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Компиляции : Построение выдающихся общин бахаи

Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois 60091

Copyright 1989 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States All rights reserved. Published 1989 Printed in the United States of America 92 91 90 89 4 3 2 1

Contents
PREFACE XVII
Part One
THE INSTITUTION OF THE
LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
1 THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY 1.1
SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION 1.1
The Covenant and the Administrative Order 1.1
The Uniqueness of the Administrative Order 1.2
Divine Nature of the Administrative Order 1.2
Development of Local Spiritual Assemblies 1.3

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND THE BAHÁ'Í COMMUNITY 1.6

Qualities of Assembly Members 1.6

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND ITS RELATION TO OTHER INSTITUTIONS 1.10

The National Spiritual Assembly 1.10
The Institution of the Learned 1.12
Suggested Readings 1.18
2 THE FORMATION OF THE ASSEMBLY 2.1
FORMING THE ASSEMBLY 2.1
Obligation to Form 2.1
When to Form 2.1
Annual Meeting 2.2
ELECTION PROCESS 2.5
The Spirit and Character of Bahá'í Elections 2.5
Qualifications for Membership 2.6
Eligibility 2.8
Voting 2.11
Policy of National Spiritual Assembly 2.14
Counting the Ballots 2.14
Election Results and Recognition 2.15
Joint Declaration 2.17
Registration of a Bahá'í Group 2.18
By-Elections 2.18
Jeopardized Assemblies 2.19
JURISDICTION 2.20
A Bahá'í Locality 2.20

Bahá'í Boundaries Determined by Civil Boundaries 2.20

Annexed Areas 2.21
Area of Jurisdiction 2.21
3 ORGANIZATION OF THE ASSEMBLY 3.1
MEANING OF ORGANIZATION 3.1
MEETINGS AND MEMBERSHIP 3.1
Meetings 3.1
Election of Officers 3.3
Duties of Officers 3.5
Dissatisfaction with Officers 3.8
Attendance 3.8
Resignation 3.10
Removal from Assembly Membership 3.11
DUTIES AND GOALS 3.12
Duties of Assembly 3.12
Systematic Planning and Execution 3.13
Committees 3.15
Using Non-Bahá'í Experts/Agencies 3.17

Public Information Representatives and Committees 3.17

ASSEMBLY COMMUNICATIONS 3.18
Record-keeping 3.18
Correspondence 3.20
Archives 3.24
Local Publications 3.25
LEGAL BASIS 3.26
Incorporation 3.26
Insurance 3.27
Suggested Readings 3.28
Appendix A 3.29
Appendix B 3.30
Appendix C 3.31
4 CONSULTATION 4.1
THE NATURE OF CONSULTATION 4.1
Source of Guidance and Understanding 4.1
Consultation in All Things 4.1
Consultation and the Divine Institutions 4.2

Conditions Necessary for Effective Consultation 4.2

If Necessary Conditions Not Present 4.3
THE PROCESS OF CONSULTATION 4.3
Investigation of Truth 4.3
The Role of Spiritual Principles 4.4
Elements of Consultative Discussion 4.4
REACHING A DECISION 4.6
Additional Facts May be Necessary 4.6
Ideal to Arrive at Unanimous Decision 4.7
No Dissenting Votes in the Cause 4.7
Abstaining Does Not Exist in Bahá'í Voting 4.7
A Motion Is Not Required 4.7
AFTER A DECISION IS REACHED 4.7
Majority Decision Must be Upheld 4.7
If Majority View is Wrong 4.8
Reconsideration of a Decision 4.9
Appeal of a Decision 4.9
CONSULTATION WITH OTHERS 4.9
Fact-Gathering 4.9

Assign Counseling to Individuals or Committees 4.10

Personal Consultation with Assembly Members 4.10
Non-Assembly Members in Attendance

Assembly Not Only Channel to Which Bahá'ís May Turn 4.11

Consultation Differs from Confession 4.11
Confidentiality 4.12

Members of Assemblies Who Are Also Assistants to Auxiliary Board

Members 4.12

THE INDIVIDUAL: FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND CRITICISM 4.13

Right of Individual to Self-Expression 4.13
Criticism 4.13
Suggested Readings 4.17
5 PROTECTION OF THE FAITH 5.1
REVIEWING BAHÁ'Í LITERATURE AND MATERIALS 5.1
Purpose of Review 5.1

Role of the National Spiritual Assembly and Local Spiritual Assembly in

Reviewing Publications 5.2
Criteria for Review 5.2
Materials to be Reviewed 5.2
Reverence in Relation to the Review Process 5.4
Trademarks 5.6
Copyrights 5.6
THE COVENANT 5.7
Power of the Covenant 5.7
The Greater and Lesser Covenants 5.7
Perpetuation of the Covenant 5.7
The Passing of Shoghi Effendi 5.8
COVENANT-BREAKING 5.8
The Meaning of Covenant-Breaking 5.8
The Nature of Covenant-Breaking 5.8

Response of the Believers to Covenant-Breaking 5.9

The Auxiliary Boards for Protection 5.11
OPPOSITION 5.12

Opposition--Natural and Inevitable Stage in the Unfoldment of the Faith 5.12

Opposition and the Plan of God 5.12
Sources of Opposition 5.13
The Forms Opposition Will Take 5.13
The Response of the Believers to Opposition 5.14

The Response of the Assemblies to Opposition 5.15

Triumph of the Cause of God 5.16
Suggested Readings 5.17
Appendix 5.17
6 COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP 6.1
MEMBERSHIP STATUS 6.1
Three Conditions of Bahá'í Status 6.1
DECLARATION AND ENROLLMENT OF NEW BELIEVERS 6.2
Declaration 6.2
Enrollment 6.3
Special Enrollment Procedures 6.3
STATUS OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH 6.8
Children of Non-Bahá'í Parents 6.8
Children of Bahá'í Parents 6.8
Registration and Declaration 6.9
BAHÁ'Í CREDENTIALS 6.12
Checking Credentials 6.12
Transfer of Membership 6.13
Special Membership Transfer Procedures 6.13

WITHDRAWAL FROM AND REINSTATEMENT OF MEMBERSHIP 6.15

Handling Requests for Withdrawal 6.15
Criteria for Withdrawal 6.15
Reinstatement from Withdrawal 6.17
COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP 6.17
Register of Vital Statistics 6.17
Community Membership List 6.18

Use of Bahá'í Directories and Membership Lists 6.19

Appendix 6.19
Part Two
COMMUNITY GROWTH AND
DEVELOPMENT
7 TEACHING 7.1
THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND TEACHING 7.1
THE NATURE OF TEACHING 7.1
Commandment of God 7.1
Divine Assistance 7.2
Three Aspects of Teaching 7.3
No Proselytizing 7.7
TEACHING AND THE INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER 7.8
The Obligation to Teach 7.8
Steps in the Process of Individual Teaching 7.8
The Role of the Individual 7.9

Why Individuals Do Not Teach--What the Assembly Can Do 7.10

TEACHING AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY 7.12
The Family and Teaching 7.12
Youth and Teaching 7.13
Creating a Teaching Plan 7.14

Suggested Goals for Local Spiritual Assemblies 7.15

Need For Systematic Efforts 7.18
TEACHING THE MASSES / LARGE SCALE GROWTH 7.18
The Process of Teaching the Masses 7.18
Mass Conversion 7.18
Experiments in Teaching 7.21
Consultation on Mass Teaching Methods 7.21
Balance Between Local and National Projects 7.22
Guarding Against Extremes 7.22
ENROLLMENT AND SYSTEMATIC FOLLOW-UP 7.23
Conditions for Enrollment 7.23
Follow-up with New Believers 7.25
TEACHING METHODS 7.26
Many Different Methods 7.26
Weaving Bonds of Friendship 7.27
Firesides 7.27
Door to Door Teaching 7.28
Other Methods 7.28
OTHER TOPICS 7.29
The Arts and Teaching 7.29
Teaching and the Role of the Learned 7.29
Pioneering 7.32
Minority Teaching 7.36
Teaching Institutes 7.38
Summer Schools 7.39

Applying the Teachings to the Needs of Society 7.40

Suggested Readings 7.41
Appendix A 7.42
Appendix B 7.43
Appendix C 7.43
Appendix D 7.45
8 THE DISTINCTIVE BAHÁ'Í COMMUNITY 8.1
DEVELOPING A DISTINCTIVE BAHÁ'Í COMMUNITY 8.1
Characteristics of Distinction 8.1
Purpose for a Distinctive Bahá'í Community 8.1
Characteristics of a Bahá'í Society 8.2
ROLE OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY 8.4

Responsibility of Individual Assembly Members 8.4

Unity Within the Assembly 8.5

Instruments for Establishing Unity and Harmony 8.5

Unity in Diversity 8.6
Supporting Youth Participation 8.7
HOW TO DEVELOP A DISTINCTIVE COMMUNITY LIFE 8.7
Firmness in the Covenant 8.7
Spiritual Development 8.7
Consolidation Activities 8.8
Nineteen Day Feasts 8.8
Service to Humanity 8.8
ROLE OF THE COMMUNITY 8.8
Relationship Among the Bahá'ís 8.8
Role of Individuals 8.10
Suggested Readings 8.12

9 HOLY DAYS, FESTIVALS, THE FAST AND THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST 9.1

BAHÁ'Í HOLY DAYS, FESTIVALS AND THE FAST 9.1
Dates 9.1
Descriptions 9.1
Preparing for the Holy Days 9.4
When to Observe 9.5
Observing the Holy Days 9.6
Suspension of Work and School 9.7
THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST 9.10

Bahá'í Months and Dates of Nineteen Day Feasts 9.10

Purpose and Significance 9.10
When to Hold the Nineteen Day Feast 9.14
Where to Hold 9.15
Organization of the Feast 9.16
Attendance and Participation 9.20
Behavior of Children 9.23
Sale of Items During Feast 9.23

Promotion of Personal Businesses or Services During Feast 9.23

Music 9.23
Smoking During Feast 9.23
Unity Feasts 9.23

CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF OTHER RELIGIONS AND COMMUNITIES 9.25

Preserving Inherited Cultural Identities 9.25
Participation in Other Cultural/Religious
Festivals 9.26

Attending Other Religious Marriage Ceremonies 9.26

SPECIAL EVENTS DAYS 9.27
Dates and Descriptions 9.27
Suggested Readings 9.28
10 THE BAHÁ'Í FUND 10.1
THE NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE BAHÁ'Í FUND 10.1
Nature of the Funds 10.1
Spiritual Activity and Material Means 10.1
Purpose of the Funds 10.2

Requirements of the Cause Take Precedence Over Individual Needs 10.3

Four Major Funds 10.3
PRINCIPLES OF THE FUND 10.6
Obligation and Privilege 10.6
Nature of Giving 10.9
THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND THE FUND 10.12
Responsibilities of the Treasurer 10.13

Treasurer's Committees and Treasurer's Assistants 10.19

Budgeting, Accounting and Auditing Procedures 10.19

Fund Education 10.22
Fund Appeals 10.23
WAYS OF GIVING 10.26
To the Bahá'í Funds 10.26
To Charity 10.28
Suggested Readings 10.29
Appendix A 10.31
Appendix B 10.31
Appendix C 10.33
11 BAHÁ'Í EDUCATION 11.1
THE NATURE OF EDUCATION 11.1
Definition of Eduction 11.1
Purpose of Education 11.1
DUTIES OF THE ASSEMBLY 11.3
Incumbent to Educate the Children 11.3
Promote Knowledge and Education 11.3

Ensure the Education and Instruction of All Children 11.3

Provide Well-Planned Programs 11.4
ORGANIZATION AND METHODS OF INSTRUCTION 11.4
Teaching Qualifications 11.4
Organization and Methods 11.5
What to Teach 11.7
Steadfastness in Conducting Classes 11.10
Age to Begin Formal Children's Classes 11.10
Using the Creative Word 11.11
The Arts 11.11

Bahá'í Education Programs in Local Communities 11.12

BAHÁ'Í SCHOLARSHIP 11.12
Nature of Bahá'í Scholarship 11.12
Distinction Between Individual and Authoritative
Interpretation 11.15
BAHÁ'Í SCHOOLS 11.15
Primary and Secondary Schools 11.15
Centers of Bahá'í Learning 11.16
Suggested Readings 11.18
Appendix A 11.19
Appendix B 11.20
Appendix C 11.21
12 EXTERNAL AFFAIRS 12.1
ASSOCIATION WITH THE NON-BAHÁ'Í WORLD 12.1
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOVERNMENT 12.3
Loyalty to Government 12.3
Noninvolvement in Politics 12.3
Contact with Government Officials 12.5
Petitions and Letter-Writing Campaigns 12.6

RELATIONSHIP WITH PROMINENT PERSONS, OTHER ORGANIZATIONS 12.6

Contacting Prominent Persons 12.6
Association with Other Organizations 12.7
The Issue of the Death Penalty 12.9
Promoting Universal Peace 12.9
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MEDIA 12.10
Contacting National Media 12.10
Public Image of the Faith 12.10
Letters to the Editor 12.11
Publicity 12.12
Uses of Pictures of `Abdu'l-Bahá 12.12
Use of the Term "Bahá'í World Faith" 12.12
Suggested Readings 12.12
Appendix 12.13
13 SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 13.1
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS 13.1

Mandate for Social and Economic Development Projects 13.1

Project Implementation 13.11
Financing of Projects 13.12
Individual Ventures 13.13
Role of Women and Youth 13.14
POTENTIAL PROJECTS 13.14
Information and Referral 13.14
Volunteerism 13.14
Food 13.14
Housing 13.15
Shelter for the Homeless 13.15
Substance Abuse 13.15
Education 13.15
14 BAHÁ'Í PROPERTIES 14.1
Description of Properties 14.1
The Mashriqu'l-Adkar 14.1
The Haziratu'l-Quds--National and Local 14.2

Local Bahá'í Centers--Embryonic Haziratu'l-Quds 14.3

Endowments 14.3
Bahá'í Cemeteries 14.4

FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE ACQUIRING A CENTER 14.4

Consider Alternatives 14.4
Statement of Purpose 14.5
Consideration of Various Factors 14.5
Technical Issues 14.6
OTHER PROPERTY ISSUES 14.13
Jurisdiction of Local Centers 14.13
Contributions 14.13
Rental of Bahá'í Property 14.14
Dancing in a Bahá'í Center 14.15
Use of Churches for Bahá'í Functions 14.15
Reports to the National Spiritual Assembly 14.16
Suggested Readings 14.16
Part Three
APPLICATION OF BAHÁ'Í LAW
15 BAHÁ'Í LAW AND ITS APPLICATION 15.1
NATURE AND PURPOSE OF BAHÁ'Í LAW 15.1
Nature of the Laws 15.1
Purpose of the Laws 15.1
The Progressive Application of Bahá'í Law 15.2

THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY IN UPHOLDING Bahá'í LAW 15.3

Administering the Laws 15.3
Handling Violations of Bahá'í Law 15.5
Removal of Administrative Rights 15.7

Meaning of Deprivation of Administrative Rights 15.9

Handling Appeals 15.11
Restoration of Administrative Rights 15.12

LAWS AND STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR SUBJECT TO ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS 15.13

Immorality 15.14
Alcohol 15.16
Use of Illegal Drugs 15.18
Political Activity 15.18

Criminal Offenses, Disobedience to Civil Laws 15.19

Criminal Matters in Which the State Claims Exclusive Interest 15.20

Membership in Other Organizations 15.20
Gambling, Lotteries 15.21

Behavior that Damages the Reputation of the Faith or Causes Disunity 15.22

Laws Not Presently Binding Upon the Western Believers 15.24

OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS 15.24
Importance of Obedience 15.24
Effect of Obedience 15.24
Effect of Disobedience 15.25

Obedience Will Necessarily Impose Hardships 15.25

LAWS BETWEEN THE INDIVIDUAL AND GOD 15.25
Read the Sacred Writings Daily 15.26
Prayer 15.26
Fasting 15.26
Huququ'llah 15.28
Suggested Readings 15.29
Appendix 15.29
16 MARRIAGE 16.1
THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE 16.1
ENGAGEMENT 16.1
Purpose of Engagement 16.1
95-Day Period of Engagement 16.2
Breaking of Engagement 16.2

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY 16.3

Role in Upholding the Law 16.3
A Checklist for Bahá'í Marriage 16.4
OBTAINING CONSENT 16.5
Purpose of Consent 16.5
Consent Requirements 16.6
Contacting Parents 16.8
When Consent Is Withheld 16.11

Circumstances Under which Parental Consent Is Not Required 16.12

THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY 16.14
Requirements of Bahá'í Law 16.14
Nature of the Ceremony 16.16
The Reception: Serving Alcoholic Beverages 16.17
Consummation of the Marriage 16.17
VIOLATIONS OF BAHÁ'Í MARRIAGE LAW 16.17
When Unnecessary to Correct Violation 16.17
Correcting Conscious Violations 16.18
Removal of Administrative Rights 16.19
Restoration of Administrative Rights 16.20

Bahá'ís Marrying Contrary to Bahá'í Law: Attendance at Ceremony 16.23

Suggested Readings 16.23
17 DIVORCE 17.1
ATTITUDE TOWARD DIVORCE 17.1
Divorce Discouraged 17.1
REQUIREMENTS FOR BAHÁ'Í DIVORCE 17.2
Year of Waiting 17.2

Conditions Under Which Year of Waiting Not Required 17.3

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY 17.4

Initial Meetings 17.4
Obligation to Consider Application 17.4
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE COUPLE 17.9
Obligation to Consult with an Assembly 17.9
Should Actively Seek Reconciliation 17.10
Financial Support 17.10
Unfaithfulness 17.11
Dating During the Year 17.11

Not Appropriate to Look for New Marriage Partner 17.12

Should Not Announce New Marriage Plans 17.12
Voiding the Year of Waiting 17.12

RELATION OF CIVIL DIVORCE TO Bahá'í DIVORCE 17.13

Giving Legal Sanction to the Divorce 17.13

Initiation of Civil Divorce Proceedings During the Year of Waiting 17.13

If Non-Bahá'í Partner Obtains a Civil Divorce 17.13

If Reconciliation Takes Place Before Civil Divorce and After

the End of the Year of Waiting 17.14
Divorce Agreement, Child Support, Custody 17.14

Obligation of the Couple to Obey Civil Divorce Decree 17.15

Assembly Should Encourage Couple to Fulfill Divorce Decree 17.15

Remarriage 17.16
GRANTING THE BAHÁ'Í DIVORCE 17.16
Withholding the Divorce 17.16
Extending the Year of Waiting 17.16

Delaying or Interfering with the Civil Divorce 17.16

Date on which a Bahá'í Divorce Should be Granted 17.17

Reporting to the National Spiritual Assembly 17.17

Annulment 17.17
Suggested Readings 17.18
18 BURIAL LAW, WILLS, LIFE AFTER DEATH 18.1
BURIAL LAW 18.1

Responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly 18.1

Requirements Currently Binding on Western Believers 18.2

Requirements Not Yet Binding on Western Believers 18.6

Other Related Topics 18.7
WILLS 18.11
The Need for a Will 18.11
Will Preparation 18.11

Responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly 18.12

LIFE AFTER DEATH 18.13

The Spiritual World Beyond and Our Relation to It 18.13

"Soul mates" 18.14
Suggested Readings 18.14
19 MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS 19.1
Birth Control 19.7
Contraception 19.7
Sterilization and Abortion 19.1
Surrogate Mothers, Artificial Insemination 19.3
Serving Alcohol 19.3
Back-Biting 19.4
Debts 19.5
Smoking 19.5
Pilgrimage 19.5
Capital Punishment 19.6
Handling Business Disputes 19.6
Establishing a Business Venture 19.6
Military Service 19.7
General Principles 19.7
Pacifists, Conscientious Objectors 19.7
Non-Combatant Status 19.7
Bahá'í Should Not Refuse to Bear Arms 19.8
Draft Registration 19.8
Suggested Readings 19.9
20 BIBLIOGRAPHY 20.1
PREFACE

The development and maturation of Bahá'í institutions is a hallmark of the fourth epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith. The Universal House of Justice, as a major objective of the Six Year Plan, called for an acceleration in the process of the maturation of national and local Bahá'í communities. In response, the National Spiritual Assembly established a goal to design and implement a comprehensive program for Local Spiritual Assembly development as a principal component of its Six Year Plan.

Bahá'í communities are evolutionary by nature. Increasingly, Local Spiritual Assemblies are confronting major challenges and complex situations, the natural results of the continual growth of the Bahá'í Faith in the United States. The National Spiritual Assembly has witnessed the willingness and expanding capacity of Local Spiritual Assemblies to address such issues with sensitivity and maturity. The basic challenge facing Local Spiritual Assemblies, then, is the identification and wise application of principles of Bahá'í administration.

Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies has been compiled from the Bahá'í writings to provide a ready reference to aid Local Spiritual Assemblies in their work. It consists primarily of writings from Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, many of which are published here for the first time. Included are suggestions and general guidance from the National Spiritual Assembly to clarify the manner in which the administration of the Faith presently operates in the United States.

Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities: Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies is a valuable resource for your Assembly and community. The National Spiritual Assembly is pleased to present it to you.

NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE
BAHÁ'ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES
1 THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION

The Covenant and the Administrative Order "The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counselors to the number of Baha. . . . It behoveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth."

Bahá'u'lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p.13

"The creative energies released by the Law of Bahá'u'lláh, permeating and evolving within the mind of `Abdu'l-Bahá, have, by their very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation. The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. Being the Child of the Covenant--the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God--the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulse than from the One Who ultimately conceived it. Bahá'u'lláh's inscrutable purpose, we must ever bear in mind, has been so thoroughly infused into the conduct of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and their motives have been so closely wedded together, that the mere attempt to dissociate the teachings of the former from any system which the ideal Exemplar of those same teachings has established would amount to a repudiation of one of the most sacred and basic truths of the Faith.

"The Administrative Order, which ever since `Abdu'l-Bahá'í ascension has evolved and is taking shape under our very eyes in no fewer than forty countries of the world, may be considered as the framework of the Will itself, the inviolable stronghold wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and developed. This Administrative Order, as it expands and consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities and reveal the full implications of this momentous Document--this most remarkable expression of the Will of One of the most remarkable Figures of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh. It will, as its component parts, its organic institution, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 144

The Uniqueness of the Administrative Order

"The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System--the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed."

Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 146

"The Spiritual Assemblies to be established in this Age of God, this holy century, have, it is indisputable, had neither peer nor likeness in the cycles gone before. For those assemblages that wielded power were based on the support of mighty leaders of men, while these Assemblies are based on the support of the Beauty of `Abha. The defenders and patrons of those other assemblages were either a prince, or a king, or a chief priest, or the mass of the people. But these Spiritual Assemblies have for their defender, their supporter, their helper, their inspirer, the omnipotent Lord."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 82

". . . This Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá'u'lláh has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism. Nowhere in the sacred scriptures of any of the world's religious systems, nor even in the writings of the Inaugurator of the Bábi Dispensation, do we find any provisions establishing a covenant or providing for an administrative order that can compare in scope and authority with those that lie at the very basis of the Bahá'í Dispensation."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 145

Divine Nature of the Administrative Order

"Verily I say, whatever is sent down from the heaven of the Will of God is the means for the establishment of order in the world and the instrument for promoting unity and fellowship among its peoples. Thus hath the Tongue of this Wronged One spoken from His Most Great Prison."

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 67

"The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh is unbroken, its all-encompassing power inviolate. The two unique features which distinguish it from all religious covenants of the past are unchanged and operative. The revealed Word, in its original purity, amplified by the divinely guided interpretations of `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, remains immutable, unadulterated by any man-made creeds or dogmas, unwarrantable inferences, or unauthorized interpretations. The channel of Divine guidance, providing flexibility in all the affairs of mankind, remains open through that institution which was founded by Bahá'u'lláh and endowed by Him with supreme authority and unfailing guidance, and of which the Master wrote: `Unto this body all things must

be referred.' How clearly we can see the truth of Bahá'u'lláh's assertion: `The Hand of Omnipotence hath established His Revelation upon an enduring foundation. Storms of human strife are powerless to undermine its basis, nor will men's fanciful theories succeed in damaging its structure."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 13

"The divinely ordained institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá'í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá'í flock."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz, 1974 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"[The Bahá'í Administration] should never be regarded as an end to itself but purely as a means to canalize and make effective a spiritual vitality generated by the Word of God in the hearts of the believers."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 12, 1973

"Administrative efficiency and order should always be accompanied by an equal degree of love, of devotion and of spiritual development. Both of them are essential and to attempt to dissociate one from the other is to deaden the body of the Cause. In these days, when the Faith is still in its infancy, great care must be taken lest mere administrative routine stifles the spirit which must feed the body of the Administration itself. That spirit is its propelling force and the motivating power of its very life.

"But as already emphasized, both the spirit and the form, are essential for the safe and speedy development of the Administration. To maintain full balance between them is the main and unique responsibility of the administrators of the Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 57-58

"These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is `Abdu'l-Bahá. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater than this? These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 80

Development of Local Spiritual Assemblies
The Embryonic Stage

"Conscious of their high calling, confident in the society-building power which their Faith possesses, they press forward undeterred and undismayed, in their efforts to fashion and

perfect the necessary instruments wherein the embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh can mature and develop. It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life of the world-wide Bahá'í Community is wholly consecrated, that constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by the generating influence of God's changeless Purpose, and is evolving within the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith.

"In a world the structure of whose political and social institutions is impaired, whose vision is befogged, whose conscience is bewildered, whose religious systems have become anemic and lost their virtue, this healing Agency, this leavening Power, this cementing Force, intensely alive and all-pervasive, has been taking shape, is crystallizing into institutions, is mobilizing its forces, and is preparing for the spiritual conquest and the complete redemption of mankind. Though the society which incarnates its ideals be small, and its direct and tangible benefits as yet inconsiderable, yet the potentialities with which it has been endowed, and through which it is destined to regenerate the individual and rebuild a broken world, are incalculable."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 195

"The Bahá'í administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only first beginning to grasp and practice it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful--how to live together as a community of Baha'is, according to the glorious teachings."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 28

"The Guardian is, doubtless, well aware of the existing imperfections in the administrative machinery of the Cause, but these, he strongly feels, should be attributed not to the administrative system itself, but to the administrators of the Faith, who by reason of their human limitations and imperfections can never hope to entirely fulfill those ideal conditions set forth in the Teachings. Much of the existing defects in the present-day activities of the believers, however, will as the Community develops and gains in experience be gradually removed, and healthier and more progressive conditions prevail. And it is towards the realization of this high aim that the friends should earnestly and unitedly strive."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 34

"Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in his writings. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 30, 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Bolivia

Strengthening and Development--Vital Objectives

"Strengthening and development of Local Spiritual Assemblies is a vital objective. . . . Success in this one goal will greatly enrich the quality of Bahá'í life, will heighten the capacity of the Faith to deal with entry by troops which is even now taking place and, above all, will demonstrate the solidarity and ever-growing distinctiveness of the Bahá'í community, thereby attracting more and more thoughtful souls to the Faith and offering a refuge to the leaderless and hapless millions of the spiritually bankrupt, moribund present order."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1974 to the Bahá'ís of the World "The establishment and strong growth of Local Spiritual Assemblies is one of the most fundamental requirements for the spread of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, the development of Bahá'í community life and the emergence of a transformed society."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 6, 1977 to National Spiritual Assemblies

"Among the more salient objectives to be attained by the Local Spiritual Assembly in its process of development to full maturity are to act as a loving shepherd to the Bahá'í flock, promote unity and concord among the friends, direct the teaching work, protect the Cause of God, arrange for Feasts, Anniversaries and regular meetings of the community, familiarize the Bahá'ís with its plans, invite the community to offer its recommendations, promote the welfare of youth and children, and participate, as circumstances permit, in humanitarian activities. In its relationship to the individual believer, the Assembly should continuously invite and encourage him to study the Faith, to deliver its glorious message, to live in accordance with its teachings, to contribute freely and regularly to the Fund, to participate in community activities, and to seek refuge in the Assembly for advice and help, when needed."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 30, 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Bolivia

Pattern for Future Society

". . . Bahá'u'lláh . . . has not only imbued mankind with a new and regenerating Spirit. He has not merely enunciated certain universal principles, or propounded a particular philosophy however potent, sound and universal these may be. In addition to these He, as well as `Abdu'l-Bahá after Him, has, unlike the Dispensations of the past, clearly and specifically laid down a set of Laws, established definite institutions, and provided for the essentials of a Divine Economy. These are destined to be a pattern for future society, a supreme instrument for the establishment of the Most Great Peace, and the one agency for the unification of the world, and the proclamation of the reign of righteousness and justice upon the earth."

Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 19

"Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in the future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world,

but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 6-7

"The rise and establishment of this Administrative Order--the shell that shields and enshrines so precious a gem--constitutes the hall-mark of this second and formative age of the Bahá'í era. It will come to be regarded, as it recedes farther and farther from our eyes, as the chief agency empowered to usher in the concluding phase, the consummation of this glorious Dispensation."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 156

"Let no one, while this System is still in its infancy, misconceive its character, belittle its significance or misrepresent its purpose. The bedrock on which this Administrative Order is founded is God's immutable Purpose for mankind in this day. . . . Its consummation [is] the advent of that golden millennium--the Day when the kingdoms of this world shall have become the Kingdom of God Himself, the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 156-157

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND THE Bahá'í COMMUNITY

Qualities of Assembly Members

"The members of these Assemblies, on their part, must disregard utterly their own likes and dislikes, their personal interests and inclinations, and concentrate their minds upon those measures that will conduce to the welfare and happiness of the Bahá'í Community and promote the common weal."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41

"Through their repeated appeals, through their readiness to dispel all misunderstandings and remove all obstacles, through the example of their lives, and their unrelaxing vigilance, their high sense of justice, their humility, consecration and courage, they must demonstrate to those whom they represent their capacity to play their part in the progress of the Plan in which they, no less than the rest of the community, are involved."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 12

"The Cause . . . is a divine institution whose responsible administrators should consider themselves as mere channels whereby God protects and guides His Faith. The Administration should never be allowed to become a bone of contention between individuals and groups. It stands above human personalities and transcends the scope of their limited and inevitably selfish ideas. Its custodians should continually purge themselves of every trace of personal desire or interest and become wholly imbued with the spirit of love, of cooperation and of genuine self-sacrifice."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, August 8, 1933

"Only as individual members of Local Spiritual Assemblies deepen themselves in the fundamental verities of the Faith and in the proper application of the principles governing the

operation of the Assembly will this institution grow and develop toward its full potential."

The Universal House of Justice, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 5

". . . For upon the degree to which the members of these Assemblies grasp the true significance of the divine institution on which they serve, arise selflessly to fulfill their prescribed and sacred duties, and persevere in their endeavors, depends to a large extent the healthy growth of the world-wide community of the Most Great Name, the force of its outward thrust, and the strength of its supporting roots."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 25, 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

The Relation of the Assembly with the Baha'is

"There is no task more urgently necessary than the insurance of perfect harmony and fellowship among the friends, especially between the local assemblies and individual believers. The local assemblies should inspire confidence in the individual believers, and these in their turn should express their readiness to fully abide by the decisions and directions of the local assembly: the two must learn to cooperate, and to realize that only through such a cooperation can the institutions of the Cause effectively and permanently function. While obedience to the local assembly should be unqualified and whole-hearted, yet that body should enforce its directions in such a way as to avoid giving the impression that it is animated by dictatorial motives. The spirit of the Cause is one of mutual cooperation, and not that of a dictatorship."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 28, 1935, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23 "Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá'í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion, and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other.

"The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. They must regard themselves in no other light but that of chosen instruments for a more efficient and dignified presentation of the Cause of God. They should never be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments of the body of the Cause, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and sole promoters of its teachings and principles. They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavor, by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candor, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the

Cause, and humanity to win, not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must, at all times, avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations. They should, within the limits of wise discretion, take the friends into their confidence, acquaint them with their plans, share with them their problems and anxieties, and seek their advice and counsel."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 63-64

"The administrators of the Faith of God must be like unto shepherds. Their aim should be to dispel all the doubts, misunderstandings and harmful differences which may arise in the community of the believers. And this they can adequately achieve provided they are motivated by a true sense of love for their fellow-brethren coupled with a firm determination to act with justice in all the cases which are submitted to them for their consideration."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 9, 1934, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23 "These bodies have the sacred obligation to help, advise, protect and guide the believers in every way within their power when appealed to--indeed they were established just for the purpose of keeping order and unity and obedience to the law of God amongst the believers.

`You should go to them as a child would to its parents. . . .'"

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated September 28, 1941 in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 16

The Relation of the Bahá'ís with the Assembly

"It is incumbent upon every one not to take any step without consulting the Spiritual Assembly, and they must assuredly obey with heart and soul its bidding and be submissive unto it, that things may be properly ordered and well arranged. Otherwise every person will act independently and after his own judgement, will follow his own desire, and do harm to the Cause."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá'í Administration, p. 21

"In order to avoid division and disruption, that the Cause may not fall a prey to conflicting interpretations, and lose thereby its purity and pristine vigor, that its affairs may be conducted with efficiency and promptness, it is necessary that every one should conscientiously take an active part in the election of these Assemblies, abide by their decisions, enforce their decree, and cooperate with them whole-heartedly in their task of stimulating the growth of the Movement throughout all regions."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41

"The Guardian believes that a great deal of the difficulties from which the believers . . . feel themselves to be suffering are caused by their neither correctly understanding or putting into practice the administration. They seem--many of them--to be prone to continually challenging and criticizing the decisions of their assemblies. If the Bahá'ís undermine the very leaders which are, however immaturely, seeking to coordinate Bahá'í activities and administer Bahá'í affairs, if they continually criticize their acts and challenge or belittle their decisions, they not only prevent any real rapid progress in the Faith's development from taking place, but they repel outsiders who quite rightly may ask how we ever expect to unite the whole world when we are so disunited among ourselves!

"There is only one remedy for this: to study the administration, to obey the assemblies, and each believer seek to perfect his own character as a Baha'i. We can never exert the influence over others which we can exert over ourselves. If we are better, if we show love, patience, and understanding of the weaknesses of others, if we seek to never criticize but rather encourage, others will do likewise, and we can really help the Cause through our example and spiritual strength. The Bahá'ís everywhere, when the administration is first established, find it very difficult to adjust themselves. They have to learn to obey, even when the assembly may be wrong, for the sake of unity. They have to sacrifice their personalities, to a certain extent, in order that the Community life may grow and develop as a whole. These things are difficult, but we must realize that they will lead us to a very much greater, more perfect, way of life when the Faith is properly established according to the administration."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 26, 1943, in The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 34-35

"We should respect the National Spiritual Assembly and the Local Spiritual Assembly because they are institutions founded by Bahá'u'lláh. It has nothing to do with personality, but is far above it. It will be a great day when the friends, on and off the assemblies, come to fully grasp the fact that it is not the individuals on an assembly which is important, but the assembly as an institution."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 13, 1944 in The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 18-19

"The friends are called upon to give their whole-hearted support and cooperation to the Local Spiritual Assembly, first by voting for the membership and then by energetically pursuing its plans and programs, by turning to it in time of trouble or difficulty, by praying for its success and taking delight in its rise to influence and honor. This great prize, this gift of God within each community must be cherished, nurtured, loved, assisted, obeyed and prayed for."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1974 to the Bahá'ís of the World

THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND ITS RELATION TO OTHER INSTITUTIONS

The National Spiritual Assembly
Its Authority and Significance

"The National Spiritual Assembly shall have exclusive jurisdiction and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá'í Faith throughout its area."

The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, By-Laws, Article III, p. 9

"All matters arising within a local Bahá'í community which are of purely local interest and do not affect the national interests of the Cause shall be under the primary jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly of that locality, but decision whether a particular matter involves the interest and welfare of the national Bahá'í body shall rest with the National Spiritual Assembly."

Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly, Article VII, Section 8

"Whatever functions and powers are not specifically attributed to Local Spiritual Assemblies in these By-Laws shall be considered vested in the National Spiritual Assembly, which body is authorized to delegate such discretionary functions and power as it deems necessary and advisable to the Local Spiritual Assemblies in its jurisdiction."

Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly, Article X,

"I wish to reaffirm in clear and categorical language, the principle already enunciated upholding the supreme authority of the National Assembly in all matters that affect the interests of the Faith in that land. There can be no conflict of authority, no duality under any form or circumstances in any sphere of Bahá'í jurisdiction whether local, national, or international."

Shoghi Effendi, June 11, 1934, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 12

". . . The Guardian wishes me to again affirm his view that the authority of the N.S.A. is undivided and unchallengeable in all matters pertaining to the administration of the Faith . . . and that, therefore, the obedience of individual Baha'is, delegates, groups, and Assemblies to that authority is imperative, and should be wholehearted and unqualified. He is convinced that the unreserved acceptance and complete application of this vital provision of the Administration is essential to the maintenance of the highest degree of unity among the believers, and is indispensable to the effective working of the administrative machinery of the Faith in every country."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 11, 1934, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 28

Its Relation With Local Spiritual Assemblies

"Unity is, therefore, the main key to success. And the best way to insure and consolidate the organic unity of His Faith is to strengthen the authority of the local assemblies and to bring them within the full orbit of the National Assembly's jurisdiction. The National Assembly is the head, and the local assemblies are these various organs of the body of the Cause. To insure full cooperation between these various parts is to safeguard the best interests of the faith by enabling it to

counteract those forces which threaten to create a breach within the ranks of the faithful."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 20, 1933, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 57

"It [the Local Spiritual Assembly] shall faithfully and devotedly uphold the general Bahá'í activities and affairs initiated and sustained by the National Spiritual Assembly. It shall cooperate wholeheartedly with other Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout the United States in all matters declared by the National Spiritual Assembly to be of general Bahá'í importance and concern."

Declaration of Trust, and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, pp. 24-25

"Let it be made clear to every inquiring reader that among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct, and coordinate the affairs of the Cause, are those that require them to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve. Theirs is the duty to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments, the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote. Theirs is the duty to purge once for all their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs from that air of self-contained aloofness, from the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness, in short, from every word and deed that might savour of partiality, self-centeredness, and prejudice. Theirs is the duty, while retaining the sacred and exclusive right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, provide information, ventilate grievances, welcome advice from even the most humble and insignificant members of the Bahá'í family, expose their motives, set forth their plans, justify their actions, revise if necessary their verdict, foster the sense of interdependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between them on one hand and all local Assemblies and individual believers on the other."

Shoghi Effendi, September 23, 1936, in The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 31-32

"Just as the individual believers are bound to support and sustain their spiritual assembly, for the preservation of the unity of the Faith and the strengthening of its as yet embryonic World Order, so must the local assemblies obey and sustain their national representatives. The closer the cooperation between the local and national assemblies, the greater will be the power and radiance which can and must stream forth from these institutions to the suffering ranks of humanity."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 29, 1942, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 27-28

"It is obvious that through the consolidation of the foundations of the Administrative Order on the local level, the national institutions of the Faith will receive support and strength in the conduct of their activities. In turn, the National Spiritual

Assembly and its agencies should not only oversee the activities of the local communities, but it has the duty and privilege to coordinate the efforts and to stimulate and give direction to the spirit of enterprise and initiative of the individual friends. When a proper and balanced relationship is maintained between these two levels of Bahá'í activity, and a healthy interaction takes place between them, a foundation is laid for the community to become `spiritually welded into a unit at once dynamic and coherent.'"

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 17, 1981 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

The Institution of the Learned

"In the Kitáb-i-'Ahdi (the Book of His Covenant) Bahá'u'lláh wrote `Blessed are the rulers and the learned in Al-Baha,' and referring to this very passage the beloved Guardian wrote on 4 November 1931:

In this holy cycle the `learned' are, on the one hand, the Hands of the

Cause of God, and, on the other, the teachers and diffusers of His

teachings who do not rank as Hands, but who have attained an eminent

position in the teaching work. As to the `rulers' they refer to the

members of the Local, National and International Houses of Justice. The

duties of each of these souls will be determined in the future.'

(Translated from the Persian)

"The Hands of the Cause of God, the Counselors and the members of the Auxiliary Boards fall within the definition of the `learned' given by the beloved Guardian. Thus they are all intimately interrelated and it is not incorrect to refer to the three ranks collectively as one institution.

"However, each is also a separate institution in itself."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 91-92

"This Administrative Order consists, on the one hand, of a series of elected councils, universal, secondary and local, in which are vested legislative, executive and judicial powers over the Bahá'í community and, on the other, of eminent and devoted believers appointed for the specific purposes of protecting and propagating the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh under the guidance of the Head of that Faith."

The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, p. 8

"Every institution of this Divinely created Order is one more refuge for a distraught populace; every soul illumined by the light of the sacred Message is one more link in the oneness of mankind, one more servant ministering to the needs of an ailing world. Even should the Bahá'í communities, in the years immediately ahead, be cut off from the World Center or from one another--as some have already been--the Bahá'ís will neither halt nor hesitate; they will continue to pursue their objectives, guided by their Spiritual Assemblies and led by the Counselors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 3, 1980 to the Bahá'ís of the World

The Hands of the Cause of God

"The obligations of the Hands of the Cause of God are to diffuse the Divine Fragrances, to edify the souls of men, to promote learning, to improve the character of all men and to be, at all times and under all conditions, sanctified and detached from earthly things. They must manifest the fear of God by their conduct, their manners, their deeds and their words."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, p. 13

"The Hands of the Cause of God are one of the most precious assets the Bahá'í world possesses. Released from administration of the Auxiliary Boards, they will be able to concentrate their energies on the more primary responsibilities of general protection and propagation, `preservation of the spiritual health of the Bahá'í communities' and `the vitality of the faith' of the Bahá'ís throughout the world. The House of Justice will call upon them to undertake special missions on its behalf, to represent it on both Bahá'í and other occasions and to keep it informed of the welfare of the Cause."

The Universal House of Justice, June 24, 1968, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 5-6

The Continental Boards of Counselors

". . . The Universal House of Justice decided . . . to establish Continental Boards of Counselors for the protection and propagation of the Faith. Their duties will include directing the Auxiliary Boards in their respective areas, consulting and collaborating with National Spiritual Assemblies, and keeping the Hands of the Cause and the Universal House of Justice informed concerning the conditions of the Cause in their areas."

The Universal House of Justice, June 24, 1968, Messages from The Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, p. 7

"The Counselors are responsible for stimulating, counseling and assisting National Spiritual Assemblies, and also work with individuals, groups, and Local Assemblies."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from The Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, p. 30

"We are confident that the institution of the Boards of Counselors will lend its vital support and, through the Counselors' own contacts with friends, through their Auxiliary Boards and their assistants, will nourish the roots of each local community, enrich and cultivate the soil of knowledge of the teachings and irrigate it with the living waters of love for Bahá'u'lláh. Thus will the saplings grow into mighty trees, and the trees bear their golden fruit."

The Universal House of Justice, May 25, 1975, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 63-64

International Teaching Center "The time is indeed propitious for the establishment of the International Teaching Center, a development which, at one and the same time, brings to fruition the work of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land and provides for its extension into the future, links the institution of the Boards of Counselors even more intimately with that of the Hands of the Cause of

God, and powerfully reinforces the discharge of the rapidly growing responsibilities of the Universal House of Justice. . . .

"The duties now assigned to this nascent institution are:

To coordinate, stimulate and direct the activities of the Continental Boards of Counselors and to act as liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice.

To be fully informed of the situation of the Cause in all parts of the world and to be able, from the background of this knowledge, to make reports and recommendations to the Universal House of Justice and give advice to the Continental Boards of Counselors.

To be alert to possibilities, both within and without the Bahá'í community, for the extension of the teaching work into receptive or needy areas, and to draw the attention of the Universal House of Justice and the Continental Boards of Counselors to such possibilities, making recommendations for action.

To determine and anticipate needs for literature, pioneers and traveling teachers and to work out teaching plans, both regional and global, for the approval of the Universal House of Justice.

"All the Hands of the Cause of God will be members of the International Teaching Center. Each Hand will be kept regularly informed of the activities of the Center through reports or copies of its minutes, and will be able, wherever he may be residing or traveling, to convey suggestions, recommendations and information to the Center and, whenever he is in the Holy Land, to take part in the consultations and other activities of the Center."

The Universal House of Justice, June 8, 1973, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 46-47

The Auxiliary Board Members

"The beloved Guardian's message of October 1957 [cited in Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 124-130] clearly indicates that the two Auxiliary Boards must have distinct but complementary functions. In that message he charges the Protection Board with `the specific duty of watching over the security of the Faith' and says that the duty of the Propagation Board would `henceforth be exclusively concerned with assisting the prosecution of the Ten-Year Plan' [1953-1963].

Protection Boards

"Above all, members of the Protection Boards should concentrate on deepening the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, on clearly and frankly answering, in conformity with the teachings, whatever questions may trouble any of the believers, on fostering the spiritual profundity and strength of their faith and certitude, and on promoting whatever will increase the spirit of loving unity in Bahá'í communities.

Propagation Boards

"The primary tasks of the Propagation Boards, however, are to direct the believers' attention to the goals of whatever

plans have been placed before them, to stimulate and assist them to promote the teaching work in the fields of proclamation, expansion, consolidation and pioneering, to encourage contributions to the funds, and to act as standard-bearers of the teachers of the Faith, leading them to new achievements in the diffusion of God's Message to their fellow human beings."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 10, 1976 to the International Teaching Centre

Their Supporting Role

"Authority and direction flow from the Assemblies, whereas the power to accomplish the tasks resides primarily in the entire body of the believers. It is the principal task of the Auxiliary Boards to assist in arousing and releasing this power. This is a vital activity, and if they are to be able to perform it adequately they must avoid becoming involved in the work of administration. . . . The Auxiliary Boards should work closely with the grass roots of the community: the individual believers, groups and Local Spiritual Assemblies, advising, stimulating and assisting them."

The Universal House of Justice, October 1, 1969, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 37-38

"It is the Spiritual Assemblies who plan and direct the work, but these plans should be well known to the Counselors and Auxiliary Board members, because one of the ways in which they can assist the Assemblies is by urging the believers continually to support the plans of the Assemblies."

The Universal House of Justice, October 1, 1969, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, p. 40

"When a Local Spiritual Assembly begins to function properly, it does not mean it can dispense with the service and work of Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who can and should continue to provide stimulation and inspiration not only generally to the Assembly and local Bahá'í activities, but to individual believers as well."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 9, 1980 to an individual believer

"Above all the Auxiliary Board members should build up a warm and loving relationship between themselves and the believers in their area so that the Local Spiritual Assemblies will spontaneously turn to them for advice and assistance."

The Universal House of Justice, October 1, 1969, Messages from The Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, p. 33

Teaching Versus Administrative Work

"Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counselors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counselors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer.

They do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems. All these activities fall within the sphere of responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies."

The Universal House of Justice, October 1, 1969, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, p. 32

Systematic Visits and Correspondence with Communities

". . . Our beloved Guardian urged Auxiliary Board members to establish contact with Local Spiritual Assemblies, groups, isolated centers and the individual believers, and through periodic and systematic visits to localities as well as by correspondence help in promoting the interests of the Plan, assist in the efficient and prompt execution of the goals, watch over the security of the Faith, stimulate and strengthen the teaching and pioneer work, impress upon the friends the importance of individual effort, initiative and sacrifice, and encourage them to participate in Bahá'í activities and be unified under all circumstances."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 17, 1971

"The question has been raised as to how Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers are to know which matters they should refer to which Auxiliary Board member. We feel that this will be worked out at the local level in the light of experience, and that meanwhile the Assemblies and believers should not concern themselves unduly about it. They should feel free to refer to either Board, and if the Auxiliary Board member feels that the matter would better have been referred to his colleague, he can either himself pass the question on, or suggest the different approach to the Assembly or believer. This is similar to the situation, already familiar to Board members, when they have referred to them a matter which should properly be dealt with by a National Spiritual Assembly or one of its committees."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 10, 1976 to the International Teaching Centre

For further information on the relation of the Protective Boards to the Local Spiritual Assembly, see Chapter 5, "Protection of the Faith."

For further information on the relation of the Propagation Boards to the Local Spiritual Assembly, see Chapter 7, "Teaching."

The Assistants to the Auxiliary Board Members

". . . We have decided to take a further step in the development of the institution by giving to each Continental Board of Counselors the discretion to authorize individual Auxiliary Board members to appoint assistants. . . .

"Their aims should be to activate and encourage Local Spiritual Assemblies, to call the attention of Local Spiritual Assembly members to the importance of holding regular meetings, to encourage local communities to meet for the Nineteen Day Feasts and Holy Days, to help deepen their fellow-believers'

understanding of the Teachings, and generally to assist the Auxiliary Board members in the discharge of their duties."

The Universal House of Justice, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, p. 54

"One of the most potent aids to the consolidation of local communities and Assemblies and the deepening of the faith of the believers, is the services of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants. Here is an institution of the Faith, reaching into every locality, composed of firm believers who know the area they have to serve and are familiar with its problems and potentialities--an institution expressly designed to encourage and reinforce the work of the Spiritual Assemblies, to enthuse the believers, to stimulate them to study the Teachings and apply them in their lives--a body of Bahá'ís whose efforts and services will complement and support the work being done by your committees and by the Local Assemblies themselves in every sphere of Bahá'í endeavor."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 2, 1976 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Believers Can Serve Both as Assistants and on Administrative

Institutions

". . . Appointment of a believer as a Board member's assistant does not require the resignation of the appointee from a Spiritual Assembly or a committee. The House of Justice leans towards `assistants' not retiring from administrative work, although in consultation with their Spiritual Assembly it may be quite in order; it would be preferable, however, for the suggestion to come from the appointee and not from the Spiritual Assembly."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 10, 1975 to a National Spiritual Assembly

Assistants Who Are Also Members of an Administrative Institution "Assistants who are members of a National Assembly or a national committee do not function as assistants in relation to that body, and they have the same duty to observe the confidentiality of its consultations, and of matters considered by the Assembly to be confidential, as does any other member. An assistant can, of course, be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, but his task here as an assistant is to help the Spiritual Assembly to function harmoniously and efficiently in the discharge of its duties and this will hardly succeed if he gives the Assembly the feeling that he is reporting privately everything it does to the Auxiliary Board member. He should, on the contrary, do all he can to foster an atmosphere of warm and loving collaboration between the Local Assembly and the Board member."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 2, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Virgin Islands

For further information on confidentiality, see Chapter 3, "Organization of the Assembly."

Suggested Readings
The Covenant and the Administrative Order

The Covenant: Its Meaning and Origin and Our Attitude Toward It, compiled by the National Teaching Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States

The Covenant, compiled by the Universal House of Justice

God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 158-329
Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 217-223
Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá

World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi, pp. 141-157

The National Spiritual Assembly

The National Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice

The Institution of the Learned

The Continental Boards of Counselors, compiled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 1981

The Local Spiritual Assembly

The Local Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice

2 THE FORMATION OF THE ASSEMBLY FORMING THE ASSEMBLY Obligation to Form "The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counselors to the number of Baha. . . . Bahá'u'lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 13 ". . . It is of the utmost importance that in accordance with the explicit text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book, in every locality, be it city or hamlet, where the number of adult (21 years and above) declared believers exceeds nine, a local `Spiritual Assembly' be forthwith established. To it all local matters pertaining to the Cause must be directly and immediately referred for full consultation and decision. The importance, nay the absolute necessity of these local Assemblies is manifest when we realize that in the days to come they will evolve into the local Houses of Justice. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 37 "Shoghi Effendi feels that in any locality where the number of adult believers reaches nine, a local Assembly should be established. He feels this to be an obligation rather than a purely voluntary act. Only in exceptional cases has the National Spiritual Assembly the right to postpone the formation of an Assembly if it feels that the situation does not warrant such a formation. This right, however, should be exercised if the situation absolutely demands it."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 46 When to Form First Day of Ridvan ". . . At the present time all Local Spiritual Assemblies should, except as specified below, be elected (or formed by joint declaration if the number of believers in the community is exactly nine) on the First Day of Ridvan each year--that is, between sunset on 20th April and sunset on 21st April. Forming Assemblies for the First Time

". . . When a Local Spiritual Assembly is to be formed in a locality for the very first time, this may take place as soon as there are nine or more adult believers resident there. This does not apply to the re-formation of Assemblies that have lapsed."

Extended Period

". . . It has been of concern to us that, in spite of the efforts of the National Spiritual Assemblies and the Auxiliary Boards and of all the believers who are laboring in the field, there are many areas in which there are communities of nine or more believers who are left, for year after year, without the blessing of the divine institution of a Local Spiritual Assembly. This is a phenomenon of the present stage in the spread of the

Faith where there has been a rapid acceptance of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh by people who, because of factors of illiteracy, unfamiliarity with the concepts of Bahá'í administration, or an attitude to the calendar and to the passage of time that is different from that of the city-dwellers, fail to re-elect their Spiritual Assemblies on the First Day of Ridvan.

"Not wishing such communities to be deprived of the bounty and experience of having Local Spiritual Assemblies, we have decided that, in such cases, when the local friends fail to elect their Spiritual Assembly on the First Day of Ridvan, they should do so on any subsequent day of the Ridvan Festival. This is not a general permission for all Local Spiritual Assemblies; it is intended only for those which are affected by factors such as those mentioned above, and it is for each National Assembly to decide the areas or Assemblies within its area of jurisdiction to which it will apply. The aim is still so to consolidate all communities that they will elect their Assemblies regularly on the First Day of Ridvan."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 26, 1987 to all National Spiritual Assemblies An existing Spiritual Assembly or a community that has had an Assembly before can only re-form on the First day of Ridvan unless an extended period is granted in advance by the National Spiritual Assembly. Lapsed Assemblies that have not formed within the past ten years may re-form as a new Assembly during the year.

Permission for an extension is granted on a case-by-case basis each year, according to circumstances. Generally, permission is given only if the community is not yet developed enough to call for and carry out an election on the first day of Ridvan. Annual Meeting "The Annual Meeting of the Corporation [the Local Spiritual Assembly] at which its Trustees shall be elected shall be held on April 21, at an hour and place to be fixed by the Spiritual Assembly, which shall give not less than fifteen days' notice of the meeting to all members of the local Bahá'í community.

"Section 1. The Spiritual Assembly shall accept those votes transmitted to the Assembly before the election by members who by reason of sickness or other unavoidable reason are unable to be present at the election in person.

"Section 2. The election of members to the Spiritual Assembly shall be by plurality vote [whereby candidates that have obtained the highest number of votes, regardless of whether they received a majority of the votes cast, are elected].

"Section 3. All voting members of the local Bahá'í community are eligible for election as members of the Spiritual Assembly.

"Section 4. The Spiritual Assembly shall prepare an agenda for the Annual Meeting in which shall be included reports of the activities of the Assembly since its election, a financial statement showing all income and expenditure of its fund, reports of its committees and presentation of any other

matters pertaining to the affairs of the Bahá'í community. The Assembly, both preceding and following the Annual Election, shall invite discussion and welcome suggestions from the community in order that its plans may reflect the community mind and heart.

"Section 5. The result of the election shall be reported by the Spiritual Assembly to the National Spiritual Assembly."

By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article XI Preparation for the Annual Meeting The Local Spiritual Assembly may wish to begin in early March to prepare for the Annual Meeting by taking the following steps:

- Schedule the Annual Meeting to take place during the period between sunset of April 20 and sunset on April 21. (An Annual Meeting held at any other time may invalidate the election unless permission has been granted by the National Spiritual Assembly.)

- Determine the place of the meeting.

- Notify all voting members (those twenty-one and over) of the time and place of the Annual Meeting and provide instructions for absentee ballots. (Those Bahá'ís who are unable to be present at the election in person may mail in their votes, using the ballot paper and the two envelopes provided. The inner envelope in which the ballot is enclosed should have no mark which can identify the voter. The ballot envelope should be sealed and placed in the second or outer envelope. The outer envelope should have the name and address of the sender and be marked "ballot." Please mail at least three days before the election to the Assembly.)

If the Assembly is to be re-formed, fifteen days' notice should be given. Failure to give at least fifteen days' notice, however, will not necessarily invalidate the election. (When a Local Spiritual Assembly is formed for the first time, advance notice should be given; however, no specific time period is required.)

- Appoint tellers (at least two) to count the votes at the election.

- Instruct the tellers, one of whom should be designated chief

teller.

The following steps should be taken at the Annual Meeting before voting:

- Read the qualifications and procedures for voting

- Provide ballot paper
- Update the adult membership list

Announce at the meeting all persons who have transferred in or out of the community since the election notices were sent. A current voting list may be provided for every adult; or, where this is not feasible, copies of the adult membership list should be available at the time of the election.

Agenda

The Local Spiritual Assembly sets the agenda for the Annual

Meeting. The following agenda is provided merely as an example of how the Assembly might wish to organize the meeting:

- Opening prayers
- Presentation of the annual report
- Consultation
- Reading of election call

- Introduction of tellers and instructions on voting procedure

- Final call for absentee ballots

- Announcement of persons who have recently transferred in or out of

the community since the election call
- Prayer
- Voting
- Collection of ballots by tellers
- Consultation
- Tellers' report and acceptance by community

- Closing prayer Annual Report The Annual Report is a summary of the community's goals, concerns, activities and progress of the past year. It should also reflect the nature of the participation of the community in the national and global plans of the Faith.

The Local Assembly makes the final determination of what is included in the Annual Report. The following basic information may be included:

- Name and location of the Spiritual Assembly
- Date of report
- Period covered

- Results of the last annual election and any by-elections

- Assembly membership and attendance record
- Vital statistics:
- total membership of the community
- makeup of membership--adults, youth,
children
- enrollments for the year

- transfers in and out; withdrawals; deprivations of membership

- marriages; births; deaths

- Nineteen Day Feast (percentage of community attendance)

- Major local projects and activities, and their progress to date

- Part played by the community in national and global plans of the

Faith, including:
- extension teaching
- pioneers sent out
- community support of national activities
- Noteworthy developments
- Financial record
- total contributions received to date
- expenditures

- percentage of community participating in the Fund

Committee reports should be submitted to the Assembly well before the Annual Meeting. The Assembly will need time to review the reports and to decide what to include in its own general report to the community. (Or the Assembly may simply add the committee reports as an addendum to its report.) Altogether, the yearly reports prepared by the Assembly and its committees constitute the Annual Report of the Local Spiritual Assembly which must be kept in the permanent files of the Assembly. A copy of the report should be sent to the National Spiritual Assembly and may also be shared with the Auxiliary Board Member(s). Incorporated Assemblies Incorporated Assemblies may have to meet certain legal requirements to maintain their corporate status. These requirements vary from state to state. The Assembly may, for example, be required to have presented and to have received acceptance of the minutes of the last year's annual meeting. Incorporated Assemblies should make sure they adhere to the state requirements. Tellers The tellers are appointed by the outgoing Spiritual Assembly. Any Baha'i, adult or youth, in good standing may serve as teller. The job includes:

- Collecting the ballots,
- Counting the ballots,
- Making certain that the ballots are valid,
- Recording the results,

- Reporting the results to the election meeting, and

- Submitting to the local and National Spiritual Assembly a report signed by all tellers. This report becomes part of the permanent records of the community.

In addition, the Chief Teller is responsible for organizing the work of the tellers, announcing the results of the election and any other relevant information desired by the electors, and ensuring that the election report is signed by all tellers. (See also Chapter 3, "Service of Children and Youth.") (See also "Counting the Ballots," in this chapter.)

ELECTION PROCESS The Spirit and Character of Bahá'í Elections

"On the election day, the friends must wholeheartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God, detached from all things but Him, seeking His guidance and supplicating His aid and bounty."

Shoghi Effendi, translation of letter dated February 27, 1923 to Persian believers, in "Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on the Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections," p. 1 "I feel that reference to personalities before the election would give rise to misunderstanding and differences. What the friends should do is to get thoroughly acquainted with one another, to exchange views, to mix freely and discuss among themselves the requirements and qualifications for such a membership without reference or application, however indirect, to particular

individuals. We should refrain from influencing the opinion of others, of canvassing for any particular individual, but should stress the necessity of getting fully acquainted with the qualifications of membership referred to in our Beloved's Tablets and of learning more about one another through direct, personal experience rather than through the reports and opinions of our friends."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 47 "Let us recall His explicit and often-repeated assurances that every Assembly elected in that rarefied atmosphere of selflessness and detachment is, in truth, appointed of God, that its verdict is truly inspired, that one and all should submit to its decision unreservedly and with cheerfulness."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 65 ". . . The elector . . . is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold. Moreover, the practice of nomination, so detrimental to the atmosphere of a silent and prayerful election, is viewed with mistrust, inasmuch as it gives the right . . . to deny that God-given right of every elector to vote only in favor of those who he is conscientiously convinced are the most worthy candidates."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 136 "Let them exercise the utmost vigilance so that the elections are carried out freely, universally and by secret ballot. Any form of intrigue, deception, collusion and compulsion must be stopped and is forbidden."

Shoghi Effendi, translation of letter dated March 8, 1932, to Persian believers in "Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on the Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections," p. 2 "One's vote should be kept confidential. It is not permissible to make any reference whatsoever to individual names. The friends must avoid the evil methods and detestable practices of the politicians. They must turn completely to God, and with a purity of motive, a freedom of spirit and a sanctity of heart, participate in the elections; otherwise the outcome will be chaos and confusion, serious difficulties will ensue, mischief will abound and the confirmation of God will be cut off."

Shoghi Effendi, translation of letter dated January 16, 1932, to Persian believers in "Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on the Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections," p. 2 Qualifications for Membership ". . . It is incumbent upon the chosen delegates to consider without the least trace of passion and prejudice, and irrespective of any material consideration, the names of only those who can best combine the necessary qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 88 "If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Bahá'í Assemblies. . . we are filled with feelings of

unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we rise to play nobly our part every deficiency in our lives will be more than compensated by the all-conquering spirit of His grace and power."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 88 "In regard to your question about qualifications of delegates and Assembly members: the qualifications which he outlined are really applicable to anyone we elect to a Bahá'í office, whatever its nature. But these are only an indication, they do not mean people who don't fulfill them cannot be elected to office. We must aim as high as we can."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated October 24, 1947, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles in "Extracts from the Guardian's Letters on the Spiritual Character of Bahá'í Elections," p. 3 ". . . Concerning the qualifications of the members of the spiritual assembly; there is a distinction of fundamental importance which should be always remembered in this connection, and this is between the spiritual assembly as an institution, and the persons who comprise it. These are by no means supposed to be perfect, nor can they be considered as being inherently superior to the rest of their fellow-believers. It is precisely because they are subject to the same human limitations that characterize the other members of the community that they have to be elected every year. The existence of elections is a sufficient indication that assembly members, though forming part of an institution that is divine and perfect, are nevertheless themselves imperfect. But this does not necessarily imply that their judgment is defective. For as `Abdu'-Baha has repeatedly emphasized Bahá'í assemblies are under the guidance and protection of God. The elections, specially when annual, give the community a good opportunity to remedy any defect or imperfection from which the assembly may suffer as a result of the actions of its members. Thus a safe method has been established whereby the quality of membership in Bahá'í assemblies can be continually raised and improved. But, as already stated, the institution of the spiritual assembly should under no circumstances be identified with, or be estimated merely through, the personal qualifications of the members that compose it."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 9-10 Representation of Minorities ". . . Bearing in mind the extreme desirability of having the minority elements participate and share responsibility in the conduct of Bahá'í activity, it should be the duty of every Bahá'í community so to arrange its affairs that in cases where individuals belonging to the divers minority elements within it are already qualified and fulfill the necessary requirements, Bahá'í representative institutions, be they Assemblies, conventions, conferences, or committees, may have represented on them as many of these diverse elements, racial or otherwise, as possible."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 35-36

The Benefits of Electing New Members

"Shoghi Effendi has never said that the members of the National Assembly have to be renewed partially every year. The important thing is that they should be properly elected. It would be nice if there should be new members elected, for new blood always adds to the energy of the group and will keep up their spirit. But this depends entirely upon the will of the delegates as represented in the result of their voting."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated October 1932, "He was very happy to see that changes had been made in membership of the N.S.A. this year, not from any reasons of personality, but because change itself is good and brings a fresh outlook into the discussions of any assembly. He was also pleased to see that these changes involved more younger people being on the N.S.A.; with the tremendous amount of work which this . . . Plan is going to involve, this will be a great help to the older members of that body."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 18 Eligibility "Upon attaining the age of twenty-one years, a Bahá'í is eligible to vote and to hold elective office."

By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article V Members of the Institution of the Learned "The exalted rank and specific functions of the Hands of the Cause of God make it inappropriate for them to be elected or appointed to administrative institutions, or to be elected as delegates to national conventions."

The Universal House of Justice, November 1964, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 42 ". . . Auxiliary Board members are eligible to be elected. Therefore, a ballot should not be invalidated because it contains the name of a member of an Auxiliary Board. The basic principle involved is that the Board member himself must decide whether or not to accept his election. As you have stated in your letter, if the membership in a Bahá'í community drops to nine, including the Auxiliary Board member resident there, the Auxiliary Board member may serve temporarily as a member of the Assembly to preserve its Assembly status."

The Universal House of Justice, The Continental Boards of Counselors, p. 33 "All adult Baha'is, including members of the Auxiliary Board, are eligible to vote in elections for delegates or in elections for members of the Local Spiritual Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, The Continental Boards of Counselors, p. 34 "Believers can serve at the same time both as assistants to Auxiliary Board members and on administrative institutions."

The Universal House of Justice, The Continental Boards of Counselors, pp. 54-55 Residency Requirements "To count as a member of a local Bahá'í community for the purpose of forming or maintaining the Local Spiritual Assembly,

a believer must be resident in that area of jurisdiction on the First Day of Ridvan. This is the principle. What constitutes `residence' is a secondary matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide. . . .

". . . It is, moreover, not essential for a person to be physically present to be a resident. There are many instances of a sailor or salesman who spends most of his time moving from place to place but who is indisputably resident in the town where his family lives. All such matters must be decided by the National Spiritual Assembly in the light of the circumstances of each case within the general framework of the definition of `residence' that it adopts."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 18, 1985, in Lights of Guidance, p. 6 Students and Others Who Reside in More Than One Community In a letter dated August 3, 1967, the Universal House of Justice stated that in the case of students and others who may have residence in more than one community, and in each of which he spends approximately the same amount of time during the year, such a believer may choose the community in which he desires to hold his membership.

". . . One cannot count as being `resident' in two places at once."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 18, 1985 Moving after Ridvan The National Spiritual Assembly has decided that if a Bahá'í has made a firm commitment, such as signing a lease or purchase agreement on a house, he is eligible to serve on the Assembly if he is able to physically reside in the community within 90 days. Moving After the Election Calls have been Sent There is no minimum amount of time Bahá'ís must be residents of a community before they can participate in a Bahá'í election. If they move to a community the day of an election, they may participate in it as long as the Assembly is convinced that they are making their home in that community. Change of Boundaries Bahá'í community membership is often affected by civil boundary changes, and because of this, those who are eligible to serve during one year on the Assembly may not be members of the same community the next year. The National Spiritual Assembly should be notified of all civil boundary changes. No change in a membership list resulting from civil boundary changes should be made until the National Spiritual Assembly approves or acknowledges the changes. Newly-Enrolled Bahá'ís Unless they are from the Middle East (see following section), newly enrolled Bahá'ís are eligible for election to a Local Spiritual Assembly, regardless of whether they have received Bahá'í identification cards from the National Spiritual Assembly.

Newly-Transferred Baha'is

Pending the transfer of their membership into the United States Bahá'í community from the community of the country in which they were last residing, Bahá'ís with current credentials from other countries (not visitors) may be considered eligible for election to an Assembly. They must submit their credentials (and ask for a return receipt) to the National Spiritual Assembly and request that their membership be transferred to the United States Bahá'í community. If, after 60 days following the election, the Bahá'ís still have not received their United States Bahá'í credentials, the National Spiritual Assembly should be notified.

Bahá'ís without credentials from another country (not visitors) who have not yet received United States Bahá'í credentials are not eligible to vote and serve on a Spiritual Assembly until their status has been verified and their transfer has been completed. They must contact their former National Spiritual Assembly and ask that their credentials be sent to the United States National Spiritual Assembly. Enrollments and Transfers from the Middle East Persian declarants (any person from Persian background regardless of their immigration status or length of stay in the U.S.) and Middle Easterners may participate in administrative functions only after their enrollments and transfers are confirmed by the National Spiritual Assembly. Bahá'ís with Unknown Addresses If the community membership list includes the names of Bahá'ís whose mail has been returned, the Assembly should not remove their names from the mailing list unless it has been verified that the persons no longer live at their last known address.

Concerning those persons for whom every effort has been made to locate them, to no avail, the Assembly should notify the National Spiritual Assembly (Attn: Management Information Systems office) and ask that they be removed from the community membership list. Further information is given in Chapter 6, "Community Membership." Special Circumstances Prisoners "While this teaching work is commendable those who accept Bahá'u'lláh under these conditions cannot undertake administrative responsibilities, nor can Local Assemblies be formed in prisons."

The Universal House of Justice, February 9, 1972 "You are free to accept declarations of faith from inmates of a prison, but their participation as voting believers can take place only after they have been discharged from prison."

The Universal House of Justice, December 8, 1969
Mentally Ill or Senile

If a believer is obviously incapable of serving due to mental illness or senility, the person should not be considered eligible to vote for or serve on the Assembly. The Assembly or community

should immediately inform the National Spiritual Assembly of the believer's condition. If the community is uncertain whether someone is capable of serving, the person should be added to the voting list and can be elected to the Assembly. (If elected, that person must be invited to attend the meetings.) If the Assembly later determines that the person is incapable of serving (or that his or her behavior is disruptive to the functioning of the Assembly), the Assembly should write to the National Spiritual Assembly, recommending that the person be removed from the Assembly and declared ineligible to serve. Withdrawals If a person has asked to withdraw from the Faith but the community has not received notice from the National Spiritual Assembly that the withdrawal has been officially accepted, the person is still considered a member of the community. (See also section on "Election of a Believer who has Withdrawn.") Reinstatement from Withdrawal A person who has previously withdrawn and wishes to be reinstated to Bahá'í membership is eligible to vote in an election only after the reinstatement has been approved by the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Spiritual Assembly should send its recommendation to the National Spiritual Assembly, which will then notify the Local Spiritual Assembly upon approval of the reinstatement. (See also Chapter 6, "Community Membership" on handling withdrawal and reinstatement of membership.) Voting Sacred Responsibility "These local Spiritual Assemblies will have to be elected directly by the friends, and every declared believer of twenty-one years and above, far from standing aloof and assuming an indifferent or independent attitude, should regard it his sacred duty to take part conscientiously and diligently, in the election, the consolidation and the efficient working of his own local Assembly."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 39 "I feel I must reaffirm the vital importance and necessity of the right of voting--a sacred responsibility of which no adult recognized believer should be deprived, unless he is associated with a community that has not as yet been in a position to establish a Local Assembly. This distinguishing right which the believer possesses, however, does not carry with it nor does it imply an obligation to cast his vote, if he feels that the circumstances under which he lives do not justify or allow him to exercise that right intelligently and with understanding. This is a matter which should be left to the individual to decide himself according to his own conscience and discretion."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, pp. 3-4
Nine Votes Must Be Cast

"Inasmuch as Spiritual Assembly membership according to the principles of Bahá'í Administration, has been limited for the

present to nine members, it follows that no electoral vote can be effective unless it is cast for exactly that number. It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every Bahá'í elector to cast nine votes, neither more nor less, except under special circumstances so as to insure that the results of the elections for the Spiritual Assembly will be effective and on as wide a basis of representation as possible."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated March 27, 1940 Voting for Oneself "A believer has the right to vote for himself during the election time, if he conscientiously feels the urge to do so. This does not necessarily imply that he is ambitious or selfish. For he might conscientiously believe that his qualifications entitle him to membership in a Bahá'í administrative body, and he might be right. The essential, however, is that he should be sincere in his belief, and should act according to the dictates of his conscience. Moreover, membership in an assembly or committee is a form of service, and should not be looked upon as a mark of inherent superiority or a means for self-praise."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 200-201 Voting Absentee "The same procedure in voting should be followed, namely, the ballot should be placed and sealed in an unmarked inner envelope and that envelope placed in an outer envelope marked with the name of the voter. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 21, 1973 to all National Spiritual Assemblies If a person cannot attend the election or is unable to fill out a ballot form, he may call a person designated by the Assembly to accept the ballots (usually the Chief Teller or the Secretary of the Assembly). The Local Spiritual Assembly should also make some kind of arrangements to accept ballots from those who cannot speak English or who cannot, for whatever reason, attend the election or fill out a ballot. (Perhaps a youth can be designated to fill out the ballot according to the person's wishes.) Collecting the Ballots In areas where it is likely that a large percentage of the believers will not attend the election meeting, it may be advisable to visit the Bahá'ís to encourage their participation. If a believer will not be able to attend the annual meeting, absentee voting should be encouraged. Tie Votes If there is a tie for the ninth member on the Assembly, the community should revote to break the tie. An exception to the rule occurs when one of the parties represents a minority.

"In case by reason of a tie vote or votes the full membership of an elected body is not determined on the first ballot, then one or more additional ballots shall be taken on the persons tied until all members are elected."

The Constitution of The Universal House of Justice, Article VI

"Q. In the case of a tie between five persons for three vacancies should the names of the five be read for the delegates' vote?

"A. Yes." The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 29, 1971 "Regarding your question about the breaking of tie votes, a balloting to break such a tie vote for members of a Spiritual Assembly may be held after the first day of Ridvan if necessary, but obviously the day of balloting should not be delayed too long."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 4, 1972 In Case of Minority "If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favor of the minority, be it racial or otherwise. . . . So great and vital is this principle that in such circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an election . . . [and] are balanced between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community, priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the community."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 35 "There are so many varieties of situations which can occur in respect to minorities, and in so many different circumstances in different parts of the world, that it is impossible to lay down a hard and fast rule. The two guiding principles are the beloved Guardian's statement, which is well known to you, and its concomitant that whenever there is doubt as to what is a minority or whether all other matters are equal a re-vote should be taken."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 27, 1973 "What is not clearly defined is `majority' and `minority.' The Guardian refers to `various races, faiths or nationalities.' Where this is obvious, e.g., in the United States a white American and a Negro, there is no problem. In all cases of doubt a re-vote should be held."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 30, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Alaska ". . . The definition of a minority in any locality is in the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is clear that pioneers from other lands should not be regarded as belonging to a minority, neither do the categories quoted by the Guardian in `The Advent of Divine Justice,' namely, `faith, race, class or nation,' include sex. The overriding principle is always that if there is any doubt as to whether the minority principle should be invoked, then a further ballot should be taken."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 5, 1986 in Lights of Guidance, p. 25

Policy of the National Spiritual Assembly

In the United States, where there are many nationalities represented, the question of what constitutes a minority must be determined according to race. In a given community, many members could justly claim to belong to various nationalities--Polish, Scottish, Tongan, Lithuanian, and so on. This makes the settling of a tie on the basis of nationality unworkable. Counting the Ballots "It is for your National Assembly to determine how to properly instruct the delegates beforehand in the recording of identical names on ballots and to give the tellers guidelines for handling these questions when they arise in the counting of the ballots. Thereafter, it is for the tellers to make the decision and give the results to the Convention or Assembly. . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 29, 1971 "As to whether a voter in a Bahá'í election has the right to know how many votes he may have received in that election even if he was not elected, it is inappropriate for an individual to raise such a question. . . .

"The procedure which applies in the reporting of the results of a Bahá'í election is as stated in the letter of 16 December 1965 addressed to your National Assembly by the Universal House of Justice and is recited as follows for your ready reference: Normal Convention procedure would call for a tellers' report announcing the names of the nine believers elected to the National Spiritual Assembly plus statistical information as to the balance of the votes cast. However, if the Convention votes to have the complete report of the tellers, or any part of it, the Convention is entitled to have the information which will thereupon be presented by the tellers in accordance with the vote of the Convention."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 4, 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Invalid Ballots "Under certain conditions an entire ballot may be declared invalid. These are: (1) More than nine names on ballot paper; (2) Less than nine names on ballot paper; (3) Duplication of names. Under other conditions, because of specified irregularities, one or more of the names may be invalidated but the rest of the ballot would be considered valid. These irregularities are: (1) A name not identifiable, or illegible; (2) The name of an ineligible person, such as a youth or person not resident in the jurisdiction of the voting area, provided of course that each ballot contains no more or less than nine names and no name has been duplicated."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 29, 1971

Preservation of the Ballots

"While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to determine what to do about preservation of the ballots following the annual election, the House of Justice points out

that should any question concerning the balloting arise during the year following the election, it would be helpful if the ballots were available for National Spiritual Assembly scrutiny."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 22, 1980, Lights of Guidance, pp. 26-27

Election Results and Recognition

"Once Assembly elections are over, the results should be conscientiously and unquestionably accepted by the entire body of the believers, not necessarily because they represent the voice of truth or the will of Bahá'u'lláh, but for the supreme purpose of maintaining unity and harmony in the Community. Besides, the acceptance of majority vote is the only effective and practical way of settling deadlocks in elections. No other solution is indeed possible."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated July 10, 1939 to an individual believer Election with Less Than a Quorum "No quorum is required in the holding of an election for a Local Spiritual Assembly. This rule also applies in the case of By-elections. The mere fact that less than nine vote for the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly does not invalidate the election.

"As you know, the National Assembly can always look into the circumstances surrounding a Local Spiritual Assembly election and use its discretion in determining whether, considering all circumstances, the existence of the Local Spiritual Assembly should be recognized."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 16, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States There is no prescribed minimum number of persons required at the annual meeting and the National Spiritual Assembly may, at its discretion, choose to recognize an Assembly even if only a few persons vote.

In all cases, an Assembly should be formed and the formation papers submitted to the National Spiritual Assembly describing any unusual or extenuating circumstances. The National Spiritual Assembly will review the information and decide whether the election is valid or not. In the meantime, those elected should begin to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a Local Spiritual Assembly. Resignation of Assembly Member ". . . Your Assembly should first have considered whether to accept Miss . . . 's resignation, and then, if the Assembly had accepted her resignation, the vacancy should have been filled by a By-election. . . ."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 6, 1981, Lights of Guidance, p. 25 If one of the elected members declines service on the Assembly, the resignation must be submitted to the newly-elected Assembly. (The resignation cannot be considered by the community at the Annual Meeting.)

The newly elected Spiritual Assembly should consult,

seeking the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly if necessary, and call for a by-election if a vacancy is declared. Before the person can be replaced, all members of the community must be notified of the need for a by-election. (See also the sections on "Resignation of an Assembly member," and by-elections in Chapter 3, "Organization of the Assembly.") Election of a Believer who has Withdrawn ". . . If, prior to local elections an enrolled believer withdraws from the Faith and this leads to the removal of his name from Bahá'í membership, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Local Assembly, such votes as have been cast in his name are disregarded without invalidating the remaining votes on the ballots. If, however, the process of withdrawal has not taken place, that is, the believer refuses on the day of election to participate and expresses then his desire to withdraw from the community, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Assembly, since his withdrawal is generally unknown to the friends, in such a case the remaining eight elected members should meet, consider the withdrawal, and if his name has to be removed from Bahá'í membership, a by-election should be held to fill the vacancy."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 11, 1979 Reporting Election Information to the National Spiritual Assembly "The result of the election shall be reported by the Spiritual Assembly to the National Spiritual Assembly."

By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article XI, Section 5 Shortly before Ridvan, the National Spiritual Assembly sends election forms and instructions to Local Spiritual Assemblies. Communities that have not received the forms should request them from the National Spiritual Assembly. The forms should be completed and returned to the National Assembly immediately following the election (or joint declaration).

Note: It is preferable that Assembly officers be elected and their names forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly on the election (or joint declaration) form. However, if it is not possible to elect officers immediately after the Assembly formation, a temporary secretary (someone to receive mail and telephone calls) should be appointed and recorded on the form, and the form sent in immediately. Permanent officers should be elected and reported as soon as possible on the "Assembly Officer and Address Change" form. Formation Report Form Not Received If the Local Spiritual Assembly does not receive the formation report form by the time of the election, the election results may be reported in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly. The report should state whether the Assembly was formed by election or joint declaration and include the date, the name of the Bahá'í locality, and the identification numbers of the Assembly members. If Assembly officers have been elected, these should also be noted.

Joint Declaration

"The National Bahá'í Constitution specifies: `When . . . the number of Bahá'ís in any authorized civil area is exactly nine, these shall on April 21 of any year, or in successive years, constitute themselves the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the rights, privileges and duties of a Local Spiritual Assembly. . . .' It can therefore be seen that it is the duty of every Bahá'í in such a situation to take part in the joint declaration. . . .

"It should also be noted that although the Constitution specifies that the joint declaration is to be made on the First Day of Ridvan, it does not state the manner in which it is to be made. Such subsidiary details are left to the decision of each National Spiritual Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, October 12, 1969 When Assembly is to be Formed for the First Time "When the Spiritual Assembly is to be formed for the first time and one or more of the adult believers refuses to join in the declaration, the Spiritual Assembly cannot be formed.

"The following extract from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Belgium is pertinent to the treatment of the believer, or believers, who refuse to take part in the declaration: It can therefore be seen that it is the duty of every Bahá'í in such a situation to take part in the joint declaration. If a Baha'i, however, refuses to do so he should be helped to realize that he has committed a grave dereliction of his Bahá'í duty. In this stage of the development of the Cause a National Spiritual Assembly should not, generally, deprive a believer of his voting rights for such an offence, but should lovingly and patiently educate the friends in the importance of their responsibilities."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 2, 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ireland and amended by the Universal House of Justice in a letter dated April 5, 1981 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States When Assembly is to be Re-formed "When a Local Spiritual Assembly is to be re-formed by joint declaration, the failure or refusal of a believer to take part in the joint declaration would not be a bar to the reformation of the Assembly. The way the declaration is made is within the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly to determine, and it may or may not require signatures.

It is not necessary that all nine members sign the joint declaration together. One or more may happen to be physically absent on the first day of Ridvan and in such cases the absent members could sign the declaration at a later date, or take part in the joint declaration in such a manner as the National Spiritual Assembly may decide."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 10, 1987 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Policy of the National Spiritual Assembly

If a Local Spiritual Assembly is being formed by joint declaration, all members should sign the joint declaration form. Those who are unavailable to sign at the same time as the others may sign their name earlier or later.

If all signatures cannot be obtained or if any difficulties arise, the Assembly should still form and send the joint declaration form to the National Spiritual Assembly as soon as possible after Ridvan. The Local Spiritual Assembly should include a letter explaining any difficulties and give the reasons for any missing signatures. The joint declaration should be considered valid unless the community is notified otherwise by the National Spiritual Assembly. Registration of a Bahá'í Group Bahá'í Groups are registered by meeting together to elect a correspondent and other group officers, if needed, and submitting a Bahá'í Group Officers Election Report Form to the Bahá'í National Center. This form is available from the Bahá'í National Center. The group will then begin to receive correspondence from the Bahá'í National Center. Although a group may elect officers at any time, it is recommended that it hold a new election each year on the first Day of Ridvan at an annual meeting. All adult believers should be notified of the election at least 15 days in advance.

In principle, Bahá'í Groups regularly meet and consult together regarding such matters as the observance of Feasts, the development of children's classes, and the planning of teaching events in much the same way as Local Spiritual Assemblies. Decisions are carried by majority vote. Bahá'í Groups cannot perform the legislative duties of an Assembly, however, such as performing Bahá'í marriages or handling cases involving the violation of Bahá'í laws. Should an issue requiring the attention of a Local Spiritual Assembly arise, the Group should turn to a nearby Assembly for assistance.

The central focus of the Bahá'í Group should be toward raising itself to Assembly status through teaching efforts. It may enlist the assistance of nearby Spiritual Assemblies, inviting them to adopt their community as an extension teaching goal, or it may request from the National Teaching Committee that traveling teachers be sent to assist with its teaching plans.

By-Elections

"Vacancies in the membership of the Spiritual Assembly shall be filled by election at a special meeting of the local Bahá'í community duly called for that purpose by the Assembly. In the event that the number of vacancies exceeds four, making a quorum of the Spiritual Assembly impossible, the election shall be under the supervision of the National Spiritual Assembly."

By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article VIII, Section 2 When it is necessary to fill a vacancy on the Assembly, a by-election should be called. Written notices should be sent to all eligible adult members in the community at least fifteen days before the date of the election. The voting list should include the

names of all eligible adult members, including those that may have resigned from the Assembly. (Although a person may have resigned, he or she is still considered eligible to serve on the Assembly.)

A by-election is held only if there are more than nine adults in the community. Otherwise, any vacancy is filled automatically as soon as an adult believer becomes available to serve. Any changes in membership should be recorded in the minutes.

Results of by-elections should be reported to the National Spiritual Assembly on a "Local Spiritual Assembly Report of By-Election" form (available from the Management Information Systems office). Jeopardized Assemblies "He feels that where the dissolution of an Assembly is in question each case should be treated separately in this sense, that if a member moves away permanently, leaving less than 9 to function, the Spiritual Assembly should not immediately be dissolved if they, its members, see an immediate remedy in view; in other words if they are going to confirm soon, or receive within a reasonable length of time, someone to take the person's place, they need not give up Assembly status. If they do, for insurmountable reason, fall below Assembly status, then they can only be reconstituted on April 21st. Also if certain members temporarily absent themselves from meetings there is no need to dissolve the assembly; on the contrary the reluctant ones should be educated and encouraged to reassume their spiritual obligations as believers. A Spiritual Assembly is not based on 9 people being available for every single meeting but on 9 resident Bahá'ís doing their best to discharge their duty to the Spiritual Assembly when they are not prevented by illness or absence or some legitimate reason for doing so."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated March 31, 1945 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Once elected (or formed by joint declaration), an Assembly continues to exist until the next annual election or until the National Spiritual Assembly acts to declare the Assembly dissolved. If the number of adult Bahá'ís in the community falls below nine, or if conditions arise which make it impossible for the local Assembly to function, the facts should be reported to the National Assembly.

Suggested actions which a jeopardized Assembly might take:

- Hold a meeting to discuss the status of your community and devise teaching activities if you have not already done so. If your Spiritual Assembly is unable to get a quorum, constitute yourselves as a teaching committee and concentrate all your efforts on teaching.

- Pray together and unite so that others will be attracted to you.

- Concentrate all activities on teaching.

- Hold individual firesides. Take individual initiative in teaching.

- Invite speakers from nearby communities to assist you with your

teaching activities.

- Request a visit through the Bahá'í National Center of a traveling

teacher.

- Invite other Bahá'í communities and youth in the district to assist

with your teaching activities.

- Use available media to advertise your firesides or public

meetings. Be sure to talk with your friends, neighbors, relatives

and associates.

- Visit nearby Bahá'í community Feasts to request homefront pioneers.

- Keep the National Teaching Committee, the Auxiliary Board Members

and their assistants informed of your activities.
JURISDICTION
A Bahá'í Locality

A Bahá'í locality is the area in which a Bahá'í community is situated. The boundaries of the Bahá'í locality correspond to the area of jurisdiction of its Spiritual Assembly. Generally, the boundaries of Bahá'í localities follow those of the smallest unit of civil jurisdiction, such as the boundaries of an incorporated city, or, outside of a city, the boundaries of a township or county. Whenever the boundaries for a locality are uncertain, boundary clarification and/or guidelines for establishing boundaries can be requested from the National Spiritual Assembly.

Bahá'í Boundaries Determined by Civil Boundaries

"He wishes me to stress the fact that from now on any group that is formed must belong to one civil community, as otherwise endless confusion and misunderstanding would ensue. The limits of each civil community must be clearly recognized, and no overlapping should be allowed under any circumstances."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í News, #132, January 1940, p. 4

"The Guardian fully realizes that the process of splitting up large communities into smaller ones, each existing within its own civil units, has been difficult for the Australian friends. What they do not seem to fully appreciate is that this has been done in Canada and the United States as well, and is only in order to organize the assemblies on a logical basis, and one with a firmer legal foundation. The fact that this may create more assemblies in the end, and that it sometimes breaks up existing ones, is only incidental; the important point is to consolidate the communities on a sound basis, i.e., every assembly within the limits of the Municipality its members reside in."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 83

"Regarding the formation of local Assemblies, the Guardian does not advise any departure from the principle that every civil community should have its own independent Assembly."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í News, #102, August 1936, p. 2

"He realizes that the enforcement of the general rule that an Assembly must function within civic limits has caused considerable havoc in Britain, as well as other countries. However, it enables the friends, through splitting up into smaller communities, to have before their eyes the appetising prospect of forming yet another Spiritual Assembly, all on their own, so to speak. It gives more believers the opportunity to serve on these Administrative Bodies, challenges the teaching activities of them all, and stimulates them to fresh efforts in the hope of early victory."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 381 Annexed Areas ". . . Suburban or unincorporated areas surrounding a central city or town can only be included in the Local Assembly area of the central entity if they are annexed by the civil authorities. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 29, 1981 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Area of Jurisdiction "The National Spiritual Assembly shall have exclusive jurisdiction and authority over all the activities and affairs of the Bahá'í Faith throughout its area."

The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, p. 9 "Among its more specific duties a Local Spiritual Assembly shall have full jurisdiction of all Bahá'í activities and affairs within the local community subject, however, to the exclusive and paramount authority of the National Spiritual Assembly as defined herein."

The By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, Article VII, Section III ". . . Within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction. Anyone living outside of that area is not a member of that Community, and cannot enjoy the administrative privileges of that Community."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated June 13, 1956 "Jurisdiction to decide on matters of personal status rests with the Assembly in whose area the individual believer currently resides."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 14, 1978 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Ecuador Further information on matters of which the Local Spiritual Assembly has the authority to legislate can be found in Chapter 15, "Bahá'í Law and Its Application.")

3 ORGANIZATION OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
Meaning of Organization

"Regarding the relationship of the Cause to the Administration; the Bahá'í Faith, as the Guardian himself has repeatedly and emphatically stated cannot be confined to a mere system of organization, however elaborate in its features and universal in its scope it may be. Organization is only a means to the realization of its aims and ideals, and not an end in itself. To divorce the two, however, would be to mutilate the Cause itself, as they stand inseparably bound to each other, in very much the same relationship existing between the soul and body in the world of human existence."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, April 19, 1939, in Lights of Guidance, p. 2 MEETINGS AND MEMBERSHIP Meetings Convening the Assembly The first meeting of a newly-elected Spiritual Assembly shall be called by the member who has received the highest number of votes. This member shall preside until the permanent Chair is chosen. (Please refer to By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article VIII)

If all nine members of the newly-formed Assembly are present at the annual meeting, the election of officers may take place. If not, a separate meeting should be held as soon as possible to allow all those elected to participate. How Often to Meet After convening, the Assembly establishes a regular schedule of meetings. "The Spiritual Assembly must decide how often it should meet in order to properly handle the affairs of the Cause under its jurisdiction. Twice a week or twice a month is not the point, the point is that it should be alert and carry on the work adequately."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Directives from the Guardian, p. 7 Quorum "Five members of the Spiritual Assembly present at a meeting shall constitute a quorum, and a majority vote of those present and constituting a quorum shall be sufficient for the conduct of business except as otherwise provided in these By-Laws and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual Assembly."

By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article VIII, Sec. 1 "We have your letter of July 20, 1967 asking for clarification of

Article VIII, Section 1 of the By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly which appears on page 19 [p. 26, 1975 ed. Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, IL] of the Declaration of Trust.

"A majority of the members present and constituting a quorum is sufficient to carry a motion. Thus, if only five members of the Assembly are present at a meeting, a majority vote of three is sufficient.

"However, Assemblies should take into account the last clause of the first sentence of Section 1 of Article VIII reading as follows: . . . and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual Assembly.

"In other words, members of a Spiritual Assembly should not take advantage of a quorum as an expedient to pass a motion which would violate the spirit of the above quoted passage.

As your National Assembly has stated, it is desirable that all nine members of a Local Spiritual Assembly be present at every meeting, and we hope that you will be able to educate members of Assemblies to assume their responsibilities in this regard."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 6, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States If the Assembly is Unable to Get a Quorum

When circumstances arise which prevent an Assembly from achieving a quorum for a length of time, the Assembly may make arrangements to ensure that the affairs of the community continue to be conducted without interruption. This can be done by delegating authority to Assembly members and by specifying the range and limits of their responsibilities. When it resumes meeting, the Assembly would then review and ratify any actions taken by those members.

Emergency Committees

"It is entirely appropriate to appoint an emergency committee and to authorize it to take action between National Spiritual Assembly meetings. Your Assembly can also authorize such a committee to deal with routine matters in the interim between your Assembly meetings. In both cases full reports of such committee meetings should be made to all members of the Assembly and all decisions arrived at should be confirmed, or otherwise, at the next meeting of the National Assembly.

"You may decide on the number of the members of the National Assembly to compose such a committee. However, valid meetings of this committee can take place only when all its appointed members are duly notified. . . . Finally, you are advised to have regular meetings of your National Assembly and not to allow the arrangement for routine and/or emergency actions to take the place of such meetings."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 15, 1977, in Lights of Guidance, p. 170 ". . . It is for your Assembly to define the limits placed upon an emergency committee appointed by you from among your own membership to take action when absolutely necessary on

emergencies which arise between meetings. Decisions of the committee of course always are subject to the subsequent approval of the National Assembly as a whole and you should assure yourselves that you are adequately informed of all its actions taken in your name."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 2, 1971, in Lights of Guidance, p. 171 Smoking During Assembly Meetings "In answer to such letters the Guardian's secretary replied on his behalf that Bahá'ís had no right to prevent anyone from smoking; that Bahá'ís were free to smoke but it was preferable for them not to do so; and that an issue should not be made of this matter. The use of tobacco, in common with other personal practices, should be subject to considerations of courtesy. The Bahá'í in his daily life, whether smoker or non-smoker, should always be conscious of the rights of those about him and avoid doing anything which would give offense.

"Believers have also raised the question about smoking during Bahá'í meetings. It is entirely within the authority of Local and National Spiritual Assemblies to prohibit smoking in meetings held under their auspices. An Assembly may well feel that it does not wish to raise an additional barrier to seekers by prohibiting smoking at public meetings in a society where it is the accepted practice to smoke. On the other hand, it might be wise for the Assembly to caution the Bahá'ís to restrain their smoking at teaching meetings and firesides in case it is offensive to some seekers. In the case of Nineteen Day Feasts or meetings of Assemblies or committees, it is not right that friends who find smoking offensive should be made to endure it in Bahá'í meetings which they are required or expected to attend. If certain individuals feel that they must smoke, then arrangements, such as a break in the meeting, could be made for their convenience. It would, of course, be entirely inappropriate to smoke during the devotional part of a Feast, or at any other devotional gathering.

"It is to be hoped that the widespread publicity being given to the evil effects of smoking, both on smokers and on those who have to breathe smoke-laden air, will help to convince everyone of the wisdom of `Abdu'l-Bahá in strongly discouraging Bahá'ís from smoking. However, Bahá'ís must be careful not to go beyond the Teachings in this matter and try to enforce as a law a matter in which Bahá'u'lláh has deemed it wise to allow freedom of decision."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 4, 1974, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Election of Officers "The officers of the Spiritual Assembly shall consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and such other officers as may be found necessary for the proper conduct of its affairs. The officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot."

By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article VII ". . . We are asked to say it is preferable that a person hold no

more than one office, but it is within the discretion of your Assembly to permit a member to hold two offices."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 4, 1984, in Lights of Guidance, p. 28 "While it is certainly true that the permanent officers of an Assembly should be elected immediately following the election of that Assembly, it is equally important, as stated in Article IV of the By-Laws of the National Assembly, that `The officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot.' That is all members of the Assembly must be properly notified and given an opportunity to vote, and in cases of unavoidable absence it does not contravene the spirit of the By-Laws if the absent member should cast his ballot by mail or even by telephone.

"Temporary officers may be elected until all nine are properly notified of the election."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 27, 1981, in Lights of Guidance, p. 27 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Electing Officers by Majority Vote.") Discussion of Duties "We have also been asked to point out that although it is the obligation of a Bahá'í to serve on an Assembly, either Local or National, when elected, on several occasions the beloved Guardian pointed out that before the election of officers, if any member had a good reason in his own opinion why he should not be elected to one of the offices of the Assembly, he was free to suggest that he should not be so elected. The House of Justice also feels that as the work of the Faith expands and the duties of officers, particularly on National Spiritual Assemblies, acquire more importance, it is permissible and at times advisable to discuss the duties incumbent upon and required of each officer before ballots are cast."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 9, 1987, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 27-28 Electing Officers by Majority Vote "The majority of all nine members of an Assembly, or a majority of all members of a committee, is necessary to elect officers. All members of the Assembly or committee must be given an opportunity to cast their ballots.

"However, in case of unavoidable absence, it does not contravene the spirit of the By-Laws if the member casts his ballot by mail or by telephone. All other details in the application of these principles are within the discretion of the Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 6, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Reporting Inconclusive Ballots "In the election of officers for an Assembly, the complete result of each vote should be known to all members of the Assembly. The names and tally should be given by the tellers, and if no member received the required majority, the members should

proceed to vote again. Voting should not be confined to those receiving the highest number of votes."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 28, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Duties of Officers The Assembly must ensure that all of its responsibilities are carried out satisfactorily by its officers. In a letter of July 30, 1972, the House of Justice states that an Assembly should ". . . hold regular meetings and ensure that all its members are currently informed of the activities of the Assembly, that its Secretary carries out his duties, and its Treasurer holds and disburses the funds of the Faith to its satisfaction, keeping proper accounts and issuing receipts for all contributions."

Chair "Concerning the duties of the Chairman of the Local Spiritual Assembly or the National Spiritual Assembly; he is supposed to share, freely and fully, in the discussions of all subjects under the consideration of these bodies, and to register his vote regarding each one of them. The duty of a Bahá'í Chairman is not only to guide the course of the discussion, but also to express his own viewpoint without any reservation whatever. He is entitled to exercise both of these functions."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 10, 1936, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 28-29

The Chair has the responsibility to:

- Ensure that there is free and open discussion during the meetings,

that it is kept to the point, and that all members are given the

opportunity to contribute to the consultation,

- Clarify decisions or motions so that they are fully understood and

can be accurately recorded in the minutes,
- Call for a vote when appropriate,
- Consult with Secretary about agenda,
- Call the meeting to order.

Such systems as "Robert's Rules of Order" have no authority in Bahá'í consultation. Each Assembly should agree on the details necessary for maintaining an orderly flow of consultation and should revise them as required. (See also Chapter 9, section entitled "Chairing the Feast.") Vice-Chair "The Universal House of Justice has asked us to advise you that the appropriate procedure would be for the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly to chair the meetings in the absence of the Chairman. If the Vice-Chairman happens to be also absent, then the Assembly should decide who among the members present should chair the meeting."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 10, 1987, in Lights of Guidance, p. 29 A Vice-Chair does not automatically become Chair if the office

of Chair becomes vacant. An election must be held and all members of the Assembly are eligible to be elected.

Secretary

Generally, the functions of the Secretary include the following, although the Assembly is free to assign some of the responsibilities to secretarial assistants or other members:

- Prepares agenda for the Assembly meetings, usually in consultation

with the Chair;

- Records all minutes of the Assembly meetings and of the annual

meeting;

- Receives mail for the Assembly and presents communications of all

kinds to the Local Spiritual Assembly at the next meeting;

- Answers correspondence, under the direction of the Local Spiritual

Assembly;

- Maintains a filing system for all correspondence, community

bulletins, and so on;

- Prepares agenda and materials to be shared with or distributed to

the community at Nineteen Day Feasts;

- Makes notes of recommendations made at the Nineteen Day Feast and

presents them to the Assembly at the next meeting. The community

should be advised of any action taken or consideration given to

such recommendations;

- Maintains an up-to-date list of names, addresses, and telephone

numbers of all members of the community;

- Advises the Bahá'í National Center of all enrollments, transfers,

changes of address, changes in personal status of the believers

(marriage, divorce);

- Sends out written notices of the Annual Meeting so that they are

received at least fifteen days before the annual meeting on April

20th;
- Follows up Assembly action;

- Is watchful for the periodic submission of reports from committees

as well as expected responses to the Assembly's communications;

- Brings to the meeting files, correspondence, and references from

the Writings which relate to the meeting's agenda.

"Generally speaking the Secretary of an assembly must be careful to convey exactly what the majority decision or advice of the body was. There can surely be no objection to his putting it in proper terms and clarifying the matter according to the decisions or instruction of the Assembly. But he should of course not introduce his personal views unless endorsed by the assembly."

Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 448

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Assembly Communications.") (See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Register of Vital Statistics.") (See also Chapter 2, section entitled "Preparation for the Annual Meeting.")

Assistance for the Secretary

The Assembly may choose to divide the duties of the Secretary among more than one person. For example, the Assembly may elect a Recording Secretary to record the minutes and do the filing; to be responsible for recording births, deaths, and marriages; and for communicating with the National Spiritual Assembly about address changes, enrollments, and transfers of membership.

Another option is to have a three-member Secretariat including the Chair, the Secretary and the Recording Secretary, which would assume the many secretarial duties for the Assembly. Each Assembly is free to determine the details of handling this work, the number of officers and the responsibilities of its officers.

In some communities the work of the Secretary may warrant hiring part- or full-time staff. In such cases, the Assembly should ensure that the persons hired are trustworthy and able to maintain the Assembly's confidentiality. The Assembly should also familiarize itself with any guidelines for state and federal hiring. (See also in this chapter Appendix B, section entitled "Insurance--When to Obtain Additional Coverage.")

Treasurer

"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to ensure that contributions received are properly receipted, and satisfactory accounts kept of all receipts and disbursements. While the Treasurer normally is the officer in charge of such a sacred obligation, this does not mean that other members are thereby relieved of all responsibility, or are deprived of their right of access to details related to the current operation of the Assembly, in all its aspects.

"Such right and responsibility vested in the individual members of the Assembly do not vitiate the confidentiality of Bahá'í contributions, since the information made available to the Treasurer or other members of the Assembly is to be treated in strict confidence."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 11, 1977, in Lights of Guidance, p. 256 "It is important for your Assembly, in future, to explain to persons who are entrusted with the money of the Faith that in view of the National Assembly's obligation to protect Bahá'í funds, the Assembly will hold them responsible for all monies they receive, and they should therefore render proper accounts to the National Spiritual Assembly, be faithful custodians of

God's trust, and be assured that such honesty and faithfulness will be richly rewarded from on High."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 18, 1980, in Bahá'í Funds and Contributions, p.23 The Treasurer can also have an assistant if the need exists. (See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Responsibilities of the Treasurer.") Dissatisfaction with Officers "As regards the question of what procedure the Bahá'í Assemblies should adopt when dissatisfied with the services of any of their officers, should such dissatisfaction involve the loyalty of an Assembly officer to the Faith, he should, following a majority vote, be dismissed. But in case the dissatisfaction is due to the incompetence of a member, or simply to a neglect on his part to discharge his duties, this does not constitute sufficient justification to force his resignation or dismissal from the Assembly. He should be kept in office until new elections are held."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 50 When an Assembly officer refuses to shoulder the responsibilities of his office and is unwilling to cooperate with his Assembly for the purpose of finding a solution to the problems, it will be necessary for the Assembly to make alternate arrangements to have the duties carried out. Attendance Importance of Regular Attendance ". . . It is only too obvious that unless a member can attend regularly the meetings of his local assembly, it would be impossible for him to discharge the duties incumbent upon him, and to fulfil his responsibilities, as a representative of the community. Membership in a Local Spiritual Assembly carries with it, indeed, the obligation and capacity to remain in close touch with local Bahá'í activities, and ability to attend regularly the sessions of the assembly."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated February 16, 1935 to an individual believer ". . . Membership in a Bahá'í Assembly or Committee is a sacred obligation which should be gladly and confidently accepted by every loyal and conscientious member of the Community, no matter how humble and inexperienced. Once elected to serve in a given Assembly a believer's duty is to do his utmost to attend all assembly meetings, and cooperate with his fellow-members, unless, however, he is prevented from doing so by some major reason such as illness, and even then he should notify the Assembly to this effect."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Dawn of a New Day, p. 79 "In the course of reading the Minutes of National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, the members of the Universal House of Justice have noted that in many instances

Assembly meetings are attended by less than nine members. In some few cases Assemblies have difficulty in even maintaining a quorum. The House of Justice recognizes that at times a member may have a valid reason for not attending a particular meeting. However, a serious problem arises if absence is due to neglect or lack of appreciation of the sanctity of membership in an institution which is the hub and heart of Bahá'í activities in the country."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 26, 1980 to all National Spiritual Assemblies Refusal to Serve

"Concerning the question of refusal by certain believers to accept election to an administrative post: The Guardian strongly feels that criticism, opposition, or confusion do not provide sufficient grounds for either refusal or resignation. Only cases of physical or mental incapacity, which, by their very nature, are extremely rare, constitute valid reasons for such an act. The difficulties and tests involved in the acceptance of administrative posts, far from inducing the believers to dissociate themselves from the work of the Cause, should spur them on to greater exertions and to a more active participation in the privileged task of resolving the problems that confront the Bahá'í community. . . . The believers, for the sake of the Cause, now in the period of its infancy, should accept their duties in a spirit of self-sacrifice, and should be animated by the desire to uphold the verdict of the electorate, and to lend their share of assistance, however difficult the circumstances, to the effective administration of the affairs of the Faith."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #152, April, 1942, p. 2 "While it is true that refusal to serve can ultimately incur the forfeiture of administrative rights, the House of Justice feels that your Assembly should bear in mind the caution voiced on behalf of the Guardian in the letter published on pages 86 and 87 of Principles of Bahá'í Administration: `Only in cases where individual believers, without any valid reason, deliberately refuse the repeated exhortations, pleas, and warnings addressed to them by their Assemblies, should action be taken in removing them from the voting list.' At the present stage . . . far more beneficial results are likely to be achieved by encouragement of the believers and by their education in the principles and significance of Bahá'í administration than by the threat or imposition of sanctions. Indeed the latter, if applied unwisely, could achieve the very opposite of what your Assembly is hoping to accomplish.

"Generally the membership of small local communities includes some believers who are new in the Faith and need to be lovingly nurtured in the responsibilities of being a Baha'i, and others who are overburdened by a multitude of cares. How often one finds in small Assemblies members who, although devoted believers, have non-Bahá'í spouses and families to care for and are very limited in the time they can spend in Bahá'í administrative activities. Such believers should be encouraged, and loving appreciation should be shown for

whatever services they can render, and nothing should be done, however unintentionally, to make them feel that they are living under a threat of administrative expulsion if they do not attend every Assembly meeting or decline a request to serve on a committee.

"There may, of course, be cases of believers who, without any good reason, refuse to shoulder the responsibilities of membership in the Bahá'í community. It is to such extreme cases that you would be justified in applying sanctions if, after `repeated exhortations, pleas and warnings' they persist in their attitude."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 8, 1980, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom Prolonged Absence "He [Shoghi Effendi] does not intervene in purely local administrative matters, and it is for the Assembly to decide, if the absence of a member is prolonged, when they should hold an election to replace that person. The principle is that the 9 members of the Spiritual Assembly should be reasonably available for meetings. If their absence from town is prolonged, someone else must fill the vacancy."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated April 5, 1945 to an individual believer ". . . It is establishing a dangerous precedent to allow Assemblies to put a time limit on non-attendance of their members at meetings of the Spiritual Assembly, beyond which that person is automatically dropped from the Assembly and a vacancy declared. . . . There should be no time limit fixed by Assemblies beyond which a person is dropped. Every case of prolonged absence from the sessions of the Assembly should be considered separately by that Assembly, and if the person is seen to not want to attend meetings, or to be held away from them indefinitely because of illness or travel, then a vacancy could legitimately be declared and a new member be elected."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #208, June 1948, p. 7 "As regards electing a temporary member to replace one who is absent the present practice of Bahá'í Administration is not in favor of this but prefers to ascertain the duration of the absence of any member who has to be away. Should this period of time be excessive it is within the discretion of the Assembly to recognize a vacancy and call for a by-election. However this should not be lightly decided and the members declared elected at the Convention should remain in office unless there are insuperable difficulties which prevent it."

The Universal House of Justice, December 10, 1970, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Malaysia Resignation "Personal differences and disagreements among Assembly members surely afford no sufficient ground for such resignation, and certainly cannot justify absence from Assembly meetings. Through the clash of personal opinions, as `Abdu'l-Bahá has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and divine guidance revealed."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 21

"The remedy to Assembly inharmony cannot be in the resignation or abstinence of any of its members. It must learn, in spite of disturbing elements, to continue to function as a whole, otherwise the whole system would become discredited through the introduction of exceptions to the rule."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 21 "The National Spiritual Assembly cannot refuse accepting a resignation when it is well justified, and when it is done not with the purpose of shirking responsibility. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Dawn of a New Day, p. 49 "With reference to your question whether it would be permissible for a believer to resign from the Local Assembly; under special circumstances, such as illness, one may do so, but only after, and never before he has been elected to the membership of the Assembly."

Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 21

Preferable to Resign from Office than from Assembly

"As you know the beloved Guardian highly reprobated resignation from any office to which a believer has been elected and it is certainly best, at this present state of the Cause, for the friends to accept elective service whenever they are called upon to do so. However, there is no objection for an overburdened believer asking the Spiritual Assembly to which he may be elected not to appoint him as an officer or to a committee."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 9, 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Removal from Assembly Membership

Situations may arise in which a Local Spiritual Assembly member is violating Bahá'í law or having such serious problems that his or her membership on the Assembly is detrimental to the reputation of the Faith or disruptive to the functioning of the Assembly. If this occurs, the Local Spiritual Assembly should contact the National Spiritual Assembly, explain the circumstances involved and include its recommendation for administrative action. The National Spiritual Assembly may decide to remove the person's right to serve on an Assembly, while allowing him to retain other privileges of Bahá'í membership. "It is also quite permissible for a National Spiritual Assembly to debar an individual believer from serving on a Local Spiritual Assembly without removing his or her voting rights and they may also debar a believer from attending the consultative part of a Nineteen Day Feast. You may also debar a believer from voting in elections without imposing all the other administrative sanctions involved in administrative expulsion."

The Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1972 (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Removal of Administrative Rights.") (See also Chapter 2, section entitled "By-Elections.")

DUTIES AND GOALS
Duties of Assembly

"A prime element in the careful and wise direction needed is the achievement of victory in the Seven Year Plan [1979-1986], paying great attention to the development and strengthening of Local Assemblies. Great efforts must be made to encourage them to discharge their primary duties of meeting regularly, holding the Nineteen Day Feasts and observing Holy Days, organizing children's classes, encouraging the practice of family prayers, undertaking extension teaching projects, administering the Bahá'í Fund and constantly encouraging and leading their communities in all Bahá'í activities."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1984
Teaching Accorded Precedence

"When in session it behooveth them to converse, on behalf of the servants of God, on matters dealing with the affairs and interests of the public. For instance, teaching the Cause of God must be accorded precedence, inasmuch as it is a matter of paramount importance, so that thereby all men may enter the pavilion of unity and all the peoples of the earth be regarded even as a single body. . . ."

Bahá'u'lláh, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 11 (See also Chapter 7, sections entitled "The Local Spiritual Assembly and Teaching," and "Teaching and the Local Community.")

Most Outstanding Obligations

". . . Among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct and coordinate the affairs of the Cause are those that require them to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve. Theirs is the duty to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments and the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote. Theirs is the duty to purge once and for all their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs from that air of self-contained aloofness, from the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness, in short, from every word and deed that may savor of partiality, self-centeredness and prejudice. Theirs is the duty while retaining the sacred and exclusive right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, provide information, ventilate grievances, welcome advice, . . . foster the sense of interdependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between them on one hand and all local Assemblies and individual believers on the other. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 143-144

Other Vital Duties

"The matter of Teaching, its direction, its ways and means, its extension, its consolidation, essential as they are to the interests of the Cause, constitute by no means the only issue which should receive the full attention of these Assemblies. A careful study of Bahá'u'lláh's and `Abdu'l-Bahá'í Tablets will reveal that other duties, no less vital to the interests of the Cause,

devolve upon the elected representatives of the friends of every locality. Protection

"It is incumbent upon them to be vigilant and cautious, discreet and watchful, and protect at all times the Temple of the Cause from the dart of the mischief-maker and the onslaught of the enemy. Unity

"They must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause. The Less Fortunate

"They must do their utmost to extend at all times the helping hand to the poor, the sick, the disabled, the orphan, the widow, irrespective of color, caste, and creed. Education

"They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, wherever possible, Bahá'í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development. . . . Bahá'í Magazines

". . . They must encourage and stimulate by every means at their command, through subscription, reports and articles, the development of the various Bahá'í magazines. . . . Regular Meetings, Anniversaries, Special Gatherings

"They must undertake the arrangement of the regular meetings of the friends, the feasts and the anniversaries, as well as the special gatherings designed to serve and promote the social, intellectual and spiritual interests of their fellow-men. Bahá'í Literature

"They must supervise in these days when the Cause is still in its infancy all Bahá'í publications and translations, and provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation of all Bahá'í literature and its distribution to the general public.

"These rank among the most outstanding obligations of the members of every Spiritual Assembly."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 37-39 (See also Chapter 5, section entitled "Reviewing Bahá'í Literature and Materials.") Systematic Planning and Execution "Armed with the strength of action and the cooperation of the individual believers composing it, the community as a whole should endeavor to establish greater stability in the patterns of its development, locally and nationally, through sound, systematic planning and execution of its work and this in striking contrast to the short-lived enthusiasms and frenetic superficialities so characteristic of present-day American life. A Bahá'í community which is consistent in its fundamental life-giving, life sustaining activities will at its heart be serene and confident; it will resonate with spiritual dynamism, will exert irresistible influence, will set a new course in social evolution, enabling it to win the respect and eventually the allegiance of admirers and critics alike. These profound possibilities reside in the will of the individual to take initiative, to act in accordance with the guidance offered by Bahá'í institutions, and to

maintain such action regardless of the myriad distractions posed by the disintegration of a society adrift in a sea of materialism. May you with renewed determination and a rededication to spiritual values, seize your chance, while there is yet time, to convey the Message of Bahá'u'lláh thoughtfully, patiently and attractively to your fellow-citizens, whether they be dwellers in the cities or rural areas, whether they be high or low, lettered or unlettered, rich or poor."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States ". . . The adoption of a local plan by the Local Assembly can exert a far-reaching influence on its work and on the life of the community."

The Universal House of Justice, December 24, 1975, to a National Spiritual Assembly Capitalize on the Talents of All Members "The best Assembly is the one that capitalizes the talents of all the members of the group and keeps them busy in some form of active participation in serving the Cause and spreading the Message." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #68, November 1932 "The first quality for leadership, both among individuals and Assemblies, is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the group will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated August 1930 to an individual believer Delegation of Authority As a Bahá'í community grows, the number and variety of its responsibilities often demand the assistance and expertise of community members not serving on the Assembly. In such cases, the Assembly should delegate specific tasks to committees and individuals who possess the required talents and abilities.

Delegating responsibility also increases the level of participation and helps those involved develop a sense of loyalty and commitment to the Faith and to the Bahá'í community. Delegation means assigning responsibilities to committees and individuals, and authorizing them to take the actions required to carry out their responsibilities.

To establish the authority of the committee or individual who has been assigned responsibilities, the Assembly must make certain:

- that the committee understands the extent of its own responsibility

and authority; and

- that everyone with whom the committee is authorized to communicate

and collaborate, and from whom it may request services also knows

that the committee has such responsibilities and authority.

The committee's authority may be limited in various ways (e.g., by a mandate), but it should always know what constitutes approved and disapproved lines of communication.

There is a common misconception that Assemblies cannot delegate authority because doing so means giving it up. The delegation of authority to a committee in no way diminishes the Assembly's authority or responsibility. The committee serves at the wish of the Assembly and can be dissolved at any time. Assemblies that fail to delegate responsibility and authority properly will often collapse under the weight of business they cannot accomplish. "Many Assemblies find that some of their activities such as teaching, observance of Feasts and Anniversaries, solution of personal problems, and other duties are best dealt with by committees appointed by the Assembly and responsible to it."

The Universal House of Justice, July 30, 1972, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Bolivia, enclosed with a letter dated Naw-Ruz 1979 to all National Spiritual Assemblies (See also Chapter 4, section entitled "Use of Individuals or Committees for Personal Problems.")

Committees
Responsible to Assembly

"All local committees are directly and solely responsible to the local Assembly which alone can exercise the power of supervision over them."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 51 ". . . Regarding local Bahá'í committees; these, though different in their functions enjoy equal rights, and are subject to responsibilities and obligations which, although varying in degree, are equally binding on them all.

"These local committees, being appointed by the Local Spiritual Assembly itself, are responsible to that body alone, and they can be dissolved, and their membership altered by it at any time. The local committees are the hands of the Spiritual Assembly that has appointed them . . . , and as such are subject to its rulings.

"The Local Spiritual Assembly cannot delegate to any one of the local committees the authority to exercise any control or supervision over any other committee or body which it has itself appointed. All local committees are directly and solely responsible to the Local Assembly which alone can exercise the power of supervision over them."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, February 16, 1939

Service of Children and Youth

"The question of young Bahá'ís being permitted to serve on committees other than the Youth Committee has been raised in a number of letters recently, and in considering the matter he felt that Bahá'í young people under twenty-one should not be denied the privilege of committee work. Though they cannot be voting members of Bahá'í communities (or exercise the electoral vote at all until they reach that age), and though they cannot, likewise, be elected to Assemblies, there is no reason

why they should not serve the Cause on various committees as all committees, national or local, are subordinate to Assemblies and their members not elected but appointed, and appointed by Assemblies. We have many devoted and talented young believers who can be of great assistance to the Cause even though not yet legally of age."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #174, April/May 1945, p.1 "It is within a Spiritual Assembly's discretion to request Bahá'í children to undertake work of which they are capable in service to the Faith, such as service on suitable committees."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 19, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom ". . . Both children of Bahá'í parents, and children who, with their parents consent, declare their faith in Bahá'u'lláh before they are fifteen years old, are regarded as Bahá'ís and it is within a Spiritual Assembly's discretion to request such children to undertake work of which they are capable in the service of the Faith, such as service on suitable committees."

The Universal House of Justice December, 1975, in Handbook for Local Spiritual Assemblies in Australia, p. 24

Terms of Appointment

"Although National Assemblies and Local Assemblies may provide for continuity of Committee personnel by re-appointment of members each year, Assemblies should not appoint members of Committees for a term of more than one year."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 20, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "As regards the appointment of committees on a yearly basis, we refer to the Guardian's instructions on page 141 of Bahá'í Administration that `. . . the renewal, the membership, and functions . . . should be reconsidered separately each year by the incoming National Assembly. . . .' Individuals appointed to committees should identify themselves with functions and objectives which normally extend beyond the term of their appointment. Just as members of the National Assembly relate themselves to goals of the Nine Year Plan, members of Local Assemblies and committees should do likewise, so that a single dynamic spirit may animate the important work for which each Assembly or committee is responsible."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 23, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Election of Officers ". . . He feels that committees must assume more responsibility and exercise freedom of choice and judgement in electing their officers, and function as a corporate body with a corporate spirit."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 27, 1947, quoted in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 12, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Administrative Committees for Sub-Units of a City

". . . The Local Spiritual Assembly could be authorized to appoint an administrative committee in each of a number of sub-units of the city; and these committees could deal with the urgent needs of the friends in these areas on behalf of the Assembly. . . . In such a decentralized system, the Local Spiritual Assembly would have to provide for the overall coordination of the efforts of the friends in all sub-units of the city."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 20, 1987 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Intercommunity Committees

The purpose of intercommunity activities is to combine the resources of two or more communities to advance the teaching work, further consolidation, or stimulate fellowship and take advantage of pooled resources.

The Local Spiritual Assembly that sponsors an intercommunity project or activity may retain complete authority for planning and responsibility by mutual agreement of the participating communities. The sponsoring Assembly may appoint a committee and invite other Local Spiritual Assemblies or groups to designate members to represent them on the committee. The committee, which is directed by and is responsible to the sponsoring Local Spiritual Assembly, then plans and executes the intercommunity activity according to the approved and delegated limits of authority. Two or more adjacent Local Spiritual Assemblies may agree to alternate or rotate responsibility for sponsorship of a continuing effort. Funds should be held and disbursed by the sponsoring body through its elected Treasurer, and an accounting must be made to the cooperating Assemblies.

Bahá'ís planning intercommunity events (including fund-raisers) in areas where Assemblies exist must first obtain the permission of the Assembly if the activity is to take place in that community. Because of insurance purposes and to ensure accountability of the funds, it is preferable that events be sponsored by an Assembly.

Using Non-Bahá'í Experts/Agencies

". . . He sees no objection to using the advice and services of non-Bahá'í experts, or agencies, as long as the purity of the Teachings and the dignity of the Faith are maintained."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 60

Public Information Representatives and Committees

The Bahá'í Public Information Network consists of public information representatives and the members of public information committees. The Network is a means by which the Bahá'í community can provide news and information about the Faith and its principles and about major developments affecting the Bahá'í world. A public information representative should be appointed by the Local Spiritual Assembly every year. (See also in this chapter Appendix A, "Public Information Representatives and Committees.")

(See also Chapter 12, section entitled "Relationship with the Media.")

ASSEMBLY COMMUNICATIONS
Record-keeping
Records

The records of an Assembly include such items as the agenda, minutes, committee reports, correspondence, membership statistics, financial records, incorporation papers, and any other type of document which enables the Assembly to maintain accurate information and a history of its own actions and its community's status and activities.

For long-term preservation, permanent paper, such as all-rag bond, and non-water soluble ink should be used for the minutes and all other important correspondence from the Assembly.

All Assembly materials, such as copies of minutes, correspondence, files and so on must be retrieved from any person leaving Assembly membership. If such materials are not returned voluntarily by the person, the Assembly should take action to recover them or see that they are destroyed. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Archives.")

Access to the Records

"In reply to your letter of May 13th, 1976, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that all members of the Spiritual Assembly are equal and should have access to the files and minutes of the Assembly of which they are members. It is, however, within the discretion of any Spiritual Assembly to so organize its files and records that certain items could be listed as `confidential' and access to those so classified could only be had by a specific decision of the Assembly itself."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 8, 1976 Agenda

The Universal House of Justice has made suggestions about the preparation of an agenda for National Secretaries which may also be applicable to Local Assemblies: "The Agenda is usually prepared by the Secretary, sometimes in consultation with the Chairman or other member or members of the National Spiritual Assembly. Immediately after a Spiritual Assembly meeting, all items not cleared should be transferred to a new draft Agenda in preparation for the next meeting. Then, as each new matter arises, it should be entered under the appropriate heading. In this way the Agenda can be built up gradually. A few days before the Assembly meeting, the completed draft could be duplicated for the members. At the beginning of each meeting, any additional urgent items which have developed or items which individual members wish to raise can be added."

The Universal House of Justice, in "A Suggested Guide for National Secretaries" enclosed with a letter dated May 4, 1972 The agenda should be reviewed and agreed upon by the entire Assembly at the beginning of each meeting, at which time additions and deletions can be made. The Assembly should agree upon which items of business have priority.

Reports

In keeping with the reporting procedure established by the Local Spiritual Assembly, the Secretary should watch for periodic reports from local committees as well as expected responses to Assembly communications. The reports indicate whether the committees are functioning, how well their activities are progressing, and what guidance they need from the Assembly. If reports are not forthcoming or meetings are not being held, the Secretary should report the matter to the Local Assembly for appropriate action. Minutes "The nature of Assembly minutes is a matter for the body itself to decide. Naturally all important subjects brought up and notes must be recorded, but how detailed the record must be is for the members themselves to decide."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Unfolding Destiny, p. 448

The Universal House of Justice has offered suggestions to National Spiritual Assemblies about recording their minutes: "A. Background information should be brief, but in sufficient detail so that anyone reading the Minutes will understand the decision which follows.

The full discussion, extraneous details regarding motions, and the names of individuals making the motions should not be recorded. Names are included, however, when recording reports given on special assignments or situations.

In every case the background to a decision should be recorded in the Minutes next to the decision itself.

There may be cases where the decision is self-explanatory and no background information is required. "B. Some Assemblies distinguish the vote by making it a separate indented paragraph and some Assemblies capitalize the decision when Minutes are typed, so there is no question as to which is background information and which is the vote of the Assembly. Another way of identifying actions of the Assembly is to number each decision of the Assembly, and this is sometimes done on a continuing basis throughout the year."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 4, 1972 Approval of Minutes The minutes of each meeting must be reviewed and, if necessary, corrected at a subsequent meeting of the Assembly. The decision of the Assembly to approve the minutes and any necessary corrections must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting where the action is taken.

Confidential Matters May Be Recorded Separately

"As a general rule, all matters acted upon by an Assembly are recorded in its minutes. The Assembly may, however, record highly confidential items separately, but it should be noted in the minutes that confidential items have been separately

recorded. Thus, if for any reason the Assembly is requested to supply information concerning such items and it feels that it would be preferable for the matter not to be divulged, it can express its views before acceding to the request.

". . . The decision about what matters should be treated confidentially is made by the Assembly, which also has the duty to respect requests from individuals who express the wish that certain matters be handled on a confidential basis."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 2, 1987 to the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Tallahassee, Florida (See also in this chapter section entitled "Privileged Communications.") Correspondence Communications to and from the Assembly may be classified generally as incoming and outgoing correspondence. Copies of letters and memoranda should be filed, as should records of phone calls and personal communications. Incoming Correspondence The Secretary usually receives and opens all incoming correspondence, which is then shared with the Assembly at its next meeting, unless the Assembly has instructed that it be routed elsewhere (for example, to a committee).

Spoken communications should also be reported to the Assembly.

Once a letter or message has been reported, recorded in the minutes, and read, it should be kept in the Assembly's files for future reference. However, bulletins, fliers, and announcements can be discarded when they cease to be current. Feast Recommendations and Communications Recommendations and suggestions from the friends at the Feast are treated as incoming correspondence. The Secretary should make accurate and thorough notes at Feast so that the suggestions and recommendations of the believers can be discussed by the Assembly. Feast recommendations are to be recorded in the minutes, as are the decisions the Assembly makes about them. Also, the Assembly must be sure to inform the community about its decisions on the recommendations--at a subsequent Feast, in its bulletin, or by some other appropriate manner.

Among the correspondence the Assembly receives are letters and announcements to be shared with the friends at the Feast. The Assembly instructs the Secretary about what correspondence it wishes to share and whether the entire letter or just portions of the letter should be read. (All correspondence need not be read at the Feast. Instead, highlights of the letter can be read, or the correspondence can be shared through newsletters or placed on bulletin boards for review by the friends.) Outgoing Correspondence Form The advantage of written communication is its permanence; the advantage of spoken communication is its convenience. If an Assembly has something important to convey, writing it

increases the likelihood that it will be understood. It is best to put most communications in writing (preferably typewritten). When an Assembly conveys messages orally, it is wise to follow the conversation with a letter to ensure that both parties understand what was discussed.

When communications are conveyed through the Assembly's representative, either written or oral communication is equally official.

Assemblies should make copies of out-going correspondence and retain them in the Assembly's files. Letterhead The letterhead of the Assembly's stationery should read "Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of ..." (omit the word "Local"). The design of the letterhead should be simple and dignified. The National Spiritual Assembly discourages the addition of photographs, artwork and quotations from the Writings. Clarity, Tone, and Accuracy The Assembly should strive for accuracy, clarity and overall excellence in its communications. If the Secretary does not fully understand the Assembly's intent, a draft of the letter should be brought to the Assembly for approval.

While communications vary in tone, they should always be courteous. Messages should never convey an authoritarian or domineering attitude. Even when reprimanding a believer, the Assembly should do it in a manner which helps and even encourages the person, while still expressing the authority of the Assembly. "We are deeply concerned that some of the letters written on behalf of your National Assembly contain brusque language, are critical in tone, lack warmth, and reflect impatience with friends whose actions have brought problems to your council chamber.

"We fully understand how the burdensome weight of these vexatious problems, many of which could and should have been avoided, can tax the patience of the most serene. The temptation to react sharply and defensively is very great, yet we know that, as Trustees of the Merciful, we should not do so. Not only is it contrary to the spirit of the instructions of the Master and the Guardian, with which you are thoroughly familiar, but giving vent to such reaction tends to evoke resentment rather than bringing about the desired result . . . .

". . . We mention these examples only to call to your notice a reaction which may not have been apparent to those writing letters on your behalf, in the hope that ways and means can be found to insure that the manner in which you convey your views or decisions to the friends will promote the utmost unity, concord and understanding."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 25, 1972 to a National Spiritual Assembly Conveying the Message Once the Assembly has stated clearly the contents of the message, chosen its form and determined its tone, it must

delegate the responsibility for sending it. Usually the Secretary of the Assembly communicates messages on the Assembly's behalf and is recognized by the community as the Assembly's spokesperson. In some cases the Assembly may wish to delegate this responsibility to another Assembly member or believer who then functions as the Assembly's representative. Review The Local Spiritual Assembly is responsible for all communications which come from its Secretary and its committees. Therefore, it should establish a procedure for reviewing communications. It may, for example, authorize a subcommittee of the Assembly to write or review certain letters for the Assembly and all the correspondence of the committees. Although the Assembly has the right to see all communications before they are sent, this is usually impractical and unnecessary. If the Assembly finds that its messages are often misunderstood, it should examine them more carefully to determine the source of the problem. (See also Chapter 5, section entitled "Reviewing Bahá'í Literature and Materials.") Privileged Communications The laws of a majority of states provide that certain confidential communications made between a member of a religious faith and the clergyman of that faith are privileged. Privileged means that the religious leader receiving the communication cannot be compelled to testify as to the content of the communication in a legal proceeding without the permission of the person who communicated the statements. In states where this privilege is recognized, the members of Local Spiritual Assemblies would be included within the definition of the term "clergyman," as that term is used in the statute.

It is important to note that not all communications by Bahá'ís to their Spiritual Assemblies are considered privileged and, furthermore, not all confidential statements are accorded the status of privileged communications. The specific requirements for achieving this status will vary according to the statutes of each state but in general a majority of states require that the statements must comprise the following elements to qualify as privileged:

- The statement must have been made to a "clergyman" (Local Spiritual

Assembly) acting in an official capacity.

- The statement must have been made in the course of "discipline

enjoined" by the religious faith, i.e., it must be made pursuant

to a requirement of the writings, customs, and practices of that

religious faith.

- The statement must have been intended to be confidential in nature

and, thus, not intended to be repeated to others outside of the

Local Spiritual Assembly.

- Many courts also require that the statement be penitential in character, but since the Bahá'í writings admonish against confessing of one's sins to another, in states where

this requirement exists, the Bahá'ís asserting the privilege would have to argue through their attorneys for an exemption from this requirement. In general, the Local Spiritual Assembly should be careful to remind the friends who come before it seeking advice and spiritual counsel that the Assembly considers all communications made before it in the course of such matters to be privileged and should ask the Bahá'ís to expressly agree not to compel the Assembly to testify to such statements in any legal proceeding. Following this practice will foster an atmosphere of trust and openness which is both conducive and necessary to full and frank consultation leading to a resolution of the problem.

Regarding the subject of privilege attached to documents, minutes, books and records, again, the specific requirements of state law would have to be applied to each individual situation to determine whether such materials would fall within the requirements of the privilege.

The most conceivable way in which a question of privileged communications will arise is when the member of an Assembly, usually the Secretary, is served either by mail or in person with a subpoena. A subpoena is a court order summoning a witness to appear at a certain place and time and give testimony on any information he may have about a certain matter. The subpoena may also order the witness to bring any documents, books and records related to the matter in question. If an Assembly member receives such a subpoena, they should immediately contact the National Spiritual Assembly for further guidance. While it will be necessary to comply with the subpoena, the Assembly will, in all likelihood, be advised to seek representation of an attorney to file a motion to quash (void) the subpoena. It is most important to contact the National Spiritual Assembly immediately upon being served because a subpoena requires an answer within a specific number of days. Failure to comply with a subpoena constitutes a violation of a court order and can carry sanctions.

It should also be pointed out that if an Assembly member divulges confidential information to another or seeks to testify about statements received in an official capacity without the permission of the person making those statements, that Assembly member may be held legally responsible to the person who made the statements for any injury caused by such breach of confidentiality. Confidentiality and the Civil Law Since, at the present time, Bahá'í institutions are not authorized to deal with criminal matters--as the State claims an exclusive interest and has clearly laid down procedures to be followed--such matters must be referred to the civil authorities. The advice of legal experts should be sought in reconciling the observance of confidentiality and the Assembly's obligation to uphold government regulations in criminal cases. (See also Chapter 4, section entitled "Confidentiality.")

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Criminal Offenses and Disobedience to Civil Laws.") (See also Chapter 17, section entitled "In Case of Suspected Child Abuse or Domestic Violence.") Archives "The importance of the institution of Bahá'í Archives is not due only to the many teaching facilities it procures, but is especially to be found in the vast amount of historical data and information it offers both to the present-day administrators of the Cause, and to the Bahá'í historians of the future. The institution of Bahá'í Archives is indeed a most valuable storehouse of information regarding all aspects of the Faith, administrative as well as doctrinal."

". . . Future generations of believers will be surely in a better position than we are to truly and adequately appreciate the many advantages and facilities which the institution of the Archives offers to individual believers and also to the community at large."

Bahá'í News, #104, December 1936, p.1

The purpose of the Bahá'í Archives is to ensure that all records of permanent administrative, historical, doctrinal, or sacred value are preserved and made available for research to historians and to the administrative institutions of the Faith. Maintaining the Archives The Archives of a local Bahá'í community consist of the official records of the Spiritual Assembly, its officers, and committees. Incorporated Spiritual Assemblies must be especially careful to preserve both original articles of incorporation and minutes of Spiritual Assembly meetings as well as minutes of the Annual Meeting. In addition, the Archives may include such things as relics, personal papers of believers, community newsletters, photographs, tapes, Bahá'í books and periodicals, and newspapers. Every community should keep a file which records the history of the Faith in the locality. Some communities will have old Bahá'í books and other items which have been left to them by early believers. They should be carefully handled and stored. (Information about establishing a local Bahá'í Archives may be obtained from the National Bahá'í Archives Committee.) Retention of the Records After the Secretary or other person assigned to the task sifts through the papers and marks items for destruction, a committee could be appointed to consider, based on the historical value of the records, which items should be retained and which should be destroyed. The committee's recommendations can be decided upon by the Assembly. (See also in this chapter Appendix B, "Guidelines for the Disposition of a Local Spiritual Assembly's Records.") Disposition of Records if Assembly Cannot Re-form If possible, records of a Spiritual Assembly which is unable to re-form should be stored by a former Assembly officer or member. If this is not possible, the records may be stored by a

nearby Local Spiritual Assembly or a responsible member of the community. As a last resort, the records may be shipped to the National Center for storage in the National Bahá'í Archives. No matter which alternative is used, the National Spiritual Assembly should be notified of the location of the records and the person responsible for them.

If the Assembly does not re-form after two years, the Assembly records and other archival material should be sent to the National Bahá'í Archives at the Bahá'í National Center. The Assembly's library, including back issues of The American Bahá'í and Bahá'í News, should not be sent to the National Bahá'í Archives. Local Publications While most Bahá'í literature is published by the National Spiritual Assembly, Local Assemblies and individuals also can publish materials for use on the local level. Material which relates directly to the work of the Faith in a particular locality or which suits specific local needs are appropriate subjects for local publication. Such materials can be distributed only within the area of jurisdiction of the Local Assembly. All such publications must be reviewed by the Local Spiritual Assembly. (See also Chapter 5, section entitled "Review of Bahá'í Literature.") Bulletins and Newsletters Many Local Spiritual Assemblies publish bulletins or newsletters. Circulating a local Bahá'í bulletin is an effective way of communicating with the friends, and of inspiring their interest in Bahá'í activities. Moreover, the bulletin carries news of the development of the Cause in the community. "The doors of communication between the friends, the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the National Spiritual Assembly should always be open. The one means which will contribute most to the promotion of this open-door policy is the regular issue of an interesting and heartwarming newsletter. In certain countries, we are glad to see, there are in addition to the national newsletter, news bulletins issued on regional or district levels. The importance of these secondary organs of Bahá'í communication acquires added weight in areas where differences of language make the issue of bulletins in a local language of each area highly desirable, if not essential."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 25, 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies "While fully conscious of the importance of such Bahá'í local organs in bringing more unity and cooperation among individual believers and groups, Shoghi Effendi feels that great care should be taken lest local activities of this nature tend to develop to an extent that would jeopardize the national activities of the Faith. Just as the local Bahá'í Fund must under all circumstances be subordinated to the national fund, so also every local circular letter should be considered as subsidiary to the national report of Bahá'í activities in every country. Such a

coordination between local and national efforts is indispensable, not only because of its economic advantages, but essentially due to the fact that upon the application of the principle underlying this process must inevitably depend the effective working of the entire administrative machinery of the Faith."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated February 20, 1934 to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New York City "Concerning local Bahá'í newsletters the Guardian strongly feels that they should be primarily devoted to the spread of local news and activities, and should under no circumstances contain any statement implying criticism of or even interference with the policy of the National Spiritual Assembly. They may occasionally refer to items of a national scope, but this should be done only with the view of assisting and not hindering the national body of the Cause to carry out effectively its program and decisions. There is thus a definite line of demarcation between correspondence initiated by local and national assemblies. Local activities should always be subordinated to those of a national character and importance. This is intended not to minimize the role of the local assembly in the administrative order, but to establish and ensure a sane relationship between that body and the national organism of the Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated May 10, 1934 to an individual believer (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Special Circumstances Regarding Teaching Persons from Eastern Bloc Countries.") Promotion of Private Businesses In general, the National Spiritual Assembly has discouraged the friends from placing advertisements in official Bahá'í publications for products and services which will bring them personal gain. LEGAL BASIS Incorporation "It is surely very important to give the Local Spiritual Assemblies some legal standing, for as the Cause progresses and its adherents increase, they will be confronted with duties they cannot even imagine at present. Not only will they have to make contracts for acquiring halls for their meeting place, but also they will be obliged to create new institutions to care for their sick, poor, and aged people. We hope that before long the Bahá'ís will even afford to have schools that would provide the children in the intellectual and spiritual education as prescribed in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master.

"For such duties that will naturally devolve upon the Local Spiritual Assemblies there will be an increasing need for a legal standing. They will have to be considered as a legal person with the power of making binding contracts."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 48 Steps of Incorporation In order to incorporate, the Local Spiritual Assembly should write to the National Spiritual Assembly for instructions. The Local Spiritual Assembly should then hire an attorney. After

the legal documents (and the name and address of the attorney) have been submitted to the National Spiritual Assembly and approved, they can be filed with the appropriate state agency. A copy of the final documents--with the official indication (seal or stamp) that they were filed by the state--should be sent to the National Spiritual Assembly for its records, along with a photograph of the Assembly at the time of its incorporation.

The Assembly should also consult the attorney to find out if the state requires any annual reports or other regular filings to maintain its incorporated status. Some states require incorporated Assemblies to file tax papers even though they have a tax-exempt status; failure to file can jeopardize the standing of the incorporation.

When a Local Spiritual Assembly becomes incorporated, a legal entity comes into being that has a legal existence apart from the actual Assembly itself. That legal entity can hold property and enter into contracts. When the corporation incurs a legal debt, the corporation becomes the liable party, rather than the Assembly members. It is especially important for an Assembly to be incorporated if it rents or owns real estate; incorporation limits the legal liability of the individuals serving on the Assembly. Status of Incorporation if Assembly Cannot Re-form The incorporated status of a Local Spiritual Assembly is not necessarily lost if it is unable to re-form. The corporation created has a legal existence apart from the actual Local Spiritual Assembly that it represents. It can continue to exist even if the Assembly itself is lost, as long as the legal requirements for maintaining corporate status continue to be met, including filing the annual report with the Secretary of State in the state of incorporation. Insurance The National Spiritual Assembly's General Liability Insurance Coverage Since Local Spiritual Assemblies may be held responsible for accidents that occur at Assembly-sponsored activities, the National Spiritual Assembly has found it prudent to protect itself and the Local Spiritual Assemblies and their members against claims by purchasing insurance coverage.

This insurance includes casualty coverage for property it owns; public liability coverage for claims made against it arising out of activities conducted or sponsored by the Assembly (or its agencies) on property it either owns, rents, leases or uses; and Workers' Compensation coverage for its employees. The National Spiritual Assembly's insurance policies are administered by the Office of the Treasurer. Who is Covered Within its liability coverage, the National Spiritual Assembly includes as "named insureds" all Local Spiritual Assemblies in the United States.

Coverage is furnished to Local Spiritual Assemblies for two reasons: 1. Since liability insurance is generally written in conjunction with property casualty insurance, Assemblies not

owning or leasing property may be unable to acquire any liability coverage. This would expose the individual Assembly members to liability. 2. Even if liability coverage were available, the cost would, in all likelihood, be prohibitively expensive for most Assemblies.

Therefore, the National Spiritual Assembly has decided to include the Local Spiritual Assemblies within its policy. To help defray the additional cost, it asks every Local Assembly to pay a modest amount each year to the Bahá'í Services Fund. The coverage is provided, however, whether or not an Assembly makes the requested payment. (See also in this chapter Appendix C, "The National Spiritual Assembly's General Liability Insurance Coverage.")

Suggested Readings

Bahá'í Administration, Shoghi Effendi Guidelines for Bahá'í Archives, available from the National Spiritual Assembly (Archives) Principles of Bahá'í Administration, A Compilation Steps to be Taken for Incorporating a Local Spiritual Assembly, available from the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of the Secretary) The Local Spiritual Assembly, Compiled by the Universal House of Justice The National Spiritual Assembly, Compiled by the Universal House of Justice, 1975

APPENDIX A Public Information Representatives and Committees Bahá'í Public Information Network The Bahá'í Public Information Network consists of the public information representatives and the members of public information committees. The Network is a means by which the Bahá'í community can provide news and information about the Bahá'í Faith and its principles and about major developments affecting the Bahá'í world. Activities of Public Information Representatives and committees involve the establishment of ongoing relationships with local communications media. Public information is distinct from the proclamation of the Faith through the media. (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Proclamation.") Annual Appointment A public information representative should be appointed or reappointed every year. Local Spiritual Assemblies and groups should notify the National Spiritual Assembly's Office of Public Information of the appointment as soon as possible to ensure that communication is maintained between the National Spiritual Assembly and the local Bahá'í community.

An isolated believer may be registered as a public information representative if he or she is sponsored by a Local Spiritual Assembly. Responsibilities of the Public Information Representative The Public Information Representative is the spokesperson for the local Bahá'í community. The representative should concentrate on building ongoing relationships with all local communications media. The goal of such effort is to define the public image of the Faith.

The National Spiritual Assembly sends news and information about the Faith to public information representatives and committees. The public information representative should provide this information to his or her sponsoring Assembly as soon as possible. The public information representative is also responsible for distributing appropriate material to local media and to the local Bahá'í community. The representatives must be well-informed about the current developments of the Faith. (See also Chapter 12, section entitled "Contacting National Media.") Qualifications and Knowledge When a Local Spiritual Assembly or group considers whom to appoint as its public information representative or as a member of a Public Information committee, it should select a person

whose public relations skills combine the ability to approach communications media and to provide knowledge and accurate information about the Faith to the public. Communication with the Office of Public Information If a public information representative or committee needs help determining how to approach the media, needs additional information, or needs clarification of public statements about the Faith, the person should contact the National Spiritual Assembly [Office of Public Information]. Whenever a reference to the Faith appears in a local newspaper, the Public Information Representative should send two originals of the page to the Office of Public Information as soon as possible. (See also Chapter 12, "External Affairs.") APPENDIX B Guidelines for the Disposition of a Local Spiritual Assembly Disposition of Place Inactive Records in Archives Destroy Annual reports x Minutes x Correspondence

Feast letters x
Other routine mailings from x
Bahá'í National Center
Unique correspondence with the
National Spiritual Assembly, x
the Bahá'í National Center,
or other Bahá'í institutions
Correspondence with individuals x
Routine advertisements, x

and so on, from non-Bahá'ís Birth, marriage, and death registers x Cash journal x Annual financial reports x Other financial records x (Some of these records should be kept for five years. See Accounting Procedures for Bahá'í Treasurers for recommended retention schedule.)

Local committee reports x Local bulletins, newsletters, x and calendars Publicity files and scrapbooks x Personal status case files x Membership lists and directories x Enrollment, change of address forms, etc. x Duplicate annual reports, minutes, x bulletins, etc. Photographs of the Spiritual x Assembly, Bahá'í community, and community activities APPENDIX C The National Spiritual Assembly's General Liability Insurance Coverage Scope of Coverage Public Liability The insurance carrier will pay amounts on behalf of the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies which they may be required to pay as damages arising out of certain activities of the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies which cause bodily injury to another or damage to property of another. There are, of course, limits on the amount of damages payable and there are certain activities which are excluded.

Thus, if a claim arises out of an excluded activity, the Local Spiritual Assembly could be liable for any such damages. It is essential, then, that the Local Spiritual Assembly be aware of these exclusions. Separate coverage should either be obtained by the Local Assembly for an excluded activity or the Assembly should decide not to sponsor the activity. Limits of Public Liability At the time of this printing, the following limits apply to the coverage:

- $2,000,000 general aggregate
- $1,000,000 products and completed operations
- $1,000,000 personal and advertising injury
- $1,000,000 each occurrence
- $ 50,000 fire damage to premises of others
- $ 5,000 medical expenses.
Exclusions

The following activities are excluded under the National Spiritual Assembly's policy: 1. Intentional bodily injury or property damage. The policy is NOT an all-risk policy that covers any injury which occurs at an Assembly-sponsored event. In many cases the injury will not result from the Assembly's irresponsibility; responsibility may lie with the injured person.

Since many people are covered by private health insurance or Medicare, they will probably look to their own insurance to satisfy their medical expenses. For those without insurance, the policy may cover medical expenses up to $5,000 without the need to establish fault on the part of the Assembly.

Medical expenses of the following persons are not covered:

- Someone hired to do work by the local Assembly or a tenant of the

Assembly

- Someone to whom benefits are payable under a Workers' Compensation

or disability benefits law

- Someone injured while practicing for or participating in an

athletic or sports contest or exhibition

2. Liability for injury or damage assumed under any contract or agreement except for certain contracts such as those for lease of premises . 3. Damage to premises leased under a contract that is occupied by a Local Spiritual Assembly including premises the Assembly rents, leases or borrows, subject to policy conditions. 4. Damages to buildings the Assembly owns, leases, rents or uses. Thus, if the Assembly acquires its own building, it will need to obtain its own casualty insurance. 5. Damage to personal property in the Assembly's care, custody or control. Thus, if the Assembly has furniture or equipment in a rented office, it may want to buy a separate policy to cover that property, if coverage is desired. 6. Property damage, bodily injury and medical expenses resulting from ownership, use, operation or maintenance of an automobile, aircraft or watercraft, including loading, unloading and entrustment to others of an automobile, aircraft or watercraft. Thus, if an Assembly acquires an automobile, it should purchase auto insurance coverage. 7. Personal injury resulting from written or spoken material made public by the Assembly, if that material is known by the Assembly to be false, slanderous or defamatory. 8. Personal injury damages that may result from wrongful eviction, false arrest or invasion of privacy.

When to Obtain Additional Coverage A Local Spiritual Assembly should obtain its own insurance coverage, in addition to the coverage provided by the National Assembly, under the following circumstances: 1. When real estate including a structure is acquired, a property policy should be obtained, particularly if the property is financed with borrowed funds. Public liability coverage should be included with the property policy. 2. When space is rented or leased from another, a tenant's policy should be obtained to cover the Assembly's contents, and public liability coverage should be included in the policy. 3. When an automobile is acquired, an auto policy should be purchased. In some states, such coverage is mandatory. Special licenses may also be required for drivers of a shuttle bus or passenger van. 4. When an employee is hired, Workers' Compensation insurance will need to be obtained. Some states also require a statutory form of disability insurance. A caretaker of a local center may also be considered an employee, thus requiring coverage. Disability and health insurance is not a substitute for Workers' Compensation coverage. 5. When real estate without a structure is acquired, public liability coverage should be obtained if possible. The Assembly should also notify the Office of the Treasurer of the location and description of the property. 6. When hiring outside contractors to perform construction or maintenance services on Assembly property, additional coverage may be required if the contractors do not carry adequate coverage. To be sure an outside contractor has proper liability and Workers' Compensation coverage, the Assembly must insist upon receiving a "certificate of insurance"

evidencing the contractor's coverage. The certificate should name the Assembly as an "additional insured." It is recommended that the Assembly consult its insurance agent for more information concerning the adequate levels of coverage required when hiring outside contractors. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Certificates of Insurance from Vendors, Contractors, Etc.") Accidents and Claims In the event of an accident for which the Assembly needs to file a claim with the National Spiritual Assembly's insurance carrier, it should do as follows: 1. A written report should be submitted as soon as possible to the Office of the Treasurer. In the event of serious bodily harm, make a telephone call to report the injury to the Office. Be sure to include the following:

- Name, address and telephone number of the person injured and the

custodial parent

- Name of the hospital involved and the treating physician

- Location, date, time and description of the accident

- Names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses and of the

person reporting the accident

2. The Office of the Treasurer will report the occurrence to the insurance company and furnish them with the pertinent information. The company will contact the injured person or parent and determine whether any benefits are payable under the policy. Proof of Insurance and Certificates of Insurance When an Assembly is asked to furnish proof of insurance coverage to the owner of property which it intends to rent, lease or use for an event, it should do as follows: 1. Contact the Office of the Treasurer and ask for a "Certificate of Insurance." Please allow enough time for preparation and mailing of the Certificate. Under short notice conditions, you may be asked to reimburse the National Bahá'í Fund for overnight mail charges. 2. Be sure to include the following information in the request:

- Type of event (proclamation, conference, district convention,

etc.)
- Date of event
- Name and address of sponsoring Assembly

- Name and address of place where event is to be held

- Name and address of the property owner

- Name, address and telephone number of the person making the request

for the Assembly

- Any special requirements, such as "Additional Insured," any

endorsements showing "hold harmless clause," Notice of Cancellation

coverage, Waiver of Subrogation

3. All contracts should be reviewed carefully and copies sent to the Office of the Treasurer prior to issuance of Certificate of Insurance. Certificates of Insurance from Vendors, Contractors, Etc. Anyone wishing to do business with the National and Local Assemblies must present a Certificate of Insurance prior to commencement of the work. This Certificate must meet the following minimum requirements:

- General liability limits of at least:
$2,000,000 general aggregate
$1,000,000 products and completed operations
$1,000,000 personal and advertising injury
$1,000,000 each occurrence

- Workers' Compensation Insurance; Statutory Employer's

Liability--$500,000

- Automobile insurance with limits at least $1,000,000 per

accident

- Local Spiritual Assembly should be named as Additional Insured with

30 days Notice of Cancellation required.

- Contractor's insurance must be with an insurance company rated at

least "A" in Bests Reports.

The original Certificate should be retained in the Local Spiritual Assembly's office and a copy should be sent to the Office of the Treasurer.

The insurance provided by the National Spiritual Assembly is constantly being reviewed and is renegotiated annually. While limits of coverage, exclusions and other features of the coverage do not change drastically from year to year, financial amounts have been provided for Local Spiritual Assemblies' general information.

Any questions regarding insurance coverage should be directed to the Office of the Treasurer.

4 CONSULTATION THE NATURE OF CONSULTATION Source of Guidance and Understanding "Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3 "Consultation giveth him insight into things and enableth him to delve into questions which are unknown."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 8 Consultation in all things "In all things it is necessary to consult. This matter should be forcibly stressed by thee, so that consultation may be observed by all. The intent of what hath been revealed from the Pen of the Most High is that consultation may be fully carried out among the friends, inasmuch as it is and will always be a cause of awareness and of awakening and a source of good and well-being."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3 "For instance, when a man hath a project to accomplish, should he consult with some of his brethren, that which is agreeable will of course be investigated and unveiled to his eyes, and the truth will be disclosed. Likewise on a higher level, should the people of a village consult one another about their affairs, the right solution will certainly be revealed. In like manner, the members of each profession, such as in industry, should consult, and those in commerce should similarly consult on business affairs. In short, consultation is desirable and acceptable in all things and on all issues."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 8-9 "The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Bahá'í activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continued exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests. Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task."

Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 15

Consultation and the Divine Institutions "The duties of those whom the friends have freely and conscientiously elected as their representatives are no less vital and binding than the obligations of those who have chosen them. Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. . . . And, when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority, which we are told by our Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced. To this voice the friends must heartily respond, and regard it as the only means that can ensure the protection and advancement of the Cause. Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 13-14 "In its own meetings it [the Assembly] must endeavor to develop skill in the difficult but highly rewarding art of Bahá'í consultation, a process which will require great self-discipline on the part of all members and complete reliance on the power of Bahá'u'lláh."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 30, 1972 , in an unpublished compilation, "The Local Spiritual Assemblies"

Conditions Necessary for Effective Consultation Prime Requisites "The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Baha shall be vouchsafed to them."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá'í Administration, p. 21 Absolute Love and Harmony of Thought "The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. `Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 "Bahá'u'lláh has given the promise that in every Assembly where unity and harmony prevail, there His glorious spirit will not only be present, but will animate, sustain and guide all the friends in all their deliberations."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 16 Patience and Restraint "Patience and restraint, however, should at all times characterize the discussions and deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 16-17

Prayerfully Seek Divine Assistance "The second condition: They must when coming together turn their faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm of Glory. They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 "Whenever ye enter the council-chamber, recite this prayer with a heart throbbing with the love of God and a tongue purified from all but His remembrance, that the All-Powerful may graciously aid you to achieve supreme victory.

"O God, my God! We are servants of Thine that have turned with devotion to Thy Holy Face, that have detached ourselves from all beside Thee in this glorious Day. We have gathered in this Spiritual Assembly, united in our views and thoughts, with our purposes harmonized to exalt Thy Word amidst mankind. . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 137-38 "And, when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 64 If Necessary Conditions Are Not Present "In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness. . . . If this be so regarded, that assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation. . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 6 "Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be non-existent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that assembly be brought to naught."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 THE PROCESS OF CONSULTATION Investigation of Truth ". . . Consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth. He who expresses an opinion should not voice it as correct and right but set it forth as a contribution to the consensus of opinion, for the light of reality becomes apparent when two opinions coincide. A spark is produced when flint and steel come together. Man should weigh his opinions with the utmost serenity, calmness and composure. Before expressing his own views he should carefully consider the views already advanced by others. If he finds that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, he should accept it immediately and not willfully hold to an opinion of his own. By this excellent method he endeavors to arrive at unity and truth."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

"They must in every matter search out the truth. . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 6 The Role of Spiritual Principles "There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of government and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them."

The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 28 Assembly Not Responsible to Those Whom They Represent "Consider, for example, the Local Spiritual Assembly, the methods of its formation and the role of individuals in electing it. The voter elects with the understanding that he is free to choose without any interference whomever his conscience prompts him to select, and he freely accepts the authority of the outcome. In the act of voting, the individual subscribes to a covenant by which the orderliness of society is upheld. The Assembly has the responsibility to guide, direct and decide on community affairs and the right to be obeyed and supported by members of the community. The Universal House of Justice, Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 9 Elements of Consultative Discussion Should Not Cause Conflict "The honored members of the Spiritual Assembly should exert their efforts so that no differences may occur, and if such differences do occur, they should not reach the point of causing conflict, hatred and antagonism, which lead to threats. When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Consultation: A Compilation, p. 9 "In this Cause, consultation is of vital importance; but spiritual conference and not the mere voicing of personal views is intended. In France I was present at a session of the senate but the experience was not impressive. Parliamentary procedure should have for its object the attainment of the light of truth upon questions presented and not furnish a battleground for opposition and self-opinion. Antagonism and contradiction are unfortunate and always destructive to truth. In the parliamentary meeting mentioned, altercation and useless quibbling were frequent; the result mostly confusion and turmoil; even in one instance a physical encounter took place between two members. It was not consultation but comedy."

". . . Therefore true consultation is spiritual conference in the attitude and atmosphere of love. Members must love each other in the spirit of fellowship in order that good results may be forthcoming. Love and fellowship are the foundation."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72 "The Bahá'ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire -- so natural in people -- to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 19 Every Member Must be Free to Express Own Opinion "The honored members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another. . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 "Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored and inexperienced among the friends will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given Assembly."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 79 ". . . The Guardian would advise you to give up the method of asking other members to voice your opinion and suggestions. This indirect way of expressing your views to the Assembly not only creates an atmosphere of secrecy which is most alien to the spirit of the Cause, but would also lead to many misunderstandings and complications. The assembly members must have the courage of their convictions, but must also express whole-hearted and unqualified obedience to the well-considered judgment and directions of the majority of their fellow-members."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 16 Differing Opinions is No Cause for Discouragement "Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 5 "Through the clash of personal opinions, as `Abdu'l-Bahá has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and Divine guidance revealed. The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an assembly, for these, as experience has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfill a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 16 "The second principle is that of detachment in consultation. The members of an Assembly must learn to express their views frankly, calmly, without passion or rancor. They must also

learn to listen to the opinions of their fellow members without taking offence or belittling the views of another. Bahá'í consultation is not an easy process. It requires love, kindliness, moral courage and humility. Thus no member should ever allow himself to be prevented from expressing frankly his view because it may offend a fellow member; and, realizing this, no member should take offense at another member's statements."

The Universal House of Justice, August 26, 1965; Lights of Guidance, p. 179-80 Do Not Stubbornly Cling to Personal Opinions "They must . . . not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one's views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 "If he finds that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, he should accept it immediately and not willfully hold to an opinion of his own."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 10 The Promise of Divine Assistance "Should they endeavor to fulfill these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that assembly shall become the center of the Divine blessings, the host of Divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of Spirit."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 6 "If a few souls gather together in a beloved meeting with the feelings of the Kingdom, with the divine attractions, with pure hearts and with absolute purity and holiness, to consort in spirit and fragrance, that gathering will have its effect upon all the world. The conditions, the words and the deeds of that gathering will lead a world to eternal happiness and will be an evidence of the favors of the Kingdom. The Holy Spirit will strengthen them and the hosts of the Supreme Concourse will render them victorious and the angels of Abha will come in succession."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 6-7 Uncompromising in Principle; Flexible in Procedure "In matters of principle, therefore, there should be uniformity, while in matters of detail and procedure not only is diversity permitted, it is also encouraged. As conditions vary from country to country and, indeed, can vary from community to community within the country, Shoghi Effendi repeatedly advised the friends that they should be uncompromising in principle but flexible in subsidiary details."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, October 22, 1986, in Lights of Guidance, p. 38 REACHING A DECISION Additional Facts May be Necessary "When it is proposed to put a matter to the vote, a member of the Assembly may feel that there are additional facts or views which must be sought before he can make up his mind and intelligently vote on the proposition. He should express this feeling to the Assembly, and it is for the Assembly to decide

whether or not further consultation is needed before voting."

The Universal House of Justice, Consultation: A Compilation, p. 21 Ideal to Arrive at Unanimous Decision "Indeed, it has ever been the cherished desire of our Master, `Abdu'l-Bahá, that the friends in their councils, local as well as national, should by their candor, their honesty of purpose, their singleness of mind, and the thoroughness of their discussions, achieve unanimity in all things."

Shoghi Effendi, January 29, 1925, Bahá'í Administration, p. 80 "Bahá'ís are not required to vote on an assembly against their consciences. It is better if they submit to the majority view and make it unanimous. But they are not forced to."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Consultation: A Compilation, p. 19 "The ideal of Bahá'í consultation is to arrive at a unanimous decision. When this is not possible a vote must be taken."

The Universal House of Justice, Consultation: A Compilation, p. 21 No Dissenting Votes in the Cause "There are no dissenting votes in the Cause. When the majority of an assembly decides a matter the minority, we are told by the Master, should accept this. To insist on having one's dissenting vote recorded is not good, and achieves no constructive end."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated March 19, 1950 to an individual believer Abstaining Does Not Exist in Bahá'í Voting "Whenever it is decided to vote on a proposition all that is required is to ascertain how many of the members are in favor of it; if this is a majority of those present, the motion is carried; if it is a minority, the motion is defeated. Thus the whole question of `abstaining' does not arise in Bahá'í voting. A member who does not vote in favor of a proposition is, in effect, voting against it, even if at that moment he himself feels that he has been unable to make up his mind on the matter."

The Universal House of Justice, Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 21-22 A Motion is Not Required Although the making of a motion is not required in Bahá'í consultation, it is frequently a useful mechanism and Bahá'ís are free to employ it. In any case, all members should be given the opportunity to express themselves fully before decisions are made, and no action should be taken that stifles the flow of consultation or forces premature decisions. AFTER A DECISION IS REACHED Majority Decision Must be Upheld "As soon as a decision is reached it becomes the decision of the whole Assembly, not merely of those members who happened to be among the majority."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 6, 1970, quote in Canadian Bahá'í News, February 4, 1970 "But once the opinion of the majority has been ascertained, all

the members should automatically and unreservedly obey it, and faithfully carry it out."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 16 "It is again not permitted that any one of the honored members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously, though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 "Specially those dissenting members within the assembly whose opinion is contrary to that of the majority of their fellow-members should set a good example before the community by sacrificing their personal views for the sake of obeying the principle of majority vote that underlies the functioning of all Bahá'í assemblies."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 16 "The Bahá'ís are fully entitled to address criticisms to their assemblies; they can freely air their views about policies or individual members of elected bodies to the assembly, local or national, but then they must whole-heartedly accept the advice or decision of the assembly, according to the principles already laid down for such matters in Bahá'í administration. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 35 ". . . We all have a right to our opinions, we are bound to think differently; but a Bahá'í must accept the majority decision of his Assembly, realizing that acceptance and harmony--even if a mistake has been made--are the really important things, and when we serve the Cause properly, in the Bahá'í way, God will right any wrongs done in the end."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 27 If Majority View is Wrong "Though one of the parties may be in the right and they disagree that will be the cause of a thousand wrongs, but if they agree and both parties are in the wrong, as it is in unity the truth will be revealed and the wrong made right."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 13-14 "The Assembly may make a mistake, but, as the Master pointed out, if the Community does not abide by its decisions, or the individual Baha'i, the result is worse, as it undermines the very institution which must be strengthened in order to uphold the principles and laws of the Faith. He tells us God will right the wrongs done. We must have confidence in this and obey our Assemblies."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 27 "If they agree upon a subject, even though it be wrong, it is

better than to disagree and be in the right, for this difference will produce the demolition of the divine foundation."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 7 Reconsideration of a Decision "He (a Spiritual Assembly member) can ask the Assembly to reconsider a matter, but he has no right to force them or create inharmony because they won't change."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi,in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 19 " A believer can ask the Assembly why they made a certain decision and politely request them to reconsider. But then he must leave it at that, and not go on disrupting local affairs through insisting on his own views. This applies to an Assembly member as well."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 27 Appeal of a Decision "Whenever there is any infringement of Bahá'í rights, or lapse in the proper procedure, the friends should take the matter up with the Assembly concerned, and, if not satisfied, then with the National Spiritual Assembly. This is both their privilege and their duty."

Shoghi Effendi, July 10, 1942, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 1, 1989 (Also see Chapter 15, "Handling Appeals.") CONSULTATION WITH OTHERS Fact-Gathering When consulting on a matter an Assembly may find that all the facts can be supplied by a few members of the Assembly or that the facts may be common knowledge to the members. At times, it may be necessary for obtain further facts. The Assembly may wish to appoint certain Assembly or community members to gather the facts on its behalf.

To prepare for the meeting, the Assembly should agree on the purpose of the consultation, should assemble the facts, and decide the questions and points to be discussed or clarified during the meeting. During consultation with individual believers, the Assembly should observe the following principles:

- The impartiality of each of its members with respect to all matters

under discussion;

- The freedom of the individual Bahá'í to express his views, feelings

and recommendations;

- The confidential character of the consultation.

Interviews should be conducted with loving-kindness and tact, and efforts should be made to help the person being interviewed feel comfortable in the presence of the Assembly or its representatives. The Assembly members should be careful not to share their personal opinions during the interview. The Spiritual Assembly should not make any final decision until the party or parties have left the meeting.

Assign Counseling to Individuals or Committees "Although Local Spiritual Assemblies are primarily responsible for counseling believers regarding personal problems, there may be times, when in the judgment of the National or Local Assembly, it would be preferable to assign counseling or advisory duties to individuals or committees. This is within the discretion of the Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 21 Personal Consultation with Assembly Members Assembly Cannot Require Member to Absent Himself "Concerning the question of the presence of a member of an Assembly during the discussion of his personal problems, all members of a Spiritual Assembly have the right and duty to participate in all meetings of the Assembly. The Assembly cannot require a member to absent himself from a properly called Assembly meeting.

"Should an Assembly, not being aware of this instruction, rule otherwise, the member must nevertheless obey the Assembly. If he conscientiously feels that an injustice has been done his remedy is to appeal the decision of the Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 23, 1964, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Member May Wish to Absent Himself "Naturally, if one wishes to absent himself while his own situation is being discussed . . . there is no objection."

The Universal House of Justice, February 23, 1965 "It should also be understood that a member may wish to absent himself from a meeting at which subjects in which he is personally involved are to be discussed. In such cases he may do so unless the Assembly requires him to be present."

The Universal House of Justice, January 22, 1975 Non-Assembly Members in Attendance "Concerning the attendance of certain individuals at the meeting of the Assemblies and at the invitation of that body. This, Shoghi Effendi considers to be as expert advice which is absolutely necessary for good administration. The members of the Assembly are not supposed to know everything on every subject, so they can invite persons, versed in that question, to attend their meetings and explain his views. But naturally he will have no right to vote."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 23, 1926, in Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 13-14 The following advice was given by Shoghi Effendi in response to a request by the National Spiritual Assembly to have a non-member present throughout its deliberations to take notes and keep minutes of the Assembly's decisions. It does not contradict the guidance given in the letter of October 23, 1926.

"The Guardian regrets that, in the light of the Master's statement that the deliberations of Assemblies must be secret and confidential, it is not possible to have a non-Assembly member in the National Spiritual Assembly meeting. . . . Highly personal subjects, damaging to the honor and happiness of others,

are often taken up by National Assemblies, and the danger that confidence will be betrayed is already great enough with the 9 chosen representatives of the whole community, let alone introducing non-Assembly members. You will just have to make your minutes a little more compact and sacrifice, if necessary, a certain amount of efficiency in order to follow this very important principle."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 5, 1950 , in Consultation: A Compilation, pp. 19-20 ". . . It is permissible for any Spiritual Assembly to call in youth or anyone else for consultation on matters affecting the progress of the Cause. However, it is not permissible for anyone not a member of an Assembly to sit in on all sessions nor to be present at a time when the Assembly is in the actual process of consultation on a particular problem with a view to reaching a decision."

The Universal House of Justice, in Handbook for Local Spiritual Assemblies in Australia, p. 9 Interpreter "The House of Justice has instructed us to say that in cases where a member of an Assembly is unable to communicate with other members of that Assembly where a different language is employed, there is no objection to having an interpreter present at their meetings. However, the Local Assembly itself should approve the selection of the interpreter."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 13, 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Assembly Not Only Channel to Which Bahá'ís May Turn "When a believer has a problem concerning which he must make a decision, he has several courses open to him. If it is a matter that affects the interests of the Faith he should consult with the appropriate Assembly or committee, but individuals have many problems which are purely personal and there is no obligation upon them to take such problems to the institutions of the Faith; indeed, when the needs of the teaching work are of such urgency it is better if the friends will not burden their Assemblies with personal problems that they can solve by themselves.

"A Bahá'í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the counsel of individual friends or of professional counselors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision. There is also no objection whatever to a Baha'i's asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him."

The Universal House of Justice, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 22 Consultation Differs from Confession "It should be borne in mind that all consultation is aimed at arriving at a solution to a problem and is quite different from the sort of group baring of the soul that is popular in some

circles these days and which borders on the kind of confession that is forbidden in the Faith. On the subject of confession the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer: `We are forbidden to confess to any person, as do the Catholics to their priests, our sins and shortcomings, or to do so in public, as some religious sects do. However, if we spontaneously desire to acknowledge we have been wrong in something, or that we have some fault of character, and ask another person's forgiveness or pardon, we are quite free to do so. The Guardian wants to point out, however, that we are not obliged to do so. It rests entirely with the individual.'"

The Universal House of Justice, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 23 Confidentiality "1. Any information which comes to the notice of an Assembly member, solely by reason of his membership on that Assembly must not be divulged by that member, even though the Assembly itself may later decide to share it.

"2. The Assembly must itself carefully consider which information should rightly fall in the category of confidential information and which should not be shared with others, and which information may be divulged under special circumstances, and how such information may be divulged. Should confidential matters regarding personal problems be freely shared with others, upon application, the confidence of the believers in the Assembly and its members will obviously be destroyed.

"3. It must be remembered that individuals can reform, and a reprehensible past does not necessarily disqualify a believer from a better future."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 18, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "Every institution in the Faith has certain matters which it considers should be kept confidential, and any member who is privy to such confidential information is obliged to preserve the confidentiality within the institution where he learned it. Such matters, however, are but a small portion of the business of any Bahá'í institution. Most subjects dealt with are of common interest and can be discussed openly with anyone. Where no confidentiality is involved the institutions must strive to avoid the stifling atmosphere of secrecy; on the other hand, every believer must know that he can confide a personal problem to an institution of the Faith, with the assurance that knowledge of the matter will remain confidential. Members of Assemblies who are also Assistants to Auxiliary Board Members

"Members of Assemblies, whether they are assistants [to Auxiliary Board members] or not, are obviously in a position to receive confidential information as individuals from several sources. It is an important principle of the Faith that one must not promise what one is not going to fulfill. Therefore, if a Bahá'í accepts confidential information either by virtue of his profession (e.g. as a doctor, a lawyer, etc.), or by permitting another person to confide in him, he is in duty bound to preserve that confidentiality."

"Assistants who are members of a National Assembly or a

national committee do not function as assistants in relation to that body, and they have the same duty to observe the confidentiality of its consultations, and of matters considered by the Assembly to be confidential, as does any other member."

". . . It should be clear to the believers that they are not justified in assuming that because a matter is known to individual members of the Assembly it is therefore before the Assembly itself. If a believer wishes to bring a matter to the Assembly's attention he should do so explicitly and officially. If a member of the Assembly knows of a personal problem, and if he has not undertaken to keep it confidential, he may bring it to the Assembly's attention if he feels it would be in the interests of the Faith for him to do so, but he is not obliged to."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 2, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands (See also Chapter 1, "The Assistants to the Auxiliary Board Members.") (See also Chapter 3, "Confidentiality of Minutes.") (See also Chapter 15, "Confidentiality.")

THE INDIVIDUAL: FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND CRITICISM Right of Individual to Self-Expression "Let us also remember that at the very root of the Cause lies the principle of the undoubted right of the individual to self-expression, his freedom to declare his conscience and set forth his views. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 63 "The unfettered freedom of the individual should be tempered with mutual consultation and sacrifice, and the spirit of initiative and enterprise should be reinforced by a deeper realization of the supreme necessity for concerted action and a fuller devotion to the common weal."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 87 "As to freedom of expression, a fundamental principle of the Cause, the Administrative Order provides unique methods and channels for its exercise and maintenance; these have been amply described in the writings of the Faith, but they are not yet clearly understood by the friends. For Bahá'u'lláh has extended the scope and deepened the meaning of self-expression. In His elevation of art and of work performed in the service of humanity to acts of worship can be discerned enormous prospects for a new birth of expression in the civilization anticipated by His World Order. The significance of this principle, now so greatly amplified by the Lord of the Age, cannot be doubted; but it is in its ramifications in speech that keen understanding is urgently needed. From a Bahá'í point of view, the exercise of freedom of speech must necessarily be disciplined by a profound appreciation of both the positive and negative dimensions of freedom, on the one hand, and of speech, on the other.

"Bahá'u'lláh warns us that `the tongue is a smouldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison.' `Material fire consumeth the body,' He says in elaborating the point, `whereas

the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century.' In tracing the framework of free speech, He again advises `moderation.' `Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation,' He states, adding: `As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.'

"Also relevant to what is said, and how, is when it is said. For speech, as for so many other things, there is a season. Bahá'u'lláh reinforces this understanding by drawing attention to the maxim that, `Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.'

"Speech is a powerful phenomenon. Its freedom is both to be extolled and feared. It calls for an acute exercise of judgement, since both the limitation of speech and the excess of it can lead to dire consequences. Thus there exist in the system of Bahá'u'lláh checks and balances necessary to the beneficial uses of this freedom in the onward development of society. A careful examination of the principles of Bahá'í consultation and the formal and informal arrangements for employing them offer new insights into the dynamics of freedom of expression."

The Universal House of Justice, December 29, 1988, Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 12-13 Criticism Offering Criticism ". . . You had asked whether the believers have the right to openly express their criticism of any Assembly action or policy; it is not only the right, but the vital responsibility of every loyal and intelligent member of the Community to offer fully and frankly, but with due respect and consideration to the authority of the Assembly, any suggestion, recommendation or criticism he conscientiously feels he should in order to improve and remedy certain existing conditions or trends in his local community, and it is the duty of the Assembly also to give careful consideration to any such views submitted to them by any one of the believers. The best occasion chosen for this purpose is the Nineteen Day Feast which, besides its social and spiritual aspects, fulfills various administrative needs and requirements of the Community, chief among them being the need for open and constructive criticism and deliberation regarding the state of affairs within the local Bahá'í Community."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feasts, pp. 27-28 "The Bahá'ís are fully entitled to address criticisms to their Assemblies; they can freely air their views about policies or individual members of elected bodies to the Assembly, local or national, but then they must wholeheartedly accept the advice

or decision of the Assembly, according to the principles already laid down for such matters in Bahá'í administration."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 13, 1945, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 1, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "It is clear then that criticism is allowed, but it should be addressed to the institutions of the Faith and not aired in the community where it might foment division and misunderstandings."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 12, 1988 to individual believers (Also see Chapter 9 "The Administrative Portion.") Negative Results of Excessive Criticism "The Guardian believes that a great deal of the difficulties from which the believers . . . feel themselves to be suffering are caused by their neither correctly understanding or putting into practice the administration. They seem -- many of them -- to be prone to continually challenging and criticizing the decisions of their assemblies. If the Bahá'ís undermine the very leaders which are, however immaturely, seeking to coordinate Bahá'í activities and administer Bahá'í affairs, if they continually criticize their acts and challenge or belittle their decisions, they not only prevent any real rapid progress in the Faith's development from taking place, but they repel outsiders who quite rightly may ask how we ever expect to unite the whole world when we are so disunited among ourselves!"

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 35-36

"As to negative and hostile criticism, the following extracts have a direct bearing: Vicious criticism is indeed a calamity. But its root is lack of faith in the system of Bahá'u'lláh, i.e., the Administrative Order -- and lack of obedience to Him -- for He has forbidden it! If the Bahá'ís would follow the Bahá'í laws in voting, in electing, in serving and in abiding by Assembly decisions, all this waste of strength through criticizing others could be diverted into cooperation and achieving the Plan. . . . ' (From a letter dated December 18, 1949, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer) . . . It should be stressed that all criticism and discussions of a negative character which may result in undermining the authority of the assembly as a body should be strictly avoided. For otherwise the order of the Cause itself will be endangered, and confusion and discord will reign in the community. (From a letter dated December 13, 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, to an individual believer)"

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 12, 1988 to individual believers Underlying Spirit of the Cause Must Be Preserved "In exercising their privilege to contribute to the consultation in . . . gatherings or publications, Bahá'ís are enjoined to be courteous and considerate of others, to be moderate in tone

and to not insist on the correctness of their views; however, such conditions should not preclude the frank expression of differing views. Bahá'u'lláh has forbidden `conflict' and `contention'; open disputation in the public arena over matters in the Bahá'í teachings is an inappropriate means of clarifying difficult issues. It can be extremely harmful to the interests of the Faith if Bahá'ís who hold strong opinions but are not well-versed in the teachings publish documents which attack basic tenets of the Faith or undermine the authority of Bahá'u'lláh Himself. There is ample scope within the channels of the Administrative Order for questions to be raised and discussed in a manner which avoids dispute. Enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 1, 1989, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

". . . Clearly, then, there is more to be considered than the critic's right to self-expression; the unifying spirit of the Cause of God must also be preserved, the authority of its laws and ordinances safeguarded, authority being an indispensable aspect of freedom. Motive, manner, mode, become relevant; but there is also the matter of love: love for one's fellows, love for one's community, love for one's institutions.

"The responsibility resting on the individual to conduct himself in such a way as to ensure the stability of society takes on elemental importance in this context. For vital as it is to the progress of society, criticism is a two-edged sword: It is all too often the harbinger of conflict and contention. The balanced processes of the Administrative Order are meant to prevent this essential activity from degenerating to any form of dissent that breeds opposition and its dreadful schismatic consequences. How incalculable have been the negative results of ill-directed criticism: in the catastrophic divergences it has created in religion, in the equally contentious factions it has spawned in political systems, which have dignified conflict by institutionalizing such concepts as the `loyal opposition' which attach to one or another of the various categories of political opinion-- conservative, liberal, progressive, reactionary, and so on.

"If Bahá'í individuals deliberately ignore the principles imbedded in the Order which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has established to remedy divisiveness in the human family, the Cause for which so much has been sacrificed will surely be set back in its mission to rescue world society from complete disintegration. May not the existence of the Covenant be invoked again and again, so that such repetition may preserve the needed perspective? For, in this age, the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh has been protected against the baneful effects of the misuse of the process of criticism; this has been done by the institution of the Covenant and by the provision of a universal administrative system which incorporates within itself the mechanisms for drawing out the constructive ideas of individuals and using them for the benefit of the entire system. Admonishing the people to uphold the unifying purpose of the Cause, Bahá'u'lláh, in the Book of His Covenant, addresses these poignant words

to them: `Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion and the instrument of union an occasion for discord.' Such assertions emphasize a crucial point; it is this: In terms of the Covenant, dissidence is a moral and intellectual contradiction of the main objective animating the Bahá'í community, namely, the establishment of the unity of mankind."

The Universal House of Justice, December 29, 1988, Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 15-16 Suggested Readings The Local Spiritual Assembly

The Local Spiritual Assembly
Consultation: A Compilation

The Individual Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, a letter from the Universal House of Justice to the Followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the United States of America, December 29, 1988.

5 PROTECTION OF THE FAITH REVIEWING Bahá'í LITERATURE AND MATERIALS Purpose of Review ". . . The purpose of review is to protect the Faith against misrepresentations by its own followers at this early stage of its existence when comparatively few people have any knowledge of it. An erroneous presentation of the Teachings by a Bahá'í who is accounted a scholar, in a scholarly journal, would, by that very fact, do far more harm than an erroneous presentation made by an obscure Bahá'í author with no pretensions to scholarship."

The Universal House of Justice, October 8, 1980 to an individual believer "Some of the friends have suggested that the emergence of the Faith from obscurity indicates the timeliness of ceasing observance in the Bahá'í community of certain restraints; particularly are they concerned about the temporary necessity of review before publishing. . . .

"The Faith is as yet in its infancy. Despite its emergence from obscurity, even now the vast majority of the human race remains ignorant of its existence; moreover, the vast majority of its adherents are relatively new Baha'is. The change implied by this new stage in its evolution is that whereas heretofore this tender plant was protected in its obscurity from the attention of external elements, it has now become exposed. This exposure invites close observation, and that observation will eventually lead to opposition in various quarters. So, far from adopting a carefree attitude, the community must be conscious of the necessity to present a correct view of itself and an accurate understanding of its purpose to a largely skeptical public. A greater effort, a greater care must now be exercised to ensure its protection against the malice of the ignorant and the unwisdom of its friends.

". . . From this perspective we must all . . . be concerned about the effects of words, especially those put in print. It is here that Bahá'í authors and publishers need to be attentive and exert rigorous discipline upon themselves, as well as abide by the requirements of review at this early stage in the development of the Faith."

The Universal House of Justice, December 29, 1988, Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 18-20

Role of the National Spiritual Assembly and Local Spiritual Assembly in Reviewing Publications "[The National Spiritual Assembly] . . . shall supervise the publication and distribution of Bahá'í literature, the reviewing of all writings pertaining to the Bahá'í Cause. . . ."

Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, p. 13 "They [Local Spiritual Assemblies] must supervise in these days when the Cause is still in its infancy all Bahá'í publications and translations, and provide in general for a dignified and accurate presentation of all Bahá'í literature and its distribution to the general public."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 38 The National Spiritual Assembly is responsible for the reviewing of material intended for nation-wide publication. The Local Spiritual Assembly reviews material intended for publication or distribution within its own community. Criteria for Review "The standards to be upheld by reviewers are the following: (a) conformity with the Teachings, (b) accuracy, (c) dignity in presentation."

Memorandum on Bahá'í Publishing from the Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1971 "The function of reviewing is, essentially, to check the author's exposition of the Bahá'í Faith and its teachings, which may include verification of any quotations from the Bahá'í writings. This function should not be confused with evaluation of the literary merit of a work or of its value as a publication, which are normally the prerogative of the publisher. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, March 11, 1965 "In general the function of a reviewing committee is to say whether the work submitted gives an acceptable presentation of the Cause or not."

Memorandum on Bahá'í Publishing from the Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1971 Materials to be Reviewed "At this early stage of the Cause all works by Bahá'ís which deal with the Faith, whether in the form of books, pamphlets, translations, poems, songs, radio and television scripts, films, recordings, etc. must be approved before submission for publication, whether to a Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í publisher."

Memorandum on Bahá'í Publishing from the Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1971 Written Materials ". . . Spiritual Assemblies [have the] responsibility to protect the dignity of the Faith and uphold the proper standard of reverence in the use of its Sacred Scriptures. Thus, if an Assembly sees that one of the friends is making use of any of the Holy Texts in an unbefitting manner, it should remonstrate with him and, if necessary, require him to stop doing so."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 4, 1981 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

""It has been decided that doctoral theses and similar treatises submitted to institutions of learning for the obtaining of a degree are not subject to Bahá'í review unless they are to be published more widely than is required for the degree in question. Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in a letter dated May 11, 1982 to an individual believer "The circulation of seminar reports, papers, and other materials among those concerned is permissible at this stage without the need for review, unless, in the view of the National Spiritual Assembly under whose jurisdiction the circulation takes place, such papers are likely to contain material prejudicial to the interests of the Faith."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 23, 1979 to an individual believer "As to Bahá'í authors who refer to the Faith in works which are not specifically about it, the House of Justice instructs us to say there is no need for review although Bahá'í authors may, if they wish, submit the relevant passages for review. For instance, some such casual reference as possibly `the Bahá'í Faith which maintains a House of Worship in Wilmette' obviously need not be reviewed. However, where an actual presentation of the Faith or any particular aspect of its teachings is made, in a work not specifically about the Faith, the relevant passage and its context should, at present, be sent for review."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 28, 1977 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Music "The standards of dignity and reverence set by the beloved Guardian should always be upheld, particularly in musical and dramatic items. . . The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 2, 1967 to all National Spiritual Assemblies "It is entirely proper to set prayers to music, and the friends are free to sing prayers in unison. Indeed, assuming that the music is appropriate and that the believers do not make a ritual out of it, it is highly praiseworthy for choirs to sing appropriate verses revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. . . .

"We would assume also that the friends will always keep in mind that whether read, chanted, or sung, prayers should be uttered with a proper sense of reverence."

The Universal House of Justice, February 6, 1973 ". . . Whether or not it is appropriate for the friends to set the obligatory prayers to music.

We have not come across any instruction which would prohibit the setting of the obligatory prayers to music. However, because of the spiritual nature, we do not consider it appropriate to do so."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 6, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"We have found nothing in the text forbidding the use of the Greatest Name, the names of the Manifestations of God or the names of the Central Figures of our Faith in the lyrics of music. However, we feel that when they are used they should be used with reverence and respect, both in the manner in which they are incorporated in the lyrics and in the manner of representation."

The Universal House of Justice, March 20, 1972 Jewelry, Needlework, Painting, Etc. Materials prepared for wide distribution beyond the locality of origin, including jewelry, needlework, paintings, and so on, must be reviewed by the National Spiritual Assembly before they are produced or published.

The essential principle is the preservation of a dignified and accurate presentation of the Faith. Reverence in Relation to the Review Process Portrayals of Holy Figures "The Faith can certainly be dramatized, but two things must be remembered: no personal presentation of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh or the Master, only their Words can be used, but no figure must represent Them; great dignity must be the keynote."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, August 19, 1951, Bahá'í News, #253, March 1952, p. 1 "With reference to your question whether the Figures of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh should be made to appear as characters in dramatic works written by the believers, Shoghi Effendi's opinion is that such an attempt to dramatize the Manifestations would be highly disrespectful, and hence should be avoided by the friends, even in the case of the Master. Besides it would be practically impossible to carry out such a plan faithfully, and in a dignified and befitting manner."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, January 27, 1935, Bahá'í News, #90, March 1935, p. 1 "However, there can be no objection to symbolic representation of such Holy Figures, provided it does not become a ritual and that the symbol used is not irreverent."

The Universal House of Justice, December 3, 1972 Pictures, Portraits of `Abdu'l-Bahá ". . . Though he sees no objection to people having portraits of the Master in their homes, if it gives them pleasure, he prefers that for distribution and for purchase, they should confine themselves to His photographs, as these are, of course, a much more perfect likeness of Him. Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 11, 1942 to an individual believer Although the House of Justice does not wish to prohibit the use of photographs and drawings of the

Master they should be used most sparingly and always in a dignified context in keeping with the station of `Abdu'l-Bahá. It is felt that drawings of the Master executed in a cartoon style and showing rays of light emanating from His head are not appropriate and should be discouraged."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 27, 1978 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States (See also Chapter 12, section entitled "Uses of Pictures of `Abdu'l-Bahá")

Record and Film of `Abdu'l-Bahá "The Guardian, when referring to this record [of `Abdu'l-Bahá'í voice], requested the friends `to exercise restraint and caution.' "`In my view,' he added, `it should be used only on special occasions and be listened to with the utmost reverence. The dignity of the Cause, I am sure, would suffer from too wide and indiscriminate use of one of the most precious relics of our departed Master.'

". . . We are confident that all the friends will strictly observe the Guardian's exhortation and will not overstep the bounds of courtesy and moderation in the use of a precious relic so lovingly left to us by the Center of the Covenant."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 23, 1971 to all National Spiritual Assemblies "Regarding the use of the Master's film the greatest care must be exercised lest we cheapen its value by too frequent and indiscriminate exhibition either amongst the believers or the non-Baha'is. Only on special occasions, such as important anniversaries, should the film be shown and its solemn sacred character should be duly emphasized."

Shoghi Effendi, February 28, 1928 NOTE: Neither the film nor the recording should be copied, either for sale or to be given away. Use of the Greatest Name "The overriding consideration must always be the proper dignity with which the Greatest Name should be used. Thus it would not be befitting to use it on drinking vessels or ash trays, plates for eating, and the like. There would, however, be no objection to its use on plaques or ornaments, jewelry or similar items which are not normally put to common use. The House of Justice instructs us to say that great care should be given to the accurate representation of the Persian calligraphy, since any deviation from an accepted representation can be distressing to Iranian believers."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 12, 1980 "Although there exists an instruction that the symbol of the Greatest Name should not be used on gravestones, no instruction has been found prohibiting the use of the symbol of the Greatest Name on any other particular item, such as jewelry, books or pamphlets. However, the Greatest Name should not be used in an undignified manner.

"Nothing has been found which would prohibit a believer

from manufacturing and selling items using the Greatest Name provided that the manner in which the Greatest Name is used is dignified."

The Universal House of Justice, March 25, 1975 ". . . We are requested by the Universal House of Justice to share with you the following guidelines on the use of the symbols of the Greatest Name.

"The Guardian, in a letter written on his behalf to an individual on 5 August 1949, stated:

"`It is better not to encourage the use of this symbol on stationery and in paintings.'

"Likewise, the Universal House of Justice, in its letter to a National Assembly stated:

"`We wish to call to your attention the impressions of the Greatest Name on the back of the envelope in which your letter was enclosed. This use of the Greatest Name is not befitting and we ask you to discontinue it.' (16 May 1971)

"In another communication regarding this subject, the following was written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Assembly:

"`. . . We are instructed to say that it would not be appropriate to use the symbol of the Greatest Name on the official stationery of a Local Spiritual Assembly.' (6 November 1984)

"While the House of Justice is reluctant to issue a list of the specific uses of the Greatest Name which should be avoided, the principal thing is for the friends to realize the great sacredness of this symbol, and to use it in ways which are dignified and appropriate. . . ."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 3, 1987, in Lights of Guidance, p. 267 Trademarks In order to protect the Faith against misuse of certain of its terms and symbols, and to prevent their becoming public domain (that is, open for use by anyone in any manner), the National Spiritual Assembly has taken the precaution of having terms and symbols identified with the Bahá'í Faith legally registered as Bahá'í trademarks.

Any items identified with the Bahá'í Faith should not be reproduced for commercial use or local publicity purposes without first securing permission from the Bahá'í Publishing Trust.

Before manufacturing or selling items with the Greatest Name, the items must first be submitted to the National Spiritual Assembly for review. Copyrights Copyright laws protect literary, musical and artistic works by ensuring that individual works are not copied without permission. Reproducing copyrighted material without first gaining permission may result in legal action against the user.

See the Appendix at the end of this chapter for more information about the use of copyrighted material. THE COVENANT Power of the Covenant "Know this for a certainty that today, the penetrative power in the arteries of the world of humanity is the power of the Covenant. The body of the world will not be moved through any power except through the power of the Covenant. There is no other power like unto this. This Spirit of the Covenant is the real Center of love and is reflecting its rays to all parts of the globe, which are resuscitating and regenerating man and illuminating the path to the Divine Kingdom."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 71 The Greater and Lesser Covenants "There is, for example, the Greater Covenant which every Manifestation of God makes with His followers, promising that in the fullness of time a new Manifestation will be sent, and taking from them the undertaking to accept Him when this occurs. There is also the Lesser Covenant that a Manifestation of God makes with His followers that they will accept His appointed successor after Him. If they do so, the Faith can remain united and pure. If not, the Faith becomes divided and its force spent. . . . It is a Covenant of this kind that Bahá'u'lláh made with His followers regarding `Abdu'l-Bahá, and that `Abdu'l-Bahá perpetuated through the Administrative Order that Bahá'u'lláh had already created."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 3, 1975 to an individual believer Perpetuation of the Covenant "O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsan (Branches), the Afnan (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abha Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi -- the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness, -- as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsan, the Afnan, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the expounder of the words of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendants."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 11 "Unto the Most Holy Book every one must turn and all that is not expressly recorded therein must be referred to the Universal House of Justice. That which this body, whether unanimously or by a majority doth carry, that is verily the Truth and the Purpose of God Himself."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 19 "They (Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá) have also, in unequivocal and emphatic language, appointed those twin institutions of the House of Justice and of the Guardianship as their chosen Successors, destined to apply the principles, promulgate the laws, protect the institutions, adapt loyally and intelligently the

Faith to the requirements of progressive society, and consummate the incorruptible inheritance which the Founders of the Faith have bequeathed to the world."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 19-20 The Passing of Shoghi Effendi "After prayerful and careful study of the Holy Texts bearing upon the question of the appointment of the successor to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, and after prolonged consultation which included consideration of the view of the Hands of the Cause of God residing in the Holy Land, the Universal House of Justice finds that there is no way to appoint or to legislate to make it possible to appoint a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 11 The passing of Shoghi Effendi and the break of the expected continuation of the line of Guardians raised many questions among the believers. Detailed letters addressing many of these questions can be found in Wellspring of Guidance, pages 44-56 and 81-91 and Messages of the Universal House of Justice, pages 37-43. COVENANT-BREAKING The Meaning of Covenant-breaking "When a person declares his acceptance of Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God he becomes a party to the Covenant and accepts the totality of His Revelation. If he then turns round and attacks Bahá'u'lláh or the Central Institution of the Faith he violates the Covenant. If this happens every effort is made to help that person to see the illogicality and error of his actions, but if he persists he must, in accordance with the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, be shunned as a Covenant-breaker."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 23, 1975 to an individual believer The actions of the Covenant-breakers, `Abdu'l-Bahá tells us, are motivated by personal desires, human pride and an insatiable desire for leadership and power. Although "they are perfectly aware," their awareness is insufficient to restrain them from their destructive actions.

It is important to understand what Covenant-breaking is not. Those who break Bahá'í law, who withdraw from the Faith or who reject Bahá'u'lláh's claim to be a Manifestation of God are not Covenant-breakers.

A Bahá'í who violates the Covenant is declared a Covenant-breaker only after every effort is made to help that person see the illogicality and error of his actions. The decision whether or not to expel or reinstate (if a Covenant-breaker sincerely repents) is made by the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land subject to the approval of the Universal House of Justice. The Nature of Covenant-breaking "Every Bahá'í is at liberty, nay is urged, to freely express his opinion and his understanding of the Teachings, but all this is in a totally different category from that of a Bahá'í who opposes

the clear Teaching of Bahá'u'lláh or who asserts his own opinion as an authoritative and correct interpretation of the teachings, and attacks or opposes the very Institutions which Bahá'u'lláh has created to protect His Covenant. When a person declares his acceptance of Bahá'u'lláh as a Manifestation of God he becomes a party to the Covenant and accepts the totality of His Revelation. If he then turns round and attacks Bahá'u'lláh or the central Institution of the Faith he violates the Covenant. If this happens every effort is made to help that person to see the illogicality and error of his actions, but if he persists he must, in accordance with the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, be shunned as a Covenant-breaker."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 23, 1975, to an individual believer "Now some of the mischief-makers, with many stratagems, are seeking leadership, and in order to reach this position they instill doubts among the friends that they may cause differences, and that these differences may result in their drawing a party to themselves. But the friends of God must be awake and must know that the scattering of these doubts hath as its motive personal desires and the achievement of leadership."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 214 "These [Covenant-breakers] do not doubt the validity of the Covenant, but selfish motives have dragged them to this condition. It is not that they ignore what they do -- they are perfectly aware and still they exhibit opposition."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Star of the West, Vol X, p. 246 Response of the Believers to Covenant-Breaking ". . . One of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament, p. 20 "The seriousness of Covenant-breaking is that it strikes at the very center and foundation of the unity of mankind. If God were to allow the instrument to be divided and impaired, how then would His purpose be achieved?

". . . The believers are commanded to shun Covenant-breakers for the same reason as healthy people do not associate with a person suffering from a serious contagious illness. A contagiously sick person cannot catch health from a thousand healthy people, but, on the contrary, he can infect them with his illness. Therefore such a person is quarantined and only those few people qualified to attend him do so. . . . Then, if he proves adamant he is free to go his way, but the Bahá'ís must cease to have any association with him until such time as he repents when, of course, he can be accepted back into the community."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 23, 1975 to an individual believer

"Bahá'u'lláh and the Master in many places and very emphatically have told us to shun entirely all Covenant-breakers . . . they have also told us, however, to pray for them. These souls are not lost forever. In the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh says that God will forgive Mirza Yahya if he repents. It follows, therefore, that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don't want to repent, unfortunately. . . .

"Also, it has nothing to do with unity in the Cause; if a man cuts a cancer out of his body to preserve his health and very life, no one would suggest that for the sake of `unity' it should be reintroduced into the otherwise healthy organism!"

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 22 Meetings at Which Covenant-Breakers Are Present "With regard to avoiding association with declared Covenant breakers, Shoghi Effendi says that this does not mean that if one or more of these attends a non-Bahá'í meeting any Bahá'ís present should feel compelled to leave the meeting or to refuse to take part in the meeting, especially if that part has been prearranged. Also if in the course of some business transaction it should become necessary to negotiate with one of these people, in order to clear up the business, that is permissible, provided the association is confined to the matter of the business in hand. It is different if one of these people should come to a Bahá'í meeting. Then it would become necessary to ask him in a most tactful and dignified way to leave the meeting as Bahá'ís are forbidden to associate with him."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi May 16, 1925 Books Written by Covenant-breakers "It is better not to read books by Covenant Breakers because they are haters of the Light, sufferers from a spiritual leprosy, so to speak. But books by well meaning and unenlightened enemies of the Cause can be read so as to refute their charges."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 19, 1945 "To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking. Indeed, some of the Bahá'ís have the unpleasant duty to read such literature as part of their responsibilities for protecting the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. However, the friends are warned in the strongest terms against reading such literature because Covenant-breaking is a spiritual poison and the calumnies and distortions of the truth which the Covenant-breakers give out are such that they can undermine the faith of the believer and plant the seeds of doubt unless he is fore-armed with an unshakable belief in Bahá'u'lláh and His Covenant and a knowledge of the true facts."

The Universal House of Justice, October 29, 1974 Mail from Covenant-breakers From time to time, Covenant-breakers send material to believers whose names and addresses they have obtained. If the friends receive mail from Covenant-breakers, they are advised to send or hand it, preferably unopened, to their Local Spiritual

Assemblies. Alternatively, if recognized and unopened, it may be clearly marked "Return to Sender" and posted. Reporting Covenant-breaking Activities If a Local Spiritual Assembly learns of any Covenant-breaking activity in its community, it should immediately inform its Auxiliary Board member for Protection and/or the National Spiritual Assembly. The Auxiliary Boards for Protection "The need to protect the Faith from the attacks of its enemies is not generally appreciated by the friends because such attacks, particularly in the West, have so far been intermittent. However, we know that these attacks will increase and will become concerted and universal. The writings of our Faith clearly foreshadow not only an intensification of the machinations of internal enemies, but a rise in the hostility and opposition of its external enemies, whether religious or secular, as our beloved Faith pursues its onward march towards ultimate victory. Therefore, in the light of the warning of Shoghi Effendi, the Auxiliary Boards for Protection should keep `constantly' a `watchful eye' on those `who are known to be enemies or to have been put out of the Faith,' discreetly `investigate' their activities, warn intelligently the friends of the opposition inevitably to come, explain how each crisis in God's Faith has always proved to be a blessing in disguise, prepare them for the `dire contests' which are `destined to range the Army of Light against the forces of darkness,' and, when the influence of the enemies spreads and reaches their fold, the members of these Auxiliary Boards should be alert to their schemes to `dampen the zeal and sap the loyalty' of the believers and, by adopting `wise and effective measures,' counteract these schemes and arrest the spread of their influence. Above all, the members of the Protection Boards should concentrate on deepening the friends' knowledge of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it, on clearly and frankly answering, in conformity with the teachings, whatever questions may trouble any of the believers, on fostering the spiritual profundity and strength of their Faith and certitude, and on promoting whatever will increase the spirit of loving unity in Bahá'í communities."

The Universal House of Justice, quoted in a letter from the International Teaching Center, letter dated October 14, 1976 to the Members of all Continental Boards of Counselors "You are free at any time to refer to the Continental Boards of Counselors and the Auxiliary Board members for protection any matters about which you are not clear involving the security of the Faith in your area and you will always find them willing to assist you in dealing with such problems."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, October 1, 1979, in Lights of Guidance, p. 337 (See also Chapter 1, section entitled "The Auxiliary Board Members.")

OPPOSITION Opposition--Natural and Inevitable Stage in the Unfoldment of the Faith "We cannot believe that as the Movement grows in strength, in authority and in influence, the perplexities and the sufferings it has had to contend with in the past will correspondingly decrease and vanish. Nay, as it grows from strength to strength, the fanatical defendants of the strongholds of orthodoxy, whatever be their denomination, realizing the penetrating influence of this growing Faith, will arise and strain every nerve to extinguish its light and discredit its name. . . .

"Dearly beloved friends, upon us devolves the supreme obligation to stand by His side, to fight His battles and to win His victory. May we prove ourselves worthy of this trust."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 123 "I am however assured and sustained by the conviction, never dimmed in my mind, that whatsoever comes to pass in the Cause of God, however disquieting in its immediate effects, is fraught with infinite Wisdom and tends ultimately to promote its interests in the world. Indeed, our experiences of the distant past, as well as of recent events, are too numerous and varied to permit of any misgiving or doubt as to the truth of this basic principle -- a principle which throughout the vicissitudes of our sacred mission in this world we must never disregard or forget."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 27 "But after I leave, some people may arise in opposition, heaping persecutions upon you in their bitterness, and in the newspapers there may be articles published against the Cause. Rest ye in the assurance of firmness. Be well poised and serene, remembering that this is only as the harmless twittering of sparrows and that it will soon pass away. . . .

"Therefore, my purpose is to warn and strengthen you against accusations, criticisms, revilings and derision in newspaper articles or other publications. Be not disturbed by them. They are the very confirmation of the Cause, the very source of upbuilding to the Movement. May God confirm the day when a score of ministers of the churches may arise and with bared heads cry at the top of their voices that the Bahá'ís are misguided. I would like to see that day, for that is the time when the Cause of God will spread. Bahá'u'lláh has pronounced such as these the couriers of the Cause. They will proclaim from pulpits that the Bahá'ís are fools, that they are a wicked and unrighteous people, but be ye steadfast and unwavering in the Cause of God. They will spread the message of Bahá'u'lláh."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 428-430 Opposition and the Plan of God "The people of the world have grievously erred, for they fondly imagine that they can exterminate the Cause of God, that they would be able to extinguish His effulgent light, and to put out His heavenly lamps. Vain indeed are their imaginings. I swear by the righteousness of God that the more they endeavor to quench His Light, the brighter will it shine, and the more they strive to smother its flame, the fiercer will it burn. God's invin-

cible Will far transcendeth their devices, and His Purpose is supreme above all human desires, inasmuch as all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth have been called into being through a single holy breeze -- the Word of His command -- wafted from His presence, and all shall be brought to naught through but one letter of His. From time immemorial He hath been established upon the seat of His sovereignty and through eternity will He continue to occupy the inaccessible heights of His glory. Every created thing is impotent before the evidences of His invincible might, and all beings fade into utter nothingness when confronted with the revelation of His awesome majesty."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í World, Vol. XVIII, p. 13 Sources of Opposition "For let every earnest upholder of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh realize that the storms which this struggling Faith of God must needs encounter, as the process of the disintegration of society advances, shall be fiercer than any which it has already experienced. Let him be aware that so soon as the full measure of the stupendous claim of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh comes to be recognized by those time-honored and powerful strongholds of orthodoxy, whose deliberate aim is to maintain their stranglehold over the thoughts and consciences of men, this infant Faith will have to contend with enemies more powerful and more insidious than the cruellest torture-mongers and the most fanatical clerics who have afflicted it in the past. What foes may not in the course of the convulsions that shall seize a dying civilization be brought into existence, who will reinforce the indignities which have already been heaped upon it!"

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 17 "From the record of its tumultuous history . . . there emerges . . . the supreme truth that with every fresh outbreak of hostility to the Faith, whether from within or from without, a corresponding measure of outpouring grace, sustaining its defenders and confounding its adversaries, has been providentially released, communicating a fresh impulse to the onward march of the Faith, while this impetus, in its turn would through its manifestations, provoke fresh hostility in quarters heretofore unaware of its challenging implications -- this increased hostility being accompanied by a still more arresting revelation of Divine Power and a more abundant effusion of celestial grace, which, by enabling the upholders of that Faith to register still more brilliant victories, would thereby generate issues of still more vital import and raise up still more formidable enemies against a Cause that cannot but, in the end, resolve those issues and crush the resistance of those enemies, through a still more glorious unfoldment of its inherent power."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, pp. 51-52 The Forms Opposition Will Take "We have only to refer to the warnings uttered by `Abdu'l-Bahá in order to realize the extent and character of the forces that are destined to contest with God's holy Faith. . . .

"Stupendous as is the struggle which His words foreshadow, they also testify to the complete victory which the upholders of the Greatest Name are destined eventually to achieve. Peoples, nations, adherents of divers faiths, will jointly and successively arise to shatter its unity, to sap its force, and to degrade its holy name. They will assail not only the spirit which it inculcates, but the administration which is the channel, the instrument, the embodiment of that spirit. For as the authority with which Bahá'u'lláh has invested the future Bahá'í Commonwealth becomes more and more apparent, the fiercer shall be the challenge which from every quarter will be thrown at the verities it enshrines."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 17-18 "Let not, however, the invincible army of Bahá'u'lláh, who in the West, and at one of its potential storm-centers is to fight, in His name and for His sake, one of its fiercest and most glorious battles, be afraid of any criticism that might be directed against it. Let it not be deterred by any condemnation with which the tongue of the slanderer may seek to debase its motives. Let it not recoil before the threatening advance of the forces of fanaticism, of orthodoxy, of corruption, and of prejudice that may be leagued against it. The voice of criticism is a voice that indirectly reinforces the proclamation of this Cause. Unpopularity but serves to throw into greater relief the contrast between it and its adversaries; while ostracism is itself the magnetic power that must eventually win over to its camp the most vociferous and inveterate amongst its foes."

Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 35 ". . . How often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warnings of our beloved Master, who, in particular during the concluding years of His mission on earth, laid stress on the `severe mental tests' that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West -- tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 50 The Response of the Believers to Opposition "In this Day whosoever is guided . . . to gain . . . the station of recognizing the Source of divine commandments and the Dayspring of His Revelation, hath everlastingly attained unto all good. Having reached this lofty station a twofold obligation resteth upon every soul. One is to be steadfast in the Cause with such steadfastness that were all the peoples of the world to attempt to prevent him from turning to the Source of Revelation, they would be powerless to do so. The other is observance of the divine ordinances which have streamed forth from the wellspring of His heavenly-propelled Pen."

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 268 "For whosoever standeth firm and steadfast in this holy, this glorious, and exalted Revelation, such power shall be given him

as to enable him to face and withstand all that is in heaven and on earth. Of this God is Himself a witness."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 330 "The friends should, therefore, not assume an attitude of mere resignation in the face of persecutions. They should rather welcome them, and utilize them as means for their own spiritual uplift and also for the promotion of the Cause. As the Faith grows stronger and attracts the serious attention and consideration of the world outside, the friends must expect a similar, if not a greater, increase in the forces of opposition which from every direction, both secular and religious, will be massed to undermine the basis of its existence. The final outcome of such a struggle, which will be surely gigantic, is clear to us believers. . . . The friends should be confident, and act with the utmost wisdom and moderation, and should particularly abstain from any provocative act. The future is surely theirs."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated June 24, 1936 "As opposition to the Faith, from whatever source it may spring, whatever form it may assume, however violent its outbursts, is admittedly the motive-power that galvanizes on the one hand, the souls of its valiant defenders, and taps for them, on the other, fresh springs of that Divine and inexhaustible Energy, we who are called upon to represent, defend and promote its interests, should, far from regarding any manifestation of hostility as an evidence of the weakening of the pillars of the Faith, acclaim it as both a God-sent gift and a God-sent opportunity which, if we remain undaunted, we can utilize for the furtherance of His Faith and the routing and complete elimination of its adversaries."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America 1932-1946, pp. 51-52 The Response of the Assemblies to Opposition "It is incumbent upon them [the Assemblies] to be vigilant and cautious, discreet and watchful, and protect at all times the Temple of the Cause from the dart of the mischief-maker and the onslaught of the enemy."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 38 "The matter of refuted attacks and criticisms directed against the Cause through the press is . . . one which devolves on the National Spiritual Assembly to consider. This body, whether directly or through the agency of its committees, should decide as to the advisability of answering such attacks, and also should carefully examine and pass upon any statements which the friends wish to send to the press to this effect. Only through such supervision and control of all Bahá'í press activities can the friends hope to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, August 30, 1939, The Power of the Covenant, Part III, p. 62

(See also Chapter 12, section entitled "Relationship with Media.") Triumph of the Cause of God "Whatsoever occurreth in the world of being is light for His loved ones and fire for the people of sedition and strife. Even if all the losses of the world were to be sustained by one of the friends of God, he would still profit thereby, whereas true loss would be born by such as are wayward, ignorant and contemptuous. . . . The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. In fire they remain cold, and from water they emerge dry. Their affairs are at variance with the affairs of men. Gain is their lot, whatever the deal. To this testifieth every wise one with a discerning eye, and every fair-minded one with a hearing ear."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Crisis and Victory, pp. 22-23 "And now, if you act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, you may rest assured that you will be aided and confirmed. You will be rendered victorious in all that you undertake, and all the inhabitants of the earth will be unable to withstand you. You are conquerors, because the power of the Holy Spirit assisteth you. Above and beyond all physical and phenomenal forces, the Holy Spirit itself shall aid you."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Crisis and Victory, p. 25 "That the Cause of God should, in the days to come, witness many a challenging hour and pass through critical stages in preparation for the glories of its promised ascendency in the new world has been, time and again, undeniably affirmed by our departed Master, and is abundantly proved to us all by its heroic past and turbulent history."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 60-61 "Whatever may befall this infant Faith of God in future decades or in succeeding centuries, whatever the sorrows, dangers and tribulations which the next stage in its world-wide development may engender, from whatever quarter the assaults to be launched by its present or future adversaries may be unleashed against it, however great the reverses and setbacks it may suffer, we, who have been privileged to apprehend, to the degree our finite minds can fathom, the significance of these marvelous phenomena associated with its rise and establishment, can harbor no doubt that what it has already achieved in the first hundred years of its life provides sufficient guarantee that it will continue to forge ahead, capturing loftier heights, tearing down every obstacle, opening up new horizons and winning still mightier victories until its glorious mission, stretching into the dim ranges of time that lie ahead, is totally fulfilled."

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 412 "A Faith born of God and guided by His Divine and all-pervasive spirit cannot but finally triumph and firmly establish itself, no

matter how persistent and insidious the forces with which it has to contend."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 24, 1936, Suggested Readings The Covenant and Covenant-breaking A Commentary on the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, by David Hoffman The Covenant, a compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice The Covenant: Its Meaning and Origin and Our Attitude Toward It, a study guide prepared by the National Teaching Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly The Power of the Covenant, published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada The Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá

See also the index of The Covenant: Its Meaning and Origin and Our Attitude Toward It for a detailed guide to further study

Opposition Citadel of Faith, Shoghi Effendi Crisis and Victory, a compilation prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi The Major and Minor Plans of God, a cassette tape of a talk by Peter Khan The Promised Day Is Come, Shoghi Effendi The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi Appendix Use of Copyrighted Material Quoting Passages from the Central Figures of the Faith ". . . Spiritual Assemblies and individuals are free to quote in their publications from any of the Writings of the three Central Figures of the Faith or from the writings of the beloved Guardian, whether in the original language or in translation, without obtaining clearance from the copyright holder, unless the copyright holder in the case of a translation is an individual or is a non-Bahá'í institution. . . .

"The ruling is made to ensure that the Sacred Scriptures of our Faith and the writings of the beloved Guardian may be

freely used by the believers; it does not change the existing requirements for review before publication, neither does it relieve Spiritual Assemblies of their responsibility to protect the dignity of the Faith and uphold the proper standard of reverence in the use of its Sacred Scriptures. Thus, if an Assembly sees that one of the friends is making use of any of the Holy Texts in an unbefitting manner, it should remonstrate with him and if necessary, require him to stop doing so."

The Universal House of Justice, September 4, 1981 Using Musical and Artistic Works Musical and artistic works are usually covered by copyrights. This includes most special material items (posters, recordings, notecards, films, filmstrips, and so on). Permission should be requested from the publisher or other copyright holder to duplicate or make use of portions of such materials in a separate work. Using Films, Filmstrips, or Other Visual Materials Copyrighted Bahá'í films, filmstrips, and other visual materials may be used on television programs without written or verbal permission. The source should be properly acknowledged in the credits of the program. Acknowledging the Author or Source The author and source of a passage should always be acknowledged, even if permission to reprint the passage is not needed. This applies also to published works with no copyright and to works on which the copyright has expired. Care should be taken to reprint the passage exactly as printed in the original source. "Fair Use"

If a Local Spiritual Assembly or individual wishes to use a passage from published works other than the Sacred Texts and the writings of Shoghi Effendi, permission to do so may be necessary. It should first be determined whether the passage to be used falls within the "fair use"

(i.e., the permissible use) of the copyrighted material within another work.

"Fair use" generally allows:

- Quotations of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of

illustration or comment

- Quotations of short passages in a scholarly or technical work for

illustration or clarification of the author's observations

- Summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news

report

- Incidental and fortuitous reproduction in a broadcast of a work

located in the scene or an event being reported

- Reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings.

The copyright law does not attempt to define the limits of the fair use of copyrighted material, but as an aid in resolving particular fair use cases, four factors are weighed:

1. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole 2. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work 3. The purpose and character of the use 4. The nature of the copyrighted work. Information on fair use is from Donald F. Johnston, The Copyright Handbook, 2nd ed., New York: R.R. Bowker Company, 1982

Once it is determined that the use of an excerpt from a copyrighted material falls within the definition of "fair use," permission from the copyright holder need not be obtained. If, however, the use falls outside of the definition of "fair use," permission may be necessary. If there are any doubts as to whether use of a particular work requires permission, it is best to contact the copyright holder and/or the Bahá'í Publishing Trust. Obtaining Permission The copyright rights belong to the author or composer or creator of the work or to whomever he has transferred them (publisher, recording company, film studio, etc.). One of the usual responsibilities of a publisher is to handle permissions--requests from authors, editors, or other publishers to make use of copyrighted material in works of their own creation. The procedure of requesting permission helps ensure that the material will be used in a way that will not be damaging to the original work and that it is properly credited in order to protect the copyright.

To expedite requests for permission to use copyrighted materials, be sure that the inquiry is directed to the proper publisher. The publisher's or producer's name can usually be found on the title and/or copyright page of the book or, in the case of non-printed material such as record albums, in a prominent location. The request for permission to use the material should include:

- The specific passages to be used, including:
Author
Title of the work
Page, paragraph, and line numbers of each
passage
Any other specific identifying information

- Complete information on how the material is to be used

- Information on the number of copies to be made

- Information on how the copies will be distributed

- Any other relevant information.

6 COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP MEMBERSHIP STATUS Three Conditions of Membership Status Bahá'ís in Good Standing Bahá'í membership carries with it the right to attend Nineteen Day Feasts, to vote and to be voted for in Bahá'í elections, to participate in activities reserved for enrolled members in good standing, to contribute to the Fund, to receive publications intended for Bahá'ís only, to be appointed to service by the institutions of the Faith, to be married in the Faith, and to enjoy the blessings of Bahá'í law. Bahá'ís Deprived of Membership Rights The deprivation of membership rights is a sanction which a National Spiritual Assembly imposes when it is clear that a Bahá'í has knowingly or flagrantly violated certain laws of the Faith or has demonstrated an inability to behave responsibly as a member of the Bahá'í community. Shoghi Effendi gave the following explanation about the meaning of this penalty: Regarding the matter of believers who have been deprived of their voting rights; just as no one should ever be deprived of his voting right lightly, it should, likewise, be realized that to be deprived of it is a grave matter, and involving heavy penalties spiritually. People who have been so deprived should not be permitted to attend any meetings involving the administration of the Cause, such as an election or a Nineteen Day Feast. They can attend the Nine Holy Days, however; they should not be married by Bahá'í Law, no money should be accepted from them, they should not be given credentials (which imply a member of the community in good standing), nor should they be used officially as teachers or speakers. Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 88 A person whose administrative rights of membership in the Bahá'í community have been removed is a Bahá'í at heart if he still recognizes Bahá'u'lláh and believes in His Revelation. Since his spiritual commitment is not in question, his continuing Bahá'í life can include worship of God through the prayers of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, and observance of the Fast, of the Bahá'í Holy Days, and of all the personal and family occasions of the Faith. He has access to the literature of the Faith and may attend proclamation meetings and Bahá'í school sessions that are open to the public. He may subscribe to Brilliant Star and World Order Magazine and other general publications, but he cannot receive Bahá'í News, the Bahá'í National Review, or The American Baha'i. He cannot have a Bahá'í marriage or go on pilgrimage.

(At times the National Spiritual Assembly may apply limited sanctions. See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Limited Sanctions.") (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Meaning of Deprivation of Administrative Rights.") Expulsion for Covenant-breaking "The suspension of voting and other administrative rights of an individual, always conditional and therefore temporary, can never have such far-reaching implications, since it constitutes merely an administrative sanction; whereas his expulsion or excommunication from the Faith . . . has far-reaching spiritual implications affecting the very soul of that believer. The former, as already stated, is an administrative sanction, whereas the latter is essentially spiritual, involving not only the particular relationship of a believer to his local or National Assembly, but his very spiritual existence in the Cause. It follows, therefore, that a believer can continue calling himself a Bahá'í even though he may cease to be a voting member of the Community. But in case he is excluded from the body of the Cause by an act of the Guardian [now the Universal House of Justice] he ceases to be a believer, and cannot possibly identify himself even nominally with the Faith."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 86 DECLARATION AND ENROLLMENT OF NEW BELIEVERS (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Conditions for Enrollment") Declaration Criteria for Acceptance ". . .The process of becoming a Bahá'í is necessarily slow and gradual. The essential is not that the beginner should have a full and detailed knowledge of the Cause, a thing which is obviously impossible in the vast majority of cases, but that he should by an act of his own will, be willing to uphold and follow the truth and guidance set forth in the Teachings, and thus open his heart and mind to the reality of the Manifestation."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #213, November 1948 Generally, the enrollment of a new believer involves three steps:

- Declaration of faith by the new believer

- Enrollment by a Local Spiritual Assembly, its representative, or

an authorized agency

- Recording of the enrollment by the National Spiritual Assembly

through its Department of Management Information Systems.

When an individual accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the latest Manifestation of God, a declaration card is completed. The person is asked to provide his or her name, residential and mailing addresses, telephone number, and birth date.

There may be occasions when the declarant does not wish to sign the card. If the Local Spiritual Assembly is satisfied that the person sincerely believes in Bahá'u'lláh, it should send the (unsigned) enrollment card to the National Spiritual Assembly explaining the circumstances and providing the necessary information -- name, address, etc. Enrollment Once a person has made a declaration of belief in Bahá'u'lláh by completing and signing a declaration card, the Local Spiritual Assembly (or its representative) ascertains that the declarant is sincere in his declaration of faith in Bahá'u'lláh and is aware of the Bahá'í laws. If the Local Spiritual Assembly is satisfied that the declarant meets the requirements of membership, it approves the enrollment.

Some Assemblies prefer to welcome personally the declarant into the Bahá'í community. Others appoint representatives to meet with the new believer.

When the declaration has been accepted, the declaration card or letter should be signed by a representative of the Local Spiritual Assembly and sent to the National Spiritual Assembly (Department of Management Information Systems). (It is advisable to make a copy for the local records.)

The new believer then may attend Bahá'í functions and is eligible to vote and to be elected to administrative bodies. If an event is held that requires a Bahá'í identification card, the local community may vouch for the new Baha'i.

These procedures are used for most enrollments. There are some cases which require special procedures. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Special Enrollment Procedures.") (See also in this chapter section entitled "Reinstatement from Withdrawal.") Recording the Enrollment When a signed declaration/enrollment card or letter is received by the National Spiritual Assembly, the name, the address and Bahá'í community, the telephone number, and the age of the new believer are recorded on the national membership rolls. A membership card with the Bahá'í identification number, a welcoming letter, and introductory materials are sent to the new believer. Special Enrollment Procedures Southeast Asians The National Spiritual Assembly has adopted special procedures to expedite the enrollment of Southeast Asian immigrants in order to encourage their immediate participation in the activities of the Bahá'í community. These persons do not need to sign declaration cards and need only to confirm their desire to become Baha'is. Their complete names and addresses should be forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly. The Local Spiritual Assembly should include the language they speak and be careful to clarify their first and last names.

Iranians (Persians) and Others from the Middle East "Moreover, the House of Justice feels that there are a number of cases in which Iranian Muslims could be considered for enrollment as Baha'is; for example, in cases where the Muslim spouse of a Bahá'í has shown his or her interest and sincerity and has never engaged in opposing the Cause. Another example is when an Iranian is [has been] a permanent resident of the United States or Canada [before January 1, 1979] and apparently has no ulterior motives, such as assuming Bahá'í membership to resolve his visa problems. Proposed enrollments should be referred to the House of Justice for approval so that, if necessary, the matter can be taken up with the Iranian National Assembly.* Of course, even in the cases cited enrollment cannot always be immediately effected. Consideration must be given to other factors: the reaction of relatives in Iran could be a factor in determining the timeliness of enrolling such person. In such instances it could be explained to them that although they have accepted the Faith in their hearts and are regarded as Bahá'ís in belief, their enrollment must be postponed because of the situation in Iran. Meanwhile, the Bahá'ís should maintain friendly contacts with them, deepen them in their knowledge of the Faith."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 6, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, enclosed with a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, March 8, 1983 * Since the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran has been disbanded, the Bahá'ís in Iran are consulted on these matters. Iranian declarants (any person from an Iranian background regardless of their immigration status or length of stay in the United States) and other declarants from the Middle East may participate in administrative functions only after their enrollments are confirmed by the National Spiritual Assembly. Every Iranian seeking to be enrolled as a Bahá'í should complete the Persian Enrollment/Registration Information Form in addition to completing the declaration card. This form can be obtained from the Bahá'í National Center (Department of Management Information Systems).

In addition to ensuring that the appropriate forms are completed and sent to the Bahá'í National Center, the Local Spiritual Assembly should meet with the person to find out the depth of their understanding of the Faith and the sincerity of their claims. A report of the meeting and the Local Assembly's recommendations for accepting the enrollment should be sent to the Department of Management Information Systems.

The enrollment process is completed when the Bahá'í National Center issues an identification card. Except for children of registered members of the American Bahá'í community, enrollment of all Persians (including youth) requires confirmation from the Bahá'ís in Iran. Enrollment of persons from Middle Eastern countries requires confirmation from the Universal House of Justice. These communications are coordinated through the Bahá'í National Center.

Because communication with the believers in Iran is extremely difficult, the verification process may be lengthy --

more than a year in some instances. In the meantime, the Local Assembly should encourage these persons to attend those events open to the public and urge them to continue their study of the Faith. (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Special Circumstances Regarding Teaching Iranian Muslims.") Israelis "As you know, it has been a policy of long standing that we do not enroll believers in the Holy Land. The Writings and Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are available for everyone, including those who live here [in Israel]. However, when it comes to enrollment, those deeply interested in the Faith must be lovingly informed that aside from the World Center, there is no Bahá'í community in the Holy Land and that for many reasons it is not propitious to establish local Bahá'í communities here.

"Furthermore, Bahá'ís are only permitted to come to the Holy Land for pilgrimage or for brief visits. Only those associated with the work at the World Center are permitted to reside here. Therefore, if the . . . expect to return to the Holy Land for purposes of residence, they should be counselled that they cannot be formally enrolled. What they do about Bahá'u'lláh and His Teachings as a matter of personal belief, is another matter." The Universal House of Justice, August 11, 1972 in Handbook for Local Spiritual Assemblies in Australia, p. 25 Mainland Chinese "Citizens of the PRC [People's Republic of China] may be accepted as believers without making a written declaration of faith or being officially registered. It should be made clear to them that there is no Bahá'í administration in China and therefore at this time Bahá'í laws of personal status are not binding, nor are they required to withdraw from membership in other associations. However, they should endeavor to learn about Bahá'í laws and principles and should, as a matter of conscience, endeavor to practice these to the best of their ability.

"Chinese believers who are citizens of the PRC should be introduced to each other as Bahá'ís only if they are willing for this to be done. They may participate in the social life of the Bahá'í community in a normal manner but not be singled out for undue attention or be subjected to public gaze.

"Bahá'ís from the PRC should be advised of the caution needed regarding teaching the Faith on the Chinese mainland and be asked to observe it for their own protection as well as the future of the Faith there."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 19, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "Membership records of the Bahá'ís who are citizens of the PRC are maintained at the World Center at present. Each National Spiritual Assembly is asked to supply the House of Justice with the following information on each of these friends who have

accepted the Faith under its jurisdiction: full name of the person in Chinese script, full name in the Roman alphabet, current address, home address in China, date of declaration and occupation.

"Locally, the records of these new declarants should remain confidential and not be published in any way."

The Universal House of Justice, enclosed with a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, April 19, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "For the protection of these new declarants, their records should not be published nor should the fact that citizens of China are involved in Bahá'í activities be publicized."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, October 8, 1987 (See also Chapter 7, Appendix A, "Special Circumstances Regarding Teaching Chinese.") Prisoners A declarant who is a prisoner should be contacted by members from the local community, who, if satisfied that the declarant has sincere intentions, can complete the person's enrollment. "A prisoner, showing sincere faith in the Cause, may be accepted as a Bahá'í on the same basis of investigating his qualifications as to belief as any other individual outside prison. Each case should be carefully considered on its own merits. Naturally, a person in confinement cannot be active in any community and administrative work. When he gets out, he becomes part of the community in which he resides."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated August 5, 1955 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles "You are free to accept declarations of faith from inmates of a prison, but their participation as voting believers can take place only after they have been discharged from prison."

The Universal House of Justice, December 8, 1969, in Lights of Guidance, p. 75 Mentally Ill and Mentally Handicapped "The question of mental instability has no bearing upon the acceptance of an enrollment unless it is of such a nature that it affects the ability of the declarant to judge whether or not he believes in Bahá'u'lláh."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 19, 1981 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Drug and Alcohol Use," which relates to the enrollment of a person who is mentally handicapped.) (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Behavior which Damages the Reputation of the Faith or Causes Disunity.") Persons Whose Behavior is Contrary to Bahá'í Law Drug and Alcohol Use "In response to your letter of March 11, 1981, conveying the question of your Local Spiritual Assembly about the enrollment of individuals who are mentally incompetent, drug users, alcoholics, etc., the Universal House of Justice asks us to

convey the following:

"The acceptance of a person into the Bahá'í community should be based not on whether he is leading an exemplary life, but on whether the Assembly is reasonably certain that he is sincere in his declaration of faith in Bahá'u'lláh and that he knows of the laws which would affect his personal conduct, so that he does not enter the community under a misapprehension."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 19, 1981 (See also Chapter 15, sections entitled "Drinking of Alcohol," and "Use of Illegal Drugs.") Homosexuality Homosexuals should be treated like any other people seeking admittance to the Faith, and be accepted on the same basis. The following quotation should assist you.

"Our teachings, as outlined in The Advent of Divine Justice, on the subject of living a chaste life, should be emphasized, but certainly no ruling whatsoever should be laid down in this matter. The Bahá'ís have certainly not yet reached that stage of moral perfection where they are in a position to too harshly scrutinize the private lives of other souls, and each individual should be accepted on the basis of his faith, and sincere willingness to try to live up to the Divine standards; further than this we cannot go at present."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 4, 1948, in Messages to Canada, p. 8 (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Homosexuality.") Companionate Marriage "The young lady in question should be advised by you or the believer with whom she has been studying that the decision as to whether or not she wishes to enroll in the Faith rests with her and her alone. Your Assembly should not prevent her from enrolling should she so decide, but if she does apply for membership in the community, she obviously should understand that she will be expected to conduct herself as a Bahá'í by adjusting her relationship to the man with whom she is presently living. This means that either they must become legally married or she should sever the existing relationship between them." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 4, 1977 to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Pampano Beach, Florida (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Immorality.") Membership in Secret Organizations, Other Religious Organizations, and Political Involvement "If a person is registered as a member of a church or similar religious organization he should withdraw from it on becoming a Baha'i.

"In the case of new believers, it should be made clear to them in the course of teaching them the Faith that one cannot be a Bahá'í and also a member of another religious organiza-

tion. This is simply a matter of straightforwardness and honesty. . . .

"You should not formalize the method by which the withdrawal from the church is to be made, and certainly nothing should be added to a declaration form, if you use one. It should be left to the Local Spiritual Assembly which is accepting the declaration to satisfy itself, as it deems best in each case, that the new believer has already resigned from the church, or does so within a reasonable time of his declaration."

The Universal House of Justice, November 21, 1968 ". . . We fully appreciate the problem, posed in the case of youth who accept Bahá'u'lláh but whose parents strongly oppose their withdrawal from the Church. In such cases where the parents oppose their withdrawal and insistence upon it by the youth would undermine the unity of the family it is permissible for the withdrawal to be postponed until the youth attains the age of 21. This would not, of course, in any way affect his acceptance into the Bahá'í community. As you mention, this is the very time at which such a newly-declared believer needs all the deepening and confirmation he can receive."

The Universal House of Justice, November 6, 1972 "There may be occasions when an enrollment must be postponed, as in the case of someone holding a political post, unless that person is able and can, in good conscience, resign from such a post immediately. Other cases may permit acceptance but indicate a need for fixing a time when the individual will be required to conform to certain laws, such as membership in the Masonic Order, church, or other ecclesiastical organizations. Still other times an individual may be encouraged to become better acquainted with the spirit, laws and principles of the Faith before submitting his application. However, the Guardian has cautioned us not to be too rigid in our requirements for accepting new believers or to place hindrances in their way."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 14, 1977 in Lights of Guidance, p. 72 (See also Chapter 15, sections entitled "Political Activity," and "Membership in Other Religious Organizations and Secret Societies.") STATUS OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH Children of Non-Bahá'í Parents Under 15 Years Old ". . . If the non-Bahá'í parents of a youth under 15 permit their child to be a Baha'i, we have no objection whatsoever from the point of view of the Teachings to permitting such a youth to declare as a Baha'i, regardless of age. When he declares his faith in Bahá'u'lláh, he will then be accepted in the community and be treated as other Bahá'í children." The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 13, 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States 15 to 21 Years Old

"Declarations of faith from non-Bahá'í youth between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, whose parents are not Baha'is, may be accepted without the consent of their parents unless this is contrary to the civil law. However, the importance of respect for one's parents must not be forgotten, and such youth may need to be counselled to give heed to their parents' wishes as far as the degree of their activity on behalf of the Faith is concerned, and even, if the parents are very antagonistic, to be completely inactive for a time."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 19, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom Children of Bahá'í Parents "Unlike the children of some other religions, Bahá'í children do not automatically inherit the Faith of their parents. However, the parents are responsible for the upbringing and spiritual welfare of their children, and Spiritual Assemblies have the duty to assist parents, if necessary, in fulfilling these obligations, so that the children will be reared in the light of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and from their earliest years will learn to love God and His Manifestations and to walk in the way of God's Law. It is natural, therefore, to regard the children of Bahá'ís as Bahá'ís unless there is a reason to conclude the contrary. It is quite wrong to think of Bahá'í children as existing in some sort of spiritual limbo until the age of fifteen at which point they can `become' Baha'is. In the light of this one can conclude the following:

"Children born to a Bahá'í couple are regarded as Bahá'ís from the beginning of their lives, and their births should be registered by the Spiritual Assembly.

"The birth of a child to a couple, one of whom is a Baha'i, should also be registered unless the non-Bahá'í parent objects.

". . . In the cases of children whose parents become Baha'is, much depends upon the ages and reactions of the children concerned. They will require great love and understanding, and each case must be judged on its own merits. This applies to an added degree, of course, if only one of the parents has accepted the Faith, in which case the attitude of the other parent is an important factor; the aim of the Bahá'ís should be to foster family unity. The important thing is that the children, whether registered as Bahá'ís or not, should be made to feel welcome at Bahá'í children's classes and other community gatherings."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 19, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom (See also Chapter 9, sections entitled "Attendance and Participation," and "Behavior of Children.") Registration and Declaration "Although the children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Baha'is, there is no objection at the present time, for purposes of keeping a correct census, and also ascertaining whether the young people are, sincerely, believers, and willing to do their share in service to the Faith, to asking them to make a

declaration of their intention, at the age of fifteen or so. Originally the Guardian understands this was adopted in America to enable young Bahá'í men to make certain arrangements in connection with their application for non-combatant status, upon their attaining the age of military service. There is really nothing about it in the Teachings or in the Administration. Your Assembly is free to do as it pleases in this matter."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated June 17, 1954, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom ". . . The way in which Bahá'í children should be registered upon reaching the age of fifteen is within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly; there is no objection to using for this purpose the general enrollment card, if such a card is adopted, or a new and separate one specially for Bahá'í children attaining the age of fifteen. It is important, however, that whatever method of enrollment is used or card adopted, it is clear to such children that they had been Bahá'ís up to that time, and that on attaining the age of spiritual maturity they are reaffirming their belief in Bahá'u'lláh.

The form and wording of an enrollment or registration card is also within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, October 28, 1975 "In answer to your letter . . . concerning the registration of children of Bahá'í parents the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that at the present time it prefers to leave the details of such matters to the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly. One National Assembly, for example, sends a very nice letter to each Bahá'í child in its community on the occasion of its fifteenth birthday (unless, of course, it has reason to doubt that the child in question is a Baha'i), explaining the meaning of attaining the age of maturity, and extending the good wishes of the assembly for his or her future services to the Cause. This does not require an active response from every child but does provide each with an opportunity to make his or her position clear if desired.

"The House of Justice points out that the Assembly must wisely steer a course between seeming to doubt the faith of a child who has been brought up as a devout Bahá'í on the one hand, and seeming to compel a child to be a member of the Bahá'í community against his will, on the other."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, October 5, 1978 Registration Cards for Children Parents may complete a Bahá'í Registration card for each child and forward it to the Bahá'í National Center. (Registration cards can be obtained from the Department of Management Information Systems.) When the card is received, the child will be assigned a Bahá'í identification number and the child's name will be added to the national computer records. After the child's name has been recorded on the computer, the child will receive an acknowledgement letter in care of the parents. The letter will include the child's Bahá'í identification number,

which the parents should refer to when making address changes for the family.

Parents may register their children at birth or any time before they reach the age of 15. Children who are within a few months of their 15th birthday who wish to sign a declaration card may be allowed to do so. Possible Circumstances for Not Registering Children "It is within the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly to determine whether children should be registered as Bahá'ís in cases where one parent is not a Baha'i, although children of Bahá'í parents, under age 15, are generally considered Baha'is, there may be circumstances in which they should not be registered as such, and this is also left to your discretion. Local Spiritual Assemblies should help by advising the parents to consider it one of their primary obligations to raise their children in a spirit of love and dedication towards the Faith."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, October 3, 1976 Reaching the Age of Maturity -- Fifteen ". . . Upon attaining the age of fifteen a child becomes spiritually mature and is responsible for stating on his own behalf whether or not he wishes to remain a member of the Bahá'í community. If he does not then reaffirm his faith, he must be treated administratively, as a non-Baha'i." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 12, 1975 "Fifteen is the age at which a child attains spiritual maturity, and thus it is at the age of fifteen that a Bahá'í child assumes the responsibility for obeying such laws as those of fasting and prayer, and for affirming of his own volition his faith in Bahá'u'lláh."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 19, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom "It may happen that a Bahá'í child, on reaching the age of fifteen is not entirely sure in his own mind. This can well happen if one of the parents is not a Bahá'í or if the parents have accepted the Faith not long before. In such a case the Assembly should not assume automatically that he is not a Baha'i. If the youth wishes to attend Feasts and is content to continue to be regarded as a Bahá'í as he was when a child, this should be permitted, but in the process of deepening his understanding of the Faith his parents and the Assembly should explain to him that it is his responsibility to soon make his position clear."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 19, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom Registered Youth Contacted at Age Fifteen In the past, a youth was required to sign a declaration card upon reaching the age of fifteen. Now when a Bahá'í youth who has been previously registered reaches the age of fifteen, the National Assembly sends a loving letter along with a membership card and explains what it means to reach the age of

maturity. The letter is sent about three months before the youth's fifteenth birthday.

While the procedures do not require an active response, in accepting the membership card, the youth affirms his belief in Bahá'u'lláh. It is important to emphasize that a Bahá'í child is not compelled to become a Bahá'í and is free to leave the Faith at any time. "If any Bahá'í finds that he does not believe in the Faith," the Universal House of Justice has stated, "he is free to leave it . . . , and no stigma at all attaches to such an action."

The National Assembly hopes that each Local Assembly will celebrate this occasion with the youth and take the opportunity to nurture their understanding of the significance of being a Baha'i, of reaching the age of spiritual maturity and of obeying the laws of the Faith. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Withdrawal from Membership.") BAHÁ'Í CREDENTIALS All Baha'is, adult and youth, should carry current identification cards issued by the National Spiritual Assembly. The cards identify them as members of the Bahá'í Faith in good standing and entitle them to attend Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í conferences, national and state conventions, and other meetings for Bahá'ís only. Checking Credentials The Assembly is responsible for checking the credentials of Bahá'ís from other localities who wish to participate in community activities restricted to Baha'is.

Checking visitors' membership cards protects the community from those who have had their membership revoked or from anyone who may be hostile toward the Faith. Checking credentials will become increasingly important as the Faith expands and as it begins to encounter opposition. Shoghi Effendi wrote: . . . As the Movement grows in prestige, fame and influence, as the ambitions, malice and ill-will of strangers and enemies correspondingly wax greater, it becomes increasingly important for every individual and Spiritual Assembly to be on their guard lest they fall innocent victims of the evil designs of the malevolent, the self-seeking and greedy. Bahá'í Administration, p. 102 The Local Spiritual Assembly should ask to see the Bahá'í identification of strangers claiming to be Bahá'í and politely but firmly ask them to leave should they be unable to produce current Bahá'í credentials.

Visitors from other countries who do not have current credentials must have their Bahá'í status confirmed by the National Spiritual Assembly (Department of Management Information Systems).

Bahá'í credentials can only be processed through the Bahá'í National Center. Local Spiritual Assemblies are not

authorized to give temporary or permanent identification cards or credentials to Baha'is. Transfer of Membership Bahá'ís from other countries who plan to remain in the United States for any length of time must send their current credentials to the National Spiritual Assembly. Current credentials are considered to be a letter or identification card not more than one year old issued by the former National Spiritual Assembly. The National Assembly will retain the credentials and provide them with U.S. Bahá'í credentials.

If Bahá'ís do not have current national credentials, they should notify their former National Spiritual Assembly and request the transfer of their Bahá'í membership to the American Bahá'í community. They should include their former and current addresses.

Although a Local Spiritual Assembly should not write to the former National Spiritual Assembly on behalf of the Baha'is, an Assembly may assist them with this procedure. Special Membership Transfer Procedures Transfer of Southeast Asians The National Spiritual Assembly has adopted special procedures to expedite the transfer of membership of Southeast Asian Refugees in order to encourage their participation in the activities of the Bahá'í community. Therefore, unlike transfers from other countries, newly-arrived Bahá'í refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia need only indicate that they are Baha'is. They may be invited to participate in the activities of their new community regardless of whether they possess Bahá'í credentials. Their complete names and addresses should be forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly (Attn: Department of Management and Information Services). Transfer of Persians Note: The term Persian refers to anyone of Persian heritage or anyone with a Persian surname.

Current procedures for transferring the membership of Persian Bahá'ís to the United States Bahá'í community are as follows:

- Transfers Must Be Processed Through the Bahá'í National Center

Transfer of membership of Bahá'ís who arrive in this country from abroad can only be processed by the Bahá'í National Center (Department of Management Information Systems). Local Spiritual Assemblies are not authorized to make such transfers.

- Those With Current Credentials

Persians holding current credentials (less than one year old) from another National Spiritual Assembly may participate in administrative functions such as the Nineteen Day Feast while their transfers to this country are being completed. However, they are not eligible to participate in elections until their transfers have been completed.

- Those Without Current Credentials

According to instructions from the Universal House of Justice, Persian Bahá'ís who have left Iran since the Revolution [January 1979] and do not have current credentials may not be registered before their Bahá'í membership is confirmed by the Bahá'ís in Iran. Although the Bahá'í institutions in Iran have been disbanded, a procedure has been established for verification of Bahá'í membership.

The first step in the process is the filling out of a Persian Bahá'í Membership Questionnaire, which may be obtained from the Department of Management Information Systems.

Persians transferring their membership should provide the National Center with specific information about their place of residence in Iran; their date and place of birth; the names and telephone numbers or addresses of their friends or relatives in Iran; and the number of the Nineteen Day Feast they last attended or the names of the Feast officers. This information is necessary for the friends in Iran to verify their Bahá'í membership.

After the form is filled out, the newly-arrived Persian Bahá'ís are advised to ask their friends and relatives in Iran to introduce them. Because communication with the Bahá'ís in Iran is often difficult, the verification process may be lengthy -- more than a year in some instances.

Those without valid current credentials may participate only in those functions open to non-Baha'is.

- Former Members of the United States Bahá'í community

Former members of the United States Bahá'í community who have been out of the country for more than six months need to be transferred officially back in. Iranian Bahá'ís who were members of the American Bahá'í community but have travelled to Iran, even for a short time, are subject to the verification process.

- Temporary Credentials, Introductory Letters

Local Assemblies are not to issue temporary identification cards for newly-arrived believers. Nor should they write letters introducing them as Bahá'ís in good standing to immigration officials or other local, state or Federal officials. All requests from Iranian Bahá'ís for assistance with immigration should be forwarded to the Bahá'í National Center (Attn: Office of Persian/American Affairs). Local Assemblies and Bahá'í groups lovingly should explain to the newly arrived Persian Bahá'ís the need for complying with the instructions of the Universal House of Justice, and should enforce these instructions firmly and uniformly.

WITHDRAWAL FROM AND REINSTATEMENT OF MEMBERSHIP Handling Requests for Withdrawal The objective in handling withdrawal requests is not merely to clarify individuals' Bahá'í status or to "clean up the membership list." Rather, the aim is to draw ambivalent Bahá'ís closer to the Faith. Often the most effective means to assist those who are wavering in their faith or having severe difficulties is to invite them to meet with the Assembly, or to send a mature and deepened believer to meet with them and discuss the nature of their belief and any other pertinent questions. Dealing with the matter entirely through correspondence or over the phone generally proves unhelpful and should be avoided.

Upon investigation an Assembly may learn that the persons believe in Bahá'u'lláh but do not wish to participate in the affairs of the Bahá'í community. If this is the case, their wishes should be honored. The local Assembly should strive to nurture each person and draw them closer to the Bahá'í community and to make each feel he is a welcomed and valued member.

When reporting withdrawal cases to the National Spiritual Assembly, the Local Spiritual Assembly should include the persons' identification numbers, give a brief but complete summary of the cases and include its recommendations and the reasons for them.

The National Spiritual Assembly at times receives letters from persons expressing a desire to leave the Faith. (If they recant their faith, the National Spiritual Assembly will honor the requests to withdraw from Bahá'í membership.) If no reasons are given and the persons live within the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly, the Assembly is asked to consult with them and help them resolve whatever problems may have prompted the request. If they live in an area without a Local Spiritual Assembly, the National Spiritual Assembly may ask a nearby Assembly to handle the case. Criteria for Withdrawal ". . . Should one who is a member of the Bahá'í Community lose his faith or find that he had not really believed from the beginning he would notify the Spiritual Assembly of his withdrawal from the Community."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 15, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States ". . . If a person makes it quite clear that they do not wish to be considered an active member of the Bahá'í Community and be affiliated with it and exert their voting right, then their name should be removed from the voting list; but if a person considers himself or herself a Baha'i, and for various reasons is not able to be active in the affairs of the Community, then they should certainly not be removed from our voting list. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 2, 1951, in Lights of Guidance, p. 86 "Any member of the Bahá'í Community who finds that he does not believe in Bahá'u'lláh and His Revelation is free to withdraw from the Faith and such a withdrawal should be accepted. But a Bahá'í who continues to believe in Bahá'u'lláh cannot withdraw from the Bahá'í Community. While he believes in this

Revelation he is subject to its laws. Therefore your National Spiritual Assembly was not correct in accepting Mr. ...'s withdrawal from the Faith. In his very letter of withdrawal Mr. ... reaffirmed his belief in the Faith. You should, therefore, immediately reinstate him and so inform him. Of course, he may well wish to remain inactive, and if so his wish should be respected, but he should know that he is a member of the Bahá'í community." The Universal House of Justice, July 8, 1970 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Withdrawing to Avoid Bahá'í Law.") "With regard to those who do not consider themselves Bahá'ís on the basis of the argument that they signed the Declaration Card without actually knowing the significance of what they were doing, you should determine who these people are. You should then deepen their knowledge of the Faith. If they feel, after receiving sufficient information, that they do not wish to be Baha'i, then their names should be removed from the Bahá'í membership list."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 23, 1985, in Lights of Guidance, p. 600 Inactivity Not a Basis for Removal from Membership ". . . People who are inactive should not automatically be removed from the voting list. . . .

"It is very discouraging to find inactive and unresponsive believers; on the other hand we must always realize that some souls are weak and immature and not capable of carrying on an active administrative burden. They need encouragement, the love of their fellow Bahá'ís and assistance. To blame them for not doing more for the Cause is useless and they may actually have a very firm belief in Bahá'u'lláh which with care could be fanned into flame." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated April 25, 1947 to an individual believer "If believers become inactive it is naturally desirable that the Local Spiritual Assemblies attempt to maintain contact with them and encourage them to become active unless, of course, it is obvious that their personal situation precludes such activity. For example, a Bahá'í who is married to a non-Bahá'í may well have to limit his activities to some degree in order to maintain the unity of his family."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 7, 1975 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Community Membership List--Verified Address Unknown.") Withdrawing to Avoid Bahá'í Law "If a believer who did not like a particular law were to be permitted to leave the community to break the law, and then

rejoin with impunity, this would make a mockery of the Law of God."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 15, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States ". . . A believer cannot escape administrative expulsion by the ruse of resigning from the Faith in order to break its law with impunity. However, the Assembly should be satisfied that there was indeed such an ulterior motive behind the withdrawal. A believer's record of inactivity and his general attitude to the Faith may well lead the Assembly to conclude that his withdrawal was bona fide . . . and in such a case the withdrawal may be accepted."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 20, 1971 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "We note the case in which believers have evidently attempted to withdraw from the Faith in an effort to evade the Bahá'í law requiring consent of parents. This, of course, should not be permitted and such believers are subject to administrative expulsion (i.e. loss of voting rights) on the same basis as if they had not made that attempt." The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 7, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Reinstatement from Withdrawal The reinstatement of membership of persons who have withdrawn from the Faith does not require the signing of an enrollment card. Rather, those wishing to be reinstated should apply directly or through a Local Spiritual Assembly to the National Spiritual Assembly. In forwarding such a request, the Local Assembly should include its determination that the persons accept the station of Bahá'u'lláh and are willing to assume the responsibilities of Bahá'í membership. COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP Register of Vital Statistics Marriages, Births, Burials "Local Spiritual Assemblies, which are embryonic Local Houses of Justice, should develop as rallying centers of the community. They must concern themselves not only with teaching the Faith, with the development of the Bahá'í way of life and with the proper organization of the Bahá'í activities of their communities, but also with those crucial events which profoundly affect the life of all human beings: birth, marriage, and death. When a Bahá'í has a child it is a matter of joy to the whole local community as well as to the couple, and each Local Spiritual Assembly should be encouraged to keep a register of such births, issuing a birth certificate to the parents. Such a practice will foster the consolidation of the community and of the Assembly itself. Even if only one of the parents is a Baha'i, the Assembly could register the birth of the child, and upon application of the Bahá'í parent issue the certificate.

". . . Each Assembly . . . must conscientiously carry out its responsibilities in connection with the . . . recording of Bahá'í marriages in a register kept for this purpose, and the issuing of Bahá'í marriage certificates. . . .

"In some parts of the world, if Local Spiritual Assemblies fail

to carry out these sacred duties some believers might gradually drift away from the Faith and even pay dues to churches or other religious organizations to ensure that, when they require to register the birth of a child, to solemnize a marriage or to have a funeral service, there will be a religious institution ready to perform the necessary services. Conversely, when Local Assemblies have arisen to carry out these responsibilities, the believers have acquired a sense of security and solidarity, and have become confident that in such matters they can rely upon the agencies of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 17, 1981 to All National Spiritual Assemblies Marriage and birth certificates are available for a small fee from the Department of Management Information Systems at the Bahá'í National Center. Community Membership List A list of Bahá'ís in the United States is maintained and updated by the National Spiritual Assembly. Twice a year, the National Spiritual Assembly (through its Department of Management Information Systems) sends a revised Community Membership List generated from the national listing to all Local Spiritual Assemblies.

Three general categories appear on each list:
- Believers with Known Addresses:
Mail is deliverable at the listed address
- Believers Who Have Had Their Mail Returned:

Mail does not reach the addressee and is returned to the post office. The community should try to verify the addresses of these believers.

- Believers Deprived of Their Administrative Rights, Institutionalized or Imprisoned:

Previously, the names of Bahá'ís who were deprived of their administrative rights, institutionalized or imprisoned were removed from the local membership list. Since those people are still members of the Bahá'í Faith, however, their names are now retained on the local list with notations about their personal status.

Names that do not appear:
- Verified Address Unknown:

If the community has verified that a person does not live at the last known address, and no forwarding information is available, the name is removed from the local membership list; however, the person's name is retained on the national membership rolls. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Inactivity Not a Basis for Removal from Membership.") (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Restoration of Administrative Rights.") Suggestions for Verifying Addresses of Mail-Returns See the Appendix

Use of Bahá'í Directories and Membership Lists Mailing lists and directories are to be used for the work of the Faith only and may not be used for promotional or advertising purposes, or for business solicitation. Bahá'ís provide their addresses and personal information to the National Spiritual Assembly with the understanding that the information they provide will be kept confidential. The National Spiritual Assembly is obligated to protect the privacy of those who do not wish to receive unauthorized mail. Creation of Mailing Lists for Businesses Businesses that sell Bahá'í specialty items are required to compile their own mailing lists. Bahá'ís who have expressed an interest in receiving mail from a particular business may be added to the list. In addition, Bahá'í business owners are free to contact other businesses owned by Bahá'ís to use or purchase their mailing lists. Destruction of Obsolete Lists The mailing lists must be kept secure to prevent them from falling into the hands of Covenant-breakers or enemies of the Faith. Obsolete lists should be shredded or burned. Sharing Community Lists with Other Communities It is left to the discretion of each Assembly whether they wish to share their membership lists with other institutions. (The lists should only be used to conduct official Bahá'í business.) The lists should not, however, be given to individual Bahá'ís outside of the community without the prior consent of each community member, as the names and addresses of the Bahá'ís are considered confidential. Appendix Suggestions for Verifying Addresses of Mail Returns

- Check a recent telephone book. If asked, a directory assistance operator will sometimes give out addresses of those whose telephone number is listed. If a correct address is found, visit, write or call the person to verify the information.

- If there is no phone listing. Visit the last known address. Ask neighbors or other local Bahá'ís whether they have any information. If the person still lives there but is not at home, call or write later.

- Send a letter or a postcard to the last known address with a notation "Address Correction Requested" on the front.

Make sure your return address also appears on the envelope. If the person has moved, the Post Office will return the letter with the new address noted on it. A small fee will be charged.

- Addresses can be sought under the Freedom of Information Act. Place a request at the Post Office. The address will be unobtainable if the person moved more than eighteen months ago or did not file a change of address. Updated address information should be sent to the National Spiritual Assembly (Attn: Department of Management Information Systems) on the Bahá'í Membership Data Report (BMDR). If a person cannot be located, all efforts to find him should be documented and sent with the BMDR. If it is decided that a reasonable search has been made, the name will be taken off the community membership list and put into the "Verified Address Unknown" file. Then, the name can be dropped from the community's voting list. (See also Chapter 16, section entitled "Avenues to Try to Locate Parents.")

7 TEACHING AND CONSOLIDATION
THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AND TEACHING

"When in session it behooveth them to converse, on behalf of the servants of God, on matters dealing with the affairs and interests of the public. For instance, teaching the Cause of God must be accorded precedence, inasmuch as it is a matter of paramount importance, so that thereby all men may enter the pavilion of unity and all the peoples of the earth be regarded even as a single body. . . .

"Teaching the Cause must be viewed according to the conditions of the age and of the times so as to see what course is deemed proper to take. Other matters also should be dealt with in like manner. They must, however, take care that nothing doth take place contrary to the divine verses sent down in this glorious Manifestation, inasmuch as naught but that which hath been prescribed by the True One -- exalted be His glory -- would serve the interests of His servants."

Bahá'u'lláh, in The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 11-12

"Simultaneous with the acceleration in the process of individual conversion, the equally pressing need of safeguarding local spiritual assemblies from dissolution and of increasing rapidly their number, must continually be borne in mind, as the most effective means for the strengthening of the structural basis of the Administrative Order of the Faith. Complementing this laudable task, strenuous efforts must be exerted for the purpose of multiplying the existing groups and isolated centers in all the continents of the globe. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 118

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Why Individuals Do Not Teach -- What the Assembly Can Do.")

THE NATURE OF TEACHING
Commandment of God

"Say: To assist Me is to teach My Cause. This is a theme with which whole Tablets are laden. This is the changeless commandment of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Comprehend this, O ye men of insight."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 196

"Of all the gifts of God the greatest is the gift of Teaching. It draweth unto us the Grace of God, and is our first obligation. Of such a gift how can we deprive ourselves? Nay, our lives, our goods, our comforts, our rest, we offer them all as a sacrifice for the Abha Beauty and teach the Cause of God."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 25

". . . He fully realizes that the demands made upon the Bahá'ís are great, and that they often feel inadequate, tired and

perhaps frightened in the face of the tasks that confront them. This is only natural. On the other hand, they must realize that the power of God can and will assist them; and that because they are privileged to have accepted the Manifestation of God for this Day, this very act has placed upon them a great moral responsibility toward their fellowmen. It is this moral responsibility to which the Guardian is constantly calling their attention. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 37

"All these requirements must and will surely be met through reconsecrated service on the part of every conscientious member of the Community of Baha, and particularly through personal commitment to the teaching work. So fundamentally important is this work to ensuring the foundation for success in all Bahá'í undertakings and to furthering the process of entry by troops that we are moved to add a word of emphasis for your consideration. It is not enough to proclaim the Bahá'í message, essential as that is. It is not enough to expand the rolls of Bahá'í membership, vital as that is. Souls must be transformed, communities thereby consolidated, new models of life thus attained. Transformation is the essential purpose of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, but it lies in the will and effort of the individual to achieve it in obedience to the Covenant. Necessary to the progress of this life-fulfilling transformation is knowledge of the will and purpose of God through regular reading and study of the Holy Word."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1989, to the Bahá'ís of the World

Divine Assistance

"Should any one arise for the triumph of our Cause, him will God render victorious though tens of thousands of enemies be leagued against him. And if his love for Me wax stronger, God will establish his ascendency over all the powers of earth and heaven."

Bahá'u'lláh, in The Power of Divine Assistance, p. 9

"If one arise to promote the Word of God with a pure heart, overflowing with the love of God and severed from the world, the Lord of Hosts will assist him with such a power as will penetrate the core of existent beings."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 9

"The Master assured us that when we forget ourselves, and strive with all our powers to serve and teach the Faith, we receive divine assistance. It is not we who do the work, but we are the instruments used at that time for the purpose of teaching His Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 38

"The criterion is the extent to which we are ready to have the will of God operate through us.

"Stop to be conscious of your frailties, therefore; have a

perfect reliance upon God; let your heart burn with the desire to serve His Mission and proclaim His call; and you will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 21

"The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Bahá'u'lláh has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Power of Divine Assistance, p. 50

Three Aspects of Teaching

"The House of Justice . . . has instructed us to point out that proclamation, expansion, and consolidation are really three different aspects of teaching which to some degree merge into one another and therefore it is largely for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide how it will allocate these different aspects to committees in light of the volume of the work and the condition in each country."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 27, 1975, to a National Spiritual Assembly, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

Proclamation

"Worldwide proclamation, the unknown sea on which we must soon sail, will add another dimension to our work, a dimension which will, as it develops, complement and reinforce the twin processes of expansion and consolidation. This pattern of teaching, emerging so soon after the completion of the framework of the Administrative Order, may well be the means of advancing the vital work of consolidation and of rendering more effective the teaching wisdom which has been gained in a hundred years, and more particularly since the beloved Guardian called us to systematic and planned activity. Therefore in those countries where we are free to publicize our religion, this activity must become part of our regular work, included in budgets, assigned to national and local committees for study and implementation and above all for coordination with the programs operating to achieve the goals of the Nine Year Plan. Every effort of proclamation must be sustained by teaching, particularly locally, where public announcements should be related to such efforts. This coordination is essential, for nothing will be more disheartening than for thousands to hear of the Faith and have nowhere to turn for further information."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 112-113

"Proclamation comprises a number of activities, of which publicity is only one. . . . One of the most important duties of each national spiritual assembly is to acquaint leaders of

thought and prominent men and women in its country with the fundamental aims, the history, and the present status and achievements of the Cause. . . .

"Another aspect of proclamation is a series of teaching programs designed to reach every stratum of human society -- programs that should be pursued diligently and wisely, using every available resource.

"Publicity itself should be well conceived, dignified, and reverent. A flamboyant approach which may succeed in drawing much initial attention to the Cause may ultimately prove to have produced a revulsion which would require great effort to overcome. . . .

"In all proclamation activities, follow-up is of supreme importance. Proclamation, expansion, and consolidation are mutually helpful activities which must be carefully interrelated. In some places it is desirable to open a teaching campaign with publicity -- in others it is wiser to establish first a solid local community before publicizing the Faith or encouraging contacts with prominent people. Here, again, wisdom is needed."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 117-118

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Relationship with the Media.")

Expansion

"The stage is set for universal, rapid and massive growth of the Cause of God. The immediate and basic challenge is pursuit of the goals of the Six Year Plan [1986-1992], the preliminary stages of which have already been initiated. The all-important teaching work must be imaginatively, persistently and sacrificially continued, ensuring the enrollment of ever larger numbers who will provide the energy, the resources and spiritual force to enable the beloved Cause to worthily play its part in the redemption of mankind."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1987, to the Bahá'ís of the World

"The paramount goal of the teaching work at the present time is to carry the message of Bahá'u'lláh to every stratum of human society and every walk of life. An eager response to the teachings will often be found in the most unexpected quarters, and any such response should be quickly followed up, for success in a fertile area awakens a response in those who were at first uninterested."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 31, 1967, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

"In many lands . . . there is an eager receptivity for the teachings of the Faith. The challenge for the Bahá'ís is to provide these thousands of seeking souls, as swiftly as possible, with the spiritual food that they crave, to enlist them under the banner of Bahá'u'lláh, to nurture them in the way of life He has revealed, and to guide them to elect Local Spiritual Assemblies which, as they begin to function strongly, will unite the friends

in firmly consolidated Bahá'í communities and become beacons of guidance and havens of refuge to mankind."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1979 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"Exultant as we are over the remarkable feats you have attained, both those already cited and those too numerous to mention, we cannot help noting the sad lag in the rate of your enrollments, a lag which is conspicuously at variance with the high energy of your endeavors and the teaching opportunities abounding in your richly blessed land. We call this to your attention not to cause distress but rather to stir a deeper consciousness of your immediate possibilities, to arouse you to new heights of action. You are a community of victors; you occupy the front ranks of Bahá'u'lláh's invincible army of light; indeed, you must remain in the vanguard of its thrust. . . . All your accomplishments proclaim your ability to excel in the fundamental goal of expanding your membership. The progress of the Cause in your country undoubtedly depends upon such expansion."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Consolidation

"Consolidation is as vital a part of the teaching work as expansion. It is that aspect of teaching which assists the believers to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Teachings, and fans the flame of their devotion to Bahá'u'lláh and His Cause, so that they will, of their own volition, continue the process of their spiritual development, promote the teaching work, and strengthen the functioning of their administrative institutions. Proper consolidation is essential to the preservation of the spiritual health of the community, to the protection of its interests, to the upholding of its good name, and ultimately to the continuation of the work of expansion itself.

". . . Activities falling into this category include the organization of circuits of travelling teachers skilled in consolidation work; the holding of summer and winter schools, week-end institutes and conferences; the initiation and operation of tutorial schools; the dissemination of Bahá'í literature and the encouragement of its study by the friends; and the organization of special courses and institutes for Local Spiritual Assembly members. . . .

"Consolidation activities promote the individual spiritual development of the friends, help to unite and strengthen Bahá'í community life, establish new social patterns for the friends, and stimulate the teaching work."

The Universal House of Justice, April 17, 1981

"Consolidation must comprise not only the establishment of Bahá'í administrative institutions, but a true deepening in the fundamental verities of the Cause and in its spiritual principles, understanding of its prime purpose in the establishment of the unity of mankind, instruction in its standards of

behavior in all aspects of private and public life, in the particular practice of Bahá'í life in such things as daily prayer, education of children, observance of the laws of Bahá'í marriage, abstention from politics, the obligation to contribute to the Fund, the importance of the Nineteen Day Feast, and opportunity to acquire a sound knowledge of the present-day practice of Bahá'í administration."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 78

". . . True consolidation is to ensure that the love of Bahá'u'lláh and devotion to His Faith are firmly rooted in the hearts of the believers; this is the essential foundation for the subsequent addition of increased knowledge of the teachings and the development of the Bahá'í way of life."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 3, 1974, to a National Spiritual Assembly, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

"To give people this glorious Message and then leave them in the lurch, produces disappointment and disillusionment, so that, when it does become possible to carry out properly planned teaching in that area, the teachers may well find the people resistant to the Message. The first teacher who was careless of consolidation, instead of planting and nourishing the seeds of faith has, in fact `inoculated' the people against the Divine Message and made subsequent teaching very much harder."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 16, 1981, to all Continental Pioneer Committees

(See also in this chapter section entitled "The Importance of Consolidation in Large Scale Conversion.")

(See also Chapter 8, section entitled "Bahá'í Community Life.")

Balancing Expansion and Consolidation

"Expansion and consolidation are twin processes that must go

hand in hand. The friends must not stop expansion in the name of consolidation. Deepening the newly enrolled believers generates tremendous stimulus which results in further expansion. The enrollment of new believers, on the other hand, creates a new spirit in the community and provides additional potential manpower that will reinforce the consolidation work."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 33

". . . Your attention must be focused on the most urgent requirements of the moment, that of keeping the proper balance between winning new converts and deepening the knowledge of the believers in the history and fundamentals of the Faith."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 15, 1968, to a National Spiritual Assembly, in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

"Simultaneous and coequal with this vast, ordered, and ever-growing teaching effort, the work of consolidation must go hand in hand. In fact these two processes must be regarded as inseparable. . . . While the work of teaching inevitably goes first, to pursue it alone without consolidation would leave the community unprepared to receive the masses who must sooner or later respond to the life-giving message of the Cause. The guidance of our beloved Guardian in this matter is, as ever, clear and unambiguous: `Every outward thrust into new fields, every multiplication of Bahá'í institutions, must be paralleled by a deeper thrust of the roots which sustain the spiritual life of the community and ensure its sound development. From this vital, this ever-present need attention must, at no time, be diverted, nor must it be, under any circumstances, neglected, or subordinated to the no less vital and urgent task of ensuring the outer expansion of Bahá'í administrative institutions.' A proper balance between these two essential aspects of its development must, from now on, as we enter the era of large-scale conversion, be maintained by the Bahá'í community."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 77-78

No Proselytizing

"It is true that Bahá'u'lláh lays on every Bahá'í the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all the believers to understand the difference between teaching and proselytizing. It is a significant difference and, in some countries where teaching a religion is permitted, but proselytizing is forbidden, the distinction is made in the law of the land. Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threat or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. In some countries mission schools or hospitals, for all the good they do, are regarded with suspicion and even aversion by the local authorities because they are considered to be material inducements to conversion and hence instruments of proselytization.

"Bahá'u'lláh, in The Hidden Words, says `O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved . . . ,' and on page 55 of The Advent of Divine Justice, a letter which is primarily directed towards exhorting the friends to fulfill their responsibilities in teaching the Faith, Shoghi Effendi writes: `Care, however, should, at all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to proselytize and bring undue pressure upon them, those whom they wish to win over to their Cause.' Some Bahá'ís sometimes overstep the proper bounds, but this does not alter the clear principle.

"The responsibility of the Bahá'ís to teach the Faith is very great. The contraction of the world and the onward rush of events require us to seize every chance open to us to touch the hearts and minds of our fellow men. The Message of Bahá'u'lláh

is God's guidance for mankind to overcome the difficulties of this age of transition and move forward into the next stage of its evolution, and human beings have the right to hear it. Those who accept it incur the duty of passing it on to their fellowmen. The slowness of the response of the world has caused and is causing great suffering; hence the historical pressure upon Bahá'ís to exert every effort to teach the Faith for the sake of their fellow men. They should teach with enthusiasm, conviction, wisdom and courtesy, but without pressing their hearer, bearing in mind the words of Bahá'u'lláh `Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him aware of the truth with kindly manner and most convincing exhortation. If your hearer respond, he will have responded to his own behoof, and if not, turn ye away from him, and set your faces towards God's sacred Court, the seat of resplendent holiness.' (Gleanings CXXVIII)"

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 5, 1982, to an individual believer

TEACHING AND THE INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER

The limitations of space in this compilation, and its focus on the responsibilities of the Local Spiritual Assembly rather than the individual believer, prohibit a detailed presentation of the many references describing the spiritual prerequisites for teaching and the characteristics of effective teaching. The Local Assembly can refer individuals to the following books: The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 16-43; The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call; and Effective Teaching.

The Obligation to Teach

"The Pen of the Most High hath decreed and imposed upon every one the obligation to teach this Cause."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 314

"Say: Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Bahá'u'lláh, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 278-279

"To teach the Cause of God, to proclaim its truths, to defend its interests, to demonstrate, by words as well as by deeds, its indispensability, its potency, and universality, should at no time be regarded as the exclusive concern or sole privilege of Bahá'í administrative institutions, be they Assemblies, or committees. All must participate, however humble their origin, however limited their experience, however restricted their means, however deficient their education, however pressing their cares and preoccupations, however unfavorable the environment in which they live."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 45

Steps in the Process of Individual Teaching

"The Bahá'ís must realize that the success of this work depends upon the individual. The individual must arise as never before to proclaim the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The most effective way for them to carry on their work is for the individual to make many

contacts, select a few who they feel would become Baha'is, develop a close friendship with them, then complete confidence, and finally teach them the Faith, until they become strong supporters of the Cause of God."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 34 "The friends should seek pure souls, gain their confidence, and then teach that person carefully until he becomes a Baha'i, and then nurture him until he becomes a firm and active supporter of the Faith."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 35

"The hope of Shoghi Effendi is not only to increase the number of the friends but also to have truer and more understanding Baha'is. The task of the teachers is to produce such efficient servants. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening, pp. 33-34

The Role of the Individual

"It is, of course, the individual believer who bears primary responsibility for securing this goal [`expanding your membership']; therefore, it is primarily to the individual believer, `on whom,' as the beloved Guardian averred, `in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community,' that our concern in this instance is addressed. For it is the individual who possesses the will to act as a teacher or not. No Spiritual Assembly, no teaching committee, no group of well-intentioned Baha'is, however much it exerts itself, may usurp the position occupied by the individual in this fundamental activity. . . . Let the individual Bahá'í renew his resolve to `arise and respond to the call of teaching.' Let him, acting on Shoghi Effendi's advice, `survey the possibilities which the particular circumstances in which he lives offer him, evaluate their advantages, and proceed intelligently and systematically to utilize them for the achievement of the object he has in mind.' Let him also strive to obtain adequate knowledge of the teachings and reflect the virtues of that knowledge in his daily life. Finally, let him waste no time, forfeit no further opportunity."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"It is now imperative for every Bahá'í to set for himself individual teaching goals. The admonition of `Abdu'l-Bahá to lead at least one new soul to the Faith each year and the exhortation of Shoghi Effendi to hold a Bahá'í fireside in one's home every Bahá'í month are examples of individual goals. Many have capacities to do even more, but this alone will assure final and complete victory for the Plan."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from The Universal House of Justice, p. 35

"The healthy development of the Cause requires that this great

expansion be accompanied by the dedicated effort of every believer in teaching, in living the Bahá'í life, in contributing to the Fund, and particularly in the persistent effort to understand more and more the significance of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. In the words of our beloved Guardian, `One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.'"

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p 25

". . . Having obtained a clear understanding of the true character of our mission, the methods to adopt, the course to pursue, and having attained sufficiently the individual regeneration--the essential requisite of teaching--let us arise to teach His Cause with righteousness, conviction, understanding and vigor. Let this be the paramount and most urgent duty of every Baha'i. Let us make it the dominating passion of our life. Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth; sacrifice our personal interests, comforts, tastes and pleasures; mingle with the divers kindreds and peoples of the world; familiarize ourselves with their manners, traditions, thoughts and customs; arouse, stimulate and maintain universal interest in the Movement, and at the same time endeavor by all the means in our power, by concentrated and persistent attention, to enlist the unreserved allegiance and the active support of the more hopeful and receptive among our hearers. Let us too bear in mind the example which our beloved Master has clearly set before us. Wise and tactful in His approach, wakeful and attentive in His early intercourse, broad and liberal in all His public utterances, cautious and gradual in the unfolding of the essential verities of the cause, passionate in His appeal yet sober in argument, confident in tone, unswerving in conviction, dignified in His manners--such were the distinguishing features of our Beloved's noble presentation of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 69-70

Why Individuals Do Not Teach--What the Assembly Can Do

"The corner-stone of the foundation of all Bahá'í activity is teaching the Cause. As `Abdu'l-Bahá has categorically proclaimed in His Will and Testament, `the guidance of the nations and peoples of the world is the most important of all things,' and `Of all the gifts of God the greatest is the gift of Teaching.'

"The friends likewise are in varying degrees aware of the repeated exhortations found in the writings of our Faith that divine confirmations are dependent upon the active pursuit of the teaching work. In the words of the beloved Master, `the unseen divine assistance encompasseth those who deliver the Message.' He further states, `. . . if the work of delivering the Message be neglected, the assistance shall be entirely cut off, for it is impossible that the friends of God could receive assistance unless they be engaged in delivering the Message.'

"While the friends are generally conscious of the vital importance of teaching, yet, because of their frailties, many for the most part lack confidence, and feel they do not know what course of action to follow, or how to bring their efforts to a conclusion. Since guidance on such fundamental issues comes from the writings of the Faith, we asked the Research Department to prepare a compilation of texts on the subject. . . .

"A study of the compilation will provide the friends with stimulating information on general guidelines to be followed by them when engaged in the teaching work. While many will be inspired, after reading the compilation, to cast aside their fears and misgivings and their sense of inadequacy, and will arise to speak forth announcing the glad-tidings of the Kingdom to their fellow-men, many more will still be in need of loving education and more detailed guidance on the part of the institutions of the Faith, and patient and wise prodding before they are aroused to action. And since the primary purpose for which Local Spiritual Assemblies are established is to promote the teaching work, it is clear that every National Spiritual Assembly must give careful consideration to ways and means to encourage each Local Assembly under its jurisdiction to fulfill its principal obligation. For instance, Local Assemblies could be urged to organize special meetings when texts, such as those included in this compilation, would be studied. Furthermore, it is important that Local Assemblies share with the local friends stories of successes achieved by some of them, descriptions of effective presentations found useful by them, examples of various ways that a Bahá'í subject could be introduced to inquirers, or illustrations of methods which would enable the believer to relate the needs of society to our teachings. Such information and suggestions could be offered to the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts, through a local newsletter, or by any other means open to each Local Assembly. In all these contacts with the believers, each Local Spiritual Assembly should impress upon the friends the unique and irreplaceable role the individual plays in the prosecution of any Bahá'í undertaking. Quotations from the writings on this point, such as the following passage from one of the letters of Shoghi Effendi, should be repeatedly presented and explained to the friends: He (the individual believer) 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 insure 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 Center 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.

"When the friends realize that the hosts of the Kingdom are waiting to rush forth and assist them, that others from their own ranks have arisen and have been successful, that everyone can find some effective method of teaching according to his own particular capacities and talents, they will then no doubt arise with greater confidence to take the first step, and this, we know, will be aided and guided from on high, for the very act of striving to respond to God's call will bring in its wake countless divine blessings."

The Universal House of Justice, March 3, 1977, portions of which can be found in the preface to The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, pp. vii-viii

TEACHING AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

"But it is in the local Bahá'í communities that the most wide-spread presentation of the Faith can take place. . . . It is here that the power of Bahá'u'lláh to organize human affairs on a basis of spiritual unity can be most apparent. Every Local Spiritual Assembly which unitedly strives to grow in maturity and efficiency and encourages its community to fulfill its destiny as a foundation stone of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order can add to a growing groundswell of interest in and eventual recognition of the Cause of God as the sole hope for mankind."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1985, to the Bahá'ís of the World

"All the Baha'is, new and old alike, should devote themselves as much as possible to teaching the Faith; they should also realize that the atmosphere of true love and unity which they manifest within the Bahá'í Community will directly affect the public, and be the greatest magnet for attracting people to the Faith and confirming them."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 27

". . . Unless and until the believers really come to realize they are one spiritual family, knit together by a bond more lasting than mere physical ties can ever be, they will not be able to create that warm community atmosphere which alone can attract the hearts of humanity, frozen for lack of real love and feeling."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call. pp. 25-26

(See also Chapter 8, section entitled "Characteristics of a Bahá'í Community.")

The Family and Teaching

"If the believer is the only one of his family who has embraced the Faith, it is his duty to endeavor to lead as many other family members as possible to the light of divine guidance. As soon as a Bahá'í family unit emerges, the members should feel responsible for making the collective life of the family a spiritual

reality, animated by divine love and inspired by the ennobling principles of the Faith. To achieve this purpose, the reading of the Sacred Writings and prayers should ideally become a daily family activity. As far as the teaching work is concerned, just as individuals are called upon to adopt teaching goals, the family itself could adopt its own goals. In this way the friends could make of their families strong healthy units, bright candles for the diffusion of the light of the Kingdom, and powerful centers to attract the heavenly confirmations."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 17, 1981, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

"A truly Bahá'í home is a true fortress upon which the Cause can rely while planning its campaigns." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Marriage and Family Life, p. 73

"I beseech God to graciously make of thy home a center for the diffusion of the light of divine guidance, for the dissemination of the Words of God and for enkindling at all times the fire of love in the hearts of His faithful servants and maidservants. Know thou of a certainty that every house wherein the anthem of praise is raised to the Realm of Glory in celebration of the Name of God is indeed a heavenly home, and one of the gardens of delight in the Paradise of God."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Marriage and Family Life, pp. 67-68

Youth and Teaching

"This generation of Bahá'í youth enjoys a unique distinction. You will live your lives in a period when the forces of history are moving to a climax, when mankind will see the establishment of the Lesser Peace, and during which the Cause of God will play an increasingly prominent role in the reconstruction of human society. It is you who will be called upon in the years to come to stand at the helm of the Cause in face of conditions and developments which can, as yet, scarcely be imagined. . . .

"Now is an opportunity to awaken the interest, set afire the hearts and enlist the active support of young people of every nation, class and creed in that continent. The key to success in this endeavor is, firstly, to deepen your understanding of the Teachings of the Cause so that you will be able to apply them to the problems of individuals and society, and explain them to your peers in ways that they will understand and welcome; secondly, to strive to model your behavior in every way after the high standards of honesty, trustworthiness, courage, loyalty, forbearance, purity and spirituality set forth in the Teachings; and, above all, to live in continual awareness of the presence and all-conquering power of Bahá'u'lláh, which will enable you to overcome every temptation and surmount every obstacle."

The Universal House of Justice, Unrestrained as the Wind, p. 85

"A highlight of this period of the Seven Year Plan has been the phenomenal proclamation accorded the Faith in the wake of the unabating persecutions in iran; a new interest in its Teaching has been aroused on a wide scale. Simultaneously, more and more people from all strata of society frantically seek their

true identity, which is to say, although they would not so plainly admit it, the spiritual meaning of their lives; prominent among these seekers are the young. Not only does this knowledge open fruitful avenues for Bahá'í initiative, it also indicates to young Bahá'í a particular responsibility so to teach the Cause and live the life as to give vivid expression to those virtues that would fulfill the spiritual yearning of their peers."

The Universal House of Justice, January 3, 1984, in Lights of Guidance, p. 635

Bahá'í Youth Service Corps

"Further to these aspirations is the need for a mighty mobilization of teaching activities reflecting regularity in the patterns of service rendered by young Baha'is. The native urge of youth to move from place to place, combined with their abounding zeal, indicates that you can become more deliberately and numerously involve in these activities as traveling teachers. One pattern of this mobilization could be short-term projects, carried out at home or in other lands, dedicated to both teaching the Faith and improving the living conditions of people. Another could be that, while still young and unburdened by family responsibilities, you give attention to the idea of volunteering a set period, say, one or two years, to some Bahá'í service, on the home front or abroad, in the teaching or development field. It would accrue to the strength and stability of the community if such patterns could be followed by succeeding generations of youth. Regardless of the modes of service, however, youth must be understood to be fully engaged, at all times, in all climes and under all conditions. In your varied pursuits you may rest assured of the loving support and guidance of the Bahá'í institutions operating at every level."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 3, 1984, to the Bahá'í Youth of the World

"Bahá'í youth should be encouraged to think of their studies and of their training for a trade or profession as part of their service to the Cause of God and in the context of a Lifetime that will be devoted to advancing the interests of the Faith. At the same time, during their years of study, youth are often able to offer specific periods of weeks or months, or even of a year or more, during which they can devote themselves to travel teaching or to serving the Bahá'í community in other ways, such as conducting children's classes in remote villages. They should be encouraged to offer such service, which will in itself be admirable experience for the future. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1974, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 631-632

Creating a Teaching Plan

". . . The adoption of a local plan by the Local Assembly can exert a far-reaching influence on its work and on the life of the community."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 24, 1975, to a National Spiritual Assembly

"The periodic re-evaluation of the effectiveness of the teaching

work is an essential factor in promoting the growth of every community. Through this process a community would re-assess its teaching program with a view to introducing improvements where necessary."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 30, 1987, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"We long to see every Local Spiritual Assembly either spontaneously adopt its own goals or warmly welcome those it has been or will be given by its National Spiritual Assembly, swell the number of adherents who compose its local community and, guided by the general policy outlined by its National Spiritual Assembly, proclaim the Faith more effectively, energetically pursue its extension teaching and consolidation goals, arrange the observances of the Holy Days, regularly hold its Nineteen Day Feasts and its sessions for deepening, initiate and maintain community projects, and encourage the participation of every member of its community in giving to the Fund and undertaking teaching activities and administrative services, so as to make each locality a stronghold of the Faith and a torch-bearer of the Covenant. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 25, 1975, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Suggested Goals for Local Spiritual Assemblies

In a letter addressed to a National Spiritual Assembly, the Universal House of Justice gives examples of local goals that Local Spiritual Assemblies may wish to consider:

"Any plan must have a term and specific goals, expressed preferably and if possible in numbers. For a Local Spiritual Assembly it would be better, at least in the early stages of its development, to have a term of nine months to a year. Of course it is also quite possible to have a series of plans of very short terms of say two to three months each, throughout the year.

"The examples of local goals listed below are in the form of questions which each Assembly could put to itself, or may be directed to it by the National Spiritual Assembly. The questions are meant to lead to the adoption of a specific goal. An explanatory note follows items which may need clarification or comment.

"A. Teaching

"1. How many new believers? (The Plan calls for a `great increase in the number of believers' and confirming individuals `from every stratum of society.' The ideal is for each local community to double itself every year, since every believer should, in accordance with the wish of the Master, guide one soul to the Cause of God every year. In some areas this may be an ambitious project at the beginning, and at the outset a more modest goal could be adopted.)

"2. How many firesides? (Shoghi Effendi urged the friends to hold one fireside every nineteen days in their homes. The friends willing to respond to this wish, could give their names to the Local Assembly.)

"3. Can a pledge be made to have extension teaching activities outside the local area of jurisdiction? (Obviously only strong Local Assemblies can sustain such a goal.)

Proclamation

"4. Are mass media facilities such as radio, television, and the press available to the Local Assembly? Can a goal be adopted for such activities?

"5. Can public meetings be anticipated? If so, how many?

"6. What methods can be adopted for the dissemination of Bahá'í literature, such as distribution of books to local libraries, etc.? Can this goal be expressed in a challenging form?

"7. Can the local community participate in the social and humanitarian activities of the society of which it forms a part? Could a modest step be taken along this line?

"C. Consolidation

"8. Can the attendance of the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts be improved upon? What about the Anniversaries? Can the increase in attendance be expressed numerically, such as in terms of the percentage of those attending?

"9. Can regular meetings for the benefit of the local friends be held? If so, how often and when? . . . `Abdu'l-Bahá exhorts the friends to hold such meetings as a `constant' activity, and praises weekly meetings. He repeatedly counsels the believers to read and recite the Holy Word in such meetings and deliver speeches on the teachings, the proofs and the history of the Faith.)

"10. Can daily early morning prayer sessions be held? If so, where and when? (If this is not feasible every day, an effort could be made to hold such sessions less frequently. At such devotional meetings not only prayers, but suitable selections from the Sacred Writings could be read. Bahá'u'lláh has pointed out that upon the Word of God `must depend the gathering together and spiritual resurrection of all men,' that `every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such potency as can instill new life into every human frame,' and that were man to `taste the sweetness of the words which the lips of the All-Merciful have willed to utter, he would, though the treasures of the earth be in his possession, renounce them one and all, that he might vindicate the truth of even one of His commandments.'It is because of such considerations that the Five Year Plan calls for the friends to memorize selections from the Writings. If a

believer finds it difficult to memorize, he may be encouraged to make for his own use a selection of extracts, however brief, which he could reread and enjoy at his own leisure, to satisfy his inner soul.)

"11. Can youth activities be encouraged? If so, in what way?

"12. Can activities and classes for children be established? If so, could a specific goal be adopted?

"13. Can youth activities be maintained? Could this be expressed in the form of a goal?

"14. Is the community strong enough to establish a local Haziratu'l-Quds?

"15. Can a local endowment be acquired and maintained, and possibly used as an investment for the community?

"16. How can local contributions to the local Fund be encouraged? Can a target be adopted?

"17. Can the local community serve as host to a district conference of neighboring communities and localities?

"18. Can the Local Assembly issue a regular Newsletter?

"When the goals are finally decided upon, it is important that they should be announced to the friends. It should be borne in mind that Shoghi Effendi longed to see every believer involved in Bahá'í service, so that universal participation may be achieved. It would be most effective if the Local Assembly, prior to such an announcement, would appoint local committees, to each of which a branch of activity or one or more of the local goals could be assigned. Such committees need not consist of many members. When the committee appointments are made, the Local Assembly will be fully prepared to announce its goals and its committee appointments to the community at a Nineteen Day Feast or a specially called meeting of the community."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 24, 1975, to a National Spiritual Assembly

Numerical Enrollment Goals

"The House of Justice, as you know, does not consider it wise for the Bahá'í institutions to set numerical goals with regard to new believers, because significant factors, such as the receptivity of individuals and the prevailing conditions in society, which influence enrollments are beyond the control of the Bahá'í community. However, the aim of every Bahá'í community should be a large increase in the number of adherents to the Cause. It is for this reason that the teaching work is a major concern of every Spiritual Assembly. The believers are, of course, free to adopt individual numerical goals and endeavor to fulfill the tasks they have assigned to themselves."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 30, 1987, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Extension Teaching

"The time has come, we believe, when increasing numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies should assume responsibility for helping the teaching work of groups, isolated believers, and other Spiritual Assemblies in their neighborhood. Such extension teaching goals should be assigned by the National Spiritual Assembly or one of its teaching committees, or can be spontaneously adopted by Local Spiritual Assemblies, and should be carried out within the framework of the overall teaching plans of the country. It should also be made clear that by being given such goals a Spiritual Assembly is not being given any jurisdiction over believers outside its area, still less over other Local Spiritual Assemblies, but is being called upon to collaborate with them in their work."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Need for Systematic Efforts

"Armed with the strength of action and the cooperation of the individual believers composing it, the community as a whole should endeavor to establish greater stability in the patterns of its development, locally and nationally, through sound, systematic planning and execution of its work--and this in striking contrast to the short-lived enthusiasms and frenetic superficialities so characteristic of present-day American life. A Bahá'í community which is consistent in its fundamental life-giving, life sustaining activities will at its heart be serene and confident; it will resonate with spiritual dynamism, will exert irresistible influence, will set a new course in social evolution, enabling it to win the respect and eventually the allegiance of admirers and critics alike. These profound possibilities reside in the will of the individual to take initiative, to act in accordance with the guidance offered by Bahá'í institutions, and to maintain such action regardless of the myriad distractions posed by the disintegration of a society adrift in a sea of materialism. May you with renewed determination and a rededication to spiritual values, seize your chance, while there is yet time, to convey the Message of Bahá'u'lláh thoughtfully, patiently and attractively to your fellow-citizens, whether they be dwellers in the cities or rural areas, whether they be high or low, lettered or unlettered, rich or poor."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

TEACHING THE MASSES / LARGE SCALE GROWTH
The Process of Teaching the Masses

"When the masses of mankind are awakened and enter the Faith of God, a new process is set in motion and the growth of a new civilization begins. Witness the emergence of Christianity and of Islam. These masses are the rank and file, steeped in traditions of their own, but receptive to the new Word of God, by which, when they truly respond to it, they become so influenced as to transform those who come in contact with them.

"God's standards are different from those of men. According to men's standards, the acceptance of any cause by people of distinction, of recognized fame and status, determines the value and greatness of that cause. But, in the words of

Bahá'u'lláh: `The summons and Message which We gave were never intended to reach or to benefit one land or one people only. Mankind in its entirety must firmly adhere to whatsoever has been revealed and vouchsafed unto it.' Or again, `He has endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God. How could He, otherwise, have fulfilled His testimony unto men, if ye be of them that ponder His Cause in their hearts.' In countries where teaching the masses has succeeded, the Bahá'ís have poured out their time and effort in village areas to the same extent as they had formerly done in cities and towns. The results indicate how unwise it is to solely concentrate on one section of the population. Each national assembly therefore should so balance its resources and harmonize its efforts that the Faith of God is taught not only to those who are readily accessible but to all sections of society, however remote they may be."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 31

"It has been due to the splendid victories in large-scale conversion that the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh has entered a new phase in its development and establishment throughout the world. It is imperative, therefore, that the process of teaching the masses be not only maintained but accelerated."

The Universal House of Justice, in A Special Measure of Love, pp. 29-30

Mass Conversion
The Entry of Large Numbers

"The stage is set for universal, rapid and massive growth of the Cause of God. The immediate and basic challenge is pursuit of the goals of the Six Year Plan [1986-1992], the preliminary stages of which have already been initiated. The all-important teaching work must be imaginatively, persistently and sacrificially continued, ensuring the enrollment of ever larger numbers who will provide the energy, the resources and spiritual force to enable the beloved Cause to worthily play its part in the redemption of mankind."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1987, to the Bahá'ís of the World

"The Faith advances, not at a uniform rate of growth, but in vast surges, precipitated by the alternation of crises and victory. In a passage written on 18 July 1953, in the early months of the Ten Year Crusade [1953-1963], Shoghi Effendi, referring to the vital need to ensure through the teaching work a `steady flow' of `fresh recruits to the slowly yet steadily advancing army of the Lord of Hosts,' stated that this flow would `presage and hasten the advent of the day which, as prophesied by `Abdu'l-Bahá, will witness the entry by troops of peoples of divers nations and races into the Bahá'í world.' This day the Bahá'í world has already seen in Africa, the Pacific, in Asia and in Latin America, and this process of entry by troops must, in the present plan, be augmented and spread to other countries for, as the Guardian stated in this same letter, it `will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour when a mass conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a direct result of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in

nature, and which cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly revolutionize the fortunes of the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and reinforce a thousandfold the numerical strength as well as the material power and the spiritual authority of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.' This is the time for which we must now prepare ourselves; this is the hour whose coming it is our task to hasten."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 31, 1987, to the Bahá'ís of the World

". . . To pursue it [teaching] alone without consolidation would leave the community unprepared to receive the masses who must sooner or later respond to the life-giving message of the Cause."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 77

The Importance of Consolidation

"There are now many areas in the world where thousands of people have accepted the Faith so quickly that it has been beyond the capacity of the existing Bahá'í communities to consolidate adequately these advances. The people of these areas must be progressively deepened in their understanding of the Faith, in accordance with well-laid plans, so that their communities may, as soon as possible, become sources of great strength to the work of the Faith and begin to manifest the pattern of Bahá'í life."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 25, 1975, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

"In such countries [where there is entry by troops] it is comparatively easy to bring large numbers of new believers into the Faith, and this is such a thrilling experience that visiting teachers often tend to prefer to do this rather than help with the consolidation work. . . . It should be pointed out that, especially if they [teachers] are assigned to expansion work, they must remember that consolidation is an essential and inseparable element of teaching, and if they go to a remote area and enroll believers whom no one is going to be able to visit again in the near future, they may well be doing a disservice to those people and to the Faith."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 16, 1981, to all Continental Pioneer Committees

"Beyond the expansion of the community, vital as it is, the Five Year Plan [1974-1979] witnessed great progress in the spiritual development of the friends, the growing maturity and wisdom of Local and National Assemblies, and in the degree to which Bahá'í communities embody the distinguishing characteristics of Bahá'í life and attract, by their unity, their steadfastness, their radiance and good reputation, the interest and eventual wholehearted support of their fellow citizens. This is the magnet which will attract the masses to the Cause of God, and the leaven that will transform human society."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1979, to the Bahá'ís of the World

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Proclamation.")

The Importance of Indigenous Believers

"Great as are the services rendered by pioneers, and unforgettable as are the deeds they accomplish, they cannot take the places of the indigenous element which must constitute the bedrock of the Community, carry on its own affairs, build its own institutions, support its own funds, publish its own literature, etc."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in A Special Measure of Love, pp. 17-18

"From among the believers native to each country, competent travelling teachers must be selected and teaching projects worked out. In the words of our beloved Guardian, commenting upon the teaching work in Latin America: `Strong and sustained support should be given to the vitally needed and meritorious activities started by the native . . . travelling teachers, . . . who, as the mighty task progresses, must increasingly bear the brunt of responsibility for the propagation of the Faith in their homelands.'"

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 2, 1966, to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Experiments in Teaching

"At this stage in the development of the Faith there are many new experiments taking place in the teaching field and also in the work of consolidation. It is obvious that not all these experiments will meet with success. Many have great merit while others may have little or none. However, in the present period of transition and rapid growth of the Cause we must seek diligently for the merit of every method devised to teach and deepen the masses."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 22, 1973, to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

"The problems which confront the believers at the present time, whether social, spiritual, economic or administrative will be gradually solved as the number and the resources of the friends multiply and their capacity for service and for the application of Bahá'í principles develops. They should be patient, confident and active in utilizing every possible opportunity that presents itself within the limits now necessarily imposed upon them."

Shoghi Effendi, quoted by the Universal House of Justice, in a letter dated October 20, 1983, to the Bahá'ís of the World

Consultation on Mass Teaching Methods

"We note that the new teaching methods you have developed, in reaching the waiting masses, have substantially influenced the winning of your goals, and we urge the American Baha'is, one and all, newly enrolled and believers of long standing, to arise, put their reliance in Bahá'u'lláh and armed with that supreme power, continue unabated their efforts to reach the waiting souls, while simultaneously consolidating the hard-won victories. New methods inevitably bring with them criticism and challenges no matter how successful they may ultimately prove to be. The influx of so many new believers is,

in itself, a call to the veteran believers to join the ranks of those in this field of service and to give wholeheartedly of their knowledge and experience. Far from standing aloof, the American believers are called upon now, as never before, to grasp this golden opportunity which has been presented to them, to consult together prayerfully and widen the scope of their endeavors."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages of The Universal House of Justice, pp. 85-86

Balance Between Local and National Projects

"We . . . ask you to encourage the Counsellors to try to strike a balance between locally-sponsored teaching activities and nationally-directed projects which should be carried out by the National Spiritual Assembly and its committees within the limits of the manpower and the financial resources at their disposal and at a speed which would enable the consolidation to be effective.

". . . The concentration of all teaching efforts in Local Spiritual Assemblies . . . is neither practical nor wise."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 13, 1975 to the International Teaching Center, quoted in an unpublished compilation

"Individual believers are called upon to deliver the Message and engage in individual teaching activity. However, teaching activities organized by the National Spiritual Assembly are entirely within their direction and will be conducted at their own discretion as circumstances indicate."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1971 to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

"It is the hope of the Universal House of Justice that the excellent plans adopted will be implemented, however difficult and challenging the tasks may be. These nationally directed projects, however, should be supported by locally sponsored teaching activities carried out by Local Spiritual Assemblies. By combining the two levels of Bahá'í activity, and by seeking the collaboration of the Counsellors in providing the guidance and stimulation of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants at the local level, excellent results will be obtained and your high aspirations in the expansion and consolidation work will be fully realized."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 7, 1975 to a National Spiritual Assembly, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

Guarding Against Extremes

". . . The National Spiritual Assembly or the Teaching Committees responsible for the selection of these teachers should bear in mind that their choice must depend, not only on the knowledge or grasp of the teachings on the part of the teachers, but primarily upon their pure spirit and their true love for the Cause, and their capacity to convey that spirit and love to others.

". . . What wonderful results will soon be witnessed in the areas under your jurisdiction if you devise ways and means to

ensure, as far as circumstances permit, that the travelling teachers you are encouraging to circulate among the friends will all be . . . pure and sanctified souls, with nothing but true devotion and self-sacrifice motivating them in their services to God's Holy Cause."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 26, 1967 to National Spiritual Assemblies Engaged in Mass Teaching

"The National Spiritual Assembly, while having the responsibility for encouraging all the believers in their services, cannot require all the friends to adopt the same methods. It must, however, guard against the extremes which some may go to in their enthusiasm and which could, in the long run, damage the Cause."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 5, 1980 to an individual believer

"In the course of carrying out such a tremendous spiritual campaign among the masses, disappointments may well be encountered. We tabulate a few instances that have been brought to our notice:

"a) Visiting pioneers or teachers may find, in some places, newly enrolled believers not so enthusiastic about their religion as expected, or not adjusting to standards of Bahá'í life, or they may find them thinking of material benefits they hope to derive from their new membership. We should always remember that the process of nursing the new believer into full spiritual maturity is slow, and needs loving education and patience.

"b) Some teaching committees, in their eagerness to obtain results, place undue emphasis on obtaining a great number of declarations to the detriment of the quality of teaching.

"c) Some traveling teachers, in their desire to show the results of the services, may not scrupulously teach their contacts, and in some rare cases, if, God forbid, they are insincere, may even give false reports.

"Such irregularities have happened and can be repeated, but must not be a source of discouragement. By sending a team of teachers to an area, or by sending at intervals other teachers to those areas, and through correspondence and reports, such situations can be detected and immediately adjusted. The administration of the Faith must at all times keep in close touch with the teaching work."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 35-36

ENROLLMENT AND SYSTEMATIC FOLLOW-UP
Conditions for Enrollment

"The prime motive should always be the response of man to God's Message, and the recognition of His Messenger. Those who declare themselves as Bahá'ís should become enchanted with the beauty of the teachings, and touched by the love of Bahá'u'lláh. The declarants need not know all the proofs, history, laws, and principles of the Faith, but in the process of declaring themselves they must, in addition to catching the spark of faith, become basically informed about the Central Figures of the Faith, as well as the existence of laws they must follow and an administration they must obey."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 32

". . . The basic objective of teaching is to promote the Cause of God--not merely to increase numbers for numbers' sake. However, care should be exercised in applying this principle lest we become so rigid as to exclude from our roles those waiting souls who have been touched by the spirit of the Faith without being very knowledgeable about all the Teachings."

The Universal House of Justice, November 23, 1975, in Lights of Guidance, p. 598

". . . As you are aware, the beloved Guardian encouraged early enrollment of new believers upon their declarations, and not the creation of obstacles to their acceptance. After declaration, follow-up with deepening is imperative, and it may be that some will fall away. However, those who remain are the true fruits of the teaching endeavor and may include persons of great merit who might have been lost to the Cause through arbitrary early judgements."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, November 18, 1980

"Regarding the practice of urging contacts to sign enrollment cards without, as you say, giving them time to consider the step they are taking, we should bear in mind that the signature on a card, in the sense that it represents the record of the date of the declaration of faith and data about the declarant, is to satisfy administrative requirements enabling the enrollment of the new believer in the community. The deeper implications of the declaration of faith are between the individual and God. The House of Justice requests us to share the following excerpts from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi which bear on this subject.

"`The process of becoming a Bahá'í is necessarily slow and gradual. The essential is not that the beginner should have a full and detailed knowledge of the Cause, a thing which is obviously impossible in the vast majority of cases, but that he should, by an act of his own will, be willing to uphold and follow the truth and guidance set forth in the Teachings, and thus open his heart and mind to the reality of the manifestation.'

"`. . . The friends should be very careful not to place hindrances in the way of those who wish to accept the Faith. If we make the requirements too rigorous, we will cool off the initial enthusiasm, rebuff the hearts and cease to expand rapidly. The essential thing is that the candidate for enrollment should believe in his heart in the truth of Bahá'u'lláh. Whether he is literate or illiterate, informed of all the Teachings or not, is beside the point entirely. When the spark of faith exists the essential Message is there, and gradually everything else can be added unto it.'"

...Друзья должны быть очень осторожны, чтобы не возводить барьеров на пути у тех, кто желает принять Веру. Если мы будем предъявлять слишком жесткие требования, мы остудим первоначальный энтузиазм и оттолкнем сердца, и быстрое расширение прекратится. Главное - чтобы желающий присоединиться кандидат верил сердцем в истину Бахауллы. Грамотен он или неграмотен, знает он Учение или нет,- все это совершенно не имеет отношения к делу. Когда возгорается искра веры, главное Послание достигает цели, и постепенно к этому можно добавить все остальное.

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 5, 1982 to an individual believer

(See also Chapter 6, sections entitled "Enrollment of New Believers," and "Special Enrollment Problems.")

Follow-up with New Believers

"The purpose of teaching is not complete when a person declares that he has accepted Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age; the purpose of teaching is to attract human beings to the divine Message and so imbue them with its spirit that they will dedicate themselves to its service, and this world will become another world and its people another people. Viewed in this light a declaration of faith is merely a milestone along the way--albeit a very important one. Teaching may also be likened to kindling a fire, the fire of faith, in the hearts of men. If a fire burns only so long as the match is held to it, it cannot be truly said to have been kindled; to be kindled it must continue to burn of its own accord. Thereafter more fuel can be added and the flame fanned, but even if left alone for a period, a truly kindled fire will not be extinguished by the first breath of wind."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 25, 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

"Above all, the utmost endeavor should be exerted by your Assembly to familiarize the newly enrolled believers with the fundamental and spiritual verities of the Faith, and with the origins, the aims and purposes, as well as the processes of a divinely appointed Administrative Order, to acquaint them more fully with the history of the Faith, to instil in them a deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and of `Abdu'l-Bahá, to enrich their spiritual life, to rouse them to a greater effort and a closer participation in both the teaching of the Faith and the administration of its activities, and to inspire them to make the necessary sacrifices for the furtherance of its vital interests. For as the body of the avowed supporters of the Faith is enlarged, and the basis of the structure of its Administrative Order is broadened and the fame of the rising community spreads far and wide, a parallel progress must be achieved, if the fruits already garnered are to endure, in the spiritual quickening of its members and the deepening of their inner life."

Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening, pp. 26-27

"In the visits made to the villages, the visiting teacher meets with the Local Communities to give them basic Bahá'í knowledge, such as living the Bahá'í life, the importance of teaching, prayer, fasting, Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í elections, and contributions to the Fund. The question of contributions to the Fund is of utmost importance, so that the new believers may quickly feel themselves to be responsible members of the Community."

The Universal House of Justice, in A Special Measure of Love, p. 28

"After declaration, the new believers must not be left to their own devices. Through correspondence and dispatch of visitors, through conferences and training courses, these friends must be patiently strengthened and lovingly helped to develop into full Bahá'í maturity. The beloved Guardian, referring to the duties of Bahá'í assemblies in assisting the newly declared believer, has written: `. . . The members of each and every assembly should endeavor, by their patience, their love, their tact and wisdom, to nurse, subsequent to his admission, the newcomer into Bahá'í maturity, and win him over gradually to the unreserved acceptance of whatever has been ordained in the teachings.'"

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 32-33

(See also Chapter 11, section entitled "What to Teach--To Adults.")

TEACHING METHODS
Many Different Methods

"There are innumerable ways of teaching the Cause. You can choose the one that suits best your nature and capacity."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 22

"There are, of course, many ways of teaching, and each believer should follow the methods to which he feels best suited. The important matter is not so much the method but the enthusiasm, effectiveness and devotion with which the teaching work is carried on."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 16, 1976 to the International Teaching Center, quoted in an unpublished compilation prepared by the International Teaching Center

". . . In teaching the Cause, much depends on the personality of the teacher and on the method he chooses for presenting the message. Different personalities and different classes and types of individuals need different methods of approach. And it is the sign of an able teacher to know how to best adapt his methods to various types of people whom he happens to meet. There is no one method one can follow all through. But there should be as many ways of approach as there are types of individual seekers. Flexibility and variety of method is, therefore, an essential prerequisite for the success of every teaching activity."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, pp. 21-22

"The same presentation of the teachings will not appeal to everybody; the method of expression and the approach must be varied in accordance with the outlook and interests of the hearer. An approach that is designed to appeal to everybody

will usually result in attracting the middle section, leaving both extremes untouched. No effort must be spared to ensure that the healing Word of God reaches the rich and poor, the learned and the illiterate, the old and the young, the devout and the atheist, the dweller in the remote hills and islands, the inhabitant of the teeming cities, the suburban businessman, the laborer in the slums, the nomadic tribesman, the farmer, the university student; all must be brought consciously within the teaching plans of the Bahá'í Community.

"Whereas plans must be carefully made, and every useful means adopted in the furtherance of this work, your Assemblies must never let such plans eclipse the shining truth that it is the purity of heart, detachment, uprightness, devotion and love of the teacher that attracts the divine confirmations and enables him, however ignorant he be in this world's learning, to win the hearts of his fellowmen to the Cause of God."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 31, 1967

"Your deep concern about the relative inactivity of a large portion of the . . . Bahá'í community in the teaching field is shared by your National Spiritual Assembly and is expressed in its correspondence and reports to the World Center. The House of Justice points out, however, that there are many different ways of teaching the Faith, and each believer is free to adopt the method he finds most effective. The National Spiritual Assembly, while having the responsibility for encouraging all the believers in their services, cannot require all the friends to adopt the same methods."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 5, 1980 to an individual believer

Weaving Bonds of Friendship

"The friends of God should weave bonds of fellowship with others and show absolute love and affection towards them. These links have a deep influence on people and they will listen. When the friends sense receptivity to the Word of God, they should deliver the Message with wisdom. They must first try and remove any apprehensions in the people they teach. In fact, every one of the believers should choose one person every year and try to establish ties of friendship with him, so that all his fear would disappear. Only then, and gradually, must he teach that person. This is the best method."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 12

"The Guardian feels that the most effective way for the Bahá'ís to teach the Faith is to make strong friends with their neighbors and associates. When the friends have confidence in the Bahá'ís and the Bahá'ís in their friends, they should give the Message and teach the cause. Individual teaching of this type is more effective than any other type."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 33

Firesides

"The principle of the fireside meeting, which was established in

order to permit and encourage the individual to teach in his own home, has been proven the most effective instrument for spreading the Faith."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 33

"The most effective method of teaching is the Fireside group, where new people can be shown Bahá'í hospitality, and ask all questions which bother them. They can feel there the true Bahá'í spirit--and it is the spirit that quickeneth."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 37

Door to Door Teaching

". . . We have considered the questions you put forward concerning door-to-door calling in connection with Bahá'í activities. . . .

"The principles you should bear in mind are:

"1. The dignity of the Faith. This should be carefully safeguarded in all Bahá'í activities, and it is clear from the following quotation that the Guardian felt that door-to-door distribution of pamphlets was undignified: `He feels that to distribute Bahá'í pamphlets from door-to-door . . . is undignified and might create a bad impression of the Faith. No doubt, it is the eagerness and devotion of the friends that led them to make this proposal, but he does not think that the best interests of the Cause are served by such a method. . . .'

Bahá'u'lláh's injunction as recorded in `The Hidden Words:' `The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing. . . .' It is important that no teaching activity should be an encroachment on people's privacy nor should it force the teachings upon unwilling listeners.

Integrity and sincerity. If people are to be asked to answer a questionnaire* it should be for the reason that it is necessary for the sponsor to know the answers. Bahá'ís should not use such a method as a subterfuge to press the message upon people.

*The proposed questionnaire was to ascertain the wishes of the public in a given area concerning religious education in schools."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 16, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada

Other Methods

". . . One way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than words ever can."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 26

"Let him also attempt to devise such methods as association with clubs, exhibitions, and societies, lectures on subjects akin to the teachings . . . or participation in social, cultural,

humanitarian, charitable, and educational organizations and enterprises. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, pp. 16-17

". . . At this stage in the development of the Cause, it is essential that we seek diligently for the merit in every method devised to teach and deepen the masses."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 26, 1978 to an individual believer

"You state that your Local Spiritual Assembly has decided to stop the mass teaching effort for the time being, but you do not mention other types of teaching endeavors. While it is true that expansion and consolidation must go hand in hand, as you say, this does not necessarily mean that teaching activity is confined to mass teaching. You may wish to seek from your Assembly clarification of its decision and recommend that an intensive effort be made to carry out both teaching and consolidation activities. Regardless of the action which your Assembly takes, however, there is nothing to keep you from pursuing your own teaching endeavors, both in attracting new seekers and confirming those who have already accepted Bahá'u'lláh, under the direction, of course, of your Local Assembly."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 23, 1982 to an individual believer

OTHER TOPICS
The Arts and Teaching

"That day will the Cause spread like wildfire when its spirit and teachings are presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing, especially among the mass of the people."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #73, May 1933, p. 7

"Make use of drama and singing in the teaching and deepening work and in Bahá'í gatherings, where advisable. [Suggestion as one of a number of possible ways of achieving the objectives of the Six Year Plan [1986-1992]."

The Universal House of Justice, The Six Year Plan, p. 10

Teaching and the Role of the Learned
Close Collaboration with the Learned

"The Counselors, their Auxiliary Boards and their assistants on the one hand, and the National and the Local Spiritual Assemblies with their committees on the other, are all potent instruments for the teaching work. With full cooperation between them and in a spirit of unity in conducting their operations these institutions will be bountifully blessed and confirmed. The loving collaboration and dedication exemplified by these agencies and the spirit of unity they manifest in effectively reinforcing and directing the efforts of the friends will release abundant spiritual forces that will energize the body of the believers who are called upon to offer their highest service to the Faith which they have dedicated themselves to serve."

The Universal House of Justice, July 1977 to Bahá'ís gathered at the Lagos, Nigeria Conference, quoted in a letter sent by the International Teaching Center

"It is the responsibility of Spiritual Assemblies, assisted by their committees, to organize and direct the teaching work, and in doing so they must, naturally, also do all they can to stimulate and inspire the friends. It is, however, inevitable that the Assemblies and committees, being burdened with the administration of the teaching work as well as with all other aspects of Bahá'í community life, will be unable to spend as much time as they would wish on stimulating the believers.

"Authority and direction flow from the Assemblies, whereas the power to accomplish the tasks resides primarily in the entire body of the believers. It is the principle task of the Auxiliary Boards to assist in arousing and releasing this power."

The Universal House of Justice, in The Continental Boards of Counselors, p. 37 "It should . . . be remembered that these self-same functions are being carried out by the Assemblies, national and local, and their committees, which have at this time the great responsibility for actually executing the teaching plans and for administering, consolidating and protecting the Bahá'í communities. The Auxiliary Board members should thus watch carefully that their work reinforces and complements that of the administrative institutions."

The Universal House of Justice, October 10, 1976
Primary Tasks of Propagation Boards

"The primary tasks of the Propagation Boards . . . are to direct the believers' attention to the goals of whatever plans have been placed before them, to stimulate and assist them to promote the teaching work in the fields of proclamation, expansion, consolidation and pioneering, to encourage contributions to the funds, and to act as standard-bearers of the teachers of the Faith, leading them to new achievements in the diffusion of God's Message to their fellow human beings."

The Universal House of Justice, August 14, 1974
Subjects to be Discussed with the Community

"While this vital teaching work is progressing each National Assembly must ever bear in mind that expansion and consolidation are inseparable processes that must go hand in hand. . . . To ensure that the spiritual life of the individual believer is continuously enriched, that local communities are becoming increasingly conscious of their collective duties, and that the institutions of an evolving administration are operating efficiently, is, therefore, as important as expanding into new fields and bringing in the multitudes under the shadow of the Cause.

"These objectives can only be attained when each National Spiritual Assembly makes proper arrangements for all the friends to be deepened in the knowledge of the Faith. The National Spiritual Assemblies in consultation with the Hands of the Cause . . . should avail themselves of the assistance of Auxiliary Board Members, who, together with the travelling teachers selected by the Assembly or its Teaching Committees, should be continuously encouraged to conduct deepening courses at Teaching Institutes and to make regular visits to

local Spiritual Assemblies. The visitors, whether Board Members or travelling teachers should meet on such occasions not only with the local Assembly but, of course, with the local community members, collectively at general meetings and even, if necessary, individually in their homes. "The subjects to be discussed at such meetings with the local Assembly and the friends should include among others the following points:

the extent of the spread and stature of the Faith today;

the importance of the daily obligatory prayers (at least the short prayer);

the need to educate Bahá'í children in the Teachings of the Faith and encourage them to memorize some of the prayers;

the stimulation of youth to participate in community life by giving talks, etc. and having their own activities, if possible;

the necessity to abide by the laws of marriage, namely, the need to have a Bahá'í ceremony, to obtain the consent of parents, to observe monogamy; faithfulness after marriage; likewise the importance of abstinence from all intoxicating drinks and drugs;

the local Fund and the need for the friends to understand that the voluntary act of contributing to the Fund is both a privilege and a spiritual obligation. There should also be discussion of various methods that could be followed by the friends to facilitate their contributions and the ways open to the local Assembly to utilize its local Fund to serve the interests of its community and the Cause;

the importance of the Nineteen-Day Feast and the fact that it should be a joyful occasion and rallying point of the entire community;

the manner of election with as many workshops as required, including teaching of simple methods of balloting for illiterates, such as having one central home as the place for balloting and arranging for one literate person, if only a child, to be present at that home during the whole day, if necessary;

last but not least, the all-important teaching work, both in the locality and its neighboring centers, as well as the need to continuously deepen the friends in the essentials of the Faith. The friends should be made to realize that in teaching the Faith to others they should not only aim at assisting the seeking soul to join the Faith, but also at making him a teacher of the Faith and its active supporter."

The Universal House of Justice, in A Special Measure of Love, pp. 30-32

(See also Chapter 1, section entitled "The Auxiliary Board Members.")

Pioneering

"O friends! Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been endowed, neither be neglectful of your high destiny. Suffer not your labors to be wasted through the vain imaginations which certain hearts have devised. Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll. With the utmost unity, and in a spirit of perfect fellowship, exert yourselves, that ye may be enabled to achieve that which beseemeth this Day of God. Verily I say, strife and dissension, and whatsoever the mind of man abhorreth are entirely unworthy of his station. Center 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. . . ."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 196-197

"O ye apostles of Bahá'u'lláh! May my life be sacrificed for you! . . .

"Behold the portals which Bahá'u'lláh hath opened before you! Consider how exalted and lofty is the station you are destined to attain, how unique the favors with which you have been endowed."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, pp. 47-48

"Bahá'u'lláh (may my life, my soul, my spirit, be offered up as a sacrifice to His lowly servants) hath, during His last days on earth, given the most emphatic promise that, through the outpourings of the grace of God and the aid and assistance vouchsafed from His Kingdom on high, souls will arise and holy beings appear who, as stars, would adorn the firmament of divine Guidance; illumine the daysprings of loving kindness and bounty; manifest the signs of the unity of God; shine with the light of sanctity and purity; receive their full measure of divine inspiration raise high the sacred torch of faith; stand firm as the rock and immovable as the mountain; and grow to become luminaries in the heavens of His Revelation, mighty channels of His grace, means for the bestowals of God's bountiful care, heralds calling forth the name of the one true God, and establishers of the world's supreme foundation.

"These shall labor ceaselessly by day and by night, shall heed neither trial nor woe, shall suffer no respite in their efforts, shall seek no repose, shall disregard all ease and comfort and, detached and unsullied, shall consecrate every fleeting moment of their life to the diffusion of the divine fragrance and exaltation of God's holy Word. Their face will radiate heavenly gladness, and their hearts be filled with joy. Their souls will be inspired, and their foundation stand secure. They shall scatter in the world, and travel throughout all regions. They shall raise their voice in every assembly, and adorn and revive every gathering. They shall speak in every tongue, and interpret every hidden meaning. They shall reveal the mysteries of the Kingdom, and manifest unto everyone the signs of God. They shall burn brightly even as a candle in the

heart of every assembly, and beam forth as a star upon every horizon. The gentle breeze wafted from the garden of their hearts shall perfume and revive the souls of men, and the revelations of their minds, even as showers, reinvigorate the peoples and nations of the world.

"I am waiting, eagerly waiting for these holy ones to appear; and yet, how long will they delay their coming?"

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í World Faith, pp. 354-355
Homefront Pioneering

"The movement of pioneers, whether settlers or itinerant teachers, which in fields so distant from this base, has exhibited so marvelous a vitality, must, within the limits of the homeland itself, be neither interrupted nor suffer a decline. The groups and isolated centers so painstakingly formed and established must, conjointly with this highly commendable and essential duty, be maintained, fostered and if possible multiplied."

Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 75

"The need of the Hour is Teaching on the Home Front. Its goals can only be won, by a new spirit of dedication and consecration on the part of the friends, each in his own country, in his own home."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 35

"The gross materialism that engulfs the entire nation at the present hour; the attachment to worldly things that enshrouds the souls of men; the fears and anxieties that distract their minds; the pleasure and dissipations that fill their time, the prejudices and animosities that darken their outlook, the apathy and lethargy that paralyze their spiritual faculties--these are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Bahá'u'lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his fellow countrymen.

"To the degree that the home front crusader is himself cleansed of these impurities, liberated from these petty preoccupations and gnawing anxieties, delivered from these prejudices and antagonisms, emptied of self, and filled by the healing and the sustaining power of God, he will be able to combat the forces arrayed against him, magnetize the souls of those whom he seeks to convert, and win their unreserved, their enthusiastic and enduring allegiance to the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.

"Delicate and strenuous though the task may be, however arduous and prolonged the effort required, whatsoever the nature of the perils and pitfalls that beset the path of whoever arises . . . the all-conquering potency of the grace of God, vouchsafed through the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, will, undoubtedly, mysteriously and surprisingly, enable whosoever arises to champion His Cause to win complete and total victory."

Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 148

"It is upon the individual believer, constituting the fundamental unit in the structure of the home front, that the revitalization, the expansion, and the enrichment of the home front must ultimately depend. The more strenuous the effort exerted, daily and methodically, by the individual laboring on the home front to rise to loftier heights of consecration, of self-abnegation, to contribute, through pioneering at home, to the multiplication of Bahá'í isolated centers, groups and assemblies, and to raise, through diligent, painstaking and continual endeavor to convert receptive souls to the Faith he has espoused, the number of its active and wholehearted supporters, the sooner will the vast and multiple enterprises, launched beyond the confines of the homeland, and now so desperately calling for a greater supply of men and means, be provided with the necessary support that will ensure their uninterrupted development and hasten their ultimate fruition, and the lighter will be the burden of the impending contest that must be waged, sooner of later, within the borders of the Union itself, between the rising institutions of Bahá'u'lláh's embryonic divinely appointed Order, and the exponents of obsolescent doctrines and the defenders, both secular and religious, of a corrupt and fast-declining society."

Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 155
International Pioneering

"It would, no doubt, be of exceptional importance and value, particularly in these times when the various restrictions imposed in those countries make it difficult for a considerable number of Bahá'í pioneers to establish their residence and earn their livelihood in those states, if certain ones among the believers, whose income, however slender, provides them with the means of an independent existence, would so arrange their affairs as to be able to reside indefinitely in those countries. The sacrifices involved, the courage, faith, and perseverance it demands, are no doubt very great. Their value, however, can never be properly assessed at the present time, and the limitless reward which they who demonstrate them will receive can never be adequately depicted. `They that have forsaken their country,' is Bahá'u'lláh's own testimony, `for the purpose of teaching Our Cause--these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through its power. . . . By My life! No act, however great, can compare with it, except such deeds as have been ordained by God, the All-Powerful, the Most Mighty. Such a service is indeed the prince of all goodly deeds, and the ornament of every goodly act.' Such a reward, it should be noted, is not to be regarded as purely an abstract blessing confined to the future life, but also as a tangible benefit which such courage, faith and perseverance can alone confer in this material world. The solid achievements, spiritual as well as administrative, . . . which believers from both Canada and the United States have accomplished, proclaim in terms unmistakable the nature of those prizes which, even in this world, such sterling heroism is bound to win."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 67-68

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Bahá'í Youth Service Corps.")

Traveling Teaching

"It is also recorded in the blessed Gospel: `Travel ye throughout the world and call ye the people to the kingdom of God.' Now this is the time that you may arise and perform this most great service and become the cause of the guidance of innumerable souls. Thus through this superhuman service the rays of peace and conciliation may illumine and enlighten all the regions and the world of humanity may find peace and composure."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 22

"Visiting teachers, who are, at least in a general way, supposed to be more competent and able than the rest, are undoubtedly of great help. But these can never replace the mass of individual believers and fulfill what must be inevitably accomplished through the collective effort and wisdom of the community at large.

"What visiting teachers are supposed to do is to give the final touch to the work that has been done, to consolidate rather than supplement individual efforts and thereby direct them in a constructive and suitable channel. Their task is to encourage and inspire individual believers, and to broaden and deepen their vision of the task that is to be done. And this, not by virtue of any inherent spiritual right, but in the spirit of simple and whole-hearted cooperation."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 1, 1933

"Mature teachers are the greatest need of the Faith everywhere, and no doubt in your area too. One wise and dedicated soul can so often give life to an inactive community, bring in new people and inspire them to greater sacrifice. He hopes that whatever else you are able to do during the coming months, you will be able to keep in circulation a few really good Bahá'í teachers."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in A Special Measure of Love, p. 7

Bahá'ís are encouraged to contact the Office of Pioneering at the Bahá'í National Center for further information about international traveling teaching and the National Teaching Committee office for further information about traveling teaching in the United States.

Sensitive Countries

Many countries of the world are considered to be "sensitive" in their relation to the Faith. In some countries, Bahá'í institutions are prohibited by the law, in others, due to the prevailing political or religious climate, the Bahá'í community must keep a low profile. Since circumstances throughout the world change rapidly, any persons planning to travel or settle in certain countries are asked to contact the Office of Pioneering at the National Center for guidance.

(See also in this chapter Appendix D, "A List of Sensitive Countries.")

Minority Teaching
All Minorities

"Efforts to reach the minorities should be increased and broadened to include all minority groups such as the Indians, Spanish-speaking people, Japanese and Chinese. Indeed, every stratum of American society must be reached and can be reached with the healing Message, if the believers will but arise and go forth with the spirit which is conquering the citadels of the southern states. Such a program, coupled as it must be with continuous consolidation, can be effectively carried out by universal participation on the part of every lover of Bahá'u'lláh."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 85-86

"Let anyone who feels the urge among the participators in this crusade, which embraces all the races, all the republics, classes and denominations of the entire Western Hemisphere, arise, and, circumstances permitting, direct in particular the attention, and win eventually the unqualified adherence, of the Negro, the Indian, the Eskimo, and Jewish races to his Faith. No more laudable and meritorious service can be rendered the Cause of God, at the present hour, than a successful effort to enhance the diversity of the members of the American Bahá'í community by swelling the ranks of the Faith through the enrollment of the members of these races. A blending of these highly differentiated elements of the human race, harmoniously interwoven into the fabric of an all-embracing Bahá'í fraternity, and assimilated through the dynamic process of a divinely-appointed Administrative Order, and contributing each its share to the enrichment and glory of Bahá'í community life, is surely an achievement the contemplation of which must warm and thrill every Bahá'í heart."

Shoghi Effendi, in A Special Measure of Love, p. 1

"The Americans have been a melting pot and a meeting place for the races of men, and the need is acute for the fulfillment of God's promises of the realization of the oneness of mankind. Particularly do the Master and the Guardian point to the Afro-Americans and the Amerindians, two great ethnic groups whose spiritual powers will be released through their response to the Creative World. But our Teachings must touch all, must include all peoples. And, in this hour of your tireless activity, what special rewards shall come to those who will arise, summoned by `Abdu'l-Bahá'í words: `Now is the time to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this phenomenal realm, be wholly severed from the physical world, become angels of heaven, and travel and teach through all these regions."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 73-74

(See also Chapter 8, section entitled "Celebrating Diversity.")

Indians

"He has always been very anxious to have the Indians taught and enlisted under the banner of the Faith, in view of the

Master's remarkable statements about the possibilities of their future and that they represent the aboriginal American population."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í News, #188, October 1946, p. 4

"You must attach great importance to the Indians, the original inhabitants of America. . . . Should these Indians be educated and properly guided, there can be no doubt that through the Divine teachings they will become so enlightened that the whole earth will be illumined."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, pp. 32-33

"He was particularly happy to see that some of the Indian believers were present at the Convention. He attaches the greatest importance to teaching the original inhabitants of the Americas the Faith. `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself has stated how great are their potentialities, and it is their right, and the duty of the non-Indian Baha'is, to see that they receive the Message of God for this Day. One of the most worthy objectives of your Assembly must be the establishment of all-Indian Spiritual Assemblies. Other minorities should likewise be especially sought out and taught. The friends should bear in mind that in our Faith, unlike every other society, the minority, to compensate for what might be treated as an inferior status, receives special attention, love and consideration."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in A Special Measure of Love, pp. 19-20

African Americans

"He urges you all to devote particular attention to the contact with racial minorities. In a country which has such a large element of prejudice against its colored citizens as the United States, it is of the greatest importance that the Baha'is--and more especially the youth--should demonstrate actively our complete lack of prejudice and, indeed, our prejudice in favor of minorities.

"We cannot very well prosecute a teaching campaign successfully . . . if we do not in our home communities demonstrate to the fullest extent our love for the people who spring from the African population!"

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Youth, p. 18

"The real means of eliminating race prejudice, is to spread and establish the Faith; for in it, there is no prejudice whatsoever, as the Faith itself holds as its cardinal principle, the Oneness of Humanity.

"The Guardian will pray that you will be confirmed in your efforts to teach more Negroes. They have been subject so long to the prejudices of the majority peoples, that he hopes they will find their goal in the Cause of God. . . . The Friends should concentrate on pure hearted people, and continue association and fellowship with them, until they themselves become active workers in the Cause of God."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Power of Unity: Beyond Prejudice and Racism, pp. 105-106

"The Bahá'ís should by all means endeavor to attract to the Faith as many members of the colored race as they possibly can, and thus demonstrate in deeds the universality of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh. It is only through this intermingling of races within the framework of His World Order that a lasting and just solution can be found to the perplexing racial issues confronting mankind."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Power of Unity: Beyond Prejudice and Racism, p. 107

"Also . . . the Faith must be representative of the population. In a great many places in the South, the majority of the population is still negro. This should be reflected in the Bahá'í Community, fearlessly. Both the white Bahá'ís and the colored Bahá'ís must steadily work to attain this objective of bringing the Faith to the colored people, and of confirming many of them in it."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in To Move the World, p. 294

Special Circumstances Regarding Teaching Chinese
See Appendix A

Special Circumstances Regarding Teaching Persons from Eastern Bloc

Countries
See Appendix B

Special Circumstances Regarding Teaching Persons from the Middle East

See Appendix C
Teaching Institutes

"Teaching Institute: this is essentially an activity aimed at deepening the knowledge of the friends to prepare them for active participation in the teaching work."

The Universal House of Justice, May 14, 1964, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 19

". . . Utilize these Teaching Institutes as focal centers for the deepening of the spiritual lives of the believers, the enrichment of their understanding of the Faith and its teachings, and the training of an adequate number of teachers who could in turn arise to share the knowledge and spirit they have acquired with others, and help in consolidating the foundations of the Cause in their countries."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 17, 1967 to National Spiritual Assemblies establishing Teaching Institutes

"We have always stressed to those National Spiritual Assemblies which establish Teaching Institutes that at the present time such an Institute is a function and not necessarily a building and there are many places where such educational

work can be pursued if a number of teachers can be supported."

The Universal House of Justice, April 18, 1971 in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 20

"Your Institutes should not only be seats of Bahá'í learning but also centers from which mass teaching and consolidation work over a large area must be inspired and conducted. The Institute is not merely a building, nor solely a place where Bahá'í classes can be held for a few days. It should be the center of complex activities which systematically assisted your Assembly in the achievement of its goal in teaching and consolidation."

The Universal House of Justice, June 23, 1966, in Lights of Guidance, p. 563

"In areas where large numbers of new believers have entered the Faith, Teaching Institutes have long been used as a means of expansion and consolidation aimed at raising up workers -- teachers and administrators -- for the Faith. A new development has recently emerged under the guidance of the International Teaching Center and the Continental Counsellors. In some areas individuals have initiated institutes before a large population has embraced the Faith. The purpose of these institutes is to involve a core group of believers in a systematic process that involves deepening, prayer, memorization of the writings, and teaching. The aim is to develop the human resources necessary to initiate and sustain the process of entry by troops. The central principle of its operation is the statement from the Guardian: "Success will crown the efforts of the friends on the home front, when they meditate on the teachings, pray fervently for divine confirmations for their work, study the teachings so they may carry their spirit to the seeker, and then act; and above all persevere in action. When these steps are followed, and the teaching work carried on sacrificially and with devoted enthusiasm, the Faith will spread rapidly."

Shoghi Effendi, letter dated March 26, 1956 in The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 52.

For more information about this new development in teaching institutes, see the booklet, An Evolutionary Approach to Teaching Institutes, available from the National Teaching Committee, Bahá'í National Center, Wilmette, Illinois 60091.

(See also Chapter 11, section entitled "Bahá'í Schools and Institutes.")

Summer Schools

"The ambition of every young Bahá'í should be, indeed, to become a well-informed and competent teacher. For this very purpose the institution of the summer school has been established, and its importance so strongly and repeatedly emphasized by the Guardian."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 15

"Such gatherings will give a chance to friends from different localities to come together and exchange views on the different

problems of the Cause and also attract new souls to the spirit and teachings of the Faith. Not only will their knowledge of the writings deepen but also the unity of the cause will be strengthened and the work of teaching be enhanced. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, pp. 1

"Should the friends desire to take the lead in informing the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the minds of men. It is in these Summer Schools that this training should be provided for the friends."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, pp. 1-2

"The institution of the Summer School constitutes a vital and inseparable part of any teaching campaign, and as such ought to be given the full importance it deserves in the teaching plans and activities of the believers. It should be organized in such a way as to attract the attention of the non-believers to the Cause and thus become an effective medium for teaching. Also it should afford the believers themselves an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the Teachings, through lectures and discussions and by means of close and intense community life."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 3

(See also Chapter 11, section entitled "Bahá'í Schools and Institutes.")

Applying the Teachings to the Needs of Society
Involvement with Society

"The time has come for the Bahá'í community to become more involved in the life of the society around it, without in the least supporting any of the world's moribund and divisive concepts, or slackening its direct teaching efforts, but rather, by association, exerting its influence towards unity, demonstrating its ability to settle differences by consultation rather than by confrontation, violence or schism, and declaring its faith in the divine purpose of human existence."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1985, to the Bahá'ís of the World

(See also Chapter 12, section entitles "Association with Other Organizations.")

Bahá'í Scholarship and Teaching

"The Cause needs more Bahá'í scholars, people who not only are devoted to it and believe in it and are anxious to tell others about it, but also who have a deep grasp of the teachings and their significance, and who can correlate its beliefs with the current thoughts and problems of the people of the world.

"The Cause has the remedy for all the world's ills. The reason why more people don't accept it is because the Bahá'ís are not always capable of presenting it to them in a way that meets the immediate needs of their minds."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening, p. 44

"It seems what we need now is a more profound and coordinated Bahá'í scholarship in order to attract such thinking men

as you are contacting. The world has--at least the thinking world--caught up by now with all the great and universal principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh over 70 years ago, and so of course it does not sound `new' to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to recreate society, are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men!"

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, p. 28

(See also Chapter 11, section entitled "Bahá'í Scholarship.")

Suggested Readings
Teaching
The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi

Bahá'í Youth: A Compilation, Prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States

Building Unity of Thought on Teaching, Prepared by the National Teaching Committee, December 1987

Effective Teaching Workbook, Prepared by the National Teaching Committee

Enrolling New Believers, Prepared by the National Teaching Committee, September 1987

The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, Extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, Compiled by the Universal House of Justice

The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, Extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

The Power of Divine Assistance, Extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

A Special Measure of Love: The Importance and Nature of the Teaching Work among the Masses, Messages from Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, pub. 1974 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States

Tablets of the Divine Plan, `Abdu'l-Bahá
Minority Teaching
To Move the World, Gayle Morrison
The Power of Unity: Beyond Prejudice and Racism

Pioneering, International Service and Traveling Teaching

The Homefront Pioneer, in Persian

The Homefront Pioneer, Prepared by the National Teaching Committee

Manual for Pioneers

Quickeners of Mankind: Pioneering in a World Community, 1980

Success in Teaching, a pamphlet, Ruhiyyih Khanum

Transforming a Dream into Reality, Parts I & II, Prepared by the Office of Pioneering

Traveling Teaching, Prepared by the National Teaching Committee, 1987

APPENDIX A SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES REGARDING TEACHING CHINESE "Emphasis is now being placed on reaching the millions of Chinese people who reside permanently outside China with the healing Message of Bahá'u'lláh. It is expected that by so doing, this will also have a beneficial effect on the work on the mainland in due time."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 10, 1982

"If a Chinese national appears to have a sincere belief in Bahá'u'lláh, and expresses a desire for membership in the Faith, your National Spiritual Assembly should be contacted for guidance. In teaching such individuals it should be made clear that one of the basic principles of the Faith is loyalty to government, and that followers of Bahá'u'lláh are exhorted to be good citizens. No effort should be made to teach government officials or brief visitors from China, for the time being."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 10, 1982

"There is presently no Bahá'í administration in China and some caution in teaching Chinese nationals must be exercised, lest, in our enthusiasm to bring the Faith to that vast country, we precipitate opposition which will threaten our efforts before a Bahá'í community can be established there. However, if Chinese nationals are met on either social, business or professional levels, and they show a sincere interest in the Faith and are planning to remain in your country long enough to receive a firm grounding, there is no objection to teaching them. If they express an interest in enrolling as members of the Faith, they may do so. They may be accepted as believers without having to sign an enrollment card or to accept credentials if such is their wish.

"Such individuals should be told that there is no Bahá'í administration in China and that they should be circumspect in mentioning the Faith when they return, so as not to endanger themselves or other Bahá'ís . . . at this time. It should also be made clear that one of the basic principles of the Faith is loyalty

to government, and that followers of Bahá'u'lláh are exhorted to be good citizens."

Guidelines of the Universal House of Justice on teaching nationals of the People's Republic of China, included in a letter written by the Universal House of Justice, March 25, 1982 to several National Spiritual Assemblies

(See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Special Enrollment Procedures--Chinese.")

APPENDIX B SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES REGARDING TEACHING PERSONS FROM EASTERN BLOC COUNTRIES

"Another way of helping the teaching work in Eastern bloc countries is by singling out people from those countries studying, working or just visiting in your home or neighboring communities. If they are attracted to the teachings of the Faith they will one day take them back to their homelands.

". . . It is certainly `wise and legal,' in fact even desirable, to give -- with wisdom -- Bahá'í literature to people from the East who express interest in the Faith."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 10, 1989 to an individual believer

(See also in this chapter Appendix D, "A List of Sensitive Countries.")

APPENDIX C SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES REGARDING TEACHING PERSONS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

Muslims

"The instructions of the beloved Guardian regarding teaching orientals from the Middle East are to be upheld, even more so at this time. . . ."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 31, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

There are certain principles governing association with persons from Middle Eastern Muslim countries.

Bahá'ís in the West are not to initiate any attempts to teach the Faith to Muslims from Middle Eastern countries. This includes Muslims from Iran, North Africa and Arab countries. Muslims from these countries who have become citizens of the United States or have acquired permanent resident status and who show a genuine interest in learning about the Faith may be taught the Faith but it is they who must take the initiative. If a Muslim should ask for information on the Faith, the information he seeks may be given according to the dictates of wisdom, but Bahá'ís should not exceed the request that has been made by attempting to convert the person, interest him further or invite him to Bahá'í meetings. In short, Bahá'ís are not to make a project of teaching Muslims.

"Although there are certain restrictions about teaching Muslims from some countries and accepting them into the Faith, it is a different situation with Muslims from India or Pakistan as compared with those from Iran or the Near East."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 22, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Iranian Muslims

". . . Caution vis-a-vis Iranian Muslims continues to be necessary. They should not be sought out by the Bahá'ís in order to teach them the Faith and application for enrollment in the Bahá'í community should generally be discouraged.

"However, it has been observed that Iranian Muslims are becoming increasingly interested in receiving accurate information about the Faith which, in their homeland, has always been maligned and misrepresented by its enemies. It can only be to the advantage of the Faith if Iranian Muslims residing outside Iran are acquainted with the history and tenets of the Faith. Care must be taken, however, that in doing so, Bahá'ís do not become enmeshed in the affairs of the Iranian Muslims, nor should they spend much time participating in their social life. It is preferable that such persons be referred to appropriate literature in Persian which can be obtained from various National Spiritual Assemblies and made available to them through public libraries and universities, by mail or personal conveyance.

"Furthermore, some Bahá'ís have relatives and close friends who are Iranian Muslims and who happen to reside in the West, and the Bahá'ís are not expected to relinquish these friendships nor should they cut themselves off from their Muslim relatives, as this would be contrary to the spirit of our Faith. They should, however, use wisdom and moderation in their contacts with such persons, avoid to the extent possible giving information about the activities of Bahá'ís in Iran, and take care not to become embroiled in any political activities. They should not try to teach the Faith to such people.

"If a person of Iranian Muslim background is spontaneously attracted to the faith through his contact with the Baha'is, there would be no objection if a suitable Bahá'í friend

were to assist him or her to understand the Cause. Whether or not such a person, upon claiming to accept Bahá'u'lláh and His teachings, is enrolled in the Bahá'í community is a different issue which has to be considered separately in each case."

Guidelines of the Universal House of Justice on teaching Iranian Muslims, included in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 20, 1989

(See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Special Enrollment Procedures--Iranians and Middle Easterners.")

APPENDIX D A LIST OF SENSITIVE COUNTRIES
Afghanistan
Albania
Algeria
Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia)
Bahrain
Bhutan
Brunei
Bulgaria
China, People's Republic of
Cuba
Cyprus
Czechoslovakia
East Germany (DDR)
Egypt
Greece
Hungary
Indonesia
Iran
Iraq
Israel
Jordan
Kuwait
Lebanon
Libya
Mauritania
Moldavia
Mongolian People's Republic
Morocco
Niger
Niue
North Korea
Oman
Poland
Qatar
Rumania
8 THE DISTINCTIVE BAHÁ'Í COMMUNITY
Developing a Distinctive Bahá'í Community
Characteristics of Distinction

"Wherever a Bahá'í community exists, whether large or small, let it be distinguished for its abiding sense of security and faith, its high standard of rectitude, its complete freedom from all forms of prejudice, the spirit of love among its members and for the closely knit fabric of its social life."

Messages From the Universal House of Justice, p. 12

"A Bahá'í community which is consistent in its fundamental life-giving, life-sustaining activities will at its heart be serene and confident; it will resonate with spiritual dynamism, will exert irresistible influence, will set a new course in social evolution, enabling it to win the respect and eventually the allegiance of admirers and critics alike. These profound possibilities reside in the will of the individual to take initiative, to act in accordance with the guidance offered by Bahá'í institutions, and to maintain such action regardless of the myriad distractions posed by the disintegration of a society adrift in a sea of materialism."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"The people of the world not only need the laws and principles of the Bahá'í Faith--they desperately need to see the love that is engendered by it in the hearts of its followers, and to partake of that atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, forbearance and active kindness which should be the hall-mark of a Bahá'í Community."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 5, 1942, in Lights of Guidance, p. 404

Purpose for a Distinctive Bahá'í Community
Bedrock of Bahá'í National Growth and Development

"The Guardian fully agrees with your idea that the permanent welfare of the Faith demands the steady development of local Bahá'í community life. This is the bedrock of Bahá'í national growth and development."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated September 10, 1932 to an individual believer

Transformation of Human Life

"By winning the Seven Year Plan, be consolidating our local communities, and above all by strengthening and deepening our understanding of the purpose of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation we shall be preparing ourselves to play our part in bringing about that transformation of human life on this planet which

must take place ere it becomes fit to receive the bounties and blessings of God's own Kingdom."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1985 to the Bahá'ís of the World

". . . The Five Year Plan [1974-1979] witnessed great progress in the spiritual development of the friends, the growing maturity and wisdom of Local and National Assemblies, and in the degree to which Bahá'í communities embody the distinguishing characteristics of Bahá'í life and attract, by their unity, their steadfastness, their radiance and good reputation, the interest and eventual wholehearted support of their fellow citizens. This is the magnet which will attract the masses to the Cause of God, and the leaven that will transform human society."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1979 to the Bahá'ís of the World

Attracting Others to the Faith

"But it is in the local Bahá'í communities that the most wide-spread presentation of the Faith can take place. . . . It is here that the power of Bahá'u'lláh to organize human affairs on a basis of spiritual unity can be most apparent."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1985 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"It is this marked contrast between the vigor, unity, and discipline of the Bahá'í community on the one hand, and the increasing confusion, despair, and feverish tempo of a doomed society on the other, which, during the turbulent years ahead, will draw the eyes of humanity to the sanctuary of Bahá'u'lláh's world-redeeming Faith."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 79-80

"All the Baha'is, new and old alike, should . . . realize that the atmosphere of true love and unity which they manifest within the Bahá'í Community will directly affect the public, and be the greatest magnet for attracting people to the Faith and confirming them."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Individual and Teaching: Raising the Divine Call, pp. 26-27

Characteristics of a Bahá'í Society
Unity of Mankind

"This Five Year Plan [1974-1979] must witness the development in the world-wide Bahá'í community of distinctive Bahá'í characteristics implanted in it by Bahá'u'lláh Himself. Unity of mankind is the pivotal principle of His Revelation; Bahá'í communities must therefore become renowned for their demonstration of this unity. In a world becoming daily more divided by factionalism and group interests, the Bahá'í community must be distinguished by the concord and harmony of its relationships. The coming of age of the human race must be foreshadowed by the mature, responsible understanding of human problems and the wise administration of their affairs by these same Bahá'í communities. The practice and development of such Bahá'í characteristics are the responsibility alike of individual Bahá'ís and the administrative institutions, al-

though the greatest opportunity to foster their growth rests with the Local Spiritual Assemblies."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1974 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"Let there be no misgivings as to the animating purpose of the world-wide Law of Bahá'u'lláh. Far from aiming at the subversion of the existing foundations of society, it seeks to broaden its basis, to remold its institutions in a manner consonant with the needs of an ever-changing world. It can conflict with no legitimate allegiances, nor can it undermine essential loyalties. Its purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men's hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 41-42

"The Bahá'í Faith seeks to maintain cultural diversity while promoting the unity of all peoples. Indeed, such diversity will enrich the tapestry of human life in a peaceful world society. The House of Justice supports the view that in every country it is quite appropriate for the cultural traditions of the people to be observed within the Bahá'í community as long as they are not contrary to the teachings . . .

"`At the present time, the challenge to every Bahá'í community is to avoid suppression of those culturally-diverse elements which are not contrary to the teachings, while establishing and maintaining such a high degree of unity that others are attracted to the Cause of God.'"

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 25, 1988 to an individual believer

(See also Chapter 9, section entitled "Participation in Cultural or Religious Festivals of Other Religions and Communities")

References for further reading:
The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 38, 54
Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 154
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 51

Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 290-291

Dawn Prayers

"One of the characteristics of the Bahá'í society will be the gathering of the believers each day during the hours between dawn and two hours after sunrise to listen to the reading and chanting of the Holy Word. In many communities at the present

time, especially in rural ones, such gathering will fit naturally into the pattern of the friends' daily life, and where this is the case it would do much to foster the unity of the local community and deepen the friends' knowledge of the Teachings if such gatherings could be organized by the Local Spiritual Assembly on a regular basis. Attendance at these gatherings is not to be obligatory but we hope that the friends will more and more be drawn to take part in them. This is a goal which can be attained gradually."

The Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 459

References for further reading:

Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh

The Promise of World Peace
Role of the Local Spiritual Assembly

"The divinely ordained institutions of the Local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá'í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá'í flock."

The Universal House of Justice, The Five Year Plan, p. 6

"These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in God Passes By, p. 332
Responsibility of Individual Assembly Members
Rectitude of Conduct

"Such a rectitude of conduct must manifest itself, with ever-increasing potency, in every verdict which the elected representatives of the Bahá'í community, in whatever capacity they may find themselves, may be called upon to pronounce. It must be constantly reflected in the business dealings of all its members, in their domestic lives, in all manner of employment, and in any service they may, in the future, render their government or people."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 26

"They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavor, by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candor, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity to win, not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 63-64
Equality of Women and Men

"The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its progress we must take the lead in practising this Bahá'í principle. Bahá'í women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their communities." The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1984 to the Bahá'ís of the World

Unity Within the Assembly

"The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the unity of God."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Administration, p. 22

(See also Chapter 1, sections entitled "Development of Local Spiritual Assemblies--Strengthening and Development--Vital Objectives" and "The Covenant and the Administrative Order")

(See also Chapter 4, section entitled "Consultation and the Divine Institutions" and "Conditions Necessary for Effective Consultation")

(See also Article XI of the By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly)

Instruments for Establishing Unity and Harmony

"The Spiritual Assemblies are collectively the most effective of all instruments for establishing unity and harmony."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 83-84

Developing the Bahá'í Community

"Every Local Spiritual Assembly which unitedly strives to grow in maturity and efficiency and encourages its community to fulfil its destiny as a foundation stone of Bahá'u'lláh's World Order can add to a growing groundswell of interest in and eventual recognition of the Cause of God as the sole hope for mankind."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1985 to the Bahá'ís of the World

Fostering Love and Unity

"The Assembly shall therefore above all recognize its sacred duty to maintain full and complete unity throughout the Bahá'í community. . . ."

Local Spiritual Assembly By-laws, Article IV

"They [Spiritual Assemblies] must endeavor to promote amity and concord amongst the friends, efface every lingering trace of distrust, coolness and estrangement from every heart, and secure in its stead an active and whole-hearted cooperation for the service of the Cause."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 38

"The administrators of the Faith of God must be like unto shepherds. Their aim should be to dispel all the doubts, misunderstandings and harmful differences which may arise in the community of the believers. And this they can adequately achieve provided they are motivated by a true sense of love for their fellow-brethren coupled with a firm determination to act

with justice in all the cases which are submitted to them for their consideration." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 34

(See also Chapter 1, section entitled "The Relation of the Assembly with the Baha'is")

Unity in Diversity
Encouraging Minority Participation

"In the light of this principle, and bearing in mind the extreme desirability of having the minority elements participate and share responsibility in the conduct of Bahá'í activity, it should be the duty of every Bahá'í community so to arrange its affairs that in cases where individuals belonging to the divers minority elements within it are already qualified and fulfill the necessary requirements, Bahá'í representative institutions, be they Assemblies, conventions, conferences, or committees, may have represented on them as many of these divers elements, racial or otherwise, as possible. The adoption of such a course, and faithful adherence to it, would not only be a source of inspiration and encouragement to those elements that are numerically small and inadequately represented, but would demonstrate to the world at large the universality and representative character of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and the freedom of His followers from the taint of those prejudices which have already wrought such havoc in the domestic affairs, as well as the foreign relationships, of the nations."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 35-36

(See also in this chapter sections entitled "Freedom from Prejudice," and "Unity in Diversity")

Integrating Persian Baha'is

"The International Teaching Center has sent us a copy of your letter of 10 October 1982 asking about language problems brought about by the influx of Iranians who do not understand English. It is important that the Iranian friends be encouraged to make the effort to learn the language used in the country and become integrated into the life and activities of the community. The Nineteen Day Feasts and other official gatherings of the friends should be conducted in whatever is the conventional local language. This does not mean, of course, that at such gatherings some of the readings could not be in the language of the immigrants, or that, if these friends so wish, some classes and conferences may not be held and conducted in their own language for their benefit. The essential thing is, as stated above, to promote the integration of the immigrants into the community and avoid feelings of estrangement or disunity on account of language."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 10, 1982 to an individual believer

(See also Chapter 9, "Holy Days, Festivals, the Fast and the Nineteen Day Feast.")

References for further reading:

American Culture and Traditions: A Handbook for New Americans, 1989

For the Drop of a Lover's Blood, video cassette

Iranian Refugees in America: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, 1986

Supporting Youth Participation

"Give great attention and support to youth participation in community life and to their teaching the Cause to their own generation in high schools, colleges and elsewhere; encourage and offer guidance to Bahá'í youth to plan their lives to be of greatest service to the Faith, and provide means whereby their offers of specific periods of teaching and other service beyond normal teaching activities can be organized and used to the best advantage."

The Universal House of Justice, in Challenge: Messages to Bahá'í Youth, p. 11

References for further reading:
Bahá'í Youth, pp. 20-21
Challenge: Messages to Bahá'í Youth

The Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í Youth of the World, January 3, 1984

The Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'í Youth of the World, May 8, 1985

Unrestrained As the Wind
Wellspring of Guidance, p. 96
How to Develop a Distinctive Community Life
Firmness in the Covenant

"The first condition [to attain the supreme station destined for the friends by Bahá'u'lláh] is firmness in the Covenant. . . . It is the fortified fortress of the Cause of God and the firm pillar of the religion of God. Today no power can conserve the oneness of the Bahá'í world save the Covenant of God. . . . It is evident that the axis of the oneness of the world of humanity is the power of the Covenant and nothing else."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 49
References for further reading:
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 321

Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 203, 246, 292

Spiritual Development

"At present we must complete the objectives of the Seven Year Plan [1979-1986], paying great attention to those inner spiritual developments which will be manifested in greater unity among the friends. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1983 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"Every outward thrust into new fields, every multiplication of Bahá'í institutions, must be paralleled by a deeper thrust of the roots which sustain the spiritual life of the community and ensure its sound development."

Shoghi Effendi, in Wellspring of Guidance, p. 77
Consolidation Activities

"Consolidation activities promote the individual spiritual development of the friends, help to unite and strengthen Bahá'í community life, establish new social patterns for the friends, and stimulate the teaching work."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 17, 1981 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

(See also Chapter 7, sections entitled "Three Aspects of Teaching--Consolidation," p. xxx, and "Teaching and the Local Community")

Nineteen Day Feasts

"In brief, this is my hope: that the Nineteen Day Feast become the cause of great spiritual solidarity between the friends, that it may bring believers into the bond of unity, and we will then be so united together that love and wisdom will spread from this center to all parts. This Feast is a divine Feast. It is a Lord's supper. It attracts confirmation of God like a magnet. It is the Cause of the enlightenment of hearts."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 21

References for further reading:
Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feasts, pp. 3-13
Service to Humanity

"O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior." Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p.p 93-94

"With the utmost friendliness and in a spirit of perfect fellowship take ye counsel together, and dedicate the precious days of your lives to the betterment of the world and the promotion of the Cause of Him Who is the Ancient and Sovereign Lord of all."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 184

". . . There is nothing that brings success in the Faith like service. Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 12, 1952, Living the Life, p. 18

Role of the Community
Relationship Among the Baha'is
Unity Among the Believers

"It behoveth all the beloved of God to become as one, to gather together under the protection of a single flag, to stand for a uniform body of opinion, to follow one and the same pathway, to hold fast to a single resolve. Let them forget their divergent theories and put aside their conflicting views since, God be praised, our purpose is one, our goal is one. We are the servants of one Threshold, we all draw our nourishment from the same

one Source, we all are gathered in the shade of the same high Tabernacle, we all are sheltered under the one celestial Tree."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 230

"Praise be to God, the hearts of the friends are united and linked together, whether they be from the east or the west, from north or from south, whether they be German, French, Japanese, American and whether they pertain to the white, the black, the red, the yellow or the brown race. Variations of color, of land and of race are of no importance in the Bahá'í Faith; on the contrary, Bahá'í unity overcometh them all and doeth away with all these fancies and imaginations." `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 113

"In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá'u'lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear, the community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 130
References for further reading:
Bahá'í Administration, pp. 35, 67

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 217-218

The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 156, 192

Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 191

Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 50
Freedom from Prejudice

"Freedom from racial prejudice, in any of its forms, should, at such a time as this when an increasingly large section of the human race is falling a victim to its devastating ferocity, be adopted as the watchword of the entire body of American believers, in whichever state they reside, in whatever circles they move, whatever their age, traditions, tastes and habits. It should be consistently demonstrated in every phase of their activity and life, whether in the Bahá'í community or outside it, in public or in private, formally as well as informally, individually as well as in their official capacity as organized groups, committees and Assemblies. It should be deliberately culti-

vated through the various and everyday opportunities, no matter how insignificant, that present themselves, whether in their homes, their business offices, their schools and colleges, their social parties and recreation grounds, their Bahá'í meetings, conferences, conventions, summer schools and Assemblies."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p.30

Promote Harmony

"When criticism and harsh words arise within a Bahá'í community, there is no remedy except to put the past behind one, and persuade all concerned to turn over a new leaf, and for the sake of God and His Faith refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misunderstanding and inharmony. The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.

"When we see the condition the world is in today, we must surely forget these utterly insignificant internal disturbances, and rush, unitedly, to the rescue of humanity. You should urge your fellow-Bahá'ís to take this point of view, and to support you in a strong effort to suppress every critical thought and every harsh word, in order to let the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh flow into the entire community, and unite it in His love and His service." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated February 16, 1951

Role of Individuals

". . . The believers [must] increasingly stand out as assured, orientated, and fundamentally happy beings, conforming to a standard which, in direct contrast to the ignoble and amoral attitudes of modern society, is the source of their honor, strength, and maturity."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 79

"For the Bahá'í Faith is above all a way of life. It is not a mere philosophical or social doctrine. It is a closely-knit and harmoniously functioning community, a world-wide spiritual fraternity which seeks to reform the world first and foremost by bringing about a deep inner spiritual change in the heart of individuals. To live the Teachings of the Cause should be the paramount concern of every true believer, and the only way to do so is to commune both in spirit and through actual concrete means with the entire community of the faithful. The Bahá'í Cause encourages community life and makes it a duty for every one of its followers to become a living, a fully active and responsible member of the world-wide Bahá'í fellowship."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, August 13, 1936, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 475-476

High Moral Character

"As to a chaste and holy life it should be regarded as no less essential a factor that must contribute its proper share to the strengthening and vitalization of the Bahá'í community, upon which must in turn depend the success of any Bahá'í plan or enterprise. . . . All of them, be they men or women, must, at this

threatening hour when the lights of religion are fading out, and its restraints are one by one being abolished, pause to examine themselves, scrutinize their conduct, and with characteristic resolution arise to purge the life of their community of every trace of moral laxity that might stain the name, or impair the integrity, of so holy and precious a Faith.

"A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the behavior and conduct of all Baha'is, both in their social relations with the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labors and meritorious exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message, and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It must be upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá'í summer school and any other occasions on which Bahá'í community life is organized and fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission of the Bahá'í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá'í community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the youth of their own country."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 29-30

Demonstrate Belief in Peace

"These, indeed, are the days when heroism is needed on the part of the believers. Self-sacrifice, courage, indomitable hope and confidence are the characteristics they should show forth, because these very attributes cannot but fix the attention of the public and lead them to enquire what, in a world so hopelessly chaotic and bewildered, leads these people to be so assured, so confident, so full of devotion? Increasingly, as time goes by, the characteristics of the Bahá'ís will be that which captures the attention of their fellow-citizens. They must show their aloofness from the hatreds and recriminations which are tearing at the heart of humanity, and demonstrate by deed and word their profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 26, 1941, in Lights of Guidance, p. 405

(See also Chapter 12, section entitled "Association with Other Organizations")

Unity in Family Life
Family as a Microcosm of Society

"Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members. . . ? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is

in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of World Peace, p. 157

References for further reading:

Bahá'í Marriage and Family Life, pp. 30, 31, 74-76

Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 108-109

Paris Talks
The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 157, 168

Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 117-122

Suggested Readings
Divine Art of Living
Power of Divine Assistance

Promise of World Peace, the Universal House of Justice

Spiritual Foundations
Trustworthiness

Unrestrained As the Wind, "The Distinctive Bahá'í Life,"

pp. 21-27
The Word of God
Race Unity
The Advent of Divine Justice
Bahá'í Focus on Human Rights
Power of Unity: Beyond Prejudice/Racism
Race Unity: Bahá'í Perspective--video cassette
Women
Women--compilation
Women: Equality and Peace
Integration
For a Drop of the Lover's Blood--video cassette
Individual

The Bahá'í Life, Excerpts from the Writings of the Guardian, compiled by the Universal House of Justice

Living the Life, A Compilation

9 HOLY DAYS, THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST, AND SPECIAL EVENTS BAHÁ'Í HOLY DAYS, FESTIVALS AND THE FAST Dates * Naw-Ruz March 21

Ridvan Festival April 21-May 2 * The first day April 21 * The ninth day April 29 * The twelfth day May 2 * Declaration of the Báb May 23 * Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh May 29 * Martyrdom of the Báb July 9 * Birth of the Báb October 20 * Birth of Bahá'u'lláh November 12

Day of the Covenant November 26
Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá November 28
Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days) February 25-March 1
Period of fasting March 2-March 20

* Days on which work and school should be suspended Descriptions Naw-Ruz--March 21 References for further reading:

Days to Remember, pp. 15-23 Prayers and Meditations, pp. 67-69 Separate Celebrations for Naw-Ruz Feast and Nineteen Day Feast "The Naw-Ruz Feast should be held on March 21 before sunset and has nothing to do with the 19-day Feast. The 19-day Feast is administrative in function whereas the Naw-Ruz is our New Year, a Feast of hospitality and rejoicing."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Directives from the Guardian, p. 46 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Events Commemorated on Their Gregorian Anniversaries.") Ridvan Festival--April 21-May 2 "Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken. . . ."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 35 The word Ridvan means Paradise. For twelve days, April 21 through May 2, Bahá'ís celebrate the period in 1863 when Bahá'u'lláh resided in a garden in Baghdad, which was later called the "Garden of Ridvan." During this period Bahá'u'lláh proclaimed His Mission as God's Messenger for this age. References for further reading: Days to Remember, pp. 25-43 Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 27-35; pp. 319-322 God Passes By, pp. 148-159 Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 111-112 Celebration of First, Ninth and Twelfth Days of Ridvan "As regards various matters you raised in your letters, the reason we commemorate the 1st, 9th and 12th days of Ridvan as Holidays (Holy Days) is because one is the first day, one is the last day, and third one is the ninth day, which of course is associated with the number 9. All 12 days could not be holidays, therefore these three were chosen."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 8, 1952 in Lights of Guidance, 1983 edition, p.230 "The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate . . . the first day of Ridvan, at about 3:00 p.m. on 21 April."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 56 Declaration of the Báb--May 23 Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad declared Himself to be the Báb, or `Gate of God' to Mulla Husayn-i-Bushru'i on May 23, 1844. This date marks the beginning of the Bahá'í Faith, the Bahá'í Era (B.E.) and the Bahá'í calendar. "The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate . . . the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb on May 22, at about two hours after sunset."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 56 References for further reading: Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory, pp. 26-31 Days to Remember, pp. 45-64 God Passes By, pp. 3-12 Nabil's Narrative, pp. 47-96 World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 123-128 Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh--May 29 Bahá'u'lláh died May 29, 1892 at the Mansion of Bahji near `Akka, Israel. He was seventy-four. "The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate . . . the anniversary of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh on 29 May at 3:00 a.m."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 56 References for further reading: Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory, pp. 420-429 Days to Remember, pp. 65-91 God Passes By, pp. 221-233 Martyrdom of the Báb--July 9 In 1850, Mirza Taqi Khan, Grand Vizier of the new Shah, Nasiri'd-Din, ordered the Báb executed. On July 9, the Báb was

brought before a firing squad in the barracks square of Tabriz, along with a young follower. When the smoke cleared, the Báb was nowhere to be seen. He was later located in the room He had occupied, finishing a conversation with His amanuensis. The commander of the Armenian regiment, Sam Khan, refused to fire a second time and another regiment had to be found. This time their bullets killed the Báb. His remains were hidden by the Bábis and in 1899 transferred to Palestine. In 1909 `Abdu'l-Bahá Himself interred the Báb's remains in the sepulchre on Mount Carmel known as the Shrine of the Báb. "The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate . . . the anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Báb on 9 July, at about noon."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 56 References for further reading: Days to Remember, pp. 93-112 God Passes By, pp. 49-60 Hour of the Dawn: The Life of the Báb Nabil's Narrative, pp. 500-526 Birth of the Báb--October 20 The Báb was born Siyyid `Ali-Muhammad on October 20, 1819 in Shiraz, Iran. References for further reading: Days to Remember, pp. 113-122 Hour of the Dawn: The Life of the Báb, pp. 189-193 Nabil's Narrative, pp. 72-76 Birth of Bahá'u'lláh--November 12 Bahá'u'lláh was born Mirza Husayn-`Ali on November 12, 1817 in Tihran, Iran. His mother was Khadijih Khanum and his father Mirza Buzurg-i-Vazir. References for further reading: Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory, pp. 9-25 Days to Remember, pp. 123-132 Nabil's Narrative, pp. 12-13 Day of the Covenant-- November 26 November 26th is dedicated to `Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of the Covenant. `Abdu'l-Bahá asked the friends not to observe his birthday, May 23, as "this blessed Day must become known as the Day of the Declaration of His Highness the Supreme [the Báb]." The friends then asked `Abdu'l-Bahá if they could have a day to celebrate which would be exclusively associated with Him. After many supplications to Him, `Abdu'l-Bahá gave them November 26. It was referred to as the Fete Day of `Abdu'l-Bahá, or as "The Feast of the Appointment of the Center of the Covenant."

Many years later, in enumerating the Bahá'í Feast Days and Holy Days Shoghi Effendi instructed that November 26

should be observed as the Day of the Covenant by the believers throughout the world, and should be referred to by that name. References for further reading: `Abdu'l-Bahá, by H. M. Balyuzi, pp. 9, 523 `Abdu'l-Bahá: Center of the Covenant Days to Remember, pp. 157-165 Ascension of ``Abdu'l-Bahá--November 28 `Abdu'l-Bahá died in Haifa, Israel, November 28, 1921. ". . . The anniversaries of the birth and ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá are not to be regarded as days on which work is prohibited. The celebration of these two days is however obligatory."

Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í World, Vol. 9, p. 346 "The Guardian would advise that, if feasible, the friends should commemorate . . . the Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá on 28 November, at 1:00 a.m."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 56 References for further reading: Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá Days to Remember, pp. 137-156 Ayyam-i-Ha--February 26-March 1 In the West, the Intercalary Days (Ayyam-i-Ha) are the four days of the year (five days in leap year) which fall between the eighteenth and nineteenth month of the Bahá'í Calendar (Mulk and `Ala'), February 26 to March 1. These days are set aside for hospitality, gift-giving, special acts of charity, and preparing for the Fast. In Nabil's Narrative, the purpose of these days is explained: "Bahá'u'lláh designated [the] days as the `Ayyam-i-Ha' [Intercalary Days] and ordained that they should immediately precede the month of `Ala', which is the month of fasting. He enjoined upon His followers to devote these days to feasting, rejoicing, and charity. Immediately upon the termination of these intercalary days, Bahá'u'lláh ordained the month of fasting to begin."

Nabil's Narrative, Vol. II, published in Bahá'í World, XIII, pp. 751-752 Reference for further reading: Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 236-237 For children: The Ayyam-i-Ha Camel The Fast--March 2-March 20 Bahá'ís fast for 19 days from sunrise to sunset. In the West, the fast period begins at sunrise March 2nd and extends until sunset March 20. (See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Fasting.") Preparing for the Holy Days By observing the Holy Days, the believers can show honor and reverence for Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb and `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Local

Spiritual Assemblies sponsor the commemorations and ensure that the programs are befitting to the occasions.

Some Holy Days--the Martyrdom of the Báb, the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, and the Ascension of `Abdu'l-Bahá--should be observed in a solemn and reverent manner.

Other Holy Days--Naw-Ruz, Ridvan, the anniversaries of the Birth of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, and the Declaration of the Báb--are festive. The general character of the festive Holy Days is described by `Abdu'l-Bahá in a talk about the Feast of Naw-Ruz: All should rejoice together, hold general meetings, become as one assembly, so that the national oneness, unity and harmony may be demonstrated in the eyes of all.

As it is a blessed day it should not be neglected, nor deprived of results by making it a day devoted to the pursuit of mere pleasure.

During such days institutions should be founded that may be of permanent benefit and value to the people. . . . Preparations for a Holy Day might include a review of the history of the day and study of the lives of the Central Figures. Before the event itself, the Assembly may want to help the community prepare for a Holy Day by:

- Holding a special class on the history of the Holy Day

- Reviewing the events being commemorated

- Holding a special meeting for the children so that they can

anticipate the day and learn about its significance

- Discussing plans at preceding Feasts for commemorating the day

When to Observe Definition of the Bahá'í Day "With reference to your question in connection with the observance of Bahá'í Holy Days; the Bahá'í day begins and ends at sunset. The night preceding a Holy day is therefore included in the day, and consequently work during that period is forbidden."

Shoghi Effendi, in Dawn of a New Day, p. 68 Daylight Savings Time "Regarding your question of the proper time to celebrate or hold our meetings of commemoration: the time should be fixed by counting after sunset; the Master passed away one hour after midnight, which falls a certain number of hours after sunset; so His passing should be commemorated according to the sun and regardless of daylight saving time. The same applies to the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh who passed away about eight hours after sunset."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 56-57 Events Commemorated on Their Gregorian Anniversaries "Until the Universal House of Justice decides upon the spot on which the calculations for establishing the date of Naw-Ruz each year are to be based it is not possible to state exactly the

correspondence between Bahá'í dates and Gregorian dates for any year. Therefore for the present the believers in the West commemorate Bahá'í events on their traditional Gregorian anniversaries. Once the necessary legislation to determine Naw-Ruz has been made, the correspondence between Bahá'í and Gregorian dates will vary from year to year depending upon whether the Spring Equinox falls on the 20th, 21st, or 22nd March. In fact in Persia the friends have been, over the years, following the Spring Equinox as observed in Tihran, to determine Naw-Ruz, and the National Spiritual Assembly has to issue every year a Bahá'í calendar for the guidance of the friends. The Universal House of Justice feels that this is not a matter of urgency and, in the meantime, is having research conducted into such questions."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 30, 1974 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Observing the Holy Days "From time to time questions have arisen about the application of the law of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas on the observance of Bahá'í holy days. As you know, the recognition of Bahá'í holy days in at least ninety-five countries of the world is an important and highly significant objective of the Nine Year Plan [1964-1973], and is directly linked with the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh by the civil authorities as an independent religion enjoying its own rights and privileges.

"The attainment of this objective will be facilitated and enhanced if the friends, motivated by their own realization of the importance of the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, are obedient to them."

Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 69 "Briefly, every nation has a day known as a holiday which they celebrate with joy. In the sacred laws of God, in every cycle and dispensation, there are blessed feasts, holidays and workless days. On such days all kinds of occupations, commerce, industry, agriculture etc., are not allowed. Every work is unlawful. All must enjoy a good time, gather together, hold general meetings, become as one assembly, so that the national oneness, unity and harmony may become personified in all eyes. As it is a blessed day it should not be neglected or without results by making it a day limited to the fruits of mere pleasure. During such blessed days institutions should be founded that may be of permanent benefit and value to the people so that in current conversation and in history it may become widely known that such a good work was inaugurated on such a feast day. Therefore, the intelligent must search and investigate reality to find out what important affair, what philanthropic institutions are most needed and what foundations should be laid for the community on that particular day, so that they may be established. For example, if they find that the community needs morality, then they may lay down the foundation of good morals on that day. If the community be in need of spreading sciences and widening the circle of knowledge, on that day they should proceed in that direction, that is to say, direct the

thoughts of all the people to that philanthropic cause. If, however, the community is in need of widening the circle of commerce or industry or agriculture they should start the means so that the desired aim may be attained. If the community needs protection, proper support and care of orphans, they should act upon the welfare of the orphans, etc. Such undertakings that are beneficial to the poor, the weak and the helpless should be pursued in order that, on that day, through the unity of all and through great meetings, results may be obtained, the glory and blessings of that day may be declared and manifest."

``Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Lights of Guidance, pp. 302-303 Suspension of Work and School Nine Days Relating to the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh ". . . The days pertaining to the Abha Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh) and the Primal Point (the Báb), that is to say these nine days, are the only ones on which work connected with trade, commerce, industry and agriculture is not allowed. In like manner, work connected with any form of employment, whether governmental or otherwise, should be suspended."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í World, Vol. XII, p. 537 Being Excused from Work "He wishes also to stress the fact that, according to our Bahá'í laws, work is forbidden on our Nine Holy Days. Believers who have independent businesses or shops should refrain from working on these days. Those who are in government employ should, on religious grounds, make an effort to be excused from work; all believers, whoever their employers, should do likewise. If the government, or other employers, refuse to grant them these days off, they are not required to forfeit their employment, but they should make every effort to have the independent status of their Faith recognized and their right to hold their own religious Holy Days acknowledged."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 55 Bahá'í Institutions "This distinction between institutions that are under full or partial Bahá'í control is of fundamental importance. Institutions that are entirely managed by Bahá'ís are, for reasons that are only too obvious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith, especially those whose observance constitutes a matter of conscience. There is no reason, no justification whatever, that they should act otherwise. . . . The point which should be always remembered is that the issue in question is essentially a matter of conscience, and as such is of a binding effect upon all believers."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 2, 1935, quoted by the Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 69-70 "The basic principle that institutions that are entirely managed by Bahá'ís are under the obligation of obeying the Bahá'í laws regarding the observance of Holy Days is clear. A problem, however, arises in relation to service institutions and work of a service nature that cannot be postponed.

"There are, of course, many Bahá'í activities that are

carried on on the Holy Days in addition to the celebration of the Holy Days themselves, such as the election of Local Spiritual Assemblies on the First Day of Ridvan, the holding of the National Convention, which may well coincide with one or more Holy Days, and other praiseworthy activities. It is not this kind of `work' that is prohibited. Thus, there would be no objection to the holding of sessions of a Summer School or Weekend School on a Holy Day--although they might well be modified in form in recognition of the particular day, and would give time for the actual commemoration.

"In light of these considerations, and others drawn from the Sacred Texts, the House of Justice advises that, in the case of the Landegg Conference Center, the work performed during a Bahá'í Holy Day by the household staff, whether Bahá'í or non-Baha'i, should be reduced to the minimum necessary to provide the normal essential services, including, of course, the work needed in connection with the celebration of the Holy Day itself. When the Manager is scheduling the booking of the premises to non-Bahá'í groups he should either try to arrange that the period of letting does not include a Bahá'í Holy Day or, if it does, he should explain to the group at the time of booking that there will be limited service rendered by the staff on the Holy Day. Of course, if no events are scheduled at the Center on a Bahá'í Holy Day, it would be possible to close the Center on that day."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 3, 1984 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Switzerland Baha'i-Owned Businesses "As you are well aware, not only should Bahá'ís refrain from work on the nine Holy Days, but the shops and establishments owned by Bahá'ís should also be closed on these Days. If government regulations do not require the station to be on the air on a mandatory daily basis, Radio Bahá'í should not engage in regular broadcasts on the nine Holy Days. However, to aid the Bahá'í Community in its observance of any one of these Days, the station may offer at a particular time a special program suited to such observance. Those wishing to be involved in the production and airing of the program would be rendering a special service.

"You have no doubt noted that since the Bahá'í day begins at sunset and ends at the following sunset, no Gregorian day would be fully taken up by the observance of any one of the nine Bahá'í Holy Days; thus there is time to broadcast regular programs every day of the Gregorian year. The station naturally will inform its listeners of the meaning of each Holy Day well in advance so that they can appreciate the reason for the station's silence on such a Day.

"The House of Justice feels that this confirmation of the religious character of the station would be a means of teaching, a source of encouragement to the believers and a model for their emulation."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 6, 1986 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 17 November 1975 and in reply to your specific question, `May our Baha'i-owned retail mattress store remain open in the care of our non-Bahá'í employees on the Holy Days when we refrain from working?', has instructed us to say that in shops or stores owned by Baha'is, the fact that they may have non-Bahá'ís in employment does not exempt the Bahá'í owners from closing their businesses on Bahá'í Holy Days."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 30, 1975 to an individual believer Suspension of Bahá'í Administrative Activities "Concerning the suspension of Bahá'í administrative activities on Bahá'í Holy Days, we have found the texts of the Guardian's instructions in which he says that the work of Local Assemblies, committees and other institutions of the Faith preferably should be suspended, but that the final decision rests with the Universal House of Justice.

"We feel that the time is not yet ripe to add anything further, and therefore we leave the application of the above instructions of the Guardian to your National Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 3, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Children--Being Excused from School ". . . Steps should be taken to have Bahá'í children excused, on religious grounds, from attending school on Bahá'í Holy Days wherever possible. The Guardian has said: `Regarding children: at fifteen a Bahá'í is of age as far as keeping the laws of the Aqdas is concerned--prayer, fasting, etc. But children under fifteen should certainly observe the Bahá'í holy days, and not go to school, if this can be arranged on these nine days.'"

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 70 Whenever possible, steps should be taken to have Bahá'í children excused on religious grounds from attending school on the (nine) Bahá'í holy days. It is the responsibility of the Local Spiritual Assembly and Bahá'í parents to ensure that children observe Bahá'í holy days in ways that are meaningful to them educationally and spiritually.

Generally, it is only necessary to write a letter to the Board of Education or similar authority asking for recognition. The Holy Days, and a brief explanation for each, should be listed. The letter should point out that these dates are the same each year; hence, they would not always fall on regularly scheduled school days.

The parents are usually requested to send a note in advance of each Holy Day to the teacher or principal, and the children are expected to make up any lost work.

Along with the letter, it is sometimes helpful to include a pamphlet or two and to mention that many school districts throughout the United States have granted permission for Bahá'í children to be excused from attending classes on our Holy Days.

THE NINETEEN DAY FEAST Bahá'í Months and Dates of Nineteen Day Feasts Month Arabic Name Translation First Day 1st Baha Splendor March 21 2nd Jalal Glory April 9 3rd Jamal Beauty April 28 4th `Azamat Grandeur May 17 5th Nur Light June 5 6th Rahmat Mercy June 24 7th Kalimat Words July 13 8th Kamal Perfection August 1 9th Asma' Names August 20 10th `Izzat Might September 8 11th Mashiyyat Will September 27 12th `Ilm Knowledge October 16 13th Qudrat Power November 4 14th Qawl Speech November 23 15th Masa'il Questions December 12 16th Sharaf Honor December 31 17th Sultan Sovereignty January 19 18th Mulk Dominion February 7 19th `Ala' Loftiness March 2 "The Bahá'í day starts and ends at sunset, and consequently the date of the celebration of Bahá'í feasts should be adjusted to conform to the Bahá'í calendar time."

Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 56 Purpose and Significance "The Nineteen Day Feast, its framework, purpose and possibilities, have in recent years become a subject of increasing inquiry among the friends. It occupied much of the consultation at the Sixth International Bahá'í Convention last year, and we feel the time has come for us to offer clarifications.

"The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh encompasses all units of human society; integrates the spiritual, administrative and social processes of life; and canalizes human expression in its varied forms towards the construction of a new civilization. The Nineteen Day Feast embraces all these aspects at the very base of society. Functioning in the village, the town, the city, it is an institution of which all the people of Baha are members. It is intended to promote unity, ensure progress, and foster joy.

"`If this feast be held in the proper fashion,' `Abdu-l-Baha states, `the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world.' To ensure this glorious outcome the concept of the Feast must be adequately understood by all the friends. The Feast is known to have three distinct but related parts: the devotional, the administrative, and the social. The first entails the recitation of prayers and reading from the Holy Texts. The second is a general meeting where the Local Spiritual Assembly reports its activities, plans and problems to the community, shares news and messages from the World Center and the National Assembly, and receives the thoughts and recommendations of the friends through a process of consultation. The third involves the partaking of refreshments and engaging in other activities meant to foster fellowship in a culturally determined

diversity of forms which do not violate principles of the Faith or the essential character of the Feast.

"Even though the observance of the Feast requires strict adherence to the threefold aspects in the sequence in which they have been defined, there is much room for variety in the total experience. For example, music may be introduced at various stages, including the devotional portion; `Abdu'l-Bahá recommends that eloquent, uplifting talks be given; originality and variety in expressions of hospitality are possible; the quality and range of the consultation are critical to the spirit of the occasion. The effects of different cultures in all these respects are welcome factors which can lend the Feast a salutary diversity, representative of the unique characteristics of the various societies in which it is held, and therefore conducive to the upliftment and enjoyment of its participants.

"It is notable that the concept of the Feast evolved in stages in relation to the development of the Faith. At its earliest stage in Iran, the individual friends, in response to Bahá'u'lláh's injunctions, hosted gatherings in their homes to show hospitality once every nineteen days and derived inspiration from the reading and discussion of the Teachings. As the community grew, `Abdu'l-Bahá delineated and emphasized the devotional and social character of the event. After the establishment of Local Spiritual Assemblies, Shoghi Effendi introduced the administrative portion and acquainted the community with the idea of the Nineteen Day Feast as an institution. It was as if a symphony, in three movements, had now been completed.

"But it is not only in the sense of its gradual unfoldment as an institution that the evolution of the Feast must be regarded; there is a broader context yet. The Feast may well be seen in its unique combination of modes as the culmination of a great historic process in which primary elements of community life--acts of worship, of festivity and other forms of togetherness--over vast stretches of time have achieved a glorious convergence. The Nineteen Day Feast represents the new stage in this enlightened age to which the basic expression of community life has evolved. Shoghi Effendi has described it as the foundation of the new World Order, and in a letter written on his behalf, it is referred to as constituting `a vital medium for maintaining close and continued contact between the believers themselves, and also between them and the body of their elected representatives in the local community.'

"Moreover, because of the opportunity which it provides for conveying messages from the national and international levels of the administration and also for communicating the recommendations of the friends to those levels, the Feast becomes a link that connects the local community in a dynamic relationship with the entire structure of the Administrative Order. But considered in its local sphere alone there is much to thrill and amaze the heart. Here it links the individual to the collective processes by which a society is built or restored. Here, for instance, the Feast is an arena of democracy at the very root of society, where the Local Spiritual Assembly and the members

of the community meet on common ground, where individuals are free to offer their gifts of thought, whether as new ideas or constructive criticism, to the building processes of an advancing civilization. Thus it can be seen that aside from its spiritual significance, this common institution of the people combines an array of elemental social disciplines which educate its participants in the essentials of responsible citizenship.

"If the Feast is to be properly experienced, beyond an understanding of the concept must also be the preparation of it and the preparation for it. Although the Local Spiritual Assembly is administratively responsible for the conduct of the Feast, it often calls upon an individual or a group of individuals to make preparations--a practice which is consonant with the spirit of hospitality so vital to the occasion. Such individuals can act as hosts and are sometimes concerned with the selection of the prayers and readings for the devotional portion; they may also attend to the social portion. In small communities the aspect of personal hospitality is easy to carry out, but in large communities the Local Spiritual Assemblies, while retaining the concept of hospitality, may find it necessary to devise other measures.

"Important aspects of the preparation of the Feast include the proper selection of readings, the assignment, in advance, of good readers, and a sense of decorum both in the presentation and the reception of the devotional program. Attention to the environment in which the Feast is to be held, whether indoors or outdoors, greatly influences the experience. Cleanliness, arrangement of the space in practical and decorative ways--all play a significant part. Punctuality is also a measure of good preparation.

"To a very large extent, the success of the Feast depends on the quality of the preparation and participation of the individual. The beloved Master offers the following advice: `Give ye great weight to the Nineteen Day gatherings, so that on these occasions the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful may turn their faces toward the Kingdom, chant the communes, beseech God's help, become joyfully enamored each of the other, and grow in purity and holiness, and in the fear of God, and in the resistance to passion and self. Thus will they separate themselves from this elemental world, and immerse themselves in the ardors of the spirit.

"In absorbing such advice, it is illuminating indeed to view the Nineteen Day Feast in the context in which it was conceived. It is ordained in the `Kitáb-i-Aqdas' in these words: `It hath been enjoined upon you once a month to offer hospitality, even should ye serve no more than water, for God hath willed to bind your hearts together, though it be through heavenly and earthly means combined.' It is clear, then, that the Feast is rooted in hospitality, with all its implications of friendliness, courtesy, service, generosity and conviviality. The very idea of hospitality as the sustaining spirit of so significant an institution introduces a revolutionary new attitude to the conduct of human affairs at all levels, an attitude which is critical to that world unity which the Central Figures of our Faith labored so long

and suffered so much cruelty to bring into being. It is in this divine festival that the foundation is laid for the realization of so unprecedented a reality.

"That you may all attain the high mark set for the Feast as a `bringer of joy,' the `groundwork of agreement and unity,' the `key to affection and fellowship,' will remain an object of our ardent supplications at the Holy Threshold."

Written by the Universal House of Justice, August 27, 1989, to the Followers of Bahá'u'lláh "The Feast hath been enjoined upon you once in every month, though it be with water only. God hath verily purposed to bring the hearts of men together, though it require every means on earth and in the heavens."

Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, also quoted in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 17 "O ye loyal servants of the Ancient Beauty: In every cycle and Dispensation, the Feast hath been favored and loved, and the spreading of a table for the lovers of God hath been considered a praiseworthy act. This is especially the case today, in this Dispensation beyond compare, this most generous of ages, when it is highly acclaimed, for it is truly accounted among such gatherings as are held to worship and glorify God. Here the holy verses, the heavenly odes and laudations are intoned, and the heart is quickened, and carried away from itself. `Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 1 "That is, the friends should there dwell upon God and glorify Him, read the prayers and holy verses, and treat one another with the utmost affection and love."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 19 "Thou has written to his honor . . . concerning the Feast.

"This Feast was established by His Highness the Báb, to occur once in nineteen days. Likewise, the Blessed Perfection (Bahá'u'lláh) hath commanded, encouraged and reiterated it. Therefore, it hath the utmost importance. Undoubtedly you must give the greatest attention to this establishment and raise it to the highest point of importance, so that it may become continual and constant. The believers of God must assemble and associate with each other in the utmost love, joy and fragrance. They must conduct themselves (in these Feasts) with the greatest dignity and consideration, chant divine verses, peruse instructive articles, read the Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, encourage and inspire each other with love for the whole human race, invoke God with perfect joy and fragrance, sing the verses, glorifications and praises of the Self-subsistent Lord and deliver eloquent speeches. The owner of the house must personally serve the beloved ones. He must seek after the comfort of all and with the utmost humility he must show forth kindness to every one. If the Feast is arranged in this manner and in the way mentioned, that supper is the `Lord's supper,' for the result is the same result and the effect is the same effect."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, pp. 19-20

"The primary intent is to kindle these stirrings of the spirit, but at the same time it follows quite naturally that those present should partake of food, so that the world of the body may mirror the spirit's world, and flesh take on the qualities of soul; and just as the spiritual delights are here in profusion, so too the material delights."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 17 "Give ye great weight to the Nineteen Day gatherings, so that on these occasions the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful may turn their faces toward the Kingdom, chant the communes, beseech God's help, become joyfully enamored each of the other, and grow in purity and holiness, and in the fear of God, and in resistance to passion and self. Thus will they separate themselves from this elemental world, and immerse themselves in the ardors of the spirit."

``Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 18 "As to the Nineteen Day Feast, it rejoiceth mind and heart. If this Feast be held in the proper fashion, the friends will, once in nineteen days, find themselves spiritually restored, and endued with a power that is not of this world."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 19 "In brief, this is my hope: that the Nineteen Day Feast become the cause of great spiritual solidarity between the friends, that it may bring believers into the bond of unity, and we will then be so united together that love and wisdom will spread from this center to all parts. This Feast is a divine Feast. It is a Lord's supper, It attracts confirmation of God like a magnet. It is the cause of the enlightenment of hearts."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 21 Observance of Feast by Groups and Isolated Believers "In reply to your letter of November 8th we feel that all friends, whatever their circumstances, should be encouraged to observe the Nineteen Day Feast. Obviously it can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing."

The Universal House of Justice, December 1, 1968 When to Hold the Nineteen Day Feast "The Nineteen Day Feast should be held, preferably, on the first day of the Bahá'í month, that is to say, the Bahá'í day, beginning at sunset. If this is not possible for some good reason, for example that it clashes with the regular day for a

public meeting, then it may be held later, but it must fall within the same Bahá'í month and should be on the nearest date."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 8, 1969 ". . . You ask if it is within the discretion of a Local Spiritual Assembly to schedule the Feasts at times other than the first day of a Bahá'í month, and point out that attendance was very low when Feasts were held in the middle of a week, but that when held on a Saturday many more of the friends were able to attend. It seems obvious, therefore, that the intent of the Local Assembly, in loving consideration of the members of its community, was to make the participation in a Nineteen Day Feast available to as many of the believers as possible. . . .

". . . Since the beloved Guardian expressed a preference, and considered it `most suitable,' for the Feast to be held on the first day of each month, the House of Justice hopes that the friends everywhere will aim at scheduling their Nineteen Day Feasts in this way, and that the friends themselves will arrange their personal affairs to be able to attend."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 243-244 "As to your questions concerning the times for Feasts and Holy Days: The Bahá'í Day is from sunset to sunset, therefore if in summer the sun sets too late to enable the Nineteen Day feast to be held on the preceding evening, it should be held on the day itself. As long as the meeting begins before sunset it is considered to be held on the day which comes to an end with that sunset. Naturally Nineteen Day Feasts should be held on the first day of the Bahá'í month if possible, but if it should be difficult to do so, for example if it coincides with a regular public meeting evening, it is permissible to hold it on the following day, i.e. on a succeeding day of the Bahá'í month. Written by the Universal House of Justice, June 23, 1964, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Finland, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast," p. 10 Where to Hold Civil Area ". . . [The] governing principle is that each local community should hold Nineteen Day Feasts within its own civil area."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 10, 1986 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Outdoors "There is no objection to holding meetings in the open air as long as they are conducted with dignity."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 14, 1941, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 28

Area Feasts "Each city will have its own Spiritual Assembly, not a number of district ones. Naturally, district 19-day Feasts can be held where there are very many Bahá'ís in one city." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 29 "We understand and appreciate the problems involved in the

holding of Nineteen Day Feasts in the large cities such as New York and Los Angeles and we have no objection to your Assembly authorizing the Local Assembly to provide for the holding of the Feast in different localities as an experiment, if the Local Assembly so wishes, bearing in mind the following precautions: The tendency in metropolitan areas is towards segregation, and therefore the Local Assembly should be alert to prevent a similar pattern developing in Bahá'í meetings by reason of the location of the Feast.

The Local Assembly should be watchful that neither the unity of the community nor control by the Local Assembly is dissipated by this practice."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 23, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States ". . . If found desirable, the Spiritual Assembly could authorize the holding of separate Nineteen Day Feasts in several sub-units. In such a decentralized system, the Local Spiritual Assembly would have to provide for the overall coordination of the efforts of the friends in all sub-units of the city."

The Universal House of Justice, December 20, 1987 Holding of Feasts in a Church or Other Religious Building ". . . Generally there is no objection to holding . . . Bahá'í functions in places or facilities owned and operated by non-Bahá'í religious bodies, provided such use does not tend to identify the Faith, in the eyes of the public, with other religions."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 3, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Organization of the Feast "As to your question concerning Bahá'í feasts, Shoghi Effendi strongly feels that on such occasions the friends should emphasize both the spiritual and the administrative elements. For these are equally essential to the success of every Bahá'í festival. To maintain the right balance between them is, therefore, the duty and responsibility of every individual Bahá'í or group."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 24 "In a general letter issued to Local Spiritual Assemblies several years ago, it was pointed out the Guardian instructs that the Nineteen Day Feast be held according to the following program: the first part, entirely spiritual in character, is devoted to readings from Bahá'í Sacred Writings; the second part consists of general consultation on the affairs of the Cause, at which time the Local Spiritual Assembly reports its activities to the community, asks for suggestions and consultation, and also delivers messages received from the Guardian and the National Assembly. The third part is the material feast and social meeting of all the friends."

Statement of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, quoted in Bahá'í Meetings/the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 23

In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi referred to the above statement of the National Spiritual Assembly:

"Regarding the nature of the Nineteen Day Feasts, the Guardian feels that the excellent statement on their nature, function and purpose published in one of the recent issues of the News Letter is so comprehensive and faithful in its presentation that he does not find it necessary to restate and enlarge upon the matter. He has no objection, however, if you feel the need to elaborate the thought expressed in that statement, stressing particularly the spiritual, administrative and social aspects of this vital Bahá'í institution."

Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 23 "Regarding changing the order of the Feast, it is clear from Shoghi Effendi's instructions that the Nineteen Day Feast program should start with the spiritual part, and not with the social part, which includes refreshments, or breaking bread together. . . . However, if it is found that some sort of association among the friends or the serving of food and refreshments will be helpful, if this takes place at the outset, there is no objection to this practice, provided it is clear that it is not part of the Feast."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 23, 1985, to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

"We can understand the desire of some of the friends to provide a warm welcome at the Feasts to newly declared believers and particularly youth, and we see no objection to the Assembly giving a reception before the actual Feast to achieve this purpose. As the Feast is frequently held in the evening, the Assembly might consider it desirable to arrange for the believers to have a light evening meal together before the Feast is held or it could, for example, arrange for social activities of an appropriate kind while the friends are gathering prior to the actual commencement of the Nineteen Day Feast. This should not, however, take the place of the social part of the Feast itself."

Written by the Universal House of Justice, January 21, 1973, to the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

The Devotional Aspect ". . . A good part of the feast must of course be devoted to the reading of the Holy Words. For it is through them that the friends can get the inspiration and the vision they need for the successful accomplishment of their work for the Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 24 "During the devotional part of the 19 Day Feast any part of the writings of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and the Master can be read, also from the Bible and Qur'an, as these are all sacred scrip-

tures. This part of the meeting need not be confined to prayers, though prayers can and should be read during it."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 29 ". . . The Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb and the Master. Following this, passages may be read from other Tablets, from the Holy Scriptures of previous Dispensations, and from the writings of the Guardian. It is clear, however, that the beloved Guardian would not wish his own words to be read as part of an arranged devotional program in which they would be interspersed among the words of Holy Scriptures. In other words, at the Nineteen Day Feast, where the words of the Guardian are to be read they should follow any selections from the Scriptures and not be mixed with them."

The Universal House of Justice, August 25, 1965 The Administrative and Consultative Aspects "The chief opportunity which the friends have for discussion on administrative questions is during the Nineteen Day feasts, at which time the members of the Assembly can meet with the body of the believers and discuss in common the affairs of the Cause, and suggest new policies and methods."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 27 "There is a time set aside at the Nineteen Day Feasts for the community to express its views and make suggestions to its assembly; the assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 30, 1949, in Lights of Guidance, p. 246 "The Administrative Order provides channels for expression of criticism, acknowledging, as a matter of principle, that `it is not only the right, but the vital responsibility of every loyal and intelligent member of the community to offer fully and frankly, but with due respect and consideration to the authority of the Assembly, any suggestion, recommendation or criticism he conscientiously feels he should in order to improve and remedy certain existing conditions or trends in his local community.' Correspondingly, the Assembly has the duty `to give careful consideration to any such views submitted to them.'

"Apart from the direct access which one has to an Assembly, local or national, or to a Counselor or Auxiliary Board member, there are specific occasions for the airing of one's views in the community. The most frequent of these occasions for any Bahá'í is the Nineteen Day Feast which, `besides its social and spiritual aspects, fulfills various administrative needs and requirements of the community, chief among them being the need for open and constructive criticism and deliberation regarding the state of affairs within the local Bahá'í community.' At the same time, Shoghi Effendi's advice, as

conveyed by his secretary, goes on to stress the point that `all criticisms and discussions of a negative character which may result in undermining the authority of the Assembly as a body should be strictly avoided. For otherwise the order of the Cause itself will be endangered, and confusion and discord will reign in the community.'"

The Universal House of Justice, Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 24-25 (See also Chapter 4, section entitled "Criticism.") (See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Feast Recommendations and Communications.")

"We note from reading your minutes that the enthusiasm of some of the new believers is being tested by the reading of long, wordy letters at Nineteen Day Feasts, and we think that something should be done about this. While it is important that the believers be informed about important messages from the Holy Land and other important items, it is true that the reading of messages at Nineteen Day Feasts can become a very boring and trying experience particularly for new believers not acquainted with many aspects of Bahá'í administration. We think you should consider other ways and means by which believers could be informed of vital and necessary information, such as through bulletins, institutes and other meetings."

Written by the Universal House of Justice, September 6, 1971, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

Chairing the Feast "The Chairman of the local assembly is, if present, the logical and appropriate person to take charge of the consultation period between the assembly and the community members at the Nineteen Day Feast."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Unfolding Destiny, p. 450 Occasionally the Assembly may find it necessary or appropriate to delegate the responsibility of chairing the Feast to another member or to request a person who is not an Assembly member to chair the Feast.

It is helpful to have a chair who is pleasant and cheerful and who can keep the discussion focused and moving, keep strong personalities from dominating the consultation, and give everyone who wishes an opportunity to speak. Translation "The Nineteen Day Feasts and other official gatherings of the friends should be conducted in whatever is the conventional local language. This does not mean, of course, that at such gatherings some of the readings could not be in the language of the immigrants, or that, if these friends so wish, some classes and conferences may not be held and conducted in their own language for their benefit. The essential thing is, as stated above, to promote the integration of the immigrants into the community and avoid feelings of estrangement or disunity on account of language."

The Universal House of Justice, November 10, 1982 to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

"The Local Spiritual Assembly . . . is correct in its decision to conduct the Nineteen Day Feasts in Spanish and to not translate the proceedings in Persian, especially in view of the fact that some of the Spanish friends are becoming alienated from the community. Although the Iranian believers should make every effort to attend the Nineteen Day Feasts, they should not expect such meetings to be conducted in Persian. They should try to learn Spanish, particularly if they are planning to make their home in Spain. There is no objection, however, to Persian friends if they so wish having special meetings for fellowship and deepening conducted in Persian." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 6, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Spain, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

(See also Chapter 8, section entitled "Integration of Persian Baha'is.") The Social Aspect ". . . When they gather in this meeting, all those present must turn their faces toward the Kingdom of Abha, and from their hearts supplicate, invoke and entreat toward the lofty throne, beg of God's forgiveness for all shortcomings, read the teachings and arise to His service.

"Then spread the feast and give refreshments. Assuredly great results will be the outcome of such meetings. Material and spiritual benefits will be assured. All who are present will be intoxicated with the breezes of the Love of God, and the Breath of the Holy Spirit will with tremendous power inspire the hearts."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 22 Attendance and Participation Attendance Encouraged "In regard to the Nineteen Day feasts, Shoghi Effendi is of the opinion that the believers should be impressed with the importance of attending these gatherings which, in addition to their spiritual significance, constitute a vital medium for maintaining close and continued contact between the believers themselves, and also between them and the body of their elected representatives in the local community.

"No radical action, such as the expulsion of any believer from the community, should, however, be taken in case anyone fails to attend these feasts. It is for every individual . . . conscience and responsibility."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 25 ". . . Regarding the Nineteen Day Feasts; these are not strictly obligatory, but the believers should endeavor to regularly attend them, mainly for the following two reasons: First, because they foster the spirit of service and fellowship in the community, and secondly, in view of the fact that they afford the believers a splendid opportunity to fully discuss the affairs of the Cause and to find ways and means for continued improvement in the conduct of Bahá'í activities."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated November 30, 1936 to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

"Isolated believers and the members of groups may also, of course, attend the Nineteen Day Feasts of communities when they wish to."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 23, 1985, to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

Children of Bahá'í Parents "Since children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Baha'is, they are to be encouraged to attend all Feasts, there to share the reading of the Writings and prayers and be bathed in the spirit of the community. It is the hope of the House of Justice that every Feast will be a feast of love when the children will give and receive the tangible affection of the community and its individual members."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 28, 1977 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada (See also in this chapter section entitled "Behavior of Children.") (See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Status of Children and Youth.") Children of Non-Bahá'í Parents "Concerning your inquiry asking if children under fifteen of non-Bahá'í parents could attend Nineteen Day Feasts or other events held exclusively for Bahá'ís when the children consider themselves as Baha'is, such children may be permitted to attend Bahá'í functions provided their parents have given their consent. This applies only, of course, to children under the age of fifteen years."

Written by the Universal House of Justice, August 4, 1970, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Nicaragua, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast" Youth "Paralleling the growth of his inner life through prayer, meditation, service, and study of the teachings, Bahá'í youth have the opportunity to learn in practice the very functioning of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Through taking part in conferences and summer schools as well as Nineteen Day Feasts, and in service on committees, they can develop the wonderful skill of Bahá'í consultation, thus tracing new paths of human corporate action. Consultation is no easy skill to learn, requiring as it does the subjugation of all egotism and unruly passions, the cultivation of frankness and freedom of thought as well as courtesy, openness of mind, and wholehearted acquiescence in a majority decision. In this field Bahá'í youth may demonstrate the efficiency, the vigor, the access of unity which arise from true consultation and, by contrast, demonstrate the futility of partisanship, lobbying, debate, secret diplomacy, and unilateral action which characterize modern affairs."

The Universal House of Justice, June 10, 1966, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 96 (See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Status of Children and Youth.")

Non-Bahá'ís "The rule that only Bahá'ís may take part in Nineteen Day Feasts is not a new one, indeed it was often reiterated by the beloved Guardian. However, when a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather, the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá'í should be made welcome. Of course, if the non-Bahá'í is well known to the Bahá'ís and no hurt feelings would be caused, he might be asked to retire during the consultative part. In general, however, it is much better to avoid such problems where possible, and you seem to have taken the wisest course during your friends' last visit by taking them out for the evening, so avoiding the problem. The Universal House of Justice, March 24, 1970, in Lights of Guidance, p.240

"During the period of consultation the Bahá'ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá'u'lláh and who might, thereby, gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive non-Bahá'í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Bahá'í community of which he is not a part."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 12, 1981, to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

". . . If a non-Bahá'í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá'í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá'í to attend."

The Universal House of Justice, January 23, 1985, to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

Non-Bahá'í Family Members and Persons Close to the Faith Although it is generally understood that only members of the Bahá'í community and visiting Bahá'ís from other localities may attend Nineteen Day Feasts, the question is frequently asked whether persons close to the Faith and non-Bahá'í members of Bahá'í families might not be permitted to attend if they leave the room during the consultation period. It is sometimes argued that this privilege will bring these persons closer to the Faith and will dispel any feeling that there are "secrets" in the Faith.

Bahá'ís should be able to take the necessary time to consult about plans and activities within their community. When visitors are excluded during consultation and are waiting to re-enter the room, the believers, from a sense of courtesy, feel obliged to hurry through the business and cut short the consultation so that their guests may not be kept waiting too long. Concentration on the essential aspects of the Feast is dissipated and sociability becomes the dominant factor. The friends should be sensitive to this and should refrain from inviting non-Bahá'í family members or seekers to any portion of the Feast.

Visitors "Any Bahá'í may attend a Feast, a local Baha'i, a Bahá'í from out of town, certainly an isolated Bahá'í in the neighborhood."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 27, 1957, in Bahá'í Meetings/the Nineteen Day Feast, p.33 "As to visitors to a Nineteen Day Feast, Bahá'ís from anywhere in the world should of course be warmly welcomed, and may take part in consultation. However, only members of the local community can vote on recommendations to the Local Spiritual Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, December 1, 1968 (See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Checking Credentials.") Behavior of Children "Further to the letter we wrote on its behalf on 28 June 1977, the House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honor and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be. It is realized that some Bahá'í observances are lengthy and it is difficult for very small children to remain quiet for so long. In such cases one or other of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child. The Spiritual Assembly can also perhaps help the parents by providing for a children's observance, suited to their capacities, in a separate room during part of the community's observance. Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration thus becomes a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behavior.

"In any case, the House of Justice points out that parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Bahá'í meetings. If children persist in creating a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting. This is not merely necessary to ensure the properly dignified conduct of Bahá'í meetings but is an aspect of the training of children in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 14, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada Sale of Items During Feast "As to the sale of items during the Nineteen Day Feast, we leave this to your discretion, bearing in mind that the principle purpose of holding the Feast should not be diverted and that pressure should not be placed upon the friends to participate in the purchase of articles offered for sale. Neither should it become an habitual thing. It would be better if the sale was not conducted during the Feast itself, but held at a separate time before or after the Feast proper."

The Universal House of Justice, April 1, 1968 Promotion of Personal Businesses or Services During Feast Bahá'ís sometimes take advantage of Feasts, firesides, other Bahá'í gatherings, and Bahá'í mailing lists to promote products which they sell or services in which they are engaged for a

living. This should not be permitted, even if the stated purpose is to give part of the proceeds to the Fund, as this may place undue pressure on the believers. Music "With regard to your question concerning the use of music in the Nineteen Day Feasts, he wishes you to assure all the friends that not only he approves of such a practice, but thinks it even advisable that the believers should make use, in their meetings, of hymns composed by Bahá'ís themselves, and also of such hymns, poems and chants as are based on the Holy Words."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 25 "Music is permitted during the spiritual part--or any part--of the Nineteen Day Feast."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated June 30, 1952 to an individual believer, from an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

"Instrumental music may be used at the Bahá'í Feasts."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, August 20, 1956, in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 33 Smoking During Feast "In the case of Nineteen Day Feasts or meetings of Assemblies or committees, it is not right that friends who find smoking offensive should be made to endure it in Bahá'í meetings that they are required or expected to attend. If certain individuals feel that they must smoke, then arrangements, such as a break in the meeting, could be made for their convenience. It would, of course, be entirely inappropriate to smoke during the devotional part of a Feast, or at any other devotional gathering."

The Universal House of Justice, March 4, 1974, in National Bahá'í Review, September 1986 (See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Smoking During Assembly Meetings.") Unity Feasts "It is not quite correct to say that a Nineteen Day Feast is changed into a Unity Feast as a result of the presence of non-Baha'is. What can happen is that the consultative portion of the Feast has to be postponed. . . .

"If it is decided to postpone part or all of the consultative portion of the Feast, the House of Justice states that it is within the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly to decide whether another meeting should be held during the Bahá'í month to complete it, or whether it can be postponed until the following Nineteen Day Feast."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 5, 1983, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Germany, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

"With respect to your question asking whether a Local Spiritual Assembly may cancel its Nineteen Day Feast in order to attend

Feast in another community, the House of Justice advises that the Nineteen Day Feast should not be cancelled. However, there is no objection to two or more local communities holding a joint Nineteen Day Feast occasionally, although it is not proper to allow such joint Feasts to be held on a regular basis. If members of a community find that the plan to hold such a joint Feast would produce inconvenience to them, they should take the matter up with their Local Spiritual Assembly."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 26, 1987, to an individual believer, quoted in an unpublished compilation, "The Nineteen Day Feast"

". . . Joint Feasts do not fulfil the purpose of the Nineteen Day Feast in its strict sense, and should not become a regular practice among the Friends."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 15, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Transkei, quoted in an unpublished compilation "The Nineteen Day Feast"

The Nineteen Day Feast was instituted by the Báb and ratified by Bahá'u'lláh as a function of the Bahá'í community and plays an integral role in the life of that community. A Unity Feast, on the other hand, is a purely social event and enjoys no special position in Bahá'í community life.

A Unity Feast cannot take the place of a Nineteen Day Feast. If several groups or communities wish to celebrate unity feasts together, that is most commendable, but these should not be used as substitutes for Nineteen Day Feasts.

In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian dated February 4, 1956, there is a reference to prayer meetings to which non-Bahá'ís may be invited: In some places the Bahá'í have held meetings for prayer, for people who desire to meet and pray. As we have such wonderful prayers and meditations in our writings, the reading of these with friends who are interested in and crave for this type of small meeting is often a step towards attracting them to the Faith. Perhaps you could start such an activity in your city. February 4, 1956 Quoted in Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 13 Since the Nineteen Day Feast is an institution held for the purpose of enabling individual believers to offer suggestions to the Local Assembly, it is clear that having several communities join for a Feast is not in keeping with the administrative intent of the Nineteen Day Feast. CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF OTHER RELIGIONS AND COMMUNITIES Preserving Inherited Cultural Identities "Bahá'ís should obviously be encouraged to preserve their inherited cultural identities, as long as the activities involved do not contravene the principles of the Faith. The perpetuation of such cultural characteristics is an expression of unity in diversity. Although most of these festive celebrations have no doubt stemmed from religious rituals in bygone ages, the believers should not be deterred from participating in those in which, over the course of time, the religious meaning has given

way to purely culturally oriented practices. For example, Naw-Ruz itself was originally a Zoroastrian religious festival, but gradually its Zoroastrian connotation has almost been forgotten. Iranians, even after their conversion to Islam, have been observing it as a national festival. Now Naw-Ruz has become a Bahá'í Holy Day and is being observed throughout the world, but, in addition to the Bahá'í observance, many Iranian Bahá'ís continue to carry out their past cultural traditions in connection with this Feast. Similarly, there are a number of national customs in every part of the world which have cultural rather than religious connotations. Participation in Other Cultural/Religious Festivals

"In deciding whether or not to participate in such traditional activities, the Bahá'í must guard against two extremes. The one is to disassociate themselves needlessly from harmless cultural observances and thus alienate themselves from their non-Bahá'í families and friends; the other is to continue the practice of abrogated observances of previous dispensations and thus undermine the independence of the Bahá'í Faith and create undesirable distinctions between themselves and their fellow-Baha'is. In this connection there is a difference between what Bahá'ís do among themselves and what they do in companionship with their non-Bahá'í friends and relations. For example, in a letter written on behalf of the Guardian there appears the following guidance: `As regards the celebration of the Christian Holidays by the believers, it is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the Friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Year, and to have their festival gatherings of this nature instead during the intercalary days and Naw-Ruz.' Attending Other Religious Marriage Ceremonies

"Further, there is no objection for Bahá'ís to attend religious marriage ceremonies of their friends and relatives or take part in festivities usually connected with these events, provided that in doing so they do not contravene Bahá'í Law. For example, if consuming alcoholic beverages is a part of such activities, the Baha'is, of course, would be obliged to refrain from partaking of such drinks.

"There are some exclusive religious ceremonies in which Bahá'ís should not participate, in order to safeguard the independence of the Faith. In this regard, the beloved Guardian has given the following advice to an individual believer: `In these days the friends should, as much as possible, demonstrate through their deeds the independence of the Holy Faith of God, and its freedom from the customs, rituals and practices of a discredited and abrogated past.' In observing this principle, the House of Justice advises the Bahá'ís to maintain a balance between their adherence to the Cause and obedience to its laws on the one hand, and their role in society on the other. When an individual becomes a Bahá'í he acquires, as you are aware, a wider loyalty to the Manifestations of God. Having found this new way of life, he should be careful not to isolate himself from his family and his people, and he should show respect for his former religion. The Bahá'ís should, of

course, avoid performing any acts which could be considered as implying their membership in another religion or which are contrary to Bahá'í Principles. There is a clear distinction between participating in festive and cultural events, as opposed to performing religious ceremonies and rituals.

"It should also be remembered that the weaning away of the Bahá'ís from customs and traditions, which have been established among communities for centuries, takes time and is a gradual process. Therefore, while the National Assembly should avoid rigidity in these matters, it should also not compromise when the interests of the Faith and its integrity and independence are at stake." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 26, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís in Malaysia SPECIAL EVENTS DAYS Dates and Descriptions * World Religion Day January (3rd Sunday) * Race Unity Day June (2nd Sunday)

United Nations International September (3rd Tuesday)

Day of Peace
United Nations October (1st Monday)
Universal Children's Day
United Nations Day October 24
United Nations December 10

Human Rights Days * Days established by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States World Religion Day World Religion Day was initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly. It is observed by Bahá'ís in the United States, and increasingly by people around the globe. Bahá'ís may celebrate the day by hosting discussions, conferences, and other events which foster understanding and communication between the followers of all religions.

The purpose of World Religion Day is to call attention to the harmony which exists among the spiritual principles of the world's religions and to emphasize that religion has always been the source of unity. "Your letter of September 30, with the suggestion that `there should be one day in the year in which all of the religions should agree' is a happy thought, and one which persons of good will throughout the world might well hail. However, this is not the underlying concept of World Religion Day, which is a celebration of the need for and the coming of a world religion for mankind, the Bahá'í Faith itself. Although there have been many ways of expressing the meaning of this celebration in Bahá'í communities in the United States, the Day was not meant primarily to provide a platform for all religions and their emergent ecumenical ideas. In practice, there is no harm in the Bahá'í communities' inviting the persons of other religions to share their platforms on this Day, providing the universality of the Bahá'í Faith as the fulfillment of the hopes of mankind for a universal religion are clearly brought forth."

The Universal House of Justice, in Lights of Guidance, p. 507

Race Unity Day Race Unity Day was inaugurated in 1957 by the National Spiritual Assembly to promote racial harmony and understanding. It is observed on the second Sunday in June. Originally called Race Amity Day, the name was changed to Race Unity Day in 1965. The purpose of the day is to focus attention on the most challenging moral issue facing this country--racial prejudice. United Nations International Day of Peace In 1959 the National Spiritual Assembly initiated the commemoration of a World Peace Day to call attention to the urgent need for the establishment of a lasting peace among the nations of the world. This observation was held on the third Sunday in September.

On November 30, 1981 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the third Tuesday in September as International Day of Peace, stating that it should be "devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideas of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."

In 1985 the National Spiritual Assembly decided to support the United Nations observance. Other Events The following are days for which Bahá'ís may also wish to plan activities: International Women's Day March 8 International Day for the Elimination of March 21 Racism and Racial Discrimination World Health Day April 7 World Environment Day June 5 International Literacy Day September 8 World Food Day October 16 UNICEF Day (Observed in U.S. with October 31 Halloween Trick-or-Treat Program) Suggested Readings

Holy Days `Abdu'l-Bahá, H. M. Balyuzi `Abdu'l-Bahá, The Center of the Covenant, H. M. Balyuzi The Báb: The Herald of the Day of Days, H. M. Balyuzi Bahá'u'lláh, The King of Glory, H.M. Balyuzi, Days to Remember, A Compilation by B. Forghani God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi Hour of the Dawn: The Life of the Báb, Mary Perkins, 1987 The Master in Akka, Myron Phelps, 1985 Nabil's Narrative

The Nineteen Day Feast Bahá'í Meetings/The Nineteen Day Feast, compiled by the Universal House of Justice

For Children: The Ayyam-i-Ha Camel, Cher Holt-Fortin, 1989 Fly Through the Bahá'í Year, Terry Ostovar, 1980 From Mountain to Mountain: Stories about Bahá'u'lláh, Hitjo Garst, 1987 Nine Holy Days, Jackie Mehrabi, 1975

10 THE FUND
The Nature and Purpose of the Bahá'í Fund
Nature of the Funds
Spiritual Activity and Material Means

". . . The progress and promotion of the Cause of God depend on material means."

Bahá'u'lláh, Huququ'llah: The Right of God, p. 1

"Thou hast asked about material means and prayer. Prayer is like the spirit and material means are like the human hand. The spirit operateth through the instrumentality of the hand. Although the one True God is the All-Provider, it is the earth which is the means to supply sustenance. . . . When man refuseth to use material means, he is like a thirsty one who seeketh to quench his thirst through means other than water or liquids. The Almighty Lord is the provider of water, and its maker, and hath decreed that it be used to quench man's thirst . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, pp. 7-8

"And as the progress and execution of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of Local as well as National Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá'í Fund be established. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41
Funds Established by `Abdu'l-Bahá

". . . The institutions of the local and national Funds, that are now the necessary adjuncts to all Local and National Spiritual Assemblies, have not only been established by `Abdu'l-Bahá in the Tablets He revealed to the Bahá'ís of the Orient, but their importance and necessity have been repeatedly emphasized by Him in His utterances and writings."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 6

Huququ'llah--A Separate Institution

"The payment of Huququ'llah is one of the essential spiritual obligations of the people of Baha which has been revealed in the Most Holy Book by the Pen of Glory. Therefore the friends should separate the account of Huququ'llah from that of their other contributions. Thus they must first settle their obligations concerning Huququ'llah, then they may make other contributions at their own discretion, inasmuch as the disposition of the funds of the Huququ'llah is subject to decision by the Authority in the Cause to which all must turn, whereas the purposes of contributions to the other Funds may be determined by the donors themselves."

The Universal House of Justice, Huququ'llah: The Right of God, p. 34

"Concerning Huquq, the Guardian wishes me to inform you

that at present it is not obligatory for the friends to pay, but that they should be urged to contribute to the local and national funds."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Huququ'llah: The Right of God, p. 29

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Huququ'llah.")

Purpose of the Funds

To Promote the Spread and Development of the Cause

"All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause, throughout that locality or country. . . .

"The members of the Spiritual Assembly will at their own discretion expend it to promote the Teaching Campaign, to help the needy, to establish educational Bahá'í institutions, to extend in every way possible their sphere of service."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 41-42

"That you may reinforce this Teaching Campaign--so vitally needed in these days--and conduct, properly and efficiently, the rest of your manifold activities, spiritual as well as humanitarian, it is urgently necessary to establish that Central Fund, which if generously supported and upheld by individual friends and local Assemblies, will soon enable you to execute your plans with promptness and vigor."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 6, 1923, Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 3

"As to racial prejudice, the corrosion of which, for well nigh a century, has bitten into the fiber, and attacked the whole social structure of American society, it should be regarded as constituting the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Bahá'í community at the present stage of its evolution. . . . A long and thorny road, beset with pitfalls, still remains untraveled, both by the white and the Negro exponents of the redeeming Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. On the distance they cover, and the manner in which they travel that road, must depend, to an extent which few among them can imagine, the operation of those intangible influences which are indispensable to the spiritual triumph of the American believers and the material success of their newly-launched enterprise."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 33-34

To Address the Needs of Humanity

"It is to a greater realization of the privilege and responsibility of supporting the multiple activities of our beloved Faith that we call you all at this critical time in world history, and remind you that to support the Bahá'í funds is an integral part of the Bahá'í way of life. The need is not only now, but throughout the years to come, until our exertions, reinforced by confirmations from on high, will have overcome the great perils now facing mankind and have made this world another world--a world whose splendor and grace will surpass our highest hopes and greatest dreams."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 3, 1985 to all Baha'is

". . . Our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the system of Bahá'u'lláh--Divine in origin--that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc. be eliminated."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi December 8, 1947, Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 12

"In the midst of a civilization torn by strifes and enfeebled by materialism, the people of Baha are building a new world. We face at this time opportunities and responsibilities of vast magnitude and great urgency. Let each believer in his inmost heart resolve not to be seduced by the ephemeral allurements of the society around him, nor to be drawn into its feuds and short-lived enthusiasms, but instead to transfer all he can from the old world to that new one which is the vision of his longing and will be the fruit of his labors."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 20-21

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Ways of Giving--Charity.")

(See also Chapter 13, "Social and Economic Development.")

Requirements of the Cause Take Precedence Over Individual Needs

". . . It should be emphasized and clearly understood by the friends that the national interests and requirements of the Cause take absolute precedence over individual and private needs. It is the duty of the N.S.A. to so dispose of the national fund as not to allow the national interests of the Faith to be jeopardized by individual considerations that are obviously transient when compared to the lasting interests of the Cause of God. In rare and exceptional cases, when a believer has absolutely no other means of material sustenance, the N.S.A. may either contribute towards his expenses from the national fund, or make a special appeal to the body of the believers to that effect. It is for the family, the civil community and the Local Assembly to administer to such local and private needs of the individual. But in case none of these sources has the means to do so, the N.S.A. may, if it is convinced of the gravity, urgency and justice of the case, appropriate a part of its fund for that purpose."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 17, 1937, Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 14

Four Major Funds

"We therefore appeal to the friends everywhere to exercise the utmost economy in the use of funds and to make those sacrifices in their personal lives which will enable them to contribute their share, according to their means, to the local, national, continental and international funds of the Faith."

The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1979 to the Bahá'ís of the World

The Local Bahá'í Fund

". . . It is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of Local as well as National Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá'í Fund be established, to be placed under the exclusive control of the Spiritual Assembly."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 41

"The beloved Guardian has explained that the general and national interests of the Cause take precedence over local ones; thus contributions to local funds are secondary to those to national funds. However, the stability of the National Assembly rests on the firmness of the Local Spiritual Assemblies, and in the matter of educating the friends in the importance of the fund, it is often most practical and efficacious to concentrate at first on the development of the local funds and the efficient operation of the Local Spiritual Assemblies. Then, once the friends understand the principle, and learn from experience at a local level, they will the more easily understand the importance of the national fund and the work of the National Spiritual Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 7, 1985 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

The National Bahá'í Fund

"The National Fund must be firmly established, generously supported and universally and continuously upheld, for it is the prerequisite of future progress and achievement."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 25, 1926 Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 5

"Above all he wishes through you to reiterate his wish, already expressed in his recent cable to the N.S.A., that the National Fund, which undoubtedly constitutes the bedrock upon which all the activities of the Cause ultimately rest, should receive the continued and whole-hearted support of all the believers. Both the local Assemblies and the individual believers should realize that unless they contribute regularly and generously to that Fund the progress of the Faith in India and Burma will not only be considerably retarded, but will inevitably come to a standstill. There should be a continual flow of funds to the National Treasury of the N.S.A., if that body wishes to properly administer the manifold and ever-increasing activities of the Faith. Every Baha'i, no matter how poor, must realize what a grave responsibility he has to shoulder in this connection, and should have confidence that his spiritual progress as a believer in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the Divine institutions of His Faith."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 17, 1937, Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 10 "As the activities of the American Bahá'í Community expand, and its world-wide prestige correspondingly increases, the institution of the National Fund, the bedrock on which all other institutions must necessarily rest and be established, acquires added importance, and should be increasingly supported by the entire body of the believers, both in their individual capacities, and through their collective efforts, whether organized as groups or as Local Assemblies."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 29, 1935, Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 9

The Continental Bahá'í Fund

"Urge the initiation of five Continental Bahá'í Funds which, as they develop, will increasingly facilitate the discharge of the functions assigned to the Boards. . . .

Appeal to the twelve National Assemblies and individuals to ensure a steady augmentation of these Funds through annual assignment in National Budgets and by individual contributions."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, p. 59

"Nor should the believers, individually or in their Assemblies, forget the vitally important Continental Funds which provide for the work of the Hands of the Cause of God and their Auxiliary Boards."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 20

The Bahá'í International Fund

"Emergence of independent sovereign state in Holy Land, synchronizing with the rise and consolidation of the Administrative Center of the World Faith of Bahá'u'lláh of which the establishment of the International Bahá'í Council and the construction of the superstructure of the Báb's Sepulcher constitute the initial major evidences, as well as the projected acquisition of extensive properties in close neighborhood of the Most Holy Tomb of Baha and the precincts of the Shrine of Mount Carmel, Haifa, essential to their preservation, resulting from far-reaching changes in the newly-established state, demand henceforth reorientation and necessitate increasing financial support by Bahá'í National Communities of East and West, through curtailment of national and local budgets. The extent of appropriations from national and local budgets of communities in both hemispheres is regarded as a spiritual obligation and left to the discretion of the elected representatives of the believers. Moreover, participation of individual believers, through contributions directly transmitted to the Holy Land are imperative and beyond the scope of the jurisdiction of National and Local Assemblies."

Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World, pp. 13-14

". . . The two major financial strongholds upon which the Bahá'í World Community must rely are the Cradle of the Faith [Iran] and the Cradle of the Administrative Order [America]."

The Universal House of Justice, March 31, 1970, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"It should therefore be the aim of every local and national community to become not only self-supporting, but to expend its funds with such wisdom and economy as to be able to contribute substantially to the Bahá'í International Fund. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 20

"Would you please remind the believers in your respective communities that in addition to contributing to the International Fund by means of earmarked donations to the National Fund, they can send contributions direct to Haifa. Checks should be made payable to `Bahá'í International Fund.'

"This continues the policy established by the beloved Guardian who wrote that participation of individuals through `contributions directly transmitted to the Holy Land' was `imperative and beyond the scope of the jurisdiction of National and Local Assemblies.'"

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 18, 1963 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Building the Arc

"As indicated in our letter of 30 April 1987, the way is now open for the Bahá'í world to erect the remaining buildings of its Administrative Center, and we must without delay stride forward resolutely on this path. . . .

"It is impossible at this stage to give an accurate estimate of the cost of these projects. All that we can now say is that in the immediate future two objectives have to be met: to accumulate rapidly a reserve of fifty million dollars on which plans for the construction can realistically begin to be implemented, and to provide an income of between twenty and twenty-five million dollars for the Bahá'í International Fund for each of the next ten years. As the work proceeds . . . further information will be announced."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 31, 1987 to all Baha'is

Principles of the Fund
Obligation and Privilege

"It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Bahá'u'lláh who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund. . . . I cherish the hope that all the friends, realizing the necessity of this measure, will bestir themselves and contribute, however modestly at first, towards the speedy establishment and the increase of that Fund."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 41-42

"There is a profound aspect to the relationship between a believer and the Fund, which holds true irrespective of his or her economic condition. When a human soul accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and enters into the divine Covenant, that soul should progressively bring his or her whole life into harmony with the divine purpose--he becomes a co-worker in the Cause of God and receives the bounty of being permitted to devote his material possessions, no matter how meagre, to the work of the Faith.

"Giving to the Fund, therefore, is a spiritual privilege, not open to those who have not accepted Bahá'u'lláh, of which no believer should deny himself. It is both a responsibility and a source of bounty. This is an aspect of the Cause which, we feel, is an essential part of the basic teaching and deepening of new believers. The importance of contributing resides in the degree of sacrifice of the giver, the spirit of devotion with which the contribution is made and the unity of the friends in this service; these attract the confirmations of God and enhance the dignity and self-respect of the individuals and the community."

The Universal House of Justice, August 7, 1985, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 28

Obligation of Rich and Poor

"It is therefore imperative for the individual American believer, and particularly for the affluent, the independent, the comfort-loving and those obsessed by material pursuits, to step forward, and dedicate their resources, their time, their very lives to a Cause of such transcendence that no human eye can even dimly perceive its glory. 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."

Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 131

"Every Bahá'í no matter how poor, must realize what a grave responsibility he has to shoulder in this connection, and should have confidence that his spiritual progress as a believer in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh will largely depend upon the measure in which he proves, in deeds, his readiness to support materially the divine institutions of His Faith."

Shoghi Effendi, in Dawn of a New Day, p. 68

"The House of Justice believes that the financial needs of the Cause should be met by universal participation in giving and urges national and local spiritual assemblies to pursue this goal with vigor and imagination, recalling to the friends the plea of the beloved Guardian to every believer `unhesitatingly to place, each according to his circumstances, his share on the altar of Bahá'í sacrifice.' The fact that only we, the Baha'is, can contribute financially to the Cause is both our honor and our challenge."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1967, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 109

Only Bahá'ís in Good Standing May Contribute

". . . We should, I feel, regard it as an axiom and guiding principle of Bahá'í administration that in the conduct of every specific Bahá'í activity, as different from undertakings of a humanitarian, philanthropic or charitable character, which may in future be conducted under Bahá'í auspices, only those who have already identified themselves with the Faith and are regarded as its avowed and unreserved supporters should be invited to join and collaborate. For apart from the consideration of embarrassing complications which the association of non-believers in the financing of institutions of a strictly Bahá'í character may conceivably engender in the administration of the Bahá'í community of the future, it should be remembered that these specific Bahá'í institutions, which should be viewed in the light of Bahá'u'lláh's gifts bestowed upon the world, can best function and most powerfully exert their influence in the world only if reared and maintained solely by the support of those who are fully conscious of, and are unreservedly submissive to, the claims inherent in the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 182

"He wishes me to stress again that under no circumstances the believers should accept any financial help from non-Bahá'ís for use in connection with specific administrative activities of the

Faith such as the Temple construction fund, and other local or national Bahá'í administrative funds. The reason for this is twofold: first because the Institutions which the Bahá'ís are gradually building are in the nature of gifts from Bahá'u'lláh to the world; and secondly the acceptance of funds from non-believers for specific Bahá'í use would, sooner or later, involve the Bahá'ís into unforeseen complications and difficulties with others, and thus cause incalculable harm to the body of the Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 12, 1938, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, pp. 15-16

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Fund Raising--Sale of Personal Items.")

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Anonymous Contributions.")

Withholding the Privilege of Giving

"As regards the question of accepting contributions from people whose voting rights are suspended, the Guardian says this is not permissible."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 21, 1953, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 17

". . . It is not permissible for a Bahá'í who has been deprived of his administrative rights to contribute to the Bahá'í Funds for charitable purposes."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 2, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Meaning of Deprivation of Administrative Rights.")

Contributions from Children

"Any Bahá'í can give to the Cause's Funds, adult or child. . . . Bahá'í children have always given to the Cause, everywhere."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, February 12, 1949, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 16

Contributions from Non-Baha'is

"In cases, however, when a friend or sympathizer of the Faith eagerly insists on a monetary contribution for the promotion of the Faith, such gifts should be accepted and duly acknowledged by the elected representatives of the believers with the express understanding that they would be utilized by them only to reinforce that section of the Bahá'í Fund exclusively devoted to philanthropic or charitable purposes. For, as the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh extends in scope and in influence, and the resources of Bahá'í communities correspondingly multiply, it will become increasingly desirable to differentiate between such departments of the Bahá'í treasury as minister to the needs of the world at large, and those that are specifically designed to promote the direct interests of the Faith itself."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 182

(See also in this chapter Appendix A, "Contributions from Non-Baha'is.")

Nature of Giving
The Spiritual Nature of Giving

"Many a time hath the court of the All-Merciful been to outward seeming so denuded of the riches of this world that they who lived in close association with Him suffered from dire want. Despite their sufferings, the Pen of the Most High hath, at no time, been willing to refer, nor even to make the slightest allusion, to the things that pertain to this world and its treasures. And if, at any time, any gift were presented to Him, that gift was accepted as a token of His grace unto him that offered it. Should it ever please Us to appropriate to Our own use all the treasures of the earth, to none is given the right to question Our authority, or to challenge Our right. It would be impossible to conceive any act more contemptible than soliciting, in the name of the one true God, the riches which men possess."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 201-202

"All the friends of God . . . should contribute to the extent possible, however modest their offering may be. God doth not burden a soul beyond its capacity. Such contributions must come from all centers and all believers. . . . O Friends of God! Be ye assured that in place of these contributions, your agriculture, your industry, and your commerce will be blessed by manifold increases, with goodly gifts and bestowals. He who cometh with one goodly deed will receive a tenfold reward. There is no doubt that the living Lord will abundantly confirm those who expend their wealth in His path."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Prayers, p. 84

"Each and every believer, undaunted by the uncertainties, the perils and the financial stringency afflicting the nation, must arise and ensure, to the full measure of his or her capacity, that continuous and abundant flow of funds into the national Treasury, on which the successful prosecution of the Plan must chiefly depend. . . .

". . . Contributions to this fund constitute . . . a practical and effective way whereby every believer can test the measure and character of his faith, and to prove in deeds the intensity of his devotion and attachment to the Cause. . . .

"We must be like the fountain or spring that is continually emptying itself of all that it has and is continually being refilled from an invisible source. To be continually giving out for the good of our fellows undeterred by the fear of poverty and reliant on the unfailing bounty of the Source of all wealth and all good--this is the secret of right living."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 11

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Obligation of Rich and Poor.")

Universal Participation

"In that same message [April 1964] we indicated the meaning of universal participation:

. . . the dedicated effort of every believer in teaching, in living the

Bahá'í life, in contributing to the Fund, and particularly in the

persistent effort to understand more and more the significance of

Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation.

". . . Every believer can contribute to the Fund. Not all believers can give public talks, not all are called upon to serve on administrative institutions. But all can pray, fight their own spiritual battles, and contribute to the Fund. If every believer will carry out these sacred duties, we shall be astonished at the accession of power which will result to the whole body, and which in its turn will give rise to further growth and the showering of greater blessings on all of us."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 37-38

"The institution of the National Fund, so vital and essential for the uninterrupted progress of these activities must, in particular, be assured of the wholehearted, the ever-increasing and universal support of the mass of believers, for whose welfare and in whose name these beneficient activities have been initiated and have been conducted. All, no matter how modest their resources, must participate."

Shoghi Effendi, August 8, 1957 in Bahá'í Funds and Contributions, pp. 12-13

Voluntary

". . . I feel urged to remind you of the necessity of ever bearing in mind the cardinal principle that all contributions to the Fund are to be purely and strictly voluntary in character. It should be made clear and evident to everyone that any form of compulsion, however slight and indirect, strikes at the very root of the principle underlying the formation of the Fund ever since its inception. While appeals of a general character, carefully worded and moving and dignified in tone are welcome under all circumstances, it should be left entirely to the discretion of every conscientious believer to decide upon the nature, the amount, and purpose of his or her contribution for the propagation of the Cause."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 101
Confidential

"There is no objection to the Adelaide S.A. keeping a record of the names of contributors, and sums received, but no pressure must ever be brought on the Bahá'ís to contribute; it must be voluntary, and should be considered confidential, unless the friends themselves wish to mention it openly."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 26, 1945, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 11

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Treasurer's Committees and Treasurer's Assistants.")

Regularity

"The continual expansion of the Faith and the diversification of the activities of Bahá'í communities make it more and more necessary for every believer to ponder carefully his responsibilities and contribute as much and as regularly as he or she can."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 19

Sacrifice

"Contributing to the Fund is a service that every believer can render, be he poor or wealthy; for this is a spiritual responsibility in which the amount given is not important. It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift, and the unity of all the friends in this service which bring spiritual confirmations."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 19

"As to the idea of `giving what one can afford'; this does by no means put a limit or even exclude the possibility of self-sacrifice. There can be no limit to one's contributions to the national fund. The more one can give the better it is, especially when such offerings necessitate the sacrifice of other wants and desires on the part of the donor. The harder the sacrifice the more meritorious will it be, of course, in the sight of God. For after all it is not so much the quantity of one's offerings that matters, but rather the measure of deprivation that such offerings entail. It is the spirit, and not the mere fact of contributing that we should always take into account when we stress the necessity for a universal and wholehearted support of the various funds of the Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 31, 1935, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, pp. 9-10

"It is the degree of the sacrifice of the giver, the love with which he makes his gift, and the unity of all the friends in this service which bring spiritual confirmations. As the beloved Guardian wrote in August 1957: `All, no matter how modest their resources, must participate. Upon the degree of self-sacrifice involved in these individual contributions will directly depend the efficacy and the spiritual influence which these nascent administrative institutions, called into being through the power of Bahá'u'lláh, and by virtue of the design conceived by the Center of His Covenant, will exert.'"

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 19

"The problem that faces you is not material, but spiritual. In your national Community which enjoys the great prosperity that has been bestowed on your nation as a whole, it seems clear that if every believer contributed to the National Fund it would be possible for you to meet the needs of your budgets even without sacrifice on the part of the friends. . . . This, however, even though it should provide the funds immediately required, is not enough. The spirit of sacrifice and of whole-hearted devotion to the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is far more important, for this will enable the friends to overcome, not only their financial problems, but all the other obstacles that stand in the way of the advance of the redeeming purpose of God."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 31, 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Not Borrowing Money to Give

"Even though Shoghi Effendi would urge every believer to sacrifice as much as possible for the sake of contributing towards the fund of the National Spiritual Assembly, yet he would

discourage the friends to incur debts for that purpose. We are asked to give what we have, not what we do not possess, especially if such an act causes suffering to others. In such matters we should use judgment and wisdom and take into our confidence other devoted Baha'is."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 4, 1932, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 7

Earmarking

"Although individual friends and Local Assemblies are absolutely free to specify the object and purpose of their donations to the National Spiritual Assembly, yet, in my opinion, I regard it of the utmost vital importance that individuals, as well as Local Assemblies, throughout the land should, in view of the paramount importance of National Teaching and as an evidence of their absolute confidence in their national representatives, endeavor, however small at first, to contribute freely towards the upkeep and the increase of the National Bahá'í Fund, so that the members of the National Assembly may at their full discretion expend it for whatever they deem urgent and necessary."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 54

"Regarding your question about contributions: It is up to the individual to decide; if he wishes to donate a sum to a specific purpose, he is free to do so; but the friends should recognize the fact that too much labelling of contributions will tie the hands of the Assembly and prevent it from meeting its many obligations in various fields of Bahá'í activity."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 23, 1950, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 12

(See also in this chapter Appendix B, "Handling Earmarked Contributions.")

The Local Spiritual Assembly and the Fund
Responsibilities of the Assembly

"While the friends have the sacred obligation and privilege to contribute to the fund, each Local and National Assembly also has the inescapable duty of educating itself and the believers in the spiritual principles related to Bahá'í contributions, to devise simple methods to facilitate the flow and receipt of contributions, and to formulate effective procedures to ensure the wise expenditure of the funds of the Faith."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 7, 1985, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 30

"In view of the great responsibility placed upon the shoulders of the members of National Assemblies by those who elect them, we have urged National Assemblies to exercise the greatest care in handling of their National Funds particularly as these funds represent in great part acts of sacrifice on the part of the friends. It is, of course, within your discretion how you delegate the manifold tasks involved in the day-to-day operation of your National Assembly but we earnestly urge you to reconsider the resolutions to which we referred and provide that two signatures be required for the withdrawal of funds, one

of which would be that of an office-holder who is a member of your National Assembly."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 26, 1973, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 21

"The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility to ensure that contributions received are properly receipted, and satisfactory accounts kept of all receipts and disbursements. While the Treasurer normally is the officer in charge of such a sacred obligation, this does not mean that other members are thereby relieved of all responsibility, or are deprived of their right of access to details related to the current operation of the Assembly, in all its aspects.

"Such right and responsibility vested in the individual members of the Assembly does not vitiate the confidentiality of Bahá'í contributions, since the information made available to the Treasurer or other members of the Assembly is to be treated in strict confidence."

Written on behalf of he Universal House of Justice, January 11, 1977, in Bahá'í Funds and Contributions, pp. 22-23

"In the attitudes seen at the National Office, in the appropriations made to committees and other agencies of the National Assembly, in any budgetary assistance given to pioneers and travelling teachers, in the holding of conferences and deepening courses, and in all aspects of the work of the Cause for which the National Assembly is responsible, supervision, careful planning and lack of extravagance should be observed and be seen to be upheld."

The Universal House of Justice, May 25, 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies (See also the booklet Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, pp. 28-32 on the development of the local and national funds of the Faith.)

Responsibilities of the Treasurer
Trustworthiness

"A primary requisite for all who have responsibility for the care of the funds of the Faith is trustworthiness. This, as Bahá'u'lláh has stressed, is one of the most basic and vital of all human virtues, and its exercise has a direct and profound influence on the willingness of the believers to contribute to the Fund."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 7, 1985, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 22

Custodians of God's Trust

"It is important for your Assembly, in the future, to explain to persons who are entrusted with the money of the Faith that in view of the National Assembly's obligation to protect Bahá'í funds, the Assembly will hold them responsible for all monies they receive, and they should therefore render proper accounts to the National Spiritual Assembly, be faithful custodians of God's trust, and be assured that such honesty and faithfulness will be richly rewarded from on High."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 18, 1980, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 23

Specific Duties

"The House of Justice has not established any uniform procedure for Bahá'í treasurers, since methods of accounting and the laws governing such matters vary considerably from country to country and from one situation to another. It advises that on such technical questions the National Assembly's Treasurer can seek the advice of a professional. The National Spiritual Assembly should, of course, ensure that its books of account are audited annually and for this there is no objection to utilizing the services of a non-Bahá'í firm.

"In general terms, however, the House of Justice feels that there are certain matters to which National Treasurers should give particular attention.

"1. There is the relationship between the National Assembly and the individual believers and local communities. Through whatever correspondence he conducts with contributors to the National Fund and with committees which are drawing on the Fund for their work, the National Treasurer can be a powerful influence in establishing links of loving unity within the community.

"2. The Treasurer must be sure to render regular and accurate financial statements to the National Spiritual Assembly so that it can properly plan its work within the means available to it.

"3. It is the Treasurer's responsibility to prepare the annual financial report in time for the National Spiritual Assembly to consider it before presenting it at Convention. He also has to prepare the annual budget for the consideration and approval of the National Assembly.

"4. The Treasurer should carefully monitor the use of the Fund so that he can warn the Assembly in good time if there is danger of over-spending.

"5. In bookkeeping, a system must be adopted to ensure that earmarked funds are kept absolutely distinct from those that are at the free disposition of the Assembly, and there should be safeguards to prevent the inadvertent spending of earmarked funds on matters other than those for which they are intended.

"6. In addition to keeping accurate records of income and expenditure, the Treasurer should see that the assets of the Assembly are protected and that both assets and liabilities are carefully recorded.

"7. The Treasurer should advise the Assembly to set aside sufficient sums on a regular basis to provide for the repair and maintenance of properties owned by the Faith, so that these can be kept in good condition and so that the normal work of the Cause is not interrupted by sudden requirements of large sums for repairs. Usually the task of maintaining the properties is assigned to a special committee or committees, which should be consulted by the Assembly and can suggest a suitable amount to be set aside annually.

"8. While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to require only one signature on checks drawn on the National Fund, experience has shown that it is better practice to require at least two signatures. This is a protection not only to the Fund itself but also to the Treasurer. The funds of the Faith are a sacred trust, and Assemblies should be meticulous in handling and accounting for them."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 13, 1981, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, pp. 24-25

The position of the Treasurer of the Local Spiritual Assembly should be thoroughly understood by everyone in the community. The duties and limits of authority may be described as follows:

The Treasurer has a major responsibility in the community:

- Educating the community about the funds
- Receiving contributions
- Keeping the accounts
- Paying the bills

- Reporting financial progress at Feasts and other gatherings

The Treasurer performs these duties on behalf of the Assembly. To be effective, the Treasurer must understand that the Bahá'í Fund and, indeed, the functions of the Treasurer, are the responsibility of the entire Assembly and not just of the Treasurer alone. The Local Spiritual Assembly as a body should be concerned about the condition of the local Bahá'í Fund and consult on ways to make the community aware of the critical importance of the Fund. The Treasurer implements the decisions and policies of the Institution.

The Treasurer also has a responsibility to educate the community about the role the Fund must play in attaining the primary objective of the Faith--the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. In this regard, the functions of the office transcend material considerations. The Treasurer, as the representative of the Assembly, has the responsibility to educate and inspire the friends and emphasize the spiritual importance of the institution of the Bahá'í Fund. The friends should understand that their acts of material giving are transformed into the means of spiritual progress, not only for themselves as individuals but also for the community as a whole.

Presentations to the Community

"It is suggested that ways and means be found to make the Nineteen Day Feasts more interesting and a source of inspiration to the friends. For example, Local Assemblies might be assisted in devising more interesting and informative ways of presenting the needs of the Fund. . . . The Treasurer's Report should be an exciting and stimulating part of each Nineteen Day Feast, and it would certainly be helpful if the local

Treasurer had up-to-date information on the status of the National Fund."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 27 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

The Treasurer's presentation to the community should be designed to:

- Increase the community's awareness of the spiritual importance

of the Fund, and

- Stimulate universal participation in giving to the Funds.

In addition to the status of the National Fund, the Treasurer's Report for the Nineteen Day Feast may include:

- The status of the Local Fund

- Correspondence from the Universal House of Justice or the National Spiritual Assembly

- The status of any other Funds (Continental, International, etc.) or special appeals when known

- Inspirational stories and audio-visual presentations

- Information on estate planning and will preparation

The Treasurer could also try to involve the community members by enlisting the aid of other believers, including children and youth.

Financial Reports to the Community

The Treasurer should report the "Beginning Cash Balance," "Contributions,"

"Disbursements," "Ending Cash Balance," "Outstanding Bills," "Local Participation Percentage," and whether the community has achieved its contributions goal to the Assembly and the community each Bahá'í month. Most of these figures are easily gleaned from the monthly totals of the cash journal and can be reported from the "Statement of Cash Receipts and Disbursements" for each Bahá'í month. These figures should be recorded in the minutes of the Assembly meeting.

Mid-year (or more often if the Assembly desires) the Treasurer should report year-to-date receipts and disbursements compared with the amount budgeted. Most of the figures for this report are easily found by checking the year-to-date totals in the cash journal and by referring to the community's budget.

Reports to the National Spiritual Assembly

Annually, the Assembly must prepare and submit the Local Spiritual Assembly's "Financial Report to the National Spiritual Assembly." The report should show actual receipts and disbursements for the last fiscal year and include the budget for the new fiscal year. Although the Treasurer plays an important role in developing this report and the budget, final preparation of both rests with the entire Assembly. The report should be near completion by March, be affirmed by the Assembly by May, and sent to the National Spiritual Assembly Office of the Treasurer.

Care in Handling Funds
Stewardship of Bahá'í Funds

(See also in this chapter sections entitled "Custodians of God's Trust" and "Trustworthiness.")

Investing Funds

"The Assembly is the trustee of the funds in its care, and its primary concern in investing such funds should be to try to preserve their real value. Obtaining a good income from such investments is also desirable, but is a secondary consideration and should not be sought if this would endanger the value of the principal. This is especially true in the case of earmarked funds, where the Assembly has a duty to the donor or donors to preserve the value of the fund until such time as it can be used for the designated purpose. In such a case, when the value of the currency is itself depreciating, one method of upholding the real value of the earmarked fund is to add back to the principal all income earned on it, even if the donor has not specifically earmarked the income to be earned on his contribution."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 19, 1985, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 26

Handling Earmarked Contributions

(See Appendix B, "Handling Earmarked Contributions.")

Individual and Collective Contributions Are Distinct

"Care must be taken that the purpose of earmarking is not defeated. Thus the use of earmarked funds to defray the expense of particular items in your budget has the effect of reducing, pro tanto [to that extent], the amount of general contributions needed to be applied to the budget. In effect, this practice may result in there being no difference between an earmarked contribution and one not earmarked. For example: A friend may earmark a contribution for the Bahá'í International Fund. To apply this to the contribution to the Bahá'í International Fund from your National Fund would be wrong unless the earmarking so specifies. Funds earmarked merely to the Bahá'í International Fund should be sent to the World Center in addition to whatever contribution is made from the National Fund."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice July 29, 1971, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 21

"The principle involved is as follows: The Guardian feels that your Assembly when allocating its annual budget, and having stipulated what sum is for the purposes of the International Center of the Faith, should immediately pigeon-hole that sum to be at the Guardian's disposal. Any monies received as contributions from the Bahá'ís for the International Center should not be credited to this account which represents a national joint contribution, and has nothing to do with individual or local contributions forwarded to the World Center in your care."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 20, 1954, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 12

". . . The Guardian has noticed that the National Assembly plans to make a contribution . . . to the Australia and New Zealand Assembly for their Temple. He wishes to know whether this is the contribution that Mrs. Collins has made for that purpose, or whether this is another contribution given from the funds of the National Assembly. If it is Mrs. Collins' contribution, then it should naturally be given under her name."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 15, 1956, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 13

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Four Major Funds.")

(See also in this chapter Appendix B, "Handling Earmarked Contributions.")

Commingling Personal and Bahá'í Funds

". . . The Treasurer of a Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly, even if momentarily holding Bahá'í funds in his own name, must take the greatest care never to commingle his own funds with those of the Faith or to leave the funds of the Faith subject to the vagaries of fortune which can afflict any one of us."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 8, 1971, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 21

Misuse of Funds

"The distressing problems of the misuse of funds described in your letter can be resolved in the long run only through a process of loving education of the friends. It is through the dissemination among the believers of appropriate texts from the Writings of the Faith, through carefully prepared articles on this subject based on the Holy Texts and published in your newsletter, and through talks at conferences, summer schools and other Bahá'í gatherings, as well as discussion of these fundamental issues with the friends at such meetings, that you will be able to gradually attain your objective.

"As to the immediate problems you cite in your letter: You should consider each case separately, arrange for representatives of the National Assembly to meet with that individual, explain lovingly to him such standards as the sanctity of Bahá'í funds, the importance of integrity and honesty in handling money entrusted to one's care, and the test inherent in man's desire to possess material things. Arrangements could also be made at such a meeting for the individual to pay his debt in installments he will be reasonably able to meet.

"Your Assembly is quite right in stating that if there is a trend to misuse Bahá'í funds, and this trend is left unchecked, the practice can become contagious and do harm to the Faith and to the individuals concerned. However, wisdom and understanding are important, so that best results can be achieved."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 18, 1980, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 23

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Handling Violations of Bahá'í Law.")

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Duties of Officers--Treasurer.")

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Dissatisfaction with Officers.")

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Importance of Regular Attendance.")

Treasurer's Committees and Treasurer's Assistants

"Regarding the local funds, it is suggested that until such time as the friends have developed the habit of contributing regularly and freely, any Local Spiritual Assembly which has a large community might appoint a small committee to assist the local Treasurer in the discharge of his responsibilities. Such committees could be appointed after consultation with the Auxiliary Board member or assistant for the area. Great care must be taken in the appointment of the members of the committees; they must be both trustworthy and conscientious and must be imbued with awareness of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of contributions to the funds. It is envisaged that these Treasury Committees would serve a number of functions:

- To render general assistance to the Treasurer, as needed; for

example members of the committee could assist with issuing receipts

or keeping accounts.

- To arrange for inspirational talks and discussions at Nineteen

Day Feasts or at specially called meetings for the education of the

friends in the spiritual and practical importance of contributing

to the funds.

- To receive donations of money on behalf of the local Treasurer

and transmit these to him.

- To receive gifts of produce and handicrafts. The committee

would be responsible for arranging for their sale and for handing

over the proceeds to the local Treasurer.

- To receive from the friends written pledges of their hope or

intention of making a contribution to the local or national funds,

whether in cash or in kind, and to assist in collecting them."

The Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 31

As another option, local assemblies may wish to appoint Treasurer's assistants. Any assistants appointed must be both trustworthy and conscientious and must be imbued with awareness of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of contributions to the funds.

Budgeting, Accounting and Auditing Procedures
Budgeting

"The financial questions that confront the Cause are all very pressing and important. They need a judicious administration and a wise policy. We should study the needs of the Cause, find the fields which will give the greatest yield and then appropriate the necessary funds."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 19, 1929 in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 13

"He urges your Assembly, in addition to expediting the Temple work as much as reasonably possible, to carefully supervise expenditures and prevent the architect from getting extravagant ideas. It is only through a wise economy, the elimination of non-essentials, concentration on essentials and a careful supervision, that the Guardian himself has been able to build the Shrine and the International Archives at the World Center, and surround the Holy Places here by what appears in the eyes of the public to be lavish gardens, but are in reality the result of rigorous and economical planning. This will not only ensure that the budget of the Temple is adhered to, but will be a salutary example to the African Baha'is, who must not be led to believe that because the Bahá'ís of the world are building for them a Temple in the heart of their homelands, our resources are infinite and that the affairs of the Cause can be supported from abroad. The more they see that economy and intelligent supervision of the work is carried on in connection with their own Temple, the more they will be encouraged to feel some financial responsibility toward the National Body. Having very little themselves, it is a delicate matter, and as he already informed your Assembly, under no circumstances should a heavy budget be imposed upon such weak communities, and thus discourage them from the outset, or lead them to believe that like the Missions, our money comes from abroad."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, August 8, 1957, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, pp. 14-15

"I would however, at this early state of our work, strongly urge, nay entreat, the friends not to dissipate their efforts, but to seek, after frank, mature and continuous deliberation to arrive at a common conclusion as to the most urgent requirements and needs of the hour, and having unified their views to strive to uphold and enforce them with promptitude, wholeheartedness and understanding."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, January 16, 1925, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 4

Budgeting is the making of a plan of systematic spending of anticipated income in light of local, national and international needs.

The purposes of a budget:

a) To establish financial goals for the community, and

b) To achieve a balance between the financial requirements of the community for its operation and growth, and a realistic assessment of its ability to meet these expenses.

Budgeting is the responsibility of the Spiritual Assembly. The Treasurer can be of great assistance by providing details of the last year's income and expenses, the needs of the National Fund, Continental Fund and International Fund, and by drawing up a proposed budget for the further review of the Spiritual Assembly.

Budgets should be prepared at the beginning of the Bahá'í year--either Ridvan to Ridvan (concurrent with the National

Assembly's fiscal year) or the period March 21 to March 20 of the following year. The budget should be prepared by the outgoing Assembly and serve as a recommendation to the newly elected Spiritual Assembly.

When the budget has been set, the National Spiritual Assembly asks that it be included in the Financial Report to the National Spiritual Assembly and sent to the Office of the National Treasurer as soon as possible.

Accounting

A Local Spiritual Assembly should adopt a method of bookkeeping and a schedule for the length of time to retain the original documents of all financial transactions. These documents include receipts for contributions, bank statements, invoices, cancelled checks, promissory notes, etc. A recommended retention schedule can be found in Accounting Procedures for Local Treasurers.

A well-organized accounting system will aid in the efficient use of community resources and the development of a systematic method whereby important goals can be achieved consistently.

Auditing Procedures

An annual audit of the Treasurer's books is an important obligation of the Local Spiritual Assembly. At the end of each year (or more often if warranted), the Assembly must appoint two individuals or hire the services of a certified public accounting firm to carry out the audit.

"In response to your letter of 7 February 1982 the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that there is no objection to a National Spiritual Assembly's appointing auditors, whether Bahá'í or non-Baha'i, to audit its books of accounts as required by law. The function of a professional auditor is by its nature a confidential one and the fact that the auditor will have to see the records of contributions does not violate the principle of confidentiality."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 26, 1982, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 25

For additional details on accounting, budgeting and auditing, a booklet entitled Accounting Procedures for Bahá'í Treasurers can be obtained from the Treasurer's Office at the Bahá'í National Center.

Confidentiality of Financial Records

The Treasurer maintains records of receipts and disbursements on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly. These records are the property of the Assembly and, as such, are available to that body at any time. These records are held in confidence within the institution. No individual is given access to them except with the permission of the Local Spiritual Assembly.

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Confidentiality.")

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Responsibilities of the Assembly.")

Tax Exempt Status
See Appendix C

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Responsibilities of the Treasurer--Specific Duties.")

Fund Education

"We feel that each National Assembly should carefully and regularly consult on this vital aspect of the education of the friends, spare no effort and lose no opportunity in bringing to their attention the needs of the hour. For example, where land is difficult to obtain, or where funds for the purchase of endowments are not available, the friends should be appealed to in a dignified and effective manner to donate from their own land for the use of Bahá'í institutions. In the construction of local Bahá'í centers, the National Assembly should carefully devise methods of appealing to the friends to contribute manpower or local materials for the construction of such buildings. If ready cash is not available for contributions to the Fund, the National Assembly should guide the friends in ways they could raise funds by a collective effort to cultivate a piece of land, by contributing cash crops, livestock or home-made dishes, sweetmeats, or handicrafts. Special meetings could also be arranged for the sale of such contributions in kind. In the matter of attendance of delegates at Conventions, the desirability of the friends themselves being self-supporting should be pointed out by the National Assembly. If a delegate cannot pay his own expenses in attending the Convention, the Local Assembly or the believers in the electoral unit from which the delegate comes should be encouraged by the National Assembly to defray such expenses, so that only when funds are unavailable from those sources, the National Assembly is approached to consider offering financial assistance. The same principle holds true about other activities, such as attendance at Institutes, Conferences and Summer Schools." The Universal House of Justice, February 9, 1967

(See also Chapter 14, section entitled "Financial Requirements.")

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Responsibilities of the Treasurer.")

"Conditions vary from country to country and therefore, in educating the believers and developing the Fund, each National Spiritual Assembly needs to tailor its actions to the conditions of its area of jurisdiction."

The Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 30

"Assemblies should take the members of their communities into their confidence, and regularly inform them of the uses to

which the fund is put and the projects for which money is needed."

The Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 32

Teaching and Deepening New Believers

"In the visits made to the villages, the visiting teacher meets with the local communities to give them basic Bahá'í knowledge, such as living the Bahá'í life, the importance of teaching, prayer, fasting, Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá'í elections, and contributions to the Fund. The question of contributions to the Fund is of utmost importance, so that the new believers may quickly feel themselves to be responsible members of the community."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 34-35

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Principles of the Fund--Obligation and Privilege.")

Fund Appeals

". . . Appeals of a general character, carefully worded and moving and dignified in tone are welcome under all circumstances. . . ."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 101

"The National Assembly should neither feel embarrassed nor ashamed in turning to the friends, continuously appealing to them to exemplify their faith and devotion to the Cause by sacrificing for it, and pointing out to them that they will grow spiritually through their acts of self-abnegation, that the fear of poverty should not deter them from sacrificing for the Fund, and that the assistance and bounty of the Source of all good and of all wealth are unfailing and assured."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 9, 1967 to a National Spiritual Assembly

"In matters of contribution we should not use any compulsion whatsoever and ascertain clearly the desire of the donor. We should appeal to but not coerce the friends."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, July 9, 1926, Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 5

Use of Pledges

"Pledges can be useful as a means of encouraging contributions and of bringing the financial needs of the Cause to the attention of the friends. This method can be particularly helpful in a situation where a Spiritual Assembly has a major task to perform, such as building of a Haziratu'l-Quds or the establishment of a tutorial school, and needs to have some idea in advance of whether the funds for the project will be available. However, it would be entirely contrary to Bahá'í principles to bring any pressure to bear when calling for pledges or when endeavoring to collect them. Once a pledge has been given it is permissible to remind the donor, privately, of his expressed intention to contribute and to inquire courteously if it would be possible for him to honor his pledge, but Assemblies must be aware that such pledges are not an obligation in any legal

sense; their redemption is entirely a matter of conscience. Lists of those making pledges must not be publicized."

The Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 30

Fund Raising

". . . The House of Justice feels that it is important for the friends never to lose sight of the fact that contributing to the funds of the Faith is a spiritual responsibility and privilege of profound significance in the spiritual life of the individual believer, and care must be taken not to trivialize this aspect of Bahá'í life by applying to it too many `gimmicks' or treating it with a lack of dignity. At the same time, the Assemblies should not dampen the enthusiasm of those friends who, having only slender financial resources, devise imaginative ways of earning money for the work of the Faith.

"Within this framework, there is clearly a difference in the range of activities open to individuals and those which it would be befitting and dignified for a Spiritual Assembly to engage in or sponsor."

The Universal House of Justice, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 26, 1982

"Such gatherings for collections of funds are permissible if it is done with a true spirit of sacrifice, not when the audience is especially aroused to a frenzy and mob psychology is used to induce them to pay.

"Shoghi Effendi has repeatedly stated that no pressure should be used upon the friends and psychological pressure falls under that category. But there is much difference between such gatherings often used by religious bodies, and a true quiet, prayerful atmosphere when a person is, of his own accord, aroused to make some sacrifice. The distinction is very delicate, but it is for the Chairman to use his power to see that one desirable form is not corrupted into the other. All the activities of the Cause should be carried through in a dignified manner."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 28, 1932, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 8

Auctions

"There is clearly no objection to an Assembly's giving contributions in kind to a professional auctioneer to sell and then to use the proceeds for the Fund. Whether it would be proper to hold such an `ordinary auction' among Bahá'ís would depend upon the Assembly's judgement as to whether a properly dignified atmosphere could be observed and also whether it could be construed as bringing pressure to bear upon the friends to contribute which would, of course, be undesirable. In general the House of Justice prefers not to encourage such auctions for the Fund."

The Universal House of Justice, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 26, 1982, quoted in Bahá'í Canada Supplement, January, 1988

Lotteries, Games of Chance, Raffles

"In reviewing your Minutes for 15 March 1967, we note Item 25-8 in which the Treasurer suggests a lottery as a means of disposing of a Persian carpet which has been given to you by

one of the believers. We do not feel this is an appropriate way in which to raise funds. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, November 20, 1980 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

". . . As to participation in Bingo games by a Local Spiritual Assembly with the intention of contributing to the Fund, we do not feel it is appropriate for funds for the Faith to be raised through games of chance or raffles."

The Universal House of Justice, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, November 20, 1980

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Gambling.")

Sale of Personal Items

"As to the sale of personal items for the benefit of Bahá'í funds, we begin with the principle that any believer may sell personal services or goods to anyone and do with the proceeds as he wishes, including giving any or all of them to Bahá'í purposes. In doing so, however, he should not represent to non-Bahá'ís that such a sale is for the benefit of a Bahá'í fund as it is also a principle that it is improper to solicit funds from non-Bahá'ís in the name of the Faith for any purpose. This includes the sale of food and admission to entertainment."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 15, 1984 in Lights of Guidance, p. 252 "I feel that only such goods as are owned by believers, whether made by Bahá'ís or non-Baha'is, may be sold in the interests of the Temple or any other Bahá'í institutions, thus maintaining the general principle that non-believers are not, whether directly or indirectly, expected to contribute to the support of institutions that are of a strictly Bahá'í character. As to the manner of the disposal of Bahá'í property [items owned by individual believers] for such purposes, and the channel through which the sale may be effected, I feel that no rigid rule should be imposed. Individual Bahá'ís are free to seek the help of private individuals or of Spiritual Assemblies to act as intermediary for such transactions. We should avoid confusion on one hand and maintain efficiency on the other, and lay no unnecessary restrictions that would fetter individual initiative and enterprise."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, January 4, 1929 in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 15

Raising Funds from and on Behalf of Non-Bahá'í Organizations

". . . It is improper for Bahá'ís to solicit funds from non-Bahá'ís in the name of the Faith for any purpose. The following passage from the Pen of Bahá'u'lláh:

It would be impossible to conceive any act more contemptible than

soliciting, in the name of the one true God, the riches which men

possess.

clearly indicates what the attitudes of the Bahá'ís should be.

"There is, however, a wide range of fund-raising activities in which Bahá'ís may engage. For example, Bahá'í institutions

are free to approach governments or institutions which hold themselves out as wishing to fund charitable activities, to apply for grants to assist in specific humanitarian projects. A Bahá'í School which has both Bahá'í and non-Bahá'í pupils is free to raise funds for its own development by such activities as concerts, etc., or by appeals to parents; in this instance, a humanitarian institution is clearly identified, and the funds are being collected in its name rather than in the name of the Faith. Another example is that of a Bahá'í who wishes to sell an item he owns to the general public for a fair market price; he is free to use the proceeds for any purpose he wishes, including contributing them all, or in part, to the Bahá'í Fund, provided he does not represent to the public that the sale is being conducted for the benefit of the Faith.

"There would be no objection to the Bahá'í community's joining with others to give a concert or undertake some other similar activity to raise funds for a deserving charity. Such activities or even the making of donations to humanitarian work should be, and should be seen to be, acts of sincere assistance and co-operation. In choosing to engage in such fundraising, a Bahá'í community would need to ensure that assisting the charity would not have partisan political implications or support purposes contrary to the interests of the Faith. It would need to watch carefully that its involvement in such activities does not divert its energies from the vital work of teaching the Faith and consolidating its Institutions."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 20, 1987, Bahá'í Canada Supplement, January, 1988, p. 5

Ways of giving
To the Bahá'í Funds
Cash and Gifts in Kind

"Each national assembly must find ways and means to stimulate the offering of contributions, in cash or kind, to make it easy for the friends to contribute and to give proper receipts to the donors."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 35

Gifts in kind may include a wide variety of non-cash items and are generally acceptable as contributions to the Funds. Local and National Assemblies prefer that donors sell the items or property themselves and contribute the proceeds to the Fund whenever possible. But in circumstances where the market available to the donor may be limited or other factors prevent the donor from selling the item, the Assembly may accept the contribution. The discretion to accept such gifts remains with the receiving Assembly.

"In many parts of the world gifts of produce and handicrafts may be a large potential source of regular donations and could well be encouraged, proper arrangements being made for their collection and sale, and the disposition of the proceeds."

The Universal House of Justice, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 30

Anonymous Contributions

". . . The friends can give their contributions to the treasurer, or, if they wish to remain anonymous and give small sums, a

receptacle can be provided. The local assembly can decide this matter."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, September 29, 1951 in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 12

". . . The Universal House of Justice has asked us to inform you that there is no objection in principle to receiving anonymous contributions to either the International or National Funds; they must merely be treated as contributions from non-Bahá'ís and earmarked for charitable purposes."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 11, 1973 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Contributions from Non-Baha'is.")

Reimbursement of Expenses

"It is the duty and privilege of individual believers to serve the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh and they have no general right to be reimbursed by the Fund for expenditures that they incur in this way.

"Obviously it is only courteous for an administrative body to offer to reimburse a believer for expenses incurred in a project that it asks him to undertake, and it may wish to offer financial assistance to friends who are spontaneously rendering services that it knows they cannot well afford. In offering such assistance or reimbursement the Assembly or Committee will undoubtedly wish to keep the expenditure within reasonable limits, but for this purpose each project should be assessed on its own merits and it is in general undesirable to lay down specific amounts for travel and accommodation as a guideline.

"We understand that in certain cases a believer may prefer to claim his expenses from the Fund and then return the equivalent as a contribution or follow some other acceptable course in order to obtain the tax benefit that such a procedure might confer. This is of course quite permissible and you will know best how to handle such matters in accordance with the legal requirements. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 2, 1974, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada

Contributions in Honor and Memory of a Loved One or Special Occasion

"The progress of man's spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 240

Contributions in memory or honor of a friend or loved one are accepted for all of the Funds. A memorial card is available to inform the family of the deceased when a gift has been made to the National Bahá'í Fund in the decedent's memory. It will be sent at the request of the donor when the family's name and

address are provided to the Office of the Treasurer. (Request forms are available from the Office of the Treasurer.) Such gifts can also be made without requesting a card.

A friend or loved one can be honored by sending a special gift to the Fund in his or her name. Birthdays, graduations, marriages, Ayyam-i-Ha, wedding anniversaries, Bahá'í declarations, pioneering moves, firesides given, hospitality, services rendered, Naw-Ruz and the 12 days of Ridvan are among the occasions such gifts might be offered.

Automatic Contribution System

The Office of the Treasurer has developed a convenient way for individuals, Bahá'í Groups and Local Spiritual Assemblies to contribute to the National, Continental and International Bahá'í Funds through direct electronic withdrawal from the donor's bank account. This program is called the Automatic Contribution System (ACS).

It benefits the donor by assuring regularity, reducing postage and handling costs, and saving time otherwise spent in writing out checks. It benefits the National Assembly and the Universal House of Justice by reducing processing costs and providing a steady flow of funds for the work of the Faith. The automatic withdrawals are made once every Gregorian month and are recorded on the donor's bank statement. An annual statement is sent to each donor for tax purposes.

To obtain an ACS subscription form or to make further inquiries, contact the Office of the Treasurer.

Planned Giving and Estate Bequests

Planned giving may include gifts given during the life of the donor or gifts that will take effect after the donor's death. Gifts that take effect after a donor's death are called "testamentary gifts" or "estate bequests."

They are usually created through a trust or will.

Planned gifts may typically involve simple financial instruments or property (e.g., insurance policies, securities or notes) or more sophisticated instruments and techniques (e.g., trusts, life estates, annuities, etc.). These gifts are planned and structured to account for the donor's needs and the benefit to the Faith. There are often tax considerations that should be carefully reviewed.

(See also Chapter 18, section entitled "Wills.")
Insurance and Securities

Contributions to the Bahá'í Funds may also be made through insurance policies and in the form of securities (i.e., stocks and bonds).

Questions about any of these methods of contributing to the fund may be directed to the Office of the Treasurer at the Bahá'í National Center.

To Charity

"In your letter of 11 September you say that the questions of how to help the Third World or the poor who are suffering under calamities are much discussed in your community and you

wish to know whether to create a special fund for such needs, to ask for special contributions from time to time, or whether there are other ways in which you could help. . . .

". . . In our concern for such immediate obvious calls upon our succor we must not allow ourselves to forget the continuing, appalling burden of suffering under which millions of human beings are always groaning--a burden which they have borne for century upon century and which it is the mission of Bahá'u'lláh to lift at last. The principal cause of this suffering, which one can witness wherever one turns, is the corruption of human morals and the prevalence of prejudice, suspicion, hatred, untrustworthiness, selfishness and tyranny among men. It is not merely material well-being that people need. What they desperately need is to know how to live their lives--they need to know who they are, to what purpose they exist, and how they should act towards one another; and, once they know the answers to these questions they need to be helped to gradually apply these answers to every-day behavior. It is to the solution of this basic problem of mankind that the greater part of all our energy and resources should be directed. There are mighty agencies in this world, governments, foundations, institutions of many kinds with tremendous financial resources which are working to improve the material lot of human beings. Anything we Bahá'ís could add to such resources in the way of special funds or contributions would be a negligible drop in the ocean. However, alone among men we have the divinely-given remedy for the real ills of mankind; no one else is doing or can do this most important work. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, November 19, 1974

"Regarding the question you raised: In the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own conscience as regards the manner in which he should spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Bahá'ís in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the system of Bahá'u'lláh--Divine in origin--that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Bahá'ís cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work as this will lead to the healing of the nations."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 8, 1947, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 12

Suggested Readings

The Advent of Divine Justice, "The Most Challenging Issue," pp. 28-34

Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, 1988 edition

God Passes By

Huququ'llah, Extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, `Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice

Wellspring of Guidance

Ridvan letters from the Universal House of Justice, 1988 & 1989

Appendix A CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NON-BAHÁ'ÍS

"As regards the question of the Bahá'í School in India: As this institution is run by Bahá'ís but for the benefit of both Bahá'ís and any other group sending its children there, he sees no reason why a school concert should not receive money from the public attending, and use it for the school itself."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 30, 1952 in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 16

"We are asked to point out that the friends should not solicit contributions from non-Bahá'ís for the Persian Relief Fund. If such contributions are spontaneously received from non-Baha'is, the Local Assembly should ensure that such funds are spent only for humanitarian purposes."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 18, 1982, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

There are, in the judgment of the National Spiritual Assembly, several financial requirements which fit the definition of charitable or humanitarian activities. Operating subsidies for the Bahá'í Home and assistance for long-time Bahá'í pioneers who are aged or ill and toward whom we owe a moral obligation are two such examples.

If a Local Assembly receives donations from non-Bahá'ís and does not wish to use them for local charitable purposes, they may forward them to the National Bahá'í Fund, and clearly mark the contribution as coming from a non-Bahá'í source.

Appendix B HANDLING EARMARKED CONTRIBUTIONS

"The beloved Guardian was very emphatic that contributions to Bahá'í funds, given for specified purposes, may be used only for those purposes, unless the donor consents to a change. If the Assembly cannot use the contribution for the purpose specified, it may refuse to accept it. Alternatively it could consult the donor and suggest that he release the contribution for general

purposes or transfer it to another specified one, but no pressure should be exerted to force his acquiescence. On the other hand, once money has been contributed to an Assembly, it is the property of that Assembly, even though earmarked for a specific purpose, and the donor has no right to change its purpose unilaterally. The Assembly, however, may, at its own discretion, accept his request to do so."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 30, 1984, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, p. 26

"This question of the proper accounting for earmarked funds is very important. The account books of any Assembly should be designed in a way that will always clearly distinguish between earmarked funds and funds freely at the disposition of the Assembly, so that there will be no danger of the Assembly's inadvertently commingling them and spending earmarked funds for the wrong purpose."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 6, 1984, in Bahá'í Funds: Contributions and Administration, pp. 25-26

"We have been asked to call your attention to the principle that earmarked funds such as those for the purchase or maintenance of properties, for special teaching projects, etc. should not be used for other purposes, but should be held in a special account until expended for the purpose for which they were given. . . . If the project for which the funds have been given is abandoned, the contribution should be returned to the donor unless he agrees that it may be used for other purposes. Strict adherence to the principles regarding the earmarking of funds is extremely important for many reasons, including the maintaining of the confidence of the friends in matters pertaining to the Fund."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, June 21, 1979, Bahá'í Funds and Contributions, p. 23

". . . But care must be taken not to violate for any reason the right of the individual believer to earmark his contribution.

The need, therefore, is to make clear to individual believers and local Spiritual Assemblies how they should express their earmarkings so that the national Assembly can know whether a contribution is intended to be toward any particular segment of the national budget or to be a separate contribution merely passed through the National Assembly. In view of the Guardian's statement one should assume that, unless there is an indication to the contrary, an earmarked contribution is intended to be over and above the allocation made out of the National Fund."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 18, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Individual and Collective Contributions Are Distinct.")

(See also discussion on use of funds earmarked for properties, Chapter 14, section entitled "Handling Earmarked Contributions.")

Appendix C TAX ISSUES
Tax Exempt Status

The U.S. Treasury Department has held that the National Spiritual Assembly and all local Spiritual Assemblies are exempt from federal income tax as organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (hereinafter sometimes called "the Code") in a letter dated June 2, 1965. A copy of this letter is available upon request.

This exempt status enables donors to deduct contributions to the Spiritual Assemblies as provided by Section 170 of the Code. Likewise, bequests, legacies, devices, transfers or gifts to the Spiritual Assemblies are deductible for federal estate and gift tax purposes as provided by Sections 2055, 2106, and 2522 of the Code.

As substantiation of the National Spiritual Assembly and Local Spiritual Assemblies' group exempt status, an Assembly may refer to the above mentioned U.S. Treasury Department letter dated June 2, 1965. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service publishes a list entitled Cumulative List, Organizations Described in Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. In this publication the Local Spiritual Assemblies are incorporated by reference within the item which reads "National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, Wilmette, IL. (1)." The code number "(1)"

denotes that contributions to subordinate units, which would include all Local Spiritual Assemblies, are deductible.

In addition to the benefit conferred on donors enabling them to deduct contributions to Spiritual Assemblies, the U.S. government's tax ruling specifically grants to the Spiritual Assemblies exemption from filing Federal income tax returns. The ruling states that Spiritual Assemblies are not required to file the annual return of information, Form 990, generally required of organizations exempt under Section 501(c)(3).

Unrelated Business Income Tax

Some Local Spiritual Assemblies may be subject to income tax on income from an activity not related to their exempt purpose. Such income must be derived from an activity which is considered a trade or business; is conducted on a regular basis; and is not substantially related to the Assembly's tax-exempt religious purpose.

The Code does provide for some relief from this tax by allowing a specific deduction for the first $1,000 of unrelated business taxable income. In addition the Code excludes from the definition of "unrelated" income the following: interest, dividends, royalties, annuities, gains on the sale of certain property and income from rents of real property, providing that such real property is not financed by debt (e.g., a mortgage).

Therefore, if an Assembly owns real estate (e.g., a local center) which is subject to a mortgage and is rented to others, either in whole or in part, it may be subject to unrelated business taxable income and required to file a tax return. The returns are made on Form 990T and unless the Assembly is taxable as a trust, it will be subject to the regular corporate tax rates.

Suffice it to say that if an Assembly believes it may be subject to the unrelated business income tax, it should contact a tax professional for further guidance on this matter and then take the necessary steps to properly comply with the applicable tax code provisions.

Federal Tax Identification Number

The Internal Revenue Service issues employer identification numbers to organizations. The number issued to the National Spiritual Assembly is 36-2170876. In accordance with Internal Revenue Procedure, each Local Spiritual Assembly should also have their own employer identification number. In order to obtain a number, contact the Office of the Treasurer. The Treasurer's Office will apply to the Internal Revenue Service to obtain each Local Spiritual Assembly's number. Local Spiritual Assemblies therefore should not use the National Spiritual Assembly's identification number. If an Assembly finds that it is using the number 36-2170876, it should contact the Treasurer's Office to obtain its own number.

11 BAHÁ'Í EDUCATION THE NATURE OF EDUCATION Definition of Education ". . . Education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease. This education is common to animals and man.

"Human education signifies civilization and progress--that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished from the animal.

"Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: It consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, `Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness.' This is the goal of the world of humanity." `Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8 Purpose of Education For the Individual "The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High." Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 156-157 "We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge. . . ." Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 129 "Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded. The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom." Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 259-260 For Society "We prescribe unto all men that which will lead to the exaltation of the Word of God amongst His servants, and likewise, to the

advancement of the world of being and the uplift of souls. To this end, the greatest means is the education of the child." Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 4 "Among other teachings and principles Bahá'u'lláh counsels the education of all members of society. No individual should be denied or deprived of intellectual training, although each should receive according to capacity. None must be left in the grades of ignorance, for ignorance is a defect in the human world." ``Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 108 "As to the difference between that material civilization now prevailing, and the divine civilization which will be one of the benefits to derive from the House of Justice, it is this: material civilization, through the power of punitive and retaliatory laws, restraineth the people from criminal acts; and notwithstanding this, while laws to retaliate against and punish a man are continually proliferating, as ye can see, no laws exist to reward him . . .

"Divine civilization, however, so traineth every member of society that no one, with the exception of a negligible few, will undertake to commit a crime. There is thus a great difference between the prevention of crime through measures that are violent and retaliatory, and so training the people, and enlightening them, and spiritualizing them, that without any fear of punishment or vengeance to come, they will shun all criminal acts. They will, indeed, look upon the very commission of a crime as a great disgrace and in itself the harshest of punishments. They will become enamored of human perfections, and will consecrate their lives to whatever will bring light to the world and will further those qualities which are acceptable at the Holy Threshold of God.

"See then how wide is the difference between material civilization and divine. With force and punishments, material civilization seeketh to restrain the people from mischief, from inflicting harm on society and committing crimes. But in a divine civilization, the individual is so conditioned that with no fear of punishment, he shunneth the perpetration of crimes, seeth the crime itself as the severest of torments, and with alacrity and joy, setteth himself to acquiring the virtues of humankind, to furthering human progress, and to spreading light across the world."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 132-133 "He promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. . . . There is no doubt that

when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind." `Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175 DUTIES OF THE ASSEMBLY Incumbent to Educate the Children "Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. . . .

"In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Happy the man that cleaveth unto it, and woe betide the heedless."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 6-7 Promote Knowledge and Education "There are certain pillars which have been established as the unshakeable supports of the Faith of God. The mightiest of these is learning and the use of the mind, the expansion of consciousness, and insight into the realities of the universe and the hidden mysteries of Almighty God.

"To promote knowledge is thus an inescapable duty imposed on every one of the friends of God. It is incumbent upon that Spiritual Assembly, that assemblage of God, to exert every effort to educate the children, so that from infancy they will be trained in Bahá'í conduct and the ways of God, and will, even as young plants, thrive and flourish in the soft-flowing waters that are the counsels and admonitions of the Blessed Beauty." `Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126 "They [Local Spiritual Assemblies] must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, whenever possible, Bahá'í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development." Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 38 Ensure the Education and Instruction of All Children ". . . Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice."

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 90 "Every child without exception must from his earliest years make a thorough study of the art of reading and writing, and according to his own tastes and inclinations and the degree of his capacity and powers, devote extreme diligence to the acquisition of learning, beneficial arts and skills, various languages, speech and contemporary technology.

"To assist the children of the poor in the attainment of these accomplishments, and particularly in learning the basic subjects, is incumbent upon the members of the Spiritual Assemblies, and is accounted as one of the obligations laid upon the conscience of the trustees of God in every land." Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 58 Provide Well-Planned Programs "A basic and vital requirement of these days is the matter of educating the boys and girls. One of the duties devolving upon the members of Spiritual Assemblies is that, with the support of the friends, they should exert all their powers to establish schools for the instruction of boys and girls in the things of the spirit, the fundamentals of teaching the Faith, reading the Sacred Writings, learning the history of the Faith, the secular branches of knowledge, the various arts and skills, and the different languages--so that Bahá'í methods of instruction will become so widely known that children from every level of society will seek to acquire divine teaching as well as secular knowledge in Bahá'í schools, and thereby means for the promotion of the Cause of God will be provided." Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 56 "Among the sacred obligations devolving upon the Spiritual Assemblies is the promotion of learning, the establishing of schools and creation of the necessary academic equipment and facilities for every boy and girl."

Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 58 "The education of children in the teachings of the Faith must be regarded as an essential obligation of every Bahá'í parent, every local and national community and it must become a firmly-established Bahá'í activity during the course of this Plan. It should include moral instruction by work and example and active participation by children in Bahá'í community life." The Universal House of Justice, Naw-Ruz 1974 to the Bahá'ís of the World ORGANIZATION AND METHODS OF INSTRUCTION Teaching Qualifications "Blessed is that teacher who remaineth faithful to the Covenant of God, and occupieth himself with the education of children. For him hath the Supreme Pen inscribed that reward which is revealed in the Most Holy Book.

"Blessed, blessed is he!"

Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 9 "It is the hope of `Abdu'l-Bahá that those youthful souls in the schoolroom of the deeper knowledge will be tended by one who traineth them to love. May they all, through the reaches of the spirit, learn well of the hidden mysteries; so well that in the Kingdom of the All-Glorious, each one of them, even as a nightingale endowed with speech, will cry out the secrets of the Heavenly Realm, and like unto a longing lover pour forth his sore need and utter want of the Beloved."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 32 "Make every effort to acquire the advanced knowledge of the

day, and strain every nerve to carry forward the divine civilization. Establish schools that are well-organized, and promote the fundamentals of instruction in the various branches of knowledge through teachers who are pure and sanctified, distinguished for their high standards of conduct and general excellence, and strong in faith; educators with a thorough knowledge of sciences and arts"

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 33 "Blessed art thou, since thou art engaged in rendering a service which will make thy face to shine in the Abha Kingdom, and that is the education and training of children. If one should, in the right way, teach and train the children, he will be preforming a service than which none is greater at the Sacred Threshold. . . . You must, however, struggle unceasingly to perfect yourself and win ever higher achievements."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 31-32 Organization and Methods "The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Baha'i' is not just a name but a truth. Every child must be trained in the things of the spirit, so that he may embody all the virtues and become a source of glory to the Cause of God. Otherwise, the mere word `Baha'i,' if it yield no fruit, will come to nothing.

"Strive then to the best of thine ability to let these children know that a Bahá'í is one who embodieth all the perfections, that he must shine out like a lighted taper--not be darkness upon darkness and yet bear the name `Baha'i.' Name thou this school the Bahá'í Sunday School."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 26-27 "O thou spiritual teacher! In thy school, instruct thou God's children in the customs of the Kingdom. Be thou a teacher of love, in a school of unity. Train thou the children of the friends of the Merciful in the rules and ways of His loving-kindness. Tend the young trees of the Abha Paradise with the welling waters of His grace and peace and joy.

". . . All these gifts and bounties depend upon love for the Beauty of the All-Glorious, and on the blessings in the teachings of the Most High, and the spiritual instructions of the Supreme Concourse, and on ecstasy and ardor and diligent pursuit of whatsoever will redound to the eternal honor of the community of man."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 32-33 "To be specific, at the start the teacher must place a pen in the child's hand, arrange the children in groups, and instruct each group according to its capacity. . . ."

". . . But the indispensable basis of all is that he should

develop spiritual characteristics and the praiseworthy virtues of humankind. This is the primary consideration."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 40-42 (See Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 40 for explanation of how to teach language arts and foreign languages to young children.) "Among these children many blessed souls will arise, if they be trained according to the Bahá'í Teachings. If a plant is carefully nurtured by a gardener, it will become good, and produce better fruit. These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened. Beginning in childhood they must receive instruction. They cannot be taught through books. Many elementary sciences must be made clear to them in the nursery; they must learn them in play, in amusement. Most ideas must be taught them through speech, not by book learning. One child must question the other concerning these things, and the other child must give the answer. In this way, they will make great progress. For example, mathematical problems must also be taught in the form of questions and answers. One of the children asks a question and the other must give the answer. Later on, the children will of their own accord speak with each other concerning these same subjects. The children who are at the head of the class must receive premiums. They must be encouraged and when any one of them shows good advancement, for the further development they must be praised and encouraged therein. Even so in Godlike affairs. Oral questions must be asked and the answers must be given orally. They must discuss with each other in this manner."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í World, Vol. IX, p. 543 "In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as `Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him."

Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 72 "Give them [the children] the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: Compilation, p. 30 "Instruction in the schools must begin with instruction in

religion. Following religious training, and the binding of the child's heart to the love of God, proceed with his education in the other branches of knowledge." `Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 35 What to Teach "The attainment of the most great guidance is dependent upon knowledge and wisdom, and on being informed as to the mysteries of the Holy Words. Wherefore must the loved ones of God, be they young or old, be they men or women, each one according to his capabilities, strive to acquire the various branches of knowledge, and to increase his understanding of the mysteries of the Holy Books, and his skill in marshalling the divine proofs and evidences.

". . . Let the loved ones of God, whether young or old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir themselves and spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts." `Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 12-13 To Children "That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the Laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds. . . .

"Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat, recorded in the Books of God, may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments: But this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 6 "Teach unto your children the words that have been sent down from God, that they may recite them in the sweetest of tones. This standeth revealed in a mighty Book." Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 8 "Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved--even though he be ignorant--is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the sciences and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned. If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light.

"Children are even as a branch that is fresh and green; they will grow up in whatever way you train them. Take the utmost care to give them high ideals and goals, so that once they come of age, they will cast their beams like brilliant

candles on the world, and will not be defiled by lusts and passions in the way of animals, heedless and unaware, but instead will set their hearts on achieving everlasting honor and acquiring all the excellences of humankind."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 43-44 "In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child.

". . . Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace. It should therefore be universally proclaimed, taught in schools, and constantly asserted in every nation as preparation for the organic change in the structure of society which it implies."

The Universal House of Justice, October 1985, The Promise of World Peace, pp.27, 29 O ye recipients of the favors of God! In this new and wondrous Age, the unshakeable foundation is the teaching of sciences and arts. According to explicit Holy Texts, every child must be taught crafts and arts, to the degree that is needful. ``Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Organization and Methods of Instruction.") To Youth ". . . Bahá'u'lláh considered education one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization--this education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the program of the Bahá'í youth all over the world." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 60 "The Bahá'í youth must be taught how to teach the Cause of God. Their knowledge of the fundamentals of the Faith must be deepened and the standard of their education in science and literature enhanced. They must become thoroughly familiar with the language used and the example set by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His public addresses throughout the West. They must also be acquainted with those essential prerequisites of teaching as recorded in the Holy Books and Tablets."

Shoghi Effendi, in Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 21 "I would strongly urge you to utilize, to the utmost possible extent, the wealth of authentic material gathered in Nabil's stirring narrative and to encourage the youth to master and digest the facts recorded therein as a basis for their future work

in the teaching field, and as a sustenance to their spiritual life and activities in the service of the Cause."

Shoghi Effendi, in Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 22 "Amongst other things is the holding of the meetings for teaching so that blessed souls and the old ones from amongst the believers may gather together the youths of the love of God in schools of instruction and teach them all the divine proofs and irrefragable arguments, explain and elucidate the history of the Cause, and interpret also the prophecies and proofs which are recorded and are extant in the divine Books and Epistles regarding the Manifestation of the Promised One, so that the young ones may go in perfect knowledge in all these degrees."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, pp. 51-52 (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Bahá'í Youth Service Corps.") (See also in this chapter section entitled "Centers of Bahá'í Learning.") To Adults "To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation must, it is my unalterable conviction, remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavor of each one of its loyal adherents. An exact and thorough comprehension of so vast a system, so sublime a revelation, so sacred a trust, is for obvious reasons beyond the reach and ken of our finite minds. We can, however, and it is our bounden duty to seek to derive fresh inspiration and added sustenance as we labor for the propagation of His Faith through a clearer apprehension of the truths it enshrines and the principles on which it is based."

Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 100 "Dearly-loved friends, this is the theme we must pursue in our efforts to deepen in the Cause. What is Bahá'u'lláh's purpose for the human race? For what ends did He submit to the appalling cruelties and indignities heaped upon Him? What does He mean by "a new race of men"? What are the profound changes which He will bring about? The answers are to be found in the Sacred Writings of our Faith and in their interpretation by `Abdu'l-Bahá and our beloved Guardian. Let the friends immerse themselves in this ocean, let them organize regular study classes for its constant consideration, and, as reinforcement to their effort, let them remember conscientiously the requirements of daily prayer and reading of the Word of God enjoined upon all Bahá'ís by Bahá'u'lláh." The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 114-115 "The deepening and enrichment of the spiritual life of the individual believer, his increasing comprehension of the essential verities underlying his Faith, his training in its administrative processes, his understanding of the fundamentals of the

Covenants established by its Author and the authorized Interpreter of its teachings should be made the supreme objectives of the national representatives responsible for the edification, the progress and consolidation of these communities." Shoghi Effendi, in Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 25

"Definite courses should be given along the different phases of the . . . Faith and in a manner that will stimulate the students to proceed in their studies privately once they return home, for the period of a few days is not sufficient to learn everything. They have to be taught the habit of studying the Cause constantly, for the more we read the Words the more will the truth they contain be revealed to us." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 8 "Shoghi Effendi trusts, however, that these souls who are attracted by the teachings would be made to live the life and also deepen their knowledge of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. For it is only by fully appreciating the spiritual and social import of His Mission that we can be willing to dedicate our life to its service. "By holding study classes where the Word is read and understood and obtaining a thorough knowledge of the spirit that animated the early believers we can make sure that these newcomers are grounded in the teachings and made into real and devoted believers. Books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, Nabil's Narrative and Dr. Esselmont's book should be read over and over again by every soul who desires to serve the Movement or considers himself an active member of the group." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Lights of Guidance, p. 566 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Centers of Bahá'í Learning.") Steadfastness in Conducting Classes "The Sunday school for the children in which the Tablets and Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are read, and the Word of God is recited for the children is indeed a blessed thing. You must certainly continue this organized activity without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results. Firmness and steadfastness, however, are necessary, otherwise it will continue for some time, but later be gradually forgotten. Perseverance is an essential condition. In every project firmness and steadfastness will undoubtedly lead to good results; otherwise it will exist for some days, and then be discontinued."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, pp. 51-52 Age to Begin Formal Children's Classes "As to the children: From the age of five their formal education must begin. That is, during the daytime they should be looked

after in a place where there are teachers, and should learn good conduct."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 39 "And when the child hath reached the age where he can make distinctions, let him be placed in a Bahá'í school, in which at the beginning the Holy Texts are recited and religious concepts are taught. At this school the child is to study reading and writing as well as some fundamentals of the various branches of knowledge, such as can be learned by children."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 40 Using the Creative Word "The Guardian feels that it would be better for either the mothers of Bahá'í children--or some Committee your Assembly might delegate the task to--to choose excerpts from the Sacred Words to be used by the child rather than just something made up. Of course prayer can be purely spontaneous, but many of the sentences and thoughts combined in Bahá'í writings of a devotional nature are easy to grasp, and the revealed Word is endowed with a power of its own."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education: A Compilation, p. 68

The Arts

". . . In accordance with the divine teachings the acquisition of sciences and the perfection of arts are considered acts of worship. If a man engageth with all his power in the acquisition of a science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in churches and temples."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 144

Music

"Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody. . . . By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs, and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy." 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 4 "The art of music must be brought to the highest stage of development, for this is one of the most wonderful arts and in this glorious age of the Lord of Unity it is highly essential to gain its mastery."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Writings on Music, pp. 5-6 "Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is preferably pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God, are like

the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life. . . ."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 8
Drama

Shogi Effendi was very much interested to learn of the success of the 'Pageant of Nations' which you produced. He sincerely hopes that all those who attended it were inspired by the same spirit that animated you while arranging it. "It is through such presentations that we can arouse the interest of the greatest number of people in the spirit of the Cause. That day will the Cause spread like wildfire when its spirit and teachings are presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing, especially among the mass of the people."

Quoted in "Extracts from the Writings Concerning Arts and Crafts", p.6 Bahá'í Education Programs in Local Communities

Examples

See Appendix A Letters from Local Education Committees See Appendix B The Girl Scout and Boy Scout Religious Emblem See Appendix C

BAHÁ'Í SCHOLARSHIP
Nature of Bahá'í Scholarship

"The man of consummate learning and the sage endowed with penetrating wisdom are the two eyes to the body of mankind." Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 171 "Scholarship has a high station in the Bahá'í teachings, and Bahá'í scholars have a great responsibility to a growing, divinely-guided world society. The ascertainment of truth and the acquisition of a fuller understanding of the subjects of their scholarship are worthy and high endeavors."

The Universal House of Justice, in The Bahá'í World, Vol. XVII, p. 196 ". . . The Cause needs more Bahá'í scholars, people who not only are devoted to it and believe in it and are anxious to tell others about it, but also who have a deep grasp of the Teachings and their significance, and who can correlate its beliefs with the current thoughts and problems of the people of the world." Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 44 "Young men and women in the Faith must be deep and thoughtful scholars of its teachings, so that they can teach in a way that will convince people that all the problems facing them have a remedy."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 12, 1944, in Bahá'í Youth, p. 5

"As the Bahá'í community grows it will acquire experts in numerous fields--both by Bahá'í becoming experts and by experts becoming Bahá'í As these experts bring their knowledge and skill to the service of the community and, even more, as they transform their various disciplines by bringing to bear upon them the light of the Divine Teachings, problem after problem now disrupting society will be answered."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 21, 1977 to an individual believer ". . . The House of Justice understands that you desire to find ways of conveying spiritual truths in logical ways and demonstrating their validity through scientific proofs. There can be no objection to such an attitude. 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself used such a method. The danger Bahá'í scholars must avoid is the distortion of religious truth, almost forcibly at times, to make it conform to understandings and perceptions current in the scientific world. True Bahá'í scholars should guard against this."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 7, 1983 to an individual believer "In the application of the social laws of the Faith, most of the difficulties can be seen to arise not only from outright disobedience, but also from the actions of those who, while careful to observe the letter of the law, try to go as far as it will permit them away from the spirit which lies at its heart. A similar tendency can be noted among some Bahá'í scholars. The great advances in knowledge and understanding in the vital field of Bahá'í scholarship will be made by those who, while well versed in their subjects and adhering to the principles of research, are also thoroughly imbued with love for the Faith and the determination to grow in the comprehension of its teachings."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 27, 1983 to an individual believer "The House of Justice feels that Bahá'í scholars must beware of the temptations of intellectual pride. 'Abdu'l-Bahá has warned the friends in the West that they would be subjected to intellectual tests, and the Guardian reminded them of this warning. There are many aspects of western thinking which have been exalted to a status of unassailable principle in the general mind, that time may well show to have been erroneous or, at least, only partially true. Any Bahá'í who rises to eminence in academic circles will be exposed to the powerful influence of such thinking."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 27, 1983 to an individual believer

Role in Bahá'í Community Development "It is essential that scholars and the spiritually learned should undertake in all sincerity and purity of intent and for the sake of God alone, to counsel and exhort the masses and clarify their vision with that collyrium which is knowledge."

'Abdu'l-Bahá Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 39

"The Universal House of Justice regards Bahá'í scholarship as of great potential importance for the development and consolidation of the Bahá'í community as it emerges from obscurity."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 3, 1979 to participants of a Bahá'í Studies Seminar "Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with the true nature of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984 to the Bahá'ís of the World "As more and more Bahá'ís enter the world of higher learning they will have opportunities of exerting great influence in bringing about in human consciousness and outlook that harmony of religion and science which is so great a principle of their Faith. The distinction desired by 'Abdu'l-Bahá for all Bahá'ís is certainly for attainment by Bahá'í scholars, who by following the exhortations of Bahá'u'lláh to moderation, kindliness, tact and wisdom, may restore scholarship to that high station of dignity and admiration which it formerly held and which is confirmed by the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, The Bahá'í World, Vol. XVII, p. 196

Role of the Assembly Concerning Bahá'í Scholarship "The combination of absolute loyalty to the Manifestation of God and His Teachings, with the searching and intelligent study of the Teachings and history of the Faith which those Teachings themselves enjoin, is a particular strength of this Dispensation. In past Dispensations the believers have tended to divide into two mutually antagonistic groups: those who held blindly to the letter of the Revelation, and those who questioned and doubted everything. Like all extremes, both of these can lead into error. The beloved Guardian has written that 'The Bahá'í Faith . . . enjoins upon its followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after truth. . . .' Bahá'ís are called upon to follow the Faith with intelligence and understanding. Inevitably believers will commit errors as they strive to rise to this degree of maturity, and this calls for forbearance and humility on the part of all concerned, so that such matters do not cause disunity or discord among the friends."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 7, 1980 to an individual believer "The House of Justice agrees that it is most important for the believers, and especially those who hold positions of responsibility in the Administrative Order, to react calmly and with tolerant and enquiring minds to views which differ from their own, remembering that all Bahá'ís are but students of the Faith, ever striving to understand the Teachings more clearly and to apply them more faithfully, and none can claim to have perfect understanding of this Revelation. At the same time all believers, and scholars in particular, should remember the many warnings in the Writings against the fomenting of discord

among the friends. It is the duty of the institutions of the Faith to guard the community against such dangers." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 18, 1979 to an individual believer (See also Chapter 5, section entitled "Reviewing Bahá'í Literature and Materials.")

Distinction Between Individual and Authoritative Interpretation "A clear distinction is made in our Faith between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding that each individual arrives at for himself from his study of its teachings. While the former is confined to the Guardian, the latter, according to the guidance given to us by the Guardian himself, should by no means be suppressed. In fact such individual interpretation is considered the fruit of man's rational power and conducive to a better understanding of the teachings, provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own. Individual interpretations continually change as one grows in comprehension of the teachings. As Shoghi Effendi wrote: 'To deepen in the Cause means to read the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form. There are many who have some superficial idea of what the Cause stands for. They, therefore, present it together with all sorts of ideas that are their own. As the Cause is still in its early days we must be most careful lest we fall into this error and injure the Movement we so much adore. There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we read the Writings, the more truths we can find in them, the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous.' So, although individual insights can be enlightening and helpful, they can also be misleading. The friends must therefore learn to listen to the views of others without being overawed or allowing their faith to be shaken, and to express their own views without pressing them on their fellow Baha'is. "The Cause of God is organic, growing and developing like a living being. Time and again it has faced crises which have perplexed the believers, but each time the Cause, impelled by the immutable purpose of God, overcame the crisis and went on to greater heights."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 88-89 (See also Chapter 7, section entitled Bahá'í Scholarship and Teaching.") BAHÁ'Í SCHOOLS Primary and Secondary Schools "The grave problems faced by Bahá'í parents and children, when the children must attend schools that are strongly influenced by the degradation of present-day society, are fully appreciated. However, the only ways to completely overcome these dangers would seem to be either to effect a reform of the entire non-Bahá'í educational system or to provide a world-wide network of Bahá'í schools. Both ways are very long-term

projects beyond the capacity of the Bahá'í community at this time. Already, of course, Bahá'í communities are establishing primary or tutorial schools in many parts of the world, but these are small and few in number and are located where there are such conditions as general illiteracy among the believers or where no other schools are available to them. Undoubtedly, in time, this process will gain momentum and Bahá'í schools of ever higher quality and scope will be established in country after country, as has already occurred in India, but, necessarily, this must now be a gradual process related, among other things, to the resources of the community, the number of Bahá'í children needing education, and the availability of other suitable schools. Perhaps in certain parts of the United States there are sufficiently large concentrations of Bahá'í children to make the running of a private Bahá'í school feasible--such a proposal has, indeed, been made by a number of individual believers in Alaska, principally teachers, but we stressed in that instance that, if implemented, it should be conducted as a private venture and that the people concerned should give very careful consideration to all the factors involved before initiating it; furthermore we pointed out to them their opportunities for improving the schools in which they themselves worked."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 2, 1976 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Bahá'í Curriculum ". . . There is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age. "These basic principles are available in the Sacred Writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and university programs. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world is one which present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, pp. 10-11 Centers of Bahá'í Learning Importance and Purpose "He was very happy to hear of the success of the school, especially that it has been the means of bringing to light hitherto unsuspected capacities among the friends. . . . The Summer School has been carrying on the divine work of bringing forth jewels from the mine of humanity and it is the hope of Shoghi Effendi and the friends here that those who have been trained in the Summer School will carry on the work in the various localities from which they have come. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 1

"Shoghi Effendi feels that the real purpose of these Summer Schools is to deepen the knowledge of the friends. Lectures are very essential for they give a wonderful picture of the subject matter. But it is not sufficient to have a picture; the friends should deepen their knowledge and this can be achieved if, together with the lectures, there are study classes and seminar work carried on by the same lecturer. The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social, economic and political conditions are becoming daily more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in informing the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the minds of men. It is in these Summer Schools that this training should be provided for the friends."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, pp. 1-2 "He has noted with deepest satisfaction indeed that your meetings have been well attended this year, and that the program had been made as varied and interesting as possible, and combined, as every Bahá'í Summer School should, the threefold features of devotion, study and recreation. Only through such a harmonious combination of these three elements can the institution of the Summer School yield the maximum of beneficent results, and fulfill its true function of deepening the knowledge, stimulating the zeal, and fostering the spirit of fellowship among the believers in every Bahá'í community."

"The Guardian cherishes the hope that at the termination of your school this summer every one of the attendants will have derived such mental and spiritual benefits, and acquired such a fresh enthusiasm to serve as will enable him, upon his return to his local community, to labor with a determination and vigor that will excite the envy and admiration of his fellow-believers, and stimulate them to greater heights of consecration to the service of our beloved Cause."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 3 "What other community has shown the foresight, the organizing ability, the enthusiastic eagerness, that have been responsible for the establishment and multiplication, throughout its territory, of those initial schools which, as time goes by, will, on the one hand, evolve into powerful centers of Bahá'í learning, and, on the other, provide a fertile recruiting ground for the enrichment and consolidation of its teaching force?"

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 9 "Faithful attendance at any of these institutions of Bahá'í learning would be indeed the best preparation for all prospective Bahá'í teachers, and should as such be welcomed most heartily by all the believers."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 4 Any Suitable Location "As regards the question you asked about a Summer School, there is no reason why a property should either be rented or

bought for this purpose. You can arrange to hold a Summer School in any suitable place where the friends can find accommodation, and a hall can be rented for its sessions. . . . The primary purpose of the School is to deepen the knowledge of the friends in the Teachings, to enable them to consort, as Bahá'ís with each other, and to confirm any contacts who may have attended. The School may be held during the winter season or any other time of the year."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 7 (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Summer Schools.") (See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Teaching Institutes.") (See also Chapter 8, section entitled "The Role of Summer Schools in the Development of Bahá'í Community Life.") (See also Chapter 8, section entitled Bahá'í Community Life--The Bedrock of Growth and Development.")

Suggested Readings

Education Bahá'í Education, Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, 1987 edition Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, #17, #29, #37 Bahá'í Schools Centers of Bahá'í Learning, Compiled by the Universal House of Justice, 1980 Bahá'í Scholarship The Bahá'í World, "The Challenge and Promise of Bahá'í Scholarship," pp. 195-196 Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith

Appendix A

EXAMPLES OF BAHÁ'Í EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES

In one school in the U.S. Bahá'í community, children's classes take place the second through the fourth Sundays of the month, leaving the first Sunday for families. Parents serve as teachers, rotating on a monthly basis. Focusing on the Central Figures and spiritual principles, their curriculum is general. Topics for the year are sent in advance through a newsletter to members of the community. In another community, in addition to regular Sunday classes, school age children and youth meet on Wednesday evenings in the Bahá'í Center to do homework. Peer tutoring is used, and school grades are on the rise. Several adults supervise the event and serve pizza between the first and second hours of study.

In other communities: * The children's classes are held at the same time as the firesides. Often the topic of the fireside is the topic of the children's classes. One suggested topic for study is "The Peace Curriculum for Children." * The adult program is conducted like a mini-university. Courses are offered around a central theme, "The Exalted Word," allowing students to choose a topic to explore in depth. The courses are based both on interests and what teachers offered to teach. * The Education Committee produced a course catalog, similar to those used for colleges and universities, that provided course outlines and reading lists for students. * Students participate in the teaching/consolidation work besides attending weekly Saturday morning classes. The central theme of their curriculum is the Peace Statement. Since they are in the receiving area of WLGI Radio Bahá'í they have begun to make up Public Service Announcements on themes from the Peace Statement, using raps and popular music with Bahá'í themes, such as "We are the World" and "Man in the Mirror." To raise money for the Fund, they are asking adults and youth at Feast to pledge so much to the Fund for every verse or prayer they memorize. Verification is provided by parents or teacher and presented at the following Feast for collection of funds pledged. Children and pre-youth not attending regularly are visited by teams of Bahá'í adults and children and given

gifts of prayers. This community has recently become the sponsor of the first state Bahá'í Youth (ages 12-18) Workshop. Its purpose is to deepen and teach through study of the Creative Word and use of the performing arts. (See also "Letters from Local Education Committees, Appendix B.)

Appendix B
LETTERS FROM LOCAL EDUCATION COMMITTEES

"We have a small committee that makes a general curriculum outline after a theme is chosen by the whole committee. . . . A subgroup then researches and writes the details so that if a teacher is absent anyone can take the class. Visual arts and hands-on projects are done ahead. Since we don't have anyone who can play an instrument, we sing from tapes, such as "Teaching Peace" by Red Grammar. . . . I wish someone would come up with a tape geared to group singing, where the first part of the song is sung by the vocalist and second part is just instrumental for the group to sing with!" "This year, we are experimenting with a new curriculum. We call it 'Family Unity Sundays' and hold these in various homes for 2-3 hours every other Sunday afternoon. We have 4-5 families attending. The curriculum includes role playing, reading of the Writings on a specific subject and brainstorming within family groups regarding questions presented. Families then share with the group at large. . . ."

"The mission of the school is to promote the development of Bahá'í identity among children and adults. . . . To support the building of the Arc, the School has established a 'Pennies for the Arc' Fund, with a goal to raise $500 by November 20 [1988]. . . . The success of the School rests on the efforts of our wonderful teachers."

Appendix C
GIRL SCOUT AND BOY SCOUT RELIGIOUS EMBLEM

The Unity of Mankind Emblem for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts is earned by completing a six-, nine-, or twelve-month program under the supervision of a representative appointed by a Local Spiritual Assembly or by the Bahá'í Committee on Scouting (National Teaching Committee). The program is designed to provide the candidate with a stronger spiritual foundation of the Scout Oath by expanding it to include all of mankind. The program seeks to help a child understand, through study and action, how an individual can make a contribution toward the goal of world peace. The various levels will unify knowledge and action by proposing specific goals of learning, to be followed by projects that will illustrate the child's acquired knowledge and conclude with a practical life experience. Since one of the purposes of the program is for a child to become comfortable meeting with his or her Local Spiritual Assembly, the child should be encouraged to meet with the Assembly from time to time in order to report on his or her progress in the program. Once the child completes the program, the certificate of enrollment--which is attached with each program booklet--should be completed, copied (the originals should be kept in the Assembly's files), and enclosed when ordering the emblem. The Assembly should assume the responsibility for purchasing the emblem, which is available from the Bahá'í Distribution Service. These programs are administered by the Bahá'í Faith but are offered through Girl Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America.

12 EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
RELATIONS WITH THE WORLD AT LARGE

"The events of the past year have demonstrated clearly that the enemies of the Faith are intensifying their attacks on the precious Cause of God. The Five Year Plan [1974-1979] calls for a planned and sustained effort, under the close supervision of each National Spiritual Assembly to foster cordial relations with responsible government officials and prominent people. In every country where the doors of contact with those in authority are open to the friends, the National Spiritual Assembly should, as indicated in our letter of Naw-Ruz 131, appoint a special committee to be given the task of finding effective ways of informing the authorities about the Faith, of dispelling any misgivings and of removing any misapprehensions which may be deceitfully created by those who are striving to extinguish the fire of God's Faith. We cannot overemphasize the necessity of this activity and the need to use utmost tact and wisdom in pursuing it, for, not only will it facilitate the further proclamation and recognition of the Faith, but, as opposition to and misconceptions about the aims and purposes of the Bahá'ís increase, when a moment of crisis arrives the institutions of the Faith may know where to turn, whose advice and assistance to seek, and how to minimize the effects of opposition."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 25, 1975 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

"The emergence from obscurity, which has been so marked a feature of the Cause of God during the first five years of the Seven Year Plan [1979-1986], has been attended by changes, both external and internal, affecting the Bahá'í world community. Externally, there are signs of a crystallization of a public image of the Cause--largely uninformed, however friendly--while internally growing maturity and confidence are indicated by increased administrative ability, a desire for Bahá'í communities to render service to the larger body of mankind and a deepening understanding of the relevance of the divine Message to modern problems. Both these aspects of change must be taken into consideration as we enter the third and final phase of the Seven Year Plan.

". . . Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with the true nature of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan, 1984 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"Concerning the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a system of the world government, the House of Justice fully agrees with your view that the Bahá'ís must now do all in their power to promote this transition. This requires

several related activities, all of which are goals of the present Seven Year Plan. . . . [One of the activities] is the proclamation of the Faith to all strata of society, and in particular to those in authority and to leaders of thought so that those who hold the direction of peoples in their hands will learn accurately about the nature and tenets of the Faith and will grow to respect it and implement its principles. . . .

"Undoubtedly, as these developments are taking place, the counsel the institutions of the Faith can give to governments, the pattern of world administration offered by the Bahá'í community and the great humanitarian projects which will be launched under the aegis of the Universal House of Justice, will exercise a great influence on the course of progress."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 19, 1983, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 435-436

"National Bahá'í communities have organized and successfully conducted inter-religious conferences, peace seminars, symposiums on racism and other subjects on which we have a specific contribution to make, often achieving widespread publicity and the interests of highly-placed leaders of society. Bahá'í youth, inspired and uplifted by the vision and idealism of `the new race of men' have, through their many gatherings, attracted large numbers of their compeers and galvanized their own members to direct their lives towards service in the many fields in which a rich harvest awaits the dedicated Bahá'í worker."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1987 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"A remarkable display of interest in this [Bahá'í world] community by governments, civil authorities, prominent personalities and humanitarian organizations is increasingly apparent. Not only are the community's laws and principles, organization and way of life being investigated, but its advice and active help are also being sought for the alleviation of social problems and the carrying out of humanitarian activities."

The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1988 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Bahá'í world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academic, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for and response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan, 1984 to the Bahá'ís of the World

(See also in this chapter Appendix A, "National Spiritual Assembly's Office of External Affairs.")

(See also Chapter 7, "Teaching.")
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOVERNMENT

Loyalty to Government "In every country where any of this people reside, they must behave towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness. This is that which hath been revealed at the behest of Him Who is the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days."

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 22-23

"To all administrative regulations which the civil authorities have issued from time to time, or will issue in the future in that land, as in all other countries, the Bahá'í community, faithful to its sacred obligations towards its government, and conscious of its civic duties, has yielded, and will continue to yield implicit obedience."

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 372

"We see, therefore, that we must do two things--shun politics like the plague, and be obedient to the Government in power in the place where we reside. . . . If they [the Baha'is] become involved in the issues the Governments of the world are struggling over, they will be lost. But if they build up the Bahá'í pattern they can offer it as a remedy when all else has failed."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, December 21, 1948

". . . Bahá'ís must live the Bahá'í life, fully and continuously, unless prevented by the authorities. If local, state, or federal authorities actively prohibit Bahá'í life or some aspect of it, then Bahá'ís must submit to these requirements in all cases except where a spiritual principle is involved such as a denial of faith. This Bahá'ís cannot do under any circumstances. The lives the friends lead will prove to be the greatest teachers."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 23, 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Noninvolvement in Politics

"The principle of non-involvement in politics implies that Bahá'ís do not allow themselves to be drawn into the struggles and conflicting interests which divide the many factions and groups of their fellowmen. This principle is clearly enunciated by the Guardian on pages 64 to 67 of The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh in the passage beginning:

Let them refrain from associating themselves, whether by word or by

deed, with the political pursuits of their respective nations, with the

policies of their governments and the schemes and programs of parties

and factions. In such controversies they should assign no blame, take

no side, further no design, and identify themselves with no system

prejudicial to the best
interests of that world-wide Fellowship
which it is their aim to guard and foster. . . ."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 31, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Netherlands

". . . The House of Justice will determine, as particular circumstances warrant, how the Bahá'ís and their national and local institutions will relate to their respective governments.

"The general policy already enunciated by Shoghi Effendi in The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pages 63-67, should be scrupulously upheld by the friends. However, as the Faith emerges from obscurity, the application of certain aspects of this policy will require the clarification of the House of Justice. With the passage of time, practices in the political realm will definitely undergo the profound changes anticipated in the Bahá'í writings. As a consequence, what we understand now of the policy of non-involvement in politics will also undergo a change; but as Shoghi Effendi has written, this instruction, `at the present stage of the evolution of our Faith, should be increasingly emphasized, irrespective of its application to the East or to the West.'

"In view of the necessity of the Bahá'í community to relate to governments, whether for reasons of defending its persecuted members or of responding to opportunities to be of service, a correct understanding of what is legitimate Bahá'í action in the face of the policy of non-interference with government affairs is bound to be difficult to achieve on the part of individual friends. The force of circumstances, operating internally and externally, is pressing the Bahá'í community into certain relationships with governments. Hence, it is important that decisions as to the conduct of such relationships be made by authorized institutions of the Faith and not by individuals. In matters of this kind, given the utter complexity of human affairs with which the Bahá'í community must increasingly cope with spiritually and practically, individual judgment is not sufficient.

"In (these matters) the National Spiritual Assembly must weigh carefully the consequences, pro and con, of any contemplated action and carry out its decision, preferably with the fore-knowledge and consent of the House of Justice. The friends must learn to appreciate this new situation, to acquiesce to the prerogative of their elected institutions to decide on questions involving or affecting relations with their governments, and evince confidence in the incontrovertible promise of Bahá'u'lláh to protect His community.

"Considering the unusual challenges facing National Spiritual Assemblies, particularly resulting from the persecutions in Iran and the issuance of the Peace Statement, the Universal House of Justice will surely continue to guide these institutions to relate to their governments in ways which will preserve the essentials of the policy of noninvolvement in politics."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 23, 1987 to an individual believer

"The friends may vote, if they can do it, without identifying themselves with one party or another. To enter the arena of party politics is surely detrimental to the best interests of the Faith and will harm the Cause."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 29-30

". . . No vote cast, or office undertaken, by a Bahá'í should necessarily constitute acceptance, by the voter or office holder, of the entire program of any political party."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 29

"It remains for the individuals to so use their right to vote as to keep aloof from party politics, and always bear in mind that they are voting on the merits of the individual, rather than because he belongs to one party or another. The matter must be made perfectly clear to the individuals, who will be left free to exercise their discretion and judgement."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 30

(See also Chapter 15, section entitled "Political Activity.")

Contact with Government Officials

"I entirely agree with you that non-interference in politics does not imply non-association on the part of the friends with the outside world. I hope you will impress the friends with the necessity of maintaining close, but not too intimate relationships, with the authorities, the foreign representatives, and the leaders of public thought in the capital. They should be on their guard, however, lest too close an association should lead, imperceptibly to compromise in the principles which we cherish and uphold. They must mix with all classes of society without associating themselves with their policies and schemes."

Shoghi Effendi, letter dated October 8, 1927 to an individual believer

"It is very important that they should know how we stand and what is our attitude towards some of the outstanding problems and issues that face the world in the present day. These are very difficult questions and most delicate, but the Master's spirit will surely guide you and inspire you to do what is proper and wise."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated May 4, 1932 to an individual believer

"It is our supreme obligation to endeavor to bring the knowledge of this Revelation to the highest authorities and the leading personalities among our countrymen, but to refrain from associating ourselves or of identifying our Faith, with their political pursuits, their conflicting ambitions and party programs."

Shoghi Effendi, letter dated April 15, 1932 to an individual believer

Bahá'í individuals and institutions must first obtain the permission of the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of External Affairs) before contacting federal or state government officials

about Bahá'í issues. After permission is given, the friends should then proceed with wisdom and choose their words carefully in their communication with the officials.

When Bahá'ís write to or speak with government officials on matters not directly related to Bahá'í issues, they should not imply that they are spokespersons for the Faith. Confusion has been caused by Bahá'ís implying that their personal opinion is the official Bahá'í position; a distinction must be made between the two.

Of course, individuals can exercise their right to contact government representatives and express their views on non-Bahá'í matters as their consciences dictate. It is on their representing the Faith or providing what might be construed as an official Bahá'í position that the National Assembly wishes to place certain limits.

Petitions and Letter-Writing Campaigns

The believers are free to participate in campaigns, to sign petitions or write letters to bring certain matters to the attention of the public and public officials. However, they should not identify themselves as Bahá'ís unless encouraged to do so by a Bahá'í institution. Local institutions should refrain from signing petitions and participating in letter-writing campaigns without the approval of the National Spiritual Assembly. Regarding petitions and campaigns with national or international implications, the friends should contact the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of External Affairs).

RELATIONSHIP WITH PROMINENT PERSONS, OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

Contacting Prominent People

"A very important activity which has been pursued effectively in all too few countries, is the undertaking by the National Spiritual Assembly of a sustained, planned effort to foster cordial relations with prominent people and responsible government officials and to familiarize them personally with the basic tenets and the teachings of the Faith. Such an activity must be carried out with wisdom and discretion, and requires the constant attention of a responsible committee as well as periodic review by the National Spiritual Assembly itself. Where successful it can effectively forestall opposition to the Faith and smooth the way for many essential aspects of the development of the Bahá'í community."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to All National Spiritual Assemblies

"To approach such well-known and important persons is always an extremely delicate matter, since it requires a good deal of wisdom, courage and ability. But those friends who really feel the urge to do so, and possess the necessary qualifications, should cultivate such friendships which, if properly done, can be of an immense benefit to the Cause. In any case, however, the assistance and help of either the local or the National Assembly is not only useful but necessary if important contacts of this sort are to be fruitful and promising. The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Bahá'í

activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continued exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests. Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Lights of Guidance, p. 43

Various individuals, some widely known for their accomplishments, are increasingly making impassioned and thoughtful appeals for attainment of goals that Bahá'ís are also striving to accomplish. It is understandable that the friends, when meeting or listening to such persons, will want to share the message of Bahá'u'lláh with them.

However, the National Assembly urges the friends not to approach or contact national and international figures, whom they do not know personally, to teach them the Faith or present the peace statement. The National Assembly fears a poor impression would be created if the friends approach or send Bahá'í literature to prominent persons. In the past, dignitaries and celebrities have received a deluge of Bahá'í material from well-meaning Bahá'ís or were besieged by such friends at public appearances.

Should local Assemblies, committees, or individual Bahá'ís wish to contact a prominent person, they should first inform the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of External Affairs) of their intention.

Greater latitude is allowed when a close relationship (as distinct from a casual acquaintance) exists between a Bahá'í and a prominent person. The Bahá'ís are encouraged to inform the National Spiritual Assembly of such friendships.

Association with Other Organizations
Связи с другими организациями

". . . Let him also attempt to devise such methods as association with clubs, exhibitions, and societies, lectures on subjects akin to the teachings and ideals of his Cause such as temperance, morality, social welfare, religious and racial tolerance, economic cooperation, Islam, and Comparative Religion, or participation in social, cultural, humanitarian, charitable, and educational organizations and enterprises which, while safeguarding the integrity of his Faith, will open up to him a multitude of ways and means whereby he can enlist successively the sympathy, the support, and ultimately the allegiance of those with whom he comes in contact."

"...Пусть он также попытается разработать такие методы, как установление контактов с клубами, выставками и обществами, лекции по предметам, близким к учениям и идеалам его Дела,- умеренность, нравственность, процветание общества, расовая и веротерпимость, экономическое сотрудничество, ислам и сравнительное религиоведение,- или участие в общественных, культурных, гуманитарных, благотворительных и образовательных организациях и проектах, которые, сохраняя цельность его Веры, вместе с тем открывают для него множество путей и способов последовательно заручиться сначала симпатией, затем поддержкой, и, наконец, приверженностью Делу тех, с кем он вступает в контакт."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 51

(Шоги Эффенди, Пришествие Божественной Справедливости, стр. 51; цит. в Рухи-6, ч. 3, цитата 19)

". . . The Guardian does not see how Bahá'í participation, with other organizations and religious bodies, in a nonpolitical meeting to promote civic unity and welfare along some line can be considered political. Much as the friends must guard against in any way ever seeming to identify themselves or the Cause with any political party, they must also guard against the other extreme of never taking part with other progressive groups, in conferences or committees designed to promote in entire accord with our teachings--such as, for instance, better race relations."

"... Хранитель не видит, каким образом можно считать политическим участие бахаи, совместно с другими организациями и религиозными общинами, в неполитической встрече, посвященной укреплению гражданского единства и процветанию в какой-то области. Несмотря на то, что друзья должны старательно остерегаться, чтобы их или Дело в целом не стали связывать с какой-то политической партией, они должны также остерегаться и другой крайности - отказа от сотрудничества с другими прогрессивными группами в конференциях или комитетах, цели которых находятся в полном согласии с нашим учением - например, укрепление межрасовых отношений."

(Письмо от имени Шоги Эффенди одному из верующих от 21 ноября 1948 г.)

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated November 21, 1948 to an individual believer

". . . The great, the historic feature of this period is the emergence of the Faith from obscurity. . . .

"... Великой, исторической чертой нынешнего периода является выход Веры из безвестности.

"The time has come for the Bahá'í community to become more involved in the life of the society around it, without in the least supporting any of the world's moribund and divisive concepts, or slackening its direct teaching efforts, but rather, by association, exerting its influence towards unity, demonstrating its ability to settle differences by consultation rather than by confrontation, violence or schism, and declaring it faith in the divine purpose of human existence."

Настало время, когда община бахаи должна более активно включиться в жизнь окружающего общества, при этом ни в коей мере не поддерживая обреченные на гибель и вызывающие раздоры концепции этого мира и не ослабляя прямых усилий по обучению. Напротив, с помощью этих связей она поможет ему достичь единства, продемонстрирует свою способность решать разногласия с помощью совета, а не конфронтации, насилия или расколов, и провозгласит свою веру в Божественное предназначение человеческого бытия."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan, 1985 to the Bahá'ís of the World

(Всемирный Дом Справедливости, Ризван 1985 г., ко всем бахаи мира).

The Universal House of Justice states that all the forces which are focused on accomplishing the unity of mankind and establishing peace among nations are influenced by the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh. It is little wonder, then, that the programs of many organizations contain features that are consonant with the aims of the Faith.

Всемирный Дом Справедливости утверждает, что все силы, сфокусированные на достижении единства человечества и установлении мира между народами, приводятся в движение Откровением Бахауллы. Поэтому не стоит удивляться тому, что программы многих организаций содержат пункты, перекликающиеся с целями Веры.

The National Assembly encourages the friends to associate with like-minded organizations. Individual Bahá'ís are free to decide whether or how much they should participate in the activities of other groups. But in the process they need to ensure that their participation does not compromise the teachings of the Faith.

Национальное Собрание призывает друзей поддерживать связи с близкими по духу организациями. Отдельные бахаи всегда свободны решать, будут ли они участвовать в деятельности других групп, и если да, то в какой степени. Однако в этом процессе им надо будет следить за тем, чтобы их участие не скомпрометировало учения Веры.

The following questions must be asked: Are the aims of the organization compatible with Bahá'í laws and principles? Is membership open to persons of all racial and religious backgrounds? Is it free of partisan politics and political controversies? Does it refrain from civil disobedience and violence? To answer these questions it would be necessary to review carefully an organization's activities and charter.

Следует задать себе такие вопросы: "Согласуются ли цели данной организации с законами и принципами бахаи? Открыты ли эти организации для представителей всех рас и религий? Свободна ли она от партийной политики и политических разногласий? Воздерживается ли она от гражданского неповиновения и насилия?" Чтобы ответить на эти вопросы, потребуется сначала внимательно изучить деятельность организации и ее устав.

Association of Bahá'í institutions with other organizations requires close scrutiny because the activities of Bahá'í Assemblies and committees imply automatic representation of the Faith. Local institutions should satisfy themselves that the aims and methods of the organization in question approximate the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. In general, the closer the approximation, the closer can be the relationship. At times an official relationship would be not only appropriate but advisable.

Связи между институтами бахаи и другими организациями требуют пристального внимания, поскольку деятельность Собраний и комитетов бахаи автоматически подразумевает представительские функции от имени Веры. Местные институты должны убедиться, что цели и методы данной организации близки к Учению Бахауллы. Говоря в общем, чем больше эта похожесть, тем более тесными могут быть связи. Иногда официальные связи были бы не только уместны, но и желательны.

Generally, the Local Spiritual Assembly is in the best position to make such determinations in consideration of these guidelines and of various statements in the Writings. Should the friends have doubts, they may call the National Assembly's Office of External Affairs.

Как правило, именно Местное Духовное Собрание может лучше всего провести подобную оценку, учитывая данное руководство и различные утверждения Писаний. Если у друзей возникнут сомнения, они могут позвонить в Национальный Офис по внешним делам.

In cases where organizations or programs have a national or international scope, Assemblies should obtain the permission of the National Spiritual Assembly before they participate.

В тех случаях, когда организация или ее программа имеют общенациональный или международный масштаб, Собрания, прежде чем принимать участие в ее деятельности, должны получить разрешение Национального Духовного Собрания.

National Efforts Reinforced by Local Activities

The National Spiritual Assembly works with several worthy national organizations and hopes Bahá'ís will find opportunities to participate in local programs arranged by such organizations. The success of the National Assembly's efforts to develop its relations with progressive organizations will no doubt depend to a large extent on the quality of Bahá'í collaboration with such organizations at the grassroots level.

Consistency, Commitment Important

Developing relations with other groups usually requires a commitment for an indefinite period of time. For the relationship to be effective, the commitment must be shared by at least a few of the friends in the local community or nearby communities, and it must be demonstrable and continuous. Bahá'ís who become involved serve as representatives of the local community and, therefore, should carry out their obligations and follow through on their promises with consistency and in exemplary fashion.

The Issue of the Death Penalty

(See Chapter 15, section entitled "Capital Punishment.")

Promoting Universal Peace

"The fact that Bahá'í institutions will not be directly involved in the eventual convocation of the world leaders and in effecting the political unity of nations does not mean that the Bahá'ís are standing aside and waiting for the Lesser Peace to come before they do something about the peace of humanity. Indeed, by promoting the principles of the Faith, which are indispensable to the maintenance of peace, by living the Teachings, and by fashioning the instruments of the Bahá'í Administrative Order, which we are told by the beloved Guardian is the pattern for future society, the Bahá'ís are constantly engaged in laying the foundation for world peace, the Most Great Peace being their ultimate goal. The Bahá'ís should do whatever they can within the context of their Bahá'í teaching and consolidation plans and also through their professional and other regular activities to promulgate universal peace.

". . . This (they) can do by concentrating on wide and continual dissemination of the Peace Statement whose contents should be known by the generality of humanity, on engaging people from all walks of life in discussions on peace, and on instilling and encouraging a sense of personal commitment to the prerequisites of peace. In a word, what is needed now is a worldwide consciousness of not only the requirements but also the possibility, and inevitability, of peace. Therefore, our immediate and inescapable task as Bahá'ís is to imbue the populations with such hope."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 17, 1987 to an individual believer

". . . He was very glad to see that you are active in representing the Cause among Peace Societies and gradually bringing them to contact our principles on that all-important subject. The

sooner they come to appreciate the significance of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh the sooner will they be able to bring about the realization of their object and hope and rehabilitate our perturbed society."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 11, 1932, in Lights of Guidance, p. 418

"Its [The Promise of World Peace] delivery to national governmental leaders having been virtually completed, its contents must now be conveyed, by all possible means, to peoples everywhere from all walks of life. This is a necessary part of the teaching work in our time and must be pursued with unabated vigor."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1988 to all Baha'i

The friends may on occasion be quite enthusiastic about an organization and feel that its program is a major step in the establishment of the Lesser Peace. Shoghi Effendi explained that the Lesser Peace will initially be a political unity arrived at by decision of the states and nations of the world. Few if any nongovernmental organizations enjoy the kind of influence required to bring governments together to arrive at such a decision. Every group with aims similar to those of the Faith is one of a multitude of organizations, the Bahá'í Faith included, that is helping through grassroots efforts to prepare the ground for the transition from the present system of national sovereignty to a world civilization.

RELATIONSHIP WITH MEDIA
Contacting National Media

Local Spiritual Assemblies, local committees and individual Bahá'ís should not contact national media (e.g. television or ratio networks, national or international wire services, newspapers or magazines with international, national or statewide distribution) without first contacting the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of Public Information).

When the Bahá'ís find that programs or articles in international and national media contain errors about the Faith, it is essential that they inform the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of Public Information) which will then determine the best way to handle the matter. Individuals should not contact editors or program directors to correct the errors.

Should such programs or articles appear in local media, the friends should bring the matter to the attention of their local Spiritual Assembly or group. Isolated believers can notify their Auxiliary Board members, their assistants, or the local Assembly whose extension teaching goals include the area where the program or article appeared.

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Letters to the Editor.")

Public Image of the Faith

"The Faith is as yet in its infancy. Despite its emergence from obscurity, even now the vast majority of the human race remains ignorant of its existence; moreover, the vast majority of its adherents are relatively new Baha'is. The change implied by this new stage in its evolution is that whereas heretofore this

tender plant was protected in its obscurity from the attention of external elements, it has now become exposed. This exposure invites close observation, and that observation will eventually lead to opposition in various quarters. So far from adopting a carefree attitude, the community must be conscious of the necessity to present a correct view of itself and an accurate understanding of its purpose to a largely skeptical public. A greater effort, a greater care must now be exercised to ensure its protection against the malice of the ignorant and the unwisdom of its friends."

The Universal House of Justice, in Individual Rights and Freedoms in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh

As the Bahá'í community becomes nationally known and its resources and experience are better recognized, we can anticipate increased scrutiny from the media.

The media have given favorable treatment to the Bahá'ís generally due to the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran. But as the situation in Iran improves, we can expect that journalists will probably begin asking more probing and challenging questions about the tenets and history of the Faith and the life of its adherents.

If local media do not have updated and accurate material about the Faith, they will no doubt go to sources outside the Faith for information, which may not be either accurate or objective.

In public information, a wise and careful approach to publicity and contact with the media is required. The Bahá'ís must often put aside their uniquely Bahá'í perspective in order to imagine that the meaning of certain concepts and terms will not make sense to people who are not Baha'is. "National Assembly," "Auxiliary Board Member," or "Manifestation of God," and "progressive revelation" have little meaning to someone who has limited or no knowledge of the Faith. Concepts like world government and compulsory education are, when given superficial treatment, often threatening and confusing.

Letters to the Editor

"We feel that the crux of the problem rests on whether the expression of views on a subject affects the interests of the Cause. This applies even though believers do not identify themselves as Baha'is. Of course if they do so identify themselves any expression of opinion would obviously affect the interests of the Cause. Whenever the interests of the Cause may be involved, or the friends are uncertain about the matter, they should seek consultation with the administrative institution of the area in which they live and abide by its decision."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 14, 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Individual Bahá'ís and Local Spiritual Assemblies are encouraged to write letters to the editors of their local newspapers which correlate the teachings of the Faith to the problems of the world. Such letters should be reviewed by the Local Spiritual Assembly before submission to the newspaper. Local Spiritual

Assemblies and individual Bahá'ís should not write letters to national publications before contacting the National Spiritual Assembly (Office of External Affairs).

Bahá'ís are free to write letters to the editors of publications to express their personal views if they do not identify themselves as Baha'is, imply that they represent the Faith or a Bahá'í community, or discuss the Bahá'í Faith. If individuals are uncertain about the relationship of their letters to the interests of the Faith, they should consult with their Local Spiritual Assembly.

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Public Information Representatives and Committees")

Publicity

"Publicity itself should be well conceived, dignified, and reverent. A flamboyant approach which may succeed in drawing much initial attention to the Cause may ultimately prove to have produced a revulsion which would require great effort to overcome. The standard of dignity and reverence set by the beloved Guardian should always be upheld, particularly in musical and dramatic items; and photographs of the Master should not be used indiscriminately."

The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 118

Uses of Pictures of `Abdu'l-Bahá

Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice have strongly urged the Bahá'ís to treat the photographs of the Master with the utmost respect and dignity. The National Spiritual Assembly discourages the use of portraits and photographs of `Abdu'l-Bahá in contacts with the media. The seven Houses of Worship and the Bahá'í properties in Haifa are effective visual aids.

Use of the Term "Bahá'í World Faith"

". . . We realize there are occasions on which the use of the term `Bahá'í World Faith' may be justified and useful. However, it is our hope that the friends will gradually lose the habit of using this term as widely as they do now. The designation `The Bahá'í Faith' is more dignified and is preferable. Any adjective added to this name tends to a diminution of its stature and might be taken to mean there are other `Bahá'í Faiths'. . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, National Bahá'í Review, January 1968

Suggested Readings

Bahá'í Administration, pp. 10-11, 102-103, 125-126,

Citadel of Faith, pp. 30-38

Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 44-48

Messages to America, pp. 2, 15-16

Political Non-involvement and Obedience to Government, A Compilation,

by Peter Khan

Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 24, 29-33

Promised Day Is Come, pp. 124-129

Ridvan letters from the Universal House of Justice, 1979-1989

Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 131-136
World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 64-67, 199
Appendix A EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

The Secretary for External Affairs of the National Spiritual Assembly directs the work of the Office of External Affairs. The Office has three branches which are located in Washington, D.C.; Wilmette; and New York City.

Washington, D.C.
Office of External Affairs
1606 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
Telephone: 202/265-8830

The Washington office coordinates U.S. Bahá'í relations with the federal and state governments, leaders of thought, international and national non-governmental organizations, and the national communications media. It applies the policies and carries out the decisions of the National Assembly regarding external affairs. In the light of those policies and decisions it responds to the inquiries and suggestions of the American Bahá'í community. The National Assembly encourages the friends to contact its Washington office should they have any questions about external affairs matters.

Wilmette
Office of Public Information
Bahá'í National Center
Wilmette, IL 60091
Telephone: 708/869-9039

The primary function of the Office of Public Information is to inform the public about the Bahá'í Faith. To accomplish this task, it produces and distributes public information materials and assists the American Bahá'í community to foster cordial relations with the communications media. It ensures the accuracy of information released by the National Spiritual Assembly to the U.S. press and it coordinates contact with national and regional media. It collects and classifies data on local and national newspaper references to the Faith and it distributes news releases through the Bahá'í Public Information Network.

New York City
National Spiritual Assembly Representative to the
United Nations
866 U.N. Plaza, Suite 120
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: 212/486-0560

The United States United Nations Bahá'í Representative represents the National Spiritual Assembly to United States nongovernmental organizations at the United Nations. The representative informs the Bahá'ís of the United States about United Nations-related issues and activities and about the work of the Bahá'í International Community. The representative also encourages the American Bahá'ís to demonstrate support for the United Nations by participating in United Nation's activities at various levels. The office serves as an information center for the Bahá'ís in the United States, as well as for local spiritual assemblies and national committees which have questions about the United Nations.

13 Social and Economic Development

"The soul-stirring events in Bahá'u'lláh's native land and the concomitant advance into the theater of world affairs of the agencies of His Administrative Order have combined to bring into focus new possibilities in the evolution of the Bahá'í world community. Our Ridvan message this year captured these implications in its reference to the opening before us of a wider horizon in whose light can dimly be discerned new pursuits and undertakings upon which we must soon embark. These portend our greater involvement in the development of the social and economic life of peoples.

"From the beginning of His stupendous mission, Bahá'u'lláh urged upon the attention of nations the necessity of ordering human affairs in such a way as to bring into being a world unified in all the essential aspects of its life. In unnumbered verses and tablets He repeatedly and variously declared the `progress of the world' and the `development of nations' as being among the ordinances of God for this day. The oneness of mankind, which is at once the operating principle and ultimate goal of His Revelation, implies the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth. The indispensability of this coherence is unmistakably illustrated in His ordination of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the spiritual center of every Bahá'í community round which must flourish dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of mankind. Thus, we can readily appreciate that although it has hitherto been impracticable for Bahá'í institutions generally to emphasize development activities, the concept of social and economic development is enshrined in the sacred Teachings of our Faith. The beloved Master, through His illuminating words and deeds, set the example for the application of this concept to the reconstruction of society. Witness, for instance, what social and economic progress the Iranian believers attained under His loving guidance and, subsequently, with the unfailing encouragement of the Guardian of the Cause.

"Now, after all the years of constant teaching activity, the Community of The Greatest Name has grown to the stage at which the processes of this development must be incorporated into its regular pursuits; particularly is action compelled by the expansion of the Faith in Third World countries where the vast majority of its adherents reside. The steps to be taken must necessarily begin in the Bahá'í Community itself, with the

friends endeavoring, through their application of spiritual principles, their rectitude of conduct and the practice of the art of consultation, to uplift themselves and thus become self-sufficient and self-reliant. Moreover, these exertions will conduce to the preservation of human honor, so desired by Bahá'u'lláh. In the process and as a consequence, the friends will undoubtedly extend the benefits of their efforts to society as a whole, until all mankind achieves the progress intended by the Lord of the Age.

"It is indeed propitious that systematic attention be given to this vital sphere of Bahá'í endeavor. We are happy, therefore, to announce the establishment at the World Center of the Office of Social and Economic Development, which is to assist the Universal House of Justice to promote and coordinate the activities of the friends throughout the world in this new field.

"The International Teaching Center and, through it, the Continental Boards of Counselors are poised for the special responsibilities which devolve upon them to be alert to possibilities for extending the development of social and economic life both within and outside the Bahá'í Community, and to advise and encourage the Assemblies and friends in their strivings.

"We call now upon National Spiritual Assemblies to consider the implications of this emerging trend for their respective communities, and to take well-conceived measures to involve the thought and actions of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individuals in the devising and implementing of plans, within the constraints of existing circumstances and available resources. Progress in the development field will largely depend on natural stirrings at the grassroots, and it should receive its driving force from those sources rather than from an imposition of plans and programs from the top. The major task of National Assemblies, therefore, is to increase the local communities' awareness of needs and possibilities, and to guide and coordinate the efforts resulting from such awareness. Already in many areas the friends are witnessing the confirmations of their initiatives in such pursuits as the founding of tutorial and other schools, the promotion of literacy, the launching of rural development programs, the inception of educational radio stations, and the operation of agricultural and medical projects. As they enlarge the scope of their endeavors other modes of development will undoubtedly emerge.

"This challenge evokes the resourcefulness, flexibility and cohesiveness of the many communities composing the Bahá'í world. Different communities will, of course, perceive different approaches and different solutions to similar needs. Some can offer assistance abroad, while, at the outset, others must of necessity receive assistance; but all, irrespective of circumstances of resources, are endowed with the capacity to respond in some measure; all can share; all can participate in the joint enterprise of applying more systematically the principles of the Faith to upraising the quality of human life. The key to success is unity in spirit and in action.

"We go forward confident that the wholehearted involvement of the friends in these activities will ensure a deeper consolidation of the community at all levels. Our engagement in the technical aspects of development should, however, not be allowed to supplant the essentials of teaching, which remains the primary duty of every follower of Bahá'u'lláh. Rather should our increased activities in the development field be viewed as a reinforcement of the teaching work, as a greater manifestation of faith in action. For, if expansion of the teaching work does not continue, there can be no hope of success for this enlarged dimension of the consolidation process.

"Ultimately, the call to action is addressed to the individual friends, whether they be adult or youth, veteran or newly-enrolled. Let them step forth to take their places in the arena of service where their talents and skills, their specialized training, their material resources, their offers of time and energy and, above all, their dedication to Bahá'í principles, can be put to work in improving the lot of man.

"May all derive enduring inspiration from the following statement written in 1933 by the hand of our beloved Guardian:

The problems which confront the believers at the present time, whether

social, spiritual, economic or administrative will be gradually solved

as the number and the resources of the friends multiply and their

capacity for service and for the application of Bahá'í principles

develops. They should be patient, confident and active in utilizing

every possible opportunity that presents itself within the limits now

necessarily imposed upon them. May the Almighty aid them to fulfil their

highest hopes."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 20, 1983 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"The problems which confront the believers at the present time, whether social, spiritual, economic or administrative will be gradually solved as the number and resources of the friends multiply and their capacity for service and for the application of Bahá'í principles develops. They should be patient, confident and active in utilizing every possible opportunity that presents itself within the limits now necessarily imposed upon them."

Shoghi Effendi, cited in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, October 20, 1983 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"The upsurge of zeal throughout the Bahá'í world for exploration of the new dimension of social and economic development is both heartwarming and uplifting to all our hopes. This energy within the community, carefully and wisely directed, will undoubtedly bring about a new era of consolidation and expansion, which in turn will attract further widespread attention, so that both aspects of change in the Bahá'í world community will be interactive and mutually propelling."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1984 to the Bahá'ís of the World

"There are two principles which the House of Justice feels are fundamental to the generality of such projects of social and economic development, although, of course, there will be exceptions. The first is that they must be built on a substructure of existing, sufficiently strong local Bahá'í communities. The second is that the long-term conduct of the project should aim at self-sufficiency and not be dependent upon continuing financial support from outside.

Natural Stage of Growth of Community

"The first principle implies that the projects of social and economic development now to be undertaken are a natural stage of the growth of the Bahá'í community and are needed by the community itself although they will, of course, benefit a much wider segment of society. The Bahá'í world is in no position financially or from the point of view of manpower, to launch undertakings for the economic and social development of populations in areas where there are but few believers. The greatest need of all peoples is for the Faith itself, so that they may know the destiny towards which they as individuals and as members of society must strive, and will learn from the teachings those virtues and methods which will enable them to work together in harmony, forbearance and trustworthiness.

"A symbol of this process may be seen in the House of Worship and its dependencies. The first part to be built is the central edifice which is the spiritual heart of the community. Then, gradually, as the outward expression of this spiritual heart, the various dependencies, those `institutions of social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant' are erected and function. This process begins in an embryonic way long before a Bahá'í community reaches the stage of building its own Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, for even the first local center that a Bahá'í community erects can begin to serve not only as the spiritual and administrative center and gathering place of the community, but also as the site of a tutorial school and the heart of other aspects of community life. The principle remains, however, that the spiritual precedes the material. First comes the illumination of hearts and minds by the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, and then the grass roots stirring of the believers wishing to apply these teachings to the daily life of their community. Such stirrings can be fostered, encouraged and assisted by the national and continental institutions of the Faith, but without them any activities introduced from above might well prove abortive.

Self-Sufficiency

". . . Any project started by the Cause should be designed to grow soundly and steadily, and not to collapse from attrition. In other words, external assistance and funds, Bahá'í and non-Baha'i, may be used for capital acquisitions, to make surveys, to initiate activities, to bring in expertise, but the aim should be for each project to be able to continue and to develop on the strength of local Bahá'í labor, funds and enthusiasm even if all external aid should be cut off."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 8, 1984 to a National Spiritual Assembly in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

Getting to Know the Local Community

The purpose of getting to know the community is to understand the network of people and institutions that make up its social fabric. By "community"

is meant the city, neighborhood, town, county or rural area in which social and economic development is to take place. The Local Spiritual Assembly must carefully target an area based on the number of residents, the conditions of the area, and the human and financial resources of the Bahá'í community. Energy and resources can be dissipated with little or no effect by choosing too large an area or one with too many residents. In a major urban area, a neighborhood or even a few square blocks might be appropriate. The Local Spiritual Assembly may want to choose several areas for study and later make a final selection.

Census Data

One source of information on a given area is census data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Every decade, in years ending with "0" (1980, 1990, 2000), the Bureau collects data on all citizens of the United States, including information on age, sex, race, national origin, language, marital status, family size, income level, and many other characteristics. The data is available two to three years after the census and is updated every few years until the next census. In large urban areas, the data may be broken down in a few square blocks (census tracts), or by larger units in less populous areas. Census data is available from local units of government, libraries, area planning commissions, chambers of commerce, and social service and economic development organizations. Census data is useful as a quick overview of an area's population, but, as are all statistics, is an abstraction and is not a complete picture.

Area Maps

Detailed area maps are another useful planning tool. While driving through the area, the planner notes on the map the location of factories, retail stores, shopping malls, offices, cultural institutions (libraries, museums, etc.), schools, hospitals, recreational facilities (parks, YMCA's, etc.), social service agencies, police and fire stations, churches and synagogues, and residential areas. The purpose is to see where residents live, work, shop, play, pray, go to school and get needed services--to find the institutions around which the community is built.

Area Studies

In some areas, a planning commission or local organization may have already published an area study. Efforts should be made to obtain such studies, but they should be read with a critical eye.

Some Local Spiritual Assemblies may have a feel for the identified "community" and may choose not to use census data, maps, and studies. The planning process is flexible and adaptable.

The Local Assembly can obtain additional information about an area through interviews and conversations with a cross-section of the Baha'is, local officials, leaders of thought, social service agencies, community organizations, economic

development groups, chambers of commerce and local residents.

Primary Objective: Service to the Community

"Projects should be consistent with the aims and purposes of the local and national civil authorities. Care must be taken to ensure, as far as possible, that the projects will be well-received and given warm support by the non-Bahá'í community. Service to the community must be the prime objective for selecting projects and this should be made clear to the local inhabitants.

"Projects should be seen as means of rendering assistance and help. Through them, the participants should be able to gain in experience and confidence; in self respect and dignity. The concept of self-help should be a strong component in such projects."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"While it is the wish of the House of Justice to see social and economic development become a part of the life of Bahá'í communities, great care should be exercised that our limited efforts are directed to projects whose primary objective is not business but service to the community. Such projects as engagement in commercial activities and the erection of factories will surely divert the attention of Bahá'í institutions from directly promoting the Cause at this time. The Counsellors will be able to advise and guide you in selecting, if favorable conditions exist, modest projects which promote the welfare of members of the Bahá'í community, as well as the betterment of their fellow men."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 8, 1983, to a National Spiritual Assembly, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

Should Originate from Grass Roots

"Projects should be attempted or undertaken only where a relatively strong and united community of Bahá'ís exists and preferably where a potential for growth is evident, and where such a potential is most likely to be enhanced by collective participation in a development project."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"A project should be considered for a community which has the will and desire to host a project and where there is reason to believe that members are committed to participate and support it in all stages of its implementation. It is essential that Bahá'í development projects grow from the grass roots, and not be imposed from the top. It is important to educate the friends of a community in the merits of a development project and deepen their understanding and appreciation of its implications."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"The message of the House of Justice dated 20 October 1983 has clearly set out the concepts, defined the objectives and outlined the guiding principles for the selection and implementation of Bahá'í development projects, programs or activities. The vast majority of Bahá'í projects will be primarily generated at the grass roots, and, initially as required, will receive help from Bahá'í sources, in terms of finances and manpower. The projects will, as you have surmised, be non-profit making, concerned mainly with activities closely related to education, health and hygiene, agriculture and simple community development activities. It is hoped that all these types of projects will reflect the strength of the spiritual principles enshrined in the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 22, 1983 to an individual, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

(See also Chapter 7, section entitled "No Proselytizing")

"In its message to the Bahá'í World dated 20 October 1983, the House of Justice has given its guidelines and defined the objectives of Bahá'í development projects. It is anticipated that, after studying this message, your Assembly will be able to survey the possibilities in . . . and, in consultation with the Counsellors and your Community Development Committee, identify the localities which meet the criteria for the implementation of community projects. As you will have noted from the message of the House of Justice, emphasis is laid on the principle of projects being developed carefully at the grass roots, and not being imposed indiscriminately from the top."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, November 3, 1983 to a National Spiritual Assembly, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

"Suggestions for projects for development are welcome from whatever source they spring but ideally they should emanate from the local communities and receive support of the Local and National Assemblies; it should not be necessary to send people to countries to solicit projects. However, if a community has the desire to plan a special project, it is free to call upon people with experience to assist in the planning, design and implementation of the scheme."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, November 1, 1983 to the International Teaching Center, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

Different Communities Will Have Different Approaches

". . . The House of Justice wishes us to stress that the nature and extent of the believers' involvement in social and economic development must vary from country to country, both in relation to the general conditions of that country and in relation to the stage of development of the Bahá'í community. It is only because a number of Bahá'í communities have sufficiently increased their membership numerically, and have developed strongly functioning Bahá'í administrative institutions that the

House of Justice has been able to contemplate the launching of this new stage in the work of the Cause."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 30, 1984 to a National Spiritual Assembly , in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

Advisable to Start with Modest Projects

"It is important that our undertakings be modest in their scope at the present time. Then, as we gain in confidence and experience and as our resources increase, our work will encompass expanded objectives, and the friends will explore new areas of social and economic activity."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 22, 1983 to an individual, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

". . . Projects of economic and social development undertaken by Bahá'í institutions, or assisted by them, should usually be quite modest at first, so that experience can be gained. They should be suited to the local situation and meet the particular needs and aspirations of the local believers. Gradually, as knowledge and experience are gained, each National Spiritual Assembly can encourage and develop larger projects and perhaps include even the whole national community in appropriate endeavors."

The Universal House of Justice, May 7, 1984 to an individual, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

"Great care should be taken to ensure that the number of people to be served corresponds to the resources and capacity of the Bahá'í community; that Bahá'í standards and values are applied at all stages so that no conflict may arise; and, most importantly, that the cultural and social setting in which the project is to be implemented is understood and incorporated into the plans."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"Involvement in social and economic development endeavors should come as a result of the organic development of the Bahá'í community as it progresses from strength to strength. Well-established, actively functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies may wish to consult about possibilities for applying the life-giving principles of the Faith to perceived needs in the community, preferably within and often primarily affecting the Bahá'í community. Based on adequate planning, and with the unified support of the Bahá'í community, the Assembly may then wish to initiate a modest activity which can be implemented and managed by the local Baha'is."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 15, 1988 to an individual Bahá'í Community

It is important to set modest, measurable and achievable goals. A poorly stated goal is: "To help the community learn to read." A more appropriate goal is: "To hold adult literacy classes to help thirty members of the community reach an eighth grade reading level." Vaguely defined goals may result in ill-defined

projects which raise false expectations in the Bahá'í community and the community at large.

When designing a project, the Local Spiritual Assembly should consult with those people who will be the beneficiaries of the project. Those in need best understand what they need and how they can best take advantage of a project. A social and economic development project should emerge from the grass roots and be suited to the capacity, culture and circumstances of the participants.

The appointment of a manager or project director is often a crucial element in the success of a social and economic development project. It is neither feasible nor practical for the Local Spiritual Assembly to manage the day-to-day operations of a large-scale project. In some cases, the Assembly may wish to appoint co-directors. It is not advisable to have more than two directors, however, as this tends to weaken lines of authority and accountability.

The responsibilities of the director and his or her relationship with the Assembly must be clearly delineated. The Assembly should give the director a position description which spells out duties and responsibilities. The degree of authority of the director over different functions of the project must also be made clear.

The next critical element is the recruitment, orientation, training, appreciation, evaluation, and supervision of the volunteers who "staff" the project. Space where the project will take place must be secured and a budget developed to ensure that adequate funds will be available for the project. Finally, the Assembly should consider media coverage of the project: whether the press and other media will be used to recruit participants and to publicize the results.

Assess Needs and Capabilities "Projects should be suited to the local needs and the resources at hand. They should be directed toward meeting the immediate and perceived needs of the community. Usually they should not be based upon the introduction of ideas or technologies that are not of immediate relevance to the needs and capacities of the people they are intended to serve. . . .

"Great care should be taken to ensure that the number of people to be served corresponds to the resources and capacity of the Bahá'í community; that Bahá'í standards and values are applied at all stages so that no conflict may arise; and, most importantly, that the cultural and social setting in which the project is to be implemented is understood and incorporated into the plans."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Project Design

". . . The accepted Bahá'í concept revolves around the need of the Bahá'í community to understand how development fits into their Bahá'í lives, and how they are at once the objective, the beneficiary and the agents for development. In most projects the local believers should be the ones to identify their own

needs, make plans for meeting those needs, implement the plans and reap the benefits of their efforts. However, projects will have many variables, and non-local assistance in the form of funds, personnel and specialized knowledge, may be required. What is essential to each development effort is that each local group must participate according to its abilities and resources."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 13, 1985 to the International Teaching Center, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

"Some guidelines have been drawn up by the newly-established office for Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and these are attached for your guidance. . . .

"1. Whatever goals and plans are adopted should preferably be the result of consultation of all those involved. The volunteer should not feel that he/she alone makes such decisions.

"2. In each zone, where a development project is envisaged, a Local Spiritual Assembly should be selected. This Assembly could consult with its community to determine priorities. It is also advisable for the National Assembly to hold a conference in such a zone to consult with the friends concerning their needs, thus establishing their relative importance.

"3. The Bahá'í villages should be called upon to commit themselves to the implementation of the project. Therefore manpower requirements and needs should be clearly identified.

"4. It is not always necessary to have an expatriate specialist to oversee a project. A search should be made for qualified believers, either locally or in another part of [the country].

"5. In any discussion of the project, attention should be paid to the following aspects:

a. Is it feasible?
b. Are the objectives and aims clear?

c. Who will manage or act as leader of the project? Is he/she a trustworthy reliable Baha'i?

d. Does the local community have the will and desire to host the proposed project?

e. Do the local believers want to participate? If so, the extent of their participation and involvement must be determined. For example, what will be the contribution of the local believers in labor, materials, facilities, accommodation for specialist help (if any), etc.?

f. What will be the contribution of the National Assembly in labor, materials, funds, etc., as well as in monitoring the progress of the project?

g. Has thought been given to the prominent role Bahá'í women can play?

h. Are Bahá'í youth involved?

i. Is the project likely to affect the non-Bahá'í community? If so, how will they be advised? How will their cooperation be sought and secured?

j. How is the project likely to be viewed by Government authorities?"

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 19, 1983 to a National Spiritual Assembly , in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

". . . Further systematic attention needs to be given to the eventual elimination of illiteracy from the Bahá'í community, an accomplishment which would, beyond anything else, make the Holy Word accessible to all the friends and thus reinforce their efforts to live the Bahá'í life. Similarly, assisting in endeavors to conserve the environment in ways which blend with the rhythm of life of our community must assume more importance in Bahá'í activities."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridvan 1989 to the Bahá'ís of the World

Project Implementation

Several precautions should be taken in the implementation of a major social and economic development project. First, permission of the local authorities must be secured. In some cases, there are laws and ordinances which regulate certain activities and others which require special permits.

Second, although a given social and economic development project may seem worthwhile, it may encounter community opposition. Residents in some communities have strongly objected to the opening of food pantries, shelters, or even tutoring programs in their area because they felt these projects were detrimental to the neighborhood.

A third precaution revolves around competition. Other religious organizations, community groups and social service agencies may be operating similar projects. These groups are competing for scarce resources, visibility within the community and media attention and may resent or even oppose similar activities by the Baha'is. Consultation with these groups can prevent problems. It may, in some cases, be best to support already established efforts of another organization if the resources of the Bahá'í community are insufficient for a self-sustaining project.

Managers

"Trustworthy people who have an acceptable degree of managerial skill should be identified and if necessary given additional training to become better able to coordinate available human and material resources with care and understanding. The degree of skill required should correspond to the size and magnitude of a project."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Collaboration with Other Organizations "It may also be possible for the Bahá'í community to collaborate with a non-Bahá'í organization, which may have similar interests and whose objectives do not conflict with those of the Faith, to promote a worthwhile social program."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 15, 1988 to a local Bahá'í Community

Evaluation of Projects

"It is also worth remembering that projects may need amendment to or alteration of their objectives as operational experience may show. The need for such changes can only be realized if constant monitoring is carried out and is accepted as a component part of the project."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

If measurable goals have been established during the planning process, the outcome can easily be measured. The project did tutor twenty children or it did not, delivered 200 food baskets or did not, etc. However, the "numbers" tell only part of the story.

The director, volunteers, participants and community residents should be asked to evaluate the project either in writing or through interviews. Some key questions are:

- Why did the project succeed or fail?

- How could the same or similar project be improved?

- Did the project operate in accordance with Bahá'í principles

and was it "conducive to human honor and dignity"?

- What did the Assembly, the director, the volunteers, the

Bahá'í community and the participants learn and gain from the

experience?

- Did the project emerge form the grass roots and address the

"immediate and perceived needs of the community"?
Financing of Projects

"Generally, projects will come under one of the following categories.

"1. Self-Financed

When the resources of the community are adequate to meet all expenses connected with the implementation of the project. In some cases it may be feasible for a group to form themselves into a cooperative for the purpose of financing a project. All cooperative arrangements must be clearly ascertained and proper agreements should be drawn indicating each party's responsibility. These steps should occur, preferably, under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly or an agency designated by the National Assembly. Emphasis should be placed on sound business practices, honest contractual agreements and firm commitments.

"2. National Fund-Financed

When the project is of national character, and comes

directly under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly, the Assembly should study the project finances and carefully consider the implications of its commitment, taking into consideration: duration, possible expansion, available personnel, materials, and all other factors necessary to carry the project to a successful conclusion; or to continue indefinitely without becoming a drain on the National resources.

"3. Shared Finance

When a development project may be of special value to the community, but its financial resources are limited, the National Spiritual Assembly may, in consultation with the Counsellors, determine the extent of supplemental financial assistance needed and submit this to the Universal House of Justice.

"The Universal House of Justice will consider such development projects referred to it by National Spiritual Assemblies, will determine how implementation may be carried out and will advise the National Assembly of its views and give the necessary directions.

"In some instances it may be the wish of the Universal House of Justice to invite non-Bahá'í development agencies to participate in the financing or implementation of a project. For the time being, this action will be taken only with the approval of the World Center and referred to agencies developed for this purpose.

"The Teachings of our Faith are the mightiest and most powerful instrument created for the advancement of human society. We are now called upon to participate, as and when circumstances permit, collectively, in promoting social and economic aspects of human development and thereby placing the World Bahá'í community in the forefront of the progressive movements of the World."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Individual Ventures

". . . Bahá'ís who wish to start a business as a group effort in the service of the Faith are advised to consult with their Local or National Spiritual Assemblies."

The Universal House of Justice, May 7, 1984 to an individual, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

". . . If Bahá'ís in any area wish to join together in forming a school as a business venture, they are, of course, free to do so. Such a venture may well be of benefit to the community and to the Cause, but it must be regarded entirely as a private commercial undertaking. . . ."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 8, 1984 to the International Teaching Center, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

"It is the view of the House of Justice that you should carefully study all aspects of such a meritorious undertaking [an agri-

cultural project in Senegal], and then embark upon it. As you are known to be a Bahá'í and plan to utilize the facilities of the proposed property for the benefit of the Faith, it is important that the fruit of your labors should ultimately serve to consolidate the foundation of the community and redound to its good name.

"As to the ownership and operation of the project, the House of Justice feels that, at this stage, it should be regarded as a personal venture, and should not be run by the National Spiritual Assembly. However, this does not mean that you may not seek, as you have sought, the advice and counsel of the National Assembly in any of its aspects when you feel that such consultation would be beneficial."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 22, 1984 to the International Teaching Center, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

Role of Women and Youth

"Conscious and sincere effort must be made to ensure women's participation. Some projects may be entirely directed to the upliftment of the women; and in those projects, the participation and support of men must be assured.

"The role of youth in development must receive the careful attention of the National Spiritual Assemblies, so that this valuable source of idealism and energy may be directed to the service of mankind."

Written by the Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Center, and approved by the House of Justice, letter dated December 13, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Potential Projects
Information and Referral

Almost all large- or medium-sized cities or counties in the United States have a United Way Crusade of Mercy or Community Chest which publishes a directory of programs and agencies that address social and economic concerns. The Local Assembly can use the directory to refer the friends and others from the community to the appropriate agency.

Volunteerism

Many Bahá'ís already volunteer in social and economic development programs. The Assembly can appoint these volunteers, if they so wish, as their official representatives, thus making it an activity of the local community. In many cities, there are interfaith councils that deal with social problems that would welcome a Bahá'í representative.

Food
Food Baskets

Many churches distribute food baskets to the needy during their holiday season. The Bahá'ís can help with such projects and can observe Ayyam-i-Ha or various Bahá'í Holy Days in a similar manner.

Food Pantries

An Assembly with a Bahá'í Center or other space available can maintain an ongoing food pantry. Food is available through community food drives, the Federal Commodities program and local merchants.

Congregate Meals

If space and cooking facilities are available, the Assembly can serve hot meals on a regular basis to the needy or a meal in observance of a Bahá'í Holy Day.

(See also Chapter 9, section entitled "Observing the Holy Days")

Nutrition

The Assembly can hold classes on budgeting, shopping, cooking nutritious meals and canning.

Community Gardening

Many cities allow groups to grow vegetables on vacant lots or unused city property.

Housing
- Workshops on simple home repair
- A tool loan program

- Assisting the elderly and others with painting, decorating and

home repair (in the spirit of a community "barn-raising")

- Organizing block clubs
- Organizing tenants' associations
Shelter for the Homeless

Shelters can be expensive to operate, may encounter community or political opposition, and are subject to laws and regulations. However, a Local Spiritual Assembly with a Center or other space might want to investigate the possibility of starting a small shelter. Day programs with planned activities are one way by which a Local Spiritual Assembly can serve the homeless. Another way is for the Bahá'í community to voluntarily staff an existing shelter one night a week.

Substance Abuse The Assembly can sponsor self-help groups based on the "twelve-step"

program pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous to help those addicted to alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

Education
English as a Second Language (ESL)

With the influx of Bahá'í refugees from Iran and Southeast Asia and the increased enrollment of Hispanics and other language groups, the Assembly can arrange through a local community college to hold ESL classes at its Center or other facility. These classes are offered at little or no cost and the teacher comes to the site where the class is held.

Literacy

One out of every five adult Americans is functionally illiterate, meaning that they cannot read newspapers, recipes or fill out job applications. There are literacy councils and community colleges which will send literacy teachers to classes organized by the Baha'is.

Tutoring

With the breakdown of education at all levels of society, everyone from young children through college students needs remedial tutoring. Bahá'ís who are professional teachers can teach others to tutor. Other community organizations also train tutors.

14 PROPERTIES
Description of Properties
The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar

"O Concourse of creation! O people! Construct edifices in the most beautiful fashion possible, in every city, in every land, in the name of the Lord of Religions. Adorn them with that which beseemeth them. Then commemorate the Lord, the Merciful, the Clement, in spirit and fragrance.

"Teach your children what hath been revealed through the Supreme Pen. Instruct them in what hath descended from the Heaven of greatness and power. Let them memorize the Tablets of the Merciful and chant them with melodious voices in galleries built in the Temple of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. The prayers of the Lord should be chanted in a manner to attract the hearts and souls. Blessed is he who listeneth unto the River of Life." Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Bahá'í Year Book, 1925-1926, p. 59

". . . Of all the institutions that stand associated with His Holy Name, surely none save the institution of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar can most adequately provide the essentials of Bahá'í worship and service, both so vital to the regeneration of the world. Therein lies the secret of the loftiness, of the potency, of the unique position of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar as one of the outstanding institutions conceived by Bahá'u'lláh."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 186

"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is one of the most vital institutions in the world, and it hath many subsidiary branches. Although it is a House of Worship, it is also connected with a hospital, a drug dispensary, a traveler's hospice, a school for orphans, and a university for advanced studies. Every Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is connected with these five things. My hope is that the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar will now be established in America, and that gradually the hospital, the school, the university, the dispensary and the hospice, all functioning according to the most efficient and orderly procedures, will follow. Make these matters known to the beloved of the Lord, so that they will understand how very great is the importance of this `Dawning-Point of the Remembrance of God.' The Temple is not only a place for worship; rather, in every respect it is complete and whole."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 99-100

"A symbol of this process [social and economic development] may be seen in the House of Worship and its dependencies. The first part is the central edifice which is the spiritual heart of the community. Then, gradually, as the outward expression of this spiritual heart, the various dependencies, those `institutions of

social service as shall afford relief to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant' are erected and function. This process begins in an embryonic way long before a Bahá'í community reaches the stage of building its own Mashriqu'l-Adhkar. . . ."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 8, 1984, quoted in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

The Haziratu'l-Quds--National and Local

"The Haziratu'l-Quds is an institution of the Faith and no distinction should be made between a National or Local Haziratu'l-Quds concerning its use."

The Universal House of Justice, June 27, 1970, in Lights of Guidance, p. 271

"Simultaneous with the establishment and incorporation of local and national Bahá'í assemblies, with the formation of their respective committees, the formulation of national and local Bahá'í constitutions and the founding of Bahá'í endowments, undertakings of great institutional significance were initiated by these newly founded Assemblies, among which the institution of the Haziratu'l-Quds--the seat of the Bahá'í National Assembly and pivot of all Bahá'í administrative activity in the future--must rank as one of the most important. . . .

"Complementary in its functions to those of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar--an edifice exclusively reserved for Bahá'í worship--this institution, whether local or national, will, as its component parts, such as the Secretariat, the Treasury, the Archives, the Library, the Publishing Office, the Assembly Hall, the Council Chamber, the Pilgrims' Hostel, are brought together and made jointly to operate in one spot, be increasingly regarded as the focus of all Bahá'í administrative activity, and symbolize, in a befitting manner, the ideal of service animating the Bahá'í community in its relation alike to the Faith and to mankind in general.

"From the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, ordained as a house of worship by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the representatives of Bahá'í communities, both local and national, together with the members of their respective committees, will, as they gather daily within its walls at the hour of dawn, derive the necessary inspiration that will enable them to discharge, in the course of their day-to-day exertions in the Haziratu'l-Quds--the scene of their administrative activities--their duties and responsibilities as befits the chosen stewards of His Faith."

Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 339-340

"The Haziratu'l-Quds, although Feasts and Holy Days are celebrated in it, must not be confounded with a Temple; it is an administrative headquarters. No doubt in the future it will be used for purely administrative purposes, but for the time being it must fill the role of being a true Center and rallying point for the Bahá'í community."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, February 15, 1947, in Lights of Guidance, p. 271

The Bahá'í Writings anticipate the formation of two distinct Bahá'í institutions in every locality: the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and

the Haziratu'l-Quds. It is important to understand the different roles of these two institutions. Until Bahá'í communities reach the stage of development where they need and can maintain both a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and a Haziratu'l-Quds, however, one building is usually sufficient for most needs.

Local Bahá'í Centers--Embryonic Haziratu'l-Quds

"When a Local Spiritual Assembly acquires a Bahá'í Center, it should regard this meeting place as an embryonic Haziratu'l-Quds and should do everything possible to foster in the community a proper attitude of respect for the Center. . . .

"When a community grows in size and in the resources at its disposal, the Assembly may well acquire a community center for recreational and other uses, in addition to the Bahá'í Center. However, if it is able to acquire only one center, that meeting place should be designated as the Bahá'í Center since it is the focus of Bahá'í community activity and the seat of the Spiritual Assembly, in addition to its being identified with the Bahá'í Faith in the eyes of the public."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 26, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also in this chapter, section entitled "Dancing in a Bahá'í Center.")

"As regards your question about the proper designation for the huts which will be used by the believers in villages, as Bahá'í Centers, he thinks that, for the time being, until a more dignified structure can be erected, they should be called `Bahá'í Center', and not Haziratu'l-Quds--the correct name is Haziratu'l-Quds and not Hazira."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 4, 1953, Unfolding Destiny, p. 301

". . . For even the first local center that a Bahá'í community erects can begin to serve not only as the spiritual and administrative center and gathering place of the community, but also as . . . the heart of other aspects of community life."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 8, 1984, in "Extracts Concerning Bahá'í Social and Economic Development"

Endowments "The acquisition of local endowments, which is given as a specific goal to some national communities, is intended to assist in the consolidation of local communities and to foster the spirit of unity and collaboration among the believers. A local endowment can be quite a small piece of land; it can be purchased by the Local Spiritual Assembly or is more usually the gift of one or more of the believers. If the Local Assembly is incorporated, the endowment should be registered in its name, but if it is not, the endowment can be held by one or more of the believers on behalf of the community. For example, if one of the believers gives a small piece of land he can continue to hold it in his name, but it will be known that he does so on behalf of the Local Spiritual Assembly and that the land will in time be transferred legally to the Assembly when that is possible. In some countries the land is owned by the state or the tribe and

only the use of the land can be assigned; in such places the goal can be considered achieved if the Local Spiritual Assembly can obtain the use of a plot of land in its own name. In some countries, even if the land can be purchased, government regulations require that within a specific time a building must be erected on land held by religious institutions. This problem can be met in several ways: it may be possible for the Spiritual Assembly to obtain the use of, or acquire, a plot of land for agricultural purposes, thus avoiding the need to erect a building; or if the most practical course is to erect on the land a Bahá'í institution such as a local Haziratu'l-Quds, the Assembly could, in its own records, demarcate a portion of the land to be the endowment, distinct from the portion on which the Haziratu'l-Quds stands."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Endowments can be in the form of land, administrative buildings, schools or other institutions. For further information on endowments, see God Passes By, pp. 337-339.

Bahá'í Cemeteries

(See also in this chapter, section entitled "Contributions from Non-Baha'is.")

(See also Chapter 18, section entitled "Bahá'í Cemeteries.")

FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE ACQUIRING A CENTER
Consider Alternatives

The Local Spiritual Assembly must make provisions for a meeting place where the community can gather, committees can function, or classes can be held. If the Assembly finds it sufficient to meet in private homes or rent facilities when necessary, it does not need a separate Bahá'í Center.

Before deciding to acquire a Bahá'í Center, several alternatives should be considered:

- Using private homes

- Using a combination of private homes, rental office spaces,

and public halls
- Renting a facility

The decision to acquire a Bahá'í Center should be based on the community's readiness for one, regardless of whether someone has offered to donate a building or whether sufficient funds to purchase a building are available.

Often it will be wisest for Spiritual Assemblies to rent facilities as needed for specific events. At a later stage of development, the Assembly will have acquired the experience to rent on a long-term basis or acquire a facility of its own.

A Local Spiritual Assembly must clearly understand all aspects of owning property and be able to handle the extra financial, physical and administrative requirements. A Bahá'í Center should not be viewed as "a way to save money" or as an investment. The day-to-day operating costs of a facility can soon absorb any anticipated savings.

An Assembly may decide to begin saving funds for that time in the future when the community is ready for a Haziratu'l-Quds.

Statement of Purpose

Whenever the lease, the purchase, the construction or the acceptance of a donation of real estate is being considered, it is important to review several basic issues. The Local Spiritual Assembly must carefully assess the community's needs and clarify how it wants the property to be used.

A one or two page "Statement of Purpose" can focus on needs, priorities, project objectives, program activities to be served, operational management, and the range of budgets for both acquisition and ongoing operation. The statement should be made after thorough consultation about the primary functions for the Center; for example, teaching, child education, public relations, Nineteen Day Feasts, Spiritual Assembly meetings, or social development. Since only a large building could adequately accommodate all functions, it may be necessary to focus on the major needs of the community at the time.

Consideration of Various Factors
Positive Factors
A Bahá'í Center can be a place where:

- The public can obtain information about the Faith

- The Faith's presence can be established and continually

proclaimed by a sign, a phone listing, and a regular address for

advertisements and printings
- The Assembly can maintain its central files

- Committees, youth clubs, and other groups can meet for

activities

- Children's classes and community deepenings can be held

- Nineteen Day Feasts and Holy Day observances can be held

- The community library or bookstore can be kept

- Community firesides, and other events can be held

- Other Bahá'í communities may meet
Negative Factors

The demands of a building on a community's resources and energies may be exhausting or may be greater than anticipated. For example, a Bahá'í Center could:

- Drain community finances far beyond expectations

- Pose significant demands on Bahá'ís for upkeep of the

property, both in time and money

- Cause divisions within the community over financial and

maintenance problems

- Require supervision that the community does not have the

manpower to provide

- Introduce a formality or stifle spontaneity at the Nineteen

Day Feast or other meetings

- Provide a different environment for firesides or other

teaching functions than is available in homes

- Significantly reduce contributions to the National or

International Bahá'í Funds

- Convey a poor image of the Faith if upkeep of the structure

and its grounds is not exemplary
Technical Issues

It is important for Local Spiritual Assemblies to gather all of the facts before making a decision to acquire a center. Some of the major areas to research include:

- Financial requirements
- Physical considerations
- Property operation
- Property maintenance
- Legal considerations

The following sections of this chapter discuss only the rudimentary issues that must be considered within each of these five areas. The particular facts and requirements will be different for every situation, locality, property, and building. When looking at building codes and zoning requirements, for example, the laws will not only be different from state to state, but often from town to town, and the zoning restrictions may vary within the same block.

For each of the five areas above, the Local Spiritual Assembly may find it helpful to call on sources of information at the local and national levels. By consulting local professionals, the Assembly can determine the feasibility of achieving its objectives and learn of the costs involved, and potential legal complications, etc. It may cost several hundred dollars to obtain such consultation, but it will help the Spiritual Assembly avoid ruinous mistakes costing far more.

For general guidance, the Spiritual Assembly may wish to call upon the National Properties Committee, which can provide the Assembly with more information, such as what professionals to consult, and possible steps and options to consider. At times, the National Properties Committee has put some Assemblies in touch with other Assemblies which have experienced similar situations or put them in touch with Bahá'ís who are professionals in the area of concern.

Financial Requirements

The Local Spiritual Assembly must have a clear understanding of its financial status, of the financial requirements of a center, and of how it intends to meet them.

"The . . . Assembly will also need expert advice as to the condition of any building they consider, the cost of rehabilitation, alterations, improvements and furnishings that would be in keeping with their new home. All these factors will bear on the total commitment they will have to undertake and their ability to meet it financially."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 28, 1974 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Fund Education")

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Fund-Raising")

Relationship Between Local and National Needs

The needs and resources of the local Bahá'í community must be compared with those of the National and International Bahá'í communities. All Local Spiritual Assemblies have an obligation to contribute to the National and International Funds. Contributions could suffer when an Assembly decides to establish a Bahá'í Center. If an Assembly decides to rent, purchase, build, or accept a donated building, it may wish to invite commitments from the local believers for financial support for the Center over and above the amount they normally donate to other funds.

Spiritual Assemblies have often underestimated the costs of maintaining a Bahá'í Center. Even donated property is a "fixed overhead" that must be satisfied before other needs can be considered. It is a long-term, inflexible commitment.

At this time, the National Spiritual Assembly is unable to provide financial assistance for the purchase of local property or to assume possession of property that local communities cannot afford to maintain.

Financial Status of the Community

One of the first steps a community should take is to assess the health of its Local Bahá'í Fund. Are contributions to the Local Fund regular and consistent, or do occasional large contributions make up for thin months? If the Fund is supported in large part by contributions from a few individual believers, what would happen if one or two of these persons moved out of the community? Does the Fund allow for a safety margin in case of unexpected expenses? Has the community regularly been contributing all that it would like to the National Bahá'í Fund, the International Bahá'í Fund and the Continental Bahá'í Fund?

Financial Requirements of a Center

"We have been asked to say that there is no objection to the Local Assembly looking for a property to purchase for their Haziratu'l-Quds, but they should be reminded that in addition to the initial cost of acquisition they must be prepared to assume the continuing costs of upkeep, maintenance, and services. They should also decide whether they can manage the financial outlay required without interfering with the discharge of their other responsibilities toward the success of the Five Year Plan [1974-1979]."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 6, 1975 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"The House of Justice does not feel that . . . the building or buying of a Local Center will necessarily infuse the friends with a dynamic spirit for community development and inspire them to actively teach. On the contrary, the original cost and responsibilities of operation and maintenance may impose a heavy burden on them and create an adverse effect."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 9, 1978 to an individual believer

A Spiritual Assembly must be careful to consider maintenance as well as acquisition expenses. Acquisition expenses may

include damage deposit or purchase fees, necessary rehabilitation and renovation, and purchase of furnishings. If the building is to be constructed, the initial costs would be even higher. Yet, these are only the initial fees. Other expenses include monthly rental or mortgage costs, insurance, utilities, upkeep and repair of furnishings and grounds, routine maintenance costs, and deposits into a reserve fund for major repairs and replacements of building components. The Assembly can prepare for a Center by developing a budget that includes all anticipated expenses, for both initial costs and ongoing costs, and an additional amount for contingencies.

Use of Pledges

"Pledges can be useful as a means of encouraging contributions and of bringing the financial needs of the Cause to the attention of the friends. This method can be particularly helpful in a situation where a Spiritual Assembly has a major task to perform, such as building of a Haziratu'l-Quds or the establishment of a tutorial school, and needs to have some idea in advance of whether the funds for the project will be available." The Universal House of Justice, Bahá'í Funds, p. 30

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Use of Pledges")

Information sources:
Treasurer of the Local Spiritual Assembly
Local real estate agent or property manager
Local financial adviser
Physical Considerations
Appearance

When looking for property, the Assembly must remember that a Bahá'í facility has to meet standards of dignity and quality. Bahá'í properties convey a public image of the Faith, which can enhance the prestige of the Cause and contribute to relations with the community at large.

Location

- If the primary purpose for purchasing a Center is to proclaim

the Faith, the property must be visible. A Center may be a teaching

and proclamation project supported by Bahá'ís from throughout the

state. In such a case, the building may not be necessarily the

primary meeting place for local Baha'is.

- If the primary purpose for the Bahá'í Center is as a meeting

place, it may be important that it be centrally located. It may be

unnecessary for it to be highly visible.

- If an Assembly wants to reach a particular population,

locating the Bahá'í Center near that population may prove helpful.

- The Assembly should consider the issues of value and public

safety.

- In general, the purpose of the property should help determine

its location.
Size and Physical Arrangement

The purposes for which the Center is needed will guide decisions about the desired size and physical arrangement of the building. If the Assembly needs adequate space for the Nineteen Day Feasts, for example, the primary meeting room should be large enough to hold the community members and their guests, although rental of a large hall may sometimes be necessary for special events. If the Bahá'í Center is to be used for community meetings and child education classes, for example, it may be helpful to have at least two large rooms so that setups for children's classes do not have to be dismantled frequently. These issues should be clarified in the Statement of Purpose.

Other physical considerations include access for the handicapped, parking, compliance with building codes, and life-safety features such as smoke detectors, emergency lighting, and emergency exiting.

Information sources:
Local architect
Local real estate agent
Local building officials
National Properties Committee
Property Operation
Proctor

One of the first problems experienced by one Local Spiritual Assembly after it purchased a Bahá'í Center was that suddenly each Bahá'í became an interior decorator. People rearranged furniture at will, and a few borrowed furniture from the Center for their own personal residences. Their solution was to appoint a proctor. If anyone wanted to make a change or borrow or donate furniture, the proctor had to approve the action. The Assembly drew up a signed agreement with any person who allowed his or her personal property to be used in the Center specifying how long the Assembly could use the property and other terms governing its use.

Property Manager

The property manager should be responsible to the Local Spiritual Assembly but mandated to provide for the Center's overall operation, including beautification, regular cleaning, and other necessary care. The manager would also schedule all activities to be held in the Center. The mandate for the property manager should be in writing so that all responsibilities are clear. If other caretakers are employed, they must understand exactly what is expected of them, or their jobs can easily evolve into virtually every task undertaken at the Center. Without a clear understanding of the caretakers' duties, expectations can easily arise that are not shared by all parties involved.

Property and Maintenance Committee

The Assembly also may wish to appoint a Property and Maintenance Committee and to try to use the volunteer services of skilled Bahá'ís whenever possible: It can request assistance from a local electrician when electrical help is needed, or contact the professional painter for volunteer assistance when painting services are needed. The Committee can decide when

it is necessary to pay to have services performed for which it cannot find volunteers. It can also make recommendations to the Assembly for necessary improvements to the building.

Information sources:
Local property management professionals
Local real estate agent
National Properties Committee
Property Maintenance

Careless or inadequate maintenance invites misuse and destruction of property, and can result in unsafe conditions or litigation. Incidental costs for general upkeep and repair may include the following:

- Tools, locks, keys, light bulbs, fuses, etc.

- Trash removal, upkeep of yard and landscaping

- Window, carpet, bathroom and general cleaning

- Heating and air conditioning service

- Refurbishment of drapes, carpets and furnishings

- Office equipment and mailing supplies

- Cups, plates, towels and refreshments for public meetings

- Snow removal
- Pest control

- Roof, plumbing, electrical, window and heating repairs

- Parking lot and sidewalk patching, sealcoating and striping

- Gas, water, electricity and telephone utilities

- Permits, inspections, property taxes and assessments

- Alterations required by city codes

The Bahá'í Center always must be kept in good condition and repair. Concern must be given to both safety and beautification. Repairs and upkeep can be very expensive. In one community, the large old house which served as a Bahá'í Center required the following expenses in one year: repairs ($4,200), paper and cleaning supplies ($50), and grounds beautification ($400). Another Assembly incurred general cleaning costs for the Bahá'í Center of $3,000 in one year. Other Bahá'í Centers have had costs for windows, sidewalk repairs, parking lot resurfacing, or new roofs that range from $500 to $35,000.

Use of Volunteers

The use of volunteers for these tasks, as discussed in "Property Operation," may reduce the costs, but it will still be necessary to coordinate the volunteers. Some Assemblies have experienced difficulties in getting local Bahá'ís to provide volunteer maintenance services consistently. The time commitments necessarily involved can prove to be too burdensome for some.

Licensed repairmen and permits are required by law for some work such as electrical, plumbing, heating, and structural modifications.

Setting Aside Funds for Repair and Maintenance

"The [National] Treasurer should advise the Assembly to set aside sufficient sums on a regular basis to provide for the repair and maintenance of properties owned by the Faith, so

that these can be kept in good condition and so that the normal work of the Cause is not interrupted by sudden requirements of large sums for repairs. Usually the task of maintaining the properties is assigned to a special committee or committees, which should be consulted by the Assembly and can suggest a suitable amount to be set aside annually."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 13, 1981, in Lights of Guidance, p. 257

Information sources:
Local property management professional
Local building officials
Local real estate agent
National Properties Committee
Legal Considerations
Ownership and Leases

Because the laws vary from place to place, the Local Spiritual Assembly must obtain local legal counsel.

According to state law, every property must be owned by someone. In those states where Local Spiritual Assemblies can incorporate, that "someone" is the corporation. In states that do not permit Spiritual Assemblies to incorporate, the situation is a little more complex, but ownership is still possible.

For all properties, either owned or leased, a written purchase agreement or rental agreement is essential, as is a properly recorded deed or lease. Legal counsel should review and, if necessary, modify the purchase or rental agreement before the officers of the Spiritual Assembly sign it or make any written commitments. No oral commitments should be made for real property. Agreements should usually include a number of conditional clauses or "riders" for such things as satisfactory building inspection, zoning approval, clear title, financing approval, etc. to ensure that the property can be used in the way that the Spiritual Assembly intends. It may be best to specify the intended uses of the building in the agreement itself.

A complete title insurance policy should be obtained to determine whether the property has any restrictions on it for its intended use and whether a clear title can be delivered, as well as to ensure and protect the Assembly's eventual ownership. Providing a title insurance policy is normally the responsibility of the seller or lessor. Escrow instructions may be desirable, especially when there are matters the seller or landlord must take care of before or after closing.

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Legal Basis--Incorporation")

Information sources:
Local attorney
Local real estate agent
National Properties Committee
Tax Exemption

Property used for religious purposes usually can be exempted from property taxes, although special assessments and utility

district assessments may be charged to the property. The city and county assessors' offices will provide information about the applicable taxes or assessments. Once a property is acquired, the Assembly should apply for a property tax exemption with the appropriate taxing agencies.

Regulations for maintaining the tax exemptions must be reviewed; in some instances, tax exempt property can only be used by other tax exempt organizations on a cost recovery fee basis; otherwise the exemption status could be jeopardized or lost. In one state, if a property generates as much as $1.00 profit from rent from a non tax-exempt organization, the property may no longer qualify as 100 percent tax-exempt.

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Tax Exempt Status")

Information sources:
Local attorney
Local tax assessor
National Treasurer's Office
National Properties Committee
Liability and Insurance

Although the National Spiritual Assembly has a general liability insurance policy that covers local Bahá'í activities, Local Spiritual Assemblies that own or lease property must obtain their own insurance coverage.

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Insurance")

Building Codes and Zoning Ordinances

The Assembly must be certain that the property complies with local zoning laws and building codes before it purchases or leases the property. The Assembly may wish to request a letter from the local or county planning department listing permitted uses and activities for the property. If the property needs to be re-zoned, the Assembly should be aware of the necessary steps, and condition its purchase of the property on a successful rezoning petition.

The activities of a Bahá'í Center are often defined under the zoning ordinance definitions of the principal and accessory uses for a "church"

or a "place of worship." These are definitions within the context of the zoning ordinance.

Zoning laws and building codes may require a minimum number of parking places or limit the number of people who can be in the building or in particular rooms at any one time. To meet the building codes, certain repairs may be required to protect against fire hazards. Even if the building was previously used for the same type of activity, a new occupant may be required to improve the building to meet current standards.

A review with local building officials and agencies can quickly reveal any problems. Generally, the officials will inspect the property at little or no charge and list the potential problems. Careful preparation in this area could save thousands of dollars later.

Information sources:
Local planning or building officials
Local architects and contractors
Local attorney
Local real estate agent
Local tax assessor
National Properties Committee
Protection of Bahá'í Property

"We have noticed from various reports and Minutes received at the World Center that in a number of cases where National or Local Spiritual Assemblies own plots of land located in areas infrequently visited by the friends, squatters have settled. In most cases the Assemblies concerned have succeeded in removing such occupants, but in some cases, in view of the nature of the law of the land, Bahá'í properties are in jeopardy of being lost, or else compensation is being paid from Bahá'í funds to remove the squatters.

"We felt that this matter should be brought to your notice for immediate attention. We are confident that National Spiritual Assemblies are usually careful about such matters, but where necessary special measures must be adopted to ensure that such lapses which involve expenditure in time, effort and sometimes the funds of the Faith, do not occur.

"It should be remembered that in any case in which squatters have taken possession of Bahá'í property, there may be no guarantee that when such squatters are removed, either through legal process and/or payment to them, that others will not take their place. It is therefore important that measures be taken to continue protection of Bahá'í properties." The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 15, 1971 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

OTHER PROPERTY ISSUES
Jurisdiction of Local Centers

In principle, Local Spiritual Assemblies are responsible for the Bahá'í activities and properties within their own jurisdictions. The National Spiritual Assembly has found that Bahá'í information centers and community centers often function best if sponsored or owned by only one Bahá'í community, even though other communities may sometimes use and support the facility. Too often, the strain and burden of maintaining a center becomes a source of disunity. This possibility is increased when more than one assembly are responsible for the center.

Contributions
Handling Earmarked Contributions

"As to the proceeds from the sale of Bahá'í property. . . . If the property was donated or purchased with funds earmarked for that specific purpose, the proceeds of the sale of the property retain the earmarking unless the donor has specifically provided otherwise. If the donor or donors are living, they may, of course, release the earmarking. If the donor or donors are not living, or refuse to release the earmarking, the proceeds should be used for the same purpose. If that purpose has already been fulfilled (i.e. an alternate property has already been acquired), the surplus should be used to the extent possible in a manner

having regard for the original intention of the donor or donors, e.g. to maintain or improve the property."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 21, 1980, in Bahá'í Funds, p. 24

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Earmarking and Handling Earmarked Contributions.")

Contributions from Non-Baha'is

". . . It is not possible to accept a free grant of land from the government to be used as a Temple site. The principle of not accepting gifts from non-Bahá'ís for strictly Bahá'í purposes applies to receiving free grants of land from non-Baha'is, whether individuals, institutions, or governments. There is no objection, however, to accepting free plots of land from the government or civic authorities if such plots are used for Bahá'í cemeteries or such institutions that are charitable or humanitarian in nature, such as schools."

The Universal House of Justice, June 15, 1972

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Donations from Non-Baha'is.")

Rental of Bahá'í Property

"We have reviewed your letter of July 6, 1970 inquiring if it would be permissible to rent or lend Bahá'í school property for periods between Bahá'í summer and winter school sessions to non-Bahá'í humanitarian or educational organizations.

"Decision in these matters is left to the discretion of your National Assembly and the exercise of wisdom in considering all the factors involved. Obviously, you should be certain that such organizations are not objectionable from the Bahá'í viewpoint and that their presence on Bahá'í school property would not adversely reflect on Bahá'í standards of conduct."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 11, 1970 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Income-producing Property

"We wish to offer the suggestion that . . . could use the $200,000 to build an Haziratu'l-Quds which would include income- producing property. The income would undoubtedly be freed from the restriction imposed on the principal sum and could therefore be used for general Bahá'í purposes. At the same time the larger building would provide space for expansion as the Faith develops. . . . Possibly your Assembly knows that the National Haziratu'l-Quds of Germany is of this nature. Only a portion of the building is presently used for Bahá'í purposes, the balance being rooms and apartments which are rented out."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 6, 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Sale or Drinking of Alcohol on Baha'i-owned Property

"Concerning his comments about renting Bahá'í properties to non-Bahá'í organizations which may wish to bring alcoholic beverages onto the premises, we have been asked to say that when the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran asked the beloved Guardian about the sale of alcoholic drinks at Bahá'í owned

premises and restaurants, his secretary, in a letter dated 6 November 1935, wrote on his behalf, `. . . he asked me to point out that this practice is highly improper and reprehensible and would be tantamount to encouraging acts that are forbidden in the Faith. It is indeed the conscientious duty of every true Bahá'í to abandon such practices. However, should a Bahá'í owner rent his property without himself taking any part whatever in the business, or giving aid to the tenant, then he would incur no responsibility. Nevertheless the landlord should resort to every possible means to rid his premises of the defilement of this degrading business: how far more injurious if he himself were engaged in such repugnant affairs.'

"The Guardian's secretary also wrote the following on his behalf to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Bombay, on 23 July 1932, regarding . . . the use of the Haziratu'l-Quds:

`Regarding the Brahma Somaj community, he said that there is no

objection for them to hold occasionally at the Bahá'í Haziratu'l-Quds

a meeting which would be entirely free from any tinge of political

involvement. It would not be appropriate, however, for this group to use

the Bahá'í Headquarters on a regular and permanent basis. This matter

should be explained to them with kindness and due deference.'"

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 24, 1983 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Dancing in a Bahá'í Center

"We are asked to say that it is not appropriate for dancing to occur in a local or national Bahá'í Center. When a Local Spiritual Assembly acquires a Bahá'í Center, it should regard this meeting place as an embryonic Haziratu'l-Quds and should do everything possible to foster in the community a proper attitude of respect for the Center.

"Traditional dances associated with the expression of a culture are permissible in Bahá'í Centers. However, it should be borne in mind that such traditional dances generally have an underlying theme or a story being represented. Care must be exercised to ensure that the themes of such dances are in harmony with the high ethical standards of the Cause and are not portrayals that would arouse base instincts and unworthy passions."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 26, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also in this chapter, section entitled "Local Bahá'í Centers.")

Use of Churches for Bahá'í Functions

". . . Generally there is no objection to holding other Bahá'í functions in places or facilities owned and operated by non-Bahá'í religious bodies, provided such use does not tend to identify the Faith, in the eyes of the public, with other religions.

"The House of Justice leaves the application of this principle to your discretion."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 3, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Reports to the National Spiritual Assembly

The Universal House of Justice requires all National Spiritual Assemblies to report semi-annually on any changes in property holdings at the local and the national level. Changes in property holdings may result from purchase, donation, long-term (more than one-year) lease, sale or transfer, as well as new construction or demolition of previously-owned property. Reporting is required for all types of property.

The National Spiritual Assembly asks that each Local Spiritual Assembly complete a copy of the Property Record Form whenever there is any change in its property holdings. A copy of the form can be obtained from the National Properties Committee at the Bahá'í National Center. The report will be incorporated into the National Spiritual Assembly's report which is sent to the Universal House of Justice.

Suggested Readings

Accessible Church Buildings, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries, Division of Evangelical and Local Church Development, 132 W. 31st Street, New York, NY 10115

American Cemetery Magazine, 1501 Broadway, NY 10036

Building Operations Management, a monthly publication, Trade Press Publishing Co., Milwaukee, WI 53000

Cemetery Management Magazine, 3 Skyline Place, Suite 111, 5201 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041

Common Bond, a quarterly newsletter dedicated to maintenance and preservation of architecturally significant religious buildings, distributed free to representatives of religious institutions on written request to New York Landmarks Conservancy, 141 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

The Complete Book of Home Inspection, Becker, Norman, P.E., McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1980

Comprehensive Maintenance and Repair Program, State of Maryland, The Association of Physical Plant Administrators of Universities and Colleges, Eleven DuPont Circle, Suite 250, Washington, D.C. 20036, 1983

A Guide to Property and Liability Insurance, for use of leaders charged with the management of a House of Worship or its properties, Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038

Guidelines and procedures for Architecture and Building, Maintenance Manual, Making Consensus Decisions in Feasibility Studies, Position Papers, Architecture and Building in the Diocese of Albany, New York, P.O. Box 6297, Quail Station, Albany, NY 12206, (518) 462-5476

How to Manage Real Estate Successfully--In Your Spare Time, Lowry, Albert J., Simon & Schuster, 1977

Inspired, a bi-monthly publication devoted to the preservation of historic religious buildings, Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation, One East Penn Square, Suite 2200, Philadelphia, PA 19107

The Old House, Time-Life Books, 541 North Fairbanks Court, Chicago, IL 60611, 1979

The Old House Journal, a monthly publication, Old House Journal Corporation, 69A Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Remodeling Old Houses Without Destroying Their Character, Stephen, George, Alfred A. Knopf, 1982

Temple Management Manual, Feldman, Fruhauf, Schoen, National Association of Temple Administrators, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 838 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10021-7046, 1988

15 APPLICATION OF BAHÁ'Í LAW
NATURE AND PURPOSE OF BAHÁ'Í LAW
Nature of the Laws

"Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 332

"Were He to decree as lawful the thing which from time immemorial had been forbidden, and forbid that which had, at all times, been regarded as lawful, to none is given the right to question His authority."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 87

"Whenever My laws appear like the sun in the heaven of Mine utterance, they must be faithfully obeyed by all, though My decree be such as to cause the heaven of every religion to be cleft asunder. He doth what He pleaseth. He chooseth; and none may question His choice. Whatsoever He, the Well-Beloved, ordaineth, the same is, verily, beloved."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 333

"The Laws of God are not imposition of will, or of power, or pleasure, but the resolutions of truth, reason and justice."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 154

"Man often lacks the understanding to fathom the wisdom of some of the ordinances which are not to his liking. It therefore becomes a matter of demonstration of the depth of his faith when he is faced with a divine command the wisdom and rationale of which he cannot at that time understand."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 3, 1987 to an individual believer

Purpose of the Laws
Advancement of the World

Upholding the laws of the Faith is so essential to fulfilling the purpose of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation that the beloved Guardian has written that the Most Great Peace ". . . must needs arise as the direct consequence of the enforcement of the laws of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh." Citadel of Faith, p. 36.

"They whom God hath endued with insight will readily recognize that the precepts laid down by God constitute the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 331

True Liberty

"True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My com-

mandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. . . . The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 336

Spiritual Development and Happiness

"Just as there are laws governing our physical lives, requiring that we must supply our bodies with certain foods, maintain them within a certain range of temperatures, and so forth, if we wish to avoid physical disabilities, so also there are laws governing our spiritual lives. These laws are revealed to mankind in each age by the Manifestation of God, and obedience to them is of vital importance if each human being, and mankind in general, is to develop properly and harmoniously. Moreover, these various aspects are interdependent. If an individual violates the spiritual laws for his own development he will cause injury not only to himself but to the society in which he lives. Similarly, the condition of society has a direct effect on the individuals who must live within it."

The Universal House of Justice, February 6, 1973, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, pp. 105-106

"One of the purposes of religious laws and commandments is to discipline man to do that which is in his best interest." The Universal House of Justice, March 3, 1987

"The ordinances of God have been sent down from the heaven of His most august Revelation. All must diligently observe them. Man's supreme distinction, his real advancement, his final victory, have always depended, and will continue to depend upon them. Whoso keepeth the commandments of God shall attain everlasting felicity."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 289

The Progressive Application of Bahá'í Law

Just as each Prophet brings teachings suited to the age in which He appears, the laws and teachings of the Prophet are progressively applied within each Dispensation.

Many of Bahá'u'lláh's laws are not binding on Bahá'ís the world over. Some are binding on some communities but not on others. Some have yet to be applied either because the conditions of society make their application unwise or because the Bahá'í community is not yet ready for them. In the following passage, Bahá'u'lláh describes how the laws of God are revealed over time within a Dispensation so that, through the mercy of god, humanity can gradually adapt to the full implications of those laws.

"Know of a certainty that in every Dispensation the light of Divine Revelation hath been vouchsafed unto men in direct proportion to their spiritual capacity. Consider the sun. How feeble its rays the moment it appeareth above the horizon. How gradually its warmth and potency increase as it approacheth its zenith, enabling meanwhile all created things to adapt

themselves to the growing intensity of its light. How steadily it declineth until it reacheth its setting point. Were it, all of a sudden, to manifest the energies latent within it, it would, no doubt, cause injury to all created things. . . .

"In like manner, if the Sun of Truth were suddenly to reveal, at the earliest stages of its manifestation, the full measure of the potencies which the providence of the Almighty hath bestowed upon it, the earth of human understanding would waste away and be consumed; for men's hearts would neither sustain the intensity of its revelation, nor be able to mirror forth the radiance of its light. Dismayed and overpowered, they would cease to exist."

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 87-88

"Realizing the degree of human frailty, Bahá'u'lláh has provided that other laws are to be applied only gradually, but these too, once they are applied, must be followed, or else society will not be reformed but will sink into an ever worsening condition."

The Universal House of Justice, February 6, 1973, Living the Life, pp. 40-41

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Obedience to the Laws.")

THE ROLE OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY IN UPHOLDING BAHÁ'Í LAW

Administering the Laws
Upholding the Laws with Firmness

Assemblies must uphold the laws of the Faith with firmness so that the integrity of the Faith may be preserved and the friends be guided to conform their conduct to the teachings. Yet Assemblies must, at the same time, temper their actions with love. Bahá'u'lláh counselled that "One must guide mankind to the ocean of true understanding in a spirit of love and tolerance" (A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 4). Educating the friends--especially new believers--about Bahá'u'lláh's laws and their purpose, and counselling those who have difficulty adhering to them, are important adjuncts to the enforcement of Bahá'í law.

While an Assembly should be loving and patient as it helps each believer understand the necessity of obeying the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, it nevertheless must let him know that the laws of the Faith cannot be compromised. As Local Spiritual Assemblies grow in their abilities to uphold and enforce the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, they will exert an even stronger influence on mankind.

". . . Each Local Spiritual Assembly should become the heart and nerve center of its community. The Assemblies should be so educated and equipped with guidance from you that they become pillars of strength for the believers, and sources of knowledge and guidance. The Local Assemblies should neither be like private agents prying into the lives of the believers and seeking out their personal problems, nor should they condone glaring disregard of the Holy Laws. Whenever it becomes known that one of the believers is flagrantly disobeying the Teachings of the Faith, whether spiritual, ethical, moral or administrative, the Assemblies should not allow such a situ-

ation to become a source of backbiting among the friends or deteriorate into either the loss of the dignity of the Teachings in the eyes of the Bahá'ís and non-Baha'is, or the eventual inactivity of the believers, as you have observed. The Assemblies, with the encouragement and under the continuous guidance of your National Assembly, should, in the name of protecting the interests of the Faith, themselves initiate action for the solution of the problem, and handle it with love, wisdom and firmness."

The Universal House of Justice, letter November 12, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South and West Africa

"Indeed the laws of God are like unto the ocean and the children of men as fish, did they but know it. However, in observing them one must exercise tact and wisdom. . . . One must guide mankind to the ocean of true understanding in a spirit of love and tolerance."

Bahá'u'lláh, cited in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 31, 1988 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand

Distinction Between the Attitude of the Institutions and of Individuals

". . . It should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one's own sins, not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with justice."

The Universal House of Justice, February 6, 1973, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 110

"While it can be a severe test to a Bahá'í to see fellow believers violating Bahá'í laws or engaging in conduct inimical to the welfare and best interests of the Faith, there is no fixed rule that a believer must follow when such conduct comes to his notice. A great deal depends upon the seriousness of the offense and upon the relationship which exists between him and the offender.

"If the misconduct is blatant and flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hands of the Assembly the believer's obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender and continue to show him friendship and encouragement--unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly asks him to take specific action.

"Sometimes, however, the matter does not seem grave enough to warrant reporting to the Spiritual Assembly, in which case it may be best to ignore it altogether. There are also other things that can be done by the Bahá'í to whose notice such things come. For example he could foster friendly relations with the individual concerned, tactfully drawing him into Bahá'í activities in the hope that, as his knowledge of the teachings and awareness of the Faith deepens, he will spontaneously improve his patterns of conduct. Or perhaps the relationship is such that he can tactfully draw the offender's

attention to the teachings on the subject--but here he must be very careful not to give the impression of prying into a fellow-believer's private affairs or of telling him what he must do, which would not only be wrong in itself but might well produce the reverse of the desired reaction.

"If a believer faced with knowledge of another Bahá'ís conduct is unsure what course to take, he can, of course, always consult his Local Spiritual Assembly for advice. If, for some reason, he is reluctant at that stage to inform his Spiritual Assembly, he can consult an Auxiliary Board member or assistant.

"Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can only harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original offense."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 20, 1977 to an individual believer

Handling Violations of Bahá'í Law

After learning about a problem which may require action, the Local Spiritual Assembly decides what information it needs, from what sources the information will be obtained, and how it will gather the information. The persons reported to have violated Bahá'í law, created disunity, or broken civil laws must be given the opportunity to present their side of the case.

Once the Assembly determines what questions are to be asked and who is to be contacted, it may request individuals to appear before it, send a representative or representatives (who need not be Assembly members) to meet with the person, or gather information by mail or telephone.

Due Process

"The concept of due process, in the sense of a legal principle which may be embodied in a constitution and which requires the government to treat people fairly, is clearly encompassed by the Bahá'í principle of `Divine justice,' a principle characterized as `the crowning distinction of all Local and National Assemblies.' It is also implicit in the qualities of rectitude of conduct to be manifested `in every verdict which the elected representatives of the Bahá'í community . . . may be called upon to pronounce.'

"The term `due process' is also used to indicate a set of formal legal procedures designed to protect the rights of persons accused of wrongdoing. These procedures vary from place to place and may reflect the prevailing political ideology. The Administrative Order has not adopted a formal set of procedures to be applied universally in the Bahá'í community for dealing with infringements of Bahá'í law. Rather, the Spiritual Assembly in its operation is guided and constrained by the Teachings and committed to protect and preserve the rights of both the individual and the community. Hence, while there is no fixed procedure for the discovery of facts necessary for the adjudication of a case, it is a matter of principle that Assemblies must, before passing judgement, acquaint themselves, through means they themselves devise, with the facts of any

case. The principal motive is not to condemn and punish the individual but to assist him, if necessary, to bring his behavior into conformity with the Teachings and also to protect the community."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 20, 1988, included with a letter dated January 1, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also Chapter 4, "Consultation.")
Each Case Considered on Its Own Merits

"It is not necessary for your Assembly to anticipate situations which have not arisen, and to lay down general rules and regulations to meet them. It would be wiser to resolve the problem connected with it in the most suitable and practical manner."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 49

"There are certain teachings and exhortations the observance of which is solely between the individual and God; the non-observance of other laws and ordinances incurs some form of sanction. Some of these violations incur punishment for a single offense, while others are punished only after repeated warnings have failed to remedy the violation. It is not possible to establish a single rule applicable automatically and invariably. Every case is different, and there is more than one variable consideration to take into account, for example, the circumstances of the individual, the degree to which the good name of the Faith is involved, whether the offense is blatant and flagrant."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 20, 1977 to an individual believer

While reference to previous cases may shed light on how an institution applied the laws and principles of the Faith in a given situation, an Assembly is still obligated to consider all the facts of each case and, after prayerful discussion, arrive at a decision by applying the pertinent spiritual principles.

Investigation, Review of the Facts, Warning When Necessary

"There is no justification for the suspension of a believer's administrative rights pending investigation and review of the facts of the matter in which he is involved. As we have repeatedly stated, the application of sanctions is a very serious action and should be imposed only in extreme cases. Furthermore, any decision involving a believer's administrative rights is to be made by action of the Assembly itself.

"While the Assembly should always be concerned about matters which might affect the good name of the Faith, it should be remembered that a believer involved in such matters is entitled to the understanding of the Assembly and may need its guidance and assistance both before and after any decision regarding sanctions is made."

The Universal House of Justice, July 16, 1969, Lights of Guidance, p. 57

"Over and over again the beloved Guardian urged Assemblies to be extremely patient and forbearing in dealing with the friends. He pointed out on many occasions that removal of administrative rights is the heaviest sanction which Assemblies may impose at the present time. . . . In all such cases it is for the Assembly to determine at what point the conduct is blatant and flagrant or is harmful to the name of the Faith. They must determine whether the believer has been given sufficient warning before the imposition of sanctions."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 20, 1977 to an individual believer

"The principle that an Assembly should repeatedly warn an offender to correct his ways before it deprives him of his voting rights applies to such continuing offenses as flagrant immorality, or membership in non-Bahá'í religious organizations. It cannot be applied in the same way to a one-time offense such as breach of Bahá'í marriage laws."

The Universal House of Justice, May 20, 1971 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also Chapter 16, section entitled "Violations of Bahá'í Marriage Law--Removal of Administrative Rights.")

(See also Chapter 4, "Consultation.")
Removal of Administrative Rights
Ignorance of the Law

"In applying these laws and principles your Assembly should, of course, exercise the greatest wisdom, understanding, love and patience. The sanction of withdrawal of voting rights is the greatest punishment which a National Assembly may impose upon a believer and for that reason it should not be exercised unless it is clear that the believer with full knowledge of the laws involved deliberately violated them. Each case should be considered individually and on its own merits."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 20, 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Brazil

"If your National Assembly is convinced that one is entirely ignorant of the existence of the Bahá'í laws in this regard, he should not be deprived of his voting rights for disobedience to them; . . ."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 19, 1964 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia

Function of National Spiritual Assembly Only

"It will be noted that the model By-laws for Local Spiritual Assemblies sent to you . . . provide for Local Assemblies to exercise [the] function of withdrawing or restoring voting rights of individual believers under their jurisdiction.

"This provision was made in the By-laws because this is inherently a Local Assembly function. However, for the present, National Assemblies should continue to exercise this function, and should so inform Local Assemblies under their jurisdiction, if they have not already done so."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 5, 1965 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Limited Sanctions

"It is also quite permissible for a National Spiritual Assembly to debar an individual believer from serving on a Local Spiritual Assembly without removing his or her voting rights and they may also debar a believer from attending the consultative part of a Nineteen Day Feast. You may also debar a believer from voting in elections without imposing all the other administrative sanctions involved in administrative expulsion."

The Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1972

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Irresponsible Behavior.")

Applied to a Youth

"With reference to the question in your second letter as to what disciplinary action can be taken against youth who are not of voting age, it must be remembered that the removal of his voting rights is administrative expulsion. In addition to being deprived of his right to vote, the believer cannot attend Feasts or other meetings for Bahá'ís only; cannot contribute to the Fund; or, cannot have a Bahá'í marriage ceremony. The restrictions against voting would become operative when the young offender reaches voting age."

The Universal House of Justice, April 14, 1965

Distinction Between Function as Advisor and Role as Enforcer

"The National Spiritual Assembly should distinguish between its functions as an adviser and counselor of the friends and its role as the enforcer of Bahá'í Law. For example, it is quite in order for the Assembly to advise a believer to consult a psychiatrist or any other doctor, if it feels this is necessary, but such advice should not be linked with any deprivation of voting rights which may have to be imposed for flagrant immorality. You may feel it advisable to give such advice to a person who is being deprived of his voting rights, but the two actions should be clearly separate--one is administrative, the other is advice given for the person's own good which he may or may not accept as he wishes."

The Universal House of Justice, September 21, 1965

Recommendations to the National Spiritual Assembly

In all cases involving the possible removal or restoration of a believer's administrative rights, the Local Spiritual Assembly should forward a recommendation to the National Spiritual Assembly with reasons for the recommendation.

A report to the National Spiritual Assembly should include the following:

- A statement defining the problem, including individuals' names

and identification numbers
- A list of all relevant facts

- A brief summary of the case, including all actions undertaken

by the Local Spiritual Assembly

- The Assembly's recommendation of a course of action and the

rationale for it

After reviewing the report, the National Assembly may ask the Local Assembly for further information before making a decision.

(See also Chapter 3, section entitled "Assembly Communications--Outgoing Correspondence.")

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Restoration of Administrative Rights.")

Meaning of Deprivation of Administrative Rights

"Regarding the matter of believers who have been deprived of their voting rights; just as no one should ever be deprived of his voting right lightly, it should, likewise, be realized that to be deprived of it is a grave matter, and involving heavy penalties spiritually. People who have been so deprived should not be permitted to attend any meetings involving the administration of the Cause, such as an election or a Nineteen Day Feast. They can attend the Nine Holy Days however; they should not be married by Bahá'í Law, no money should be accepted from them, they should not be given credentials (which imply a member of the community in good standing), nor should they be used officially as teachers or speakers."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 88

"A Bahá'í who has lost his administrative rights is administratively expelled from the community and therefore is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Spiritual Assembly in the matter of laws of personal status, such as divorce, unless, of course, he is involved in such a matter through having a Bahá'í spouse in good standing from whom the divorce is taking place. His observance of such laws is a matter of conscience and he would not be subject to further sanctions for non-observance of Bahá'í laws during the period he is without voting rights.

"In the case you instance, therefore, where the Bahá'í without voting rights is being divorced from his non-Bahá'í wife, the Assembly should not take jurisdiction of the matter. He is free to obtain a civil divorce and whether or not he observes a year of waiting is a matter for his own conscience."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 6, 1982 to an individual believer

". . . One who has lost his voting rights is considered to be a Bahá'í but not one in good standing. The following restrictions and limitations apply to such a believer:

- He cannot attend Nineteen Day Feasts or other meetings for

Bahá'ís only, including International Conferences, and therefore

cannot take part in consultation of the affairs of the community.

- He cannot contribute to the Bahá'í Fund.

- He cannot receive newsletters and other bulletins whose

circulation is restricted to Baha'is.

- He cannot have a Bahá'í marriage ceremony and therefore is not

able to marry a Baha'i.
- He may not have a Bahá'í pilgrimage.

- Although he is free to teach the Faith on his own behalf, he

should not be used as a teacher or speaker in programs sponsored

by Baha'is.

- He is debarred from participating in administrative matters,

including the right to vote in Bahá'í elections.

- He cannot hold office or be appointed to a committee.

- He should not be given credentials (which imply that he is a

Bahá'í in good standing)."

Enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 9, 1985, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 61-62 ". . . Although generally speaking a believer deprived of his voting rights is not restricted except as stated above, the following privileges have been expressly stipulated as not denied:

- He may attend the observances of the nine Holy Days.

- He may attend any Bahá'í function open to non-Baha'is.

- He may receive any publication available to non-Baha'is.

- He is free to teach the Faith as every individual believer has

been enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh to teach.

- Association with other believers is not forbidden.

- He may have the Bahá'í burial service if he or his family

requests it, and he may be buried in a Bahá'í cemetery.

- Bahá'í charity should not be denied him on the ground that he

has lost his voting rights.

- Bahá'í institutions may employ him, but should use discretion

as to the type of work he is to perform.

- He should have access to the Spiritual Assembly."

Enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 9, 1985, in Lights of Guidance, p. 62

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Opposition to the Faith.")

(See also Chapter 7, section entitled "Believers Deprived of their Administrative Rights, Institutionalized or Imprisoned.")

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Withholding the Privilege of Giving.")

Attitude of Community Toward Those Deprived

"The degree to which a community should be active or passive towards a believer who is deprived of his voting rights depends upon the circumstances in each individual case. Obviously, it is desirable that such a person should come to see the error of his ways and rectify his condition. In some cases friendly approaches by the Bahá'ís may help to attain this; in other cases the individual may react more favorably if left to his own devices for a time."

The Universal House of Justice, November 1, 1973, in Lights of Guidance, p. 60

"It is only those who have been spiritually ex-communicated by the Guardian with whom the believers are forbidden to associate, and not a person who is being punished by being deprived of his voting rights."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, May 8, 1947, Dawn of a New Day, p. 123

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Restoration of Administrative Rights.")

Handling Appeals

When an individual wishes to appeal a decision of the Local Spiritual Assembly, the person first asks the Assembly to reconsider the matter, stating why he or she feels the reconsideration is justified. If the person is not satisfied with the decision of the Local Spiritual Assembly, they may appeal to the National Spiritual Assembly by requesting the Local Spiritual Assembly to forward the appeal to the National Assembly. The process to be followed is explained in the Constitution of the Universal House of Justice:

An appellant, whether institution or individual, shall in the first

instance make appeal to the Assembly whose decision is questioned,

either for reconsideration of the case by that Assembly or for

submission to a higher body. In the latter case the Assembly is in duty

bound to submit the appeal together with full particulars of the matter.

If an Assembly refuses to submit the appeal, or fails to do so within

a reasonable time, the appellant may take the case directly to the

higher authority. The Universal House of Justice, The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice, p. 15

If the individual or Local Assembly is dissatisfied with the decision of the National Assembly, the case may be appealed to the Universal House of Justice through the National Assembly. While the appeal is in progress, the individual must abide by the decision of the Local or National Assembly, even though he may think the decision is wrong.

References for further reading: Local Spiritual Assembly By-Laws, Article X

The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 55
Second Party Appeals

"You are correct in your understanding that an aggrieved party should appeal on his own behalf from a decision of a Spiritual Assembly. Appeal by proxy--that is, on the initiative of someone else--is not acceptable. However, any believer may exercise the freedom to request a Spiritual Assembly to reconsider a decision, regardless of the individual or individuals affected by it; but the Assembly has the right to determine whether or not to accede to such a request."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 1, 1989 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Assembly is Obligated to Forward an Appeal

". . . If an appeal has been made you have no alternative but to forward it."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 15, 1979 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

May Be Preferable to Drop Appeal

"He suggests you let the entire matter of your appeal drop. Unless a very serious major issue is involved . . . to drive these subjects home is far more likely to do the Cause harm than good.

"There are many mistakes made, but they are, for the most part, not serious enough to warrant creating inharmony and raising issues which lead to endless argument and discussion, wasting time and energy better spent on creative action."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated December 8, 1950 to an individual believer

(See also Chapter 1, section entitled "The Relation of the Bahá'ís with the Assembly.")

Restoration of Administrative Rights

An individual may regain his rights and privileges of Bahá'í membership by expressing sincere repentance and by demonstrating that the condition that led to the deprivation of his rights has been corrected. In the case of a violation of Bahá'í marriage law, the request for reinstatement must indicate a willingness to correct the matter by having a Bahá'í marriage ceremony (or obtaining a civil divorce) or to obey whatever other instructions may be given by the National Spiritual Assembly. If the individual lives within the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly, his application for restoration of his rights should be made to that institution which will forward his request to the National Spiritual Assembly with its recommendation. If the individual does not live within the jurisdiction of a local Assembly, he may apply directly to the National Spiritual Assembly.

"Each case must be considered on its own merits and no hard and fast rules can be laid down. It is for your Assembly to determine, in each case, whether the facts justify restoration of voting rights. Restoration of voting rights often requires repentance by the offender, but the standards governing such repentance must not be confused with those relative to the repentance of a Covenant-breaker. Expression of repentance is the way in which a former Covenant-breaker makes known his change of heart and involves the fact that the individual knows what it is that he has done wrong and says so. In the case of deprivation of voting rights, however, the repentance required to be shown differs in degree and form from case to case.

"At one extreme is the case of a believer who is no longer able to rectify the wrong he has committed--for example when he has lost his voting rights for marrying without parental consent and the parents have since died--in such a case the factor of repentance is particularly important. At the other extreme is the case of a believer who has been deprived of his

voting rights because the Assembly is convinced by the evidence that he was guilty of the offense, but who maintains that, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, he is innocent. There is no requirement that such a believer admit guilt before the voting rights can be restored. The believer must, however, comply with the Assembly's instructions as to his behavior. In between these extremes are many cases where the very rectifying of the error can be held to constitute repentance."

The Universal House of Justice, December 7, 1979, in Handbook For Local Spiritual Assemblies in Australia, p. 30

"It can happen, for example, that voting rights are removed mistakenly and the incorrect action of the Assembly is the basis for the believer's application for their restoration. If the voting rights have been removed justifiably it is generally sufficient for the believers to take the necessary actions to have them restored; his application for restoration and compliance with the requirements of Bahá'í law are sufficient evidence of repentance. However, if the Assembly sees that the believer does not understand the reason for the deprivation and has a rebellious attitude it should endeavor to make the matter clear to him. If his attitude is one of contempt for the Bahá'í law and his actions have been in serious violation of its requirements, the Assembly may even be justified in extending the period of deprivation beyond the time of the rectification of the situation--but such cases, by their nature, are very rare."

The Universal House of Justice, September 21, 1976, in Handbook For Local Spiritual Assemblies in Australia, pp. 30-31

LAWS AND STANDARDS OF BEHAVIOR SUBJECT TO ADMINISTRATIVE SANCTIONS

Non-observance of certain laws and ordinances incurs some form of sanction. While some violations incur punishment for a single offense, other punishments are incurred only if, after repeated warnings, the believer fails to remedy the violation. Examples of violations of law and standards of conduct subject to sanction:

- Immorality
- Cohabitation
- Homosexuality
- Drinking of alcohol
- Owning a business that sells alcohol
- Use of illegal drugs

- Violation of the marriage laws (discussed separately in

Chapter 16, "Marriage")

- Violation of the divorce laws (discussed separately in Chapter

17, "Divorce")
- Political activity

- Criminal offenses, disobedience to civil laws

- Membership in other organizations
Other religious organizations
Secret societies
- Gambling, lotteries

- Behavior which damages the reputation of the Faith or causes

disunity
Dishonest or fraudulent behavior
Irresponsible behavior
Mental illness
Immorality
Flagrant Immorality

"As regards flagrant immorality, this is a matter which has to be dealt with through exhortations and warnings, like the problem of drinking, and when there is complete and insistent disregard of these reminders, then sanctions will have to be imposed, but restored upon rectification of the mistake and a sincere expression of repentance."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 12, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa

"As to deprivation of voting rights for immorality, while we may not have written you on the subject it should be clear that sanctions should not be imposed for isolated acts of immorality. Only extreme cases involving acts of blatant and flagrant immorality reflecting on the name of the Faith and repeated time after time in spite of warnings should be taken as a basis for suspension of voting rights."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 14, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States

"Generally, administrative rights should not be suspended because of the birth of a child out of wedlock. The questions to be considered are whether the party is guilty of blatant and flagrant immorality, whether such conduct is harming the Faith, and whether the believer has refused or neglected to improve her conduct despite repeated warnings.

"As you no doubt know, deprivation of administrative rights is a very serious sanction, and the beloved Guardian repeatedly cautioned that it should be exercised only in extreme situations. In a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to another National Spiritual Assembly which asked similar questions, it was pointed out that it was the task of the institutions to provide both counsel and education for the believers, and thereafter it is for the individual Bahá'í to determine his course of conduct in relation to the situations of his daily life."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, March 23, 1983, in Lights of Guidance, p. 58

References for further reading:

Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 107-108

A Chaste and Holy Life
Cohabitation

"When considering cases of couples who are living together without being married it is important to distinguish those who started this association after becoming Bahá'ís from those who were in this condition already at the time of accepting the Faith. The House of Justice is sure that your Assembly is aware that it is not permissible for Bahá'ís to enter into such an immoral

relationship and that any believers who do so must be counselled by the Assembly and warned to correct their conduct, either by separating or by having a Bahá'í marriage ceremony in accordance with the provision of Bahá'í Law. If, after repeated warnings, the believers concerned do not conform to Bahá'í Law, the Assembly has no choice but to deprive them of their voting rights."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, September 7, 1981, in Lights of Guidance, p. 379

Homosexuality

"Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex. Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, is spiritually condemned. This does not mean that people so afflicted must not be helped and advised and sympathized with. It does mean that we do not believe that it is a permissible way of life; which, alas, is all too often the accepted attitude nowadays."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated May 21, 1954, in A Chaste and Holy Life, pp. 12-13

"A number of sexual problems, such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled and overcome. This may require a hard struggle, but so also can be the struggle of a heterosexual person to control his or her desires. The exercise of self-control in this, as in so very many other aspects of life, has a beneficial effect on the progress of the soul."

The Universal House of Justice, February 6, 1973, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, p. 110

"No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let if find expression in sexual acts is wrong. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and homosexual relationships he looks upon as such, besides being against nature.

"To be afflicted in this way is a great burden upon a conscientious soul.

"But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.

"God judges each soul on its own merits. The Guardian cannot tell you what the attitude of God would be towards a person who lives a good life in most ways, but not in this way. All he can tell you is that it is forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and that one so afflicted should struggle and struggle again to overcome it. We must be hopeful of God's mercy but not impose upon it."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, National Bahá'í Review, March 1968, p. 2

"Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly a homosexual--although

to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people's moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration in society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct which is disgracing the Cause. This person should have it brought to this attention that such acts are condemned by Bahá'u'lláh, and that he must mend his ways, . . . which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 20, 1953, Messages to Canada, p. 39

References for further reading:
A Chaste and Holy Life

Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 110-111

Alcohol

"The Assemblies must be wise and gentle in dealing with such cases (i.e. Bahá'ís using alcoholic beverages), but at the same time must not tolerate a prolonged and flagrant disregard of the Bahá'í Teachings as regards alcohol."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 26, 1956, in Bahá'í News, June 1958, p. 16

"With regard to the problem of alcoholism, which is indeed a terrible scourge to mankind, it must never become a source of disunity among believers. Bahá'u'lláh's principle, in case of sickness, is to consult the best physician you can, follow his advice, and pray. If therefore, you have consulted Alcoholics Anonymous, this should be your procedure. If, however, you are not satisfied with them, you are entirely free to consult someone else. But the same principle would apply. Do what the doctor (or expert) says, and pray."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 14, 1963 to individual believers

"As to those believers who continue to drink, they should be lovingly exhorted, then firmly warned and eventually deprived of their voting rights. The number of times a person is exhorted and warned is a matter left to the discretion of each Local Spiritual Assembly, in consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. The policy you adopt should not be one of removing the administrative rights of the believers in a bureaucratic and automatic way, as this would be unwise and unjust. Your Assembly as well as all Local Spiritual Assemblies should courageously and continuously remind the friends of their obligation in this respect, handle firmly all flagrant cases, and use such cases, in a way that by force of example, they exert their influence upon the other believers. It must be made clear to the Local Assemblies that they should be willing to cooperate with the believers affected by such drinking habits, when any such believer promises gradually and systematically to reduce his drinking with the objective in mind of entirely abandoning this habit."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 12, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa

(See also in this chapter section entitled "Serving Alcohol.")

Owning a Business That Sells Alcohol

"Alcohol must not be served in a restaurant or other business which is wholly owned by Baha'is."

The Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1982

"Institutions that are entirely managed by Bahá'ís are, for reasons that are only too obvious, under the obligation of enforcing all the laws and ordinances of the Faith, especially those whose observance constitutes a matter of conscience. There is no reason, no justification whatsoever, that they should act otherwise. . . ."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 2, 1935, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 8, 1982

"Concerning the third question (sale of alcoholic drinks at Baha'i-owned premises and restaurants), the beloved Guardian has asked me to point out that this practice is highly improper and reprehensible and would be tantamount to encouraging acts that are forbidden in the Faith. It is indeed the conscientious duty of every true Bahá'í to abandon such practices. However, should a Bahá'í owner rent his property without himself taking any part whatever in the business, or giving aid to the tenant, then he would incur no responsibility. Nevertheless the landlord should resort to every possible means to rid his premises of the defilement of this degrading business; how far more injurious if he himself were engaged in such repugnant affairs."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, November 6, 1935, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, February 8, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

". . . Concerning the sale of alcohol by a believer, as you state, `Obviously he should cease to deal in the sale of alcohol in his shop.' However, as he is a new believer and was engaged in this business before becoming a Baha'i, he should be given a reasonable opportunity to find another means whereby he can earn a living and should be given every assistance by the National Spiritual Assembly to do so. He should be treated with patience and understanding, especially if he is making efforts to dispose of this business and to seek other employment. However, if after a reasonable time has elapsed and no effort has been made to comply with the Bahá'í law, then, as a last resort, the Assembly would have no alternative but to suspend his administrative rights."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 13, 1974, enclosed with a letter written on its behalf, February 8, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"We have found no explicit text or instruction of the beloved Guardian on such a situation (the sale of alcoholic beverages by a business in which a Bahá'í is a partner with non-Baha'is) and feel that it is one in which no hard and fast rules should be drawn at the present time. . . . We feel that this is a matter which needs to be decided in each case in the light of the spirit of the

teachings and the circumstances of the case, and unless the situation is one which is endangering the good name of the Faith or is obviously a ruse on the part of the believer to evade the Bahá'í law, it should be left to the conscience of the believer concerned who should, of course, be informed of the Bahá'í teachings concerning alcohol and should make every effort to dissociate himself from such an activity.

"The above (paragraph) concerns Bahá'ís who are already in partnerships dealing in such matters. It is, however, obvious that a Bahá'í who is not in such a situation should not enter into it."

The Universal House of Justice, January 15, 1976 to the International Teaching Center, enclosed with a letter written on its behalf, February 8, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

(See also Chapter 19, section entitled "Serving Alcohol.")

Use of Illegal Drugs

"Regarding hashish . . . . Gracious God! This is the worst of all intoxicants, and its prohibition is explicitly revealed. Its use causeth the disintegration of thought and the complete torpor of the soul. How could anyone seek this fruit of the infernal tree, and by partaking of it, be led to exemplify the qualities of a monster? How could one use this forbidden drug, and thus deprive himself of the blessings of the All-Merciful?. . .

"Alcohol consumeth the mind and causeth man to commit acts of absurdity, but . . . this wicked hashish extinguisheth the mind, freezeth the spirit, petrifieth the soul, wasteth the body and leaveth man frustrated and lost."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in National Bahá'í Review, March 1968, p. 2

"Concerning the so-called `spiritual' virtues of the hallucinogens . . . spiritual stimulation should come from turning one's heart to Bahá'u'lláh and not through physical means such as drugs and agents.

". . . Hallucinogenic agents are a form of intoxicant. As the friends, including the youth, are required to strictly abstain from all forms of intoxicants, and are further expected conscientiously to obey the civil law of their country, it is obvious that they should refrain from using these drugs."

The Universal House of Justice, April 15, 1965, National Bahá'í Review, March 1968, p. 2

"In reply to your letter of March 23, 1976, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that the word `marijuana' does not appear as such in our Sacred Scriptures. However, marijuana contains the same narcotic as hashish (hemp) and the same prohibition applies to its use as applies to the use of hashish."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 3, 1976 to an individual believer

Political Activity

"By the principle of noninterference in political matters we should not mean that only corrupt politics and partial and sectarian politics are to be avoided. But that any pronouncement on any current system of politics connected with any

government must be shunned. We should not only take side with no political party, group or system actually in use, but we should also refuse to commit ourselves to any statement which may be interpreted as being sympathetic or antagonistic to any existing political organization or philosophy. The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be one of complete aloofness. They are neither for nor against any system of politics. Not that they are the ill-wishers of their respective governments but that due to certain basic considerations arising out of their teachings and of the administrative machinery of their Faith they prefer not to get entangled in political affairs and to be misinterpreted and misunderstood by their countrymen."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, February 8, 1934, enclosed with a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, December 30, 1980, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"But if a certain person does enter into party politics and labors for the ascendancy of one party over another, and continues to do it against expressed appeals and warnings of the Assembly, then the Assembly has the right to refuse him the right to vote in Bahá'í elections."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 30

"The same sanction (i.e., removal of voting rights) should apply to those who persistently refuse to dissociate themselves from political and ecclesiastical activities."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 87

(See also Chapter 12, sections entitled "Contact with Government Officials"

and "Noninvolvement in Politics.")
Criminal Offenses, Disobedience to Civil Laws

"We have carefully reviewed your letter . . . inquiring about the attitude to be adopted by your National Assembly regarding believers who have been charged with criminal offenses, suspected to have committed such offenses, or convicted by the court. The principle to bear in mind is that each case falling in any of the aforementioned categories should be considered separately and on its own merits. No hard and fast rule should be applied.

"If the believer's actions conspicuously disgrace the Faith and such actions seriously injure its reputation, the National Assembly may in its discretion apply the sanction of deprivation of voting rights.

"We feel that the Assembly should exercise its utmost wisdom when depriving believers of their administrative privileges, each case should be considered on its individual merits, and it should be realized that the application of Bahá'í sanctions is not an automatic action in response to a verdict of the court."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 3, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa

If a member of the Bahá'í community violates criminal law, the National Spiritual Assembly should be informed. In such cases, the Local Spiritual Assembly should submit a report

that summarizes the crime, including the person's response, the findings of the criminal court, and any other pertinent information, including newspaper clippings. The Local Spiritual Assembly should also include its recommendation as to whether the person's rights of membership should be revoked, since violation of criminal law does not automatically cause one to lose his Bahá'í membership rights.

Criminal Matters in Which the State Claims Exclusive Interest

"Your Assembly should make a distinction between those actions which can be dealt with at present by the Bahá'í administrative institutions and those which are criminal in character and fall within the purview of the civil authorities. In general, misconduct on the part of individual Bahá'ís and differences between the friends should be adjudicated by Spiritual Assemblies, and the friends should obey the assemblies' decisions. However, in criminal matters in which the State claims a prior interest and has clearly laid down the procedures to be followed, and the action of Assemblies would amount to interference with these procedures, such matters must be referred to the civil authorities.

"Since at the present time Bahá'í institutions are not authorized to deal with criminal matters, you should seek the advice of legal experts in reconciling the observance of confidentiality, which is essential to the functioning of any Spiritual Assembly, and the Assembly's obligation to uphold Government regulations in criminal cases."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 5, 1985 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

If an Assembly is handling a case in which the state has exclusive interest (such as child abuse, sexual molestation, battering, severe neglect, etc.), it must be careful not to interfere with the established legal procedures. For example, most states require all suspected cases of child abuse to be reported to the civil authorities. In those states, Bahá'í institutions would be legally required to report all such cases to the appropriate social service agencies. In addition, many states require persons in certain positions, i.e. teachers, doctors, etc., to report these types of cases.

(See also Chapter 3, sections entitled "Confidentiality of Minutes" and "Privileged Communications.")

(See also Chapter 4, section entitled "Consultation with Others--Confidentiality.")

(See also Chapter 17, section entitled "In Case of Suspected Child Abuse or Domestic Violence.")

(See also By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly, Article IV regarding non-interference in matters of civil jurisdiction.)

Membership in Other Organizations
Other Religious Organizations

"Concerning membership in non-Bahá'í religious associations, the Guardian wishes to re-emphasize the general principle already laid down in his communications to your Assembly and also to the individual believers that no Bahá'í who wishes to be

a wholehearted and sincere upholder of the distinguishing principles of the Cause can accept full membership in any non-Bahá'í ecclesiastical organization. For such an act would necessarily imply only a partial acceptance of the Teachings and laws of the Faith, and an incomplete recognition of its independent status, and would thus be tantamount to an act of disloyalty to the verities it enshrines. For it is only too obvious that in most of its fundamental assumptions the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is completely at variance with outworn creeds, ceremonies and institutions. To be a Bahá'í and at the same time accept membership in another religious body is simply an act of contradiction that no sincere and logically minded person can possibly accept. To follow Bahá'u'lláh does not mean accepting some of His teachings and rejecting the rest."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 15, 1935, Bahá'í News, #93, July 1935, p. 1

". . . To remain a member of the church is not proper for us, for we do so under false pretense. We should therefore withdraw from our churches but continue to associate, if we wish to, with the church members and ministers."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 30-31

Secret Societies

"Formal affiliation with and acceptance of membership in organizations whose programs or policies are not wholly reconcilable with the Teachings is not permissible to the friends. The friends should not become members of secret societies.

"Your Assembly is advised to carefully inform the friends of these principles and to deepen them in their understanding and appreciation of them. Having made certain that all friends, especially those directly concerned, have been so deepened, your Assembly should then set a time limit by which the friends must obey your directive to withdraw their membership in the organization. Each case will have to be considered on its own merits. Some of the friends may have to fulfill certain commitments as officers before they can withdraw with honor. The time limit should make allowances in such cases.

"Whereas persistence in membership in these and in similar organizations is ample ground for deprivation of voting rights, your Assembly is advised to give sufficient time for each of the friends to be thoroughly deepened, and to comply with the principles before any disciplinary action is taken."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 26, 1963 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Colombia

(See also Chapter 6, section entitled "Special Enrollment Procedures--Membership in Secret Organizations, Ecclesiastical Organizations, Political Office.")

(See also Chapter 12, section entitled "Association with Other Organizations.")

Gambling, Lotteries

"Although we have not found any text which forbids the owning of race horses, horse racing as a means of winning the prize

money and betting at race courses, we quote the translation of a Tablet of `Abdu'l-Bahá on horse racing:

Betting on horse racing is a pernicious disease. It hath been seen in

Europe what distress this hath caused. Thousands have become afflicted

and distraught. The friends of God must engage in work which is lawful

and attracteth blessings, so that God's aid and bounty may always

surround them.
(Translated from the Persian)"

From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, June 20, 1972, Extracts Concerning Gambling, Lotteries and Raffles, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 357-358

"Although we may have written to you previously commenting on the question as to whether lotteries and betting, such as betting on football games, bingo, etc. are included under the prohibition of gambling, we repeat that this is a matter that is to be considered in detail by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, your National Assembly should not make an issue of this matters and should leave it to the consciences of the individual friends who ask to decide for themselves in each case."

The Universal House of Justice, September 12, 1965, in Lights of Guidance, p. 357

(See also Chapter 10, section entitled "Fund-raising--Lotteries, Games of Chance, Raffles.")

Behavior that Damages the Reputation of the Faith or Causes Disunity

Dishonest or Fraudulent Behavior

"Regarding Mr. . . . : it was with the approval of the Guardian that his name was removed from the voting list. It is very bad for the Cause to have a member of the Community, actively, in the public eye, teaching the Faith, and at the same time showing dishonest characteristics. We cannot possibly say that because a person also has many virtues, faults as grave as lying and dishonorable conduct regarding money can be overlooked! This means that we tolerate as representatives of our Faith people who flagrantly disobey its laws and fundamental teachings. This does not mean there is no hope for Mr. . . . ; let him change his conduct, if he really loves the Cause, and then a way will be opened for him to again be active. But the change must be real and obvious; mere protestations will serve no purpose."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand, p. 52

(See also Chapter 19, section entitled "Handling Business Disputes.")

Irresponsible Behavior

"Limited sanctions (i.e. restrictions on one's eligibility to serve on institutions or participate in community events) are usually imposed in cases where the individual disrupts the unity of the community, or is mentally unfit and unable to exercise judg-

ment or behave responsibly. The Universal House of Justice has clearly indicated that a National Spiritual Assembly may debar an individual from serving on a Local Spiritual Assembly without removing his administrative rights."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, January 31, 1972

As larger numbers of people become Baha'is, the institutions as well as individual believers will have to learn to accommodate and to assist those persons who, while perhaps not mentally ill by medical definition, nonetheless have negative, unpleasant or disruptive personalities. When a believer has emotional or psychological problems which render him incapable of behaving responsibly, the Local Spiritual Assembly must, to safeguard the welfare of the community, consider what it can do to minimize the person's influence. On the one hand it must help such persons and give them loving attention, and on the other it must remain alert to shelter the Cause which may ultimately be the person's only source of consolation and assistance.

A Local Spiritual Assembly can and should advise a person with mental health problems to seek the assistance of competent professionals. If the Assembly suspects that a family member may be in danger because of the psychological problems of a believer, the Assembly can appoint a representative to contact a social service agency or a hospital and inform the appropriate officials of its concerns.

Mental Illness

"Regarding persons whose [mental] condition has not been defined by the civil authorities after medical diagnosis, the Assembly on the spot must investigate every case that arises and, after consultation with experts, deliver its verdict. Such a verdict, however, should, in important cases, be preceded by consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. No doubt, the power of prayer is very great, yet consultation with experts is enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh. Should these experts believe that an abnormal case exists, the withholding of voting rights is justified."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated May 30, 1936 to an individual believer

"The withdrawal of administrative rights from a person who is suffering from a mental illness is not a sanction, but merely a recognition of the fact that the believer's condition renders him incapable of exercising those rights. From this you will see that the mental incapacity must be very serious for this step to be taken, and would normally be dependent upon a certification of insanity by medical authorities or confinement in a mental hospital. Again, depending upon the kind of mental illness, such suspension of voting rights may or may not involve non-receipt of Bahá'í newsletters, inability to attend Nineteen Day Feasts, etc."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, May 12, 1982, in Lights of Guidance, p. 55

Laws Not Presently Binding Upon the Western Believers

See the Appendix
OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS
Importance of Obedience

"One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 66

". . . The community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days. If we relax in our purpose, if we falter in our faith, if we neglect the varied opportunities given us from time to time by an all-wise and gracious Master, we are not merely failing in what is our most vital and conspicuous obligation, but are thereby insensibly retarding the flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God's struggling Faith."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pp. 130-131

"It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Baha'is, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Bahá'í children who see these things practiced in the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. Bahá'u'lláh would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realize their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, March 16, 1949, in Lights of Guidance, pp. 342-343

Effect of Obedience

". . . The soul who steadfastly obeys the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, however hard it may seem, grows spiritually, while the one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness is said to have been following a chimera: He does not attain the happiness he sought; he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself. . . . By upholding Bahá'í law in the face of all difficulties we not only strengthen our own characters but influence those around us."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 6, 1973 to all National Spiritual Assemblies

Effect of Disobedience

"Again and again Bahá'u'lláh stressed the importance of the believers' living according to the Teachings. Whenever they fall short this not only affects their own inner lives but can test the faith of their fellow-believers and repel those who might otherwise be drawn to the Faith."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 24, 1973 to an individual believer

Obedience Will Necessarily Impose Hardships

"Obedience to the laws of Bahá'u'lláh will necessarily impose hardships in individual cases. No one should expect, upon becoming a Baha'i, that his faith will not be tested, and to our finite understanding of such matters these tests may occasionally seem unbearable. But we are aware of the assurance which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has given the believers that they will never be called upon to meet a test greater than their capacity to endure.

"It therefore becomes a matter of demonstration of the depth of one's faith when he is faced with a divine command the wisdom and rationale of which he cannot at that time understand."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 7, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

". . . Bahá'u'lláh also recognizes that human beings are fallible. He knows that, in our weakness, we shall repeatedly stumble when we try to walk in the path He has pointed out to us. If all human beings became perfect the moment they accepted the call of Bahá'u'lláh this world would be another world. It is in light of our frailty that `Abdu'l-Bahá appealed to the friends everywhere to love each other and stressed the emphatic teaching of Bahá'u'lláh that each of us should concentrate upon improving his or her own life and ignore the faults of others. How many times the Master stressed the need for unity, for without it His Father's Cause could not go forward."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 24, 1973 to an individual believer

(See also Chapter 8, "Developing a Distinctive Bahá'í Community.")

LAWS BETWEEN THE INDIVIDUAL AND GOD

There are certain laws the observance of which is solely between the individual and God. Some of these laws are:

- Reading the Sacred Writings Daily
- Prayer
- Fasting
- Huququ'llah

A list of the laws is given in the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Although the laws are between the individual and God, it is the responsibility of the Local Spiritual Assembly to educate the believers about the existence of the laws and to increase their understanding and devotion to the laws.

"A third requisite [for them that take counsel together] is the promulgation of the divine commandments among the friends, such as the Obligatory Prayers, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Huququ'llah and all the other ordinances."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Huququ'llah: p. 25
Read the Sacred Writings Daily

"Recite ye the verses of God every morning and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom, hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, O Concourse of My servants."

Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 1

Prayer

". . . Prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Unrestrained As the Wind, p. 9

"The obligatory prayers are binding inasmuch as they are conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one's face toward God and expressing devotion to Him. Through such prayer man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of one's heart, and attaineth spiritual stations."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, in Spiritual Foundations: Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, p. 8

Fasting

"As regards fasting, it constitutes, together with the obligatory prayers, the two pillars that sustain the revealed Law of God. They act as stimulants to the soul, strengthen, revive, and purify it, and thus ensure its steady development.

"The ordinance of fasting is, as in the case with these three prayers, a spiritual and vital obligation enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh upon every believer who has attained the age of fifteen. In the Aqdas He thus writes:

We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity;

this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. He

has exempted from this those who are weak from illness or age, as a

bounty from His Presence, and He is the Forgiving, the Generous.

"And in another passage He says:

We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period, and at its

close have designated for you Naw-Ruz as a feast. . . . The traveler,

the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by

the fast. . . . Abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sundown,

and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in

the Book.

"Also in the `Questions and Answers' that form an appendix to the Aqdas, Bahá'u'lláh reveals the following:

Verily, I say that God has appointed a great station for fasting and

prayer. But during good health its benefit is evident, and when one is

ill, it is not permissible to fulfil them.

"Concerning the age of maturity, He reveals in the appendix of that same book:

The age of maturity is in the fifteenth year; women and men are alike

in this respect.

"The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days, starting as a rule from the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purposes are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires."

Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 8-9

Exemptions from Fasting

"Regarding your question concerning the Fast: Travelers are exempt from fasting, but if they want to fast while they are traveling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you are in a train or car, etc. If one eats unconsciously during the fasting hours, this is not breaking the Fast as it is an accident. The age limit is seventy years, but if one desires to fast after the age limit is passed, and is strong enough to, one is free to do so. If during the Fast period a person falls ill and is unable to fast, but recovers before the fast period is over, he can start to fast again and continue until the end. Of course the Fast, as you know, can only be kept during the month set aside for that purpose."

Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í News, #167, January 1944, p. 2

Smoking in Relation to the Fast

"In one of His Tablets `Abdu'l-Bahá, after stating that fasting consists of abstinence from food and drink, categorically says that smoking is a form of `drink.' (In Arabic the verb `drink' applies equally to smoking.)

"In the East, therefore, the friends abstain from smoking during the hours of fasting, and friends from the East living in the West do likewise. But, as stated in our letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, this application of the divine law has not been extended to the friends in the West for the present, and therefore it should not be made an issue."

The Universal House of Justice, March 15, 1972, to an individual

". . . The Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that the prohibition of smoking as an aspect of fasting, as explained in Note 16 on page 59 of the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas has not yet been applied in the west and therefore the friends should not make an issue of it."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, July 17, 1980, to an individual

Huququ'llah "Last April we were deeply touched by receiving a petition from the delegates gathered at the National Convention of the Bahá'ís of the United States, requesting that the Law of Huququ'llah be made binding on all the believers in that country. Although it is not yet the time to take this far-reaching step, we were moved to decide that as a preliminary measure, the texts relating to the Law of Huququ'llah will be translated into English for general information against the time when this law will be applied more widely.

"However, important as is the Law of Huququ'llah, the devoted followers of Bahá'u'lláh have, even without it, every opportunity to contribute regularly and sacrificially to the work of the Cause. It is to a greater realization of the privilege and responsibility of supporting the multiple activities of our beloved Faith that we call you all at this critical time in world history, and remind you that to support the Bahá'í funds is an integral part of the Bahá'í way of life. The need is not only now, but throughout the years to come until our exertions, reinforced by confirmations from on high, will have overcome the great perils now facing mankind and have made this world another world--a world whose splendor and grace will surpass our highest hopes and greatest dreams."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 3, 1985 to the Bahá'ís of the World

Attitude Toward Payment of Huququ'llah

"It is incumbent upon everyone to discharge the obligation of Huquq. The advantages gained from this deed revert to the persons themselves. However, the acceptance of the offerings dependeth on the spirit of joy, fellowship and contentment that the righteous souls who fulfil this injunction will manifest. If such is the attitude acceptance is permissible, and not otherwise. Verily thy Lord is the All-Sufficing, the All-Praised."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Huququ'llah, p. 2

"Huququ'llah is indeed a great law. . . . It is a bounty which shall remain with every soul in every world of the worlds of God, the All-Possessing, the All-Bountiful."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Huququ'llah, p. 3

"This weighty ordinance, as testified by the Pen of Glory is invested with incalculable benefit and wisdom. It purifies one's possessions, averts loss and disaster, conduces to prosperity and honor and imports divine increase and blessing. It is a sacrifice offered for and related to God, and an act of servitude leading to the promotion of His Cause. As affirmed by the Center of the Covenant, Huquq offerings constitute a test for the believers and enable the friends to become firm and steadfast in faith and certitude."

The Universal House of Justice, October 25, 1970, in Huququ'llah, pp. 35-36

Payment of Huququ'llah is Obligatory

"Payment of Huququ'llah is a spiritual obligation binding on the people of Baha. The injunction is laid down in the Most Holy Book, and clear and conclusive explanations are embodied in various Tablets.

"Every devoted believer who is able to meet the specified conditions, must pay the Huququ'llah, without any exception. Indeed according to the explicit Text of the Most Holy Book, failure to comply with this injunction is regarded as a betrayal of trust, and the divine call: `Whoso dealeth dishonestly with God will in justice be exposed,' is a clear reference to such people."

The Universal House of Justice, October 25, 1970, in Huququ'llah, p. 35

". . . The devoted believer who is privileged to pay `the Right of God,' far from seeking excuses for evading this spiritual obligation, will do his utmost to meet it."

The Universal House of Justice, February 26, 1973, in Huququ'llah, p. 38

(See also Chapter 10, "The Fund")
Suggested Readings
A Chaste and Holy Life
Individual Rights and Freedom
Prescription for Living
Principles of Bahá'í Administration
Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
Trustworthiness

Appendix LAWS NOT PRESENTLY BINDING UPON THE WESTERN BELIEVERS

"It has become apparent from a number of questions we have received that many believers are not clear which are those laws already binding upon the Bahá'ís in the West. We therefore feel it is timely to clarify the situation and the simplest way is to state those laws listed in the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas which are not at present binding upon the friends in the western world. For ease of reference we give the numbers of the sections listed.

"IV.A.(4)(c) The law regarding the exemption from obligatory prayer granted to women in their courses.

"IV.A.(10) The law concerning ablutions, with the exception of the ablutions required for the Medium Obligatory Prayer which are described in Section CLXXXII of Prayers and Meditations and are required for the recitation of that prayer.

"IV.A.(12) The law concerning actions to be taken in place of an Obligatory Prayer missed on account of insecure conditions.

"IV.B.(5)(a) The definition of travelers for the purpose of exemption from fasting. Instead of these definitions the believers in the West should observe the following guidance given by the beloved Guardian's secretary on his behalf: `Travelers are exempt from fasting, but if they do want to fast while they are traveling, they are free to do so. You are exempt the whole period of your travel, not just the hours you are in a train or car, etc. . . .'

"IV.B.(5)(f) The law regarding the exemption from fasting granted to women in their courses.

"IV.C.(1)(i) The laws governing betrothal.

"IV.C.(1)(j) The law concerning the payment of a dowry by the groom to the bride on marriage.

"IV.C.(1)(l) and (m)

The laws concerning the traveling of a husband away from his wife.

"IV.C.(1)(n) and (o)
The laws relating to the virginity of the wife.

"IV.C.(2)(b) That part of the divorce law relating to fines payable to the House of Justice.

"IV.C.(3) The law of inheritance. This is normally covered by civil laws of intestacy at the present time. "IV.D.(1)(a) The law of pilgrimage.

"IV.D.(1)(b) The law of Huququ'llah is not yet applied to the western friends.

"IV.D.(1)(d) The law of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is gradually being put into effect.

"IV.D.(1)(f) The Bahá'í Festivals are being celebrated by the western friends on their anniversaries in the Gregorian Calendar until such time as the Universal House of Justice deems it desirable to pass supplementary legislation necessary for the full implementation of the Badi' Calendar.

"IV.D.(1)(j) The age of maturity applies only to Bahá'í religious duties as yet. On other matters it is subject to the civil law of each country. The age of administrative maturity in the Bahá'í community has, for the time being, been fixed at 21.

"IV.D.(1)(k) For the burial of the dead the only requirements now binding in the West are to bury the body (not to cremate it), not to carry it more than a distance of one hour's journey from the place of death, and to say the Prayer for the Dead if the deceased is a believer over the age of 15.

"IV.D.(1)(p) The law of tithes.

"IV.D.(1)(q) The law concerning the repetition of the Greatest Name 95 times a day.

"IV.D.(l)(r) The law concerning the hunting of animals.

"IV.D.(1)(t), (u), (v) and (w)

The laws relating to the finding of lost property, the disposition of treasure trove, the disposal of objects held in trust and compensation for manslaughter are all designed for a future state of society. These matters are usually covered by the civil law of each country.

"IV.D.(1)(y)(xiv), (xv), (xvi) and (xvii)

Arson, adultery, murder and theft are all forbidden to Baha'is, but the punishments prescribed for them in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are designed for a future state of society. Such matters are usually covered by the civil laws of each country. "IV.D.(1)(y)(xxv), (xxx), (xxxi) and (xxxii)

The laws prohibiting the use of the type of pools which used to be found in Persian baths, the plunging of one's hand in food, the shaving of one's head and the growth of men's hair below the lobe of the ear.

"All the exhortations, listed in section IV.D.(3) are applicable universally at the present time insofar as it is possible for the friends to implement them; for example, the exhortation to teach one's children to chant the Holy Verses in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar can be literally carried out only on a limited scale at the present time, but the friends should, nevertheless, teach their children the Holy Writings as far as possible."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 9, 1974 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Iceland

16 MARRIAGE THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE "And when He desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: `Marry, O people, that from you may appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants; this is one of My commandments unto you; obey it as an assistance to yourselves."

Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Prayers, p. 105 "The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God. This is Bahá'í marriage."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 118 "It should, moreover, be born in mind that although to be married is highly desirable, and Bahá'u'lláh has strongly recommended it, it is not the central purpose of life. If a person has to wait a considerable period before finding a spouse, or if ultimately, he or she must remain single, it does not mean that he or she is thereby unable to fulfill his or her life's purpose."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, p. 110-111 ENGAGEMENT Purpose of Engagement "Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity. . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 118 "A couple should study each other's character and spend time getting to know each other before they decide to marry, and when they do marry it should be with the intention of establishing an eternal bond."

The Universal House of Justice, November 2, 1982 in Bahá'í Marriage and Family Life, p. 20 In situations where the parents are living abroad or their whereabouts are unknown, it is advisable not to announce the

engagement before the couple obtains the required consent before marriage. 95-Day Period of Engagement "Concerning the question of marriage and the stipulated period between the time of the engagement and the marriage, this is the decisive text of the Book of God and may not be interpreted. In the past, serious difficulties and problems arose when a long period of time elapsed between the engagement and the marriage. Now according to the Text of the Book, when marriage between the parties is arranged, i.e. when the parties become engaged, and it is certain that they will be married, not more than ninety-five days should elapse before the marriage takes place. . . ."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, April 11, 1982 Applicable to Persian Believers Wherever They Reside "The law requiring Bahá'ís to be married within the 95-day period following an engagement is not yet applicable in the West. However, Persians residing in the West obey such laws as a matter of conscience."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 14, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of France "Concerning the question as to how the term `Persian believer' should be defined in applying this law, you should be guided as follows. The law applies to Persian believers wherever they have established residence after leaving Iran. In cases where children born to such parents are brought up in the Persian tradition, speak Persian, and are thoroughly conversant with the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, they will obviously feel an obligation, and should be assisted, to observe this law as circumstances permit."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated January 6, 1987 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States ". . . The Iranian believers residing in western countries . . . should not require the western Bahá'ís to be bound by the same laws as are applicable to themselves, nor should they expect more of them than the pen of the beloved Guardian prescribed for them for this period."

The Universal House of Justice, July 7, 1968 Role of Local Spiritual Assembly in Enforcing the Law "The action you have taken so far in regard to enforcing laws that are binding on the Persian believers living in the West, that is, leaving it to the individual conscience to carry out these laws, with which they are familiar, is correct."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 11, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Breaking of Engagement ". . . The breaking of an engagement, though not always desirable, does not violate the Bahá'í Marriage Law."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 11, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Malaysia

"In principle, according to the decisive text of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the period of ninety-five days should commence only when the two parties have been betrothed, and the marriage is agreed. Therefore, the breaking of an engagement, although possible, should rarely occur. The Assemblies should, when the reason for breaking, or extending the fixed period of engagement is valid, render every assistance to the parties involved to remove their difficulties and facilitate their observance of the ordinance of the Book."

The Universal House of Justice, June 29, 1971
RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY

Role in Upholding the Law The members of the Local Spiritual Assembly must themselves understand the basic requirements of the Bahá'í marriage law. These are:

- consent of both parties
- consent of parents
- performance of a Bahá'í ceremony

- removal of administrative rights if the laws are broken

Breaches of the Bahá'í law of marriage are often due to the believers' ignorance of or misinformation about either the substance of the Bahá'í law or its importance and presently binding requirements. Local Spiritual Assemblies play a vital role in preventing the development of these situations. Counseling and Guidance When a couple asks a Local Spiritual Assembly to arrange a Bahá'í ceremony for them, the Assembly may wish to request a meeting with its representatives to review with them the Bahá'í Writings on marriage and to impress upon them the importance of the step they are about to take. This session should be both a serious and happy occasion and help them understand the permanent nature of their commitment to each other.

The Local Spiritual Assembly does not have the responsibility to approve or disapprove of the marriage or to discourage the couple from marrying if it does not feel the parties are compatible. If one or both parties should ask for the Assembly's advice, however, it may be given freely.

If there are any difficulties in obtaining consent, the Assembly's representatives may wish to review the following publications with the couple:

A Fortress for Well-Being Bahá'í Marriage and Family Life Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 105-112 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Suggested Readings.")

Ensuring that Bahá'í and Civil Marriage Requirements Are Fulfilled "The obligation of the Spiritual Assembly is to ascertain that all the requirements of civil and Bahá'í law have been complied with, and, having done so, the Assembly may neither refuse to perform the marriage ceremony nor delay it."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 30, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States When a marriage is planned, the Assembly should ask to be informed enough in advance so that it can review and approve the parental consent and ensure that arrangements for the Bahá'í ceremony are in conformity with Bahá'í principles and the requirements of civil law. If difficulties arise in obtaining consent, the Assembly should lend whatever help it can. Witnesses "These two witnesses may be chosen by the couple or by the Spiritual Assembly, but must in any case be acceptable to the Assembly; they may be its chairman and secretary, or two members of the Assembly, or two other people, Bahá'í or non-Baha'i, or any combination of these. . . .

"The witnesses can be any two trustworthy people whose testimony is acceptable to the Spiritual Assembly under whose jurisdiction the marriage is performed. This fact makes it possible for a lone pioneer in a remote post to have a Bahá'í marriage."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 8, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Switzerland "In considering the acceptability of the witnesses the Assembly must be satisfied as to their reliability. Pertinent to this is the reply given by Bahá'u'lláh when asked for a definition of the qualifications of those who may be called upon to give testimony or bear witness. His reply was that a witness must be of `good reputation among men,' and `the testimony of followers of any faith is acceptable to God.'"

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 2, 1976 to an individual believer Reporting Cases of Violation to the National Spiritual Assembly If a believer marries after becoming a Bahá'í and knows the Bahá'í law but does not fulfil its requirements, he is subject to possible removal of administrative rights. The Local Spiritual Assembly is responsible for handling the case and for reporting the facts and its recommendation to the National Assembly. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Violations of Bahá'í Marriage Law.") (See also Chapter 15, sections entitled "Nature and Purpose of Bahá'í Law," and "The Role of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Upholding Bahá'í Law,") A Checklist for Bahá'í Marriage 1. Be certain that the Bahá'ís being married are registered Bahá'ís in good standing. If a Bahá'í is unknown to the Assembly, ask to see the person's membership card. If the person does not have a card or there is a question about

membership status, call or write to the National Spiritual Assembly. 2. Be satisfied that parental consent (whether written or oral) has been freely given. 3. If either of the parties has been married before, make sure that a Bahá'í divorce was granted if they were Bahá'ís at the time of the divorce. 4. Appoint witnesses. The two witnesses may be chosen by the couple or by the Assembly, but must be acceptable to the Assembly. 5. When a second, non-Bahá'í ceremony is to be performed, make sure that both ceremonies will be held on the same Gregorian day. The ceremonies may not be combined. 6. If the Bahá'í ceremony is to be the legal one, be certain that the civil license is in hand. Make sure that all requirements for civil law (i.e., blood tests, etc.) have been met. 7. If the Bahá'í ceremony is the legal one, sign and mail the civil license to the County Clerk or other designated civil official soon after the ceremony. Make sure it is sent before the deadline, if there is one. 8. Issue a Bahá'í marriage certificate to the couple immediately after the ceremony. 9. Fill out and mail, within a few days after the ceremony has been held, a Bahá'í Membership Data Report to the National Spiritual Assembly (attn: Management Information Systems), certifying that the marriage has taken place. Include name and address changes, if applicable. A form is to be sent in for each person. OBTAINING CONSENT Purpose of Consent "Bahá'u'lláh has clearly stated the consent of all living parents is required for a Bahá'í marriage. . . . This great law He has laid down to strengthen the social fabric, to knit closer the ties of the home, to place a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, October 25, 1947 and quoted by the Universal House of Justice, in its letter dated December 11, 1973 to an individual believer "You will note that the aspect of protecting the child from making the wrong decision is not mentioned in any . . . quotations as a reason for the law, although it may well play a part in the parents' decision as they have the obligation to consider the welfare and happiness of their children at all times. However limited our understanding of this and other laws given us by Bahá'u'lláh, we are assured that the divine blessings await those who place their reliance in Him and obey His commandments."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 19, 1972 to two believers

Consent Requirements "Verily in the Book of Bayan (the Báb's Revelation) the matter is restricted to the consent of both (bride and bridegroom). As we desired to bring about love and friendship and the unity of the people, therefore We made it conditional upon the consent of the parents also, that enmity and ill-feeling might be avoided."

Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-Aqdas, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 176-177 "As for the question regarding marriage under the Law of God: first thou must choose one who is pleasing to thee, then the matter is subject to the consent of father and mother. Before thou makest thy choice, they have no right to interfere."

`Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 118 "About the consent of parents for marriage; this is required before and also after the man or woman is twenty-one years of age. It is also required in the event of a second marriage, after the dissolution of the first whether through death or through divorce.

"The parental consent is also a binding obligation irrespective of whether the parents are Bahá'ís or not, whether they are friendly or opposed to the Cause. In the event of the death of both parents, the consent of a guardian is not required."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated October 10, 1936 to an individual believer "In many cases of breach of marriage laws the believers apparently look upon the law requiring consent of parents before marriage as a mere administrative regulation, and do not seem to realize that this is a law of great importance affecting the very foundations of human society. Moreover they seem not to appreciate that in the Bahá'í Faith the spiritual and administrative aspects are complementary and that the social laws of the Faith are as binding as the purely spiritual ones."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 29, 1965 to the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Role of the Local Spiritual Assembly "With reference to the matter of the consent of the parents to a Bahá'í marriage; as this is a vital binding obligation, it is the duty of the Assemblies to ascertain, before giving their sanction, that the consent obtained has been given freely by the parents themselves."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 13-14 ". . . We must recognize that Bahá'u'lláh established institutions which are the bulwark of His World Order. One of these is the Local Spiritual Assembly which, amongst its other responsibilities, is called upon to administer the laws governing marriage. Although it is not necessary to obtain `permission' to marry from the Assembly, there are certain requirements which must be met before a Bahá'í marriage can take place, such as presentation to and acceptance by the Assembly of

consent of all living natural parents and whatever civil documents, if any, are necessary according to local law."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 2, 1976 to an individual believer "The responsibility of the Assembly ceases when it is satisfied that the consent is given freely."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 23, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Manner of Giving Consent "While it is desirable to have a signed consent from each parent it is not a requirement under Bahá'í Law. The responsible Spiritual Assembly must satisfy itself that consent are freely given but it should not insist upon a signed document. Reliable evidence of oral consents is quite sufficient; some parents freely give their consents orally while refusing to write their consents."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 9, 1975 in Lights of Guidance, p. 375 "Should the parents in their letter of consent, as you indicated, not name a specific future spouse, the House of Justice states that it could be accepted and it would be permissible to perform a Bahá'í marriage ceremony on the basis of such a letter." Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 9, 1975 to an individual believer Consent Is Given for the Marriage Itself "It is not essential that the parents of the prospective bride and groom know that either of the parties is a Baha'i, nor is it necessary for them to give consent to the Bahá'í ceremony. It is sufficient if the parents give consent to the marriage itself.

"However, Bahá'ís may not dissimulate their faith and if the parents ask about their religion they should not hesitate to say that they are Baha'i."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 23, 1969 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands ". . . It should be understood that consent to marriage is all that is required from a parent. It is not necessary that the parents consent to a Bahá'í ceremony. However, if the reason the parent refuses to give consent is the fact that the parties propose to have a Bahá'í ceremony, then the marriage cannot take place."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 24, 1967 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Consent Required in Case of Remarriage "In all cases of marriage, including remarriage, Bahá'ís are required to have consent of all living parents of both parties."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 29, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Consent Required if a Bahá'í Marries a Non-Bahá'í "Regarding the question whether it is necessary to obtain the consent of the parents of a non-Bahá'í participant in a marriage with a Baha'i; as Bahá'u'lláh has stated that the consent of the

parents of both parties is required in order to promote unity and avoid friction, and as the Aqdas does not specify any exceptions to this rule, the Guardian feels that under all circumstances the consent of the parents of both parties is required."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 13 Consent Must Be Unrestricted, Unconditioned "Basically, Bahá'í law pertaining to marriage requires that the parties intending to marry must obtain consent of all living natural parents. Further, the responsibility of the parents in giving their consent is unrestricted and unconditioned, but in discharging this duty they are responsible for their decision to God."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 9, 1975 to an individual believer ". . . If the consent of the . . . [parent] is obtained, your Assembly must make certain that such consent was freely given and not conditioned by the fact that the marriage already existed. Universal House of Justice, December 8, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada Contacting Parents Parents Residing Outside the Continental United States In many instances, Bahá'ís or their prospective non-Bahá'í mates have parents who reside outside the continental United States. In the past, parental consent had to be verified by the National Spiritual Assembly of the country in which the parents live and transmitted by that Assembly to the United States National Spiritual Assembly.

At this time, when consent is given in writing, the National Assembly considers the letter itself to be sufficient evidence of approval. No further verification is required. When Dangerous to Contact In the case of parents who live in Iran or other countries where the Faith is restricted, it may be dangerous to attempt contact. However, it is still vital that consent be obtained. In situations of this kind, the assistance of other administrative bodies may become necessary. Please contact the National Spiritual Assembly for advice on how to proceed. Whereabouts Unknown "Since there is evidence to presume that his father is alive, there is no alternative but for Mr. . . . to continue efforts to locate the father through all avenues of investigation which may be open to him, including advertising.

"The investigation should continue until the only reasonable conclusion which can be reached is that the father is dead."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 18, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "If the whereabouts of the parents is not known legally, in other words, if they are legally dead, then it is not necessary for the

children to obtain their consent, obviously. It is not a question of the child not knowing the present whereabouts of its parents, it is a question of a legal thing--if the parents are alive they must be asked."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, pp. 59-60 "You must make every effort to ascertain the names and whereabouts of your natural parents, including contacting persons, firms or agencies, and advertising in newspapers. If the search proves fruitless and the Assembly is satisfied that every reasonable avenue of search has been exhausted it may conclude that the parents be presumed deceased and their consent is not obtainable."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, letter dated April 12, 1981 to an individual believer "If you are satisfied that Mr. . . . has exhausted all reasonable possibilities of locating his father, you may consider that the father is legally dead and that he is therefore excused for obtaining his father's consent."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 27, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Locating Parents Reasonable avenues to try to locate the missing parent(s) may include advertising and contacting the police and other government agencies, such as the Social Security Administration or the state Bureau of Child Support Enforcement. If the missing parent was known to have a problem with alcohol, the Salvation Army may be helpful. Friends and relatives of the missing parent are usually the most valuable resources to be explored. Some possible avenues: 1. Write the person in care of his or her last known address, with "address correction requested" on the envelope. 2. Write to the postmaster or Post Office for any forwarding address the person might have left. The cost is minimal. 3. Check the phone book. If unsuccessful, call directory assistance. 4. Social Security, the Veteran's Administration, Railroad Retirement or the Secretary of State's office will forward a letter under certain conditions. While the Social Security Agency will not release a person's address, it may be willing to forward a letter to the person. 5. Place a personal want ad in the paper or papers where it might be seen by the parent or by the parent's friends. The library has books listing the names and addresses of newspapers in different cities. 6. An agency that often is willing to help is the Salvation Army. Contact the local Salvation Army Missing Persons Office. (See also Chapter 6, section entitled "How to Locate a Bahá'í Listed as a `Mail-Return.'")

Identity Unknown or Uncertain ". . . If the assumed natural father denies that he is the father of the child the following principles apply: if his name appears on the birth certificate of the child and if the law of the country presumes that the name on the birth certificate is that of the father, then he should be considered as the father for the purpose of obtaining consent. If the name of the father given on the birth certificate is not a conclusive presumption of parenthood and if the man in question has always denied that he is the father of the child, the child is not required to seek the consent of this man unless it has been legally established that he is the father notwithstanding his denial."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 24, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States Abandonment "In the case of an abandoned child, if the abandonment really means that the baby has been left to be discovered by other people, it is obviously impossible to trace the parents. If, however, either parent is known and there are no legal barriers in the way, consent should be sought."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated August 6, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the British Isles Ties Severed by Adoption "Regarding the matter of adopted children, the consent of all natural parents must be obtained wherever this is legally possible but no effort should be made to trace the natural parents if this contravenes the provisions of the adoption certificate or the laws of the country."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 24, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "It is not enough to surmise that it is forbidden to trace the natural parents; it must actually be determined that such is the case. Otherwise, the child must make an effort to locate the natural parent or parents and obtain their consent."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated June 16, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "The House of Justice has also ruled that where, in signing the documents giving her child for adoption, a mother has agreed that she would be permanently deprived of her rights as parent or guardian and has no right to see the child, get in touch with him or have him returned to her, she has, in the eyes of the Bahá'í law, disowned her child and her consent for his marriage is not required. This would also apply in the case of a natural father. . . .

"This . . . is quite distinct from the situation where parents have had their children fostered by another family by an agreement under which they do not give up their rights and obligations as natural parents. Under such a situation the consent of the natural parents would be required.

"In no circumstances can the responsibility for giving or withholding consent for marriage be transferred to the foster parents."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 18, 1986 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia

Consent of Foster Parents "It is the consent of the natural parents that is required for marriage. Consent from foster parents is not a requirement of existing Bahá'í law, although, of course, there is no objection to a child asking his foster parents for consent, if he so wishes."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated July 28, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Denmark When Consent Is Withheld Refusal to Give Consent "The validity of a Bahá'í marriage is dependent upon the free and full consent of all four parents. The freedom of the parents in the exercise of this right is unrestricted and unconditioned. They may refuse their consent on any ground, and they are responsible for their decision to God alone."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated March 19, 1938 to an individual believer ". . . If any one of the parents refuses to give his or her consent for any reason, including the fact that a Bahá'í ceremony is to be carried out, then the marriage cannot take place."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 23, 1966 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "It is perfectly true that Bahá'u'lláh's statement that the consent of all living parents is required for marriage places a grave responsibility on each parent. When the parents are Bahá'ís they should, of course, act objectively in withholding or granting their approval. They cannot evade this responsibility by merely acquiescing in their child's wish, nor should they be swayed by prejudice; but, whether they be Bahá'í or non-Baha'i, the parents' decision is binding, whatever the reason that may have motivated it. Children must recognize and understand that this act of consenting is the duty of a parent. They must have respect in their hearts for those who have given them life, and whose good pleasure they must at all times strive to win."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated February 1, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "Bahá'ís who cannot marry because of lack of consent of one or more parents could consult with their Local Spiritual Assembly, to see whether it may suggest a way to change the attitude of any of the parents involved. The believers, when faced with such problems, should put their trust in Bahá'u'lláh, devote more time to the service, the teaching and the promotion of His Faith, be absolutely faithful to His injunctions on the observance of an unsullied, chaste life, and rely upon Him to open the way and remove the obstacle, or make known His will."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 9, 1969 to an individual believer (See also in this chapter section entitled "Consent is Given for the Marriage Itself.") Consent Withheld Because of Prejudice "We have given very thoughtful consideration to your letter of August 26, 1965, reporting several incidents in which parental

consent to marriage has been withheld by parents allegedly on grounds of racial prejudice. While we have the greatest sympathy for the individuals involved in these unfortunate circumstances, we can reach no other conclusion but that consent of parents must be obtained in all of these cases before marriage can take place."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 7, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "All too often nowadays such consent for marriage is withheld by non-Bahá'í parents for reasons of bigotry or racial prejudice; yet we have seen again and again the profound effect on those very parents of the firmness of the children in the Bahá'í law, to the extent that not only is the consent ultimately given in many cases, but the character of the parents can be affected and their relationship with their child greatly strengthened.

"Thus, by upholding Bahá'í law in the face of all difficulties we not only strengthen our own characters but influence those around us."

The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 107 Refusal to Approve or Disapprove "We have your letter of May 10, 1968 requesting guidance on the question of obtaining consent of parents to marriage in a case in which parents refuse to approve or disapprove.

"The Bahá'í law on this subject is clear: the consent of parents must be obtained before the marriage can take place. The refusal of the parents to make a decision has the same effect, in this case, as refusal to give consent. Only if the parents later decide to give consent can the Bahá'í marriage be performed."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 20, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Costa Rica Circumstances under which Parental Consent Is Not Required "The only circumstances under which parental consent for Bahá'í marriage is not required are the following: 1. If the parent is dead. 2. If the parent has absented himself to the degree that he can be adjudged legally dead. 3. If the parent is certified insane and therefore legally incompetent to give consent. 4. If the parent is a Covenant-breaker. 5. It is possible under Bahá'í Law, in certain very rare cases, to recognize that a state of disownment exists."

The Universal House of Justice May 30, 1971 (See also in this chapter section entitled "Disownment.") "Strictly speaking, the only instance of a parent's consent not

being required for the marriage of a Bahá'í is when that parent is certified insane and is therefore incapable of exercising any judgment in the matter. All other apparent exceptions are really cases in which the parent is no longer considered to exist as such, either in fact when he is dead, or in point of law such as when he is untraceable to the degree that he may be accounted legally dead, or when the child has been adopted and the law of the land prohibits any attempt to trace or contact the natural parents, or certain rare cases in Bahá'í Law such as Covenant-breaking when the child is authorized to disown his parent, for example. The various other grounds that you mention, i.e. a parent's moral unworthiness, the fact that he has forsaken his family, or the refusal of consent for base motives do not exempt the children from the requirement of obtaining parent consent."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated October 10, 1968 to an individual believer Mental Incapacity "The Guardian feels therefore, that you must secure your Mother's approval, before marriage, unless the Doctor certifies that she is incapable of making a decision."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated June 21, 1954 to an individual believer "If the father should be found but it is determined and certified that he is mentally incapable of giving consent, then obviously no consent is necessary."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 18, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "With reference to the reported condition of the prospective groom's father, his consent must be obtained despite a state of senility or total illiteracy. However, should the father be medically certified as mentally incompetent his consent to the marriage would not be required."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 28, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada Disownment "It is possible for a parent to disown his children, and if your Assembly finds that a parent has done so in accordance with the laws, customs and practices of the people of the area in which the parent resides . . . then no consent is required."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated November 18, 1986 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia All cases of possible disownment are to first be referred to the National Spiritual Assembly by the Local Spiritual Assembly handling the case. (See also in this chapter section entitled "Ties Severed by Adoption.")

THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY Requirements of Bahá'í Law New Believers Who Are Already Married "New believers who are already married . . . are not required to have a Bahá'í ceremony. They are already married in the sight of the Bahá'í community. There is no objection to such a couple having friends in for readings about marriage and/or prayers for their marriage."

Universal House of Justice, letter dated December 12, 1965 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of West Central Africa (See also in this chapter section entitled "Reaffirmation of Marriage Vows.") Marriage of Two Bahá'ís "The instructions of the beloved Guardian are clear on this point. When two Bahá'ís are married they may not be married by the religious ceremony of another Faith."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 20, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "When two Bahá'ís are marrying, the wedding ceremony should not be held in the place of worship of another religion, nor should the forms of the marriage of other religions be added to the simple Bahá'í ceremony.' Written on behalf of The Universal House of Justice, letter dated March 2, 1986 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States "If the parents of a Bahá'í couple are, for example, Christians, there is no objection to their attending church with their parents and their parents' friends and relations, if their parents so wish, in order to pray for the future of the marriage, but such attendance should not involve any form of marriage ceremony or simulated marriage ceremony."

The Universal House of Justice,letter dated January 19, 1975 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

Marriage of a Bahá'í to a Non-Bahá'í "It is only when a non-Bahá'í partner is involved that a Bahá'í may participate in the religious ceremony of the non-Bahá'í partner."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated May 20, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States When Two Ceremonies Are Held "If a Bahá'í marries a non-Bahá'í who wishes to have the religious ceremony of his own sect carried out, it must be quite clear that, first, the Bahá'í partner is understood to be a Bahá'í by religion, and not to accept the religion of the other party to the marriage through having his or her religious ceremony; and, second, the ceremony must be of a nature which does not commit the Bahá'í to any declaration of faith in a religion other than his own.

"Under these circumstances, the Bahá'í can partake of the religious ceremony of his non-Bahá'í partner. The Bahá'í should insist on having the Bahá'í ceremony carried out before or after the non-Bahá'í one, on the same day."

Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 20, 1954 "When a Bahá'í is marrying a non-Baha'i, and the religious

wedding ceremony of the non-Bahá'í partner is to be held in addition to the Bahá'í ceremony, both ceremonies may, if requested, be held in the place of worship of the other religion provided that:

- Equal respect is accorded to both ceremonies. In other words, the

Bahá'í ceremony, which is basically so simple, should not be

regarded as a mere formal adjunct