such as have observed the ordinances of the one true God -- magnified be His glory -- and have fulfilled that which is set down by the All-Glorious Pen.
Time and again have We written and commanded that no one should solicit such payment. The offering of every person that voluntarily tendereth the Huqúqu'llah with the utmost joy and pleasure may be accepted, otherwise acceptance was not and is not permissible. Those that are oblivious of their duty should be briefly reminded. Deeds must be performed with willingness and in all circumstances high regard must be given to the dignity of the Cause of God. Formerly We have mentionedPage 500
that were a person to possess the whole world and would tender his possessions at the cost of degrading the honour of the Cause, even to the extent of a grain of mustard, it would be essential and imperative to refuse to accept such wealth. Such is the Cause of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Well is it with them that act accordingly.
The ordinance prescribing the payment of Huqúq is but a favour vouchsafed by the one true God -- exalted be His glory -- and the benefits arising therefrom shall fall to the donors themselves. It behoveth all to render thanks unto God, the Most Exalted, Who hath graciously enabled them to meet the obligation of Huqúq. We held back the Pen for a long period during which no instruction was issued in this respect, until such time as the requirements of His inscrutable wisdom demanded the acceptance of Huqúq. "Averse is God from putting aught into effect except through its means." It is essential for certain people to receive aid, and others need attention and care, but all this must take place by the leave of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
1131. O thou that bearest My Name! God grant that everyone may be graciously aided to honour the Huqúq. The Huqúq is exclusively assigned unto Him Who is the sovereign Truth, but, as you are aware, there are at present many individuals diligently engaged in the service of the Cause in various regions, who are unable to earn their living. And inasmuch as God hath made the achievement of everything conditional upon material means, therefore the injunction prescribing payment of the Huqúq hath been revealed from the heaven of His Will, and the blessings flowing from this deed shall fall to the donors themselves.
1132. In this day it is incumbent upon everyone to serve the Cause of God, while He who is the Eternal Truth -- exalted be His glory -- hath made the fulfilment of every undertaking on earth dependent on material means. Hence it is enjoined upon every individual to offer that which is the Right of God.
1133. If a person is willing to offer the Right of God, such offering should be received by the Trustees, to whom reference hath been made in the Book of God. This ordinance hath, in view of certain considerations, been revealed from the heaven of divine Revelation as a token of His grace.Page 501
The advantages arising therefrom shall fall to the individuals themselves. Verily He speaketh the truth and there is none other God but Him, the Mighty, the Powerful.
The Trustees are present in the land of Ya (Yazd). Whosoever desireth to fulfil that which is enjoined upon him in the Book may refer to them. Any amount received by them will be transmitted. Great is the blessedness of them that observe His bidding.
1134. It is indeed a most excellent favour, a boundless grace vouchsafed unto whosoever is privileged in this day to render service to the Cause of God and to offer the Right of God, for its goodly results and the fruits thereof will last as long as the kingdom of earth and heaven will endure.
1135. O Zayn! It behoveth thee to entreat God to graciously enable His faithful servants to meet the obligation of Huqúq. The world is evanescent, and one's life fleeting. Therefore if one is privileged to offer that which is binding upon him, such an act hath ever been and will be nearer to piety and righteousness ... It is incumbent upon everyone to fulfil that which hath been set forth in the Book of God -- exalted be His glory.
1136. The Right of God is an obligation upon everyone. This commandment hath been revealed and set down in the Book by the Pen of Glory. However, it is not permissible to solicit or demand it. If one is privileged to pay the Huqúq, and doeth so in a spirit of joy and radiance, such an act is acceptable, and not otherwise. As a reminder to the friends, a general appeal should be made once at the meeting, and that should suffice. They that are assured, steadfast and endowed with insight will act spontaneously and observe what hath been prescribed by God, thereby reaping the benefit of their own deed. Verily, God is independent of all mankind.
The people of God should not be grieved. By the righteousness of God, that which is destined for them is far beyond the power of reckoners to reckon.
1137. Great God! In this glorious Dispensation the treasures laid up by kings and queens are not worthy of mention, nor will they be acceptablePage 502
in the presence of God. However, a grain of mustard offered by His loved ones will be extolled in the exalted court of His holiness and invested with the ornament of His acceptance. Immeasurably exalted is His bounty, immeasurably glorified is His majesty. And yet, when an offering was adorned with the glory of His acceptance and reported by Jinab-i-Amin, twice that amount was ordered to be paid out to the poor and the needy. Unto this beareth witness every fair-minded man of insight, and those that are truthful and trustworthy.
1138. The benefits accruing from benevolent works shall fall to the individuals concerned. In such matters only a word would suffice. Should anyone offer Huqúq with utmost joy and radiance, manifesting a spirit of resignation and content, his offering shall be acceptable before God, otherwise He can dispense with all the peoples of the earth ... Well is it with them that have fulfilled that which is prescribed in the Book of God. It is incumbent upon everyone to observe that which God hath purposed, for whatsoever hath been set forth in the Book by the Pen of Glory is an effective means for the purging, the purification and sanctification of the souls of men and the source of prosperity and blessing. Happy are they that have observed His commandments.
Whenever they make reference to the Huqúq, let them confine themselves to a mere word uttered for the sake of God and this will suffice; coercion is unnecessary, inasmuch as God hath never wished that those engaged in His service should experience any hardship. Verily He is the Forgiving, the Merciful, The Gracious, the All- Bountiful.... No goodly deed was or will ever be lost, for benevolent acts are treasures preserved with God for the benefit of those who act. Blessed the servant and the maidservant who have fulfilled their obligation in the path of God our Lord, the Lord of all worlds ... The Right of God must be paid whenever possible and should be offered in a spirit of joy and radiance. Those that are unable to pay will be invested with the ornament of His forgiveness.
1139. In this day it is incumbent upon everyone to meet the obligation of the Right of God as far as it lieth in his power. For a number of years it was not permitted to accept the payment of Huqúq. Recently, however, We have issued instructions to receive it. Therefore the friends in that region should, as far as possible, collect the payments, and remit thePage 503
amounts either to Zaynu'l-Muqarrabin -- upon him be the glory of God -- in Hadba' (Mosul) or to the Trustee of God in the land of Ya (Yazd) who will forward them. The observance of this ordinance hath been and will always be conducive to prosperity, to divine increase and to salvation. Great is the blessedness of him who hath observed that which is prescribed in the Book of God, the Gracious, the Mighty.
1140. And now concerning what thou has mentioned regarding the Huqúq. This hath been ordained especially for the one true God -- exalted be His glory -- and should be forwarded to the court of His Holy Presence. In His grasp is the source of authority. He doeth what He pleaseth and ordaineth what He chooseth.
Since thou hast enquired about this subject, the following answer was revealed from the heaven of His tender mercy:
This ordinance is binding upon everyone, and by observing it one will be raised to honour inasmuch as it will serve to purify one's possessions and will impart blessing, and added prosperity. However, the people are as yet ignorant of its significance. They continually endeavour to amass riches by lawful or unlawful means in order to transmit them to their heirs, and this to what advantage, no one can tell. Say: In this day the true Heir is the Word of God, since the underlying purpose of inheritance is the preservation of the name and traces of men. It is indubitably clear that the passing of centuries and ages will obliterate these signs, while every word that hath streamed from the Pen of Glory in honour of a certain individual will last as long as the dominions of earth and heaven will endure.
1141. If the people had not withheld the Right of God they owe but rather had paid what was due, or would pay it now, they could be recipients of God's loving-kindness. We entreat God to graciously grant them abundance.
1142. This Huqúq which hath been mentioned, and the command of which hath issued forth from the horizon of God's Holy Tablet, hath benefits which are the prescribed lot of the individuals themselves. By God! Were the people to know what hath been concealed from their eyes and become fully aware of the ocean of grace which lieth hid within this divinePage 504
command, all the people of the world would offer everything they possess in order to be mentioned by Him. Blessed is the man who hath been privileged to observe that which he hath been commanded by God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise....
As bidden by Him, no one is allowed to solicit payment of the Huqúq. In the Book of God everyone is enjoined to offer the Huqúq spontaneously and in a spirit of joy and fellowship. I beseech Him, the Most Exalted, to graciously enable everyone to do that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.
And now concerning the poor, thou has written to ask whether it is permissible to pay them out of the Right of God. This is conditional upon permission having been granted. In each locality where the Right of God is being received, details of it must be submitted to His exalted presence together with a statement describing the position of the needy ones. Verily He doeth what He willeth and ordaineth what He pleaseth. If permission were to be given universally it would lead to strife and give rise to trouble.
1143. It is indubitably clear and evident that whatsoever hath been sent down from the heaven of divine commandment- -magnified be His glory -- is intended to confer benefits upon His servants. The question of Huqúq is highly significant. It hath been and will always be conductive to divine increase, prosperity, dignity and honour.... It is obvious and manifest that the whole world is devoid of any real value. On numerous occasions -- and to this everyone here would testify -- large sums have been sent to His holy court but were not adorned with the ornament of His acceptance. At present, however, in view of the ingathering of the friends and the requirements of the time, payment of the Huqúq is accepted. The object is to show that this acceptance is but a token of divine favour and a proof of His loving-kindness and tender compassion.
1144. To discharge one's obligations is highly praiseworthy in the sight of God. However, it is not permitted to solicit Huqúq from anyone. Beseech ye the one true God to enable His loved ones to offer that which is the Right of God, inasmuch as the observance of this injunction would cause one's possessions to be purified and protected and would become the means of attracting goodly gifts and heavenly blessings.Page 505
1145. O Samandar! How many are the souls who with the utmost endeavour and effort, collect a handful of worldly goods and greatly rejoice in this act and yet in reality the Pen of the Most High hath decreed this wealth for others; that is, it is not meant to be their lot or it may even fall into the hands of their enemies! We seek shelter in God from such an evident loss. One's life is wasted; by day and by night, troubles are endured, and wealth becometh a source of affliction. Most of the wealth of men is not pure. Should they follow what is revealed by God, they would, in all circumstances, be protected under His bounty and blessed by His mercy.
1146. There can be no doubt that whatsoever hath been revealed from the All-Glorious Pen, be it ordinances of prohibitions, conferreth benefits upon the believers themselves. For example, among the commandments is that of the Huqúqu'llah. If the people attain the privileges of paying the Huqúq, the one true God, exalted by His glory, will of a certainty confer blessing upon them. Moreover, such payment will enable them and their offspring to benefit from their possessions. As thou dost observe, large portions of people's wealth are lost to them as God causeth strangers, or heirs in comparison with whom strangers would have been preferable, to lay hands on their possessions.
God's consummate wisdom is far beyond any description or fitting mention. Verily, people see with their own eyes and yet deny; they are aware, yet they pretend not to know. Had they observed the ordinance of God they would have attained the good of this world and the next.
1147. Someone must needs remind the servants of God, that perchance they may be privileged to meet their obligations of Huqúq, thus attaining a sublime station and gaining a reward that would last for ever. The payments for the Huqúq should be kept in the custody of a trusted person and a report submitted so that steps may be taken according to the good-pleasure of God.
1148. The question of the Huqúq dependeth on the willingness of the individuals themselves. From every true believer who is willing to tender the Right of God spontaneously and with the utmost joy and radiance, the offering is graciously accepted, but not otherwise. Verily, thy Lord is independent of all mankind. Consider that which the All-Merciful hathPage 507
revealed in the Quran: "O men! Ye are but paupers in need of God, but God is the Self-Sufficient, the All- Praised."[1 Quran 35:12]
At all times one must have the utmost regard for the dignity and honour of the Cause of God.
1149. No one should demand the Huqúqu'llah. Its payment should depend on the volition of the individuals themselves, namely such souls that are devout, faithful and well disposed, who would make their offerings of Huqúqu'llah in a spirit of willing submission and contentment.
1150. It is not permissible to solicit [Huqúq]. If anyone offereth something of his own volition, thou mayest accept it, but it is not thine to demand anything from anyone. Verily thy Lord is the All-Bountiful, the Most Generous.
1151. As to what thou hast written concerning the Right of God: The binding injunction of God is set forth in the Book, but this matter is conditional upon the willingness of the individual themselves; inasmuch as the one true God -- magnified be His glory -- hath, by reason of His all- encompassing mercy, acquainted everyone with that which is enjoined in the Book. Well is it with them that act accordingly.
Demanding the Huqúq hath never been regarded with favour. Every deed must be performed in a spirit of joy and radiance. If a person is willing to make his offering with utmost contentment, its acceptance is permissible, otherwise our merciful Lord is independent of all mankind. In this day one must observe that which is conductive to the glory, loftiness and exaltation of the Cause of God. Thus hath spoken the Lord of Truth, the knower of things unseen....
O My friend! Were the people to perceive the sweetness of the commandments enjoined by God and to discover the benefits arising therefrom, they would certainly, one and all, carry them out with the utmost joy and eagerness. We entreat the one true God to aid everyone to observe that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him. Verily, He is the Helper, the Confirmer, the All-Wise.
It hath been enjoined that whatsoever the loved ones of God may offer as gifts for His holy court, should be treated as the donor wisheth, lest thePage 507
hearts of the faithful and the souls of the true believers be obscured by the dust of despondency and sorrow. But in the case of gifts that are offered as Huqúq it is permissible to have them sold....
At all times and under all conditions one must have high regard for the dignity of the Cause. Solicitation of Huqúq is in no wise permitted. Whoso is willing to tender payments for Huqúq with the utmost joy, radiance and good- pleasure, his offering may be accepted; otherwise God is the Self-Sufficient, the All-Praised.
Consider that which the All-Merciful hath revealed in the Quran -- exalted in His Word: "Some of them injure themselves through evil deeds, others follow a middle course, and others vie with each other in charitable works". Indeed any benefits arising from praiseworthy deeds shall fall to the individuals that have performed them. Were the people to comprehend this truth, they would compete with each other in benevolent works....[1 Quran 35:32]
Ye may relinquish the whole world, but must not forgo even one jot of the dignity of the Cause of God. Such is the divine exhortation that hath been inscribed in the Crimson Book by the Pen of the Most High. Well is it with them that accordingly....
1152. It is the binding command of God that in every locality whatever hath been or will be made available for the Huqúqu'llah should be submitted to His holy presence. Any instructions issued in this respect should be observed accordingly, so that all matters may be well-ordered.
It is highly pleasing if whatever is prescribed in the Most Holy Book be observed, so that everyone may be invested with the ornament of the purpose of the Best Beloved of the world.
1153. There is no objection to offering for sale that which is donated in the name of Huqúq. Thus proclaimeth the All-Glorious Pen from His noble habitation at the behest of the King of Eternity.
1154. Whoso desireth to offer Huqúqu'llah with the utmost joy and eagerness should pay it to trustworthy persons like unto thyself and obtainPage 508
a receipt, so that whatsoever is effected may conform to His sanction and permission. Verily He is Knowing, the Wise.[1 Haji Abu'l-Hasan-i-Ardikani]
1155. Thou has written that they have pledged themselves to observe maximum austerity in their lives with a view to forwarding the remainder of their income to His exalted presence. This matter was mentioned at His holy court. He said: Let them act with moderation and not impose hardship upon themselves. We would like them both to enjoy a life that is well-pleasing.
1156. Payments for the Huqúqu'llah cannot be handed over to every person. These words have been uttered by Him Who is the sovereign Truth. The Huqúqu'llah should be kept in the custody of trusted individuals and forwarded to His holy court through the Trustees of God.
1157. There is a prescribed ruling for the Huqúqu'llah. After the House of Justice hath come into being, the law thereof will be made manifest, in conformity with the Will of God.
1158. Magnified art Thou, O Lord of the entire creation, the One unto Whom all things must turn. With my inner and outer tongues I bear witness that Thou hast manifested and revealed Thyself, sent down Thy signs, and proclaimed Thy testimonies. I testify to Thy self-sufficiency from aught else except Thee, and Thy sanctity above all earthly things. I entreat Thee by the transcendent glory of Thy Cause and the supreme potency of Thy Word to grant confirmation unto him who desireth to offer what Thou hast prescribed unto him in Thy Book and to observe that which will shed forth the fragrance of Thine acceptance. Verily Thou art the All-Mighty, the All-Gracious, the All- Forgiving, the All-Generous.II. EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF `Abdu'l-Bahá
1159. As preordained by the Fountainhead of Creation, the temple of the world hath been fashioned after the image and likeness of the human body. In fact each mirroreth forth the image of the other, wert thou but to observe with discerning eyes. By this is meant that even as the humanPage 509
body is 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 are inseparably 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 or indirectly.
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 to nothingness.
In surveying the vast range of creation thou shalt perceive that the higher a kingdom of created things is on the arc of ascent, the more conspicuous are the signs and evidences of the truth that co-operation and reciprocity at the level of a higher order are greater than those that exist at the level of a lower order. For example the evident signs of this fundamental reality are more discernible in the vegetable kingdom than in the mineral, and still more manifest in the animal world than in the vegetable.
And thus when contemplating the human world thou beholdest this wondrous phenomenon shining resplendent from all sides with the utmost perfection, inasmuch as in this station acts of co-operation, mutual assistance and reciprocity are not confined to the body and to things that pertain to the material world, but for all conditions, whether physical orPage 510
spiritual, such as those related to minds, thoughts, opinions, manners, customs, attitudes, understandings, feelings or other human susceptibilities. In all these thou shouldst find these binding relationships securely established. The more this inter-relationship is strengthened and expanded, the more will human society advance in progress and prosperity. Indeed without these vital ties it would be wholly impossible for the world of humanity to attain true felicity and success.
Now consider, if among the people who are merely the manifestations of the world of being this significant matter is of such importance, how much greater must be the spirit of co-operation and mutual assistance among those who are the essences of the world of creation, who have sought the sheltering shadow of the heavenly Tree, and are favoured by the manifestations of divine grace; and how the evidences of this spirit should, through their earnest endeavour, their fellowship and concord, become manifest in every sphere of their inner and outer lives, in the realm of the spirit and divine mysteries and in all things related to this world and the next. Thus there can be no doubt that they must be willing even to offer up their lives for each other.
This is the basic principle on which the institution of Huqúqu'llah is established, inasmuch as its proceeds are dedicated to the furtherance of these ends. Otherwise the one true God hath ever been and will always be independent of all else beside Him. Even as He hath enabled all created things to partake of His boundless grace and loving-kindness, likewise is He able to bestow riches upon His loved ones out of the treasuries of His power. However, the wisdom of this command is that the act of giving is well-pleasing in the sight of God. Consider how well-pleasing must this mighty act be in His estimation that He hath ascribed it unto His Own Self. Rejoice ye then, O people of generosity!
We earnestly hope that in this Most Great Cycle the wondrous attributes of the All-Merciful may, through the infinite bounty and blessings of the King of Glory, find expression in the lives of the servants of God in such wise that the sweet savours thereof will shed fragrance upon all regions.
This matter needeth further details, but We have treated it in brief.
1160. O my heavenly friends! It is certain and evident that the Incomparable One is always praised for His absolute wealth, distinguishedPage 511
for His all-embracing mercy, characterized by His eternal grace, and known for His gifts to the world of existence. Nonetheless, in accordance with His inscrutable wisdom and in order to apply a unique test to distinguish the friend from the stranger, He hath enjoined the Huqúq upon His servants and made it obligatory.
Those who have observed this weighty ordinance have received heavenly blessings and in both worlds their faces have shone radiantly and their nostrils perfumed by the sweet savours of God's tender mercy. One of the tokens of His consummate wisdom is that the payment of the Huqúq will enable the donors to become firm and steadfast and will exert a great influence on their hearts and souls. Furthermore the Huqúq will be used to charitable purposes.
1161. O friends of `Abdu'l-Bahá! The Lord, as a sign of His infinite bounties, hath graciously favoured His servants by providing for a fixed money offering (Huqúq), to be dutifully presented unto Him, though He, the True One and His servants have been at all times independent of all created things, and God verily is the All-Possessing, exalted above the need of any gift from His creatures. This fixed money offering, however, causeth the people to become firm and steadfast and draweth Divine increase upon them.(The Will & Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá page 15)
1162. As regards the Huqúq which hath been explicitly prescribed in the Book: This is intended for the benefit and prosperity of the individuals themselves and is conducive to their happiness and constancy. Otherwise the one true God hath been and will always be self-sufficient in all things.
1163. Thou has enquired about the Huqúq. From one's annual income, all expenses during the year are deductible, and on what is left 19% is payable to the Huqúq. Thus, a person hath earned 1,000 income out of his business. After deducting his annual expenses of say 600, he would have a surplus of 400 on which Huqúq is payable at the rate of 19%. This would amount to 76 to be offered for charitable purposes to the Huqúq.
The Huqúq is not levied on one's entire possessions each year. A person's wealth may be worth 100,000. How can he be expected to pay Huqúq on this property every year? For instance, whatever income thouPage 512
hast earned in a particular year, you should deduct from it your expenses during that year. The Huqúq will then be payable on the remainder. Possessions on which Huqúq was paid the previous year will be exempt from further payment.
1164. In brief, after having deducted the yearly expenses, if there is still any surplus left, then Huqúq will be applicable to this surplus at the rate of 19% and no further payment of Huqúq will fall due on it. In the following year however, after the annual expenses, if there is still an excess of income over the expenditure of that second year, then Huqúq will be applicable to the amount of the excess only.
1165. As to the Huqúq, it is payable on whatever is left over after deducting one's yearly expenses. However, any money or possession which is necessary in producing income for one's subsistence, and on which Huqúq hath once been paid is exempt from Huqúq. This exemption also applieth to a property on which Huqúq hath already been paid, and the income of which doth not exceed one's needs.... Disposition of the Huqúq, wholly or partly, is permissible, but this should be done by permission of the authority in the Cause to whom all must turn.
1166. Huqúq is applied on everything one possesseth. However, if a person hath paid the Huqúq on a certain property, and the income from that property is equal to his needs, no Huqúq is payable by that person. Huqúq is not payable on agricultural tools and equipment, and on animals used in ploughing the land, to the extent that these are necessary.
1167. As to the way the Huqúq must be paid: Having deducted the expenses incurred during the year, any excess of income derived from one's property, profession or business is subject to the payment of Huqúq.
1168. As to the question of Huqúq: In no wise shouldst thou make statements requiring any person to pay the Huqúq. However if a devoted and self-sacrificing soul freely and spontaneously offereth thee something in the name of Huqúq or for the poor then thou mayest accept.Page 513
1169. According to the explicit text of the Most Holy Book the amounts offered for the Huqúq should be deposited in a place and be disbursed, as necessary. However, thou shouldst not require anyone there to offer the Huqúq unless someone is prepared to do so willingly and of his own free choice.
1170. The Blessed Beauty -- may my life be offered up for His Dust -- hath emphasized through His decisive Word that the utmost honesty hath to be observed in matters related to the Huqúq. The institution of Huqúq is sacred.
1171. A third requisite [for them that take counsel together] is the promulgation of the divine commandments among the friends, such as the Obligatory Prayers, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Huqúqu'llah and all the other ordinances.
1172. Since the loved ones of God in Persia are regarded as veteran friends, it is by virtue of the tremendous affection I cherish for them that their offerings for Huqúq are accepted. They must rejoice exceedingly for having been invested with such a bounty.
1173. Render thou thanks unto God, for He hath graciously enabled thee to observe the injunction set forth in His Most Holy Book, inasmuch as thou hast arisen to fulfil the obligation of Huqúq, and God hath accepted thy goodly deed. Know thou, moreover, that those who faithfully serve the All-Merciful will be enriched by Him out of His heavenly treasury, and that the Huqúq offering is but a test applied by Him unto His servants and maidservants. Thus every true and sincere believer will offer Huqúq to be expended for the relief of the poor, the disabled, the needy, and the orphans, and for other vital needs of the Cause of God, even as Christ did establish a Fund for benevolent purposes.
1174. It behoveth thee to render thanks unto God, inasmuch as He hath aided thee to fulfil the obligations of Huqúq. This is a confirmation that God hath vouchsafed unto thee. Therefore yield thou praise unto HimPage 514
for the bounty of this divine ordinance which is prescribed in the Epistles of thy Lord, the Ancient of Days. Verily He is the Clement, the Bountiful.
1175. As regards the donation thou hast offered as Huqúq, We have received this as if it were a treasure, inasmuch as it was tendered with profound love and devotion. We shall use it soon for His Holy Shrine, that thy name may thereby be immortalized for ever.III. EXTRACTS FROM AN UTTERANCE OF `Abdu'l-Bahá
1176. Question: As to the matter of Huqúq, does it mean 1/19th of one's net income or one's gross income? For example, in America, there is a tax on the gross income, after certain exemptions are made. How is the Huqúq to be worked out? Answer:The substance of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í explanation was: After one has paid all his necessary expenses 19% of what is left is then taken by him and given as Huqúq. For example, if a person has 100 piastres left after all his expenses have been paid, then 19 piastres are taken as Huqúq for the Cause of God. This is done at the end of the year after he has ascertained what his expenses are. For every hundred piastres, 19 are taken for Huqúq.
He pays this once, then there is no more Huqúq to be paid on that sum. It is finished. Next year he will pay on the amount he has left over in his possession after his expenses have been deducted, and after the amount he paid Huqúq on the previous year is also deducted.
For example, at the end of the first year a man who has 1000 piastres left after all his expenses are paid, then 190 piastres are taken as Huqúq: at the end of the next year after all expenses are determined, he may have 2000 piastres left. As he has already paid Huqúq on 1000 piastres the previous year this sum is deducted from the 2000 and he pays Huqúq on 1000 piastres (or 190 piastres). The third year the net amount of what he owns may be 2500 piastres, he deducts 2000 piastres from this amount and pays 19 per cent on 500 piastres or 95 piastres. If at the end of the 4th year he has 2500 Piastres, no Huqúq is taken.Page 515
Question: In the deduction of our necessary expenses, are contributions to the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, teaching and other activities of the Cause considered a part of Huqúq or should they be taken separately?
Answer: `Abdu'l-Bahá replied that Huqúq was separate and independent of these and came first. After that had been determined then the other affairs could be looked after. He smiled and said when Huqúq is given `Abdu'l-Bahá will ascertain how much of it is for the Mashriqu'l- Adhkar, how much for teaching and how much for the needy, etc.IV EXTRACT FROM A LETTER OF SHOGHI EFFENDI
1177. To offer contributions towards this end [in support of the activities of the Spiritual Assembly] is one of the pressing requirements of the Cause of God, is deemed highly essential, and is of fundamental importance. Next to the payment of the Huqúq it is the obligation of every Baha'i.(27 February 1923- translated from the Persian)
V. EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI
1178. Regarding the Huqúqu'llah...this is applied to one's merchandise, property and income. After deducting the necessary expenses, whatever is left as profit, and is an addition to one's capital, such a sum is subject to Huqúq. When one has paid Huqúq once on a particular sum, that sum is no longer subject to Huqúq, unless it should pass from one person to another. One's residence, and the household furnishings are exempt from Huqúq...Huqúqu'llah is paid to the Centre of the Cause.
(4 April - 3 May 1927 - translated from the Persian)
1179. You will find reference to the Huqúq in the Book of Aqdas, manuscript copies of which I believe are to be found among a few believers in America. All matters not specifically provided by Bahá'u'lláh are to be referred to the Universal House of Justice.(26 December 1927)
1180. Concerting Huqúq, the guardian wishes me to inform you that at present it is not obligatory for the friends to pay, but that they should be urged to contribute to the local and national funds.(19 September 1929)
1181. As regards Huqúq, it is really 19 per cent of one's income payable to the Guardian. But it is not obligatory now.(19 December 1929, Dawn of the New Day page 2 7)
1182. You enquired concerning the Huqúq. Shoghi Effendi would much prefer if the friends in America concentrate their financial resources towards the completion of the Temple, rather then dissipate their energy along channels that do not as yet call for immediate attention. When the time comes that the Cause would need the enforcement of this religious donation, Shoghi Effendi would say it and would set forth the amount prescribed. It is only gradually that the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh can be enforced. The time has to become ripe if the desired result is to be obtained.(15 February 1932)
1183. With reference to your question concerning the "Huqúq", Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that, although it has been prescribed by Bahá'u'lláh and referred to by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament, he is nevertheless reluctant to emphasize it, in view of the paramount necessity of preserving the dignity of the Cause, and also in view of the increasing national expenses of the Faith.(10 February 1935)
1184. Regarding the subject of Huqúq; Shoghi Effendi is reluctant to emphasize it at present, in view of the urgent needs of the Cause in America. But when the time comes for him to explain it to the friends, he will not fail to do so; suffice it to say that the Huqúq constitutes nineteen per cent of one's income, and not nine as some seem to think.(31 May 1937)
1185. One mithqal consists of nineteen nakhuds. The weight of twenty-four nakhuds equals four and three-fifths grammes. Calculations may be made on this basis.(17 November 1937)
1186. Concerning your question whether the heirs to whom the principal residence, furniture and clothing of the deceased are transferred by way of inheritance will be exempt from the payment of Huqúq or not, he said: Since the residence, furniture and the tools of trade have, in accordance with the explicit Text, been granted exemption from the Huqúq, therefore when the transfer of ownership takes place such possessions continue to be exempt.
(29 September 1942 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran - translated from the Persian)
1187. Regarding the questions raised in your letters: The Huqúq is a conscientious obligation; but the Guardian has not felt the time was ripe to stress this in the West.(24 March 1945)
1188. Great is the recompense that God has ordained for the true and devoted souls, the pure and detached beings who have spontaneously bequeathed a portion of their earthly possessions to the Cause of God, either during their own lifetimes or through their wills, and have had the privilege and honour of discharging their obligations to Huqúqu'llah. Give assurance on my behalf to the donors and to the survivors of those who have ascended unto God, affirming that these efforts and donations are bound to attract divine confirmations, heavenly blessings and incalculable favours, and to promote the manifold interests of the International Bahá'í Community. Well is it with them, inasmuch as God has enabled them to fulfil that which shall elevate their stations in this world and in the world to come.(23 June 1945 - translated from the Persian)
1189. The Guardian does not wish at present to go into the subject of Huqúq; but the general principle is that once you have paid on your capital you don't have to pay it again.(28 July 1946)
1190. The paying of the Huqúq is a spiritual obligation; the friends must not be obliged by the assemblies to pay it, but they should be encouraged to fulfil this spiritual obligation laid upon them in the Aqdas.
(12 October 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India)
1191. The Huqúq is payable to the Guardian individually by the believers; but he has not, in view of the many financial demands of the work the American believers are accomplishing, thought it timely to stress this point. They are free to do as they wish in this matter; later, when the time comes, he will explain fully to them the details of this matter.(27 March 1949)
1192. Huqúq is at the present time the same as the International Fund, and therefore I am sending you a receipt stating it is for the international interests of the Faith.(8 June 1947)
1193. As regards Huqúq: it is the payment of 19 per cent, not one 19th.(4 October 1950)
VI. EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
1194. Since the Huqúqu'llah has, according to the injunction in the Book, been designated as one of the institutions of the Cause, and inasmuch as the fulfilment of this obligation is binding on the people of Baha, therefore it is deemed appropriate that your Spiritual Assembly should fully familiarize the dear friends in Persia with the significance of this momentous responsibility and to promulgate gradually in the entire community such ordinances related to Huqúqu'llah as are laid down in His perspicuous Book. Obviously in pursuance of the explicit Texts solicitation of the Huqúqu'llah is not permissible, but it is the responsibility of those Trustees of the Cause to address appeals of a general character to the dear friends, so that they may become more informed about this essential obligation. God willing, through the occasional reminders issued by your Assembly, they may gain the privilegePage 519
and honour of achieving this benevolent deed -- a deed that draws forth heavenly blessings, serves as a means of purifying the earthly possessions of the devoted friends, and promotes the international activities of the people of Baha.
The Trustee of the Huqúqu'llah, the Hand of the Cause of God Dr. 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa, has been asked to designate, whenever advisable, certain representatives for the Huqúqu'llah in various townships, provinces and neighbouring countries, so that the offering of the Huqúqu'llah may be facilitated for the friends in those regions.
It is evident to those Trustees of the Merciful that this Body, by virtue of the explicit Text of the sacred Writings, is the Body to which all things must be referred, and the Huqúqu'llah can be used to promote the interests of the Cause throughout the Bahá'í world only with the permission of the Authority in the Cause to which all must turn.
(27 October 1963, to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran - translated from the Persian)
1195. The payment of the Huqúqu'llah is one of the essential spiritual obligations that the wondrous Pen of Bahá'u'lláh has laid down in the Most Holy Book.
It would be preferable and more fitting if these two accounts, namely contributions to the Funds and payments of the Huqúqu'llah were to be kept separate. This means that in the first instance you should pay your Huqúqu'llah, and then you may offer your devoted contributions at your own discretion to the International Fund which is now being used for achieving the goals of the Nine-Year Plan.(18 August 1965- translated from the Persian)
1196. Recently one of the friends asked the following question: Were a person to offer his property, partly or wholly, to the Bahá'í Funds, what responsibility does he still have for payment of the Huqúqu'llah?
This is what was stated in reply: The payment of Huqúqu'llah is one of the essential spiritual obligations of the people of Bahá which has been revealed in the Most Holy Book by the Pen of Glory. Therefore the friends should separate the account of Huqúqu'llah from that of their other contributions. Thus they must first settle their obligations concerning Huqúqu'llah, then they may make other contributions at their ownPage 520
discretion, inasmuch as the disposition of the funds of the Huqúqu'llah is subject to decision by the Authority in the Cause to which ail must turn, whereas the purposes of contributions to other Funds may be determined by the donors themselves.(22 August 1966 - translated from the Persian)
1197. Undoubtedly the friends are illumined with the light of the fear of God and are fully conscious of the need to purify and protect their possessions in accordance with the decisive Words revealed by our Lord, the Most High.
In these turbulent days, we that yearn for Him, fervently turn in prayer to the court of the Lord of mankind that He may graciously enable that august Assembly to repeatedly remind the lovers of the Beauty of the All- Merciful of the vital importance and the binding character of this sacred and heavenly injunction. Through issuing announcements, distributing leaflets and in gatherings, schools and conferences held by the followers of our Zealous Lord, they should be guided and encouraged to observe strictly and conscientiously that which His divine commandment has enjoined upon them, so that those believers who are adorned with the fear of God may be shielded from the dire consequences foreshadowed in His ominous warnings, may become the recipients of His assured blessings and be enabled to partake of the outpourings of His infallible spiritual grace.(12 September 1969 - translated from the Persian)
1198. Some of the dear friends who observe their Huqúqu'llah obligations have written asking about the relationship that exists between contribution to the Funds and the payment of Huqúqu'llah. That is, if a person who intends to meet his Huqúqu'llah obligations offers contributions to other Funds and projects instead, would be exempted from the payment of Huqúqu'llah or not?
The Holy Texts relevant to this matter are clear but, since this question has been repeatedly asked by the friends, it was decided to elucidate it for their information.
Payment of Huqúqu'llah is a spiritual obligation binding on the people of Baha. The injunction is laid down in the Most Holy Book, and clear and conclusive explanations are embodied in various Tablets.Page 521
Every devoted believer who is able to meet the specified conditions, must pay the Huqúqu'llah, without any exception. Indeed according to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, failure to comply with this injunction is regarded as a betrayal of trust, and the divine call: "Whoso dealeth dishonestly with God will in justice be exposed," is a clear reference to such people.
The Centre of the Covenant has affirmed the obligation of Huqúq in these words: "The Lord as a sign of His infinite bounties hath graciously favoured His servants by providing for a fixed money offering [Huqúq], to be dutifully presented unto Him though He, the True One and His servants have been at all times independent of all created things."
This weighty ordinance, as testified by the Pen of Glory is invested with incalculable benefit and wisdom. It purifies one's possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honour and imparts divine increase and blessing. It is a sacrifice offered for and related to God, and an act of servitude leading to the promotion of His Cause. As affirmed by the Centre of the Covenant, Huqúq offerings constitute a test for the believers and enable the friends to become firm and steadfast in faith and certitude.
In brief, payment of Huqúqu'llah is one of the binding spiritual responsibilities of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh and the proceeds thereof revert to the Authority in the Cause to whom all must turn. Moreover, the Ancient Beauty -- magnified be His praise -- has affirmed that after the establishment of the Universal House of Justice necessary rulings would be enacted in this connection in conformity with that which God has purposed, and that no one, except the Authority to which all must turn, has the right to dispose of this Fund. In other words, whatever portion of one's wealth is due to the Huqúqu'llah belongs to the World Centre of the Cause of God, not to the individuals concerned.
Thus the friends should not follow their own volition and judgement in using any of the funds set aside for Huqúqu'llah for any other purpose, even for charitable contributions of the Faith.
We earnestly hope that everyone may be privileged to observe this sacred and blessed obligation which would ensure the attainment of true happiness and would serve to promote the execution of Bahá'í enterprises throughout the world.Page 522
Verily God is Self-Sufficient above the need of His creatures.
(25 October 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran -translated from the Persian)
1199. `Abdu'l-Bahá in one of His Tablets has stated: "Disposition of the Huqúq, wholly or partly, is permissible, but this should be done by permission of the authority in the Cause to whom all must turn." The provision in His Will and Testament that the Huqúqu'llah "is to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God..." is clearly in accord with this principle. In another Tablet `Abdu'l-Bahá referred to the Universal House of Justice as "the authority to whom all must turn" and it is clear that in the absence of the Guardian it is the supreme and central institution of the Cause. Moreover, before `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh had revealed the following: "There is a prescribed ruling for the Huqúqu'llah. After the House of Justice hath come into being the law thereof will be made manifest, in conformity with the Will of God." In accordance with these explicit texts it is clearly within the jurisdiction of the Universal House of Justice to decide about the receipt and disbursement of Huqúqu'llah at the present time.
(2 March 1972 to the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land)
1200. Payment of Huqúqu'llah has not yet been applied to the western world. It will undoubtedly be universal at some future time but at present the believers in the West are able to discharge their material obligations to the Cause by contribution to the Funds.(12 July 1972)
1201. We are deeply touched by your loving letter of 27 December, 1972 expressing the wish to follow the law of Huqúqu'llah with respect to your inheritance from your mother. Although, as you correctly state, this Law is not at present applicable to the friends in the West, any believer is free to observe it if he wishes.
This Law of the Aqdas stipulates that nineteen per cent of one's capital is payable as Huqúqu'llah when such capital has reached an amount of at least "nineteen mithqals in gold" .... In determining the amount a believer should pay, he should first deduct any debts and expenses hePage 523
may have, and pay nineteen per cent of the remainder of his capital if it is equal to at least nineteen mithqals of gold.
If you decide that you wish to observe this Law of the Aqdas at the present time, you should determine the total value of your inheritance in cash and other assets less any expenses or debts you may have, and consider the circumstances under which you may be able to pay Huqúqu'llah on the net value of your inheritance. The time and conditions of payment are left to each individual. For example, if one's assets include property or shares in addition to cash, he may find it disadvantageous or inconvenient to pay nineteen per cent of the value of the non-cash assets until they are disposed of, at which time he would prefer to fulfil this spiritual obligation. Any expenses that may be involved in disposing of one's assets should be deducted before calculating the net value on which Huqúqu'llah is payable.(21 January 1973)
1202. ... The devoted believer who is privileged to pay "the Right of God", far from seeking excuses for evading this spiritual obligation, will do his utmost to meet it. On the other hand, inasmuch as obedience to this Law is a matter of conscience, and payment of Huqúqu'llah is a voluntary act, it would not be seemly to go beyond informing the Persian friends of their spiritual obligation, and leaving to them to decide what they wish to do about it.
The same principle applies to those friends who spend lavishly on their families, who purchase or build residences and furnish them far in excess of their needs, and rationalize these expenditures in their desire to avoid payment of Huqúqu'llah. Likewise those friends who marry non-Persians and reside in Europe or other countries should not be pressed, but informed and left to decide for themselves.(26 February 1973)
1203. ... many details in the computation of Huqúqu'llah have been left by Bahá'u'lláh to the judgement and conscience of the individual believer. For example, He exempts such household equipment and furnishings as are needful, but He leaves it to the individual to decide which items are necessary and which are not. Contributions to the funds of the Faith cannot be considered as part of one's payment of Huqúqu'llah;Page 524
moreover, if one owes Huqúqu'llah and cannot afford to both to pay it and to make contributions to the Fund, the payment of Huqúqu'llah should take priority over making contributions. But as to whether contributions to the Fund may be treated as expenses in calculating the amount of one's assets on which Huqúqu'llah is payable; this is left to the judgement of each individual in the light of his own circumstances.
The Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf that "one mithqal consists of nineteen nakhuds. The weight of twenty-four nakhuds equals four and three-fifths grammes. Calculations may be made on this basis". Nineteen mithqals therefore equal 69.191667 grammes. One troy ounce equals 31.103486 grammes, thus 19 mithqals equal 2.224563 oz. At the current rate of $339.10 per ounce, 19 mithqals of gold would amount to $754.35. Thus on a savings of $754.35 an amount of $143.33 (i.e 19%) would be payable as Huqúqu'llah.(16 September 1979)
1204. It is clear from the Writings that a person is exempt from paying Huqúqu'llah on his residence and such household and professional equipment as are needful. It is left to the discretion of the individual to decide which items are necessary and which are not. It is obvious that the friends should not spend lavishly on residences and furnishings and rationalize on these expenditures in their desire to avoid payment of Huqúqu'llah. No specific text has been found exempting capital used to earn income. The Universal House of Justice leaves such matters to the consciences of individual believers.(9 April 1980)
1205. The House of Justice further points out that however weighty are the obligations resting upon the believers to pay the Huqúqu'llah and to support the other funds of the Faith, these are spiritual obligations which are to be fulfilled voluntarily, and under no circumstances may contributions to any of these funds, even the Huqúqu'llah, be demanded or solicited from individual believers. Appeals and exhortations must always be made to the generality of the friends, not to individuals.(7 May 1980)
1206. He who after setting aside his annual expenses owns a surplus worth at least nineteen mithqals of gold is liable to the payment of Huqúqu'llah.(20 October 1981- translated from the Persian)
1207. As to your second question asking whether, where there is perfect understanding between husband and wife and she is empowered to manage her husband's property as well as her own, she could pay the amount of Huqúqu'llah applicable to all their possessions or, since the husband owns a portion of the property, she could pay only the amount of Huqúqu'llah on her own share of the property.
In answering this question one should remember that the Huqúqu'llah is payable on possessions that are indisputably recognized as being one's own and not on property that one merely controls or uses. However, in cases similar to the one you have mentioned above, it is incumbent on husband and wife to take counsel together and to define precisely the limits of their personal belongings, then they should either jointly or individually render to the Huqúq the amount they consider to be their binding obligation.
As regards Mrs...., since her husband is an American and the law of Huqúqu'llah does not apply at this time to the friends in the West, the payment of Huqúqu'llah on the part of her husband is neither binding nor prohibited.(10 January 1982- translated from the Persian)
1208. The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 10 September, 1982 enquiring about the responsibility of a Bahá'í couple to pay Huqúqu'llah where one partner is American and the other Persian, and we have been instructed to provide you with the following clarification.
1. Your letter refers to basing the calculation of Huqúqu'llah on one's income. As you will realize from a study of the texts, however, the computation is made on the net value of one's possessions after deducting a number of exempt items such as residence and necessary furnishings, and on subsequent annual increases to this net property arising from surplus income after the payment of necessary expenses. It is, moreover, calculated onPage 526
units of property equal in value to 19 mithqals of gold (2.22456 troy ounces).
2. No hard and fast rule can be laid down as to the share of a couple's property on which Huqúqu'llah should be paid where one partner is a westerner and the other a Persian. This depends upon the way the husband and wife themselves regard the ownership of the family's property. Thus it is basically a matter for consultation between husband and wife and, as stated previously, Bahá'u'lláh has left many of the details of computation of Huqúqu'llah to the judgement of the individual believers.(11 October 1982)
1209. As to the question raised by Mr...., kindly inform him that in a letter to an individual believer the beloved Guardian explained that Huqúqu'llah is payable only once on a given property, whether personal or real, but should this property pass from one person to another, such as through inheritance, it becomes again subject to the payment of Huqúqu'llah. This in effect means that heirs receiving a share of their inheritance from an estate must pay Huqúqu'llah, if the share they are receiving increases their wealth to a level calling for the discharge of this sacred obligation.
(1 June 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
1210. As regards your question concerning the principal residence and subsidiary rulings relevant to it, we wish to let you know that in these days it is not deemed advisable to enact detailed rulings for Huqúqu'llah. Thus the friends are left free, and whenever no definite rulings exist they may fulfil in each case that which they understand from the tests, and may honour their Huqúqu'llah obligations according to their own judgement and the promptings of their own conscience.(4 March 1984 - translated from the Persian)
VII. EXTRACT FROM A LETTER WRITTEN ON BEHALF OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
1211. As you state, the obligation to Huqúqu'llah rests on individual believers, not on corporate bodies, even if these are wholly owned by Bahá'ís.
On the other hand, if the owners of a company which is entirely Baha'i-owned wish their company to make a donation to Huqúqu'llah, such a contribution is acceptable. It does not, of course, reduce the obligation of the individual believers concerned to pay their own Huqúqu'llah.
There is no objection in principle to a Baha'i's paying money to an agent, requesting that agent to issue a cheque on his behalf in payment of his Huqúqu'llah, whether the agent be an individual, a bank, a limited company or a firm. Such a cheque should be accepted. However, the individual who is thereby fulfilling his obligation to Huqúqu'llah should make clear that this is what he is doing, and the receipt should be issued in his name, not in that of the agent.(30 March 1989 to an individual believer)
[1 Extracts are taken from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi unless otherwise noted.]I. Importance of giving
1212. We must be like the fountain or spring that is continually emptying itself of all that it has and is continually being refilled from an invisible source. To be continually giving out for the good of our fellows undeterred by fear of poverty and reliant on the unfailing bounty of the Source of all wealth and all good -- this is the secret of right living.
(Shoghi Effendi, cited in "Bahá'í News" 13 (September 1926), p. 1)
1213. And as the progress and extension of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of local as well as national Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá'í Fund be established, to be placed under the exclusive control of the Spiritual Assembly. All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause, throughout that locality or country. It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Bahá'u'lláh, who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund. The members of the Spiritual Assembly will at their own discretion expend it to promote the Teaching Campaign, to help the needy, to establish educational Bahá'í institutions, to extend in every way possible their sphere of service. I cherish the hope that all the friends, realizing the necessity of this measure, will bestir themselves and contribute, however modestly at first, towards the speedy establishment and the increase of that Fund.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 12 March 1923 to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 41-42)
1214. That you may reinforce this Teaching Campaign -- so vitally needed in these days -- and conduct, properly and efficiently, the rest of your manifold activities, spiritual as well as humanitarian, it is urgently necessary to establish that Central Fund, which if generously supportedPage 530
and upheld by individual friends and Local Assemblies, will soon enable you to execute your plans with promptness and vigour.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 6 May 1923 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Baha'i' Administration", p. 49)
1215. With regard to the Bahá'í Fund, recently established amongst the friends, I trust that the matter now stands clear to every one throughout the country. As I have previously intimated, although individual friends and Local Assemblies are absolutely free to specify the object and purpose of their donations to the National Spiritual Assembly, yet, in my opinion, I regard it of the utmost vital importance that individuals, as well as Local Assemblies, throughout the land should, in view of the paramount importance of National Teaching and as an evidence of their absolute confidence in their national representatives, endeavour, however small at first, to contribute freely towards the upkeep and the increase of the National Bahá'í Fund, so that the members of the National Assembly may at their full discretion expend it for whatever they deem urgent and necessary.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 26 November 1923 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration", pp. 53-54)
1216. ...It is for the National Assembly... to exercise its judgement as to what extent the resources at their disposal enable them to aid financially the individual undertakings of the friends. Should the response of the friends and Assemblies to the appeals made on behalf of the National Fund be prompt, sustained, and generous, the National Assembly will, I am certain,justify its sympathy, goodwill and genuine co-operation with every individual Bahá'í enterprise. I would, however, at this early stage of our work, strongly urge, nay entreat, the friends not to dissipate their efforts, but to seek, after frank, mature, and continuous deliberation, to arrive at a common conclusion as to the most urgent requirements and needs of the hour, and having unified their views to strive to uphold and enforce them with promptitude, whole- heartedness, and understanding.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 16 January 1925 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration", pp. 76-77)Page 531
1217. ...That the work of the National Spiritual Assemblies may be efficiently conducted, it is incumbent upon their members to seek if feasible the establishment of an adequate and permanent centre for their activities which would be widely and officially advertised and be recognized as the headquarters of their Secretariat. To it all communications from individual friends and Local Assemblies within its province, from the Holy Land and from foreign countries should be directly addressed. It would be its first duty to keep in close and constant touch, without exception, discrimination or favour, with the various localities and isolated believers in its jurisdiction, and diligently and promptly distribute to them as well as to the friends abroad any matter of common concern and general interest.
That this cherished aim may materialize and the standard of efficiency be maintained, the institution of the National Fund is of paramount importance. I would unceasingly urge the individual believers as well as the Local Assemblies throughout India and Burma to arise with heart and soul and generously and regularly contribute toward the upkeep and the extension of a Fund upon which will greatly depend the success of their endeavours.
I am personally instructing the... Assembly, whose past services, moral as well as financial, to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in India and elsewhere are graven upon my heart, to concentrate their energies upon, and uphold with their resources the twin institutions of the National Spiritual Assembly and the National Fund. I trust that these may soon be enabled to shoulder the burden that is now weighing upon the self-sacrificing friends of....
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 25 March 1925 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
1218. As to material sacrifices towards the welfare of the Cause, he wishes you to understand that the general interests of the Cause take precedence over the interests of the particular individuals. For instance contributions to the welfare of individuals are secondary to contributions towards the National and Local Funds and that of the Temple.
This is a general instruction. Of course helping the individuals in case one is able to help, is also desirable and merits appreciation.(24 November 1925 to two believers)
1219. In connection with the institution of the National Fund and the budgetary system set forth in the minutes of the National Spiritual Assembly, I feel urged to remind you of the necessity of ever bearing in mind the cardinal principle that all contributions to the Fund are to be purely and strictly voluntary in character. It should be made clear and evident to every one that any form of compulsion, however slight and indirect, strikes at the very root of the principle underlying the formation of the Fund ever since its inception. While appeals of a general character, carefully-worded and moving and dignified in tone are welcome under all circumstances, it should be left entirely to the discretion of every conscientious believer to decide upon the nature, the amount, and purpose of his or her contribution for the propagation of the Cause.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 10 January 1926 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration", p. 101)
1220. ...The National Fund must be firmly established, generously supported and universally and continuously upheld, for it is the prerequisite of future progress and achievement. The "News Letter" should be extended, widely distributed and utilized as a means to supply information, co-ordinate activities and secure the support of all the believers to the institutions of the Cause. I strongly urge you to ensure the success of these two primary and essential organs of our work.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 25 May 1926 written on his behalf to an individual believer)
1221. In times of disappointment, stress and anxiety, which we must inevitably encounter, we should remember the sufferings of our departed Master. Your work, your energy, your vigilance and care, your loving-kindness are assets that I greatly value and prize. Keep on, persevere, redouble in your efforts, repeat and rewrite the admonitions and instructions of our Beloved in your communications with individuals and Assemblies until they sink in their hearts and minds. This was truly our Beloved's way and method and none better can we ever pursue. Your present pioneer work will surely be remembered and extolled by future generations. My prayers will always be offered for you. In matters of contribution we should not use any compulsion whatsoever and ascertainPage 533
clearly the desire of the donor. We should appeal to but not coerce the friends.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 9 July 1926 written on his behalf to an individual believer)
1222. As Bahá'ís we should follow the prophet's method. We know that the Cause will ultimately conquer and its ranks be fully united. We know that the Master's promises will ultimately be realized, therefore why be discouraged by trivial oppositions we see on our way. We should rather add to our zeal and persist in our prayers and endeavours. Shoghi Effendi has taken the available measures, and, by letter as well as cable, has urged the... friends to give a moral and material support to the National fund. It always takes time for a people to change from one administration to another. Up to the present they have been accustomed to think of the Local Assemblies as next only to the Centre of the Cause, and it will take some time and training before they can admit another superior. The same problem existed in America and for some time the work of the National body seemed to be paralysed but through personal contact and Shoghi Effendi's incessant reminding that problem has been solved and now we see the National Assembly considered as the only body to undertake matters that are beyond the purely local jurisdiction of the Local Assemblies.
(7 September 1926 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, published in "Dawn of a New Day" (New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, ), pp. 13-14)
1223. ...I have urged them to support consistently and whole-heartedly the very essential and vital institutions of the National Fund and the National Assembly. It must be made clear to them all that continuous support to these twin institutions is the corner-stone of all future achievements, the mainspring from which all future blessings will flow.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to the above letter)
1224. ...we should, I feel, regard it as an axiom and guiding principle of Bahá'í administration that in the conduct of every specific Bahá'í activity, as different from undertakings of a humanitarian, philanthropic, or charitable character, which may in future be conducted under Bahá'íPage 534
auspices, only those who have already identified themselves with the Faith and are regarded as its avowed and unreserved supporters should be invited to join and collaborate. For apart from the consideration of embarrassing complications which the association of non- believers in the financing of institutions of a strictly Bahá'í character may conceivably engender in the administration of the Bahá'í community of the future, it should be remembered that these specific Bahá'í institutions, which should be viewed in the light of Bahá'u'lláh's gifts bestowed upon the world, can best function and most powerfully exert their influence in the world only if reared and maintained solely by the support of those who are fully conscious of, and are unreservedly submissive to, the claims inherent in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. In cases, however, when a friend or sympathizer of the Faith eagerly insists on a monetary contribution for the promotion of the Faith, such gifts should be accepted and duly acknowledged by the elected representatives of the believers with the express understanding that they would be utilized by them only to reinforce that section of the Bahá'í Fund exclusively devoted to philanthropic or charitable purposes. For as the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh extends in scope and in influence, and the resources of Bahá'í communities correspondingly multiply, it will become increasingly desirable to differentiate between such departments of the Bahá'í treasury as minister to the needs of the world at large, and those that are specifically designed to promote the direct interests of the Faith itself. From this apparent divorce between Bahá'í and humanitarian activities it must not however be inferred that the animating purpose of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh stands at variance with the aims and objects of the humanitarian and philanthropic institutions of the day. Nay, it should be realized by every judicious promoter of the Faith that at such an early stage in the evolution and crystallization of the Cause such discriminating and precautionary measures are inevitable and even necessary if the nascent institutions of the Faith are to emerge triumphant and unimpaired from the present welter of confused and often conflicting interests with which they are surrounded. This note of warning may not be thought inappropriate at a time when, inflamed by a consuming passion to witness the early completion of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, we may not only be apt to acquiesce in the desire of those who as yet uninitiated into the Cause are willing to lend financial assistance to its institutions,Page 535
but may even feel inclined to solicit from them such aid as it is in their power to render. Ours surely is the paramount duty so to acquit ourselves in the discharge of our most sacred task that in the days to come neither the tongue of the slanderer nor the pen of the malevolent may dare to insinuate that so beauteous, so significant an Edifice has been reared by anything short of the unanimous, the exclusive, and the self-sacrificing strivings of the small yet determined body of the convinced supporters of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. How delicate our task, how pressing the responsibility that weighs upon us, who are called upon on one hand to preserve inviolate the integrity and the identity of the regenerating Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and to vindicate on the other its broad, its humanitarian, its all-embracing principles!
True, we cannot fail to realize at the present stage of our work the extremely limited number of contributors qualified to lend financial support to such a vast, such an elaborate and costly enterprise. We are fully aware of the many issues and varied Bahá'í activities that are unavoidably held in abeyance pending the successful conclusion of the Plan of Unified Action. We are only too conscious of the pressing need of some sort of befitting and concrete embodiment of the spirit animating the Cause that would stand in the heart of the American Continent both as a witness and as a rallying centre to the manifold activities of a fast growing Faith. But spurred by these reflections may we not bestir ourselves and resolve as we have never resolved before to hasten by every means in our power the consummation of this all-absorbing yet so meritorious a task? I beseech you, dear friends, not to allow considerations of number, or the consciousness of the limitation of our resources, or even the experience of inevitable set-backs which every mighty undertaking is bound to encounter, to blur your vision, to dim your hopes, or to paralyse your efforts in the prosecution of your divinely appointed task. Neither, do I entreat you, to suffer the least deviation into the paths of expediency and compromise to obstruct those channels of vivifying grace that can alone provide the inspiration and strength vital not only to the successful conduct of its material construction, but to the fulfilment of its high destiny.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 25 October 1929 to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í Administration", pp. 182-84)Page 536
1225. You asked concerning some plans whereby funds could be gathered for the Temple. Shoghi Effendi believes that the best and noblest method is to have free donations that are made spontaneously and with the sense of making some sacrifice in furthering the Cause. It is with sacrifice that this Temple is to be built. This is the truly worthy method. This principle therefore excludes any method whereby the help of non-Bahá'ís is included. A Bahá'í Temple should be built by the Bahá'ís alone; it is not an ordinary humanitarian activity in which the help of any person could be solicited. Anyhow Shoghi Effendi has fully explained these matters to the National Spiritual Assembly and you could easily refer to them as to further light on the subject.
(14 April 1932 to the Spiritual Assembly of Kenosha, Wisconsin, published in "Bahá'í News" (July 1932), p. 4)
1226. Even though Shoghi Effendi would urge every believer to sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of contributing towards the fund of the National Assembly, yet he would discourage the friends to incur debts for that purpose. We are asked to give what we have, not what we do not possess, especially if such an act causes suffering to others. In such matters we should use judgement and wisdom and take into our confidence other devoted Bahá'ís.(4 May 1932 to an individual believer)
1227. Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated May 8th 1932 telling him of some incidents that transpired during the Convention this year, especially when funds were collected for the Temple. He was very glad to learn of the wonderful spirit that prevailed in those gatherings; for it is only through such a spirit of devotion and sacrifice that the Cause can prosper and its message embrace the whole world.
It was also wonderful to see the interest shown by the public in the general gatherings that formed part of the Convention programme. Shoghi Effendi hopes that as the Temple is gradually completed this interest will increase and they will try to share in the spirit that motivates the friends and, accepting the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, arise to serve it, and dedicate their life to its spread.Page 537
Such gatherings for collection of funds are permissible if it is done with a true spirit of sacrifice, not when the audience is especially aroused to a frenzy and mob psychology is used to induce them to pay. Shoghi Effendi has repeatedly stated that no pressure should be used upon the friends, and psychological pressure falls under that category. But there is much difference between such gatherings, often used by religious bodies, and a true quiet, prayerful atmosphere when a person is of his own accord aroused to make some sacrifice. The distinction is very delicate, but it is for the chairman to use his power to see that one desirable form is not corrupted into the other. All the activities of the Cause should be carried through in a dignified manner. Shoghi Effendi is sure that the funds gathered at the last Convention were not due to the play of mob psychology but to the prayerful attitude of the friends and their desire to make further sacrifice.
(28 May 1932 to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 67 (October 1932), p. 5)
1228. ...Your donations to the Temple as well as the remarkable manner in which you are assisting the believers in their efforts to widen the scope of their publicity work are real and abiding contributions you have made to the Faith. And although at present you are unable to contribute financially as much as you did in former years you should not feel discouraged, much less disappointed. For the best way in which you can effectively support the Temple cause is not through material means but by the moral help which is your primary obligation to extend to those who are in charge of the building of that sacred and unique Edifice. It is devotion, sincerity and genuine enthusiasm which in the long run can ensure the completion of our beloved Temple. Material considerations, though essential, are not the most vital by any means. Had it been otherwise the Temple would have never reached the stage of progress which it has already so well attained. For the resources of the community are limited, and have been severely affected during the last two years by an unprecedented and world-wide economic crisis. But despite all these material obstacles the Temple has made a steady progress and this alone is sufficient to convince every unbiased observer of the divine potencyPage 538
animating the Faith -- a potency before which all material difficulties must inevitably wane.(30 December 1933 to two believers)
1229. ...He wishes you particularly to impress the believers with the necessity of maintaining the flow of their contributions to the Temple, and also to stress the importance of the institution of the national Bahá'í Fund, which, in these early days of the administrative development of the Faith, is the indispensable medium for the growth and expansion of the Movement. Contributions to this fund constitute, in addition, a practical and effective way whereby every believer can test the measure and character of his faith, and prove in deeds the intensity of his devotion and attachment to the Cause.
(25 September 1934 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 88 (November 1934), pp. 1-2)
1230. ...the Guardian would advise your Assembly to continue impressing upon the believers the necessity of their contributing regularly to the national fund, irrespective of whether there is an emergency to be met or not. Nothing short of a continuous flow of contributions to that fund can, indeed, ensure the financial stability upon which so much of the progress of the institutions of the Faith must now inevitably depend.
(29 July 1935 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 95 (October 1935), p. 1)
1231. As the activities of the American Bahá'í community expand, and its world-wide prestige correspondingly increases, the institution of the national Fund, the bedrock on which all other institutions must necessarily rest and be established, acquires added importance, and should be increasingly supported by the entire body of the believers, both in their individual capacities, and through their collective efforts, whether organized as groups or as Local Assemblies. The supply of funds, in support of the national Treasury, constitutes, at the present time, the life-blood of these nascent institutions which you are labouring to erect. Its importance cannot surely be overestimated. Untold blessings shall no doubt crown every effort directed to that end. I am eagerly and prayerfullyPage 539
awaiting the news of an unprecedented expansion in so vital an organ of the Administrative Order of our Faith.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to the above letter)
1232. With regard to your question concerning contributions to the Temple fund: the friends should certainly be encouraged and even urged to support financially this, as well as other national institutions of the Cause. But they should, under no circumstances, be required to do so. As to the idea of "giving what one can afford": this does by no means put a limit or even exclude the possibility of self-sacrifice. There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, especially when such offerings necessitate the sacrifice of other wants and desires on the part of the donor. The harder the sacrifice the more meritorious will it be, of course, in the sight of God. For after all it is not so much the quantity of one's offerings that matters, but rather the measure of deprivation that such offerings entail. It is the spirit, not the mere fact of contributing, that we should always take into account when we stress the necessity for a universal and whole-hearted support of the various funds of the Cause.
(31 December 1935 to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 250 (December 1951), p 1)
1233. Above all he wishes through you to reiterate his wish, already expressed in his recent cable to the National Spiritual Assembly, that the National Fund, which undoubtedly constitutes the bedrock upon which all the activities of the Cause ultimately rest, should receive the continued and whole-hearted support of all the believers. Both the Local Assemblies and the individual believers should realize that unless they contribute regularly and generously to that Fund the progress of the Faith in India and Burma will not only be considerably retarded, but will inevitably come to a standstill. There should be a continual flow of funds to the national treasury of the National Spiritual Assembly, if that body wishes to properly administer the manifold and ever- increasing activities of the Faith. Every Baha'i, no matter how poor, must realize what a grave responsibility he has to shoulder in this connection, and should have confidence that his spiritual progress as a believer in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh willPage 540
largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the divine institutions of His Faith.
(17 July 1937 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, published in "Dawn of a New Day", p. 68)
1234. ...Each and every believer, undaunted by the uncertainties, the perils and the financial stringency afflicting the nation, must arise and ensure, to the full measure of his or her capacity, that continuous and abundant flow of funds into the national Treasury, on which the successful prosecution of the Plan must chiefly depend.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 30 January 1938 written on his behalf 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), p. 11)
1235. Regarding the state of the National Fund, which you have reported is suffering from a general slackness in contributions from both individual believers and the Local Assemblies and groups: It is only evident that unless the flow of donations is regularly maintained by means of generous and continual support by all the believers, individually and collectively, the National Fund will never be able to meet the needs and requirements of the Cause, particularly in these days when the national activities of the American believers are assuming such wide and increasing proportions.
(3 February 1941 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 143 (May 1941), p. 3)
1236. Indeed the splendid spirit that animates the American believers these days is a great source of joy and inspiration of the Guardian, and as the good news comes in of new victories won and new sacrifices made, one can see his spirits rise and a wave of new strength sweep over him -- tired and over-burdened as he so often is.
In this connection the letter you so thoughtfully enclosed from that dear Bahá'í who gave the difference in the price of a cheap or expensive coffin to the Fund of the Cause, greatly touched him. Such sacrificesPage 541
prove the caliber of the friends and insure the very foundations of the Faith.
(4 May 1941 to the Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 144 (June 1941), pp. 2-3)
1237. Conscious of the state of the National Fund, and realizing the urgency of the task facing its administrators, I have felt the urge to devote the offering of the American believers to the International Fund to the work which is now vitally facing and challenging the friends in the teaching field. Much as I appreciated the spirit prompting you and your fellow- members to make this monthly contribution to the Cause at its World Centre, I felt that it was my duty to consecrate this offering, while the Seven Year Plan is still operating, to that vital aspect of teaching upon which its success must ultimately depend. May the friends, in view of the vastness of the field that stretches before them, and the potentialities of their labours within it, and of the glowing promise of future blessings which such a labour must yield, rise to still greater heights of self- sacrifice and evince nobler manifestations of solidarity in the face of the critical situation that so insistently demands their support.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 26 October 1941 to the Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 149 (December 1941), p. 2)
1238. ...There is no objection to the... Spiritual Assembly keeping a record of the names of contributors, and sums received; but no pressure must ever be brought on the Bahá'ís to contribute, it must be voluntary, and should be considered confidential, unless the friends themselves wish to mention it openly.(26 October 1945 to an individual believer)
1239. Regarding your questions: He does not feel that it is desirable to lay down any conditions for giving to the Bahá'í Fund. This is an entirely personal matter, and each believer must act according to his own judgement and the needs of the Faith. In times of crisis, whether in the affairs of the Cause or in one's own family, people naturally behavePage 542
differently than under normal circumstances. But decisions in these matters must rest with each individual Baha'i.
(19 October 1947 to an individual believer, 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), pp. 447-48)
1240. Regarding the question you raised: in the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own conscience as regards the manner in which he should spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Bahá'ís in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the System of Bahá'u'lláh- -Divine in origin -- that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Bahá'ís cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work, as this will lead to the healing of the nations.
(8 December 1947 to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 210 (August 1948), p. 3)
1241. Regarding your question about contributions: it is up to the individual to decide; if he wishes to devote a sum to a specific purpose, he is free to do so; but the friends should recognize the fact that too much labelling of contributions will tie the hands of the Assembly and prevent it from meeting its many obligations in various fields of Bahá'í activity.
(23 June 1950 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, published in "Messages to Canada" ([Toronto]: National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, 1965), p. 15)
1242. ...He suggests you give the sum you would spend on a world tour to the Cause in memory of your son. Bahá'u'lláh says that deeds of this nature aid the progress of the soul of the loved, departed one, in the world beyond. Your son died in suffering, in his youth. Perhaps to still have aPage 543
part in the most constructive work of this world would bring him extra peace and joy.(19 September 1951 to an individual believer)
1243. As to your question: the friends can give their contributions to the treasurer, or, if they wish to remain anonymous and give small sums, a receptacle can be provided. The Local Assembly can decide this matter.(29 September 1951 to an individual believer)
1244. The Guardian feels sure that the contribution which has been made by your friend who has not been active in the Cause for a short time will be the means of stimulating her to renewed service. There is nothing that brings success in the Faith like service. Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays.(12 July 1952 to an individual believer)
1245. ...Now is the time to build the World Centre of the Faith, and the friends are not only free, but encouraged to contribute directly to the International and Shrine of The Báb Funds.
Of course it has never been the Guardian's idea that in contributing to the International Funds, the friends would neglect their responsibilities to the Local and National Funds; but it certainly was not his intent that the friends must contribute first to the Local and then the National Funds, before contributing to the international activities of the Faith, which at this time are of paramount importance.
The general principle of contribution by the friends is unchanged, namely, that everyone is free to contribute to whatever funds they wish, and to the degree their conscience and feeling of sacrifice moves them. At this time, however, we must actively bear in mind the many instructions of the Guardian, that we must now build up the international activities of the Faith, and consequently, the International Funds.
(25 March 1953 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)Page 544
1246. In your letter of September 28,1953, you mentioned the sum of... as being included in the... allocated from your Assembly's Budget to the World Centre. The principle involved is as follows: The Guardian feels that your Assembly when allocating its annual budget, and having stipulated what sum is for the purposes of the International Centre of the Faith, should immediately pigeon-hole that sum to be at the Guardian's disposal. Any monies received as contributions from the Bahá'ís for the International Centre should not be credited to this account which represents a national joint contribution, and has nothing to do with individual or local contributions forwarded to the World Centre in your care.
(20 June 1954 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
1247. The contribution which you have made to the International Fund in memory of Mrs.... is greatly appreciated. This will be the means of much happiness to her, that her name will now be connected with the work at the World Centre.
(10 August 1956 to the Spiritual Assembly of Ann Arbor, Michigan)
1248. ...The Guardian feels that now that the new National Assembly has been established, with headquarters in Kampala, the Assembly should establish its own Bank Account. When this is done the moneys you have received for the Kampala Temple should be turned over to them, for deposit in their account. This applies not only to the munificent contribution of Mr...., but also to past contributions which you have received, and any which you may receive in the future.
(10 June 1956 to the Hand of the Cause of God in Africa, Musa Banani)
1249. In the November Minutes of the National Assembly Meeting, page 28, the Guardian has noticed that the National Assembly plans to make a contribution of ... dollars to the Australia and New Zealand Assembly for their Temple. He wishes to know whether this is the contribution that Mrs. Collins has made for that purpose, or whether this is another contribution given from the funds of the National Assembly. If it is Mrs. Collins's contribution, then it should naturally be given under her name.
(15 December 1956 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)Page 545
1250. ...The institution of the National Fund, so vital and essential for the uninterrupted progress of these activities must, in particular, be assured of the whole- hearted, the ever-increasing and universal support of the mass of believers, for whose welfare, and in whose name, these beneficent activities have been initiated and have been conducted. All, no matter how modest their resources, must participate.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 8 August 1957 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa)
II. The Responsibility of Assemblies in Administering Bahá'í Funds
1251. ...The financial questions that confront the Cause are all very pressing and important. They need a judicious administration and wise policy. We should study the needs of the Cause, find which field will give the greatest yield, and then appropriate the necessary funds. And such a task is surely most difficult and responsible.(19 December 1929 to an individual believer)
1252. Regarding his special contribution to the Teaching Fund: he feels that this is a matter to be left entirely to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly. He believes that the continuous expenditure of a considerable sum to provide for travelling expenses of teachers who are in need constitutes in these days the chief obligation of the national fund. An effort should be made to facilitate, as much as possible, the extension of the teaching work by helping those who are financially unable to reach their destination, and once there to encourage them to settle and earn the means of their livelihood.
(14 November 1936 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News" 105 (February 1937), p. 1)
1253. With regard to your question concerning the National Bahá'í Fund: there is nothing in the Declaration of Trust or the By-Laws which prevents the allocation of any funds to any individual who is in dire financial need. But it should be emphasized and clearly understood by the friends that the national interests and requirements of the Cause take absolute precedence over individual and private needs. It is the duty of the National Spiritual Assembly to so dispose of the national Fund as not toPage 546
allow the national interests of the Faith to be jeopardized by individual considerations that are obviously transient when compared to the lasting interests of the Cause of God. In rare and exceptional cases, when a believer has absolutely no other means of material sustenance, the National Spiritual Assembly may either contribute towards his expenses from the national Fund, or make a special appeal to the body of the believers to that effect. It is for the family, the civil community and the Local Assembly to administer to such local and private needs of the individual. But in case none of these sources has the means to do so, the National Spiritual Assembly may, if it is convinced of the gravity, urgency and justice of the case, appropriate a part of its fund for that purpose.(17 July 1937 to an individual believer)
1254. ...The Guardian can only outline to you the principle, which is that Bahá'í funds should not be invested in building up a place that has dear associations for a number of the friends, but is not going to really serve a large group of the believers....
The Guardian's point is that National Bodies, when creating national institutions, should use sound judgement, because of the financial investment involved. This is only reasonable.
(8 June 1952 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, published in "Messages to Canada" p. 28)
1255. He urges your Assembly, in addition to expediting the Temple work as much as reasonably possible, to carefully supervise expenditures and prevent the architect from getting extravagant ideas. It is only through a wise economy, the elimination of non-essentials, concentration on essentials and a careful supervision, that the Guardian himself has been able to build the Shrine and the International Archives at the World ('entre, and surround the Holy Places here by what appear in the eyes of the public to be lavish gardens, but are in reality the result of rigorous and economical planning. This will not only ensure that the budget of the Temple is adhered to, but will be a salutary example to the African Bahá'ís, who must not be led to believe that because the Bahá'ís of the world are building for them a Temple in the heart of their homelands, our resources are infinite and that the affairs of the Cause can be supported from abroad. The more they see that economy and intelligentPage 547
supervision of the work is carried on in connection with their own Temple, the more they will be encouraged to feel some financial responsibility toward their National Body. Having very little themselves, it is a delicate matter, and as he already informed your Assembly, under no circumstances should a heavy budget be imposed upon such weak communities, and thus discourage them from the outset, or lead them to believe that like the Missions, our money comes from abroad.
(8 August 1957 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa)III. Who can contribute to the Fund?
1256. To offer contributions towards this end [in support of the activities of the Spiritual Assembly] is one of the pressing requirements of the Cause of God, is deemed highly essential, and is of fundamental importance. Next to the payment of the Huqúq, it is the obligation of every Baha'i.
(Shoghi Effendi, from a letter dated 27 February 1927 to the Bahá'ís of the East - translated from the Persian)
1257. I feel that only such goods as are owned by believers, whether made by Bahá'ís or non-Bahá'ís, may be sold in the interests of the Temple or any other Bahá'í institutions, thus maintaining the general principle that non-believers are not, whether directly or indirectly, expected to contribute to the support of institutions that are of a strictly Bahá'í character. As to the manner of the disposal of Bahá'í property for such purposes, and the channel through which the sale may be effected, I feel that no rigid rule should be imposed. Individual Bahá'ís are free to seek the help of private individuals or of Spiritual Assemblies to act as intermediary for such transactions. We should avoid confusion on one hand and maintain efficiency on the other, and lay no unnecessary restrictions that would fetter individual initiative and enterprise.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 4 January 1929 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Bahá'í News"31 (April 1929), p. 6)
1258. In regard to Miss...'s contribution to the fund, Shoghi Effendi wishes you to make it quite clear to her that her money-offerings should be made to the Bahá'í fund, and not to any individual. This being an importantPage 548
principle governing all Bahá'í publications and publishing societies, it should be duly emphasized and clearly understood, so that no difficulty may appear in the future. Of course, contributions should be accepted only when made by the Bahá'ís themselves. You should, therefore, first ascertain whether Miss... is a true Baha'i, and then and only then accept her contributions to your book fund.(14 April 1934 to an individual believer)
1259. The question you have raised in connection with the recommendation made by the Convention delegates this year to the effect of installing a Radio sending station in the Temple involves a fundamental principle governing the Temple Fund which the Guardian has already explained in several communications. He wishes me to stress again that under no circumstances should the believers accept any financial help from non-Bahá'ís for use in connection with specific administrative activities of the Faith such as the Temple construction fund, and other local or national Bahá'í administrative funds. The reason for this is twofold: First because the institutions which the Bahá'ís are gradually building are in the nature of gifts from Bahá'u'lláh to the world; and secondly the acceptance of funds from non-believers for specific Bahá'í use would, sooner or later, involve the Bahá'ís in unforeseen complications and difficulties with others, and thus cause incalculable harm to the body of the Cause.(14 April 1934 to an individual believer)
1260. You may not perhaps know that in connection with all National Assemblies the Guardian is advising that rules and regulations should not be multiplied and new statements on "procedure" issued; we should be elastic in details and rigid in principles; consequently he does not want your Assembly to issue statements of a binding nature unless absolutely necessary. In this connection he will answer your questions about sanctions: there is nothing to object to in paragraphs 1, 2 and 4 of your letter of March 4th, but no. 3 is incorrect; it is only those who have been spiritually excommunicated by the Guardian with whom the believers are forbidden to associate, and not a person who is being punished by being deprived of his voting rights. As contributions to Bahá'í Funds are used to support the administration of the Faith, they should not be acceptedPage 549
from those who are deprived of their voting rights; but such believers should not be prevented from being buried in a Bahá'í Cemetery or receiving charity -- which we even give to non-Bahá'ís...
(8 May 1947 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan, and Burma, published in "Dawn of a New Day", p. 123)
1261. ...Any Bahá'í can give to the Cause's Funds, adult or child. No statement is required on this subject; Bahá'í children have always given to the Cause, everywhere. Whatever situation may arise in a class which non-Bahá'í children attend is for the teacher of the class to solve. No ruling should be made to cover such things.
(18 August 1949 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
1262. Regarding Mr....'s bequest to the Temple: your Assembly should inform his widow that, because he was not a Baha'i, we cannot use his money for our purposes, as we consider our Faith and its institutions our free gift to humanity; you can, however, and indeed should, accept it for charity and expend it in his name.
(5 July 1950 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Bahá'í News" 236 (October 1950), p. 2)
1263. ...Thank you for the report you enclosed in your letter regarding the Fund, and in this connection he wishes to answer your question about Mrs....'s Trust Fund: We cannot accept money from non-Bahá'ís for the Cause. It would seem if the family of Mrs.... wish to do this for her (and it is certainly a highly praiseworthy idea) they must take action during her lifetime to establish such a Trust as the property of Mrs...., otherwise the Cause could only accept to use the money for charitable purposes, for Bahá'í and non-Baha'i.(4 October 1950 to an individual believer)
1264. As regards the question of the Bahá'í School in India: As this institution is run by Bahá'ís but for the benefit of both Bahá'ís and any other group sending its children there, he sees no reason why a school concert should not receive money from the public attending, and use itPage 550
for the school itself. It is not the same as a bazaar where the things sold are solely for the Bahá'í Fund.
(30 June 1952 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
1265. As regards the question of accepting contributions from people whose voting rights are suspended, the Guardian says this is not permissible.
(21 June 1953 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma, published in "Dawn of a New Day", p. 156)