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An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause
Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of long-suffering hath shone forth, and the declaration of authority is proven of God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Independent, and through whom the sea of bestowal hath moved, and the breeze of the favour of God, the Lord of mankind, hath wafted. Bahá'u'lláh
[Signatures of 26 Hands from the declaration letter of November 25, 1957
Devotedly, In service to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, Bahji, Akka, Israel, November 25, 1957.
Signatures of the 26 Hands of the Faith present in Bahji who signed the Proclamation on November 25, 1957.
The body of the Hands of the Cause taken in Bahji at their first Conclave in 1957. (Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum and Clara Dunn present but not shown.)
PLENARY MEETING OF THE HANDS OF THE CAUSE, APRIL 1963 On the steps of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í home: (seated) Musa Banani; first row, left to right: Leroy Ioas, Tarazu'llah Samandari, Agnes Alexander, Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, Enoch Olinga, Jalal Khazeh; second row, left to right: Dhikru'llah Khadem, behind him Collis Featherstone, Adelbert Muhlschlegel, Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i, Hermann Grossmann, Rahmatu'llah Muhajir, Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, John Robarts, 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa and 'Ali-Akbar Furutan; back row: Ugo Giachery, William Sears, Paul Haney, Hasan Balyuzi and John Ferraby.THE MINISTRY OF THE CUSTODIANS
An Account of the Stewardship of the Hands of the Cause
With an Introduction by Hand of the Cause 'Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih KhanumBahá'í WORLD CENTRE HAIFA
(c) 1992 THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE ISBN 0-85398-350-X
A Cataloguing-in-Publication number is available from the British LibraryPREFACE
This book of messages of the Hands of the Cause, from the passing of the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, in November 1957, to the formation of the first Universal House of Justice in 1963, is based on the files of the Hands in the Holy Land and on my personal experience as one of the Custodians of the Bahá'í Faith for five and a half years. It does not pretend to be a history but rather a record of the remarkable and unique accomplishments of an unpretentious group of world religious officials who, with no forewarning or preparation, suddenly, under the most tragic circumstances, found themselves called upon to seize the helm of their Faith, protect it from dissolution and schism, win the goals of an ambitious, far-flung, world ten-year-teaching campaign, which had only reached its half-way point, and steer it to the victory of unitedly electing its Supreme Body in 1963! In other words, it is a view from the inside looking out, as one of the Hands in the Holy Land saw it, throughout that dangerous, challenging, but obviously divinely protected period which will, I am confident, increasingly be seen as one of the most extraordinary victories-won by a handful of high-ranking officers of the Bahá'í Faith, as Shoghi Effendi designated us -- ever witnessed in the religious annals of mankind.
The texts of these messages, however vital, could never reflect our concern for the maintenance of the hard-won victories our beloved Guardian had achieved during his thirty-six years of unremitting labour, ending his life at 60, far too early an age for these days.
We Hands, particularly those who were acting as Custodians in the Holy Land, passed through perilous shoals indeed as we guided the precious barque of our Faith on its way through the violent flood of events that followed upon the loss of our hereditary Guardian. The Hands were widely scattered across the world and communication in those days was almost exclusively confined to air mail and cables. With exception of the women Hands, who through age or circumstances were not employed, almost all the men were earning their living and in no position to cease doing so. We all felt that neither our teachings -- which preclude a special class of paid religious clergy -- nor our limited resources and our tremendous financial obligations could justify the body of the Hands' beginning to live on the Bahá'í Fund; those who were chosen to act at the World Centre as Custodians, devoting their full time to its interests, obviously had to be supported as part of the expense of running our International Headquarters. We had a strong sense of the need for economy on the one hand, and of the stupendous sums of money we should require in order to win the goals of our Guardian's World Crusade on the other.
It was not the power of our intellect nor our personal capacities which carried us through that period, but the love and loyalty of our hearts for Shoghi Effendi the depth of our devotion to the Faith we believed in, and the divine guidance, inspiration, and protection which were undoubtedly vouchsafed to us -- else how could we, all over the world, have held the scattered and diversified community of Bahá'u'lláh together, and victoriously won our Guardian's Crusade, crowning it with the election of the Universal House of Justice? The leaders of neither Christianity nor Islam had succeeded in protecting those world religions from schism, but we protected ours from it. How? By the power vested in us, in the texts of our Scriptures; by our selfless devotion not only to a man who had died suddenly and left no direct guidance or instructions behind him, but also to the great international host of believers now left shepherdless, widely-scattered, remote and isolated, throughout the continents, seas, wildernesses and islands of the planet. So tightly knit was the unity among these followers of Bahá'u'lláh that they proved indivisible in heart, invincible in faith. Above all, we owed the power we were able to exert during this unique crisis to the web of tight, written texts of our teachings that, in spite of this supreme test, could not be violated and to which we held fast, sustaining both ourselves and the Bahá'ís down to the tiniest cell of this great living organism, the Cause of God. The vast fabric of our Faith was not without its own inner system of security: its local and national Bahá'í bodies constituted a world-wide administrative network, and was in the largest sense a legal entity. We had incorporated bodies all over the world, we had national and international funds of the Faith, we had fabulous real estate holdings at our World Centre. On the other hand, we had obligations that brooked no delay. We were like a man who is mortally ill but whose life depends on action. However grief-stricken and lost we were, we could not delay any action of any kind, for a moment. There was no time to pause, to contemplate, to savour our grief. For almost six years we ran, we met the challenges, problems, enemies -- we ran.
After the election of the Universal House of Justice on April 21, 1963, when the Hands in the Holy Land returned from the World Congress to Haifa, we held constant meetings in the home of `Abdu'l-Bahá with the newly-elected members of that Supreme Body to hand over to them the administrative affairs of the Faith. Files and information were turned over to them in a steady process of transfer from our interim, provisional authority to their permanent established authority according to the Holy Texts.
It is foolish to ask questions of history; it is even more foolish to ask questions of the Almighty. The Guardianship had ceased to exist as an ongoing institution. The Hands had gloriously crowned their function of protection of the Cause of God by calling for and supervising the election of the Universal House of Justice, the Supreme Body of the Bahá'í world; through the aegis of the Institution of the Counsellors, initiated and supported by that Supreme Body, the vital functions of propagation and protection will continue to be carried on. In 1973 the Hands of the Cause became a part of the International Teaching Centre and in this capacity, aside from specific meetings of their own with the Universal House of Justice, both as individual Hands and as a body, hold regular joint meetings with our Supreme Body.RUHIYYIH
APPOINTED BY Bahá'u'lláh DURING HIS MINISTRY,' 1863-1892
Haji Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-ShahMirzadi, known as Haji Akhund
Haji Mirza Muhammad Taqiy-i-Abhari, known as Ibn-i-Abhar
Mirza Muhammad-Hasan, entitled Adibu'l-'Ulama, known as AdibMirza 'Ali-Muhammad, known as Ibn-i-Asdaq
OUTSTANDING BELIEVERS REFERRED TO BY `Abdu'l-Bahá, AS HANDS OF THE CAUSE DURING HIS MINISTRY,' 1892-1921Aqa Muhammad-i-Qa'ini, known as Nabil-i-Akbar
Mulla Sadiq-i-Muqaddas, entitled Ismu'llahu'l-Asdaq
APPOINTED POSTHUMOUSLY BY SHOGHI Effendi DURING HIS MINISTRY, 1921-1957
[1 See The Bahá'í World, Vol. XIV, 1963-1968, pp. 445-446.]DATE ANNOUNCED
Haji Abdu'l-Hasan Amin, Trustee of Huqúqu'llah July 1928[b. ?, d. 27 May 1928]
[1 Cables of appointment were sent the previous day.]Date of Birth Date of Death
William Sutherland Maxwell 14 Nov. 1874 25 Mar. 1952Charles Mason Remey 15 May 1874 4 Feb. 1974
[1 Cables of appointment were sent on 2 October 1957.]Hasan Balyuzi 7 Sept. 1908 12 Feb. 1980
One of two things happens to great historic events, either they are lost sight of temporarily, to sometimes be re-discovered at a later date, or they form part of the great river of man's destiny, never for an instant to be forgotten or submerged. Of such is the unique period of almost six years during which the Hands of the Cause of God, appointed during his lifetime by Shoghi Effendi the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, who styled them the "Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth" and its "high-ranking officers", arose and firmly seized and guided the destiny of the endangered and grievously shaken body of Bahá'u'lláh's followers the world over. When the appointed and much-loved Head of our Faith suddenly passed away on November 4, 1957 in London, we were twenty-seven in number, five women and twenty-two men, drawn from all continents of the globe, some of whom had never even met the Guardian personally, indeed, eight of us had only been appointed to the rank of Hand by Shoghi Effendi a few weeks prior to his death. Those of us of longer standing felt great compassion for this last contingent of our peers, who, in addition to the shock each one of us had experienced when we were elevated to this high position, were now faced with the additional shock of the realization that Shoghi Effendi was no longer there to guide them personally, that this door was closed forever. The eldest among us, Corinne True, one of the early group of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í disciples in America, was already 96; the youngest, Enoch Olinga, a native of Uganda, only 3 1; listing us according to our diminishing ages, covering sixty-five years of difference, we were, after Corinne True, Clara Dunn in Australia -- herself 88, Amelia Collins at the World Centre, Tarazu'llah Samandari, in Persia, Mason Remey at the World Centre, Agnes Alexander in Japan, Musa Banani; in Africa, Horace Holley in America, Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i in Persia, Leroy Ioas at the World Centre, Ugo Giachery, in Italy, Jalal Khazeh in Persia, Adelbert Muhlschlegel, and Hermann Grossmann in Germany, John Robarts, in Africa, Dhikru'llah Khadem in Persia, 'Ali-Akbar Furutan; in Persia, Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, in Arabia, Hasan Balyuzi in England, Paul Haney in America, (Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum at the World Centre, 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa in Persia, William Sears in Africa, Collis Featherstone in Australia, John Ferraby inPage 2
England, Rahmatu'llah Muhajir in Indonesia and Enoch Olinga, in Africa. Among the men five held the title of "Doctor", two of these being medical men; some of the others had university degrees but we five women, as far as I know, held no university degrees. I go into these details because this is the backdrop, these the leading actors, as the perilous drama of this most recent world religion played itself out successfully from November 4, 1957 to April 21, 1963.
The words of the Universal House of Justice, the Supreme Body of the Bahá'í Faith, in its first message to the Bahá'ís of the world, dated April 30, 1963, at the time of the World Congress in London, are the best tribute to our role in history: "We do not wish to dwell on the appalling dangers which faced the infant Cause when it was suddenly deprived of our beloved Shoghi Effendi but rather to acknowledge with all the love and gratitude of our hearts the reality of the sacrifice, the labour, the self-discipline, the superb stewardship of the Hands of the Cause of God. We can think of no more fitting words to express our tribute to these dearly loved and valiant souls than to recall the words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself: 'Light and glory, greeting and praise be upon the Hands of His Cause, through whom the light of long-suffering hath shone forth, and the declaration of authority is proven of God, the Powerful, the Mighty, the Independent; and through whom the sea of bestowal hath moved, and the breeze of the favour of God, the Lord of mankind, hath wafted."'
To this unique testimony should be added the. fact that although the Hands were firmly established as the ruling and guiding body of the entire Bahá'í world, I can bear witness that never for a single instant were the Hands influenced by either ambition or self-esteem. Our sole objective, the purpose of our every effort, was to succeed in electing in 1963 the Universal House of Justice. The Universal House of Justice itself testified that: "The entire history of religion shows no comparable record of such strict self-discipline, such absolute loyalty, and such complete self-abnegation by the leaders of a religion finding themselves suddenly deprived of their divinely inspired guide. The debt of gratitude which mankind for generations, nay, ages to come, owes to this handful of grief-stricken, steadfast, heroic souls is beyond estimation."
Although Bahá'u'lláh created the Institution of the Hands, appointing during His own lifetime four distinguished Persian believers to fulfil this function, and His son and successor, `Abdu'l-Bahá, later referred to four more outstanding Persian followers of His Father as Hands, it remained for Shoghi Effendi -- according to the explicit text of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Will and Testament the Hands may only be appointed by the Guardian himself -- to add forty-two more names to this unique list of people heading the appointive half of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order, thus raising the total toPage 3
fifty individuals who have borne this exalted title. Ten Hands were raised by him posthumously to this high rank; of these ten I was present when he nominated six of them after their death. I gathered from Shoghi Effendi that the reason he had not designated as Hands these distinguished men and women during their lifetime was because he considered that, for the most part, the Bahá'ís were still too immature to accept, without jealousy and criticism, that a fellow-believer should stand forth from the rank and file in such a high station, bathed in such a bright light of distinction. I remember how surprised I was when he said this. It was not until six years before his death that Shoghi Effendi -- after thirty years of his ministry as Guardian had passed -- announced in a cable to the Bahá'í world, dated December 24, 1951, that the hour was "now ripe take long inevitably deferred step conformity provisions `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Testament . . . through appointment first contingent Hands Cause God, twelve in number . . .", linking it to his November 30th; message in which he had outlined detailed plans for the holding of four Intercontinental Conferences in Africa, America, Europe, and Asia, and stating that this step marked the "inauguration beyond limits World Centre Faith intercontinental stage Bahá'í activity". Two months later he followed this by the announcement of the elevation of seven more individuals to the rank of Hand, thus raising the number to nineteen. This initiation of the active functioning of the Institution of the Hands of the Cause under the aegis of the Guardian was not only an immense step forward in the evolution of our Faith but an indication that the still small and few in number Bahá'í communities throughout the world were now mature enough to accept the guidance and leadership implicit in such a body. Between March 1952 and March 1957 Shoghi Effendi appointed five more Hands to replace five who had died, and a month before he passed away he added a final, last contingent to the Hands of the Cause through raising their number by eight more, thus bringing us to twenty-seven-three times nine.
From 1951 to 1957 Shoghi Effendi constantly supervised and guided the Institution of the Hands, that half of the institutions of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh which has the specialized function to both propagate and protect it. Like a wise gardener, tending and pruning a rare, promising and cherished fruit tree, he watched over us as we Hands served him at the World Centre and in the five continents of the globe. It was he who developed the second phase of our activities through adding, in April 1954, to the powers of our Institution by authorizing us to appoint Auxiliary Boards. Looking back, I believe this constant care and encouragement he gave us succeeded in creating among us not only a sense of passionate loyalty and devotion to him, but a sense of belonging, as a group, to the Institution of the Guardianship.Page 4
I would never claim that my impressions are a reflection of Shoghi Effendi's motives; anyone who ever pretends to really understand the Centre of the Covenant -- be it Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, or Shoghi Effendi -- immediately presumes equality, which is of course out of the question and utterly ridiculous. However, as a close observer, one has a right to one's opinions. I believe, in choosing those he elevated to the rank of Hand during their lifetime, Shoghi Effendi was primarily influenced by their already demonstrated devotion and capacity to serve the Faith, or the indications he saw in them of a great potential capacity to do so. In rare cases, such as Corinne True, or "Mother" Dunn, it was, I think, a well-deserved crown of reward placed upon their heads for a singularly long and distinguished period of service. The Guardian was certainly not influenced for a moment by what the opinion of the Bahá'ís might be of his choice. He was equally uninfluenced by how we might personally feel; three of us were appointed to our face, so to speak: I was present when he told Fred Schopflocher at the Pilgrim House table that he was making him a Hand; Freddie turned so white I thought he was going to faint! He told Musa Banani; likewise on his pilgrimage, that he was appointing him a Hand; Mr. Banani; begged not to be! I was not present but I heard this. And he told me, after my father died, that he was appointing me a Hand in his place; all my tears and remonstrances and begging him not to had no effect. Shoghi Effendi was singularly uninfluenceable.
Of the thirty-two Hands he appointed during their lifetime the geographic distribution was as follows: Holy Land 4, Asia 10, America 6, Europe 6, Africa 4, Australasia 2; sometimes he associated these appointments with a continental distribution. The final eight Hands -- whose names were announced a month before he died and who, with the other nineteen still living Hands, were suddenly obliged to assume the leadership of the Cause of God pending the time when the Universal House of Justice could be elected on a firm basis -- were characterized in surprising and significant terms: he said they had been chosen from four continents of the globe and represented not only the black and white races but were of Afnan,1 Christian, Muslim, Jewish and pagan backgrounds. Surely this was a most phenomenal statement, to bring up Enoch Olinga's "pagan" background, considering that his immediate ancestors had been Christians. It certainly emphasized the total lack of any form of prejudice within the Bahá'í Faith; I am sure, however, that the Guardian made Enoch's appointment, like all the other appointments of Hands, on the sole basis of individual merit. I think, moreover, the fact that Enoch was a black African, from a continent which in many cases still had a paganPage 5
element, was an added asset in Shoghi Effendi's eyes. It gave the Institution of the Hands a very broad, world-wide base of not only racial but religious background. As Shoghi Effendi never did anything thoughtlessly, we should ponder the implications of the terms he used. In 1957 there were -- and still are -- many millions of pagans in the world.[1 Relative of The Báb.]
Whatever the reason for Shoghi Effendi's choice of Hands, he once said to me that these were the best he had to choose from; I got the impression he wished he had better. Knowing myself, and my fellow Hands, I am sure all of us lamented in our hearts that we were not worthier, had not more capacity in every way to serve him. Before he died Shoghi Effendi had succeeded in making us feel we were a body to assist him, a world-wide, developing Institution, with an integral and essential part to play in promoting the growth and expansion of our Faith. We were wholly his creation.
The Guardian, in a cable to the Bahá'í world dated January 9, 1951, had proclaimed his "weighty epoch-making decision" to form the first International Bahá'í Council, the "forerunner" of the "supreme administrative institution" of the Faith, which was destined to emerge in the fullness of time, and he characterized this "historic decision" as "Marking most significant milestone evolution Administrative Order Faith Bahá'u'lláh course last thirty years." Those thirty years were his own ministry since the passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1921. This first International Bahá'í Council was not elected but selected by Shoghi Effendi himself from individual believers of long standing and proven dedication to the service of the Cause. Less than one year later, on December 24, 1951, he announced the names of the first contingent of Hands. In view of the clear distinction in the Teachings between the elected Universal House of Justice and the appointed Hands of the Cause, it seems to me portentous that the first membership of the International Bahá'í Council included three people soon to be nominated Hands, and that, at the time of the beloved Guardian's passing, five of its officers, so designated by him, namely, myself as liaison between it and him, Mason Remey, its President, Amelia Collins, its Vice-President, Leroy Ioas its Secretary General, and Ugo Giachery, its Member at Large -- who lived in Italy and functioned as a European Hand, but frequently visited Haifa at Shoghi Effendi's request -- were all Hands of the Cause. In addition to being members of the International Bahá'í Council, these Hands, resident and serving at the World Centre, constituted a separate body, specified by Shoghi Effendi to act as liaison between him and the other Hands throughout the world, conveying their messages to him and his to them,Page 6
thus giving us, during his own lifetime, a dual function as Hands directly serving under him and officers of the International Bahá'í Council. I believe that at that particularly dangerous juncture in Bahá'í history this duality was providential and greatly reinforced the authority and power of the Custodians when faced by the crisis of his sudden passing. When that terrible blow fell upon the Bahá'í world, these five Hands had been constantly serving under his personal instructions for almost six years.[1 The Universal House of Justice.]
Historic and stirring events moved rapidly during those last years of the Guardianship: on June 30, 1952, Shoghi Effendi wrote of the Faith that "at long last the machinery of its highest institutions has been erected," and that around its most holy Shrines "the supreme organs of its unfolding Order, are, in their embryonic form, unfolding . . ." Block by block he had been laying the foundations of the future World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh in what he termed the "heart and nerve-centre" of the Faith situated in the Holy Land. By April 1954, two years and four months after his first announcement of the appointment of Hands of the Cause, he was able, in a cable addressed to them and to the Bahá'í world, to state how greatly he valued the support of their members at the World Centre, citing five particular fields of service that he considered outstanding: the erection of the superstructure of The Báb's Shrine on Mount Carmel; the reinforcement of the World Centre's ties with the new State; the extension of international endowments in the Holy Land; and, in his own words, the "initiation preliminary measures establishment Bahá'í World Administrative Centre"; to this grandiose picture of our support of his work he added our participation in the four successive Intercontinental Teaching Conferences held at the inception of his World Crusade.
In this same message an immense step forward took place in the world-wide function of the Hands -- now nineteen in number -- four in the Holy Land and fifteen in the various continents, namely, six in Asia, one in Africa, four in Europe, one in Australasia and three in the Americas through the Guardian's instructions that these continental Hands should appoint Auxiliary Boards, of nine members each, to assist them in their continental areas. He also specified that in addition to acting as deputies of the Hands in their respective continents, they would "aid and advise them in the effective prosecution of the Ten Year Plan" and that, at a later period, they would assist "in the discharge of their dual and sacred task of safeguarding the Faith and of promoting its teaching activities." In October 1957 Shoghi Effendi implemented this duty to safeguard the Faith, shortly before his passing, by creating an additional Auxiliary Board, whose function was to be, under the direct guidance of the Hands of the Cause, "watching over the security of the Faith". He had already stated, only five months before he passed away, in a general communicationPage 7
addressed to both the Hands and the National Spiritual Assemblies, that the divinely appointed Institution of the Hands of the Faith was entering a new phase in the unfoldment of "its sacred mission", and that to their other functions was now added the "primary obligation" to watch over and ensure the protection of the Bahá'í World Community "in close collaboration" with the National Assemblies.
The temporary headship of the Bahá'í Faith by the Hands of the Cause appointed by Shoghi Effendi commenced with his wholly unexpected and sudden passing through a heart attack in London, England, on November 4, 1957, after he had fully recovered from Asiatic flu, an event which shook the Bahá'í world to its roots. I sent a cable as follows, via Haifa (our usual practice), on that same day, which announced, from the World Centre, his passing:
SHOGHI EFFENDI BELOVED OF ALL HEARTS SACRED TRUST GIVEN BELIEVERS
BY MASTER PASSED AWAY SUDDEN HEART ATTACK IN SLEEP FOLLOWING
ASIATIC FLU. URGE BELIEVERS REMAIN STEADFAST CLING INSTITUTION
HANDS LOVINGLY REARED RECENTLY REINFORCED EMPHASIZED BELOVED
GUARDIAN. ONLY ONENESS HEART ONENESS PURPOSE CAN BEFITTINGLY
TESTIFY LOYALTY ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES BELIEVERS DEPARTED GUARDIANWHO SACRIFICED SELF UTTERLY FOR SERVICE FAITH.
Once this official and tragic announcement had gone forth from the World Centre, subsequent messages perforce were sent direct from London. On November 5th another cable went out to all National Spiritual Assemblies:
BELOVED ALL HEARTS PRECIOUS GUARDIAN CAUSE GOD PASSED
PEACEFULLY AWAY YESTERDAY AFTER ASIATIC FLU. APPEAL HANDS NATIONAL
ASSEMBLIES AUXILIARY BOARDS SHELTER BELIEVERS ASSIST MEET
HEARTRENDING SUPREME TEST. FUNERAL OUR BELOVED GUARDIAN SATURDAY
LONDON. HANDS ASSEMBLY BOARD MEMBERS INVITED ATTEND. ANY PRESS
RELEASE SHOULD STATE MEETING HANDS SHORTLY HAIFA WILL MAKE
ANNOUNCEMENT TO Bahá'í WORLD REGARDING FUTURE PLANS. URGE HOLDMEMORIAL MEETINGS SATURDAY.
This terrible news evoked throughout the Bahá'í world a passionate wave of response; cables and letters expressing the shock and sorrow of the believers and their firm loyalty to the Hands poured in after his passing.Page 8
Eighteen Hands of the Cause assembled in London to attend the funeral of their Guardian. Those who were unable to be present were either too old and frail to do so, or, in some cases, were requested to remain at their posts for the protection of the Faith at this moment of great crisis.
The following cables were sent on two successive days after the funeral, held on November 9th in the Great Northern London Cemetery:BELOVED GUARDIAN LAID REST LONDON
ACCORDING LAWS AQDAS BEAUTIFUL BEFITTING SPOT AFTER IMPRESSIVE
CEREMONY HELD PRESENCE MULTITUDE BELIEVERS REPRESENTING OVER TWENTY
COUNTRIES EAST WEST STOP DOCTORS ASSURE SUDDEN PASSING INVOLVED NO
SUFFERING STOP BLESSED COUNTENANCE BORE EXPRESSION INFINITE BEAUTY
PEACE MAJESTY STOP EIGHTEEN HANDS ASSEMBLED FUNERAL URGE NATIONAL
BODIES REQUEST ALL BELIEVERS HOLD MEMORIAL MEETINGS EIGHTEENTH
NOVEMBER COMMEMORATING DAYSPRING DIVINE GUIDANCE WHO HAS LEFT US
AFTER THIRTY-SIX YEARS UTTER SELF-SACRIFICE CEASELESS LABOURSCONSTANT VIGILANCE.
BEFITTINGLY LAID REST SURROUNDED BY LARGE REPRESENTATIVE GATHERING
BELIEVERS EAST WEST STOP LIGHT OUR LIVES DEPARTED WE MUST NOW STAND
FIRM REMEMBERING PEERLESS EXAMPLE HIS DEDICATION WORK BLESSED
PERFECTION GLORIOUS VICTORIES HE WON PLANS HE LONGED SEE COMPLETED
STOP ONLY REDEDICATION GREATER UNITY STEADFAST SERVICE CAN
BEFITTINGLY SHOW OUR GRIEF MAKE US ACCEPTABLE HOLY THRESHOLD.RUHIYYIH
The labours of the Hands of the Cause at the time of this unique crisis followed an unbroken pattern till the day the Universal House of Justice was elected on April 21, 1963. The Hands who had gathered in London met and, in spite of their shock and grief, decided not an instant's time must be lost in holding a plenary meeting of our entire body at our World Centre in the Holy Land. This was called for November 18th. Our first act was to choose a delegation to open the apartment of Shoghi Effendi which had been sealed by the International Bahá'í Council right after his passing (in addition to being locked by him when we left Haifa, as was his usual custom) and to make an exhaustive search for any document he might have left -- a Will or otherwise. There was no such thing to be found.
The general body of the Hands then met in the upper hall of thePage 9
Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji near His resting-place, for the first of their six Conclaves until the election of the Universal House of Justice took place. Of all our Conclaves -- the only befitting term for such august gatherings -- that first one was the most epoch-making. Not only were we dazed and grieving, we were orphans, deprived of our father. The responsibility for the entire Cause of God, to which each one of us was wholly consecrated, had been placed in our hands, with neither premonition, warning nor advice. Aside from the thought that we were now the only ones to direct the Bahá'ís of the world, to protect and guide them and to win the Crusade of our beloved Guardian, we were faced with problems of inconceivable magnitude. How to assume the reins of authority, with no document to support us, other than the general theological statements about the Hands? What should we do regarding money, urgently needed for the monthly upkeep of the Shrines, Holy Places, pilgrim houses, and gardens, and to pay not only these substantial recurring bills but continue to finance innumerable vital Bahá'í undertakings throughout the world which Shoghi Effendi himself had inaugurated and supported from his funds as Head of the Faith?
What was our legal status, on which hinged the delicate question that all the international financial assets of the Faith were in the name of Shoghi Effendi What would we say about the Guardianship? When one adds to the staggering total of the above enumerated problems the fact that all this rested on the shoulders of twenty-seven Hands, the first of whom had only been called to their high office six years previously and the last of whom were appointed a bare four weeks before Shoghi Effendi passed away, one gets some idea of the state and the burden of the Hands of the Cause of God.
As we sat in the great upstairs hall of the Mansion -- so sacred, so private -- our historic Proclamation was worked out; it was signed by all the Hands of the Cause except Corinne True, then aged 96, who was unable to travel from the United States to the Holy Land but quite capable of being one of the signatories by consent of that historic document. Clara Dunn, 88, was, however, present in Haifa and signed the document herself, but because of age and infirmity was not able to attend our meetings. When one remembers that of the twenty-five of us gathered in the Mansion, most of our Persian Hands spoke little or no English at this time and none of the Western Hands spoke any Persian except myself -- and my vocabulary in no way covered the issues facing us -- and that only two of the Persian Hands were completely bilingual and therefore we had to translate every word, back and forth -- as each Hand, conscious of the frightening responsibilities resting upon us, insisted on exact translation of the opinions voiced in the other language not his own -- and that thisPage 10
went on hour after hour, in day-long sessions, morning and afternoon, one gets a glimpse of what kind of burdens were added to our sorrow.
At this first Conclave we were faced with the inescapable obligation of voting from amongst the membership of the Hands of the Cause for who would, if chosen by all of us, accept to live and serve at the World Centre as one of the nine legal Custodians. For those who were not already part of the body of the Hands in Haifa this meant literally burning all their bridges behind them. I can remember the words of Paul Haney, an economist just promoted in the prominent investment firm to which he had belonged for some years, with the assurance of financial increases and a substantial pension on retirement, as he bowed his head and said, "You are only called once."
We had, from our very first Conclave, a fixed procedure: every morning we went to pray in the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh before our meetings started and our last act every evening was to visit the room in which He passed away for closing prayers. If my memory serves me, the longest Conclave lasted twenty-two days -- all the days being the same. We were not interested in days off!
A policy was established that no notes of individual Hands would be taken out of that hall, but would be gathered and burned at the end of the day by one of the Hands. As our consultations were full, free and frank, the notes -- in discussions involving more than twenty people, where each one had to wait his turn -- were obviously far too pertinent to risk individual opinions leaving that room. Any carelessness, any gossip or speculation at such a juncture could have divided the Hands from each other and split the Bahá'í Faith.
After long and often agonizing consultation and soul-searching which took place in discussion at more than one Conclave -- we finally agreed as a body to announce to the Bahá'í world that the Institution of the Hands, different in both nature and function from the structure constituting the elected administrative bodies of the Faith, placed us in a separate category and we requested the believers not to vote for the Hands of the Cause in Bahá'í elections. We Hands burned in the fire of this weighty decision until it became clear to us that greater strength, diversity, and breadth lay in keeping these two aspects of the system of Bahá'u'lláh separate and therefore more mobile, each free to function in its own field.
When the Guardian passed away the paramount, supremely urgent task confronting us at our first Conclave was to ensure that everything connected with the affairs, direction and administration of the Faith was solidly and speedily vested in the Institution of the Hands. We were blessed in the unity and strength we found among ourselves -- some of thePage 11
Hands meeting each other for the first time -- and also in having the loyal advice and assistance of Dr. Abraham Weinshall, a distinguished lawyer who had attended to all the legal affairs of the Guardian for many years, each one holding the other in high esteem, and whom we now called upon to advise and assist us.
All the legal powers at the World Centre of the Faith -- which had been vested in Shoghi Effendi as the appointed successor of `Abdu'l-Bahá -- were left in limbo when he passed away as he himself had made neither a Will nor a statement of his intentions. The holdings at the World Centre, including its sacred Shrines, its historic buildings, hundreds of square metres of prime real estate, and substantial local bank accounts, were therefore in great danger. The Hands were able, however, to successfully and legally establish the principle that the Guardian held all properties as the Head of the Faith and not as an individual, and to have this priceless heritage safely placed in the hands of the Custodians. A further large deposit, invested for safekeeping in Switzerland in both his and my name, I later turned over to the Universal House of Justice after its election. I remember remonstrating with Shoghi Effendi when he made this arrangement, that it was unnecessary to include my name on this account; but when he passed away so suddenly in London I was in a position, with grace and dignity, to draw on this money to pay for all his funeral expenses and our hotel bills and later to design and supervise the construction and erection of the monument, in white Carrara marble, marking his grave, without turning to any Bahá'í source for assistance. This was a great consolation to me in my sorrow and surely reflected the mercy of God in an hour of terrible trial and suffering.
Following the historic inaugural Conclave in Bahji from November 18th to the 25th, 1957, one of the first acts of the Custodians was to fulfil what had been a cherished plan of Shoghi Effendi himself, namely, to tear down the long, two-storey house occupied by a remnant of the Covenant-breakers, a building which abutted on the garden wall of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji towards the north, the legal possession of which he had acquired, after years of effort, shortly before his passing. We accomplished this in December 1957 not only in a spirit of fidelity to his wishes, but, in our deep sorrow, longing to please him by fulfilling one of his last cherished plans for the beautification of the precincts of our Most Holy Shrine, the Qiblih of our Faith. As the clouds of dust arose from the demolition of this ugly building, in some strange way it assuaged our aching hearts. It was a revelation to me, when we extended the pattern of Shoghi Effendi's garden into the space the demolished building had occupied, to see how, within half a metre, the large symmetrical design of the existing gardens he had made was completed.Page 12
Indeed, in the years following his passing, in one field after another, one plan Shoghi Effendi had made after another, whether in connection with the Bahá'í properties in the Holy Land or throughout the world in detailed national plans and objectives, was fulfilled. This included the five large Intercontinental Conferences he announced would be held during 1958 -- the midway point of his decade-long global Spiritual Crusade. In spite of our heartbreak, the fidelity of the Hands was so great we each went to the Intercontinental Conference the Guardian had specified. He had sown and we reaped, and still do, his harvest.
In the meetings of the Custodians we almost never worked to an agenda and had no rigid format. We had decided, from the time of our first Conclave that, in order to protect the Cause of God, we would have no officers, such as President, Chairman, Secretary, etc. lest one of the male Hands, holding such a position, should begin to assume in the eyes of the Bahá'ís the function of the leader, and, God forbid, begin to be seen as a sort of second Guardian in importance. I think this was one of our wisest decisions and a great shield for the purity of our services. Likewise, in the Custodian's meetings we had no "head", but took the chairmanship in rotation. We did, however, divide our work in the sense that Persian Hands handled the correspondence in Persian and Arabic and those of us from the West, all correspondence in western languages.
In spite of all our devotion and sacrifices, one of our greatest problems was to ensure, all the year, every year, that a quorum of Hands was present in the Holy Land for our decisions. Within the first two years of our ministry two of the Custodians found they could not continue to serve in a permanent capacity at the World Centre, and in order to maintain our number at nine, it was necessary to select two other Hands to replace them. In November of 1959 the Hands announced that John Ferraby and Horace Holley -- an immemorial figure in the development of the Administrative Order in America, which was the world prototype -- had been chosen to serve as Custodians.
During the period of our ministry we were grieved by the death of four of our fellow-Hands, two of whom were Custodians. Only eight months after having been chosen as a Custodian, Horace Holley passed away, in July 1960; William Sears was called upon to serve as his replacement. On January 1, 1962, our dear Amelia Collins died and Hasan Balyuzi was appointed to act as a Custodian temporarily to fill the vacancy created by her passing.
If one is to understand how the Institution of the Hands achieved the preservation of the Faith between the passing of its hereditary Head and the election of its Supreme Body, one cannot do so without a clear picture of the stage of development at which the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh found itselfPage 13
in 1957. As early as 1924 Shoghi Effendi stated that the Local and National Assemblies constituted "the bedrock upon the strength of which the Universal House of Justice is in future to be firmly established", and in 1951 he cabled: ". . . Future edifice Universal House of Justice depending for its stability on sustaining strength pillars erected diversified communities East West." In 1953, at the outset of Shoghi Effendi's World Crusade -- itself a direct projection of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í "Tablets of the Divine Plan" designed to spread His Father's message throughout the world there were only twelve National Spiritual Assemblies; when `Abdu'l-Bahá passed away in 1921 there were none. One of the major acts of Shoghi Effendi two years before his passing, was to call for the election, in Ridvan 1957, of thirteen National Spiritual Assemblies, two of which already existed but would change names and areas of jurisdiction, thus adding eleven in number; these eleven, plus three more which had been elected in Africa in 1956, brought the total number formed by the Guardian during his thirty-six-year ministry to twenty-six. The Hands of the Cause, during our brief custodianship of less than six years, increased this number to fifty-six. When Shoghi Effendi succeeded his Grandfather, `Abdu'l-Bahá, only thirty-five countries throughout the entire world had received Bahá'u'lláh's Message: two in The Báb's days, thirteen in Bahá'u'lláh's days, and twenty in `Abdu'l-Bahá'í days. Shoghi Effendi enlarged this by 219 during the thirty-six years of his ministry; the Hands of the Faith, during the ministry of the Custodians, added five more. In his Ridvan 1957 Message the Guardian informed us there were 4,200 localities throughout the world where Bahá'ís resided; at the end of his World Crusade the Hands were able to report this total had reached 11,210 -- an increase of over 7,000.
[1 The 1992 number of National Spiritual Assemblies is 165.]
It is beyond the scope of this introduction to present all the goals of Shoghi Effendi's vast Ten Year Teaching and Consolidation Plan; only the most arduous and costly tasks which faced the Hands will be mentioned. The Guardian, by the time of his passing, had either inaugurated, changed, or accomplished some of his own goals; a few, dependent on political situations, proved unfeasible. The monetary tasks alone which faced the Hands were formidable. Shoghi Effendi had called for the "doubling" of Bahá'í Houses of Worship. The "Mother Temple of the West", situated in the United States, near Chicago, whose cornerstone `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself had laid in 1912, the Guardian had, with the greatest difficulty, over a period of three decades -- decades which included the "Great Depression" in the United States, which began in 1929 andPage 14
lasted over ten years -- shepherded to completion, and it had been opened to public worship at the beginning of his Crusade. However, in the original Ten Year Plan goals for this Crusade he stipulated that two more Temples should be built, one in Asia, one in Europe, the Asian one to be erected in the Cradle of the Faith, in Teheran, the European one in Frankfurt, Germany.
[1 See "The Bahá'í Faith 1844-1952 Information Statistical & Comparative".]
During the five years prior to Shoghi Effendi's passing it became evident there was no hope of building a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in Persia as both the official and popular hatred of the Bahá'ís had not modified in over a century. The Guardian, saddened and indignant, decided to compensate the steadfast, continuously oppressed and persecuted believers in that country by erecting not two but three Temples. He launched, in his own words, an "ambitious three-fold enterprise, designed to compensate for the disabilities suffered by the sorely-tried Community of the followers of His Faith in the land of His birth, aiming at the erection, in localities as far apart as Frankfurt, Sydney and Kampala, of the Mother Temples of the European, the Australian and African continents, at a cost of approximately one million dollars, complementing the Temples already constructed in the Asiatic and American continents. One-third of this sum I, gladly and with a grateful heart, pledge at this auspicious hour, a sum which, when added to the funds already donated for this laudable purpose ... will constitute well-nigh half of the entire amount required to ensure the consummation of this stupendous, epoch-making undertaking."
[1 It seems unbelievable that as recently as March 18, 1992, yet another Iranian follower of Bahá'u'lláh, of an old and distinguished Bahá'í family, has been executed.]
The Guardian, before announcing these decisions, had privately calculated that about one-half of the cost he already had in hand or was assured of receiving; the remainder, so to speak, he trusted in God to provide. He gave them first the Mother Temple of Africa in its heart, Kampala, Uganda, and later, to everyone's joy and surprise, he added the Mother Temple of the Antipodes in Sydney, Australia, and finally, the last of those to be built, the Mother Temple of Europe in Frankfurt. Fortunately for the Hands, he had already advanced his plans for these three Temples by approving their designs. It was a great blessing for the Bahá'ís of the world that the Commander-in-Chief of the forces of Bahá'u'lláh's world-conquering spiritual army had announced and set in motion himself such momentous projects. But think of the agony of twenty-seven heart-broken Hands faced with the duty of fulfilling these commitments! The cornerstone of the African Temple in Kampala was laid on January 26, 1958; that of Sydney on March 22, 1958; and that of Frankfurt on November 20, 1960. Triumphantly the Custodians were able to see the first of thesePage 15
precious Houses of Worship, chosen by our beloved Guardian himself, opened to public worship, in Kampala on January 15, 1961, and the one in Sydney on September 16, 1961. The purchase of the land and commencement of work had been more complicated in Germany and the foundation-stone for the Mother Temple of Europe was not laid until November 1960; its superstructure was completed in November 1962 during the ministry of the Hands but the Temple was not opened to public worship until July 4, 1964.
It is, I think, impossible for others to understand how hard the Hands in the Holy Land daily worked, how much we struggled to raise the money for and to build these three large and imposing edifices for Shoghi Effendi Many times the diminishing number of Hands resident at the World Centre have said to each other: "We could not again pass through even five minutes of the suffering we went through in those years!"
One of our most pressing worries concerned the heavy financial obligations left us in the plans of Shoghi Effendi regarding not only the construction of Bahá'í Temples but other properties, and the monetary support we had to give to the new National Bahá'í Assemblies in developing countries. The national Bahá'í bodies in a position to provide any substantial aid at that period were those of Iran and America.
The main income of the Hands was from the contributions of the Persian Bahá'í community, which was the oldest and at that time the most affluent Bahá'í community in the world. This monetary aid we estimated at about $100,000 a year. In June 1960, as we considered our financial position, we felt obliged to vote this entire sum for Temple construction, the expenses of the Institution of the Hands and support to the National Assemblies, nearly all of which at that period were not self-supporting and received most of their annual budget from the Hands at the World Centre.
The munificent financial contributions of our fellow-Hand and Custodian Amelia Collins were of great assistance to the Hands; her outstanding generosity afforded infinite comfort to our heavily-burdened minds and hearts as we faced the ever-increasing financial needs of the Faith. The following minute from our Conclave meeting in 1959 conveys only one instance of her magnanimous spirit: "Milly offered to provide one-third entire sum to be given by Hands Holy Land to Hands in the continents."
The Hands living at the World Centre practised rigid economy; as the pilgrimage had been suspended for a nine-month period of mourning throughout the Bahá'í world after the passing of Shoghi Effendi our Eastern and Western Pilgrim Houses were available and the newly-chosen Custodians and their wives resided in them for some time, only moving to more suitable accommodation when the pilgrimage was reopened.Page 16
With very few exceptions, the Hands had all been, at some period, members of various National Spiritual Assemblies; they were highly informed and highly skilled Bahá'ís They not only had a right to hold individual opinions but did so very strongly. Like most consultative bodies, we got over the bumps, the exasperation at interminable waits for one's turn to speak, the long-windedness which our passionate sense of responsibility and the fact that most of us were public speakers, produced. But there was one agonizing issue we could not agree on. Year after year we could come to no conclusion about whether the Guardianship was closed for the period of this Faith. The death of Shoghi Effendi had really been like an arrow shot into our hearts. Each one struggled with his bereavement in his own way. One of us, Mason Remey, one of the oldest and most distinguished, solved his personal dilemma by concluding that the Bahá'í Faith could not go on without a Guardian and that undoubtedly Shoghi Effendi's successor was himself -- for various invalid and unprovable reasons, such as that he was one of the earliest, famous believers of the West, had been made a Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi and President of the International Bahá'í Council. All this was true, but it still did not make him the second Guardian. Mason Remey's activities, beginning in 1960, when he "proclaimed" himself the second Guardian, were a profound source of embarrassment to his fellow-Hands who, in addition to all their other heavy, heartbreaking responsibilities, now found themselves obliged to progressively remonstrate with, admonish, warn, expose and finally excommunicate him. This extraordinary and sudden display of unexpected pride and conceit passed over the Bahá'í world, producing a brief flutter in France, a passing ripple in Chile and sundry vibrations in the United States, Pakistan and one or two other countries, and was soon gone forever. For those who, like myself and Paul Haney, had known and loved him all our lives, and Milly Collins, who had been a particularly old friend and co-worker, it was a very bitter and tragic experience. Unfollowed and unmourned, alone and isolated in his old age, when he died he was buried by his young secretary who was not a Bahá'í Although this whole episode had no effect on the Faith, it added to the burdens of the Custodians, consumed hours of consideration better spent on constructive matters, and saddened our hearts. Like any branch cut off from the root, the Remey incident withered away.
Far more distressing to the Custodians, and indeed to the entire Bahá'í world, was the case of the fourteen Bahá'í prisoners in Morocco, three of whom were condemned to death and five to life imprisonment for no other reason than their religious beliefs. Comparable to the case of the Persian Bahá'ís during the lifetime of Shoghi Effendi in 1955, when a violent national attack on the part of the fanatical Muslim clergy tookPage 17
place in Iran headed by a particularly vehement priest who accused the Bahá'ís over the national radio as well as from the pulpit, of being the enemies of Islam, 1 and produced a major crisis in the fortunes of the Bahá'í Faith, now, in another continent, a very similar storm of alarming proportions blew up. Though few in number, the Bahá'í community in Morocco was firmly established and valiant in spirit. The first signs of this alarming crisis appeared in 1961; on December 7th, an article appeared in the nationally prominent newspaper Al Alam, lamenting the decline of Islam and attacking the Bahá'í Faith.
Suddenly a spotlight was focused on a small group of Bahá'ís in the northern provincial town of Nador who were imprisoned and accused, fundamentally, of heresy, some of them being sentenced to death. From its onset this case became a constant preoccupation of the Custodians; ceaseless anxiety and effort, and in the end acute anguish, became our daily lot as the date for the execution of three of the prisoners in that city approached. The extraordinary amount of material and comment covering this case -- which began in April 1962 and ended in December 1963 -- cannot be presented here. The facts, the highlights, and some of the major documents are, however, included.
The Moroccan case involved the imprisonment of 14 Bahá'ís in three cities, 7 in Nador, 2 in Fez, and 5 in Tetuan in the northern Province of Nador; the arrest of the first five took place on April 10, 1962. Already, however, throughout the Riff area religious opposition of the Muslim community had been steadily increasing; some of the homes of the Bahá'ís had been searched by the police and their Bahá'í literature seized, and in January 1962 a well-known Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Tetuan was dismissed from his post and warned to have no association with his co-religionists. Another Bahá'í a resident of Nador, lost his government job shortly thereafter.
All the accused were men of good repute; with one exception they were all young men, holding respected jobs, with some standing in the community; among them was a teacher, a Customs official and a police inspector. Six of them were single, eight were married, and seven had children. The youngest was only 20 years old, the eldest 38. One of the first five arrested, under police interrogation, was hung upside down by the feet but refused to divulge the names of any other Bahá'ís all of themPage 18
were brutally treated; they were arrested without any charge and held in prison for four days before being brought to Court on April 15th.
[1 This was a wholly unfounded and unsupportable standard accusation brought against the Bahá'ís particularly in view of the fact that western Bahá'ís of Christian background in the Western Hemisphere and Europe acknowledge the spiritual station of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, as a Divinely inspired Prophet of God.]
On October 31st; the fourteen B Bahá'í men were brought to the Regional Court of Nador to hear the charges against them and were formally accused of: Rebellion, Disorder, Attack on Public Security, Forming an Association of Criminals, and Attack on Religious Faith. The difference between Bahá'í religious laws -- fasting, prayer, pilgrimage, etc. -- and those of Islam, were compared in detail by the Court.
The first intimation we received at the World Centre of the arrest of the Bahá'ís was a newspaper article from Morocco; on April 14th, news of these happenings burst in the press through an article in the prestigious Le Courier du Maroc. While the case was being widely publicized in Moroccan newspapers and spreading to the foreign press, the Custodians were constantly in touch with the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies in those days 44 in number -- most notably that of the United States of America, in which country is situated the seat of the United Nations, by which we were recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization with observer status, under the title of the Bahá'í International Community", which officially represented at that time Bahá'í communities in 257 countries, territories and dependencies. All national Bahá'í bodies were likewise urged to bring as much pressure, by every means within their power, upon the Moroccan authorities in defence of the innocence of their fellow believers, whilst the Bahá'ís of the entire world, with full hearts, prayed for their protection and release.
Between the date the Moroccan Bahá'ís had been arrested, in April, and the stage of our open, world-wide publicity, every effort to protect the prisoners and prove their innocence had been undertaken by the Hands in the Holy Land. Two distinguished Moroccan lawyers had been engaged in their defence and a famous French lawyer had come from Paris to join them.
The Custodians felt very strongly that no attack should be made on the central authorities but that the blame should rest -- where it in fact originated -- on a small, fanatical, prejudiced and misinformed group of local leaders, who unfortunately at that period did not seem susceptible to any central State control from Rabat.
Throughout the hearings it was repeatedly asserted that one of the cardinal teachings of the Bahá'í Faith is obedience to government, that the Bahá'í International Community is accredited to agencies of the United Nations as a Non-Governmental Organization, and so on, to no avail.
On December 14, 1962 the Regional Court of Nador pronounced its verdict. Of the original 14 people involved in the case, four were acquitted, stating they were Muslims, one was acquitted through what appears to bePage 19
family connections, one was released from prison on 15 years' probation because he was a serious diabetic, five were committed to life imprisonment and three were condemned to death.
The announcement of these sentences stunned the Bahá'í world. It also stunned the media. The new Moroccan Constitution had just been overwhelmingly accepted by a national referendum and on December 7th, three days before the Bahá'í trial opened, Morocco had voted in the United Nations in favour of a resolution for a draft convention on the elimination of all forms of religious intolerance.
On January 1st all National and Local Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies were requested by the Custodians to cable His Majesty the King of Morocco appealing for justice for the Bahá'ís. This universal demonstration of international Bahá'í solidarity would leave no doubt in the minds of the authorities of the world-wide existence of the Bahá'í community.
For those of us in Haifa who had lived, under the aegis of our beloved Guardian, through the agonizing days in 1955 when another group of Bahá'ís were being unjustly persecuted, that time in Persia where the friends suffered senseless acts of barbarism, murder, rape and pillage of property, it was history repeating itself -- but with no Shoghi Effendi at the helm to guide and comfort us. We had to pray, act, endure the heavy-footed hours that never seemed to pass as the time for the execution of our fellow-Bahá'í drew nearer and nearer. The burden of anxiety for the fate of their co-religionists was shared by the entire Bahá'í world; the burden of responsibility and decision, however, fell upon the Hands of the Cause, particularly the body of the Custodians in Haifa, and was, indeed, an agonizing and almost insupportable burden to bear.
"The Moroccan Case" ran for some twenty months. Ultimately by decision of the Moroccan Supreme Court all Bahá'í prisoners were set free on December 13, 1963. The civil authorities not only released and fully exonerated them from any culpability but paid them financial compensation for their loss of freedom to earn their living and, in a few cases, where they were employed by the Government, indemnified them. All National Spiritual Assemblies, wherever possible, were asked by the Universal House of Justice to express gratification, through the Moroccan Embassy or Consulate in their areas, to the King for this decision of the Supreme Court.
In Shoghi Effendi's vision for the development of the World Administrative Centre on the great semi-circular "arc" he laid out on Mount Carmel, he foresaw a Seat for its supreme governorship and Centres for the study of the Holy Texts and for the protection and teaching of the Faith, under the supervision of the Hands of the Cause, as well as an International Archives. Before he passed away the Guardian himselfPage 20
chose both the site and the Grecian style of architecture for our museum of historical material, the International Bahá'í Archives; this building was erected under his own supervision, but he passed away before the completion of the interior and was not able personally to arrange the unique and historic exhibits he had long been collecting. The accomplishment of this task was one of the labours of love of the Hands of the Cause. It was opened to Bahá'í pilgrims in the winter of 1961.
One of the final and major accomplishments of the Hands at the end of this historic five-and-a-half-year period was to work out, during our last Conclave, in Bahji -- to a great extent due to the vision of our fellow-Hand Rahmatu'llah Muhajir -- a projected nine-year plan, involving no less than sixty-nine national teaching plans, which was to begin in Ridvan 1964 and end in Ridvan 1973, thus continuing the unbroken sequence of the implementation of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í "Divine Plan" for the spiritual conquest of the globe. This was submitted to our Supreme Body, the Universal House of Justice, which adapted and adopted many of our suggestions when it finalized the details of its majestic Nine Year Plan.
The Hands of the Faith and the members of the International Bahá'í Council were tremendously excited by the prospect of the first election of the Universal House of Justice, which was to take place on the Centenary of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission in Baghdad in 1863. One evening, as one of the Council members was sitting with me in the home of `Abdu'l-Bahá and we were discussing the forthcoming International Bahá'í Convention and election and where it should be held, the idea was suggested by him that it might be possible to hold it in that house. As the electoral college of the Universal House of Justice is composed of the nine members of all National or Regional Spiritual Assemblies and there were at that time fifty-six of these national bodies, we would need space to accommodate 504 delegates, plus the Hands of the Cause and members of the International Bahá'í Council. We measured the large main hall and adjoining rooms and concluded that by removing all the twelve doors on the four sides of the hall we might be able to do this. It was `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself Who, in His Will and Testament, had elaborated the nature and duties of both the Universal House of Justice and the Hands of the Cause; what could be more sacred and befitting than for the Hands to hold the election of the first Universal House of Justice in His home?
In preparation for this election the Hands in the Holy Land, five years after the passing of the beloved Guardian, wrote to all National Spiritual Assemblies on November 4, 1962, enclosing nine ballot papers with full details of how to fill them out and who was eligible for election. In this letter, while not prohibiting the delegates from voting for any male Hands of the Cause, we requested them to leave the Hands free to discharge thePage 21
duties of their own institution. During the years of our ministry all such momentous decisions were made after exhaustive consultation and ardent prayers for guidance.
On April 21, 1963, the delegates, many of them in native costume, stepped forward as the roll call was read and cast their votes; the absentee votes of delegates unable to attend, carefully sealed in double envelopes to ensure secrecy, were likewise deposited in the ballot box, which was later sealed and locked and shut into a locked room of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í home while all the Hands and delegates present in the Holy Land proceeded to the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahji to render praise and thanksgiving to Him for this great victory.
The goals of the Guardian had been won by the Bahá'ís of the world, under the leadership of the Hands of the Cause he had appointed. The election of the Universal House of Justice at the World Centre had been triumphantly held. Both bodies now proceeded to London to attend the World Centennial Congress he himself had planned.
Although the ministry of the Custodians terminated with the election of the Universal House of Justice, this date did not end the painstaking services of our august institution; the crowning event of our custodianship at the end of our beloved Guardian's World Crusade was the celebration of the Most Great Jubilee, during the period of Ridvan held from April 28 -- May 2, 1963, in London. In Shoghi Effendi's original announcement it was hoped that this centennial anniversary could take place in Baghdad, the scene of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's Prophetic Mission. Circumstances, however, made this impracticable and the Hands decided to hold it in London, a city with many precious historic associations with both `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi who studied at Oxford University prior to becoming the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith when his Grandfather died in 1921.
As we cast about for a befitting venue for this great Congress planned by Shoghi Effendi we found that the unique and beautiful Royal Albert Hall, in the heart of London, famous as a centre for concerts and conferences, which accommodates about 7,000 people, could be rented for our great occasion. Bahá'ís from all over the world, including Hands and administrators, Knights of Bahá'u'lláh and pioneers, were present, and the audience was addressed by members of the Institutions of both the Hands and the Universal House of Justice. In this wonderful fulfilment of the Guardian's own plan for the culmination of his World Crusade my greatest joy was the words addressed to us by various indigenous tribesmen from the continents and islands of the globe, whether the much-loved "Uncle Fred", an illiterate Australian Aborigine, who said, after describing his journey from Australia as being carried across the ocean inPage 22
a great new flying kangaroo" and being set down in London: "Yes, dear friends, I am glad to see the people here, like flowers of all colours ... Bahá'u'lláh has given me a good life ... I have joy in my heart", or the cheerful Bahá'í from the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, who assured us that if we could see him minus his European suit of clothes he was tattooed from head to toe! For all of us -- largely sophisticates from Asia, Europe and North America -- it was a revelation to witness the aplomb, wisdom and highly appropriate sentiments expressed by these fellow Bahá'ís from areas often referred to as "the developing countries".
There was an unprecedented feeling of happiness and oneness of spirit in this great Congress and the attendants lapped their first, newly-elected Universal House of Justice, presented to them by the Hands of the Cause, in a great wave of welcome and love. I am sure all the Hands of the Cause felt that Shoghi Effendi's desires had been fulfilled.Page 25
Ruhiyyih Khanum, telephoned me on the evening of November 4th, of the great calamity which had stricken the Bahá'í world, in the passing of our dearly beloved Guardian, in London, during the early morning hours of November 4th.
During our conversation it was decided I would remain in Haifa and take all precautions to protect the Holy Places, the Guardian's apartment, where all his records were kept, and the Faith from attack by the enemies of the Faith here.The following actions were taken:
1. The Guardian's apartment and office had been locked, so no one could enter it during his absence. We assured ourselves that it was carefully locked, and barriers were placed in front of the door so no one could enter. We then locked and put iron bars across the door to the entrance of the living quarters. These iron bars were padlocked. All the keys to the apartment were then sealed in an envelope, which envelope was signed by Sylvia Ioas Jessie Revell, Ethel Revell and Leroy Ioas and placed in the safe of my office, in such a way that if the envelope was tampered with in any way, it would be seen immediately.
We then arranged for the Guardian's trusted servant to sleep outside the doors of the apartment and office; likewise another trusted servant to sleep at the foot of the steps, so no one could gain access to the area.
During the daytime, we maintained extra Bahá'ís in the building, so no access could be gained.
2. The Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh was guarded night and day, and one of the Bahá'ís slept in the Shrine each night.
3. The same action was taken with regard to the Shrine of The Báb.
4. The same action was taken with regard to the Mansion at Bahji.
The sealing of the Guardian's apartment and office was done in the presence of the four members of the International Council here, who have signed this document, in attestation thereof.
The envelope in which the keys to the apartment were sealed, is attached.Leroy C. Ioas
Ruhiyyih Khanum, Mr. Remey, Mrs. Collins, Dr. Giachery, and Mr. Ioas, arrived from Lydda airport about 10:50 a.m. November 15th, from the funeral of the dearly beloved Guardian.
The five Hands of the Cause, named above, then secured the sealed envelope with the keys to the Guardian's apartment, opened it, and proceeded to enter the apartment, at 11: 10 a.m.
We immediately proceeded to the safe where sacred documents were preserved, and the logical place where the Will of the beloved Guardian would be kept.
The safe was sealed with tape, which was signed by all Hands and then countersigned, and then sealed with sealing wax, on the upper and lower doors of the safe. This was completed at 11: 15 a.m.
The keys of the safe were then placed in an envelope which was sealed with sealing wax, and signed by the Hands. This was done immediately, and delivered to the Guardian's Assistant Secretary, Mr. Leroy Ioas, Hand of the Faith, who placed it in the safe in his office.
As an additional measure of precaution, the drawers of the desk of the Guardian were sealed, and the seals countersigned. This was concluded at 12:07 p.m.
The five Hands of the Faith who were present at all times sign this document in attestation thereto.[Signed as follows]
PRESS RELEASE IN THE JERUSALEM POST "Bahá'í 'HANDS' MEET FOR OBSEQUIES"Haifa, Monday November 18, 1957
A memorial ceremony for His Eminence Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, World Head of the Bahá'í Faith, who died in London on November 4, wasPage 27
held this afternoon at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, world centre of the Bahá'í Faith, north of Acre. The ceremony was held at 2 p.m. corresponding to the exact hour of the interment of the Guardian of the Faith in London. Memorial services are being hold by national and local Bahá'í assemblies in all parts of the world today.
Twenty-six of the 27 'Hands' of the Bahá'í Faith throughout the world arrived yesterday to take part in the service.
The "Hands of the Cause", as the elders of the Faith are called, have come from five continents. They include one who knew Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith; an 88-year-old woman from Australia, who had to travel with her nurse; the only Negro "Hand", who comes from the Cameroons in Africa; and others from Britain, the Americas, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Iran, Germany, Italy, Uganda, Rhodesia and the Union of South Africa.
Messages of condolence continue to arrive at the International Bahá'í Council from all parts of the world, from government heads, educators and people from all walks of life.===================================
This morning immediately after 9:00 a.m. we, the five Hands of the Cause assigned to service at the World Centre of the Faith, Ruhiyyih Khanum, Mason Remey, Amelia E. Collins, Ugo Giachery, and Leroy Ioas as well as Hands of the Cause Hasan Balyuzi, a member of the Afnan family, Mr. Horace Holley, representing the believers of the Western Hemisphere, Musa Banani; representing the believers of the African continent, and Dr. 'Ali-Muhammad Varqa Trustee of the beloved Guardian, representing also the Asian continent, (totaling to, ' the number of Baha) have met, in order to open the Guardian's safe and desk [and] search for a Will and Testament if one was executed by Shoghi Effendi.
They found that the seals placed on the safe by the five Hands in the Holy Land were intact and untouched; and similarly the seals containing the keys to the safe were intact and untouched and similarly that the sealed desk was intact.
The undersigned nine Hands of the Cause, appointed by the firstPage 28
Guardian, Shoghi Effendi each in the presence of the others, do hereby individually and collectively certify to the following:
That the safe and desk have been opened and searched and the non existence of a Will and Testament executed by Shoghi Effendi was definitely established.[Signed as follows]
UNANIMOUS PROCLAMATION OF THE 27 HANDS OF THE CAUSE OF GOD
Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji, 'Akka, Israel November 25, 1957We the undersigned:
Charles Mason Remey (who is President of the International Bahá'í Council)
Amelia E. Collins (who is Vice President of the International Bahá'í Council)
Leroy C. Ioas (who is Secretary General of the International Bahá'í Council)
Dr. Ugo Giachery, (who is member-at-large of the International Bahá'í Council and Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Switzerland)
Hasan M. Balyuzi (who is Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles)
Shoaullah Ala'i (who is Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran)
Ali Akbar Furutan (who is Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran)
Zikrullah Khadem (who is Treasurer of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran)
Dr. Ali Mohammad Varqa (who is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran)
Tarazu'llah Samandari (who is a resident of Shiraz, Iran)
Djalal Khazeh (who is a resident of Teheran, Iran)Page 29
John Ferraby (who is Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles
Paul E. Haney (who is Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States)
Horace Holley (who is Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States)Abul Qasim F. Teherani
Dr. Adelbert Muhlschlegel (who is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria)
Dr. Hermann Grossmann (who is a resident of Neckargemind, Germany)
Musa Banani (who is a resident of Kampala, Uganda)
William Sears (who is Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South and West Africa)
John Robarts, (who is Recording Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South and West Africa)
Enoch Olinga, (who is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North West Africa)
Agnes Alexander (who is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia)
H. Collis Featherstone (who is Chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia)
Clara Dunn (who is a resident of Sydney, Australia)
Dr. Rahmatu'llah Mohajer (who is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South-East Asia)
in our capacity as Hands of the Cause of God duly nominated and appointed by the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, assembled this 25th of November, 1957 at the Bahá'í World Centre and constituting the supreme body of the Bahá'í World Community
DO HEREBY UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVE AND PROCLAIM AS FOLLOWS:
WHEREAS THE Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, passed away in London (England) on the 4th of November, 1957, without having appointed his successor;
AND WHEREAS it is now fallen upon us as Chief Stewards of the Bahá'í World Faith to preserve the unity, the security and the development of the Bahá'í World Community and all its institutions;
AND WHEREAS in accordance with the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá) "the Hands of the Cause of God must elect from their own number nine persons that shall at all times be occupied in the important services in the work of the Guardian of the Cause of God";Page 30
We nominate and appoint from our own number to act on our behalf as the Custodians of the Bahá'í World FaithRuhiyyih Rabbani
to exercise -- subject to such directions and decisions as may be given from time to time by us as the Chief Stewards of the Bahá'í World Faith -- all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith, and this until such time as the Universal House of Justice, upon being duly established and elected in conformity with the Sacred Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, may otherwise determine.[Signed as follows]
Wilmette, Illinois United States of America, November 30, 1957
The undersigned, Corinne True, being one of the twenty-seven Hands of the Cause of God, duly nominated and appointed by the Guardian ofPage 31
the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, having been prevented by the state of my health, to attend personally the meeting of the Hands of the Cause of God held in the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji in 'Akka, on the twenty-fifth of November, 1957, declare to be in full agreement with the above resolution, and I am joining my signature thereto.[Signed as follows]
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 30th; day of November, 1957.[Signed as follows]
Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji 'Akka, Israel November 25, 1957 We, the undersigned Hands of the Cause of God, assembled at the Bahá'í World Centre, certify that by unanimous action we have constituted a body of nine Hands to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith at its World Centre in order to carry on from this Centre the provisions of the World Bahá'í Crusade and to discharge there our responsibility of protecting and propagating the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
We further certify that the body consists of the following persons:Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum
[1 As it proved inexpedient for Dr. Adelbert Muhlschlegel to serve as a Hand of the Cause in Israel, Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, was chosen in his place.]
We further certify that by unanimous action we have appointed UgoPage 32
Giachery, as alternate member authorized to fill any temporary vacancy that might arise from time to time.[Signed as follows]
RESOLUTION OF THE HANDS OF THE CAUSE OF GOD PASSED AT THEIR MEETING AT THE Bahá'í WORLD CENTRE
Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji 'Akka, Israel November 25, 1957
The following principles shall apply to the relations between the Hands of the Cause of God and the nine Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith and to the activities of the said Custodians:
1. The Hands of the Cause shall have their meetings at least once a year, and the time and place of their meetings shall be determined by the Custodians, who shall be responsible for convocation of such meetings.
2. The Hands of the Cause shall have the full authority to introduce such changes in the composition of the Custodians, to substitute Custodians by others from their own number, to resolve upon such alterations in functions, rights and powers of the Custodians and to give such directions to the Custodians as the Hands of the Cause in their free discretion may decide.
3. The quorum of the meetings of the Hands of the Cause shall be a simple majority of their number, and any resolution adopted by majority of the Hands attending such meetings shall be deemed to have been validly passed by the Hands of the Cause.Page 33
4. The quorum of the meetings of the Custodians shall be five, and any decision adopted by the majority of the Custodians attending such meetings shall be deemed to have been validly passed by the Custodians.
5. Dr. Ugo Giachery, is appointed as alternate Custodian authorized to fill any temporary vacancy that may arise in the body of the Custodians.
6. In the event of any vacancy occurring in the composition of the Custodians, the remaining Custodians shall have the duty and the power to fill the vacancy temporarily up to the next meeting of the Hands of the Cause by appointing one of the Hands of the Cause to act as a Custodian.
7. The Custodians, in addition to their other functions, shall administer all the properties, assets and accounts belonging to the World Bahá'í Community (other than those belonging to various National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies or Bahá'í local bodies) and shall be entitled to appoint two or more of their midst to operate the bank accounts, to receive and withdraw moneys, to represent the Custodians in any dealings and transactions generally or for any specific purpose and to execute and sign any documents in connection therewith.
8. In all their dealings with the Israel Government and any local authorities in Israel the Custodians shall act through the Bahá'í International Council, who shall act in accordance with the instructions of the Custodians.
9. The Custodians shall be deemed to succeed the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, in Palestine or Israel Branches of National Spiritual Assemblies of various countries, which are registered in Israel, and the Custodians may nominate one or more persons to act on their behalf in any such Israel Branches.
Completed, sealed and signed on this 25th day of November, 1957.[Signed as follows]
Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji 'Akka, Israel November 25, 1957
We the undersigned Hands of the Cause hereby record the following action taken in unanimous agreement:
1. That the body of nine Hands of the Cause already constituted shall exercise these functions, namely, to correspond with the National Spiritual Assemblies on matters related to the prosecution of the Guardian's Ten Year Plan; to assist the National Assemblies in the solution of administrative problems by citing passages in Bahá'í literature which clarify the nature of these problems; to act for the protection of the Faith whenever its teachings or institutions or properties are assailed by enemies from within the Bahá'í Community or outside its ranks;
2. That the Council shall represent the Faith in all matters related to the Israeli Government and its courts;
3. The nine Hands to reinforce the membership of the International Bahá'í Council through the addition of the five Hands among the nine Hands not already members of the Council;
4. That the entire body of the Hands of the Cause, meeting annually or whenever convened by the nine Hands, shall determine when and how the International Bahá'í Council shall pass through the successive stages outlined by Shoghi Effendi culminating in the election of the Universal House of Justice;
5. That the nine Hands serving at the Bahá'í World Centre shall maintain correspondence with the Hands stationed in the several continents on all matters related to their work of propagating the Faith and defending it from attack, coordinating and encouraging their efforts;
6. That the authority to expel violators from the Faith shall be vested in the body of nine Hands, acting on reports and recommendations submitted by Hands from their respective continents.
7. The Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land may, if necessary, call upon any of the Hands to fill a vacancy temporarily.[Signed as follows]
Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji, ' Akka, Israel November 25, 1957Beloved Friends:
Nine days had not yet elapsed after the interment of the sacred remains of our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi in London, when the Hands of the Cause, to the number of twenty-six, assembled at the World Centre of the Faith, in our capacity as "Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh", to consult together on the most tragic situation facing the Bahá'ís since the Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and to take all necessary and appropriate measures to safeguard the highest interests of our Faith.
On November 18th the Hands conducted a Memorial Meeting at Bahji, in the Haram-i-Aqdas surrounding the most sacred Shrine in the Bahá'í world, afterward entering the Holy Tomb itself and prostrating ourselves in utter humility at the Sacred Threshold.
On the following morning, November 19th, nine Hands of the Cause, selected from the Holy Land, and the several continents of East and West, with (Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, broke the seals placed upon the beloved Guardian's safe and desk and made careful examination of their precious contents. These same Hands, rejoining the other Hands assembled in the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji, certified that Shoghi Effendi had left no Will and Testament. It was likewise certified that the beloved Guardian had left no heir. The Aghsan (branches) one and all are either dead or have been declared violators of the Covenant by the GuardPage 36
Guardian for their faithlessness to the Master's Will and Testament and their hostility to him named first Guardian in that sacred document.
The first effect of the realization that no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him was to plunge the Hands of the Cause into the very abyss of despair. What must happen to the world community of his devoted followers if the Leader, the Inspirer, the Planner of all Bahá'í activities in all countries and islands of the seas could no longer fulfil his unique mission?
From this dark abyss, however, contemplation of the Guardian's own life of complete sacrifice and his peerless services gradually redeemed our anguished hearts. Shoghi Effendi himself, we knew, would have been the first to remind the Hands, and the widespread body of the believers, that the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh has quickened those powers and resources of faith within mankind which will achieve the unity of the peoples and the triumph of His World Order. In this new light of understanding the company of the Hands could perceive with heightened gratitude the existence of those innumerable blessings which Shoghi Effendi had created and left as his true legacy to all Bahá'ís.
Has not the World Centre, with its sacred Shrines and institutions, been firmly established? Has not the Message been established in 254 countries and dependencies? Have not the National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies, forerunners of the Universal House of Justice, been implanted in twenty-six great areas of all continents? Has not the Guardian left us not only his incomparable translations for English-reading Bahá'ís of the Bahá'í Sacred Literature but also his own master works of interpretation which disclose to us the unshatterable edifice of an evolving Bahá'í Order and world community? Has not the Guardian, building upon the enduring foundation of the Master's Tablets of the Divine Plan, created the World Crusade to guide our work until 1963?
Has not the Guardian, moreover, in his mysterious insight into the present and future needs of the Bahá'í community, called into being the International Bahá'í Council and the company of twenty-seven Hands with their Auxiliary Boards, whom, in his final communication to the Bahá'ís he designated "Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh"?
Such reflections cannot but, in such a world-shattering experience as all Bahá'ís have this month endured, reveal to us how strongly Shoghi Effendi has laid the foundations of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh through the appointment of Hands of the Cause and likewise the appointment of the International Bahá'í Council, the institution destined to evolve into the Universal House of Justice.
In our capacity of Chief Stewards of the embryonic World CommonPage 37
wealth of Bahá'u'lláh, we Hands of the Cause have constituted a body of nine Hands to serve at the Bahá'í World Centre. This body of nine Hands will energetically deal with the protection of the Faith whenever attacks, whether from within or outside the Bahá'í community, are reported by Hands from their areas or by National or Regional Assemblies or whether they arise within the Holy Land. Correspondence will likewise be maintained with the Hands of the Cause working in the several continents. This same body will correspond with National Assemblies on matters connected with the prosecution of the objectives of the Ton Year Plan. On matters involving administrative questions this same body will assist National Assemblies by citing those passages of the Bahá'í Sacred Literature which direct the Assemblies to a sound solution.
As to the International Bahá'í Council, appointed by the Guardian and heralded in his communications to the Bahá'í world, that body will in the course of time finally fulfil its purpose through the formation of the Universal House of Justice, that Supreme Body upon which infallibility, as the Master's Testament assures us, is divinely conferred: "The source of all good and freed from all error." The main work of the Council has been to act as the Guardian's representative in matters involving the Israeli Government and its courts of law.
Beloved friends! Is not the most precious legacy bequeathed to us all by Shoghi Effendi the privilege of constancy in the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh and devotion in teaching His Message? This is the heartfelt plea we direct to every Baha'i; The hour has come, as it came with the passing of `Abdu'l-Bahá, when true Bahá'ís will be distinguished by their firmness in the Covenant and their spiritual radiance while pressing forward the mighty work committed to every area of the world community -- to every individual Bahá'í For now our implacable opponents may, and probably will, unleash attacks, assuming in their ignorance that the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is weakened and defenseless. By consecration of spirit we are armed against all manner of assault and we hold the weapon of Faith with which the triumph of the Guardian's aims and purposes is assured.
The Hands of the Cause, determined to carry out every aspect of the Guardian's expressed wishes and hopes, call upon the National Assemblies to proceed with the holding of the Intercontinental Conferences which Shoghi Effendi has planned for 1958, and make each of them a great rallying-point of determination to achieve the tasks of the next phase of the World Crusade. We are, moreover, to keep ever before us the other tasks fixed in the Ten Year Plan as objectives to be won by 1963.
Meanwhile the entire body of the Hands, assembled by the nine Hands of the World Centre, will decide when and how the International Bahá'íPage 38
Council is to evolve through the successive stages outlined by the Guardian, culminating in the call to election of the Universal House of Justice by the membership of all National Spiritual Assemblies.
When that divinely ordained Body comes into existence, all the conditions of the Faith can be examined anew and the measures necessary for its future operation determined in consultation with the Hands of the Cause.
"0 God, my God! Shield Thy trusted servants from the evils of self and passion, protect them with the watchful eye of Thy loving-kindness from all rancour, hate and envy, shelter them in the impregnable stronghold of Thy care and, safe from the darts of doubtfulness, make them the manifestations of Thy glorious Signs, illumine their faces with the effulgent rays shed from the Dayspring of Thy Divine Unity, gladden their hearts with the verses revealed from Thy Holy Kingdom, strengthen their loins by Thine all-swaying power that cometh from Thy Realm of Glory. Thou art the All-Bountiful, the Protector, the Almighty, the Gracious."
"O ye that stand fast in the Covenant! When the hour cometh that this wronged and broken winged bird will have taken its flight unto the Celestial Concourse, when it will have hastened to the Realm of the Unseen and its mortal frame will have been either lost or hidden neath the dust, it is incumbent upon the Afnan, that are steadfast in the Covenant of God, and have branched from the Tree of Holiness; the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God (the glory of the Lord rest upon them), and all the friends and loved ones, one and all to bestir themselves and arise with heart and soul and in one accord, to diffuse the sweet savours of God, to teach His Cause and to promote His Faith. It behoveth them not to rest for a moment, neither to seek repose. They must disperse themselves in every land, pass by every clime and travel throughout all regions. Bestirred, without rest and steadfast to the end they must raise in every land the triumphal cry '0 Thou the Glory of Glories!' (Ya Baha'u'l-Abha), must achieve renown in the world wherever they go, must burn brightly even as a candle in every meeting and must kindle the flame of Divine love in every assembly; that the light of truth may rise resplendent in the midmost heart of the world, that throughout the East and throughout the West a vast concourse may gather under the shadow of the Word of God, that the sweet savours of holiness may be diffused, that faces may shine radiantly, hearts be filled with the Divine spirit and souls be made heavenly.
"In these days, the most important of all things is the guidance of the nations and peoples of the world. Teaching the Cause is of utmost importance for it is the head corner-stone of the foundation itself. This wronged servant has spent his days and nights in promoting the Cause and urging the peoples to service. He rested not a moment, till the fame of the CausePage 39
of God was noised abroad in the world and the celestial strains from the Abhá Kingdom roused the East and the West. The beloved of God must also follow the same example. This is the secret of faithfulness, this is the requirement of servitude to the Threshold of Baha.
Devotedly, in service to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh,[Signed as follows]
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WORLD CENTRE OF THE Bahá'í FAITHNovember 1957
The Hands of the Bahá'í Faith, an institution established by Bahá'u'lláh, its Founder, and designated as its Chief Stewards, who number twenty-seven and represent the five continents of the globe, after a meeting at the World Centre of the Faith, announce that they have elected nine of their members to conduct and protect the affairs of the Faith from its World Centre.
This body of nine will maintain the Bahá'í Shrines and Holy Places in 'Akka, and Haifa, which His Eminence, the late Shoghi Rabbani, World Head of the Faith, had made into beauty spots of the Mediterranean area, and continue their expansion. They will coordinate all the activities of Bahá'í Communities in over two hundred and fifty countries and islands of the world, and will carry forward all the plans outlined by him for its expansion and development, including the holding of the five Intercontinental Conferences which he scheduled for 1958 in Kampala, Uganda; Sydney, Australia; Chicago, United States; Frankfurt, Germany; and Djakarta, Indonesia.Page 40
They will also see that the two Bahá'í Houses of Worship in Africa and Australia, work on which was begun under the direction of the late Head of the Faith, are completed; and that the third one, contemplated for Europe, is built. It will be their responsibility to see that the National and Regional Bahá'í Assemblies, which under his ministry grew in number from two to twenty-six, and which at the present time represent more than 4,500 Bahá'í Centres, are steadily increased.
The names of the body of nine elected to fulfil these responsibilities from the World Centre are as follows: Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Charles Mason Remey, Amelia Collins, Leroy Ioas Hasan Balyuzi, 'Ali-Akbar Furutan; Jalal Khazeh Paul Haney and Adelbert Muhlschlegel.To All National Spiritual Assemblies
We send to your Assembly our most cordial greetings in this first letter to you from the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, and assure you of our determination to exert every effort for the protection of the Cause of God and the propagation of the Faith according to the beloved Guardian's Ten Year Plan.
The purpose of our letter is to enlist your aid to facilitate the legal recognition of this body. We enclose a photostat of a legal document signed by the 26 Hands of the Cause present at the Conference in the Mansion of Bahji setting this body up to act on behalf of the Hands generally, under the legal title "The Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith".
Our lawyer advises us that we should also obtain from each National Assembly a letter recognizing us as the supreme body in the Cause, and this letter should include the following sentence: "We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause." We therefore ask you please to arrange by whatever means is most suited to the conditions of working of your Assembly for a resolution to this effect to be passed without delay, and incorporated in a letter to be sent immediately to the Holy Land under the Assembly's seal, signed by its Chairman and Secretary, or in their absence, by officers authorized to act for them. The many legal negotiations we have to conduct concerning properties at the World Centre and elsewhere make speed in sending this letter of recognition vitally important, and we are confident that all National Assemblies will cooperate by seeing that the action is taken at once.Page 41
The names of the nine Hands residing in the Holy Land are on the photostat enclosed; they have been empowered to call upon any of the other Hands to serve temporarily as a substitute for one who is unable to serve in the Holy Land for the time being. Please keep the photostat in a safe place, but we ask you not to display it or give it general currency, since circulating this in addition to the Proclamation of the Hands might cause confusion.
We send your Assembly and Community every good wish for success in all you do to further the Cause of God.With Bahá'í love,
P.S. All correspondence should be addressed from now on to "The Bahá'í Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, P. 0. Box 155, Haifa, Israel." Cable address HANDSFAITH HAIFA.===================================
FROM 26 NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES OF THE Bahá'í WORLD TO THE HANDS AND CUSTODIANS[Excerpts from letters]
IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska is in full accord with the following statement issued by the 26 Hands . . "to exercise -- subject to such directions and decisions as may be given from time to time by us as the Chief Stewards of the Bahá'í World Faith -- all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith, and this until such time as the Universal House of Justice, upon being duly established and elected in conformity with the Sacred Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, may otherwise determine."
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.Page 42
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.ARGENTINA, BOLIVIA, CHILE, PARAGUAY AND URUGUAY
In our capacity of National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, we pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body Of THE CUSTODIANS OF THE Bahá'í WORLD FAITH, elected by the Hands of the Cause. AUSTRALIA The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia ratifies the action taken by the twenty-six Hands of the Cause in their deliberations at the meeting held at the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, Bahji 'Akka, on 25th November 1957, in electing nine members from their own body to act as Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith. Furthermore, we pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.BENELUX COUNTRIES
As a result of our consultation, we wish to assure you of our unanimous and complete loyalty and of our entire recognition of your Bahá'í Institution as the supreme Body in the Cause.... we pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the Body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.
With our prayers and all our complete devotion for the accomplishment of your sacred task, we assure you, once again, of our deepest thankfulness and full attachment to your supreme Body of the Cause, necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith.BRAZIL, PERU, COLOMBIA, ECUADOR AND VENEZUELA
We, the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have carefully read the photostatic copy of the legal document signed by the 26 Hands of the Cause present at the Conference in the Mansion of Bahji setting up the following named Hands of the Cause: Ruhiyyih Rabbani, Charles Mason Remey, Amelia E. Collins, Leroy C. Ioas Hasan Balyuzi, 'Ali-Akbar Furutan; Jalal Khazeh Paul E. Haney and Adelbert Muhlschlegel, as the body to act on behalf of the Hands generally, under the legal title "The Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith".Page 43
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.BRITISH ISLES
We, the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles, in session on this day of November 30th; 1957, having heard the Proclamation, dated November 25th 1957, by the Hands of the Cause of God at their meeting at Bahji in the World Centre of the Faith, hereby declare our grateful acceptance of this Proclamation and pledge our loyalty and allegiance to all of its provisions.CANADA
We, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause. Be assured of our devotion and dedication to these Chief Stewards of the Bahá'í World Faith.CENTRAL AMERICA, MEXICO AND PANAMA
We remit the following resolution "The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central America, Mexico and Panama in its fourth meeting held in the City of Panama, Republic of Panama on 25, 26, 27 and 28 of December 1957, in representation of the Bahá'ís of Central America, Mexico and Panama pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith, elected by the Hands of the Cause."CENTRAL AND EAST AFRICA
It was unanimously resolved in our meeting that we pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause. Furthermore, we take the greatest pleasure in recognizing you as constituting the supreme body in the Cause which will exercise all the functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith.GERMANY AND AUSTRIA
The National Spiritual Assembly as trustee of the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria recognizes the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith nominated in the document of appointment made out at BahjiPage 44
Acre/Israel dated 25 November 1957 as the Supreme Body in conformity with the Bahá'í administration.
The National Assembly officially declares: "We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the Body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause," to exercise subject to such directions and decisions as may be given from time to time by the Hands of the Cause, the Chief Stewards of the Bahá'í World Faith -- all such functions, rights and powers in succession to the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith ...GREATER ANTILLES
In our recent meeting of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Greater Antilles, just concluded, the following action was taken:14 MOTION NO. 85:
"THAT, WHEREAS, We, the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Greater Antilles now in session at Ciudad Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, have learned, with joy, that as a result of the Conference held at the Mansion of Bahji by twenty-six (26) members of the Hands, the setting up of a body to be known as 'The Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith' was made,
BE IT RESOLVED that we pledge our full support, faith, and allegiance to the body of The Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution, signed by the Chairman and Secretary of this Assembly, be sent to them."IBERIAN PENINSULA
That the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Iberian Peninsula does hereby approve and endorse the election by the Hands of the Cause of nine of their members to constitute the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith, and that
We recognize this body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith to be the supreme body in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, and that
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.INDIA AND BURMA
The Proclamation issued by the Hands of the Cause of God after ascension to Abhá Kingdom of our beloved Guardian was prayerfully studied and it was unanimously decided to approve of thePage 45
action taken by the Hands of the Cause of God in electing nine persons from amongst themselves to act as Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith and we pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the said Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause. We further unanimously resolve to assure the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith of our unreserved obedience and loyal allegiance to all their wishes and directions that they may send us from time to time in the performance of their sacred duties.IRAN
We have great pleasure in informing you that the Proclamation by the Hands of the Cause to the Bahá'ís of East and West, dated 25th November, 1957, issued in the Mansion of Bahji 'Akka, has been passed on to all the Spiritual Assemblies, Bahá'í groups and isolated centres in Iran.
On reading this Proclamation, all the members of the Bahá'í community of Iran recalled at once, in the spirit of absolute faith and solidarity, which characterizes the community trained and guided by the beloved Guardian for such a long time, that Shoghi Effendi has in his Message of October, 1957 entrusted the Hands of the Bahá'í Cause with the all-important duty of protecting and propagating the Cause and of guarding the Bahá'í communities throughout the world.
The Guardian has called the Hands of the Cause in his Message the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's Embryonic World Commonwealth.
Those revered souls who, in accordance with the Proclamation of the Hands of the Cause, have been appointed by the latter as the Bahá'í Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land assuming this important duty, will doubtlessly be able under the divine protection and with their wise actions, to safeguard this original unity and solidarity of the Bahá'í community and to take all necessary measures for the development of the Cause in all its various stages and to carry out the work of the Beloved Guardian at all times in accordance with the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
We ... do hereby announce on behalf of this Assembly and of all members of the Bahá'í community in Iran and its institutions, the recognition by us of the Nine Hands of the Cause elected by all Hands of the Cause as "The Bahá'í Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land", and wish to express our unconditional loyalty to that Supreme Body.
We feel sure that with the trust we have in you we shall be able under your guidance and supervision to fulfil our duties and obligation to the Holy Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith, elected by the Hands of thePage 46
Cause and we also hereby undertake to submit to and obey the decisions which the Hands of the Cause will adopt in future for the progress of the Cause.'IRAQ
We, the elected National Representatives of the Bahá'ís of 'Iraq and the adjacent Countries of Syria, Lebanon and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Territories of Hadhramaut and the Seychelles Islands included in our area of jurisdiction; members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of 'Iraq do hereby unanimously declare that, following the Ascension of our beloved Guardian, His Eminence the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, we recognize you, since you have been elected by the entire members of the Hands of the Cause of God, the Divinely-ordained Institution, whose members were chosen and appointed by the beloved Guardian, His Eminence, the late Shoghi Effendi Rabbani and referred to them in his letters as "The Chief Stewards of the World Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" recognize you as the Most Supreme Body in the Bahá'í World Faith. We, also, pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to you.With heartfelt gratitude, loyalty and love.
We, as members of the Italo-Swiss National Spiritual Assembly, 46 pledge our full support, faith and allegiance" to the body of Nine Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land, appointed by the entire body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í Faith, to act as Executor of all Bahá'í affairs in the Holy Land and abroad.NEW ZEALAND
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand sends you its love and reaffirms its loyalty and devotion to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.
The following resolution was unanimously passed at a meeting on Sunday, December 29th, 1957:
"We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause."NORTH EAST AFRICA
We have great pleasure in informing you that the Proclamation by the Hands of the Cause to the Bahá'ís of East and West, dated 25th November 1957 issued in the Mansion of Bahji has been passed on toPage 47
all the Spiritual Assemblies, Bahá'í groups and isolated centres in North East Africa.
On reading this Proclamation all the members of the Bahá'í community of North East Africa recalled at once, in the spirit of absolute faith and solidarity, which characterizes the community trained and guided by the beloved Guardian for such a long time, that Shoghi Effendi has in his Message of October 1957, entrusted the Bahá'í Cause Hands with the all-important duty of protecting and propagating the Cause and of guarding the Bahá'í communities throughout the world.
The Guardian has called the Hands of the Cause in his Message the Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth.
Those revered souls who, in accordance with the Proclamation of the Hands of the Cause, have been appointed by the latter as the Bahá'í Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land assuming this important duty, will doubtlessly be able, under the Divine Protection and with their wise actions, to safeguard this original unity and solidarity of the Bahá'í community and to take the necessary measures for the development of the Cause in all its various stages and to carry out the work of the beloved Guardian at all times in accordance with the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
We, the undersigned, Chairman and Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Africa, do hereby announce on behalf of this Assembly of all members of the Bahá'í community in North East Africa and its institutions, the recognition by us of the nine Hands of the Cause elected by all Hands of the Cause as "The Bahá'í Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land", and wish to express our unconditional loyalty to that Supreme Body.
We feel sure that with the trust we have in you we shall be able under your guidance and supervision to fulfil our duties and obligations to the Holy Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith, elected by the Hands of the Cause and we also hereby undertake to submit to and obey the decisions which the Hands of the Cause will adopt in future for the progress of the Cause.NORTH EAST ASIA
We, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia, representing the Bahá'ís of this part of the world embracing Japan, Korea, Formosa, Macau and Hong Kong, at an official meeting held on 8 December 1957 adopted the following resolution:Page 48
"Whereas by action of the Bahá'í Hands of the Cause as stated in a letter dated 2 December 1957, a body of nine Hands was elected and now designated by the title 'Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith' as the supreme body of the Faith.
"We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause."NORTH WEST AFRICA
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Northwest Africa, representing the Bahá'ís residing in twenty-five territories, included along the North and the West Coasts of the African continent, hereby declare our recognition of the nine Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land as the supreme body in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh existing after the ascension of the late Shoghi Effendi -- the first Guardian of the Bahá'í Cause.
We, further, pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to this body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.
This document is issued upon unanimous resolution of the National Spiritual Assembly.PAKISTAN
We, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Pakistan, elected representatives of the Bahá'í community of Pakistan, at this extraordinary meeting held at Bahá'í National Headquarters (Pakistan) Karachi, on 16th December 1957, do hereby unanimously resolve that we pledge our full support and allegiance to and faith in the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.SCANDINAVIA AND FINLAND
Having received the photostat of the legal document signed by the 26 Hands we have circulated the text to the members of our National Assembly and asked to have from each member a signed pledge of support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians.
Deeply grateful for the action taken by the Hands of the Cause of God and in full recognition of the Divine Inspiration behind the decision the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Scandinavia and Finland pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause.
Respectfully returning to you the hopes and good wishes for the task of protecting and furthering the Faith.Page 49
This Assembly recognizes you as the supreme body in the Cause and has unanimously passed the following resolution:
"We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause."
You, who have been elevated to be Hands of the Cause by our beloved Shoghi Effendi and are carrying out his wishes, and are fulfilling the requirements of our dearly loved Master's Will, are our solace and our inspiration. We pray constantly for your well-being and guidance, and offer our grateful and inadequate thanks to Bahá'u'lláh for having created your station.SOUTH-EAST ASIA
WE DO HEREBY pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the said body, namely, the nine Hands of the Cause, residing in the Holy Land, as the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by all the Hands of the Cause.UNITED STATES
In our capacity of duly elected members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, conscious of and obedient to the principles and institutions of the Bahá'í Administrative Order ordained by Bahá'u'lláh, elaborated by `Abdu'l-Bahá, and developed and guided by the late Guardian, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, we certify to the following resolutions unanimously adopted and recorded in the minutes of our meeting held at the National Bahá'í Headquarters, Wilmette, Illinois, on January 3-4-5, 1958:
WHEREAS the late Guardian, Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, appointed Hands of the Cause, in accordance with the provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, to the number of twenty-seven; and
WHEREAS Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, late Guardian, designated these twenty-seven Hands of the Cause "Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh and WHEREAS the Guardian nominated no personal successor as second Guardian of the Faith to hold this office after his own death; therefore be it
RESOLVED: that the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States fully recognizes and affirms the authority of the twenty-seven Chief Stewards to elect nine of their own number to serve at the Bahá'í World Centre, Israel, as the supreme international body of the Bahá'í community and carry out the plans made for the future activities of the Faith by said Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, late Guardian, as Custodians of the Bahá'í Shrines and Holy Places, coordinatorsPage 50
of the work of the various National Assemblies, and protectors of the security of the Faith; and further be it
RESOLVED: that the Custodians have been and are duly empowered to exercise such functions, rights and powers in succession to the late Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith as are necessary to serve the interests of the Bahá'í World Faith, and continue to do so until such time as the Universal House of Justice, upon being duly established and elected in conformity with the Sacred Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, may otherwise determine; and further be it
RESOLVED: that this National Spiritual Assembly pledges its full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith elected by the Hands of the Cause as the supreme international body of the Bahá'í Community; and further be it
RESOLVED: that any two officers of this Assembly are authorized to execute these resolutions on behalf of the Assembly and transmit them to the nine Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith.===================================
[1 "Bahá'í WILMETTE" was the cable address for the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, which was the distribution point for world-wide dissemination of communications from the World Centre.]DECEMBER 5,1957
PLEASE ANNOUNCE HANDS FIVE CONTINENTS ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES HEARTWARMING NEWS CONSUMMATION VICTORY ANNOUNCED GUARDIAN'S MESSAGE SEPTEMBER 5th BY TRANSFER TITLE DEEDS ALL PROPERTIES WITHIN HARAM-I-AQDAS [PRECINCTS OF THE TOMB OF Bahá'u'lláh] TO NAME ISRAEL BRANCH UNITED STATES NATIONAL ASSEMBLY THUS COMPLETING PURIFICATION AREA SURROUNDING MOST HOLY SPOT Bahá'í WORLD.[CABLE) HANDS HOLY LAND
CRITICAL JUNCTURE DEEP MOURNING SUPREME CHALLENGE HANDS HOLY LAND CALL UPON FELLOW BELIEVERS PARTICULARLY HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES ALL CONTINENTS EXERT UTMOST EFFORT ENSURE SUCCESS FIVE INTERCONTINENTAL CONFERENCES ANNOUNCED BELOVED GUARDIAN'S LAST MOMENTOUS MESSAGE Bahá'í WORLD. CONFERENCES PROVIDE UNEXPage 51
AMPLED OPPORTUNITY DEMONSTRATE MYSTERIOUS DIVINE FORCES ANIMATING DEARLY LOVED FAITH VITALITY INSTITUTIONS EMBRYONIC WORLD ORDER NOURISHED LIFEBLOOD BELOVED GUARDIAN DETERMINATION Bahá'í COMMUNITY DIFFUSE UNINTERRUPTEDLY FRAGRANCE Bahá'u'lláh'S MIGHTY REVELATION TO FEAR-LADEN HUMANITY DEPRIVED POWER RECOGNIZE DIVINE LIGHT UNAIDED. URGE GREATEST ATTENDANCE BELIEVERS POSSIBLE THESE HISTORIC GATHERINGS DESIGNED GENERATE UPSURGE ENTHUSIASM CONSECRATION UNPRECEDENTED ANNALS FAITH USHER IN FOURTH PHASE CRUSADE DESTINED WITNESS VICTORIES AT WHICH FUTURE GENERATIONS Bahá'ís WILL MARVEL CULMINATING WORLD TRIUMPH FAITH CENTENARY DECLARATION BLESSED BEAUTY. SHARE MESSAGE ALL HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum, has prepared an account of the passing of our beloved Guardian, which is to be published by the British Bahá'í Publishing Trust under the title The Passing of Shoghi Effendi You will be hearing from them shortly what the price of the pamphlet will be. We feel sure the members of your community will greatly welcome this account and you will no doubt want to place a bulk order for copies. Please send this as soon as possible to the Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 32 Deansgate, Manchester 4.With Bahá'í love,
REJOICE INFORM BELIEVERS COVENANT BREAKERS' HOUSE Bahji, COMPLETELY EFFACED FULFILLING LONG CHERISHED DESIRE BELOVED GUARDIAN WHO PLANNED PERSONALLY SUPERVISE THIS LAST PURIFICATION HARAM-I-AQDAS STOP SHARE MESSAGE ALL HANDS NATIONAL BODIES ...[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
WITH HEARTS STILL TORN SORROW IRREPARABLE LOSS SACRED PRIMAL BRANCH WHOSE MIGHTY SPIRIT GUARDED INSPIRED COMFORTED MEMBERS WORLD Bahá'í COMMUNITY 36 YEARS WHOSE ALL-ENCOMPASSING VISION INFLEXIBLE DETERMINATION ESTABLISHED ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER BY LIGHT WHOSE DIVINE GUIDANCE CAUSE GOD SPREAD UNINTERRUPTEDLY OVER ENTIRE PLANET WHOSE BLESSED SHADE MASTER STATES SHADOWETH ALL MANKIND HANDS HOLY LAND CALL UPON BEREAVED BELIEVERS SUITABLY EXPRESS LONGING GRIEF THEIR HEARTS BY REFRAINING EVERY MANNER RELIGIOUS FESTIVITY PERIOD NINE MONTHS FROM DAY HIS ASCENSION STOP SHARE MESSAGE ALL HANDS NATIONAL BODIES.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
Though afflicted by profound sorrow at the sudden removal of the beloved Guardian, our thoughts are always with those who forsook their homes, relatives and friends to cry Ya Baha'u'l-Abha in distant lands and raise the banner of the Faith in the far corners of the earth. Our hearts are with you, dear friends, for your treading of this glorious path has earned the approval of the beloved of us all, Shoghi Effendi now watching so lovingly from his lofty station on High and dispensing to all his guidance and protection.
We are confident that you will remain at your posts in the same wonderful spirit of love you have already displayed and with greater steadfastness than ever before. The Guardian held the pioneers in such esteem that even to the night before the night of his passing he worked on a map on which he recorded their achievements with his own hands. We feel certain that the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh and those who joined them later will hold their ground firmly and that before long we shall hear the glorious news of the attainment of all the goals the beloved named throughout the entire planet. The pioneers are like lamps of guidance, and when mankind is awakened from its spiritual lethargy, members of a bewildered humanity will see only by the light of the pioneers the right path to the tabernacle of love and justice where it will find shelter.
The pioneers the Guardian loved so dearly are particularly dear to our hearts too and we pray for each and every one of them. We hope they willPage 56
send reports of wonderful activities to their National Assemblies, who in turn will gladden our hearts with news of these developments.With Bahá'í love,
The Intercontinental Conference, Kampala, Uganda January 23-28, 1958
To the Hands of the Cause, members of their Auxiliary Boards, members of Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies, pioneers, resident believers, and visitors attending the Intercontinental Conference in Kampala, January, 1958.Beloved Friends:
In the shadow of the unexpected and soul-shattering sorrow which has so recently stricken the followers of Bahá'u'lláh through the passing of our much-loved Guardian Shoghi Effendi comes the opening of the first of the momentous Conferences planned by him to take place in the five continents of the globe.
With what joy our hearts looked forward to this day when we should be gathered together to render thanks to Bahá'u'lláh for His blessings during the last five years-years which have witnessed the most phenomenal progress in the expansion of His Faith since the Declaration of The Báb. to exalt His station and to praise the manifold evidences of His mysterious power. How our hearts hastened ahead of us to this spot where we knew the first of these mighty Conferences would be convened and with what anticipation we looked forward to receiving the message which we knew our beloved Guardian would send to us on this occasion.
It is with sadness and deep humility that the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land address to you these words. The ways of God have never been the ways of men. One thing we know however with profound assurance, and that is that no calamity has ever befallen this Faith that has not presaged a mighty victory. They martyred The Báb. Bahá'u'lláh was raised up. They persecuted and exiled Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá carried the banner of His Faith to the very heart of the Western World, to which He journeyed in His old age, and to which He gave some of the fairest fruits of His mind. After the Ascension of the beloved Master, the believers, bereft of their Father and their Refuge, found in Shoghi Effendi a mighty tree beneath whose boughs they took refuge, and which protected them for thirty-six years.
At this turning-point in history, which the beloved Guardian repeatedlyPage 57
pointed out to us would be fraught with calamity, we have received a blow the nature of which we never anticipated. We have every right to believe however that even such a blow as this will be the signal for a far greater expansion of our glorious Faith, and that the sacrifice of his precious life has endowed the Cause of God with a new strength to face the future, to surmount all tests, to lay more quickly and firmly than ever before the foundations of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, that Kingdom prophesied since the days of Adam, and promised to men by their Heavenly Father.
Who can doubt that Shoghi Effendi will be viewed by posterity as the true conqueror of Africa? Whoever arose to serve that continent, whatever sign of action he beheld on the part of individual, Assembly or community, attracted his glance and received a burning intensity of interest, an outpouring of encouragement and assistance characteristic of the brilliant mind and wonderful nature with which Bahá'u'lláh had endowed him. With what intense pride he viewed the achievements of the past seven years, beginning with the African work inaugurated by the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles and continued, in collaboration with the American, Persian, Indian and 'Iraqi National Assemblies, who were allotted specific tasks in this vast continent and who worked for its spiritual conquest in cooperation with the National Spiritual Assembly of Egypt and Sudan, the first national body established on this continent in 1924 and representing territories opened to the Faith during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh Himself. With what love he watched over its spiritual progress, blessing it even before the inception of the World Crusade through the appointment of a Hand of the Cause, an institution he recently reinforced by raising three other African pioneers to this high rank, one of whom has the distinction of being the second Negro Hand in Bahá'í history. With what eagerness he followed the movement of the devoted and self-sacrificing pioneers, whether of African, American, Asian or European origin, as they spread out-torch-bearers of the New Day-into every territory of a continent so long stigmatized as the "dark continent", and brought the illumination of this glorious Faith to its peoples. With what joy he announced to the Bahá'í world on various occasions the progress on the African front, the formation of four new Regional National Assemblies, one of which was the successor to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Egypt and the Sudan, and of no less than one hundred and fifty Spiritual Assemblies; the introduction of the Faith into more than two hundred tribes, the translation of its literature into more than seventy languages, the purchase of numerous Haziratu'l-Quds and endowments both national and local; the swelling of the number of believers to over four thousand, three-fourths of whom are Africans; andPage 58
the increase in the number of localities where Bahá'ís reside to over six hundred.
The holding of this historic Conference signalizes the opening of the fourth phase of the World Crusade, a phase which the beloved Guardian himself stated must be characterized by an unprecedented expansion in the vital process of individual conversion and by the construction of three Mother Temples, one in Africa, one in Europe and one in Australia. From the beginning of the Ten Year Crusade-indeed it would be more correct to say from the very beginning of his ministry-the Guardian repeatedly emphasized to the believers of East and West the paramount importance of the teaching work and pointed out to us that the purpose for which we have so laboriously erected our administrative institutions was primarily to enable us to carry the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to the peoples of the world and redeem their hearts through His grace.
In Shoghi Effendi's own messages written last year to the African Regional Assemblies he strongly emphasized that their primary function and duty was to enrol in ever greater numbers the African peoples under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh. Such was the importance he attached to the teaching work that in his last Message to the Bahá'í world he stated that although the additional Auxiliary Boards' specific duty was to watch over the security of the Faith, the old Auxiliary Boards must be exclusively concerned in assisting in the prosecution of the Ten Year Plan. He urged the Regional Assemblies in Africa to economize in matters concerning the Administration, in order that their limited resources as much as possible could be expended on ways and means of converting the African peoples, so dear to his heart, to the Faith. He pointed out to them that once they had made sure the individual had accepted the station of Bahá'u'lláh as that of the Manifestation of God for this Day, with the implications that this implies, petty obstacles should not be placed in his path or details insisted upon, but rather through a process of loving education after acceptance the new believer should be deepened in his knowledge and understanding of the Teachings. It was his dearest hope that through the concerted efforts of the Hands of the Faith, the Regional Assemblies, the Auxiliary Boards, the pioneers and all the Bahá'ís an immense flow of new recruits would swell the ranks of the believers and, rising like a torrent, pour itself out in the channels of now Assemblies and communities throughout the territories of this vast continent.
So encouraged was the beloved Guardian by the spectacular victories won in so short a time, and the evidences of the indomitable enthusiasm of the believers labouring in this fallow field that he urged them to surpass the specific tasks of the Ten Year Plan by adding supplementary ones, such as local Haziratu'l-Quds and endowments, other languagesPage 59
spoken on this continent, and further undertakings which would redound to the glory of the Faith. He was also anxious that the prizes won at the cost of so much effort should be maintained, and laid particular emphasis on the need for strengthening the work in the newly formed State of Ghana and of consolidating the work in Liberia, the Belgian Congo, Rwanda-Urundi, French Equatorial Africa and Comoro; he strongly emphasized the necessity of reopening Rio de Oro and the Spanish Sahara; he made strong appeals for more African teachers to circulate amongst the various nations of Africa and carry the Message to their own people, and repeatedly called attention to the need for pioneers to go out into new districts within the territories already opened to the Faith.
It was the beloved Guardian's own arrangement that the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar to be erected in Kampala should coincide with this first inaugural Conference of the halfway point of the Bahá'í World Crusade, and it is he who has specially and eternally blessed this Mother Temple of the African continent by having in its foundations the Sacred Dust from the innermost Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh and a fragment of plaster from the room of The Báb. in the fortress of Mah-Ku where He was imprisoned. He repeatedly emphasized the tremendous spiritual importance of this Temple, which will be a mighty silent teacher of the Faith and a haven of refuge spiritually to the believers. To the friends attending this Conference the Guardian has given in his last message the privilege of not only lending a powerful impetus to the completion of this glorious enterprise but also to that of the Mother Temples to be built in the European and Australian continents.
To these many soul-stirring bounties must be added that of viewing the portrait of Bahá'u'lláh and a lock of His precious hair, sent at the express wish of our beloved Guardian to grace this Conference, both of which will be entrusted for safe-keeping to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Central and East Africa.
Now is the time for the believers to demonstrate the firmness of their faith and the ardour that will carry them through every test to the victories beyond. A great outpouring of spirit has been foreshadowed in the beloved Guardian's Message calling these Conferences, and it is for each and every one of us to receive from that outpouring his own allotted portion. Should we all arise with selfless, united, and consecrated effort, should we fix our gaze unwaveringly on the goals the Guardian set us, and resolve to demonstrate the quality of our faith in heroic acts comparable to those of the Dawn-breakers, the unfailing mercy of the Blessed Beauty will undoubtedly sustain and support us and enable us to perform such deeds as will cause all men to wonder and bow down in awe and admiration before the Name of Bahá'u'lláh. Then will the friends in AfricaPage 60
be enabled to attain the bounties promised to them and contribute their share to the erection of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh about which the Guardian wrote in one of his last messages to an African National Assembly:
"Whatever may tend to accelerate the onward march, the expansion and consolidation of the institutions of this Order must be eagerly seized upon, and utilized to the utmost, for the attainment of this noble purpose. Whether or not constituting a specific objective of the Ten Year or Seven Year Plan, any measure or enterprise designed to reinforce the foundations of these institutions or to noise abroad their fame, or to extend the sphere of their beneficent influence, must be adopted and fearlessly embarked upon, however great the material sacrifices involved, however prolonged and arduous the effort required.
"The splendid exertions of the past must, in the face of the challenge now confronting these communities, be redoubled. The self-same consecration distinguishing the rank and file of the believers, as well as those so ably representing them-nay a still nobler standard of whole-hearted dedication to the pressing and manifold requirements of God's infant Faith, now struggling to emerge from obscurity and vindicate its purpose -- must be evinced, if the tasks ahead are to be adequately fulfilled. All must participate in this meritorious and collective endeavour, whatever their age, of either sex, and however difficult the circumstances with which they are surrounded.
"They cannot but feel confident, that, if they persevere along the path they have chosen to tread, the Author of the Divine Plan, Whose mandate they are executing, will guide and succour them in their historic enterprise, and the Concourse on High will acclaim their victories and sustain their labours and the Founder of the Faith Himself will graciously assist them and abundantly reward them both in this world and in the next."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
AMERICAN HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CARE Bahá'í WILMETTEFEBRUARY 3,1958
CUSTODIANS SERIOUSLY DISTURBED STATEMENT A NEW Bahá'í ERA ISSUED AMERICAN HANDS NSA INTERPRETING ADDING Bahji, PROCLAMATION CONSIDER THIS GRAVE DANGER UNITY FAITH URGE DELETE ALL REFERENCE DOOR APPOINTMENT SECOND GUARDIAN CLOSED RIGHT NINE EXPEL COVENANT BREAKERS STOP STATEMENTS THIS NATURE CAN BE MADE ONLY ENTIRE BODY HANDS AS CHIEF STEWARDS AND NOT BY ANY NSA OR GROUP HANDS STOP THIS STATEMENT NOT YET RECEIVED BY CUSTODIANS BUT EXCERPTS FORWARDED HERE WITH PROTESTS STOP SUGGEST FOCUS ATTENTIONPage 61
RELEASE FIRST INTERCONTINENTAL CONFERENCE FORESHADOWING INSPIRING SUCCESS FOUR REMAINING CONFERENCES GREAT RALLYING POINTS CREATED BY BELOVED GUARDIAN AID BELIEVERS ADJUST TO SITUATION REMAIN FIRM COVENANT CONCENTRATE TASKS FIVE REMAINING YEARS CRUSADE STOP REQUEST ALL CORRESPONDENCE FOR HANDS HOLY LAND ADDRESSED THEM DIRECTLY NOT TO INDIVIDUAL.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
In accordance with your urgent request, steps are being taken to delete from our statement "A Now Bahá'í Era" the reference to the door being closed to any hope for a future second Guardian, and the passage attributing to your body the authority to expel Covenant-breakers from the Faith.
Since your cablegram arrived in between meetings of the National Assembly, this letter is only an acknowledgement of your cable and any further communications will be based on consultation of the Hands and National Assembly members.
Since you saw only excerpts from our statement, a copy of the complete statement is enclosed.Sincerely
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United StatesBy: Horace Holley, Secretary
To the Members of the National and Regional Bahá'í Assemblies East and WestFebruary 13, 1958
This letter from the Custodians is long overdue; our thoughts have been with all the Assembly members constantly during this great period of trial and sorrow and we have realized how heavy were your loads and how great the responsibility resting on you at this time, Our own problems, however, and the crushing sense of obligation to our beloved Guardian to carry on his work, have made it impossible to send a more detailed and intimate communication to you before this.
Three months have passed since our best-beloved Guardian so suddenly left us -- months of longing and heartbreak for all Bahá'ís After thePage 62
meeting of the Hands of the Faith in Bahji a period of suffering and heart-searching so intense that not one of them could ever endure to pass through it again, the work we had agreed to shoulder began. In our sorrow, our humility before the greatness of our task, we began to see the repeated evidences of the mercy of Bahá'u'lláh; in a truly miraculous way the endowments, properties and funds registered in the name of our beloved Guardian have been protected and safely transferred to either the Custodians or other Bahá'í bodies.
The first of the mighty Intercontinental Conferences planned by the beloved Guardian himself was held in Kampala with great success; over 900 believers were present, well over half being African Bahá'ís the sum of a hundred thousand pounds was raised for the purpose specified by the Guardian himself, thus ensuring a far swifter advance in the work throughout the African continent; a most wonderful spirit of determination, rededication, consecration and zeal was generated and spread to all the friends -- whether African, Asian, European or American. We cannot but marvel at the forethought of the Guardian in calling for these five great Conferences to be held in the months after his passing. What a stimulation they will provide to the work and what an infinite consolation, and inspiration to the believers everywhere! The sense of nearness to him, to his wishes and his work was very strong at Kampala and we feel sure will be as strong or even stronger at the other Conferences.
It is a great pity that the immense distances separating the Hands here at the World Centre and the heavy expense of travel prevent us from meeting with the various National Assemblies or members of them; the Hands of the Faith themselves, as you know, were only able to foresee, for the time being, an annual meeting of all of them. Of course should an emergency arise they would gather at once, but barring this they felt the teaching work and other aspects of the World Crusade should take precedence over everything else in order to carry out the expressed wishes of our beloved Guardian and hasten the day when the work all over the world will have been so firmly laid that the supreme administrative Body, the infinite blessing of Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme House of Justice, can be erected.
In view of this we particularly wish to call to your attention certain things that are, we feel, of supreme importance; our beloved Guardian gave thirty-six years of his life to the work of erecting Bahá'u'lláh's World Administrative Order; had he not felt such an urgency in carrying out this work he might be alive now; he alone saw the entire Plan, the world plan of the work as a mighty unit; how often he pointed out to us that the "heart" and "nerve centre" of the Faith was Haifa; that Bahá'u'lláh Himself had made it clear that here in the Holy Land would forever be united the Spiritual and the Administrative World Centre; he guarded thisPage 63
Centre (as had `Abdu'l-Bahá before Him) with the greatest care, well knowing that a blow to the heart is felt in the remotest part of the body and that good circulation from the heart will keep the smallest member of the body vital and in good health. We, daily occupied with the cares and worries of this World Centre, are now greatly concerned lest any inadvertent act on our part or the part of the present National and Regional Assemblies which form the bedrock of the future International House of Justice should interrupt this smooth flow of spiritual circulation built up so wisely and painstakingly by our beloved Shoghi Effendi.
We do not know what the future holds in store; by this we mean that the world situation is so precarious that, as the Guardian so repeatedly pointed out, wars and disturbances of an unforeseen nature may break out and perhaps cut the World Centre off from all or a part of the other Bahá'í centres temporarily; meantime we have this mighty Plan, the last five years of it, to vigorously prosecute; it can only be coordinated and directed from the World Centre. To the degree to which we receive news and reports, Minutes of your meetings, suggestions etc. from all of you, as well as from other sources in the Bahá'í world, to just that same degree will we be able to protect and promote the work of the Plan and safeguard the World Centre. The blood must go on pumping in and out of this heart of our Faith.
Your responsibility is therefore very great at this time, not only towards the believers whom you represent, but towards us who are seeking to firmly grasp and protect the world affairs of the Faith which are one of the most unique creations of the Guardian. It was his hand at the helm that preserved uniformity in essentials whilst encouraging diversity in nonessentials. This is perhaps the greatest work that must now be carried on by us from this World Centre. We cannot do it without your constant help! The recognition of the friends everywhere of the nature and function of the World Centre and the support its institutions must receive will surely hasten the day when the Universal House of Justice can be formed and lighten its tasks.
We therefore appeal to you to continue, in every way, uninterruptedly and as before the Beloved's passing, your communications with your World Centre; send us your Minutes (from which the Guardian gleaned much of his statistical information), your reports and your questions, so that we can help preserve the uniform character of the Faith now established in over 250 territories. You and we must always bear in mind that what inspires and unites the World Bahá'í Community is the pulsating stream to and from one universal point. With the World Centre also lies the obligation of keeping up the statistics of the Faith and the maps and charts so dear to our beloved Guardian's heart and which were alwaysPage 64
such a source of joy and inspiration to the believers everywhere. The Guardian himself spoke in his last message to all National Conventions of "the Holy Land -- the Qiblih of a world community, the heart from which the energizing influences of a vivifying Faith continually stream, and the seat and centre around which the diversified activities of a divinely appointed Administrative Order revolve. . ."
In closing we ask you one and all to remember the Custodians in your prayers and supplications that we may be given the strength and inspiration necessary to preserve the work for which our so dearly-loved Guardian sacrificed his entire life and which in the end cost him his life.
We in turn will pray for you all in the holy Shrines here.With warmest Bahá'í love,
AFTER READING STATEMENT A NEW ERA CUSTODIANS VERY DISTRESSED DETAILED INTERPRETATION Bahji, ELABORATION PROCLAMATION HANDS MAKING STATEMENTS WE FEEL ONLY ENTIRE BODY CHIEF STEWARDS SHOULD ISSUE STOP URGE DO NOT PRINT AND CIRCULATE THIS STATEMENT FURTHER BUT UNOBTRUSIVELY LET MATTER DROP STOP LOVE FROM ALL.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
To the Hands of the Faith and the Members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United StatesFebruary 17, 1958
The letter from the Hand of the Cause Horace Holley dated February 4th with copy of the statement you issued entitled "A New Bahá'í Era" was received, and after studying it very carefully we wish to share our views with you regarding it, and explain to you the reasons which prompted our recent cable requesting that certain points be deleted from it.
We never received any copy whatsoever of this statement in Haifa and are most anxious to know if one was ever mailed to the Custodians? If it was sent to the Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas, he unfortunately had to go to a sanatorium in Switzerland to take care of his heart, which had not been in a good condition for some time and was becoming seriously impaired through work and strain after the passing of the beloved Guardian and the shock he received at that time.Page 65
We heard of this statement of yours through excerpts forwarded here by some of the Hands of the Cause in Europe who were very distressed over the repercussions it might have, and indeed was already having, on the believers there.
Dear friends, the nine Hands of the Faith serving here at the World Centre have been very distressed that a statement of this magnitude, interpreting as it does the Proclamation made by the twenty-seven Hands of the Faith when they gathered in Bahji after the ascension of the beloved Guardian, who are according to his own words "the Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh" should have been issued without consultation with either the Custodians or the body of the Hands of the Cause who are dispersed all over the world.
Please do not misunderstand us; we fully appreciate that your motive was to protect the Faith, that you must have been asked many questions which prompted this response, and that you acted after full consultation amongst yourselves. This does not change the fact that the only way the work of our beloved Guardian for which he was immolated for thirty-six years and which cost him his life in the end, can be protected, is by preserving the world character of the Cause of God, and this can obviously only be done from the International Centre of the Faith, the Centre which he said so many times was the heart or nerve centre, and the permanent Spiritual and Administrative Centre.
If there is at this time of crisis a continental interpretation of events, and a continental answer to questions being raised by the believers, the dangers to the Cause of God are obviously immense. There are in our World Community eastern and western believers. Their backgrounds are different, their approach to a test of this nature different -- the answer however must be uniform the world over; otherwise grave differences may arise and the marvellous accomplishment of our beloved Guardian in unifying this diversified Community be lost temporarily and its efficacy impaired.
We feel sure that you will see the wisdom of this, and that in future you will assist us, veteran and much-loved Community by our beloved Guardian that you are, to protect the work from the World Centre and to ensure its smooth functioning in all continents of the globe.
We have just cabled you, asking you, without making any undue fuss or attracting attention to the fact that you are doing so, to quietly divert attention, so to speak, from this statement which has been recently issued. If no further emphasis is given to it and the believers are encouraged to concentrate their full forces on making the forthcoming Intercontinental Conference in Chicago a tremendous success, which will be in itself a worthy American memorial to our dearly beloved Shoghi Effendi we feel that no serious harm will have been done.Page 66
The spirit of the believers all over the world is truly remarkable, and their faith, although in many cases having received a severe test, is unimpaired, and their devotion boundless. They must now be led, as you yourselves are wisely seeking to do, into the path of greater service, and the grief in their hearts converted into a dynamo of energy with which to carry on the teaching work and fulfil the Guardian's cherished plans.
We send you all our Bahá'í love, and ask you to remember us in your prayers as we remember you in ours.Yours in the service of the beloved Guardian,
We would appreciate receiving by return air mail information as to the number of Assemblies, groups and isolated centres there are under the jurisdiction of your Assembly, so that we can prepare the statistical information which our beloved Guardian gave every year from the World Centre to the believers on the occasion of the holding of Bahá'í Conventions during Ridvan.
We are sure that particularly at this time when the friends feel deeply the loss of the one who guided and watched over them with such constant and loving care, that it would cheer their hearts to receive the good news of the progress of the Faith for which he so completely sacrificed himself.
If you have any other achievements to report, such as the opening of one of the countries listed as a goal of the Ten Year Crusade, or any new publication or translation etc., please include it in your letter.
We send you all our loving greetings for the Bahá'í New Year which will so soon be upon us, a year which we hope in spite of our sorrows will witness great victories won in the Cause of God.Yours in the service of the beloved Guardian,
The Hands in the Holy Land are sending a detailed answer to thePage 67
questions raised in the letter of February 24, 1958 addressed to us by the American Hands and the National Spiritual Assembly.
We believe that the points covered in our letter also meet the request made in your separate communication of February 25 to your fellow Hands in Haifa.
Here, as you know, we receive letters from all parts of the world which reflect the approach of the believers of diverse backgrounds to the problems created by the beloved Guardian's passing. As a result, the Custodians have been made very conscious of the necessity to strive for unity in the approach to fundamental matters affecting the structure and future development of the Cause. The Custodians from East and West are aware of the wisdom of avoiding statements or points of view on basic issues which cannot be accepted equally by East and West, and indeed by all of the Bahá'í world, especially in this period, so soon after the ascension of the beloved Guardian, when we are still unable to grasp the full implications of the present situation.
It would have been a great help if you yourself could have served here in these early and critical months, and given us the benefit of your experience and clarity of thought on the many pressing issues with which we have had to cope.
You will now, we feel sure, understand our delicate position and the reasons why we felt it necessary to urge that the statement "A New Bahá'í Era" be withdrawn from circulation. Your fellow-Hands serving here are confident you will place this whole question and its world-wide implications before the members of your National Assembly in such a way that they will fully understand the reasons underlying the actions taken here.
No doubt when the entire body of the Hands gather at our next meeting later this year we will have many things to discuss, and each one will have a greater contribution to make in view of this tragic year's experiences.
We all send you our devoted love and assure you that you are often remembered in our prayers.Yours in the service of the beloved Guardian,
To the Hands of the Cause of God throughout the WorldMarch 21, 1958
Daily our thoughts and our prayers have been with you since wePage 68
separated from each other after our great ordeal at Bahji We know your thoughts and loving prayers have surrounded us as we struggle to meet the problems here at the World Centre and to find our way in service at so critical and heart-rending a time in the history of our beloved Faith.
It is being increasingly borne in upon us from news received here as well as the reports of those of us who have been out in the Bahá'í world to serve and returned again, such as Ruhiyyih Khanum Jalal Khazeh, Paul Haney and Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i that the only possible way the work of this holy Faith, which our beloved Guardian inspired, organized and brought to such a high level, can be maintained and further consolidated, is by focusing both the consciousness of the believers and the work of the Cause of God upon its World Spiritual and Administrative Centre. The strength of a wheel and its power to roll forward are entirely dependent upon the hub, and the solidity of the spokes united in the hub. We have come to see that the supreme work of the Hands -- all twenty-seven of them -- is to maintain this focal Centre of Unity in the Holy Land at this dangerous time the Faith is passing through. There exists no other instrument for this purpose except ourselves.
As you can well imagine it has been a very trying time. The work is so sacred, the burden of responsibility so heavy on each Hand everywhere in the world -- how much more here on the nine Custodians seeking to shoulder on behalf of all the Hands some of those tasks our dearly loved Guardian carried out to such perfection! Slowly we have been able to get our work organized and daily a stronger pattern is emerging. We feel that to have nine here has not only a spiritual significance in itself but that it also greatly helps in making decisions as we get the benefit of the considered opinions of more of the Hands. There is also the influence on the morale of the believers all over the world which is exerted by their knowing that nine of us are constantly engaged in protecting and serving the interests of the Faith at its Heart. Unfortunately thus far it has not been possible to maintain this number at all times.
Of the permanent Custodians six are now here -- Ruhiyyih Khanum, Amelia Collins, Jalal Khazeh 'Ali-Akbar Furutan Paul Haney and Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, as well as the alternate Custodian Ugo Giachery, Mason Remey has just left for Sydney. Hasan Balyuzi has not yet been able to arrange his business and family affairs (he hopes to do this within a few months), and Leroy Ioas has had to go to a sanatorium in Switzerland to treat a heart condition which has been developing for some time. He is better now and we hope to have him with us about the beginning of May. John Ferraby and Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i have been acting as substitutes, but as one is the British National Spiritual Assembly Secretary and the other the Chairman of the Persian National Spiritual Assembly, theyPage 69
have been forced to return to their posts where they were urgently needed. In a few weeks Ugo Giachery, will have to return to Europe en route to the Chicago Conference. We find that during the summer months we might even be reduced to six temporarily, in spite of the fact that 'Ali Muhammad Varqa will be coming to act as a substitute for some months. We feel you should know this because it has a direct bearing on the work all of us are doing and on our future plans.
Daily we are more convinced of the need for the Hands to not only be strongly represented here by nine resident Hands as much of the time as possible, but that increasingly during the coming years until the Universal House of Justice can be formed, the other Hands must be made free to travel and circulate amongst the believers, so that they can not only watch over and protect the Faith better, but ensure that an uninterrupted flow of spiritual life continues to pour out from the World Centre. The beloved Guardian was in his person the very heart of our Faith; we are but his most humble and inadequate servants, but the supreme function of the heart as the key organ of the whole must go on, and it is our duty at this time and ours alone to see that it does. There are many obstacles in the way of our accomplishing this, the two greatest being financial means and health. Some of the Hands are too frail to carry on heavy duties or travel. The funds of the Faith, already heavily committed, are not at the present in a position to support extensive travelling on the part of the Hands. We share these thoughts with you so that you can better understand our problems and the way the Custodians you have appointed see at least some of the urgent needs of the Faith.
From a recently issued statement of the American Hands and National Spiritual Assembly, from letters received regarding remarks made by some of the Asiatic and European Hands, it is becoming obvious that in a perfectly natural course of human events, and with no awareness of its perils, there has been a tendency for different interpretations of our present situation and different prognostications of the future to be made. At times such as this in history, when a firmly integrated organism is suddenly deprived of its pivot, there is a strong centrifugal force released, and we believe that the urgent and most sacred duty of the Hands now is to offset this process at all costs. We feel very strongly that unless we hear from you all about conditions in your areas in more detail and more frequently, we will not be able to discharge the heavy responsibilities you have given us.
The first step must surely be to think, to catch the vision of the Bahá'í world and its work as the Guardian himself saw it. Even those of us serving here at the World Centre -- some of us privileged to have been guided by the Guardian himself -- realize only now that he is no longerPage 70
here, and we are forced to assume responsibility, how vast is the field and how tremendous the work required to preserve what has been won and carry on what has not yet been finished, thus ensuring that our beloved Guardian did not lay down his life in vain, and that his work is accomplished.
We feel a great adjustment in our thinking is required on the part of the Hands here and abroad; we must think deeply and quickly. The time is flying, and the need for action on a world scale constantly before us. The minds of National Spiritual Assembly members are focused on carrying on the work within the area of their own jurisdiction. Very much the same thing is true of the Hands, as during the beloved Guardian's lifetime they were called upon to discharge continental duties. Now with the sudden irreparable loss of our beloved Guardian the Hands are compelled to see the Bahá'í world as a whole, as he always did, to forget regional consciousness (although of course they will continue to watch over the work in their respective areas), and to think on behalf of Shoghi Effendi of the world needs, world protection, world consolidation of this mighty Faith. God forbid that we should fall short of our duty. How will we ever account to him who appointed us if we do?
We feel that as you associate with the various National Spiritual Assemblies in the discharge of your duties, you should constantly remind them of these things and help them to bear in mind that if they are a national body, say in Latin America, the spiritual health and entire future of what they love most in this world -- the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh -- depends not only on their own condition but on that of their counterparts in Europe, Asia or Africa, and that the tie binding them to those sister bodies passes straight through the heart of the Faith, through Haifa, its World Centre. To the degree to which the Bahá'í world begins to think this way, to just this degree will we Hands be able to protect it and hold it together until the House of Justice comes into being.
We feel that from now on the Hands of the Faith should consider arranging their personal affairs so that they may to as great a degree as possible be free to serve at the World Centre or throughout the Bahá'í world, travelling and inspiring the believers, and keeping before their eyes what we must first ourselves firmly grasp -- the world picture of the Faith and its present needs. The question of finances must naturally be considered but we believe that support will not fail if the believers behold in the Hands those spiritual qualities commensurate with the high station conferred upon them as stewards of the Faith.
We believe that there would be a great advantage gained in having Hands from one continent visit another continent. We all know the impetus a local community receives through outside visitors. The effect is infinitely greater if the visitor is a Hand of the Faith. Let us thereforePage 71
ponder these things, reorient our thinking, and reorient it quickly.
After the ascension of the Guardian, we are still in a state of shock. Neither our enemies nor any doubters there may be in our midst have yet rallied their forces. The love of the friends for their beloved Guardian has welled up a mighty flow of devotion and determination to carry on his plans. The iron is hot, and if we do not strike now, we Hands may never as long as we live have another opportunity like this.
We believe this is a formative moment in both Bahá'í and world history. The five Intercontinental Conferences offer the unique opportunity to inspire and set afire the believers. This was one of the purposes of the Guardian in calling for them, and we must utilize them to the full, to raise up a new spirit of consecration which in turn will stimulate an increasing flow of pioneers and larger sums to carry on the work before us. We hope you will do all you can to encourage the friends to attend them and that those of you who are present yourselves will do your best to keep the discussion on a high spiritual plane and focus on the work to be done during the next five years. It seems to us that what has happened historically -- the passing of the Guardian and his leaving no Will -- has placed the Bahá'ís in a position which no mere intellectual approach can either mitigate or solve. Spiritual forces alone, resignation to the will of God, prayer, consecration, self-sacrifice, devotion, can carry us forward through this period.
We want you to know that in a most remarkable way the problems connected with protecting various properties at the World Centre and in the Cradle of the Faith have been overcome. It is not wise as yet to write in detail as it might jeopardize what is being done, but we will report to you in full in November when we meet at Bahji The preservation of this Centre and those functions it can and must still fulfil in the absence of him who was the interpreter of the Word of God is, we believe, not only our supreme duty, but that of each one of you equally.
None of us can ever be the same after last November 4th. We must then ask ourselves what are we going to be from now on? What are the opportunities that lie before us? Not having our Guardian now in this physical world, we must cling the more tightly to each other, we the Hands he raised up for the protection of his work. Would that we were more adequate to meet the needs of this tragic hour!
To you, the closest kindred of our hearts, we send our love, and we pray for you all every time we visit the Holy Shrines, and daily as well.Yours in the service of the beloved Guardian,
P.S. May we remind you that the text of this communication is addressed to the Hands alone.Page 72
The Intercontinental Conference, Sydney, AustraliaMarch 21-24,1958
To the Hands of the Cause, members of their Auxiliary Boards, members of Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies, pioneers, resident believers, and visitors attending the Intercontinental Conference in Sydney, March, 1958.Beloved Friends:
Although but five months have elapsed since the passing of our beloved Guardian shook the Bahá'í world and caused turmoil in the hearts of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh, the power of this supreme Faith to survive so grievous a blow is now clearly manifest. A new spirit of determination, dedication and resolve can be seen throughout the entire World Bahá'í Community. Deprived of him who was our Guardian, our guide and our true brother, we nevertheless feel his presence constantly in the smooth workings of the mighty Order he erected, according to the design of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and in the writings, messages and letters he left us, and, above all, in the unfoldment of the Ten Year Crusade he so carefully planned, so untiringly promulgated and so energetically prosecuted through the intermediary of not only the Hands of the Cause and the Regional and National Assemblies, as well as the Auxiliary Boards and Local Assemblies, but above all, through the vast and consecrated army of believers the world over. Our grief at the passing of the beloved Guardian remains fresh in our hearts, but with it is mixed a joy for his sake that he no longer has to suffer the travails and sorrows inseparable from the promulgation of the Word of God to a humanity that is rapidly losing touch with spiritual reality and being drained of the vital force of faith, and that he no longer must bear the weight of work which rested so crushingly on him for over a third of a century.
As we now survey the vast field of his accomplishments in the light of our great loss, we begin to realize what this one being, inspired by God, driven by forces beyond our understanding, accomplished in so brief a time. A staggering task now faces us. The Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land, however, have been amazed at the strong evidence of a new maturity amongst the believers and their firm and irrevocable determination to carry on to complete fulfilment the work of their dearly-loved Shoghi Effendi There is no doubt in our minds or in the minds of any of the Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh, that this can be done as long as we all work together in a closely coordinated pattern following the design he set for us, keeping the life bloodPage 73
flowing into Haifa, the great Heart and permanent Spiritual and Administrative Centre of the Faith as he designated it, and out of it again on a world scale in the form of news, statistics and advice.
In the great work that lies before us, the Bahá'ís in the Antipodes have a very important part to play. The significance of this role has been strongly emphasized by the fact that whereas at the opening of the World Crusade in 1953, the beloved Guardian called for four Intercontinental Conferences to be held in Africa, America, Europe and Asia, this time at the Crusade's half-way point, he has added a fifth Intercontinental Conference to serve the rapidly growing needs of Australasia. The progress which has been achieved in this region has been truly phenomenal, and has kept pace with Shoghi Effendi's own thirty-six years of ministry of the Faith. From the days after the beloved Master's Ascension, when the first Centre was firmly established in Sydney, until last April, when the Guardian called for the election of the first historic National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, the unfoldment has been steady; the loyalty, devotion, obedience and enthusiasm of the Australian and New Zealand believers were a constant source of pride to him, and attracted an ever increasing measure of encouragement and attention on his part. His love and good-pleasure were poured upon them in many ways, the most impressive evidence being his plan to erect one of the three Mashriqu'l-Adhkars to be constructed during the World Crusade, in Sydney. This project was particularly dear to his heart, knowing as he did that it will constitute a mighty silent teacher of the Faith, and be an haven of refuge spiritually to all the believers in that area. This Mother Temple, not only of the Antipodes, but of the entire Pacific region, will, by his express instructions, be specially and eternally blessed through having in its foundations some of the Sacred Dust from the innermost Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, and a fragment of plaster from the room of The Báb. in the fortress of Mah-Ku where He was imprisoned. The Guardian in his last Message to the Bahá'í world particularly encouraged the believers attending these five historic Conferences, to rally to the support of the Temples now being erected and thus ensure their speedy completion.
In Shoghi Effendi's last message to the Australian National Spiritual Assembly he unfolded before their eyes, in his own inimitable way, a vast panorama of future development in the entire Pacific area: he pointed out that Australia and Japan constitute the northern and southern poles of a mighty spiritual axis running through the Pacific region and that through this axis the current of a close collaboration in the execution of the Divine Plan throughout that entire region must flow. He emphasized that within this area embraced by New Zealand and Australia in the south and Japan in the north, "an area endowed" as he wrote "with unimaginable potentialities,Page 74
and which, owing to its strategic position, is bound to feel the impact of world-shaking forces, and to shape to a marked degree through the experience gained by its peoples in the school of adversity, the destinies of mankind." A tremendous responsibility inevitably rested on the two oldest and strongest communities represented by the Australian National Spiritual Assembly and the Regional National Spiritual Assembly of North-East Asia, to not only carry forward the teaching work in the islands scattered over the face of the sea, but in their homelands as well. We cannot do better than recall his own weighty words on this subject:
"A responsibility, at once weighty and inescapable, must rest on the communities which occupy so privileged a position in so vast and turbulent an area of the globe. However great the distance that separates them; however much they differ in race, language, custom and religion; however active the political forces which tend to keep them apart and foster racial and political antagonisms, the close and continued association of these communities in their common, their peculiar and paramount task of raising up and of consolidating the embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh in those regions of the globe, is a matter of vital and urgent importance, which should receive on the part of the elected representatives of their communities, a most earnest and prayerful consideration."
He reminded the Australian believers that theirs was a two-fold task: on the one hand, to consolidate, multiply and expand the institutions of the Faith at home and in the many islands beyond its confines, and on the other, to forge fresh links with its sister communities, particularly those in the north Pacific, in anticipation of the mission these communities are destined to collectively discharge.
He reminded both the Australian and New Zealand Communities of their immediate duties, affectionately naming New Zealand -- whose recently elected National Spiritual Assembly will constitute a pillar of the future International House of Justice -- that "far-away and promising Dominion"; he called upon its National Assembly to formulate a Six Year Plan aimed at multiplying the Spiritual Assemblies, groups and isolated centres at incorporating both the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies, at obtaining recognition of both Bahá'í Holy Days and the Bahá'í Marriage Certificate, and at purchasing a site for a future House of Worship. He also strongly emphasized the need to concentrate on teaching the Maoris, to whom he attached great importance, and to increase the centres in the South Island. To the Australian National Spiritual Assembly he particularly recommended the needs of the far-flung teaching work in the Islands. He was immensely pleased and proud of the work accomplished and being carried on by the pioneers, and urged that at all costs their labours be fully supported and reinforced, that more literature inPage 75
island tongues be added to the translations already so successfully undertaken, that the native believers be strengthened and increased, and that particular attention be given to the Bahá'í School in the New Hebrides, a school of which he was immensely proud and to which he attached great importance.
There can be no doubt that the Australian and New Zealand friends gathered here, as well as those who have come in from the islands for this historic occasion, see before them a glowing vista of future achievements painted in the words of our beloved Guardian. They must however bear in mind that the road will not be a smooth one. How repeatedly he warned us all that before the first mighty fruits of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh would appear must come a period of unparalleled trial and struggle for mankind; that tests and dangers would beset the believers from both within and without. We see now, the heaviest blow, his own passing, having already struck us, how difficult may be our path, how heavy our burdens. In his Convention Message last April he wrote: "Parallel with this process of progressive deterioration in human affairs, now visibly gathering momentum outside the pale of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and recalling the convulsions which, on a far more restricted scale, seized a declining empire in the opening centuries of the Christian era, far less spectacular in its manifestation, has been the process of integration, as demonstrated by the increasing cohesion, the multiplication, and the reinforcement of the foundations, of the institutions of the embryonic Bahá'í World Order, which, now, under the impact of the forces released by a World Spiritual Crusade, deriving its authority from the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and launched for the express purpose of executing the Divine Plan bequeathed by Him to His followers in the evening of His life, is contributing, unnoticed by a generation forgetful of its God, and already in the shadow of His Visitation, to the building up, slowly but irresistibly, of that Ark of human salvation, ordained as the ultimate haven of a society destined, for the most part, to be submerged by the tidal wave of the abuses and evils which its own perversity has engendered."
Whatever may befall us, before this Ark of human salvation is safely launched as the only refuge mankind can know, we are assured that the ultimate victory will be ours, ours the glory of having served and sacrificed for this Most Holy Faith, ours the crown of having remained steadfast in the path laid down for us by our well-beloved Guardian, ours the reward of his radiant smile when we meet him face to face in a better world, ours the joy of hearing him say: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
EVE BLESSED Ridvan INVITE BELIEVERS CONTRIBUTE SPECIAL MEMORIAL FUND BELOVED GUARDIAN PURPOSE ERECTION MONUMENT HIS SACRED THOUGH WE TRUST NOT ULTIMATE RESTING-PLACE STOP ALL SURPLUS FUNDS CONTRIBUTED WILL BE EXPENDED AID COMPLETION THREE MOTHER TEMPLES IN FULFILMENT HIS OWN PLEDGE CONTRIBUTE ONE THIRD TOTAL AMOUNT ALSO ATTAINMENT OTHER OBJECTIVES CRUSADE SO DEAR HIS HEART FOR WHICH HE UTTERLY SACRIFICED TIME STRENGTH LIFE.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
Ridvan is the most joyful period of the Bahá'í year. It is not only the Spring period of the world, but commemorates that Divine Springtide when ninety-five years ago the Supreme Manifestation of God revealed Himself in Baghdad and gave the promise of that Message which is destined to unite all peoples in universal peace and to enable them to live an existence ordered by Divine Law. It was particularly at this time every year that the thoughts and hearts of the believers turned to Haifa in loving anticipation of the beloved Guardian's Convention Message, of the news of the progress of the Faith the world over which he would send to them, and the inspiration, encouragement and guidance his words would bring them. How great is the shadow of his absence upon our hearts now! It would be hard to say whether you, gathered in so many far corners of the planet feel it more keenly or we, the handful of his servants at the World Centre, where every tree and pebble and flower reminds us that he has ascended to the Paradise of Bahá'u'lláh and been gathered to the glory of his Divine Forebears.
Many times during the last few years the beloved Guardian stated that while the Bahá'ís the world over were carrying out the provisions of the Divine Plan revealed by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the activities of the present World Crusade, the Supreme Plan of God Himself was also being worked out, and that a point might come when these two Plans met and that perhaps the Plan of God would intervene in the events of the Lesser Plan. May not his sudden passing be seen as the fulfilment of his words?Page 77
Bahá'u'lláh's Own hand has been stretched forth, the Designer has altered the design but the pattern remains in its strength and glory. Every single believer must, during the past six months, have been aware of how mighty is the stronghold of our Faith, how impregnable the walls our Guardian raised about it during the last thirty-six years in the form of the tightly-woven, divinely-ordained Administrative Order which has suffered no rupture because of the sudden cataclysm of his passing and which remains not only our fortress, built by the Word of God, but the refuge for all mankind in the days to come. The Hands of the Faith at the World Centre, however, have been in a position to witness to a unique degree how true this is. Greater than any praise which can ever be laid at our Guardian's door or any monument that will ever be built in his honour, is this testimony to his achievements as reflected in the spirit shown by the Bahá'ís in East and West, whether old or new, their faithfulness to his wishes, their universal whole-hearted determination to carry out his plans, his hopes, his aims. A mighty wave of poignant love has swept all hearts, drawing the believers closer, uniting them in purpose, spurring them on to far greater dedication, sacrifice and service in the path of God -- that crimson-stained path in which The Báb. Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá were immolated, in which twenty thousand souls laid down their lives and which has now received a deeper hue through the last great sacrifice, Shoghi Effendi's own precious life.
During the Conventions presently being held, the delegates, the outgoing and incoming National Spiritual Assemblies, and all the believers have a unique opportunity to concentrate their attention on the objectives of the Ten Year Plan, as they affect their area of the globe, to contemplate the as yet unfulfilled goals, to deliberate and make suggestions on ways and means of speedily attaining them, to both pledge and raise the sums of money required for the important, urgent and arduous tasks of the coming year, to give their hearts anew to the work of God -- hearts freshly purged of the dross of self through their universal grief -- to arise and fulfil the soul-stiffing plea of the Master, so often quoted by Shoghi Effendi "O, that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and raising the call of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the Divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it." Lot them remember that, as our Guardian said, heroic souls have already, since the beginning of this Crusade, "either quaffed the cup of martyrdom, or laid down their lives, or been subjected to divers ordeals while combating for its Cause", and let them determine to do likewise, while there is yet time, and win the crown of immortal glory promised to all those who arise in the name of Bahá'u'lláh, to spread His Faith.Page 78
After the sudden and soul-shattering news of the passing of our dearly loved Guardian, hearts stood still all over the world -- what did the future hold? Then came the realization on the part of the friends that in his very last message, published on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Holy Year, the Guardian had left an instrument and given instructions by which his work could be carried on, the Crusade safety prosecuted to the end, the Cause of God protected and the Design of Bahá'u'lláh, as embodied in His Most Holy Book, executed. The details of the World Crusade, like a precious golden talisman, lie in our palm. The instrument for carrying the Faith through this difficult period -- perhaps to be the darkest in its history -- has been reinforced, and its functions amplified through the references made to the Hands of the Faith as the "Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth", through the appointment of eight more Hands scattered all over the globe, and through the addition of new Auxiliary Boards whose sole function is to protect the Cause of God.
Twenty-six of the twenty-seven Hands of the Faith gathered in Bahá'u'lláh's Mansion at Bahji and for one week, alone, in exhaustive hours of prayer, soul-searching and consultation, sought guidance for the immediate future. The conclusions unanimously born as a result of this agony and purging of heart were embodied in the Proclamation issued by the Hands. This document did not attempt to answer "why?". Who can answer that question until another Manifestation of God appears? It did answer "how?". It created a method which, with the cooperation of the believers, will ensure that the next stage in the Divine Plan of `Abdu'l-Bahá as amplified and outlined by our Guardian in the provisions of the World Crusade, is carried out fully and successfully, paving the way for the election of that supreme Universal House of Justice whose deliberations, `Abdu'l-Bahá states in His Will and Testament, are under the infallible guidance of God.
Realizing that the administrative and spiritual heart of our Faith is forever fixed in the Holy Land according to the explicit text of our Teachings, the Hands felt the most urgent need was to protect this perfectly functioning heart, which the Guardian had for so many years and at such great cost to himself, built up and consolidated, and which is the centre from which the world-wide administrative functions of the Cause of God must be coordinated and maintained, and into which the reports, news and statistics of the Faith must be poured, if its international character is to be preserved. They therefore unanimously appointed nine of their members to serve in Haifa. These nine were given, as a purely legal measure in order to protect the Faith, the title of "Custodians".
The friends can imagine, remembering their own state of grief and thePage 79
sudden feeling of immense moral responsibility to their Faith which swept over them on hearing of the passing of their Guardian, what a burden has fallen on those Hands who serve here at the World Centre. But, even as the sun rises after the darkest night, so have emerged the clear evidences of the unfailing protection of Bahá'u'lláh vouchsafed to His broken-hearted servants. A great wave of sincere, shocked and deep-felt sympathy poured out to the Bahá'í Community from the officials of the State of Israel and its peoples; from the President, Prime Minister and cabinet members down to the simplest citizens, tributes and condolences poured in; at every point the Government of this State has responded to our requests, and cooperated with us in protecting the interests of the Faith at the International Centre. In different parts of the world, including the Cradle of the Faith, victory after victory has been won, raising hope and confidence in our crushed hearts, assuring us that our Guardian has not abandoned us or his own glorious work even though physically he is removed from our presence.
Like an athlete trained to meet the supreme test, the administrative institutions of the Faith, raised up and consolidated by the Guardian, responded to the appeal of the Hands, and with strength and assurance rallied to the support of the Administrative and Spiritual Heart of the Cause in its hour of danger by placing in the hands of the Custodians those documents needed to protect the institutions, properties and privileges possessed by the Bahá'í World Community at its World Centre. So strong has been the demonstration of unity on the part of the believers and their national representatives that no challenge to the actions taken or the decisions reached by the Hands has been made by the Covenant-breakers or other enemies of the Faith.
We now share with you the very encouraging and indeed thrilling news of the unfoldment of the World Crusade, on which, in the words of our Guardian, "the army of the Lord of Hosts has so joyously and confidently embarked". The friends should realize that the main portion of the statistics in this message come from him, as he had assiduously kept the record of the progress being made in various fields up until two days before his passing. It was with the help of exhaustive lists he kept that we were able to assemble and add to the facts, brought up to date by him until the beginning of November, and thus give the believers the truly heartening picture of the steady, irresistible advance of our Faith all over the world. Many supplementary achievements of an outstanding nature have been added since his spirit was freed from the heavy bondage of his earthly life, eloquent witness of the immense love of the believers for that unique and priceless being the beloved Master left in their midst for thirty-six years.Page 80
The news of the World Centre, most of which is gleaned from notes prepared by Shoghi Effendi himself for his Annual Convention Message, is most inspiring. After more than sixty-five years of uninterrupted tenure of buildings adjacent to the Holy Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh, the Haram-i-Aqdas was at last purged of the remaining handful of Covenant-breakers in August, 1957, following the expropriation of their properties by the Israel Government. In accordance with the wishes of the beloved Guardian, these buildings were razed, and by the end of December no trace was left. The beautiful white Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh stood forth at last in all its symmetry, unsullied -- the very building seemed to shine and breathe in a new peace. The gardens, as planned by the Guardian himself, have been and are still being enlarged in the area left open by the destruction of these buildings, and a third terrace, as planned by him, has been raised towards the east so that a magnificent view is obtained of the Holy Shrine, the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh, and the great arc of gardens created by him during the last few years. Moreover, the title deeds to all the Bahji property expropriated by the Israel Government have been safely registered in the name of the Faith. Negotiations are being completed for extra plots of land towards the north and south of the present area of Bahji owned by the Bahá'ís in order to protect the approaches to the Most Holy Tomb and the entrance to the building used by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the days after the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh.
In Haifa, the International Archives building is now entirely completed inside as well as out; the tall, stained glass window in its western wall, the smaller windows and the ornamental balustrade of its balconies, were built before the passing of the beloved Guardian; the green tiles and six crystal chandeliers he ordered have since been placed in position; and the municipal authorities have granted tax exemption to this first of the international institutions of the Faith to be erected on Mt. Carmel in accordance with the promise of Bahá'u'lláh: 'Erelong will God sail His Ark upon thee". The gate which the beloved Guardian had ordered for the entrance to the "arc" around which the administrative institutions of the World Order are to cluster in the future, and which leads to the International Archives building, is now nearing completion. Since last Ridvan three additional Israel Branches of various National Spiritual Assemblies have been added to those previously registered here and entitled to hold property, namely, those of Pakistan, Alaska and New Zealand. During the past year an unprecedented number of visitors have been received on the Bahá'í properties open to the public, and during the recent Passover Holiday, nearly eight thousand persons visited the Shrine of The Báb. more than eighteen hundred in one day.
The glad tidings of the progress our world-redeeming Faith has madePage 81
during the past year in all parts of the globe is truly impressive, and comprises not only victories won before the passing of our most beloved Guardian and under his direct supervision, but others, equally impressive, won since his departure from our midst and bearing eloquent testimony to the inspiration of his spirit, to his watchful guidance from on High, and to the fact that his loving spirit is leading us on to do his work as he would wish it done.
Two of the great rallying points provided for by the Guardian in his last message to the Bahá'í world-namely, the five Intercontinental Conferences -- have been held with outstanding success, and a great outpouring of spiritual bounty has undoubtedly been vouchsafed to all the believers, not only those who attended them, but also those who felt the impact of their spirit. The African Conference, at which were present more than four hundred and fifty African believers and an equal number of Persian believers and other visitors from abroad, witnessed the extraordinary feat of the raising of almost a third of a million dollars for the work in that continent, so loved by our Guardian, whilst the Australian Conference, which was attended by believers representing eighteen countries, witnessed an outpouring of more than thirty thousand Australian pounds for the Mother Temple of that continent.
Still another pillar of the Universal House of Justice is being reared in the current Ridvan period in France, the first European country to receive the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, bringing the total number of National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies to thrice nine, and fulfilling one of the most cherished plans of the Guardian.
The number of territories included within the world community of the Most Great Name has now been raised to two hundred and fifty-four. Of all the one hundred and thirty-one new territories listed by our beloved Guardian in the Ten Year Plan, only Spitzbergen and eleven areas included in the Soviet orbit remain unopened, as a result of the settlement, during the past year, of the Chagos Archipelago by the Knight of Bahá'u'lláh Pouva Murday, and the opening of Nicobar Island by the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh Mrs. Bates and her daughter Jeanne Frankel.
The constant multiplication of localities where Bahá'ís reside in all parts of the globe has raised the total number of such centres to over forty-five hundred, an increase of thirteen hundred in the last three years. Of these localities -- termed by our Guardian foci of the warming and healing light of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh -- nearly one hundred and twenty are now established in the Goal Countries of Europe, nearly one hundred and thirty in the British Isles, over one hundred and thirty-five in Germany and Austria, one hundred and forty in Australasia, one hundred and forty-five in the Dominion of Canada, one hundred and sixty in thePage 82
Indian subcontinent, one hundred and ninety in Latin America, nearly two hundred and eighty in the entire Pacific area, over seven hundred in the African continent, over ten hundred and fifty in Persia, and over fourteen hundred and sixty in the United States.
The number of Local Spiritual Assemblies established in all parts of the globe, constituting in the beloved Guardian's own words "the broad and indestructible foundation of the edifice of a rising Order", is now almost eleven hundred, an increase of nearly a hundred in one year. The total number of incorporated Spiritual Assemblies, both local and national, is now two hundred and sixteen, an increase of more than twenty during the past year, including several of the thirteen National Assemblies newly established in the Ridvan period of 1957.
The literature of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has now been translated into two hundred and forty-four languages, of which one hundred and fifty-five have been completed since the beginning of the Crusade. No less than seventy-eight of these represent supplementary achievements above those called for in the Ten Year Plan.
Of the forty-nine National Haziratu'l-Quds enumerated as Crusade objectives, forty-eight have been acquired, leaving only the headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela still to be established. Of the fifty-one national Bahá'í endowments to be purchased during the Ten Year Crusade, fifty have now been established, leaving only one more to be acquired.
The number of countries and states, as well as cities in the United States, where the educational authorities have recognized the Bahá'í Holy Days is now nearly sixty, an increase of more than ten in the past year, including the entire country of Uganda.
The number of sovereign states and dependencies as well as territories, federal districts and states of the United States of America, where the Bahá'í Marriage Certificate is recognized is now forty, special legislation having been passed by the Legislature of Texas in the United States, permitting Bahá'í marriages to be legally performed in that State, and more recently, and of great significance in hastening the day when the independence of our beloved Faith will have been fully vindicated, is the pronouncement by a religious judge in the Sudan that as the Bahá'í Faith is an independent religion, two Bahá'ís of Islamic extraction should not be registered as Muslims but married as Bahá'ís and the historic registration in the Republic of San Marino of the first Bahá'í marriage ever performed there, an event without precedence in the European continent.
Of the utmost significance, not only in the Ten Year Plan, but for future decades and centuries of the Bahá'í Era, is the striking progress made in acquiring the sites for future Mashriqu'l-Adhkars. The execution, in March of this year, of the contract for purchase of the Temple sitePage 83
in Stockholm completes the list of eleven such sites originally enumerated by the beloved Guardian as Crusade objectives. To this imposing list have been added no less than nine other sites acquired in such widely scattered areas of the globe as Alaska, Indonesia, Libya, Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Liberia, the British Isles, and Switzerland, that of Switzerland having the unique distinction of being the only Temple site ever purchased by the Guardian of the Faith himself, in the particular situation in Bern which he himself prescribed, overlooking the Alps. Many of these sites represent victories achieved in the subsidiary Six Year Plans given by our Guardian to the various new National and Regional Assemblies formed in the Ridvan period a year ago.
In the African continent, where the unparalleled progress of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in recent years brought such joy to the beloved Guardian, the number of believers is now well over the five thousand mark, an increase of nearly two thousand in the past year, the vast majority of which are of the Negro race. The number of Local Spiritual Assemblies in that flourishing area is now approaching the two hundred mark and may well reach or exceed this level in the current Ridvan period. A total of two hundred and three African tribes are now represented in the Bahá'í world community, an increase of one hundred and ninety-three since the inception of the Crusade. Land for a Bahá'í school in Uganda has been offered by one of the African members of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of that area, a contribution to the Faith which made the Guardian particularly happy. In the Pacific area, that vast territory where the rapid spread of the Faith and the development of its institutions is, in the words of our Guardian, "competing for the palm of victory with the African continent itself', the evidences of new victories won continue to multiply. The number of believers has now passed the three thousand mark, the number of localities where Bahá'ís reside has reached the imposing total of two hundred and eighty, and the number of indigenous languages into which Bahá'í literature has been translated is now well over fifty. Other significant evidences of the progressive increase of Bahá'í institutions in that area are the establishment of twenty-seven incorporated Spiritual Assemblies, the establishment of independent Bahá'í burial grounds in Indonesia and Malaya, and the founding of three additional Bahá'í schools, doubling the number already existing, as well as the pending completion of construction of still another.
In the far-flung reaches of the Western Hemisphere, the total number of localities within the Community of the Most Great Name is now nearly eighteen hundred. The area is now served by seven National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies, and over three hundred Local Assemblies, of which over one hundred and thirty are incorporated. The number ofPage 84
American Indian tribes with which contact has been established now exceeds fifty, nearly twenty-five of which are now represented in the Faith. The first all-Indian Local Spiritual Assembly in South America has been formed in Huanuni, Bolivia. The many notable victories recorded during the past year in widely scattered areas of this vast hemisphere are far too numerous to summarize here, but the following may be mentioned to illustrate the range and diversity of these accomplishments: The formation of a group in the Arctic Village of Barrow; the granting to the Canadian National Assembly of tax exemption for the Maxwell House in Montreal as a result of a finding by the Superior Court that the Faith is an independent religion entitled to such exemption; the beginning of construction of the Home for the Aged, the first Dependency of the Mother Temple of the West, and the action by the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Wilmette Village Trustees in effect upholding the firm Bahá'í position on the oneness of mankind taken by the elected national representatives of the American Bahá'í Community responsible for this important project; the holding of the first Bahá'í Summer School of Central America; and the establishment of a Bahá'í Publishing Trust in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Although no doubt incomplete, we cannot refrain from sharing with the friends the list of teaching conferences and congresses which our beloved Guardian had so patiently, and meticulously, and at so much cost of effort to his precious self, assembled in preparation for his Convention Message. First and foremost must be mentioned the conferences held by the Hands of the Faith and their Auxiliary Board members at Bex les Bains, and in Bern, Switzerland, and those called since the passing of the Guardian and held in over forty places in the United States of America. The Teaching Conferences held in Bex les Bains, Switzerland; Sanary sur Mer, France; Darby Hall, England; Belgium India; Rome, Italy; Panama, Canal Zone; that of the Maritimes, held in St. John, New Brunswick; and of Lower Burma, held in Rangoon; as well as the Teaching Conferences of Pakistan; of Benelux, held in Luxembourg Ville, Luxembourg; those of Alaska, held in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Ketchikan; the Regional Teaching Conferences held in areas so widely separated as Sydney, New South Wales; Queensland, Victoria; Adelaide, South Australia; and Tasmania; Northern Bavaria, convened in Nuremberg; and that of Regina, Saskatchewan; the National Teaching Conferences held in Frankfurt, Germany, St. Croix and Lucerne, Switzerland; the Bi-Area Teaching Conference held in Green Acre, Eliot, Maine; the Summer Conference held in Banff, Alberta for Western Canada; the Regional Teaching Congresses held in Curitiba, Brazil; Asuncion, Paraguay; and in Panama, representative also of other Central American Republics; the historic AllPage 85
Greece Teaching Conference held after the passing of the Guardian, and the Inter-Community Conference series held in Vancouver, British Columbia.
As the world-encircling Crusade passes its crucial midway point, the significance of which was outlined in such inspiring terms by the beloved Guardian himself in his last message to the Bahá'í world, and which has been thrown into such brilliant relief by the white glare of his ascension, we must all assess the tasks that lie ahead of us with clear minds and with courage and determination in our hearts. He himself pointed out to us that until this midway point was reached we had traversed three phases of our Ten Year Plan. The first phase, from 1953 to 1954, witnessed the unique feat of the addition of over one hundred countries to the roll of those opened to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh; the second phase, 1954 to 1956, was signalized by the purchase of the vast majority of the forty-nine National Haziratu'l-Quds, and the fifty-one national endowments constituting goals of the World Crusade; the third phase, 1956 to 1958, was distinguished by the addition of almost 1,000 centres and sixteen new National and Regional Assemblies. The fourth phase, as our beloved Guardian pointed out in his October message to the Bahá'í world, "must be immortalized, on the one hand, by an unprecedented increase in the number of the avowed supporters of the Faith, in all the continents of the globe, of every race, clime, creed and colour, and from every stratum of present-day society, coupled with a corresponding increase in the number of Bahá'í centres and, on the other, by a swift progress in the erection of the Mother Temples of Africa, and Australia, as well as by the initiation of the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Europe."
Already, at the two great Intercontinental Conferences held in Kampala and Sydney, substantial contributions to these three Temples have been made, but the needs of these infinitely precious and spiritually significant Houses of Worship -- Temples whose designs were either chosen or approved by the Guardian himself, and to which he made the gift of Sacred Dust from the inmost Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh -- are far from being met, and a sustained and self-sacrificing effort will be required on the part of the World Bahá'í Community to complete them.
In checking over the outline which the Guardian himself had been preparing in anticipation of his 1958 Ridvan Message to the Bahá'í world it was found that in addition to the above-quoted tasks which constitute in his own words the fourth phase of the crusade -- a phase which must now carry it to its consummation -- he had noted that three new National Spiritual Assemblies were to be formed in Ridvan 1959, namely, those of Burma, Turkey and Austria, and one regional one, that of the South Pacific. We cannot refrain from complimenting the believers in these areas on the progress they have made and the spirit they have shownPage 86
which attracted to them, just before his passing, the loving good-pleasure of their Guardian and presented them with such a unique opportunity to distinguish themselves in the service of the Faith.
Whilst we cannot but view with feelings of awe, pride and profound thanksgiving the extraordinary victories won during the last five years, it is certainly incumbent upon us at this time to bear in mind that only half of the Crusade has run its course, that our way through the world is harder and stonier than before, and that tremendous tasks still lie ahead. Let us recall the words of the beloved Guardian himself:
"The newly opened territories of the globe must, under no circumstances, be allowed to relapse into the state of spiritual deprivation from which they have so recently and laboriously been rescued. Nay, the highly edifying evidences proclaiming the expansion and the consolidation of the superb historic work achieved in so many of these territories must be rapidly multiplied. The Local Assemblies that have been so diligently and patiently established must under no circumstances be allowed to dissolve, or their foundations be in any way endangered. The mighty and steady process involving the increase in the number of the avowed supporters of the Faith, and the multiplication of isolated centres groups and Local Assemblies must, throughout this newly opened phase of the Plan, be markedly accelerated.
" And, finally, we ask each and every believer to ponder in his heart the solemn charge laid upon us by our Beloved when he was preparing us to shoulder the tasks of the Holy Crusade: ". . . I adjure them, by the precious blood that flowed in such great profusion, by the lives of the unnumbered saints and heroes who were immolated, by the supreme, the glorious sacrifice of the Prophet-Herald of our Faith, by the tribulations which its Founder, Himself, willingly underwent, so that His Cause might live, His Order might redeem a shattered world and its glory might suffuse the entire planet -- I adjure them, as this solemn hour draws nigh, to resolve never to flinch, never to hesitate, never to relax, until each and every objective ... has been fully consummated."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
Election of the Independent National Spiritual Assembly of France Ridvan 1958To the First All-France Convention
On the historic occasion of the convening of the first all-France Bahá'íPage 87
Convention and the election of the National Spiritual Assembly of this famous land, long one of the chief pillars of European civilization and a fountain-head of freedom and liberalism, our minds naturally turn to our beloved Guardian, whose ceaseless encouragement, tireless efforts and unfailing determination made possible this event of such great spiritual significance. In spite of the fact that France had the unique and enviable position of being the first nation on the European continent to receive the warming and illuminating rays of the sun of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, the friends gathered here, more particularly those of French extraction, are well aware of how difficult it has been to bring the work of our glorious Faith to this point of consummation.
Since the light of this New Revelation was first brought to France almost sixty years ago, this country has been blessed by many and varied events of profound spiritual significance. We may well, at this moment of victory, recall some of these which are of outstanding historic interest.
From France the very first party of Western pilgrims proceeded to the Turkish penal colony of 'Akka, to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. In 1899, upon the return of that handful of souls, now afire with the Glad Tidings of this New Revelation, May Bolles, with the approval and under the loving guidance of the Master Himself, began to teach the Faith in Paris. Before long a flourishing, enkindled and wholly dedicated group of souls was gathered there, including believers of such distinction as Hippolyte Dreyfus, the first native French believer, Thomas Breakwell, the first British believer, the Hand of the Cause Charles Mason Remey, and many others. `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself sent the greatest Bahá'í teacher of the East, Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, to deepen the Faith of that early group. In those early years, Laura Barney, who later became the wife of Hippolyte Dreyfus, journeyed to 'Akka, and during a long sojourn in the Holy Land, compiled that book of inestimable value Some Answered Questions.
In 1911 and 1912, Paris was blessed by the presence of the beloved Master Himself, Who remained there for considerable periods of time. Many Orientalists, scholars and men famous for their erudition throughout Europe sought His presence. It was there that He gave His famous Paris talks, lamenting the depths to which Europe had sunk in her pursuit of materialistic ideologies, and exhorting the people to awaken spiritually, in words which were the very breath of the Holy Spirit.
It was during one of His visits that the Master uttered these prophetic words: "Try to propagate the Teachings of God.... Now in Europe, it is the beginning of a new day. It is dawn. 'Erelong the Divine Light shall penetrate everywhere . . ." On another occasion He said: "Though you find Paris dormant now, eventually it will become revivified, because I have spent many a sleepless night here, during which I supplicated thePage 88
Almighty to shower His confirmations upon the people. I had no rest, no sleep -- I was constantly supplicating."
It was not until after World War II, with the inauguration of the Second Seven Year Plan given by the beloved Guardian to the American Bahá'í Community, one phase of which was aimed at the spiritual conquest of ten European "Goal" countries, that the work in France itself began to fulfil the prophecies of the Master. Though naturally herself not one of these goal countries, the vitalizing effects of the systematic prosecution of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan were felt throughout the length and breadth of France; the faithful and persistent groups of believers already established in such cities as Marseilles and Lyon, as well as the Paris community, began to be stimulated, not only by the general atmosphere of intense activity which was pervading adjacent countries, but also through direct help from travelling Bahá'í teachers and pioneers, and from the European Teaching Committee of the National Assembly of the United States.
The number of French Bahá'ís -- the firm bedrock on which all activity in that country must ultimately rest -- was increasing; the loyalty and devotion of these native friends greatly encouraged and pleased the Guardian, who saw in them the promise of the future and realized that the day when France would be able to have her own National Spiritual Assembly was fast approaching. From that time on he fixed his attention on France, showered his encouragement on the work of its believers, urged many American friends to pioneer there, and watched over the progress being made with both pride and interest, a pride and interest which culminated with his announcement that the first election of its independent National Assembly would take place in Ridvan 1958. The believers of French extraction gathered in this Convention, as well as their loving and devoted co-workers from other countries who have pioneered in France, without whose unsparing and dedicated efforts this victory could not have been won so soon, are aware that they are now electing the first National, as distinguished from Regional, Spiritual Assembly of the European continent, an Assembly which constitutes yet another pillar of the Universal House of Justice. This is a great distinction, a great honour and imposes a great responsibility, more particularly at this time when the Cause of God has received such a grievous blow through the sudden passing of its beloved Guardian, its guide and its shield. There is no doubt, however, that his love and his spirit are with you on this historic occasion, and that he will continue to watch over the advancement of this community which he so tenderly encouraged for so many years, and whose present coming of age was so eagerly anticipated by him.
Our beloved Guardian doubtless would have called upon the National Assembly elected at this historic first French Annual Convention to formulatePage 89
its own Five Year Plan for the remainder of the World Crusade, as he did in the case of the newly-formed national bodies in Africa in 1956. Perhaps he would have specified the objectives himself, as he did for the subsidiary Six Year Plans given to each of the thirteen National and Regional Assemblies formed in the Ridvan period of 1957. We may be sure, however, that his hopes for the future development of the Faith in France would, following his earlier pattern, encompass: (1) the devising of ways and means of ensuring the rapid spread of the Cause throughout that land; (2) the consolidation and multiplication of its Assemblies, groups and isolated centres (3) the planting of the banner of the Faith in all the various Departments of the country, especially those which have as yet had no sustained teaching activity within their borders; (4) the incorporation of the new national body, as well as the Local Spiritual Assemblies; (5) the establishment of a site for a future Mashriqu'l-Adhkar; (6) the holding of summer schools to deepen the knowledge and understanding of the believers; and (7) above all the spreading of the light of this Divine Revelation far and wide amongst the people of that country, in order that the promises of the beloved Master may be speedily fulfilled, and the French nation receive the redeeming grace of Bahá'u'lláh in this dark age through which it and the whole world is now passing.
As the assembled friends consult earnestly and prayerfully upon the unfinished tasks before them, they may well turn for inspiration and assurance to the words of the beloved Guardian, addressed to the National Conventions two years ago a message in which he referred specifically to the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of France.
"Before the eyes of the warriors enlisting under its banner stretch fields of exploration and consolidation of such vastness as might well dazzle the eyes and strike awe into the heart of any soul less robust than those who have arisen to identify themselves with its Cause. The heights its champions must scale are indeed formidable. The pitfalls that bestrew their path are still numerous. The road leading to ultimate and total victory is tortuous, stony and narrow. Theirs, however, is the emphatic assurance, revealed by the Pen of the Most High -- the Prime Mover of the forces unleashed by this world-girdling Crusade -- that 'Whosoever ariseth to aid our Cause God will render him victorious over ten times ten thousand souls, and, should he wax in his love for Me, him will We cause to triumph over all that is in heaven and all that is on earth.'"HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
After its election on April 26, 1958 the National Spiritual Assembly of France sent the following pledge of loyalty to the Hands of the Cause and the Custodians:Page 90
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of France in recognition of the proclamation made by the Hands of the Cause of God, the Chief Stewards of the Bahá'í World Faith, assembled at the Bahá'í World Centre on 25th November 1957, in which they have appointed nine members from their number to act on their behalf as "Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith", has adopted the following resolution:
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith, elected by the Hands of the Cause.With warm Bahá'í love,
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of France===================================
SOHRAB RELENTLESS ENEMY FAITH AFTER WITNESSING THIRD CENTURY IRRESISTIBLE SPREAD HOLY CAUSE FORTYFIVE HUNDRED centres GUIDANCE BELOVED GUARDIAN DIED FIRST Ridvan EVERY HOPE FRUSTRATED EVERY PLAN EXTINGUISHED EVERY AMBITION THWARTED STOP STRIKING EVIDENCE GODS AVENGING WRATH ONE HAND ON OTHER UNFAILING PROTECTION COMMUNITY INSTITUTIONS REARED BELOVED GUARDIAN INSPIRES BELIEVERS ARISE SERVE RENEWED COURAGE DEDICATION ENSURE COMPLETE SUCCESS CRUSADE STOP SHARE MESSAGE HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
To the Hands of the Cause, members of their Auxiliary Boards, members of Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies, pioneers, resident believers, and visitors attending the Intercontinental Conference in Chicago, May, 1958.Beloved Friends:
Upon the occasion of the convening of this second Intercontinental Conference in Chicago, our hearts and our thoughts inevitably go back to the first great conference which was held here in 1953 during the opening of the World Crusade under the direct aegis of our beloved Guardian. HisPage 91
Messages, his cables, his words of loving reassurance, the news he sent us from Haifa at that time, the sense of his overpowering presence -- all are fresh today in our memories, and our hearts overflow with love for him and with longing for his physical presence in this world. None of us, however, can doubt that during the six months since his sudden passing the evidences of the Divine protection promised to this Holy Faith of God have been overpowering. The structure Shoghi Effendi built, on the firm foundations laid in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, has withstood the earthquake of his passing and its attendant circumstances; the seamless robe of this greatest of all Revelations has not been torn; the administrative institutions so carefully reared by him, nascent though they still are, have rallied to the support of the World Centre, the heart and hub of the Faith, and have demonstrated, not only to the believers but to the observant and curious public, as well as to our enemies, that this Cause is firmly knit together, universal in its operations, united in one purpose and one great loyalty which nothing can destroy. We see in all this the living, breathing spirit of Shoghi Effendi his protection and his love, which will never leave us.
The five mighty Intercontinental Conferences announced in the last message to the Bahá'í world from our beloved Guardian, we see now as providential rallying-points during this difficult year of sorrow and separation. The midway point of this mighty Crusade the Guardian conceived and set in motion has been characterized not only by extraordinary victories won, but by the falling of a wholly unexpected blow, brought about through the mysterious operations of the Divine Will, which no man dare question and no human mind can comprehend, a blow which may well prove to be the signal for the beginning of that period of turmoil and suffering Shoghi Effendi so often told us the world must pass through before its parts are forged into a single whole, ready for, and capable of putting into operation, the Plan of God for this Day.
Let us, at this solemn moment in our destinies, turn back to the words of our Guardian when he sounded the call for this greatest of all enterprises ever undertaken by the followers of any Faith since the dawn of history.
"Let there be no mistake. The avowed, the primary aim of this Spiritual Crusade is none other than the conquest of the citadels of men's hearts. The theatre of its operations is the entire planet. Its duration a whole decade. Its commencement synchronizes with the Centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission. Its culmination will coincide with the Centenary of the Declaration of that same Mission. The agencies assisting in its conduct are the nascent administrative institutions of a steadily evolving, divinely appointed Order. Its driving force is the energizing influence generated by the Revelation heralded by The Báb and proclaimedPage 92
by Bahá'u'lláh. Its Marshal is none other than the Author of the Divine Plan. Its standard-bearers are the Hands of the Cause of God appointed in every continent of the globe. Its generals are the twelve National Spiritual Assemblies participating in the execution of its design. Its vanguard is the chief executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Master Plan, their allies and associates. Its legions are the rank and file of believers standing behind these same twelve National Assemblies and sharing in the global task embracing the American, the European, the African, the Asiatic and Australian fronts. The charter directing its course is the immortal Tablets that have flowed from the Pen of the Centre of the Covenant Himself. The armour with which its onrushing hosts have been invested is the glad tidings of God's Own Message in this Day, the principles underlying the Order proclaimed by His Messenger, and the laws and ordinances governing His Dispensation. The battle cry animating its heroes and heroines is the cry of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha, Ya 'Aliyyu'l-A'la.
"So vast, so momentous and challenging a crusade that will, God willing, illuminate the annals of the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and immortalize the second decade of the second Bahá'í century, and the termination of which will mark the closing of the first epoch in the evolution of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan, will, in itself, pave the way for, and constitute the prelude to, the initiation of the laborious and tremendously long process of establishing in the course of subsequent crusades in all the newly opened sovereign states, dependencies and islands of the planet, as well as in all the remaining territories of the globe, the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith, with all its attendant agencies, and of eventually erecting in these territories still more pillars to share in sustaining the weight and in broadening the foundation of the Universal House of Justice."
Before we turn our thoughts to the purpose of this Conference as it affects the Bahá'ís of the Western Hemisphere, let us recall the stages through which this globe-encircling Crusade has already passed: Much to the joy and comfort of our overworked and most beloved Guardian, who had already sacrificed over thirty years of his life to the unremitting service of the Cause of God, the first phase of the Ten Year Plan, which lasted from 1953 to 1954, witnessed the planting of the banner of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation in no less than one hundred additional countries, territories and islands of the globe, raising thereby the. total number at that time to two hundred and twenty-eight; the distinguishing feature of the second phase of this Plan, which lasted from 1954 to 1956, was the extraordinary multiplication of National Haziratu'l-Quds and endowments, the purchase of the majority of which was to all intents and purposes completed during this period, involving an outpouring of funds which many of the friends had believed could not possiblyPage 93
take place in so short a time; the third phase, which comprised the period from 1956 to 1958, was distinguished by a marked multiplication not only of Bahá'í centres all over the world, but by the establishment in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, of no less than thirteen Regional and four National Assemblies.
The phenomenal progress made and the extraordinary victories won during the last five years, have demonstrated to us all, not only the immense power of the Cause of God -- a power which the Master said was mysterious and far above the understanding of men and of angels -- but have shown us that through the canalization of this force by the Guardian into the mighty blueprint of the Divine Plan conceived by `Abdu'l-Bahá, an immensely potent instrument has been devised in the form of this World Crusade which constitutes a step in the spiritual conquest of the entire planet. The pattern has been clearly defined, the design of God we see distinctly emerging before our eyes. Every act of obedience to the instructions of the Guardian, every fulfilment of a goal set by him, every execution of a phase of his plan, brings victory, breeds strength, creates new spiritual life. He himself was immensely heartened and pleased over the victories won during the first half of this Holy Crusade, and characterized this five year period as one of marvellous progress achieved in so vast a field in so short a time by a small band of heroic souls.
We know that the Western World, the Western Hemisphere, particularly the "Great Republic of the West", have been singled out by The Báb. Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá as regions of the globe whose peoples are endowed with special capacities in this Day with which to serve the Cause of God and through it their fellow-men. The attendants at this particular Conference must feel the weight of a very great responsibility resting on them at this midway point of the World Crusade, not only because of the mission conferred upon them by `Abdu'l-Bahá, but because of the greatness of this affliction which has filled all hearts with grief and longing at this time, and in spite of which -- nay, perhaps because of which -- they must now arise, wiser, more mature, more consecrated than ever before, to carry out their preponderating share in the prosecution of the remainder of the Ten Year Plan.
There can be no escape from duty for any believer, least of all an American believer, at this critical juncture in the fortunes of our beloved Faith. We recall to your minds the stirring words of Shoghi Effendi addressed to the Annual Convention of the United States which preceded the first Intercontinental Conference held in 1953:
"May this Community -- the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Faith, the chief repository of the immortal Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan, the foremost executors of thePage 94
Mandate issued by the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, the champion builders of a divinely conceived Administrative Order, the standard-bearers of the all-conquering army of the Lord of Hosts, the torch-bearers of a future divinely inspired world civilization -- arise, in the course of the momentous decade separating the, Great from the Most Great Jubilee, to secure, as befits its rank, the lion's share in the prosecution of a global crusade designed to diffuse the light of God's Revelation over the surface of the entire planet."
As the friends gathered at this supremely important Conference consider their future work and discuss ways and means of accomplishing it, the believers of the United States should, in particular, ponder the very critical position of the home front in their country and, in the Guardian's own words, "maintain their enviable position, as the vanguard of the army of Bahá'u'lláh's crusaders, in rescuing, while there is yet time, their home front from the precarious position in which it now finds itself . . ."
Let them remember that as he himself so clearly stated: "It is primarily a task that concerns the individual believer, wherever he may be, and whatever his calling, his resources, his race, or his age. Neither the local nor national representatives of the community, no matter how elaborate their plans, or persistent their appeals, or sagacious their counsels, nor even the Guardian himself, however much he may yearn for this consummation, can decide where the duty of the individual lies, or supplant him in the discharge of that task. The individual alone must assess its character, consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path. . ."
The weight resting on each one of us today is truly crushing and inescapable, the reward which each one of us can win for himself is equally great and of an everlasting nature. In the words of the Quran: "Whoso maketh efforts for the faith, maketh them for his own good only. Verily God is rich enough to dispense with all creatures."
In his last letter to the American National Spiritual Assembly the Guardian made an appeal, couched in more poignant terms than any he had ever used previously in addressing the members of that privileged Community who are the "Champion-builders of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh":
"Once again and this time more fervently than ever beforehand direct my plea to every single member of this strenuously labouring, clear visioned, stout-hearted, spiritually endowed community, every man and woman, on whose individual efforts, resolution, self-sacrifice and perseverancePage 95
the immediate destinies of the Faith of God, now traversing so crucial a stage in its rise and establishment, primarily depends, not to allow, through apathy, timidity or complacency, this one remaining opportunity to be irretrievably lost. I would rather entreat each and every one of them to immortalize this approaching, fateful hour in the evolution of a World Spiritual Crusade, by a fresh consecration to their God-given mission, coupled with an instantaneous plan of action, at once so dynamic and decisive, as to wipe out... with one stroke, the deficiencies which have, to no small extent, bogged down the operations of the Crusade on the home front..."
Before turning to the global objectives still remaining, and which must be accomplished during the fourth phase of the Ten Year Plan, let us review the specific tasks given by our Guardian to the American Bahá'í Community, her chief ally, and her daughter communities in the Western Hemisphere:
The opening of Spitzbergen the one remaining virgin territory other than those within the Soviet orbit, and the resettlement or consolidation of those goals now vacant or in need of supporting efforts by pioneers and visiting teachers; the speedy attainment of the objectives of the subsidiary Six Year Plans given by our Guardian to the new National and Regional Assemblies formed during the Ridvan period of 1957 under the sponsorship of the National Assembly of the United States, the fulfilment of which is an indispensable prerequisite to the formation, on a firm footing, of the future pillars of the Universal House of Justice which are to be established in each and every Republic of Latin America and in each goal country of Europe by 1963 -- victories which can be assured only by a continuous flow of pioneers, as our Guardian repeatedly emphasized; the immediate construction of the first dependency of the Mother Temple of the West, designed to convincingly demonstrate to the public the spirit of service to humanity which underlies the Divinely-ordained institutions surrounding the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar; the establishment, during the Ridvan period of 1959, of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific Islands, under the sponsorship of the American National Assembly, a task assigned to that Assembly by our Guardian in his message to the 1953 Annual Convention; a marked acceleration in the process of enlisting in the ranks of the Faith an ever greater number of Indians, the original inhabitants of the Americas, of Eskimos in the far North, and of representatives of the Basque and Gypsy races in those areas assigned to the United States Bahá'í Community; a carefully planned and vigorously prosecuted campaign aimed at enlisting in the army of Bahá'u'lláh, large numbers of the Negro race -- so much loved and admired by Shoghi Effendi -- thereby fulfilling one of his frequently expressed and most ardent hopes; thePage 96
incorporation of Local and National Assemblies, which must be accomplished as rapidly as possible in all areas of the Western Hemisphere in order to strengthen the structure of the Administrative Order, and the foundations upon which the edifice of the Universal House of Justice will rest; the proclamation of the Faith to the masses, so desperately in need of spiritual enlightenment and guidance, so sunk in the materialism of a world heedless of its God and oblivious of the Divine Message for this Day; and finally, the paramount task so constantly stressed by the Guardian, so dear to his heart, and which constitutes the supreme duty of every true believer -- the propagation of the Faith, and the conversion of individual receptive souls to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
We have now entered, as Shoghi Effendi himself stated, the fourth phase of the World crusaded phase which must carry us through to victory, to the accomplishment of all the goals attainable, goals which he so carefully outlined for us with so much wisdom and so much love for this mighty Faith on whose altar he, like The Báb. Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá before him, was utterly sacrificed. This fourth and final phase of the Ten Year Plan comprises two outstanding tasks: To raise the necessary funds for and to build the Mother Temples of Europe and of Australasia -- that of Africa, as he himself said, having to all intents and purposes been assured -- and to vastly increase the number of the avowed supporters of the Faith all over the world, in newly opened lands as well as in those countries blessed from its earliest dawn by the light of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation.
We Bahá'ís have witnessed many miracles in the course of the one hundred and fifteen years which have elapsed since the inception of this supreme Dispensation. As the spread of the Cause of God gathered momentum the ever-increasing protection vouchsafed it from on High has been unfailing; over and over again its enemies have been laid low, their plans completely frustrated, their lives and their hopes snuffed out at the very instant when they had anticipated victory -- the latest demonstration of this invariable spiritual law being the death a few days ago of Ahmad Sohrab at a moment when he must have felt his machinations held some promise of fruition. Over and over again the doors to service, to the accomplishment of a set task, to the overcoming of a specific obstacle, have, at the last moment, been flung open before the faces of the loyal, the persevering, the consecrated and obedient followers of Bahá'u'lláh. Every major crisis in our Faith, as the Guardian repeatedly pointed out to us, has invariably been followed by a great outpouring of Divine Mercy, and this in turn has led to victory. We have every right to believe that because God has visited us with such a mighty calamity this year, He will, in His unfailing Mercy, compensate for this suffering, this dire deprivationPage 97
that has fallen upon us, and make the supreme sacrifice of Shoghi Effendi's life a leaven which will generate the force required to carry us through to victory and enable us thereby to gladden the heart of our beloved Guardian in the Abhá Kingdom -- something which we did not always do while he was in our midst.
Beloved Friends! At the outset of this Most Holy, decade-long Crusade, our beloved Guardian raised this challenging call addressed directly to the members of the Communities of North and South America:
"It is incumbent upon the members of the American Bahá'í Community, the chief executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan, the members of the Canadian Bahá'í Community acting as their allies, and the members of the Latin American Bahá'í Communities in their capacity as associates in the execution of this Plan, to brace themselves and initiate, in addition to the responsibilities they have assumed, and will assume, in other continents of the globe, an intercontinental campaign designed to carry a stage further the glorious work already inaugurated throughout the Western Hemisphere."
"Standing on the threshold of a ten-year long, world-embracing Spiritual Crusade these Communities are now called upon, by virtue of the weighty pronouncement recorded in the Most Holy Book, and in direct consequence of the revelation of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, to play a preponderating role in the systematic propagation of the Faith, in the course of the coming decade, which will, God willing, culminate in the spiritual conquest of the entire planet."
With this vision before them, let each and every one of them arise, joyously and wholeheartedly, with fresh dedication and determination, and respond to these soul-stirring words of their Guardian:
"I direct my impassioned appeal to obey, as befits His warriors, the summons of the Lord of Hosts, and prepare for that Day of Days when His victorious battalions will, to the accompaniment of hosannas from the invisible angels in the Abhá Kingdom, celebrate the hour of final victory."
Let them remember how often he said the immediate future was dark, but the distant future infinitely bright. No words could better describe the glory of the Order we are called upon to build than his own:
"How pressing and sacred the responsibility that now weighs upon those who are already acquainted with these teachings! How glorious the task of those who are called upon to vindicate their truth, and demonstrate their practicability to an unbelieving world! Nothing short of an immovable conviction in their divine origin, and their uniqueness in the annals of religion; nothing short of an unwavering purpose to execute and apply them to the administrative machinery of the Cause, can be sufficient to establish their reality, and ensure their success. How vast is the RevelationPage 98
of Bahá'u'lláh! How great the magnitude of His blessings showered upon humanity in this day! And yet, how poor, how inadequate our conception of their significance and glory! This generation stands too close to so colossal a Revelation to appreciate, in their full measure, the infinite possibilities of His Faith, the unprecedented character of His Cause, and the mysterious dispensations of His Providence."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
To the Hands of the Cause of God throughout the WorldJune 12,1958
The response evoked by the message we were able, by the grace of Bahá'u'lláh and thanks to the copious notes made by our beloved Guardian in anticipation of his annual Ridvan communication, to send out to the twenty-seven Conventions was most heartening, and we feel sure the enclosed copies of cables received in reply from the Annual Conventions will bring you great joy also. They have shown us how complete is the protection and help being vouchsafed by our Beloved, whose spirit is surely reinforcing our efforts to discharge befittingly the sacred trust laid upon us by him.
Since our last letter to you of March 21, the tasks and problems engaging the attention of the Hands here have been many and varied. Generally speaking all the news has been good news, with the exception of one question which has weighed very heavily on our minds and hearts and which we wish to share with you.
You will remember we pointed out that from communications and reports received here it was becoming obvious that there was a tendency for different interpretations of our present situation and prognostications of the future to be made.
As most of you no doubt are aware, the American Hands issued, in conjunction with the American National Spiritual Assembly, a statement entitled "A New Bahá'í Era" in order to meet the many questions being raised by the believers and to assist them in focusing their attention on the future work of the Crusade. We feel you should know that this statement was read at forty conferences in the United States, and that copies were mailed to all National Spiritual Assemblies who were daughter Assemblies or allies of the American National Spiritual Assembly under the work of successive phases of the Divine Plan. This meant copies were received in Africa, Latin America and Europe. The Custodians had no foreknowledge of this statement, and felt it touched on points of such farPage 99
reaching importance that it should have come, if a statement of this nature were to be issued at all, from the World Centre and not have been issued on a regional basis. We also felt a number of things should never have been said that were included, though by and large, the whole statement is very sound. We therefore cabled requesting that it be withdrawn from circulation and not appear in Bahá'í News". The American Hands and National Spiritual Assembly immediately complied with this request and have since, in a most loving and understanding manner, expressed their agreement with us. Unfortunately, however, the statement has been widely published in Latin America. We have received letters, because of this statement, and because of the nature of the questions it attempted to answer, from the United States, the Canadian, the Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela and the Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay National Spiritual Assemblies, asking the Custodians to state something clearly for the friends on the question so much discussed, namely, the future of the Guardianship.
We have also received a number of reports from Europe, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere indicating that some of our dear fellow-Hands-no doubt under the pressure of emotion, and taken unawares by sudden questions asked of them -- have made conflicting statements about the future of the Guardianship, at total variance with the thoughts published above the signature of the American Hands, and exceeding our own statements in the Proclamation, which we agreed to adhere to unitedly. We need not point out to you, who share with us the terrible and sacred responsibility of maintaining intact this unified Faith the Guardian left behind him, the great dangers involved in any expression of diversified opinions amongst ourselves on so important a subject.
Believing, ourselves, that as we decided in Bahji the less said on this subject the better, we have until now strictly refrained from going into the subject at all in any communications to Assemblies or individuals sent from Haifa. However, there is, as you will see from the enclosed excerpts from a letter from our fellow-Hand, William Sears, just received here a few days ago (he has been recently in the United States, Africa and Europe), a real danger of two schools of thought crystallizing on this all important matter. We therefore feel we can and must once again direct the friends' attention to the words of the Proclamation we issued, in order that these questions may be put aside by the friends and their full energies concentrated upon fulfilling the goals of the Ten Year Plan.
In meeting this problem, the body of the Hands of the Cause must exercise the greatest care to avoid the very pitfall against which we must warn the friends -- that of interpretation of the Sacred Writings. What we can, and must, do is to direct the attention of the friends to the Sacred TextPage 100
of the Master's Will itself, and remind them once again, and in even stronger terms than before, of the basic facts mentioned in the Proclamation.
Therefore, in view of this situation which has now arisen, and the fact that the prestige of the body of the Hands as such and the Custodians who serve on their behalf at the World Centre may be seriously weakened by our taking no action at this time and ignoring the pressing requests of various National Spiritual Assemblies for something which they can circulate among the believers, we have prepared the enclosed brief message in reply to the National Spiritual Assemblies who have written to us. We are not sending this message to all National Spiritual Assemblies, as this may be unnecessary, but leave it to your discretion, as Hands responsible for the work in different continents, to share this same message with the various National Spiritual Assemblies in your area if the need arises, or if you think it desirable to do so in any case.
The shelter to which the sorrow-stricken followers of Bahá'u'lláh turn in these days of anguish is the Hands of the Cause. It therefore behoves each one of us to guide the friends in the path laid out by our Beloved. Let us not give them our own deductions, but endeavour to pour into their hearts his spirit and his love, and strive to give them the necessary spiritual strength to carry the World Crusade to a victorious conclusion. We, the chosen Hands of our Guardian, must convey a warm and loving spirit of oneness to the friends, and constantly urge them to achieve ever greater heights of consecrated service.
Whenever we visit the Holy Shrines, we supplicate for the help and guidance which alone will enable all of us to discharge our sacred responsibilities, and we ask you to all please pray for us daily as on your behalf and in your name we carry very heavy burdens here.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
It has come to our attention that there is amongst the believers discussion regarding the Guardianship which exceeds the statement made by the united body of the Chief Stewards of the Faith, the Hands of the Cause, which they issued from Bahji last November after nine days of deep and heart-searching consultation following hours of supplication in the Holy Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh.
We therefore, acting on behalf of the Hands of the Faith, wish oncePage 101
again to call the attention of all the friends to the words in that Proclamation: "It was likewise certified that the beloved Guardian had left no heir. The Aghsan (branches) one and all are either dead or have been declared violators of the Covenant by the Guardian for their faithlessness to the Master's Will and Testament and their hostility to him named first Guardian in that Sacred Document. The first effect of the realization that no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him was to plunge the Hands of the Cause into the very abyss of despair."
The American Hands of the Faith have expressed this same thought very clearly in a message prepared for a series of teaching conferences held in the United States earlier this year.
"Shoghi Effendi appointed no successor in his own lifetime because he himself had no natural heir and because no member of the Holy Family qualified. The Master's Testament is the sole authority controlling the appointment of successive Guardians, and its specific provisions were scrupulously upheld by the Guardian in his non-appointment of a second Guardian. Since a successor could only be chosen and designated by Shoghi Effendi in his own lifetime, the friends must dismiss all hopeful expectation that a will appointing a second Guardian may later be found."
We call upon all the believers, for the sake of preserving the unity of our beloved Faith for which The Báb. was martyred, Bahá'u'lláh and the Master imprisoned, and for which the beloved Guardian so completely sacrificed himself, to concentrate on the thoughts expressed in the Proclamation, and to desist from all further speculation on the future development of the institutions of the Faith-speculation which can only give rise to those very differences of interpretation forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, and against which they repeatedly warned us.
Bahá'u'lláh has left the Divine System He conceived, the Master elaborated and the Guardian clarified, but the Divinely-guided scion of His house, Shoghi Effendi has, for reasons none of us can fathom, been lifted from the pattern. What he has left us is more than sufficient for us, the Community of the Most Great Name, to establish the first stages of that world-redeeming Order Bahá'u'lláh has given to mankind. Our sacred obligation is to fulfil our Guardian's wishes, his plans, and his most cherished hopes, leaving the over-all scheme of God to unfold as He sees fit, in His mysterious ways, in the days to come. Let us be confident that if we do our part He will never fail in His, and with this assurance go forward unitedly, courageously and with complete consecration.
Let us also rejoice with grateful hearts over the truly remarkable measure of Divine protection vouchsafed to us since the passing of our beloved Guardian, an unfailing sign that Shoghi Effendi's spirit is with us, guidingPage 102
and inspiring the believers everywhere, and assisting us to achieve total victory in the Holy Crusade bequeathed to us by him.HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
The Intercontinental Conference, Frankfurt, GermanyJuly 25-29, 1958
To the Hands of the Cause, members of their Auxiliary Boards, members of Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies, pioneers, resident believers, and visitors attending the Intercontinental Conference in Frankfurt, July, 1958.Beloved Friends:
More than nine months have passed since that heart-breaking day when, according to the inscrutable decrees of God, our most beloved and precious Guardian, Shoghi Effendi passed to the realms on High. Though our sorrow is still fresh in our hearts we cannot but marvel, as we witness the vast number of friends gathered at the opening of this fourth great Intercontinental Conference being held in the very heart of the European continent, at the protection vouchsafed this holy Faith by the Almighty; at the tender wisdom which inspired our Guardian to provide us, during this first year of cruel and bitter separation, with these five great rallying points; at his forethought when he urged the believers to make every effort to attend them; and at the vigilance which moved him, so shortly before his passing and in his last great message to the Bahá'í world, to reinforce the institution of the Hands of the Faith through the appointment of eight more of these "Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth". This designation, never before applied to them by him, appears to have been calculated to enable them, with the loving support of the National Assemblies and the believers, to carry the Cause of God forward through this exceedingly difficult and stormy strait in the history of mankind to the calmer waters which lie ahead as the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh begins to take shape and the administrative bodies of the Faith multiply and gain in stature and experience.
We, in spite of the load of grief we still bear in our hearts -- a grief which has bowed our heads and humbled our spirits -- can nevertheless lift up our voices in thanksgiving to Bahá'u'lláh. We thank Him now not only, as was the Guardian's expressed wish, for the bounties bestowed during the first five years of this World Crusade, but for the measure of sure protection, of merciful grace, poured upon us since the beloved Guardian's passing. The Bahá'ís have everywhere stood firm in the Covenant of God; tested, tried, bereft and filled with longing for their soPage 103
deeply loved guide and leader, they have demonstrated how great has been the effect of his life and its works by their steadfastness, by the renewed dedication they have shown to the plans he laid down for them, by an unprecedented degree of unity amongst themselves, by a deeper determination to gladden Shoghi Effendi's heart than when he was with them physically in this world. They have arisen, East and West, to go forth and pioneer on both the home fronts and in the newly opened territories; they have supported the Bahá'í Funds from hearts that were loyal and overflowed with tenderness for their religion in its hour of need; they have rallied round the Hands of the Faith, the Custodians at the World Centre, and the National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies; they have gathered in large numbers at these great Intercontinental Conferences; they have comforted each other in their loneliness; and they have arisen to spread the Word of God abroad with new zeal and dedication. Can there be any doubt that all this is the result of Shoghi Effendi's sacrifice -- the over a-third-of-a-century-long sacrifice of his life, the sudden end, when his spirit in one breath freed itself from his tired and overladen heart? You all are gathered here today because of Shoghi Effendi according to Shoghi Effendi's wish, Shoghi Effendi's Plan, Shoghi Effendi's hope!
Before turning our thoughts to what he desired should be considered at these great Conferences, let us recall the purpose of this vast globe encircling Crusade. It is a step in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan laid down for us by `Abdu'l-Bahá, and whose execution He entrusted primarily to the people of the "Great Republic of the West", the most promising child of European civilization. It has already in five short years, carried us well on the way towards the accomplishment of our primary objective, which the Guardian said is no less than the spiritual conquest of the entire planet. Led by our beloved Commander-in-Chief, we have opened nearly all the independent sovereign states, the chief dependencies, the most important islands and territories of the world to our glorious Faith; even the wintry island of Spitzbergen has been settled, leaving only a few states inside the Soviet Union or within its orbit, still unopened. Of the forty-nine National Haziratu'l-Quds to be purchased as part of the Ten Year Plan, forty-eight have been acquired; of the fifty-one national endowments, all have been acquired; of the eleven Temple sites specifically mentioned by our beloved Guardian, all eleven have been acquired; the mighty task of translating and publishing the literature of the Faith, as called for in the provisions of the Ten Year Plan, is now nearing completion; the Bahá'í Publishing Trusts, except for those in Islamic countries where the believers are still oppressed, ignored and proscribed, have all been founded; and the task of incorporating National and Local SpiritualPage 104
Assemblies is well on its way to fulfilment. Even the home fronts -- the most challenging perhaps of all the tasks allotted to us by the beloved Guardian under the terms of this World Crusade -- are, in many countries, meeting, nay surpassing, his expectations. Two of the three mighty Mother Temples are already being constructed, namely, those of Africa and the Antipodes. It was this overall pattern of marked success, of surging spiritual vitality which characterizes the activities of the World Bahá'í Community, that undoubtedly caused our Guardian to unite us in these five Intercontinental Conferences, not only to humbly thank Bahá'u'lláh for mercies received, not only to deliberate on ways and means of accomplishing the next five years' work, but as a reward for having served faithfully, with enthusiasm and consecration, this blessed Cause of God, and, as we now see, as a mercy in the hour of separation, a tender enfolding of us, his "dearly beloved co-workers" in the arms of that one who, in his modesty and purity of heart, called himself only 46 "your true brother".
The work of Bahá'u'lláh lies before us to be completed. No one generation will do this; a thousand years at least are required to carry out and mature the specific provisions of His Dispensation. But to each man his opportunity, to each generation its tasks. Shoghi Effendi has laid down for us in clear and unmistakable terms our next five years' work. To the degree to which we scrupulously adhere to his plan, obey his words, comprehend the implications of his perfect design, to that degree only will our affairs prosper, our work attract the blessings from on High, and the foundation of the World Order be solidly and lastingly laid.
The beloved Guardian in his last message to us all, made clear that the fourth phase of our Ten Year Plan which we have, with the holding of these great Conferences all over the world, now embarked upon, "must be immortalized, on the one hand, by an unprecedented increase in the number of avowed supporters of the Faith, in all the continents of the globe, of every race, clime, creed and colour, and from every stratum of present-day society, coupled with a corresponding increase in the number of Bahá'í centres and, on the other, by a swift progress in the erection of the Mother Temples of Africa and Australia, as well as by the initiation of the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Europe."
The commencement of work on the Temple to be erected in Germany is long over-due. We know from the Words of the Master that these Houses of Worship are the greatest silent teachers of the Faith. How infinitely precious is any building erected in the love of God and for the mention of His Name. How much more so these first continental "Mother Temples", being raised to the glory of Bahá'u'lláh. How infinitely so the Temples for whose construction the Guardian himself is responsible,Page 105
whose location he has specified, whose design he himself has approved. It was one of his most cherished desires to have these Temples built. He himself pledged he would supply one-third of their estimated cost. We must now carry on his work, see that the budget, now being expended monthly for the construction of the Sydney Temple is met, and that at least the major part of the sum required for the European Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is raised, in anticipation of the early commencement of actual building operations. Time is flying. We do not know what the future world situation will be. What we do know is our immediate duty to the work specified for us by our Guardian.
The other half of the main task confronting us is the "unprecedented increase" in the number of believers throughout the world. Pioneers are needed everywhere, in all continents, in all the islands opened to the Faith, on the home fronts, and in the goal territories. Two things are required to get a pioneer to his post, an enkindled, consecrated soul, willing and ready to go out in the teaching field and, if he cannot supply them himself, the material means necessary to get him to his post and often to enable him to remain at it. This type of service to the Faith offers a wonderful opportunity for partnership between those who have some worldly means at their disposal, but feel for some reason unable to go forth themselves, and those who yearn to respond to the call for pioneering, but are prevented from fulfilling their heart's desire because of lack of material resources.
Let us recall our Guardian's words, at the opening of the World Crusade, to the entire body of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh. "I direct my appeal to arise and, in the course of these fast-fleeting years, in every phase of the campaigns that are to be fought in all the continents of the globe, prove their worth as gallant warriors battling for the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Indeed, from this very hour until the eve of the Most Great Jubilee, each and every one of those enrolled in the Army of Light must seek no rest, must take no thought of self, must sacrifice to the uttermost, must allow nothing whatsoever to deflect him or her from meeting the pressing, the manifold, the paramount needs of this pre-eminent Crusade.
"'Light as the spirit', 'pure as air', 'blazing as fire', 'unrestrained as the wind' -- for such is Bahá'u'lláh's Own admonition to His loved ones in His Tablets, and directed not to a select few but to the entire congregation of the faithful -- let them scatter far and wide, proclaim the glory of God's Revelation in this Day, quicken the souls of men and ignite in their hearts the love of the One Who alone is their omnipotent and divinely appointed Redeemer."
At this time surely nothing is impossible to us. We have passed through nine months of fire since our beloved Guardian left us, but wePage 106
have burned together. We have seen, and felt deeply in our hearts, our unity as a world community, as followers of the Most Great Name. We have neither been separated nor paralyzed through this great shock and grief. The World Centre of the Faith which he so assiduously built up and consolidated, the heart of the Bahá'í World Community, has not ceased to beat. The communion between the hearts of the friends and the great heart enshrining the Qiblih of the Bahá'í world, continues to gather strength. This has been a shining evidence to us all that Bahá'u'lláh's mercies have not ceased to be showered upon us; that what the Guardian built endures and will endure, a living organism, throughout the stages in the evolution of our Faith which lie ahead.
After this ordeal by fife which we have passed through, can we doubt that, with this fresh sense of oneness, with our purified hearts, we will not receive, if we arise now to serve as we should, an extraordinary measure of the bounty of Almighty God? Great moments in history require great deeds; great men are not necessarily those best qualified to be great, but rather those who see their chance and seize it, with love and courage, when it offers itself. The records of our Faith show that its heroes and heroines, its saints and martyrs, sprang mostly from the rank and file, but what they possessed, which raised them to the summits of fame and glory, were vision and faith. Let the friends now follow the path of Shoghi Effendi let them arise to complete his work as set forth in the Ten Year Plan, let them labour, as he did, steadily, patiently, consecratedly, day after day, week after week, year after year, until his tasks are completed. The world now marvels at what this one man did in thirty-six years. Let his lovers arise and put their shoulder to the wheel and move this blessed Faith forward on the path of its destiny until, God willing, their hearts stop as did his, from the excess of their labours in the path of God.HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
The following letter is addressed to each and every believer. We request that you share it with the friends in your area through your News Letter, or in any way you see fit.
Dearly beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Path of Bahá'u'lláh:
It is nine months since our world was shaken and hearts broken by the passing of our beloved Guardian. Those poignant words which he wrotePage 107
after the Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá, now echo in our cars with a personal meaning to our generation: ". . . the shock has been too terrible and sudden for us all to recover from in so short a time, but whenever we recall His Sayings and read His Writings, hope springs in our hearts and gives us the peace that no other material comfort can give." Although the official period of mourning has now ended, we know that inwardly each Bahá'í will always grieve deeply for the loss of that priceless embodiment of loving-kindness and divine wisdom.
The spontaneous declarations of love for our beloved Guardian and loyalty to the Hands of the Cause raised up by his sacred pen to be the "Chief Stewards of the embryonic World Commonwealth of Bahá'u'lláh", which have been received from all parts of the world, many of them voiced in terms of surpassing beauty, have been a source of great comfort and strength to us.
The Hands of the Cause serving in the Holy Land, as well as the members of the International Bahá'í Council, have felt particularly the terrible physical absence of our beloved Guardian in this place most closely associated with him, where every object our eyes fall on recalls to us his labour, his perseverance, his final sacrifice. The great waves of prayer and of loving confidence which have come pouring in to us from the National Spiritual Assemblies and the believers all over the world have reassured and sustained us, and have given us strength and courage as we labour, to protect the World Centre and maintain it as the unifying hub of the great wheel of the Cause our Guardian so carefully built up and set in motion. This has given us assurance that our Guardian himself is aiding us to aid him. We thank all the friends for the support and assistance they have given, for the wonderful spirit of steadfastness they have shown and the many deeds they have performed in the beloved Guardian's name since his passing. This united action which has resulted in so many victories, is reflected in the words of his secretary, written at the instruction of the beloved Guardian himself: "an added proof to the world that there is a mighty spirit that animates the friends, that there is nothing impossible to them."
The Custodians, the group of Hands serving at the World Centre on behalf of the Hands of the Cause throughout the world, have had to meet and surmount many problems. Some of the permanently appointed Custodians, because of attendance at various conferences to which they were sent by the beloved Guardian, and for reasons of health, have been unable to be in residence at Haifa at all times. We have been fortunate however in having their places filled temporarily by the following Hands, who have acted as substitute Custodians: Ugo Giachery, John Ferraby, Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i Adelbert Muhlschlegel 'Ali Muhammad Varqa, andPage 108
William Sears. This arrangement has been most fortuitous as it has brought us first-hand reports of the status of the Faith in various areas and enabled these temporary Custodians to better sense the over-all needs of the Faith as seen from the World Centre.
Beloved friends, we are now, together, embarked upon the most important work which human beings have ever done in the history of our planet. Ours is the priceless privilege and the grave, inescapable responsibility of raising up that sacred Institution, the Universal House of Justice. This can be done only after the complete triumph of his Ten Year Plan, which is designed to lay the necessary foundation for that weighty and supreme Edifice of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
The measure of divine protection already accorded our Precious Cause at the World Centre, in the Cradle of the Faith, and throughout the world, since the beloved Guardian's passing, has been truly miraculous. Surely this is that same divine protection spoken of by the Master in His letter to the entire Bahá'í world following the passing of Bahá'u'lláh. His words today bring us not only solace in our bereavement, but a firm and undying resolve to fulfil our high destiny."O ye beloved of the Lord! ... Today is
the day for steadfastness and constancy. Blessed are they that
stand firm and immovable as the rock and brave the storm and stress
of this tempestuous hour ... they, verily, shall receive His divine
assistance, and shall be truly victorious.... In His Most Holy Book
He calleth the firm and steadfast of His friends. '0 people of the
world! Should the radiance of My Beauty be veiled, and the temple
of My body be hidden, feel not perturbed, nay arise and bestir
yourselves, that My Cause may triumph, and My Word be heard by allmankind.'"
To the Hands of the Cause of God throughout the WorldAugust 11, 1958
The Annual Meeting of the Hands of the Cause called for in our memorandum of agreement will convene November 21st for a period of one week. All the Hands are invited to attend, but if any of you are unable to come for reasons of health or because of any other insurmountable circumstance, please let us know. Likewise, we would appreciate notification from all who do plan to attend.Page 109
You are welcome to arrive beginning November 19th, Please make your own arrangements for proceeding from the airport to Haifa, as it is not possible to meet the friends.
After careful thought and prayerful consideration, the Hands here feel it would be disloyal to the wishes of our beloved Guardian for us, or for the friends throughout the world, to gather on November 4th and officially commemorate his passing. His words given in The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh make this very clear: ". . . to commemorate any event associated with his life would be tantamount to a departure from those established truths that are enshrined within our beloved Faith."
Therefore, in obedience to the beloved Guardian's wishes, we are informing the friends throughout the world that such official commemoration should not be held. However, each individual believer may, indeed we feel should, remember this unforgettable day with prayers and meditation, and seek to rededicate himself to the service of the Faith and to ponder ways and means by which he can aid in achieving the goals set by the beloved Guardian.
For this reason, our meeting will be held on the 21st; rather than on the 4th of November. The dates of the meeting will make it possible for all Hands to attend the commemoration of the Ascension of the Master at 1:00 a.m. on November 28th.With warm Bahá'í love,
After careful thought and prayerful consideration, the Hands of the Cause in the Holy Land feel that it would be disloyal to the wishes of our beloved Guardian for us, or for the friends throughout the world, to gather on November fourth and officially commemorate his passing. His words given in The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh make this very clear: ". . . to commemorate any event associated with his life would be tantamount to a departure from those established truths that are enshrined within our beloved Faith."
Therefore, in obedience to the beloved Guardian's wishes, we are asking you to communicate to the friends this decision, informing them that such official commemoration should not be held. However, each individual believer may, indeed we feel should, remember this unforgettable dayPage 110
with prayers and meditation, and seek to rededicate himself to the service of the Faith and to ponder ways and means by which he can aid in achieving the goals set by the beloved Guardian.With warm Bahá'í love,
ANNOUNCE BLESSED PILGRIMAGE HOLY SHRINES REOPENING DECEMBER FIRST STOP NECESSARY BELIEVERS FOLLOW PROCEDURE LAID DOWN BELOVED GUARDIAN REQUEST PERMISSION VISIT FROM HANDS HAIFA STOP SHARE MESSAGE ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES EXCEPT MIDDLE EAST.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
It has been a source of great happiness to us to receive reports of the wonderful success of the Intercontinental Conference recently held in Frankfurt, and to know that the fondest hopes of our dearly beloved Guardian were fulfilled. The great attendance, the largest of any conference so far held during this period, the raising of DM 1,000,000 for the work of the Cause in Europe and the Mother Temples, the pioneers who arose and volunteered their services, the spirit of consecration and unity which pervaded the gatherings -- all testify to the greatness of the Faith and the divine protection vouchsafed it unfailingly from on High.
We wish to inform you that aside from any ear-marked sums given for special purposes, the moneys contributed at the Frankfurt Conference will be divided amongst the European National and Regional Assemblies in order to assist them to prosecute the Ten Year Plan within their own areas. Pursuant to the beloved Guardian's own instructions in his Message calling for these five great Conferences to be held, the money specifically contributed for the Temples will be divided between the Mother Temple of Europe and the Mother Temple of Australia presently being constructed, and which will be completed by next March if all goes well. The needs of the African Temple have already been met. It will take some time for the pledges made by so many generous and loving believers atPage 111
the Conference to be honoured and collected. However we felt that it would encourage your Assembly to know that as soon as possible you will be receiving a share of the contributions poured in at the Frankfurt Conference with so much faith and love by the believers from so many countries.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
To the Hands of the Cause, members of their Auxiliary Boards, members of Regional and National Spiritual Assemblies, pioneers, resident believers, and visitors attending the Intercontinental Conference in Singapore, September, 1958.
[This Conference was originally called for Djakarta but due to unforeseeable complications was changed to Singapore.]Beloved Friends:
As the last historic Conference marking the midway point of the Crusade opens, our thoughts and our hearts turn with a great wave of mingled emotions to our beloved Guardian -- and beyond and above him to Bahá'u'lláh, the Supreme Manifestation, the Glory of the Father, the Eternal Beauty of God revealed in all its splendour to men in this age.
It is nearly a year since the historic "October Message" of 1957 was released to the Bahá'í world by our Guardian. We cannot but look back upon this year with feelings of awe and wonder; in spite of the great calamity which overtook us, our hearts are moved in profound thanksgiving to Bahá'u'lláh. Swiftly following upon the plans for the celebration of the half-way point of the Ten Year Plan came the paralyzing shock of the sudden passing of our beloved Shoghi Effendi our guide and leader, our appointed protector and Guardian. Added to our grief and consternation, was a sense of bafflement at the ways of God -- but only for a short time. East and West the followers of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh demonstrated how deep was their belief in Him, and how well His Guardian had built the foundations of His Divine Order in the hearts of His servants. Chastened through their great sorrow, purified through their great love, the believers arose, as one man, to support unitedly the institution of the Hands carefully erected by the Guardian during the last decade of his life and strongly reinforced by him justPage 112
before his passing. This profound unity manifest amongst the Hands of the Cause themselves and amongst all the widely scattered Bahá'í communities throughout the world immediately attracted the protection and blessings of Bahá'u'lláh.
The first of these five historic Conferences held in Africa less than three months after the passing of the Guardian, witnessed a great release of spiritual power in that continent so dear to his heart. This was swiftly followed by the equally successful Australian, American and European Conferences. An unprecedented number of believers gathered on these occasions, and large numbers of pioneers volunteered for service with a dedication reminiscent of that great wave of enthusiasm and consecration which in 1953 carried the pioneers to all comers of the earth, and in one brief year opened nearly all the virgin territories -- a feat which was the source of immense pride to the beloved Guardian.
The Conferences held to date this year have also witnessed, pursuant to the expressed hope of the beloved Guardian, the raising of nearly three-quarters of a million dollars for the construction of the three Mother Temples of Africa, Europe and Australia, and the attainment of the other goals of the Ten Year Plan.
Had not Bahá'u'lláh overshadowed the followers of His Cause with His infinite love and bounty, at this time of grief and profound test, had not Shoghi Effendi's own spirit remained with us, guiding and protecting us, we would not be able in this last historic Conference called for during this year by the Guardian, to look back over the past eleven months of victory and say, Praise be to Thee, O God, for the outpourings of Thy Mercy and Bounty and Thine infinite protection.
The overflowing measure of Divine grace we have witnessed has ensured that the Plan of Shoghi Effendi for these great Conferences has been successfully fulfilled, the spirit he hoped would be generated by them has been generated, the pioneers he hoped would arise, have arisen, the funds he hoped would be raised have been forthcoming, and the ways and means for the furtherance of the work of the Crusade, which he urged should be discussed have been deliberated upon and are bearing fruit already in different parts of the Bahá'í world.
The beloved Guardian often said that whenever he suffered the work of the Cause went forward. We may ask ourselves if this unworthy world did not require the supreme sacrifice of the life of its Guardian to release those forces, at this critical juncture in human history, which are necessary to carry it forward into that Golden Age of spiritual civilization which the Bahá'í Dispensation must give rise to. Whatever interpretation we place upon the passing of Shoghi Effendi an event which in its very essence is one of the mysteries of God, one thing must be evident to allPage 113
the sacrifice of this infinitely precious life must not for an instant, to the slightest degree, be in vain. We must be the ransom that pays for that sacred blood. We, all the Bahá'ís everywhere, East and West, young and old, new in the Faith or veterans, must arise with complete unity, a more mature consecration, a deeper love for Bahá'u'lláh, and ensure that the vital objectives of the Ten Year Crusade are completed, and in many fields added to and markedly surpassed.
We have had a soul-shattering shock; deepest grief, longing for our beloved Guardian so suddenly removed from our midst, has moved us to the depths of our being and made our hearts restless with desire to do many things for him now which we neglected to do when he was alive. The Bahá'ís have rallied to his Conferences, helped in the protection of the Faith to which he gave his all in service, and have supported the appointed Hands of the Cause and the elected representatives of the believers. This, however, is only the first step. Before us lie almost five years of hard work, years we may well believe of turmoil in the world, years when, in the face of a steady process of deterioration in human affairs, our institutions must be painstakingly erected and consolidated, the foundations for the future Universal House of Justice securely built, in order that this Supreme Edifice when it comes into being may be in a position to fulfil its Divinely appointed functions, the spirit of the Faith made to burn brighter, its teachings disseminated far and wide and that process of mass conversion so often referred to by the Guardian, set in motion and given increasing momentum.
These will be hard years for us all, but love has matured us, grief steeled us. At these five Conferences we have gathered strength from the outpourings the Guardian promised us these gatherings would attract from on High, and from our association with each other. We must now go forth like good soldiers, a conquering army, each to his own post, to do his own battle, to keep his own tryst on the home or the pioneer front. This is not going to be easy. Every formation of something new involves a certain degree of death of the old self. The old order is dying and we see how harsh are its death pangs. Something of our protected past may well be said to have died with the closing of this Conference. For over one hundred and fifteen years we Bahá'ís have been nursed and personally watched over. Now we are required to stand on our own feet and, in the path of service to this Holy Faith, we ourselves must watch over and assist our fellow-men to turn to the Supreme Manifestation of God for this Day, and seek their salvation through Bahá'u'lláh. That patience and fair-mindedness, that loving forgiveness and wise tolerance Shoghi Effendi invariably showered on us individually, we must emulate and show to each other as well as to the world. That justice hePage 114
so impartially administered must be emulated by all elected Bahá'í bodies, that unflinching, adamant adherence to principle which won him the respect of government and layman alike, the believers, as individuals and when functioning as Assemblies, must show forth at all times. In other words, dear friends, the spirit of Shoghi Effendi must go with us from this Conference, not only with the attendants gathered here, but with the believers all over the world, who surely, inwardly if not outwardly, have participated in these five majestic, stirring, creative, commemorative Conferences. His spirit we must keep alive in our hearts, his love we must foster through loving him more, his radiant nature, which the Master so well knew, must always be remembered by us so that we may, as individuals, strive to acquire a little of that selfless radiance ourselves.
Purity of heart, honesty of mind, sincerity of motive were characteristics deeply prized by Shoghi Effendi These characteristics he felt were strongly represented in the so-called primitive peoples; they drew him to them and increased his conviction that the Cause of God has a tremendous future amongst the dark-skinned peoples of the world and that they have great racial gifts of mind and heart to bring to the service of this Faith. It is significant to ponder that the first, the opening Conference of this half-way point of the World Crusade was chosen by him for the heart of Africa, and that the last, the closing Conference, was set midway in the Pacific-Asian region. He did not thus honour the old world and the new. No, he chose the black people and the brown people for this distinction. He visualized the African and the Pacific peoples vying with each other in the spread of the Faith. Each marked increase in membership in one region was relayed by him to the other, with the hope of stimulating a fresh burst of enthusiastic teaching efforts. Much of his joy, during the last years of his life, came from the news of the remarkable progress the Faith was making in these two areas.
The African Conference released a great spiritual power among the Negro believers, who returned from it to their tribal homes to teach with new enthusiasm and understanding, and to convince their own peoples of the truth of Bahá'u'lláh's Message. We feel confident that the representatives of many of the peoples of the Pacific region attending this Conference will do likewise, and that this will mark the beginning of a vast process of conversion of the inhabitants of the islands of this immense Ocean to the Cause of God.
Who knows, perhaps it is the immediate destiny of our great Faith to be raised on the two wings of the black and brown races through a great wave of mass conversion which will have repercussions all over thePage 115
world, and, releasing spiritual powers as yet untapped, enable the leaven of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh to penetrate into the lives of the peoples of the older yellow and white civilizations, so materialistic, so disillusioned, so morally corrupt and spiritually bankrupt.
The first evidences of this mighty process envisaged by our beloved Guardian have already become manifest in the extraordinary, the truly heartening conversion of such a large number of people in the Mentawai Islands and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands to this new religion. Those who have had the privilege of carrying the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to them can testify how deep is the faith with which they have embraced it, how steadfast their intent to serve it and uphold its laws, how ripe their hearts to enfold its truth and make it a part of their lives.
Another evidence of the unfoldment of this process has been the formation of Bahá'í schools in the New Hebrides, in Mentawai and in the Gilbert and Ellice Archipelago -- schools of which Shoghi Effendi was immensely proud. How many pilgrims watched enthralled as the strong, forceful and fascinating hand of the Guardian pointed to the spots on the map of the world he had filled in, and tapped the circle which marked one of these precious schools. How bright the light that lit up his blessed face as he stated this was no mere summer school, but a real school, opened and maintained by Bahá'ís in which the children of the indigenous people were being educated in both a normal curriculum and in the Bahá'í standards! It was his ardent hope that these schools should be maintained, reinforced, and similar ones established on a sound and permanent basis in other areas. He repeatedly made it clear that in these unspoiled regions of the world lay a great hope for the future. He constantly encouraged pioneers to move into them, and in these fertile fields of service, busy themselves with the teaching work where it promised the greatest success.
This culminating Conference of the five held during this sad but fruitful year must yield, for all believers present, as well as for those throughout the Bahá'í world, a special harvest. Our hearts, still bleeding in separation from our dearly beloved Guardian, we must anneal in the fire of self-sacrifice to this infinitely precious Faith. The need of our fellowmen to hear the Glad-Tidings of Bahá'u'lláh is greater than ever. The doors to pioneering, to the construction of the Mother Temples called for in the Ten Year Plan, to the founding of Bahá'í schools, to the dissemination of our literature, to the erection of our administrative institutions, still stand open. Before some world catastrophe closes them devastatingly, albeit temporarily, in our faces, let us not waste one precious moment!
Shoghi Effendi's love is burning in our hearts, his appeals still fresh inPage 116
our ears. The vision he gave us of our present task is clear and perfect; let us keep it forever before our eyes.
"Let there be no mistake. The avowed, the primary aim of this Spiritual Crusade is none other than the conquest of the citadels of men's hearts. The theatre of its operations is the entire planet. Its duration a whole decade. Its commencement synchronizes with the Centenary of the birth of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission. Its culmination will coincide with the Centenary of the Declaration of that same Mission. The agencies assisting in its conduct are the nascent administrative institutions of a steadily evolving, divinely appointed Order. Its driving force is the energizing influence generated by the Revelation heralded by The Báb. and proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh. Its Marshal is none other than the Author of the Divine Plan. Its standard-bearers are the Hands of the Cause of God appointed in every continent of the globe. Its generals are the ... National Spiritual Assemblies participating in the execution of its design. Its vanguard is the chief executors of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Master Plan, their allies and associates. Its legions are the rank and file of believers standing behind these same. . . National Assemblies and sharing in the global task embracing the American, the European, the African, the Asiatic and Australian fronts. The charter directing its course is the immortal Tablets that have flowed from the Pen of the Centre of the Covenant Himself. The armour with which its onrushing hosts have been invested is the glad tidings of God's Own Message in this Day, the principles underlying the Order proclaimed by His Messenger, and the laws and ordinances governing His Dispensation. The battle cry animating its heroes and heroines is the cry of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha, Ya 'Aliyyu'l-A'la.HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of...[To various National Spiritual Assemblies]
You will be very happy to know that the work on the sacred monument of our beloved Guardian has begun, and it is hoped that it will be completed in November.
The entire Bahá'í world has spontaneously responded with the greatest devotion to make this precious and holy undertaking a united expression of the immeasurable love which our beloved Guardian awakened in all of our hearts.
Now that the erection of this blessed memorial is under way, we wouldPage 117
appreciate having your Assembly send whatever funds you may be holding for this purpose to the United States. It should be sent to the Treasurer's office of the National Spiritual Assembly, 112 Linden Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois. If there are any exchange problems involved in this transaction, please let us know.
We shall offer prayers in the holy Shrines that this same spirit of consecration and oneness may inspire each of us to work as never before, so that every hope of the beloved Guardian for the fulfilment of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade may be speedily accomplished.With warm Bahá'í love,
WITH THANKFUL HEARTS ANNOUNCE FRIENDS COMPLETION EXQUISITELY BEAUTIFUL MONUMENT BELOVED GUARDIAN'S RESTING PLACE NOVEMBER FIRST SACRED DUST Bahá'u'lláh'S SHRINE PLACED FOUNDATIONS PRESENCE FOUR HANDS CAUSE GARDEN EMBELLISHMENT PRECINCTS PROGRESSING STOP APPEAL BELIEVERS REDEDICATE THEMSELVES SERVICE HOLY CAUSE FOR WHICH BELOVED ALL HEARTS SACRIFICED HIS PRECIOUS LIFE.[CABLE] HANDS HOLY LAND
A SIMILAR MESSAGE WAS SENT TO ALL CONTINENTS REQUESTING THAT IT BE SHARED WITH THE, HANDS OF THE CAUSE AND THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES.===================================
On behalf of the entire body of the Hands of the Cause of God we send you this copy of the Message to the Bahá'ís of East and West, issued by the Hands at the conclusion of their second historic meeting in the Holy Land.
We ask that you bring this vitally important communication to the attention of all the believers in your area as quickly as possible, through your News Letter, or otherwise.Page 118
Our loving thoughts and prayers are with you as you press forward to discharge the momentous tasks of this crucial year.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
From the Hands of the Cause to the Bahá'ís of East and WestMansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji 'Akka, Israel,
Twenty-five of the twenty-seven Hands of the Cause of God have once again met in the blessed Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh near the holiest spot on this planet, and prayerfully considered the grave problems now facing the Bahá'ís of the world. Though no longer plunged in the agony of grief that afflicted our hearts last November, we are nevertheless profoundly concerned over the success of the tasks entrusted to the believers of the East and West by our beloved Guardian in the provisions of his mighty globe encircling Crusade.
With feelings of deepest gratitude we realize that Bahá'u'lláh has vouchsafed to us during this past year -- dark and overshadowed though it was by the passing of our beloved Guardian -- many evidences of His unfailing grace and protection. The unity of the Cause of God has been maintained, and out of the fire of this mighty test, the believers have emerged with chastened and consecrated hearts, mature in spirit, with a deeper sense of oneness than ever before, eager to assist in winning every goal set for them by their beloved Guardian. God has indeed opened the doors of His mercy to us.
A befitting and magnificent monument to the beloved Guardian's precious memory has been raised up above the sacred earth in London which enshrines his blessed remains, a memorial to the erection of which the believers from every corner of the earth had the privilege of contributing.
The five mighty Conferences called by Shoghi Effendi and whose purposes he outlined in his Message marking the midway point of the Crusade, were held with outstanding success, almost five thousand believers being privileged to attend them. The roll-call from among the followers of the black race in Africa and the brown race in the Pacific has more than doubled during the past year, a triumph which alone would have brought infinite joy to his blessed heart. Two of the three MotherPage 119
Temples which he specified should be built, will be completed well within two years of his passing. The funds for these Temples, and for the teaching work to which he attached such supreme importance, have poured in abundantly from all parts of the world, a loving and loyal testimony to the determination of the Bahá'ís everywhere to carry out his every wish. Spitzbergen the last and one of the most difficult of all the virgin territories to be opened during the Crusade, received its first pioneer less than six months after he left this world.
In spite of such heartening progress, we must face the fact that this year ahead may well prove to be the crucial turning-point of the entire Crusade, and upon which its completion critically hangs. Many of the most important goals still remain to be achieved: Work on the Mother Temple of Europe has not yet commenced, although it must rise in all its splendour to shed its spiritual blessings upon that continent before 1963. The Local Spiritual Assemblies still to be formed as part of the original plan number no less than 394. The number of National and Regional Assemblies which must be elected before the end of the Crusade, in the alarmingly short time of four and a half years, are no less than thirty-eight, four of which are to be formed as planned by the beloved Guardian this coming Ridvan.
We are now embarked upon the fourth and final phase of this historic Crusade. Our beloved Guardian's own words tell us that this phase must be characterized by "a powerful impetus, the world over, to the vital process of individual conversion -- the pre-eminent purpose underlying the Plan in all its ramifications" and "must be immortalized, on the one hand, by an unprecedented increase in the number of avowed supporters of the Faith, in all the continents of the globe, of every race, clime, creed and colour, and from every stratum of present-day society, coupled with a corresponding increase in the number of Bahá'í centres . . ."
The fateful years of the beloved Guardian's glorious Crusade are swiftly passing. "How staggering", he told us, is "the responsibility that must weigh upon the present generation." His stirring appeal for an "upsurge of enthusiasm and consecration, before which every single as well as collective exploit, associated with any of the three previous phases (of the Crusade), will pale" is directed to every believer on the planet, but especially "to their elected representatives, whether local, regional, or national, who, in their capacity as the custodians and members of the nascent institutions of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" must shoulder "the chief responsibility in laying an unassailable foundation for that Universal House of Justice which, as its title implies, is to be the exponent and guardian of that Divine Justice which can alone ensure the security of, and establish the reign of law and order in, a strangely disordered world."Page 120
This House of Justice, he tells us, "posterity will regard as the last refuge of a tottering civilization."
Upon these National and Regional Assemblies which we must now raise up, has been conferred the sacred privilege of electing the members of this Universal House of Justice. The guidance of The Báb. and Bahá'u'lláh will flow into the World Order established in the Bahá'í Dispensation through this Supreme Body, whose infallibility is assured by the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh Himself. `Abdu'l-Bahá declared in His Will and Testament that the members of the Universal House of Justice must "deliberate upon all problems which have caused difference, questions that are obscure and matters that are not expressly recorded in the Book. Whatsoever they decide has the same effect as the Text itself." "That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself." Guided by the precious storehouse of Sacred and inviolable Texts given to us by Bahá'u'lláh and elaborated by `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi pouring our forces into the execution of the Divine Plan of the Master, now in the twenty-second year of its unfoldment within the successive Plans laid down by our beloved Guardian, supported by the unfailing aid of the Supreme Concourse promised in our Writings, with our beloved Guardian's spirit watching over the work he so dearly loved and served so unsparingly for thirty-six years, we cannot fail.
The Hands of the Faith, solemnly mindful of the primary function conferred upon them in the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá to protect the Cause of God and promulgate its Teachings, and deeply conscious of their present great responsibility as Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth, have already arranged for a number of the Hands to travel extensively during the coming year in order to carry the spirit of the beloved Guardian and the World Centre of our Faith to the believers and their elected representatives, particularly in those areas where so many of the future pillars of the International House of Justice must be erected, namely, Latin America and the goal countries of Europe.
The Hands of the Faith have also planned to give every aid within their power to the National Spiritual Assemblies in supporting and stimulating the work on the home fronts of such old and tried communities as those of Persia, the United States, Canada, India, Australia, Great Britain, and Germany. In rededicating themselves to their share of the heavy burden now resting upon each and every follower of Bahá'u'lláh, the Hands appeal to the National and Regional Assemblies to assist them in the mighty tasks that lie ahead through a closer and swifter cooperation with the Hands serving at the World Centre, who of necessity are called upon to coordinate the international work so laboriouslyPage 121
built up, at such a great cost to himself, by our most beloved Guardian. Prompt consultation on teaching problems, reports concerning the progress being made and the present status of the work undertaken by each National or Regional Assembly, as well as appeals for advice and aid, should pour continually into the Holy Land in order that good news may be shared for the encouragement of all and any crises which arise in the Bahá'í world may be swiftly dealt with, and not a moment of our infinitely precious time between now and the completion of the Crusade -- just fifty-two short months away -- be lost.
Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, and the beloved Guardian have repeatedly warned us that the time is short, that these fast-fleeting hours in which we live will come to us no more, and we shall never again have a similar opportunity. The beloved Guardian has in no uncertain terms stated that the "pre-eminent task ... in this day" is "a task ... so urgent" as to be "accorded priority over every other Bahá'í activity." Let us each one take to heart his passionate appeal.
"However arduous the task; however formidable the exertions demanded of them; . . . however afflictive the darts which their present enemies, as well as those whom Providence will, through His mysterious dispensation raise up from within or from without, may rain upon them; however grievous the ordeal of temporary separation from the heart and nerve-centre of their Faith which future unforeseeable disturbances may impose upon them, I adjure them, by the precious blood that flowed in such great profusion, by the lives of the unnumbered saints and heroes who were immolated, by the supreme, the glorious sacrifice of the Prophet-Herald of our Faith, by the tribulations which its Founder, Himself, willingly underwent, so that His Cause might live, His Order might redeem a shattered world and its glory might suffuse the entire planet -- I adjure them . . . to resolve never to flinch, never to hesitate, never to relax, until each and every objective ... has been fully consummated."
Upon the immediate and continued response in each individual heart to this ringing call depends the victory of his precious and holy Crusade, the last world -- encompassing Plan which his divinely-guided pen bequeathed to the believers. Never before in the history of the world have human beings been faced with such a staggering responsibility and such a blessed privilege. Now more than ever before the heroic pioneers must cling courageously to their vital outposts; a swift stream of new pioneers must flow out spontaneously, without a moment's delay, to reinforce them; travelling teachers must dedicate themselves to the work both in far-off lands and on the critical home fronts; ample resources must be poured forth with unprecedented generosity from hearts consecrated to nothing less than an overwhelming victory on every front. The success ofPage 122
the Crusade depends upon the individual believer arising to teach. For, as the beloved Guardian himself has told us, "The unseen legions, standing rank upon rank, and eager to pour forth from the Kingdom on High the full measure of their celestial strength on the individual participants of this incomparably glorious Crusade, are powerless unless and until each potential crusader decides for himself, and perseveres in his determination, to rush into the arena of service ready to sacrifice his all for the Cause he is called upon to champion."
"This challenge, so severe and insistent, and yet so glorious, faces no doubt primarily the individual believer on whom, in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community ... He it is who serves as one of the multitude of bricks which support the structure and ensure the stability of the administrative edifice now being raised in every part of the world. Without his support, at once whole-hearted, continuous and generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs, is foredoomed to failure. The World Centre of the Faith itself is paralyzed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking." The beloved Guardian ends with this stem warning, "The sustaining strength of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, the Founder of the Faith, will be withheld from every and each individual who fails in the long run to arise and play his part."
We feel confident that the friends in every comer of the Bahá'í world, fully aware of the gravity of the crisis facing them, and unified as never before by the sacrifice of the life of our beloved Guardian, will arise as one soul in many bodies in a mighty forward surge to complete as an immortal monument to his memory the triumph of his holy Crusade.
The Hands of the Faith eagerly and confidently anticipate that upon the unassailable foundation of this united victory brought about by the consecrated devotion of the friends, there will be raised up the crowning glory of all, the Universal House of Justice, and once again a precious source of divine infallibility will return to the earth with the establishment of that Supreme Body on the occasion of the Most Great Jubilee in 1963 -- the World Congress called by our beloved Guardian himself, a glorious and befitting fulfilment of his life of complete sacrifice.
Of this Most Great Jubilee, the Guardian has written: "The Lord of Hosts, the King of Kings, has pledged unfailing aid to every crusader battling for His Cause. Invisible battalions are mustered, rank upon rank, ready to pour forth reinforcements from on High. Bahá'u'lláh's army of light is standing on the threshold of the Holy Year. Let them, as they enterPage 123
it, vow with one voice, one heart, one soul, never to turn back in the entire course of the fateful decade ahead until each and every one will have contributed his share in laying on a world-wide scale an unassailable administrative foundation for Bahá'u'lláh's Christ-promised Kingdom on earth, swelling thereby the chorus of universal jubilation wherein earth and heaven will join, as prophesied by Daniel, echoed by `Abdu'l-Bahá, 'on that day will the faithful rejoice with exceeding gladness.'"
With grateful hearts for the love that has bound us all so closely together, with undeviating confidence and hope, the Hands of the Faith invoke the divine promise of the Revealer of our Faith: "Unloose your tongues, and proclaim unceasingly His Cause. This shall be better for you than all the treasures of the past and of the future, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth." "I swear by Him Who is the Truth! 'Erelong will God adorn the beginning of the Book of Existence with the mention of His loved ones who have suffered tribulation in His path, and journeyed through the countries in His Name and for His praise. Whoso hath attained their presence will glory in their meeting, and all that dwell in every land will be Illumined by their memory." "Vie ye with each other in the service of God and of His Cause. This is indeed what profiteth you in this world, and in that which is to come."In the service of the beloved Guardian,
In the month since we parted from you all after our meeting in BahjiPage 124
we have been concentrating our efforts on arranging to give from Haifa a swift and dynamic impulse to the teaching work all over the world, as agreed upon by all of us, and also on catching up with the work which inevitably accumulated during the time when the Custodians were not able to work on their usual day-to-day tasks.
After the Conference of the European Hands at the end of December, Hermann Grossmann, Ugo Giachery, and Adelbert Muhlschlegel, will start on their important journeys to South and Central America and Scandinavia, respectively. In January (after a month's absence) Hasan Balyuzi will return to the Holy Land. Shortly Enoch Olinga, will commence a tour of some of the West Africa countries. Tarazu'llah Samandari, has proceeded to Persia where, in conjunction with Dhikru'llah Khadem and Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i he will visit many of the important centres and encourage the friends to arise and work intensively to achieve their home-front goal of 110 Spiritual Assemblies. They will divide the places to be visited between them so as to avoid duplication of effort. In a short time, as you know, William Sears will leave for the United States. In January, 'Ali-Akbar Furutan will proceed to Turkey for a visit of two months or so in order to assist the believers there in their preparations for the formation of their National Assembly in Ridvan.
This means that nine of the Hands will be devoting all of their time and energy for some months to come to travelling amongst the believers and directly stimulating them to arise and accomplish the all-important task of teaching the Faith and creating new Assemblies, particularly in those places where so many national bodies must be formed before the end of the Plan.
We feel that, in addition to the constant services to the Faith being carried on by the Hands who will be left here, and those serving in their respective continents, these plans for extensive travel present, for the first time since the beloved Guardian's passing, a most heartening picture of the services of his Hands, in whom he placed such great trust and to whom he left such crushing responsibility.
The pilgrims who have so far come and gone have all left in a happy spirit, more conscious than ever before of the greatness of their beloved Guardian's accomplishments and more determined to help in prosecuting his Plan. This encourages us greatly.
We do feel, however, that each and every one of the Hands (including ourselves) cannot be too careful during this present year not to elaborate on the Message sent by us this November from Bahji Let us adhere strictly to our united statement regarding the future Universal House of Justice -- and say neither more nor less on this subject, assuring the friends who may ask us questions that what was signed by all the Hands,Page 125
after careful and prayerful consultation, is what they should turn to.
We appeal once again to all of you to let us have at frequent intervals your reports, your suggestions and your ideas. We must remember that serving all the time here has the advantage of being able to grasp the whole picture of the progress and needs of the Faith the world over -- but the detailed needs -- so vital in themselves -- we may never see clearly if we do not receive your help, as it is you who are constantly in touch with the believers and the National and Regional Assemblies, and can better feel the pulse of local situations. Please give us your full cooperation in this respect, so that we may feel the beloved Guardian's Hands are indeed one soul in many bodies.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany and Austria
[Similar letters were sent to all National Spiritual Assemblies, outlining to each the outstanding goals still to be achieved.]January 6, 1959
These days are swiftly passing, and once gone, can never be recalled.
Only fifty-two months remain of the Ten Year Crusade our beloved Guardian gave to us as his last trust.
The Community of the Most Great Name has won many significant victories, but numerous as these have been, tremendous tasks remain to be accomplished by the Bahá'í world during these fast-fleeting months.
In opening the fourth phase of the Ten Year Crusade, upon which we are now embarked, the beloved Guardian called for
an unprecedented increase in the number of avowed supporters of
the Faith, in all the continents of the globe, of every race,
clime, creed and colour, and from every stratum of present-day
society, coupled with a corresponding increase in the number ofBahá'í centres ...
Let us concentrate our minds and all our efforts on the achievement of these supreme goals.
The Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land have analyzed the situation now confronting the friends, especially in relation to the establishment of Local Assemblies, the bedrock on which the pillars of the Universal House of Justice must rest. On the German home front (excluding Austria) a total of at least twelve new Local Assemblies must be established before 1963, and those now existing must be strengthened and maintained, and many new localities must be opened to the Faith.
These are the original home-front goals set by our beloved Guardian when he launched the world-embracing Spiritual Crusade, and now in the remaining months of the Plan, these objectives become the most vital unfinished tasks, upon the accomplishment of which total victory in the Holy Crusade itself now depends.
The Local Assemblies which must be created are the particular responsibility of your Assembly, and the most urgent task before you is the development of promising groups into Assemblies and the opening of new centres An intensive teaching campaign should be inaugurated, aimed at a steady increase in the number of Bahá'ís in these localities, soPage 130
that the required number of Assemblies may be speedily formed and new centres created.
We therefore urge your national body to study this pressing problem immediately, and select for prompt action those localities or centres which are most promising. Pioneers should be sent, either from your own areas if they are available, or help should be sought from other national communities. Arrangements should also be made for travelling teachers to visit these centres continuously.
Experience in other areas has proved that a strong National Teaching Committee, with a membership largely centred in one locality, is the best instrument through which a National Assembly can work to carry a teaching plan through to a successful conclusion. When the time element is so important, such committees should be able to meet frequently, and constantly follow up and encourage the various projects and activities aimed at accomplishment of the goals. We suggest you review your present teaching structure to see if any changes can be made which will enable it to function more effectively. We give you an instance of what we mean by this. A National or Regional Teaching Committee (as the case may be) may meet once a month and consider its own plans. If it has to get approval for major projects or expenditures from the National Spiritual Assembly before the Committee can put the project into operation, there may be a lapse of not only some weeks, but even months. Such time gaps between a sound project for creating Assemblies and starting a teaching campaign can mean months are lost in reaching the all-important goals.
When you have consulted on ways and means of carrying out the urgent task ahead, please write to us in detail, giving all the facts, and your plans and suggestions.
In this critical and fate-laden period which lies ahead, all National and Regional Assemblies must constantly guard against the ever-present danger of becoming too much involved in administrative details. They must constantly encourage the friends to show individual initiative in teaching, and remind them that Bahá'u'lláh has made the teaching of His Faith the foremost obligation of every believer. Now more than ever before these divinely-ordained administrative institutions of our precious Faith must fulfil the supreme purpose of their creation, which is to serve as instruments for the spread of the Divine Teachings, and the establishment of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
The time has come when we must surge forward as one victorious army of light, each and every one of us aspiring for more glorious service than ever before, with our minds, our hearts, our resources, bent upon the single purpose of winning the sacred goals of the Crusade.
What service could be more meritorious than sacrificing for the establishmentPage 131
of the Universal House of Justice, and what demonstration of love and devotion to the Guardian could be more wonderful than achieving all the objectives of his Ten Year Plan!
We live at an hour of great destiny. We pray that each one of us may valiantly play his or her part until total victory is won.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
As Naw-Ruz approaches and we start a new Bahá'í year, our thoughts are very much with you all and we know yours are with us also. It is almost four months since we all parted after our meeting in Bahji and we know you are eager for some news of what is going on here at the World Centre.
The work has been pressing and we try very hard not only to keep abreast of current problems and correspondence, but to do creative work, in the spirit of the decisions which we all made last November during our second Conclave, regarding expediting the execution of the Ten Year Plan.
As you no doubt know, Ugo Giachery, is in Central America on the mission we arranged for him. His reports have been most illuminating and show clearly a number of things: That the Faith is firmly founded in the hearts of the local Bahá'ís that they need encouragement and mature teachers very much; that there must be an influx of pioneers from outside if they hope to accomplish their goals; and that some of the Assemblies which existed on paper, according to the survey we presented to you at Bahji do not in fact exist at all, as they have less than nine members in the community. The picture is both grave and encouraging; grave because wide-scale action is required at once, encouraging because of the spirit of the friends and the firmness of the foundation laid in these countries by so many self-sacrificing American pioneers.
Hermann Grossmann has recently left on his trip to South America, and we are eagerly awaiting his reports. We assume his experience and observations will be much the same as those of Ugo.
Enoch Olinga, is travelling extensively in West Africa and meeting with great success in the teaching work. The progress of the Faith in the Cameroons has been extraordinary, and he reports that in the past month and a half alone, over two hundred have been enrolled, and since thePage 132
beloved Guardian's passing over seven hundred have embraced the Faith there.
Already the results of Enoch's visit to the Maoris of New Zealand is bearing fruit. Recently, at the request of some of the Maori leaders that a distinguished Bahá'í should visit them and tell them more of the Faith, Collis Featherstone has made a special trip to one of their largest centres and met with a most encouraging response on the part of some of the chiefs as well as the people. The Teachings are now being studied there.
John Robarts, after consultation with us, has now given up his business and is devoting his full time to the African work. Musa Banani will soon have much more help from 'Ali Nakhjavani in carrying on his share of the work of the Hands in Africa. We hope that the full-time efforts of these three Hands will now produce a momentum in the continental teaching work which will, in conjunction with the plans being undertaken by the Regional Assemblies, witness the inauguration of that great wave of mass conversion the beloved Guardian said must take place during this second half of the Ten Year Plan.
The National Spiritual Assembly of Central and East Africa wrote us so encouragingly about the possibilities of large-scale teaching in their area, if the funds were available, that we responded by sending them ten thousand dollars from the Memorial Fund of the beloved Guardian. You will recall that we assured the Bahá'ís that any sum over and above the amount required to erect the monument on his grave would be expended for the teaching work, so dear to his blessed heart, and the construction of the Temples. We believe this may enable the first great wave of mass conversion in Africa to take place at this time. For the teaching of the Africans in the area under the jurisdiction of the South and West Africa Regional Assembly, we have sent three thousand dollars from this same Fund.
Adelbert Muhlschlegel, on the eve of his departure for the Scandinavian countries, suffered another heart attack, but, thank God, is recovering satisfactorily from its effects. We hope he will soon be able to start his work in the North. Horace Holley likewise suffered another heart attack, but is at home again and able to go on with his work. Bill Sears, pursuant to our decision taken in Bahji has proceeded to the United States and commenced his important work there as a Hand serving in the Western Hemisphere.
When there are so few of us, it is most regrettable that illness should hinder us from carrying on our all-important and sacred work of seeing the beloved Guardian's Plan effectively prosecuted and consummated. News has reached us that some other Hands have not been well enough to travel and carry on their duties. We ask you to join us in praying that they may soon recover sufficiently to go about the work of Shoghi Effendi during this all-important year.Page 133
We feel it will encourage you to know that our dear Milly Collins and Mason Remey, in spite of advanced years, and the acute suffering of the former through arthritic attacks, are both with us, serving devotedly. Tarazu'llah Samandari, in response to our appeal, is now visiting many centres in Persia-in spite of his age and rheumatism which causes him much pain. The younger Hands of the Faith have every reason to be proud of the older Hands and their wonderful example of steadfastness and perseverance.
Although the correspondence from you is more frequent than last year, we still feel that, with a few exceptions, we are not getting enough reports from you indicating the status of the Plan in various countries, the state of the believers, and making any recommendations you may have in mind. Please remember that the more help we get from you here, the more we can assist in the execution of the various pressing tasks confronting the Bahá'í world, and the better our own work of coordinating and stimulating the activities of the believers can go forward.
The flow of pilgrims here has been steady, and the spirit they bring with them deeply touches our hearts and gives us new energy to struggle on with our own work. They take away with them, in their turn, new strength, vision and enthusiasm, and we hope, as the beloved Guardian wished, that they will carry out to the Bahá'í world a fresh impetus and stimulate the friends to arise and speedily accomplish his goals.
Generally speaking, the news received here indicates a stirring throughout the National, Regional and Local Assemblies and the rank and file of the believers in the direction of more active execution of the Plan. However, it is still moving at such a slow tempo as to alarm us. We cannot urge you too strongly to constantly remind the National Assemblies and the friends of the need for haste at this critical hour-days are slipping by unperceived, and now only four years remain to us in which to win this Holy Crusade! The formation of Local Assemblies, we all know, is a lengthy and difficult process. When we realize that most of these new Assemblies must constitute pillars of the new National Assemblies, which in their turn are the pillars of the Universal House of Justice, we begin to appreciate how little time we have not only to build them, but to build them solidly. We do not wish to see some of the Assemblies on which the new National Spiritual Assemblies are built, and which thus form indirectly the foundations of the Universal House of Justice, crumble away as soon as that august Body is established. We must remember how painstakingly Shoghi Effendi-the Sign of God-built, and how much importance he attached to laying the widest and firmest possible foundation for National Assemblies.
The response to our recent letter to the European and Latin AmericanPage 134
Regional Assemblies, asking them to choose specific goal cities in which to establish Spiritual Assemblies at the earliest possible date, is bearing fruit, and we are beginning to get encouraging reports from them indicating progress in settling these vital goals.
In view of the extreme urgency for immediate action in the teaching field, and the fact that in most places lack of funds is perhaps the most serious impediment, we have allocated for this specific purpose and the settlement of pioneers three thousand dollars to each of the four Latin American Regional Assemblies, and a similar sum to the German, Benelux, Scandinavian and Italo-Swiss Regional Assemblies, as well as one thousand dollars to the Iberian Assembly.
Reports received here indicate that Board members everywhere are not travelling sufficiently, primarily through lack of financial support. We are therefore making available to the Continental Funds of the Hands the following sums to assist you all in carrying out your work more effectively:$3,000. America
Please, beloved co-workers, let us receive more news of your activities and more reports of the work and progress being made in your region.
We send you our most loving Naw-Ruz greetings and we shall be praying for us all in the holy Shrines on that great Feast Day of the New Year.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
The most glorious Feast of the Bahá'í Year, the "King of Festivals", the Ridvan commemoration of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh, "Whose Day every Prophet hath announced" and for Whose advent "the soul of every Divine Messenger hath thirsted", is once more upon us, the second Ridvan since the passing of our precious, our most beloved Guardian. No report from the World Centre can ever take the place of the wonderful stream of inspiring words he poured out in his great messages to us at thisPage 135
period, when so many of the believers gather together at the Annual Bahá'í Conventions, and which conveyed to us not only the soul-stirring news of the progress the Faith had made during the past year, but called us to new heights of service, rallied our spirits and refreshed our souls with his own great vision of the future. Much as we long for his presence, his words, his inspiration, his loving care, we must realize that what has been given to us no man can take away. What Shoghi Effendi showered on us for thirty-six years of his Guardianship, what he built into the Faith and into its followers' hearts all over the world, is a permanent creation and one that has become on the one hand a part of history, and on the other a part of our personal lives. We must show our gratitude to him in a mighty renewal of deeds. We must rejoice over the continuing evidences of the never-failing grace of Bahá'u'lláh which carries the work of His Faith forward in spite of every test, trial and crisis.
This past year has witnessed the steady onward march of the Cause of God in every field. When we recall how grievous and shattering was the blow we received in November, 1957, we cannot but marvel at the evidences, so clear for friend or enemy to behold, of the indomitable strength of this Cause which the Guardian knit so firmly together, and the foundations of whose Administrative Order he laid so securely during his lifetime that the earthquake of his passing neither shattered the unity nor shook the confidence of the Community of the followers of the Most Great Name. Let us bow our heads humbly in gratitude to the Author of our Faith for His protection and manifold mercies showered upon us during these days of supreme test and suffering.
The monument erected on the grave of the beloved Guardian was completed just two days before the anniversary of his passing; the gleaming pillar of pure white Carrara marble, resting on a base of three steps and surmounted by a Corinthian capital bearing a globe of the world, all of the same stone, rose up against the grey autumn skies of London, in its simplicity and beauty a befitting memorial to that great being who himself created so much beauty on the slopes of Mt. Carmel and around the Holiest Spot on this planet, the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh. Perched, as if about to take off in flight, or just settling from the skies, a gilded bronze eagle, the emblem of so many victories, crowns the monument. A dignified white stone balustrade, surmounted at the four corners by ornate stone urns, encloses the inner garden where the grave lies; adjoining this sanctuary, and constituting its approach, is a second larger garden surrounded by a red brick wall; a red path stretches from the two white steps leading down from the inner garden straight to the beautiful gilded wrought iron gates at the bottom of the second garden-which constitute the main entrance to the Guardian's resting-place. On either side of these gates twoPage 136
cypress trees, reminiscent of the hundreds of cypress trees the Guardian himself planted in the Shrine gardens at the World Centre of the Faith, stand guard. Two lovely weeping holly trees, two white pedestals with white Carrara marble vases planted with flowers, decorate the grounds as one approaches, through this outer garden, that sacred spot where the Beloved of our hearts is laid to rest. Many hundreds of Bahá'ís have already made a pilgrimage to this shrine. Many hundreds of non-Bahá'ís have likewise visited it, drawn by the powerful spirit they feel there, attracted by what they see in the faces of the believers who come there to pray, and by the abundance of radiant flowers which constantly surround the foot of the monument.
The tribute of the believers has been completed outwardly, but the mighty, invisible tribute to his memory continues to be built. The friends will recall that when they were invited to contribute to the Memorial Fund for the erection of this monument, the Hands of the Faith stated that any sum received above that required to construct the monument itself and embellish its precincts would be spent to carry on the teaching work and erect the Temples he specified should be constructed during the Crusade. Sums have been received from the believers all over the world, and now that this blessed grave has been befittingly completed, we could think of no work dearer to Shoghi Effendi's heart at this time than that of the new teaching campaigns being launched in Africa, and aimed at that mass conversion he said in his last message to the Bahá'í world, should be undertaken as part of the work of the remaining five years of the Ten Year Plan. The first expenditure from this Memorial Fund was therefore made to assist some of the Regional African Assemblies in launching an intensive teaching campaign in those areas most receptive to the Faith; many of the African teachers are now travelling amongst their own people, financed from this Fund. What better memorial to Shoghi Effendi can be erected, now that his physical resting-place has been suitably completed, than this mighty spiritual one which will endure in the hearts of men and will help lay the foundation of the Kingdom of God in such distant and promising lands?
Aware of how eager the friends are to receive from the World Centre a report of the progress the Faith has made during the past year and the status of the beloved Guardian's world-girdling Crusade, we are happy to share with the believers attending the thirty-one Annual Bahá'í Conventions now being held in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Europe and the Pacific region the following truly inspiring news, which testifies so eloquently to the greatness and the enduring quality of the work Shoghi Effendi achieved during his lifetime, and over which, we firmly believe, he constantly and lovingly watches from on High.Page 137
The number of countries, islands and dependencies where the Standard of Bahá'u'lláh has been unfurled now totals two hundred and fifty-five, as a result of the settlement during the past year of a pioneer in Spitzbergen the one remaining virgin goal outside the Soviet orbit. This feat, achieved by the Knight of Bahá'u'lláh Paul Adams, brings the total number of new territories opened to the Faith since the inception of the Ten Year Plan to one hundred and twenty-seven.
At the end of the sixth year of the Crusade the number of localities included within the pale of the Faith has reached the impressive total of over five thousand two hundred, fulfilling the wish of Shoghi Effendi expressed in his last Ridvan Message that ". . . strenuous efforts must be exerted for the purpose of multiplying the existing groups and isolated centres in all the continents of the globe, ensuring thereby the early attainment of the goal of five thousand Bahá'í centres in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres." Such a signal achievement represents an increase of almost seven hundred centres since his passing, centres referred to by him as pivots of Bahá'í teaching and administrative activity, and which have more than doubled since the launching of the World Crusade in 1953. This truly remarkable reflection of the victories won under the divinely-guided leadership of our Guardian has brought the number of such centres in the Goal Countries of Europe to over a hundred and twenty, in Germany and Austria to a hundred and thirty-five, in Australasia and in Canada, respectively, to nearly a hundred and forty-five, in the British Isles to nearly a hundred and fifty, in the Indian sub-continent to almost a hundred and seventy, in Latin America to nearly two hundred and forty, in the entire Pacific area to over four hundred and fifty, in the African continent to nearly nine hundred and fifty, in Persia to more than one thousand and fifty, and in the United States of America to more than one thousand five hundred.
The most striking increases during the past year, and indeed since the ascension of the beloved Guardian, have occurred in Africa and in the widely dispersed countries and islands of the Pacific-the two areas whose competition for "the palm of victory" brought such happiness to his heart in the last years and months of his precious life.
The formation during the current Ridvan period of the new National Spiritual Assemblies of Austria, Burma, and Turkey, and the Regional National Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific, as specified by the beloved Guardian himself, brings the total of these forerunners and future pillars of the Universal House of Justice to thirty-one, sixteen of-which are now incorporated, four having achieved this status during the past year. The total number of Local Spiritual Assemblies established throughout the world, and constituting, in the words of our Guardian, "the foundation ofPage 138
a rising Administrative Order", is now nearly twelve hundred and seventy-five, almost two hundred more than the number reported in last year's Convention Message. Over two hundred of these are now incorporated. Included in the substantial number of recent new registrations is that of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Port Victoria, Seychelles Islands, as a result of an enactment by the Legislative Council, and the approval of the Articles of Incorporation of the Local Assembly of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga Islands, representing significant victories won in important islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, respectively.
The number of languages into which Bahá'í literature has been translated now totals two hundred and sixty-one, an increase of one hundred and seventy-two in six years, over ninety of which represent supplementary languages added since the inception of the Crusade.
The acquisition of the Haziratu'l-Quds in Caracas, Venezuela, and the endowment in Brussels, Belgium during the past year completes the list of such properties originally specified as goals of the Ten Year Crusade. In addition to these, located in the capitals and chief cities which are or will be the seats of the National and Regional Assemblies to be established by 1963, a significant number of Haziratu'l-Quds have been acquired in recent years as supplementary goals in such widely scattered and important cities as Apia, Samoa; Osaka and Amagasaki, Japan; Callao, Peru; Kuching, Sarawak; Algiers, Algeria; Rabat, French Morocco; Larache, Spanish Morocco; Bathurst, Gambia; Victoria, British Cameroons; Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia; Rembang, Indonesia; Solano, Philippine Islands; and six in Viet Nam, including Saigon and Tourane. A number of supplementary endowments and sites for future Haziratu'l-Quds have also been acquired, including properties in Morocco, the Canary Islands, Liberia, Basutoland, the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, Viet Nam, Malaya, the Philippines, and Brazil.
Although not specified as goals of the Ten Year Plan, the establishment of separate Bahá'í burial grounds has given increasing emphasis to the independent status of the Faith and added to its prestige in the many different places where such properties have been acquired in recent years, such as Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika; Nairobi, Kenya; Kampala, Uganda; Rabat and Meknes, French Morocco; Tripoli, Libya; Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia; Khartoum North, in the Sudan; Djakarta, Indonesia; Singapore, Malaya; and Ashiya, Japan.
The independent character of the Faith is further attested by the growing number of countries, states, provinces and other governmental subdivisions where the Bahá'í Marriage Certificate is recognized. Such recognition has now been granted in over forty different jurisdictions throughout the five continents, the most recent being Poona, in BombayPage 139
State, India, and the Province of British Columbia in Canada. The Bahá'í Holy Days have been recognized by the educational authorities in nearly seventy countries, states or provinces, and cities. Noteworthy during the past year has been the achievement of such recognition throughout Japan, as a result of the inclusion of such a provision in the document incorporating the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia.
The original Crusade goal calling for the acquisition of eleven Temple sites was fulfilled more than a year ago, with the purchase of the site of the future Mashriqu'l-Adkhar Stockholm. In anticipation of the day when Bahá'í Houses of Worship will be built, not only in every continent, but in many different countries, the beloved Guardian included the purchase of additional Temple sites in the subsidiary Plans which he assigned to the new National and Regional Assemblies formed since 1953. Seventeen of these supplementary sites have now been acquired throughout the world, eight during the past year, in Colombia, Ecuador, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay and Uruguay in Latin America; New Zealand in the Antipodes; and in Tunisia on the northern fringe of the African continent.
The steady consolidation and expansion of the Faith in the Pacific area and in Africa continues to furnish striking evidence that the rapid spiritual awakening which began in those regions in the last years of the blessed Guardian's life is continuing.
In the countries and islands under the jurisdiction of the four Regional National Assemblies of Africa, the number of declared believers is approaching nine thousand. This area now has almost three hundred Local Spiritual Assemblies, with a substantial increase assured during the current Ridvan period. Two hundred and forty-three African tribes are now represented in the Bahá'í Community, an increase of forty-three during the past year. In Central and East Africa, the total number of believers has more than quadrupled in the three years since the formation of the Regional Assembly in 1956. In North West Africa, a gain of fifty percent has occurred since Ridvan 1957. In the British Cameroons alone over seven hundred new Bahá'ís have been enrolled since the ascension of the beloved Guardian. In the southern part of the continent, in Swaziland, The Paramount Chief's Council, the legislative body for the Swazi nation, has recognized the Bahá'í Faith as one of the religions that can be taught in that country, and one of the prominent tribal chiefs has encouraged the teaching of the Faith amongst his people.
In the Pacific, exclusive of Australasia, the area where the beloved Guardian said that Bahá'í exploits bid fair to outshine the feats achieved in any other ocean, and indeed in every continent of the globe", the number of centres has now risen to well over three hundred, seventy-four of which constitute Local Spiritual Assemblies. The ranks of the believersPage 140
in the Mentawai Islands alone have swelled to more than three thousand; in all of Indonesia, including Mentawai, the number of declared Bahá'ís has more than trebled since Ridvan 1957; and in Viet Nam the rate of gain has been even more striking. a seventh Bahá'í School has been opened in Mentawai, and two more schools have been established in Viet Nam in the past year. The extraordinary progress the Faith has made throughout the highly promising Pacific region has been markedly reinforced by the translation of Bahá'í literature into nearly seventy-five indigenous languages.
Throughout the Western Hemisphere, the Community of the Most Great Name now comprises over nineteen hundred Bahá'í centres In Central and South America and the neighbouring islands, where a total of twenty new National Spiritual Assemblies must be formed before 1963, there are nearly two hundred and forty centres sixty-five of which have their own Local Spiritual Assemblies. Since the beginning of the World Crusade, contact has been established with nearly sixty Indian tribes in North, Central and South America, of which nearly thirty are now represented in the Faith. The steady advancement in this field, to which the beloved Guardian attached so much importance, is evinced by the formation of the second all-Indian Local Spiritual Assembly in South America last Ridvan in Vilcollo, Bolivia. Among many other evidences of the expansion of Bahá'í institutions throughout the Americas during the past year may be mentioned the inauguration of the first Summer School in Alaska; the beginning of active publication by the newly-established Bahá'í Publishing Trust in Buenos Aires; the first dependency of the Mother Temple of the West, the Bahá'í Home for the Aged, was officially opened a few months ago, an event of undoubted historic importance exemplifying those institutions of humanitarian service which Bahá'u'lláh Himself specified should cluster about the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in every city-and demonstrate the spirit of His Teachings.
As the friends will recall, the beloved Guardian attached such great importance to the various teaching conferences and institutes held all over the world that he included an enumeration of them in his annual Ridvan Message. The following list of some of those held during the past year is most impressive, not only from the standpoint of the very large number of such gatherings which took place, but also in their wide geographical range.
The Conference held by the European Hands of the Cause in Brussels, Belgium, attended by their Auxiliary Board members and representatives of the National and Regional Assemblies of that continent; the National Teaching Conference in Blackpool, England; the Scottish Regional Teaching Conference in Glasgow; the Northern Ireland Regional TeachingPage 141
Conference in Bangor; and the Northwest Regional Teaching Conference in Manchester, as well as numerous week-end schools held throughout the British Isles; the teaching and study conferences held in the Benelux countries, in Charleroi, Liege, Antwerp, Brussels, and two at The Hague; the National Teaching Conference of France in Lyon, and of Italy in Rome, as well as the Swiss Teaching Conference in Bern; the Regional Teaching Conferences held in Germany, in Heilbronn, Wiesbaden, Tulungen, Koln, Darmstadt, Ludwigsburg, in Goppingen, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe and Ulm, as well as the three held in Nurnberg, and the two in Hannover; the teaching conferences held in India and Burma, in the cities of Rangoon, Devlali, Bangalore and Daidanaw, and in Colombo, Ceylon; the All-Pakistan Teaching Conference in Karachi; the many teaching conferences held throughout the length and breadth of the African continent and the surrounding islands, including two in Mauritius, one in Southern Rhodesia, four in South Africa, and one in the British Cameroons, in Tangiers, International Zone of Morocco, in Rabat, French Morocco, in Monrovia, Liberia, and in Mogadiscio, Italian Somaliland, as well as the seventeen week-end schools held in Central and East Africa; the Western Canada Summer Conference in Banff, the Maritimes Summer Conference in Shediac, New Brunswick, the Canadian Summer Teaching Conferences in Beaulac, Quebec, and in Ontario, as well as nearly twenty other teaching conferences held throughout the Dominion of Canada, from Prince Edward Island to British Columbia; the teaching conferences in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Ketchikan, the four major Bahá'í centres in Alaska; the Regional Teaching Conferences held in Rosario, Argentina, and in Quilpue, Chile, as well as the teaching conferences held in Asuncion, Paraguay and in Montevideo, Uruguay; the Teaching Conference of Venezuela in Caracas, the All-Brazil Teaching Conference in Jundiai, and the International School held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; to which should be added the teaching conferences and week-end schools held throughout the United States, too numerous to mention.
The work at the heart and nerve centre of the Faith has progressed steadily during the period from last Ridvan. In November the plenary meeting of the Hands of the Cause was held, at Bahji -- the second since the sudden passing of the beloved Guardian forced upon the Chief Stewards of the Faith such crushing responsibility. The mighty institution of Bahá'í pilgrimage, which began in the days of the Manifestation of God Himself, has been reopened, and a steady stream of friends from East and West has poured into the twin Holy Cities of Haifa and 'Akka, to kneel at the Threshold of the sacred Shrines, to visit the historic sites located here, to gaze in reverence at the relics so carefully collected and preserved byPage 142
the beloved Guardian, to marvel at the beauty of the Shrine of The Báb. and the International Archives Building erected under his direction and according to his own matchless taste, as well as to enjoy the wonderful gardens he designed and created on the slopes of Mt. Carmel and in the plain of 'Akka, four thousand square metres of land on the ridge of Mount Carmel overlooking the resting-place of the Herald of the Faith, have been registered in the name of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran the sixty-six thousand square metres of land facing the Tomb of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji negotiations for the purchase of which were carried out at the Guardian's instruction during his lifetime, have now been registered in the name of the Israel Branch of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, in accordance with his wishes; the third terrace at Bahji artificially created, and which enables the visitor to obtain an imposing view of the Holy Shrine and its gardens, was built according to his own plan on top of the two he had himself completed, and the strip of garden to the cast of the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh which he had planned to develop, was likewise completed, thus adding to the landscaped area at Bahji another four thousand square metres of garden; the visitors to the Bahá'í Holy Places in both Haifa and 'Akka, continue to pour in, the impressive number of over a hundred thousand having been received since last Ridvan. During the past eighteen months, six Hands of the Cause have acted as substitutes for those who were permanently selected to serve in the Holy Land, but were temporarily absent either on some special mission or for reasons of health; five of the Hands of the Cause have, at the request of the Hands residing in the Holy Land, undertaken special teaching missions to assist the friends and their elected representatives in areas where either the need, or the promise of results, was the greatest.
The last three of the five mighty Intercontinental Conferences, called for by the beloved Guardian at the midway point of the World Crusade, were held in Chicago, Frankfurt and Singapore, and proved the vehicles for a communion of heart amongst the sorrowing believers the world over such as had never before been experienced in Bahá'í history. Over six thousand of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh attended these Conferences, the greatest number being present at the one held in Europe on German soil, at which over twenty-five hundred Bahá'ís from Europe and Asia assembled; the next largest Conference was the one held in the heart of the North American continent, where almost two thousand were gathered, largely representative of believers from the Western Hemisphere; the African Intercontinental Conference, with the exception of some believers from Europe and America, and at which nine hundred friends assembled, was divided almost equally between African and PersianPage 143
believers; at the Asian Intercontinental Conference about five hundred Bahá'ís highly representative of the peoples of South East Asia and the North Pacific area, were able to view the portrait of Bahá'u'lláh, whose Faith they have espoused, and to have a share in the bounties of the Conference the beloved Guardian had called for them, whilst in far-off Australia an attendance of almost three hundred Bahá'ís some of them from such distant places as Japan, Persia and the United States, reflected the progress the Cause of God has made in the Antipodes.
At all of these Conferences, in spite of the deep shadow of sorrow upon them, the believers, mindful of the beloved Guardian's words, praised and thanked the Founder of their Faith for His manifold blessings; reverently viewed His portrait, sent to them for this purpose as an act of loving-kindness, by the Guardian himself, consulted on ways and means of rapidly achieving the remaining goals of the Crusade; reviewed its great victories to date and poured forth over half a million dollars in contributions and pledges for the building of the Mother Temples of Africa, Australia and Europe, and the general work of the Ten Year Plan. So great has been the response to the beloved Guardian's appeal to the friends to rapidly build these sacred Houses of Worship that the Kampala Temple and the Sydney Temple, the cornerstones of which were laid during the African and Australian Intercontinental Conferences, respectively, are expected to be completed before Naw-Ruz 1960, and a large sum is now available for the construction of the European Mother Temple.
There can be no doubt in anyone's mind, as we survey the status of the Cause of God six years after the inception of the World Crusade, that the most imposing and in many ways the most difficult part of its tasks were accomplished in the Guardian's own lifetime. One hundred and twenty-seven new territories have been included in the orbit of the Faith as a result of the departure of a veritable army of pioneers to all parts of the world. The Guardian, in the early years of the Ten Year Plan stated that this extraordinary achievement, "the most vital and spectacular objective of the Ten Year Plan", had been "virtually attained ere the termination of the first year of this decade-long, stupendous enterprise" through the opening of one hundred countries and islands. The dedication of two of the three Mother Temples called for in the provisions of this globe-encircling Plan will take place in the near future, and permission to build the third in Langenhain, near Frankfurt, has just been received from the County Council. All the Haziratu'l-Quds, all the endowments, all the Temple sites originally called for in the World Crusade have been acquired. The Bahá'í Publishing Trusts enumerated by the beloved Guardian have been established. The number of Israel branches of various National SpiritualPage 144
Assemblies to be formed in the Holy Land has been exceeded. The resting-place of the remains of the father of Bahá'u'lláh has been identified. Bahá'í women in Persia have been elected to the National and the Local Assemblies. The translation of Bahá'í literature into various languages has already exceeded the original objective set in 1953. Almost a third of the new National and Regional Assemblies which must be established before 1963 will have come into existence by the end of this Ridvan.
This impressive tally of victories cannot but lift the hearts of all the believers and fill them with fresh courage to arise and win the remaining goals of the Crusade, in the name and for the sake of their beloved Guardian. Although the work before us may be less spectacular than that already accomplished, there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that upon its successful conclusion depends the ultimate triumph or failure of the entire Crusade. It constitutes no less than the bedrock of future Bahá'í activities for centuries to come, for upon it depends the erection, on a firm and lasting foundation, of those new National Assemblies which are to be among the first pillars of that mighty institution of Bahá'u'lláh, the Universal House of Justice. The task is a two-fold one: In the republics of Latin America and the ten Goal Countries of Europe immediate action must be taken to reinforce and bring to Assembly status those groups which are at the present time the most promising nuclei for new Assemblies, and without the multiplication of which the new independent National Assemblies will lack the foundation the Guardian specified as prerequisites for their election. On the home front of such old and tried Bahá'í communities as Persia, the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Australia, India, Canada, Egypt and 'Iraq the same process must take place-promising groups must be immediately raised to Assembly status.
Careful consideration of the nature of the work facing the Bahá'í world during the coming four years reveals that the paramount need, one might almost say the sole need, is to raise a second glorious all-conquering army of pioneers, who will arise and go forth with the same rapidity, dedication and zeal as did that first glorious army in the opening years of the Crusade, and this time conquer, not new territories and islands, but new cities, towns and villages in the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Asia, North Africa and the Antipodes. We feel the Bahá'ís should have placed before them a factual picture of the work to be done in this field: In the United States, termed by our Guardian the base for operations in every continent of the globe, a hundred and three new Local Spiritual Assemblies must be formed; in the Dominion of Canada, thirty-two; in Latin America, over twenty; in the British Isles, twenty-five; in Germany,Page 145
twelve; in the European Goal Countries, forty-five; in Persia, the Cradle of the Faith, a hundred and ten; in India, at least twenty-five; and in Australia and New Zealand, over twenty. This presents to each and every Bahá'í a tremendous personal challenge. Is he or she going to have a part, before it is too late, in the Guardian's Global Crusade, the purpose of which is primarily to lay that lasting foundation for the Universal House of Justice created in His Most Holy Book by Bahá'u'lláh? There is no longer time for hesitation, the sands of the Crusade are rapidly running out and with them each one's own great personal opportunity, never to recur. Every single believer must hold before himself the goal of either personally being responsible for the attainment of these objectives, through arising to pioneer himself, or through assisting his fellow-Bahá'ís to do so, and thus be instrumental in ensuring that by 1963 the followers of Bahá'u'lláh will be found in firmly grounded, well informed, actively functioning communities in every area where a National or Regional Assembly exists, and in many of the territories and major islands where His Cause has been established during the World Crusade.
We must face the fact that in Europe and Latin America where the beloved Guardian's Ten Year Plan requires that Regional Assemblies must be replaced by thirty-one National Assemblies, the needs of the various home fronts cannot be met locally. Bahá'u'lláh Himself has exhorted His followers to "Centre your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and promote it. Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation, whose power hath caused the foundations of the mightiest structures to quake, every mountain to be crushed into dust, and every soul to be dumbfounded." The Hands of the Cause, mindful of these words, have recently proposed a joint deputization project to the Assemblies representative of the two strongest Bahá'í communities in the world, namely, Persia and America. The oppressed, steadfast and devoted Persian friends are ready and eager to go forth as pioneers in large numbers, but the barrier of language and many other complications such as obtaining visas for the countries where pioneers are required prevent them from doing so. The North American believers are, on the contrary, because of their citizenship, in a much better position to gain entry to these places so urgently in need of teachers and settlers; therefore this great joint undertaking, the first of its kind between the East and the West, has been set in motion, whereby the friends in the Cradle of the Faith can deputize their Bahá'í brothers and sisters who are, as the Guardian said, the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-breakers, to go forth and help win the Crusade. The Persian believers are now raising a fund to be transmitted through their National Assembly to the American NationalPage 146
Assembly for this express purpose. It is our ardent hope that a tremendous response will be forthcoming, and that the North American Bahá'ís mindful of the truly extraordinary role the Guardian himself has said they must play as "the champion-builders of a divinely conceived Administrative Order, the standard-bearers of the all-conquering army of the Lord of Hosts, the torch-bearers of a future divinely inspired world civilization" will arise in large numbers and place themselves at the disposal of the committee responsible for this mass migration, ere it is too late, and not only cover themselves with imperishable glory, but by doing so, share the lustre of this achievement and sacrifice with their devoted brethren who have suffered so much and so long in Bahá'u'lláh's native land.
No message from the World Centre of the Faith would be complete that did not call upon the pioneers, whoever and wherever they are, be they serving in foreign fields or on the home fronts, be they old or young, robust or in frail health, of the Negro, the white or the brown race, to remain at their posts at this critical hour. There can be no doubt that in the sight of Shoghi Effendi it was the pioneers who accomplished the most difficult tasks of the Crusade, and because of the sacrifices, the consecration and the enthusiasm of these devoted souls, one hundred and twenty-seven territories of the globe, as well as hundreds of cities and localities on various home fronts received the light of Bahá'u'lláh. The importance the Guardian attached to the opening of these virgin areas and to the work of consolidation in those countries already possessing National Assemblies cannot be sufficiently emphasized. How dear to his heart were the services the pioneers rendered! How he cherished each one labouring in this vast field, often at the cost of great personal sacrifice! It is not possible for us to describe the wistful sadness and the look of concern and care that would pass over his blessed face when he received news that a goal had been abandoned for whatever reason, and was lacking a pioneer. We therefore appeal to the friends to remain at their posts, however great the difficulties confronting them, and to persevere in this vital field of service in order to fulfil the wishes of their beloved Guardian and to gladden his spirit in the Kingdom on High.
It is, we firmly believe, the supreme duty of all National and Regional Assemblies to concentrate their undivided attention during this particular year of the Crusade on procuring new pioneers and settling them with no delay whatsoever in those spots where their presence in the chosen objectives abroad or in the goal cities of the various home fronts will enable new Assemblies to be formed next Ridvan. There can be no doubt that upon the success of such steps taken immediately depends the fortunes of our Guardian's Crusade, a Crusade which in its world-embracing scope, has carried the Divine Plan of `Abdu'l-Bahá a mighty step forward in itsPage 147
unfoldment, and which must inevitably lead to the spiritual conquest of the entire planet.
The financial resources of the Bahá'í world must be mustered and expended at this time for the attainment of this mighty purpose. We can do no better than appeal to each and every individual believer in the Guardian's own words: "Let them resolve, instantly and unhesitatingly, to place, each according to his circumstances, his share on the altar of Bahá'í sacrifice, lest, on a sudden, unforeseen calamities rob them of a considerable portion of the earthly things they have amassed."
Victories, however glorious, won in other fields, will be empty of their meaning if this most great victory is not achieved. Every follower of the Faith is aware of that great spiritual truth that God in His mercy and all-encompassing love does not require of His creatures something that He will not empower them to do. We cannot and must not fail. How many times have we been assured that the Concourse on High is ready and eager to rush forth and assist us to seize the palm of victory. Our Guardian never doubted our ability to accomplish the Plan he set for us; he entrusted it to our care and left this world, after so many years of sorrow and toil, for realms where his spirit could operate more freely. We cannot betray his sacred trust, we cannot disappoint the hopes he pinned on us or prove unworthy of the supreme confidence he showed us! Let us arise and win his Crusade and meet the challenge and fulfil the promise enshrined in one of his last messages: "The heights its champions must scale are indeed formidable. The pitfalls that bestrew their path are still numerous. The road leading to ultimate and total victory is tortuous, stony and narrow", he tells us. "Theirs, however, is the emphatic assurance, revealed by the Pen of the Most High-the Prime Mover of the forces unleashed by this world-girdling Crusade-that 'Whosoever ariseth to aid our Cause God will render him victorious over ten times ten thousand souls, and, should he wax in his love for Me, him will We cause to triumph over all that is in heaven and all that is on earth.'
"Putting on the armour of His love, firmly buckling on the shield of His mighty Covenant, mounted on the steed of steadfastness, holding aloft the lance of the Word of the Lord of Hosts, and with unquestioning reliance on His promises as the best provision for their journey, let them set their faces towards those fields that still remain unexplored and direct their steps to those goals that are as yet unattained, assured that He Who has led them to achieve such triumphs, and to store up such prizes in His Kingdom, will continue to assist them in enriching their spiritual birthright to a degree that no finite mind can imagine or human heart perceive."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
Election of the Independent National Spiritual Assembly of Turkey Ridvan 1959To the First Convention of the Bahá'ís of Turkey
The hearts of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh are uplifted in thanksgiving upon the occasion of the historic election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Turkey. Next to the formation of the National Assembly of the Community of the Most Great Name in the Cradle of the Faith, and the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of 'Iraq the land which witnessed the unveiling of the station of the Blessed Beauty, no country, with the exception of the Holy Land, is more deeply associated with the sufferings of the Manifestation of God, and the revelations of His grandeur, than this former stronghold of Islam, and one-time seat of the Ottoman Empire.
It is well for us to recall in the midst of our rejoicing that the fruit of this hour was watered with the very blood of the heart of the Divine Beloved. It was from the City of Constantinople that Bahá'u'lláh set out, in the dead of winter, for the "Land of Mystery" (Adrianople), that grievous city on the European shores of Turkey, which He Himself wrote, in His protest to the Sultan against the wanton cruelty and injustice of this further exile, is a "place which none entereth except such as have rebelled against the authority of the sovereign". "They expelled us", He declared in the Suriy-i-Muluk, "from thy city (Constantinople) with an abasement with which no abasement on earth can compare." "Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather." "The eyes of Our enemies wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person." The twelve-day journey over the blizzard-swept countryside was but the prelude to the years of the greatest sorrow in His life, when the "most great separation" took place and "the most grievous veil" was torn asunder-the "Days of stress", as He characterized them, when His faithless brother, whom He designated the "Most Great Idol", openly defied Him, calumniated Him, humiliated Him and finally made the attempt on His life which left its marks upon His health until the end of His days. It was in Adrianople that He wrote to one of His friends: "The cruelties inflicted by My oppressors have bowed Me down, and turned My hair white. Shouldst thou present thyself before My throne, thou wouldst fail to recognize the Ancient Beauty, for the freshness of His countenance is altered, and its brightness hath faded, by reason of the oppression of the infidels. I swear by God! His heart, His soul, and His vitals are melted!"Page 149
The crises of Adrianople, however, gave rise to evidences of the incomparable greatness of the Faith and the glory of the station of Bahá'u'lláh. It was in Adrianople that the believers began to be known as Bahá'ís that the greeting "Allah-u-Abha" was first used, that the pilgrimage to the Presence of the newly revealed Manifestation of God began, that the Proclamation of the Faith took place, and it was there also that the majority of the challenging and mighty Tablets to the Kings and Rulers of the world were revealed. Therefore we see how great is the blessedness of this country, which the beloved Guardian often stated is under the direct shadow of the Holy Land itself, and which is now to receive, after the lapse of almost one hundred years, the crowning blessing of its own National Spiritual Assembly.
The friends gathered at this first Convention held on Turkish soil, are particularly blessed in that the beloved Guardian himself, during the last days of his life, made note that in 1959 the election of this pillar of the future Universal House of Justice should take place. As the Turkish Community emerges into its independent national Bahá'í life, it carries therefore a special gift of confirmation from the Guardian of the Faith, and the knowledge of this added bounty must gladden the hearts of all those present on this memorable occasion, and encourage the members of the new Assembly to arise to great heights of service in their stewardship of the affairs of this glorious Faith in that country so dear to the hearts of all the believers the world over.
It is quite evident that the first concern of this new national body must be to protect the Faith. The greatest wisdom and circumspection must guide them in their management of Bahá'í affairs. They must likewise constantly remember that to their care must be entrusted some of the most sacred sites in the entire Bahá'í world, located and purchased at the instigation of the beloved Guardian himself, protected with such great difficulty and at the cost of so much effort and self-sacrifice, and to which he attached the greatest importance.
The most important task confronting the new National Assembly is undoubtedly the teaching work; all efforts in this field should be carried out in conformity with instructions already given by the beloved Guardian himself, in previous messages to the friends who undertook this mighty service to the Cause of God. With what eagerness the beloved Guardian encouraged the pioneers to establish Assemblies in every one of those blessed and historic centres through which the Abha Beauty passed on His way to Constantinople; how much he rejoiced when news reached him of the settlement of one of these towns and the formation of a group or Assembly. It is as if he had visualized the map of Turkey with a pathway winding across it -- the journey of Bahá'u'lláh -- pricked out inPage 150
lights, each light an Assembly shining in His Name and radiating the splendour of His Faith. To keep these lights burning, to enkindle new ones, to increase their brilliance, is the foremost duty of the new national body. Its members must likewise constantly bear in mind that the beloved Guardian enjoined all pioneers and all travelling teachers to concentrate their attention on confirming the native people of the land; any community in which the local people do not comprise the majority of the Bahá'ís is a community whose foundations are insecure. The Persian pioneers, who heeded the appeals of the beloved Guardian, left their homes, and sacrificed so much in order to diffuse the Teachings of the Blessed Beauty throughout that land, must concentrate all their efforts on winning over the hearts of the Turkish people; they must learn their language, become a part of the life of that country, adopt its ways and thus predispose a naturally reserved and conservative people to listen to the Divine Glad-Tidings of which they are the bearers.
The newly elected National Spiritual Assembly of Turkey should, we feel, form a supplementary Four Year Plan for the purpose of swelling the number of believers in that historic land, in accordance with the instructions of the beloved Guardian; consolidating the work already achieved; markedly increasing the number of Spiritual Assemblies, groups and isolated centres throughout the country; incorporating, if circumstances permit, the new national body as well as those Local Assemblies which are firmly grounded; expanding the translation of Bahá'í literature into the Turkish language, in anticipation of the time when publishing can be undertaken; initiating if possible a Bahá'í summer school; completing the purchase of a suitable site for the future Mashriqu'l-Adhkar to be erected in Constantinople; and inaugurating an independent National Fund.
Well knowing the difficulties that confront it and the enthusiasm with which its newly elected members plan to carry forward the work of our glorious Faith in that promising region, a land so infinitely blessed and rich in promise, we are placing at its disposal in the name of our most beloved Guardian the sum of one thousand dollars as an inaugural gift to the new National Fund. We feel sure this reminder of the constant love of Shoghi Effendi of the high hopes he cherished for the future of the Faith there and the rapid unfoldment of its institutions under the aegis of this new national body will serve to stimulate the friends to shoulder a greater measure of responsibility, to rise to fresh heights of service and self-sacrifice and to prove worthy of all the blessings showered upon them by that wonderful being who served them with such selfless and self-sacrificing devotion for thirty-six years.
As the Turkish Bahá'í Community enters this new phase of its development, which marks its coming of age in the Administrative Order of thePage 151
Faith, we cannot but recall those prophetic words of Bahá'u'lláh this Youth hath departed out of this country and deposited beneath every tree and every stone a trust, which God will 'Erelong bring forth through the power of truth." Already some of those sacred "trusts" have been found, the establishment of the Turkish National Spiritual Assembly doubtless being one of them. That many more of these inestimable bounties of Bahá'u'lláh may soon be brought to light, and the country which witnessed some of His greatest moments of agony blossom in the Faith like a goodly tree and bring forth in days to come the full harvest He planned for its people, is the ardent prayer and hope of every believer.
Let those whose future is now associated with this new phase of the development of Bahá'u'lláh's mighty Faith in that land recall the glorious promise enshrined in His words: "Whoso openeth his lips in this day, and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse on High, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light." "Arise, therefore, and, with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, the full fervour of your will, and the concentrated efforts of your entire being, strive to attain the paradise of His presence, and endeavour to inhale the fragrance of the incorruptible Flower, to breathe the sweet savours of holiness, and to obtain a portion of this perfume of celestial glory." "I swear by God! That which hath been destined for him who aideth My Cause excelleth the treasures of the earth."In the service of the beloved Guardian,
Election of the South Pacific Regional National Spiritual Assembly Ridvan 1959
To the First Convention of the Bahá'ís of the South Pacific IslandsDearly beloved Friends:
On the occasion of the historic formation of the South Pacific Regional National Spiritual Assembly the hearts of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh are uplifted in thanksgiving for this great victory which testifies to the progress of His world-encompassing Faith and to the powers He has released in this age, which will inevitably enable mankind to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth foretold by the Prophets of God in past Dispensations.
This latest achievement in the promulgation of the Divine Plan revealedPage 152
by `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself, and set in motion by our beloved Guardian through successive detailed plans, cannot but release untold blessings in that area of the world so dear to his heart and which absorbed so much of his attention during the last years of his life.
In the darkest period of the First World War, `Abdu'l-Bahá called upon the members of the North American Bahá'í Community, in His Tablets of the Divine Plan, to "travel through the three great Island groups of the Pacific Ocean -- Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia, and . . . with hearts overflowing with the love of God ... deliver the Glad Tidings of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts to all the people." The first results of His ringing appeal were witnessed in the opening of Australia and New Zealand to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, the carrying of His Message to the Society Islands and the formation of a strong community in Hawaii, thus establishing a bridge of centres stretching from San Francisco to Sydney, and paving the way for the tremendous victories which have been won in this area under the direct guidance of the beloved Guardian during the first six years of his ten-year globe-encircling Plan. With the inception of this World Crusade in 1953 and the allocation amongst the National Spiritual Assemblies of America, Canada, Persia and Australia of the major islands and island groups of the Pacific, the teaching work began to stride forward at a formidable pace. Pioneers from the older communities poured into the Pacific region and it is primarily due to the dedication, perseverance, self-sacrifice and initiative of these consecrated souls that this first Convention is being held just one year after the passing of the midway point of the Crusade. Great as is this fruition of their labours, we must not forget for a moment that the greatest achievement we are witnessing on this happy occasion is the fact that the delegates chosen to elect this first Regional Pacific Bahá'í Assembly are representative of the peoples of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia who have become afire with the love of Bahá'u'lláh, embraced His Faith and risen to establish it in their home islands. This is the glorious victory of our beloved Shoghi Effendi the realization of his hopes, the consummation of his plan for this part of the world.
The extraordinary progress made throughout the Pacific region is evident to all, and must be a great source of pride and joy to those gathered together during these blessed Ridvan days to hold their first Annual Convention. Let us recall some of the milestones that have led up to this crowning event: Your National Headquarters, the seat of your Assembly, has been purchased according to the beloved Guardian's own Plan and your national Bahá'í endowment, registered in the name of the Suva Assembly and likewise situated in Fiji, has been acquired as one of the goals of that same Plan; the rapid spread of the Faith in the Gilbert andPage 153
Ellice Islands, which led to the establishment of the first Bahá'í school in the entire Pacific area, on land contributed by one of the Gilbert Islanders and built through the efforts of the Bahá'ís themselves; the founding of the second Bahá'í school in this region -- which has recently completed its new building on its own land -- in the New Hebrides; the construction in Samoa of the first local Haziratu'l-Quds of the South Pacific and the holding there of a Bahá'í summer school; the large and rapidly increasing number of Spiritual Assemblies, groups and isolated centres which have been established in such widely-scattered areas as Tonga, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Samoa, the Solomons, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands, the Loyalty and Marshall Islands and Fiji, all of which will now come under the guidance of their own Regional Assembly; the many translations of Bahá'í literature into the languages spoken throughout these island groups -- when we recall all these evidences of the onward march of the Faith, our hearts are lifted up in thanksgiving to Bahá'u'lláh, Who made these victories possible, victories which bear eloquent testimony to the great spiritual promise this area of the globe holds for the future and lead us to believe that 'Erelong its peoples will contribute, in the World Bahá'í Community, a particular, unique and important share to its counsels and render it great services in both the teaching and administrative fields.
The words of the beloved Guardian, so often reiterated in the last years of his life, that the continent of Africa and the Pacific Islands were vying with each other for the palm of victory in the teaching field, are still ringing in our ears. We have recently seen during the visit of an African Hand of the Faith to that area how electric is the effect produced on the minds and hearts when a representative of a different race, from a distant land, travels amongst Bahá'í communities of another region. It forecast that happy day when Bahá'í teachers from the great ethnic groups of the Pacific will arise and travel to the far comers of the world, teaching the people the Glad-Tidings of this Divine Message, exchanging visits with their African brethren and, like bees in a garden of flowers, pollinating the hearts of men the world over with the love of Bahá'u'lláh.
The new Regional Assembly of the South Pacific should, we feel, form a supplementary Four Year Plan for the purpose of rapidly swelling the number of the adherents of the Faith throughout the area of its jurisdiction; consolidating the historic work already achieved in these newly opened territories; markedly increasing the number of Spiritual Assemblies, groups and isolated centres in the ten island territories which it represents; incorporating, whenever possible, those Local Assemblies which are firmly grounded; multiplying the translations of Bahá'í literature in the languages spoken in that region; founding additional localPage 154
Haziratu'l-Quds, Bahá'í schools and summer schools; purchasing the site of the future Mother Temple of the South Pacific to be erected in Suva; and inaugurating an independent National Fund.
Well knowing the difficulties that confront it and the enthusiasm with which its newly elected members plan to carry forward the work of our glorious Faith in that promising area, we are placing at its disposal, in the name of our most beloved Guardian, the sum of one thousand dollars as an inaugural gift to its new National Fund. We feel sure this reminder of the constant love of Shoghi Effendi of the high hopes he cherished for the future of the. Faith there and the rapid unfoldment of its institutions under the aegis of this new Regional Assembly, will serve to stimulate the friends to shoulder a greater measure of responsibility, to rise to fresh heights of service and self-sacrifice, and to prove worthy of all the blessings showered upon them by that wonderful being who served them with such selfless and self-sacrificing devotion for thirty-six years.
You are now launching the barque of your own independent administrative existence. Although the American National Assembly -- your Mother Assembly -- will always be ready to give you advice and assistance, and although your fellow-Bahá'ís all over the world will surround you with their loving thoughts and moral encouragement, your destiny is nevertheless now in your own hands, the hands of the peoples of these islands who have become Bahá'ís and who are the electors of this historic Regional South Pacific Assembly. We feel confident that, just as you have already produced from amongst yourselves many Bahá'í teachers, you will in the future, with the help of the devoted pioneers who have come to live amongst you, ever increasingly carry on your own work, and teach this Faith to the people in hundreds of the larger islands throughout this area. Your activities will gladden the soul of our beloved Guardian, vindicate the confidence he placed in you and the high hopes he cherished for your future, and attract upon you the blessings of the Author of our Faith.
We can do no better than recall some of Bahá'u'lláh's gem-like utterances when He appealed to His followers to arise and teach His Faith: "Be unrestrained as the wind, while carrying the Message of Him Who hath caused the Dawn of Divine Guidance to break. Consider how the wind, faithful to that which God hath ordained, bloweth upon all the regions of the earth, be they inhabited or desolate. Neither the sight of desolation, nor the evidences of prosperity, can either pain or please it. It bloweth in every direction, as bidden by its Creator." "O ye beloved of God! Repose not yourselves on your couches, nay bestir yourselves as soon as ye recognize your Lord, the Creator, and hear of the things which have befallen Him, and hasten to His assistance. Unloose your tongues, and proclaim unceasingly His Cause." "Blessed is the spot, and thePage 155
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." "Please God ye may all be strengthened to carry out that which is the Will of God, and may be graciously assisted to appreciate the rank conferred upon such of His loved ones as have arisen to serve Him and magnify His name. Upon them be the glory of God, the glory of all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth, and the glory of the inmates of the most exalted Paradise, the heaven of heavens."In the service of the beloved Guardian,
Election of the Independent National Spiritual Assembly of Burma Ridvan 1959To the First Convention of the Bahá'ís of Burma
The hearts of the believers all over the world rejoice with you on this glorious occasion of the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Burma. Many have been the blessings showered upon this Community, from the inception of its existence over four score years ago, blessings which began with the arrival of Jamal Effendi who journeyed to India and Burma in 1875 at the command of the Blessed Perfection Himself, to carry the Message of God to its peoples. You have never ceased to be under the watchful and loving care of the Supreme Manifestation, of the Centre of His Covenant and of the Guardian of His Faith. After the setting of the Sun of Truth, the beloved Master constantly fostered your development and encouraged you through the Messages He sent you, through Tablets revealed to the early believers amongst you, through the dispatch of travellers and teachers, from both the East and the West, through the honour He conferred on the Mandalay Bahá'ís of being permitted to construct the alabaster sarcophagus for the remains of the Primal Point in which they are now laid to rest on Mt. Carmel. It was in the days of `Abdu'l-Bahá, almost sixty years ago, that the Illumined and dedicated teacher of the Cause, Siyyid Mustafa Rumi carried the Message of Bahá'u'lláh to Daidanaw, which became the first all-Bahá'í village in the world outside the Cradle of the Faith, and was a great source of joy to the beloved Master.
After His Ascension, the beloved Guardian continued to shower that same love and care upon you. How often he praised the activities andPage 156
spirit of the friends of Burma to Bahá'ís of other lands, extolling you as examples of purity of heart and steadfastness, encouraging many teachers to visit you, giving you a special objective of your own -- namely, the formation of your National Assembly in the World Crusade. How greatly he grieved to learn of your sufferings during the war, the destruction of the Bahá'í school and Haziratu'l-Quds in Daidanaw, the assassination of some of the believers, the wide-scale spoliation that took place, and particularly of the ruthless murder of your beloved teacher, Siyyid Mustafa Rumi, that "distinguished pioneer", that "high-minded and noble soul as he so beautifully characterized him, whom he elevated to the rank of Hand of the Cause, whom he affirmed had attained the station of martyrdom, and whose resting-place he declared was the "foremost shrine" of the Burmese Bahá'í Community. And last but not least, how blessed you have been to have had the date for the election of your historic National Assembly fixed by the beloved Guardian himself just a short time before his passing.
Gathered in this first historic Convention of your own, your hearts no doubt turn in praise and thanksgiving to Bahá'u'lláh for these manifold and repeated evidences of His love and His all-encompassing grace. The formation of the Burmese National Spiritual Assembly must inevitably witness a new quickening in the Community of the Most Great Name there, and release forces which will enable the friends to spread the Faith much faster in their native land.
As the community emerges into independent national Bahá'í life, the thoughts of its elected representatives must turn to the mighty tasks that lie ahead. It is our conviction that the beloved Guardian would wish the members of the new National Spiritual Assembly of Burma to formulate a supplementary Four Year Plan in order to carry out, within their own area, the general provisions of the World Crusade. They should purchase, however modest in size, a plot of land in Rangoon to serve as the site of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the capital city of Burma; they should concentrate the efforts of all of the believers on carrying forward an active and comprehensive teaching plan, aimed at the establishment of new Assemblies and groups, the multiplication of isolated centres and above all, at increasing at a rapid rate the number of Bahá'ís in their native land; they should carefully consolidate the historic work already most painstakingly achieved in a period of almost four score years; they should make every effort to translate and print a wider range of the literature of the Faith in order to reinforce their teaching work and strengthen the friends in their understanding of the fundamental verities underlying the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh; they should plan and hold Bahá'í summer schools for the education of the believers and close contacts; they should take the stepsPage 157
necessary to incorporate the new national body, as well as those Local Assemblies which are firmly established; and they should immediately inaugurate a National Bahá'í Fund to finance the work of the Cause in Burma, and encourage the followers of the Faith to support this essential Bahá'í institution.
Well knowing the difficulties that confront this new Assembly and the enthusiasm with which its elected members plan to carry forward the work of our glorious Faith in that promising region, we are placing at its disposal in the name of our most beloved Guardian the sum of one thousand dollars as an inaugural gift to its new National Fund, We feel sure this reminder of the constant love of Shoghi Effendi of the high hopes he cherished for the future of the Faith there and the rapid unfoldment of its institutions, will serve to stimulate the friends to shoulder a greater measure of individual responsibility, and to rise to fresh heights of service and self-sacrifice.
We know from the words of the Founders of our Faith that all Asia must be set ablaze with the fire of this supreme Revelation given to mankind at the time of its coming of age. We feel sure that the Burmese Bahá'ís -- members of a nation which forms a bridge between the peoples of the Indian sub-continent and the teeming millions of Mongolian extraction who are as yet, for the most part, unaware of the existence of this glorious Cause, and are in sore need of its life-giving teachings -- will play their part in spreading the Faith, not only amongst their countrymen, but amongst the peoples of those countries lying eastward and southward of their homeland.
Let each one recall the touching and wonderful words of `Abdu'l-Bahá when He voiced His longing to teach His Father's Faith and expressed the hope His followers might arise and accomplish it in His stead: "0' that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of 'Ya Baha'u'l-Abha in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the Divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it." "Whosoever ariseth to aid Our Cause", is Bahá'u'lláh's Own emphatic promise, "God will render him victorious over ten times ten thousand souls, and, should he wax in his love for Me, him will We cause to triumph over all that is in heaven and all that is on earth." "Let trust in God be his shield, and reliance on God his provision, and the fear of God his raiment. Let patience be his helper, and praiseworthy conduct his succourer, and goodly deeds his army. Then will the Concourse on High sustain him. Then will the denizens of the Kingdom of Names march forth with him, and the banners of Divine guidance and inspiration be unfurled on his right hand and before him."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
Election of the Independent National Spiritual Assembly of Austria Ridvan 1959To the First Convention of the Bahá'ís of Austria
On the occasion of the holding of the first Austrian National Convention in the city of Vienna, our thoughts inevitably go back not only to the many associations this capital city has had with the progress of our Faith on the European continent, but to its historic past as a meeting point, down through the centuries, between East and West. During His visit to the occidental world `Abdu'l-Bahá travelled to this city and blessed it with His presence; from that time until this day of spiritual victory it has been the object of the solicitous care and interest of both the Master and Shoghi Effendi -- an interest which culminated, during the last days of the Guardian's life, by his noting that in Ridvan 1959 the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Austria should be elected. The Community in this country has therefore received a special blessing and impetus from Shoghi Effendi himself on the eve of its independent existence as it takes its place among the family of National Assemblies responsible for the organized work of the Cause of God, and the election of that Supreme Administrative Body which, we confidently hope, will come into being as the culmination of all Bahá'í endeavours exerted during the Ten Year Plan, and thus worthily crown the glorious global Crusade inaugurated by our beloved Guardian.
Many are the tasks which must face this new national body. Hitherto the Austrian Bahá'í Community has received its main impetus from its sister community in Germany; it has shared the same National Assembly, been served by the same committees, been financed from the same fund, and partaken of a joint community life. Now the new National Spiritual Assembly of Austria must shoulder independently its own load of responsibility, guide its own affairs, appoint its own committees, establish its own National Fund. This presents at once a tremendous challenge to its members and a glorious opportunity to vindicate the hopes cherished for it by the Guardian.
Undoubtedly the primary obligation of this new body is in the teaching field. Due to the self-sacrificing efforts of a great many pioneers -- the vast majority of which are of Persian extraction -- the formation of this Assembly has been made possible and its foundation, the Local Spiritual Assemblies, been firmly laid. A wonderful spirit of dedication to the Faith and obedience to the call of the Guardian for pioneers characterizes the Austrian Bahá'í Community, but in spite of this great spiritual vitality, itsPage 159
position is not as strong as it should be because the majority of the believers are not native Austrians. If the political situation in the world changes, if the antagonism of the ecclesiastical powers becomes focused on the Cause at this critical stage in its development there, the devoted pioneers and settlers from abroad may find themselves forced to leave, the painstakingly erected new pillar of the Universal House of Justice be suddenly undermined, and the work of half a century placed in jeopardy. It is therefore evident that the first and paramount duty of the new National Spiritual Assembly is to concentrate its attention on teaching the Faith to the Austrian people and reversing the present precarious situation in which they constitute the minority instead of the majority of the Bahá'í Community in that country.
The National Spiritual Assembly of Austria should, we firmly believe, formulate a supplementary Four Year Plan for the purpose of consolidating the work already achieved; rapidly increasing the number of adherents of the Faith among the Austrian people; founding new Assemblies and groups, as well as isolated centres incorporating as soon as feasible the new national body, and those Local Assemblies which are firmly grounded; registering the site of the future Mother Temple of Austria in the name of the National Assembly; and inaugurating an independent National Fund.
Well knowing the difficulties that confront it and the enthusiasm with which its newly elected members plan to carry forward the work of our glorious Faith in that historic country, we are placing at its disposal in the name of our most beloved Guardian the sum of one thousand dollars as an inaugural gift to its new National Fund. We feel sure this reminder of the constant love of Shoghi Effendi of the high hopes he cherished for the future of the Faith there and the rapid unfoldment of its institutions, will serve to stimulate the friends to shoulder a greater measure of responsibility, to rise to fresh heights of service and self-sacrifice, and to prove worthy of all the blessings showered upon them by that wonderful being who led us from victory to victory with such selfless and self-sacrificing devotion for thirty-six years.
The bonds of long and close association with the sister community of Germany must not be severed; on the contrary these two great German speaking countries should continue to cooperate in the teaching work, in the field of Bahá'í publications, and in the tasks allotted to them by the Master, as well as the Guardian, at the time when they formed one unit, namely, the propagation of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh not only throughout Europe but particularly in the Balkan area and eastwards into the Russian zone of influence and the Soviet Republic itself.
In their constant efforts to propagate the Cause of God in a land that forms a meeting place between East and West, where ancient customsPage 160
and new philosophies meet, and where they must seek to attract people from all walks of life, the members of this community can find no better guidance than in these inspiring words of their Guardian: "They must be neither provocative nor supine, neither fanatical nor excessively liberal, in their exposition of the fundamental and distinguishing features of their Faith. They must be either wary or bold, they must act swiftly or mark time, they must use the direct or indirect method, they must be challenging or conciliatory, in strict accordance with the spiritual receptivity of the soul with whom they come in contact, whether he be a nobleman or a commoner ... a layman or a priest, a capitalist or a socialist, a statesman or a prince, an artisan or a beggar. In their presentation of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh they must neither hesitate nor falter. They must be neither contemptuous of the poor nor timid before the great. In their exposition of its verities they must neither overstress nor whittle down the truth which they champion, whether their hearer belong to royalty, or be a prince of the church, or a politician, or a tradesman, or a man of the street. To all alike, high or low, rich or poor, they must proffer, with open hands, with a radiant heart, with an eloquent tongue, with infinite patience, with uncompromising loyalty, with great wisdom, with unshakeable courage, the Cup of Salvation at so critical an hour, to the confused, the hungry, the distraught and fear-stricken multitudes, in the north, in the west, in the south and in the heart, of that sorely tried continent."
Bahá'u'lláh has promised them victory; let them go forward with His assurance in their hearts: "This is the Day in which God's most excellent favours have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things." "This is the Day whereon the Ocean of God's mercy hath been manifested unto men, the Day in which the Day Star of His loving-kindness hath shed its radiance upon them, the Day in which the clouds of His bountiful favour have overshadowed the whole of mankind." "Speed ye forth from the horizon of power, in the name of your Lord, the Unconstrained, and announce unto His servants, with wisdom and eloquence, the tidings of this Cause, whose splendour hath been shed upon the world of being."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
GRATEFUL REMARKABLE RESPONSE BELIEVERS APPEAL Ridvan MESSAGE SECOND ARMY PIONEERS NEW IMPETUS TEACHING ACTIVITY HOMEFRONTS STOP STRONG EVIDENCE Bahá'u'lláh's INVINCIBLE HOSTS GATHERINGPage 161
FORCES PREPARATION CONQUEST REMAINING GOALS BELOVED GUARDIAN's CRUSADE STOP PERSIAN AMERICAN DEPUTIZATION PLAN RECEIVING ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE LONG-SUFFERING DEDICATED SELF-SACRIFICING FRIENDS CRADLE FAITH WHOSE INITIAL PLEDGE WILL ASSIST MANY PIONEERS PROCEED POSTS VITAL GOAL AREAS EUROPE LATIN AMERICA STOP ENCOURAGING NEWS RECEIVED WORLD CENTRE IMPELS US SHARE FOLLOWING HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUOUS PROGRESS GLOBAL CRUSADE STOP OVER THREE SCORE NEW LOCAL ASSEMBLIES FORMED PERSIAN HOMEFRONT SURPASSING ALL PREVIOUS RECORDS STOP IN CENTRAL EAST AFRICAN TERRITORIES ALONE OVER 2300 NEW BELIEVERS ENROLLED PAST YEAR TOTAL NOW NEARLY 6500 STOP 77 NEW LOCAL ASSEMBLIES FORMED KENYA TANGANYIKA UGANDA TOTAL ENTIRE AREA NOW EXCEEDS 250 STOP IN INDONESIA NUMBER centres INCREASED FROM 30 TO 150 IN BRIEF SPAN ONE YEAR STOP IN JAVA ALONE 97 centres NOW ESTABLISHED COMPARED ONLY 8 YEARS AGO NUMBER ADHERENTS FAITH THAT COUNTRY NOW OVER 900 REPRESENTING NINE-FOLD INCREASE PAST YEAR STOP CALL UPON BELIEVERS EAST WEST ARISE SHOULDER GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITIES SUPPORT PRESENT PLANS FOR SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION PRECIOUS UNIQUE HISTORY-MAKING CRUSADE BEING UNDERTAKEN THIRTY-ONE NATIONAL REGIONAL ASSEMBLIES CREATED BY BELOVED GUARDIAN STOP CONFIDENT TOTAL VICTORY WITHIN REACH IF ALL HEARTS TURN Bahá'u'lláh, SUPPLICATING HIS UNFAILING ASSISTANCE UNITED WHOLEHEARTED DEDICATED EFFORT FULFIL PRESENT PHASE `Abdu'l-Bahá'í DIVINE PLAN STOP SHARE MESSAGE HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
ANNOUNCE WITH PROFOUND GRATITUDE FULFILMENT ONE MOST DIFFICULT GOALS BELOVED GUARDIAN's WORLD CRUSADE IDENTIFICATION REMAINS COUSIN Báb SUCCESSFUL TRANSFER CEMETERY EVIDENCE UNFAILING GRACE Bahá'u'lláh VOUCHSAFED HIS FAITHFUL FOLLOWERS STOP SHARE JOYFUL NEWS HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
As you know, it is the responsibility of the Custodians to call thePage 162
Annual Meeting of the Hands of the Cause. After prayerful consultation we have selected the period of October 23 - November 1, 1959 (both dates inclusive) as the time for this year's Conclave.
This is just a brief notice to enable all of you to make your plans. Later we shall send you a suggested agenda for this important meeting.With our warmest greetings and loving prayers,
To the National Spiritual Assemblies formed during Ridvan, 1959September 2, 1959
Shortly after the passing of the beloved Guardian, the Hands in the Holy Land, acting upon the advice of our attorney, secured from each of the National Assemblies then in existence a letter recognizing the body of nine Hands serving in the Holy Land as the supreme body of the Faith, pending the establishment of the Universal House of Justice.
We enclose a photostat of a legal document, signed by the twenty-six Hands of the Cause present at the Conference in the Mansion of Bahji in November, 1957, setting up the body of nine Hands to act on behalf of all the Hands of the Cause, under the legal title "The Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith".
Our attorney advises us that we should have a similar letter from each new National Assembly after it is formed. We therefore request that your Assembly adopt such a resolution, which should include the following sentence:
We pledge our full support, faith and allegiance to the body
of the Custodians of the Bahá'í World Faith selected by theHands of the Cause.
This should be incorporated in a letter sent to us by your Assembly, signed by the Chairman and the Secretary.
The names of the nine Hands originally chosen appear on the photostat enclosed. The Custodians are empowered to call upon any of the other Hands to serve temporarily as a substitute for those unable for the time being to be present in the Holy Land.
Please keep the enclosed photostat in a safe place, but we ask you not to display it or give it general circulation.With warm Bahá'í love,
ADDRESS SPECIAL APPEAL GERMAN Bahá'ís OLD WELL-TRIED FAITHFUL COMMUNITY HEART EUROPEAN CONTINENT ARISE SEND PIONEERS ASSIST YOUTHFUL NEIGHBOURING Bahá'í COMMUNITIES SCANDINAVIAN BENELUX ITALO SWISS AREAS STOP CONVINCED THEIR SELF-SACRIFICING SERVICES TEACHING FIELD THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE EXECUTION BELOVED GUARDIAN's WORLD CRUSADE CAN BE INSTRUMENTAL ENSURING ESTABLISHMENT NEW ASSEMBLIES SPECIFIED BY GUARDIAN ESSENTIAL PREREQUISITE, FORMATION FORTHCOMING INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES CONSTITUTING PILLARS UNIVERSAL HOUSE JUSTICE STOP RECALLING REPEATED BLESSINGS SHOWERED UPON THEM BY CENTRE COVENANT WHO PERSONALLY VISITED ENCOURAGED THEM PROMISED THEM GREAT VICTORIES AND MINDFUL IMPORTANT ROLE DEVELOPMENT FAITH EUROPE CONFERRED UPON THEM BY BELOVED GUARDIAN LET THEM NOW DEMONSTRATE THEIR GRATITUDE WORTHINESS DIVINE BESTOWALS THROUGH RUSHING AID FELLOW EUROPEAN BELIEVERS FEW IN NUMBER BUT VALIANTLY STRUGGLING WIN GOALS THEIR HOMEFRONTS STOP PLACING SPECIAL FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS GERMAN PIONEER FUND DISPOSAL NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FACILITATE DEPARTURE VOLUNTEERS THIS HISTORIC SERVICE PRAYING SHRINES ASSISTANCE Bahá'u'lláh IMMEDIATE RESPONSE THIS CALL RAISED IN NAME MEMORY DEARLY LOVED GUARDIAN.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
To the Hands of the Cause of God throughout the WorldSeptember 11, 1959
Enclosed is a suggested agenda for this year's Annual Meeting of the Hands of the Cause. The Custodians have prepared this tentative list of subjects in order that all of the Hands may give prayerful thought, in advance of the meeting, to the many matters upon which we must consult.
For obvious reasons this agenda should be kept completely confidential, and we request each of you to take special care that only the Hands themselves see it, or have knowledge of its contents.
We look forward to seeing you all in Haifa next month, and eagerly await the opportunity of consulting on ways and means of winning all the goals of our beloved Guardian's Plan.
Meanwhile we send you our warmest greetings and loving prayers.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
To the National Spiritual Assemblies Formed in Recent YearsOctober 8, 1959
In connection with the plans formulated by your Assembly for the progress of the work in your area during the remaining years of the Crusade, we would like to call your attention to the fact that, although the beloved Guardian himself encouraged some of the Assemblies elected after the commencement of the Crusade to purchase Temple sites, he made it amply clear that such Temple sites should be in the nature of token purchases of land.
In other words, it is not necessary at the present stage of the unfoldment of the Faith all over the world, when the principal objectives of the World Bahá'í Community are to spread the Cause of God and establish new Assemblies and national bodies, that the Temple sites purchased be considered permanent in nature. A small area -- even as little as two or three acres -- would fulfil this goal for the time being. It could be purchased for a modest sum, and at a future date, if the situation were suitable, it could be added to by further purchases of land, or the original plot could be sold or exchanged, and a better site obtained by the believers.
We feel that it is very important for the elected representatives of the Bahá'ís to bear this instruction of the beloved Guardian in mind, so that the limited financial resources of the Faith can be used during the remainingPage 165
years of the Crusade for the attainment of those objectives which are absolutely essential and were specified by him in the Ten Year Plan.With warm Bahá'í greetings,
P.S. It should also be clearly understood that the financing of supplementary goals such as Temple sites must be assumed by the National Assemblies to whom these goals were assigned, without calling upon outside sources.===================================
REJOICE ANNOUNCE ATTAINMENT DIFFICULT IMPORTANT GOAL BELOVED GUARDIAN'S WORLD CRUSADE THROUGH REMOVAL AFTER LAPSE OVER ONE HUNDRED YEARS REMAINS Mirza BUZURG FATHER Bahá'u'lláh, AND LOVING BEFITTING REINTERMENT Bahá'í BURIAL GROUND VICINITY MOST GREAT HOUSE STOP SHARE HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES.[CABLE) HANDSFAITH
ANNOUNCE ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES SELECTION HORACE HOLLEY JOHN FERRABY MEMBERS BODY NINE HANDS HOLY LAND REPLACING MASON REMEY Hasan BALYUZI BOTH UNABLE SERVE PERMANENT CAPACITY STOP Hasan BALYUZI HENCEFORTH WILL SERVE AS ALTERNATE HAND HOLY LAND STOP HAPPY INFORM Bahá'í WORLD HERMANN GROSSMANN PROCEEDING LATIN AMERICA RESIDE DURATION CRUSADE ASSIST PROSECUTION URGENT IMPORTANT TASKS WESTERN HEMISPHERE.[CABLE] HANDSFAITH
Enclosed is the Message sent by the body of the Hands of the Cause of God to the Bahá'ís of East and West from their third historic meeting in the Holy Land.Page 166
The vital decisions announced in this communication, affecting the
course of Bahá'í history for centuries to come, will be such a
source of joy to all the friends in your area that we ask you to
share it with them immediately through your News Letter, orotherwise.
We are confident that the friends everywhere will now arise to make still greater sacrifices in the path of service and, with renewed zeal and dedication, carry forward the Holy Crusade of our beloved Guardian to total victory, and that glorious consummation which is promised for 1963.With warm Bahá'í love,
From the Hands of the Cause to the Bahá'ís of East and WestMansion of Bahá'u'lláh Bahji 'Akka, Israel
The Hands of the Cause gathered in the precincts of the holiest spot on the entire planet have, after long and prayerful deliberations, made plans embracing those final steps which they feel must be taken by all the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in East and West in order to bring to a successful conclusion the World Crusade of our beloved Guardian.
Alarmingly little time is now left to us in which to accomplish his design. Well aware of the fact that this great Faith of Bahá'u'lláh stands in sore need of the erection of that infallible and supreme legislative Body which in the words of the Centre of the Covenant Himself "God hath ordained as the source of all good and freed from all error", and which the Guardian said "posterity will regard as the last refuge of a tottering civilization", we have fixed the date for the election of the Universal House of Justice as Ridvan 1963, coinciding with the termination of our glorious World Crusade and the celebration of the Most Great Jubilee commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh.
As we look back over the past two years which have elapsed since that unforgettable and heart-breaking moment when we realized our beloved Guardian had been taken from us, we cannot but marvel at the protection which has been vouchsafed this Holy Cause. As one man thePage 167
believers have rallied to the support of their Faith, closed their ranks, stood firm in the hour of supreme test and arisen to carry forward the World Crusade. The enemies of the Cause have been powerless to harm it, so complete has been the unity between the Bahá'ís of the world, so strong the confidence and support with which they have surrounded the Hands of the Cause. The numerous properties and resources of the Faith have been completely protected; the Government authorities of the State in which the World Centre is situated have acknowledged the stewardship of the Faith as represented by the Hands of the Cause serving in the Holy Land on behalf of the Chief Stewards; the National and Regional Assemblies have supported, assisted and worked in the closest cooperation with this nucleus of Hands resident at the World Centre; a great wave of pioneers unprecedented since the inception of the Crusade, has arisen and is even now beginning to pour out to those goals most urgently in need of settlers and teachers; the Temples, so dear to the heart of the beloved Guardian, are in two continents rapidly reaching completion, and in a third, plans for its erection are now at long last being implemented. Profoundly thankful and encouraged as we are for these manifold blessings showered on us from on High in our hour of greatest darkness and need, we are nevertheless aware that from this instant until the end of the World Crusade there can be no rest for any of us if we are to achieve the goals of the Crusade.
We have therefore formulated the following plan of action which will enable the Bahá'í world to establish the Universal House of Justice in 1963, and which we now share with our fellow-believers.
We call for the election in Ridvan 1961 of the twenty-one National Spiritual Assemblies of Latin America which will constitute some of the pillars of the Universal House of Justice in that region. This historic decision is based on the fact that we have every reason to hope and believe that the devoted band of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in those countries will succeed during the Ridvan period of 1960 in forming those Spiritual Assemblies required of them by our beloved Guardian in the specific provisions he laid down for them in the World Crusade. Reports we have received from the Hands of the Cause who have visited those countries during the past year, as well as from the four Regional Assemblies responsible for the work in that area, have convinced us the time is ripe to make this joyous announcement to the Bahá'í world. We therefore urge the two Regional Assemblies of South America and the Regional Assembly of Central America as well as that of the Greater Antilles, in collaboration with the Hands of the Cause in the Western Hemisphere and the National Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, to concentrate their attention, during the remaining months of this Bahá'í year, onPage 168
ensuring that those Local Assemblies which form the bedrock of these future national bodies may be formed next April.
In studying the world-wide state of the Ten Year Plan, we have been forced to realize that the election of the eleven independent National Assemblies which must, in accordance with the Plan of the Guardian, be established in the European continent before the end of the Crusade, is much more difficult and presents a greater challenge than is the case in Latin America as the Local Assemblies must be quadrupled rather than doubled. We have therefore set the date for the election of these European national bodies for Ridvan 1962. It is our conviction that with constant and concentrated effort and sacrifice, our objectives can be accomplished there and the requisite number of Local Assemblies be brought into being by Ridvan 1961. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ceylon will likewise be elected in 1962.
With the formation of these national bodies, and we trust, circumstances permitting, of the two others specified in the provisions of the Ten Year Plan, a wide and representative foundation for the Universal House of Justice will have been laid.
We are also happy to announce that another milestone in Bahá'í history will be reached with the election of the International Bahá'í Council during Ridvan 1961. The embryonic institution established and so highly extolled by the beloved Guardian will thus enter its final stage preceding the election of the Universal House of Justice. The members of all the National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'í world, duly constituted in Ridvan 1960, will take part in a postal ballot to elect nine members to the International Council. This International Bahá'í Council is to work under the direction and supervision of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land, serve a two year term of office, and cease to exist upon the occasion of the election of the Universal House of Justice. All the Bahá'ís of the world, men and women alike, are eligible for election. As the Chief Stewards of the Faith are wholly occupied with specific tasks assigned them by the beloved Guardian and perforce assumed since his passing, they should not be considered for election to this Council. Two of the functions originally allotted to the Council by the beloved Guardian, namely, to forge links with authorities of the State in which the World Centre is situated, and to conduct negotiations related to matters of personal status with civil authorities will still be discharged, and to them are added the following: To assist the Hands of the Cause in the care of the properties at the World Centre, and in the establishment of the Universal House of Justice; and in any other functions which the Hands may assign from time to time.
We wish to assure the believers that every effort will be made toPage 169
establish a Bahá'í Court in the Holy Land prior to the date set for this election. We should however bear in mind that the Guardian himself clearly indicated this goal, due to the strong trend towards the secularization of Religious Courts in this part of the world, might not be achieved.
At this turning-point in the Crusade when all our forces must be unitedly concentrated on winning its goals, the friends should not be deflected from the vital tasks confronting them by discussion of such subjects as can only be considered when the Universal House of Justice is established. Therefore we feel it is necessary to recall the words in the Proclamation we sent out after the passing of the beloved Guardian: "When that divinely-ordained Body comes into existence, all the conditions of the Faith can be examined anew and the measures necessary for its future operation determined in consultation with the Hands of the Cause." This includes the subject of the Guardianship.
Aside from the pressing demands of the world-wide work of the Faith which must be met and administered from the Holy Land, and which require so much attention on the part of the Chief Stewards, plans are being formulated for the Hands to travel to various countries and lend the National Spiritual Assemblies their personal assistance during the months immediately ahead and indeed until the end of the Crusade. These plans include visits to the Cradle of the Faith, where the vast majority of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh reside, to the Bahá'í communities in the United States and Canada, who constitute the chief prosecutors of the Divine Plan, to the Latin American countries where by 1961 so many National Assemblies must be formed, and to Europe, where another eleven of the future pillars of the Universal House of Justice must be erected by 1962.
In addition to these plans, the Hands, pursuant to the wishes of our beloved Guardian, are contemplating a much more intensive and wider use of the Auxiliary Board members in carrying out the work of the World Crusade, and a much closer cooperation between the Institution of the Hands and the National Spiritual Assemblies.
The importance of the plans made for the election of these National Assemblies as well as that of the International Bahá'í Council cannot be overestimated, because the above plans constitute the end of a forty-two-year-long prelude to that glorious consummation which will take place with the election of the Universal House of Justice in Ridvan 1963. Through the creation of this mighty Institution, the Formative Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, will have entered a new stage in its development; the thirty-six years of Shoghi Effendi's heart-breaking, self-sacrificing ministry will bear one of its fairest fruits, and that wondrous prophecy of Bahá'u'lláh be fulfilled: "Verily this is the Day in which both land and sea rejoice at this announcement, the Day for which have been laid upPage 170
those things which God, through a bounty beyond the ken of mortal mind or heart, hath destined for revelation. 'Erelong will God sail His Ark upon thee, and will manifest the people of Baha) who have been mentioned in the Book of Names."
On the eve of the great victories which lie ahead and which we will befittingly celebrate on the occasion of the "Most Great Festival", the "King of Festivals", the "Festival of God" Himself, let us recall the glorious appeal and promise in these words of our Guardian: "Dearly beloved friends! ... Ours is the duty to fix our gaze with undeviating attention on the duties and responsibilities confronting us at this present hour, to concentrate our resources, both material and spiritual, on the tasks that lie immediately ahead, to ensure that no time is wasted, that no opportunity is missed, that no obligation is evaded, that no task is halfheartedly performed, that no decision is procrastinated. The task summoning us to a challenge, unprecedented in its gravity and force, is too vast and sacred, the time too short, the hour too perilous, the workers too few, the call too insistent, the resources too inadequate, for us to allow these precious and fleeting hours to slip from our grasp, and to suffer the prizes within our reach to be endangered or forfeited. So much depends upon us, so pregnant with possibilities is the present stage in the evolution of the Plan, that great and small, individuals, groups and Assemblies, white and coloured, young and old, neophytes and veterans, settlers, pioneers, itinerant teachers and administrators, as isolated believers, as organizers of groups, and as contributors to the formation of Local or National Assemblies, as builders of the Temple, as labourers on the home teaching front ... all, without exception and in every sphere of activity, however modest, restricted, or inconspicuous, must participate and labour, assiduously and continually, until every ounce of our energy is spent, until, tired but blissful, our promised harvest is brought in, and our pledge to our Beloved fully redeemed."[Signed as follows]
Since the passing of our dearly beloved Guardian, we feel ever increasingly the necessity of protecting the many invaluable instructions and interpretations which he gave to the Bahá'ís all over the world during the thirty-six years of his Guardianship. No copies for the most part were kept by him of his letters, whether written in handwriting or typed by his various secretaries. This includes the precious postscripts on these letters which were written in his own handwriting.
This sacred reservoir of his guidance must be preserved for posterity, and we feel no time should be lost in making fresh appeals to the believers to send immediately either the original letters they have received from Shoghi Effendi regardless of subject matter, or authenticated copies to your National Assembly for preservation in your archives.
We would like you to send a duplicate copy or the original, whichever you prefer, to us of any material of this nature you receive, so that it can be preserved in the International Archives here.
We also take this opportunity of asking your Assembly to take immediate steps to see that all copies of his letters to your body are forwarded to the World Centre for our information and for careful preservation here.
We know that in many cases in the history of our Faith, words of supreme importance regarding the conduct of its affairs were written by the Founders of our Faith, the Master and the Guardian in letters to individuals and Assemblies. Now that the time is drawing near for the formation of the Universal House of Justice, all material available pertaining to the Cause, its direction, the interpretation of its teachings etc. is urgently needed for future reference. We request you therefore to start collecting such material yourself at once and send copies on to us as soon as possible.With loving greetings,
To the Hands of the Cause of God and the National Assemblies of the Bahá'í WorldDecember 22, 1959
Forty months are left to us to finish our beloved Guardian's holy Crusade. In these months that lie immediately ahead we have to bendPage 172
every effort in order to achieve that supreme task. Time is swiftly passing, and every moment of these fast-fleeting days is immeasurably precious. That which stands supremely important over and above everything else, to which we must look every day of the year until the appointed time is reached, is the fulfilment of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade.
Forty years ago in the darkest days of the First World War, the Master revealed the Tablets of the Divine Plan. The beloved Guardian laboured over thirty-six agony-laden years to raise the Administrative Order and make it a fit instrument for the implementation of the Plan which the Master had laid down for us. "The most important of all things", says `Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will and Testament, "is the guidance of the nations and peoples of the world. Teaching the Cause is of utmost importance for it is the head corner-stone of the foundation itself." For the accomplishment of this paramount purpose, the beloved Guardian assiduously built the Local and the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá'í world. He often reminded us that the perfecting of the Administrative Order and the administrative procedure, was not to be an end in itself.
Our Beloved in the very last message which he sent to the Bahá'ís of the World, in October, 1957, told us that we were about to enter the fourth phase of the Crusade, and in that weighty, vital and fate-laden message, his last command and his last behest was that this fourth phase "must be immortalized ... by an unprecedented increase in the number of avowed supporters of the Faith, in all the countries of the globe, of every race, clime, creed and colour, and from every stratum of present-day society, coupled with a corresponding increase in the number of Bahá'í centres . . ." To the accomplishment of this command, and the fulfilment of this behest, we must now direct our undivided attention. Thus we will be assured of victory everywhere, in new fields as well as old, in countries whose goal is to establish independent National Assemblies, as well as those where the home-front goals are themselves a major task. Whilst valiant pioneers go out, determined and dedicated, to their posts, a movement that must be well planned and urgently accelerated, every effort must be made to greatly intensify the work of teaching everywhere. It is the sacred duty of every Bahá'í to teach. It is also the inescapable duty of all Assemblies, Local and National, not only to organize the work of teaching, but to give all possible assistance to individuals who arise to carry out this pre-eminent task.
We should bear in mind that by naming the Hands of the Cause the "Chief Stewards of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic World Commonwealth", the beloved Guardian has conferred upon them, as the last act of his life, specific and particular responsibilities which they must discharge. But another specific duty which devolves equally and unequivocally uponPage 173
both the Hands of the Cause of God and the National Spiritual Assemblies, is to implement fully and immediately the instruction of the beloved Guardian, contained in his message of June 4th, 1957:
"Call upon Hands and National Assemblies, each continent separately, to establish henceforth direct contact and deliberate, whenever feasible, as frequently as possible, to exchange reports to be submitted by their respective Auxiliary Boards and national committees, to exercise unrelaxing vigilance and carry out unflinchingly their sacred, inescapable duties. The security of our precious Faith, the preservation of the spiritual health of the Bahá'í communities, the vitality of the faith of its individual members, the proper functioning of its laboriously erected institutions, the fruition of its world-wide enterprises, the fulfilment of its ultimate destiny, all are directly dependent upon the befitting discharge of the weighty responsibilities now resting upon the members of these two institutions, occupying, with the Universal House of Justice, next to the Institution of the Guardianship, foremost rank in the divinely ordained administrative hierarchy of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh."
The words of the beloved Guardian and the action they indicate, are manifestly clear. The Hands of the Cause and the National Spiritual Assemblies must for the welfare of our beloved Faith and in compliance with our Guardian's instruction, establish this close collaboration at the earliest possible moment. Meeting as frequently as possible, they should at the same time exchange their reports, and keep one another informed of all the developments in every aspect of the work so dear to all our hearts. These two institutions must therefore assist each other in every way to speedily accomplish the remaining goals of the Crusade.
We are on the last lap, and the road that leads to the completion of the Beloved's Holy Crusade, to total triumph, to the Most Great Jubilee, to the crowning glory of the establishment of the Universal House of Justice, is indeed difficult and beset by many formidable obstacles. But the beam of our Guardian's guidance shines as bright as ever, and as long as we keep within the path of that light and follow its course, there is nothing to fear and we are assured of victory.
The requisites of this pressing hour are unwavering resolve, clear vision, prompt action. We pray ardently at the Sacred Thresholds that our combined efforts may be blessed, and that we may all give adequate expression in our deeds, to the love that we bear in our hearts for our Guardian.With deepest love,
To the Hands of the Cause of God throughout the WorldJanuary 8, 1960
Reports received from all parts of the Bahá'í world tell of the enthusiasm of the friends over the message sent from the recent gathering of the Hands held in Bahji The National Assemblies, as well as many of the believers, have assured us that this message has greatly inspired them and they have pledged the fullest support in carrying out the detailed plans we have made for the fulfilment of the supremely important objective of establishing the requisite number of Local and National Assemblies by Ridvan 1962. This response has greatly encouraged us and we hasten to share this good news with you all.
As we all realized in Bahji the complete unity of the Hands of the Faith at this crucial time is essential to ensure the triumph of the Plan of our beloved Guardian and the glorious consummation of the establishment of the Universal House of Justice in 1963. Above all, we must adhere strictly to the solemn agreement we made to limit all discussions of the Guardianship to the references made in the messages from our three Conclaves. The same of course applies with equal force to our agreement that none of us would express any view individually concerning the question of the eligibility of the Hands for membership on the Universal House of Justice, but would simply refer the friends to the Writings of the Central Figures of the Faith, including those of the beloved Guardian.
We have recently written a letter to all National and Regional Assemblies, asking them to refrain from publishing or printing any new treatises or statements relating to the Administrative Order in its present stage and to the question of the Guardianship. There have been one or two instances of such things being published which might cause confusion and unnecessary discussion amongst the friends. We therefore felt it imperative to take action before other material of this nature appeared. The response of the Assemblies concerned has been very cooperative when we called this matter to their attention.
We have received word that some of the Hands have not been sufficiently careful in strictly observing the understandings which we reached, particularly that no comment whatsoever would be made concerning the Guardianship or its future except as outlined in our three messages.
We call this to your attention because we are fearful that the least infraction of this most important matter on the part of any Hand may lead to very serious consequences throughout the Bahá'í world.
When we visit the sacred Shrines, we pray most ardently for each andPage 178
every one of you and for the success of the great work you are carrying forward in such a sacrificial and effective manner.We send loving Bahá'í greetings,
To the Hands of the Cause of God throughout the WorldFebruary 11, 1960
It was agreed at the Conclave that the Hands residing in the Holy Land should from time to time circulate some of the news contained in the reports and letters that flow in to the World Centre. We enclose the first of these News Letters which we trust you will find helpful in your teaching and other activities.
We are asking the National Assemblies to share this with the friends through their own News Letters.With warm Bahá'í love,
Enclosed is a communication from the World Centre, giving some highlights on the progress of the Faith, gleaned from news reaching Haifa from all over the Bahá'í world.
We feel that such a News Letter from the Holy Land, which we plan to issue from time to time, will be of interest to the friends and provide a source of inspiration and encouragement.
Please share this bulletin with the believers in your area through your News Letter.With warm Bahá'í love,
The Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land have received many requestsPage 179
for news direct from the World Centre, and it has been our hope for some time to share with the believers selections from the glad-tidings which reach us here.
The two years which have elapsed since the passing of our dearly beloved Guardian have imposed such heavy burdens that it has been impossible hitherto for us to undertake this informal news letter to the friends, which we hope to be able to send out from time to time in the future.Through the
grace of Bahá'u'lláh, the day-to-day work of the World Centre has
continued very much as it did in the time of our beloved Guardian,
but of course without the divine inspiration, the wondrous wisdom
and love which it then received through the Sign of God on earth.
As the friends have no doubt noticed from the correspondence coming from the Hands in the Holy Land, we have been blessed with the assistance on different occasions of many of our fellow-Hands. That is why the signatures on the letters are not the same at different times. Some of us are occasionally absent for necessary reasons, and then one or more of the Hands from another place has come to our assistance and acted as a substitute. This has greatly enriched our meetings by bringing us the viewpoints of our fellow-Hands, and enabling them to acquire an intimate experience with the problems facing the Bahá'í world in the course of the prosecution of the Ten Year Crusade.
In view of the vast territories of the Western Hemisphere, and the fact that two of the Hands of the Faith of that area have moved to the Holy Land, for service at the World Centre, it was decided at the recent Conclave of the Hands that in addition to William Sears, Hermann Grossmann should serve as a Hand of the Western Hemisphere for the remainder of the Crusade. He is now in South America, actively assisting the two South American Regional Assemblies in the attainment of their Crusade goals.
Many of the Hands, realizing how little time is left to us to achieve the World Crusade goals of our beloved Guardian are now engaged in extensive travels. Ugo Giachery, is making a tour of Central America. John Robarts, has left Africa for an extended visit to Canada to assist the friends in attaining their home-front goals. Adelbert Muhlschlegel, is spending some months in Scandinavia and Finland, assisting the Regional Assembly of these countries in the all-important work of teaching and consolidation. 'Ali-Akbar Furutan one of the Hands serving in the Holy Land, is at present making a lengthy visit to Iran, encouraging the believers to arise as pioneers for centres abroad, as well as in Iran itself. Shu'a'u'llah 'Ala'i is visiting centres in the Indian sub-continent, the Northern PacificPage 180
region, and Japan. The other continental Hands are carrying on their activities at a heightened pace. At the present time the Hand of the Cause Tarazu'llah Samandari, is working in Haifa on the identification of the handwriting of the innumerable Tablets collected in the International Bahá'í Archives. His long association with the Faith, dating from the days of the Blessed Beauty Himself, has made him familiar to a unique degree with the penmanship of The Báb. Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, and their various amanuenses, and ideally fits him for this important service.
The prominence of the edifices associated with the World Centre of the Faith is steadily increasing in Israel, like a constellation that mounts the heavens as the hours advance. The peace and beauty which streams from the inner Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh and the splendour of the Haram-i-Aqdas which surrounds it; the Shrine of The Báb. the International Archives Building, and the extensive surrounding gardens of both buildings, are becoming recognized more and more as outstanding sites in this country. Indeed it can be truly said that nothing comparable to these buildings and gardens exists anywhere in Israel, or for that matter on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Innumerable postcards, greeting cards, photographs and books publicize the Holy Shrines and their environs in Haifa and 'Akka, A ceaseless stream of tourists from abroad and from different towns in Israel flows into the Shrine gardens daily; tour buses and school buses pour hundreds of sight-seers into the Bahá'í Holy Places; and there can be no doubt that just as the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in America is a great silent teacher, as the Master said it would be, so the Shrines here have likewise become mighty teachers of the Faith. We feel sure that in the future a rich harvest will be reaped from the many souls who have visited their sacred precincts. It is surprising how many of the visitors inform the friends who show them around that they have Bahá'í friends or relatives in other countries. Ten years ago this was a remark rarely heard, but it is now becoming commonplace, and testifies to the extraordinary progress the Faith has made all over the world -- a progress directly attributable to the unremitting labours, the determination and the self-sacrifice of our beloved Guardian.
The plans made by him are continually bearing fruit. Since his passing, with the exception of a few remaining territories in the Soviet zone of influence, every single virgin country specified by him in the Ten Year Crusade has been opened to the Faith. Paul Adams succeeded, as the friends know, in opening Spitzbergen in 1958, and this devoted young Knight of Bahá'u'lláh, after overcoming many difficulties, was able to return this winter to that far northern outpost. During the last few months Jeanne Frankel and her mother, Elizabeth Bates, were able to enter the Cocos Islands. This goal of the Ten Year Plan had been previouslyPage 181
opened to the Faith by Frank Wyss, Knight of Bahá'u'lláh from Australia. Unfortunately he was refused permission to remain, but Jeanne has been more fortunate, and the wonderful news has recently reached us that she now has a group of Bahá'ís in that far-off tropical island. Great indeed is the power of Bahá'u'lláh!
It is not possible to go into details of the progress being made all over the world; however, some of the highlights are indeed thrilling. Recently in Swaziland the Faith has been listed as a fourth religion by the Government. Last year it was possible for Collis Featherstone to visit, at the invitation of some of the Maori chiefs in New Zealand, a centre of Maori culture and to present the Faith to the leaders of the people. As all religious teaching has been forbidden in that area because of the conflicts the different Christian sects aroused amongst the people, this was indeed a unique honour conferred by the Maori leaders upon a representative of our Faith. The chiefs were deeply impressed and requested that literature be left for their people to study. The third all-American Indian Bahá'í Assembly was formed last April in Bolivia, and since then many hundreds of Indians have entered the Faith -- outstanding steps toward fulfilment of one of the dearest hopes of the beloved Guardian, who urged the friends on many occasions to remember the words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, in the Divine Plan, that if the original inhabitants of America accepted the Faith they would become as enkindled as the original inhabitants of Arabia who accepted the Prophet Muhammad.
Among the many outstanding advances in Africa may be cited the extraordinary number of enrolments in Uganda and Kenya, which are now on such a scale as to present a serious problem to the administrative bodies responsible. There are just not enough Bahá'ís to keep up with the work of checking the declaration cards that come in! The mass conversion desired and foretold by the beloved Guardian is now taking place in this area, as well as in the Malayan Archipelago and other areas of the Pacific. It presents a great challenge and a wonderful hope for the future. Schools run by Bahá'ís for the Africans are perforce increasing throughout the continent as the Faith spreads and the Bahá'í membership increases so rapidly.
In view of the urgent need for pioneers to fill the goals in Latin America and Europe, it is encouraging to note that there is a strong internal movement of pioneers. At least ten German Bahá'ís have arisen and volunteered to go to the aid of their sister communities in neighbouring countries. This is a great step forward, as the German Bahá'í Community has had special responsibilities and honours conferred upon it by both `Abdu'l-Bahá and the Guardian. In Latin America also, many pioneers are leaving the established communities, to settle in thePage 182
goal cities where Local Assemblies must be formed this coming Ridvan.
Plans for the construction of the Mother Temple of Europe in Frankfurt are at last beginning to take concrete form. The German National Spiritual Assembly, in view of past frustrating experiences had refused to purchase outright the Temple property until such time as permission to build was assured from the authorities. This now having at last been obtained, the deeds to the property have been transferred to the name of the Assembly. The architect's working drawings are well under way, and as soon as weather permits, actual work on the site will be commenced. As the friends are aware, the Mother Temple of Africa, situated in Kampala, will be dedicated at the beginning of next summer. The Mother Temple of Australia is advancing at a rapid pace, and although the exterior of the building may be completed by the coming Ridvan plans for its dedication are being made for the following year, in other words, 1961. The funds for these two Temples, thanks to the munificence of the beloved Guardian himself, and the generosity of the believers, have been assured; but the greater part of the funds needed to construct the German Temple has still to be raised, and this presents a serious challenge to the Bahá'ís throughout the world in completing this vital goal of the Fourth Phase of the Crusade before 1963.
The many pilgrims who visited the Holy Land will remember how often the beloved Guardian mentioned his heavy burdens, and that he was over-worked and concerned over the multitudinous problems which faced him. This work and these problems have fallen to the lot of the Hands of the Faith, who have been obliged and privileged to assume the burden at the World Centre. We ask the believers to remember us in their prayers as we remember them in ours in the Holy Shrines. We realize that only the grace of Bahá'u'lláh can assist us all -- His followers all over the world -- to bring to a successful conclusion the mighty plan of our beloved Guardian. We also realize, however, that the grace of God must be attracted by a magnet in this world. The magnet, we know, is purity of heart, dedication in service, obedience to the Divine commands, and willingness to sacrifice. We urge all of the friends, whoever they are and wherever they are serving, whatever their station in life, their age, their education or abilities, to remember their individual and collective responsibility for executing the Plan of God. Let them study the Guardian's World Crusade, and determine in what manner locally, nationally, on the home front or in the international arena they can most effectively assist in laying the foundation of that supreme edifice, the Universal House of Justice.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
We would like to remind you of our request that all National Spiritual Assemblies submit semi-annual reports to reach the Holy Land not later than October 15 and March 15. The information you send us each year in the March 15 report is of great assistance in preparing our Ridvan Message to the Annual Conventions, which summarizes the progress of the Faith throughout the world. It is vital that these reports reach Haifa not later than March 15.
Our previous communications have outlined the specific information to be included in these reports. This next report should include, in addition to the number of Assemblies, groups and isolated centres a brief summary of the status of the settlement of the goal cities chosen to achieve the vitally important home-front objectives in your area, as well as a list of teaching conferences and schools held in your territory since last Ridvan. The report should also include any particularly noteworthy or interesting achievements during the past year, whether they represent World Crusade victories or the achievement of supplementary goals.With warm Bahá'í love,
Another twelve months of important Bahá'í events have revolved upon the mighty axis of our beloved Guardian's divinely inspired, world encompassing Crusade. Once again, at this blessed Ridvan period, we pause to survey the accomplishments of the past year, to enumerate its victories and to assess the tasks that still lie ahead ere we reach the goal of 1963 and enter upon the celebration of the supreme Jubilee of our Faith, the hundredth anniversary of the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's Mission -- a Mission which casts its light forward over five hundred thousand years of human destiny. We Bahá'ís may well raise our hearts in thanksgiving to Him for the constant evidences of His unfailing grace, protection and guidance vouchsafed to us, the small but faithful band of His followersPage 184
scattered throughout the populous and ancient centres of culture in both the East and the West, throughout the wildernesses of Africa and the New World, and the far-flung islands of the seas. In spite of the heavy blow we received so recently through earthly separation from our Guardian --a blow from which our hearts still bleed; in spite of our frailty as chosen instruments of God; in spite of the fewness of our numbers in the face of the teeming millions as yet unaware of the advent of the Promised One of all ages; in spite of the circumscribed nature of our material resources in spite of all these things we witness that this Faith of ours is receiving an uninterrupted impetus from the Will of Bahá'u'lláh and that its nascent institutions, given to us by Him, elaborated by `Abdu'l-Bahá and erected by Shoghi Effendi are multiplying in number, growing in strength, casting down deeper roots into the life of society, increasing in prestige and demonstrating the power nascent within them which must flower eventually into a World Civilization and bring about that Golden Age which will in truth be the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth.
The process of knitting the Bahá'í world together and coordinating its far-flung activities, which was carried on from the World Centre of our Faith by the beloved Guardian, has steadily continued since his passing and bears witness to the enduring foundations he laid during the thirty-six years of unremitting toil and self-sacrifice which characterized his ministry. The brilliance of his planning, the far-reaching vision which inspired his decisions, the vitality of the Administrative Order he built up during his lifetime, continue to bear fruit. The "heart and nerve centre" of the Faith, the hub into which the spokes of this mighty wheel of God, this New World Order, fit has continued to function with unabated vitality, receiving its spiritual impetus from the twin Holy Shrines in which are laid to rest the Twin Manifestations of God for this Day, and pouring this life-force into the world-wide Community of the followers of the Most Great Name, in spite of having so recently passed through one of the worst crises in one hundred and seventeen years of Bahá'í history. The Ten Year Plan, the latest step in the unfoldment of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Divine Plan designed to bring about the spiritual conquest of the entire globe, has forged ahead in a truly miraculous manner since that grievous and fateful November day in 1957 which witnessed the removal of its guiding force, its Commander-in-Chief, the designer of its every phase, and the one to whom its prosecutors, whether Hands, Board members, administrative bodies, pioneers or teachers, looked for words of encouragement and guidance and from whom they eagerly anticipated receiving that measure of reward or acclaim that he in his wisdom and love might bestow upon them.
Not only has the unity of the Faith been protected, the plans of itsPage 185
enemies forestalled and its properties safeguarded, but the spirit of the believers has not faltered in the darkest hour of test. We may truly say that it is this great pact of faith in the hearts of the friends that has held the Cause steadily on the course chartered for it by its Guardian, and has been the magnet attracting so many new souls to the Faith during the past two years. It is this force of faith in Bahá'u'lláh and love for Him that has swept the Bahá'ís of the world forward to such astonishing victories as the establishment during this present Ridvan period of the entire number of Spiritual Assemblies specified by the beloved Guardian in the Ten Year Plan as the necessary foundation for the future independent national Bahá'í bodies of Latin America. Those responsible for this feat obeyed his behest to ". . . set their faces towards those fields that still remain unexplored and direct their steps to those goals that are as yet unattained, assured that He Who has led them to achieve such triumphs . . . will continue to assist them in enriching their spiritual birthright to a degree that no finite mind can imagine or human heart perceive." How shining are the evidences that this promised support has been vouchsafed to them by Bahá'u'lláh Himself. Last Ridvan with so many Local Assemblies still needed in Latin America, the heights still to be scaled seemed unattainable; this Ridvan the banner of conquest floats proudly from every hilltop. How greatly must Shoghi Effendi's heart rejoice!
The truly extraordinary evidences of progress throughout the entire range of Bahá'í activity should cause us all to ponder anew the mysterious power of this Faith, to marvel at the secret springs that so constantly feed its needs, and to supplicate that during the coming year a still greater measure of Bahá'u'lláh's loving protection, His all-conquering strength, His unfailing guidance, may be vouchsafed to us in the prosecution of the beloved Guardian's mighty Crusade. With humble gratitude for the untiring and consecrated labours of our fellow-believers and deep joy in their achievements, we share with the friends the truly remarkable list of the major events and victories of this past year.
The number of territories comprising the World Community of the Most Great Name has now risen to the impressive total of two hundred and fifty-six, including all of the one hundred and thirty-one original virgin goals of the World Crusade listed by our beloved Guardian, with the exception of ten territories within the Soviet orbit. One of the most difficult objectives of the Ten Year Plan, Hainan Island, has recently been opened by a stalwart Knight of Bahá'u'lláh of Chinese origin, adding another pearl to that chain of islands girdling the Asiatic mainland.
The steady process of multiplication of localities where Bahá'ís reside in all parts of the globe has raised the total of these centres to over five thousand eight hundred, far exceeding "the goal of five thousand Bahá'íPage 186
centres in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres" called for by our beloved Guardian in his Ridvan Message three short years ago. More than thirteen hundred localities have been added since his passing, over six hundred of these during the past year alone.
This uninterrupted expansion, brought about by the twin processes of dispersion and enrolment of new believers, has brought the number of such centres in the Goal Countries of Europe to more than a hundred and forty; in Germany and Austria, to a hundred and forty-eight; in the British Isles to a hundred and fifty-one; in Australasia and in the Dominion of Canada, respectively, to nearly a hundred and sixty; in the Indian subcontinent to a hundred and eighty; in Latin America to nearly three hundred and forty; in the Pacific area to over five hundred; in Persia to more than one thousand and seventy; in the African continent to eleven hundred and forty; and in the United States of America to nearly fifteen hundred and seventy.
In the African continent and throughout the Pacific region, areas encompassing almost half of the original one hundred and thirty-one virgin territories to be opened during the World Crusade, extraordinary progress continues to be made, the rate of increase far surpassing that in any other parts of the world and bearing conclusive witness to the spiritual vitality in the hearts of their indigenous peoples. As evidence of this mighty process of conversion now taking place, we may cite the fact that over four hundred new centres have been added in Africa during the past two years, and over two hundred in the Pacific region during the last twelve months. In Latin America, the scene next year of the formation of no less than twenty-one new National Spiritual Assemblies, more than a hundred centres have been added since last Ridvan a feat the magnitude of which cannot be sufficiently stressed when one considers the vast territory involved and the relatively small number of believers able to carry forward the work of the Crusade.
The number of Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, referred to by our Guardian as the "foundation of the edifice of a rising Order", is rapidly approaching one thousand five hundred, reflecting an increase of almost two hundred in each of the last two Ridvan periods. Of these more than two hundred and forty are now incorporated.
Over half of the thirty-one National and Regional Spiritual Assemblies now established have achieved the Crusade goal of incorporation, seventeen having so far secured this legal registration, the latest being the energetic National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Burma, which has just received, less than a year after its own formation, official recognition by the Government of the Union of Burma.
Translations of the continually expanding literature of the Faith havePage 187
now been made in two hundred and sixty-eight different languages, representing an increase of nearly one hundred and eighty since the inception of the Crusade. Ninety-six of these are supplementary to those originally specified by our beloved Guardian in the Ten Year Plan. During the Crusade years Bahá'í literature has been translated into all of the European languages called for in the Plan; into eighty-two of the indigenous languages of Asia; sixty-five of Africa; and over twenty in the Americas.
Progress in erecting the three great Mother Temples of Africa, Australasia and Europe is steadily continuing. Practically three years before the end of the World Crusade the beautiful and highly suitable Mashriqu'l-Adkhar at present reaching completion in the heart of Africa, will be dedicated, during this coming August, at a ceremony attended by believers from many districts and territories of what was once known as the "dark continent" but now shines as one of the brightest regions of the entire Bahá'í world. The Temple in Sydney, Australia, is rising at a rapid pace, and already this great "silent teacher" of the Antipodes is attracting wide publicity and the attention of thousands of people who pass by it daily on an adjacent main highway. It is anticipated that its dedication will take place early in 1961. The plans for the European Mashriqu'l-Adkhar, long the subject of opposition on the part of certain church elements in Germany, are now well advanced and it is hoped that construction can commence during the coming months at the Temple site near Frankfurt. These historic first steps in the process of erecting Houses of Worship and their attendant institutions, which play such an important part in the Bahá'í society envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh, are being followed up and supported through the purchase of many sites for future Temples. During the past year, Japan, Austria, Bolivia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic have acquired plots of land for this purpose, raising the number of such sites since the inauguration of the Ten Year Plan to the truly impressive total of thirty-three.
Among the many other properties added in various parts of the world during the past year to the already impressive list of Bahá'í holdings, the following are of special interest because of the official recognition which their acquisition has involved, giving increasing emphasis to the independent character of the Faith, and adding to its prestige: The approval, by the District Commissioner of Kenya, of the allocation of two plots of land in village areas for Bahá'í purposes, and the pending approval of a third plot; the authorization, confirmed through a special decree issued by the Ministry of Finance in Laos, for the Bahá'í Community in Vientiane to own in its name a plot of land as an endowment; and the recognition by Governmental authorities of Bahá'í burial grounds as such in Abbotabad, Nawabshah and Montgomery, in Pakistan, and in Seremban, Malaya, thePage 188
three latter sites being direct allocations of Government land for the purpose of establishing separate Bahá'í cemeteries.
Another evidence of the growing recognition of the independent character of the Faith is the continued expansion in the number of territories, states, provinces and other civic units where the Bahá'í Marriage Certificate is legally accepted. Such recognition has now been granted in nearly forty-five different countries and political sub-divisions, the latest additions being the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in the Dominion of Canada. The Bahá'í Holy Days are now officially recognized by school authorities in eighty different countries, states and cities. In the United States, including Alaska, more than ten new areas have been added since last Ridvan.
In the African continent, the onward march of the Faith bears eloquent testimony to the spiritual receptivity of its inhabitants, so strongly emphasized by our beloved Guardian, and reflected, even before his passing, in the beginnings of that mass conversion confidently predicted by him. As a result of the intensive teaching campaigns launched by the four African Regional Assemblies, the number of declared believers throughout this vast continent has risen to well over fifteen thousand, seven thousand having been added since last Ridvan. In Central and East Africa, the number of enrolled believers has more than doubled in the short space of a year. Over four thousand new declarations have been recorded in Uganda alone since April 1959, nearly twelve hundred in Kenya, and well over two hundred in Tanganyika. In the Belgian Congo, also, the beginnings of mass conversion are becoming evident. In the far-flung territories under the jurisdiction of the Regional Assembly of South and West Africa, a gain of over sixty percent has occurred during the past twelve months in the total number of adherents of the Faith. The zeal of the now believers in this area is well illustrated, by the recent settlement of the Island of Sesse in Lake Victoria, an accomplishment of a nature ever dear to Shoghi Effendi's heart. The number of Local Spiritual Assemblies in the whole of Africa has reached a total of three hundred and seventy-six, an increase of well over two hundred since the passing of the beloved Guardian. Representatives of two hundred and seventy-three different African tribes are now included in the membership of the Bahá'í Community. Noteworthy among the many new instances of official recognition accorded the Faith during the past year are: The establishment and registration of the first Bahá'í Publishing Trust in Africa, in Kampala, Uganda; the inclusion of "Baha'i' on the official census sheet as one of the religions of Swaziland; and the registration of the Haziratu'l-Quds of Port Victoria, Seychelles as a religious property, thereby exempting it from all taxation.Page 189
The Pacific area, exclusive of Australasia, competing with the African continent for that "Palm of victory" so often mentioned by the beloved Guardian himself, continues to fulfil the high expectations held by him for the rapid advancement of the Faith throughout its widely dispersed countries, islands and territories. Last year the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies in this region had reached one short of the hundred mark double the number which existed in 1957, and a further substantial increase is anticipated during the present Ridvan period. In the region of South-East Asia, the number of declared believers now exceeds seven thousand five hundred, including over forty-eight hundred in the Mentawai Islands alone. In addition to the astounding progress being made there, more than a thousand new believers have entered the Faith in Indonesia during the period since Ridvan, 1959. In the ten island groups comprising the territory of the Regional Assembly of the South Pacific, there are now nearly sixty localities. A three-fold increase in the number of centres in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands has occurred in the past year, and news has recently been received that on one of these islands, to which the first Gilbertese Bahá'í was banished because of his association with the Faith, nearly fifty new believers have recently been enrolled, due to his single-handed efforts. One Haziratu'l-Quds has already been completed in this remote outpost, and two more are under construction.
In the vast territory of the Western Hemisphere, including within its confines the Cradle of the Administrative Order, as well as those republics whose rulers were addressed by Bahá'u'lláh in such insistent and weighty terms, the number of localities to which the light of His Faith has penetrated now totals nearly two thousand one hundred, well over three hundred of which constitute Local Spiritual Assemblies; almost a hundred and forty of these are now incorporated. The rapid spread of the Faith among the Indians of South America in recent months has rivaled the extraordinary progress made in the heart of the African continent and the islands of the Pacific, and may well foreshadow a parallel process of mass conversion in the New World. In Bolivia, a seven-fold increase in the number of Indian believers has occurred since last Ridvan bringing the total to over the one thousand mark, drawn from almost a hundred different localities. As many as twenty-five new all-Indian Local Spiritual Assemblies may be formed in this country alone during the current Ridvan period. Throughout the Americas contact has been established with more than sixty different tribes since the inception of the Crusade, evidence of the steady progress made in carrying the Teachings to these indigenous peoples to whose enrolment in the Faith both `Abdu'l-Bahá, and our beloved Guardian attached such great importance.
Among the many instances of an ever-wider proclamation of the MessagePage 190
of Bahá'u'lláh during recent months, the following may be cited as an indication of the wide geographical area now being reached, and a testimony to the increasing official and public recognition of the Faith as an independent religion: The Australia-wide press and publicity campaign recently initiated by the National Assembly of that country; the first publicity received over both radio and television in the British Isles; the broadcast of a program consisting of Bahá'í Sacred Writings over the All-India Radio from New Delhi; the presentation of the Message to the people of Japan on Radio Tokyo, and from a national television station in that country; the time accorded to a Bahá'í speaker in Switzerland over Radio Lausanne, as well as the television interview granted a travelling teacher in France, which was telecast from two principal stations in that country; the allocation of radio broadcast time to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Suva, Fiji Islands, along with other religions, including Christian, Hindu and Muslim; and the notable increase in publicity freely accorded the Faith in the United States of America, particularly in connection with such Baha'i-sponsored events as World Religion Day, Race Amity Day, and the Bahá'í observance of United Nations Week.
An enumeration of the various teaching conferences, institutes and week-end schools held throughout the world during the last twelve months is most impressive, not only because of the very large number which took place, but also because nearly every part of the world-wide Bahá'í Community is represented. Though not necessarily complete, the following is a representative list of these gatherings, which our beloved Guardian considered to be a demonstration of the zeal and earnestness of the believers in "discharging their primary obligation to propagate their Faith": The Austrian Teaching Conferences held during the past winter in Vienna, and in Linz, as well as the first Austrian Youth Winter School in Krieglach; the Benelux Teaching Conference in Brussels; the striking total of one hundred and sixteen teaching conferences, one-day and week-end schools held in twenty-four different cities and towns in the British Isles; the Regional Teaching Conferences held in Germany, in Hannover, Heilbronn, Koln, Stuttgart, Ulm, and two in Frankfurt; the two Regional Teaching Conferences held in France, in Orleans and Montpellier; the six Regional Teaching Conferences held in the Iberian Peninsula; the Teaching Conference for the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland, in Zurich, and that for French Switzerland, in Lausanne; the Italian Teaching Conference, in Rome; the Finnish Teaching Conference, in Helsinki; the three Teaching Conferences of India, in New Delhi, Kanpur, and Mysore; the Teaching Conferences of Japan, in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki; the Teaching Conference of East Pakistan, at Dacca, and of West Pakistan, at Lyallpore; the forty-five teachingPage 191
conferences and week-end schools held in Central and East Africa, including thirty-five in Uganda, four in Kenya, four in Tanganyika, and one in Ruanda-Urundi; the teaching conferences and teacher training schools held in Mauritius, Mozambique, both Northern and Southern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Swaziland, the Union of South Africa, and Zululand; the many teaching conferences in the Australian continent, including three in each of the States of Victoria, and Queensland, respectively, two each in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, and the same number in Tasmania; the teaching conferences held in all of the main centres of the North Island of New Zealand; the first All-Philippine Teaching Conference, in Manila, and the conferences held in Indonesia, Malaya, and other areas of Southeast Asia; the Teaching Conferences of the South Pacific Islands, at Tuarabu Village, in the Gilbert and Ellice group, in Apia, Western Samoa, the three conferences held in the Tongan Islands, and the Fiji Teaching Conference in Suva; the Winter Workshop held on the campus of the University of Alaska, at Fairbanks; the Winter Conference in Ketchikan, Alaska; the All-Argentine Teaching Conference, in Rosario, and similar conferences held in Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay; the National Teaching Conferences of Peru, in Lima, and of Brazil, in Niteroi; the twenty-five teaching conferences held in Canada, covering every province of the Dominion, and including thirteen in Ontario alone; the Costa Rica Teaching Conference in San Jose; the Teaching Conference of Nicaragua, held in Managua; the All-Mexico Conference, in Mexico City; the Youth Congress held in Guatemala City; the Inter-community Teaching Conference of Panama, in La Chorrera; the Honduran Teaching Conference, held in Taulabe; the three International Schools of the Greater Antilles, one in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic, and two in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as well as two National Teaching Conferences in the same area; and the series of nation-wide conferences, nearly sixty in number, held in the United States of America, sponsored by the National Spiritual Assembly, and aimed at creating a deeper understanding of the needs of the Cause at this present stage of the World Crusade, and designed to lend a marked impetus to the teaching work, both abroad and on the home front, as well as approximately sixty additional Area Teaching Conferences held throughout the length and breadth of that country.
The recapitulation of facts such as these, concrete evidence of the astonishing forward march of this irresistible, divinely-inspired Plan, cannot but fill our souls with courage and determination to arise and carry out the remaining tasks of the World Crusade with greater vigour and dedication than ever before.
The supreme importance and significance of the World Centre of thePage 192
Faith, irrevocably fixed by Bahá'u'lláh Himself in the Holy Land, and constantly stressed by the Guardian in his writings, has emerged since his passing and looms before us in its stupendous outlines, as the Most Great Jubilee approaches and the institutions of the World Centre evolve. It is incumbent upon the Bahá'ís particularly their elected National and Regional representatives, to realize that the unity of the Faith and the necessary uniform spread of its activities depend upon the proper co-ordination and protection which is given from the World Centre. National or Regional plans or interests cannot be permitted to sacrifice the overall interests of a closely-knit, smoothly functioning World Community. The eagerness of the Assemblies, and the believers they represent, each striving to attain in its own area a greater measure of development, to raise up new institutions such as Haziratu'l-Quds, Temples, schools and endowments, must be at once fostered and contained; fostered so that the Faith may arise locally in all its glory and power in different parts of the world; contained and directed so that each part whilst expanding and developing as fast as possible may not place in jeopardy the work of another area or undertake over-expansion or expenditure at the expense of another member of this single entity -- a World Community. A constant consultative flow of communications must ever-increasingly, as the Crusade draws to its close, pass in and out of Haifa between the various National and Regional Assemblies and the Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land upon whom has devolved the task at this critical juncture in Bahá'í history of safeguarding and promoting the world interests and world-wide progress of the Cause of God.
During this year of momentous preparation for the election of no less than twenty-one new National Spiritual Assemblies in Central America, the Antilles and South America, a ceaseless effort must be exerted on the part of all those responsible for the fulfilment of these supremely important goals of the Crusade in order to ensure that the newly elected Local Assemblies, as well as those previously elected, remain at their present level, that they be deepened in faith and understanding of the Administrative Order, that the Communities they represent are increased in number and the rank and file of the believers more deeply confirmed in the spirit of the Faith and encouraged to serve its interests and spread its knowledge among the peoples of their respective countries. This is going to require arduous work on the part of those devoted and consecrated pioneers who constitute the vanguard of Bahá'u'lláh's advancing hosts; it is going to mean more pioneers and teachers may still be required in this strategic field of service; it will entail on the part of the Mother Community in North America an unabated flow of assistance in the form of loving consultation, cooperation and guidance, as well as a supply ofPage 193
material means from this more prosperous and richly blessed community to these struggling new daughter communities, rich in spirit and in promise, but often lacking in the financial resources necessary to attain their objectives and maintain their centres it is going to necessitate further outpourings of treasure from the devoted self-sacrificing followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the Cradle of the Faith who already, through the operation of the Persia-America deputization plan, have been responsible during the past eighteen months for much of the present spectacular success we now enjoy in the Latin American field; it will entail a greater measure of activity on the part of both the Board members and the elected representatives of the present four Regional National Assemblies functioning in this area. It must inevitably draw heavily upon the strength and the time -- so fleeting, so short and therefore so precious -- of the Hands of the Faith, both those serving at the World Centre and those allotted to the Western Hemisphere. We are confident, however, that these needs can and will be met and the glorious prize now well within our reach be seized in all its perfection and the new National Assemblies emerge next Ridvan in all their promise, prepared to assume their function as pillars of that Universal House of Justice so soon to be born.
We are evidently entering a new phase in the unfoldment of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Plan for the spiritual conquest of the entire planet. A movement can be seen in different parts of the world such as has not been witnessed since the inception of this Cause in Persia. The masses are beginning to stir, to raise their eyes and look questioningly upon the Message we are presenting to them; at first by hundreds, now in some places by thousands, they are embracing this Faith, fulfilling the prophecies of the Master and the words of the Guardian. Although at the present time this new process is taking place largely amongst the so-called more primitive members of human society, introducing into the Bahá'í family of peoples much needed qualities of both heart and mind, we have every reason to believe it presages similar movements of mass conversion in other territories.
The impact of the passing of our beloved Guardian, the electric shock it administered to the entire body of the believers, the fire of sorrow and test through which they passed and from which they are emerging stronger than ever before, cannot but release, as has every major crisis in the past history of our Faith, a fresh flow of those forces which mysteriously and irresistibly lead it to new victories, widen the pale of its influence, and swell the ranks of its followers. In view of this conspicuous process now taking place we call upon those pioneers and believers struggling in distant and difficult fields and particularly those in the recently opened territories, to persevere in their labours, to take fresh heart, to appreciate the spiritual significance of the service they are rendering and remainPage 194
steadfastly at their posts -- posts so dear to our beloved Guardian and to which he attached such great importance. Though the soil of men's hearts be infertile, the spiritual climate of their thoughts inhospitable and the promised harvest seem but a distant dream, let them remember their sacred responsibility as Bahá'u'lláh's "forward-marching warriors" and steadfastly persevere in their task until they not only achieve success, but God willing, in the end bless the land they have served so faithfully by laying their bones to rest in it, as many a pioneer has done before them, and their graves become places of visitation for future generations.
The recent, little short of miraculous, achievements in Latin America demonstrate to us what hidden springs of strength are released in us when we obey the behests of our Guardian. They prove to us that the promised aid of the Supreme Concourse is at hand, eager to assist us, and that in the words of Shoghi Effendi its "invisible battalions are mustered, rank upon rank, ready to pour forth reinforcements from on High" and sustain even the humblest service undertaken in the Path of God. Very little time remains to us if we are to accomplish fully and with resounding success the tasks allotted to us by Shoghi Effendi in the last, mighty Plan we received from him, the final fruit of his divinely-inspired mind. We need not, we cannot, and we will not fail him. It lies within our power to seal with complete victory his world-encircling Crusade. This can only be done, however, if mighty and ceaseless efforts are made by each and every believer and more particularly those who form a part of such richly blessed and favoured Communities as those in the Cradle of the Faith and in the Cradle of its Administrative Order. Aside from the task of consolidating and maintaining the work in Latin America, prior to the election in Ridvan 1961 of the twenty-one independent National Assemblies to be formed there, a tremendous amount of work faces the Bahá'ís whether they be Hands, national bodies entrusted with specific tasks, teachers or pioneers. In Europe, where no less than eleven National Assemblies must be formed in the spring of 1962, the requisite number of Local Assemblies, the foundation for these new institutions, is far from being complete. Approximately forty must be constituted by next April. The field is difficult, the people, sunk in materialism, often cynical and disillusioned as a result of two world wars, are indifferent to religious truth and preoccupied with the economic problems and social diversions of a highly civilized continent. All these factors constitute one of the greatest challenges of the entire Crusade. A Faith, however, for which twenty thousand of its adherents died as martyrs, which has planted its banner in a little over a hundred years in two hundred and fifty-six territories of the globe, embracing every independent nation, every dominion, mandate and trust territory and all the major islands of the world,Page 195
whose valiant pioneers and teachers are scattered like life-giving seed in every comer of the planet, has the power within it to sweep away every obstacle in its path. If the present National Assemblies focus their strength and concentrate their thoughts, resources and energies on the goals they must attain; if the individual believers consult their hearts and their consciences and arise and proceed to the battle-fronts most in need of their assistance; then the power placed by God in the Ten Year Plan, the third and final stage of the initial epoch in the evolution of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Master Plan, will, like a mighty tidal wave, sweep away every remaining obstacle and carry us to glorious victory.
We must face the fact that a still greater measure of self-sacrifice is required of us than perhaps at any previous time in the prosecution of the World Crusade. Two-thirds of this Crusade is already won; the opening of the virgin territories, the translation of our literature into so many diversified languages, the erection of continental Houses of Worship, the multiplication of Assemblies and centres the increasing recognition of the independent character of our Faith, the incorporation of its administrative bodies, the formation of new national bodies, are either accomplished facts or now lie well within our grasp. The last third, however, still remains. The new National Assemblies must be securely raised on their specified foundations; the home fronts, the very bedrock of existing older National Assemblies, which have lagged far behind the general rate of progress achieved in other fields, must now receive the assistance which alone can fulfil their objectives, namely, a wide increase in settlers and an influx of new souls enlisted under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh through a renewed and unremitting teaching effort. And finally, the European Temple, one of the most important goals of the Ten Year Plan, still remains to be erected. The accomplishment of these tasks not only requires a fresh dedication to our work on the part of every single believer, but of necessity will demand a great outpouring of our material resources. The strength of the Cause of God in all Dispensations, however, has been in the rank and file of its adherents; it is the meek, the obscure, the poor, indeed often the needy, who have arisen like veritable spiritual giants and established its institutions, raised its first precious edifices, carried its Message to the masses, laid down their lives for its Teachings, and demonstrated the regenerating spiritual power of the Word of its Manifestation. So today, as our Guardian's Crusade approaches its end, it is to the rank and file of the believers that we must look. From them will come its heroes, saints and martyrs; they will be the ones to fulfil the hopes of Shoghi Effendi to realize the promises of `Abdu'l-Bahá, to lay the foundations of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh on an unshakeable foundation, to win the ultimate victory.Page 196
The beloved Guardian made quite clear the supreme role of every single Bahá'í He said, one year after the inception of the World Crusade, that "This challenge, so severe and insistent, and yet so glorious, faces no doubt primarily the individual believer on whom, in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community. He it is who constitutes the warp and woof on which the quality and pattern of the whole fabric must depend. He it is who acts as one of the countless links in the mighty chain that now girdles the globe. He it is who serves as one of the multitude of bricks which support the structure and ensure the stability of the administrative edifice now being raised in every part of the world. Without his support, at once whole-hearted, continuous and generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs, is foredoomed to failure. The World Centre of the Faith itself is paralyzed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking. The sustaining strength of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, the Founder of the Faith, will be withheld from every and each individual who fails in the long run to arise and play his part."
The Master has made clear in an impelling and impassioned appeal, the overwhelming potency of the forces released by Bahá'u'lláh, which activate those who respond to His call. These words surely leave none of us any excuse for failing in our duty to God, Bahá'u'lláh and His Cause: "The undying Fire which the Lord of the Kingdom hath kindled in the midst of the holy Tree is burning fiercely in the midmost heart of the world. The conflagration it will provoke will envelop the whole earth. Its blazing flames will illuminate its peoples and kindreds. All the signs have been revealed; every prophetic allusion hath been manifested. Whatever hath been enshrined in all the Scriptures of the past hath been made evident. To doubt or hesitate is no more possible ... Time is pressing. The Divine Charger is impatient, and can tarry no longer. Ours is the duty to rush forward and, ere it is too late, win the victory."HANDS OF THE CAUSE IN THE HOLY LAND
To the Continental Hands and All National Spiritual AssembliesAPRIL 28, 1960
DEEPLY REGRET NECESSITY INFORM Bahá'í WORLD HAND CAUSE MASON REMEY NOW ASSERTING HE IS GUARDIAN FAITH STOP THIS PREPOSTEROUS CLAIM CLEARLY CONTRARY SACRED TEXTS CAN ONLY BE REGARDED ASPage 197
EVIDENCE CONDITION PROFOUND EMOTIONAL DISTURBANCE STOP CALL UPON BELIEVERS EVERYWHERE JOIN HANDS HOLY LAND COMPLETE REPUDIATION THIS MISGUIDED ACTION STOP SHARE THIS MESSAGE FRIENDS.[CABLE] HANDS HOLY LAND
For your information we quote below the text of a cable sent by the Hands in the Holy Land to the Continental Hands and to all National Assemblies on April 28:
Deeply regret necessity inform Bahá'í world Hand Cause Mason Remey
now asserting he is Guardian Faith Stop This preposterous claim
clearly contrary Sacred Texts can only be regarded as evidence
condition profound emotional disturbance Stop Call upon believers
everywhere join Hands Holy Land complete repudiation this misguidedaction Stop Share this message friends.
Before their departure for Canada and the United States, Ruhiyyih KHANUM and Mrs. Collins participated in the decision to take this action, making it unanimous.With heartfelt regret,
To the National Spiritual Assembly and the Believers of FranceMay 5,1960
The Hands in the Holy Land are sending the Hand of the Cause Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, to France, to meet with the National Spiritual Assembly and the Bahá'ís of France, and to act on behalf of the Hands for the protection of the Faith in the situation created by Mr. Remey's unfounded claim.
Mr. Faizi, will act in accordance with instructions given him by the Hands in the Holy Land. He is empowered to take whatever steps may be necessary to carry out these instructions.In the service of the beloved Guardian,
To the Hands of the Cause of God and the National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the Bahá'í WorldMay 10, 1960
In order that the Bahá'í world may know the reaction of the various National Assemblies and Conventions to Mr. Remey's misguided action proclaiming himself to be the Guardian of the Faith, we are sharing with you the texts of the messages already received by the Hands in the Holy Land, reflecting widespread repudiation of this baseless claim, and pledging loyalty to the divinely-ordained institution of the Hands. We know the friends will rejoice in the world-wide expressions of solidarity and stead-fastness with which this fantastic and ill-advised claim was met. God indeed protects His Cause!
It is clear that by claiming that he is the Guardian, Mr. Remey has abandoned his station as a Hand of the Cause, and therefore cannot receive recognition as a Hand until he renounces the self-conferred title of Guardian. The Hands of the Holy Land will notify the National Assemblies if this occurs.
For the protection of our beloved Faith we call upon the friends every-where to have no association with Mr. Remey as long as he continues to press his false claim to the station of Guardianship. We also request the believers to forward to the World Centre through their National Assemblies any communications which they may receive from Mr. Remey.
Naturally we hope that the emotional disturbance that led to Mr. Remey's regrettable action will prove not to be permanent and that we shall soon be able to inform the friends that he has withdrawn the claim and that communication with him is again permitted. Meanwhile you should be watchful, and keep us informed of any developments.
Such episodes as this can, through firmness, steadfastness and loyalty to the Covenant, prove of great benefit to the Cause of God, and through the consecrated efforts of the friends attract the bounties of Bahá'u'lláh that alone can ensure its triumph.With warm Bahá'í love,
The following are the messages already received by the Hands in the
Holy Land from the various National Assemblies repudiating the Remey
claim and pledging loyalty to the institution of the Hands. In many
cases the news of Mr. Remey's action was received while the NationalConventions were in session.
COMPLETELY REPUDIATE RIDICULOUS CLAIM STOP PROCLAMATION RECEIVED REMEY NOT BEING CIRCULATED STOP WIRING MESSAGE ALL LOCAL ASSEMBLIES STOP ASSURING HANDSFAITH CONTINUED STEADFASTNESS ALASKAN COMMUNITY.===================================
LOVING GREETINGS FROM 8 DELEGATES 52 ASSEMBLED GUESTS FOURTH ANNUAL ALASKA Bahá'í CONVENTION STOP CONVENTION HAPPY JOYOUS NEWS VICTORIES ACCOMPLISHMENTS PAST YEAR STOP EACH BELIEVER ENTHUSED INCREASE EFFORT DURING COMING YEAR STOP DETERMINED ACHIEVE REMAINING GOALS STOP PLEDGE PRAYERS SUPPORT INSTITUTION HANDS FAITH STOP PRAYERS FOR HEALTH EACH HAND.===================================
ON BEHALF EACH EVERY MEMBER OUR COMMUNITY WE AFFIRM OUR DISREGARD COMPLETE REPUDIATION MISGUIDED ACTION HAND CAUSE MASON REMEY STOP ALL FRIENDS HERE PRESENT UNEQUIVOCAL OBEDIENCE FAITHFULNESS STEADFASTNESS SACRED TEXTS REVERED CUSTODIANS RESIDING HOLY LAND.===================================
EXTREMELY REGRET NEWS HAND CAUSE MASON REMEY STOP SHARING MESSAGE FRIENDS STOP ASSURING HUMBLE LOYALTY.===================================
NSA DEEPLY SYMPATHETIC YOUR DISTRESS REMEY STOP MEMBERS PRAY DIVINE COMPASSION MASON ASSURE DEVOTED ALLEGIANCE PRAYERS PROTECTION.===================================
ASSEMBLED DELEGATES FRIENDS GRIEVED MISGUIDED ACTIONS DEVOTED SERVANT MASON REMEY STOP PRAYING HIS RETURN SHELTER COVENANT STOP PLEDGE UNSWERVING ALLEGIANCE INSTITUTIONS HANDS NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES FERVENTLY PRAYING PROTECTION HANDS AND FAITH.===================================
RECEIVED MESSAGE SHARE WITH FRIENDS JOIN HANDS HOLY LAND COMPLETE REPUDIATION MISGUIDED ACTION DEVOTEDLY.Page 200
REMEY'S PROCLAMATION ONLY REINFORCES OUR UNSWERVING LOYALTY FAITHFULNESS CONSECRATED DEVOTION CUSTODIANS FAITH HAIFA AND FIRMNESS IN COVENANT STOP UNDEVIATINGLY DETERMINED ACHIEVE GOAL UNDER DIRECTION GUIDANCE WORLD CENTRE PRAYING PROTECTION CAUSE.===================================
REGRET INFORMATION RECEIVED IN YOUR CABLE ALL BELIEVERS ASSEMBLED CONVENTION AND NSA PLEDGE LOYALTY AND SUPPORT TO HANDS DEEPEST LOVE.===================================
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN SESSION CONFIRMS UNRESERVEDLY EXPRESSION LOYALTY TO HANDS ALREADY SENT BY LETTER REJECTS COMPLETELY BASELESS CLAIM MASON REMEY STOP CONFIDENT LOYALTY ENTIRE BRITISH Bahá'í COMMUNITY STOP ASSEMBLY GOING TODAY BELOVED GUARDIAN'S GRAVE OFFER PRAYERS COMFORT BELOVED HANDS PROTECTION Bahá'í WORLD STOP SINCERE DEVOTION DEEPEST LOVE.===================================
BURMESE BAHAI'S FIRM STEADFAST LOYAL ASSURE OUR ALLEGIANCE.===================================
ASSURE HANDS HOLY LAND UNDIVIDED SUPPORT COMPLETE REPUDIATION REMEY PROCLAMATION STOP CANADIAN CONVENTION INFORMED UNANIMOUSLY VOTED SIMILAR ACTION STOP WRITING CANADIAN BELIEVERS IMMEDIATELY CONFIDENT THEIR FULL UNALTERED LOYALTY SHOGHI Effendi HANDS HAIFA.===================================
FOLLOWING READING MASON REMEY'S REGRETTABLE DOCUMENT CANADIAN NATIONAL CONVENTION DELEGATES AND FRIENDS PLEDGE TO OUR BELOVED GUARDIAN SHOGHI Effendi AND HANDS OF THE CAUSE FIRM LOYALTY ABSOLUTE DEVOTION FERVENT PRAYERS PROTECTION FAITH.===================================
RECEIVED CABLE ABOUT MASON REMEY STOP PLEDGE COMPLETE SUPPORT WORLD CENTRE.===================================
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BEHALF COMMUNITY CENTRAL EAST AFRICAPage 201
WHOLEHEARTEDLY REPUDIATE CLAIM REMEY ASSURE CHIEF STEWARDS LOVING LOYALTY.===================================
PLEDGE COMPLETE LOYALTY FIRMNESS COVENANT TEST BRINGS GREATER CRUSADE VICTORY.===================================
SADDENED NEWS MASON REMEYS PREPOSTEROUS CLAIM STOP BEHALF INDIAN BELIEVERS ASSURE HANDSFAITH UNFLINCHING STEADFASTNESS LOYALTY STOP CONFIDENT UNITY FAITH DESPITE SEVERE TESTS AS IN PAST STOP PRAYING ARDENTLY.===================================
YOUR MESSAGE CONCERNING MASON RECEIVED WE SUBMIT OUR UTMOST DEVOTION LOYALTY TO CAUSE WILL TESTAMENT AND BELOVED ALL HEARTS THE GUARDIAN STOP MOST GRATEFUL THAT REVERED BODY PROTECTORS FAITH CONFERRED UPON THEM CHIEF STEWARDSHIP WORLD ORDER Bahá'u'lláh, HAVE AT ONCE ARISEN PROTECT CAUSE FROM ATTACK DISLOYAL UNFAITHFUL PERSONS STOP HEREBY DECLARE OUR SUBMISSIVENESS OBEDIENCE DECISIONS THAT REVERED BODY.===================================
ASSEMBLY REPUDIATES COMPLETELY REMEY CLAIM STOP PLEDGES UNFAILING TRUST IN CHIEF STEWARDS DEEPEST LOVE.===================================
REGRET DEEPLY MASON REMEYS FALSE ATTITUDE ALL BAHXIS STEADFAST AS EVER.===================================
THIS NSA WILL FULLY SUPPORT ANY ACTION TAKEN BY HANDSFAITH HOLY LAND IN REPUDIATING PREPOSTEROUS CLAIM MASON REMEY.===================================
RECEIVED MESSAGE REGARDING HAND CAUSE REMEY STOP ASSURING STEADFASTNESS COMMUNITY COMPLETE LOYALTY SUPPORT HANDSFAITH HOLYLAND.===================================
SADLY ANNOUNCE REMEY PROCLAMATION CLAIMING GUARDIANSHIP RECEIVED DEFYING AUTHORITY HANDSFAITH ANNULLING PLANS FULFILMENT CRUSADE GOALS DEMANDING ALLEGIANCE HIS INFALLIBILITY STOPPage 202
FORWARDING PROCLAMATION STOP ASSURING CHIEF STEWARDS STEADFAST OBEDIENCE DEVOTED LOVE HEARTFELT SYMPATHY NSA REELECTED FOUR NEW ASSEMBLIES ESTABLISHED.===================================
BEHALF Bahá'í COMMUNITIES SOUTH EAST ASIA EXPRESS LOYALTY REVERED CUSTODIANS SUPPORT FIRM ACTION REPUDIATING REMEYS PREPOSTEROUS CLAIM.===================================
ASSURE HANDS FAITH ABIDING LOYALTY WILL TESTAMENT CHIEF STEWARDS Bahá'u'lláh COMPLETELY REPUDIATE CLAIM GUARDIANSHIP MISGUIDED ACTION MASON REMEY PRAYING REMOVER DIFFICULTIES.===================================
DELEGATES BELIEVERS ASSEMBLED CONVENTION ASSURE LOYALTY LOVE.===================================
KAVELIN VICECHAIRMAN DAVID RUHE SECRETARY CHARLES WOLCOTT TREASURER
ARTHUR DAHL RECORDING SECRETARY EDNA TRUE ASSISTANT SECRETARY
CHARLOTTE LINFOOT OTHER THREE MEMBERS FLORENCE MAYBERRY ELLSWORTH
BLACKWELL AMOZ GIBSON ALL PLEDGE LOYALTY COOPERATION DEEPEST LOVETO HANDS OF FAITH.
ASSEMBLED DELEGATES 52ND ANNUAL CONVENTION PLEDGE ANEW UNDEVIATING LOYALTY INSTITUTION OF HANDS ESPECIALLY STEWARDS LABOURING IN HOLY LAND STOP CONVENTION UNANIMOUSLY REPUDIATES REMEY PROCLAMATION JOINING PRAYERS WITH YOURS FOR DIVINE HEALING STOP DEEPEST LOVE(SIGNED) CONVENTION DELEGATES.
ASSURE COMPLETE REPUDIATION (REMEY) PROCLAMATION AND LOYALTY TO CHIEF STEWARDS HOPE GETTING FURTHER CLARIFYING NEWS FROM BODY HANDS LOVING GREETINGS AND PRAYERS PROTECTION CAUSE.===================================
Some of you already know that most of the National Assemblies havePage 203
repudiated Mason Remey's claim and cabled their loyalty to the institution of the Hands. Up to the date this letter was written, twenty-five National Assemblies had sent such messages, and we are confident five of the remaining six will be received soon.
To our surprise however the French National Assembly voted to recognize the claim. Our first news of this was a cable from Mr. Barafrukhteh, a member of the National Assembly, telling us that eight of its members were recognizing Mason Remey. Confirmation came from Mr. Navidi, Protection Board member, who was asked to go to France to investigate and report. He cabled that the French National Assembly was circulating the French believers to accept the claim; and as the situation seemed to be dangerous, and as Ugo and Hasan were not well and Adelbert was in Scandinavia, the Hands in the Holy Land decided to send Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, to deal with the situation on their behalf.
Some of the National Assembly members repented their action and cabled the Hands for forgiveness, but five remained unyieldingly obstinate in their recognition of the claim and obstructed the actions taken by the Hands to protect the Faith. These were led by Mr. J. Marangella, General M. Darakhshan and Mr. B. Fillon, all of whom Faizi, felt to be spiritually diseased and contaminating others. Steps are being taken to find out whether the European Hands join Faizi, in recommending their expulsion in accordance with the decision of the first Bahji Conclave, that the Hands in the Holy Land were responsible for denouncing Covenant-breakers upon recommendation by the Hands of the continent concerned. A recommendation will if necessary be obtained later about Mr. Soghomonian and Mr. Harvey, the other two members of the National Assembly who support the claim.
Meanwhile the French National Assembly has been dissolved and the five offending members declared ineligible for re-election. The Paris Assembly, which is loyal, is acting for the time being as the Central Assembly for France, under Faizi's guidance. Faizi, will visit all the French communities before a new election is held.
We believe that the prompt action of sending Faizi, to France has prevented the infection from spreading far; cables of loyalty have been received from all the National Assemblies of Europe except the Iberian Peninsula, and the exception is believed to be due to difficulties of communication as our original "cable" had to be sent by mail. Adelbert has returned to Germany at our request to watch the situation there because of the previous strong feeling about the Guardianship in that country.
Episodes such as the present tragic claim of Mason Remey serve to strengthen the Cause, and it is gratifying that his claim has secured noPage 204
greater following. Even in France, we are hoping the disturbance will prove of limited extent.
This letter is sent to keep the Continental Hands informed of the situation and to ask for their special prayers for France. Any further action taken regarding the three ringleaders will be communicated to you later. Meanwhile the possibility of the infection spreading to individual believers in other lands should be borne in mind.We send you all our warmest and deepest love.