BAHAI-LIBRARY.NET - English

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Messages 1963 to 1986 (Part 4)

E-mail Print

<p325>

170.4 Auxiliary Boards -- Ridvan 1976

Former Present New

Number Increase Total

 

Africa

Protection: Northern 5 - 5

Western 5 6 11

Central and East 13 - 13

Southern 4 3 7

27 36

Propagation: Northern 5 - 5

Western 11 3 14

Central and East 19 - 19

Southern 10 6 16

45 54

 

Western Hemisphere

Protection: North America 9 - 9

Central America 9 2 11

South America 9 7 16

27 36

 

Propagation: North America 18 - 18

Central America 9 7 16

South America 27 11 38

54 72

 

Asia

Protection: Western 9 - 9

South Central 3 3 6

North-eastern 3 - 3

South-eastern 3 6 9

18 27

 

Propagation: Western 18 - 8

South Central 15 15 30

North-eastern 15 - 15

South-eastern 15 12 27

63 90

 

Australasia

Protection: 9 - 9

Propagation: 9 9 18

 

Europe

Protection: 9 - 9

Propagation: 27 - 27

 

TOTAL 288 90 378

Total Protection 90 27 117

Total Propagation 198 63 261

<p326>

171

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Helsinki, Finland -- July 1976

July 1976

To the followers of Baha'u'llah gathered at the International Teaching Conference in Helsinki

Dearly loved friends,

171.1 With eager hearts we hail the convocation of this first of the twin Arctic Conferences inaugurating the series of eight International Baha'i Conferences to be held during the middle part of the Five Year Plan. The northern regions of the world were alluded to by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Mother Book of this Revelation. Their names were recorded in the Tablets of the Divine Plan by the pen of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Who, in one of His other Tablets, supplicated God to "raise up sanctified, pure and spiritual souls in the countries of the West and the territories of the North, and make them signs of His guidance, ensigns of the Concourse on High and angels of the Abha Kingdom."+F355 These lands received the constant attention of Shoghi Effendi, who repeatedly urged the friends to carry the Faith to their uttermost inhabited areas, and who joyfully announced every advance of the Baha'is that established a centre closer to the North Pole.

[F355. From an unpublished Tablet.]

171.2 Already touched by the morning light of God's Cause by the nineteen-twenties, the lands of the North were blessed by visits from the indomitable Martha Root, whose love warmed and encouraged the hearts of the handful of believers then labouring in a few scattered centres in Scandinavia and illumined the soul of Ho1mfridur Arnadottir, Iceland's first Baha'i.+F356 Bursting into blossom under the impact of the rays of the second Seven Year Plan, these communities received a major impetus from the Ten Year Crusade, of which the European campaign was launched at the never-to-be-forgotten conference in Stockholm in 1953, and which established centres as far north as Thule in Greenland and Sassen in the islands of Spitzbergen. Yet another stage of growth was reached with the Nine Year Plan and the convocation of the North Atlantic Conference in Reykjavik, which marked the opening <p327> of a new phase in the collaboration between the northern communities on both sides of that ocean.+F357

[F357. The second Seven Year Plan included the years 1946-53; the Ten Year Crusade, 1953-63; and the Nine Year Plan, 1964-73. The North Atlantic Conference was held in September 1971.]

[F356. In a cable dated 3 October 1939 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, Shoghi Effendi designated Martha Root a Hand of the Cause of God, describing her as the "foremost Hand which 'Abdu'l-Baha's Will has raised up first Baha'i century." See BW 13:643-48 and Mabel Garis, Martha Root. For an account of Holmfridur Arnadottir's life and services, see BW 13:943.]

171.3 Only thirty-eight years have passed since Vaeinoe Rissanen, the first Baha'i in Finland, accepted with radiant heart the life-giving message brought to him by Josephine Kruka, the "Mother of Finland," in July 1938,+F358 and now the city of Helsinki, the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Finland, is the scene of an International Baha'i Conference whose deliberations are focused on the diffusion of the light of God's Faith throughout the entire arctic and sub-arctic regions of the world.

[F358. For an account of Josephine Kruka's life and services, see BW 15:493-96.]

171.4 The followers of the Blessed Perfection gathered in Helsinki must direct their attention to the urgent tasks of the second half of the Five Year Plan: to the reopening of Spitzbergen; the winning of the 34 Local Spiritual Assemblies still to be formed in Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland; the acceleration of the translation and publication of Baha'i literature; the forging of still closer links of collaboration with the Baha'i communities of Alaska, Canada and in the continent of Europe; the enlistment under the banner of Baha'u'llah of increasing numbers of the Eskimo, Lapp and Gypsy peoples; and the pursuit of the vital and challenging objectives of the Plan beyond the frontiers of their homelands.

171.5 It is our fervent prayer at the Threshold of Baha'u'llah that this Conference will produce an upsurge of Baha'i activity throughout the northern lands and in the islands of the North Sea and the Baltic that will outshine every achievement made in those promising regions, and be an inspiration to your fellow-believers in every country of the world.

The Universal House of Justice

<p328>

172

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Anchorage, Alaska -- July 1976

July 1976

To the friends assembled at the International Teaching Conference in Anchorage

Dearly loved friends,

172.1 Sixty years ago 'Abdu'l-Baha summoned the valiant North American believers to open the remote and inhospitable regions which form the climatic frontiers of the Arctic and the sub-Arctic. The full implementation of His wish had to be postponed for some years, until, under the leadership of His beloved grandson, well-grounded administrative bases were established from which Baha'i crusaders could set out in conquest of these prized and virgin lands.

172.2 As early as 1915, however, we see a first wave of itinerant teachers and short- time settlers directing their steps towards Alaska in an attempt to open it to the light of Baha'u'llah. This was followed by a second wave of determined pioneers and spiritual conquerors who, ever since the first Seven Year Plan, demonstrated their exemplary enthusiasm and caused "the breezes ... of the love of God" to "Perfume the nostrils of the inhabitants" of that "vast country."+F359 In Canada, in response to the Master's call, a succession of home-front pioneers settled and opened the length and breadth of their land, so rich in promise "whether from a material or a spiritual standpoint," and whose destiny is to "become the object of the glance of Providence."+F360 To the fringes of Greenland North American and European pioneers brought the light of God's Faith, and provided the means for the fire of His love to be kindled in that land, in anticipation of the day when it will become "a divine rose garden and a heavenly paradise." Iceland, specifically mentioned by 'Abdu'l-Baha in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, was opened and consolidated, and has, through the warm response of its inhabitants to the Call of God, undoubtedly become one of the shining beacons of the "lights of the Most Great Guidance" in the North.+F361

[F361. TDP 5.2, 6.5.]

[F360. TDP 13.6, 13.2.]

[F359. TDP 6.15. The first Seven Year Plan included the years 1937-44.]

172.3 As a result of these movements and organized activities, the call of the Kingdom reached "the ears of the Eskimos," and the divine spark was struck in their lands.+F362 Praise be to God, today there are many who justly belong to the rank of heroes from among that noble race, and whose hearts are burning with His love. Upon the zeal and endurance of these enkindled believers <p329> will depend the early fulfilment of the Master's glowing promises. The teaching work among the Indians of the northern lands of the Western Hemisphere has likewise borne rich fruit, as tribe upon tribe has been enlisted under the banner of Baha'u'llah. Whether in Alaska's south-eastern islands and rugged mountains, or in Canada's huge Indian reserves from the west to the east, many Amerindian believers have arisen to serve the Cause, and through their joint efforts, their sacrificial endeavours and distinctive talents they bid fair to accelerate the dawn of the day when they will be so "illumined as to enlighten the whole world."+F363

[F363. TDP 6.8.]

[F362. TDP 5.2.]

172.4 Many are the goals which now challenge the peoples of the North under the Five Year Plan: encouraging and educating the children and stimulating and guiding the youth; a wider participation of women in Baha'i services; a greater assumption by the indigenous inhabitants of these regions of responsibilities in the leadership and administration of the community; a bolder proclamation of the Faith by radio and television; and a more far-flung and intensified campaign of teaching, audaciously conceived by National Spiritual Assemblies and their agencies and vigorously executed by Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers, aiming at a vast increase in the number of adherents to the Faith from every segment of society, a multiplication of Baha'i administrative institutions, and a richer and more diverse range of publications in all media. What will set the seal on the success of the Plan and pave the way for the long-awaited and divinely promised glories of the future, is a mightier effort by every supporter of the Most Great Name in those climes to increasingly deepen themselves in the teachings, to pour forth their substance in the path of His love, to resolve to conform their personal lives to the high standards set in His teachings, and to undertake more daring tasks however great the sacrifice, and more extensive travels however arduous the voyage. In this wise will they draw nearer to the Spirit of Baha'u'llah and become true and radiant signs of His Most Great Guidance. These are the tasks! This is the work!

172.5 We pray at the Sacred Threshold that the Baha'is of the North may in the not- too-distant future transform the Arctic into that spiritual rose garden and heavenly paradise longed and yearned for by 'Abdu'l-Baha, and that its peoples may be bountifully blessed and lovingly guided in their selfless services to promote the Faith of Baha'u'llah.

The Universal House of Justice

<p330>

173

Comments on the Subject of Politics

7 July 1976

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

173.1 The Universal House of Justice received your letter of 15 May conveying your thoughts on the need for Baha'is to become involved as may be necessary in political affairs and to participate in activities aimed at the eradication of injustice. The sincerity which prompted you to write such a letter and to candidly express your sentiments deeply touched the Universal House of Justice. We have been asked to convey its comments to you.

The Divine Physician's Remedy

173.2 You ask if silence on the part of Baha'is will not allow chaos and human humiliation to be a permanent feature on earth, and state that shunning of politics by the Baha'is can but weaken the freedom fighters of the world. When viewing the conditions of our society we see a world beset by ills and groaning under the burden of suffering. This suffering, Baha'u'llah has Himself testified, is because the "body" of the world, "though created whole and perfect, has been afflicted, through divers causes, with grave ills and maladies," and "its sickness waxed more severe, as it fell under the treatment of unskilled physicians who have spurred on the steed of their worldly desires and have erred grievously." Baha'u'llah's statement in this passage concludes with the assertion that the "sovereign remedy" lies in turning and submitting to the "skilled," the "all- powerful," and "inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error."+F364

[F364. WOB, pp. 39-40; GWB, pp. 254-55.]

173.3 This Divine Physician has assured us in His Writings that God is All-Seeing and All-Knowing and has willed to establish in this Day and among men His everlasting Kingdom. "The whole earth," Baha'u'llah has stated, "is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings."+F365 In order to achieve this purpose God sent us the spirit and message of the New Day through two successive Manifestations,+F366 both of Whom the generality of mankind have rejected, and have, alas, preferred to continue in their own blindness and perversity. Commenting on such a world spectacle, Baha'u'llah wrote: "soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead." "After a time," <p331> He further wrote, "all the governments on earth will change. Oppression will envelop the world. And following a universal convulsion, the sun of justice will rise from the horizon of the unseen realm."+F367

[F367. Quoted in PDIC P287.]

[F366. Baha'u'llah and the Bab.]

[F365. WOB, p. 169.]

173.4 When we turn to His other Writings to learn more of His warning that this "present-day order" is to be "rolled up," we read statements and predictions such as these: "The time for the destruction of the world and its people hath arrived." "The hour is approaching when the most great convulsion will have appeared." "The promised day is come, the day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath your feet, saying: 'Taste ye what your hands have wrought!'" "Soon shall the blasts of His chastisement beat upon you and the dust of hell enshroud you." "And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake." "The day is approaching when its [civilization's] flame will devour the cities, when the Tongue of Grandeur will proclaim: 'The Kingdom is God's, the Almighty, the All-Praised!'" "The day is approaching when the wrathful anger of the Almighty will have taken hold of them. He, verily, is the Omnipotent, the All-Subduing, the Most Powerful. He shall cleanse the earth from the defilement of their corruption, and shall give it for an heritage unto such of His servants as are nigh unto Him."+F368

[F368. Quoted in PDIC P3.]

The Hand of Providence at Work

173.5 From the above it becomes clear that the Hand of Providence is at work, and is engaged in fulfilling God's purpose for mankind in this Age. "God's purpose," Shoghi Effendi assures us, "is none other than to usher in, in ways He alone can bring about, and the full significance of which He alone can fathom, the Great, the Golden Age of a long- divided, a long-afflicted humanity. Its present state, indeed even its immediate future, is dark, distressingly dark. Its distant future, however, is radiant, gloriously radiant -- so radiant that no eye can visualize it."+F369

[F369. PDIC P286.]

173.6 Let us consider the First World War, which Shoghi Effendi has described in his writings as "the first stage in a titanic convulsion long predicted by Baha'u'llah."+F370 Although it ended outwardly in a Treaty of Peace, 'Abdu'l-Baha remarked: "Peace, Peace, the lips of potentates and peoples unceasingly proclaim, whereas the fire of unquenched hatreds still smoulders in their hearts." And then in 1920, He wrote: "The ills from which the world now suffers will multiply; the gloom which envelops it will deepen." And again: "another war, fiercer than the last, will assuredly break out."+F371 After this Second World War broke out in 1939, Shoghi Effendi called it a "tempest, unprecedented in its <p332> violence," and the "great and mighty wind of God invading the remotest and fairest regions of the earth." After the termination of this War and the creation of the United Nations, the Guardian wrote in 1948, anticipating "still more violent convulsions" and referred to the "wings of yet another conflict" destined to "darken the international horizon."+F372 And finally in his last Ridvan Message of April 1957, he left for posterity the following analysis of world conditions in the light of the prophecies and predictions recorded in the writings of the Faith:

[F372. PDIC P2; CF, p. 58.]

[F371. Quoted in WOB, pp. 29-30, 46.]

[F370. GPB, p. 305.]

173.6a Indeed, as we gaze in retrospect beyond the immediate past, and survey, in however cursory a manner, the vicissitudes afflicting an increasingly tormented society, and recall the strains and stresses to which the fabric of a dying Order has been increasingly subjected, we cannot but marvel at the sharp contrast presented, on the one hand, by the accumulated evidences of the orderly unfoldment, and the uninterrupted multiplication of the agencies, of an Administrative Order designed to be the harbinger of a world civilization, and, on the other, by the ominous manifestations of acute political conflict, of social unrest, of racial animosity, of class antagonism, of immorality and of irreligion, proclaiming, in no uncertain terms, the corruption and obsolescence of the institutions of a bankrupt Order.

173.6b Against the background of these afflictive disturbances -- the turmoil and tribulations of a travailing age -- we may well ponder the portentous prophecies uttered well-nigh four score years ago, by the Author of our Faith, as well as the dire predictions made by Him Who is the unerring Interpreter of His teachings, all foreshadowing a universal commotion, of a scope and intensity unparalleled in the annals of mankind.

173.6c The violent derangement of the world's equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth -- these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf <p333> ear to the Voice of God's Messenger in this day -- a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly knit world-embracing Fellowship ...+F373

[F373. MBW, pp. 102-03.]

173.7 Thus we see how the Divine Physician is both the "Judge" of mankind and its "Redeemer."+F374

[F374. PDIC P6.]

Non-Interference in Political Affairs

173.8 This same Physician, addressing His followers, "the beloved of the one true God," wrote: "Forbear ye from concerning yourselves with the affairs of this world and all that pertaineth unto it, or from meddling with the activities of those who are its outward leaders. The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath bestowed the government of the earth upon the kings. To none is given the right to act in any manner that would run counter to the considered views of them who are in authority."+F375

[F375. GWB, p. 241.]

173.9 In another Tablet He laid on His followers the obligation to "behave towards the government of the country in which they reside with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness."+F376 'Abdu'l-Baha reaffirmed the same principles. When in America He explained: "The essence of the Baha'i spirit is that, in order to establish a better social order and economic condition, there must be allegiance to the laws and principles of government." And in a Tablet He referred to the "irrefutable command that the Blessed Perfection hath given" in His Tablets, namely, "that the believers must obey the kings with the utmost sincerity and fidelity, and He hath forbidden them [the believers] to interfere at all with political problems. He hath even prohibited the believers from discussing political affairs."+F377

[F377. PUP, p. 238; TABA 3:498.]

[F376. GPB, p. 219.]

173.10 And finally in His last Will and Testament He wrote: "We must obey and be the well-wishers of the government of the land ..."+F378

[F378. WT, p. 8.]

The Role of Baha'is in Today's World

173.11 We have also been asked to share with you at this juncture the following two extracts from letters written by the Universal House of Justice, and it is hoped these will help you in appreciating the significant and vital role Baha'is can and must play in the world today:

173.11a We are told by Shoghi Effendi that two great processes are at work in the world: the great Plan of God, tumultuous in its progress, working <p334> through mankind as a whole, tearing down barriers to world unity and forging humankind into a unified body in the fires of suffering and experience. This process will produce in God's due time, the Lesser Peace, the political unification of the world. Mankind at that time can be likened to a body that is unified but without life. The second process, the task of breathing life into this unified body -- of creating true unity and spirituality culminating in the Most Great Peace -- is that of the Baha'is, who are labouring consciously, with detailed instructions and continuing divine guidance, to erect the fabric of the Kingdom of God on earth, into which they call their fellowmen, thus conferring upon them eternal life.

173.11b The working out of God's Major Plan proceeds mysteriously in ways directed by Him alone, but the Minor Plan that He has given us to execute, as our part in His grand design for the redemption of mankind, is clearly delineated. It is to this work that we must devote all our energies, for there is no one else to do it....+F379

[F379. Letter dated 8 December 1967 to an individual. See message no. 55.]

173.11c ... Baha'is are often accused of holding aloof from the "real problems" of their fellowmen. But when we hear this accusation let us not forget that those who make it are usually idealistic materialists to whom material good is the only "real" good, whereas we know that the working of the material world is merely a reflection of spiritual conditions and until the spiritual conditions can be changed there can be no lasting change for the better in material affairs.

173.11d We should also remember that most people have no clear concept of the sort of world they wish to build, nor how to go about building it. Even those who are concerned to improve conditions are therefore reduced to combating every apparent evil that takes their attention. Willingness to fight against evils, whether in the form of conditions or embodied in evil men, has thus become for most people the touchstone by which they judge a person's moral worth. Baha'is, on the other hand, know the goal they are working towards and know what they must do, step by step, to attain it. Their whole energy is directed towards the building of the good, a good which has such a positive strength that in the face of it the multitude of evils -- which are in essence negative -- will fade away and be no more. To enter into the quixotic tournament of demolishing one by one the evils in the world is, to a Baha'i, a vain waste of time and effort. His whole life is directed towards proclaiming the Message of Baha'u'llah, reviving the spiritual life of his fellowmen, uniting them in a divinely-created World <p335> Order, and then, as the Order grows in strength and influence, he will see the power of that Message transforming the whole human society and progressively solving the problems and removing the injustices which have so long bedevilled the world.+F380

[F380. Letter dated 19 November 1974 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Italy. See message no. 151.]

173.12 You have asked whether it is possible to have a World Federation when not all countries have attained their independence. The answer is in the negative. Both 'Abdu'l- Baha and Shoghi Effendi likened the emergence of the American Republic and the unification of the "diversified and loosely related elements" of its "divided" community into one national entity, to the unity of the world and the incorporation of its federated units into "one coherent system."+F381 Just as the American Constitution does not allow one state to be more autonomous than another, so must the nations of the world enjoy equal status in any form of World Federation. Indeed one of the "candles" of unity anticipated by 'Abdu'l-Baha is "unity in freedom."+F382

[F382. WOB, p. 165.]

[F381. WOB, p. 165.]

173.13 Yet another question is whether it is morally right to remain silent when equality is being abused. The beloved Guardian has given us the following guidelines in letters written on his behalf. "Much as the friends must guard against in any way ever seeming to identify themselves or the Cause with any political parry, they must also guard against the other extreme of never taking part with other progressive groups, in conferences or committees designed to promote some activity in entire accord with our teachings -- such as, for instance, better race relations."+F383

[F383. Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 21 November 1948 to an individual.]

173.14 The Universal House of Justice hopes that you and your Baha'i co-workers in that land will steep yourselves in the teachings of Baha'u'llah, endeavour to follow in your personal lives the noble standards set by Him, attract the multitudes to the radiance of His glorious Faith, and enable them to warm their hearts and ignite their souls with the flames of that undying Fire which "blazeth and rageth in the world of creation."+F384

[F384. Baha'u'llah, in BP, p. 53, or PM, p. 76.]

173.15 We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to assure you of its prayers on your behalf in the Holy Shrines.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p336>

174

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Paris, France -- August 1976

August 1976

To the Friends assembled at the International Teaching Conference in Paris

Dearly loved friends,

174.1 The brilliance of Paris in the story of European civilization bids fair to be renewed with even greater splendour during the Day of the Lord of Hosts and the establishment of God's Kingdom on earth.+F385 The annals of Paris in this Day have already acquired eternal lustre from events of mightier import, of greater universal significance and more sacred character than any which its past history has witnessed. The visits of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Centre of God's inviolable Covenant, alone outshine in historical importance anything in the long history of France, and are immortalized in the greatly loved collection of His discourses given in that capital city.+F386 Beyond this, we recall with awe and pride that it was at 'Abdu'l-Baha's instruction that the illustrious May Maxwell succeeded in establishing in Paris the first Baha'i centre on the European Continent, a continent described by Shoghi Effendi as "the cradle of a civilization to some of whose beneficent features the Pen of Baha'u'llah has paid significant tribute; on whose soil both the Greek and Roman civilizations were born and flourished; which has contributed so richly to the unfoldment of American civilization; the fountainhead of American culture; the mother of Christendom, and the scene of the greatest exploits of the followers of Jesus Christ," and experiencing "the first stirrings of that spiritual revolution" which must culminate in the permanent establishment throughout its diversified lands of the divinely ordained Order of Baha'u'llah.+F387 This first centre was rapidly reinforced by the conversion of the first English believer and of the first Frenchman to accept the Faith -- the distinguished Hippolyte Dreyfus, whose "Pre-eminent role" it was to kindle "the torch which is destined to shed eternal illumination upon his native land and its people" and by Laura Barney, whose "imperishable service" was to transmit to posterity Some Answered Questions.+F388 The steadfastness and devotion of the Paris Baha'i Community during the dark and sombre days of the Second World War earned great praise from the beloved Guardian of the Faith, while the <p337> recent signs of widespread and effective teaching work throughout France lend wings to the hope that this veteran, sorely tested and steadfast community is about to gather the harvest of those potent seeds sown and nourished so lovingly by 'Abdu'l-Baha.

[F388. UD, p. 84; GPB, p. 260.]

[F387. CF, pp. 26-27.]

[F386. See 'Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, (1969). 'Abdu'l-Baha visited Paris three times. The first visit lasted nine weeks, 3 October through 2 December 1911; the second was 21 January through 30 March 1913; the third was early May through 12 June 1913.]

[F385. "The Day of the Lord of Hosts" is a reference to the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah.]

174.2 It is highly propitious that this city, thrice blessed by the presence of the Master, should be the scene of the first International Baha'i Conference in France and one of the eight International Conferences to be held around the world during the Five Year Plan. You are gathered in this historic spot to deliberate on the fortunes of that Plan, to derive inspiration from the deeds performed there in the Heroic Age of our Faith and from your association together, to rededicate yourselves to the service of Baha'u'llah and to determine, each and every one, how best you can promote the victory of the Five Year Plan. We call to your attention 'Abdu'l-Baha's words:

174.2a The call of Ya Baha'u'l-Abha can be heard far and wide. It is my hope that this soul-stirring melody of the Abha Kingdom may also be raised high in Paris, for Paris is tumultuous in all things. I pray the Almighty that the music and singing of the beloved of God will be so loud that the vibrations thereof may cause the limbs of Paris to quake. I await very joyful tidings from the friends in Paris. Unquestionably the divine melody will in the future be raised in that city, but I long that this may happen in these days of the Covenant, and that you will be the enchanting songsters and the sweet-singing nightingales of that land.+F389

[F389. From an unpublished Tablet.]

174.3 Our hopes are high and we pray at the Sacred Threshold that from this Conference will surge throughout Europe a wave of such sacrificial teaching as will impel large numbers of its diverse and highly talented peoples to embrace the Faith of God and dedicate themselves to the redemption of mankind under the glorious banner of the Prince of Peace.

The Universal House of Justice

<p338>

175

Release of a Compilation on Baha'i Education

31 August 1976

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

175.1 Among the goals of the Five Year Plan given to certain National Spiritual Assemblies is that of the promotion of the Baha'i education of children. But this subject is of profound interest to Baha'is in every land, not only in those where, as the Plan indicates, specific goals must be attained.

175.2 At our request the Research Department at the World Centre has prepared this compilation of Baha'i teachings on the subject of Baha'i education for the friends everywhere to study and to begin to apply as their circumstances permit.+F390 In the main part of the compilation all extracts are from Tablets or other authenticated writings. In addition there is a supplement of extracts from talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha recorded in Star of the West and The Promulgation of Universal Peace. It is hoped that in future it will be possible to have such well-known addresses verified against authenticated transcripts of the talks in the original language, but until that time the friends may use them in their present form for their reference and study. You are free to share this compilation, in whole or in part, with the believers under your jurisdiction in whatever way you judge best.

[F390. See CC I:245-313.]

175.3 A letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer on 7 June

1939 explained:

175.3a ... the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha 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 Baha'i educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Baha'i Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.

175.3b These basic principles are available in the sacred Writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and university programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Baha'i world, is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Baha'i scholars and educationalists of the future.

<p339>

175.4 In reading the compilation the friends should bear the above explanation in mind and not interpret as a universal instruction what may, in fact, be simply an example of the sort of course that could advantageously be followed. For example, the quotations from the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha and the letters of Shoghi Effendi written in the early years of his Guardianship were addressed to the Baha'is in Persia when that community, although oppressed, was already large in numbers, and was living in a society where schooling was rudimentary and scarce. At the present time in most countries, compulsory education and state school systems are widespread and meet the general need for material education, so the resources of the Faith in that field have to be concentrated on the spiritual and moral education of our children and on providing primary and tutorial schools in mass-teaching areas where illiteracy is still the rule. Also, the various extracts must be read in the context of the whole.

175.5 The proper education of children is of vital importance to the progress of mankind, and the heart and essential foundation of all education is spiritual and moral training. When we teach our fellowmen the truths and way of life of the Baha'i Faith we have to struggle against barriers of indifference, materialism, superstition and a multitude of erroneous preconceptions; but in our new-born children we are presented with pure souls, untarnished by the world. As they grow they will face countless tests and difficulties. From their earliest moments we have the duty to train them, both spiritually and materially, in the way that God has shown, and thus, as they come to adulthood, they can become champions of His Cause and spiritual and moral giants among mankind, equipped to meet all tests, and will be, indeed, "stars of the heaven of understanding," "soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men."+F391

[F391. GWB, p. 196.]

175.6 It is our prayer at the Sacred Threshold that the provision of the gems of divine guidance contained in this compilation will be a stimulus and a source of inspiration for Baha'i parents, teachers and Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, and a blessing for the rising generations.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p340>

176

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Nairobi, Kenya -- September 1976

26 September 1976

To the friends gathered at the International Conference in Nairobi

Beloved friends,

176.1 The flames of enthusiasm which ignited the hearts of the followers and lovers of the Most Great Name in Helsinki, in Anchorage and in Paris are now being kindled in a city which occupies a central and envied position at the very crossroads of the vast African mainland and are destined to illumine its horizons. This Conference marking the imminent approach of the midway point of the Five Year Plan which coincides with the anniversary of the birth of the Blessed Bab,+F392 will no doubt go down in Baha'i history as a further landmark in the irresistible march of events which have characterized the impact of the Faith of God upon that continent.

[F392. 20 October.]

176.2 We recall that in addition to Quddus the only other companion of the Bab on His pilgrimage to Mecca was an Ethiopian, and that he and his wife were intimately associated with Him and His household in Shiraz.+F393 During the Ministry of Baha'u'llah a few of His stalwart disciples reached the north-eastern shores of Africa, and under His direct guidance, announced the glad tidings of the New Day to the people of the Nile, thus opening to the Faith two countries of the African mainland. Soon afterwards, His blessed person approached those shores in the course of His exile to the Holy Land. Still later He voiced His significant utterance in which He compared the coloured people to "the black pupil of the eye," through which "the light of the spirit shineth forth."+F394 Just over six years after His ascension, the first member of the black race to embrace His Cause in the West, who was destined to become a disciple of 'Abdu'l-Baha, a herald of the Kingdom, and the door through which numberless members of his race were to enter that Kingdom, came on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with the first group of Western friends who arrived in 'Akka to visit the Centre of the Covenant.+F395 This was followed by a steady extension of the teaching work among the black people of North America, and the opening to the Faith, by the end of the Heroic Age, of two more <p341> countries in Africa, under the watchful care of the Master, Whose three visits to Egypt have blessed the soil of that Continent.+F396 Prior to the conclusion of the first Baha'i century the number of countries opened to the Faith had been raised to seven, and the teaching work among the black race in North America had entered a new phase of development through the continuous guidance flowing from the pen of Shoghi Effendi, who himself traversed the African continent twice from south to north, and who, in the course of his ministry, elevated two members of the black race to the rank of Hand of the Cause, appointed three more believers residing in Africa to that high office, and there raised up four National Spiritual Assemblies.+F397

[F397. By 1944, the seven African countries opened to the Faith were Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Belgian Congo, Egypt, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, Sudan, and Tunisia. Shoghi Effendi travelled in Africa circa September -- October 1929 and in 1940. The two black Hands of the Cause of God were Louis Gregory of the United States, appointed posthumously in August 1951, and Enoch Olinga of Uganda, appointed in October 1957. The additional three Hands appointed while living in Africa were Musa Banani (29 February 1952, Kampala, Uganda), and William Sears and John Robarts (October 1957, South Africa). The four National Spiritual Assemblies Shoghi Effendi raised up are those of Central and East Africa, North East Africa, North West Africa, and South and West Africa.]

[F396. 'Abdu'l-Baha visited Egypt circa August/September 1910 through 11 August 1911, circa December 1911 through 25 March 1912, and 17 June 1913 through 2 December 1913.]

[F395. Robert Turner was among the first group of Western pilgrims to arrive in 'Akka on 10 December 1898, some six years after Baha'u'llah's ascension on 29 May 1892.]

[F394. Quoted in ADJ, p. 37.]

[F393. The Ethiopian was Haji Mubarak; Quddus was the eighteenth Letter of the Living, the title given to the first eighteen people to recognize the Bab's prophetic station. Quddus was distinguished for his serenity and sagacity and was elevated by Baha'u'llah to a rank second only to that of the Bab.]

176.3 At the beginning of the Ten Year Crusade the number of countries opened to the Faith had reached twenty-four, including those opened under the aegis of the Two Year African Campaign co-ordinated by the British National Spiritual Assembly. The Ten Year Plan opened the rest of Africa to the light of God's Faith, and today we see with joy and pride in that vast continent and its neighbouring islands the establishment of four Boards of Counsellors, thirty-four National Spiritual Assemblies -- firm pillars of God's Administrative Order -- and over 2800 Local Spiritual Assemblies, nuclei of a growing Baha'i society.

176.4 Africa, a privileged continent with a past rich in cherished associations, has reached its present stage of growth through countless feats of heroism and dedication. Before us unfolds the vision of the future. "Africa," the beloved Guardian assures us in one of the letters written on his behalf, "is truly awakening and finding herself, and she undoubtedly has a great message to give, and a great contribution to make to the advancement of world civilization. To the degree to which her peoples accept Baha'u'llah will they be blessed, strengthened and protected."+F398

[F398. UD, p. 330.]

176.5 The realization of this glorious destiny requires that the immediate tasks be worthily discharged, and the pressing challenges and urgent requirements of the Five Year Plan be wholeheartedly and effectively met and satisfied. As the forces of darkness in that part of the world wax fiercer, and the problems facing its peoples and tribes become more critical, the believers in that continent <p342> must evince greater cohesion, scale loftier heights of heroism and self-sacrifice and demonstrate higher standards of concerted effort and harmonious development.

176.6 During the brief thirty months separating us from the end of the Plan, Africa must once again distinguish itself among its sister continents through a vast increase in the number of its believers, its Local Spiritual Assemblies and its localities opened to the Faith, and by accelerating the process of entry by troops throughout its length and breadth. The deepening of the faith, of the understanding and of the spiritual life of its individual believers must gather greater momentum; the foundations of its existing Local Spiritual Assemblies must be more speedily consolidated; the number of local Haziratu'l- Quds and of local endowments called for in the Plan must be soon acquired; the Baha'i activities of women and of youth must be systematically stimulated; the Baha'i education of the children of the believers must continuously be encouraged; the basis of the recognition that the institutions of the Faith have succeeded in obtaining from the authorities must steadily be broadened; mass communication facilities must be used far more frequently to teach and proclaim the Faith; and the publication and dissemination of the essential literature of the Faith must be given much greater importance. Above all it is imperative that in ever greater measure each individual believer should realize the vital need to subordinate his personal advantages to the overall welfare of the Cause, to awaken and reinforce his sense of responsibility before God to promote and protect its vital interests at all costs, and to renew his total consecration and dedication to His glorious Faith, so that, himself enkindled with the flames of its holy fire, he may, in concert with his fellow-believers, ignite the light of faith and certitude in the hearts of his family, his tribe, his countrymen and all the peoples of that mighty continent, in preparation for the day when Africa's major contribution to world civilization will become fully consummated.

176.7 We fervently pray at the Holy Shrines that these hopes and aspirations may soon come true, and that the "pure-hearted" and 'spiritually receptive" people of Africa may draw ever nearer to the spirit of Baha'u'llah, and may become shining examples of self- abnegation, of courage and of love to the supporters of the Most Great Name in every land.+F399

[F399. MBW, p. 135.]

The Universal House of Justice

<p343>

177

Visit of His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II to the Resting-Place of Shoghi Effendi

5 October 1976

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

177.1 WITH FEELINGS IMMENSE ELATION ANNOUNCE BAHA'I COMMUNITIES ALL CONTINENTS JOYFUL NEWS FIRST VISIT BY BAHA'I REIGNING MONARCH TO RESTING PLACE BELOVED SHOGHI EFFENDI WELL NIGH NINETEEN YEARS FOLLOWING HIS PASSING.+F400 HIS HIGHNESS MALIETOA TANUMAFILI II OF WESTERN SAMOA COURSE HIS RECENT VISIT LONDON ATTAINED THIS INESTIMABLE BOUNTY. HIS HIGHNESS ACCOMPANIED BY SMALL DELEGATION FRIENDS HEADED BY HAND CAUSE GIACHERY INCLUDING HANDS CAUSE KHADEM VARQA AND FIVE MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY UNITED KINGDOM PROCEEDED CEMETERY PARTICIPATED DEEPLY MOVING HIGHLY DIGNIFIED VISITATION RESTING PLACE SIGN GOD ON EARTH WHOSE LIFELONG HEROIC LABOURS ACHIEVED WORLD-WIDE SPREAD GLORIOUS CAUSE BAHA'U'LLAH.+F401 FOLLOWING PRAYERS DEVOTIONS AND EXPRESSIONS APPRECIATION GRATITUDE BY HIS HIGHNESS HE MET WITH RADIANT SPIRIT LARGE GATHERING BELIEVERS ASSEMBLED PRECINCTS GRAVE TO WELCOME HIM AND TO WHOM HE CONVEYED GREETINGS HIS FELLOW SAMOAN BAHA'IS AND HIS HOPE GROWTH FAITH FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH ALL OVER WORLD. IN HOLY LAND SYNCHRONIZING WITH THESE EVENTS HANDS CAUSE OTHER MEMBERS, INTERNATIONAL TEACHING CENTRE JOINED MEMBERS HOUSE JUSTICE SPECIAL VISIT BAHJI WHERE FERVENT PRAYERS WERE OFFERED SACRED THRESHOLD MOST HOLY SHRINE IN THANKSGIVING HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT WHICH REPRESENTS PRELUDE TO FULFILMENT LONG CHERISHED DESIRE 'ABDU'L-BAHA AND SHOGHI EFFENDI WITNESS PILGRIM KINGS PAY THEIR HUMBLE TRIBUTE AT HOLY SHRINES FOUNDERS OUR FAITH IN SPIRITUAL HEART PLANET. FERVENTLY PRAYING THIS JOYOUS NEWS WILL STRENGTHEN RESOLVE SUPPORTERS MOST GREAT NAME EVERY LAND REDOUBLE THEIR EFFORTS TO FORGE AHEAD HOWEVER ARDUOUS THE TASKS HOWEVER SEEMINGLY INSURMOUNTABLE THE OBSTACLES UNTIL EVERY GOAL WORLD- WIDE PLAN IS SPEEDILY AND FULLY CONSUMMATED.

[F401. Later information confirms that six members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom were present. The visit took place on 12 September 1976.]

[F400. For the announcement of His Highness's acceptance of the Baha'i Faith, see message no. 130.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p344>

178

Outstanding Achievements in Khurasan, Iran+F402

[F402. This message was cabled to Hand of the Cause of God William Sears, representative of the Universal House of Justice at the International Teaching Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.]

15 October 1976

To the friends gathered at the International Teaching Conference in Nairobi, Kenya

178.1 REJOICE SHARE WITH FRIENDS AT NAIROBI CONFERENCE JOYOUS TIDINGS RECEIVED FROM CRADLE FAITH FRIENDS PROVINCE KHURASAN WHERE MIGHTY EVENTS TOOK PLACE EARLY YEARS HEROIC AGE HAVE WON UNIQUE DISTINCTION. EVERY LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY EVEN EVERY GROUP THAT PROVINCE HAS FORMULATED ITS LOCAL GOALS AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER HAS ADOPTED PERSONAL TEACHING GOALS. OBJECTIVE ENVISAGED FIVE YEAR PLAN BRILLIANTLY OUTSTRIPPED. FERVENTLY PRAYING SHRINES SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES GROUPS INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS EVERY LAND WILL BE INSPIRED FOLLOW THIS EXAMPLE.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

179

Achievement of the Majority of Pioneer Goals at Midpoint of Five Year Plan

21 October 1976

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

179.1 JOYFULLY ANNOUNCE REALIZATION HOPE EXPRESSED IN JANUARY 1975 THAT BY MIDWAY POINT FIVE YEAR PLAN MOST PIONEER POSTS BE SETTLED.+F403 OUT OF THESE 962 POSTS 612 ALREADY FILLED THROUGH SETTLEMENT 1374 PIONEERS. 350 POSTS STILL REMAIN UNFILLED BUT 227 VOLUNTEERS HAVE ARISEN AND ARE BEING PROCESSED FOR SETTLEMENT THESE GOALS. CALL WITH URGENT INSISTENCE ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES WITH UNFILLED PIONEER GOALS EXPEDITE FULFILMENT ASSIGNMENTS COUNTRIES STILL NEEDING URGENT SUPPORT. PRAYING HOLY SHRINES BOUNTIFUL BLESSINGS ALL WHO HAVE ARISEN PIONEER FIELDS VARIOUS LANDS AND WHO WILL ARISE DURING FAST FLEETING MONTHS BEFORE RIDVAN 1977 WIN OUTSTANDING PIONEER GOALS FIVE YEAR PLAN.

[F403. See message no. 155.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p345>

180

Additional Appointments to Continental Boards of Counsellors

31 October 1976

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

180.1 The Universal House of Justice announces with pleasure that it has appointed three new Counsellors as follows:

Dr Peter Khan -- to the Continental Board of Counsellors in Australasia

Dr Hidayatu'llah Ahmadiyyih -- to the Continental Board of Counsellors in Central America

Mr Angus Cowan -- to the Continental Board of Counsellors in North America.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

181

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Hong Kong -- November 1976

November 1976

To the friends assembled at the International Teaching Conference in Hong Kong

Dearly loved friends,

181.1 With grateful and joyous hearts we extend our warmest greetings and express our highest hopes to the followers of Baha'u'llah gathered, at this critical point of the Five Year Plan, in this Conference on Asia's eastern shore. This great continent has nourished mighty civilizations; above its horizons the suns of major Revelations of God have risen; on its soil many of the heroes of this New Age have shed their blood and offered their lives in token of their love for Him Who is the Beloved of the World and the Desire of the Nations.

181.2 What an imperishable glory has been bestowed upon the people of Asia, the first to be illumined by the rays of God's Faith, the first recipients of His Call and the first promoters of His Cause. Their spiritual capacity is extolled and the great role they are destined to play in the strengthening of the foundation of the New World Order of Baha'u'llah unhesitatingly affirmed by 'Abdu'l-Baha in His Tablets of the Divine Plan.+F404

[F404. See TDP 7.5, 7.10, 8.21.]

<p346>

181.3 This great continent contains within its boundaries the heart of the Faith and its Cradle, the lands wherein its Founders toiled and suffered, and not only the great majority of the human race but the great majority of the followers of Baha'u'llah. The potentiality of such a situation cannot be underestimated, nor must the great force latent within so large a proportion of the Army of Light be neglected. They must be mobilized to accelerate the expansion of the beloved Cause, to consolidate its victories, to enhance its prestige and to augment its influence. We appeal to every participant in this historic Conference to become conscious of these tremendous but hidden potentialities which, if properly tapped and directed, can hasten the process of the spiritualization of the nations of Asia, the influence of which will extend far beyond the confines of that continent -- even to the entire planet.

181.4 We eagerly await news that from this Conference will surge throughout Asia a wave of vigorous activity devoted to the execution on the individual, local and national levels, of systematic plans designed to attract the great masses of that continent to the life-giving, all-embracing Message of Baha'u'llah. Such plans must provide opportunities for those thousands who in recent years have swelled the rank and file, as well as for those veterans who have, for so many years, striven in the path of service to the Cause. It is through active participation of more and more new believers in both teaching and administration that the consolidation of the Baha'i community can best be achieved.

181.5 In a continent so richly endowed, so greatly blessed, new generations of Baha'is must continually be raised up, trained from childhood in the school of the love of God, and nurtured under the shadow of His Cause. Baha'is in every country must be constantly urged and, wherever necessary, assisted to pass on to their children as their most cherished legacy, the precious Faith they themselves have embraced. Those new generations of Baha'is will have a vital role in consolidating the Cause of God on a firm foundation.

181.6 The establishment of Local Assemblies as the basic administrative unit of the World Order of Baha'u'llah and as rallying points for the Baha'is of every community should, in accordance with the objectives of the Five Year Plan, be multiplied no matter at what cost of effort and endurance. The process of invigorating the Local Assemblies requires, during the Five Year Plan, the consultation of all the institutions of the Cause.

181.7 Publication of literature in many languages as part of a determined campaign to win thousands upon thousands of diverse peoples in all spheres of life must be vigorously pursued. Participation of all believers in supporting the Baha'i Funds, the lifeblood of the Cause, must be given adequate attention, and the blessings which reward the act of voluntary giving for the promotion of the Faith, no matter how small the amount may be, must be lovingly and wisely explained.

<p347>

181.8 May this Conference become a landmark in the process of attracting vast numbers of the great Chinese race scattered throughout the world. May it be a prelude to the unprecedented expansion of the Faith in all the countries of Asia. May it become a source of strength to the supporters of the Most Great Name so that despite the rising tide of trials and upheavals afflicting the world, and whatever forces of opposition may be mounted against the Cause of God itself, the believers will not waver or become diverted from their course, but be ever more confirmed in their determination to raise the edifice of the Faith of God as the last bastion of hope to a lost and wayward humanity.

The Universal House of Justice

 

182

Grappling with the Challenge of Consolidation

2 December 1976

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States

Dear Baha'i friends,

182.1 Your letter of 12 October 1976 proposing the establishment of an International Human Development Centre has caused us concern for a number of reasons.+F405 It is true that in our letter of 23 December 1975 we stated: "We feel that it is for your Assembly to decide what methods should be employed to bring about the desired result," but your present proposals are a great enlargement and development of the concepts outlined in your letter of 5 December 1975 and involve the establishment of an institution with international ramifications requiring financial assistance from beyond the confines of your own community.

[F405. After Davison Baha'i School in Davison, Michigan, closed in 1974, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States made plans to use the property for an International Human Development Centre that was to include, among other things, a demonstration school and formal study in education at the postgraduate level. In response to guidance from the Universal House of Justice, a more modest facility, the Louhelen Baha'i School, was opened in 1982. It was designed to serve as a Baha'i conference centre and as a site for summer and winter school programmes.]

182.2 We are acutely aware of the varied problems of community and character development that the American Baha'i community faces. They are problems that in varying ways and to different degrees face every Baha'i community in the world. In many countries they are further complicated by grinding poverty, widespread illiteracy, religious persecution or compulsory political indoctrination.

<p348>

182.3 As you quite correctly observe, Baha'i Administration should make use of whatever expertise or appropriate instruments are available, whether Baha'i' or non- Baha'i, for the attainment of its objectives. But this is not the same as establishing a quasi-Baha'i institution under Baha'i auspices based on one particular theory. It is far too early in the development of the Faith and of the social sciences for the Administrative Order thus to promote one particular system or theory of education. A similar situation exists in the field of psychology. As you are well aware, many people come into the Faith needing psychiatric treatment, and it is often very difficult for them to find a psychiatrist who will not urge them to some course of behaviour which is contrary to the teachings of the Faith. There are a number of Baha'i psychologists and psychiatrists who are endeavouring to develop their skills in the light of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, and use can certainly be made of their services where available -- but it would be premature to consider establishing a Baha'i School of Psychology. ...

The Gradual Unfoldment of Baha'i Education

182.4 The grave problems faced by Baha'i 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-Baha'i educational system or to provide a world-wide network of Baha'i schools. Both ways are very long-term projects beyond the capacity of the Baha'i community at this time. Already, of course, Baha'i 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 Baha'i 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 Baha'i children needing education, and the availability of other suitable schools. Perhaps in certain parts of the United States there are sufficiently large concentrations of Baha'i children to make the running of a private Baha'i 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.

182.5 Failing a nation-wide system of Baha'i schools, the establishment of which is clearly out of the question at this stage of the growth of the Cause in the <p349> United States, Baha'i parents will continue to be faced with the problems caused by the exposure of their children to irreligious and immoral attitudes, behaviour, and even instruction, from their fellow pupils and their teachers. This is a great challenge to Baha'i parents, to the Baha'i children themselves, and to the Spiritual Assemblies. It was to assist in meeting such challenges that we recently issued the compilation of Baha'i prayers for children and that on Baha'i education.+F406 Your Assembly is correct in its view that a major effort will have to be exerted to raise the number and quality of Baha'i children's classes, and to assist Baha'i parents to bring up their children as firm Baha'is able to withstand the moral and spiritual poisons and temptations of the society around them. ...

[F406. Baha'i Prayers and Tablets for the Young and Baha'i Education.]

The Spiritual Nature of Personal Transformation

182.6 In addition to the specific problems of child education, you instance the difficulties of local communities which are faced with the task of reorienting and integrating into the Cause new believers who enter with all sorts of immoral and even criminal tendencies from their former life. This is indeed difficult, but this is the very stuff of the work of the Cause. The Baha'i Faith not only provides teachings in accordance with which the behaviour of human beings can be reformed, but also makes available a spiritual power which reinforces the devoted efforts of every believer, whether veteran or neophyte. Arising to serve the Cause has, itself, a transforming effect upon believers, as the beloved Guardian wrote with respect to service upon Spiritual Assemblies: "If we but turn our gaze to the high qualifications of the members of Baha'i Assemblies, as enumerated in 'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets, we are filled with feelings of unworthiness and dismay, and would feel truly disheartened but for the comforting thought that if we arise 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."+F407 Thus, what is most imperative for the promotion of the spiritual life of local Baha'i communities is the stimulation of the believers to increase their devotion to Baha'u'llah, their absolute reliance upon Him and upon His love, and their determination to apply His teachings in every aspect of their lives. This stimulation can be conveyed from heart to heart and mind to mind by devoted Baha'is without the need of formal training. ...

[F407. BA, p. 88.]

The Auxiliary Board: A Potent Aid to Consultation

182.7 As we pointed out previously, you have already initiated excellent programmes; we continually receive evidence of the enthusiasm with which they have been received by local communities in the United States. You should persevere with these programmes, expanding and supplementing them as necessary <p350> with others that you may judge desirable for the work of the Cause in the conditions of each of the widely diverse areas of your vast national territory. 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 Baha'is 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 Baha'i endeavour. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings, The Universal House of Justice

 

183 Call for a Vigorous Travelling Teaching Programme

19 December 1976

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

183.1 Now that we have passed the midway point of the Five Year Plan and through the grace of the Blessed Beauty the processes which it has set in motion in every continent are gaining momentum, we observe almost daily with awe and admiration how abundant are the blessings which surround the efforts of the devoted believers who are delivering His divine Message with dedication, enthusiasm and perseverance, and how infinitely vast and challenging are the possibilities for the future.

183.2 One of the activities which must be given greater attention, both nationally and internationally, is travel teaching to localities which are in need of consolidation and stimulation. While teaching projects of short duration, in terms of days and one or two weeks, are useful, the time has come for long-term teaching projects of three to six months and possibly more, as envisaged in the Five Year Plan, to be more vigorously prosecuted in every continent, so that more lasting results may accrue from these teaching trips and the rich harvest anticipated at the outset of the Plan may become a reality, imparting its inestimable benefits to the devoted labourers in His divine Vineyard.

183.3 It is hoped that those who will arise will be mostly self-supporting or supported by private deputization, and that the funds of the Faith, nationally for <p351> projects on the home-front, and internationally for projects in foreign fields, will be requested only when the individual concerned is regarded as well qualified and there is no other source of funds available to him.

183.4 We hope that National Assemblies whose assignments include international travel teaching projects will make a special appeal to the friends under their jurisdiction calling on them to meet this new challenge. If this urgent call, which is directed to all believers in every land, is answered with promptness and enthusiasm by those whose personal circumstances permit, great advances will be made towards fulfilling the hitherto sorely neglected teaching goals of the Plan. While the youth can through their creative resourcefulness and energetic labours effectively support the work ahead, believers from the older age groups can be a valuable asset in the achievement of the goals through their experience, knowledge and wisdom.

183.5 Our prayers are offered frequently at the Holy Shrines for the infinite blessings of the Abha Beauty to reinforce every step you take in strengthening and broadening the foundations of the Faith in the areas entrusted to your care.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

184

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Auckland, New Zealand -- January 1977

January 1977

To the friends assembled at the International Teaching Conference in Auckland

Dearly loved friends,

184.1 With hearts full of love and admiration for the followers of the Most Great Name in Australasia we send our warmest greetings to all assembled in this historic gathering in the heart of the Antipodes.

184.2 How great is your place in Baha'i history! How bright are the prospects for the future of the Cause so lovingly nurtured for more than half a century by hundreds of stalwart steadfast believers, spiritual heirs of Hyde and Clara Dunn, who in direct response to the Tablets of the Divine Plan forsook their home and went to pioneer in Australia, and whose names, Shoghi Effendi wrote, were "graven in letters of gold" upon his heart.+F408 In March 1951, when <p352> in the entire Pacific area there was but one National Spiritual Assembly, the beloved Guardian predicted that "The prizes destined for the heroic warriors, battling for the Cause of Baha'u'llah throughout the Southern Hemisphere, and particularly Australasia, are glorious beyond compare. The assistance to be vouchsafed to them from on high in their struggle for its establishment, its recognition and triumph is ready to be poured forth in astonishing abundance."+F409

[F409. LFG, p. 94.]

[F408. Mr and Mrs Dunn left their home in San Francisco and sailed to Sydney, arriving on 18 April 1920. They remained in Australia until their deaths in 1941 and 1960, respectively. Shoghi Effendi appointed Mrs Dunn a Hand of the Cause of God on 29 February 1952; Mr Dunn was named a Hand of the Cause of God posthumously. For an account of the life and services of Mr Dunn, see BW 9:593-97; for Mrs Dunn, see BW 13:859-62.]

184.3 Now, twenty-five years later, the achievements are truly astounding. Beginning with the establishment of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of New Zealand at Ridvan 1957, the number of National Assemblies has increased eleven-fold; the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Antipodes has been erected near Sydney; His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II of Western Samoa has become the first reigning monarch to embrace the Cause of Baha'u'llah;+F410 the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies now stands at over 360; and the number of localities where Baha'is reside in this vast oceanic area covering well-nigh one-eighth of the earth's surface is more than 1,800. These accomplishments doubtless have been a source of great joy to the immortal soul of Shoghi Effendi, whose esteem and affection for the followers of Baha'u'llah labouring for His Cause in the Antipodes was frequently expressed in glowing terms in his letters to the Assemblies and friends in Australasia.

[F410. For the announcement of His Highness acceptance of the Baha'i Faith, see message dated 7 May 1973 (no. 130); for his visit to the resting-place of Shoghi Effendi, see message dated 5 October 1976 (no. 177).]

184.4 Dear friends, we have now passed the midpoint of the Five Year Plan. You are met in the beautiful city of Auckland to take stock and to make plans for attaining the victories which will surely be yours.

184.5 The National Spiritual Assemblies of the New Hebrides and of the Marshall Islands are to be raised up next Ridvan; plans for the soon-to-be-erected Mashriqu'l- Adhkar of Samoa are in process; but although the goal of establishing Baha'i centres totalling 2,188 is within easy reach, the Local Assembly goals assigned to each national community, totalling 613, need prompt and decisive attention. The divine assistance spoken of by the beloved Guardian in 1951 has ever been available, and is still "ready to be poured forth in astonishing abundance."+F411 It is within your power during the coming year to win all assigned teaching goals, leaving the final year of the Plan for consolidation and the winning of supplementary victories.

[F411. LFG, p. 96. For reports on the appointment of the architect for the House of Worship in Samoa, see message dated 15 May 1978 (no. 210); on the excavation of the construction site, see message dated 6 December 1979 (no. 242); for the dedication, see message dated August 1984 (no. 403).]

184.6 This will be achieved, not by resting on laurels, but by manifesting those qualities of faith, judgement, vision, loyalty, courage and self-sacrifice which <p353> earned the Guardian's praise so frequently in past decades. Let the valiant Australasian Baha'i communities vie once more with their sister communities throughout the world for the palm of victory and maintain their position in the vanguard of the Army of Light.

184.7 Pioneers, travelling teachers and a fresh outpouring of funds are essential ingredients to the onward march of the Cause throughout Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific. Let those who can offer their valued services to the teaching work arise without delay; let those who cannot travel or pioneer deputize those who can go in their stead.

184.8 We cherish the highest hopes for the success of your endeavours and it is our constant prayer that Baha'u'llah will shower His richest blessings and confirmations upon you.

The Universal House of Justice

 

185

Message To The International Teaching Conference, Bahia, Brazil -- January 1977

January 1977

To the followers of Baha'u'llah gathered at the International Teaching Conference in Bahia, Brazil

Dearly loved friends,

185.1 With joyous hearts we hail the convocation of this first of the twin Latin American Conferences closing the series of eight International Baha'i Conferences held during the midway period of the Five Year Plan.

185.2 The ringing call of Baha'u'llah in His Most Holy Book to the Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein was followed after an interval of more than four decades by the revelation of 'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets of the Divine Plan in which the beloved Master stressed the importance of the Republics of the South American Continent.+F412

[F412. See PB, p. 63; see also CF, pp. 18-19, and TDP 6.11, 14.7.]

185.3 The first believer to respond to 'Abdu'l-Baha's divine call was that star-servant of the Cause of Baha'u'llah, valiant, indomitable Martha Root, who in 1919 visited many important cities in South America.+F413 Two years later Leonora Holsapple Armstrong, mother of the Baha'is of Brazil, settled in Bahia.+F414 The <p354> teaching work in the continent progressed steadily to the point where, in 1937, the beloved Guardian launched his first Seven Year Plan paving the way for the raising in subsequent Plans of the institution of Baha'u'llah Administrative Order in every one of its republics and in its islands. It was in the course of that first Seven Year Plan that 'Abdu'l-Baha's beloved handmaid, May Maxwell, in 1940 won a martyr's crown when she laid down her life in Argentina, thereby adding further lustre to the spiritual history of South America.+F415

[F415. In 1940 at the age of seventy, after a life of dedicated service, May Maxwell arose to pioneer and died shortly after her arrival in Buenos Aires. For an account of her life and service to the Faith, see BW 18:631-42.]

[F414. Leonora Armstrong, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors from 1973 through 1980, died in Bahia, Brazil, on 17 October 1980. For an account of her life and service to the Faith, see BW 18:733-38.]

[F413. Upon her passing in 1939 Martha Root was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God by Shoghi Effendi. See Mabel Garis, Martha Root, pp. 87-112.]

185.4 How truly fitting, then, that this auspicious Conference have its venue in the city of Bahia, singled out for special mention by 'Abdu'l-Baha in His Tablets of the Divine Plan.+F416 And how timely it is at this crucial point in the Five Year Plan that the friends gathered in Bahia from many lands prayerfully consider, and arise to prosecute expeditiously all measures aimed at achieving glorious victory in all goals of the Plan.

[F416. See TDP 6.11, 14.7.]

185.5 Noteworthy progress has been achieved in many fields of service throughout the South American Baha'i community, particularly in attracting to the Cause large numbers of its indigenous peoples. But myriads of pure-hearted souls have not yet heard the clarion call of Baha'u'llah and hungrily await the spiritual nourishment that only His followers can give them.

185.6 Steps must be taken to attract members of every stratum of society to the divine circle of the Faith through effective proclamation and teaching. Greater utilization of radio broadcasts is necessary, not only to reach all levels of society but also to deepen the believers themselves. The valuable and dynamic services of Baha'i youth must be multiplied in the fields of pioneering and travel teaching. A far wider dissemination of Baha'i literature must be accompanied by a continuous programme of translation of the Sacred Text into the major indigenous languages of the continent.

185.7 The continental goals for South America of 8,670 centres and 2,293 Local Spiritual Assemblies must be won, and may even be surpassed, for every country must achieve the goals assigned to it. This calls for the dedicated effort of every National Spiritual Assembly, every Local Spiritual Assembly and indeed every believer. All the divinely ordained instruments of the Administrative Order of Baha'u'llah must now unite in executing a symphony of victory in all the unfinished goals of the Five Year Plan, winning thereby the good pleasure of the Blessed Beauty.

185.8 Beloved friends, go forward with complete assurance that a continent so rich in spiritual promise, so diverse in its peoples and races, so fertile for the <p355> planting of the seeds of Baha'u'llah's Faith will yield a brilliant harvest for all who

labour in that Divine Vineyard.

185.9 It is our fervent loving prayer at the Sacred Threshold that Baha'u'llah's

bountiful confirmations and richest blessings may be showered upon you.

The Universal House of Justice

 

186

Signature of Contract for Erection of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice

10 January 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

186.1 JOYFULLY ANNOUNCE SIGNATURE AGREEMENT GENERAL CONTRACTOR FOR ERECTION SEAT UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE AT COST JUST OVER TWO MILLION DOLLARS.+F417 FIRST SHIPMENT FINISHED MARBLE DELIVERED SITE. LOVING GREETINGS.

[F417. This general contract related to the initial phase of construction and totalled $2,250,000.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

187

Message to the International Teaching Conference, Merida, Mexico -- February 1977

February 1977

To the followers of Baha'u'llah gathered at the International Teaching Conference in Merida, Mexico

Dearly loved friends,

187.1 With joyous hearts and eager anticipation we send warmest greetings to you the participants in the last of the eight great International Teaching Conferences marking the halfway point of the Five Year Plan.

187.2 The convening of this Conference in the Republic of Mexico, in the capital city of a state that was once an important part of a great Indian empire, provides a unique opportunity to initiate what may well become the widespread reawakening of a people whose ancestors more than 1,200 years ago developed one of the most brilliant pre- Columbian civilizations known to modern man. These present-day descendants, many of whom have already embraced the Faith of Baha'u'llah and who consider the Yucatan Peninsula <p356> and the seacoast lowlands and rugged spine of mountains joining North and South America to be their homeland, are among the very people mentioned by 'Abdu'l-Baha in His Tablets of the Divine Plan as having a great destiny once they have accepted His Father's Cause.+F418 Here, too, and throughout Middle America, are those whose forefathers came from the Iberian Peninsula, Africa, and the Far East linking the Old with the New World.

[F418. See TDP 6.8.]

187.3 Conscious of 'Abdu'l-Baha's impassioned plea to promulgate the oneness of mankind to a spiritually impoverished humanity, a handful of itinerant Baha'i' teachers set forth four decades ago, traversed the land bridge connecting the two continents of the Western Hemisphere and carried the healing Message of Baha'u'llah to the Spanish- American Republics. Their dedicated efforts were rewarded when, in 1938, the first Local Spiritual Assembly in Latin America was formed in Mexico City. This initial triumph at the inception of the first of the teaching plans formulated by Shoghi Effendi spearheaded other victories leading to the formation of two, then of four Regional Spiritual Assemblies and ultimately to the establishment of National Spiritual Assemblies in each of the republics of Latin America and in the islands of the Caribbean.

187.4 Praiseworthy indeed were these achievements but the Baha'i communities of Central America and the West Indies must not be content to rest on these laurels. The beloved Guardian during the last months of his precious life continually urged the friends of Latin America to pursue what he described as "the paramount task," the teaching work.+F419 How much more does that injunction apply today! In less than thirty months, approximately 900 groups and isolated centres and over 400 Local Spiritual Assemblies must be added to those already existing in the mainland and island nations of Middle America!

[F419. From an unpublished letter.]

187.5 To accomplish this challenging task, intensive effort to attract new believers, be they black, brown, red or white, from all strata of society must be exerted. Hand in hand with this endeavour, particularly in local communities, goes the development of the distinctive character of Baha'i life. Prompt attention must also be given to the acquisition of local Haziratu'l-Quds and endowments; and the translation and publication of Baha'i literature, especially in indigenous languages, must be accelerated.

187.6 Dear friends, if at the close of the Five Year Plan we are to witness the ensigns of victory lifted high, the wholehearted support of the followers of Baha'u'llah must be enlisted now and their energies systematically channelled into areas most in need. We cherish the hope that at this final Conference the friends will arise with enthusiasm and determination not only to win the remaining goals of the Plan but to carry out Shoghi Effendi's injunction to win the allegiance of members of the various tribes of American Indians to <p357> the Cause, thereby hastening the period prophesied by the Master when the Indian peoples of America would become a source of spiritual illumination to the world.

187.7 Our hearts, our hopes and our prayers will be with you during all the days of your deliberations. May Baha'u'llah inspire each and every one of you.

The Universal House of Justice

188

Release of a Compilation on the Individual and Teaching

3 March 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

188.1 The cornerstone of the foundation of all Baha'i activity is teaching the Cause. As 'Abdu'l-Baha 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."+F420

[F420. WT, pp. 10, 25.]

188.2 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, "confirmations from the unseen world are encompassing all those who deliver the divine Message." He further states, "should the work of teaching lapse, these confirmations would be entirely cut off, since it is impossible for the loved ones of God to receive assistance unless they teach."+F421

[F421. A translation from TABA 2:390 has been replaced by one from SWAB, sec. 209, pp. 264-65.]

188.3 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. This is now ready and a copy is enclosed.+F422

[F422. See CC II:293-326.]

188.4 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 <p358> arise to speak forth announcing the glad-tidings of the Kingdom to their fellowmen, 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 fulfil its principal obligation. For instance, Local Assemblies could be urged to organize special meetings when texts, such as those included in the 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 Baha'i 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 Baha'i 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:

188.4a 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 wholehearted, continuous and generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs is foredoomed to failure. The World Centre of the Faith itself is paralyzed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself+F423 is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking. The sustaining strength of Baha'u'llah 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.+F424

[F424. CF, pp. 130-31.]

[F423. 'Abdu'l-Baha.]

<p359>

188.5 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.

188.6 It is the hope and prayer of the Universal House of Justice that each National Spiritual Assembly will do its utmost to constantly encourage the friends to participate in what Shoghi Effendi calls "the most essential, the most urgent of all our obligations," and what must be "the dominating passion of our life," and follow the example of the Apostles of Christ who, as testified by 'Abdu'l-Baha, "forgot themselves and all earthly things, forsook all their cares and belongings, purged themselves of self and passion ... till at last they made the world another world, illumined the surface of the earth and even to their last hour proved self-sacrificing in the pathway of that beloved One of God. ... Let them that are men of action follow in their footSteps!"+F425

[F425. BA, pp. 42, 68; WT, pp. 10-11.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

189

Consolidation of Local Spiritual Assemblies; Formation at Any Time during Ridvan

6 March 1977

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

189.1 The establishment and strong growth of Local Spiritual Assemblies is one of the most fundamental requirements for the spread of the Message of Baha'u'llah, the development of Baha'i community life and the emergence of a transformed society. This theme has been made one of the central goals of the Five Year Plan, and National Spiritual Assemblies, aided by their committees, have been making strenuous efforts to establish new Local Spiritual Assemblies and to consolidate those which have lapsed or are in need of strengthening.

189.2 Already a number of specific steps have been taken by the Universal House of Justice to assist National Spiritual Assemblies towards the attainment of these objectives. The most far-reaching of these steps is the authority given to members of the Auxiliary Boards to appoint assistants whose primary aim is <p360> to stimulate and assist the believers to bring into being and to consolidate Local Spiritual Assemblies in all localities where nine or more Baha'is reside, and to advise and assist these Assemblies in the performance of their God-given duties. The effects of the appointment of assistants by Auxiliary Board members are beginning to appear and will undoubtedly bear more and more fruit as the months pass.

189.3 Nevertheless, it is of concern to the Universal House of Justice that, in spite of the efforts of the National Spiritual Assemblies and the Auxiliary Boards and of all the believers who are labouring 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 of the spread of the Faith where there has been a rapid acceptance of the Message of Baha'u'llah by people who, because of factors such as illiteracy, unfamiliarity with the concepts of Baha'i administration, or an attitude to the calendar and the passage of time that is different from that of city-dwellers, fail to re-elect their Spiritual Assemblies on the First Day of Ridvan. National Assemblies are striving to send pioneers and travelling teachers to deepen such believers in their understanding of the teachings and administrative principles of the Faith, but often the localities in which they dwell are remote from the other friends or difficult to reach, and there are, in any case, too few well-grounded believers who can be sent on such projects.

189.4 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.+F426 This is not a general permission to all Local Spiritual Assemblies; it is intended only for those which are affected by factors such as those mentioned above, and it is for your Assembly to decide the areas or Assemblies in your country to which it will apply. The aim is still to so consolidate all communities that they will elect their Assemblies regularly on the First Day of Ridvan.

[F426. Referring to the provision for forming Local Spiritual Assemblies in certain localities anytime during the Ridvan Festival, the Universal House of Justice, in a letter dated 19 February 1979 to all National Spiritual Assemblies (no. 219), explained that, "until further notice, it is permissible to follow this procedure every Ridvan where it is called for." This ruling remained in effect until Ridvan 1997.]

189.5 It is hoped that this decision will do much to help you consolidate the communities throughout your area of jurisdiction. It does not change the permission given at the beginning of the Five Year Plan for new Assemblies, being formed for the first time, to be formed at any time during the year.+F427

[F427. See message no. 141.]

<p361>

189.6 We shall supplicate the Blessed Perfection to reinforce with the Hosts of Heaven every effort you make towards this vital objective.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

190

Ridvan Message 1977

24 March 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

190.1 REJOICE OUTSTANDING EVENTS AND ACHIEVEMENTS MARKING MID YEAR FIVE YEAR PLAN: PUBLICATION IN ENGLISH SELECTION WRITINGS BLESSED BAB OPENING TO EYES WESTERN FOLLOWERS FAITH A PRICELESS TREASURY HIS IMMORTAL UTTERANCES, A BOUNTY WHICH CANNOT FAIL DRAW HEARTS EVER NEARER YOUTHFUL MARTYR-PROPHET,+F428 SUCCESSFUL HOLDING EIGHT INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES, BLAZONING NAME CAUSE GOD BEFORE A RECEPTIVE PUBLIC, KNITTING MORE CLOSELY TIES LINKING FRIENDS ALL LANDS, RESULTING UPSURGE INTENSE ACTIVITY TEACHING PIONEERING, CONFERRING AWARENESS URGENT CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY GOALS PLAN THIS CRITICAL PERIOD;+F429 PROFOUNDLY SIGNIFICANT VISIT TO RESTING-PLACE BELOVED GUARDIAN BY FIRST REIGNING MONARCH TO ACCEPT FAITH BAHA'U'LLAH;+F430 DEPARTURE FORMER TENANTS HOUSE 'ABDU'LLAH PASHA ENABLING FAITH OBTAIN POSSESSION RECENTLY PURCHASED HOLY PLACE INITIATE PROCESS RESTORATION PREPARATION EVENTUAL OPENING TO VISITS BY PILGRIMS;+F431 ARRIVAL HAIFA FIRST FOUR CONSIGNMENTS MARBLE AND INITIATION ACTUAL CONSTRUCTION SEAT UNIVERSAL HOUSE JUSTICE MOUNT CARMEL; APPOINTMENT THREE ADDITIONAL COUNSELLORS NORTH CENTRAL AMERICA AUSTRALASIA; ATTAINMENT GOAL SETTLEMENT MIDWAY POINT PLAN MAJORITY PIONEERS CALLED FOR DURING FIRST PHASE ACCOMPANIED GREAT OUTFLOW INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLING TEACHERS; DRAMATIC RESURGENCE TEACHING WORK CRADLE FAITH BY INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS UNDER LOCAL PLANS; FINALLY, ELECTION THIS RIDVAN SIX NEW PILLARS UNIVERSAL HOUSE JUSTICE, NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES OF UPPER VOLTA IN AFRICA, OF THE FRENCH ANTILLES IN THE CARIBBEAN, OF SURINAM AND FRENCH GUIANA IN SOUTH AMERICA, OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS AND OF THE NEW <p362> HEBRIDES IN PACIFIC OCEAN, AND OF GREECE IN EUROPE, RAISING TOTAL NUMBER NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES TO 123 TO TAKE PART IN FOURTH ELECTION UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE IN HOLY LAND DURING RIDVAN 1978.

[F431. See message dated 9 January 1975 (no. 154) regarding the acquisition of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha. For an account of the significance of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha, see message no. 157.]

[F430. For the announcement of the visit of His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II of Western Samoa to Shoghi Effendi's resting-place, see message dated 5 October 1976 (no. 177).]

[F429. The eight conferences were held between July 1976 and February 1977 in Helsinki, Finland; Anchorage, Alaska; Paris, France; Nairobi, Kenya; Hong Kong; Auckland, New Zealand; Bahia, Brazil; and Merida, Mexico.]

[F428. See Selections from the Writings of the Bab (1976).]

190.2 NATIONAL CONVENTIONS IN 1978 WILL BE ON WEEKEND PRECEDING OR FOLLOWING 23 MAY FEAST DECLARATION BAB. CALL FOR FORMATION AT THAT TIME SIX MORE NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES: BURUNDI AND MAURITANIA IN AFRICA, THE BAHAMAS IN AMERICA, OMAN AND QATAR IN ASIA, AND THE MARIANA ISLANDS IN THE PACIFIC.

190.3 PRESENT RATE GROWTH COMMUNITY PROSPECT ACCELERATION PROCESS ENTRY BY TROOPS ITS SPREAD NEW AREAS IMPEL US STRENGTHEN STILL FURTHER THE AUXILIARY BOARDS WHOSE SERVICES SO VITAL SOUND DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY ANNOUNCE AUTHORIZATION INCREASE MEMBERSHIP BOARDS BY 297 RAISING TOTAL TO 675 OF WHICH 279 ARE AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS FOR PROTECTION AND 396 FOR PROPAGATION OF FAITH.

190.4 IN EARLY DAYS OF JUNE 1877 BAHA'U'LLAH LEFT CITY 'AKKA AND TOOK UP RESIDENCE IN MAZRA'IH. TO MARK CENTENARY THIS TERMINATION CONFINEMENT ANCIENT BEAUTY WITHIN WALLS PRISON CITY WE CALL UPON HIS FOLLOWERS ALL LANDS DEVOTE NINETEEN DAY FEAST OF NUR+F432 COMMEMORATION HISTORIC EVENT, REDEDICATING THEMSELVES URGENT TASKS BEFORE THEM, SO THAT PENT-UP ENERGIES HIS PRECIOUS FAITH MAY BE RELEASED TO REACH EVER GREATER NUMBER SEEKING SOULS IN EVER WIDER CIRCLE THEIR FELLOWMEN.

[F432. The Feast of Light, 5 June 1977.]

190.5 GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING FOLLOWERS BAHA'U'LLAH LAST TWO YEARS PLAN IS IN FIELDS EXPANSION CONSOLIDATION. TREMENDOUS UPSURGE NEEDED IN SERVICES INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS ON WHOSE DEEDS ULTIMATELY ALL PROGRESS DEPENDS. MOMENTUM GENERATED BY INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES MUST BE ACCELERATED WITHOUT DELAY AND SPIRIT RELEASED MUST PERMEATE ALL COMMUNITIES. GREAT INCREASE MUST TAKE PLACE IN ENTHUSIASTIC TEACHING CARRIED OUT WITH CONFIDENCE, IMAGINATION AND PERSEVERANCE BY YOUNG AND OLD, RICH AND POOR, LEARNED AND ILLITERATE, WHETHER AT HOME OR TRAVELLING. PARTICULARLY CALL UPON BAHA'I WOMEN, WHOSE CAPACITIES IN MANY LANDS STILL LARGELY UNUSED, AND WHOSE POTENTIAL FOR SERVICE CAUSE SO GREAT, TO ARISE AND DEMONSTRATE IMPORTANCE PART THEY ARE TO PLAY IN ALL FIELDS SERVICE FAITH.

190.6 BOUNTIES IN ABUNDANCE WAITING DESCEND FROM SUPREME CONCOURSE. THAT THE FRIENDS OF GOD WILL NOW SURGE AHEAD WITH RESOLUTE RADIANT SPIRITS IN EVERY CONTINENT ISLANDS OF THE SEAS, TO BRING MESSAGE OF BAHA'U'LLAH TO WAITING SOULS WIN THEIR ALLEGIANCE HIS CAUSE, ENSURING OVERWHELMING VICTORY PLAN TO WHICH THEY ARE NOW COMMITTED, IS OUR HIGH HOPE AND ARDENT PRAYER AT SACRED THRESHOLD.

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p363>

190.7 Auxiliary Boards -- Ridvan 1977

Former Present New

Number Increase Total

Africa

Protection: Northern 5 - 5

Western 11 13 24

Central and East 13 23 36

Southern 7 9 16

36 81

 

Propagation: Northern 5 - 5

Western 14 19 33

Central and East 19 17 36

Southern 16 9 25

54 99

 

Western Hemisphere

Protection: North America 9 9 18

Central America 11 7 18

South America 16 2 18

36 54

 

Propagation: North America 18 9 27

Central America 16 11 27

South America 38 25 63

72 117

 

Asia

Protection: Western 9 9 18

South Central 6 30 36

North-eastern 3 15 18

South-eastern 9 18 27

27 99

 

Propagation: Western 18 18 36

South Central 30 6 36

North-eastern 15 3 18

South-eastern 27 - 27

90 117

 

Australasia

Protection: 9 9 18

Propagation: 18 9 27

 

Europe

Protection: 9 18 27

Propagation: 27 9 36

 

TOTAL 611 135 396

Total Protection 117 162 279

Total Propagation 2611 135 396

<p364>

191

Call for Pioneers

26 May 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

191.1 We are gratified that so many pioneers have settled in the territories scheduled under the two pioneer calls of the Five Year Plan.

191.2 We have just completed a review of the current status of the Plan in consultation with the International Teaching Centre, and it became obvious that a new pioneer call is needed. A new list of pioneer assignments is enclosed, from which you will see that 462 pioneers must arise to settle in specified territories. These pioneers should proceed to their posts as soon as possible to lend their support to the vital local teaching work, in time to participate in winning the remaining goals and in consolidating the work prior to the conclusion of the Plan.

191.3 In view of the difficulties that nationals of certain countries are experiencing in settling in the goal countries assigned to their national community, some adjustments, and in certain cases deletions, have been made in the few unfilled goals. Therefore this pioneer call includes all outstanding goals. Any National Assembly finding that its prior unfilled assignments have not been carried forward should realize that alternative solutions have been found. However, if at the time National Assemblies receive this list some of their prospective pioneers are well advanced in their preparations to proceed to their posts, nothing should be done to prevent their going forward with their plans. We hope that the pioneers already in the field will remain at their posts and that the National Spiritual Assemblies will encourage them, and if necessary provide the means required to enable them to continue their worthy labours in their respective fields of service.

191.4 It is our fervent hope and prayer that this new outflow of pioneers will provide a stimulus to the teaching work throughout the world. We realize the heavy commitments that many National Spiritual Assemblies called upon to provide pioneer manpower have in respect to their home-front goals, but in view of the world-wide needs of the Plan, we trust that every effort will be made to respond to this call, and not only pave the way for a triumphal conclusion of the Plan in 1979, but reinforce the efforts now being exerted to lay firm foundations for the spread and development of the precious Faith of God in every land.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p365>

192

Commemoration of the Centenary of the Termination of Baha'u'llah's Confinement in 'Akka

June 1977

192.1 IN EARLY DAYS OF JUNE 1877 BAHA'U'LLAH LEFT CITY 'AKKA AND TOOK UP RESIDENCE IN MAZRA'IH. TO MARK CENTENARY THIS TERMINATION CONFINEMENT ANCIENT BEAUTY WITHIN WALLS PRISON CITY WE CALL UPON HIS FOLLOWERS ALL LANDS DEVOTE NINETEEN DAY FEAST OF NUR+F433 COMMEMORATION HISTORIC EVENT, REDEDICATING THEMSELVES URGENT TASKS BEFORE THEM, SO THAT PENT-UP ENERGIES HIS PRECIOUS FAITH MAY BE RELEASED TO REACH EVER GREATER NUMBER SEEKING SOULS IN EVER WIDER CIRCLE THEIR FELLOWMEN.

[F433. The Feast of Light, 5 June 1977.]

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE, RIDVAN 1977

192.2 In the early afternoon of Saturday, 11 June 1977, the pilgrims and the friends serving at the World Centre made their way to Mazra'ih to visit the Mansion which 'Abdu'l-Baha had rented a century ago for the use of Baha'u'llah, His first residence after leaving the prison city of 'Akka.+F434 While there, each was privileged to visit and offer prayers in the very room occupied by the Blessed Beauty; later they repaired to the gardens at Bahji.

[F434. For an account of the commemoration at the Baha'i World Centre of the centenary of the termination of Baha'u'llah's confinement in 'Akka, see BW 17:64.]

192.3 Meanwhile the Hands of the Cause present in the Holy Land, the members of the Universal House of Justice and the Counsellor members of the International Teaching Centre were paying their respects to the memory of Baha'u'llah at the House of 'Abbud in 'Akka and at the Garden of Ridvan. The rooms Baha'u'llah had occupied were visited and prayers of thanksgiving for His release from confinement were offered in these Holy Places. They then journeyed north to Mazra'ih for prayers at that Holy Spot, and afterwards joined the other friends in the Haram-i-Aqdas at Bahji for the formal programme of the Commemoration of this great event in the history of the Heroic Age of the Cause.+F435

[F435. Haram-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Court) is a designation Shoghi Effendi gave to the north-western quadrant of the garden surrounding the Shrine of Baha'u'llah in Bahji.]

192.4 Prayers were recited; 'Abdu'l-Baha's account of the end of Baha'u'llah's confinement and Shoghi Effendi's narrative from God Passes By were read; and finally, just as the sun was casting its last light over the Mediterranean, the friends made their way in the utmost reverence to the Most Holy Shrine for the chanting of the Tablet of Visitation.

<p366>

192.5 The remembrance of God and His praise, and the glory of God and His splendour, rest upon Thee, O Thou Who art His Beauty! I bear witness that the eye of creation hath never gazed upon one wronged like Thee. Thou wast immersed all the days of Thy life beneath an ocean of tribulations. At one time Thou wast in chains and fetters; at another Thou wast threatened by the sword of Thine enemies. Yet, despite all this, Thou didst enjoin upon all men to observe what had been prescribed unto Thee by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Baha'u'llah+F436

[F436. BP, p. 232.]

 

193

Murder of an Iranian Home-Front Pioneer

14 June 1977

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States

Dear Baha'i friends,

193.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to send you the enclosed article for the Baha'i News concerning a recent martyrdom in Persia. A photograph of Mr Ruhu'llah Taymuri is also enclosed. With loving Baha'i greetings, Department of the Secretariat

193.2 The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran has reported that a 37 year old man, Mr Ruhu'llah Taymuri-Muqaddam, a steadfast pioneer for some twenty years in Fadilabad in the Province of Gurgan, has been martyred at the hands of misguided people of that village. Some members of a fanatical element of the area had been plotting against the Faith and had collected money to finance a large-scale attack on the Baha'is. In starting the campaign they went to the house of Taymuri and attacked him and his sister. The blows of a knife and other weapons caused the death of Mr Taymuri and serious injury to his younger sister, Miss Parvin Taymuri.

193.3 Fortunately the authorities in Iran have arrested the assassins and they now await trial. At present the area is calm and the Government has the situation under control.

193.4 The National Spiritual Assembly reports that it is confident that this persecution in the cradle of the Faith will attract divine confirmations and will bring new victories to the steadfast and devoted believers in the land of Baha'u'llah.

<p367>

194

Collaboration Between Auxiliary Board Members and National and Regional Teaching Committees

6 July 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

194.1 It has become apparent that in some areas the progress of the teaching work requires closer collaboration between Auxiliary Board members and National or Regional Teaching Committees than heretofore. Following consultation with the International Teaching Centre on the matter, we have concluded that the possibilities provided by the present policy are adequate and that where a lack of collaboration has been felt it has arisen from an insufficiently full and frequent exchange of information between the institutions.

194.2 While the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants should never attempt to direct the work of committees or become involved in the administrative work associated with the committees' functions, it is absolutely vital that they be kept fully informed of the committees' activities and plans and their hopes for the work in the area. Only then can the members of the Auxiliary Boards be confident that the services to which they are exhorting the believers and the projects in which they are encouraging them are in harmony with the overall plans and objectives of the National Spiritual Assembly and its committees.

194.3 The existing policy and the reasons for it were conveyed to the Continental Boards of Counsellors and all National Spiritual Assemblies in our letter of 1 October

1969, a copy of which is attached.+F437 It should be noted that under this policy it is permissible and highly desirable to have a direct and regular exchange of information between the committees and the Auxiliary Board members. Moreover, at the outset of the work of the year or at times during the year when new plans are being evolved, it is often helpful to arrange for consultations to be held between the Auxiliary Board members and the National or Regional Teaching Committees before such plans are finalized.

[F437. See message no. 69.]

194.4 We are confident that a greater awareness of the importance of close collaboration between the two arms of the Administrative Order and of the ways available to achieve this will lead to a much-needed intensification of the teaching work in every land.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p368>

195

Reconstruction of Society

21 August 1977

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

195.1 The Universal House of Justice has studied your long letter of 19 May 1977. With many of your observations it thoroughly agrees; others, it believes are founded on erroneous information, on an inaccurate assessment of the current status of the Baha'i community, or on misconceptions about the objectives towards which it is working. The House of Justice does not have the time which would be required to formulate a detailed reply to all the various points in your letter. It reaffirms, however, the decisions conveyed to your National Spiritual Assembly in its letter of 2 December 1976, and has instructed us to add the following comments.

195.2 Mankind's response to the Message of Baha'u'llah has been dangerously, one might say disastrously, slow. From the earliest days it has been brought to the notice of leaders and scholars, but few of these, very few, have rallied to its support. The most profound and most widespread response has been from the middle classes and indeed from the poor, the unlettered, the deprived and the suffering. But, as the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf on 20 June 1942,

195.2a That is perhaps what is most glorious about our present activities all over the world, that we, a band not large in numbers, not possessing financial backing or the prestige of great names, should, in the name of our beloved Faith, be forging ahead at such a pace, and demonstrating to future and present generations that it is the God-given qualities of our religion that are raising it up and not the transient support of worldly fame and power. All that will come later, when it has been made clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that what raised aloft the banner of Baha'u'llah was the love, sacrifice, and devotion of His humble followers and the change that His teachings wrought in their hearts and lives.

195.3 Already the situation is changing, and larger numbers of believers are occupying positions of eminence and distinction in the world, but, in comparison with the overwhelming majority of the Baha'is, they are still a small handful. The process of changing the hearts and lives is also a gradual one, but while we should strive to hasten it, we should not let the problems dismay us. On 5 July 1947 the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer:

<p369>

195.3a The primary reason for anyone becoming a Baha'i must of course be because he has come to believe the doctrines, the teachings and the Order of Baha'u'llah are the correct thing for this stage in the world's evolution. The Baha'is themselves as a body have one great advantage: they are sincerely convinced Baha'u'llah is right; they have a plan, and they are trying to follow it. But to pretend they are perfect, that the Baha'is of the future will not be a hundred times more mature, better balanced, more exemplary in their conduct, would be foolish.

195.4 The Universal House of Justice is aware of the magnitude of the problems that the Baha'i communities face, but as the response to the Message of Baha'u'llah increases and as the Baha'i community throughout the world shows its ability to overcome these problems, the attention of men and women of every stratum of society will increasingly be drawn to the Faith. The most urgent need now -- so late is the hour -- is for the Baha'is to spread the Message, while they are still able to do so, to the largest possible number of their fellow human beings, simultaneously expanding and consolidating the Baha'i community as quickly as they can with the resources at their disposal. As mankind passes through the darkest phase of its history, the Baha'i community will have to face not only entry by troops, which it is now experiencing, but, before too long, mass conversion.

195.5 The first step in the reconstruction of human society is for individuals to accept Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God for this age and to begin to strive, as well as they can, to follow His Teachings in their individual and in their communal lives. Conversion is but the first step, yet it is the essential one. Without it no amount of expertise or scientifically based knowledge will have a lasting effect, because the fundamental motivating and sustaining power will be lacking.

195.6 As the Baha'i community grows it will acquire experts in numerous fields -- both by Baha'is becoming experts and by experts becoming Baha'is. 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. In such developments they should strive to make the utmost use of non-Baha'i resources and should collaborate fully with non-Baha'is who are working in the same fields. Such collaboration will, in the long run, be of far more benefit than any attempt now to treat such scientific endeavours as specifically Baha'i projects operating under Baha'i institutions and financed by investment of Baha'i funds.

195.7 Paralleling this process, Baha'i institutional life will also be developing, and as it does so the Assemblies will draw increasingly upon scientific and expert <p370> knowledge -- whether of Baha'is or of non-Baha'is -- to assist in solving the problems of their communities.

195.8 In time great Baha'i institutions of learning, great international and national projects for the betterment of human life will be inaugurated and flourish.+F438

[F438. For the call to the Baha'i world to initiate activities intended to foster social and economic development, see message dated 20 October 1983 (no. 379).]

195.9 The Baha'i work for the reconstruction of human society can thus be seen to comprise three streams: the most fundamental is the spreading of the Word of God, the winning of the allegiance of ever-greater numbers of men and women to the Cause of Baha'u'llah and the establishment of the Baha'i Administrative Order; concurrent with this is the contribution to human advancement and to the progress of the Baha'i community made by individual Baha'is in the pursuit of their daily work; and then there are the projects and institutions for human advancement launched and operated by Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies as their resources grow and the range of their activities expands. It is for the Universal House of Justice to direct the energies of the believers in these various channels and to make known what activities are timely and have priority. It considers that the establishment of an International Human Development Centre now as a Baha'i- affiliated institution would be untimely and ill-advised.

195.10 The House of Justice assures you of its prayers for the confirmation of your endeavours on behalf of the Faith and in your professional work.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p371>

196

Ceremony for Laying the Foundation Stone of the Mother Temple of the Indian Subcontinent

10 October 1977

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India

196.1 OVERJOYED REMOVAL OBSTACLES USE TEMPLE SITE.+F439 WELCOME PRESENCE AMATU'L-BAHA RUHIYYIH KHANUM IN YOUR MIDST OCCASION WOMEN'S CONFERENCE ENABLING YOU HOLD BEFITTING CEREMONY MARKING INITIATION PROJECT CONSTRUCTION MOTHER TEMPLE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT.+F440 CALLING ON AMATU'L-BAHA REPRESENT HOUSE JUSTICE MOMENTOUS OCCASION LAY FOUNDATION STONE HISTORIC EDIFICE. FERVENTLY PRAYING NOBLE INSTITUTION SOON TO BE REARED YOUR SOIL WILL ATTRACT ADDED DIVINE BLESSINGS UPON COMMUNITY WHOSE TEACHING SUCCESS STANDS UNEQUALLED ENTIRE BAHA'I WORLD.

[F440. See message of 13 October 1977 (no. 177).]

[F439. During the Ten Year World Crusade, twenty-two acres of land in New Delhi were acquired as a site for a House of Worship. In the process of demarcating the boundaries, it was discovered that the land was part of an ancient village named Bahapur, meaning "the Abode of Baha". In Hindustani, a dialect of Hindi, Baha means "a channel" or "a water course". By a happy coincidence, Baha is Arabic for "light", 'splendour", or "glory" and is a form of Baha'u'llah's name. Later the government requisitioned the property for use as a greenbelt area. After several years of constant negotiation by the National Spiritual Assembly of India, and upon viewing the beautiful design for the Temple, the government agreed to release the entire twenty-two acres.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

197

Message to Women's Conference, New Delhi

13 October 1977

To the Baha'i Women's Conference in New Delhi, India

197.1 WITH UTMOST JOY HAIL BAHA'I WOMEN'S CONFERENCE GRACED PRESENCE AMATU'L-BAHA RUHIYYIH KHANUM AS ANOTHER MAJOR STEP IN ASIA LEADING TO FULL RECOGNITION NOBLE STATION FULFILMENT THEIR GREAT POTENTIALITIES THEIR SIGNIFICANT ROLE PROMOTION CAUSE IMMENSE RESPONSIBILITIES THEY ARE CALLED UPON TO DISCHARGE IN CO-OPERATION WITH THEIR BRETHREN IN BUILDING NEW CIVILIZATION SHELTERING ALL MANKIND. ARDENTLY PRAYING SACRED THRESHOLD THIS GATHERING MAY BECOME LANDMARK PROGRESS FAITH ASIA STRENGTHEN WING HUMANITY SO TENDERLY ENCOURAGED BY BLESSED BEAUTY ENABLE COMMUNITIES CONTINENT SOAR HEIGHTS GLORIOUS VICTORIES.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p372>

198

Appointment of Architects for Mother Temple of the Indian

Subcontinent and the Restoration of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha

14 October 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

198.1 HAVE MUCH JOY IN ANNOUNCING APPOINTMENT TWO DISTINGUISHED BAHA'I ARCHITECTS FROM CRADLE FAITH: FARIBURZ SAHBA AS ARCHITECT MASHRIQU'L- ADHKAR INDIA, AND RIDVANU'LLAH ASHRAF AS ARCHITECT FOR RESTORATION SACRED RESIDENCE BELOVED MASTER KNOWN AS HOUSE OF 'ABDU'LLAH PASHA.+F441 SUPPLICATING DIVINE CONFIRMATIONS THESE TWO HISTORIC ENTERPRISES.

[F441. For the announcement of the acquisition of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha, see message dated 9 January 1975 (no. 154); for an account of its significance, see message dated 4 March 1975 (no. 157).]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

199

Formation of New and Lapsed Assemblies Throughout the Year

20 November 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

199.1 The Universal House of Justice has decided that during the last year of the Five Year Plan, i.e., from 21 April 1978 until 20 April 1979 inclusive, Local Spiritual Assemblies being established for the first time, as well as lapsed Assemblies which achieve adequate strength to regain their Assembly status, may be formed at any time during that year.+F442 This means that Local Assemblies <p373> formed at Ridvan 1979 will not be counted towards the fulfilment of the goals of the Five Year Plan.

[F442. It had long been the practice to permit, during the final year of a teaching plan, the formation or re-formation of any Local Spiritual Assembly at any time during that year. This practice is confirmed by this letter for the Five Year Plan. With respect to Spiritual Assemblies that are being formed for the first time, the Universal House of Justice gave a more general permission in its letter dated Naw-Ruz 1974 launching the Five Year Plan (no. 141), saying that such Local Spiritual Assemblies "are to be formed whenever there are nine or more adult believers in the relevant area; thereafter they must be elected or declared at Ridvan." In a message dated 19 February 1979 (no. 219), the Universal House of Justice informed all National Spiritual Assemblies that this provision would continue to apply after the completion of the Five Year Plan. This ruling remained in effect until Ridvan 1997. Special permission for the formation of certain Local Spiritual Assemblies at any time during the twelve days of Ridvan was given in a message dated 6 March 1977 (no. 189) and extended in the message dated 19 February 1979 (no. 219).]

199.2 It is the hope of the Universal House of Justice that this information will enable you to plan your teaching activities intelligently and realistically over the period of time separating us from the end of the Plan, and to intensify your efforts in order to achieve maximum results.

199.3 The Universal House of Justice will offer prayers at the Holy Shrines that the process of forming firmly grounded Local Spiritual Assemblies, which is one of the vital goals of the Five Year Plan, will be pursued with outstanding success through the dedicated efforts of the friends in every land.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

200

Appointment of New Counsellor in South-Eastern Asia

25 November 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

200.1 The Universal House of Justice announces with pleasure that it has appointed a new Counsellor in the zone of South-eastern Asia, Mr Inparaju Chinniah of Malaysia. Mr Chinniah replaces Mr Firaydun Mithaqiyan, who ceased to be a Counsellor upon leaving the zone and pioneering to Korea, where he is continuing his devoted services to the Cause of God.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

201

Announcement of Initiation of Broadcasting by First Baha'i Radio Station

15 December 1977

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

201.1 REJOICE ANNOUNCE INITIATION FULL TIME BROADCASTING FIRST RADIO STATION BAHA'I WORLD 12 DECEMBER IN OTAVALO, ECUADOR. HAIL VISION LABOURS ASSEMBLY COMMUNITY ECUADOR IN ACHIEVING THIS MILESTONE BAHA'I PROCLAMATION TEACHING DEEPENING. OFFERING PRAYERS SACRED THRESHOLD BAHA'I RADIO ECUADOR WILL FULFIL ITS PROMISE AS LANDMARK CAUSE AND SERVICE PROGRESS PEOPLES LATIN AMERICA.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p374>

202

Message of Greetings to Hemispheric Baha'i Radio -- Television Conference

15 December 1977

To the Hemispheric Radio-Television Conference

202.1 EXTEND WARM GREETINGS ATTENDANTS HEMISPHERIC RADIO TELEVISION CONFERENCE. GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AFFORDED THOSE BAHA'IS TRAINED USE POWERS RADIO TELEVISION REACH HEARTS MINDS NUMBERLESS PERSONS AWAITING COMING KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH. MAY VOICE CAUSE BE RAISED BEFORE MILLIONS PROCLAIMING MESSAGE BAHA'U'LLAH THROUGHOUT HEMISPHERE. SHARING OF TALENTS RESOURCES ZEAL WILL ASSUREDLY BRING GREAT CONFIRMATIONS. ASSURE LOVING PRAYERS HOLY SHRINES SUCCESS YOUR IMPORTANT DELIBERATIONS.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

203

Comments on First International Baha'i Women's Conference in

South America

3 January 1978

To the First International Baha'i Women's Conference in South America

203.1 DELIGHTED GREAT SUCCESS WIDESPREAD ATTENDANCE EXCELLENT PUBLICITY PROCLAMATION FIRST INTERNATIONAL BAHA'I WOMEN'S CONFERENCE SOUTH AMERICA WILL OFFER PRAYERS SACRED THRESHOLD DETERMINATION WIN GOALS PLAN WILL BE CONFIRMED.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p375>

204

Release of a Compilation on Baha'i Consultation

1 February 1978

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

204.1 Recently the Research Department made a compilation on Baha'i Consultation, and we have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to send you herewith a copy.+F443 You may share the contents of this compilation with the friends in whatever manner you consider advisable.

[F443. See CC I:93-110.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

205

Inauguration of Radio Baha'i Ecuador

Naw-Ruz 1978

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Ecuador

205.1 WITH JOYOUS HEARTS WE HAIL THE OFFICIAL INAUGURATION IN ECUADOR OF THE FIRST RADIO STATION IN THE BAHa'i WORLD, AUSPICIOUS MAJOR STEP FULFILMENT GOAL OF THE FIVE YEAR PLAN OF INCREASING THE USE OF MASS COMMUNICATION IN PROCLAIMING AND TEACHING THE FAITH OF BAHa'U'LLaH.+F444

[F444. The initial broadcast took place on 12 December 1977. This message was prepared for a formal Naw-Ruz inauguration of the station, but the ceremony was delayed until 28 August 1978 (see message no. 213).]

205.2 MAY THIS HAPPY EVENT BE THE FORERUNNER AND THE INSPIRATION FOR THE EARLY ESTABLISHMENT OF RADIO STATIONS IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD AS A NOTABLE SERVICE NOT ONLY TO THE FOLLOWERS OF THE BAHa'i FAITH BUT TO ALL PEOPLES.

205.3 WE WILL SUPPLICATE BAHa'U'LLaH IN THE HOLY SHRINES THAT HIS BLESSINGS AND CONFIRMATIONS WILL DESCEND UPON ALL WHO LABOUR FOR THE SUCCESS OF THIS WORTHY UNDERTAKING.

The Universal House of Justice

<p376>

206

Elucidation of Baha'i Teachings on Ranks and Stations

27 March 1978

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

206.1 One of the believers wrote recently to the Universal House of Justice requesting an elucidation of a statement made by it in one of its letters about the relationship between the Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies. The House of Justice instructed us to send the following reply, which is now being shared with all National Assemblies as it will undoubtedly be of interest to the believers in general.

206.2 The statement that the Boards of Counsellors outrank the National Institutions of the Faith has a number of implications. A Board of Counsellors has the particular responsibility of caring for the protection and propagation of the Faith throughout a continental zone which contains a number of national Baha'i communities. In performing these tasks it neither directs nor instructs the Spiritual Assemblies or individual believers, but it has the necessary rank to enable it to ensure that it is kept properly informed and that the Spiritual Assemblies give due consideration to its advice and recommendations. However, the essence of the relationships between Baha'i institutions is loving consultation and a common desire to serve the Cause of God rather than a matter of rank or station.

206.3 It is dear from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, as well as from those of 'Abdu'l- Baha and the interpretations of the Guardian, that the proper functioning of human society requires the preservation of ranks and classes within its membership. The friends should recognize this without envy or jealousy, and those who occupy ranks should never exploit their position or regard themselves as being superior to others. About this Baha'u'llah has written:

206.3a And amongst the realms of unity is the unity of rank and station. It redoundeth to the exaltation of the Cause, glorifying it among all peoples. Ever since the seeking of preference and distinction came into play, the world hath been laid waste. It hath become desolate. Those who have quaffed from the ocean of divine utterance and fixed their gaze upon the Realm of Glory should regard themselves as being on the same level as the others and in the same station. Were this matter to be definitely established and conclusively demonstrated through the power and might of God, the world would become as the Abha Paradise.

206.3b Indeed, man is noble, inasmuch as each one is a repository of the sign of God. Nevertheless, to regard oneself as superior in knowledge, learning or virtue, or to exalt oneself or seek preference, is a grievous <p377> transgression. Great is the blessedness of those who are adorned with the ornament of this unity and have been graciously confirmed by God.+F445 In similar vein, Shoghi Effendi gave this warning to those who are elected to serve on National Spiritual Assemblies:

[F445. From an unpublished Tablet.]

206.3c 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 endeavour by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candour, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity, to win not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they should serve, but also their esteem and real affection. ...+F446

[F446. BA, p. 64.]

206.4 Courtesy, reverence, dignity, respect for the rank and achievements of others are virtues which contribute to the harmony and well-being of every community, but pride and self-aggrandizement are among the most deadly of sins.

206.5 The House of Justice hopes that all the friends will remember that the ultimate aim in life of every soul should be to attain spiritual excellence -- to win the good pleasure of God. The true spiritual station of any soul is known only to God. It is quite a different thing from the ranks and stations that men and women occupy in the various sectors of society. Whoever has his eyes fixed on the goal of attaining the good pleasure of God will accept with joy and radiant acquiescence whatever work or station is assigned to him in the Cause of God, and will rejoice to serve Him under all conditions.

206.6 There are many passages on this theme in the Holy Writings, and the Universal House of Justice hopes that these remarks will help the friends to turn to them and understand their purport.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p378>

207

Message to the International Convention -- Ridvan 1978

Ridvan 1978

To the International Baha'i Convention

Dearly loved friends,

207.1 The Universal House of Justice takes great pleasure in addressing the members of National Spiritual Assemblies gathered in the Holy Land, in the presence of Hands of the Cause of God and Counsellors from all continents, at this fourth International Convention, pausing with you to review the course and needs of the Five Year Plan as we cross the threshold of its final year.

Review of the Progress of the Five Year Plan

207.2 The opening of the Plan witnessed the eager response of the friends, careful study made by the national institutions of the Faith of its implications and requirements, the establishment of machinery and the setting up of projects to achieve its goals, and the often arduous struggle to fulfil the first of its three major objectives -- the safeguarding and consolidation of all prizes won in earlier campaigns. This phase extended in many countries over a period of several months, and in others continued as far as the midway point of the Plan.

207.3 The middle year of the Plan saw the holding of the International Conferences and those many regional and national conferences which were held concurrently and diffused far and wide the inspiration flowing from these eight major assemblages of the believers. These gatherings motivated a great acceleration of the work and helped the believers throughout the world to arrive at a new realization of the responsibility entrusted to the followers of the Most Great Name for the spiritual regeneration of their fellowmen.

207.4 We are now in the last stage of the Plan, and this Convention provides us with a welcome and auspicious hour in which to assess our progress and to direct our thoughts to the complete achievement of the goals.

207.5 Of the 130 National Spiritual Assemblies which will be operating during the last year of the Plan, 50, have either achieved or nearly achieved their teaching goals. Of the remaining 80 National Spiritual Assemblies, some 40 are confidently forging ahead and are assured of victory if the present tempo in their teaching work is maintained. Nine National Assemblies are restricted by conditions which make the fulfilment of their home-front goals dependent upon circumstances beyond their control. The remaining 30 national communities are, alas, seriously lagging behind, and only strenuous and sacrificial effort will enable them to win their goals.

Review of the Second Objective: Vast and Widespread Expansion

207.6 The second of the three major objectives of the Plan -- a vast and widespread expansion of the Baha'i community -- has seen great but geographically <p379> uneven progress. There are now more than 19,000 Local Spiritual Assemblies and the number of localities where Baha'is reside is over 83,000. This expansion has been accompanied by an intensification of proclamation efforts and by increased use of mass media such as radio and television.

207.7 There have been notable advances in the process of gaining wider recognition for the Cause of God and in fostering cordial relations with civil authorities, a matter of vital importance in these days when there is a growth of opposition to the Faith from those who, misconstruing its true nature and aims, take alarm at its progress.

Review of the Third Objective: Developing the Distinctive Character of Baha'i Life

207.8 Some of the most significant achievements of the Plan have been towards its third major objective -- the development of the distinctive character of Baha'i life -- and in the consolidation and strengthening of the structure of the Baha'i community. The beloved Hands of the Cause of God, who have been in the forefront of so many aspects of the work of the Faith, have rendered far-reaching services in this field.

207.9 The Local Spiritual Assemblies, focal centres for the teaching of the Faith and the consolidation of the community, are growing in experience, maturity and wisdom, are proving to be potent instruments for nurturing the Baha'i life and are, in increasing numbers, carrying out plans for the establishment of the Faith in areas outside their own range of jurisdiction, under the overall guidance of their National Spiritual Assemblies, and with the encouragement and help of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants. The work of developing Local Spiritual Assemblies is a task without end in the foreseeable future. As the Baha'i community, which is still very thinly spread around the world, moves continually and with increasing rapidity into new areas, new Assemblies will come into being and will need patient help and training in their sacred duties.

207.10 The devotion and self-sacrifice of the friends, which have drawn to them the confirmations of Baha'u'llah, have resulted in the very great advances made so far. Evidences of this striving are apparent in the growing number of national communities which, under the wise stewardship and challenging leadership of their National Spiritual Assemblies, are becoming financially self-supporting; in the fact that ever more individual believers are adopting for themselves specific goals and plans of service for the advancement of the Faith; in the settlement of more than 2,000 pioneers during the course of the Plan; in the upsurge of travel teaching individually and in teams; in a greater awareness of the power of prayer; and in many other ways. Three vital aspects of Baha'i community life which have seen marked progress during the past four years are the development of the services of women and of youth, and the Baha'i education of children. The youth have long been in the forefront of <p380> the teaching work, and now our hearts rejoice to see the women, in so many lands where previously their capacities were largely left unused, devoting their capable services to the life of the Baha'i community. The education of Baha'i children is also receiving much attention, which bodes well for the future generations of Baha'is.

The Continental Boards of Counsellors

207.11 Experience has shown that active and loving collaboration between the Continental Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies has been a particularly invigorating and strengthening factor in the progress of the Cause in all aspects of the work. Reflecting the growth of the community the number of Continental Counsellors has been raised to 64 during the Plan, and the number of Auxiliary Boards to

675. Under the authorization given to them, the members of the Auxiliary Boards have till now appointed 3,358 assistants, who are already playing a significant role in the formation and consolidation of Local Spiritual Assemblies and the fostering of the Baha'i way of life in local communities. Co-ordinating and directing the work of these Continental Boards from the Holy Land, the International Teaching Centre is now well established in the conduct of its responsibilities, foreshadowing the mighty role that it is destined to play in the functioning of the Administrative Order of Baha'u'llah.

Seizing Opportunities to Steer the Course of History

207.12 The Faith is passing through a time of tremendous opportunity and development, as well as of increasing opposition and of growing complexity in the problems confronting it. These opportunities must be seized and these problems overcome, for so crucial are these times that the future course of human history is daily in the balance. During this year the Universal House of Justice will be consulting on the nature, duration and goals of the next stage in the implementation of the Divine Plan. The firm base of the achievement of the Five Year Plan goals, both those of quality and those of quantity, is therefore the burning necessity of the months now before us. Let us go forward in a spirit of optimism, with confidence, determination, courage and unity. The greater the love and unity among the friends, the more speedily will the work advance.

207.13 May the Almighty bless the endeavours of His servants and inspire their hearts to arise in His Cause with that degree of radiant faith and self-sacrifice which will draw to their aid the conquering hosts of the Supreme Concourse. The Universal House of Justice

<p381>

208

Message to the National Conventions -- Ridvan 1978

Ridvan 1978

To the friends gathered at National Baha'i Conventions

Beloved friends,

208.1 We joyfully hail the formation of seven more National Spiritual Assemblies, those of Burundi, Mauritania, the Bahamas, Oman, Qatar, the Mariana Islands and Cyprus; two in Africa, one in the Americas, two in Asia, one in the Pacific and one in Europe, raising to one hundred and thirty the number of pillars of the Universal House of Justice.

208.2 Your National Spiritual Assemblies will be sharing with you the message addressed to the International Baha'i Convention and the news of the progress of the Five Year Plan that was released on that occasion.+F447 As you will see, many national communities have already completed, or virtually completed, their Five Year Plan goals. These communities must now ensure that the pace of expansion and consolidation which brought them victory is maintained so that they will advance strongly into the next plan. They can also, by pioneering and travel teaching, rally to the assistance of their sister communities which still have months of intensive work before them in order to win their goals. It is to these latter communities that we now address our call to redoubled, united and sacrificial effort. We are fervently supplicating at the Sacred Threshold that the followers of the Blessed Beauty will arise with enthusiasm, confidence and consecration to ensure that every goal is attained.

[F447. See message no. 207.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

209

Election of the Universal House of Justice -- Ridvan 1978

1 May 1978

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

209.1 NEWLY ELECTED MEMBERS UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE 'ALI NAKHJAVANI HUSHMAND FATHEAZAM AMOZ GIBSON IAN SEMPLE DAVID RUHE CHARLES WOLCOTT DAVID HOFMAN HUGH CHANCE BORRAH KAVELIN.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p382>

210

Appointment of architect for House of Worship in Western Samoa

15 May 1978

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

210.1 ANNOUNCE APPOINTMENT HUSAYN AMANAT ARCHITECT FOR MASHRIQU'L- ADHKAR SAMOA.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

211

Love for God and Baha'u'llah

25 May 1978

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

211.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 21 March 1978 in which you express concern that you do not yet feel in your heart the degree of love for God and for Baha'u'llah that you wish to have and which you witness in others, and is touched by the depth of your longing and effort. We have been requested to convey the following.

211.2 One source of true joy and happiness which you would do well to concentrate upon is that you have been able to recognize and accept God's supreme Manifestation in the Day of His appearance. There is no greater bounty than this and the souls of all Baha'is should be filled with gratitude for this supreme gift.

211.3 The House of Justice encourages you to continue your reading of the Words of Baha'u'llah and the Master and adds that spiritual growth has been likened to organic growth. Everything living must change. Growth and change can be imperceptible or dramatic and rapid. It is stated in a letter dated 6 October 1954 written on behalf of the beloved Guardian to an individual believer:

211.3a When a person becomes a Baha'i, actually what takes place is that the seed of the spirit starts to grow in the human soul. This seed must be watered by the outpourings of the Holy Spirit. These gifts of the spirit are received through prayer, meditation, study of the Holy Utterances and service to the Cause of God.

<p383>

211.4 We have been directed to assure you of the prayers of the House of Justice for your spiritual advancement and that you may be so strengthened in your faith that you will be enabled to devotedly serve the Cause of Baha'u'llah.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Department of the Secretariat

 

212

Inclusion of Mother Temple of the West in National Register of Historic Places

22 June 1978

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States

212.1 DELIGHTED ACTION BY FEDERAL AUTHORITIES TO INCLUDE MOTHER TEMPLE OF THE WEST IN NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES. FRUITION YOUR EFFORTS ON 134TH ANNIVERSARY OF DECLARATION HIS MISSION BY BLESSED BAB OBTAIN THIS SIGNIFICANT RECOGNITION DESERVES WARM COMMENDATIONS AND IS AN OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

213

Inauguration of Radio Baha'i Ecuador

28 August 1978

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Ecuador

213.1 DELIGHTED YOUR CABLE MAY FORMAL INAUGURATION STATION RADIO BAHA'I BRING WIDESPREAD REALIZATION NOBLE AIMS PURPOSES FAITH SERVE PEOPLES LOCAL AREA BRING ADVANCEMENT ECUADOR.+F448 DELIGHTED PROGRESS TOWARD GOALS PLAN AIDED BY HAPPY EVENTS OTAVALO PRAYING SUCCESSES CONFIRMATIONS BEYOND EXPECTATION.

[F448. See also messages dated 15 December 1977 (no. 201) and Naw-Ruz 1978 (no. 205).]

Loving greetings,

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p384>

214

Directing the Course of Ones Life

11 October 1978

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

214.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your moving appeal for guidance in your letter of 5 September 1978, and has instructed us to convey to you the following advice.

214.2 Each individual is unique and has a unique path to tread in his lifetime. In espousing the Baha'i Faith you have defined the direction of that path, for your recognition of God's Manifestation for this Day and your devotion to His Message provide the spiritual and ethical basis for all aspects of your life of service to mankind, while the continuing guidance that He has provided for the community of His followers enables you to know the directions in which the most effort is required at the present time.

214.3 While, during the early years of the development of the Faith, Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi sometimes gave specific instructions to individual believers on how they should serve the Cause, the Universal House of Justice seldom does this. It is, indeed, the precious privilege of the individual human being to direct the course of his own life. Through exercising this privilege while striving always to conform his conduct to the divine Teachings and devote his talents in the best possible way to the service of the Cause and mankind, a soul deepens his understanding of God and His will.

214.4 This does not mean that you are left to make your decisions without guidance. This you will find from several sources. Firstly, in general, you will find it in the Writings. Secondly, and more specifically, in the teaching plans issued by the Universal House of Justice. Thirdly, in the plans and projects of your own National Spiritual Assembly. All these, it would seem from your letter, you have been striving to follow. Fourthly, with regard to your own personal goals and actions, is the guidance you can receive through consultation -- with your wife, with friends of your choice whose opinions you value, with your Local Spiritual Assembly, with such committees of your National Assembly as are concerned with the fields of activity towards which your inclinations lie. Fifthly, there is prayer and meditation.

214.5 You mention that the answers to your prayers never seem to have come through clearly. Mrs Ruth Moffett has published her recollection of five steps of prayer for guidance that she was told by the beloved Guardian. When asked about these notes, Shoghi Effendi replied, in letters written by his secretary on his behalf, that the notes should be regarded as "Personal suggestions," that he considered them to be "quite sound," but that the friends need not adopt <p385> them 'strictly and universally."+F449 The House of Justice feels that they may be helpful to you and, indeed, you may already be familiar with them. They are as follows: ... use these five steps if we have a problem of any kind for which we desire a solution, or wish help. Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations, as they have the greatest power. Learn to remain in the silence of contemplation for a few moments. During this deepest communion take the next step. Arrive at a decision and hold to this. This decision is usually born in a flash at the close or during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment, but if it seems to be an answer to prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step. Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step. Have faith and confidence, that the Power of the Holy Spirit will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right message, the right principle or the right book will be given to you. Have confidence, and the right thing will come to meet your need. Then as you rise from prayer take immediately the fifth step. Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And, as you act, you yourself will become a magnet which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine Power to flow through you.+F450

[F450. Moffett, Du'a, pp. 27-28.]

[F449. Letter dated 30 June 1938 to Wilfrid Barton, in BN, no. 134 (March 1940): 2; letter dated 29 October 1952 to an individual, quoted in Moffett, Du'a, p. 27n.]

214.6 Also the Guardian's secretary wrote to an individual believer on his behalf: "The Master said guidance was when the doors opened after we tried. We can pray, ask to do God's will only, try hard, and then if we find our plan is not working out, assume it is not the right one, at least for the moment."+F451

[F451. Letter dated 29 October 1952 to an individual, quoted in Moffett, Du'a, p. 27n.]

214.7 The Universal House of Justice deeply appreciates your candour and Spirit of devotion, and assures you of its prayers in the Holy Shrines on your behalf.

With loving Baha'i greetings, Department of the Secretariat

<p386>

215

The Grave Peril Facing Baha'is and Holy Places in Iran

15 December 1978

To National Spiritual Assemblies

215.1 FRIENDS IRAN AND MOST HOLY PLACES IN SHIRAZ AND TIHRAN IN GRAVE PERIL. BAHA'IS HAVE BEEN THREATENED OVER SEVERAL WEEKS MOST PARTS IRAN WITH IMMINENT DANGERS. THIS THREAT IS NOW MATERIALIZING IN FORMS OF LOOTING, BURNING BAHA'I HOUSES AND FURTHER THREATS OF ASSASSINATION. IN NAYRIZ 25 BAHA'I HOMES BURNED, IN SHIRAZ 60 HOMES LOOTED. SIMILAR ATTACKS REPORTED IN OTHER PROVINCES. IN SARVISTAN BAHA'IS TAKEN TO MOSQUES AND FORCIBLY REQUIRED TO RECANT THEIR FAITH. ... URGE FRIENDS JOIN US PRAYERS PROTECTION FRIENDS HOLY PLACES CRADLE FAITH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

216

Announcement of Decision to Launch a Seven Year Plan

26 December 1978

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

216.1 ANNOUNCE WITH UTMOST JOY DECISION TO LAUNCH DURING FORTHCOMING RIDVAN FESTIVITIES A SEVEN YEAR GLOBAL PLAN CONSTITUTING NEXT STAGE MASTER'S STEADILY UNFOLDING DIVINE PLAN. CONFIDENT MOMENTOUS DECISION TAKEN IN MIDST SEVERE CRISIS SHAKING CRADLE FAITH AND WHILE EFFORTS BAHA'I WORLD COMMUNITY ARE STRENUOUSLY BENT UPON FULFILMENT GOALS FIVE YEAR PLAN WILL RELEASE OUTPOURING SPIRITUAL ENERGY ACCELERATE DESTINED PROGRESS BAHA'I WORLD COMMUNITY NOW GRADUALLY APPEARING IN SHARPER RELIEF BEFORE EYES OF A BEWILDERED HUMANITY FLOUNDERING IN DEPTHS OF CONFLICT AND MORAL DEGRADATION.

216.2 DETAILS PLANS NATIONAL COMMUNITIES FOR INITIAL TWO YEAR PHASE NEW PLAN NOW BEING EVOLVED IN CONSULTATION WITH INTERNATIONAL TEACHING CENTRE WILL SHORTLY BE ANNOUNCED TO EACH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY. THIS INITIAL PHASE WILL CALL FOR GREATER PROCLAMATION, CONTINUED CONSOLIDATION AND WIDER EXPANSION. NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES ARE THEREFORE URGED ENSURE THAT TEACHING ACTIVITIES ARE PURSUED WITH CONTINUING VIGOUR INTO OPENING YEARS NEW PLAN, THAT PIONEERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO REMAIN AT THEIR POSTS, THAT PROCESS DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY LIFE IS UNINTERRUPTEDLY SUSTAINED, AND THAT MOMENTUM NOW IMPELLING BAHA'I COMMUNITY FORWARD IS MAINTAINED.

<p387>

216.3 URGE ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES SHARE THIS MESSAGE IMMEDIATELY WITH FRIENDS UNDER THEIR JURISDICTION INVITING THEM MAKE SPECIAL EFFORT ATTEND NATIONAL CONVENTIONS NEXT RIDVAN CELEBRATE VICTORIOUS CONCLUSION FIVE YEAR PLAN SIMULTANEOUSLY INAUGURATE SEVEN YEAR PLAN.

216.4 OWING IMPORTANCE NEXT CONVENTION REQUEST NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES CONSIDER EXTENDING WHEREVER PRACTICABLE ITS DURATION BY ONE OR TWO DAYS. WE ARE CALLING ON COUNSELLORS IN ADDITION TO THEIR OWN PARTICIPATION TO ENCOURAGE AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS TO ATTEND THESE PORTENTOUS CONVENTIONS.

216.5 AS THE TURMOIL OF AN AGITATED WORLD SURGES ABOUT THEM THE SUPPORTERS OF BAHA'U'LLAH'S MAJESTICALLY RISING FAITH MUST, AS THE BELOVED GUARDIAN SO CLEARLY INDICATED, SCALE NOBLER HEIGHTS OF HEROISM, SERENELY CONFIDENT THAT THE HOUR OF THEIR MIGHTIEST EXERTIONS MUST COINCIDE WITH THE LOWEST EBB OF MANKIND'S FAST DECLINING FORTUNES.

216.6 FERVENTLY SUPPLICATING BAHA'U'LLAH BOUNTIFULLY BLESS STRENUOUS EFFORTS HIS DEVOTED SERVANTS EVERY LAND WIN GOAL FIVE YEAR PLAN ENSURE FIRM FOUNDATION NEXT STAGE WORLD-WIDE DEVELOPMENT GOD'S HOLY CAUSE.

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

217

Baha'i Scholarship

3 January 1979

To the Participants in the Baha'i Studies Seminar held in Cambridge on 30 September and 1 October 1978

Dear Baha'i friends,

217.1 The Universal House of Justice has read with great interest the report of your seminar. It regards Baha'i scholarship as of great potential importance for the development and consolidation of the Baha'i community as it emerges from obscurity. It noted that there are a number of problems with which you have been grappling, and while it feels that it should, in general, leave the working out of solutions to Baha'i scholars themselves, the House of Justice has the impression that it would be helpful to provide you, at this relatively early stage of the development of Baha'i scholarship, with a few thoughts on matters raised during your seminar. Reports of your seminar were therefore referred to the Research Department, and the Universal House of Justice commends to your study the enclosed memorandum which that Department has prepared.+F452

[F452. The memorandum was revised for general application and published at the request of the Universal House of Justice in BN, no. 579 (June 1979):2-3. The memorandum was also published in BW 17:195-96 under the title "The Challenge and Promise of Baha'i Scholarship."]

<p388>

217.2 The House of Justice also urges you not to feel constrained in any way in consulting it about problems, whether theoretical or practical, that you meet in your work. It has noted, for example, the difficulties presented by the current temporary requirement for the review of publications, and in this connection it asks us to inform you that it has already established the policy that doctoral theses do not have to be reviewed unless there is a proposal to publish them in larger quantities than is required by the examining body.

217.3 You are still in the early stages of a very challenging and promising development in the life of the Baha'i community, and the Universal House of Justice is eager to foster and assist your work in whatever ways it can. We are to assure you of its prayers in the Sacred Shrines on behalf of you all and of the progress of Baha'i scholarship.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

The Baha'i Studies Seminar on Ethics and Methodology Held in Cambridge on 30 September and 1 October 1978

Comments by the Research Department at the World Centre

217.4 This seminar seems to have provided a very valuable forum for the discussion of a number of aspects of Baha'i scholarship, and the airing of certain problems which have been worrying some of the friends in relationship to their work and to their fellow believers. We believe that many of the problems arise from an attempt by some Baha'i scholars to make use of methodologies devised by non-Baha'is without thinking through the implications of such a course and without working out a methodology which would be in consonance with the spirit of the Faith. The seminar itself may well prove to be an initial step in such a working out. The following remarks are intended merely to draw attention to certain aspects which we believe can help to advance this process.

The Harmony of Science and Religion

217.5 It has become customary in the West to think of science and religion as occupying two distinct -- and even opposed -- areas of human thought and activity. This dichotomy can be characterized in the pairs of antitheses: faith and reason; value and fact. It is a dichotomy which is foreign to Baha'i thought and should, we feel, be regarded with suspicion by Baha'i scholars in every field. The principle of the harmony of science and religion means not only that religious teachings should be studied with the light of reason and evidence as well as of faith and inspiration, but also that everything in this creation, all aspects of human life and knowledge, should be studied in the light of revelation as well as in that of purely rational investigation. In other words, <p389> a Baha'i scholar, when studying a subject, should not lock out of his mind any aspect of truth that is known to him.

217.6 It has, for example, become commonplace to regard religion as the product of human striving after truth, as the outcome of certain climates of thought and conditions of society. This has been taken, by many non-Baha'i thinkers, to the extreme of denying altogether the reality or even the possibility of a specific revelation of the Will of God to mankind through a human mouthpiece. A Baha'i who has studied the Teachings of Baha'u'llah, who has accepted His claim to be the Manifestation of God for this Age, and who has seen His Teachings at work in his daily life, knows as the result of rational investigation, confirmed by actual experience, that true religion, far from being the product solely of human striving after truth, is the fruit of the creative Word of God which, with divine power, transforms human thought and action.

The Distinction Between Divine Revelation and What People Know and Do about It

217.7 A Baha'i, through this faith in, this "conscious knowledge"+F453 of, the reality of divine Revelation, can distinguish, for instance, between Christianity, which is the divine message given by Jesus of Nazareth, and the development of Christendom, which is the history of what men did with that message in subsequent centuries, a distinction which has become blurred if not entirely obscured in current Christian theology. A Baha'i scholar conscious of this distinction will not make the mistake of regarding the sayings and beliefs of certain Baha'is at any one time as being the Baha'i Faith. The Baha'i Faith is the Revelation of Baha'u'llah: His Own Words as interpreted by 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian. It is a revelation of such staggering magnitude that no Baha'i at this early stage in Baha'i history can rightly claim to have more than a partial and imperfect understanding of it. Thus, Baha'i historians would see the overcoming of early misconceptions held by the Baha'i community, or by parts of the Baha'i community, not as "developments of the Baha'i Faith" -- as a non-Baha'i historian might well regard them -- but as growth of that community's understanding of the Baha'i Revelation.+F454

[F454. In a message dated 27 May 1966 (no. 35) the Universal House of Justice explains the clear distinction the Baha'i Faith makes between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding of individuals. The Baha'i Faith has two sources of authoritative interpretation: 'Abdu'l-Baha, Whose authority is derived from His appointment in the Kitab-i-Aqdas and the Kitab-i-'Ahd (Book of the Covenant) as the Centre of Baha'u'llah's Covenant, and the Guardian, whose authority is derived from 'Abdu'l-Baha's Will and Testament.]

[F453. See TABA 3:549.]

A Unity of Faith and Reason

217.8 It has been suggested that the words of Baha'u'llah that a true seeker should "so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from <p390> the truth," support the viewpoint of methodological agnosticism. But we believe that on deeper reflection it will be recognized that love and hate are emotional attachments or repulsions that can irrationally influence the seeker; they are not aspects of the truth itself. Moreover, the whole passage concerns taking "the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days" and is summarized by Baha'u'llah in the words: "Our purpose in revealing these convincing and weighty utterances is to impress upon the seeker that he should regard all else beside God as transient, and count all things save Him, Who is the Object of all adoration, as utter nothingness." It is in this context that He says, near the beginning of the passage, that the seeker must, "before all else, cleanse and purify his heart ... from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy."+F455 It is similar, we think, to Baha'u'llah's injunction to look upon the Manifestation with His Own eyes.+F456 In scientific investigation when searching after the facts of any matter a Baha'i must, of course, be entirely open-minded, but in his interpretation of the facts and his evaluation of evidence we do not see by what logic he can ignore the truth of the Baha'i Revelation which he has already accepted; to do so would, we feel, be both hypocritical and unscholarly.

[F456. See GWB, pp. 90-91, 272.]

[F455. KI, pp. 192, 195.]

217.9 Undoubtedly the fact that Baha'i scholars of the history and teachings of the Faith believe in the Faith that they are studying will be a grave flaw in the eyes of many non-Baha'i academics, whose own dogmatic materialism passes without comment because it is fashionable; but this difficulty is one that Baha'i scholars share with their fellow believers in many fields of human endeavour.

217.10 If Baha'i scholars will try to avoid this snare of allowing a divorce between their faith and their reason, we are sure that they will also avoid many of the occasions for tension arising between themselves and their fellow believers.

The Spiritual Qualities of Baha'i Scholars

217.11 The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy. A scholar who is imbued with an understanding of the broad teachings of the Faith will always remember that being a scholar does not exempt him from the primal duties and purposes for which all human beings are created. All men, not scholars alone, are exhorted to seek out and uphold the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. But they are also exhorted to be wise in their utterance, <p391> to be tolerant of the views of others, to be courteous in their behaviour and speech, not to sow the seeds of doubt in faithful hearts, to look at the good rather than at the bad, to avoid conflict and contention, to be reverent, to be faithful to the Covenant of God, to promote His Faith and safeguard its honour, and to educate their fellowmen, giving milk to babes and meat to those who are stronger.

217.12 Scholarship has a high station in the Baha'i teachings, and Baha'i scholars have a great responsibility. We believe that they would do well to concentrate upon the ascertainment of truth -- of a fuller understanding of the subject of their scholarship, whatever its field -- not upon exposing and attacking the errors of others, whether they be of non-Baha'i or of their fellow believers. Inevitably the demonstration of truth exposes the falsity of error, but the emphasis and motive are important. We refer to these words of Baha'u'llah:

Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and goodwill. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding. ...

(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah CXXXII) and again.

Should any one among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be striving to comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme kindliness and goodwill. Help him to see and recognize the truth, without esteeming yourself to be, in the least, superior to him, or to be possessed of greater endowments.

(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah V)

217.13 In our view there are two particular dangers to which Baha'i scholars are exposed, and which they share with those believers who rise to eminent positions in the administration of the Cause. One danger is faced by only a few: those whose work requires them to read the writings of Covenant-breakers. They have to remember that they are by no means immune to the spiritual poison that such works distil, and that they must approach this aspect of their work with great caution, alert to the danger that it presents. The second danger, which may well be as insidious, is that of spiritual pride and arrogance. Baha'i scholars, especially those who are scholars in the teachings and history of the Faith itself, would be well advised to remember that scholars have often been most wrong when they have been most certain that they were <p392> right. The virtues of moderation, humility and humour in regard to one's own work and ideas are a potent protection against this danger.

217.14 We feel that by following such avenues of approach as those described in this memorandum Baha'i scholars will find that many of the "fears, doubts and anxieties" which were aired at the seminar will be dispelled.

 

218

Persecution of the Baha'is of Iran

12 January 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

218.1 From reports in the news media you have no doubt learned of the disturbances in Iran. The followers of the Faith of Baha'u'llah have in the land of its birth once again been subjected to severe persecution and active repression.

218.2 The National Spiritual Assembly compiled during the month of October 1978 a list of 93 cases dealing with personal injuries inflicted upon individual believers and of damages to houses, shops, crops and livestock, as well as to local Haziratu'l-Quds. During the month of December organized mobs attacked Baha'is and their properties in Shiraz and its environs. As a result of these attacks over 300 homes were either burned or destroyed, and some 200 looted. In these events 15 believers were beaten or wounded, and two were killed.+F457 Fortunately the intention of the attackers to destroy the Holy House of the Bab was not carried out,+F458 but the spirit of aggressive animosity towards the Baha'is spread to several centres throughout the province of Fars, including the town of Marvdasht, where 31 Baha'i homes were looted and the imposing structure of the local Haziratu'l-Quds reared by that community was razed to the ground.

[F458. For information about attacks on the House of the Bab and about its eventual destruction, see messages dated to May 1979 (no. 225), 9 September 1979 (no. 235), and 26 May 1981 (no. 282).]

[F457. The two Baha'is killed were Mr Hatan Ruzbihi and Mr Jan-'Ali Ruzbihi, both from Shiraz.]

218.3 Following these events, the wave of persecution spread to the north of the country. In several towns and villages of Adhirbayjan, and particularly in Miyan-Duab, the onslaught was severe. In the latter town the first target was the local Haziratu'l-Quds, which was totally destroyed, and this was followed by the burning or tooting of 80 homes and the brutal murder of two believers, a father and his son, whose bodies were then dragged through the streets, cut in pieces, and consigned to the flames.+F459

[F459. The father and son were Mr Parviz Afnani and Mr Khusraw Afnani.]

<p393>

218.4 The organized and violent assaults on Baha'i lives and properties have emboldened and incited hooligans all over the country, and the oppressed Baha'is are constantly under threat of mass aggression and assault.

218.5 These acts of hostility against the Baha'is have so far cost four lives, millions of dollars in loss of property, and the displacement of some 700 individuals who have become homeless. The spirit of the Baha'is, however, is very high, and acts of heroism and magnanimity have been reported, which historians will record for posterity.

218.6 The National Spiritual Assembly of Iran has instituted a special fund for the relief of the needy and suffering from among the believers in that country. The House of Justice has already contributed a sum of $135,000.00 to this fund, and it calls upon all friends in every land to offer of their substance, at this hour of need, to help their tormented brethren in the Cradle of the Faith. All contributions should preferably be sent to the Universal House of Justice, which will ensure that the contributions are transmitted safely to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran.

218.7 The House of Justice further calls on the friends the world over to join it in fervent prayers for the protection of the Faith and the Holy Places and for the relief and deliverance of the beloved and steadfast friends in Iran. It particularly invites the friends to pray daily during the period of the Fast,+F460 supplicating Baha'u'llah that the distressing plight of the Persian Community may be mitigated and that their sorrows and deprivations may be transmuted into comfort and joy through His grace and bounty.

[F460. 2-20 March.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

219

Extension of Permission to Form Local Spiritual Assemblies under Certain Conditions during Ridvan

19 February 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

219.1 We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to draw your attention to its letter sent to you and other selected National Spiritual Assemblies of the world on 6 March 1977.+F461 In that letter, a copy of which is enclosed for your ease of reference, permission was given to hold the election of Local <p394> Spiritual Assemblies during the twelve days of Ridvan if certain conditions existed in some localities. This is to inform you that, until further notice, it is permissible to follow this procedure every Ridvan where it is called for.

[F461. See message no. 189.]

219.2 Furthermore, in view of the conditions of the Faith at this stage in its development, the House of Justice has decided that the provision set forth under the Five Year Plan permitting the establishment of Local Spiritual Assemblies which are being formed for the first time, whenever there are nine or more adult believers residing in a locality, will continue to apply after the completion of the Five Year Plan.+F462

[F462. The Universal House of Justice announced in a letter dated 26 December 1995 to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors that, beginning at Ridvan 1997, the practice of electing all Local Spiritual Assemblies on the First Day of Ridvan would be re-instituted.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

220

Refutation of False Accusations Against Iranian Baha'is

26 February 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

220.1 Recent events in Iran have focused the attention of the world's news media on that country, and the Baha'is and the Baha'i Faith have been mentioned frequently. Our enemies have spread many misleading statements and calumnies through the media.

220.2 Already in the United States the prompt reaction of Local Spiritual Assemblies and the National Spiritual Assembly to an attack on the Faith made during a national television programme has resulted in the greatest publicity for the Cause for many years.+F463

[F463. On 8 February 1979 Mansur Farhang of Sacramento State University appeared on the public television networks nationally syndicated "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" and put forth the usual false accusations against the Iranian Baha'i community to justify the oppressive measures instigated against it. Local Spiritual Assemblies and individuals wrote letters defending the Iranian Baha'is to the programme's producers. As a result, the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, Glenford E. Mitchell, was invited to respond to the allegations on a later edition of the show.]

220.3 The friends are urged through their National and Local Assemblies, and individually, and without in any way criticizing or confronting editors and programme directors, to offer articles, letters to editors, statements to radio and television producers and to take occasional advertisements. All these should be linked to any mention of the Faith, particularly though not necessarily a <p395> misleading one, and should be solely concerned with repudiating falsehoods and giving the truth about the Faith, not indulging in argument or complaint.

220.4 The Universal House of Justice is aware of a pattern in the false statements being circulated about the Faith and sends the following information to enable the friends everywhere to take action whenever the opportunity arises.

220.5 The allegations against us are mainly that in Iran the Baha'is have been political supporters of the previous regime, that one of the Prime Ministers and some Ministers have been Baha'is, and that even the head of SAVAK (the Iranian Secret Police) and other of its high-ranking officers have been members of the Baha'i Faith. The Baha'is are also accused of being against Islam and of supporting causes which are hostile to Muslim nations.

220.6 It is obvious that these allegations are entirely unfounded. The established non- political nature of the Faith, as well as the principle that whoever among the friends participates in partisan politics or becomes a member of a political party is expelled from the Baha'i community, support this. These false accusations by the enemies of the Cause are being deliberately spread for two main reasons: one, to discredit their political opponents who have been or are in power by associating them with the Faith; and two, to incite further hatred of the fanatical sections of the population against the Baha'is.

220.7 During the previous regime, when a one-party system, Rastakhiz, was in force in Iran and the people were induced and often compelled to become members of it, the Baha'is of Iran were perhaps the only community who, on the grounds of their religious beliefs, firmly refused to join this party. They declared that although, as an act of faith, they are loyal to the government of the country in which they reside, they cannot accept membership in any political party. Threats of the consequences of such refusal did not deter the Baha'is from standing firm in their conviction.

220.8 Regarding the false allegation that Mr Abbas Hoveida, the ex-Prime Minister of Iran, was a Baha'i, the facts are that his grandfather was a Baha'i at the time of Baha'u'llah and his father was also a member of the Faith for some time. However, because the latter accepted a political assignment in the foreign ministry of Iran, he was expelled from the Baha'i community. Mr Hoveida himself never became a Baha'i, and asserted that he was a Muslim. In fact, during his term of office, he created many difficulties for the Baha'i community in order to counter the accusations of his alleged affiliation with the Faith. It was during his regime that many Baha'is were dismissed from their administrative posts in the government because of their Faith, and an anti- Baha'i bias was fostered in respect of employment.

220.9 There was another Minister, Mansour Rouhani, whose father was a Baha'i and mother a Muslim, but he was not, nor had ever been a Baha'i. Further, some years ago, a Baha'i accepted a cabinet post just for a brief time, and he was promptly expelled from the Baha'i community.

<p396>

220.10 It should be categorically denied and refuted that General Nasiri, the late head of SAVAK, as well as his assistants, were ever Baha'is, and it can be stated that their organization was responsible for the dismissal of many of the friends from government offices in Iran.

220.11 It is true that Baha'is must show loyalty to their respective governments, and it is also true that a number of the friends in Iran, while demonstrating this principle, as well as rectitude of conduct and trustworthiness, became known for these qualities and obtained high-ranking, non-political, financial, and administrative positions in the government. However, loyalty and obedience to the government has never meant that the Baha'is agreed with or promoted political principles and policies.

220.12 Another principle of the Faith may be cited, namely, that Baha'is are forbidden to deny their Faith, even if their very lives are at stake. It is an historical fact that thousands of martyrs, given the choice to deny their faith so that their lives would be spared, refused to do so and proclaimed their faith openly, suffering the consequences. Therefore the public should know that whoever denies that he is a Baha'i cannot be a member of the Baha'i community.

220.13 In Iran the officially recognized religious minorities are the adherents of the Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian Faiths, although the Baha'is outnumber them all. The enemies of the Cause in Iran consider the Baha'is as heretical, a 'sect," "cult," or similar group. This is because the Muslims, unlike Baha'is who believe in progressive and continuous divine revelation, believe that no prophet will appear after Muhammad. Therefore, whenever Baha'is are referred to as a sect or group, the friends should try to remove this misunderstanding and proclaim the independent nature of the Faith to the non-Baha'i public.

220.14 The Baha'is are also accused of being against Islam, whereas it is easy to explain to the public that we believe that all religions of the past, including Islam, are divine in origin and are revered and respected by the followers of Baha'u'llah. Indeed, the Author of this Revelation Himself states this fact time and time again in His Writings.

220.15 One of the excuses given by Muslims for hostility to the Faith is the location of our world administrative centre in Israel; in the conflict between some Islamic nations and Israel, the Baha'is have been accused of being Zionists. It should be made clear that Baha'is, who believe in the oneness of humanity and who do not show enmity to any nation, people or creed, cannot take sides in any political controversy. As promoters of genuine love and proclaimers of the unity of mankind, taking sides in such disputes would be diametrically opposed to their religious beliefs. It can be explained, whenever necessary, that Baha'u'llah was sent, in 1868, as a Prisoner to the Holy Land by the Ottoman Emperor. For the remainder of His life He was a Prisoner and <p397> Exile, and He subsequently passed away near 'Akka in 1892. The holiest Shrines of the Baha'i Faith, around which its world administrative centre has been established, are situated in the Holy Land because of events which occurred more than half a century before the establishment of Israel and other countries in this part of the world as independent nations. Holy Shrines of the Muslims, Christians and Jews are also located in the Holy Land. Therefore, it is simple enmity to attack the Baha'i Faith on the basis of the geographical location of its World Centre.

220.16 The Universal House of Justice has requested us to bring these facts to your attention so that you may use them whenever necessary in refuting falsehoods and in answering questions and writing articles and letters to the press.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p398>

Blank Page

<p399>

1979-1986

The Seven Year Plan

<p400>

Blank Page

<p401>

221

Launching of the Seven Year Plan -- Naw-Ruz 1979

Naw-Ruz 1979

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

221.1 The decline of religious and moral restraints has unleashed a fury of chaos and confusion that already bears the signs of universal anarchy. Engulfed in this maelstrom, the Baha'i world community, pursuing with indefeasible unity and spiritual force its redemptive mission, inevitably suffers the disruption of economic, social and civil life which afflicts its fellowmen throughout the planet. It must also bear particular tribulations. The violent disturbances in Persia, coinciding with the gathering in of the bountiful harvest of the Five Year Plan, have brought new and cruel hardships to our long-suffering brethren in the Cradle of our Faith and confronted the Baha'i world community with critical challenges to its life and work. As the Baha'i world stood poised on the brink of victory, eagerly anticipating the next stage in the unfoldment of the Master's Divine Plan, Baha'u'llah's heroic compatriots, the custodians of the Holy Places of our Faith in the land of its birth, were yet again called upon to endure the passions of brutal mobs, the looting and burning of their homes, the destruction of their means of livelihood, and physical violence and threats of death to force them to recant their faith.+F464 They, like their immortal forebears, the Dawn-Breakers, are standing steadfast in face of this new persecution and the ever-present threat of organized extermination.

[F464. The next stage in the unfoldment of 'Abdu'l-Baha's Divine Plan was the Seven Year Plan, 1979-86, introduced in this letter. Its inauguration marked the conclusion of the Five Year Plan, 1974-79.]

221.2 Remembering that during the Five Year Plan the Persian friends far surpassed any other national community in their outpouring of pioneers and funds, we, in all those parts of the world where we are still free to promote the Cause of God, have the responsibility to make good their temporary inability to serve. Therefore, with uplifted hearts and radiant faith, we must arise with redoubled energy to pursue our mighty task, confident that the Lord of Hosts will continue to reward our efforts with the same bountiful grace He vouchsafed to us in the Five Year Plan.

Teaching Victories in the Five Year Plan

221.3 The teaching victories in that Plan have been truly prodigious; the points of light, those localities where the Promised One is recognized, have increased from sixty- nine thousand five hundred to over ninety-six thousand; the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies has grown from seventeen thousand to <p402> over twenty-five thousand; eighteen new National Spiritual Assemblies have been formed. The final report will disclose in all their manifold aspects the magnitude of the victories won.

221.4 In the world at large the Baha'i community is now firmly established. The Institution of the Hands of the Cause of God, the Chief Stewards of Baha'u'llah's embryonic World Commonwealth, is bearing a precious fruit in the development of the International Teaching Centre as a mighty institution of the World Centre of the Faith; an institution blessed by the membership of all the Hands of the Cause; an institution whose beneficent influence is diffused to all parts of the Baha'i community through the Continental Boards of Counsellors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants.

221.5 Advised, stimulated and supported by this vital arm of the Administrative Order,

125 National Spiritual Assemblies are rapidly acquiring experience and growing in wisdom as they administer the complex affairs of their respective communities as organic parts of one world-wide fellowship. More and more Local Spiritual Assemblies are becoming strong focal centres of local Baha'i communities and firm pillars of the National Spiritual Assembly in each land. Even in those countries where the Baha'i Administration cannot operate or has had to be disbanded, countries to which have now been added Afghanistan, the Congo Republic, Niger, Uganda and Vietnam, the believers, while obedient to their governments, nevertheless staunchly keep alive the flame of faith.

Spiritual Development of the Baha'i Community

221.6 Beyond the expansion of the community, vital as it is, the Five Year Plan 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 Baha'i communities embody the distinguishing characteristics of Baha'i 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.

Obstacles and Opportunities

221.7 The conditions of the world present the followers of Baha'u'llah with both obstacles and opportunities. In an increasing number of countries we are witnessing the fulfilment of the warnings that the writings of our Faith contain. "Peoples, nations, adherents of divers faiths," the beloved Guardian wrote, "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 Baha'u'llah has invested the future Baha'i Commonwealth becomes more and more apparent, the fiercer <p403> shall be the challenge which from every quarter will be thrown at the verities it enshrines."+F465 In different countries, in varying degrees, the followers of Baha'u'llah at this very hour are undergoing such attacks, and are facing imprisonment and even martyrdom rather than deny the Truth for whose sake the Bab and Baha'u'llah drained the cup of sacrifice.

[F465. WOB, p. 18.]

221.8 In other lands, such as those in Western Europe, the faithful believers have to struggle to convey the message in the face of widespread indifference, materialistic self- satisfaction, cynicism and moral degradation. These friends, however, still have freedom to teach the Faith in their homelands, and in spite of the discouraging meagreness of outward results they continue to proclaim the Message of Baha'u'llah to their fellow- citizens, to raise high the reputation of the Cause in the public eye, to acquaint leaders of thought and those in authority with its true tenets, and to spare no effort to seek out those receptive souls in every town and village who will respond to the divine summons and devote their lives to its service.

221.9 In many lands, however, there is an eager receptivity for the teachings of the Faith. The challenge for the Baha'is 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 Baha'u'llah, 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 Baha'i communities and become beacons of guidance and havens of refuge to mankind.

221.10 Faced by such a combination of danger and opportunity, the Baha'is, confident in the ultimate triumph of God's purpose for mankind, raise their eyes to the goals of a new Seven Year Plan.

World Centre Goals

221.11 In the Holy Land the strengthening of the World Centre and the augmentation of its world-wide influence must continue:

221.11a The Seat of the Universal House of Justice will be completed and designs will be adopted for the remaining three buildings of the World Administrative Centre of the Faith.+F466

[F466. The seat of the Universal House of Justice was completed and occupied on 2 February 1983. In a letter dated 31 August 1987 to the Baha'is of the world, the Universal House of Justice outlined plans for the completion of the "world-shaking, world-embracing, world-directing administrative institutions" Shoghi Effendi envisioned on Mount Carmel (see letter dated 21 December 1939, in MA, p. 32). The buildings yet to be constructed are the International Baha'i Library, the seat of the International Teaching Centre, and the Centre for the Study of the Texts. Additional projects include extending the present International Archives Building and constructing eighteen monumental terraces from the foot of Mount Carmel to its crest, nine leading to the terrace on which the Shrine of the Bab stands, and nine rising above it.]

<p404>

221.11b The Institution of the International Teaching Centre will be developed and its functions expanded. This will require an increase in its membership and the assumption by it and by the Continental Boards of Counsellors of wider functions in the stimulation on an international scale of the propagation and consolidation of the Faith, and in the promotion of the spiritual, intellectual and community aspects of Baha'i life.+F467

[F467. For information on the establishment of the International Teaching centre, see message dated 5 June 1973 (no. 131); for the elucidation of its duties, see message dated 8 June 1973 (no. 132); for information about its further evolution, see message dated 19 May 1983 (no. 361).]

221.11c The House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha in 'Akka will be opened to pilgrimage.+F468

[F468. The House in 'Akka that served as the residence of 'Abdu'l-Baha and His family from 1896 until their move to Haifa between 1907 and 1910. The House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha was restored under the direction of Hand of the Cause of God Amatu'l- Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and was opened to pilgrims in April 1983. For the message announcing its acquisition, see cable dated 9 January 1975 (no. 154). For an account of its significance, see message dated 4 March 1975 (no. 157).]

221.11d Work will be continued on the collation and classification of the Sacred Texts and a series of compilations gleaned and translated from the writings of the Faith will be sent out to the Baha'i world to help in deepening the friends in their understanding of the fundamentals of the Faith, enriching their spiritual lives, and reinforcing their efforts to teach the Cause.+F469

[F469. During the Seven Year Plan the Universal House of Justice sent to the Baha'i world compilations on the following subjects: inspiring the heart (24 October 1979); divorce (18 January 1980); the importance of prayer, meditation, and the devotional attitude (31 March 1980); attendance at National Spiritual Assembly meetings (26 October 1980); the assistance of God (24 August 1981); prayers and passages from the holy writings (16 September 1991); excellence in all things (23 November 1981); family life (18 February 1982); the importance of deepening our knowledge and understanding of the Faith (13 January 1983); the Law of Huququ'llah (4 July 1985); peace (9 August 1985); women (1 January 1986); and the epochs of the Formative Age (5 February 1986). Translations included the Long Healing Prayer and the Fire Tablet (13 August 1980) and a prayer of 'Abdu'l-Baha for martyred Baha'is and their relatives (11 January 1983). All of the compilations except those on inspiring the heart, attendance at National Spiritual Assembly meetings, and prayers and passages from the holy writings, can be found in The Compilation of Compilations.]

221.11e The ties binding the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations will be further developed.

221.11f Continued efforts will be made to protect the Faith from opposition and to emancipate it from the fetters of persecution.

International Goals

221.12 Each National Spiritual Assembly has been given goals for these first two years of the Plan, designed to continue the process of expansion, to consolidate the victories won, and to attain, where circumstances permit, any goals that may have had to remain unaccomplished at the end of the Five Year Plan. During these first two years we shall be examining, with the Continental <p405> Boards of Counsellors and National Spiritual Assemblies, the conditions and possibilities in each country, and shall be considering in detail the capacities and needs of each of the rapidly differentiating national Baha'i communities before formulating the further goals towards which each community is to work following the opening phase of the Plan.

221.13 Throughout the world the Seven Year Plan must witness the attainment of the following objectives:

221.13a The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of Samoa is to be completed and progress will be made in the construction of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar in India.+F470

[F470. For messages on the excavation of the site of the House of Worship in Samoa and on its dedication, see messages dated 6 December 1979 (no. 242) and August 1984 (no. 403), respectively. For the message on the dedication of the House of Worship in India, see letter dated 24 February 1986 (no. 452).]

221.1 3b Nineteen new National Spiritual Assemblies are to be brought into being: eight in Africa, those of Angola, Bophuthatswana, the Cape Verde Islands, Gabon, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia and Transkei; eight in the Americas, those of Bermuda, Dominica, French Guiana, Grenada, the Leeward Islands, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Vincent; and three in the Pacific, those of the Cook Islands, Tuvalu and the West Caroline Islands. Those National Spiritual Assemblies which have had to be dissolved will, circumstances permitting, be re-established.

221.13c The Message of Baha'u'llah must be taken to territories and islands which are as yet unopened to His Faith.

221.13d The teaching work, both that organized by institutions of the Faith and that which is the fruit of individual initiative, must be actively carried forward so that there will be growing numbers of believers, leading more countries to the stage of entry by troops and ultimately to mass conversion.

221.13e This teaching work must include prompt, thorough and continuing consolidation so that all victories will be safeguarded, the number of Local Spiritual Assemblies will be increased and the foundations of the Cause reinforced.

221.1 3f The interchange of pioneers and travelling teachers, which contributes so importantly to the unity of the Baha'i world and to a true understanding of the oneness of mankind, must continue, especially between neighbouring lands. At the same time, each national Baha'i community must aspire to a rapid achievement of self-sufficiency in carrying out its vital activities, thus acquiring the capacity to continue to function and grow even if outside help is cut off.

221.1 3g Especially in finance is the attainment of independence by national Baha'i communities urgent. Already the persecutions in Iran have deprived the believers in that country of the bounty of contributing to <p406> the international funds of the Faith, of which they have been a major source.+F471 Economic disruption in other countries threatens further diminution of financial resources. 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.

[F471. The Baha'is of Iran were unable at the time to contribute to the faiths international funds because of their inability to send funds to Israel. Also, many had been dismissed from their jobs, had had their savings and pensions seized, and had lost their homes and possessions. Thus the community's financial resources were virtually exhausted.]

221.13h For the prompt achievement of all the goals and the healthy growth of Baha'i community life National Spiritual Assemblies must pay particular attention to the efficient functioning, in the true spirit of the Faith, of their national committees and other auxiliary institutions, and, in consultation with the Continental Boards of Counsellors, must conceive and implement programmes that will guide and reinforce the efforts of the friends in the path of service.

221.13i National Spiritual Assemblies must promote wise and dignified approaches to people prominent in all areas of human endeavour, acquainting them with the nature of the Baha'i community and the basic tenets of the Faith, and winning their esteem and friendship.

221.13i At the heart of all activities, the spiritual, intellectual and community life of the believers must be developed and fostered, requiring: the prosecution with increased vigour of the development of Local Spiritual Assemblies so that they may exercise their beneficial influence and guidance on the life of Baha'i communities; the nurturing of a deeper understanding of Baha'i family life; the Baha'i education of children, including the holding of regular Baha'i classes and, where necessary, the establishment of tutorial schools for the provision of elementary education; the encouragement of Baha'i youth in study and service; and the encouragement of Baha'i women to exercise to the full their privileges and responsibilities in the work of the community -- may they befittingly bear witness to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the immortal heroine of the Baha'i Dispensation, as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of her passing.+F472

[F472. For messages on the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf, see messages nos 275, 313, 321, 329, 334, 337, 338, 340, 341.]

A Time of Testing: A Time for Clinging to the Covenant

221.14 As lawlessness spreads in the world, as governments rise and fall, as rival groups and feuding peoples struggle, each for its own advantage, the plight <p407> of the oppressed and the deprived wrings the heart of every true Baha'i, tempting him to cry out in protest or to arise in wrath at the perpetrators of injustice. For this is a time of testing which calls to mind Baha'u'llah's words, "O concourse of the heedless! I swear by God! The promised day is come, the day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath your feet, saying: 'Taste ye what your hands have wrought!'"+F473

[F473. Quoted in ADJ, p. 81.]

221.15 Now is the time when every follower of Baha'u'llah must cling fast to the Covenant of God, resist every temptation to become embroiled in the conflicts of the world, and remember that he is the holder of a precious trust, the Message of God which, alone, can banish injustice from the world and cure the ills afflicting the body and spirit of man. We are the bearers of the Word of God in this day and, however dark the immediate horizons, we must go forward rejoicing in the knowledge that the work we are privileged to perform is God's work and will bring to birth a world whose splendour will outshine our brightest visions and surpass our highest hopes.

The Universal House of Justice

 

222

Elucidation of Seven Year Plan Goals

Naw-Ruz 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Beloved friends,

222.1 In the message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the world and in its letters to individual communities setting the goals of the first phase of the Seven Year Plan are a number of references which it wishes to amplify for your guidance. Not all will apply to every national Baha'i community, but you will all undoubtedly find interest in reading even those which do not immediately apply to your specific situation. The points we have been asked to set forth are as follows.

Local Spiritual Assemblies

222.2 In August 1970 the House of Justice sent to all National Spiritual Assemblies a compilation of the words of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi on the Local Spiritual Assembly. To supplement this fundamental and most important guidance we now enclose a compilation of extracts from the letters of the Universal House of Justice written between 1966 and 1975, covering the importance of Local Spiritual Assemblies, their development, the <p408> supporting role of the Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, and suggested goals for Local Assemblies.+F474

[F474. See CC II:29-30 and II:39-60. (For the announcement of the first compilation's release, see message dated 11 August 1970, no. 84.)]

222.3 In selecting goal towns for the formation of Local Spiritual Assemblies a National Assembly should ensure that there will be a wide distribution of Local Assemblies throughout the country.

222.4 National Assemblies should consider calling upon every Local Assembly to meet at least once every Baha'i month, and to appoint a local teaching committee wherever it is desirable to do so and has not already been done.

Pioneers and Travelling Teachers

222.5 The need for the services of pioneers and travelling teachers remains very great. In the goals for the initial two-year phase of the Plan few specific assignments for the sending of pioneers and travelling teachers have been made. In recent years a steady stream has begun to flow, and the Universal House of Justice calls upon the followers of Baha'u'llah in the stronger national communities to arise to join this stream. Enclosed are two lists showing those countries which are particularly in need of pioneers and travelling teachers at the present time.+F475 You should publish these as soon as possible. They are also being supplied to the Continental Pioneer Committees, and those friends who arise will be able to decide upon their area of service in consultation with their National Assembly and the appropriate committees. The international funds of the Faith are now very limited, and this adds to the need for pioneers and travelling teachers to be self-supporting.

[F475. The lists are too lengthy to include.]

Youth Teaching

222.6 Experience has shown that youth can render valuable service in many activities of the community, and particularly in taking the message to the members of their own generation. Those in schools and universities have many opportunities to teach their fellow students and faculty members, and many can be particularly effective by attending a school or university in a pioneer goal. During vacations youth can often render outstanding services as travelling teachers. Travelling in teams has been very useful.

Border Teaching

222.7 It is very important that there be collaborative teaching between national Baha'i communities in border areas, both by travel teaching across the border and in the organization of joint teaching campaigns on both sides of it. Each National Spiritual Assembly should study this possibility and, if it finds such projects profitable, should seek the collaboration of its sister National Assemblies and request the advice and assistance of the Continental Board of Counsellors.

<p409>

Teaching Conferences

222.8 These conferences, whether national or regional, in addition to providing good opportunities for fanning the enthusiasm of the friends and fostering their unity, have been effectively used by many National Assemblies as working conferences where reports are given of the status of the goals of the Plan and of the urgent needs and priorities; and, where necessary, calls are raised for pioneers, travelling teachers and funds.

Summer and Winter Schools

222.9 The Guardian once described the institution of the Summer School in a letter written on his behalf, as "a vital and inseparable part of any teaching campaign."+F476 In April 1972 the House of Justice issued a compilation on the importance of Baha'i Summer Schools, and it commends this to every National Spiritual Assembly for study.+F477 In only a few countries has it been possible or timely to acquire properties to house Summer and Winter Schools; in most they are still held in rented premises, and the House of Justice stresses the importance of holding them at as low a cost as possible in a place that is easily accessible to the friends, so that large numbers of believers and inquirers can attend. It is hoped that this activity will become at least an annual feature of the Baha'i community life in every land.

[F477. See CC I:25-44. For the message announcing the compilation's release, see no. 109.]

[F476. UD, p. 110.]

The Baha'i Education of Children

222.10 It is important to hold regular Baha'i children's classes to give the children a thorough grounding in knowledge of the teachings and history of the Faith, to imbue them with its spirit, to establish loving ties between them and to provide them with that firm foundation in the Faith which will enable them to grow up as staunch and enlightened servants of Baha'u'llah. Non-Baha'i parents will often welcome the opportunity of having their children take part in such classes, and this, in addition to the benefit it confers upon the children, may well be a means of attracting their parents to the Faith.

Tutorial Schools

222.11 This is a term, originally adopted in the Baha'i community of India, to describe the simple type of school, organized and conducted under the auspices of the Baha'i administrative institutions, wherein one teacher is employed to conduct classes in reading and writing and elementary subjects for the Baha'i and non-Baha'i children in a village. In addition to the academic subjects he also conducts Baha'i classes for the children and, in his spare time, makes a valuable contribution to the teaching and consolidation work in his own and neighbouring Baha'i communities. The school may be held in the open air, in one of the houses of the Baha'is, in the local Haziratu'l-Quds, or in a simple building constructed for the purpose, as conditions allow.

<p410>

222.12 The teacher's salary as well as the other costs of the school are provided out of fees paid by the parents, supplemented, if necessary and possible, by allocations from the local or national funds.

222.13 In the Tablet of the World Baha'u'llah states that "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."+F478 In many countries this duty is fulfilled through the taxes that the government levies for the support of the state educational system, but there are other lands where no such facilities are provided and the Local Spiritual Assemblies may well begin to fulfil this aspect of their duties by encouraging the local friends to contribute to a special education fund which can be used for the support of tutorial schools or to assist the children of indigent believers to obtain schooling.

[F478. TB, p. 90.]

Publications

222.14 Every National Spiritual Assembly should have a well conceived plan for the provision and dissemination of a balanced supply of Baha'i literature for the believers and for the teaching work. In translation and publication, priority should be given to the Sacred Texts+F479 and the writings of Shoghi Effendi, for without access to the life- giving waters of the Holy Word, how are the believers to deepen in their understanding of the Teachings and convey them accurately to others?

[F479. The Writings of Baha'u'llah, the Bab, and 'Abdu'l-Baha.]

Recordings

222.15 In addition to the publication of Texts and teaching materials for the friends, it would be helpful in areas where the degree of literacy is not high, to find ways to teach the friends Baha'i songs, poems, stories and brief quotations from the Writings as well as prayers. This can be done through the use of cassette tapes or radio broadcasts.

222.16 The goal given to certain national communities to make recordings of the Holy Texts is not intended to imply the large-scale production of cassette tapes but rather the development of locally based programmes for the recording on cassette tapes of passages in the indigenous languages. Such tapes can then be carried by travelling teachers to outlying areas, used in the teaching work, or left behind if there are tape-recorders locally available.

Communications

222.17 Keeping the friends informed of the news of the Faith is so important that every National Assembly is urged to devote attention to the prompt and regular dissemination of its national newsletter, supplemented, where necessary and <p411> feasible, by regional and local news organs.+F480 Some National Assemblies have also found that cassette recordings can be useful for communicating with friends in outlying areas, and radio programmes can, of course, fulfil a similar purpose. Correspondence courses

[F480. For the announcement of a compilation on newsletters, see message dated 24 August 1972 (no. 120).]

222.18 Such courses have proved their usefulness both for teaching the Faith and deepening the knowledge of the believers, and their production has been given as a goal to some national communities. If any National Assembly assigned this goal is not certain how to proceed, it may consult with the Continental Board of Counsellors or write to the Universal House of Justice which will put it in touch with those National Assemblies most likely to be able to help.

Properties

222.19 Many properties have already been acquired in the course of previous plans. It is important that these properties be properly maintained in good repair. National Spiritual Assemblies should set aside sums annually in their budgets for the maintenance of national properties so that when a repair becomes necessary the funds will be available without creating a sudden crisis for the national fund. As far as possible, local Haziratu'l- Quds and other local properties should be kept up by the local friends themselves.

222.20 It is also important to make full use of the properties of the Faith for the purposes for which they were acquired. Well maintained and regularly used properties will not only be a means of fostering Baha'i community life, but will add to the prestige and dignity of the Faith in the eyes of the non-Baha'i public.

222.21 A number of properties called for in the Five Year Plan, such as district and local Haziratu'l-Quds and local endowments, have not yet been acquired, usually as a result of local circumstances beyond the control of the friends. These goals should continue to be diligently pursued so that they will be attained as soon as conditions permit. If there are insuperable difficulties which make such a property unobtainable in the foreseeable future, a full report should be sent to the Universal House of Justice.

222.22 For goals requiring the acquisition of additional local Haziratu'l-Quds during the initial phase of the Seven Year Plan, no budget has been provided for assistance from the International Fund.

222.23 The Universal House of Justice is eagerly anticipating an upsurge of activity in the years ahead, and assures you all of its fervent prayers in the Holy Shrines for the rapid progress of all aspects of the new Plan.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p412>

223

Member of the Universal House of Justice to Address Significant Meetings in North America and Europe

8 May 1979

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States

223.1 IN THE WAKE OF JOYOUS WORLD-WIDE CELEBRATIONS VICTORIES FIVE YEAR

PLAN OUR HEARTS TURN TO OUR BELEAGUERED BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, TO

DEEPENING CRISIS INTERNATIONAL FUND AND ITS SPECIAL IMPACT ON CHALLENGES

FACING BAHA'I WORLD IN OPENING TWO-YEAR PHASE SEVEN YEAR PLAN. OUR

PRAYERFUL CONSIDERATION MEASURES DESIGNED MITIGATE GRAVE PROBLEM

RESULTED IN DECISION ARRANGE A SERIES OF SIGNIFICANT WELL ATTENDED

MEETINGS WITH FRIENDS IN SEVERAL KEY CITIES NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE TO BE

PLANNED BY RESPECTIVE NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES AND ADDRESSED BY MEMBER

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE.+F481 THIS MISSION ASSIGNED TO MR BORRAH

[F481. A similar telex was sent to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada, and a general letter about the visit was sent to the National Spiritual Assemblies of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. A telex dated 18 June 1979 from Mr Borrah Kavelin, member of the Universal House of Justice, was also sent in response to a telex from the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska to inform them that he was prepared to meet with the Baha'is there on the evening of 23 July. For a report of the results of the meetings, see message dated 16 September 1979 (no. 236).]

KAVELIN. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE AND WE DEEM MONTHS OF JULY AND AUGUST

MOST AUSPICIOUS CARRY OUT PROGRAMME, PREFERABLY COVERING UNITED STATES

AND CANADA IN JULY AND EUROPEAN COUNTRIES IN AUGUST. AMONG CITIES IN

UNITED STATES, WE SUGGEST NEW YORK METROPOLITAN AREA, HOUSTON, WILMETTE,

SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES, SAN FRANCISCO. WE WOULD LEAVE TO YOUR

CONVENIENCE THE TIME AND LOCATION OF MEETINGS. YOU MAY ALSO CONSIDER

HAVING OUR REPRESENTATIVE JOIN YOUR JUNE MEETING FOR CONSULTATION AND

PROCEED FROM THERE TO INITIATE PROGRAMME IN STAGES, THENCE TO CANADA.

THERE IS FLEXIBILITY IN ARRANGEMENTS TO MEET CONDITIONS IN BOTH COUNTRIES.

WE DEEM IT HIGHLY FITTING AND WORTHY THAT THIS PROGRAMME BE LAUNCHED IN

THE MUCH-LOVED COMMUNITY CALLED BY THE BELOVED MASTER APOSTLES OF

BAHA'U'LLAH AND NAMED BY SHOGHI EFFENDI PRINCIPAL BUILDERS AND DEFENDERS

OF A MIGHTY ORDER. IN VIEW OF THE URGENCY IN MAKING APPROPRIATE

ARRANGEMENTS ON BOTH CONTINENTS, WE WOULD APPRECIATE AN EARLY RESPONSE

FROM YOU.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p413>

224

Living a Chaste and Holy Life

8 May 1979

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

224.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 12 September 1978 and is impressed with the eager desire you show to train your behaviour in accordance with the standards of the Faith. It has asked us to send you the following comments in answer to your questions.

224.2 On page 25 of The Advent of Divine Justice+F482 the beloved Guardian is describing the requirements not only of chastity, but of "a chaste and holy life" -- both the adjectives are important.+F483 One of the signs of a decadent society, a sign which is very evident in the world today, is an almost frenetic devotion to pleasure and diversion, an insatiable thirst for amusement, a fanatical devotion to games and sport, a reluctance to treat any matter seriously, and a scornful, derisory attitude towards virtue and solid worth. Abandonment of "a frivolous conduct" does not imply that a Baha'i must be sour-faced or perpetually solemn. Humour, happiness, joy are characteristics of a true Baha'i life. Frivolity palls and eventually leads to boredom and emptiness, but true happiness and joy and humour that are parts of a balanced life that includes serious thought, compassion and humble servitude to God are characteristics that enrich life and add to its radiance.

[F483. Shoghi Effendi's discussion of "a chaste and holy life" appears on pp. 29-33 in the 1984 or 1990 editions.]

[F482. See p. 30 in the 1984 or 1990 US Baha'i Publishing Trust editions.]

224.3 Shoghi Effendi's choice of words was always significant, and each one is important in understanding his guidance. In this particular passage, he does not forbid "trivial" pleasures, but he does warn against "excessive attachment" to them and indicates that they can often be "misdirected." One is reminded of 'Abdu'l-Baha's caution that we should not let a pastime become a waste of time.

224.4 Concerning the positive aspects of chastity, the Universal House of Justice states that the Baha'i Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse and holds that the institution of marriage has been established as the channel of its rightful expression. Baha'is do not believe that the sex impulse should be suppressed but that it should be regulated and controlled.

224.5 Chastity in no way implies withdrawal from human relationships. It liberates people from the tyranny of the ubiquity of sex. A person who is in control of his sexual impulses is enabled to have profound and enduring friendships with many people, both men and women, without ever sullying that unique and priceless bond that should unite man and wife.

<p414>

224.6 A believer cannot fulfil his true mission in life as a follower of the Blessed Perfection merely by living according to a set of rigid regulations, as you will recognize. It is neither possible nor desirable for the House of Justice to lay down a set of rules covering every situation. Rather is it the task of the individual believer to determine, according to his own prayerful understanding of the Writings, precisely what his course of conduct should be in relation to situations which he encounters in his daily life. He must continually study the sacred Writings and the instructions of the beloved Guardian, striving always to attain a new and better understanding of their import to him, and orient his life towards service to Baha'u'llah, praying fervently for divine guidance, wisdom and strength to do what is pleasing to God.

224.7 The House of Justice hopes that these comments will be of help to you, and assures you of its prayers in the Holy Shrines that you will be guided and confirmed in your efforts to put into practice the divine teachings.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

225

Seizure of the House of the Bab

10 May 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

225.1 NEWS JUST RECEIVED BLESSED HOUSE SHIRAZ+F484 AND FOUR ADJACENT HOUSES SEIZED BY ARMED MEN LAST WEEK OCCUPIED BY THEM FEW DAYS, BAHA'I CUSTODIANS THEN SENT AWAY AND DOORS LOCKED AND SEALED....

[F484. The House of the Bab was ordained by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas as a place of pilgrimage. In this House the Bab held His celebrated interview with Mulla Husayn (the first to seek out the Bab and independently recognize His station) on the evening of 22 May 1844.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p415>

226

Call for Prayers for the Baha'is of Iran

23 May 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

226.1 Since you were last informed of the recent events in the Cradle of the Faith, news has been received of further persecutions directed against the beloved and steadfast friends.

226.2 Historic sites of the Faith, Haziratu'l-Quds of local communities, and other Baha'i properties in several provinces of Iran have been seized and occupied by forces of the new revolutionary government.+F485 Among the more sacred of these properties are the Most Holy House of the Bab in Shiraz, ordained by Baha'u'llah to be a place of pilgrimage for His followers and regarded by them as the most hallowed Spot in that land, the Siyah-Chal and two ancestral Houses of Baha'u'llah in Tihran and Takur. Ominous signs of the intensification of active repression of the Faith are becoming evident, and the defenceless and vulnerable Persian Baha'i community faces mounting perils to its Holy Places, institutions, properties and even the lives of its members.

[F485. On 1 February 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in France and was greeted by three million supporters. On 16 January 1979 Shah Muhammed Reza Pahlavi left Iran, never to return. On 31 March -- 1 April the public, in a referendum, approved the installation of the Islamic Republic.]

226.3 We call on all believers in every land to offer special prayers for the protection of the Faith and the believers in Iran on the forthcoming anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Bab, on 9 July 1979, supplicating that through God's loving grace this fresh wave of persecution may not seriously harm the interests of His Cause, and that He may remove the obstacles from the path of the friends, and provide the means for the protection of the Holy Places and institutions of His Faith.

226.4 As soon as the Secretariat of your Assembly receives this letter, immediate steps should be taken to inform all the friends under your jurisdiction of the contents of the letter so that as many believers as possible in every land may participate in this day of prayer on behalf of their beleaguered brethren in Iran.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p416>

227

The Increasing Dangers Facing Iranian Baha'is

15 June 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

227.1 Further to the letter of the House of Justice to you of 23 May, the situation in Persia continues to be a cause for deep concern and the friends and Holy Places in the country are in serious danger. We have been directed by the House of Justice to inform you of the following developments in the Cradle of our Faith.

227.2 1. An order has been issued by the authorities requiring the Umana Company to cease functioning under its Baha'i manager and to operate henceforth under a new non-Baha'i management.+F486 This company holds on behalf of the Baha'i community all the properties of the Faith, including the Holy Places. This step is ominous in its implications as it forebodes total confiscation of all our properties, including Baha'i cemeteries. A similar step has been taken in respect to the Baha'i hospital in Tihran, known as the Mithaqiyyih Hospital.

[F486. For information on the Umana Company, see the Glossary.]

227.3 2. As a result of the recent disturbances, local revolutionary committees in Iran have instigated, in rural areas, the looting of the homes of several hundred Baha'i families and the deprivation of their means of livelihood. Although a partial restitution of these properties has taken place, adequate compensation for the losses sustained by the Baha'is has yet to be made.

227.4 3. Efforts are made to silence the religious conscience of the Baha'is, as they are threatened with dismissal from their jobs and loss of their retirement allowances if they refuse to recant their Faith.

227.5 4. Shirkat-i-Nawnahalan, a commercial company of sixty years' standing, in which over 15,000 Baha'is have shares and investments, is occupied, its assets frozen, and its staff prevented from work, and denied their salaries. This action contradicts public proclamations of the new regime as well as accepted international standards.

227.6 5. The proposed drafts of the new constitution as published in the press recognize three religious minorities,+F487 but omit mention of the Baha'is, in spite of the fact that they are the largest religious minority in the country.

[F487. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and Christianity.]

<p417>

227.7 6. The true aims and principles of the Faith are being maliciously misrepresented by a group of fanatical Shi'ah fundamentalists, established over twenty years ago, and one of whose chief aims has been and is to harass the Baha'i community in Iran. This group is presently spreading false allegations against the Baha'is, unjustly accusing them of being enemies of Islam, agents of Zionism and political tools of the previous regime. Such allegations have aroused the passions of uninformed mobs, and created misunderstandings with the authorities. As the Baha'is are not a recognized entity in Iran, they have no opportunity to deny or disprove these false accusations. ...

227.8 One of the Persian friends has also written to the House of Justice a eulogy of the spirit of his fellow-believers at this moment of deep agitation and turmoil in the Cradle of our Faith. A copy of extracts from his letter is enclosed.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

Extracts from a Report of One of the Friends from Persia

227.9 The enemies of the Faith, filled with hatred and cruelty, have once again attacked the wronged and homeless believers and the Baha'i properties. They are truly the return of their bloodthirsty predecessors. The friends have encountered such persecution and have manifested such courage and steadfastness that in every detail they have become the return of the martyrs and the heroes of the Cause of God.+F488 The events of history have become alive once again and are reoccurring. No day passes without the shedding of tears of blood and the anguish of hearts. The news of sad events, like a weighty hammer continually descends upon the Baha'is. No pen is able to describe the degree of afflictions and difficulties inflicted upon these wronged believers.

[F488. The "return of the martyrs and the heroes of the Cause of God" is a reference to the Iranian Babis and Baha'is of the Heroic Age of the Faith (1844-1921) who suffered extreme persecution at the hands of their enemies. During the late 1840s and 1850s, some twenty thousand Babis were killed.]

227.10 About 2,000 men, women, children and youth have sought refuge in the mountains and deserts and live in tents. They have spent many cold and rainy days in the caves of the mountains. Many are injured with broken arms and legs. The small children have lost their ability to talk, having been frightened so much because of the incidents, and the milk of the nursing mothers has dried up. These believers, without having any means of livelihood, pass their days with utmost difficulty and are banished from place to place.

<p418>

227.11 When the believers, hungry and grief-stricken, had gathered together in the wilderness, the enemies sent them chilaw-kabab (kabab with rice) to win their hearts. But those beloved ones did not accept the food and returned it. It is easy to say or write these words, but the bearing of these afflictions is only possible through the power of God. Those few who have denied their faith have escaped to Isfahan, crying and lamenting that they were threatened with the raping of the women of their households. They sit and cry for hours saying they did not know what else to do.

227.12 This is only a glimpse into one incident. Every day, from every corner, there is another cry of grief. The Haziratu'l-Quds of Abadih, where the heads of the early martyrs of the Faith have been buried, has been levelled to the dust. Many other Haziratu'l-Quds have been destroyed. The number of Baha'is in prisons for one reason or another has increased to 20. Many have been discharged from their jobs. Many have lost their retirement allowances. The Ministry of Education has officially sent a circular that those Baha'is who do not deny their faith should be immediately discharged.

227.13 Facing these difficulties, in the midst of the darkness of this oppression and tyranny, are the illumined faces of the National Spiritual Assembly members: the sources of hope. Truly they are angels of God; no, more exalted. Every minute of their lives deserves the reward of a martyr, and each one of them, the reward of a thousand martyrs. They are the personification of steadfastness, courage, and sacrifice, with nothing but the service of the Cause in their hearts and souls. Whenever I looked upon the faces of these illuminated and beloved ones in the meetings of the Assembly, my tears would uncontrollably pour from my eyes.

227.14 There are many such examples amongst the Auxiliary Board members, members of the Assemblies and the youth. Truly, the new creations of God are beyond our imaginations. Unless one witnesses such events in person, the extent of the sacrifice and steadfastness that these friends have manifested cannot be comprehended.

227.15 Whenever I witnessed what befell these believers, the words of God would find meaning in front of my eyes. I had looked up the meaning of these words in the dictionaries, but I did not know that in addition to their obvious meaning they describe, or better even, create new realities. Now that the tempest of trials and afflictions has encircled the community of the beloved ones, the believers who have remained behind and who steadfastly and firmly are bearing the burden of this storm, only can sing the eternal epic of the second century of the Faith. Truly, all of them are the children and descendants of those who watered the tree of the Faith with their pure blood. This tree is still bearing fruit, is still growing! What a glory! What a glory!

227.16 There is so much to say and tell, but the mental anguish is so severe, the conditions are so dark and confused, and the outpouring of the difficulties so abundant that my tongue is not able to utter a word and my mind is bewildered. <p419> I can only cry. May my soul be sacrificed for the faithful followers of Baha'u'llah who have created the greatest epic in the history of the second century of this new Day. One of the guards who had gone to the house of one of the friends had told her that he could not believe the forbearance and patience of the Baha'is and had asked how we could ever do it!

227.17 These are events to remember. Whenever the bloodthirsty enemies or others have returned a part of the looted belongings of the Baha'is, they have refused to accept them, crying that they will not take back what they have given in the path of God. One of the friends ... lost absolutely everything, and refusing the help of the Assembly on the grounds that there were many more needy than he, started to work as a labourer to make a living for his family. He could not bring himself to accept any help whatever from non- Baha'is, or to tell of his situation to friends. A friend related that when he saw him, he was so touched that his knees could no more bear the weight of his body.

227.18 And yet another story. A believer who had incurred a loss of Rls. 170 000,000,+F489 wrote on the questionnaire form of the Assembly that he did not need any help! When everything is gone with the wind, only faith remains.

[F489. Equivalent to about $2,414,000 (US) in 1979.]

227.19 At present thousands of friends in Iran have lost everything, or have lost their jobs and are meeting their expenses by the sale of their belongings. And then there are those who are fleeing from one place to another and in grave danger. This is only the beginning of the journey of love, and its end is not known.

227.20 For five months the National Spiritual Assembly has been meeting at least three or four times a week, for about six to eight continuous hours each time, and devotes

90 per cent of its time to discussion of urgent matters relating to the situation.

227.21 The staff of the Nawnahalan Company have not received their salaries for three months now and about 40 families are affected by this situation.+F490 Many other families who had given whatever they had to the Nawnahalan Company and were dependent on the interest received to pay for their expenses, are left without any income. All petitions and complaints have remained unanswered. Whatever was lost is lost and nothing has been recovered.

[F490. For more information about the Nawnahalan Company, see the Glossary.]

227.22 God willing, I will write a book instead of a letter and present it to you so that perhaps a drop of this ocean of difficulties may be recorded. The request of this servant and every one of the believers is to express our servitude and beseech the House of Justice for its prayers in the Holy Shrines. From whomever I asked whether they had any special request to be conveyed to you, I was told to beg for your prayers that God may give them the power and worthiness to accept and bear the difficulties.

<p420>

228

Advice on Use of Pioneers and Travelling Teachers

28 June 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

228.1 One of the objectives of the Seven Year Plan is the continued settlement of pioneers in needed areas and the movement of travelling teachers. We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to share with you its advice on these vital tasks.

228.2 The House of Justice feels that, while ultimate decisions regarding the selection of pioneers and travelling teachers and the manner in which their services are to be utilized remain, of course, in the hands of National Spiritual Assemblies, a closer degree of communication with Boards of Counsellors in these matters should be maintained. For example, the number of pioneers and travelling teachers to foreign lands which a National Spiritual Assembly can supply during the current year and every subsequent year of the Plan; the degree of dependence of a national community on outside workers and, if needed, how many and from which countries; and when necessary the evaluation of the services of certain pioneers, are among issues that every National Spiritual Assembly can usefully discuss with the Counsellors in its zone. The House of Justice is sure that such consultations would most certainly be conducive to excellent results.

228.3 On a different level, a National Spiritual Assembly may need assistance from Continental Pioneer Committees in the movement of pioneers to their posts or in the co- ordination of visits by travelling teachers. In order to obtain the best results from the collaboration of these Committees, it is important that information and views be exchanged with them speedily and efficiently. The House of Justice feels that it is highly desirable for each National Spiritual Assembly to make arrangements for Continental Pioneer Committees to deal directly with agencies of National Spiritual Assemblies responsible for pioneers and travelling teachers. When a decision is taken in this regard, the name and address of the correspondent or correspondents should be immediately conveyed to the Continental Pioneer Committees concerned.

228.4 The Universal House of Justice assures you of its loving prayers as you exert yourselves to fulfil the goals and tasks ahead.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p421>

229

The Setting of Counsellors' Terms of Service

29 June 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

229.1 MOMENT PROPITIOUS ANNOUNCE DURATION TERMS SERVICE MEMBERS CONTINENTAL BOARDS COUNSELLORS AS ANTICIPATED IN ANNOUNCEMENT ESTABLISHMENT THAT INSTITUTION AND IN CONSTITUTION UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE. DECISION NOW TAKEN THAT TERMS WILL BE OF FIVE YEARS STARTING DAY COVENANT 26 NOVEMBER 1980. SUPPLICATING ANCIENT BEAUTY DIVINE BLESSINGS DEVELOPMENT THIS ESSENTIAL INSTITUTION BAHA'I ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

230

New Member of International Teaching Centre

4 July 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

230.1 JOYFULLY ANNOUNCE APPOINTMENT COUNSELLOR ANNELIESE BOPP TO MEMBERSHIP INTERNATIONAL TEACHING CENTRE.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

231

Conversion of Iranian National Baha'i Headquarters into an Islamic

University

17 July 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

231.1 SITUATION FRIENDS IRAN STEADILY DETERIORATING. REUTERS+F491 HAS SENT WORLD PRESS NEWS RELEASE TWELVE JULY QUOTING OFFICIAL PARIS NEWS AGENCY THAT NATIONAL BAHA'I HEADQUARTERS BEING CONVERTED INTO ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY. ...

[F491. An international news service.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p422>

232

Call for Pioneers

28 July 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

232.1 In order to expedite the dispatch of pioneers called for under the first phase of the Seven Year Plan to the territories named by the Universal House of Justice as having high priority, the House of Justice has decided to make specific assignments to selected National Spiritual Assemblies. A list of these assignments is attached.+F492

[F492. The list is too lengthy to include.]

232.2 It is the hope of the House of Justice that the arrival of these pioneers will be of valuable assistance to you in the promotion of the teaching work in the areas under your jurisdiction. However, as you are aware, the process of preparing and sending pioneers is often time-consuming, and you should not wait for the arrival of these pioneers before making your teaching plans. The success of the efforts of your Assembly is not dependent solely upon the presence and assistance of pioneers, but must in the long term be firmly rooted in the devoted efforts of the local believers themselves.

232.3 You may wish to contact directly the National Assemblies scheduled to provide pioneers for your territory in order to expedite achievement of these important goals.

232.4 You are assured of the loving prayers of the Universal House of Justice at the Holy Threshold for the success of all your efforts in the service of the Cause, and also for all those who arise to fulfil the goals.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

233

Release of Baha'i Prisoners in Baghdad

20 August 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

233.1 The following message has just been telexed by the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'i International Community office in New York:

<p423>

HIGHLY GRATIFIED NEWS JUST RECEIVED ALL BAHA'I PRISONERS BAGHDAD RELEASED AS PART GENERAL AMNESTY. WE OFFER THANKSGIVING BAHA'U'LLAH HIS BOUNTIFUL GRACE ENABLING HIS STEADFAST FRIENDS DEMONSTRATE THEIR UNWAVERING LOYALTY HIS PRECIOUS FAITH.

233.2 The Universal House of Justice is sure that this news will delight the hearts of the friends.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

234

Effects of Baha'i Actions on the Situation in Iran

20 August 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

234.1 Since writing to you on 15 June on behalf of the Universal House of Justice about events and persecutions in Iran, several developments have transpired, and we have been asked to share the information set forth below with you.

234.2 The cumulative effect of the cables sent by Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world, as well as the issuance and quiet circulation of open letters directed to the public in Iran by the National Spiritual Assembly of that country, refuting the false allegations made against the Baha'i Community, seem to have produced, among others, the following results.

234.3 1. The Iranian press has stopped its daily vituperation against the Baha'is.

234.4 2. The official government explanation for the seizure of properties belonging to the Baha'i Community, including the Holy Places, is that these have been seized in order to protect them.

234.5 3. Individual government officials, contacted by representatives of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, have expressed personal sympathy with the Baha'is; however, they seem incapable of effectively helping the friends in their present plight. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p424>

235

Demolition of the House of the Bab

9 September 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

235.1 PERSECUTION OF THE BAHA'IS, THE LARGEST RELIGIOUS MINORITY IN IRAN, HAS TAKEN A NEW TURN. EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING A CROWD OF OVER 100 PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE HEAD OF THE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT FOR RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS IN SHIRAZ, AND ACCOMPANIED BY 25 REVOLUTIONARY GUARDSMEN AND 10 OTHER ARMED MEN, ATTACKED THE MOST HOLY HOUSE OF THE BAB WHICH WAS ORDAINED BY BAHA'U'LLAH, THE FOUNDER OF THE BAHA'I FAITH, TO BE A PLACE OF PILGRIMAGE FOR HIS FOLLOWERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD AND IS REGARDED BY THEM AS THE MOST HALLOWED SPOT IN IRAN. THIS CROWD, WHICH HAD THE KEY TO THE HOUSE, SMASHED AND DISMANTLED DOORS AND WINDOWS, DESTROYED ORNAMENTAL PLASTERWORK, BREACHED THE WALLS AND HACKED TO PIECES A TREE IN THE COURTYARD. THIS MORNING THE WORK OF DEMOLITION IS BEING CONTINUED BY A GROUP OF WORKMEN AND IT IS CLEAR THAT THE PURPOSE IS TO RAZE TO THE GROUND THE HOUSE OF THE BAB AND TWO ADJACENT HOUSES WHICH ALSO BELONG TO THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY.

235.2 A WAVE OF ANGUISHED INDIGNATION IS SWEEPING THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. WHEN ALL BAHA'I HOLY PLACES IN IRAN WERE SEIZED BY THE AUTHORITIES IN RECENT MONTHS, THE PROTESTATIONS OF THE BAHA'IS WERE MET WITH BLAND ASSURANCES, CONFIRMED IN WRITING, THAT THE TAKE-OVER WAS FOR THE PROTECTION OF THESE SACRED PROPERTIES.

235.3 BAHA'IS IN EAST AND WEST ARE REGISTERING VEHEMENT PROTESTS WITH THE IRANIAN AUTHORITIES.+F493

[F493. The Universal House of Justice sent this press release to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States to be shared with the media.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p425>

236

Results of Significant Meetings Addressed By Member of the Universal House Of Justice

16 September 1979

To the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'is of Alaska, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States

Dear Baha'i friends,

236.1 We have been directed by the Universal House of Justice to convey its loving appreciation for the devoted and wholehearted co-operation each of you, as a host National Assembly, extended to its official representative, Mr Borrah Kavelin, in the series of meetings arranged in North America and in Europe extending over a ten-week period that ended on 31 August.+F494

[F494. For the 8 May 1979 message announcing the series of meetings to be addressed by the representative of the Universal House of Justice, see no. 223.]

236.2 In all, 42 meetings were held in 33 cities. It is estimated that a total of more than twelve thousand friends were in attendance at the series of meetings, and that all national Baha'i communities in Europe were represented in that number. It is hoped that the intended distribution by all host National Assemblies to Local Spiritual Assemblies of copies of the taped message of the Universal House of Justice's representative will reach the widest possible number of friends in all countries within the scope of the assigned mission.

236.3 Already, the magnificent response by National and Local Spiritual Assemblies, and by untold numbers of friends, received by the World Centre in the form of commitments and generous and sacrificial contributions, is a noble testament to the wholehearted acceptance of the challenge facing the Baha'i world in the opening two-year phase of the Seven Year Plan, and to the redemption of the ransom imposed upon the beloved friends in the Cradle of the Faith, even as the clouds of persecution and oppression continue to darken the horizon in that troubled land, as evidenced by the tragic news of the severe damage recently inflicted on the Blessed House of the Bab in Shiraz.

236.4 The Universal House of Justice is serenely confident that each of you, in collaboration with the institution of the Continental Board of Counsellors, will maintain, and indeed enhance, the high level of activity called for in successfully overcoming the crisis we face. Ardent and loving prayers at the Divine Threshold will be offered for the blessings and confirmations of Baha'u'llah to surround you in your devoted labours.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p426>

237

Assassination of the Hand of the Cause of God Enoch Olinga

17 September 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

237.1 WITH GRIEF-STRICKEN HEARTS ANNOUNCE TRAGIC NEWS BRUTAL MURDER DEARLY LOVED GREATLY ADMIRED HAND CAUSE GOD ENOCH OLINGA BY UNKNOWN GUNMEN COURTYARD HIS KAMPALA HOME.+F495 HIS WIFE ELIZABETH AND THREE OF HIS CHILDREN BADI, LENNIE AND TAHIRIH HAVE ALSO FALLEN INNOCENT VICTIMS THIS CRUEL ACT. MOTIVE ATTACK NOT YET ASCERTAINED. HIS RADIANT SPIRIT, HIS UNWAVERING FAITH, HIS ALL-EMBRACING LOVE, HIS LEONINE AUDACITY IN THE TEACHING FIELD, HIS TITLES KNIGHT BAHA'U'LLAH, FATHER VICTORIES CONFERRED BELOVED GUARDIAN, ALL COMBINE DISTINGUISH HIM AS PRE-EMINENT MEMBER HIS RACE IN ANNALS FAITH AFRICAN CONTINENT URGE FRIENDS EVERYWHERE HOLD MEMORIAL GATHERINGS BEFITTING TRIBUTE HIS IMPERISHABLE MEMORY. FERVENTLY PRAYING HOLY SHRINES PROGRESS HIS NOBLE SOUL AND SOULS FOUR MEMBERS HIS PRECIOUS FAMILY.+F496

[F496. In separate cables the Universal House of Justice directed that memorial services be held in all Houses of Worship.]

[F495. For an account of the life and services of Enoch Olinga, see BW 18:618-35.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

238

Omission of Baha'is as Recognized Religious Minority from Iranian Constitution

20 September 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

238.1 FRAMERS NEW CONSTITUTION IRAN APPROVED CLAUSE RECOGNIZING MINORITY RELIGIONS SPECIFYING JEWS CHRISTIANS ZOROASTRIANS BUT OMITTING MENTION BAHA'IS. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p427>

239

Refutation of Accusations against Iranian Baha'is

17 October 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

239.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to send you the attached material. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

239.2 IRANIAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES OUTSIDE IRAN HAVE APPARENTLY ADOPTED A UNIFORM STAND IN THEIR REPLIES TO APPEALS BEING MADE ON BEHALF OF THE IRANIAN BAHA'IS. THEY SAY THAT BAHA'IS IN IRAN, UNLIKE BAHA'IS ELSEWHERE, HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN POLITICS, CONSPIRED WITH AND WERE FAVOURED AND SUPPORTED BY THE PREVIOUS REGIME, AND WERE PROMINENT MEMBERS OF SAVAK.+F497 IN SUPPORT OF THESE STATEMENTS THESE OFFICIALS NAME AS BAHA'IS: FORMER PRIME MINISTER ABBAS AMIR HOVEIDA, A FORMER MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE MANSOUR ROUHANI, A SAVAK SENIOR OFFICER PARVIZ SABETI, AND THE PHYSICIAN TO THE SHAH DR AYADI

[F497. SAVAK is a Persian acronym meaning in English "National Security and Information Organization". SAVAK functioned as the Iranian secret police during the Shah's reign.]

239.3 THE FACTS ARE THAT HOVEIDA'S GRANDFATHER WAS A BAHA'I, HIS FATHER WAS EXPELLED FROM THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY BECAUSE HE BECAME INVOLVED IN POLITICAL ACTIVITY, AND HOVEIDA HIMSELF WAS NEVER A BAHA'I. ROUHANI'S FATHER WAS A BAHA'I, HIS MOTHER A DEVOUT MUSLIM, BUT ROUHANI WAS NEVER A BAHA'I SABETI'S PARENTS WERE BAHA'IS, AND THEY REGISTERED HIM IN THE COMMUNITY AS A BAHA'I CHILD. HOWEVER, WHEN HE CAME OF AGE HE DID NOT HIMSELF REGISTER AS A BAHA'I AND NEVER BECAME A MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY UNLIKE CHILDREN OF OTHER RELIGIONS, BAHA'I CHILDREN DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY INHERIT THE FAITH OF THEIR PARENTS. WHEN THEY COME OF AGE THEY MUST OF THEIR OWN VOLITION EXPRESS THEIR BELIEF IN BAHA'U'LLAH AND HIS TEACHINGS. DR AYADI, HOWEVER, IS A BAHA'I HE HELD TWO POSITIONS: ONE AS DIRECTOR OF THE ARMY MEDICAL SERVICE; THE OTHER AS PRIVATE PHYSICIAN OF THE COURT. NEITHER OF THESE TWO POSITIONS WAS REGARDED BY THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY AS POLITICAL IN NATURE.

239.4 ALTHOUGH SOME BAHA'IS WITH UNIQUE QUALIFICATIONS WERE PLACED IN POSITIONS OF TRUST BECAUSE OF THEIR ABILITY AND INTEGRITY, IT IS NOT TRUE TO SAY THAT BAHA'IS WERE FAVOURED BY THE PREVIOUS REGIME. ON THE CONTRARY, THEY WERE DENIED CIVIL RIGHTS, SUCH AS PERMISSION TO REGISTER THEIR BAHA'I MARRIAGES, PRIVILEGE TO HOLD BAHA'I RELIGIOUS ENDOWMENTS IN NAME <p428> OF BAHA'I COMMUNITY, AND FREEDOM TO PUBLISH BAHA'I LITERATURE OR ESTABLISH BAHA'I SCHOOLS (INDEED DURING THE REIGN OF MUHAMMAD REZA SHAH'S FATHER, OVER THIRTY BAHA'I SCHOOLS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY WERE PERMANENTLY CLOSED). MANY OF RANK AND FILE OF BAHA'IS WERE DENIED JOBS AND SOMETIMES EVEN THEIR RIGHTS TO PENSIONS BECAUSE OF THEIR REFUSAL TO DENY THEIR FAITH.

239.5 AS TO THE ALLEGED ROLE OF BAHA'IS IN SAVAK, THIS IS LIKEWISE UNTRUE. FOR EXAMPLE, IN JANUARY 1979, THROUGH THE MACHINATIONS OF SAVAK, AN ORDER WAS GIVEN TO SYSTEMATICALLY LOOT AND BURN OR OTHERWISE DESTROY HUNDREDS OF HOMES OF BAHA'IS. THIS IS A FACT ATTESTED TO BY MUSLIM CLERICS BELONGING TO THE PRESENT REGIME+F498 WHO, DURING THAT PERIOD OF TERROR AND VIOLENCE AGAINST THE BAHA'IS, WERE AMONG THE FIRST TO TRY TO DISSUADE THE MOBS FROM PARTICIPATING IN THE SAVAK PLAN, SINCE THE CLERGY KNEW THAT THE AIM OF THIS PLAN WAS TO GIVE EXCUSE TO SAVAK TO DISCREDIT AND SUPPRESS THEM.

[F498. The Islamic Republic, which was led at that time by Ayatollah Khomeini.]

239.6 SUMMARIZING THE FOREGOING -- IT IS FEARED THAT THE PRESENT REGIME, AS INDICATED BY THE SIMILARITY OF THE STATEMENTS BEING GIVEN OUT BY IRANIAN DIPLOMATIC AGENCIES, IS ATTEMPTING TO JUSTIFY ACTIONS BEING TAKEN AGAINST THE BAHA'IS BY ASSERTING THAT THE BAHA'I FAITH IS NOT A RELIGION BUT A POLITICAL PARTY, AND THAT THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY SUPPORTED THE PREVIOUS REGIME AND THEREBY BECAME POWERFUL AND WEALTHY. THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER CAN BE FOUND IN THE BAHA'I PRINCIPLE AND PRACTICE OF COMPLETE ABSTENTION FROM PARTICIPATION IN PARTISAN POLITICS WHICH WAS DEMONSTRATED IN IRAN IN 1975 WHEN BAHA'IS EVEN IN THE FACE OF THREATS REFUSED TO BECOME MEMBERS OF THE RASTAKHIZ PARTY PROMOTED BY THE PREVIOUS REGIME.+F499 IN ONE CASE WHEN A BAHA'I ACCEPTED A CABINET POST UNDER DURESS HE WAS DEPRIVED OF MEMBERSHIP IN THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY. AS TO THE ALLEGATION THAT THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY REAPED FINANCIAL REWARD BECAUSE OF ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT WITH THE PREVIOUS REGIME THE FACT IS THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF IRANIAN BAHA'IS ARE OF THE POORER CLASSES LIVING IN VILLAGES. FEW ARE WEALTHY, AND AMONG THEM A NUMBER WERE BUSINESSMEN WHO PROVIDED FACILITIES FOR EMPLOYMENT OF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS. THE FEW WHO RIGHTLY OR WRONGLY ARE BEING ACCUSED OF CORRUPTION AND OTHER OFFENCES SHOULD NOT BE REGARDED AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE. IT IS AN INJUSTICE TO HOLD ANY RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ILL-DOINGS OF ANY ONE OF ITS MEMBERS WHO FAILS TO REFLECT THE PRINCIPLES PROMULGATED BY THAT RELIGION.

[F499. In 1975 the Shah founded the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party, the only government authorized political party. In the face of government pressure to join, Baha'is refused, in adherence to the Baha'i principle of non-involvement in political activities.]

239.7 AS THE NEW CONSTITUTION MAKES NO REFERENCE TO THE BAHA'IS, WAYS AND MEANS SHOULD BE SOUGHT TO EXTEND TO THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY PROTECTION <p429> OF ITS INTERESTS, AND TO ENSURE FOR ITS INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS BASIC CIVIL RIGHTS THUS AVOIDING FRICTION AND FRUSTRATION IN SUCH OFT-RECURRING PERSONAL PROBLEMS RELATED TO REGISTRATION OF MARRIAGES AND BIRTHS, EMPLOYMENT, TRAVELLING DOCUMENTS, ETC.

239.8 UNLESS THESE DISABILITIES CURRENTLY AFFLICTING IRAN'S LARGEST RELIGIOUS MINORITY ARE REMEDIED, FANATICAL ELEMENTS WILL BE GIVEN FREE REIN TO REPEATEDLY RESORT TO MOB VIOLENCE AGAINST THE BAHA'IS, EMBARRASSING THE GOVERNMENT AND PREVENTING HOPED-FOR PEACE AND TRANQUILLITY IN THAT COUNTRY. ...

239.9 ONE OF THE OFT-REPEATED ACCUSATIONS AGAINST BAHA'IS IS THAT THEY ARE ENEMIES OF ISLAM. THIS CHARGE ASSUMES NOW NEW PROPORTIONS AS MANY RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES IN NEW CONSTITUTION APPLY ONLY IF INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES CONCERNED ARE NOT REGARDED AS ANTI-ISLAMIC. HENCE OFFICIAL BRANDING BAHA'I FAITH AS ANTI-ISLAMIC MAY BE CONVENIENT DEVICE TO DENY BAHA'IS ESSENTIAL HUMAN RIGHTS. FURTHERMORE, SOMETIMES DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN BAHA'I FAITH AND OTHER RELIGIONS BY STATING THAT OUR FAITH APPEARED AFTER ISLAM AND THEREFORE IS NOT CONSIDERED BY MUSLIMS AS A RELIGION ENTITLED TO RIGHTS OF OTHER RELIGIONS. SUCH THEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES SHOULD NOT BE CAUSE DENIAL CIVIL RIGHTS. SAME SITUATION APPLIES TO MUSLIMS WHO RESIDE IN CHRISTIAN COUNTRIES, AND ENJOY FULL RELIGIOUS AND CIVIL RIGHTS.

239.10 REGARDING PROPERTIES HELD BY UMANA COMPANY.+F500 THESE PROPERTIES CONSIST PRIMARILY OF BAHA'I HOLY AND HISTORICAL SITES HELD IN TRUST BY IRANIAN BAHA'IS ON BEHALF THEIR CO-RELIGIONISTS THROUGHOUT WORLD AS WELL AS PROPERTIES OF PURELY RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE SUCH AS TEMPLE LAND, COMMUNITY CENTRES AND CEMETERIES AND MANY OF THESE HAVE BEEN IN BAHA'I POSSESSION FOR OVER A CENTURY.

[F500. For information about the Umana Company, see the Glossary.]

239.11 REGARDING NAWNAHALAN:+F501 THIS COMPANY WAS FOUNDED PRIOR TO RULE PAHLAVI DYNASTY. OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF FIFTEEN THOUSAND BAHA'IS WHO HAVE SHARES AND INVESTMENTS IN COMPANY ARE NOT OF WEALTHY CLASS, AND DEPEND FOR THEIR LIVELIHOOD ON INCOME THEY WERE DERIVING FROM THEIR ASSETS IN THE COMPANY....

[F501. For information about Nawnahalan, see the Glossary.]

<p430>

240

Release of a Compilation on Inspiring the Heart

24 October 1979

 

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

240.1 The provision and dissemination of a balanced supply of Baha'i literature is one of the aims set forth in the Seven Year Plan. The Universal House of Justice has been considering this aspect of the Plan, and has asked us to convey its comments to you.

240.2 The House of Justice hopes that every National Spiritual Assembly will provide the believers under its jurisdiction with publications of the Words of Baha'u'llah, the Bab, and 'Abdu'l-Baha. It is explicit in the Holy Text that the followers of the Most Great Name should recite the verses daily. How is this possible for the thousands of Baha'is who do not have access to these Holy Words in a language which they can understand? Furthermore, the way is open for the consolidation and maturing of the Baha'i community when the hearts of its members can be exposed to the Divine Teachings in their pure form.

240.3 With these principles in mind, the House of Justice asked a committee at the World Centre to prepare a compilation from previously published texts covering a broad range of subjects dealt with by the Central Figures of the Faith, including material which can be easily comprehended, inspire the heart, strengthen the spirit of faith, and enrich the spiritual understanding of the reader.

240.4 Such a compilation has now been prepared, and it is being sent to you by airmail under separate cover.+F502 It is not meant to supersede any material you may have already compiled. It is a sample of what can be done in this vital area of Baha'i activity. You should, therefore, feel free to use or translate as much or as little of this material as you wish, to add selections from the Writings which you feel are particularly applicable to the friends in your area, and to publish and distribute your own compilations as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

[F502. The compilation was published under the title Inspiring the Heart by the Baha'i Publishing Trust of the United Kingdom (n.d.).]

240.5 It is the hope of the Universal House of Justice that the workers in the Divine Vineyard in every land will always and increasingly have recourse to the Writings revealed by the Central Figures of our Faith, will appreciate the potency of the Holy Word, and will allow its ennobling and spiritualizing influence to stimulate and direct their personal lives and guide them in devoted services to the Cause of God.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p431>

241

Demolition of the House of the Bab and Adjacent Baha'i Properties

19 November 1979

To National Spiritual Assemblies

241.1 WITH SORROWFUL HEARTS SHARE NEWS FRESH ATTACK BAB'S HOUSE HAS RESULTED DEMOLITION REMNANTS BLESSED HOUSE AND DESTRUCTION TWO OTHER ADJACENT BAHA'I PROPERTIES. WALLS SEPARATING COURTYARDS THESE HOUSES AND ALL WALLS BORDERING STREET ALSO DISMANTLED. DEMOLITION ADDITIONAL BAHA'I HOUSES IMMEDIATE VICINITY GRAVELY THREATENED. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

242

Excavation of Temple Site in Western Samoa

6 December 1979

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

242.1 JOYFULLY ANNOUNCE COMMENCEMENT EXCAVATION TEMPLE SITE SAMOA PRESENCE HIS HIGHNESS MALIETOA TANUMAFILI II+F503 SPECIAL CEREMONY, DECEMBER FIRST. THIS HISTORIC EVENT COINCIDES COMPLETION EXCAVATION AND LETTING TENDERS FOR CONSTRUCTION MOTHER TEMPLE INDIA. CONFIDENT THESE VICTORIES WILL RAISE SPIRITS BRING JOY HEARTS FRIENDS DISTRESSED RECENT EVENTS CRADLE FAITH. OFFERING ARDENT PRAYERS THANKSGIVING HOLY THRESHOLD.

[F503. The first reigning monarch to become a Baha'i. For the announcement of his acceptance of the Faith, see message dated 7 May 1973 (no. 130); for the announcement of his visit to the resting-place of Shoghi Effendi, see message dated 5 October 1976 (no. 177).]

Universal House of Justice

 

243

Passing of the Hand of the Cause of God Rahmatu'llah Muhajir

30 December 1979

To all Hands of the Cause of God and National Spiritual Assemblies

243.1 PROFOUNDLY LAMENT UNTIMELY PASSING IN QUITO ECUADOR BELOVED HAND CAUSE RAHMATU'LLAH MUHAJIR FOLLOWING HEART ATTACK COURSE HIS LATEST <p432> SOUTH AMERICAN TOUR+F504 UNSTINTED UNRESTRAINED OUTPOURING OF PHYSICAL SPIRITUAL ENERGIES BY ONE WHO OFFERED HIS ALL PATH SERVICE HAS NOW CEASED. POSTERITY WILL RECORD HIS DEVOTED SERVICES YOUTHFUL YEARS CRADLE FAITH HIS SUBSEQUENT UNIQUE EXPLOITS PIONEERING FIELD SOUTHEAST ASIA WHERE HE WON ACCOLADE KNIGHTHOOD BAHA'U'LLAH HIS CEASELESS EFFORTS OVER TWO DECADES SINCE HIS APPOINTMENT HAND CAUSE STIMULATING IN MANY LANDS EAST WEST PROCESS ENTRY BY TROOPS. FRIENDS ALL CONTINENTS WHO MOURN THIS TRAGIC LOSS NOW SUDDENLY DEPRIVED COLLABORATION ONE WHO ENDEARED HIMSELF TO THEM THROUGH HIS GENTLENESS HIS LUMINOUS PERSONALITY HIS EXEMPLARY UNFLAGGING ZEAL HIS CREATIVE ENTHUSIASTIC APPROACH TO FULFILMENT ASSIGNED GOALS. URGE FRIENDS EVERYWHERE HOLD MEMORIAL GATHERINGS BEFITTING HIS HIGH STATION UNIQUE ACHIEVEMENTS. MAY HIS RADIANT SOUL ABHA KINGDOM REAP RICH HARVEST HIS DEDICATED SELF- SACRIFICING SERVICES CAUSE GOD. ...

[F504. For an account of the life and services of Rahmatu'llah Muhajir, see BW 18:651-69.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

244

Release of a Compilation on Divorce

18 January 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

244.1 The Universal House of Justice has noted with increasing concern that the undisciplined attitude of present-day society towards divorce is reflected in some parts of the Baha'i World Community. Our Teachings on this subject are clear and in direct contrast to the loose and casual attitude of the "permissive society," and it is vital that the Baha'i Community practice these Teachings.

244.2 In order to help the believers appreciate the need to preserve the sacred marital bond, the Research Department has, at the instruction of the House of Justice, prepared a compilation of texts on the reprehensibility of divorce in the light of our Teachings.+F505 This compilation is now ready and is being shared with all National Spiritual Assemblies, who are left free to use the texts in any manner they deem advisable.

[F505. See CC I:235-44.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p433>

245

Passing of Inparaju Chinniah, Continental Counsellor

7 February 1980

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Malaysia

245.1 DEEPLY GRIEVED UNTIMELY PASSING DEVOTED CO-WORKER INPARAJU CHINNIAH.+F506 HIS OUTSTANDING UNTIRING SERVICES INSTITUTIONS FAITH BOTH MALAYSIA AND SOUTHEAST ASIA SHED LUSTRE ANNALS CAUSE GOD ENTIRE REGION. PRAYING HOLY THRESHOLD PROGRESS SOUL ABHA KINGDOM MAY BELOVED FRIENDS MALAYSIA INCREASE FERVOUR SERVITUDE BAHA'U'LLAH FOLLOW EXAMPLE DEPARTED FRIEND COMPENSATE HIS LOSS THEIR MIDST ASSURE FAMILY FRIENDS SYMPATHY ADVISE HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL MEETINGS.

[F506. For an account of the life and services of Inparaju Chinniah, see BW 18:711-13.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

246

Message to Iranian Baha'is Throughout the World

10 February 1980

To the dear Iranian believers resident in other countries throughout the world+F507

[F507. This is an English translation, prepared by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom, of a letter originally written in Persian. In a letter dated 29 July 1980 in which it forwarded the English translation to all National Spiritual Assemblies, the Universal House of Justice wrote: "The message includes several quotations from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi hitherto untranslated into English. The English texts of these passages, as they appear in the attached translated message, have been checked and approved at the World Centre, and may be regarded by the friends as authorized texts."]

246.1 In these tumultuous days when the lovers of the Best Beloved are remote from their homeland, associated with their fellow-believers in other lands, and participating in the services of the loyal supporters throughout the world, we felt it necessary to convey our thoughts to those distinguished friends, with absolute sincerity and affection, and invite them to that which we believe can guarantee their tranquillity and happiness, as well as their eternal salvation and redemption, so that with firm steps and sure hearts they may, God willing, withstand the onslaughts which have and will afflict all the countries of the globe. Thus they may fix their gaze on the dawn of the fulfilment of the soul- vitalizing promises of God and remain certain that behind these dark clouds the Sun of the Will of God is shining resplendent from its height of glory and might. Before long these dark clouds of contention, negligence, <p434> fanaticism, and rebellion shall disperse, the day of victory shall dawn above the horizon, and a new age shall illumine the world. It should not be surmised that the events which have taken place in all corners of the globe, including the sacred land of Iran, have occurred as isolated incidents without any aim and purpose. According to the words of our beloved Guardian, "The invisible hand is at work and the convulsions taking place on earth are a prelude to the proclamation of the Cause of God."+F508 This is but one of the mysterious forces of this supreme Revelation which is causing the limbs of mankind to quake and those who are drunk with pride and negligence to be thunderstruck and shaken. To the truth of this testifies the sacred verse: "The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order,"+F509 and the repeated warnings of the Pen of the Most High, such as:

[F509. GWB, p. 136.]

[F508. From an unpublished letter.]

246.1a The world is encircled with calamities. Even if at times some good may be evident, it is inevitable that a great calamity followeth -- and yet no one on earth hath perceived its origin.+F510

[F510. From an unpublished Tablet.]

246.1 b The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then and only then will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.+F511

[F511. Quoted in WOB, p. 33.]

The Calamities Ahead

246.2 Similarly, the Pen of the Centre of the Covenant has repeatedly prophesied the intolerable calamities which must beset this wayward humanity ere it heeds the life- giving Teachings of Baha'u'llah.

246.3 Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion is the impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world, and its laws, exhortations and teachings, the source of life on earth.+F512

[F512. From an unpublished Tablet.]

246.4 Every discerning eye clearly sees that the early stages of this chaos have daily manifestations affecting the structure of human society; its destructive <p435> forces are uprooting time-honoured institutions which were a haven and refuge for the inhabitants of the earth in bygone days and centuries, and around which revolved all human affairs. The same destructive forces are also deranging the political, economic, scientific, literary, and moral equilibrium of the world and are destroying the fairest fruits of the present civilization. Political machinations of those in authority have placed the seal of obsolescence upon the root principles of the world's order. Greed and passion, deceit, hypocrisy, tyranny, and pride are dominating features afflicting human relations. Discoveries and inventions, which are the fruit of scientific and technological advancements, have become the means and tools of mass extermination and destruction and are in the hands of the ungodly. Even music, art, and literature, which are to represent and inspire the noblest sentiments and highest aspirations and should be a source of comfort and tranquillity for troubled souls, have strayed from the straight path and are now the mirrors of the soiled hearts of this confused, unprincipled, and disordered age. Perversions such as these shall result in the ordeals which have been prophesied by the Blessed Beauty in the following words: "... the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out." "The day is approaching when its [civilization's] flame will devour the cities."+F513

[F513. TB, p. 166; Baha'u'llah, quoted in PDIC P3.]

The Vision

246.5 In such an afflicted time, when mankind is bewildered and the wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Baha, who have confidence in His unfailing grace and divine guidance, are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and all are essential instruments for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth. In other words, on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of His loving guidance are, in this Formative Age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic-stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.

The Responsibility of Providing an Example

246.6 One of their sacred responsibilities is to exemplify in their lives those attributes which are acceptable at His Sacred Threshold. Others must inhale from <p436> them the holy fragrances of the homeland of Baha'u'llah, the land which is the birthplace of self-sacrificing martyrs and devoted lovers of the Omnipotent Lord. They must not forget that Baha'is throughout the world expect much from the Iranian believers. They should hearken to the life-giving clarion call which their Peerless Beloved has given to the friends in Iran:

246.6a The wish of 'Abdu'l-Baha, that which attracts His good pleasure, and, indeed, His binding command, is that Baha'is, in all matters, even in small daily transactions and dealings with others, should act in accordance with the divine Teachings. He has commanded us not to be content with lowliness, humility and meekness, but rather to become manifestations of selflessness and utter nothingness. Of old, all have been exhorted to loyalty and fidelity, compassion and love; in this supreme Dispensation, the people of Baha are called upon to sacrifice their very lives. Notice the extent to which the friends have been required in the Sacred Epistles and Tablets, as well as in our Beloved's Testament, to be righteous, well-wishing, forbearing, sanctified, pure, detached from all else save God, severed from the trappings of this world and adorned with the mantle of a goodly character and godly attributes.+F514

[F514. "Our Beloved's Testament" refers to 'Abdu'l-Baha's Will and Testament.]

246.6b First and foremost, one should use every possible means to purge one's heart and motives, otherwise, engaging in any form of enterprise would be futile. It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom. Moreover, the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay impossible, for any enterprise to prosper and develop when deprived of divine bestowals and confirmation. One can hardly imagine what a great influence genuine love, truthfulness and purity of motives exert on the souls of men. But these traits cannot be acquired by any believer unless he makes a daily effort to gain them. Let not the stranger, the envious and the enemy have cause to attribute the sublimity of the Faith in the past and in its early days to the appearance of outstanding and sanctified souls and the perseverance of martyrs whose absence today implies the necessary decline, weakening, scattering and annihilation of the Faith of Baha'u'llah.+F515

[F515. Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 19 December 1923 to the Baha'is of the East. The letter was published in its entirety in Persian in Tawqi'at-i-Mubarakih ("Blessed Letters"), vol. I (Tihran: Baha'i Publishing Trust, [1972]): 158-79. Parts of the letter translated into English appear in the compilations Living the Life (see CC II:1267), Excerpts from the Writings of the Guardian on the Baha'i Life, comp. the Universal House of Justice (Toronto, Ont.: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada, 1973), and The Gift of Teaching (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1977), albeit in slightly variant translations.]

<p437>

246.6c We beseech God to aid and assist them daily to centre their attentions on these divine admonitions and to tread the path of faithfulness so as to secure abiding happiness.

The Responsibility of Serving God

246.7 Another of the sacred responsibilities of the believers is their spiritual commitment to serve God's Sacred Threshold at all times and under all conditions so that they may dedicate the few, fleeting days of their lives -- particularly in this age of transition -- to the Cause of God, unmindful of the vicissitudes of fortune, trusting in Providence, and relieved of worries and anxieties. Witness what joyful tidings the Pen of the Most High has given to such blessed souls:

246.7a Whatsoever occurreth in the world of being is light for His loved ones and fire for the people of sedition and strife. Even if all the losses of the world were to be sustained by one of the friends of God, he would still profit thereby, whereas true loss would be borne by such as are wayward, ignorant and contemptuous. Although the author+F516 of the following saying had intended it otherwise, yet We find it pertinent to the operation of God's immutable Will: "Even or odd, thou shalt win the wager." The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth. In fire they remain cold, and from water they emerge dry. Their affairs are at variance with the affairs of men. Gain is their lot, whatever the deal. To this testifieth every wise one with a discerning eye, and every fair-minded one with a hearing ear.+F517

[F517. See CC I:153-54.]

[F516. Sa'di, Muslihu'd-Din of Shiraz (d. AH 691/AD 1291), famed author of the "Gulistan" and other poetical works.]

The Responsibility of Moderation

246.8 Yet another sacred duty is that of clinging to the cord of moderation in all things, lest they who are to be the essence of detachment and moderation be deluded by the trappings of this nether world or set their hearts on its adornments and waste their lives. If they are wealthy, they should make these bestowals a means of drawing nigh unto God's Threshold, rather than being so attached to them that they forget the admonitions of the Pen of the Most High. The Voice of Truth has said, "Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom."+F518 If wealth and prosperity become the means of service at God's Threshold, it is highly meritorious; otherwise it would be better to avoid them. Turn to the Book of the Covenant, the Hidden <p438> Words, and other Tablets, lest the cord of your salvation become a rope of woe which will lead to your own destruction. How numerous are those negligent souls, particularly from among your own compatriots, who have been deprived of the blessings of faith and true understanding. Witness how, no sooner had they attained their newly amassed wealth and status, than they became so bewitched by them as to forget the virtues and true perfections of man's station. They clung to their empty and fruitless lifestyle. They had naught else but their homes, their commercial success, and their ornamental trappings of which to be proud. Behold their ultimate fate. Many a triumphal arch was reduced to a ruin, many an imperial palace was converted into a barn. Many a day of deceit turned into a night of despair. Vast treasures changed hands and, at the end of their lives, they were left only with tears of loss and regret. "... all that perisheth and changeth is not, and hath never been, worthy of attention, except to a recognized measure."+F519 Therefore the people of Baha must not fall prey to the corruption of the ruthless, but rather cling to contentment and moderation. They must make their homes havens for the believers, folds for their gatherings and centres for the promulgation of His Cause and the diffusion of His love, so that people of all strata, whether high or low, may feel at home and be able to consort in an atmosphere of love and fellowship.

[F519. TB, p. 219.]

[F518. TB, p. 35.]

The Responsibility of Resettling

246.9 Another sacred responsibility of those dear Iranian friends now living abroad is to consult with the Assemblies and Baha'i Institutions so that their settlement in needy areas may help the establishment and consolidation of the Faith. They must serve on the pioneer front wherever they reside. They must not allow themselves to be drawn to and congregate in areas where their relatives or friends reside, unaware of the pioneering needs of the Faith. Praised be God that, through the blessings of the Greatest Name, the believers have been imbued with a love and unity which transcends the ties of kinship and friendship and overcomes the barriers of language and culture. Therefore there is no need for the Iranian friends to congregate in one place. Often such a congregation creates problems. For example, should the number of Iranians exceed the number of native believers in a community, they would inadvertently bring about such difficulties as might hamper the progress of the Cause of God, and the world-conquering religion of the Abha Beauty might appear to others as a religion which is limited and peculiar to Iranians. This could but lead to a waste of time and the disenchantment of both Baha'is and non- Baha'is. Under such circumstances the dear Iranian friends would neither enjoy their stay in that place nor would they be able to serve the Faith in a befitting <p439> manner. It is our ardent hope that, wherever possible, the Iranian friends may settle in those towns or villages which are pioneering goals, so that through their stay the foundation of the Cause may be strengthened. They must encourage each other to pioneer and disperse in accordance with the teaching plans wherever they reside, and sacrifice the happiness and joy which they may otherwise obtain from companionship with each other for the sake of the vital interests of the Cause.

The Responsibility of Avoiding Political Involvement

246.10 Another of the sacred duties incumbent upon the believers is that of avoiding participation in political discussions and intrigues which have become popular nowadays. What have the people of Baha to do with political contention and controversy? With absolute certainty they must prove to the world that Baha'is by virtue of their beliefs, are loyal citizens of whatever country they reside in and are far removed from the machinations of conspirators and the perpetrators of destruction and chaos. Their ideal is the happiness of all the peoples of the world and sincere and wholehearted service to them. In administrative positions they are obedient to their governments and carry out their duties with the utmost honesty and trustworthiness. They regard no faction as superior to another and prefer no individual above another. They oppose no one, for the Divine Pen has prohibited sedition and corruption and enjoined peace and harmony upon us. For more than a century Baha'is have proven by their deeds that they regard servitude and service to their fellowman as being more worthy than the privileges of power which can be gained from politics. In administering their own affairs, they rely on God rather than on the influence of those in power and authority. Particularly in these days when the enemies of the Faith have afflicted the Cause in the sacred land of Iran with the darts of calumny and slander on every side, the clear Iranian friends should be vigilant, both in their contact with other Iranians abroad and with people in general, and behave in such a way as to leave no doubt as to the independence and non-alignment of the Baha'is and their good will to all people, whether in Iran or elsewhere. They must not give a new excuse to cause trouble to those mischief-makers who have always sought to further their own unworthy ends by making the Baha'i community a target for their malicious accusations.

The Strengths of the Iranian Baha'is

246.11 O beloved of God, and compatriots of the Abha Beauty! Your relationship to the Blessed Perfection merits befitting gratitude. Having appreciated the true value of so inestimable a bounty, your forefathers regarded the offering of their lives in the path of their kind Beloved as easy to make. They were put in chains, became captives of the sword, lost their homes and belongings, yet no sound was heard from their lacerated throats but the cry <p440> of "Ya Baha'u'l-Abha" and "Ya 'Aliyyu'l-A'la."+F520 The vibration of the sound of that same soul-burning cry gradually noised abroad the call of this world-illuminating Great Announcement and the ringing notes of that call resounded in all regions of the world, and, now too, the beloved friends in Iran, who are the devoted dwellers in the courtyard of the Beloved, stand firm in the same Covenant and Testament. Behold the courage, firmness, detachment, unity, co-operation, zeal and enthusiasm with which these loyal lovers of the Beloved daily face their tests and prove and demonstrate to the world, with radiant and shining faces, their purity, their heritage, their quality, and their virtue. With the utmost meekness, truthfulness, wisdom, and courage they meet the challenges presented to them, the challenge of defying the enemies, dispelling misunderstandings which are a result of the proliferation of calumnies and false accusations. They have met their fate with acquiescence, have bowed their heads in the valley of submission and resignation, and have borne every tribulation with radiance, for they know with absolute certainty that the fulfilment of divine prophecies will coincide with dire events and the bearing of innumerable afflictions. The beloved Guardian says: "If in the days to come, adversities of various kinds should encircle that land and national upheavals should further aggravate the present calamities, and intensify the repeated afflictions," the dear friends in that country should not feel "sorrowful and grieved" and must not be deflected "from their straight path and chosen highway."+F521 He then continues to address the dear friends in these words:

[F521. From an unpublished letter.]

[F520. Ya Baha'u'l-Abha (O Thou the Glory of the Most Glorious!) is a form of the Greatest Name and is used as an invocation to Baha'u'llah; Ya 'Aliyyu'l-A'la (O Thou the Exalted of the Most Exalted!) is an invocation addressed to the Bab.]

246.11a The liberation of this meek and innocent band of His followers from the fetters of its bondage and the talons of the people of tyranny and enmity must needs be preceded by the clamour and agitation of the masses. The realization of glory, of tranquillity, and of true security for the people of Baha will necessitate opposition, aggression and commotion on the part of the people of malevolence and iniquity. Therefore, should the buffeting waves of the sea of tribulation intensify and the storms of trials and tribulations assail that meek congregation from all six sides,+F522 know of a certainty and without a moment's hesitation that the time for their deliverance has drawn nigh, that the age-old promise of their assured glory will soon be fulfilled, and that at long last the <p441> means are provided for the persecuted people of Baha in that land to attain salvation and supreme triumph. A firm step and an unshakeable resolve are essential so that the remaining stages may come to pass and the cherished ideals of the people of Baha may be realized on the loftiest Summits, and be made manifest in astounding brilliance. "Such is God's method, and no change shalt thou find in His method."+F523

[F523. From an unpublished letter.]

[F522. "All six sides" means all sides, or every side, as the prayer of the Bab for protection (BP, p. 135) indicates: "in front of us and behind us, above our heads, on our right, on our left, below our feet and every other side to which we are exposed."]

246.11b That is why those royal falcons who soar in the firmament of God's love have arisen with such joy, tranquillity, and dignity that their serenity has become a magnet for the attraction of the confirmations of the Concourse on High and has brought such a resounding success to them as has astonished and startled the people of Baha throughout the world. Others have been inspired by the example of those treasured brethren to renew their pledge to their All-Glorious Beloved and to serve His Sacred Threshold with high endeavour. Thus they endeavour, as far as possible, to make good the temporary disability of the believers in Iran. Inspired by the courage, constancy, sincerity, and devotion of those enamoured friends in the path of their Beloved, they are increasing their services and renewing and strengthening their resolve so that they may arise in the arena of the love of God as it beseems; true lovers. That is why in these days the followers of the Greatest Name in different parts of the world have undertaken to win new victories in remembrance and on behalf of their dear friends in Iran. They have made new plans and their efforts have been confirmed with resounding success, which they attribute to the influences of the high endeavours and the constancy of the friends in the Cradle of the Faith. What then will you do, dear friends who come from that sacred land of Iran? You are the birds of that rose garden. You should sing such a song that the hearts of others will rejoice with gladness. You are the candles of that Divine Sanctuary. You should shed such a light that it will illumine the eyes of the intimates of God's mysteries. Our eager hearts in these days are expectant to see the rays of loyalty and integrity from amidst these dark and threatening clouds, so that your blessed names, like those of your self-sacrificing compatriots, may be recorded in gold upon the Tablet of Honour. This is dependent upon your own high endeavour.

The Universal House of Justice

<p442>

247

Passing of the Hand of the Cause of God Hasan M. Balyuzi

12 February 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

247.1 HOLD SPECIAL MEMORIAL GATHERING IN MOTHER TEMPLE. WITH BROKEN HEARTS ANNOUNCE PASSING DEARLY LOVED HAND CAUSE HASAN BALYUZI.+F524 ENTIRE BAHA'I WORLD ROBBED ONE OF ITS MOST POWERFUL DEFENDERS MOST RESOURCEFUL HISTORIANS. HIS ILLUSTRIOUS LINEAGE HIS DEVOTED LABOURS DIVINE VINEYARD HIS OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORKS COMBINE IN IMMORTALIZING HIS HONOURED NAME IN ANNALS BELOVED FAITH. CALL ON FRIENDS EVERYWHERE HOLD MEMORIAL GATHERINGS. PRAYING SHRINES HIS EXEMPLARY ACHIEVEMENTS HIS STEADFASTNESS PATIENCE HUMILITY HIS OUTSTANDING SCHOLARLY PURSUITS WILL INSPIRE MANY DEVOTED WORKERS AMONG RISING GENERATIONS FOLLOW HIS GLORIOUS FOOTSTEPS.

[F524. For an account of the life and services of Hasan Balyuzi, see BW 18:635-51.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

248

Naw-Ruz Message 1980

Naw-Ruz 1980

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

248.1 The successful launching of the Seven Year Plan and the advances made in the first year of its opening phase mitigate, in some degree, the disasters and calamities which, in the past year, have assailed the struggling Faith of God. The newest wave of persecution unleashed against us in the Cradle of our Faith has been compounded by Divine decree afflicting the entire Baha'i world community. In the full tide of their brilliant services to the Faith of God, and within the short span of twenty weeks three Chief Stewards of Baha'u'llah's embryonic World Order, the Hands of the Cause of God Enoch Olinga, Rahmatu'llah Muhajir and Hasan Balyuzi were summoned to the Abha Kingdom, leaving the rest of us bereft and shocked by the enormity of our loss and the tragic brutality of the circumstances attending the murder of beloved Enoch Olinga and members of his family.

<p443>

The Dialectic of Disaster and Triumph

248.2 In Iran, the confusion which has seized the whole country opened the way for the fierce and inveterate enemies of the Faith, unrestrained by any effective authority, to indulge their fanatical hatred. The Holy House of the Bab has been demolished and proposals have been made to erase its very site. The Siyah-Chal and Baha'u'llah's Home in Tihran have been seized, together with all other Holy Places and properties. One member of the National Spiritual Assembly and two of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tihran have been kidnapped and the whereabouts of two of them is still unknown, while the third is still in prison. Also, a Counsellor and some friends who are associated with the National Office or are members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tihran have been imprisoned. Baha'is have been heavily pressed to recant their faith and in one case a believer, who refused to do so, followed the glorious path of the martyrs and was executed. Beyond all this a campaign of vilification and false charges has been conducted against the friends in an effort to make them the scapegoat of unrestrained mobs.

243.3 And yet, as ever in the Cause of God, the beneficent operation of the dialectic of disaster and triumph is clearly apparent. The unwavering faith of the dearly loved, severely tested, ever-steadfast Persian Baha'i community, guided by the heroic stand and example of its National Spiritual Assembly, supported and inspired by the Counsellors and their Auxiliary Board members, has effected a spiritual revitalization of the beloved friends. They have united as one man to present a front of refulgent spirituality and assurance and appear, as one observer reports, like a dazzling community of eager, uplifted, radiant new believers.

248.4 Nor is the influence of their response to the sufferings engulfing them confined to their homeland. From farthest east to farthest west, from pole to pole, wherever the Standard of Baha'u'llah has been implanted, the friends have felt the impulse of sacrifice and risen to assume that enormous share of the work of the Faith in the fields of teaching, pioneering and financial contribution which the Persian friends, for the time being, are no longer able to shoulder.

248.5 The wonderful love aroused in Baha'i hearts everywhere by the sudden, untimely passing of the beloved Hands of the Cause has moved the believers to dedicate themselves anew with increased ardour and self-sacrifice to the promotion of the work to which all the Hands of the Cause of God have dedicated their lives.

248.6 The world-wide response of the friends to these tragedies is the more heartening in view of the clear warnings voiced by 'Abdu'l-Baha and the beloved Guardian of the fierce and widespread opposition which the increasing growth of the Cause of God will arouse. There is no doubt of this. Shoghi Effendi called attention to "the extent and character of the forces that are destined to contest with God's holy Faith," and supported his argument with "these prophetic <p444> and ominous words" from 'Abdu'l-Baha: "HOW GREAT, HOW VERY GREAT IS THE CAUSE! HOW VERY FIERCE THE ONSLAUGHT OF ALL THE PEOPLES AND KINDREDS OF THE EARTH! ERELONG SHALL THE CLAMOUR OF THE MULTITUDE THROUGHOUT AFRICA, THROUGHOUT AMERICA, THE CRY OF THE EUROPEAN AND OF THE TURK, THE GROANING OF INDIA AND CHINA, BE HEARD FROM FAR AND NEAR. ONE AND ALL THEY SHALL ARISE WITH ALL THEIR POWER TO RESIST HIS CAUSE. THEN SHALL THE KNIGHTS OF THE LORD, ASSISTED BY HIS GRACE FROM ON HIGH, STRENGTHENED BY FAITH, AIDED BY THE POWER OF UNDERSTANDING, AND REINFORCED BY THE LEGIONS OF THE COVENANT ARISE AND MAKE MANIFEST THE TRUTH OF THE VERSE: 'BEHOLD THE CONFUSION THAT HATH BEFALLEN THE TRIBES OF THE DEFEATED!'"+F525

[F525. 'Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in WOB, p. 17.]

248.7 The beloved Guardian expatiated at length upon this theme and its inevitable outcome: "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."+F526

[F526. WOB, pp. 17-18.]

248.8 Now, therefore, it is our sacred duty to make the utmost use of our freedom, wherever it exists, to promote the Cause of God while we may. The surest way to do this and to win the good-pleasure of Baha'u'llah is to pursue, with dedication and unrelenting vigour, the goals of whatever Plan is in force, for Baha'u'llah has stated: "To assist Me is to teach My Cause."+F527

[F527. TB, p. 196.]

Accomplishments during the First Year of the Seven Year Plan

248.9 A good start has been made with the Seven Year Plan. At the World Centre of the Faith the uninterrupted progress in raising the Seat of the House of Justice, repairing and refurbishing the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha,+F528 further extension of the gardens surrounding the Haram-i-Aqdas at Bahji, and the initiation of a general reorganization of the work of the World Centre to accommodate its ever-growing needs and make use of the most up-to-date technological developments, have taken place.

[F528. See messages dated 9 January 1975 (no. 154), 4 March 1975 (no. 157), and 14 October 1977 (no. 198) for further information on the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha.]

248.10 In the international sphere the enthusiasm with which the friends everywhere greeted the launching of the Seven Year Plan and girded themselves to achieve the goals of the first two-year phase, their generous and sacrificial outpouring of funds, the confident and sustained efforts exerted to carry forward the two sacred enterprises initiated in the Indian subcontinent and at the heart of the vast Pacific Ocean, the constant activity of the Baha'i International Community in fostering its relations with the United Nations,+F529 the great increase <p445> in the number of children's Baha'i classes and the innumerable victories won in the teaching field, recorded by the establishment of the world-wide community of the Most Great Name in over 106,000 localities, all testify to the unassailable, and indeed ever- increasing vigour of the Cause of God.

[F529. For announcements concerning the relationship between the Baha'i International Community and the United Nations, see messages dated 17 October 1967 (no. 49), 18 February 1970 (no. 78), 25 November 1985 (no. 442), and 17 December 1985 (no. 444).]

248.11 The number of pioneers and travelling teachers who have entered the field during the first year of the Seven Year Plan, and the increase in the number of national communities which have sent them out are highly encouraging. This stream of pioneers and travelling teachers must be increased and more widely diffused, and we fervently hope that, at the very least, all those pioneers filling the assigned goals of the first phase of the Seven Year Plan will be at their posts by Ridvan 1981.+F530

[F530. 21 April -- 2 May.]

248.12 In the field of proclamation unprecedented publicity has been accorded the Cause of God, chiefly as a result of the persecutions in Iran. In addition significant gains have been made in the Baha'i radio operation in South America, where short wave transmission has greatly extended the range of Radio Baha'i in Otavalo, Ecuador, and where a new station is being established in Puno, in Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Both these achievements offer immeasurable new opportunities for the teaching, proclamation and consolidation of the Cause in that area.

248.13 In 88 languages of the world the supply of Baha'i literature has been enriched, while three new languages have been added to bring to 660 the number of those in which Baha'i material is available.

Formation of Six National Assemblies at Ridvan 1981

248.14 The National Spiritual Assembly of Transkei with its seat in Umtata will be formed at Ridvan 1980. At Ridvan 1981 six new National Spiritual Assemblies will be formed; two in Africa, Namibia with its seat in Windhoek, and Bophuthatswana with its seat in Mmabatho; three in the Americas, the Leeward Islands with its seat in St. John's, Antigua, the Windward Islands with its seat in Kingstown, St. Vincent, and Bermuda with its seat in Hamilton; one in Australasia, Tuvalu with its seat in Funafuti. With great joy we announce the reformation of the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda, to take place at Ridvan 1981.

248.15 In the course of the coming year, the Universal House of Justice, in consultation with the International Teaching Centre, will review the accomplishments of the initial phase and will then announce to all National Spiritual Assemblies the goals towards which they should strive in the next stage of the Seven Year Plan.

Approaching People of Prominence

248.16 During this final year of the initial phase National Spiritual Assemblies are urged to continue their wise and dignified approaches to people prominent in <p446> all areas of human endeavour in order to acquaint them with the nature and spirit of the Faith and to win their esteem and friendship. At the same time vigorous campaigns must be continually mounted to proclaim more and more directly and to as large audiences as possible the existence and basic principles of the Faith of God. Now is the time, as all human endeavours to repair the old order only result in deeper and deeper confusion, to proclaim constantly and openly the claims of the Faith and the redemptive power of Baha'u'llah.

An Acceleration of Momentum

248.17 The marvellous momentum generated at the beginning of the Plan and now propelling the Baha'i world community forward to the achievement of the immediate objectives of the initial phase must be maintained and indeed accelerated, so that firm foundations in the spiritual life of the community may be laid and its forces gathered for the winning of the specific tasks with which it will be challenged in the major part of the Plan.

248.18 Our hearts go out in love and admiration to the friends in Iran and in gratitude to the believers throughout the world for their spontaneous defence of their persecuted brethren and their shouldering of the load which must, at all costs, be borne.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

249

Release of a Compilation on the Importance of Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude

31 March 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

249.1 The Research Department has just prepared a compilation of The Importance of Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude, and we have been asked to send you a copy.+F531

[F531. See CC II:225-43.]

249.2 The Universal House of Justice leaves it to your discretion to determine the manner in which you share the contents of the compilation with the friends under your jurisdiction.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p447>

250

Contract for Construction of the Indian Temple

1 May 1980

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India.

250.1 GRATEFUL SENTIMENTS EXPRESSED PARTICIPANTS CONVENTION HELD AUSPICIOUS OCCASIONS SIGNING CONTRACT CONSTRUCTION BEAUTIFUL TEMPLE HEART SUBCONTINENT INAUGURATION CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS DESIGNED PROMOTE LIFE-GIVING MESSAGE BAHA'U'LLAH GREATER NUMBER RECEPTIVE SOULS ALL STRATA SOCIETY LENGTH BREADTH WIDTH INDIA.+F532 ARDENTLY PRAYING DIVINE THRESHOLD SUPPLICATING BLESSINGS ASSISTANCE OUTSTANDING SERVICES BAHA'I COMMUNITY INDIA ALREADY DISTINGUISHED BY MAGNIFICENT ACHIEVEMENTS WHICH HAVE BRIGHTENED HOPES ATTRACTED ADMIRATION ENTIRE BAHA'I WORLD.

[F532. The centenary referred to is that of the establishment of a nucleus of the Faith in India in 1880, although Jamal Effendi was sent there by Baha'u'llah as early as 1872-73 and arrived in New Delhi in 1876 after touring the country.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

251

Comments on the Kitab-i-Aqdas

7 May 1980

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Germany

Dear Baha'i friends,

251.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 14 April 1980 enclosing the copy of that part of page 15 of the issue of the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung for 14 March 1980, on which the letter from Francesco Ficicchia was published.

251.2 The House of Justice feels that the best course is to ignore this disgraceful attack on the Faith, rather than to make any rebuttal. Your Assembly should, however, be prepared to answer any inquiries that you may receive as a result of this article, whether from Baha'is or non-Baha'is. To assist you in this, we enclose extracts from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, which touch on matters raised by Mr Ficicchia. You are also, no doubt, aware that a Russian translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas by A. G. Tumansky was published in 1899. A translation of the complete text into English, made by two former Presbyterian missionaries in Iran, was published by The Royal Asiatic Society in 1961; it is accompanied by highly prejudiced and misleading footnotes and introduction, and the inadequacy of the translation itself is <p448> immediately apparent to anyone who compares passages with those that Shoghi Effendi translated. The existence of these two published translations, however, demonstrates the falsity of Ficicchia's statement that no complete translation exists. A far clearer understanding of the contents of the Most Holy Book, however, than given by either translation, is presented in the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas which gives not only the laws of the Aqdas themselves, but also includes the elucidations given by Baha'u'llah Himself in the "Questions and Answers," and contains many explanatory annotations provided by the House of Justice.

With loving Baha'i greetings, Department of the Secretariat

 

27 May 1980

Extracts from a Reply Written on Behalf of the Universal House of Justice to Questions about the Kitab-I-Aqdas

251.3 The institution of the Covenant has a direct bearing on the implementation of the laws of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. This Book is the repository of the basic laws for the Dispensation to be implemented gradually in accordance with the guidance given by God through those infallible Institutions which lie at the heart of the Covenant. Indeed, one of those Institutions, the Universal House of Justice, has been given by Baha'u'llah the task not only of applying the laws but of supplementing them and of making laws on all matters not explicitly covered in the Sacred Text. An English translation of the Kitab-i- Aqdas was made by Dr Earl E. Elder and Dr William McE. Miller, two men who were Presbyterian missionaries in Persia and have long been strongly antagonistic to the Faith. A great many of the statements that they make about its history are based on the assertions of Covenant-breakers or opponents of the Faith -- rather like a history of Christianity based primarily on statements by enemies of Jesus Christ. Dr Miller, for example, places great reliance on a document called the "Nuqtatu'l-Kaf," which is, in fact, spurious, as is fully demonstrated by the Hand of the Cause Hasan Balyuzi in his book Edward Granville Browne and the Baha'i Faith.+F533

[F533. The Nuqtatu'l-Kaf -- Arabic for "The Point of Kaf" (the letter K) -- is a short chronicle of events of the Babi Faith originally written by Haji Mirza Jani, a merchant from Kashan who was martyred in 1852. Mr Balyuzi explains that it was later tampered with and was denounced as a forgery by Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, the pre-eminent Baha'i scholar of the East during the Faith's Heroic Age. The Nuqtatu'l-Kaf presents a distorted history of the Babi Faith and its doctrines. See Edward Granville Browne, pp. 62-88.]

<p449>

251.4 The reasons for the delay in the translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas are given in the introduction to the Synopsis and Codification.+F534 The Kitab-i-Aqdas itself is the kernel of a vast structure of Baha'i law that will have to come into being in the years and centuries ahead as the unity of mankind is established and develops. Thus to properly understand the contents of that Book one should also read many other Tablets of Baha'u'llah relating to them, as well as the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian, and realize that great areas of detail have been left by Baha'u'llah for the Universal House of Justice to fill in and to vary in accordance with the needs of a developing society. For example:

[F534. Synopsis and Codification, a book published by the Universal House of Justice in 1973 that contains those passages of the Kitab-i-Aqdas that had been translated into English by Shoghi Effendi and a codification of the contents of the Kitab- i-Aqdas and the "Questions and Answers" with explanatory notes. An annotated English translation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas was published by the Universal House of Justice at Naw- Ruz 1993.]

251.4a 1. The law of divorce in the Aqdas seems to apply only to a husband divorcing his wife, and not vice versa. 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian have made it quite clear that the principle enunciated by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i-Aqdas applies equally to men and women, and the law has always been implemented in this way. Such elucidations are one of the specific functions intended by Baha'u'llah for the authoritative Interpreter.

251.4b 2. The Kitab-i-Aqdas appears to allow bigamy. This is explained in Note 17 on page 59 of the Synopsis and Codification: "The text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas upholds monogamy, but as it appears also to permit bigamy, the Guardian was asked for a clarification, and in reply his secretary wrote on his behalf. 'Regarding Baha'i marriage: in the light of the Master's Tablet interpreting the provision in the Aqdas on the subject of the plurality of wives, it becomes evident that monogamy alone is permissible, since, as 'Abdu'l-Baha states, bigamy is conditioned upon justice and as justice is impossible, it follows that bigamy is not permissible, and monogamy alone should be practised.'"

251.4c This is an authoritative interpretation, and as an interpretation states what is intended by the original text, it is correct to say that the Kitab-i-Aqdas prohibits plurality of wives. This method of establishing monogamy as the law of the Faith is one example of the process referred to in the introduction to the Synopsis and Codification whereby there is a progressive disclosure of the full meaning of the laws of the Faith as the Dispensation unfolds.

251.4d 3. The punishments prescribed for theft, murder and arson are given only in barest outline. It is explained in Note 42 on page 64 of the Synopsis and Codification that these punishments are intended for a future condition of <p450> society and will have to be supplemented and applied by the Universal House of Justice. The punishment for theft, for example, says that for the third offence a mark must be placed on the thief's forehead (nothing is said about branding), so that people will be warned of his proclivities. All details of how the mark is to be applied, how long it must be worn, on what conditions it may be removed, as well as the seriousness of various degrees of theft have been left by Baha'u'llah for the Universal House of Justice to decide when the law has to be applied. Similarly, merely the fundamental principles of the punishments for murder and arson are given in the Kitab-i- Aqdas. Wilful murder is to be punished either by capital punishment or life imprisonment. Such matters as degrees of offence and whether any extenuating circumstances are to be taken into account, and which of the two prescribed punishments is to be the norm are left to the Universal House of Justice to decide in light of prevailing conditions when the law is in operation. Arson, as you yourself can see from the newspapers, is becoming an increasingly frequent offence -- scarcely a day passes without some building being burned or blown up, often causing agonizing death to innocent people. Baha'u'llah prescribes that a person who burns a house intentionally is to be burned or imprisoned for life, but again, the application of these punishments, the method of carrying them out and the fixing of degrees of offence are left to the Universal House of Justice. Obviously there is a tremendous difference in the degree of the offence of a person who burns down an empty warehouse from that of one who sets fire to a school full of children.

251.4e From the above examples it should be clear why a translation of the Kitab-i- Aqdas made without proper comprehensive footnotes referring to other Tablets of Baha'u'llah which elucidate His laws as well as to interpretations made by 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian, can give a very misleading impression -- quite apart from the problem of achieving a beauty of style in the English which can approach that of the original, an aspect in which the Elder-Miller translation falls woefully short.

251.5 Although there is no explicit reference to the Guardianship in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Synopsis and Codification lists "Anticipation of the Institution of the Guardianship." On page 214 of God Passes By, when summarizing the contents of the Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi states that in it Baha'u'llah "anticipates by implication the institution of Guardianship," and again, on page 147 of The World Order of Baha'u'llah the Guardian refers to "the verses of the Kitab-i- Aqdas the implications of which clearly anticipate the institution of the Guardianship." One such implication is in the matter of Huququ'llah (The Right of God),+F535 <p451> which is ordained in the Kitab-i-Aqdas without provision being made for who is to receive it; in His Will and Testament 'Abdu'l-Baha fills this gap by stating "It is to be offered through the Guardian of the Cause of God ..."+F536 Other implications of this institution can be seen in the terms in which 'Abdu'l-Baha is appointed as the Successor of Baha'u'llah and the Interpreter of His Teachings. The faithful are enjoined to turn their faces towards the one whom "God hath purposed" and who "hath branched from this Ancient Root" and are bidden to refer whatsoever they do not understand in the Baha'i Writings to him who "hath branched from this mighty Stock."+F537 Yet another can be seen in the provision of the Aqdas concerning the disposition of international endowments -- a passage which not only refers this matter to the Aghsan (male descendants of Baha'u'llah) but also provides for what should happen should the line of Aghsan end before the coming into being of the Universal House of Justice. Thus the "Anticipation of the Institution of the Guardianship" is correctly included in the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

[F537. TB, p. 221; SC, p. 27.]

[F536. WT, p. 15.]

[F535. For information on Huququ'llah, see the Glossary. See also the letter dated 6 August 1984 (no. 404) introducing Huququ'llah to the West.]

 

252

Our Attitude and Actions Toward the Impending Catastrophe

13 May 1980

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

252.1 Your letter of 13 January to the Universal House of Justice has been received and we are instructed to convey its response.

252.2 As a concert pianist you are uniquely endowed for service to God and mankind, for the Master states that "the musician's art is among those arts worthy of the highest praise, and it moveth the hearts of all who grieve."+F538 Further, the pursuit of excellence in your art both fulfils Baha'i admonitions and is worship manifested in your profession.

[F538. SWAB, p. 112.]

252.3 Your concern about the future in these troubled times is understandable. There is every reason to expect that the world will experience travail and testing as never before, but we do not know what form these upheavals will take, when exactly they will come, how severe they will be, nor how long they will last. In a letter dated 30, September 1950 written on behalf of the beloved Guardian to an individual believer, it is stated:

<p452>

252.3a He does not feel that fear -- for ourselves or for others -- solves any problems, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly, or how soon we may all pass through another ordeal worse than the last one.

252.4 The important aspect for the Baha'is is that their attitude and actions in response to the pending catastrophe be correct. We all know that the Cause of Baha'u'llah is the world's only salvation, and that our duty is to actively teach receptive souls, and to do our utmost to help in the consolidation of the institutions of the Faith. Only in this way can we contribute our share of servitude at His Threshold, and we should then leave the rest to Him. ...

252.5 The House of Justice will offer prayers at the Holy Shrines that you may have abundant opportunities to uplift the souls of men through your music and through your teaching of the Cause of the Blessed Beauty.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

253

Ominous Increase in Pressures on Iranian Baha'is

30 June 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

253.1 PRESSURES ON BELEAGUERED FRIENDS OMINOUSLY INCREASING. IN ISSUE LE MONDE NO. 11009 TUESDAY 24 JUNE IN ARTICLE ABOUT IRAN BEGINNING FRONT PAGE ENDING SIXTH PAGE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS MADE "... LE VENERABLE AYATOLLAH (SADOUGHI) A INVITE FOULE DES FIDELES A 'CHASSER LES BAHAIS QUE VOUS CONNAISSEZ DE TOUTES LES ADMINISTRATIONS ET DE LES LIVRER AU PARQUET REVOLUTIONNAIRE.' LA PEUR S'EST EMPAREE DE LA COMMUNAUTE BAHAI (ENVIRON CINQUANTE MILLE PERSONNES) ET POUR CAUSE, LES PROPOS DE L'AYATOLLAH SADOUGHI ONT ETE REPRODUITS DANS LE QUOTIDIEN INGUILAB ISLAMI (ORGANE DU PRESIDENT BANI-SADR) LEUR DONNANT AINSI UNE DANGEREUSE PUBLICITE. UNE VAGUE D'ARRESTATIONS DE BAHAIS A COMMENCE A DEFERLER DANS DEUX VILLES: A YAZD ET A CHIRAZ.

253.2 "DIMANCHE 22 JUIN, ETELAAT PUBLIE UN COMMUNIQUE DE L'ASSOCLATION ISLAMIQUE DES FONCTIONNAIRES DE L'ETAT EXIGEANT ENTRE AUTRES LE RENVOI DE TOUS LES EMPLOYES DES CONFESSIONS BAHAIES EN LEUR INTERDISANT DESORMAIS D'EXERCER TOUTES ACTIVITES REMUNEREES."+F539

[F539. The English translation of the quotation from Le Monde is as follows: "... the venerable Ayatollah [Sadoughi] invited the mass of the faithful to 'hunt out the Baha'is throughout the public services and deliver them to the revolutionary prosecution department.' Fear has gripped the Baha'i community (about fifty thousand persons), and with good cause. The remarks of the Ayatollah Sadoughi have been reproduced in the daily paper Inguilab Islami (organ of President Bani-Sadr), thus giving them dangerous publicity. A wave of arrests of Baha'is has broken out in two cities: Yazd and Shiraz.

"Sunday, 22 June, Etelaat publishes a communique of the Islamic Association of Civil Servants requiring, among other things, the dismissal of all employees who are of the Baha'i religion, prohibiting them henceforth from practising any remunerated activity."]

<p453>

253.3 SUCH PRONOUNCEMENTS AND COMMUNIQUES CAN BUT PROVOKE EASILY EXCITABLE PASSIONS LEAD TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES FATE INDIVIDUAL BAHA'IS INFLICT UPON MEMBERS OPPRESSED COMMUNITY UNTOLD SUFFERINGS PARTICULARLY ON OCCASION HOLY DAY CURRENT MONTH SHA'BAN AND MONTH RAMADAN ENDING MID- AUGUST. ...+F540

[F540. The fifteenth day of the month of Sha'ban is believed to be the birthday of the Twelfth and Hidden Imam, who, according to, the teachings of Shi'ah Islam, was the last in the series of successors to the Prophet Muhammad. There are two holy days during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting-the nineteenth, which commemorates the day the Imam Husayn was wounded on the battlefield of Karbila, and the twenty-first, which commemorates his death.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

254

Execution of Two Members of the Tabriz Spiritual Assembly

16 July 1980

To the Baha'is of the world

254.1 WITH HEARTS LADEN WITH SORROW YET FILLED WITH PRIDE AND ADMIRATION ANNOUNCE MARTYRDOM IN CRADLE FAITH OF YADU'LLAH ASTANI AND FARAMARZ SAMANDARI RESPECTIVELY CHAIRMAN MEMBER LOCAL ASSEMBLY TABRIZ. THESE TWO HEROIC SOULS, TOGETHER WITH BAHAR VUJDANI OF MAHABAD, GHULAM-HUSAYN A'ZAMI OF SANGSAR AND MIR-ASADU'LLAH MUKHTARI OF BIRJAND, WHO DURING PAST SEVERAL MONTHS ALSO SUFFERED CRUEL MARTYRDOM, HAVE JOINED RANKS THEIR NOBLE FOREBEARS HEROIC AGE. BAHA'I WORLD WITNESSING WITH AWE AND WONDER VALIANT BELIEVERS CRADLE FAITH, WORTHY HEIRS OF DAWN-BREAKERS, ONCE AGAIN BEARING SUCCESSIVE WAVES OF REPRESSION AND HARASSMENT, ARRESTS AND KILLINGS, AND CONFISCATION OF PERSONAL PROPERTIES.

254.2 MAY FOLLOWERS MOST GREAT NAME, INSPIRED BY PRODIGIOUS ACTS HEROISM THEIR LONG-SUFFERING BRETHREN IRAN, ARISE, WITH RENEWED CONSECRATION AND VIGOUR, WIN FRESH VICTORIES, REWARD SACRIFICES, COMPENSATE DISABILITIES, CHEER LONGING HEARTS STAUNCH STEADFAST BELIEVERS HOMELAND BAHA'U'LLAH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p454>

255

Vigorous Steps Taken in Defence of the Baha'is of Iran

24 July 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

255.1 VIGOROUS STEPS BEING TAKEN ENERGETICALLY BY FRIENDS ALL CONTINENTS FOLLOWING NEWS MARTYRDOM TWO FRIENDS TABRIZ HIGHLY GRATIFYING. ALREADY INFLUENTIAL PAPERS HAVE PUBLISHED EXCEPTIONALLY FAVOURABLE ARTICLES IN SUPPORT PERSECUTED FRIENDS. JUST RECEIVED NEWS CANADIAN PARLIAMENT VOTED UNANIMOUSLY DEPLORING PERSECUTION IRANIAN BAHA'IS CALLING ON CANADIAN GOVERNMENT REFER UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION. CANADIAN GOVERNMENT HAS FORWARDED RESOLUTION DIRECTLY TO SECRETARY-GENERAL UNITED NATIONS. IN IRAN WAVE PERSECUTION CONTINUES UNABATED. NOT SATISFIED WITH CONFISCATION COMMUNITY PROPERTIES INCLUDING HOLY PLACES STEPS NOW TAKEN FREEZE FINANCIAL ASSETS SCORES BAHA'IS BANNING THEM FROM ALL BUSINESS DEALINGS. IN YAZD AND SHIRAZ MORE MEMBERS LOCAL ASSEMBLIES ARRESTED IMPRISONED. IN MANSHAD ONE OF OUTLYING VILLAGES YAZD FIVE BAHA'IS THREE MEN TWO WOMEN CRUELLY MOBBED RESULTING THEIR HOSPITALIZATION YAZD. BAHA'IS RESIDENT VILLAGE IN CONSTANT DANGER. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

256

Passing of the Hand of the Cause of God Adelbert Muehlschlegel

29 July 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

256.1 WITH SORROWFUL HEARTS ANNOUNCE PASSING BELOVED HAND CAUSE ADELBERT MUEHLSCHLEGEL.+F541 GRIEVOUS LOSS SUSTAINED ENTIRE BAHA'I WORLD PARTICULARLY FELT EUROPE MAIN ARENA HIS DISTINGUISHED SERVICES CAUSE GOD. SERVING FOR MANY YEARS NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY GERMANY HE BECAME AFTER ELEVATION RANK HAND CAUSE ONE OF CHAMPION BUILDERS EMERGING EUROPEAN BAHA'I COMMUNITY CONSTANTLY TRAVELLING ENCOURAGING RAISING SPIRITS FRIENDS RESIDING WHEREVER SERVICES MOST NEEDED FINALLY PIONEERING GREECE AND SURRENDERING HIS SOUL PIONEER POST. HIS CONSTANT WILLINGNESS SERVE HIS ABILITY ENDEAR HIMSELF BELIEVERS AND OTHERS ALIKE BY HIS LOVING GENTLENESS SERENE HUMILITY RADIANT CHEERFULNESS HIS NEVER-CEASING <p455> PURSUIT KNOWLEDGE AND TOTAL DEDICATION BLESSED BEAUTY PROVIDE WONDERFUL EXAMPLE BAHA'I LIFE, ADVISE FRIENDS COMMEMORATE HIS PASSING AND REQUEST BEFITTING MEMORIAL SERVICES ALL MOTHER TEMPLES. ...

[F541. For an account of the life and services of Adelbert Muehlschlegel, see BW 18:611-13.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

257

Commencement of Construction of Indian Temple

30 July 1980

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of India

257.1 REJOICE NEWS COMMENCEMENT CONSTRUCTION MASHRIQU'L-ADHKAR HEART INDIAN SUBCONTINENT. THIS ACHIEVEMENT IS IN SHARP CONTRAST SAD HAPPENINGS CRADLE FAITH AND WILL BE SOURCE DELIGHT BELIEVERS ALL LANDS. SUPPLICATING SACRED THRESHOLD THAT TEMPLE OF LIGHT WILL SOON BECOME INSTRUMENT RADIATE DIVINE GUIDANCE ILLUMINE HEARTS OF THE MULTITUDES. MAY BAHA'IS OF INDIA ARISE TO MEET RESPONSIBILITIES RENDER UTMOST ASSISTANCE RAISING THIS BEAUTIFUL EDIFICE IN THE NAME OF BAHA'U'LLAH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

258

Translation of the Long Healing Prayer and the Fire Tablet

13 August 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

258.1 The Universal House of Justice recently commissioned the translation into English of two of the important works of Baha'u'llah, namely, the Long Healing Prayer and His Tablet entitled "Qad-Ihtaraqa'l-Mukhlisun," known to many in the West as the "Fire Tablet".

258.2 These translations have now been checked and approved, and a copy of each is enclosed.+F542 The Universal House of Justice leaves it entirely to your discretion to determine how these two works may be shared with the friends under your jurisdiction. There is no objection to their inclusion in prayer books published by National Spiritual Assemblies.

[F542. Both prayers are published in BP, pp. 91-99, 114-20.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p456>

259

Arrest of National Spiritual Assembly of Iran and two Auxiliary

Board members

24 August 1980

To selected National Spiritual Assemblies

259.1 WITH HEARTS BURNING INDIGNATION DISTRESS ANNOUNCE ALL MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IRAN TOGETHER WITH TWO AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS FORCIBLY AND PEREMPTORILY TAKEN FROM MEETING IN PRIVATE HOME ON EVENING 21 AUGUST TO UNKNOWN DESTINATION. VIEWING RISING TIDE PERSECUTIONS STEADFAST HEROIC LEADERS HARASSED COMMUNITY HAD ALREADY ANTICIPATED POSSIBILITY SUCH AN UNWARRANTED ACTION AND HAD MADE ARRANGEMENTS FOR NINE ALTERNATIVE MEMBERS ASSUME RESPONSIBILITIES NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN CASE THEY WERE UNABLE FUNCTION. NINE MEMBERS APPOINTED BODY NOW AT HELM DETERMINED DISCHARGE SACRED DUTIES FOLLOW IN FOOTSTEPS THEIR COURAGEOUS PREDECESSORS, REMINISCENT SPIRIT EVINCED UNDAUNTED HEROES FAITH DURING MEMORABLE EPISODE BARFURUSH.+F543 NEW NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TOGETHER WITH WIVES CLOSE RELATIVES ARRESTED FRIENDS HAVE APPEALED AUTHORITIES FOR RELEASE LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS. THROUGH THEIR CONSTANCY AND VALOUR PERSIAN FRIENDS HAVE ONCE AGAIN SET AN EXAMPLE OF SERVITUDE AT SACRED THRESHOLD WORTHY EMULATION ALL FRIENDS EVERY LAND PARTICULARLY THOSE PRIVILEGED SERVE ACTIVELY ON BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS. CALL ON FRIENDS EVERYWHERE JOIN US IN FERVENT PRAYERS THAT SELF-SACRIFICING PERSIAN BRETHREN MAY AT LAST YIELD GOLDEN FRUIT THEIR RELEASE FROM YOKE TRIBULATION OPPRESSION SO NOBLY BORNE IN PATH HIS LOVE MORE THAN ONE CENTURY. ...

[F543. In 1848 Mulla Husayn set out with a company of Babis for the province of Mazindaran to rescue Quddus, a Letter of the Living who was being held in the town of Sari. Nabil reports in The Dawn-Breakers (pp. 337-38) that, after a skirmish with the citizens of Barfurush that ended with the villagers' begging for peace, Mulla Husayn and his companions proceeded to the caravansary. Detecting signs of continued hostility, Mulla Husayn had the gates of the inn closed. As evening approached, he asked whether any of his companions was willing to arise and renounce his life for the sake of the Faith by ascending to the roof of the caravansary to sound the call to prayer. A youth gladly responded. No sooner had he uttered the opening words of a prayer than a bullet struck and killed him. Another youth arose, and, in the same spirit, proceeded with the prayer. He, too, was struck down by an enemy bullet. A third youth attempted to complete the unfinished prayer; but he, too, suffered the same fare as he neared the end of the prayer.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p457>

260

Another False Accusation against the Iranian Baha'is

25 August 1980

To selected National Spiritual Assemblies

260.1 SUBSEQUENT ARREST ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IRAN AND TWO AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT JUST RELEASED THROUGH MASS MEDIA IRAN ACCUSES LEADERS BAHA'I COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN RECENTLY ATTEMPTED COUP. THIS FALSE ACCUSATION ANOTHER EVIDENCE DELIBERATE SCHEME AUTHORITIES ELIMINATE BAHA'I COMMUNITY AND ITS INSTITUTIONS IN LAND ITS ORIGIN. ...

260.2 ASSURE YOU PRAYERS SUCCESS EFFORTS ALLEVIATE SUFFERINGS OPPRESSED BRETHREN IRAN.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

261

Martyrdom of Seven Baha'is in Yazd

9 September 1980

To National Spiritual Assemblies

261.1 ANNOUNCE WITH DEEP SORROW HEARTRENDING NEWS MARTYRDOM ON MORNING MONDAY EIGHT SEPTEMBER IN YAZD SEVEN DEVOTED STEADFAST BELIEVERS TWO OF WHOM WERE AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS AND FIVE PROMINENT BAHA'IS YAZD INCLUDING ONE SEVENTY-EIGHT YEAR OLD BELIEVER. LOCAL REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS WHO PERPETRATED THIS DASTARDLY ACT CHARGED INNOCENT FRIENDS ON LOCAL RADIO WITH FALSE IMPUTATIONS SUCH AS SPYING AND SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES. THIS EPISODE WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS ANOTHER EVIDENCE PATIENCE LONG-SUFFERING INNOCENT PERSIAN BRETHREN IN FACE OF UNABATED HATRED VIRULENT MALICE INVETERATE ENEMIES FAITH. ...

261.2 NAMES MARTYRS AS FOLLOWS:

AZIZU'LLAH DHABIHIYAN

FIRAYDUN FARIDANI

NURU'LLAH AKHTAR-KHAVARI

JALAL MUSTAQIM

MAHMUD HASANZADIH

'ALI MUTAHHARI

'ABDU'L-VAHHAB KAZIMI-MANSHADI. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p458>

262

Defence of the Baha'is of Iran in Le Monde

11 September 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

262.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to convey to you the following. ...

262.2 An official statement published in Iran in the columns of newspapers of nation- wide circulation charges that those executed [the seven martyrs of Yazd+F544 were guilty of spying and subversion and denounces the Local Spiritual Assembly of Yazd as an instrument of espionage. These accusations are nothing but downright falsehood. ...

[F544. See the preceding cable dated 9 September 1980 (message no. 261).]

262.3 Recently the world press has carried several excellent articles written by fair- minded and well-known non-Baha'i writers in support of our beloved Faith. Le Monde of Paris in its 29 August issue published a remarkable article earnestly defending the Baha'i community in Iran. The Universal House of Justice has asked us to send you a copy of the article in French, with a translation of its text into English, for your information and use in any manner you deem advisable.

262.4 The situation of the friends in Iran is perilous. The total number of believers imprisoned in the country has exceeded sixty. The friends have no refuge save their trust in Baha'u'llah. We must steadfastly continue to cling to the Hem of His Garment, fervently pray for the alleviation of the sufferings of our oppressed brethren, resolutely arise to win victories in His name, and be confident that the promised deliverance of the Faith of God from the shackles of blind orthodoxy will, in the fullness of time, be fully realized with the aid of His invisible hosts and as decreed by His invincible Will.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

The Baha'is: An Accursed Community+F545

[F545. Translation of an article in Le Monde, 29 August 1980, p. 6.]

262.5 The Iranian press is still silent concerning the arrest, on 21 August last, of the nine members of the supreme governing body of the Baha'i community, "the National Spiritual Assembly" (Le Monde of 28 August). No one knows who proceeded to arrest them, except that it was a group of armed men "claiming authority," who took refuge in pregnant silence. Nothing is known, either, of the place of their confinement. Neither President Bani-Sadr, <p459> nor the Attorney-General, Ayatollah Ghodoussi, could, or would, reply to the anguished appeals of the families and co-religionists of the nine persons.

262.6 Accused of "Plotting against the security of the State," they are in danger of execution. In accordance with the procedure of the "Islamic revolutionary tribunals," the arraignment and the trial will take place in camera without the presence of an advocate; the verdict could be pronounced and executed before even the Attorney General is informed. Thousands of "counterrevolutionaries" are no doubt in the same situation.

262.7 But the situation of the Baha'is is, in general, far more grave inasmuch as the repression falls not only on individuals who could have been guilty of subversive activities, but on an entire group of people who lack the benefit of any legal protection. In the eyes of the Constitution, indeed, the Baha'is ... do not exist. Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, although far less numerous than the followers of this humanist religion, are mentioned in the fundamental law and benefit from all the rights accorded to other citizens of Muslim faith, including that of being represented in Parliament. Thus some three hundred thousand Baha'is have been reduced to the condition of pariahs.

262.8 The anarchy produced by the revolution -- which was in principle directed against imperial autocracy and foreign domination -- has favoured the unleashing of the fanaticism, not of the population, but of ultraconservative religious organizations like the brotherhood of the Tablighat-i-Islami (an Islamic propaganda group), who already under the monarchy were conducting persecutions with the active collaboration of SAVAK. Since the installation of the Republic a score of Baha'i Holy Places have been destroyed or confiscated by the local authorities; centres of worship in eighty towns and villages have been destroyed or burned down; some forty cemeteries have been profaned and in most cases confiscated; museums, shops, or places of business belonging to Baha'is have been attacked or looted in more than three hundred and eighty urban or rural settlements, according to a report compiled two months ago by the National Spiritual Assembly of the community.

262.9 The high authorities of the Republic would find it difficult to exonerate themselves from all responsibility for these collective crimes. Not one of them, as far as is known, has explicitly condemned them. Worse, the Revolutionary Council, on which, moreover, some "liberals" are represented, decreed last winter (see the daily Etelaat of 20 December) that the army must expel from its ranks all persons who do not belong to one of the four "official" religions of the State (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian). Following this, in addition to the officers and soldiers, civil servants, employees of nationalized industries, university professors and teachers have been dismissed from one day to the next without any indemnity or pension. Again by order of the government, Baha'i places of worship in several cities, notably in Tihran and Mashhad, have been converted into "free Islamic Universities."

<p460>

262.10 The Baha'is are denounced as "heretics," as "renegades" from Islam, because the Founders of their religion, in the last century, were for the most part, Persian Muslims, because their Prophet, the Bab (1819-1850) had the misfortune to be born after Muhammad, who is considered to be the last Messenger of God. However, the millions of Baha'is scattered today in some eighty-eight thousand localities across the five continents are neither of Persian origin nor are they Muslim converts. Beyond this, the Baha'i Faith recognizes and respects Islam.

262.11 However, the persecutors have "refined" their accusations by "politicizing" them. The Baha'is, according to them, are "agents of Israel" because the World Centre of the community is situated in Haifa. But the seat was established in that city in 1868, almost a century before the foundation of the Jewish State.

262.12 The Baha'is, it is said again, were "supporters of the regime and of SAVAK!" Yet they refused -- in face of demands of the Shah -- to join the single Rastakhiz party, in spite of the pogroms organized against them by SAVAK, notably in 1955 and in

1963.+F546 In the last months of the monarchy the agents of the secret police had caused some three hundred houses belonging to Baha'is to be burnt. In accordance with their teachings, the Baha'is are required to be obedient to the established authority, whatever it may be, and refuse -- under pain of being expelled from the community -- to involve themselves in any activity or to accept any office of a political nature. This shows how absurd appears the accusation of "Plotting against the security of the State" formulated against the nine elected members of the supreme body of the community in Iran.

[F546. The Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party, formed in 1975 by the Shah, was the only government-authorized political party. In the face of government pressure on all citizens to join the party, Baha'is refused because of the Baha'i principle of political non-involvement. In 1955 a wave of persecution engulfed the Iranian Baha'i community. A Muslim cleric, Shaykh Muhammad Taqi Falsafi preached sermons at his mosque in Tihran and over the radio during the month of Ramadan (fasting). As a result of the anti- Baha'i fervour he aroused, private homes, businesses, and Baha'i institutions were plundered, cemeteries were desecrated and corpses disinterred, and mobs conducted an orgy of murder, rape, and pillage. The House of the Bab in Shiraz was partly demolished, and the Baha'i National Centre in Tihran was taken over by members of the police, army, and clergy. Its imposing dome was ripped to pieces. Baha'is were again singled out for attack in 1963 during anti-government demonstrations.]

262.13 They knew that they were in danger. They could, like so many others, have chosen exile. As one of them said to us recently, they had nevertheless decided "to remain at the side of our fellow believers in distress." Their fidelity can cost them their lives. But who, in Iran or abroad, will have the courage or the wish to intervene in favour of a community accursed among all others?

-- Eric Rouleau

<p461>

263

World-wide Response to Iranian Persecutions

23 September 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

263.1 MEMBERS VENERABLE COMMUNITY OF BAHA'U'LLAH'S FOLLOWERS IN HIS NATIVE LAND ARE FACING IN UTMOST NOBILITY HEROISM AND IN TRADITION THEIR ILLUSTRIOUS FOREBEARS ORDEALS SEVERITY OF WHICH IS REMINISCENT OF FEROCITY PERSECUTIONS HEROIC AGE OUR FAITH. INNOCENT BLOOD THEY ARE SHEDDING ALTAR SACRIFICE, INTENSE SUFFERINGS THEY ARE SERENELY BEARING IN LOVE HIS PATH ARE RELEASING SPIRITUAL ENERGIES WHICH ARE ACCELERATING MOMENTUM PROGRESS FAITH OPENING UP NEW HORIZONS AS IT IRRESISTIBLY FORGES AHEAD TOWARDS ITS ULTIMATE DESTINY.

263.2 UNITED NATIONS SUB-COMMISSION ON PREVENTION DISCRIMINATION PROTECTION MINORITIES MEETING IN GENEVA FOLLOWING PRESENTATION MADE BY REPRESENTATIVE BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY DISCUSSED APPROVED ON 10 SEPTEMBER RESOLUTION EXPRESSING PROFOUND CONCERN OVER SAFETY BAHA'IS IRAN AND REQUESTING UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL CONVEY THIS CONCERN TO AUTHORITIES IRAN AND CALL ON THEM PROTECT FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS BAHA'I COMMUNITY.

263.3 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEETING IN STRASBOURG AND COMPRISING OVER

400 MEMBERS UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED ON 19 SEPTEMBER HISTORIC RESOLUTION WHICH DENOUNCES SYSTEMATIC CAMPAIGN PERSECUTION IRANIAN BAHA'IS AND VIOLATION THEIR ELEMENTARY HUMAN RIGHTS, CALLS UPON GOVERNMENT IRAN GRANT BAHA'I COMMUNITY LEGAL RECOGNITION AND PROTECTION, AND UPON FOREIGN MINISTERS EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES MAKE URGENT PRESENTATIONS TO IRANIAN AUTHORITIES CEASE PERSECUTION BAHA'IS ALLOWING THEM PRACTICE THEIR RELIGION FREELY AND ENJOY FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS, AND REQUESTS MEMBER STATES IMPOSE EMBARGO ON ALL SALES OF SUBSIDIZED SURPLUS AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS TO IRAN UNTIL FULL HUMAN RIGHTS ARE RESTORED TO IRANIAN CITIZENS. THIS REMARKABLE DOCUMENT ENDS WITH STATEMENT THAT EVIDENCE SUGGESTS ARRESTS EXECUTIONS OF BAHA'IS ARE CONTINUING AND INCREASING ACCORDING TO PREARRANGED PLAN AND ONLY SPEEDY RESPONSE BY EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CAN STOP THESE DEVELOPMENTS.

263.4 REPORTS RECEIVED FROM ALL CONTINENTS ELOQUENTLY BEAR TESTIMONY TO SENSE OF UNITY FELT BY FRIENDS EVERYWHERE IN FACE DEPRIVATIONS THEIR PERSIAN BRETHREN, GENEROUS OFFERINGS OF TIME, EFFORT, AND RESOURCES IN MEMORY MARTYRS AND ON BEHALF OF IMPRISONED FRIENDS, AMONG WHOM ARE A COUNSELLOR, AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS, ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY AS WELL AS MEMBERS SEVERAL LOCAL ASSEMBLIES. THESE AFFLICTIONS HAVE ENABLED FRIENDS IN MOST COUNTRIES WORLD OVER PROCLAIM FAITH TO HIGHEST OFFICIALS THEIR COUNTRY AND NOISE ABROAD ITS TEACHINGS THROUGH MASS MEDIA. COUNTLESS PLEDGES OF LOYALTY AND OF RENEWED DEDICATION <p462> HAVE BEEN MADE TO SHOW IN THE DAYS AHEAD GREATER SOLIDARITY AUDACITY ACHIEVE MORE STIRRING VICTORIES FOR GOD'S HOLY FAITH. ALREADY DURING PAST SEVERAL WEEKS IN ONE COUNTRY LATIN AMERICA NUMBER BELIEVERS HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED RESULT EFFORTS INSPIRED BLOOD INNOCENT MARTYRS. LET MEN OF VALOUR IN OTHER COUNTRIES FOLLOW IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS.

263.5 CALL ON FRIENDS EVERYWHERE JOIN US IN PRAYERS THANKSGIVING FOR THESE VICTORIES WORTHY RESPONSES OF BAHA'I COMMUNITY TO BITTER PERSECUTIONS BEING METED OUT ITS FOLLOWERS IN NATIVE LAND BAHA'U'LLAH. URGE ALL FRIENDS CONTINUE THEIR SUPPLICATIONS TO HIM THAT UNYIELDING INTRANSIGENT ATTITUDE OF IRANIAN AUTHORITIES TOWARD BAHA'IS MAY BE TRANSMUTED INTO CONFIDENCE IN AND GOODWILL TOWARDS PEACE-LOVING, LAW- ABIDING MEMBERS PRESENTLY PROSCRIBED COMMUNITY.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

264

Property Acquisitions in the Holy Land

24 September 1980

To the Baha'is of the world

264.1 WITH HEARTS BRIMMING WITH GRATITUDE FOR BOUNTIFUL CONFIRMATIONS BLESSED BEAUTY ANNOUNCE FOLLOWING RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS HOLY LAND:

264.2 IN BAHJI JUST ACQUIRED STRIP OF LAND 13,150 SQUARE METRES IN AREA BORDERING DRIVEWAY FROM WESTERN GATE BAHA'I PROPERTY AREA ACQUIRED ADJACENT TO AND SOUTH OF PRESENT BOUNDARY OLIVE GROVE ENABLES SOUTHWEST QUADRANT GARDENS SURROUNDING MOST HOLY SHRINE BE COMPLETED. THIS ACQUISITION WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY EXCHANGE AGAINST PROPERTY ON MAIN ROAD TO NAZARETH DONATED WORLD CENTRE BY DESCENDANTS LATE HUSAYN BAQIR KASHANI.

264.3 ALSO PURCHASED NEARLY 50,000 SQUARE METRES AGRICULTURAL LAND ADJACENT TO AND NORTH OF MAZRA'IH PROPERTY AS PROTECTION TO MANSION IN RAPIDLY DEVELOPING AREA.

264.4 SHIPMENT OVER 1,000 PIECES COMPRISING 120 CUBIC METRES KATRINA CEDAR WOOD FROM TURKEY JUST CLEARED FROM HAIFA PORT FOR USE RESTORATION HOUSE ABDU'LLAH PASHA IN 'AKKA.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p463>

265

Passing of Leonora Stirling Armstrong, Spiritual Mother of South

America

20 October 1980

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Brazil

265.1 HEARTS SADDENED PASSING DISTINGUISHED COUNSELLOR LEONORA STIRLING ARMSTRONG, HERALD OF THE KINGDOM, BELOVED HANDMAIDEN 'ABDU'L-BAHA, SPIRITUAL MOTHER SOUTH AMERICA.+F547 HER SIXTY YEARS VALIANT DEVOTED SERVICES CAUSE BRAZIL SHEDS LUSTRE ANNALS FAITH THAT PROMISING LAND. REQUESTING MEMORIAL SERVICES MASHRIQU'L-ADHKARS WILMETTE PANAMA URGE ALL COMMUNITIES BRAZIL LIKEWISE HOLD SERVICES. OFFERING ARDENT SUPPLICATIONS MOST HOLY SHRINE PROGRESS HER RADIANT SPIRIT ABHA KINGDOM.

[F547. For an account of the life and services of Leonora Stirling Armstrong, see BW 18:733-38.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

266

Attendance of the Members of a Spiritual Assembly at its Meetings

26 October 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

266.1 ... The attached compilation on the importance of participation in meetings of a National Spiritual Assembly by its entire membership has been prepared to assist members of these divinely ordained bodies to understand the nature and importance of the responsibilities they must assume when they are elected by their fellow believers.+F548 The House of Justice requests that every member of your Assembly be provided with a copy of this compilation, and that it be the subject of prayerful consultation at an early meeting of your Assembly.

[F548. The compilation is too lengthy to include in this volume.]

266.2 Many of the passages included in the compilation apply equally to Local Spiritual Assemblies.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p464>

267

Further Development of the Continental Boards of Counsellors

3 November 1980

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

267.1 One of the greatest sources of consolation for the Universal House of Justice amid the tribulations of the past twelve years, has been the establishment and growth of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, and the assistance that this institution has been rendering, in ever-increasing measure, to the sound development of the world-wide Baha'i community. We cannot pay too high a tribute to the indefatigable labours of the devoted souls who have been called upon to shoulder this onerous responsibility, and who have followed with such fidelity the path of self-sacrificing service that has been blazed for them by the beloved Hands of the Cause of God.

267.2 In June 1979 we were moved to announce that the duration of the terms of office of Continental Counsellors would be five years, to start on the Day of the Covenant of this year.+F549 As this date approaches, we have decided that the time is ripe for a further step in the development of the institution itself that will, at one and the same time, accord greater discretion and freedom of action to the Continental Boards of Counsellors in the carrying out of their duties, and widen the scope of each Board to embrace an entire continent. In accordance with this decision, the zones of the Continental Boards of Counsellors will, from the Day of the Covenant of the year 137+F550 (26 November 1980), be as follows:

[F550. Of the Baha'i Era.]

[F549. See message no. 229. The five-year terms were to begin on 26 November 1980.]

1. Africa, comprising the areas of the four present zones of that continent.

2. The Americas, comprising the present zones of North, Central and South America.

3. Asia, comprising the present zones of Western, South Central and South-eastern Asia, together with the present zone of North-eastern Asia without the Hawaiian Islands and Micronesia.

4. Australasia, comprising the present zone of Australasia plus the Hawaiian Islands and Micronesia.

5. Europe.

267.3 Those who are now appointed as Counsellors to serve on these Continental Boards for the next five years are:

<p465>

267.3a Africa: Dr Hushang Ahdieh (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Mr Husayn Ardikani, Mr Friday Ekpe, Mr Oloro Epyeru, Mr Shidan Fat'he-Aazam, Mr Zekrullah Kazemi, Mr Muhammad Kebdani, Mrs Thelma Khelghati, Mr William Masehla, Mr Muhammad Mustafa, Mr Kolonario Oule, Mrs Isobel Sabri, Dr Mihdi Samandari, Mr Peter Vuyiya, Mrs Bahiyyih Winckler.

267.3b The Americas: Dr Hidayatu'llah Ahmadiyyih, Dr Farzam Arbab, Mrs Carmen de Burafato, Mr Athos Costas, Mr Angus Cowan, Mr Lloyd Gardner (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Mr Mas'ud Khamsi, Mrs Lauretta King, Mr Artemus Lamb, Mr Peter McLaren, Mr Raul Pavon, Dr Sarah Pereira, Mrs Ruth Pringle, Mr Fred Schechter, Mrs Velma Sherrill, Mr Donald Witzel.

267.3c Asia: Mr Burhani'd-Din Afshin, Mrs Shirin Boman, Dr Masih Farhangi, Dr John Fozdar, Mr Zabihu'llah Gulmuhammadi, Mr Aydin Gueney, Mr Dipchand Khianra, Mr Ruhu'llah Mumtazi, Mr S. Nagaratnam, Mr Khudarahm Payman (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Mr Manuchihr Salmanpur, Mr Vicente Samaniego, Mrs Zena Sorabjee, Dr Chellie Sundram, Mr Hideya Suzuki, Mr Yan Kee Leong.

267.3d Australasia: Mr Suhayl 'Ala'i, Mr Ben Ayala, Mr Owen Battrick (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Mr Richard Benson, Mrs Tinai Hancock, Dr Peter Khan, Mr Lisiate Maka.

267.3e Europe: Mr Erik Blumenthal, Mrs Dorothy Ferraby, Dr Agnes Ghaznavi, Mr Hartmut Grossmann, Mr Louis Henuzet (Trustee of the Continental Fund), Mrs Ursula Muehlschlegel, Dr Leo Niederreiter, Mrs Betty Reed, Mr Adib Taherzadeh.

267.4 A number of friends who have rendered highly valued services as Counsellors are not being re-appointed for the coming term, and we wish to express here our profound gratitude for the devoted labours they have rendered and are rendering in the path of the Cause. These dearly loved believers are:

267.4a Mr Seewoosumbur-Jeehoba Appa, Dr Iraj Ayman, Mr Rowland Estall, Mr Howard Harwood, Miss Violet Hoehnke, Mrs Salisa Kermani, Mr Paul Lucas, Miss Elena Marsella, Mr Alfred Osborne, Miss Thelma Perks, Mr Hadi Rahmani, Mr 'Imad Sabiran, Miss Edna True.

267.5 Henceforth the Board of Counsellors in each continent will have wider discretion to decide such matters as whether to divide its area into zones, and what the boundaries of such zones should be, the number and location of the Board's offices, and the manner in which the members of the Auxiliary Boards will report to and operate under the Counsellors. The principles and policies <p466> governing the operation of the Continental Boards of Counsellors, however, and their relationships with the National and Local Spiritual Assemblies and the individual believers will remain unchanged. As the Baha'i world experiences the manifold interactions of these two vital and complementary arms of the Administrative Order of Baha'u'llah, the unique benefits of this divinely ordained System become ever more apparent. The harmonious interaction and the proper discharge of the duties of these institutions representing the rulers and the learned among the people of Baha is the essential basis at this time for the protection of the Cause of Baha'u'llah and the fulfilment of its God-given mandate.+F551

[F551. For an elucidation of the roles of the rulers and the learned, see message no. 111.]

267.6 Events of the most profound significance are taking place in the world. The river of human history is flowing at a bewildering speed. Age-old institutions are collapsing. Traditional ways are being forgotten, and newly born ideologies which were fondly expected to take their place, are withering and decaying before the eyes of their disillusioned adherents. Amidst this decay and disruption, assailed from every side by the turmoil of the age, the Order of Baha'u'llah, unshakeably founded on the Word of God, protected by the shield of the Covenant and assisted by the hosts of the Concourse on High, is rising in every part of the world.

267.7 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 Baha'i communities, in the years immediately ahead, be cut off from the World Centre or from one another -- as some already have been -- the Baha'is will neither halt nor hesitate; they will continue to pursue their objectives, guided by their Spiritual Assemblies and led by the Counsellors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants. It is our prayer at the Sacred Threshold that the new and challenging development now taking place in the evolution of the institution of the Counsellors will release great energies for the advancement of the Cause of God in every land.

The Universal House of Justice

<p467>

268

Martyrdom of Rida Firuzi in Tabriz; Uncertainty of Whereabouts of National Assembly Members

14 November 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

268.1 SORROWFUL NEWS JUST RECEIVED ANOTHER BELIEVER RIDA FIRUZI MARTYRED TABRIZ 9 NOVEMBER, NEWS ITEM ISSUED PARS NEWS AGENCY AND REUTERS+F552 AND PUBLISHED IN TIHRAN PAPERS CHARGES HIM WITH BEING PROMINENT BAHA'I AND INFIDEL AND INCLUDES USUAL LIST TOTALLY UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS. WHEREABOUTS NINE MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND FEW OTHERS STILL UNCERTAIN. STRONG FEARS HARASSED COMMUNITY ONCE AGAIN FACING AFTER BRIEF LULL FRESH WAVE OPPRESSION LEADING TO SHAM TRIALS MERCILESS ATROCITIES. ...

[F552. An international news service.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

269

Passing of the Hand of the Cause of God Abu'l-Qasim Faizi

20 November 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

269.1 HEARTS FILLED WITH SORROW PASSING INDEFATIGABLE SELF-SACRIFICING DEARLY LOVED HAND CAUSE GOD ABU'L-QASIM FAIZI.+F553 ENTIRE BAHA'I WORLD MOURNS HIS LOSS. HIS EARLY OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS IN CRADLE FAITH THROUGH EDUCATION CHILDREN YOUTH STIMULATION FRIENDS PROMOTION TEACHING WORK PROMPTED BELOVED GUARDIAN DESCRIBE HIM AS LUMINOUS DISTINGUISHED ACTIVE YOUTH. HIS SUBSEQUENT PIONEERING WORK IN LANDS BORDERING IRAN WON HIM APPELLATION SPIRITUAL CONQUEROR THOSE LANDS. FOLLOWING HIS APPOINTMENT HAND CAUSE HE PLAYED INVALUABLE PART WORK HANDS HOLY LAND TRAVELLED WIDELY PENNED HIS LITERARY WORKS CONTINUED HIS EXTENSIVE INSPIRING CORRESPONDENCE WITH HIGH AND LOW YOUNG AND OLD UNTIL AFTER LONG ILLNESS HIS SOUL WAS RELEASED AND WINGED ITS FLIGHT ABHA KINGDOM. CALL ON FRIENDS EVERYWHERE HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL GATHERINGS HIS HONOUR, INCLUDING SPECIAL COMMEMORATIVE MEETINGS HIS NAME <p468> IN HOUSES WORSHIP ALL CONTINENTS. MAY HIS SHINING EXAMPLE CONSECRATION CONTINUE INSPIRE HIS ADMIRERS EVERY LAND. PRAYING HOLY SHRINES HIS NOBLE RADIANT SOUL MAY BE IMMERSED IN OCEAN DIVINE MERCY CONTINUE ITS UNINTERRUPTED PROGRESS IN INFINITE WORLDS BEYOND.

[F553. For an account of the life and services of Abu'l-Qasim Faizi, see BW 18:659-65.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

270

Immolation of Baha'i Couple in Nuk Village

8 December 1980

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

270.1 On 1 December 1980 the Universal House of Justice cabled certain National Spiritual Assemblies as follows:

WITH FEELINGS HORROR INDIGNATION INFORM YOU MARTYRDOM MUHAMMAD HUSAYN MA'SUMI AND HIS WIFE+F554 BRUTALLY PUT TO DEATH 23 NOVEMBER NUK VILLAGE NEAR BIRJAND IN KHURASAN. FIFTEEN MASKED MEN ATTACKED COUPLE THEIR HOME MIDDLE NIGHT FIRST POURED KEROSENE ON HUSBAND AND SET HIM ON FIRE THEN FORCED HIM RUN FEW METRES FINALLY HEAPED WOOD UPON HIM BURNING HIM TO DEATH. HIS WIFE SUBJECT SIMILAR TREATMENT DIED TWO DAYS LATER HOSPITAL. SO FAR THIS ATROCITY NOT REPORTED IN NEWS MEDIA. ...

[F554. Shikkar Nisa.]

270.2 ... The Universal House of Justice calls on the friends in every land to continue to remember the oppressed friends of Iran in their prayers, supplicating Baha'u'llah to grant His divine aid and assist that persecuted community to face the trials that God has ordained for them, in accordance with His inscrutable wisdom.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p469>

271

Message to Counsellors' Convocations on Five Continents

22 December 1980

To gatherings of Counsellors in all countries

271.1 HAIL CONVOCATION IN ALL CONTINENTS FIVE GATHERINGS CONTINENTAL BOARDS COUNSELLORS ON MORROW THEIR APPOINTMENT FOR NEW TERM. GRATEFUL DIVINE BLESSINGS ENABLING THESE GATHERINGS BE GRACED BY PRESENCE HANDS CAUSE GOD WHO IN ACCORDANCE 'ABDU'L-BAHA'S WILL TESTAMENT WERE APPOINTED BY BELOVED GUARDIAN AND DESCRIBED BY HIM AS CHIEF STEWARDS BAHA'U'LLAH'S EMBRYONIC WORLD COMMONWEALTH.+F555

[F555. See WT, pp. 12-13, and MBW, p. 127.]

271.2 INVESTED WITH DUAL FUNCTION DISTINGUISHING MEMBERS THAT AUGUST INSTITUTION AND FOLLOWING IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS EACH NEWLY APPOINTED BOARD COUNSELLORS IS CALLED UPON AMIDST TURMOIL PRESENT HOUR ASSUME WITH RENEWED VIGOUR AND DETERMINATION UNDER GUIDANCE INTERNATIONAL TEACHING CENTRE ITS VITAL DUTIES GUARD OVER SECURITY ENSURE PROPAGATION GOD'S FAITH IN CONSULTATION NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES WITHIN CONFINES ITS CONTINENT IN STRICT CONFORMITY PRINCIPLES OUTLINED BY GUARDIAN IN HIS CABLE TO BAHA'I WORLD DATED 4 JUNE 1957.+F556 AS HE CLEARLY ENVISAGED THEN AND AS IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY APPARENT NOW SECURITY CAUSE PRESERVATION SPIRITUAL HEALTH COMMUNITY VITALITY FAITH INDIVIDUALS PROPER FUNCTIONING BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS FRUITION WORLD-WIDE ENTERPRISES FULFILMENT ULTIMATE DESTINY FAITH ALL DEPENDENT UPON BEFITTING DISCHARGE WEIGHTY RESPONSIBILITIES MEMBERS TWIN ARMS ADMINISTRATION.+F557

[F557. These "twin arms" are described in the Constitution of the Universal House of Justice as follows: "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 Baha'i community and, on the other, of eminent and devoted believers appointed for the specific purposes of protecting and propagating the Faith of Baha'u'llah under the guidance of the Head of that Faith." For an explanation of the roles of the two arms, see message no. 111.]

[F556. See MBW, pp. 122-23.]

271.3 IF AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON COMMUNICATION WITH WORLD CENTRE IS CUT OFF IN FUTURE, COUNSELLORS EACH CONTINENT SHOULD COLLECTIVELY INDIVIDUALLY ASSIST NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES ENSURE CONTINUATION NORMAL ADMINISTRATION FAITH BY THESE ASSEMBLIES WITHOUT INTERRUPTION UNTIL COMMUNICATIONS CAN BE RESTORED. FURTHERMORE IF IT SHOULD PROVE UNFEASIBLE AT END OF ANY FIVE YEAR TERM OF OFFICE FOR HOUSE JUSTICE TO REVIEW AND RENEW MEMBERSHIP CONTINENTAL BOARDS COUNSELLORS, THESE BOARDS SHOULD CONTINUE IN OFFICE EVEN IF ONE OR MORE THEIR MEMBERS IS UNABLE FUNCTION, FAITHFULLY DISCHARGING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES, UNTIL PROPITIOUS <p470> CONDITIONS PREVAIL FOR HOUSE JUSTICE CONSIDER APPOINTMENT SUCCESSORS. FERVENTLY PRAYING HOLY SHRINES GOD'S PRECIOUS FAITH MAY BE PROTECTED FROM ONSLAUGHT ITS ENEMIES WITHIN ITS ANTAGONISTS BOTH RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR WITHOUT, THAT MEMBERS RECONSTITUTED INSTITUTION COUNSELLORS MAY BE RECIPIENTS FRESH MEASURE HEAVENLY CONFIRMATIONS AND THAT FIRST MEETINGS NOW CONVENED MAY LAY FIRM FOUNDATIONS FOR EFFICIENT OPERATION THIS ESSENTIAL ORGAN STEADILY UNFOLDING ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER FAITH BAHA'U'LLAH. REQUEST COUNSELLORS SHARE COPY THIS MESSAGE WITH ALL NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES THEIR CONTINENT.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

272

Relationship between Husband and Wife

28 December 1980

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of New Zealand

Dear Baha'i friends,

272.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 16 October 1980 enclosing a letter from the Spiritual Assembly of ... posing questions which have arisen as a result of reading the book When We Grow Up by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, and it has instructed us to convey the following.

272.2 The House of Justice suggests that all statements in the Holy Writings concerning specific areas of the relationship between men and women should be considered in the light of the general principle of equality between the sexes that has been authoritatively and repeatedly enunciated in the Sacred Texts. In one of His Tablets 'Abdu'l-Baha asserts: "In this divine age the bounties of God have encompassed the world of women. Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced. Distinctions have been utterly removed."+F558 That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature; the important thing is that 'Abdu'l-Baha regards such inequalities as remain between the sexes as being "negligible."

[F558. From an unpublished Tablet.]

272.3 The relationship between husband and wife must be viewed in the context of the Baha'i ideal of family life. Baha'u'llah came to bring unity to the world, and a fundamental unity is that of the family. Therefore, one must believe that the Faith is intended to strengthen the family, not weaken it, and one of the keys to the strengthening of unity is loving consultation. The atmosphere within a Baha'i family as within the community as a whole should express <p471> "the keynote of the Cause of God" which, the beloved Guardian has stated, "is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation."+F559

[F559. BA, p. 63.]

272.4 A family, however, is a very special kind of "community." The Research Department has not come across any statements which specifically name the father as responsible for the "security, progress and unity of the family" as is stated in Bahiyyih Nakhjavani's book, but it can be inferred from a number of the responsibilities placed upon him, that the father can be regarded as the "head" of the family.+F560 The members of a family all have duties and responsibilities towards one another and to the family as a whole, and these duties and responsibilities vary from member to member because of their natural relationships. The parents have the inescapable duty to educate their children -- but not vice versa; the children have the duty to obey their parents -- the parents do not obey the children; the mother -- not the father -- bears the children, nurses them in babyhood, and is thus their first educator; hence daughters have a prior right to education over sons and, as the Guardian's secretary has written on his behalf, "The task of bringing up a Baha'i child, as emphasized time and again in Baha'i Writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development ..."+F561 A corollary of this responsibility of the mother is her right to be supported by her husband -- a husband has no explicit right to be supported by his wife. This principle of the husband's responsibility to provide for and protect the family can be seen applied also in the law of intestacy which provides that the family's dwelling place passes, on the father's death, not to his widow, but to his eldest son; the son at the same time has the responsibility to care for his mother.

[F561. See CC I:303-04.]

[F560. For a further discussion of the concept of the husband as the head of the family, see message no. 402.]

272.5 It is in this context of mutual and complementary duties, and responsibilities that one should read the Tablet in which 'Abdu'l-Baha gives the following exhortation:

272.5a "O Handmaids of the All-Sufficing God!

272.5b Exert yourselves, that haply ye may be enabled to acquire such virtues as shall honour and distinguish you amongst all women. Of a surety, there is no greater pride and glory for a woman than to be a handmaid in God's Court of Grandeur; and the qualities that shall merit her this station are an alert and wakeful heart; a firm conviction of the unity of <p472> God, the Peerless; a heartfelt love for all His maidservants; spotless purity and chastity; obedience to and consideration for her husband; attention to the education and nurturing of her children; composure, calmness, dignity and self- possession; diligence in praising God, and worshipping Him both night and day; constancy and firmness in His holy Covenant; and the utmost ardour, enthusiasm, and attachment to His Cause. ...+F562

[F562. The quotation in the original letter has been replaced by this revised translation.]

272.5c This exhortation to the utmost degree of spirituality and self-abnegation should not be read as a legal definition giving the husband absolute authority over his wife, for, in a letter written to an individual believer on 22 July 1943, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

272.5d The Guardian, in his remarks ... about parents' and children's, wives' and husbands' relations in America, meant that there is a tendency in that country for children to be too independent of the wishes of their parents and lacking in the respect due to them. Also wives, in some cases, have a tendency to exert an unjust degree of domination over their husbands, which, of course, is not right, any more than that the husband should unjustly dominate his wife.

272.5e In any group, however loving the consultation, there are nevertheless points on which, from time to time, agreement cannot be reached. In a Spiritual Assembly this dilemma is resolved by a majority vote. There can, however, be no majority where only two parties are involved, as in the case of a husband and wife. There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other. In short, the relationship between husband and wife should be as held forth in the prayer revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha which is often read at Baha'i weddings: "Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time."+F563

[F563. BP, p. 107.]

272.6 These are all relationships within the family, but there is a much wider sphere of relationships between men and women than in the home, and this too we should consider in the context of Baha'i society, not in that of past or present social norms. For example, although the mother is the first educator of the child, and the most important formative influence in his development, the father also has the responsibility of educating his children, and this responsibility is so weighty that Baha'u'llah has stated that a father who fails to exercise it forfeits his rights of fatherhood. Similarly, although the primary responsibility for supporting the family financially is placed upon the husband, this <p473> does not by any means imply that the place of woman is confined to the home. On the contrary, 'Abdu'l-Baha has stated:

272.6a In the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, women are advancing side by side with men. There is no area or instance where they will lag behind: they have equal rights with men, and will enter, in the future, into all branches of the administration of society. Such will be their elevation that, in every area of endeavour, they will occupy the highest levels in the human world. ...+F564 and again:

[F564. The quotation in the original letter, which was taken from Paris Talks, p. 182, has been replaced by this revised translation.]

272.6b So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease; ... (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 135)

272.6c In the Tablet of the World, Baha'u'llah Himself has envisaged that women as well as men would be breadwinners in stating:

272.6d 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. (Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 90)

272.6e A very important element in the attainment of, such equality is Baha'u'llah's provision that boys and girls must follow essentially the same curriculum in schools.

272.7 It is hoped that the above explanations and comments will help the Local Spiritual Assembly of to resolve the questions set forth in its letter.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p474>

273

Assassination of Dr Manuchihr Hakim, Chairman of Iranian National Spiritual Assembly

13 January 1981

To National Spiritual Assemblies

273.1 PROFOUNDLY SHOCKED TRAGIC NEWS JUST RECEIVED OF ASSASSINATION IN HIS CLINIC OF PROFESSOR MANUCHIHR HAKIM DISTINGUISHED PHYSICIAN EMINENT PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY TIHRAN AND FOR SUCCESSIVE DECADES INTERMITTENTLY MEMBER CHAIRMAN NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY IRAN. SPIRIT COURAGE DEDICATION WITH WHICH THIS MOST RECENT MARTYR DISCHARGED SACRED RESPONSIBILITIES ON SUPREME NATIONAL BAHA'I INSTITUTION CRADLE FAITH WORTHY EMULATION BAHA'I ADMINISTRATORS AND FRIENDS EVERY LAND. DEEPLY DISTURBED THIS LATEST OMINOUS SIGN GATHERING CLOUDS FRESH CALAMITIES HARD-PRESSED FRIENDS IRAN. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

274

Events Related to the Execution of Dr Manuchihr Hakim

30 January 1981

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

274.1 We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to share with you the following comments about events related to the martyrdom of Professor Manuchihr Hakim, and the general situation as it affects the safety of our brethren in Iran.

274.2 The National Spiritual Assembly of Iran believes that ominous signs foreshadow an intensification of the persecution of the Baha'is, particularly since the release of the American hostages, and it fears that they will again become the target of their traditional adversaries who are presently in power.+F565

[F565. On 4 November 1979, seven months after the Islamic Republic was established, a mob surged over the wall of the United States Embassy compound in Tihran. Diplomatic and military personnel were held hostage until their release on 18 January 1981.]

274.3 In reply to complaints from the Baha'is concerning the recent assassination of Professor Hakim, the authorities have insisted that the murderer is unknown to them, and they categorically deny any involvement in the case.

<p475>

It is very significant to note, however, that a few days after the assassination, the government officially produced documentation authorizing the confiscation of Professor Hakim's house, and officials went to that house, took an inventory of its furnishings, and sealed it on Wednesday, 14 January. A lawyer who was protecting the interests of the Hakim family objected to this action, saying that the house belonged to and was in the name of Mrs Germaine Hakim. On the next day about twenty Revolutionary guards entered the house and removed everything, including the car in the garage, leaving the premises entirely bare!

274.4 Many non-Baha'is in Iran have expressed sympathy to the Baha'is for the cruel death of Professor Hakim, who was renowned for his gentleness and his services to the community.

274.5 Mrs Hakim has sent a number of cables of protest to Iran, but these have not thus far produced any favourable results. She is in Paris and has been advised to remain there since it is highly unsafe for her to return to Iran.

274.6 The National Spiritual Assembly is apprehensive about an official bill which is presently being drafted in the office of the Prime Minister, Mr Raja'i. This bill, if passed, will prevent the employment of Baha'is by any government or quasi-government institution. A circular letter has already been issued to all branches of the government, instructing them to dismiss all Baha'is. When the Baha'is do not fill out the blank marked "religion" on employment forms, they are asked again to complete the form so that there will be reason for their dismissal, namely being Baha'is. It should be recalled that the dismissal of Baha'is took place previously on a large scale in the field of education, and at that time the Minister of Education was the present Prime Minister, Mr Raja'i. A considerable number of dismissals also occurred in the Army, despite protests made by a cadre of officers in the Ministry of Defence.

274.7 The National Assembly also reports that a number of local mullas are continuously instigating the populace against the Baha'is in their respective areas. ...

274.8 The Universal House of Justice will continue to keep you apprised from time to time of the latest developments concerning our beleaguered brethren in the Cradle of the Faith.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p476>

275

Second Phase of the Seven Year Plan

March 1981

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

275.1 The successes of the initial phase of the Seven Year Plan are heartening evidence of the Divine care with which the growth of the Cause of God is so lovingly invigorated and sheltered. This still infant Cause, harassed and buffeted over these two years by relentless enemies, experiencing in swift succession a number of sharply contrasting crises and victories, surrounded by the increasing turmoil of a disintegrating world, has raised its banner, reinforced its foundations, and extended the range of its administrative institutions.

275.2 The resurgence of bitter and barbaric persecution of the Faith in the land of its birth, the passing to the Abha Kingdom of five Hands of the Cause of God, the darkening of the horizons of the world as the sombre shadows of universal convulsions and chaos extinguish the lights of justice and order, are among the factors which have chiefly affected the conditions and fortunes of the world-wide army of God.+F566

[F566. The resurging persecution of the Baha'is of Iran, the country in which the Baha'i Faith originated, began in 1978 and came into full force following the fall of the Shah on 17 January 1979 and the declaration of the Islamic Republic on 1 April 1979. For an overview of the situation, see messages nos 215, 227, 234, and 262. The five Hands of the Cause of God who died were Enoch Olinga (see message no. 237), Rahmatu'llah Muhajir (see message no. 243), Hasan M. Balyuzi (see message no. 247), Adelbert Muehlchlegel (see message no. 256), and Abu'l-Qasim Faizi (see message no. 269).]

The Baha'is in Iran

275.3 The Baha'i community in the Cradle of the Faith, having witnessed the destruction of its holiest Shrine,+F567 the sequestration of its Holy Places, confiscation of its endowments and even personal properties, the martyrdom of many of its adherents, the imprisonment and holding without trial or news of the members of its National Spiritual Assembly and other leading figures of its community, the deprivation of the means of livelihood, vilification and slander of its cherished tenets, has stood staunch as the Dawn-Breakers of old+F568 and emerged spiritually united and steadfast, the pride and inspiration of the entire Baha'i world. In all continents of the globe, their example and hapless plight has led the friends to proclaim the Name of Baha'u'llah as never before, personally, locally, and through all the media of mass communication. The Baha'i world community, acting through its representatives at the United <p477> Nations and through its National Spiritual Assemblies, has brought to the attention of governments and world leaders in many spheres the tenets and character of the Faith of God. The world's parliaments, its federal councils, its humanitarian agencies have considered the Baha'i Cause and in many instances have extended their support and expressed their sympathy.

[F568. The Babis and Baha'is of the early years of the Heroic Age who lived during the Ministries of the Bab and Baha'u'llah.]

[F567. The House of the Bab in Shiraz.]

275.4 In the midst of this time- and energy-consuming activity on behalf of our beloved Persian brethren, the community of the Most Great Name, far from lessening its pursuit of the objectives of the initial phase of the Seven Year Plan, has promoted them with increasing vigour. Added to the burning desire of the friends everywhere to show their love for their brethren in Persia by teaching the Cause with redoubled fervour, has been the further inspiration to teach derived from the loss of the beloved Hands of the Cause, an inspiration which has been fostered by the travels of those dear Hands still able to extend this loving service to the believers.

Developments within the Faith during the First Phase

275.5 The broadening, during this opening phase of the Seven Year Plan, of the foundations of the Boards of Counsellors and the consolidation of the thirteen zonal Boards to five continental ones have greatly reinforced this vital institution of the Faith. It has been further developed by the setting of a specified term of office for Continental Counsellors, as was envisaged in the original appointments.+F569

[F569. In a message dated 29 June 1979 (no. 229), the Universal House of Justice fixed the term at five years.]

275.6 Progress on the Seat of the Universal House of Justice and on the Temples of India and Samoa has continued. Six new National Spiritual Assemblies will be formed during this Ridvan: two in Africa, that of South West Africa/Namibia with its seat in Windhoek and that of Bophuthatswana with its seat in Mmabatho; three in the Americas, Bermuda with its seat in Hamilton, the Leeward Islands with its seat in St. John's, Antigua, and the Windward Islands with its seat in Kingstown, St. Vincent; one in the Pacific, namely that of Tuvalu with its seat in Funafuti; and the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda will be reconstituted. To those to be formed during the remainder of the Seven Year Plan, the following have been added: two in Africa, Equatorial Guinea with its seat in Malabo, Somalia with its seat in Mogadishu, and one in Asia, that of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands with its seat in Port Blair.

275.7 Increases in the total number of Local Spiritual Assemblies and localities have been registered during the opening phase, and Baha'i communities in all parts of the world have demonstrated greater unity and maturity in their collective activities.

<p478>

The Second Phase of the Plan -- 1981-84

275.8 The second phase of the Seven Year Plan, now opening, will last for three years and will be followed by the final phase of two years, ending at Ridvan 1986. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of our beloved Guardian will occur during the second year of the second phase of the Plan and that same year will also witness the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf.+F570 The House of Justice plans to issue a compilation of letters to her and of statements about her by Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha, and the beloved Guardian, and of her own letters.+F571

[F571. The book was published under the title Bahiyyih Khanum by the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa (1982).]

[F570. Shoghi Effendi died on 4 November 1957. The Greatest Holy Leaf died at 1:00 a.m. on 15 July 1932.]

World-Wide Goals for the Second Phase

275.9 All National Spiritual Assemblies have been sent the goals assigned to their communities for the second phase, for the prosecution of which the Baha'i world community now stands poised and ready. Among the major developments envisioned during this phase are:

275.9a Occupation by the Universal House of Justice of its permanent Seat on the slopes of Mount Carmel above the Arc;+F572

[F572. For a discussion of the Arc, see the Glossary. The Seat of the Universal House of Justice was occupied on 2 February 1983 (see message no. 354).]

275.9b Completion of the Temple in Samoa and continued progress on the work of the Temple in India;+F573

[F573. The Baha'i House of Worship in Samoa was dedicated on 1 September 1984 (see message no. 403); the Baha'i House of Worship in India was dedicated 23-27 December 1986 (see message no. 452).]

275.9c Further development of the functions of the International Teaching Centre and the Boards of Counsellors, with special reference to the promotion of the spiritual, intellectual, and social life of the Baha'i community;+F574

[F574. For the Universal House of Justice's messages announcing, establishing, elucidating, and expanding the duties of the International Teaching Centre, see messages dated 21 June 1968 (no. 58), 5 June 1973 (no. 131), 8 June 1973 (no. 132), and 19 May 1983 (no. 361).]

275.9d The holding, during the first nine months of 1982, of five international conferences, in Lagos, Nigeria; Montreal, Canada; Quito, Ecuador; Dublin, Ireland; and Manila, the Philippines, this last one taking place at the midpoint of an axis, referred to by the beloved Guardian, whose poles are Japan and Australia;

275.9e Preparation of architect's plans for the first dependency of the European Mashriqu'l-Adhkar,+F575 namely, a Home for the Aged, and an increase in the number of national and local Haziratu'l-Quds; the latter, which will be particularly in rural areas, are to be acquired or built through the efforts of the local friends;

[F575. The Baha'i House of Worship at Langenhain, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany.]

<p479>

275.9f Acquisition of six new Temple sites, five in Africa and one in Australasia; and of five new national endowments, four in Africa and one in the Americas;

275.9g Formation of two Publishing Trusts, one in the Ivory Coast and one in Nigeria;

275.9h A great increase in the production of Baha'i literature in an increasing number of languages, the ultimate aim being to enable every believer to have some portion of the Sacred Text available in his native tongue;

275.9i Completion of three more radio stations in South America;+F576

[F576. Baha'i radio stations were established in Peru (see message dated 29 November 1981, no. 304), Bolivia (see message dated 2 April 1984, no. 391), and Panama (see message dated 31 January 1986, no. 450). During the second phase of the Seven Year Plan a radio station was also established in the United States (see message no. 348).]

275.9j Great attention to the development and consolidation of Local Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world;

275.9k Development of Baha'i community life with special attention to the Baha'i education of children and the spiritual enrichment of communities;

275.9l The settlement of 279 pioneers in 80 countries during the first year of the second phase.

The need for Increased Contributions to Baha'i Funds

275.10 Liberal and increased contributions to the various Funds of the Faith will be essential if the above-mentioned tasks are to be successfully pursued. Furthermore, the now observable emergence from obscurity of our beloved Faith will impose the necessity of new undertakings involving large calls on the Funds. The growing awareness of the friends throughout the world in the past few years that the Funds of the Faith are indeed the lifeblood of its activities is a heartening augury for the future. We are confident that this awareness will increase, that more National Spiritual Assemblies will make great strides towards financial independence, that national budgets will be met, and the Baha'i International Fund will receive an ever-increasing outpouring of contributions enabling that Fund to keep pace with the ever-increasing international needs of the Faith.

A Spiritual service

275.11 Beloved friends, the world moves deeper into the heart of darkness as its old order is rolled up. Pursing our objectives with confidence, optimism, and an unshakeable resolve, we must never forget that our service is a spiritual one. Mankind is dying for lack of true religion and this is what we have to offer to humanity. It is the love of God, manifest in the appearance of Baha'u'llah, which will feed the hungry souls of the world and eventually lead the peoples out of the present morass into the orderly, uplifting, and soul-inspiring task of establishing God's Kingdom on earth.

The Universal House of Justice

<p480>

276

Return of the Hand of the Cause of God William Sears to Africa

4 March 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

276.1 AFRICA REJOICES RETURN HAND CAUSE WILLIAM SEARS FULFILMENT PLEDGE MADE RECEIPT TRAGIC NEWS ASSASSINATION HAND CAUSE ENOCH OLINGA.+F577 CONTINENT WHICH EARNED SUCH HIGH PRAISE BELOVED GUARDIAN AGAIN GRACED PRESENCE HAND. NOBLE ACTION ENRICHES RECORD HIS HISTORIC SERVICES. OFFERING ARDENT PRAYERS SACRED THRESHOLD GREAT NEW VICTORIES AFRICA.

[F577. For the announcement of Enoch Olinga's assassination, see message dated 17 September 1979 (no. 237).]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

277

Execution of Two Baha'is in Shiraz

17 March 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

277.1 SORROWFUL NEWS JUST RECEIVED TWO BELIEVERS FROM ABADIH IMPRISONED SHIRAZ WERE EXECUTED MONDAY NIGHT 16 MARCH BY GOVERNMENT FIRING SQUAD SHIRAZ CHARGE LIST INCLUDES USUAL FALSE IMPUTATIONS LEVELLED AGAINST DEFENCELESS BELIEVERS.+F578 NAMES THESE TWO VALIANT FRIENDS MIDHI ANVARI AND HIDAYATU'LLAH DIHQANI ADDED LIST OTHER SELFLESS MARTYRS WHO WITH THEIR BLOOD HAVE TESTIFIED TRUTH GOD'S GLORIOUS REVELATION. OMINOUS SIGNS VISIBLE FURTHER AGGRAVATION PERILOUS SITUATION FACING BELEAGUERED PERSIAN COMMUNITY. ...

[F578. Two days later, 19 March 1981, the Universal House of Justice cabled fifty- four National Spiritual Assemblies, saying that the "verdict Shiraz court clearly indicates sentence based membership Baha'i Faith engagement Baha'i activities."]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p481>

278

Attendance of Baha'is from Rural Areas at International Conferences

30 March 1981

To the National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa, Asia, Australasia, South and Central America

Dear Baha'i friends,

278.1 The Universal House of Justice wishes to stress the importance of encouraging as many believers as possible living in rural areas to attend the International Conferences, and to this end it is requesting the National Spiritual Assemblies of Nigeria, the Philippines and Ecuador to investigate the possibilities of providing inexpensive accommodation so that more will be able to attend.

273.2 Cost of travel is another important item, and it is the hope of the Universal House of Justice that National Spiritual Assemblies can find ways to assist a number of indigenous believers to travel to the Conferences, as attendance could be considered as a part of the deepening programme. National Assemblies should also start now to encourage believers to make plans to attend the Conference nearest them and to save money for their fares. The Universal House of Justice requests you to give this matter your urgent attention, and report to it the steps you are taking to implement the contents of this letter.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

279

Deployment of Pioneers and Travelling Teachers

16 April 1981

To all Continental Pioneer Committees

Dear Baha'i friends,

279.1 As we enter the second phase of the Seven Year Plan, the Universal House of Justice has given consideration to the vital role that Continental Pioneer Committees can and should increasingly play in helping to fulfil the pioneer goals that have been set, and in co-ordinating international travelling teaching projects. We have been asked to send you the following comments.

279.2 There is no doubt that closer collaboration of the Continental Pioneer Committees with the Continental Boards of Counsellors and with the National <p482> Spiritual Assemblies, both those supplying pioneers and travel teachers and those receiving them, will increase the number of pioneers effectively and expeditiously settled at their posts, and will improve the results of the labours of international travelling teachers. This collaboration should always be uppermost in the minds of each Continental Pioneer Committee, particularly its secretary, so that efforts are increasingly made to widen the scope of the relationships and to strengthen the ties which bind the Continental Pioneer Committees to the institutions which they are called upon to serve.

Pioneers

279.3 In the message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the world, intended to be read at the National Conventions, a call is raised for a total of 279 pioneers to settle in 80 countries. A list of these countries is attached, showing the number to be settled in each.+F579 The number of pioneers on this list is additional to those called for at the outset of the Plan. No assignment of specific quotas has been made to National Spiritual Assemblies, although it is generally expected that the National Spiritual Assemblies originally made responsible for sending pioneers to these countries will respond favourably to this new call and spontaneously feel the spiritual responsibility to fill the supplementary pioneer needs. It will be the duty of Pioneer Committees to keep a close tally of pioneers settling in the countries named by the House of Justice, and to ensure, to the extent possible, that no goals remain unfilled.

[F579. See message no. 275. The list referred to is too lengthy to include in this volume.]

Travelling Teachers

279.4 Experience has shown that travelling teachers from abroad can be of tremendous assistance to the teaching work in the fields of proclamation, expansion, and consolidation. It is important that the best use possible be made of these friends who are sacrificing their time and resources to serve the Faith in foreign fields.

279.5 Care must also be taken that travelling teachers do not prove to be a burden on the receiving community, and a cause of problems. The two most frequently occurring problems caused by travelling teachers can, the House of Justice feels, be greatly reduced by prior advice and information provided by your Committees.

279.6 The first is the arrival in a country, in rapid succession, of foreign travelling teachers who do not speak the language. Sometimes the net result is that the time of all the best local teachers (who may well be better teachers than the visitor) is occupied by translating for the traveller, and the community, instead of being helped and stimulated by visitors, is exhausted and becomes reluctant to accept future help. This can be avoided by proper advance planning and by explaining to both the Spiritual Assemblies and to the travelling <p483> teachers themselves, that the Assemblies should not feel obliged to provide assistance for a visitor who arrives without prior agreement, and that a teacher who arrives unannounced may well have to concentrate on doing his teaching work unaided and without burdening the local friends.

279.7 The second problem occurs most frequently in countries such as those in Africa, where there is entry by troops. In such countries 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. Yet it is in consolidation that travelling teachers from abroad can often be most useful to the community. The House of Justice believes that this problem can be eased by your Committees' impressing upon travelling teachers that they must adhere strictly to the guidance given to them by the teaching committees and Spiritual Assemblies on the spot, and subordinate their own wishes to the need to render their services in the fields where they are most urgently required. It should be pointed out that, especially if they 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 enrol believers whom no one is going to be able to visit again in the near future, they may well be doing a disservice to those people and to the Faith. To give people this glorious Message and then leave them in the lurch, produces disappointment and disillusionment, so that, when it does become possible to carry out properly planned teaching in that area, the teachers may well find the people resistant to the Message. The first teacher who was careless of consolidation, instead of planting and nourishing the seeds of faith has, in fact, "inoculated" the people against the Divine Message and made subsequent teaching very much harder.

279.8 While the caveats given above should be carefully considered by the Continental Pioneer Committees, nothing should be done to dampen the zeal of the friends to arise in order to carry out the injunction of Baha'u'llah to move from place to place. Their desire to offer themselves as travel teachers should be encouraged by the Continental Pioneer Committees to the extent that this ties within their power, and when the friends have volunteered, they should be lovingly guided so that the maximum results are obtained from their visits.

International Conferences 1982

279.9 The Universal House of Justice has called International Conferences during the first nine months in 1982 in the following locations: Montreal, Canada; Quito, Ecuador; Dublin, Ireland; Lagos, Nigeria; and Manila, Philippines. As soon as specific dates have been set, you will be notified. It is anticipated that many friends attending these Conferences will be able to undertake travel teaching assignments in connection with their travel to and from Conferences.

279.10 The House of Justice has asked us to alert you to the opportunities, and to request you to devise ways and means of encouraging such offers and of taking <p484> advantage of them, preferably by advance planning and routing of volunteers in consultation with the National Spiritual Assemblies of the countries they will visit. You should plan to have a representative of your Committee at the Conference nearest you to assist in the processing of pioneer offers and also in the routing of late travelling teacher offers. If it is not possible for a member of your Committee to attend, you may delegate another believer to represent you who, in such case, must be thoroughly briefed by you.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

280

Comments on Aspects of the Seven Year Plan

17 April 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

230.1 The message of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha'is of the world, dated March 1981, must have reached you by now, and, likewise, the specific message addressed to the Baha'is under your jurisdiction, outlining the goals of the second phase of the Seven Year Plan. The Universal House of Justice feels it is important that we share with you now, on its behalf, the following comments on certain aspects of the Plan. Each National Spiritual Assembly should be able to determine what portion of these comments is applicable to its work in the light of the goals it has been assigned.

The Local Spiritual Assembly

280.2 As you note from statements of guidelines and goals, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the activities of local communities. 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 co- ordinate 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 Baha'i 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."+F580

[F580. MBW, p. 140.]

<p485>

280.3 The broad outlines of duties and functions of Local Spiritual Assemblies are set forth clearly in the instructions of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and these instructions have already been sent to National Assemblies in the form of compilations.+F581 Similar statements have also been made by the Universal House of Justice, and these, too, have been shared with the friends. If any National Assembly does not have these compilations at hand, it should write to the World Centre at once so that copies may be sent.

[F581. For the compilations referred to, see CC II:29-38, II:39-60.]

Consolidation

280.4 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 Baha'u'llah 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.

280.5 If a National Spiritual Assembly finds that its National Teaching Committee cannot devote sufficient attention to the work of consolidation, it should not hesitate to appoint, in addition, special committees whose tasks would be the conduct of the various activities which are essential for consolidation. Activities falling within this category include the organization of circuits of travelling teachers skilled in consolidation work; the holding of summer and winter schools, weekend institutes and conferences; the initiation and operation of tutorial schools; the dissemination of Baha'i literature and the encouragement of its study by the friends; and the organization of special courses and institutes for Local Spiritual Assembly members.

280.6 In the courses for Local Assembly members special attention should be paid to the significance of the Assembly and the importance of attending its meetings; the functions and duties of the Assembly's officers, especially those of the secretary, upon the proper discharge of whose responsibilities the efficient functioning of the Assembly largely depends; the importance of making the Word of God easily accessible to the friends and of holding regular deepening classes where the Teachings can be studied and discussed; the vital necessity of prayer, and the value of holding gatherings for dawn prayers where and when feasible; the proper holding of Nineteen Day Feasts and the observance of Baha'i Holy Days and anniversaries; the need to pay particular attention to the education of children; and the value of organizing social gatherings, such as picnics, encouraging the friends to associate together and with their non-Baha'i friends in love and fragrance.

<p486>

280.7 Consolidation activities promote the individual spiritual development of the friends, help to unite and strengthen Baha'i community life, establish new social patterns for the friends, and stimulate the teaching work.

Baha'i Literature

280.8 The question of making the Sacred Texts available to the friends is so important that the House of Justice commissioned a special committee a year or so ago to prepare three compilations from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, the Bab, and 'Abdu'l-Baha. These compilations have already been sent to all National Spiritual Assemblies for publication in vernacular languages.+F582

[F582. The three compilations were published in one volume under the title Inspiring the Heart: Selections from the Writings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l- Baha by the Baha'i Publishing Trust of the United Kingdom (n.d.).]

280.9 Recently, the House of Justice instructed that a compilation in the form of a small booklet be prepared for use by the friends, especially in areas where literature is not easily available in print. A copy of this compilation, which consists of basic prayers and passages from the Writings, will soon be sent to you. It would be highly desirable for every believer to have easy access to at least a compilation of this type in a language he can understand, and it is sincerely hoped that by the reading of the Sacred Texts and the exposure of the believer's soul to their influence, his spiritual growth will be stimulated. He will thereby not only increase his own spiritual joy and understanding, but also contribute to the consolidation of the entire community.+F583

[F583. The compilation was published under the title Words of God by the Baha'i World Centre (1981).]

The Baha'i Family

280.10 Another aspect of Baha'i life emphasized in the provisions of the Seven Year Plan is the development of the Baha'i family life. If the believer is the only one of his family who has embraced the Faith, it is his duty to endeavour to lead as many other family members as possible to the light of divine guidance. As soon as a Baha'i 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 centres to attract the heavenly confirmations.

Recognition of the Faith

280.11 In the goals assigned to National Spiritual Assemblies, no specific reference has been made to goals for the recognition of the Baha'i marriage certificate <p487> and of Baha'i Holy Days, for the incorporation of Local Spiritual Assemblies, or for the obtaining of exemptions from state and municipal taxes on Baha'i properties. Conditions in every country differ, and it is the duty of every National Spiritual Assembly to consider carefully the means whereby it can continually increase the degree of recognition officially accorded to Baha'i institutions. It is important that any accomplishments in this vital area be reported to the World Centre when National Spiritual Assemblies submit their semi-annual statistical reports.

280.12 The process of obtaining added recognition for the Faith can be stimulated if National Assemblies give adequate attention in their work to the ever-present need to continually foster cordial relations with government officials. Many of these officials have but a scanty and sometimes faulty knowledge of the Faith, and there is no doubt that when they become familiar with our aims and tenets and are assured of their beneficent effect on their society, they will be well-disposed to accord the Faith and its institutions at least such rights and privileges as are given to other religious organizations in the country.

Mass Media

280.13 The importance of mass media to Baha'i proclamation has risen sharply in past years, and acutely so since the crisis in Iran. Mass media, and particularly radio, have proven to be potent instruments for the deepening of the friends and the promotion of the teaching work in mass teaching areas. Thus in the second phase of the Plan, 92 National Spiritual Assemblies have been given goals calling for increased use of the mass media. Countries not included in the list are those where the use of mass media for Baha'i purposes is not permitted, or where the friends are already so actively engaged in such projects that they did not need the inclusion of such a goal in their assignments.

280.14 It is important for National Spiritual Assemblies generally to be aware that the use of mass media is becoming international in scope and that there is a need for National Spiritual Assemblies to share materials, methods, and experiences, and even personnel, in order to achieve best results.

280.15 In order to facilitate this exchange of information about the promotion of the Baha'i work through radio and television, as well as about the availability of audio-visual materials, the Universal House of Justice, as it has been announced already, has established the International Baha'i Audio-visual Centre (IBAVC) now in Toronto, Canada. This Centre can be called upon by National Spiritual Assemblies for programme materials and for advice on personnel training.

280.16 Every National Spiritual Assembly engaged in the teaching work in rural areas, where means of communication are scarce, is strongly advised to consider the possibility of applying for radio time on the local radio station, provided the cost is not too high. It may be possible to obtain such time in certain areas free of charge, especially when such a privilege is given to other <p488> groups or religions, or when the radio station is anxious to fill its time with worthwhile and helpful programmes.

280.17 The House of Justice feels that in countries where the doors of publicity are open to the friends, every effort should be made to make the most of the attention being drawn to the Faith by the present situation, and exploit fully the potential for enlisting large numbers under the banner of the Cause.

Newsletters

280.18 The dissemination of Baha'i news, local, national, and international, should be pursued with added vigour. Baha'i newsletters should be issued regularly to the friends, however great the sacrifice, for news of Baha'i activities in other communities has always been a source of encouragement and has given the friends a sense of belonging to a vital, growing, and united world-wide Baha'i family.

280.19 In some areas, it may be found that more than one newsletter is necessary in order to reach all the friends with news about the work of the Faith. According to reports received at the World Centre, a number of National Assemblies, in addition to issuing a national news bulletin, have made provisions for their Teaching Committees to issue regional or district newsletters in languages understood by the friends. Indeed, many a Local Spiritual Assembly has its own newsletter to ensure that information about developments of the Cause can reach every believer.

Marriages, Births, Burials

280.20 Local Spiritual Assemblies, which are embryonic Local Houses of Justice, should develop as rallying centres of the community. They must concern themselves not only with teaching the Faith, with the development of the Baha'i way of life and with the proper organization of the Baha'i 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 Baha'i couple 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 Baha'i parent, issue the certificate.

280.21 The carrying out of the Baha'i marriage laws, as given to the friends throughout the world, is a vital obligation of every believer who wishes to marry, and it is an important duty of every Local Spiritual Assembly to ensure that these laws are known to, and obeyed by, the believers within their jurisdiction, whether or not the Baha'i marriage ceremony is recognized by civil law. Each Assembly, therefore, must conscientiously carry out its responsibilities <p489> in connection with the holding of Baha'i marriage ceremonies, the recording of Baha'i marriages in a register kept for this purpose, and the issuing of Baha'i marriage certificates.

280.22 The burial of the dead is an occasion of great solemnity and importance, and while the conduct of the funeral service and the arrangements for the interment may be left to the relatives of the deceased, the Local Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility for educating the believers in the essential requirements of the Baha'i law of burial as at present applied, and in courteously and tactfully drawing these requirements to the attention of the relatives if there is any indication that they may fail to observe them. These requirements are: that the body not be cremated; that it not be transported more than an hour's journey from the place of death to the place of burial; that the Prayer for the Dead be recited if the deceased is a Baha'i of fifteen years of age or more; and that the funeral be carried out in a simple and dignified manner that would be a credit to the community.

280.23 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 Baha'u'llah.

Education of Children

280.24 The House of Justice has noted with deep gratification the increased number of Local Spiritual Assemblies which are organizing Baha'i classes for children. In order to make these classes effective, it is important to have a graduated system of lesson plans suited to different age groups. Usually, such material is prepared by each National Spiritual Assembly in the manner suited to its conditions. However, to assist National Assemblies in benefiting from the fruits of the labours of Baha'is in other countries, we have been asked to inform you that the National Spiritual Assemblies of Colombia, India, Malaysia, and the United States have reported the availability of literature prepared by them for this purpose. You should feel free to correspond with these National Spiritual Assemblies.

280.25 Regarding tutorial schools, some National Assemblies engaged in this activity have reported excellent results, which have helped both in the expansion work and in the consolidation of the Faith. A report on this type of activity has recently been received at the World Centre, and a digest of the report is attached for the study of those National Assemblies who have been assigned this goal.

<p490>

Pioneers

280.26 Certain National Spiritual Assemblies have been assigned the goal of raising self-supporting home-front pioneers. This activity has great potential for the spread and consolidation of the Faith, and it is the hope of the House of Justice that this type of service will be encouraged in all national communities, including those which have not been given this goal.

280.27 In addition to home-front pioneers, there is a need for 279 pioneers to settle in 80 countries and islands of the world. A list of these pioneer needs is attached, and it is hoped that the required number of dedicated souls will arise to fill the posts that are in need of pioneer support.+F584 It is suggested that National Assemblies keep in close touch with the Continental Pioneer Committees, who will be in a position to keep National Assemblies informed of progress towards these goals. Continental Pioneer Committees

[F584. The list is too lengthy to include in this volume.]

280.28 Continental Pioneer Committees working in close collaboration with National Spiritual Assemblies are assuming greater importance as the work of the Faith unfolds on every continent. The House of Justice is writing to all Continental Pioneer Committees, outlining their added responsibilities in relation both to the newly formed Continental Boards of Counsellors and the National Spiritual Assemblies. It is the hope of the House of Justice that the services of these important Continental Committees will in the future be made available to the friends with ever-greater effectiveness.

280.29 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to assure you of its prayers for the blessings of Baha'u'llah to confirm your efforts as you face the next three years with optimism and confidence, and respond to the challenging opportunities ahead with determination and vigour.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

Baha'i Tutorial Schools: An Example

(Summarized from a report received concerning the functioning of such schools in a particular country)

Special conditions

280.30 The Baha'i tutorial schools in this country are called "Baha'i Educational Centres" to prevent confusion with the schools supported by the State and managed by the Department of National Education. They were established in part in response to the goal assigned during the last Plan, to deepen at least one person in each Baha'i locality to assist in consolidating the community <p491> and the Local Spiritual Assemblies. This need was felt particularly because in many of the villages, Baha'i activities take place only during visits from pioneers or other visitors from the large cities.

Definition

280.31 "The Baha'i Educational Centre is a place where Baha'i and non-Baha'i children and adults receive, under the direction of their Local Spiritual Assemblies, first a spiritual education, then a basic literacy education, and finally a technical education such as training in crafts. This is also a centre [for] numerous other social activities for youth and women. The purpose is to obtain quasi-universal participation of the whole village."

Relationship to Government

280.32 The Centres "are allowed to function on the provincial level by the [Government] Department of Social Affairs, which was seeking every possible means to provide literacy education for the masses. The authorities of that Department are so happy with the development of these Educational Centres which cost them nothing that they gave permission to award certificates of participation in these courses, signed, on the one hand, by themselves and, on the other hand, by the Local Spiritual Assembly concerned, which acts as the principal. For their part, the chiefs of villages also stated that when a Local Spiritual Assembly wants an Educational Centre, they will themselves erect huts in which classes may be held and encourage all the children to attend day classes and adults evening classes." The chiefs also witness the signing of the contract between the volunteer teachers (see below) and the Local Spiritual Assembly.

Teachers

280.33 The teachers are Baha'i volunteers, "often youth almost illiterate themselves who, after some time of unemployment in large cities, return disheartened to their native village but they become important when they are engaged in Educational Centres." These teachers sign an official contract with the Local Assembly before the chief of the civil community, who represents the tribe, stating that they are volunteers and will not demand any salary later on. "The teacher is recompensed by the Local Spiritual Assembly, which either provides labour to raise crops for him, provides him with food through pupils' contributions, or gives him financial assistance according to each particular case."

280.34 In addition, local villagers may offer to teach practical subjects in which they are knowledgeable (e.g., weaving of baskets or mats, canoe building, fishing, pottery, "cure by medicinal plants", etc.). (See below, "Programme")

Books and Materials

280.35 A committee assists the Local Assemblies in the preparation of programmes and teaching materials. Books and materials are now in preparation, and are <p492> being adapted to the "low instructional level of the teachers. This material will permit them to deepen themselves so that they may maintain a higher level than their pupils." Basic books for the teacher's use and such materials as chalk are bought by the Local Spiritual Assembly; materials for each pupil are bought by the parents at a wholesale price offered by the committee.

Registration and Fees

280.36 Fees are set by each Local Spiritual Assembly. At the time of registration, which may take place at 3-month, 6-month or yearly intervals according to the decision of the Local Assembly, a registration card is issued to each pupil.

Programme

280.37 The programme includes three parts: a "spiritual part which includes the teachings and laws, history of the Faith, and Baha'i administration, all adapted to the level of each class;" a programme which "includes basic literacy and general knowledge. This level will develop into post-literacy and permanent education in order to attain more advanced levels of evening classes, high school and even university." The third part "is the apprenticeship in crafts or other trades useful in the development of the village. Any villager can offer to teach crafts or trades in which he is knowledgeable: for instance, weaving of baskets and mats ... fishing, cure by medicinal plants, pottery, embroidery, etc. ..."

280.38 The schedule of courses is determined by the Local Spiritual Assembly, which takes into account harvest and fishing seasons, Nineteen Day Feasts and Baha'i Holy Days, national holidays, and the like.

280.39 The duration of the programme is not yet determined, but the first literacy phase is expected to last approximately two years, to be followed by "Post-literacy and permanent education, and even to university."

Results to Date

280.40 Effects already seen in various Local Assembly areas include the following:

1. The Assemblies are obliged to meet, and are thus strengthened.

2. Educational activities for children are established.

3. Youth activities, "such as playgrounds, choirs, lectures, home-front pioneers, team teaching and others," are organized.

4. Women's activities, "such as embroidery, sewing, hygiene, study of the importance of children's education, etc.," are organized.

5. "A more universal participation of the whole village in the spiritual activities, such as prayers, Nineteen Day Feast, contribution to the fund, teaching, etc."

6. "Increase and expansion" in the number of believers.

7. "Great prestige in the eyes of the government for the Baha'i education." <p493> Proposals for Future Developments

280.41 1. Recording of prayers, Holy Writings, and songs on tapes, to be used as deepening material;

2. Recording on a local basis by the believers, with duplication of tapes for use by other Educational Centres;

3. Radio broadcasts addressed directly to Baha'i Educational Centres, either through the establishment of a radio station or through rental of time on existing stations;

4. Creation of an audio-visual centre able to adapt material to the needs of the development of the Educational Centres;

5. A regional bulletin dealing with the needs of the "Post-literacy" students;

6. Publication of a book on the Messengers of God in the major languages of the country, intended for the Educational Centre but which could then also be sold to "lay schools" for countrywide distribution;

7. Construction of durable buildings for the Educational Centres;

8. A mobile institute for the training of teachers.

 

281

Execution of Three Baha'is in Shiraz

4 May 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

281.1 WITH SADDENED HEARTS ANNOUNCE MARTYRDOM THREE MORE HEROES CRADLE FAITH WHO SURRENDERED LIVES AS THEIR LAST OFFERING SACRED THRESHOLD. YADU'LLAH VAHDAT, IHSANU'LLAH MIHDIZADIH, SATTAR KHUSHKHU, ALL THREE MEMBERS BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS, WERE EXECUTED IN SHIRAZ BY FIRING SQUAD ON NIGHT 29 APRIL BY ORDER ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY COURT SHIRAZ AND WITH APPROVAL HIGH COURT JUSTICE TIHRAN. VERDICT SHIRAZ COURT PUBLISHED ALL MAJOR NEWSPAPERS IRAN SPECIFICALLY MENTIONS USUAL FALSE CHARGES GIVING DISTORTED IMAGE ACTIVITIES BAHA'IS MISREPRESENTING THEM AS ZIONISTS IMPERIALIST AGENTS PROMOTERS GODLESSNESS ENEMIES ISLAM. ...

281.2 UNDAUNTED BY THIS FRESH OUTBREAK ANIMOSITY AGAINST THEM STAUNCH FRIENDS CRADLE FAITH PREPARING THEMSELVES WITH JOY UNFOLDMENT THEIR GLORIOUS DESTINY, CONFIDENT PRECIOUS LIVES THEY ARE OFFERING ALTAR SACRIFICE WILL GALVANIZE BELIEVERS EVERY LAND INSPIRE THEM REDOUBLE THEIR DEVOTED EXERTIONS IN SERVITUDE BELOVED FAITH.

281.3 SUMMON FRIENDS EVERY COUNTRY HOLD SPECIAL PRAYERS DURING NIGHT AND DAY OF ASCENSION BAHA'U'LLAH 29 MAY BESEECHING DIVINE PROTECTION BELEAGUERED FRIENDS IRAN.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p494>

282

Imminent Obliteration of the Site of the House of the Bab

26 May 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

282.1 PROFOUNDLY DISTRESSED OMINOUS NEWS IMMINENT OBLITERATION SITE BLESSED HOUSE BAB BY AUTHORITIES SHIRAZ IN IMPLEMENTATION PLANS DRAWN UP SEVERAL MONTHS AND BUILD ROAD AND PUBLIC SQUARE.+F585 OCCUPANTS ADJACENT HOUSES MOST OF WHICH HAD BEEN ACQUIRED BY BAHA'I COMMUNITY AS PROTECTION HOLY HOUSE NOW ORDERED VACATE HOUSES PRELIMINARY COMMENCEMENT PROJECT THIS WEEK. RECALL WHEN BAB'S HOUSE WAS CONFISCATED GOVERNMENT ALLEGED STEP TAKEN AS PROTECTION HOLY PLACE, WHEN HOUSE DESTROYED GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ATTRIBUTED ACT TO UNRULY MOB, BUT THIS DEVELOPMENT NOW TOTALLY BELIES SUCH ALLEGATIONS SHOWS OFFICIAL DELIBERATE SYSTEMATIC DESIGN ERADICATION BAHA'I HOLY PLACES AFTER THEIR CONFISCATION, IN ADDITION TO HARASSMENT PRESSURE ON INDIVIDUAL BELIEVERS RECANT THEIR FAITH ON PAIN LOSING JOBS PENSIONS DEPRIVATION CIVIL RIGHTS IMPRISONMENT EXECUTION ASSASSINATION. ...

[F585. For more about the destruction of the House of the Bab, see messages dated 9 September 1979 (no. 235) and 19 November 1979 (no. 241).]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

283

Establishment of European Branch Office of Baha'i International Community

26 May 1981

To the European National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

283.1 Further to the letter sent to you on behalf of the Universal House of Justice on 28 December 1980 seeking your views on the proposal to establish in Europe a branch office of the Baha'i International Community, we are now instructed to tell you that the House of Justice has decided to establish the office now, with its address in Geneva. Mr Giovanni Ballerio has been appointed full-time representative of the Baha'i International Community in Europe, and will be moving, with his family, to Geneva or its vicinity. When the address is known and the office is operating an announcement will be made to the Baha'i world.+F586

[F586. On 10 August 1981, a letter was sent to the United Nations Offices notifying them of Mr Ballerio's appointment and office address.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p495>

284

Baha'i International Fund -- Recent Victories and Immediate Challenges

8 June 1981

To the Baha'is of the world

Dear Baha'i friends,

284.1 At the outset of the Seven Year Plan, faced with tremendous tasks to be accomplished by the Baha'i world, and confronted by the seemingly crippling financial losses that resulted from the savage onslaught of inveterate enemies upon the valiant believers in the Cradle of the Faith, the Universal House of Justice turned with fervent hope to the believers in the rest of the world, calling upon them to arise and champion the cause of their persecuted brethren in the international arena and, through self-sacrifice and the exercise of wise stewardship of the funds of the Faith, to enable its work to go forward unhindered by the sudden inability of the believers in Iran to continue their major role in providing the lifeblood of the Cause. In both fields, these past two years have witnessed astonishing victories.

284.2 The manner in which the case of the persecuted Faith of Baha'u'llah has been blazoned in the media, conveying its message to millions of souls who had scarcely if at all heard of it before; and the degree to which world authorities have risen to plead its case and call for its vindication, have both been witnessed with eager and uplifted hearts by Baha'is in all lands. Now the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to inform you that in supporting the Baha'i International Fund the self-sacrificing followers of the Blessed Beauty have won similar victories.

284.3 The manifold acts of devotion and service that have been so distinctive a mark of progress in the opening phase of the Seven Year Plan have not only laid a firm foundation for the development of the institutions of the Faith world-wide, but have also been manifested in an outpouring of financial substance that has made possible the setting of goals for the second phase of the Plan that will enhance the prestige of our beloved Faith and hasten the day of its complete emergence from obscurity. The financial needs of the first phase of the Plan have been fully met. The teaching work has continued with unabated zeal. The Seat of the Universal House of Justice is now nearing completion and the funds required for that tremendous task are in hand. The Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Indian subcontinent is rising and the work on that for Samoa will shortly begin.

284.4 Now the Universal House of Justice turns with loving confidence to those beloved ones of God who have responded with such zeal to fulfil the commitments that it has been guided to undertake, and has asked us to lay before you the needs of the year which has just begun.

<p496>

284.5 Although the task of raising the Seat of the Universal House of Justice on God's Holy Mountain is now well-nigh behind us, the work on the two Mashriqu'l-Adhkars has acquired additional urgency. The unstable condition of the world and rapidly rising prices make it essential to complete these two enterprises at the earliest possible date. Thus, major expenditures which it had been hoped could be spread over a number of years must be met within the next twelve months. The public attention drawn to the Faith by the Iranian situation and the many valuable friendships and contacts that have been made with those in authority demand, if the ground now gained is not to be rapidly lost, expansion and intensification of the activities of the representatives of the Baha'i International Community with the United Nations and its specialized agencies, as well as with other international bodies such as the Parliament of Europe. The Universal House of Justice has therefore taken the decision to establish an office of the Baha'i International Community at Geneva, with a full-time representative. It has also become necessary to allocate large sums to the provision of a wider range of Baha'i literature in many languages and to develop the Baha'i use of radio.

284.6 The Universal House of Justice has estimated that to meet all these urgent goals as well as carrying on the current work of the Faith during the year 1981/82, an increase of 50% over the amount of contributions for the year just past will be required. It therefore asks every believer and every community to consider prayerfully the degree to which they can take part in this mighty effort, and to strain every sinew to ensure that the tasks placed by an omniscient and all-wise Ordainer on the shoulders of His privileged lovers will be worthily and speedily performed.

284.7 The House of Justice assures you all of its loving, fervent prayers in the Holy Shrines for your guidance and assistance.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p497>

285

Execution of Seven Members of the Spiritual Assembly of Hamadan

15 June 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

285.1 WITH STRICKEN HEARTS SHARE NEWS SEVEN MEMBERS LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY HAMADAN MARTYRED AFTER BEING TORTURED. EXECUTIONS CARRIED OUT DAWN 14 JUNE WITH APPROVAL SUPREME JUDICIAL COUNCIL ON USUAL TRUMPED-UP CHARGES. THIS FRESH BLOW ANOTHER STEP IN PERSECUTION SCHEME TRADITIONAL ADVERSARIES UPROOT FAITH IN LAND ITS BIRTH. ...

285.2 NAMES OF SEVEN MARTYRS ARE AS FOLLOWS: HUSAYN MUTLAQ, MUHAMMAD-BAQIR (SUHAYL) HABIBI, MUHAMMAD (SUHRAB) HABIBI, DR NASIR VAFA'I, DR FIRUZ NA'IMI, HUSAYN KHANDIL, AND TARAZU'LLAH KHUZAYN. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

286

Execution of Three Baha'is in Tihran

23 June 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

286.1 TRAGIC NEWS JUST RECEIVED THREE MORE PROMINENT PERSIAN BAHA'IS, BUZURG 'ALAVIYAN, HASHIM FARNUSH AND FARHANG MAVADDAT EXECUTED TIHRAN YESTERDAY. CHARGES COMPLETELY MISREPRESENT BAHA'I SERVICES AS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED ACTIVITIES. ... OFFERING PRAYERS HOLY SHRINES BLESSED BEAUTY MAY CONFIRM ALL EFFORTS ALLEVIATE SUFFERINGS OPPRESSED INNOCENT COMMUNITY.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

287

Execution of Four Baha'is in Iran

24 June 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

287.1 WITH HEARTS BURNING WITH ANGUISH SHARE NEWS SOULS ANOTHER FOUR DISTINGUISHED BELIEVERS NOW GATHERED ABHA KINGDOM ON BEING MARTYRED YESTERDAY BY FIRING SQUAD: DR MASIH FARHANGI MEMBER BOARD COUNSELLORS ASIA, BADI'U'LLAH FARID, YADU'LLAH PUSTCHI, VARQA TIBYANIYAN. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p498>

288

Announcement of Representatives to the International Conferences

20 July 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

288.1 It is with great pleasure we announce that the following Hands of the Cause of God have been named as our representatives to the International Conferences:

Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum Montreal, Canada 2-5 September 1982

Ugo Giachery Manila, Philippines 7-9 May 1982

Paul Haney Quito, Ecuador 6-8 August 1982

William Sears Lagos, Nigeria 19-22 August 1982

Collis Featherstone Dublin, Ireland 25-27 June 1982

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

289

Tests of Baha'i Community Life -- a Balanced Perspective

22 July 1981

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

289.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 6 March 1981 and has instructed us to send you the following comments on the issues you have raised.

289.2 The House of Justice feels that your questions are very perceptive and that, in many instances, you have, yourself, provided the answers. As "Abdu'l-Baha so often points out, the Manifestation of God is a Divine Educator. He attracts the hearts of men, pours out His spirit upon those who respond to Him, instructs them in the right way of life, uses them to carry forward the development of human society, and disciplines them by His law. We Baha'is, we who have answered His call, bear the responsibility of carrying forward His work among mankind, and in spite of our innumerable failings His plan is irresistibly progressing. The great tragedy of mankind at this time is the failure <p499> of the vast majority of human beings to heed the Divine Call, and this is in large part occasioned by the failure of most of those who have believed to live up to the high standard that Baha'u'llah has set. This is the condition in which we must work in our service to mankind, turning a sin-covering eye to the faults of others, and striving in our own inmost selves to purify our lives in accordance with the divine Teachings.

Differentiating the Roles of Spiritual Assemblies and Individuals

289.3 The Day of God is a Day of joy, but also a Day of Judgement. Every Man is guided both by the Love of God and by the Fear of God. In their relationships with one another individual believers should be loving and forgiving, overlooking one another's faults for the sake of God, but the Spiritual Assemblies are the upholders of the law of God. They are embryonic Houses of Justice. The education of a child requires both love and discipline; so also does the education of believers and the education of a community. One of the failings of Baha'is, however, is to confuse these two roles, individuals behaving like little Spiritual Assemblies, and Spiritual Assemblies forgetting that they must exercise justice.

Deepening -- Developing a Spiritual Attitude

289.4 Great love and patience are needed towards new believers, especially those who have come from very troubled backgrounds, but ultimately they too have to learn the responsibilities they have taken upon themselves by accepting Baha'u'llah and must uphold the principles that Baha'u'llah has revealed. If they do not do so, how can the condition of mankind be improved? Some people accept the Faith, not as a response to the divine Summons to God's service, but as a way to find love and happiness and companionship and understanding for themselves. At the beginning this is only natural, for people are sorely in need of such spiritual strengths, but if such people do not soon progress to the point where they are more concerned about what they can do for God and His Cause than what it can do for them, they will surely become disillusioned and drift away. Arousing in the hearts of the friends the enthusiasm and spirit of selfless service that will carry them over this transition is one of the most fundamental aspects of deepening and consolidation. Deepening is far more a matter of developing a spiritual attitude, devotion and selflessness than it is of acquiring information, although this, of course, is also important.

289.5 In a letter to an individual Baha'i, dated 5 April 1956, the beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

289.5a He was very sorry to hear that you have had so many tests in your Baha'i life. There is no doubt that many of them are due to our own nature. In other words, if we are very sensitive, or if we are in some way brought up in a different environment from the Baha'is amongst <p500> whom we live, we naturally see things differently and may feel them more acutely; and the other side of it is that the imperfections of our fellow-Baha'is can be a great trial to us.

289.5b We must always remember that in the cesspool of materialism, which is what modern civilization has to a certain extent become, Baha'is -- that is some of them -- are still to a certain extent affected by the society from which they have sprung. In other words, they have recognized the Manifestation of God, but they have not been believers long enough, or perhaps tried hard enough, to become "a new creation."

289.5c All we can do in such cases is to do our duty; and the Guardian feels very strongly that your duty is towards Baha'u'llah and the Faith you love so dearly; and certainly is not to take the weaker course and sever yourself from the Baha'i Community.

289.5d He feels that, if you close your eyes to the failings of others, and fix your love and prayers upon Baha'u'llah, you will have the strength to weather this storm, and will be much better for it in the end, spiritually. Although you suffer, you will gain a maturity that will enable you to be of greater help to both your fellow-Baha'is and your children.

Spiritual Assembly Intervention -- Loving and Patient

289.6 The ideal of human life is described again and again and in multitudes of ways in the Writings. These aspects of the Teachings are discussed in Teaching Institutes and Summer Schools and elaborated in many books. Then, in general, it is left to the individual believer, as a responsibility between himself and God, to follow these Teachings. It is not the business either of the believers or of the Spiritual Assemblies to pry into the lives of individual friends to ascertain the degree to which they are living up to the standards of the Cause. Only if misbehaviour becomes blatant and flagrant does it become a matter for action, and then it is a matter for action by the Assembly and not by individuals. Even then the Assembly must be loving and patient, and exhort the believer to follow the Path of the Cause, but, if he persists in openly and flagrantly flouting Baha'i law, the Assembly has no alternative to ultimately depriving him of his voting rights.

The Relationship between Supporting an Assembly and Its Maturation

289.7 Applying these principles requires mature understanding and judgement, and great love for one's fellowmen. It is a weighty responsibility which rests upon the shoulders of the members of Spiritual Assemblies. Undoubtedly errors are made and will continue to be made, but the more the friends are united and wholeheartedly support their Assemblies, the sooner will these mature in their decisions and actions, outgrow their mistakes, and become strong magnets for the Faith.

<p501>

289.8 Briefly, then, one can say that the Baha'is, while in the process of improving their own lives, are engaged in attracting their fellowmen to the Love of God, educating them through the Teachings of God, introducing them to the vivifying discipline of the Law of God, and enlisting them as fellow-warriors in the Army of God. The difficulties that you describe are the result of the problem of properly balancing these many aspects of following the Baha'i Cause and of training new believers from the point of acceptance of the Message to being champions of the Faith.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

290

Execution of Two Baha'is in Kashmar

27 July 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

290.1 GRIEVED ANNOUNCE TWO MORE ACTIVE DEDICATED SUPPORTERS FAITH BAHA'U'LLAH IRAN KAMALI'D-DIN BAKHTAVAR AND NI'MATU'LLAH KATIBPUR-SHAHIDI MARTYRED BY FIRING SQUAD IN KASHMAR, KHURASAN PROVINCE CHARGED WITH TOTALLY FALSE ACCUSATIONS INVOLVEMENT POLITICAL ACTIVITIES. IRANIAN BAHA'IS SPECIALLY IN RURAL AREAS FACED WITH FRESH WAVE ARRESTS AND CONFISCATION PERSONAL PROPERTIES. AROUND ISFAHAN ALSO KHURASAN KASHAN IN NUMBER TOWNS VILLAGES SEVERAL HUNDRED BAHA'IS FORCED FLEE THEIR HOMES TAKING REFUGE IN NEARBY LARGER TOWNS. SUCH RUTHLESS ATTACKS REMAIN UNCHECKED. ATTEMPTS TERRORIZE BAHA'IS INTENSIFIED. MORE INNOCENT LIVES AT STAKE. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

291

Message to First National Baha'i Women's Conference, United Kingdom

27 July 1981

To the First Women's Conference, United Kingdom

291.1 KINDLY CONVEY PARTICIPANTS FIRST NATIONAL WOMEN'S CONFERENCE LOVING CONGRATULATIONS SUCCESS ASSURANCE PRAYERS BOUNTIFUL CONFIRMATIONS ALL EFFORTS BAHA'I WOMEN MAKE NOBLE CONTRIBUTION PROMOTION SPIRITUAL LIFE COMMUNITY.+F587

[F587. The conference, attended by 230 individuals, was held on 25 July 1981 in Manchester, England, at the Manchester Institute of Science and Religion.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p502>

292

Execution of Auxiliary Board Member and Seven Assembly Members in Tabriz; Abduction of Two Teenage Girls

30 July 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

292.1 WITH HEAVY-LADEN HEARTS ANNOUNCE NEWS JUST RECEIVED NINE HEROIC FRIENDS EXECUTED TABRIZ BY FIRING SQUAD ONE OF WHOM AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBER AND SEVEN MEMBERS LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY:

MASRUR DAKHILI

HUSAYN ASADU'LLAHZADIH

ALLAH-VIRDI MITHAQI

MANUCHIHR KHADI'I

'ABDU'L-'ALI ASADYARI

ISMA'IL ZIHTAB

PARVIZ FIRUZI

MIHDI BAHIRI

HABIBU'LLAH TAHQIQI

292.2 TWO TEENAGE GIRL STUDENTS ... ABDUCTED FROM SCHOOL BY TEACHERS IN RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. PARENTS UNABLE DETERMINE FATE DISAPPEARED CHILDREN. TEACHERS CLAIM GIRLS CONVERTED ISLAM REFUSE MEET BAHA'I PARENTS. LOCAL AUTHORITIES UNCOOPERATIVE.

292.3 GRIEVED AT RUTHLESSNESS RAPIDITY WITH WHICH PRECIOUS LIVES DISTINGUISHED VIRTUOUS MEMBERS COMMUNITY BEING SNUFFED OUT, THEIR HONOUR VIOLATED, THEIR HOMES POSSESSIONS PLUNDERED. WE PRAY BAHA'U'LLAH BEHALF ENTIRE BAHA'I WORLD ATTAIN GREATER CAPACITY SERENELY BEAR WEIGHT ORDEALS, WITNESS EARLY DELIVERANCE HIS PERSECUTED LOVERS CRADLE FAITH FROM SHACKLES REPRESSION BIGOTRY, AS PROMISED HIS SACRED WRITINGS.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p503>

293

A New Phase of Persecution in Iran

11 August 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

293.1 PERSECUTION BAHA'IS IRAN GAINING MOMENTUM ENTERING NEW PHASE: IN YAZD A FEW DAYS AGO GOVERNMENT FROZE ALL ASSETS 117 BELIEVERS. ON 8 AUGUST ANNOUNCEMENT ON LOCAL RADIO SUMMONED HEADS 150 PROMINENT BAHA'I FAMILIES TO REPORT WITHIN ONE WEEK TO REVOLUTIONARY AUTHORITIES. IN ABSENTIA DECREES TO BE ISSUED RESPECT ANY NAMED BELIEVER WHO FAILS PRESENT HIMSELF BY 15 AUGUST. AMONG NAMES ARE FEW WHO PASSED AWAY, CONFIRMING DETERMINATION AUTHORITIES PERSECUTE BAHA'IS PURELY FOR THEIR BELIEF, NOT BECAUSE OF ANY ALLEGED CRIME. ONE OF THOSE NAMED WAS ARRESTED AS HE WAS PROCEEDING FOR NECESSARY TEMPORARY JOURNEY OUTSIDE YAZD. ACTIONS TAKEN FORESHADOW PLAN AUTHORITIES FORCE BAHA'IS RECANT THEIR FAITH PURELY FOR THEIR FAITH ON PAIN CONFISCATION ALL THEIR PROPERTIES, OTHER DIRE CONSEQUENCES. ...

293.2 FURTHER REPORT JUST RECEIVED INDICATES IN MANSHAD VILLAGE NEAR YAZD GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL FROM YAZD ACCOMPANIED REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS HAS PEREMPTORILY SEIZED FURNITURE CROPS LIVESTOCK LOCAL BELIEVERS.

293.3 FOLLOWING DETAILS ADDITIONAL PERSECUTION OTHER PROVINCES NOW IN HAND:

IN MASJID SULAYMAN AUTHORITIES HAVE INSTRUCTED BANKS SUBMIT LIST ALL CHECKING AND DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS BAHA'IS.

IN NAYSHABUR WHERE TWO BELIEVERS WERE RECENTLY MARTYRED MOB HAD DESTROYED WALL BAHA'I CEMETERY. AUTHORITIES NOW CLAIM TWO MILLION RIALS FROM LOCAL COMMUNITY TO RESTORE WALL.+F588

[F588. Two million rials was equivalent to about $28,400 in 1981.]

IN HIMMATABAD NEAR ABADIH WIVES OF BELIEVERS WHO HAD FLED FROM THEIR HOMES HAVE BEEN GIVEN NOTICE CALL THEIR HUSBANDS. WIVES THREATENED GRAVE REPERCUSSIONS IF HUSBANDS FAIL PRESENT THEMSELVES. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p504>

294

Release of a Compilation on the Assistance of God

24 August 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

294.1 The Universal House of Justice commissioned the Research Department to compile texts which convey the assurance that the assistance of God will surround and confirm the efforts of the friends when they arise to deliver His divine message and teach His Cause. This compilation is now ready, and a copy is attached.+F589 The Universal House of Justice leaves it to your discretion to determine how best the contents of this compilation or other texts on this subject should be shared with the friends.

[F589. See CC II:201-24.]

294.2 It is the conviction of the House of Justice that the powers of heaven and earth will, as repeatedly asserted in the attached extracts, mysteriously and unfailingly assist all those who will arise with love, dedication, and trust in their hearts to teach the Cause, to promote the Word of God, to deliver its healing message to receptive souls, and to serve its vital interests.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

295

Release of a Compilation of Prayers and Passages from the Baha'i Writings

16 September 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

295.1 You will recall that in its letters outlining goals of successive Teaching Plans for the expansion and consolidation of the Faith, the Universal House of Justice has repeatedly stressed the importance of the friends' having access to the Sacred Text. In our letter of 17 April 1981, written on behalf of the House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, it was mentioned that steps were being taken to prepare a compilation which would consist of prayers and passages from the Holy Writings of our Faith.+F590

[F590. See message no. 280.]

<p505>

295.2 This material is now ready and is being sent to you in the form of a booklet.+F591 The contents are suitable for use by individual believers, as well as for occasions when the friends gather for meetings. Your National Assembly may have already published a compilation of this order and size for the use of the friends. If not, and if your Assembly is among those specifically assigned the goal to make basic Baha'i literature available, and if you decide that the material included in the enclosed booklet is suitable for your purposes, the Universal House of Justice is prepared to send you, upon request, a proof copy of the English text in flat sheets ready for offset printing, as this will facilitate the printing of the booklet in English, if such is your need.

[F591. The compilation was published under the title Words of God by the Baha'i World Centre (1981).]

295.3 The material in the booklet, it is hoped, will soon be ready also in French and in Spanish, as the House of Justice is asking the respective Publishing Trusts in Belgium and Argentina to undertake its translation and publication. However, if the language or languages in which you should publish your Baha'i literature is other than the three mentioned above, you should consider the material, such as the passages included in the enclosed compilation, for translation and dissemination among the friends, thus enabling them, as envisaged in the Plan, to enrich their spiritual lives through exposure to the Sacred Word.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

296

Execution of Six Baha'is in Tihran and Daryun

18 September 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

296.1 RUTHLESS PERSECUTION DEFENCELESS COMMUNITY BAHA'IS IRAN FURTHER INTENSIFIED THROUGH RECENT EXECUTION BY FIRING SQUADS OF SIX STAUNCH MARTYRS, ONE IN TIHRAN HABIBU'LLAH 'AZIZI, FIVE IN DARYUN NEAR ISFAHAN, BAHMAN 'ATIFI, 'IZZAT 'ATIFI, 'ATA'U'LLAH RAWHANI, AHMAD RIDVANI, AND GUSHTASB THABIT-RASIKH. LAST FIVE WERE IMPRISONED FOLLOWING LARGE-SCALE SIMULTANEOUS ATTACKS ON BAHA'IS IN THEIR HOMES AND ARREST OF SEVERAL OF THEM IN VILLAGES NEAR ISFAHAN. FAMILIES MARTYRS WERE NOT INFORMED OF EXECUTIONS WHILE RELATIVES THOSE EXECUTED IN DARYUN ALSO NOT PERMITTED CONDUCT BAHA'I FUNERALS THEIR LOVED ONES, AND LAST THREE NAMED WERE BURIED UNCEREMONIOUSLY IN MUSLIM CEMETERY. NO ANNOUNCEMENT BY AUTHORITIES WAS MADE ABOUT EXECUTION LAST FIVE. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p506>

297

The Worsening Situation in Yazd

28 September 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

297.1 SITUATION PERSECUTION FRIENDS YAZD ENTERING NEW PERILOUS PHASE: FURTHER INFORMATION CONVEYED TO YOU OUR CABLE 11 AUGUST ABOUT RADIO SUMMONS ISSUED PROMINENT YAZD BAHA'IS THESE FRIENDS ARE AGAIN BEING CALLED PRESENT THEMSELVES BEFORE REVOLUTIONARY COURTS. 14 OF THEM HAVE SO FAR REPORTED. WHILE FATE THESE IN BALANCE TEN OTHER BELIEVERS YAZD WHO HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY DETAINED HAVE JUST BEEN TRANSFERRED TO PRISONS DIRECTLY ASSOCIATED REVOLUTIONARY COURTS. FOUR OF THESE ARE WOMEN. ONE OF THEM IS 75 YEARS OLD, THE OTHER THREE IN THEIR LATE FIFTIES. TRANSFER NEW PRISON OMINOUS SIGN THAT LOCAL REVOLUTIONARY COURT INTENDS ISSUE ITS FINAL VERDICT. FRIENDS IN CAPITAL HAVE REPEATEDLY IN PAST APPEALED WITHOUT SUCCESS FOR VINDICATION RIGHTS BAHA'IS TO CENTRAL AUTHORITIES TIHRAN. IN RECENT WEEKS HIGH-RANKING AUTHORITIES EVEN REFUSE GIVE AUDIENCE TO BAHA'IS AS SOON AS THEY LEARN SUBJECT MATTER. OFFICIALS IN LOWER RANKS SO FAR CONTACTED HAVE IN RECENT MONTHS WARNED BELIEVERS OF GRAVE PERSECUTIONS IN STORE FOR BAHA'IS. ONE GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVE HAS UNOFFICIALLY INFORMED BAHA'IS THAT DEVELOPMENTS IN YAZD MAY WELL FORM PATTERN FOR TREATMENT BAHA'IS ELSEWHERE IN COUNTRY, THAT AUTHORITIES ARE FULLY AWARE ALL MEASURES TAKEN BY BAHA'IS IN INTERNATIONAL CIRCLES, AND CONSIDER THESE AS ANTI-GOVERNMENT ACTIONS, THAT GOVERNMENT IRAN HAS NO REGARD FOR INTERNATIONAL OPINION, THAT BAHA'IS ARE ENEMIES ISLAM, AND BAHA'I TEACHINGS SUCH AS EQUALITY SEXES AND REMOVAL VEIL CONSTITUTE VIOLATION ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES, AND THAT GOVERNMENT CAPABLE ORGANIZE MOBS TO PUBLICLY DEMAND EXPULSION, EXECUTION, EXTERMINATION BAHA'IS. THESE THREATS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN LIGHTLY. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p507>

298

Further Deterioration of the Situation in Iran

16 October 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

298.1 SITUATION FRIENDS IRAN STEADILY DETERIORATING. ALTHOUGH REVOLUTIONARY COURT YAZD ORDERED RELEASE FOUR OF THOSE DETAINED PRESSURES IN DIFFERENT FORMS ARE MOUNTING IN YAZD AND IN OTHER PARTS COUNTRY. BAHA'I WORKERS BEING INCREASINGLY EXPELLED FROM FACTORIES, BAHA'I SHOPKEEPERS IN ONE PROVINCE ORDERED CLOSE DOWN FOLLOWING WITHDRAWAL BUSINESS LICENSES, SCHOOL AUTHORITIES SCRUTINIZING RELIGION STUDENTS PRIOR TO REGISTRATION RESULTING IN REFUSAL REGISTER BAHA'I STUDENTS IN ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY SCHOOLS. DECREE ANNOUNCED BY MINISTRY OF EDUCATION PUBLISHED IN KAYHAN DAILY NUMBER 11397 DATED 9 MIHR 1360 (30 SEPTEMBER 1981) LISTS CRIMES WHICH BAR PROFESSORS AND STUDENTS FROM BEING EMPLOYED OR REGISTERED AT UNIVERSITIES. AMONG CRIMES LISTED IS WHAT TEXT OF DECREE DESCRIBES AS MEMBERSHIP IN SECT WHICH IS RECOGNIZED BY MUSLIMS AS MISLED AND HERETICAL SECT. THIS IS OBVIOUS REFERENCE TO MEMBERSHIP IN BAHA'I COMMUNITY. BAHA'I CHILDREN AND YOUTH EXEMPLIFYING HIGH SPIRIT HEROISM STEADFASTNESS PREFERRING DEPRIVATION FROM SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY EDUCATION TO RECANTATION FAITH. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

299

Voice of America Report on Campaign of Arrests against Iranian Baha'is

22 October 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

299.1 A REPORT FROM TIHRAN SAYS IRAN'S CENTRAL REVOLUTIONARY COMMITTEE IS PLANNING A NEW CAMPAIGN TO ROUND UP MEMBERS OF THE BAHA'I FAITH. THE BAHA'IS REPORTEDLY WILL BE ARRESTED ON GROUNDS THAT THEIR MARRIAGES ARE ILLEGAL AND THEIR CHILDREN ILLEGITIMATE SINCE IRAN DOES NOT RECOGNIZE THE BAHA'I FAITH. THE COMMITTEE SAYS SOME 96 BAHA'IS HAVE BEEN EXECUTED SO FAR AND ANOTHER 200 ARE UNDER ARREST. SOME 10,000 BAHA'I FAMILIES ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE FLED IRAN SINCE THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST THEM BEGAN. THE COMMITTEE HAS ANOTHER 20,000 BAHA'I NAMES ON ITS ARREST LIST COMPILED FROM CAPTURED BAHA'I OFFICE LISTS AND DOCUMENTS FROM THE SHAH'S OLD SECRET POLICE, SAVAK. MANY BAHA'IS HAVE CHANGED THEIR NAMES OR GONE INTO HIDING TO ESCAPE CAPTURE.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p508>

300

Further Acts of Persecution in Iran

23 October 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

300.1 FOLLOWING NEWS FURTHER ACTS PERSECUTION INFLICTED BRETHREN IRAN JUST RECEIVED:

-- IN URUMIYYIH, ADHIRBAYJAN TWENTY-SIX BAHA'IS SUMMARILY ARRESTED, FIVE OF WHOM ARE WOMEN.

-- IN BIRJAND, KHURASAN HOUSES ALL LOCAL BELIEVERS RANSACKED FORCING FRIENDS DESERT THEIR HOMES AND FLEE FOR SAFETY.

-- IN TIHRAN HOME PROMINENT BELIEVER OCCUPIED ALL HER FURNITURE CONFISCATED. LISTING OF ITEMS ALLEGEDLY FOUND IN HOUSE FALSELY INCLUDES ARMAMENTS DRUGS.

-- FRIENDS IRAN LIVING IN ATMOSPHERE CONSTANT FEAR THEIR PROPERTIES AND LIVES. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

301

Grave Developments in Iran

5 November 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

301.1 FOLLOWING GRAVE DEVELOPMENTS REPORTED FROM IRAN:

1. REFERENCE OUR CABLE 26 MAY 1981 WORK ON BUILDING ROAD DESIGNED RUN THROUGH SITE BAB'S HOLY HOUSE SHIRAZ BEING ACTIVELY RESUMED.+F592 RECENT REPORT INDICATES WORK STEADILY PROGRESSING APPROACHING SACRED PRECINCTS.

[F592. The message of 26 May 1981 (no. 282) reported the obliteration of the House of the Bab. For more about its seizure and demolition, see messages dated 10 May 1979 (no. 225), 9 September 1979 (no. 235), and 19 November 1979 (no. 241).]

2. OFFICE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BROKEN INTO PAPERS FILES REMOVED.

3. SIX MEMBERS LOCAL ASSEMBLY TIHRAN SUMMARILY ARRESTED WHILE IN SESSION. COUPLE IN WHOSE HOME MEETING WAS HELD HAVE ALSO BEEN DETAINED.

4. GOVERNMENT IRAN HAS RECENTLY INSTRUCTED ITS CONSULAR REPRESENTATIVES EVERYWHERE COMPILE LIST BAHA'IS RESIDING AREAS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY AND HENCEFORTH REFRAIN FROM EXTENDING PASSPORTS IRANIAN BAHA'IS. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p509>

302

Call for Pioneers

13 November 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

302.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to convey to you the following with respect to the settlement of pioneers since the opening of the second phase of the Seven Year Plan.

302.2 Out of a total of 285 pioneers (originally 279 plus 6 added later) assigned for the first year of the second phase, 137 posts have been filled. While many additional pioneers have settled around the world, a net balance of 148 pioneers is still needed to fill the posts originally envisioned.

302.3 In consultation with the International Teaching Centre the goals of the Plan in terms of pioneer needs have been reviewed, and a number of new goals have been established and added to the net outstanding goals. The consolidated list of the pioneer needs has now been prepared and is attached.+F593 As you see it calls for 216 pioneers to arise, God willing, by the end of this first year of the second phase of the Plan. The list also shows the National Spiritual Assemblies responsible for providing the manpower in each case and, if necessary, arranging finance for the projects.

[F593. The list is too lengthy to include in this volume.]

302.4 The Universal House of Justice is praying at the Holy Shrines that the friends everywhere may respond to this call, and that the Continental Pioneer Committees throughout the world will offer their services in a manner to facilitate the early fulfilment of these goals.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

303

Release of a Compilation on Excellence in All Things

23 November 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

303.1 Attached is a compilation prepared by the Research Department which is aimed at presenting texts and extracts which encourage the friends to attain distinction and excellence in all their undertakings. The compilation is entitled <p510> Excellence in All Things.+F594 The Universal House of Justice hopes that the contents of this compilation will guide the friends everywhere in the conduct of their individual lives so that they may follow Baha'u'llah's exhortation to distinguish themselves from others through deeds, and that their "light can be shed upon the whole earth." "Happy is the man," He assures us, "that heedeth My counsel ..."+F595

[F595. GWB, p. 305.]

[F594. See CC I:367-84.]

303.2 The Universal House of Justice leaves it to your discretion to determine how to share the contents of this compilation with the friends and communities for whom you are responsible.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

304

Inauguration of Radio Baha'i Peru

29 November 1981

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Peru

304.1 WARMEST CONGRATULATIONS AUSPICIOUS INAUGURATION RADIO BAHA'I DEL LAGO TITICACA DAY COVENANT AND SIMULTANEOUS OPENING MUHAJIR TEACHING INSTITUTE FIRST MUSIC FESTIVAL PRAYING HOLY THRESHOLD INCREASING CONFIRMATIONS YOUR ASSEMBLY CO-OPERATING ASSEMBLIES ECUADOR BOLIVIA RADIO COMMISSION ALL STAFF LOVING GREETINGS THIS IMPORTANT STEP GROWTH FAITH ALTIPLANO. KINDLY ASSURE MICHAEL STOKES OUR PRAYERS HIS BEHALF.+F596

[F596. Mr Stokes assisted the National Spiritual Assembly of Peru as a project planner for the administration of the station.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

305

Demolition of the House of Baha'u'llah in Takur; Seizure of Cemetery in Tihran

10 December 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

305.1 DISTRESSED REPORT RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IRAN EVIDENCE FURTHER PERSECUTIONS ATROCITIES AGAINST DEFENCELESS BELIEVERS CRADLE FAITH:

1. HOUSE OF BAHA'U'LLAH IN TAKUR, PREVIOUSLY CONFISCATED, HAS NOW BEEN TOTALLY DEMOLISHED AND THIS BAHA'I HOLY PLACE INCLUDING LAND AND GARDENS OFFERED FOR SALE TO PUBLIC BY AUTHORITIES.

<p511>

2. BAHA'I CEMETERY TIHRAN SEIZED ON SATURDAY 5 DECEMBER BY ORDER REVOLUTIONARY COURT, 5 CARETAKERS AND 8 TEMPORARY WORKERS ARRESTED, AND CEMETERY CLOSED. BAHA'IS FEARFUL DESECRATION GRAVES. TENS OF THOUSANDS BAHA'IS TIHRAN NOW WITHOUT BURIAL GROUNDS. THIS RECENT DEVELOPMENT INDECENT ACT STILL ANOTHER EXAMPLE EVIL DESIGNS ELIMINATE BAHA'I COMMUNITY THAT COUNTRY.

3. OTHER PERSECUTIONS SUCH AS SUMMARY ARRESTS, HARASSMENT, CONFISCATION PROPERTIES, CONTINUE. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

306

Arrest of Eight Members of the Iranian National Spiritual Assembly

14 December 1981

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

306.1 HAVE JUST RECEIVED DISTRESSING REPORT EIGHT MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IRAN WHILE IN SESSION ARRESTED TOGETHER WITH TWO OTHER BELIEVERS IN HOME WHERE MEETING WAS HELD. TWO WOMEN AMONG TEN DETAINEES. AUTHORITY RESPONSIBLE FOR ARRESTS AND LOCATION PRISON STILL UNIDENTIFIED. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

307

Execution of Eight Members of the Iranian National Spiritual Assembly

29 December 1981

To National Spiritual Assemblies

307.1 WITH HEAVY HEARTS INFORM FRIENDS THROUGHOUT WORLD EIGHT MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IRAN ARRESTED 13 DECEMBER WERE EXECUTED 27 DECEMBER. THEY ARE:

MR KAMRAN SAMIMI

MRS ZHINUS MAHMUDI

MR MAHMUD MAJDHUB

MR JALAL 'AZIZI

MR MIHDI AMIN AMIN

MR SIRUS RAWSHANI

MR 'IZZATU'LLAH FURUHI

MR QUDRATU'LLAH RAWHANI

<p512>

307.2 FAMILIES NOT NOTIFIED OF ARRESTS, TRIAL, EXECUTIONS. BODIES BURIED UNCEREMONIOUSLY IN BARREN FIELD RESERVED BY GOVERNMENT FOR INFIDELS. INFORMATION DISCOVERED FORTUITOUSLY. GOVERNMENT AUTHORITIES TOTALLY SILENT, UNCOOPERATIVE.

307.3 THIS HEINOUS ACT CAUSES US FEAR THAT MEMBERS PREVIOUS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND TWO AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS WHO DISAPPEARED AUGUST 1980, AS WELL AS TWO OTHERS WHOSE WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN OVER TWO YEARS, HAVE SUFFERED SAME FATE. NAMES THESE HEROIC DEDICATED SERVANTS BLESSED BEAUTY ARE:

AUXILIARY BOARD MEMBERS

DR YUTSIF 'ABBASIYAN

DR HISHMATU'LLAH RAWHANI

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS

DR 'ALIMURAD DAVUDI

MR 'ABDU'L-HUSAYN TASLIMI

MR HUSHANG MAHMUDI

MR IBRAHIM RAHMANI

DR HUSAYN NAJI

MR MANUCHIHR QA'IM MAQAMI

MR 'ATA'U'LLAH MUQARRABI

MR YUSIF QADIMI

MRS BAHIYYIH NADIRI

DR KAMBIZ SADIQZADIH

MEMBER LOCAL ASSEMBLY TIHRAN

MR RUHI RAWSHANI

PROMINENT TEACHER

MR MUHAMMAD MUVAHHID

307.4 EXEMPLARY CHARACTER THESE SELFLESS GLORIOUS SOULS SOURCE INSPIRATION TO BAHA'IS OF WORLD. WHILE NOT ABLE WIN CROWN MARTYRDOM LIKE PERSIAN BRETHREN, VALIANT DETACHED FRIENDS EVERY LAND UNDOUBTEDLY ARE ENDEAVOURING EVINCE SAME SPIRIT FOLLOW SAME PATH CONSECRATION DEDICATION GOD'S HOLY FAITH. WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT SANCTIFIED BLOOD OF THESE DESCENDANTS DAWN-BREAKERS WILL SERVE STRENGTHEN BODY CAUSE GOD THROUGHOUT GLOBE, PRODUCE UNPRECEDENTED VICTORIES TO COMPENSATE LOSSES SUSTAINED CRADLE FAITH. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p513>

308

Proselytizing, Development, and the Covenant

3 January 1982

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

308.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter and has asked us to assure you that you should feel no diffidence in raising the sort of questions that you have expressed. It seems clear from your letter that you have been greatly attracted to the Message of Baha'u'llah and have accepted His Faith before, as you say, becoming "fully committed," and are, therefore, now having to face and resolve problems that many believers overcome before they declare their faith. The House of Justice urges you not to let it worry you. All through life Baha'is are faced with tests of many kinds, and problems and doubts, but it is through facing and overcoming them that we grow spiritually.

308.2 On the particular issues that you raise, the House of Justice has instructed us to send you the following comments.

Teaching vs. Proselytizing

308.3 It is true that Baha'u'llah lays on every Baha'i the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all 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 threats 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.

308.4 Baha'u'llah, in The Hidden Words, says, "O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved. ...", and on page 55 of The Advent of Divine Justice, a letter which is primarily directed towards exhorting the friends to fulfil their responsibilities in teaching the Faith, Shoghi Effendi writes: "Care, however, should, at all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to proselytize and bring undue pressure <p514> upon them, those whom they wish to win over to their Cause."+F597 Some Baha'is sometimes overstep the proper bounds, but this does not alter the clear principle.

[F597. ADJ, p. 66.]

308.5 The responsibility of the Baha'is 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 fellowmen. The Message of Baha'u'llah 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 fellowman. The slowness of the response of the world has caused and is causing great suffering; hence the historical pressure upon Baha'is to exert every effort to teach the Faith for the sake of their fellowmen. They should teach with enthusiasm, conviction, wisdom and courtesy, but without pressing their hearer, bearing in mind the words of Baha'u'llah: "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 behove, and if not, turn ye away from him, and set your faces towards God's sacred Court, the seat of resplendent holiness." (Gleanings CXXVIII)

Considerations in the Application of Baha'i Social Teachings

308.6 The application and development of the social aspects of the Teachings is dependent on the stage of growth of the Baha'i community in each area, and on world- wide priorities. We are living in an age of transition, and as 'Abdu'l-Baha explained, we must, in order to succeed in our aims, sacrifice the important for the most important. The House of Justice, for example, had to turn down the request of certain believers to establish Baha'i schools in a Western country which already had a functioning state educational system; those Baha'i funds which are available for educational projects must be spent on the establishment and running of schools in areas where there are large Baha'i communities of poor people, with no adequate system of education available to them. In its answer, the House of Justice pointed out that if these friends, on their own initiative, wished to establish their own school, run on Baha'i lines, and financially self-supporting, they were entirely free to do so. This highlights an aspect of the matter which is often overlooked. The social services of Baha'i are not restricted to what they do as a community. Every Baha'i has a duty to work and earn his living, and in choosing a career a Baha'i should consider not only its earning capacity but also the benefit of the work to his fellowmen. All over the world Baha'is are rendering outstanding services in this way.