Messages 1963 to 1986 (Part 5)

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308.7 When a Baha'i community is very small, there is little that it can do to implement the social teachings of the Faith (beyond their impact on the behaviour of individual believers), because such a community with the resources in funds and manpower at its disposal is but a drop in the ocean in comparison with the many large agencies, governmental and private, which are engaged in social improvement. When the Baha'i community grows sufficiently large, however, its activities can and must proliferate and diversify. This development is already taking place in many parts of the world. In India, for example, the New Era School in Panchgani, which has been developing remarkably for a number of years, is closely associated with a rural development project in the villages close by that is having dramatically favourable results in the life of the villagers. In the province of Madhya Pradesh, where there are hundreds of thousands of Baha'is, the Rabbani School in Gwalior is educating children from the villages of the area in the Teachings of the Faith, in academic subjects and in agriculture, so that when they return to their home villages, these pupils not only promote the Faith but will influence their growth and development in every way. In Ecuador, as you no doubt know, the size of the Baha'i community, scattered over inaccessible terrain in the high Andes, made it both necessary and possible some years ago to establish a Baha'i radio station.+F598 "Radio Baha'i," as it is known, broadcasts not only about the Faith, but has programmes concerning health, agriculture, literacy and so on. It has now become so well established and highly regarded that it has been able to apply for and receive a Canadian Government grant through C.I.D.A.+F599 to finance the development of certain social service activities. Thus it can be seen that once the Baha'i community attains a certain stature it is able to work in fruitful collaboration with non- Baha'i agencies in its social activities.

[F599. Canadian International Development Agency.]

[F598. See messages dated 15 December 1977 (no. 201), Naw-Ruz 1978 (no. 205), and 28 August 1979 (no. 213).]

308.8 A further aspect of this kind of work is the collaboration between the Baha'i International Community and the United Nations. Having consultative status with both ECOSOC and UNICEF, and long association with the Department of Public Information, the Baha'i International Community is able to take part in conferences and consultations on many aspects of human development, both from the point of view of the Baha'i Teachings and with the background of its extensive experience in meeting the problems of developing countries, such as illiteracy, the status of women, tribalism, racial prejudice, and so on.

308.9 As you can see, all these developments relate directly to the teaching work inasmuch as the Baha'i communities must reach a certain size before they can begin to implement many of them. How, for example, can a Baha'i community demonstrate effectively the abolition of prejudices which divide the inhabitants <p516> of a country until it has a cross-section of those inhabitants within its ranks? A seed is the vital origin of a tree and of a tremendous importance for that reason, but it cannot produce fruit until it has grown into a tree and flowered and fruited. So a Baha'i community of nine believers is a vital step, since it can bring into being for that locality the divine institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly, but it is still only a seed, and needs to grow in size and in the diversity of its members before it can produce really convincing fruit for its fellow citizens.

308.10 One could say, however, that the Baha'i communities could assist in social development from a very early stage in their development by supporting the activities of other groups who are, at this point, more numerous and powerful. To some extent this is true, provided that such involvement does not divert the efforts of the friends from the more fundamentally important teaching work or involve them in the disputes of non- Baha'i rival groups.

Humanity's Most Urgent Need

308.11 The teaching work is of primary importance for this reason: the most urgent need of human beings is to recognize the Manifestation of God and thereby to learn how to collaborate constructively. All over the world tremendous efforts are being made to improve the lot of mankind -- or of parts of mankind, but most of these efforts are frustrated by the conflicts of aims, by corruption of the morals of those involved, by mistrust, or by fear. There is no lack of material resources in the world if they are properly used. The problem is the education of human beings in the ultimate and most important purpose of life and in how to weld the differences of opinion and outlook into a united constructive effort. Baha'is believe that God has revealed the purpose of life, has shown us how to attain it, has provided the ways in which we can work together and, beyond that, has given mankind the assurance both of continuing divine guidance and of divine assistance. As people learn and follow these teachings their efforts will produce durable results. In the absence of these teachings, a lifetime of effort only too often ends in disillusionment and the collapse of all that has been built.

308.12 It is not easy for people to learn the Baha'i way, to overcome their inherited prejudices or to resist their personal temptations. This way takes time, is subject to checks and backsliding, but one can see, looking at the past 138 years, that there is an overall advance that is astonishing in the light of the obstacles to be overcome, and is accelerating with every passing decade.

Obstacle to Progress: Getting Sucked into Prevailing Attitudes

308.13 One of the great obstacles to progress is the tendency of Baha'is to be sucked into the general attitudes and disputes that surround them, to be influenced, for example, as you yourself pointed out, by the prevailing attitude to marriage so that the divorce rate becomes a problem within the Baha'i community <p517> itself which should be an example to the rest of society in such matters. Involvement in politics and controversial questions is another aspect of the same phenomenon. In one of His Tablets Baha'u'llah warns the Baha'is: "Dispute not with any one concerning the things of this world and its affairs, for God hath abandoned them to such as have set their affection upon them. Out of the whole world He hath chosen for Himself the hearts of men -- hearts which the hosts of revelation and of utterance can subdue." (Gleanings CXXVIII) As you realize, this cannot mean that Baha'is must not be controversial since, in many societies, being a Baha'i is itself a controversial matter. The central importance of this principle of avoidance of politics and controversial matters is that Baha'is should not allow themselves to be drawn into the disputes of the many conflicting elements of the society around them. The aim of the Baha'is is to reconcile, to heal divisions, to bring about tolerance and mutual respect among men, and this aim is undermined if we allow ourselves to be swept along by the ephemeral passions of others. This does not mean that Baha'is cannot collaborate with any non-Baha'i movement; it does mean that good judgement is required to distinguish those activities and associations which are beneficial and constructive from those which are divisive.

The Uniqueness of the Baha'i Covenant

308.14 The House of Justice hopes that these explanations will help you to understand some of the aspects of the Faith that have been troubling you. The crux of the matter, as you realize, is the acceptance of spiritual authority and what this implies. You express the fear that the authority conferred upon 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice could lead to a progressive reduction in the "available scope for personal interpretation," and that "the actual writings of the Manifestation will have less and less import," and you instance what has happened in previous Dispensations. The House of Justice suggests that, in thinking about this, you contemplate the way the Covenant of Baha'u'llah has actually worked, and you will be able to see how very different its processes are from those of, say, the development of the law in Rabbinical Judaism or the functioning of the Papacy in Christianity. The practice in the past in these two religions, and also to a great extent in Islam, has been to assume that the Revelation given by the Founder was the final, perfect revelation of God's Will to mankind, and all subsequent elucidation and legislation has been interpretative in the sense that it aimed at applying this basic Revelation to the new problems and situations that have arisen. The Baha'i premises are quite different. Although the Revelation of Baha'u'llah is accepted as the Word of God and His Law as the Law of God, it is understood from the outset that Revelation is progressive, and that the Law, although the Will of God for this Age, will undoubtedly be changed by the next Manifestation of God. Secondly, only the written text of the Revelation is regarded as authoritative. There is no Oral Law as in Judaism, no Tradition <p518> of the Church as in Christianity, no Hadith as in Islam. Thirdly, a clear distinction is drawn between interpretation and legislation. Authoritative interpretation is the exclusive prerogative of 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian, while infallible legislation is the function of the Universal House of Justice.

308.15 If you study the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha and of the Guardian, you will see how tremendously they differ from the interpretations of the Rabbis and the Church. They are not a progressive fossilization of the Revelation, they are for the most part expositions which throw a clear light upon passages which may have been considered obscure, they point up the intimate interrelationship between various teachings, they expound the implications of scriptural allusions, and they educate the Baha'is in the tremendous significances of the Words of Baha'u'llah. Rather than in any way supplanting the Words of the Manifestation, they lead us back to them time and again.

Authoritative vs. Individual Interpretation

308.16 There is also an important distinction made in the Faith between authoritative interpretation, as described above, and the interpretation which every believer is fully entitled to voice. Believers are free, indeed are encouraged, to study the Writings for themselves and to express their understanding of them. Such personal interpretations can be most illuminating, but all Baha'is, including the one expressing the view, however learned he may be, should realize that it is only a personal view and can never be upheld as a standard for others to accept, nor should disputes ever be permitted to arise over differences in such opinions.

Interpretation and Legislation

308.17 The legislation enacted by the Universal House of Justice is different from interpretation. Authoritative interpretation, as uttered by 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian, is a divinely guided statement of what the Word of God means. The divinely inspired legislation of the Universal House of Justice does not attempt to say what the revealed Word means -- it states what must be done in cases where the revealed Text or its authoritative interpretation is not explicit. It is, therefore, on quite a different level from the Sacred Text, and the Universal House of Justice is empowered to abrogate or amend its own legislation whenever it judges the conditions make this desirable. Moreover, the attitude to legislation is different in the Baha'i Faith. The human tendency in past Dispensations has been to want every question answered and to arrive at a binding decision affecting every small detail of belief or practice. The tendency in the Baha'i Dispensation, from the time of Baha'u'llah Himself, has been to clarify the governing principles, to make binding pronouncements on details which are considered essential, but to leave a wide area to the conscience of the individual. The same tendency appears also in administrative matters. The Guardian used to state that the working of National Spiritual <p519> Assemblies should be uniform in essentials but that diversity in secondary matters was not only permissible but desirable. For this reason a number of points are not expressed in the National Baha'i Constitution (the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of National Assemblies); these are left to each National Spiritual Assembly to decide for itself.+F600

[F600. The Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly are published in each volume of The Baha'i World, beginning with volume 3.]

The Covenant of Baha'u'llah

308.18 The Covenant is the "axis of the oneness of the world of humanity" because it preserves the unity and integrity of the Faith itself and protects it from being disrupted by individuals who are convinced that only their understanding of the Teachings is the right one -- a fate that has overcome all past Revelations. The Covenant is, moreover, embedded in the Writings of Baha'u'llah Himself. Thus, as you clearly see, to accept Baha'u'llah is to accept His Covenant; to reject His Covenant is to reject Him.

308.19 The House of Justice asks us to assure you of its loving prayers at the Sacred Threshold for your guidance in your efforts to arrive at a greater understanding of this wonderful Revelation.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

309

Iranian Supreme Court's Denial of Execution of Iranian National Spiritual Assembly Members

5 January 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

309.1 PRESIDENT SUPREME COURT AYATOLLAH ARDEBILI IS REPORTED BY NEWS SERVICES TO HAVE DENIED EXECUTION EIGHT MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IRAN. ... WE CONVINCED EXECUTIONS WERE PLANNED TO BE KEPT SECRET BUT WERE DISCOVERED FORTUITOUSLY. BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY REQUESTING SECRETARY GENERAL UNITED NATIONS INVESTIGATE. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

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310

Appeal by Baha'i International Community to Iranian Leaders

7 January 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

310.1 BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CABLING FOLLOWING TEXT TO AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI, PRIME MINISTER MIR HUSAYN MUSAVI, AND PRESIDENT SUPREME COURT AYATOLLAH MUSAVI ARDEBILI:

310.2 "NEWS RECENT SECRET EXECUTION EIGHT MEMBERS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BAHA'IS IRAN, AND SEVEN OTHERS, SIX OF WHOM WERE MEMBERS LOCAL ASSEMBLY TIHRAN, HAS SHOCKED BAHA'IS ENTIRE WORLD. TOTAL NUMBER BAHA'IS WHOSE MARTYRDOMS OFFICIALLY ACKNOWLEDGED HAS NOW REACHED NINETY-SEVEN. FOURTEEN OTHERS, KNOWN TO HAVE DISAPPEARED, FEARED TO HAVE SUFFERED SAME FATE. HUNDREDS IMPRISONED THROUGHOUT COUNTRY ON CHARGES WITHOUT SUBSTANTIATING EVIDENCE. WE CATEGORICALLY DENY TRUTH THESE ACCUSATIONS.

310.3 AS BAHA'IS IRAN ARE RIGIDLY DENIED OPPORTUNITY PUBLICLY PRESENT THEIR CASE, DEFEND THEIR RIGHTS, PROVE THEIR INNOCENCE, AND ALL DOORS APPEAL THEIR CASE CLOSED BEFORE THEM, WE THEREFORE APPEAL TO YOU ON THEIR BEHALF IN NAME OF BAHA'I COMMUNITIES IN 164 INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD:

1. TO ISSUE IMMEDIATE INSTRUCTIONS STOP SUMMARY ARRESTS EXECUTIONS,

2. TO REQUIRE THOSE RESPONSIBLE PRODUCE PUBLISH DOCUMENTS WHICH HAVE FORMED BASIS CONVICTION BAHA'IS AS SO-CALLED SPIES,

3. TO EXTEND TO BAHA'IS AS LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS, AND AS A COMMUNITY, INALIENABLE RIGHT TO PUBLICLY DEFEND THEMSELVES DISPROVE MALICIOUS ACCUSATIONS FALSE CHARGES.

310.4 WE LAY BEFORE YOU FATE THESE LOYAL CITIZENS ABOUT WHOSE INNOCENCE, TRUE LOVE FOR IRAN AND REVERENCE FOR SPIRIT ISLAM YOU SHOULD HAVE NO DOUBT. WE PRAY THE ALMIGHTY MAY GUIDE YOU THIS ELEVENTH HOUR TO DISCHARGE SACRED INESCAPABLE RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE GOD AND MAN.

BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY"

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

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311

Secret Execution of Six Members of Tihran Assembly and Hostess

7 January 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

311.1 INFORMATION JUST RECEIVED SIX MEMBERS LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY TIHRAN TOGETHER WITH WOMAN BELIEVER IN WHOSE HOME ARRESTS WERE MADE ON SECOND NOVEMBER WERE SECRETLY EXECUTED ON FOURTH JANUARY. INFORMATION OBTAINED FORTUITOUSLY BY RELATIVES FRIENDS MARTYRS. NAMES THESE VALIANT SOULS ARE:

MR KURUSH TALA'I

MR KHUSRAW MUHANDISI

MR ISKANDAR 'AZIZI

MR FATHU'LLAH FIRDAWSI

MR 'ATA'U'LLAH YAVARI

MRS SHIVA MAHMUDI ASADU'LLAHZADIH

HOSTESS: MRS SHIDRUKH AMIR-KIYA BAQA ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

312

Using A Cry from the Heart to Explain the Tragic events in Iran

21 January 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

312.1 The Hand of the Cause William Sears, deeply moved by the savage onslaught on the dearly loved and heroic Baha'i community in Iran, has written a dramatic account of the current persecution.+F601

[F601. The book, A Cry from the Heart, was published by George Ronald (1982).]

312.2 Mr Sears's story acquires deep poignancy from the account of his travels in Iran when he came to know and love the Persian Baha'is, both individually and collectively, among whom are a number of the martyrs. In a white heat of indignation, he came to the World Centre to write the first draft of his book, using the detailed information available here to present -- as he is so well able -- the successive tragedies which, even in these days of universal terrorism, are beginning to shock the world.

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312.3 The House of Justice believes that Mr Sears's book will not only be warmly welcomed by the friends, but can also be a potent instrument for interesting large numbers of people in the tragic events now taking place in Persia, winning their sympathy for the harassed Baha'is and leading them to inquire further about a Faith which can inspire such fortitude in ordinary people. He does not miss the opportunities offered, in refuting the trumped-up charges made against the Baha'is, for presenting basic Baha'i teachings and conveying a persuasive sense of why Baha'u'llah is worth dying for. Furthermore, widespread knowledge among the public of the persecutions in Iran can be an added deterrent to their continuation, reinforcing the many efforts being made by governments and other agencies as a result of the constant appeals of the Baha'i International Community and National Spiritual Assemblies.

312.4 The House of Justice requests you to give the greatest possible support to distribution of this book, calling it to the attention of the friends and urging them to use it as a topical introduction for their contacts, to try to persuade their local newspapers and radio stations to review it and their local bookshops to display it. We have asked that it be published at as low a price as possible so that it can be used by all the friends. It is now at press and you will shortly hear from the publisher.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

313

Plans for Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ascension of Bahiyyih Khanum

24 January 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

313.1 The fiftieth anniversary of the ascension of Bahiyyih Khanum, eldest daughter of Baha'u'llah and designated by Him the Greatest Holy Leaf, will occur on 15 July of this year. We summon the entire Baha'i world to a befitting commemoration of the life of the greatest woman in the Baha'i Dispensation.

313.2 National Spiritual Assemblies are requested to arrange national commemorative services, and to ensure that all local communities hold befitting meetings. These services should be held on the date of the anniversary or on the weekend immediately following it, and in those countries where Mashriqu'l-Adhkars are in existence, they should be held in the Temple.

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313.3 In order to provide for your arrangement of the services, we have requested our Research Department to compile a bibliography of references to the Greatest Holy Leaf in Baha'i literature in English, and this is enclosed for your use.+F602 In addition the book announced in our message of March 1981 is now at press, and will be available by the time of the commemoration.+F603

[F603. The book, Bahiyyih Khanum: The Greatest Holy Leaf was published by the Baha'i World Centre in Haifa (1982). For an account of the commemoration at the Baha'i World Centre of the fiftieth anniversary of Bahiyyih Khanum's passing, see BW 18:53-54.]

[F602. In a letter dated 25 February 1982 the Universal House of Justice sent to all National Spiritual Assemblies a revised bibliography of references in Baha'i literature to the Greatest Holy Leaf. The revised bibliography published here contains references to Persian and Arabic texts in addition to the original list of references in English. The latest editions are cited for the reader's convenience.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

Some References to the Greatest Holy Leaf Found in Published Works

313.4 Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets revealed in honour of the Greatest Holy Leaf (New York: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States and Canada, 1933).

313.5 Shoghi Effendi:

The Advent of Divine Justice (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1990), p. 37.

Baha'i Administration (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), pp. 25, 57, 70, 93, 187-196.

The Dawn-Breakers (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), dedication.

God Passes By (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1974), pp. 108, 347, 350, 392.

Guidance for Today and Tomorrow (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1973), pp. 58-71.

Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Baha'i s of North America 1932-1946 (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Committee, 1947), pp. 1, 31, 37.

Messages to the Baha'i World (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 74.

The World Order of Baha'u'llah (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1991), pp. 67-68, 81-82, 93-94, 98.

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313.6 Others:

Balyuzi, H. M., 'Abdu'l-Baha, the Centre of the Covenant of Baha'u'llah (London: George Ronald, 1971), pp. 12, 54-55, 74, 332, 401, 416, 454-455, 463-464, 482.

Balyuzi, H. M., Edward Granville Browne and the Baha'i Faith (London: George Ronald, 1970), pp. 119-220.

Blomfield, Lady Sarah, The Chosen Highway (Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1967), pp. 37-69, 73.

Gail, Marzieh, Khanum: the Greatest Holy Leaf as Remembered by Marzieh Gail (London: George Ronald, 1982).

Maxwell, May, An Early Pilgrimage (London: George Ronald, 1969), pp. 18-19.

Muhajir, Iran Furutan, comp., The Mystery of God (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979), pp. 278-304.

Rabbani, Ruhiyyih, The Priceless Pearl (London: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1969), pp. 6-7, 10-11, 13-15, 21-22, 39, 44, 46-51, 57-58, 63, 90, 102-03, 112, 115, 129-30, 139-40, 144-48, 151-52, 168, 199, 218, 236, 259, 261-62, 266-67, 273, 279-80, 430, 438.

Universal House of Justice, Baha'i Holy Places at the World Centre (Haifa: Baha'i World Centre, 1968), pp. 62-70.

313.7 The Baha'i World, an International Record

Vol. 2, 1926-1928, pp. 83, 132.

Vol. 3, 1928-1930, p. 64.

Vol. 5, 1932-1934, pp. 22-23, 114-15, 169-88.

Vol. 8, 1938-1940, pp. 5, 8, 206, 255-56, 262, 266.

Vol. 9, 1940-1944, p. 329.

Vol. 10, 1944-1946, p. 536.

Vol. 11, 1946-1950, pp. 474, 492.

Vol. 16, 1973-1976, pp. 54, 66, 73.

313.8 Baha'i News, published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of

the United States

no. 18, June 1927, p. 5.

no. 36, December 1929, p. 1.

no. 52, May 1931, pp. 1-2.

no. 62, May 1932, p. 2.

no. 65, August 1932, pp. 1-2.

no. 66, September 1932, p. 1.

no. 72, March 1933, p. 3.

no. 121, December 1938, p. 3.

no. 124, April 1939, p. 1.

no. 128, August 1939, p. 4.

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no. 133, February 1940, p. 1.

no. 135, April 1940, insert

313.9 Star of the West (Chicago: Baha'i News Service)

Vol. X:17, pp. 312-14.

Vol. XII, no. 10, pp. 163-67; no. 11, pp. 186-88; no. 13, pp. 211-14; no. 151 p. 245; no. 19, pp. 302-03.

Vol. XII, no. 4, pp. 68-69, 82-83, 88; no. 8, pp. 207-10, 219-20; no. 11, p. 34.

Vol. XVII:8, pp. 256-60.

Vol. XVIII:9, pp. 278-82.

Vol. XX, no. 1, p. 18; no. 4, p. 104.

Vol. XXIII, no. 5, p. 134; no. 7, pp. 202-04; no. 12, pp. 374-77.

Vol. XXIV, no. 1, pp. 18-20; no. 3, pp. 90-93.

Vol. XXV:4, pp. 118-22

(Many of these references are accounts of early pilgrimages, and give only a brief mention

of the Greatest Holy Leaf)

 

314

Golden Opportunity Offered by Reign of Relentless Terror;

Actions Taken to Defend the Baha'is of Iran

26 January 1982

The Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

314.1 With indignation and anguish the Baha'is of the world, over the past three years, have received continuously tragic news of the sufferings and martyrdoms of their brethren in Iran, where a reign of relentless terror is now encompassing that long-abused and downtrodden community. The inhuman cruelties heaped on the followers of the Most Great Name -- worthy descendants of their forebears, the Dawn-Breakers -- in that land where the heroes and martyrs of the Faith have shed such lustre on their generations, are increasing daily. We have seen how the House of the Bab in Shiraz and Baha'u'llah's ancestral home in Takur have been demolished,+F604 all Baha'i endowments, including our Holy Places, have been seized, and the main financial assets of the community sequestered. We have seen with what callousness Baha'i children <p526> have been refused admission to schools, Baha'i employees dismissed from government positions, and the essential human rights of the sorely tried Baha'is violated, their means of livelihood undermined or destroyed, their homes plundered, their properties confiscated, their very lives snuffed out.

[F604. For more about the destruction of the House of the Bab, see messages dated 9 September 1979 (no. 235), 19 November 1979 (no. 241), and 26 May 1981 (no. 282). For the message about the destruction of the House of Baha'u'llah in Takur, see telex dated 10 December 1981 (no. 305).]

An Acceleration of Persecution

314.2 Contemplating the history of the persecution of the Baha'is of Iran, we note an alarming acceleration in the degree of blatancy with which the traditional enemies of the Faith pursue their single purpose of extirpating the Faith in the land of its birth. In the past, with the exception of a few specific instances, the persecution of the members of the Baha'i community by those traditionally inimical to the Faith, was random and sporadic, resulting from the incitement of easily aroused mobs to attack the lives and properties of the Baha'is.

314.3 Now the enemies of God's precious Cause who, as they themselves attest, have in the past twenty-five years organized themselves to counteract the influence of the Faith, to vilify and misrepresent its purpose and teachings, to inflame religious passions leading to the harassment and intimidation of the believers, to sow seeds of doubt among the friends and sympathizers, have infiltrated the ranks of officialdom, where, from this more advantageous position, they continue to instigate the persecution of the Baha'is. The incidence of violation of the rights of the Baha'is is thus becoming more frequent as is well evidenced by reports published in the press of Iran in recent months. Examples abound. For instance, formerly when Baha'is were arrested they were given an opportunity to defend themselves in some form of judicial proceedings held for the sake of appearances. On one occasion part of the proceedings which resulted in the execution of seven believers in Yazd, as late as September 1980, was televised. But recently the court proceedings, if any, have been held in camera,+F605 and reports have even been received of the torture of Baha'is before their execution. No longer are the relatives of imprisoned Baha'is permitted to visit them, as they were until recently; no longer are the condemned permitted to solace their families with letters of farewell or the making of wills before their execution; and, more tragically, disturbed by the large number of Baha'is and sympathetic people of other religions who attended the funeral services of the slain Baha'is, the authorities have now seized the Baha'i cemetery in Tihran and do not permit burial there. Indeed, the families of those most recently martyred were not even notified of the secret execution of their loved ones, whose bodies, unceremoniously deposited in graves for "infidels," were only fortuitously discovered.

[F605. In private, secretly.]

314.4 Although the oppressors maintain that they are killing the Baha'is because they are guilty of serving as political agents and spies, it has been ascertained <p527> that in almost every instance of execution, the accused Baha'i was offered recantation as a means of release.

Oppression -- The Cause of Stability and Firmness

314.5 The inveterate enemies of the Faith imagine that their persecutions will disrupt the foundations of the Faith and tarnish its glory. Alas! Alas for their ignorance and folly! These acts of oppression, far from weakening the resolve of the friends, have always served to inflame their zeal and galvanize their beings. In the words of 'Abdu'l- Baha, "... they thought that violence and interference would cause extinction and silence and lead to suppression and oblivion, whereas interference in matters of conscience causes stability and firmness and attracts the attention of men's sight and souls, which fact has received experimental proof many times and often."+F606

[F606. TN, p. 6.]

314.6 Every drop of blood shed by the valiant martyrs, every sigh heaved by the silent victims of oppression, every supplication for divine assistance offered by the faithful, has released, and will continue mysteriously to release, forces over which no antagonist of the Faith has any control, and which, as marshalled by an All-Watchful Providence, have served to noise abroad the name and fame of the Faith to the masses of humanity in all continents, millions of whom had previously been totally ignorant of the existence of the Faith or had but a superficial, and oft-times erroneous, understanding of its teachings and history.

World-Wide Publicity

314.7 The current persecution has resulted in bringing the name and character of our beloved Faith to the attention of the world as never before in its history. As a direct result of the protests sent by the world-wide community of the Most Great Name to the rulers in Iran, of the representations made to the media when those protests were ignored, of direct approach by Baha'i institutions at national and international levels to governments, communities of nations, international agencies and the United Nations itself, the Faith of Baha'u'llah has not only been given sympathetic attention in the world's councils, but also its merits and violated rights have been discussed and resolutions of protest sent to the Iranian authorities by sovereign governments, singly and in unison. The world's leading newspapers, followed by the local press, have presented sympathetic accounts of the Faith to millions of readers, while television and radio stations are increasingly making the persecutions in Iran the subject of their programmes. Commercial publishing houses are beginning to commission books about the Faith.

314.8 But in spite of this great wave of publicity now bringing the name of the Faith to the attention of large masses of mankind, and in spite of the many <p528> representations made to the authorities in Iran, the persecution of the Baha'is there continues. The world stands helpless before the imperviousness of that country to outside opinion or criticism. In face of this tragic impasse we can only redouble our efforts to teach the Cause, taking advantage of the increasing interest in the character and principles of our beloved Faith created by the sufferings of the Persian community.

A Blessing in Disguise

314.9 Indeed, this new wave of persecution sweeping the Cradle of the Faith may well be seen as a blessing in disguise, a "providence" whose "calamity" is, as always, borne heroically by the beloved Persian community. It may be regarded as the latest move in God's Major Plan, another trumpet blast to awaken the heedless from their slumber and a golden opportunity offered to the Baha'is to demonstrate once again their unity and fellowship before the eyes of a declining and sceptical world, to proclaim with full force the Message of Baha'u'llah to high and low alike, to establish the reverence of our Faith for Islam and its Prophet, to assert the principles of non-interference in political activities and obedience to government which stand at the very core of our Faith, and to provide comfort and solace to the breasts of the serene sufferers and steadfast heroes in the forefront of a persecuted community. Our motto in these days of world-encircling gloom should be the Words of God addressed to the Blessed Beauty Himself. "When the swords flash, go forward! When the shafts fly, press onward!"+F607

[F607. Baha'u'llah, in BP, pp. 219-20.]

314.10 Future historians will have to assess the impact of this crisis on the onward march of a triumphant Faith. A detailed list of the steps that have already been taken by the Baha'is of the world during the past three years is attached for the study of the friends.

314.11 Our fervent prayers are offered most ardently at the Holy Shrines for the blessings of Baha'u'llah to surround His lovers and loved ones in every land, and to assist and confirm them as they face with certitude and confidence the challenges of the future.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice <p529> Summary of Actions Taken by the Baha'i International Community, National and Local Baha'i Institutions Governments, Non-Baha'i Organizations and Prominent People in Connection with the Persecution of The Baha'is of Iran

The Baha'i International Community

314.12 - Issued official statements to the press;

- kept the Secretary-general and appropriate offices of the United Nations apprised of developments as they occurred;

- cabled the Ayatollah Khomeini, the President and Prime Minister of Iran, and the President of the Iranian Supreme Court, urging their intervention and refuting accusations made against the Faith;

- prepared materials and made statements in connection with the adoption of resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, the European Parliament, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;

- made statements at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the Question of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances;

- contacted the Iranian representative to the United Nations in New York in order to repudiate falsehoods made about the Faith and provide him with the true facts;

- and prepared the "White Paper" and "Update" and arranged for their translation in three languages, the "Chronological Summary of Individual Acts of Persecution in Iran," and other documents for submission to high- ranking officials, government and United Nations offices, and world-wide distribution to National Spiritual Assemblies.

Baha'i Institutions

314.13 - National Assemblies throughout the world cabled the Ayatollah Khomeini on four occasions, the Prime Minister and Head of the Iranian Supreme Court three times each, and the Secretary of the Revolutionary Council of Iran once.

- 118 National Spiritual Assemblies cabled the Secretary-general of the United Nations, as did thousands of Local Assemblies, Baha'i groups and isolated centres. It was estimated that some 10-15,000 cables reached him, protesting the execution of seven Baha'is in Hamadan.

- Over 10,000 Local Spiritual Assemblies cabled the Ayatollah Khomeini, urging his intervention regarding the expropriation of Baha'i properties in Iran.

- Most National Assemblies contacted by letter or delegation, or sent cables to their respective Iranian Embassy or Consulate, on five occasions <p530> and kept their government officials continually informed of developments.

- Selected National Assemblies cabled the Ayatollah Khomeini, the President and the Prime Minister of Iran, and the Secretary of the Revolutionary Council on several occasions. They also cabled or contacted their respective Iranian Embassy or Consulate at least eleven times; approached humanitarian, business or professional organizations; and were in constant touch with government offices and the media.

- A large number of National Assemblies pursued a well organized campaign of approaching the mass media, providing them with accurate information about the Faith and refuting false accusations made by enemies of the Cause. As a result, an unprecedented volume of publicity occurred in leading newspapers and periodicals throughout the world, as well as in newspapers having modest circulations. Well-known journalists wrote articles, some of which were distributed through international news agencies. Inter-views were held with families of the martyrs, individual Baha'is wrote letters to editors of newspapers, and many radio and television programmes were aired, including "Iran's Secret Pogrom" on W5 TV in Canada, and "Day One" and "John Craven's Newsround" on BBCl TV.

- Many National Assemblies contacted immigration authorities and appropriate government offices in efforts to assist the displaced Iranian Baha'is in extending their visas and obtaining work permits and travel documents. They established special committees to work specifically to assist the Iranian friends, and they set up Persian Relief Funds on a national scale to aid deserving cases. The National Assemblies of Australia and Canada worked out with their respective immigration offices procedures whereby the process of immigration by Iranian Baha'is would be facilitated.

314.14 - Baha'i communities the world over have assisted Iranian students abroad, who have been faced with the termination of their education because they are unable to receive funds from their families in Iran whose assets in Nawnahalan Company were frozen,+F608 or did not receive funds because the Iranian government prevented the transfer of money from Iran to Baha'i students abroad. In some areas, Iranian embassies have refused to extend the visas of Baha'i students. Certain universities and colleges have allowed the Baha'i students to continue their studies, and in some instances their tuition fees have even been waived.

[F608. For further information on the Nawnahalan Company, see the Glossary.]

<p531>

Resolutions Adopted on Behalf of the Baha'is in Iran

314.15 - Canadian Parliament (2)

- House of Representatives, Australia

- Senate, Australia

- German Federal Parliament

- A meeting held in a committee room of the House of Commons, United Kingdom

- United Nations General Assembly, Third Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance

- United Nations Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Commission on Human Rights (2)

- European Parliament (2)

- Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (2)

- House of Representatives of the State of Alaska, USA.

- House of Representatives, State of Illinois, USA.

- International Association for Religious Freedom

Statements and Letters from Governments, World Leaders and Others

314.16 To name just a few

- Prime Minister's Office of the United Kingdom

- President Mitterrand of France

- Offices of the King and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium

- President and Minister of Cultural Affairs of Luxembourg

- All three parliamentary parties in Luxembourg

- Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of Germany

- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India

- 148 Out of 150 Members of Parliament in the Netherlands

- Swiss Parliamentarians

- Western Samoan Government

- Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia

- Governor of the Hawaiian Islands, USA.

- Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Some Non-Baha'i Individuals and Organizations that Issued Statements, Letters, Cables, or Press Releases

314.17 - Human Rights Commission of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Switzerland

- Amnesty International

- Trinidad and Tobago Bureau on Human Rights

- Former Chief Justice, India

- Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

- Pacific Conference of Churches

- 13 Heads of Colleges in Oxford, U.K.

<p532>

- The Master, Balliol College, Oxford, England

- Iran Committee for Democratic Action and Human Rights (based in the United States)

- Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (based in France)

- A large number of Senators and Congressmen of the United States

 

315

Call For a Day of Prayer for the Baha'is of Iran; Inviting Sympathetic Organizations and Individuals

29 January 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

315.1 At this time when our thoughts are so often directed toward our beleaguered brethren in the Cradle of the Faith, where no relenting of the persecutions is in sight, the Universal House of Justice is moved to call on National Spiritual Assemblies to schedule a day of prayer in order to extol the memory of the glorious martyrs, and to invoke the power of God to emancipate the Iranian believers from the fetters of oppression and hardship. Each National Assembly should select a suitable day and request all Baha'i communities under its jurisdiction to hold appropriate gatherings on that specific day.

315.2 There is no doubt that the persecutions in Iran have attracted the interest of the public in a number of countries to the Cause of God and many have even expressed deep and genuine sympathy for the plight of the Persian friends. In such countries, if the National Assembly considers it desirable, it will be entirely permissible to invite to the prayer meetings, in the spirit and manner befitting the occasion, members of sympathetic organizations or selected individual non-Baha'is. These meetings could confirm and deepen the love and respect that many already cherish in their hearts for the Cause of God.

315.3 The following suggestions may be helpful to you:

315.3a If invitations are to be extended to non-Baha'i friends, consideration should be given to those in authority both on national and local levels, leaders of thought, prominent people of all walks of life, and those sympathetic to the Faith. A general invitation to the public could also be issued in some localities, if appropriate and advisable.

315.3b Where Baha'i centres are unavailable or inadequate for such meetings, public or community halls could be hired. If all efforts fail to obtain such secular facilities, it would also be permissible, as a last resort, to <p533> hold the gatherings in public halls owned by, or places of worship of, other religious communities, if such places are spontaneously offered or easily available, and provided it is absolutely clear that the meetings are to be conducted by, and under the auspices of, the Baha'is.

315.4 In each country where a Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is located the national meeting should be held by the National Assembly concerned in the Mother Temple.

315.5 It is important that the gatherings be carefully planned well in advance and the meetings be held with utmost dignity.

315.6 In countries where it would not be propitious to invite non-Baha'is to the proposed prayer meetings, such gatherings should as usual be confined to Baha'is.

315.7 The House of Justice is confident that the power of prayer emanating from these meetings will attract divine blessings, will cause the souls of those who have joined the hosts on high to rejoice, and will assist the endeavours of the believers everywhere in expediting the triumph of the Cause of God.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

316

Release of a Compilation on Family Life

18 February 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

316.1 Many of the National Spiritual Assemblies have been given a specific goal, during the second phase of the Seven Year Plan, to organize programmes for the development of family life and to nurture in the friends a deeper understanding of the nature of an institution which is at the very base of Baha'i society. In order to help the friends everywhere to strengthen and enrich their family ties, and enable the family unit to reflect the glory of the Words of God, the Universal House of Justice asked its Research Department to prepare a compilation of suitable texts on this subject.

316.2 The compilation is now ready and a copy is attached.+F609

[F609. See CC I:385-416.]

316.3 The Universal House of Justice leaves it to your discretion to determine how best the contents of this compilation may be shared with the friends under your jurisdiction.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p534>

317

Mounting Cruelties and the Heightened Steadfastness of the Iranian Baha'is

9 March 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

317.1 ACCOUNTS HEROISM BELIEVERS CRADLE FAITH FILL OUR HEARTS WITH FEELINGS OF AWE, GRATITUDE, ADMIRATION. MOUNTING CRUELTIES OPPRESSORS MATCHED BY HEIGHTENED ENDURANCE STEADFASTNESS STAUNCH SUPPORTERS GREATEST NAME.

317.2 SINCE LAST REPORT ON 11 JANUARY 1982 CROWN MARTYRDOM HAS ADORNED TWO MORE LOVING SOULS, HUSAYN VAHDAT-I-HAQQ OF TIHRAN AND IBRAHIM KHAYRKHAH OF BABULSAR.+F610 THE FORMER, A HIGHLY QUALIFIED ELECTRONICS ENGINEER, WAS EXECUTED ON 28 FEBRUARY, EVE OBSERVANCE DECLARATION BAB ACCORDING LUNAR CALENDAR, AND MR KHAYRKHAH, ACTIVE BELIEVER CASPIAN AREA, TWO DAYS EARLIER. BOTH EXECUTED BURIED UNCEREMONIOUSLY WITHOUT RELATIVES FRIENDS BEING INFORMED.

[F610. In a letter dated 11 January 1982 the Universal House of Justice sent to all National Spiritual Assemblies the text of a 5 January 1982 cable and two 7 January 1982 cables (see messages nos 309, 310 and 311).]

317.3 CONFISCATION OF HOMES INNOCENT BAHA'IS WITHOUT PROVOCATION IS CONTINUING. LOOTING AND AUCTIONING OF FURNISHINGS OF BAHA'I HOME IN ARDIKAN NEAR YAZD WAS PRELUDE TO SERIES SIMILAR RAIDS ON HOMES OTHER BAHA'IS THAT TOWN. IN SHIRAZ 17 MORE HOMES EITHER CONFISCATED OR IN PROCESS CONFISCATION. 35 ADDITIONAL BANK ACCOUNTS OF BAHA'IS IN SHIRAZ NOW FROZEN. SCORES OF BAHA'IS HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS OR BEEN DEPRIVED THEIR BUSINESS AND TRADE LICENSES. ON ONE OCCASION A HIGH-RANKING AUTHORITY DECREED, IN REPLY TO QUESTION FROM INSURANCE COMPANY, THAT A BAHA'I WIDOW HAD NO RIGHT COLLECT HALF HER HUSBAND'S PENSION DUE HER NOR RETAIN CUSTODY HER CHILDREN. HISTORIC BAHA'I SITES PROGRESSIVELY BEING DEMOLISHED INCLUDING HOUSE BABIYYIH IN MASHHAD.+F611

[F611. For information on the Babiyyih, see the Glossary.]

317.4 IN FACE SUCH OPPRESSIVE MEASURES, THOUSANDS BAHA'IS IRAN UNMINDFUL OF POSSIBLE DIRE CONSEQUENCES, HAVE COURAGEOUSLY APPEALED BY LETTER OR CABLE TO VARIOUS HIGH OFFICIALS AT NATIONAL AND LOCAL LEVELS COMPLAINING ABOUT BARBARIC ACTS GROSS INJUSTICE, HAVE REVEALED THEIR NAMES AND ADDRESSES, AND HAVE EXPRESSED HOPE THAT FEAR GOD WILL ULTIMATELY AWAKEN BLOODTHIRSTY AND HATE-FILLED INDIVIDUALS TO DISGRACEFUL ABUSE THEIR POWERS AND INDUCE THEM CEASE BEHAVIOUR ABHORRENT ALL CIVILIZED PEOPLE.

317.5 BAHA'IS IRAN ARE GRATEFUL THEIR BRETHREN THROUGHOUT WORLD BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT ONLY SUCCESSFULLY RAISED THEIR VOICES IN NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL FORUMS BUT ALSO HAVE PLEDGED REDOUBLE THEIR EFFORTS SERVE <p535> BAHA'U'LLAH IN NAME CO-WORKERS CRADLE FAITH, IN ORDER TO COUNTERACT EVIL

MACHINATIONS ENEMIES CAUSE DESIGNED ERADICATE FAITH IN LAND ITS BIRTH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

318

Relocation of Manila Conference

11 March 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

318.1 ON RECOMMENDATION NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY PHILIPPINES FOLLOWING ITS CONSULTATIONS AUTHORITIES VIEW PRESENT DISTURBED CONDITIONS HAVE DECIDED TRANSFER MANILA CONFERENCE ELSEWHERE. NEW DATE VENUE WILL BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY TO BAHa'i WORLD.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

319

Transfer of International Conference to Canberra, Australia

29 March 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

319.1 As you learned from an earlier communication, it has been necessary to transfer the International Conference planned for Manila, Philippines to another location.+F612 The Universal House of Justice requested the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia to act as host since it is located at the southern pole of the spiritual axis referred to by the beloved Guardian as extending from "the Antipodes to the northern islands of the Pacific Ocean."+F613 It is pleased to announce that the National Assembly has made arrangements to hold the Conference in Canberra from the 2nd through the 5th of September 1982. The Hand of the Cause Dr Ugo Giachery will attend as representative of the House of Justice.

[F613. LFG, p. 138.]

[F612. See message dated 11 March 1982 (no. 318).]

319.2 Kindly circulate this information to the friends as quickly as possible. It is hoped that all those who had been planning to attend the Manila Conference will find it possible to support the one now scheduled for Canberra.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p536>

320

Representation of the Universal House of Justice at Lagos Conference by Hand of the Cause of God John Robarts

29 March 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

320.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to inform you that it has become clear that in the present circumstances the representation of the World Centre at the Lagos Conference by anyone currently residing in South Africa may give rise to unfavourable publicity for the Faith.

320.2 It has been decided, therefore, by the Universal House of Justice to invite the Hand of the Cause of God John Robarts to represent it at the Lagos Conference.

320.3 Four special conferences are being called for the benefit of the friends in Southern Africa, as these friends, because of the prevailing situation, are for the most part unable to attend the Lagos Conference. At these Conferences the Hand of the Cause William Sears will represent the Universal House of Justice.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

321

Ridvan Message 1982

Ridvan 1982

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

321.1 Triumphs of inestimable portent for the unfoldment of the Cause of God, many of them resulting directly from the steadfast heroism of the beloved Persians in face of the savage persecutions meted out to them, have characterized the year just ending. The effect of these developments is to offer such golden opportunities for teaching and further proclamation as can only lead, if vigorously and enthusiastically seized, to large-scale conversion and an increasing prestige.

Notable Achievements

321.2 Heart-warming progress in the construction of the Indian and Western Samoan Mashriqu'l-Adhkars, the opening of the second Baha'i radio station <p537> of Latin America in Peru,+F614 the establishment of the European office of the Baha'i International Community in Geneva, steady advances in the second phase of the Seven Year Plan, encouraging expansion of the systematized Baha'i education of children, sacrifice and generous outpouring of funds from a growing number of friends, all testify to the abundant confirmations with which Baha'u'llah rewards the dedicated efforts of His loved ones throughout the world. The world-wide attention accorded the Faith in the media, which has opened wide the doors of mass proclamation of the divine Message, and the sympathetic discussion of it in the highest councils of mankind with the resulting actions taken by sovereign governments and international authorities,+F615 are unprecedented in Baha'i history.

[F615. See letter dated 26 January 1982 (no. 314) and its addendum for a description of actions taken to defend the Iranian Baha'is.]

[F614. For the message sent on the occasion of the inauguration of Radio Baha'i Peru, see the telex dated 29 November 1981 (no. 304).]

A Year Rich in Baha'i Occasions

321.3 All this, dear friends, augurs well for the coming year which is rich in Baha'i occasions. The fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf will be commemorated at the five International Conferences and by the publication of a book, compiled at the World Centre, comprising texts about her and some hundred of her own letters;+F616 the move to the permanent Seat of the Universal House of Justice will take place; in November the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of our beloved Guardian will coincide with the midway point of the Seven Year Plan+F617 and the year will terminate with the fifth International Convention when members of National Spiritual Assemblies throughout the world will come to Haifa to elect the Universal House of Justice.+F618

[F618. Ridvan 1983.]

[F617. Shoghi Effendi passed away on 4 November 1957; the midpoint of the Seven Year Plan was November 1982.]

[F616. The Greatest Holy Leaf passed away at 1:00 a.m. on 15 July 1932. The book referred to, Bahiyyih Khanum, was published by the Baha'i World Centre (1982).]

Tribute to the Hands of the Cause of God and the Continental Boards of Counsellors

321.4 The distinguished and invaluable activities of the beloved Hands of the Cause are a source of pride and joy to the entire Baha'i world. The assumption of wider responsibilities by each Continental Board of Counsellors is proving an unqualified success and we express our warm thanks and admiration to the International Teaching Centre and all the Counsellors for the great contribution they are making, in increasing

measure, to the stability and development of the embryonic World Order of Baha'u'llah.

<p538>

Youth

321.5 As to Baha'i youth, legatees of the heroic early believers and now standing on their shoulders, we call upon them to redouble their efforts, in this day of widespread interest in the Cause of God, to enthuse their contemporaries with the divine Message and thus prepare themselves for the day when they will be veteran believers able to assume whatever tasks may be laid upon them. We offer them this passage from the Pen of Baha'u'llah:

321.5a Blessed is he who in the prime of his youth and the heyday of his life will arise to serve the Cause of the Lord of the beginning and of the end, and adorn his heart with His love. The manifestation of such a grace is greater than the creation of the heavens and of the earth. Blessed are the steadfast and well is it with those who are firm.+F619

[F619. From an unpublished Tablet.]

Our response: A Mighty Upsurge in Effective Teaching

321.6 The rising sun of Baha'u'llah's Revelation is having its visible effect upon the world and upon the Baha'i' community itself. Opportunities, long dreamed of for teaching, attended by showering confirmations, now challenge in ever-increasing numbers, every individual believer, every Local and National Spiritual Assembly. The potent seeds sown by 'Abdu'l-Baha are beginning to germinate within the divinely ordained Order expounded and firmly laid by the beloved Guardian. Humanity is beaten almost to its knees, bewildered and shepherdless, hungry for the bread of life. This is our day of service; we have that heavenly food to offer. The peoples are disillusioned with deficient political theories, social systems and orders; they crave, knowingly or unknowingly, the love of God and reunion with Him. Our response to this growing challenge must be a mighty upsurge of effective teaching, imparting the divine fire which Baha'u'llah has kindled in our hearts until a conflagration arising from millions of souls on fire with His love shall at last testify that the Day for which the Chief Luminaries of our Faith so ardently prayed has at last dawned.

The Universal House of Justice

<p539>

322

Further Developments of the Situation in Iran

3 May 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

322.1 We have been instructed by the Universal House of Justice to announce the sorrowful news that since our last report of 11 March 1982, two more steadfast and devoted supporters of the Greatest Name in Iran, Mr Ihsanu'llah Khayyami of Urumiyyih and Mr 'Azizu'llah Gulshani of Mashhad, have joined the ranks of the martyrs of His Cause.+F620 After a few months of imprisonment and intense but unsuccessful pressure to recant his Faith, Mr Khayyami, a staunch believer of humble means, was executed on 12 April 1982. Mr Gulshani, a prominent Baha'i of Khurasan province who was imprisoned for many months, was executed on 29 April. The following developments are also shared with you.

[F620. For the last report, see the cable dated 9 March 1982 (no. 317), which was transmitted in a letter dated 11 March 1982.]

322.2 The friends in the village of Saysan, in one of the outlying districts of Tabriz, are under extreme pressure by a mulla of the neighbouring town of Bustanabad, and have been given a month to decide whether they will convert to Islam or face grave consequences. The members of the Baha'i community in this village, which consists of several generations of Baha'is, have remained steadfast and approached the religious authorities in Qum who have recommended to the Imam-Jum'ih of Tabriz that he intervene and try to relieve the Baha'is from such harassment.

322.3 All the Baha'is of Hisar in Khurasan have been forced to leave their homes and had to flee to Mashhad.

322.4 Although a few believers have been released from prison during the recent period of amnesty, many have been arrested and imprisoned, including nine active Baha'is in Qazvin and its surrounding areas, seven in Shiraz, five in Tihran, and seven in Zanjan.

322.5 The Universal House of Justice urges the friends throughout the world to continue their prayers for the Baha'is in Iran and to intensify their services in the path of the Blessed Beauty to compensate for the plight of our oppressed brethren in the Cradle of the Faith. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p540>

323

Six Martyrdoms, More Arrests Resulting from Fresh Outburst of Persecutions

10 May 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

323.1 AFTER BRIEF LULL AND RELEASE FEW BAHA'I PRISONERS, FRESH OUTBURST PERSECUTIONS AGAINST MEMBERS DEFENCELESS COMMUNITY IN CRADLE FAITH CLEARLY EVIDENT.

323.2 HEARTS GRIEVED ANNOUNCE THAT SINCE EARLY APRIL SIX STAUNCH BELIEVERS HAVE OFFERED THEIR LIVES ALTAR SACRIFICE. ALL MERCILESSLY EXECUTED SOLELY DUE THEIR ADHERENCE BELOVED FAITH, BUT OUTWARDLY ON BASIS TRUMPED-UP ACCUSATIONS.

323.3 THEIR NAMES ARE:

1. MR 'ASKAR MUHAMMADI OF RAHIMKHAN VILLAGE IN BUKAN, KURDISTAN, WHO WAS ASSASSINATED AT HIS HOME IN EARLY APRIL BY REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS AFTER INTRODUCING HIMSELF AS BAHA'I WHILE THEY WERE SEARCHING HOUSES THAT AREA FOR WEAPONS.

2. MR IHSANU'LLAH KHAYYAMI OF URUMIYYIH, WHO WAS EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD ON 12 APRIL AFTER INTENSE BUT UNSUCCESSFUL PRESSURE TO RECANT HIS FAITH.

3. MR 'AZIZU'LLAH GULSHANI OF MASHHAD, KHURASAN, WHO WAS HANGED ON 29 APRIL. COURT VERDICT CLEARLY BASED HIS AFFILIATION FAITH AND BAHA'I ACTIVITIES. NEWSPAPER KAYHAN REPORTS VERDICT COURT REFERS TO HIM AS A HERETIC, WHICH IS PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. THIS IMPORTANT DOCUMENT PROVES BAHA'IS ARE BEING KILLED BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION.

4. MR BADI'U'LLAH HAQQ-PAYKAR OF KARAJ NEAR TIHRAN, AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY, WHO WAS EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD ON 8 MAY.

5. AND 6. MR MAHMUD FARUHAR AND HIS WIFE ISHRAQIYYIH, HIGHLY QUALIFIED AND EDUCATED ACTIVE BELIEVERS, AND MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY, WHO WERE ALSO EXECUTED IN KARAJ ON 8 MAY.

323.4 FURTHER, MANY PROMINENT BAHA'IS, INCLUDING 23 MEMBERS LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES IN VARIOUS PARTS COUNTRY ARRESTED IN RECENT WEEKS. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p541>

324

Execution of Two Members of the Spiritual Assembly of Urumiyyih

11 May 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

324.1 FURTHER RECENT MESSAGE+F621 ON RECRUDESCENCE PERSECUTIONS IRAN, NEWS JUST RECEIVED TWO OTHER STAUNCH BELIEVERS MARTYRED BY FIRING SQUAD IN IRAN. THEY ARE: MR AGAHU'LLAH TIZFAHM AND MISS JALALIYYIH MUSHTA'IL-USKU'I. BOTH MEMBERS LOCAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY URUMIYYIH. ...

[F621. 10 May 1982.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

325

Appointment of new Counsellor in Asia

13 May 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

325.1 The Universal House of Justice announces with pleasure the appointment of Dr Sabir Afaqi to the Continental Board of Counsellors in Asia to replace Dr Masih Farhangi, who was martyred last year.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

326

Passing of Amoz Gibson, Member of the Universal House of Justice

15 May 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

326.1 WITH SORROWFUL HEARTS LAMENT LOSS OUR DEARLY LOVED BROTHER AMOZ GIBSON WHO PASSED AWAY AFTER PROLONGED HEROIC STRUGGLE FATAL ILLNESS.+F622 EXEMPLARY SELF-SACRIFICING PROMOTER FAITH ACHIEVED BRILLIANT UNBLEMISHED RECORD CONSTANT SERVICE FOUNDED ON ROCK-LIKE STAUNCHNESS AND <p542> DEEP INSATIABLE LOVE FOR TEACHING WORK PARTICULARLY AMONG INDIAN AND BLACK MINORITIES WESTERN HEMISPHERE AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AFRICA. HIS NOTABLE WORK ADMINISTRATIVE FIELDS NORTH AMERICA CROWNED FINAL NINETEEN YEARS INCALCULABLE CONTRIBUTION DEVELOPMENT WORLD CENTRE WORLD- EMBRACING FAITH. PRAYING SHRINES BOUNTIFUL REWARD HIS NOBLE SOUL THROUGHOUT PROGRESS ABHA KINGDOM. EXPRESS LOVING SYMPATHY VALIANT BELOVED WIDOW PARTNER HIS SERVICES AND BEREAVED CHILDREN ADVISE HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL GATHERINGS EVERYWHERE BAHA'I WORLD AND COMMEMORATIVE SERVICES ALL MASHRIQU'L-ADHKARS.

[F622. For an account of Amoz Gibson's life and services, see BW 18:665-69.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

327

Call for Ballots to Elect One Member of the Universal House of Justice

18 May 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

327.1 CALL UPON MEMBERS YOUR ASSEMBLY CAST THEIR BALLOTS FOR ELECTION ONE MEMBER UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE REPLACE AMOZ GIBSON. EXHORT ALL ELECTORS PONDER SACRED RESPONSIBILITY NOW RESTING THEIR SHOULDERS UPHOLD SCRUPULOUSLY PRAYERFULLY SANCTIFIED SPIRIT BAHA'I ELECTIONS. EACH MEMBER SHOULD RECORD VOTE FOR ONE MALE ADULT BELIEVER ON PIECE PLAIN PAPER ENCLOSE IT IN A SEALED UNMARKED ENVELOPE AND SEAL THAT IN ANOTHER ENVELOPE ON WHICH ELECTOR SHOULD WRITE OWN NAME AND NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY NAME AND IMMEDIATELY SEND TO NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OFFICE. AS SOON AS ALL NINE BALLOTS RECEIVED NATIONAL OFFICE SHOULD AIRMAIL THEM IN ONE PACKAGE WITH LIST BALLOTS ENCLOSED TO UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE NOTIFYING WORLD CENTRE OF DESPATCH AT ONCE BY CABLE. IF NOT ALL NINE RECEIVED AT NATIONAL OFFICE BY TWENTY-SECOND JUNE BALLOTS RECEIVED MUST BE SENT THAT DAY. LATE ARRIVALS SHOULD BE FORWARDED AS SOON AS RECEIVED CABLING WORLD CENTRE IN EACH CASE NUMBER BALLOTS DESPATCHED. RESULT WILL BE ANNOUNCED FIFTEENTH JULY. SUPPLICATING BAHA'U'LLAH GUIDE PROTECT YOU IN EXERCISE THIS DIVINELY CONFERRED RESPONSIBILITY.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p543>

328

Execution of two Members of the Khaniabad Spiritual Assembly

26 May 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

328.1 WITH UTMOST SADNESS ANNOUNCE EXECUTION ON 16 MAY TWO MORE VALIANT SOULS CRADLE FAITH SA'DU'LLAH BABAZADIH AND NASRU'LLAH AMINI, MEMBERS SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY KHANIABAD VILLAGE NEAR TIHRAN. DEATH SENTENCE HANDED DOWN OVER TWO MONTHS AGO, HOWEVER EXECUTION POSTPONED WHILE INTENSE PRESSURE BROUGHT TO BEAR UPON TWO CONDEMNED BAHA'IS RECANT FAITH OBTAIN FREEDOM. THESE TWO STEADFAST FRIENDS WHO PREFERRED MARTYRDOM TO DENIAL FAITH WERE BURIED UNCEREMONIOUSLY WITHOUT FAMILY FRIENDS BEING INFORMED. AFTER SEVEN DAYS RELATIVES FORTUITOUSLY DISCOVERED EXECUTION THEIR LOVED ONES.

328.2 ALTHOUGH FEW BAHA'I PRISONERS RELEASED, ARRESTS CONTINUE THROUGHOUT COUNTRY. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

329

Message to the International Conference in Dublin, Ireland -- 2 June 1982

2 June 1982

To the friends gathered at the International Conference in Dublin

Dearly loved friends,

329.1 "The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. ... Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly."+F623 The shattering blows dealt to the old, divisive system of the planet and the constantly accelerating decline in civilized life since that dire warning was uttered by Baha'u'llah a hundred years ago, have brought mankind to its present appalling condition. Consideration of how the Baha'is of Europe, confronted by this situation, can meet their responsibilities, spiritually and actively, is the main purpose of this Conference.

[F623. GWB, p. 118.]

329.2 The holding of this Conference in Dublin calls to mind the historic and heroic services of Ireland in spreading the divine religion throughout pagan Europe. Europe's response was to develop, through many vicissitudes, the most widespread and effective civilization known. That civilization, together with <p544> all other systems in the world, is now being rolled up, and Europe's plight in proportion to her former pre-eminence, is desperate indeed. By the same token her opportunity is correspondingly great. The challenges to her resilience, to her deep-seated spiritual vitality, nourished over the centuries by the Teachings of Christ -- now, alas, neglected and even contemned -- can and must call forth a more magnificent response than was ever made by the divided and contending peoples of olden times. Yours is the task to arouse that response. The power of Baha'u'llah is with you and this Day, as attested by the Bab, is "immensely exalted ... above the days of the Apostles of old."+F624

[F624. Quoted in DB, p. 93.]

329.3 In this great Day Europe is blessed as never before in its history, for the Manifestation of God, the Lord of Hosts, spent five years of His exiles within its borders, sending forth from His "remote prison" the first of those challenging, world-shaking addresses to the kings and rulers, six of whom were European potentates.+F625 There is no authenticated record of a Manifestation of God ever before setting foot in Europe.

[F625. Baha'u'llah was banished to Adrianople (now Edirne, Turkey), which He called the "remote prison" (see BP, p. 211, and Balyuzi, Baha'u'llah: The King of Glory, p. 217). The European potentates whom Baha'u'llah addressed were Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Napoleon III of France, Czar Alexander Il of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, and Pope Pius IX. The addresses are published in The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah. For an account of the revelation of these Tablets, see letter dated Ridvan 1965 (no. 24).]

329.4 You are engaged on a Seven Year Plan and have made devoted and sacrificial efforts to attain its objectives. But its ultimate purpose, as that of all other plans, namely the attracting of the masses of mankind to the all-embracing shelter of the Cause of God, still evades us. Particularly in Europe. We have not, as yet, found the secret of setting aglow the hearts of great numbers of Europeans with the divine fire. This must now be your constant preoccupation, the subject of your deliberations at this Conference, the purpose of your lives, to which you will attain "only if you arise to trample beneath your feet every earthly desire."+F626 We call upon every Baha'i in Europe to ponder this vital matter in his inmost soul, to consider what each may do to attract greater power to his efforts, to radiate more brilliantly and irresistibly the joyous, regenerating power of the Cause, so that the Baha'i community in every country of Europe may stand out as a beacon light repelling the dark shadows of godlessness and moral degradation now threatening to obliterate the last remnants of a dying order. We call upon the Continental Board of Counsellors to consult following this Conference with every National Spiritual Assembly in Europe, and together, launch such a campaign of spiritualization of the Baha'i community, allied with intensified personal teaching, as has never been witnessed in your continent. The goals of the Seven Year Plan can all be accomplished as the result of such a programme and the European Baha'i community <p545> may achieve through it the spiritual force and character to demonstrate to a stricken and declining civilization the peace and joy and order of the long-awaited, Christ- promised Kingdom of God on earth.

[F626. The Bab, quoted in DB, p. 93.]

329.5 May the loving spirit and saintly life of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the fiftieth anniversary of whose ascension is commemorated in this Conference, imbue your thoughts and aspirations and resolves with that dedicated, self-sacrificing, utter devotion to Baha'u'llah and His Cause which she so greatly exemplified.+F627

[F627. The Greatest Holy Leaf (Bahiyyih Khanum), the daughter of Baha'u'llah and sister of 'Abdu'l-Baha, was born in Iran in 1846 and died in Haifa at 1:00 a.m. on 15 July 1932.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

330

Comments on the Station of 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Language Used by the Central Figures

3 June 1982

To individual believers

Dear Baha'i friends,

330.1 The Universal House of Justice has asked us to acknowledge your letter of 28 April and to make the following comments concerning your three questions.

330.2 1. It was the express wish of Baha'u'llah that after Him the friends should "turn" to 'Abdu'l-Baha. Baha'u'llah also said in His Book of Laws that anything that was not clear in His Writings should be "referred" to His Most Mighty Branch springing from the Ancient Root. (See The World Order of Baha'u'llah, pages 134-35.) In one of the Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha published in Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha (page 214) He quotes the passages mentioned above and interprets them to mean that "whatever He ['Abdu'l-Baha] saith is the very truth." 'Abdu'l-Baha further says, referring to those who do not accept Him as the Interpreter of the Word of God, "Whoso deviates from my interpretation is a victim of his own fancy" (The World Order of Baha'u'llah, page 138). Moreover, in the Star of the West, Volume 12, page 227, 'Abdu'l-Baha interprets the verses from the "Tablet of the Branch" to mean "whatsoever His ['Abdu'l-Baha's] pen records, that is correct."

330.3 2. There is nothing in the Writings that would lead us to the conclusion that what Shoghi Effendi says about himself concerning statements on <p546> subjects not directly related to the Faith also applies to 'Abdu'l- Baha.+F628 Instead we have assertions which indicate that 'Abdu'l- Baha's position in the Faith is one for which we find "no parallel" in past Dispensations.+F629 For example, Baha'u'llah, in addition to His reference to the Centre of His Covenant as the "Mystery of God," states that 'Abdu'l-Baha should be regarded as God's "exalted Handiwork" and "a Word which God hath adorned with the ornament of His Own Self, and made it sovereign over the earth and all that there is therein."+F630 And from Shoghi Effendi we have the incontrovertible statement that the Guardian of the Faith while "overshadowed" by the "protection" of Baha'u'llah and of the Bab, "remains essentially human," whereas in respect of 'Abdu'l-Baha Shoghi Effendi categorically states that "in the person of 'Abdu'l-Baha the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized."+F631

[F631. WOB, pp. 151, 134.]

[F630. Quoted in WOB, pp. 134, 135.]

[F629. WOB, p. 143.]

[F628. The following extract from a letter dated 17 October 1944 on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer is a clarification of the Guardian's infallibility: "The infallibility of the Guardian is confined to matters which are related strictly to the Cause and interpretation of the teachings; he is not an infallible authority on other subjects, such as economics, science, etc. When he feels that a certain thing is essential for the protection of the Cause, even if it is something that affects a person personally, he must be obeyed, but when he gives advice, such as that he gave you in a previous letter about your future, it is not binding; you are free to follow it or not as you please."]

330.4 3. With reference to your question about the "ether," the various definitions of this word as given in the Oxford English Dictionary all refer to a physical reality, for instance, "an element," "a substance," "a medium," all of which imply a physical and objective reality and, as you say, this was the concept posited by nineteenth century scientists to explain the propagation of light waves. It would have been understood in this sense by the audiences whom 'Abdu'l-Baha was addressing. However, in Chapter XVI of Some Answered Questions, 'Abdu'l-Baha devotes a whole chapter to explaining the difference between things which are "perceptible to the senses" which He calls "objective or sensible," and realities of the "intellect" which have "no outward form and no place," and are "not perceptible to the senses." He gives examples of both "kinds" of "human knowledge." The first kind is obvious and does not need elaboration. To illustrate the second kind the examples He gives are: love, grief, happiness, the power of the intellect, the human spirit and "ethereal matter." (In the original Persian the word "ethereal" is the same as "etheric".) He states clearly that "Even ethereal matter, the forces of which are said in physics to be heat, light, electricity and magnetism, <p547> is an intellectual reality, and is not sensible." In other words, the "ether" is a concept arrived at intellectually to explain certain phenomena. In due course, when scientists failed to confirm the physical existence of the "ether" by delicate experiments, they constructed other intellectual concepts to explain the same phenomena.

330.5 In considering the whole field of divinely conferred "infallibility" one must be careful to avoid the literal understanding and petty-mindedness that has so often characterized discussions of this matter in the Christian world. The Manifestation of God (and, to a lesser degree, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi) has to convey tremendous concepts covering the whole field of human life and activity to people whose present knowledge and degree of understanding are far below His. He must use the limited medium of human language against the limited and often erroneous background of His audience's traditional knowledge and current understanding to raise them to a wholly new level of awareness and behaviour. It is a human tendency, against which the Manifestation warns us, to measure His statements against the inaccurate standard of the acquired knowledge of mankind. We tend to take them and place them within one or other of the existing categories of human philosophy or science while, in reality, they transcend these and will, if properly understood, open new and vast horizons to our understanding.

330.6 Some sayings of the Manifestation are clear and obvious. Among these are laws of behaviour. Others are elucidations which lead men from their present level of understanding to a new one. Others are pregnant allusions, the significance of which only becomes apparent as the knowledge and understanding of the reader grow. And all are integral parts of one great Revelation intended to raise mankind to a new level of its evolution.

330.7 It may well be that we shall find some statement is couched in terms familiar to the audience to which it was first addressed, but is strange now to us. For example, in answer to a question about Baha'u'llah's reference to the "fourth heaven" in the Kitab-i- Iqan,+F632 the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

[F632. KI, p. 89.]

330.7a As to the ascent of Christ to the fourth heaven, as revealed in the glorious "Book of Iqan," he [the Guardian] stated that the "fourth heaven" is a term used and a belief held by the early astronomers. The followers of the Shi'ih sect likewise held this belief. As the Kitab-i-Iqan was revealed for the guidance of that sect, this term was used in conformity with the concepts of its followers.

(Translated from the Arabic)+F633

[F633. From an unpublished letter.]

<p548>

330.7b In studying such statements, however, we must have the humility to appreciate the limitations of our own knowledge and outlook, and strive always to understand the purpose of Baha'u'llah in making them, trying to look upon Him with His own eyes, as it were.

330.8 It is hoped that the above explanations will prove useful to you in your study of the subjects in which you have expressed interest.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

331

Martyrdom of Four Baha'is in Qazvin and Surrounding Areas

12 July 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

331.1 WITH GREAT SORROW INDIGNATION ANNOUNCE FURTHER MARTYRDOMS FOUR MORE VALIANT DEVOTED SERVANTS BAHA'U'LLAH, ALL PROMINENT BAHA'IS IN QAZVIN AND SURROUNDING AREAS.+F634

[F634. The executions took place on Friday, 9 July 1982.]

MUHAMMAD MANSURI

JADIDU'LLAH ASHRAF

MUHAMMAD 'ABBASI

MANUCHIHR FARZANIH-MU'AYYAD

331.2 PRESSURES AGAINST BAHA'IS IRAN MOUNTING, THEIR SCOPE WIDENING,

ENGULFING BAHA'IS ALL WALKS OF LIFE. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

332

Election of Glenford Mitchell to the Universal House of Justice

15 July 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

332.1 WARMLY WELCOME NEWLY ELECTED MEMBER HOUSE JUSTICE GLENFORD

MITCHELL.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p549>

333

Guidelines Concerning the Registration of Children and Youth

19 July 1982

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

Dear Baha'i friends,

333.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 3 June 1982 mentioning some of the misunderstandings which still exist concerning the registration of Baha'i children and youth, and it has instructed us to send you the following clarifications.

333.2 The beloved Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to your National Spiritual Assembly on 17 June 1954:

333.2a Although the children of Baha'i parents are considered to be Baha'is, there is no objection at the present time, for purposes of keeping a correct census, and also ascertaining whether the young people are, sincerely, believers, and willing to do their share in service to the Faith, to asking them to make a declaration of their intention, at the age of fifteen or so. Originally the Guardian understands this was adopted in America to enable young Baha'i men to make certain arrangements in connection with their application for non-combatant status, upon their attaining the age of military service. There is really nothing about it in the Teachings or in the Administration. Your Assembly is free to do as it pleases in this matter.

333.2b He has also written that in deciding who is to be regarded as a believer, Assemblies must refrain as far as possible from drawing rigidly the line of demarcation.

333.3 At the present time, with so many more young people entering the Faith, and with such a great increase in mobility from country to country, the House of Justice feels that it is necessary to establish certain guidelines which will apply to all National Spiritual Assemblies in this delicate issue, while matters of procedure are left to each National Assembly to decide according to the conditions in its own area of jurisdiction. In the current phase of the Seven Year Plan, for example, the House of Justice has called on Assemblies to keep registers of the birth of Baha'i children, and great stress is being laid on the Baha'i education of children and on the activities of Baha'i youth.

333.4 In letters replying to questions on the registration of children and youth the Universal House of Justice has attempted to avoid laying down rulings that are universally applicable. However, for the assistance of National Spiritual Assemblies it is now providing the following summary of guidelines and <p550> elucidations that have been given. We are to emphasize that no hard and fast lines should be drawn, and procedural matters must never be allowed to eclipse the spiritual reality of belief, which is an intensely personal relationship between the soul and its Creator.

Baha'i Children

333.5 Unlike the children of some other religions, Baha'i children do not automatically inherit the Faith of their parents. However, the parents are responsible for the upbringing and spiritual welfare of their children, and Spiritual Assemblies have the duty to assist parents, if necessary, in fulfilling these obligations, so that the children will be reared in the light of the Revelation of Baha'u'llah and from their earliest years will learn to love God and His Manifestations and to walk in the way of God's Law. It is natural, therefore, to regard the children of Baha'is as Baha'is unless there is a reason to conclude the contrary. It is quite wrong to think of Baha'i children as existing in some sort of spiritual limbo until the age of fifteen at which point they can "become" Baha'is. In the light of this one can conclude the following:

333.6 Children born to a Baha'i couple are regarded as Baha'is from the beginning of their lives, and their births should be registered by the Spiritual Assembly.

333.7 The birth of a child to a couple, one of whom is a Baha'i, should also be registered unless the non-Baha'i parent objects.

333.8 A Spiritual Assembly may accept the declaration of faith of a child of non-Baha'i parents, and register him as a Baha'i child, provided the parents give their consent.

333.9 In the cases of children whose parents become Baha'is, much depends upon the ages and reactions of the children concerned. They will require great love and understanding, and each case must be judged on its own merits. This applies to an added degree, of course, if only one of the parents has accepted the Faith, in which case the attitude of the other parent is an important factor; the aim of the Baha'is should be to foster family unity. The important thing is that the children, whether registered as Baha'is or not, should be made to feel welcome at Baha'i children's classes and other community gatherings.

333.10 It is within a Spiritual Assembly's discretion to request Baha'i children to undertake work of which they are capable in service to the Faith, such as service on suitable committees.

Baha'i Youth

333.11 Fifteen is the age at which a child attains spiritual maturity, and thus it is at the age of fifteen that a Baha'i child assumes the responsibility for obeying such laws as those of fasting and prayer, and for affirming of his own volition his faith in Baha'u'llah.

333.12 At the present time the Universal House of Justice prefers to leave it to each National Spiritual Assembly to decide what method is to be followed in ascertaining the attitude of Baha'i children when they reach fifteen, provided that <p551> it is clear that a Baha'i child is not becoming a Baha'i at that age, but is simply affirming his faith on his own behalf. One Spiritual Assembly, for example, sends a very kind letter to each Baha'i child in its community on the occasion of his fifteenth birthday (unless, of course, it has reason to doubt that the child in question is a Baha'i), explaining the meaning of attaining the age of maturity, and extending the good wishes of the Assembly for his future services to the Cause. This does not require an active response from every child but does provide each with an opportunity to make his position clear if desired. In whatever procedure it adopts a National Spiritual Assembly must wisely steer a course between seeming to doubt the faith of a child who has been brought up as a devout Baha'i on the one hand, and seeming to compel a child to be a member of the Baha'i community against his will, on the other.

333.13 If the Assembly ascertains from a youth that he does not, in fact, accept the Faith, even if he has been brought up in a Baha'i family, it should not register him as a Baha'i youth, and such a youth, since he is now mature and responsible for his own actions, would be in the same situation as any other non-Baha'i youth who is in close contact with the Baha'i community. He should be treated with warmth and friendship.

333.14 It may happen that a Baha'i child, on reaching the age of fifteen is not entirely sure in his own mind. This can well happen if one of the parents is not a Baha'i or if the parents have accepted the Faith not long before. In such a case the Assembly should not assume automatically that he is not a Baha'i. If the youth wishes to attend Feasts and is content to continue to be regarded as a Baha'i as he was when a child, this should be permitted, but in the process of deepening his understanding of the Faith his parents and the Assembly should explain to him that it is his responsibility to soon make his position clear.

333.15 Declarations of faith from non-Baha'i youth between the ages of 15 and 21, whose parents are not Baha'is, may be accepted without the consent of their parents unless this is contrary to the civil law. However, the importance of respect for one's parents must not be forgotten, and such youth may need to be counselled to give heed to their parents' wishes as far as the degree of their activity on behalf of the Faith is concerned, and even, if the parents are very antagonistic, to be completely inactive for a time.

Administrative Maturity

333.16 It is stated in the Constitution of a National Spiritual Assembly that upon attaining the age of 21 years a Baha'i is eligible to vote and to hold elective office.+F635 Some National Spiritual Assemblies in the past, and indeed a few at <p552> the present time, have required a specific action on the part of a Baha'i youth to claim his voting rights on attaining the age of 21. The House of Justice does not wish to make a general ruling on this point, since in some circumstances this may be a necessary protection to the Faith. It does, however, discourage National Assemblies from making such a requirement unless they deem it essential.

[F635. See Declaration of Trust and By-Laws of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, p. 14. For a model Declaration of Trust and By-Laws upon which the constitution of every National Spiritual Assembly is based, see Baha'i World Volumes 14, 15, 16, 17, or 18, under "The Institution of the National Spiritual Assembly", within the part titled "The World Order of Baha'u'llah".]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

334

Commemoration at The World Centre of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf and Inauguration of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice

26 July 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

334.1 We have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to share with you news of the observances at the World Centre which marked the Fiftieth Anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf.

334.2 Before gathering around her monument for prayers, at the hour coincident with that of her passing, the friends at the World Centre visited the Holy Shrines at midnight for recitation of the Tablets of Visitation. This observance was followed by an all-day seminar, on Saturday, 17 July, held in the main Hall on the ground floor of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice.+F636

[F636. The monument to the Greatest Holy Leaf (Bahiyyih Khanum) is located in the Monument Gardens near the Shrine of the Bab. For a full account of the commemoration held at midnight on 14 July 1982, see BW 18:53-54; for the Tablets of Visitation said at the Shrines of the Bab and 'Abdu'l-Baha, see BP, pp. 230-35; for excerpts from the address given by the member of the Universal House of Justice Mr 'Ali Nakhjavani at the all-day seminar, see BW 18:59-66. For the address on the life and services of the Greatest Holy Leaf given by Dr Bahiyyih Nakhjavani at the Montreal Conference in September 1982, see BW 18:68-73.]

334.3 It was a source of deep satisfaction to the Universal House of Justice that the first gathering of the friends in this beautiful setting should have been such a meeting, dedicated to the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose resting-place is embosomed in the heart of that consecrated spot enfolded by the "far-flung arc" on which now already stand two of those structures constituting the World Administrative Centre of the Faith.+F637

[F637. For a discussion of the Arc, see the Glossary.]

<p553>

334.4 This highly befitting inauguration of the use of the building, held in the presence of the three Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land,+F638 is a prelude to the fast-approaching day when the Universal House of Justice and its several Departments will occupy this majestic structure.

[F638. Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, 'Ali-Akbar Furutan, and Paul Haney.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

335

Execution of 'Abbas-'Ali Sadiqipur in Shiraz

2 August 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

335.1 SADDENED REPORT YET ANOTHER STALWART SUPPORTER GREATEST NAME IRAN 'ABBAS-'ALI SADIQIPUR EXECUTED 15 JULY SHIRAZ. CHARGES PUBLISHED LEADING NEWSPAPER IRAN WERE BASED HIS CONNECTION FAITH, INCLUDING BEING ACTIVE BAHA'I. SUCH CHARGES SIMILAR THOSE RESULTING EXECUTION OTHER PROMINENT BAHA'IS CONFIRM EVIL INTENTIONS AGAINST FRIENDS CRADLE FAITH. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

336

Elucidation of the Principle of Confidentiality

2 August 1982

To a National Spiritual Assembly

Dear Baha'i friends,

336.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 17 June 1982 and has instructed us to send you the following reply.

336.2 The House of Justice is very sorry to learn that the problems which you instance have become a threat to the unity of your Assembly, and it hopes and prays that this difficulty will quickly be overcome. It feels that there are a number of distinct but related principles which are involved in the situations you describe, and that the issues will become clearer if they are considered separately.

336.3 Every institution in the Faith has certain matters which it considers should be kept confidential, and any member who is privy to such confidential information is obliged to preserve the confidentiality within the institution where <p554> he learned it. Such matters, however, are but a small portion of the business of any Baha'i institution. Most subjects dealt with are of common interest and can be discussed openly with anyone. Where no confidentiality is involved the institutions must strive to avoid the stifling atmosphere of secrecy; on the other hand, every believer must know that he can confide a personal problem to an institution of the Faith, with the assurance that knowledge of the matter will remain confidential.

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

336.5 In the relationship between assistants and the National Spiritual Assembly no problems should arise, because the functions are entirely separate. An assistant is appointed by an Auxiliary Board member to help him in a specified area of the territory and he functions as an assistant only in relation to that area. Assistants, like Auxiliary Board members, function individually, not as a consultative body. Assistants who are members of a National Assembly or a national committee do not function as assistants in relation to that body, and they have the same duty to observe the confidentiality of its consultations, and of matters considered by the Assembly to be confidential, as does any other member. An assistant can, of course, be a member of a Local Spiritual Assembly, but his task here as an assistant is to help the Spiritual Assembly to function harmoniously and efficiently in the discharge of its duties and this will hardly succeed if he gives the Assembly the feeling that he is reporting privately everything it does to the Auxiliary Board member. He should, on the contrary, do all he can to foster an atmosphere of warm and loving collaboration between the Local Assembly and the Board member.

336.6 In answer to your fourth question the House of Justice instructs us to say that an element of judgement is required in deciding what are and what are not "administrative" matters. Immoral actions of believers, for example, generally become subjects for administrative action only when they are blatant or flagrant, and reflect on the good name of the Faith. If a believer turns to an assistant or Auxiliary Board member for advice on a personal matter it is for the assistant or Auxiliary Board member to decide whether he should advise the believer to turn to his Spiritual Assembly, whether he should himself give advice and, in either case, whether he should report the matter to the Counsellors, or to the Local Assembly, which, of course, would depend upon the degree of confidentiality he had undertaken to observe. Likewise, it is for the Counsellor to decide whether it is a matter of which the National Assembly <p555> should be informed. All this is, of course, within the general context that, apart from matters which ought to remain confidential, the more freely information is shared between the institutions of the Faith the better.

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

336.8 The House of Justice does not wish to elaborate these comments beyond the above, and believes that your Assembly will be able to answer the questions that you pose in the light of these principles. The House of Justice will pray in the Holy Shrines for speedy strengthening of the unity of your Assembly and for the growth of closer collaboration between your body and the Board of Counsellors.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

337

Message to the International Conference in Quito, Ecuador -- 6-8 August 1982

6 August 1982

To the followers of Baha'u'llah gathered at the International Conference in Quito, Ecuador

Beloved friends,

337.1 We hail with joyous hearts and eager anticipation the soldiers of Baha'u'llah's army of light gathered together in Quito, the capital city of the Republic of Ecuador, to do honour and homage to the blessed memory of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, the most outstanding heroine of the Baha'i Dispensation, the fiftieth anniversary of whose ascension was so recently commemorated throughout the world.+F639

[F639. The Greatest Holy Leaf, the daughter of Baha'u'llah, was born in Iran in 1846 and died in Haifa at 1:00 a.m. on 15 July 1932.]

337.2 Conscious of the beloved Master's plea to promulgate the oneness of mankind to a spiritually impoverished humanity, inspired by the memory of the Hand of the Cause Dr Rahmatu'llah Muhajir whose mortal remains are <p556> interred in the soil of Quito, and deriving spiritual stimulus from the Mother Temple for Latin America,+F640 the friends are reminded of the galvanizing words of our beloved Guardian addressed to "the eager, the warm-hearted, the spiritually minded and staunch members of these Latin American Baha'i communities": "Let them ponder the honour which the Author of the Revelation Himself has chosen to confer upon their countries, the obligations which that honour automatically brings in its wake, the opportunities it offers, the power it releases for the removal of all obstacles, however formidable, which may be encountered in their path, and the promise of guidance it implies ..."+F641

[F641. CF, p. 19.]

[F640. Dr Muhajir died in Quito in October 1979. The Mother Temple of Latin America is outside of Panama City, Panama.]

337.3 Praiseworthy indeed are the achievements thus far made by the communities of South and Central America and the islands of the Caribbean in the first half of the Seven Year Plan. Full advantage should be taken of the current high tide of proclamation engendered by the crisis in Iran to attract to the Cause of Baha'u'llah earnest and seeking souls from every stratum of society, thereby enriching the spiritual and material diversity of our communities. Great effort should be made to utilize more fully the valuable possibilities of radio and television as a means of reaching the vast multitudes whose hearts and minds offer fertile soil for the planting of the seeds of the Faith. All elements of the Baha'i community, particularly the women and youth, should arise as one soul to shoulder the responsibilities laid upon them. All outstanding goals of the Seven Year Plan should be pursued with enthusiasm and assurance of their accomplishment.

337.4 All National Spiritual Assemblies during the remaining fast-fleeting years of this radiant century, in collaboration with the Institutions of the Faith standing ready and eager to assist them, must greatly reinforce the foundations of maturing National and Local Spiritual Assemblies to enable them to cope successfully with the multifarious and challenging problems that will confront them.

337.5 At a moment in Baha'i history when the persecuted, beleaguered friends in the Cradle of the Faith heroically continue to face the trials ordained for them in the Major Plan of God, meeting martyrdom, as need be, with joyous acceptance, it behoves the friends throughout the Baha'i world to endeavour by their own greatly increased acts of self-abnegation to make fruitful the spiritual energies released by the sacrifices of their stricken brethren.

337.6 May you all immerse yourselves in the spirit of the saintly life of the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose self-sacrificing devotion to her beloved Father's Cause is a worthy example for every believer to emulate.

The Universal House of Justice

<p557>

338

Message to the International Conference in Lagos, Nigeria -- 19-22 August 1982

19 August 1982

To the friends gathered at the Baha'i International Conference at Lagos

Dearly loved friends,

338.1 With hearts overflowing with love for the people of Africa, so richly endowed with the gifts of the spirit, so abundantly and repeatedly blessed since the dawn of this Revelation, and so gloriously promising in the unfoldment of their hidden potentialities, we welcome the friends gathered at this Conference held in one of the most important capitals of their emergent continent.

338.2 As we review the annals of our Faith we see that since the days of the Blessed Beauty and up to the early 1950s, the activities of the friends in Africa had produced the formation of one National Spiritual Assembly with its seat in Cairo, Egypt, the opening of 12 countries to the light of the Faith, and some 50 localities established throughout its vast lands. It was at such a time that the beloved Guardian ushered in the first African Teaching Plan, to be followed during the remaining years of his ministry and in subsequent years after his passing, by a series of challenging and bravely executed plans designed to implant the banner of the Faith throughout the length and breadth of that continent and its neighbouring islands. Today, after the lapse of a little over three decades, we stand in awe as we view with admiration one of the most valiant contingents of the Army of Light, guided by its own Board of Counsellors, led and administered by

37 National Spiritual Assemblies and 4990 Local Spiritual Assemblies, privileged to serve an eager and radiant community of believers drawn from 1152 African tribes residing in 29,000 localities.

338.3 How wonderful that it has been possible to convene this Conference on African soil with such a large number of African friends in attendance, in loving memory of the most distinguished heroine of the Baha'i Dispensation, the eldest daughter of the King of Glory, who lived a long life of sacrificial service to the Cause of her Beloved Father. Her meekness, her unassuming nature, the purity of her soul, the sensitivity of her heart, the calmness of her demeanour, her patience and long-suffering in trials, and above all, her unshakeable faith, her tenderness and love, and the spirit of self-renunciation which she evinced throughout her blessed life, are outstanding characteristics that we can well emulate, particularly in Africa, where these heavenly qualities play such an important part in attracting the souls and winning the hearts to the Cause of Baha'u'llah.

338.3 We rejoice in the knowledge that some communities have already initiated in her name teaching and consolidation campaigns of far-reaching magnitude; <p558> that many Baha'i women, inspired by her example, are accepting an ever-greater share of responsibility in running the affairs of the community; and that numerous newsletters are reflecting eulogies of the station she occupied, the sufferings she endured, and the heroism she demonstrated in her love for the glorious Cause of her Lord.

338.5 The fortunes of the Seven Year Plan in Africa are in the balance. As we draw near to the midway point in the unfoldment of the processes it has set in motion, we call upon its valiant promoters on the African mainland and its surrounding islands, to take stock of their position, to reappraise their progress, and to concentrate their resources on whatever portions of the goals are as yet unachieved. Chief among its objectives are a widespread recruitment of many more supporters of the Most Great Name, the deepening of the individual believers, for the fulfilment of all goals ultimately depends upon them, and a notable increase in the number of newly formed as well as firmly rooted Local Spiritual Assemblies, to serve as bases for the manifold activities of the community, including the Baha'i education of children, a greater participation of women and youth in Baha'i activities, and the formulation of ways and means to enrich the spiritual lives of the "noble" and "pure-hearted" believers of a "FAST-AWAKENING CONTINENT."+F642

[F642. Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 11 May 1954 to the Uganda Teaching Committee; Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 5 January 1953 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States; UD, p. 290; MBW, p. 93.]

338.6 May the participants in this Conference carry to the mass of their devoted fellow believers, whose personal circumstances have made it impossible for them to attend, the spirit of joy and optimism which we hope will be generated at this gathering and the flames of enthusiasm which we pray will be enkindled in their hearts.

338.7 May the memory of the Greatest Holy Leaf, who through her life of heroic self- sacrifice has left to us "a legacy that time can never dim," inspire the friends in every country of the continent to rededicate themselves to the Cause of God, not to allow any opportunity for mentioning the Faith to slip by un-utilized, and not to permit one day of their lives to pass without a noble effort to draw nearer to the good pleasure of the Blessed Beauty.+F643

[F643. BA, p. 187. For more information on the Greatest Holy Leaf, see the entry on Bahiyyih Khanum in the Glossary.]

338.8 Our fervent prayers surround you as you proceed with your deliberations.

The Universal House of Justice

<p559>

339

Execution of 'Ali Na'imiyan in Urumiyyih

30 August 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

339.1 WITH SORROWFUL HEARTS ANNOUNCE EXECUTION ON 11 AUGUST IN URUMIYYIH ACTIVE BAHA'I 'ALI NA'IMIYAN AFTER BEING IMPRISONED ONE YEAR.

339.2 PRESSURES INTENSIFYING AGAINST BELIEVERS IRAN. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

340

Message to the International Conference in Montreal, Canada -- 3-5 September 1982

2 September 1982

To the friends gathered at the Baha'i International Conference in Montreal

Dearly loved friends,

340.1 Seventy years ago 'Abdu'l-Baha visited Montreal,+F644 hallowing it forever. The visit of the beloved Master to America, the laying by Him of the cornerstone of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the West and the revelation by Him five years later of the Tablets of the Divine Plan, which invest its chief executors and their allies with spiritual primacy, constitute successive stages in the gradual disclosure of a mission whose seeds can be found in the Bab's address to the people of the West, urging them to aid God's Holy Cause.+F645 This mission was given specific direction through Baha'u'llah's summons to the rulers of America, calling on them to heal the injuries of the oppressed and, with the "rod of the commandments" of their Lord, to bring their corrective influence to bear upon the injustices perpetrated by the tyrannical and the ungodly. 'Abdu'l-Baha revealed in clearer details than those given by either the Bab or Baha'u'llah the nature and scope of that glorious mission. In His eternal <p560> Tablets unveiling America's spiritual destiny the Master wrote, "The continent of America is, in the eyes of the one true God, the land wherein the splendours of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide and the free assemble. Therefore, every section thereof is blessed ..." and, referring to Canada, He asserted that its future "is very great, and the events connected with it infinitely glorious." Even more specifically, He expressed the "hope that in the future Montreal may become so stirred, that the melody of the Kingdom may travel to all parts of the world from that Dominion and the breaths of the Holy Spirit may spread from that centre to the East and the West of America."+F646

[F646. KA P88; TDP 9.3, 13.2, 13.4. For a fuller account of Baha'u'llah's summons to the kings and rulers of the world, see messages dated Ridvan 1965 (no. 24), Ridvan 1967 (no. 42), and October 1967 (no. 46).]

[F645. 'Abdu'l-Baha visited North America from 11 April through 5 December 1912. On 1 May 1912 He laid the cornerstone of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. He revealed the Tablets of the Divine Plan between 26 March 1916 and 8 March 1917 after returning to the Holy Land. Shoghi Effendi writes that the mandate 'Abdu'l- Baha gave to the Baha'is of North America in the Tablets of the Divine Plan "may be said to have in a sense originated with the mandate issued by the Bab in his 'Qayyumu'l- Asma,' [Commentary on the Surih of Joseph] one of His earliest and greatest works, ... directed specifically to the 'peoples of the West' to 'issue forth' from their 'cities' and aid His Cause" (MA, p. 90).]

[F644. 30 August -- 8 September 1912.]

340.2 After the passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha and under the guidance of the Guardian the Baha'is of the world witnessed with awe and admiration the North American community arising as one man to champion the Administrative Order taking shape on their own soil, to embark upon the first collective teaching plan in the annals of the Faith, to lead the entire Baha'i world in intercontinental teaching campaigns, to demonstrate with devotion their exemplary firmness in the Covenant, to extend their support and protection and relief to the oppressed followers of Baha'u'llah throughout the East and particularly in His native land, and to send forth valiant pioneers and travelling teachers to every continent of the globe. These marvellous and noble exertions, calling for the expenditure of resources almost beyond their means, paved the way for the achievement of glorious victories which synchronized with a series of world convulsions, signs of universal commotion and travail, and with repeated crises within the Faith.+F647 And in this day, while the blood of the martyrs of Persia is once again watering the roots of the Cause of God and when the international outlook is impenetrably and ominously dark, the Baha'is of North America are in the van of the embattled legions of the Cause.

[F647. Foremost among the victories won by the North American Baha'is during the first and second Seven Year Plans (1937-44 and 1946-53) was the establishment of the Administrative Order in Central and South America and Europe. The North American Baha'is have also played a major role in establishing the Administrative Order in Africa, Asia, and Australasia. The series of world convulsions with which the Plans synchronized included World War II, the outbreak of which threatened the security of the World Centre itself. The German Baha'is faced grave danger throughout the Nazi period; their activities as a community were banned, and some of their members were killed. Instances of crises within the Faith were those instigated by the relatives of Shoghi Effendi who rebelled against his authority as Guardian of the Cause of God and were ultimately expelled from the Faith as Covenant-breakers. Also troublesome during the 1930s and 1940s were the activities of a former secretary to 'Abdu'l-Baha, Ahmad Sohrab, who also violated the provisions of Baha'u'llah's Covenant and was expelled from the Faith by Shoghi Effendi.]

340.3 Less than a score of years remain until the end of this century which the Master called "the century of light," and He clearly foresaw that ere its termination <p561> an advanced stage would have been reached in the striving towards the political, racial, and religious unity of the peoples of the world, unfolding new horizons in scientific accomplishments, universal undertakings and world solidarity.+F648 The calls of the Master and the Guardian plainly summon the Baha'is of the Americas to prodigies of proclamation, of teaching and of service. The American melting pot of peoples needs the unifying power of the new Faith of God to achieve its fusion. The representative character of the Baha'i community should therefore be reinforced through the attraction, conversion and support of an ever-growing number of new believers from the diverse elements constituting the population of that vast mainland and particularly from among Indians and Eskimos about whose future the Master wrote in such glowing terms.+F649 In the glorious freedom which enables you to proclaim, to teach and confirm, to educate and deepen yourselves and others in the verities of the Faith, you have precious opportunities of service denied to many of your fellow believers elsewhere. If your blessed communities are to lead the world spiritually, as the Master envisaged,+F650 then the Faith must strike deeper roots in your hearts, the spirit of its teachings must be exemplified in ever greater measure in your lives, and God's Holy Cause must be taught and proclaimed with ever greater intensity. In His immortal Tablets addressed to the Baha'is of North America 'Abdu'l-Baha assures each one of you that "whosoever arises in this day to diffuse the divine fragrances, the cohorts of the Kingdom of God shall confirm him ..."+F651

[F651. TDP 7.7.]

[F650. See WOB, pp. 75-76.]

[F649. See TDP 6.8.]

[F648. SWAB, p. 32.]

340.4 You are met in this Conference to review the progress of the Seven Year Plan, to be confirmed, galvanized and sent into action. It is not enough for the North American believers to stand at the forefront of the Baha'i world; the scope of their exertions must be steadily widened. In the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, "The range of your future achievements still remains undisclosed. I fervently hope that in the near future the whole earth may be stirred and shaken by the results of your achievements." "Exert yourselves; your mission is unspeakably glorious. Should success crown your enterprise, America will assuredly evolve into a centre from which waves of spiritual power will emanate ..."+F652 The valiant countries of North America should in the second half of the Seven Year Plan ensure that an ever-swelling number of pioneers and travelling teachers will arise and travel to and settle in countries which need their support, however inhospitable the local conditions may be, ceaselessly endeavouring to contribute to the expansion of the teaching work and the strengthening of the foundations of the communities they are called upon <p562> to assist. They should, moreover, continue their defence of the downtrodden, open their doors to their Baha'i brethren who are seeking refuge in their lands, provide technological expertise to communities which need it, and supply an uninterrupted flow of resources to support the ever-increasing international projects of the Faith.

[F652. TDP 7.4, 11.11.]

340.5 In their respective home-fronts the Baha'is of North America should intensify the drive to attract the masses to God's Holy Cause, to provide the means for their integration into the work of the Faith, and should become standard-bearers of an embryonic Baha'i society which is destined to gradually emerge under the influence of the integrating and civilizing forces emanating from the Source of God's Revelation. Such noble objectives cannot be fully achieved unless and until local communities become those collective centres of unity ordained in our Writings, and every individual earnestly strives to support the structure and ensure the stability of the Administrative Edifice of the Faith.

340.6 How fitting that this Conference, and the one held for Baha'i children on a scale unprecedented in North America, should commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, whose love for the North American believers and whose admiration for their heroism were so deep and so sustained and whose natural fondness for children was so characteristic of Baha'u'llah.+F653 May each of you emulate her unswerving devotion and loyalty to the Covenant of God and her perseverance in the path of His love. We shall mark the first day of your Conference, together with the one being held concurrently in Canberra, with prayers at the Holy Shrines that all may "be assisted in ... service and, like unto brilliant stars, shine in these regions with the light of ... guidance."+F654

[F654. TDP 9.13.]

[F653. For the address given by Dr Bahiyyih Nakhjavani at the Montreal Conference on the life and services of the Greatest Holy Leaf, see BW 18:68-73.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p563>

341

Message to the International Conference in Canberra, Australia -- 2-5 September 1982

2 September 1982

To the friends gathered in the Asian-Australasian Baha'i Conference in Canberra

Dearly loved friends,

341.1 These are momentous times. The institutions of the old world order are crumbling and in disarray. Materialism, greed, corruption and conflict are infecting the social order with a grave malaise from which it is helpless to extricate itself. With every passing day it becomes more and more evident that no time must be lost in applying the remedy prescribed by Baha'u'llah, and it is to this task that Baha'is everywhere must bend their energies and commit their resources.

341.2 New conditions now present themselves, making it easier to accomplish our purpose. Galvanized by the fires of fierce opposition and nurtured by the blood of the martyrs, the forces of the Cause of Baha'u'llah are, at long last, emerging from obscurity. Never before in history has the Faith been the subject of such universal attention and comment. Eminent statesmen, parliamentarians, journalists, writers, educators, commentators, clergymen and other leaders of thought have raised their voices and set their pens to expressions of horror and revulsion at the persecutions of our brethren in Iran on the one hand, and to paeans of praise and admiration of the noble principles which motivate the followers of the Most Great Name on the other.

341.3 The five international conferences of the Seven Year Plan were called to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf,+F655 to discuss anew the present condition of the Faith in a turbulent world society, to examine the great opportunities for its future growth and development, and to focus attention on the unfulfilled goals of the Plan. We are certain that the contemplation of the gathered friends on the sterling qualities which distinguished the heroic life of the Greatest Holy Leaf will help them to persevere in their noble endeavours.

[F655. For information on the Greatest Holy Leaf, see the entry on Bahiyyih Khanum in the Glossary.]

341.4 This particular Conference is unique in many ways. The geographical area of concern spans over half the globe, including within its purview all the vast continent of Asia as well as the water hemisphere which comprises all of Australasia. Within the continent of Asia is the "cradle of the principal religions of mankind ... above whose horizons, in modern times, the suns of two <p564> independent Revelations ... have successively arisen ... on whose Western extremity the Qiblih of the Baha'i world has been definitely established ..."+F656 The first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Baha'i world was erected on this continent under the direction of 'Abdu'l-Baha, and now another is arising on the Indian subcontinent in the midst of the world's largest Baha'i community. In Australasia the Mother Temple of the Antipodes, dedicated to the Glory of God just two decades ago, looks out across the vast Pacific Ocean in whose "midmost heart" still another Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is being built on the mountain slope above Apia in the country of the first reigning monarch to embrace the Faith of Baha'u'llah.+F657

[F657. Construction of the first Baha'i House of Worship in 'Ishqabad, Russia, began in 1902 and was completed circa 1921. The House of Worship in India is near New Delhi; it was dedicated 23-27 December 1986. The House of Worship in Australasia, outside of Sydney in Ingleside, was dedicated on 16 September 1961. The extract from the Writings of Baha'u'llah about the "midmost heart" of the ocean is quoted by Shoghi Effendi in WOB, p. 108. The House of Worship in Apia is in Western Samoa, whose head of state, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, embraced the Baha'i Faith in 1968.]

[F656. MBW, p. 168.]

341.5 The population of Asia and Australasia is well over half the world population. The area includes Asiatic USSR and mainland China, accounting for more than one thousand million souls who are, for the most part, untouched by the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. Obviously present conditions in these areas call for the exercise of the utmost wisdom and circumspection. Yet this vast segment of humanity cannot be ignored.

341.6 Canberra, where you are now meeting, is at the southern pole of the spiritual axis referred to in the beloved Guardian's last message to the Baha'is of Australia as "extending from the Antipodes to the northern islands of the Pacific Ocean."+F658 Referring to the National Spiritual Assemblies at the northern and southern poles of that axis, Shoghi Effendi went on to say:

[F658. LFG, p. 138.]

341.6a A responsibility, at once weighty and inescapable, must rest on the communities which occupy so privileged a position in so vast and turbulent an area of the globe. However great the distance that separates them; however much they differ in race, language, custom, and religion; however active the political forces which tend to keep them apart and foster racial and political antagonisms, the close and continued association of these communities in their common, their peculiar and paramount task of raising up and of consolidating the embryonic World Order of Baha'u'llah in those regions of the globe, is a matter of vital and urgent importance, which should receive on the part of the elected representatives of their communities, a most earnest and prayerful consideration.+F659

[F659. LFG, pp. 138-39.]

<p565>

341.7 These guidelines, penned a quarter of a century ago, are as valid today as when they were written, and can be taken to heart by all Baha'i communities on either side of the axis.

341.8 We are approaching the midway point of the Seven Year Plan. As we review our accomplishments with respect to the goals of that Plan, it is essential that we fortify ourselves for the tasks ahead, and that we rededicate ourselves to that Cause for which our beloved martyrs rendered their last full measure of devotion. We can do no less!

341.9 We shall be with you in spirit during your important deliberations. Our prayers ascend at the Holy Threshold for the success of your Conference and the International Conference being held concurrently in Montreal. We shall ardently supplicate that the blessings and confirmations of Baha'u'llah will descend upon you and surround you wherever you go in service to His Faith.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

342

Comments on the First Danish Baha'i Women's Conference

20 September 1982

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Denmark

Dear Baha'i friends,

342.1 The Universal House of Justice was very pleased to receive your report of the first Danish Women's Seminar, submitted with your letter of 31 August 1982, and also a photograph of those attending.

342.2 Judging by the reactions of the participants, this seems to have been a very valuable experience for which there was a definite need. From the earliest days of the Faith women have played a prominent role, and especially in the West where in the beginning their influence predominated. It is the hope of the House of Justice that the Baha'i women of Denmark will exert a growing influence on the community, increasing its spirituality, forging stronger ties of unity, consolidating its administrative institutions and increasing the rate of its expansion throughout Danish society.

342.3 The House of Justice assures your Assembly of its prayers at the Sacred Threshold for the confirmation of your noble endeavours and for the blessings of Baha'u'llah to reinforce the efforts of every member of the Danish Baha'i community.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p566>

343

Guidelines for Behaviour of Children at Feast

14 October 1982

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada

Dear Baha'i friends,

343.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 14 September 1982 concerning the role of Local Spiritual Assemblies in guiding parents and children in standards of behaviour for children at community gatherings, such as Nineteen Day Feasts and Baha'i Holy Day observances.

343.2 Further to the letter we wrote on its behalf on 28 June 1977, the House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be. It is realized that some Baha'i observances are lengthy and it is difficult for very small children to remain quiet for so long. In such cases one or other of the parents may have to miss part of the meeting in order to care for the child. The Spiritual Assembly can also perhaps help the parents by providing for a children's observance, suited to their capacities, in a separate room during part of the community's observance. Attendance at the whole of the adult celebration thus becomes a sign of growing maturity and a distinction to be earned by good behaviour.

343.3 In any case, the House of Justice points out that parents are responsible for their children and should make them behave when they attend Baha'i meetings. If children persist in creating a disturbance they should be taken out of the meeting. This is not merely necessary to ensure the properly dignified conduct of Baha'i meetings but is an aspect of the training of children in courtesy, consideration for others, reverence, and obedience to their parents.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

344

Intensification of Oppression of Iranian Baha'is

18 November 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

344.1 CRUEL SYSTEMATIC OPPRESSION LONG-SUFFERING IRANIAN FRIENDS HAS REACHED NEW LEVEL INTENSITY. DWINDLING SOURCES THEIR LIVELIHOOD FURTHER SEVERELY CURTAILED. DISMISSAL FROM JOBS, CANCELLATION TRADE LICENSES, CONFISCATION PRIVATE PROPERTIES UNABATED. HOMELESS THOUSANDS THROWN <p567> ON MERCY RELATIVES FRIENDS. DOORS SCHOOLS CLOSED TO INCREASING NUMBER CHILDREN. FRESH BLOOD WANTONLY SPILLED AFTER LULL EXECUTIONS.

344.2 WITH HEAVY HEARTS ANNOUNCE HABIBU'LLAH AWJI, ENTHUSIASTIC ACTIVE BELIEVER, HANGED SHIRAZ 16 NOVEMBER. RECENT EVIDENCE CONFIRMS MARTYRDOM SOME TIME AGO OF TWO STEADFAST UPHOLDERS CAUSE: YADU'LLAH SIPIHRARFA' EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD TIHRAN, MANUCHIHR VAFA'I MURDERED IN HIS HOME TIHRAN BY UNKNOWN ASSAILANT WHO ATTACHED NOTE TO BODY GIVING AS REASON FOR DASTARDLY DEED INNOCENT VICTIM'S BAHA'I BELIEF. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

345

Execution of Dr Diya'u'llah Ahrari in Shiraz

23 November 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

345.1 HEARTS SORELY GRIEVED EXECUTION DOCTOR DIYA'U'LLAH AHRARI BY FIRING SQUAD SHIRAZ 21 NOVEMBER. TRAGEDY OCCURRING SO QUICKLY UPON HEELS RECENTLY ANNOUNCED HANGING HABIBU'LLAH AWJI AROUSES DEEP CONCERN FATE THREE OTHER FAITHFUL SOULS TOGETHER WITH WHOM THESE TWO WERE CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY RELIGIOUS COURT SHIRAZ LAST SEPTEMBER. JUDGE AT TRIAL OFFERED ALL FIVE 30 MINUTES TO RECANT AND BE FREE OR FACE DEATH SENTENCE. THEY INSTANTLY REAFFIRMED THEIR FAITH. FRESH MARTYRDOMS HIGHLIGHT INTENSITY PERSECUTIONS SHIRAZ WHERE WITHIN MONTHS 40 FRIENDS WERE ROUNDED UP AND IMPRISONED ADDING TO STILL OTHERS PREVIOUSLY ARRESTED. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

346

Passing of the Hand of the Cause of God Paul Haney

5 December 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

346.1 WITH STRICKEN HEARTS ANNOUNCE SUDDEN IRREPARABLE LOSS THROUGH AUTO-MOBILE ACCIDENT 3 DECEMBER HIGHLY DISTINGUISHED GREATLY PRIZED HAND CAUSE GOD STAUNCH DEFENDER COVENANT PAUL HANEY.+F660

[F660. For an account of the life and services of Paul Haney, see BW 18:613-18.]

346.2 THIS DISTINGUISHED SERVANT BAHA'U'LLAH WAS BLESSED CHILDHOOD THROUGH ATTAINMENT PRESENCE 'ABDU'L-BAHA. HIS NATURAL GENTLENESS, GENUINE HUMILITY, UNAFFECTED UNBOUNDED LOVE, HIS UPRIGHTNESS, INTEGRITY <p568> HIS SINGLE-MINDED DEVOTION CAUSE SINCE YOUTHFUL YEARS, HIS UNFAILING RELIABILITY, METICULOUS ATTENTION DETAIL, CHARACTERIZED HIS HISTORIC SERVICES BOTH NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVELS. SPANNING MORE THAN HALF CENTURY HIS TIRELESS LABOURS INCLUDED LONG-TIME MEMBERSHIP AMERICAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY. SINCE 1954 HE CONSECRATED HIS ENERGIES AS MEMBER UNIQUE COMPANY CHIEF STEWARDS FAITH AND LATER AS MEMBER BODY HANDS CAUSE RESIDING HOLY LAND AT ONE OF MOST CRITICAL PERIODS BAHA'I HISTORY. LAST DECADE HIS EARTHLY LIFE WAS FULLY DEDICATED DEVELOPMENT NEWLY FORMED INTERNATIONAL TEACHING CENTRE. GENERATIONS YET UNBORN WILL GLORY IN HIS IMPERISHABLE ACHIEVEMENTS AND BE INSPIRED BY HIS UNIQUE FORTITUDE.

346.3 ARDENTLY SUPPLICATING HOLY THRESHOLD PROGRESS HIS NOBLE SOUL ABHA KINGDOM. ADVISE HOLD THROUGHOUT BAHA'I WORLD INCLUDING ALL MASHRIQU'L- ADHKARS MEMORIAL GATHERINGS BEFITTING HIS HIGH RANK AND HIS MERITORIOUS SERVICES.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

347

Imprisonment of More than Eighty Baha'is in Shiraz

6 December 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

347.1 DISTRESSED FURTHER ARRESTS SHIRAZ INCREASING NUMBER IMPRISONED FRIENDS TO MORE THAN 80 LAST WEEK. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

348

Establishment of First Baha'i Radio Station in North America

13 December 1982

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

348.1 HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS ACHIEVEMENT LONG AWAITED STEP ESTABLISHMENT FIRST BAHA'I RADIO STATION NORTH AMERICA ENABLING YOU PIONEER MODEL PROGRAMME CONSOLIDATION UPLIFTMENT BAHA'I COMMUNITY SOUTH CAROLINA.+F661 PRAYING YOUR WISE MOBILIZATION BOUNTEOUS RESOURCES FOR MEDIA DEVELOPMENT IN UNITED STATES BEHALF BELOVED FAITH PROVIDING FURTHER IMPETUS TEACHING SOUTHERN STATES.

[F661. The radio station, the call-letters of which are WLGI, is located at the Louis Gregory Baha'i Institute in Hemingway, South Carolina.]

LOVING GREETINGS,

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p569>

349

Torture of Baha'is Imprisoned in Shiraz

28 December 1982

To National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

349.1 The Universal House of Justice has received distressing news that the friends who are imprisoned in Shiraz are being tortured. It is not known how many Baha'is are being subjected to this cruelty or what form of punishment is involved. Reliable reports indicate, however, that the reason for the torture is to force them to recant their faith and induce them to give the names of active members of the Baha'i community. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

350

Call for another day of prayer

29 December 1982

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

350.1 As you know, the persecution of our friends in Iran continues unabated, and our oppressed brethren are bearing this ordeal with resignation and valour. The Universal House of Justice feels that the time has come to once again call for a day of prayer, and it asks that you inform the members of your community to offer special prayers on the Feast of Jamal (Beauty) on Thursday, 28 April 1983.

350.2 The House of Justice is confident that the friends will also want to pray for the believers in Iran during the Fast, particularly at dawn, and it would be useful for National Spiritual Assemblies to remind the friends of the privilege of joining universally in prayers during this period about which Baha'u'llah has written, "Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee, ..."+F662

[F662. PM, p. 143.]

350.3 In addition, your Assembly should set aside time during your National Convention for such prayers, as will be done at the International Convention.

350.4 It is hoped that these manifold supplications, reverberating from every corner of the globe, will attract in ever greater measure the blessings of the <p570> Almighty upon His lovers in the Cradle of His Faith, and will reinvigorate our determination to accelerate the tempo of our activities, in order to compensate for and indeed more than offset the setbacks being suffered by our beleaguered co-workers in Iran.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

351

Execution of Hidayat Siyavushi in Shiraz

3 January 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

351.1 GREATLY DISMAYED LAMENTABLE NEWS EXECUTION HIDaYAT SiYaVUSHi HANGED SHiRaZ 1 JANUARY, THIRD OF FIVE BAHa'iS SENTENCED TO DEATH 23 SEPTEMBER 1982. ...

Universal House of Justice

352

Prayer of 'Abdu'l-Baha' for martyred friends and relatives

11 January 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

352.1 We have been directed by the Universal House of Justice to send you the enclosed copy of a prayer revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha in which mention is made of persecutions, the martyred friends and their relatives.+F663 This is for general use, and it is felt that it would be specially suitable for inclusion in the programme of prayers being arranged by National Spiritual Assemblies all over the world for the Feast of Jamal (Beauty) on Thursday, 28 April 1983, as was requested in our letter of 29 December 1982.+F664

[F664. See Message no. 250.]

[F663. The prayer is published in English in BP, pp. 265-67.]

352.2 A copy of the text in the original Arabic is also enclosed so that it may be shared with those friends who may be able to use it.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p571>

353

Release of a Compilation on the Importance of Deepening

13 January 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

353.1 At the request of the Universal House of Justice, and with the aim of fulfilling the goal assigned to all National Assemblies to pursue a programme of spiritual enrichment designed to inspire and enlighten the friends regarding the Baha'i way of life, the Research Department has prepared a compilation from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi on the importance of deepening our knowledge and understanding of the Faith.+F665

[F665. See CC I:187-234.]

353.2 It is hoped that the loving exhortations and guidelines given in these passages will kindle in the hearts of the believers a spark of longing to delve more deeply into the rich mine of the Writings of the Faith. Such efforts will undoubtedly be abundantly rewarded as the friends attain increased spirituality and understanding, aim at acquiring greater perfection, draw nearer to attracting the good pleasure of their Lord, and seek to become more effective promoters of the Cause of God.

353.3 A copy of this compilation is attached and the Universal House of Justice leaves it to your discretion to determine how best its contents may be shared with the friends under your jurisdiction.

With loving Baha'i greetings

Department of the Secretariat

 

354

Occupation of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice

2 February 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

354.1 TO THE FOLLOWERS OF BAHA'U'LLAH IN EVERY LAND WE BOW OUR HEADS IN INFINITE GRATITUDE TO THE BLESSED BEAUTY FOR HIS ALL-EMBRACING CONFIRMATIONS ENABLING HOUSE JUSTICE OCCUPY ITS NEWLY CONSTRUCTED PERMANENT SEAT. THIS AUSPICIOUS EVENT SIGNALIZES ANOTHER <p572> PHASE IN PROCESS FULFILMENT SAILING GOD'S ARK ON MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD AS ANTICIPATED IN TABLET CARMEL, WONDROUS CHARTER WORLD SPIRITUAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE CENTRES FAITH BAHA'U'LLAH.+F666

[F666. See GWB, pp. 14-17; TB, pp. 1-5.]

354.2 THIS HIGH POINT HISTORY STRUGGLING FAITH NOW EMERGING FROM OBSCURITY, THIS CRUCIAL HOUR SUFFUSED WITH UNTOLD POTENCIES GENERATED BY SOUL-STIRRING SACRIFICES BELOVED BRETHREN IRAN, MARKED BY VISIT MEMBERS HOUSE JUSTICE TWIN HOLY SHRINES AND FIRST GATHERING COUNCIL CHAMBER TOGETHER WITH HANDS CAUSE AMATU'L-BAHA RUHIYYIH KHANUM 'ALI-AKBAR FURUTAN AND COUNSELLOR MEMBERS INTERNATIONAL TEACHING CENTRE TO OFFER PRAYERS HUMBLE THANKSGIVING. LET ALL REJOICE. LET PRAISES ANCIENT BEAUTY RESOUND. MAY UNRELENTING EFFORTS FRIENDS EVERYWHERE HASTEN ADVENT THAT DAY WHEN WONDROUS POTENTIALITIES ENSHRINED IN TABLET CARMEL WILL BE FULLY REVEALED AND WHEN FROM GOD'S HOLY MOUNTAIN, AS ENVISAGED BELOVED GUARDIAN, WILL STREAM FORTH RIVERS OF LAWS AND ORDINANCES WITH ALL- CONQUERING POWER AND MAJESTY.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

355

Execution of Two Baha'is in Shiraz

14 March 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

355.1 DISTRESSED ANNOUNCE EXECUTION BY HANGING ON 12 MARCH TWO INNOCENT FRIENDS SHIRAZ YADU'LLAH MAHMUDNIZHAD AND RAHMATU'LLAH VAFA'I. THIS HEINOUS CRIME PERPETRATED ON MORROW PASSAGE RESOLUTION UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION EXPRESSING CONCERN VIOLATION FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS AND REQUESTING SECRETARY GENERAL CONTINUE EFFORTS SAFEGUARD RIGHTS BAHA'IS IRAN. ...

355.2 SUPPLICATING DIVINE THRESHOLD DELIVERANCE BRETHREN IRAN BRAVELY FACING INTENSE CRUELTIES.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p573>

356

Execution of Mrs. Tuba Za'irpur in Shiraz

15 March 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

356.1 FURTHER OUR TELEX 14 MARCH JUST LEARNED DISTRESSING NEWS MRS TUBA ZA'IRPUR WAS EXECUTED BY HANGING TOGETHER TWO FRIENDS MENTIONED OUR PREVIOUS MESSAGE. BODIES OF THREE WERE BURIED IN BAHA'I CEMETERY BY PRISON GUARDS WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE, PRESENCE RELATIVES. EXECUTIONS WERE NOT ANNOUNCED EVEN TO FAMILIES. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

357

Message to Youth Conferences in Costa Rica and Honduras

17 March 1983

The Baha'i Youth Conferences in Costa Rica and Honduras

357.1 WARMLY WELCOME OCCASION SIMULTANEOUS CONFERENCES COSTA RICA AND HONDURAS TO GREET VIBRANT BAHA'I YOUTH CENTRAL AMERICA. YOUR ENTHUSIASTIC EXERTIONS IN SERVICE CAUSE BAHA'U'LLAH AS SHOWN BY SUBSTANTIAL INCREASE YOUR NUMBERS BRING GLADNESS TO OUR HEARTS AND INSPIRE EXHILARATING THOUGHT THAT BRIGHT PROSPECTS SUCCESS LIE IMMEDIATELY BEFORE YOU.

357.2 YOU MEET AT HIGHLY CRITICAL MOMENT HISTORY WHEN TURMOIL ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ERA OF TRANSITION INTENSIFIES. WITHIN CAUSE ITSELF CAN BE SEEN ON ONE HAND UNPRECEDENTED CAMPAIGN PERSECUTION LONG-SUFFERING IRANIAN BRETHREN AND ON OTHER HAND RESOUNDING TRIUMPHS SEVEN YEAR PLAN INDUCED BY THEIR SACRIFICES AND SYMBOLIZED BY OCCUPANCY PERMANENT SEAT UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE. MANKIND RAPIDLY APPROACHES RECKONING WITH BAHA'U'LLAH'S INJUNCTION THAT IT BE UNITED. FROM FAR AND NEAR ANGUISHED MULTITUDES CRY FOR PEACE BUT BEING LARGELY IGNORANT HIS LIFE-REDEEMING MESSAGE THEY FEEL NO HOPE. SITUATION THUS PRESENTS BAHA'I YOUTH WITH GREAT OPPORTUNITIES INESCAPABLE CHALLENGE TO RESCUE THEIR PEERS FROM SLOUGH DESPONDENCY POINTING THEM TOWARDS HOPE-RESTORING BANNER MOST GREAT NAME. HOW FITTING THEN THAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER AT THESE CONFERENCES BEST MEANS EQUIP YOURSELVES SPIRITUALLY TO FULFIL TEACHING MISSION PARTICULARLY SUITED TO YOUR CAPACITIES FOR SERVICE, YOUR ABOUNDING ZEAL AND ENERGY.

357.3 ARDENTLY SUPPLICATING AT HOLY THRESHOLD ON YOUR BEHALF THAT IN ADDITION TO PRAYING, ABSORBING HOLY PRINCIPLES AND TEACHING FAITH, YOU WILL <p574> BE SO IMBUED BY BELOVED MASTER'S EXAMPLE SERVICE TO HUMANITY AS TO BE ABLE THROUGH YOUR INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE DEEDS TO DEMONSTRATE CIVILIZING POWER OUR SACRED CAUSE AND CONVEY VISION ITS SPIRITUAL AND SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTIVE BENEFITS TO YOUR COMPATRIOTS OF ALL AGES.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

358

Ridvan Message 1983

Ridvan 140 [AD 1983]

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

358.1 The observable acceleration, during the past decade, of the two processes described by our beloved Guardian, the disintegration of the old order and the progress and consolidation of the new World Order of Baha'u'llah, may well come to be regarded by future historians as one of the most remarkable features of this period. The recent increase in this very acceleration is even more remarkable. Both within and without the Cause of God, powerful forces are operating to bring to a climax the twin tendencies of this portentous century. Among the many evidences which reveal this process may be cited, on the one hand, the continual increase of lawlessness, terrorism, economic confusion, immorality and the growing danger from the proliferation of weapons of destruction, and on the other, the world-wide, divinely propelled expansion, consolidation and rapid emergence into the limelight of world affairs of the Cause itself, a process crowned by the wonderful efflorescence of Mount Carmel, the mountain of God, whose Divine springtime is now so magnificently burgeoning.

The Dialectic of Triumph and Disaster

358.2 During the past five years, the historical dialectic of triumph and disaster has operated simultaneously within the Cause of God. The Army of Light has sustained the loss of six Hands of the Cause and waves of bitter persecution which have again engulfed the long-suffering community in Iran, and have resulted in the razing of the House of the Bab, the demolition of Baha'u'llah's ancestral home in Takur, and the martyrdom of scores of valiant souls.+F667 Yet these disasters have called forth fresh energies in the hearts of the friends, have fed the deep roots of the Cause and given rise to a great harvest of signal victories. Chief among these are the successful conclusion of <p575> the Five Year Plan;+F668 the launching of the Seven Year Plan,+F669 now in the final year of its second phase and unprecedented proclamation of the Faith to Heads of States, parliaments and parliamentarians, government ministers and officials, leaders of thought and people prominent in the professions, resulting in a change of attitude on the part of the mass media, which now increasingly approach us for information about the Cause.

[F669. The Seven Year Plan began in 1979 and ended in 1986.]

[F668. The Five Year Plan began in 1974 and ended in 1979.]

[F667. The deceased Hands of the Cause of God include Hasan A Balyuzi (see cable dated 12 February 1980, no. 247), Abu'l-Qasim Faizi (see cable dated 20 November 1980, no. 269), Paul Haney (see cable dated 5 December 1982, no. 346), Rahmatu'llah Muhajir (see cable dated 30 December 1979, no. 243), Adelbert Muehlschlegel (see cable dated 29 July 1980, no. 256), and Enoch Olinga (see cable dated 17 September 1979, no. 237). For messages on the destruction of the House of the Bab, see letters dated 9 September 1979, 19 November 1979, and 26 May 1981 (nos 235, 241, and 282). For the message on the demolition of the House of Baha'u'llah in Takur, see telex dated 10 December 1981 (no. 205).]

358.3 To these movements must be added the world-wide observances commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of the Greatest Holy Leaf, the completion of the restoration of the upper floor of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha, and its opening, at this very time, to its first visitors; the occupation by the Universal House of Justice of its permanent Seat, in further fulfilment of the great prophecy in the Tablet of Carmel; steady progress on the construction of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Pacific Islands in Samoa and the Mother Temple of the Indian Subcontinent in New Delhi.+F670

[F670. For messages about the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Bahiyyih Khanum, the Greatest Holy Leaf, see letters dated March 1981 (no. 275), 24 January 1982 (no. 313), Ridvan 1982 (no. 321), and 26 July 1982 (no. 334). For the message announcing the acquisition of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha, see cable dated 9 January 1975 (no. 154); for an account of the significance of the House of 'Abdu'llah Pasha, see letter dated 4 March 1975 (no. 157). For the Tablet of Carmel, see GWB, pp. 14-17, or TB, pp. 1-5. See also Shoghi Effendi's description of the Tablet of Carmel in GPB, p. 194.]

358.4 Among the outstanding features of the teaching and consolidation work are the continuing effective results of the participation of more than sixteen thousand believers from all parts of the world in the five International Conferences; intensive teaching campaigns carried out with the active support of all levels of the community and drawing upon the enthusiasm and capacity of Baha'i youth; the establishment of a second radio station in South America; the re-formation of the National Spiritual Assemblies of Uganda and Nepal, and the establishment of nine new National Spiritual Assemblies, two of which will be elected during the month of May this year, bringing the total of these secondary Houses of Justice to 135.

358.5 Above and beyond all these is the unity in action achieved by the Baha'i world community in its efforts to enlist public support for the dearly loved, greatly admired, cruelly beleaguered Iranian believers, a unity further manifested in an outpouring of funds to replace their former liberal contributions, and an upsurge of personal dedication rarely seen on so universal a scale and holding the highest promise for the future.

<p576>

Social and Economic Development

358.6 The growing maturity of a world-wide religious community which all these processes indicate is further evidenced in the reaching out, by a number of national communities, to the social and economic life of their countries, exemplified by the founding of tutorial schools, the inception of radio stations, the pursuit of rural development programmes and the operation of medical and agricultural schemes. To these early beginnings must be added the undoubted skills acquired, as a result of the Iranian crisis, in dealing with international organizations, national governments and the mass media -- the very elements of society with which it must increasingly collaborate toward the realization of peace on earth.

A Wider Horizon Beckons

358.7 A wider horizon is opening before us, illumined by a growing and universal manifestation of the inherent potentialities of the Cause for ordering human affairs. In this light can be discerned not only our immediate tasks but, more dimly, new pursuits and undertakings upon which we must shortly become engaged. At present we must complete the objectives of the Seven Year Plan, paying great attention to those inner spiritual developments which will be manifested in greater unity among the friends and in National and Local Spiritual Assemblies functioning "harmoniously, vigorously and efficiently" as the Guardian desired.+F671

[F671. BA, p. 41.]

358.8 We have no doubt that the Baha'i world community will accomplish all these tasks and go forward to new achievements. The powers released by Baha'u'llah match the needs of the times. We may therefore be utterly confident that the new throb of energy now vibrating throughout the Cause will empower it to meet the oncoming challenges of assisting, as maturity and resources allow, the development of the social and economic life of peoples, of collaborating with the forces leading towards the establishment of order in the world, of influencing the exploitation and constructive uses of modern technology, and in all these ways enhancing the prestige and progress of the Faith and uplifting the conditions of the generality of mankind.

A Time for Rejoicing

358.9 It is a time for rejoicing. The Sun of Baha'u'llah is mounting the heavens, bringing into ever clearer light the contrast between the gloom, the despair, the frustrations and bewilderment of the world, and the radiance, confidence, joy and certitude of His lovers. Lift up your hearts. The Day of God is here.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p577>

359

Election of the Universal House of Justice

Ridvan 1983

1 May 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

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

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

360

Execution of Two Baha'is in Isfahan

12 May 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

360.1 WITH SADDENED HEARTS ANNOUNCE EXECUTION ON 1 MAY TWO MORE ACTIVE SUPPORTERS GREATEST NAME CRADLE FAITH, MR SUHAYL SAFA'I AND MR JALAL HAKIMAN, IMPRISONED SINCE OCTOBER 1982 IN ISFAHAN. THEIR FAMILIES, FRIENDS LEARNED AFTER MORE THAN A WEEK OF THEIR EXECUTION IN TIHRAN. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

361

Further Evolution of the International Teaching Centre

19 May 1983

To the followers of Baha'u'llah throughout the world

Dearly loved friends,

361.1 For ten years the International Teaching Centre has rendered invaluable services at the World Centre of the Faith, and it is with great joy that we now announce a number of major steps in the evolution of this vital institution of the Administrative Order of Baha'u'llah.

361.2 Since the tragic death of Mr Paul Haney there have been only two Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land. We have therefore decided to call upon Dr 'Ali Muhammad Varqa and Mr Collis Featherstone to participate in the discharge of the special duties of the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land when the occasion requires, as for example, in dealing with <p578> matters of Covenant-breaking. They will be able to perform these functions either by correspondence or by periodic sojourns at the World Centre.

Appointment of New Counsellor Members

361.3 We have decided to raise the number of resident members of the International Teaching Centre to nine. For reasons of health Mrs Florence Mayberry is leaving the World Centre, bringing to an end her highly valued services on this institution. Four new Counsellor members have therefore been appointed: Dr Magdalene Carney, Mr Mas'ud Khamsi, Dr Peter Khan and Mrs Isobel Sabri, whom we now call upon to transfer their residences to the Holy Land, where they will join the Hands of the Cause Amatu'l- Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum and 'Ali-Akbar Furutan and Counsellors Anneliese Bopp, Hooper Dunbar and 'Aziz Yazdi.

Institution of a Five-Year Term

361.4 We have further decided, as foreshadowed in previous announcements, to institute a five-year term for the Counsellor members of the International Teaching Centre. Each term will start on 23 May immediately following the International Baha'i Convention, and the current term will end on 23 May 1988. Should circumstances prevent the Universal House of Justice from making new appointments at the end of any five-year term, the Counsellors will remain in office until such time as new appointments can be made.

An Increase of Responsibility

361.5 With the rapid growth of the Faith, its emergence from obscurity, and the diversification of the activities that the believers in many lands must undertake in such fields as education, rural development, radio and public relations -- matters which must increasingly occupy the attention of the Universal House of Justice -- we have decided that the time is ripe to devolve increased responsibility upon the International Teaching Centre in the fields of protection and propagation of the Faith. The duties of the International Teaching Centre, including those announced previously and those now being assigned to it, are as follows:

- To assume full responsibility for co-ordinating, stimulating and directing the Continental Boards of Counsellors, acting also as liaison between them and the Universal House of Justice.

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

- To watch over the security and ensure the protection of the Faith of God.

<p579>

- To be alert to possibilities for the extension of the teaching work and the development of economic and social life both within and without the Baha'i community, and to draw the attention of the Universal House of Justice and the Continental Boards of Counsellors to such possibilities, making recommendations for action.

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

- To direct the work of the Continental Pioneer Committees.

- To administer the expenditure of the International Deputization Fund.

- To administer an annual budget that will be provided from the Baha'i International Fund, allocating therefrom to the Continental Boards of Counsellors monies for special teaching projects and literature subvention, and, when necessary, contributions to the Continental Funds.

361.6 The transfer of functions and responsibilities in implementation of the above decisions will be made gradually as the new members are able to settle in the Holy Land. National Spiritual Assemblies and Continental Pioneer Committees will be notified, as necessary, of any changes in procedure that will be required; in the meantime they should continue to operate as before.

New Offices

361.7 In the near future the International Teaching Centre will be moving into its new offices near the House of the Master, in the building which served for several decades as the Western Pilgrim House, later as the Seat of the International Baha'i Council and, for the past twenty years as that of the Universal House of Justice.+F672 Now, most befittingly, it will serve as the office of the International Teaching Centre until the permanent building for that mighty institution can be raised on Mount Carmel in close proximity to the Universal House of Justice.

[F672. The Western Pilgrim House is located in Haifa at 10 Haparsim Street, across the street from the House of 'Abdu'l-Baha (7 Haparsim Street).]

361.8 It is our ardent prayer that the decisions now taken will be blessed by Baha'u'llah and will enable the World Centre of the Faith to co-ordinate and direct with ever greater effectiveness the self-sacrificing and assiduous labours of the friends of God in every part of the world during the challenging years which lie before us.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

<p580>

362

Statement by the President of the United States about the Baha'is of Iran

24 May 1983

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

362.1 OUTSTANDING STATEMENT PRESIDENT REAGAN BEHALF BAHA'IS IRAN FILLS HEARTS BELIEVERS WORLD OVER WITH JOY AND GRATITUDE. THIS ACHIEVEMENT INDICATIVE SPIRITUAL POWER RELEASED BY PURE BLOOD MARTYRS AND SUSTAINED EFFORTS AMERICAN BAHA'IS THROUGH THEIR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES, FURTHER STEP IMPLEMENTATION ROLE AMERICAN NATION DESTINED PLAY PROTECTION OPPRESSED PEOPLES. CONFIDENT BAHA'I COMMUNITY UNITED STATES WILL SEIZE UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY PROCLAIM FAITH WIDELY AND WISELY ENTIRE NATION UNDER GUIDANCE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY. EXTEND HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS ASSURE LOVING PRAYERS FURTHER VICTORIES.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

363

Execution of six Baha'is in Shiraz

18 June 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

363.1 WITH GREAT SORROW IMPART NEWS EXECUTION BY HANGING LATE HOURS 16 JUNE IN SHIRAZ ANOTHER SIX VALIANT SERVANTS CAUSE:

DR BAHRAM AFNAN, PROMINENT PHYSICIAN, 48 YEARS OLD

MR BAHRAM YALDA'I, STUDENT, 23 YEARS OLD

MR JAMSHID SIYAVUSHI, MERCHANT, 39 YEARS OLD

MR 'INAYATU'LLAH ISHRAQI, RETIRED OFFICER OIL COMPANY, 60 YEARS OLD

MR KURUSH HOQBIN, ELECTRICAL TECHNICIAN, 27 YEARS OLD

MR 'ABDU'L-HUSAYN AZADI, EMPLOYEE HEALTH MINISTRY, 60 YEARS OLD

363.2 GRAVELY CONCERNED LIVES OTHER PRISONERS THREATENED BE SUBJECTED SIMILAR FATE IF REFUSE RECANT FAITH AND EMBRACE ISLAM. THIS RUTHLESS TREATMENT BY FANATICS NOW TAKING REINS JUSTICE THEIR HANDS IN DEFIANCE WORLD PUBLIC OPINION, DEMANDS SPECIAL CONSIDERATION BY GOVERNMENTS AND PEOPLE OF PROMINENCE TO EXERT UTMOST EFFORTS PREVENT CONTINUATION SUCH ACTS WHICH VIOLATE PRINCIPLES JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p581>

364

Execution by Hanging of Ten Baha'i Women in Shiraz

19 June 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

364.1 FOLLOWING OUTRAGEOUS EXECUTION SIX BAHA'IS IN SHIRAZ ON 16 JUNE, FURTHER HIDEOUS CRIME HAS BEEN PERPETRATED BY AUTHORITIES THAT CITY BY HANGING TEN INNOCENT WOMEN NIGHT OF 18 JUNE. THEY ARE: MRS NUSRAT YALDA'I, 54 YEARS OLD, MOTHER OF BAHRAM, HANGED 16 JUNE MRS 'IZZAT JANAMI ISHRAQI 50 YEARS OLD, WIFE OF 'INAYATU'LLAH, HANGED 16 JUNE

MISS RU'YA ISHRAQI, IN EARLY 20S, DAUGHTER OF ABOVE

MRS TAHIRIH SIYAVUSHI, 32 YEARS OLD, WIFE OF JAMSHID, HANGED 16 JUNE

MISS MUNA MAHMUDNIZHAD, 18 YEARS OLD, DAUGHTER OF YADU'LLAH, EXECUTED 12 MARCH

MISS ZARRIN MUQIMI-ABYANIH, UNDER 25 YEARS OLD

MISS SHAHIN (SHIRIN) DALVAND, EARLY 20S

MISS AKHTAR THABIT 19 YEARS OLD

MISS SIMIN SABIRI, IN EARLY 20S

MISS MAHSHID NIRUMAND, 18 YEARS OLD

364.2 THE EXECUTION OF THESE GUILTLESS WOMEN IN THE NAME OF RELIGION MUST SHOCK CONSCIENCE HUMANITY. THEY WERE ARRESTED FOR ACTIVITIES IN BAHA'I COMMUNITY INCLUDING EDUCATION OF YOUTH.

364.3 FOLLOWING LONG INTERROGATION IN PRISON THEY WERE WARNED THEY WOULD BE SUBJECTED TO FOUR SESSIONS PRESSURING THEM RECANT THEIR FAITH ACCEPT ISLAM AND IF BY FOURTH TIME THEY HAD NOT SIGNED PREPARED STATEMENT RECANTING FAITH THEY WOULD BE KILLED. ALL PREFERRED DIE RATHER THAN DENY THEIR FAITH.

364.4 FEW HOURS PRIOR EXECUTION WOMEN MET WITH FAMILIES, NONE OF WHOM KNEW IMPENDING EXECUTION. NEWS THIS DASTARDLY CRIME NOT PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED OR FORMALLY GIVEN TO FAMILIES. AUTHORITIES REFUSED ALLOW FAMILIES RECEIVE BODIES FOR BURIAL OR EVEN TO SEE THEM.

364.5 IT SHOULD BE RECALLED THAT BETWEEN OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 1982 OVER 80 BAHA'IS WERE ARRESTED IN SHIRAZ. AUTHORITIES LATER REVEALED THAT 22 PERSONS AMONG THE 80 WERE CONDEMNED TO DEATH IF WOULD NOT RECANT. NAMES OF THESE 22 HOWEVER WERE NEVER REVEALED, INTENSIFYING PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS AMONG BAHA'I PRISONERS.

364.6 IN DEFIANCE APPEALS WORLD LEADERS AND WORLD PUBLIC OPINION, 21 OF THESE BAHA'IS HAVE THUS FAR BEEN EXECUTED, CASTING SHADOW ON FATE REMAINING BELIEVERS LANGUISHING IN PRISON. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p582>

365 Message to Youth Summons to Vindicate Martyred Youth

23 June 1983

To Baha'i youth throughout the world:

365.1 RECENT MARTYRDOMS COURAGEOUS STEADFAST YOUTH IN SHIRAZ, SCENE INAUGURATION MISSION MARTYR-PROPHET, REMINISCENT ACTS VALOUR YOUTHFUL IMMORTALS HEROIC AGE. CONFIDENT BAHA'I YOUTH THIS GENERATION WILL NOT ALLOW THIS FRESH BLOOD SHED ON VERY SOIL WHERE FIRST WAVE PERSECUTION FAITH TOOK PLACE REMAIN UNVINDICATED OR THIS SUBLIME SACRIFICE UNAVAILING. AT THIS HOUR OF AFFLICTION AND GRIEF, AND AS WE APPROACH ANNIVERSARY MARTYRDOM BLESSED BAB CALL ON BAHA'I YOUTH TO REDEDICATE THEMSELVES TO URGENT NEEDS CAUSE BAHA'U'LLAH. LET THEM RECALL BLESSINGS HE PROMISED THOSE WHO IN PRIME OF YOUTH WILL ARISE TO ADORN THEIR HEARTS WITH HIS LOVE AND REMAIN STEADFAST AND FIRM. LET THEM CALL TO MIND EXPECTATIONS MASTER FOR EACH TO BE A FEARLESS LION, A MUSK-LADEN BREEZE WAFTING OVER MEADS VIRTUE. LET THEM MEDITATE OVER UNIQUE QUALITIES YOUTH SO GRAPHICALLY MENTIONED IN WRITINGS GUARDIAN WHO PRAISED THEIR ENTERPRISING AND ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT, THEIR VIGOUR, THEIR ALERTNESS, OPTIMISM AND EAGERNESS, AND THEIR DIVINELY APPOINTED, HOLY AND ENTHRALLING TASKS. WE FERVENTLY PRAY AT SACRED THRESHOLD THAT ARMY OF SPIRITUALLY AWAKENED AND DETERMINED YOUTH MAY IMMEDIATELY ARISE RESPONSE NEEDS PRESENT HOUR DEVOTE IN EVER GREATER MEASURE THEIR VALUED ENERGIES TO PROMOTE, BOTH ON HOME-FRONTS AND IN FOREIGN FIELDS, CAUSE THEIR ALL-WATCHFUL AND EXPECTANT LORD. MAY THEY MANIFEST SAME SPIRIT SO RECENTLY EVINCED THEIR MARTYR BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, SCALE SUCH HEIGHTS OF ENDEAVOUR AS TO BECOME PRIDE THEIR PEERS CONSOLATION HEARTS PERSIAN BELIEVERS, AND DEMONSTRATE THAT THE FLAME HIS OMNIPOTENT HAND HAS KINDLED BURNS EVER BRIGHT AND THAT ITS LIFE-IMPARTING WARMTH AND RADIANCE SHALL SOON ENVELOP PERMEATE WHOLE EARTH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p583>

366

Appointment of Continental Counsellors

27 June 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

366.1 The Universal House of Justice announces with pleasure the appointment of the following Continental Counsellors:

In Africa: Mr Gila Michael Bahta

Mr Kassimi Fofana

In the Americas: Mr Shapoor Monadjem

In Australasia: Mrs Joy Stevenson

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

367

Execution of Suhayl Hushmand in Shiraz

30 June 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

367.1 SWIFT ON HEELS EXECUTION YOUNG BAHA'IS SHIRAZ ANNOUNCE DISTRESSING NEWS YET ANOTHER YOUNG SERVANT BAHA'U'LLAH THAT CITY, 24 YEAR OLD SUHAYL HUSHMAND, HANGED 28 JUNE, BRINGING TO 142 TOTAL NUMBER BAHA'IS KILLED SINCE BEGINNING ISLAMIC REVOLUTION, NOT INCLUDING 14 WHO DISAPPEARED. FATE OTHER PRISONERS SHIRAZ IN BALANCE.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p584>

368

Attacks Against Baha'i villagers in Mazindaran; Kidnapping of Two Baha'is in Tihran

4 July 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

368.1 ATROCITIES MOUNTING AGAINST BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH, NOW DIRECTED TOWARDS DEFENCELESS VILLAGERS NEAR SARI IN MAZINDARAN. IN VILLAGE OF IVAL OVER 130 BAHA'IS INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN WERE HELD CAPTIVE FOR THREE DAYS IN WALLED-IN OPEN FIELD WITHOUT FOOD AND WATER. WHEN PRESSURES TO RECANT FAITH ACCEPT ISLAM FAILED THEY WERE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES. HOWEVER SAME NIGHT, 1 JULY THEY WERE ATTACKED BY VILLAGERS AND FORCED HIDE IN NEARBY FOREST.

368.2 FURTHER DISTRESSING NEWS TWO PROMINENT BAHA'IS TIHRAN, JAHANGIR HIDAYATI AND AHMAD BASHIRI, KIDNAPPED.+F673 APPEALS TO AUTHORITIES SO FAR UNHEEDED, ANY KNOWLEDGE THEIR ABDUCTION OR WHEREABOUTS DENIED. ...

[F673. Jahangir Hidayati was killed in Tihran on 15 May 1984. Ahmad Bashiri was killed in Tihran on 1 November 1984.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

369

Message to the European Youth Conference in Innsbruck

4 July 1983

To the European Youth Conference in Innsbruck

Dear Baha'i friends,

369.1 With high hopes we greet the representatives of the Baha'i youth of Europe gathered in conference in Innsbruck. This generation of Baha'i youth enjoys a unique distinction. You will live your lives in a period when the forces of history are moving to a climax, when mankind will see the establishment of the Lesser Peace, and during which the Cause of God will play an increasingly prominent role in the reconstruction of human society. It is you who will be called upon in the years to come to stand at the helm of the Cause in face of conditions and developments which can, as yet, scarcely be imagined.

369.2 European Baha'i' youth in particular face tremendous and challenging tasks in the immediate future. Can one doubt that the manner in which the governments of the European nations have rallied to the defence of the persecuted Baha'is in Iran will draw down blessings from on high upon this continent? <p585> And who among the people of Europe are more likely to be kindled by the challenge and hope of the Message of Baha'u'llah than the youth? Now is an opportunity to awaken the interest, set afire the hearts and enlist the active support of young people of every nation, class and creed in that continent. The key to success in this endeavour is, firstly, to deepen your understanding of the Teachings of the Cause so that you will be able to apply them to the problems of individuals and society, and explain them to your peers in ways that they will understand and welcome; secondly, to strive to model your behaviour in every way after the high standards of honesty, trustworthiness, courage, loyalty, forbearance, purity and spirituality set forth in the Teachings; and, above all, to live in continual awareness of the presence and all-conquering power of Baha'u'llah, which will enable you to overcome every temptation and surmount every obstacle.

369.3 A vibrant band of Baha'i youth on the European continent, committed to the promotion of the Cause of Baha'u'llah and the upholding of His laws and principles, determined to work in harmony and unity with their fellow believers of all ages and classes, can revolutionize the progress of the Cause. With a rapid increase in the size of the Baha'i communities in Europe, the believers of that continent, the cradle of Western civilization, will be the better able to serve as a fountainhead of pioneers, travelling teachers and financial assistance to the Baha'i communities of the Third World.

369.4 When deciding what course of training to follow, youth can consider acquiring those skills and professions that will be of benefit in education, rural development, agriculture, economics, technology, health, radio and in many other areas of endeavour that are so urgently needed in the developing countries of the world. You can also devote time in the midst of your studies, or other activities, to travel teaching or service projects in the Third World.

369.5 A particular challenge to the Baha'i youth of Europe is the vast eastern half of the continent that is as yet scarcely touched by the light of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. It is not easy to settle in those lands, but with ingenuity, determination and reliance upon the confirmations of Baha'u'llah it is certainly possible both to settle and to persevere in service in goals which demand a spirit of self-sacrifice, detachment and purity of heart worthy of those who would emulate the shining example set by the martyrs in Iran, so many of whom are youth, who have given their lives rather than breathe one word that would be a betrayal of the trust of God placed upon them.

369.6 With love and utmost longing we call upon you to immerse yourselves in the divine Teachings, champion the Cause of God and His law, and arise for the quickening of mankind.

The Universal House of Justice

<p586>

370

Continuing Harassments and Arrests in Iran

26 July 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

370.1 PRESSURES MOUNTING AGAINST BAHA'IS IRAN, PARTICULARLY IN TIHRAN WHERE MEMBERS OF BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS ARE BEING HUNTED, THEIR HOMES RAIDED. IF NOT FOUND, THEIR FAMILIES ARE BEING HARASSED.

370.2 TWENTY-TWO BELIEVERS INCLUDING 11 WOMEN WERE ARRESTED BETWEEN 11 AND 20 JULY. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

371

Formation of Nine New National Spiritual Assemblies at Ridvan

31 July 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

371.1 OVERJOYED ANNOUNCE FORMATION AT RIDVAN 1984 FOLLOWING NINE NEW NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES:

THREE IN AFRICA: CAPE VERDE ISLANDS, EQUATORIAL GUINEA AND GABON

THREE IN AMERICAS: FRENCH GUIANA, GRENADA AND MARTINIQUE

TWO IN ASIA: ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS, AND YEMEN (SAN'A)

ONE IN EUROPE: CANARY ISLANDS

371.2 LAST TWO NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES NAMED ABOVE ARE SUPPLEMENTARY ACHIEVEMENTS SEVEN YEAR PLAN. PRAYING SHRINES BOUNTIFUL BLESSINGS MAY SURROUND SUPPORT FRIENDS EVERYWHERE IN THEIR ENDEAVOURS PROMOTE GOD'S HOLY FAITH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p587>

372 Intensification of Waves of Arrests in Iran

2 August 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

372.1 PERSECUTIONS IRANIAN FRIENDS REMAIN UNABATED. WAVES ARRESTS PROMINENT BAHA'IS RECENTLY INTENSIFIED. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

373

Arrest of More Baha'is in Iran

16 August 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

373.1 ARRESTS IRANIAN BRETHREN CONTINUING. ... 24 INCLUDING 10 WOMEN IMPRISONED BETWEEN 3 AND 5 AUGUST.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

374

Passing of Sylvia Ioas, International Baha'i Council

25 August 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

374.1 SADDENED PASSING DEVOTED MAIDSERVANT BAHA'U'LLAH SYLVIA IOAS.+F674 HER LONG YEARS SERVICE DIVINE THRESHOLD CONSTANT SUPPORT CLOSE COLLABORATION HER DISTINGUISHED HUSBAND CROWNED BY HER APPOINTMENT BY BELOVED GUARDIAN AS MEMBER INTERNATIONAL BAHA'I COUNCIL AND HER SUBSEQUENT ELECTION SAME HISTORIC INSTITUTION AND AS ITS VICE- PRESIDENT. HER GRACIOUS MANNER, CHEERFUL DISPOSITION, HOSPITABLE SPIRIT REMAIN AS INDELIBLE IMPRESSIONS HER FRUITFUL LIFE. FERVENTLY PRAYING HOLY SHRINES HER RADIANT SOUL MAY BE RICHLY REWARDED ABHA KINGDOM. URGE NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL SERVICES.

[F674. For an account of the life and services of Sylvia Ioas, see BW 19:611.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p588>

375

Requisites for Spiritual Growth

1 September 1983

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Norway

Dear Baha'i friends,

375.1 On several occasions there has been correspondence between your Assembly and the Universal House of Justice on meditation and kindred subjects. The House of Justice is aware that such matters have been a cause of differences of opinion among the Norwegian Baha'is. It has now come to the attention of the House of Justice that there was a session of group meditation of a particular kind at your summer school under the aegis of the National Teaching Committee. We have, therefore, been instructed to send you the following comments which, it is hoped, will help to resolve this long-standing problem.

Spiritualization of the Baha'i community

375.2 In its message to the Dublin Conference the Universal House of Justice called upon the Continental Board of Counsellors and the National Spiritual Assemblies of Europe to launch together "such a campaign of spiritualization of the Baha'i community, allied with intensified personal teaching, as has never been witnessed in your continent."+F675 It realizes that the session at your Summer School referred to above may well have been intended as an aspect of this campaign, and it feels that it would be helpful to explain more fully what it intended by 'spiritualization of the Baha'i community."

[F675. See letter dated 2 June 1982 (no. 329).]

375.3 Europe has suffered so appallingly in past centuries from persecutions and conflicts inspired by religious differences and fanaticism that there has been a revulsion against religion. Many Europeans have become sceptical, scornful of religious practices, and reluctant either to discuss religious subjects or to give credence to the power of faith. This turning away from religion has been powerfully reinforced by the growth of materialism, and has produced a combination of physical well-being and spiritual aridity that is having catastrophic results, socially and psychologically, on the population.

375.4 This intellectual and emotional atmosphere creates problems for the Baha'i community in two ways. Its effect upon a large proportion of the non-Baha'i population makes it difficult for Baha'is to convey the Message to others. Its effect upon the Baha'is is more subtle, but no less harmful; if not consciously combated it can lead the believers to neglect those spiritual exercises which are the very fountainhead of their spiritual strength and the nourishment of their souls.

<p589>

Essential Requisites for Spiritual Growth

375.5 Baha'u'llah has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by 'Abdu'l-Baha in His talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:

1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.

2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.

3. Prayerful meditation on the Teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.

4. Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.

5. Teaching the Cause of God.

6. Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession.

375.6 These points, expressed in other words, have already been conveyed to the friends in Europe by the Counsellors, but the House of Justice wishes to stress them, because they represent the path towards the attainment of true spirituality that has been laid down by the Manifestation of God for this age.

Prayer and Meditation -- Personal Exercises

375.7 It is striking how private and personal the most fundamental spiritual exercises of prayer and meditation are in the Faith. Baha'is do, of course, have meetings for devotions, as in the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar or at Nineteen Day Feasts, but the daily obligatory prayers are ordained to be said in the privacy of one's chamber, and meditation on the Teachings is, likewise, a private individual activity, not a form of group therapy. In His talks 'Abdu'l-Baha describes prayer as "conversation with God," and concerning meditation He says that "while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed."+F676

[F676. SBS, p. 250; PT, p. 174.]

375.8 There are, of course, other things that one can do to increase one's spirituality. For example, Baha'u'llah has specified no procedures to be followed in meditation, and individual believers are free to do as they wish in this area, provided that they remain in harmony with the Teachings, but such activities are purely personal and should under no circumstances be confused with those actions which Baha'u'llah Himself considered to be of fundamental importance for our spiritual growth. Some believers may find that it is beneficial to <p590> them to follow a particular method of meditation, and they may certainly do so, but such methods should not be taught at Baha'i Summer Schools or be carried out during a session of the School because, while they may appeal to some people, they may repel others. They have nothing to do with the Faith and should be kept quite separate so that inquirers will not be confused.

375.9 It would seem that there are in Norway many believers who draw particular benefit from meditation. The House of Justice suggests that for their private meditations they may wish to use the repetition of the Greatest Name, Allah-u-Abha, ninety-five times a day which, although not yet applied in the West, is among the Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. (See p. 46 of the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.)

375.10 The House of Justice is confident that if the believers throughout Europe will conscientiously strive to increase their spirituality in the six ways outlined above, and become aware in their inmost beings that in all their services they are but vehicles for the confirming power of God, they will attract the hearts of their fellow citizens and penetrate the miasma of materialism that veils the sight of so many of their countrymen. Effort, activity, unity and constant reliance on the power of Baha'u'llah will assuredly overcome all obstacles.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

376

Preparations for International Youth Year

7 September 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

376.1 As you are probably aware, 1985 has been designated by the United Nations as International Youth Year, and the Baha'i International Community is taking preliminary steps to set up a programme for the involvement of the world-wide Baha'i community in this event, in close co-operation with the United Nations and its agencies, such as UNICEF.+F677 The purpose of this letter is to request your National Assembly to determine how the Baha'i youth in your country can, to the extent practicable, participate in general youth activities which are being proposed by the United Nations for International Youth Year, as well as in <p591> specific Baha'i projects of service to the local community or to the country as a whole.

[F677. United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, established by the United Nations' General Assembly in 1946 to provide relief for children in devastated areas. It also seeks to feed destitute children and to prevent childhood diseases. In 1953 it was made a permanent UN organization. The Baha'i International Community has consultative status with UNICEF.]

376.2 Your National Spiritual Assembly should be alert as to whether your government is making any plans to observe International Youth Year, and if so, you should consider the steps you could take in setting up or participating in projects associated with this event. Such activities should be planned, of course, in consultation with the Baha'i International Community, which is co-ordinating and monitoring such efforts. Participation of this kind by the Baha'i youth would not only add to the prestige of the Faith and demonstrate its humanitarian character, but would also act as a rallying point for the youth, strengthening them in their role in the Faith and training them to organize themselves for future services to this blessed Cause.

376.3 The Universal House of Justice will be anxious to learn of your plans to participate in this important event.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

377

Banning of Baha'i Administration in Iran

13 September 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

377.1 SORELY TRIED COMMUNITY GREATEST NAME IRAN HAS IN RECENT DAYS SUSTAINED YET ANOTHER CRUEL BLOW OPENING NEW CHAPTER ITS TURBULENT HISTORY. ON 29 AUGUST IN UNPRECEDENTED MOVE REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT THROUGH STATEMENT ISSUED ATTORNEY-GENERAL ANNOUNCED BAN BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION, RECITING USUAL FALSE ACCUSATIONS STATING EXISTENCE ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALLY CONSIDERED TO BE AGAINST LAWS CONSTITUTION COUNTRY. HOWEVER STATEMENT SAID BAHA'IS MAY PRACTICE BELIEFS AS PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS PROVIDED THEY DO NOT TEACH OR INVITE OTHERS TO JOIN FAITH, THEY DO NOT FORM ASSEMBLIES OR HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH ADMINISTRATION. SERVING IN BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION NOW SPECIFIED AS CRIMINAL ACT. THIS LATEST ONSLAUGHT DEFENCELESS COMMUNITY CLEARLY DEMONSTRATES IMPLACABILITY FANATICAL ELEMENTS IN THEIR DRIVE SUPPRESS LIGHT GOD'S INFANT FAITH IN LAND ITS FIRST GLEAMING.

377.2 IN CONFORMITY PRINCIPLE LOYALTY OBEDIENCE GOVERNMENT NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY IRAN IMMEDIATELY TOOK ACTION DISSOLVE BAHA'I ADMINISTRATION THROUGHOUT COUNTRY THUS UPHOLDING INTEGRITY COMMUNITY DESPITE HEAVY YOKE CRUELTIES BORNE BY ITS MEMBERS FOR SEVERAL GENERATIONS. CONFIDENT THAT STEADFAST TRIED AND DEVOTED FRIENDS THAT LONG-AGITATED LAND WILL FACE NEW SITUATION WITH RADIANT FORTITUDE. AT SAME <p592> TIME BAHA'IS EI.SEWHERE ENJOYING FREEDOM PRACTICE FAITH ACUTELY CHALLENGED TO VINDICATE BY THEIR RECONSECRATION TO IMMEDIATE SACRED TASKS UNABATED SUFFERING THEIR GRIEVOUSLY WRONGED IRANIAN BRETHREN. INDEED ALL NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES URGED TAKE STEPS STRENGTHEN FOUNDATION BAHA'I INSTITUTIONS THEIR COUNTRIES AS TRIBUTE SACRIFICES COURAGEOUSLY ACCEPTED MEMBERS COMMUNITY BAHA'U'LLAH'S NATIVE LAND.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

378

Open letter to Iranian Authorities from the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran

19 October 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

378.1 You have already been informed of the disbanding of the National Spiritual Assembly and other Baha'i institutions in Iran as a result of the new policy of the Iranian Government. The National Spiritual Assembly, before disbanding itself, decided to issue an open letter to the authorities and the public of their country explaining the action of their Government and pointing out the unjust attitudes and accusations of the Government against the Baha'i administration in that land.+F678 Over two thousand of these letters were dispatched to important officials and other prominent people in Iran.

[F678. This is not the first open letter written in defence of the Baha'i community and circulated by the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran. In a letter dated 20 August 1979 (no. 234) the Universal House of Justice referred to "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."]

378.2 A copy of this letter has been received by the Universal House of Justice, and we have been instructed to enclose a translation for your information and possible use. Publication of the letter is permissible in whatever manner your National Spiritual Assembly deems fit.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p593>

An Open Letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran about the Banning of the Baha'i Administration

(12 Shahrivar 1362)

[3 September 1983]

378.3 Recently the esteemed Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution of the country, in an inter-view that was published in the newspapers, declared that the continued functioning of the Baha'i religious and spiritual administration is banned and that membership in it is considered to be a crime. This declaration has been made after certain unjustified accusations have been levelled against the Baha'i community of Iran and after a number of its members ostensibly -- for imaginary and fabricated crimes but in reality merely for the sake of their beliefs -- have been either executed, or arrested and imprisoned. The majority of those who have been imprisoned have not yet been brought to trial.

378.4 The Baha'i community finds the conduct of the authorities and the judges bewildering and lamentable -- as indeed would any fair-minded observer who is unblinded by malice. The authorities are the refuge of the people; the judges in pursuit of their work of examining and ascertaining the truth and facts in legal cases devote years of their lives to studying the law and, when uncertain of a legal point spend hours poring over copious tomes in order to cross a "t" and dot an "i." Yet these very people consider themselves to be justified in brazenly bringing false accusations against a band of innocent people, without fear of the Day of judgement, without even believing the calumnies they utter against their victims, and having exerted not the slightest effort to investigate to any degree the validity of the charges they are making. "Methinks they are not believers in the Day of judgement." (Hafiz)

378.5 The honourable Prosecutor has again introduced the baseless and fictitious story that Baha'is engage in espionage, but without producing so much as one document in support of the accusation, without presenting proof in any form, and without any explanation as to what is the mission in this country of this extraordinary number of "spies": what sort of information do they obtain and from what sources? Whither do they relay it, and for what purpose? What kind of "spy" is an eighty-five-year-old man from Yazd who has never set foot outside his village? Why do these alleged spies not hide themselves, conceal their religious beliefs and exert every effort to penetrate, by every stratagem, the Government's information centres and offices? Why has no Baha'i "spy" been arrested anywhere else in the world? How could students, housewives, innocent young girls, and old men and women, like those blameless Baha'is who have recently been delivered to the gallows in Iran, or who have become targets for the darts of prejudice and enmity, be "spies"? How could the Baha'i <p594> farmers of the villages of Afus, Chigan, Qal'ih Malik (near Isfahan), and those of the village of Nuk in Birjand, be "spies"? What Secret Intelligence documents have been found in their possession? What espionage equipment has come to hand? What "spying" activities were engaged in by the primary school-children who have been expelled from their schools?

378.6 And how strange! The Public Prosecutor perhaps does not know, or does not care to know, that spying is an element of politics, while non-interference in politics is an established principle of the Baha'i Faith. On the contrary, Baha'is love their country and never permit themselves to be traitors. 'Abdu'l-Baha, the successor of the Founder of the Baha'i Cause, says: "Any abasement is bearable except betraying one's own country, and any sin is forgivable other than dishonouring the government and inflicting harm upon the nation."+F679

[F679. From an unpublished Tablet.]

378.7 All the other accusations made against the Baha'is by the honourable Public Prosecutor of the Revolution are similarly groundless. He brands the Baha'i community with accusations of subversion and corruption. For example, on the basis of a manifestly forged interview, the falsity of which has been dealt with in a detailed statement, he accuses the Baha'i community of hoarding, an act which its members would consider highly reprehensible. The Prosecutor alleges that the Baha'i administration sanctioned the insensible act of hoarding, yet he subtly overlooks the fact that with the proceeds that might be realized from the sale of unusable automobile spare parts whose total value is some 70 million tumans -- the value of the stock of any medium-size store for spare parts -- it would be impossible to overthrow a powerful government whose daily expenditures amount to hundreds of millions of tumans. If the Public Prosecutor chooses to label the Baha'i administration as a network of espionage, let him at least consider it intelligent enough not to plan the overthrow of such a strong regime by hoarding a few spare parts! Yes, such allegations of corruption and subversion are similar to those hurled against us at the time of the Episcopalian case in Isfahan when this oppressed community was accused of collaboration with foreign agents as a result of which seven innocent Baha'is of Yazd were executed.+F680 Following this the falsity of the <p595> charges was made known and the Public Prosecutor announced the episode to be the outcome of a forgery.

[F680. The executions took place on 8 September 1980. The Ayatollah Khomeini, in his lectures on "Islamic Government" (1973), had for his own purposes falsely linked the Christian missions in Iran with the Baha'is as corrupters of Muslim youth. In August 1980 pressure against the Christian community in general began to mount. The 27 August 1980 issue (No. 11079) (5 Shahrivar AH 1359) of the Tihran-based newspaper Kayhan carried a story released through the Pars agency about the discovery in an Episcopalian church in Iran of a document purporting to be a receipt for US $500,000,000 signed by a clergyman who was said to be spying for the C.I.A. The sum was, the report said, to be split among various agencies including "the head of the Baha'is and anti-revolutionary groups" and was described as a preliminary step in anticipated terrorist activities including bombing the residence of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Soon after the hanging of seven Baha'is, and it may be concluded because groups other than Baha'is were affected, the Public Prosecutor announced that the document was a forgery.]

378.8 Baha'is are accused of collecting contributions and transferring sums of money to foreign countries. How strange! If Muslims, in accordance with their sacred and respected spiritual beliefs, send millions of tumans to Karbila, Najaf and Jerusalem, or to other Muslim Holy Places outside Iran to be spent on the maintenance and upkeep of the Islamic Sacred Shrines, it is considered very praiseworthy; but if a Baha'i -- even during the time in which the transfer of foreign currency was allowed -- sends a negligible amount for his international community to be used for the repair and maintenance of the Holy Places of his Faith, it is considered that he has committed an unforgivable sin and it is counted as proof that he has done so in order to strengthen other countries.

378.9 Accusations of this nature are many but all are easy to investigate. If just and impartial people and God-fearing judges will only do so, the falsity of these spurious accusations will be revealed in case after case. The Baha'i community emphatically requests that such accusations be investigated openly in the presence of juries composed of judges and international observers so that, once and for all, the accusations may be discredited and their repetition prevented.

378.10 The basic principles and beliefs of the Baha'is have been repeatedly proclaimed and set forth in writing during the past five years. Apparently these communications, either by deliberate design or by mischance, have not received any attention, otherwise accusations such as those described above would not have been repeated by one of the highest and most responsible authorities. This in itself is a proof that the numerous communications referred to were not accorded the attention of the leaders; therefore, we mention them again.

378.11 The Baha'i Faith confesses the unity of God and the justice of the divine Essence. It recognizes that Almighty God is an exalted, unknowable and concealed entity, sanctified from ascent and descent, from egress and regress, and from assuming a physical body. The Baha'i Faith, which professes the existence of the invisible God, the One, the Single, the Eternal, the Peerless, bows before the loftiness of His Threshold, believes in all divine Manifestations, considers all the Prophets from Adam to the Seal of the Prophets+F681 as true divine Messengers Who are the Manifestations of Truth in the world of creation, accepts Their Books as having come from God, believes in the continuation of the divine outpourings, emphatically believes in reward and punishment and, uniquely among existing revealed religions outside Islam, accepts the Prophet Muhammad as a true Prophet and the Qur'an as the Word of God.

[F681. Muhammad.]

<p596>

378.12 The Baha'i Faith embodies independent principles and laws. It has its own Holy Book. It prescribes pilgrimage and worship. A Baha'i performs obligatory prayers and observes a fast. He gives, according to his beliefs, tithes and contributions. He is required to be of upright conduct, to manifest a praiseworthy character, to love all mankind, to be of service to the world of humanity and to sacrifice his own interests for the good and well-being of his fellow kind. He is forbidden to commit unbecoming deeds. 'Abdu'l-Baha says: "A Baha'i is known by the attributes manifested by him, not by his name; he is recognized by his character, not by his person."+F682

[F682. From an unpublished Tablet.]

378.13 Shoghi Rabbani,+F683 the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, says: "... a person who is not adorned with the ornaments of virtue, sanctity, and morality, is not a true Baha'i, even though he may call himself one and be known as such."+F684

[F684. From an unpublished letter.]

[F683. Shoghi Effendi; Rabbani is his surname. "Effendi" is a Turkish honourific comparable to the English "Mr" or "sir".]

378.14 He also says: "... the friends have been required 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."+F685

[F685. From a letter dated 19 December 1923 to the Baha'is of the East (translated from the Persian).]

378.15 The teachings and laws of the Baha'i religion testify to this truth. Fortunately, the books and writings which have been plundered in abundance from the homes of Baha'is and are available to the authorities, bear witness to the truth of these assertions. Baha'is, in keeping with their spiritual beliefs, stay clear of politics; they do not support or reject any party, group or nation; they do not champion or attack any ideology or any specific political philosophy; they shrink from and abhor political agitations. The Guardian of the Baha'i Cause says, "The people of Baha, under the jurisdiction of whatsoever state or government they may be residing, should conduct themselves with honesty and sincerity, trustworthiness and rectitude. ... They are neither thirsty for prominence, nor acquisitive of power; they are neither adepts at dissimulation and hypocrisy, nor are they seekers after wealth and influence; they neither crave for the pomp and circumstance of high office, nor do they lust after the glory of titles and ranks. They are averse to affectation and ostentation, and shrink from the use of coercive force; they have closed their eyes to all but God, and set their hearts on the firm and incontrovertible promises of their Lord ... Oblivious to themselves, they have occupied their energies in working towards the good of society ... While vigilantly refusing to accept political posts, they should wholeheartedly welcome the chance to assume administrative <p597> positions; for the primary purpose of the people of Baha is to advance the interests and promote the welfare of the nation ... Such is the method of the Baha'is; such is the conduct of all spiritually illuminated souls; and aught else is manifest error."+F686

[F686. The quotation in the original letter has been replaced by this revised translation.]

378.16 Also, Baha'is, in accordance with their exalted teachings, are duty bound to be obedient to their government. Elucidating this subject, Shoghi Rabbani says: "The people of Baha are required to obey their respective governments, and to demonstrate their truthfulness and good will towards the authorities. ... Baha'is, in every land and without any exception, should ... be obedient and bow to the clear instructions and the declared decrees issued by the authorities. They must faithfully carry out such directives."+F687

[F687. From an unpublished letter.]

378.17 Baha'i administration has no aim except the good of all nations and it does not take any steps that are against the public good. Contrary to the conception the word "administration" may create in the mind because of the similarity in name, it does not resemble the current organizations of political parties; it does not interfere in political affairs; and it is the safeguard against the involvement of Baha'is in subversive political activities. Its high ideals are "to improve the characters of men; to extend the scope of knowledge; to abolish ignorance and prejudice; to strengthen the foundations of true religion in all hearts; to encourage self-reliance and discourage false imitation; ... to uphold truthfulness, audacity, frankness, and courage; to promote craftsmanship and agriculture; ... to educate, on a compulsory basis, children of both sexes; to insist on integrity in business transactions; to lay stress on the observance of honesty and piety; ... to acquire mastery and skill in the modern sciences and arts; to promote the interests of the public; ... to obey outwardly and inwardly and with true loyalty the regulations enacted by state and government; ... to honour, to extol and to follow the example of those who have distinguished themselves in science and learning." And again, "... to help the needy from every creed or sect, and to collaborate with the people of the country in all welfare services."+F688

[F688. From unpublished Tablets.]

378.18 In brief, whatever the clergy in other religions undertake individually and by virtue of their appointment to their positions, the Baha'i administration performs collectively and through an elective process.

378.19 The statements made by the esteemed Public Prosecutor of the Revolution do not seem to have legal basis, because in order to circumscribe individuals and deprive them of the rights which have not been denied them by the Constitution, it is necessary to enact special legislation, provided that legislation is not contradictory to the Constitution. It was hoped that the recent years <p598> would have witnessed, on the one hand, the administration of divine justice -- a principle promoted by the true religion of Islam and prescribed by all monotheistic religions -- and, on the other, and coupled with an impartial investigation of the truths of the Baha'i Faith, the abolition or at least mitigation of discriminations, restrictions and pressures suffered by Baha'is over the past 135 years. Alas, on the contrary, because of long- standing misunderstandings and prejudices, the difficulties increased immensely and the portals of calamity were thrown wide open in the faces of the long-suffering and sorely oppressed Baha'is of Iran who were, to an even greater degree, deprived of their birthrights through the systematic machinations of Government officials who are supposed to be the refuge of the public, and of some impostors in the garb of divines, who engaged in official or unofficial spreading of mischievous and harmful accusations and calumnies, and issued, in the name of religious and judicial authorities, unlawful decrees and verdicts.

378.20 Many are the pure and innocent lives that have been snuffed out; many the distinguished heads that have adorned the hangman's noose; and many the precious breasts that became the targets of firing squads. Vast amounts of money and great quantities of personal property have been plundered or confiscated. Many technical experts and learned people have been tortured and condemned to long-term imprisonment and are still languishing in dark dungeons, deprived of the opportunity of placing their expertise at the service of the Government and the nation. Numerous are the self- sacrificing employees of the Government who spent their lives in faithful service but who were dismissed from work and afflicted with poverty and need because of hatred and prejudice. Even the owners of private firms and institutions were prevented from engaging Baha'is. Many privately owned Baha'i establishments have been confiscated. Many tradesmen have been denied the right to continue working by cancellation of their business licences. Baha'i youth have been denied access to education in many schools and in all universities and institutions of higher education. Baha'i university students abroad are deprived of receiving money for their education, and others who wish to pursue their studies outside Iran have been denied exit permits. Baha'is, including the very sick whose only hope for cure was to receive medical treatment in specialized medical centres in foreign lands, have been prevented from leaving the country. Baha'i cemeteries have been confiscated and bodies rudely disinterred. Numerous have been the days when a body has remained unburied while the bereaved family pleaded to have a permit issued and a burial place assigned so that the body might be decently buried. As of today, thousands of Baha'is have been divested of their homes and forced to live as exiles. Many have been driven from their villages and dwelling places and are living as wanderers and stranded refugees in other parts of Iran with no other haven and refuge but the Court of the All-Merciful God and the loving-kindness of their friends and relatives.

<p599>

378.21 It is a pity that the mass media, newspapers and magazines, either do not want or are not allowed to publish any news about the Baha'i community of Iran or to elaborate upon what is happening. If they were free to do so and were unbiased in reporting the daily news, volumes would have been compiled describing the inhumane cruelty to and oppression of the innocent. For example, if they were allowed to do so, they would have written that in Shiraz, seven courageous men and ten valiant women -- seven of whom were girls in the prime of their lives -- audaciously rejected the suggestion of the religious judge that they recant their Faith or, at least, dissemble their belief, and preferred death to the concealment of their Faith. The women, after hours of waiting with dried lips, shrouded themselves in their chadurs,+F689 kissed the noose of their gallows, and with intense love offered up their souls for the One Who proffereth life. The observers of this cruel scene might well ask forgiveness for the murderers at Karbila, since they, despite their countless atrocities, did not put women to the sword nor harass the sick and infirm. Alas, tongues are prevented from making utterance and pens are broken and the hidden cause of these brutalities is not made manifest to teach the world a lesson. The Public Prosecutor alleges that they were spies. Gracious God! Where in history can one point to a spy who readily surrendered his life in order to prove the truth of his belief?

[F689. The cloth with which Muslim women in the Middle East cover themselves when they go out in public and which Baha'i women in Iran are now forced to wear.]

378.22 Unfortunately it is beyond the scope of this letter to recount the atrocities inflicted upon the guiltless Baha'is of Iran or to answer, one by one, the accusations levelled against them. But let us ask all just and fair-minded people only one question: If, according to the much publicized statements of the Public Prosecutor, Baha'is are not arrested and executed because of their belief, and are not even imprisoned on that account, how is it that, when a group of them are arrested and each is charged with the same "crime" of "spying," if one of them recants his belief, he is immediately freed, a photograph of him and a description of his defection are victoriously featured in the newspapers, and respect and glory are heaped upon him? What kind of spying, subversion, illegal accumulation of goods, aggression or conspiracy or other "crime" can it be that is capable of being blotted out upon the recantation of one's beliefs? Is this not a clear proof of the absurdity of the accusations?

378.23 In spite of all this, the Baha'i community of Iran, whose principles have been described earlier in this statement, announces the suspension of the Baha'i organizations throughout Iran in order to establish its good intentions and in conformity with its basic tenets concerning complete obedience to the instructions of the Government. Henceforth, until the time when, God willing, the misunderstandings are eliminated and the realities are at last made <p600> manifest to the authorities, the National Assembly and all Local Spiritual Assemblies and their Committees are disbanded, and no one may any longer be designated a member of the Baha'i Administration.

378.24 The Baha'i community of Iran hopes that this step will be considered a sign of its complete obedience to the Government in power. It further hopes that the authorities- including the esteemed Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution who says that there is no opposition to and no enmity towards individual Baha'is, who has acknowledged the existence of a large Baha'i community and has, in his interview, guaranteed its members the right to live and be free in their acts of worship -- will reciprocate by proving their good intentions and the truth of their assurances by issuing orders that pledge, henceforth:

1. To bring to an end the persecutions, arrests, torture and imprisonment of Baha'is for imaginary crimes and on baseless pretexts, because God knows -- and so do the authorities -- that the only "crime" of which these innocent ones are guilty is that of their beliefs, and not the unsubstantiated accusations brought against them;

2. To guarantee the safety of their lives, their personal property and belongings, and their honour;

3. To accord them freedom to choose their residence and occupation and the right of association based on the provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic;

4. To restore all the rights which have been taken away from them in accordance with the groundless assertions of the Public Prosecutor of the country;

5. To restore to Baha'i employees the rights denied them by returning them to their jobs and by paying them their due wages;

6. To release from prison all innocent prisoners;

7. To lift the restrictions imposed on the properties of those Baha'is who, in their own country, have been deprived of their belongings;

8. To permit Baha'i students who wish to continue their studies abroad to benefit from the same facilities that are provided to others;

9. To permit those Baha'i youth who have been prevented from continuing their studies in the country to resume their education;

10. To permit those Baha'i students stranded abroad who have been deprived of foreign exchange facilities to receive their allowances as other Iranian students do;

11. To restore Baha'i cemeteries and to permit Baha'is to bury their dead in accordance with Baha'i burial ceremonies;

12. To guarantee the freedom of Baha'is to perform their religious rites; to conduct funerals and burials including the recitation of the Prayer for the Dead; to solemnize Baha'i marriages and divorces, and to carry out <p601> all acts of worship and laws and ordinances affecting personal status; because although Baha'is are entirely obedient and subordinate to the Government in the administration of the affairs which are in the jurisdiction of Baha'i organizations, in matters of conscience and belief, and in accordance with their spiritual principles, they prefer martyrdom to recantation or the abandoning of the divine ordinances prescribed by their Faith;

13. To desist henceforth from arresting and imprisoning anyone because of his previous membership in Baha'i organizations.

378.25 Finally, although the order issued by the Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution was unjust and unfair, we have accepted it. We beseech God to remove the dross of prejudice from the hearts of the authorities so that, aided and enlightened by His confirmations, they will be inspired to recognize the true nature of the affairs of the Baha'i community and come to the unalterable conviction that the infliction of atrocities and cruelties upon a pious band of wronged ones, and the shedding of their pure blood, will stain the good name and injure the prestige of any nation or government, for what will, in truth, endure are the records of good deeds, and of acts of justice and fairness, and the names of the doers of good. These will history preserve in its bosom for posterity.

Respectfully,

(SIGNED) The National Spiritual Assembly of The Baha'is Of Iran

 

379

Social and Economic Development -- New Field of Baha'i Service

20 October 1983

To the Baha'is of the world

Dear Baha'i friends,

379.1 The soul-stirring events in Baha'u'llah's native land and the concomitant advance into the theatre of world affairs of the agencies of His Administrative Order have combined to bring into focus new possibilities in the evolution of the Baha'i world community. Our Ridvan message this year captured these implications in its reference to the opening before us of a wider horizon in whose light can dimly be discerned new pursuits and undertakings upon which we must soon embark. These portend our greater involvement in the development of the social and economic life of peoples.

<p602>

Dynamic Coherence Between the Spiritual and Practical Requirements of Life

379.2 From the beginning of His stupendous mission, Baha'u'llah urged upon the attention of nations the necessity of ordering human affairs in such a way as to bring into being a world unified in all the essential aspects of its life. In unnumbered verses and tablets He repeatedly and variously declared the "progress of the world" and the "development of nations" as being among the ordinances of God for this day.+F690 The oneness of mankind, which is at once the operating principle and ultimate goal of His Revelation, implies the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth. The indispensability of this coherence is unmistakably illustrated in His ordination of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the spiritual centre of every Baha'i community round which must flourish dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of mankind. Thus, we can readily appreciate that although it has hitherto been impracticable for Baha'i institutions generally to emphasize development activities, the concept of social and economic development is enshrined in the sacred Teachings of our Faith. The beloved Master, through His illuminating words and deeds, set the example for the application of this concept to the reconstruction of society. Witness, for instance, what social and economic progress the Iranian believers attained under His loving guidance and, subsequently, with the unfailing encouragement of the Guardian of the Cause.

[F690. TB, pp. 129-30.]

Self-Sufficiency, Self-Reliance, and the Preservation of Human Honour

379.3 Now, after all the years of constant teaching activity, the Community of the Greatest Name has grown to the stage at which the processes of this development must be incorporated into its regular pursuits; particularly is action compelled by the expansion of the Faith in Third World countries where the vast majority of its adherents reside. The steps to be taken must necessarily begin in the Baha'i Community itself, with the friends endeavouring, through their application of spiritual principles, their rectitude of conduct and the practice of the art of consultation, to uplift themselves and thus become self- sufficient and self-reliant. Moreover, these exertions will conduce to the preservation of human honour so desired by Baha'u'llah. In the process and as a consequence, the friends will undoubtedly extend the benefits of their efforts to society as a whole, until all mankind achieves the progress intended by the Lord of the Age.

An Office of Social and Economic Development at the World Centre

379.4 It is indeed propitious that systematic attention be given to this vital sphere of Baha'i endeavour. We are happy, therefore, to announce the establishment <p603> at the World Centre of the Office of Social and Economic Development, which is to assist the Universal House of Justice to promote and co-ordinate the activities of the friends throughout the world in this new field.

379.5 The International Teaching Centre and, through it, the Continental Boards of Counsellors are poised for the special responsibilities which devolve upon them to be alert to possibilities for extending the development of social and economic life both within and outside the Baha'i Community, and to advise and encourage the Assemblies and friends in their strivings.

Working from the Grass Roots

379.6 We call now upon National Spiritual Assemblies to consider the implications of this emerging trend for their respective communities, and to take well-conceived measures to involve the thought and actions of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individuals in the devising and implementing of plans within the constraints of existing circumstances and available resources. Progress in the development field will largely depend on natural stirrings at the grass roots, and it should receive its driving force from those sources rather than from an imposition of plans and programmes from the top. The major task of National Assemblies, therefore, is to increase the local communities' awareness of needs and possibilities, and to guide and co-ordinate the efforts resulting from such awareness. Already in many areas the friends are witnessing the confirmations of their initiatives in such pursuits as the founding of tutorial and other schools, the promotion of literacy, the launching of rural development programmes, the inception of educational radio stations, and the operation of agricultural and medical projects. As they enlarge the scope of their endeavours other modes of development will undoubtedly emerge.

379.7 This challenge evokes the resourcefulness, flexibility and cohesiveness of the many communities composing the Baha'i world. Different communities will, of course, perceive different approaches and different solutions to similar needs. Some can offer assistance abroad, while, at the outset, others must of necessity receive assistance; but all, irrespective of circumstances or resources, are endowed with the capacity to respond in some measure; all can share; all can participate in the joint enterprise of applying more systematically the principles of the Faith to upraising the quality of human life. The key to success is unity in spirit and in action.

Development Activities -- A Reinforcement of the Teaching Work

379.8 We go forward confident that the wholehearted involvement of the friends in these activities will ensure a deeper consolidation of the community at all levels. Our engagement in the technical aspects of development should, however, not be allowed to supplant the essentials of teaching, which remains the primary duty of every follower of Baha'u'llah. Rather should our increased activities in the development field be viewed as a reinforcement of the teaching <p604> work, as a greater manifestation of faith in action. For, if expansion of the teaching work does not continue, there can be no hope of success for this enlarged dimension of the consolidation process.

Call to action

379.9 Ultimately, the call to action is addressed to the individual friends, whether they be adult or youth, veteran or newly enrolled. Let them step forth to take their places in the arena of service where their talents and skills, their specialized training, their material resources, their offers of time and energy and, above all, their dedication to Baha'i principles, can be put to work in improving the lot of man.

379.10 May all derive enduring inspiration from the following statement written in 1933 by the hand of our beloved Guardian:

379.10a The problems which confront the believers at the present time, whether social, spiritual, economic or administrative will be gradually solved as the number and the resources of the friends multiply and their capacity for service and for the application of Baha'i principles develops. They should be patient, confident and active in utilizing every possible opportunity that presents itself within the limits now necessarily imposed upon them. May the Almighty aid them to fulfil their highest hopes ...+F691

[F691. Letter dated 11 March 1933 to an individual.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

380

Passing of Continental Counsellor Raul Pavon

23 October 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

380.1 DEEPLY DEPLORE LOSS ZEALOUS SERVANT CAUSE BAHA'U'LLAH RAUL PAVON DISTINGUISHED PROMOTER FAITH AND INDEFATIGABLE WORKER IN TEACHING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES LATIN AMERICA.+F692 HIS OUTSTANDING SERVICES AS MEMBER BOARD COUNSELLORS AMERICAS AND UNIQUE ENDEAVOURS ESTABLISHMENT FIRST BAHA'I RADIO STATION WARMLY REMEMBERED. PRAYING HOLY SHRINES PROGRESS HIS RADIANT SOUL WORLDS GOD AND SOLACE LOVING COMFORT HIS BEREAVED FAMILY. FEEL CONFIDANT HIS DEARLY CHERISHED PARENTS REJOICE ABHA KINGDOM RANGE HIS DEDICATED SERVICES. URGE ALL COMMUNITIES AMERICAS HOLD MEMORIAL GATHERINGS BEFITTING HIS HIGHLY VALUED CONTRIBUTIONS BELOVED FAITH.

[F692. For an account of the life and services of Raul Pavon, see BW 19:616.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p605>

381

Continued Pressure against the Baha'is of Iran

7 November 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

381.1 Recent events in Iran following the banning of the Baha'i administration indicate, unfortunately, the continuation of intense pressures against the defenceless Baha'i community in that country. Many of these pressures are being exerted by the authorities in the hope that the Baha'is will recant their faith and trade their love of Baha'u'llah for the comfort and security which the authorities offer to them in exchange.

381.2 With great sadness the Universal House of Justice announces that many friends in prison are being tortured when they refuse to submit to the will of the authorities to deny their love for Baha'u'llah. In addition, while it is true that no Baha'is have been executed since the statement calling for the disbanding of the administration of the Faith was made by the Attorney-General on 29 August, it has been reported that on 19 September a Baha'i farmer in the town of Khuy, Mr Akbar Haqiqi, died as a result of a beating by a mob instigated by the clergy. Moreover, at least 140 Baha'is have been arrested in all parts of the country following the Attorney-General's statement, 50 of whom were detained on 30 October in the Caspian Sea area. Although a number of the friends have been released, the total number of Baha'is still imprisoned in Iran, according to our records, stands at over 450.

381.3 Three believers who were advanced in age have died in prison and thus have joined the ranks of those who have laid down their lives in service to the Cause. They are: Mr Husayn Nayyiri-Isfahani, 64 years old -- imprisoned in Isfahan and died just as he was going into court for his trial on 29 November 1982. Mr Ahmad-'Ali Thabit-Sarvistani, 67 years old -- died in prison in Shiraz on 30 June 1983. Mr Muhammad Ishraqi, 81 years old, an Auxiliary Board member -- died in prison in Tihran on 31 August 1983.

381.4 Word has also recently been received that in the city of Dizful, a Baha'i woman, Mrs Iran Rahimpur (Khurma'i), was executed on 12 May 1982 after giving birth to her child. The baby was taken away by the Muslims and his fate is unknown.

381.5 One of the most obvious examples of persecution and proof of the evil intention of the Iranian authorities to uproot the Faith in that land is the destruction and desecration of Baha'i cemeteries. Recently there was an official <p606> advertisement in the newspapers in Iran indicating that the tombstones in the Baha'i cemetery in Tihran were being put up for sale. Since all markers on the graves are apparently being eliminated, it is possible that no trace of the Baha'i cemetery will remain in future. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

382

Appointment of Continental Counsellors

6 December 1983

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

382.1 The Universal House of Justice announces with pleasure the appointment of the following Continental Counsellors:

In Africa: Mr Mabuku Wingi

In the Americas: Mrs Isabel R de Calderon

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

383

Response of Individuals to Persecution of Iranian Baha'is

7 December 1983

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

Dear Baha'i friends,

383.1 In recent months the Universal House of Justice has received comments from individual American believers expressing their distress over the continuing persecution of their beloved co-workers in Iran, and proposing such ways of registering their protest as public demonstrations and the wearing of armbands and ribbons. Consideration of these comments has prompted the instruction of the House of Justice that we write you thus. The need for a proper perspective

383.2 It is indeed difficult, given the heartbreaking disabilities imposed upon the Iranian Baha'i Community and the seeming impotence of the American Community <p607> directly to effect a positive change, for the friends to be at case.+F693 But that the situation in Iran, grave as it is, should lead to feelings of depression and alienation on the part of the American believers, as has been reported, or that it should be allowed to hamper their success in teaching on the home-front, suggests the need for a proper perspective. You will sense in the comments and appeals of the beloved Guardian addressed to the American Community during 1955-56 a striking resemblance between the reactions and attitudes of the friends towards the crisis then and now. A rereading of his letter of 20 August 1955 describing the situation then and the opportunities it created for the proclamation of the Faith, and his cables of 5 January, 2 February and 22 June

[F693. Relations between the United States and Iran at the time were antagonistic. On 4 November 1980, Iranians stormed the American Embassy and held United States diplomatic and military personnel hostage until 18 January 1981. The United States government responded by freezing millions of dollars of Iranian assets held by United States banks and companies. The enmity between the two governments made it all the more difficult for the American Baha'i community to initiate effective measures to ease the suffering of the Baha'is of Iran.]

1956 (Citadel of Faith, pages 133-42) urging action is most instructive. The American Community has displayed in the past a tendency towards periodic immobility, a condition the Guardian commented upon from time to time and that was the main concern of his last letter to the America dated 21 September 1957 (Citadel of Faith, pages 151-58). While the House of Justice does not now have the impression that the American believers as a whole are depressed, it feels it might be helpful to all concerned to make the following comments on the basis of that assumption, as conveyed in the correspondence received.

383.3 The American Baha'i Community has for many years been in the forefront of defending the weak and oppressed. Its distinction in this respect won the repeated praise of the beloved Guardian, as, for example, The Advent of Divine Justice, his celebrated letter of 25 December 1938, affirms. Against an enumeration of afflictions that at that time threatened to force the majority of the existing Baha'i communities into the shadows of retreat, he described the Baha'i Community in North America as the "one chief remaining citadel, the mighty arm which still raises aloft the standard of an unconquerable Faith."+F694 The many instances during the subsequent years in which that Community came to the aid of other defenceless communities are a testimony to the effectiveness of the American responses in times of need and trouble. But the situation in the world and in the Baha'i community has changed. Consequently, the accustomed reactions to American interventions have also changed. While this change does not nullify the pre-eminent role destined for America in the eventual efflorescence of Baha'u'llah's system in the world, it does require the American believers to obtain a deeper understanding of their situation in relation to the changed circumstances.

[F694. ADJ, p. 6.]

<p608>

A Combination of Pragmatism and Spirituality

383.4 The friends' response to the Iranian situation should neither be solely pragmatic nor solely spiritual, but a combination of both; moreover, it must not only meet the test of the immediate crisis, it must also match the challenge of the historic moment. In both these respects a fair appraisal of the results thus far should steel their resolve, not induce depression. Even though when viewed from the truculent reactions of the powers in Iran, the petitions and protests of the American Community in particular, the Baha'i communities in general, appear to have been ineffective in stemming the persecutions of our brethren, there is strong reason to believe that had the Baha'is around the world not taken these actions, the plight of the Iranian friends would be far more tragic. And while there is a vast array of direct action that could be, or could have been, contemplated, not every proposed action is fitting or timely. Actions perceived to be appropriate within the framework of American society can be counterproductive when viewed in the broader framework of a world community. The Baha'i world, in its complex diversity, has been guided to act according to the assessment by the House of Justice of the immediate circumstances and the resource at hand, and in consideration of the opinions and judgements of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran, which until its recent disbanding, functioned with heroic verve in defending the rights of those under its charge. Since the Baha'i Community must operate as a cohesive entity, it is not conducive to its success for any single unit of that world-embracing organism to go off at a tangent in its reactions to the situation, as well-intentioned as that unit might be.

A Review of Significant Achievements

383.5 The House of Justice suggests that the American friends look at the great contrast between the relatively low profile the Faith kept before the crisis and the obvious prominence it has achieved since then; that they consider the remarkable impression that the national Baha'i communities throughout the world have made upon their national governments and international organizations; that they contemplate the extraordinary breakthroughs for the Faith in the media of the world compared to the media's reticence toward the Cause a few years ago; and, finally, that they think of the implications of all these new advantages for the teaching work and determine dispassionately whether, in fact, the opportunities for the progress of the Faith are greater or lesser than before.

Opposition -- Creating Opportunities for Progress

383.6 There is no gainsaying the insight set forth in the Teachings that opposition to the Faith creates opportunities for its progress. By their radiant submission to this insight, the Iranian Baha'is have surely demonstrated their conviction as to its potency. Motivated by their understanding of it, a number of <p609> Baha'i communities in different parts of the world have engaged in activities that are producing concrete results in the expansion and consolidation of the Faith. For the American believers to give true expression to the anguish they feel over the persecution of their brethren, they too must capture the value of this insight and act upon it. The vision, the admonitions, the encouragement which The Advent of Divine Justice conveyed so many years ago, and which the Guardian elaborated in so many of his subsequent messages, are as appropriate, perhaps even more so, to the current situation as when they were first given. The responses he attempted long ago to evoke are no less desirable and necessary now; a deeper spiritual awareness, a deeper spiritual maturity are called for if the American community must pursue successfully its destined course. It should not be forgotten that the beloved Master promised, as the Guardian recalled in his early letters to America, to send intellectual, rather than physical, tests to the friends there in order to purify and better prepare them for their divinely appointed destiny. Nor should the prerequisites of success the Guardian outlined for the American Baha'i Community be overlooked. It is in the framework of these prerequisites that the success or failure of the American Community must ultimately be measured, not from the standpoint of any frustration in effecting a desired change in the Iranian situation, which, despite its admitted distress for the community, has done more to proclaim the Cause abroad than any other experience in this century.

Toward a Response Worthy of the Valorous Victims

383.7 In a society whose people are as Protestant and demonstrative as the Americans, such public displays and symbolic gestures as street demonstrations and the wearing of armbands and ribbons may have a certain appeal to public attention and may even prove to be effective in the proper context and under the proper circumstances. But the evocative power of such activities is difficult to sustain over a long period. Particularly is this so in your country where the public demonstrations of a myriad groups constantly compete for attention. The House of Justice feels that while these ephemeral activities might relieve the immediate anxieties of some of the friends, they would have no measurable effect on the course of events in Iran. Our human resources are so limited, they must be devoted to the most effective means of responding to the situation. Of infinitely more value are actions that reflect the spiritual profundity underlying these persecutions and that match the dignity, radiance and optimism for the Faith of the valorous victims, who, as their published testimonies show, are quite clear about the reasons for their suffering and dying. Moreover, in the long view, it would not serve the best interests of the Faith for its members, at the very time of their emergence from obscurity, to impress themselves upon the consciousness of the public as a community identified with such symbols as armbands and ribbons.

<p610>

383.8 An important point to bear in mind is that our activities in defence of the Iranian believers must be supported by those toward the accomplishment of our stated goals. Preoccupation with the Iranian crisis, at the expense of neglecting the Seven Year Plan, would divert the Baha'i world community from achieving the very success necessary to the strengthening of the Faith and the confounding of its enemies. Such a neglect would be unworthy of the sufferings of the Iranian friends. Indeed, the ideal being constantly pursued is to defend them vigorously, while, at the same time, exploiting the opportunities created by their sacrifices to promote the Cause of God. The unprecedented publicity, the unremitting appeals to governments and international bodies, the increased contacts with leaders of thought and, above all, the redoubling of teaching activities and the deeper consolidation of the Baha'i Community, as called for by the House of Justice, are ultimately the best means of defending and securing the relief of the beleaguered Iranian Community; besides, by these means will the world community of Baha'is be better prepared to meet the inevitable opposition yet to come elsewhere.

383.9 It is the fervent prayer of the House of Justice that the American friends will be sustained by the same unconquerable spirit that fortifies the resolute faith of their brothers and sisters in Iran, that they will be refreshed from the same fountain of hope inspired by Baha'u'llah's incontrovertible assurance to the loved ones of God in that land, whom He exhorts "to patience, to acquiescence, and to tranquillity," and addresses in these consoling words:

Whatever hath befallen you, hath been for the sake of God. This is the truth, and in this there is no doubt. You should, therefore, leave all your affairs in His Hands, place your trust in Him, and rely upon Him. He will assuredly not forsake you. In this, likewise, there is no doubt. No father will surrender his sons to devouring beasts; no shepherd will leave his flock to ravening wolves. He will most certainly do his utmost to protect his own.

If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God's all-encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one's cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter. Our intent is that all the friends should fix their gaze on the Supreme Horizon, and cling to that which hath been revealed in the Tablets. ...+F695

[F695. Excerpts from "Fire and Light", in BW 18:10.]

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p611>

384

Service in Voluntary Non-Sectarian Organizations

13 December 1983

To the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha'is of Alaska, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Hawaiian Islands, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States

Dear Baha'i friends,

384.1 The Universal House of Justice has been consulting upon aspects of youth service in pioneering throughout the Baha'i world, and has requested that we convey its views on service in other lands undertaken by Baha'i youth with voluntary non-sectarian organizations.

384.2 In the past, the policy adopted by some National Assemblies was to discourage young Baha'is from enrolling to serve in activities sponsored by non-Baha'i voluntary organizations, as the Assemblies were under the impression that these young people would not be able to engage in direct teaching, nor participate, for the most part, in Baha'i activities while serving abroad in such programmes. Perhaps in some instances the Baha'is involved were not sure how to function as members of the Baha'i community in order to give each aspect of their lives its proper due.

384.3 In the light of experience, however, it is now clear that we should have no misgivings in encouraging young Baha'is to enrol in such voluntary service organization programmes as the United Nations Volunteers, United States Peace Corps, Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO) and similar Canadian agencies, the British Volunteer Program (BVP) of the United Kingdom, and other voluntary service organizations. Other countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian lands are understood to have similar service organizations which are compatible with Baha'i development goals as now tentatively envisaged.

384.4 Some of the advantages of such service to the Faith are worth mentioning. Volunteers will receive thorough orientation and sometimes will be taught basic skills which will enable them to help the Baha'i community in projects undertaken in developing countries. Wherever they serve, these volunteers should be able to participate in Baha'i activities and contribute to the consolidation of the Baha'i community. The freedom to teach is to a large extent dependent upon the local interpretation of the group leader, but even if volunteers do not engage in direct teaching, being known as Baha'is and showing the Baha'i spirit and attitude towards work and service should attract favourable attention and may, in many instances, be instrumental in attracting indi-viduals to the Faith of Baha'u'llah. And finally, the period of overseas service often <p612> produces a taste for such service, and volunteers may well offer to directly promote the pioneer work either in the same country or in another developing country.

384.5 It is well known that a considerable number of Baha'is have already gone abroad to serve with these agencies and that others have espoused the Faith while serving in foreign lands with voluntary service organizations. ...

384.6 National Spiritual Assemblies which hold orientation courses for pioneers may benefit from including the subject of rural development in their programme, and, as in the past, from inviting people who have served in voluntary service organizations to participate in the planning of orientation programmes and in having them share their experiences as volunteer workers in developing countries.

384.7 The House of Justice expresses the hope that the information contained in this letter will dispel the misunderstandings that have in the past surrounded the question of participation of Baha'i youth in projects sponsored by non-Baha'i voluntary organizations.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

385

Acute Needs of the International Funds

2 January 1984

To the followers of Baha'u'llah in every land

Dearly loved friends,

385.1 The gathering of the representatives of the Baha'i world at the International Convention last Ridvan was held in an atmosphere charged with awareness of the sacrifices being made by our fellow believers in Iran and with eager anticipation of the new prospects opening before the Cause as a result of changing conditions in the world, the widespread publicity that the Faith has received in all continents, and the growing maturity of its administrative institutions.

385.2 During the succeeding eight months we have been developing the agencies and formulating the plans to enable the Faith to seize the unprecedented opportunities now before it, but we are confronted with a shortage of funds which, if not remedied, could frustrate these plans. For the last two years there has been a decline in the amount of contributions to the international funds of the Faith, and we note that many national funds also are facing the danger of deficits.

<p613>

Four Areas Requiring Immediate Action

385.3 Beyond carrying on the general work of the Cause there are four areas where immediate action is required.

385.4 The first is the completion of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkars in India and Samoa.+F696 Any delay in this work can but make it more expensive and also seriously injure the reputation of the Faith in these two vital areas.

[F696. The House of Worship in New Delhi, India, was dedicated 23-27 December 1986; the House of Worship in Apia, Western Samoa, was dedicated on 1 September 1984.]

385.5 The second is the development of the World Centre, the focal point of the entire Administrative Order of the Faith where, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, "the dust of its Founders reposes, where the processes disclosing its purposes, energizing its life and shaping its destiny all originate."+F697

[F697. GPB, p. 355.]

385.6 The third is in the prosecution of programmes of social and economic development. Baha'i communities in many lands have attained a size and complexity that both require and make possible the implementation of a range of activities for their social and economic development which will not only be of immense value for the consolidation of these communities and the development of their Baha'i life, but will also benefit the wider communities within which they are embedded and will demonstrate the beneficial effects of the Baha'i Message to the critical gaze of the world. Funds for the initiation and carrying out of these projects will be dispensed very gradually and with great care in order not to undermine the natural growth and sense of responsibility of these communities, but the field is so vast, the opportunities so far-reaching, that the need will stretch the resources of the Cause to the uttermost.

385.7 The fourth area is in the development and co-ordination of world-wide efforts to present to a far more extensive audience than ever before the divine remedy for the problems besetting society and its individual members, to establish the universality of the Faith and the implications of its teachings in the eyes of statesmen, and to ensure that the leaders of thought become thoroughly aware of the Baha'i Revelation and the profundity of its message.

385.8 The work on the Temples is already well advanced and must not be stopped; the development of the agencies of the World Centre, located in one of the principal trouble- spots of the world, cannot be indefinitely held back; the time for the expansion of social and economic development as an aspect of the work of the Cause has arrived and it cannot be neglected without grave consequences to the life of Baha'i communities; the unprecedented opportunity for proclamation of the Faith has been given to us as a direct result of the persecutions inflicted on the believers in the Cradle of the Faith. If we are to be worthy of the sacrifices of these valiant friends, and if we are not to betray the trust that Baha'u'llah has placed upon us for the redemption of <p614> mankind in this hour of its acute need, we must not fail to seize the opportunities now before us.

385.9 This fourfold challenge faces us at the very time when the world is in the midst of an economic crisis and is overshadowed with threats of war and other disasters. These conditions, far from daunting the followers of Baha'u'llah, can only drive home to us the urgency for our response.

Call for Renewed Consecration

385.10 We therefore call upon every true-hearted Baha'i to consecrate his life anew to the service of God and the betterment of the lot of mankind, so that manpower will not be lacking in the fields of pioneering, teaching and administrative service. Most urgently, may every believer give sacrificially of his substance, each in accordance with his means, to the funds of the Cause, local, national, continental and international, so that the material resources -- the lifeblood of all activities -- will be adequate to the tremendous work that we have to perform in the months and years immediately ahead. It requires a concentration of effort, a unity of purpose and a degree of self-sacrifice to match the heroic exertions of the victors of past plans in the progress of the Cause.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Universal House of Justice

 

386

Message to Youth -- International Youth Year

3 January 1984

To the Baha'i youth of the world

Dear Baha'i friends,

386.1 The designation of 1985 by the United Nations as International Youth Year opens new vistas for the activities in which the young members of our community are engaged. The hope of the United Nations in thus focusing on youth is to encourage their conscious participation in the affairs of the world through their involvement in international development and such other undertakings and relationships as may aid the realization of their aspirations for a world without war.

386.2 These expectations reinforce the immediate, vast opportunities begging our attention. To visualize, however imperfectly, the challenges that engage us now, we have only to reflect, in the light of our sacred Writings, upon the confluence of favourable circumstances brought about by the accelerated unfolding of the Divine Plan over nearly five decades, by the untold potencies of the spiritual drama being played out in Iran, and by the creative energy stimulated <p615> by awareness of the approaching end of the twentieth century.+F698 Undoubtedly, it is within your power to contribute significantly to shaping the societies of the coming century; youth can move the world.

[F698. The unfolding of 'Abdu'l-Baha's Divine Plan, the purpose of which is to spread the Baha'i Faith throughout the world, began in 1937. This was under Shoghi Effendi's direction with the launching of the first Seven Year Plan (1937-44) pursued by the Baha'is of the United States and Canada. The unfoldment continued with the second Seven Year Plan (1946-53) in North America and plans of varying durations in other countries, which were followed by the Ten Year World Crusade (1953-63). The Universal House of Justice, following the pattern Shoghi Effendi initiated, launched the Nine Year Plan (1964-73), the Five Year Plan (1974-79), the Seven Year Plan (1979-86), the Six Year Plan (1986-92.), and the Three Year Plan (1993-96). The execution of these plans resulted in an enormous increase in the size of the Baha'i community, in the number of its institutions, and in its ability to reflect the distinctive characteristics of Baha'i life.

The persecution of the Iranian Baha'is and the destruction of Baha'i holy places have released spiritual potencies that have further accelerated the unfolding of the Divine Plan. Moreover, the Universal House of Justice, in its Ridvan 1987 letter, identified the persecution of the Iranian Baha'is as "the mainspring" of the world-wide attention being focused on the Baha'i Faith.

The approaching end of the twentieth century is significant, for 'Abdu'l-Baha predicted that the unity of nations will be achieved in the twentieth century. For a discussion of the imminence of the Lesser Peace, see letter dated 29 July 1974 (no. 149). For Shoghi Effendi's explanation of the synchronization of the Lesser Peace, the development of Baha'i institutions, and the completion of the buildings on the Arc at the Baha'i World Centre, see message dated 5 June 1975 on the significance of the Seat of the Universal House of Justice (no. 164).]

386.3 How apt, indeed how exciting, that so portentous an occasion should be presented to you, the young, eager followers of the Blessed Beauty, to enlarge the scope of your endeavours in precisely that arena of action in which you strive so conscientiously to distinguish yourselves! For in the theme proposed by the United Nations -- "Participation, Development, Peace" -- can be perceived an affirmation that the goals pursued by you, as Baha'is, are at heart the very objects of the frenetic searchings of your despairing contemporaries.

386.4 You are already engaged in the thrust of the Seven Year Plan, which provides the framework for any further course of action you may now be moved by this new opportunity to adopt. International Youth Year will fall within the Plan's next phase; thus the activities you will undertake, and for which you will wish to prepare even now, cannot but enhance your contributions to the vitality of that Plan, while at the same time aiding the proceedings for the Youth Year. Let there be no delay, then, in the vigour of your response.

Providing a Living Example of Virtue

386.5 A highlight of this period of the Seven Year Plan has been the phenomenal proclamation accorded the Faith in the wake of the unabating persecutions in Iran; a new interest in its Teachings has been aroused on a wide scale. Simultaneously, more and more people from all strata of society frantically seek their true identity, which is to say, although they would not so plainly admit it, the spiritual meaning of their lives; prominent among these seekers are the young. Not only does this knowledge, open fruitful avenues for Baha'i <p616> initiative, it also indicates to young Baha'is a particular responsibility so to teach the Cause and live the life as to give vivid expression to those virtues that would fulfil the spiritual yearning of their peers.

386.6 For the sake of preserving such virtues much innocent blood has been shed in the past, and much, even today, is being sacrificed in Iran by young and old alike. Consider, for example, the instances in Shiraz last summer of the six young women, their ages ranging from 18 to 25 years, whose lives were snuffed out by the hangman's noose. All faced attempted inducements to recant their faith; all refused to deny their Beloved. Look also at the accounts of the astounding fortitude shown over and over again by children and youth who were subjected to the interrogations and abuses of teachers and mullas and were expelled from school for upholding their beliefs. It, moreover, bears noting that under the restrictions so cruelly imposed on their community, the youth, rendered signal services, placing their energies at the disposal of Baha'i institutions throughout the country. No splendour of speech could give more fitting testimony to their spiritual commitment and fidelity than these pure acts of selflessness and devotion. In virtually no other place on earth is so great a price for faith required of the Baha'is. Nor could there be found more willing, more radiant bearers of the cup of sacrifice than the valiant Baha'i youth of Iran. Might it, then, not be reasonably expected that you, the youth and young adults living at such an extraordinary time, witnessing such stirring examples of the valour of your Iranian fellows, and exercising such freedom of movement, would sally forth, "unrestrained as the wind," into the field of Baha'i action?+F699

[F699. GWB, p. 339.]

Reinvigorating Individual Efforts

386.7 May you all persevere in your individual efforts to teach the Faith, but with added zest, to study the Writings, but with greater earnestness. May you pursue your education and training for future service to mankind, offering as much of your free time as possible to activities on behalf of the Cause. May those of you already bent on your life's work and who may have already founded families, strive toward becoming the living embodiments of Baha'i ideals, both in the spiritual nurturing of your families and in your active involvement in the efforts on the home-front or abroad in the pioneering field. May all respond to the current demands upon the Faith by displaying a fresh measure of dedication to the tasks at hand.

386.8 Further to these aspirations is the need for a mighty mobilization of teaching activities reflecting regularity in the patterns of service rendered by young Baha'is. The native urge of youth to move from place to place, combined with their abounding zeal, indicates that you can become more deliberately and numerously involved in these activities as travelling teachers. One pattern of <p617> this mobilization could be short-term projects, carried out at home or in other lands, dedicated to both teaching the Faith and improving the living conditions of people. Another could be that, while still young and unburdened by family responsibilities, you give attention to the idea of volunteering a set period, say, one or two years, to some Baha'i service, on the home-front or abroad, in the teaching or development field. It would accrue to the strength and stability of the community if such patterns could be followed by succeeding generations of youth. Regardless of the modes of service, however, youth must be understood to be fully engaged, at all times, in all climes and under all conditions. In your varied pursuits you may rest assured of the loving support and guidance of the Baha'i institutions operating at every level.

386.9 Our ardent prayers, our unshakeable confidence in your ability to succeed, our imperishable love surround you in all you endeavour to do in the path of service to the Blessed Perfection.

The Universal House of Justice

 

387

Death of Three More Iranian Baha'is and Arrest of 250 More

17 January 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

387.1 PRESSURES AGAINST BELEAGUERED BRETHREN CRADLE FAITH UNCEASING. THREE MORE STALWART SUPPORTERS GREATEST NAME JOINED RANKS MARTYRS, AS FOLLOWS:

- MR 'ABDU'L-MAJID MUTAHHAR IMPRISONED ISFAHAN 4 SEPTEMBER 1983 DIED SHORTLY AFTER CONFINEMENT.

- MR RAHMATU'LLAH HAKIMAN MYSTERIOUSLY PASSED AWAY IN PRISON IN KIRMAN EARLY JANUARY 1984 FEW DAYS AFTER BEING IMPRISONED.

- ON 19 NOVEMBER IN VILLAGE OF MUHAMMADIYYIH NEAR ISFAHAN, MR BAHMAN DIHQANI, WELL KNOWN AND RESPECTED BAHA'I, DIED AS RESULT OF MOB ATTACK. SINCE BURIAL NOT ALLOWED HIS VILLAGE, BAHA'IS CARRIED BODY TO NAJAFABAD AND BURIED HIM THERE.

- FULL DETAILS CIRCUMSTANCES ALL THREE DEATHS UNKNOWN.

387.2 SINCE LAST REPORT 7 NOVEMBER OVER 250 BAHA'IS INCLUDING INFANTS AND CHILDREN HAVE BEEN ARRESTED IN ALL PARTS COUNTRY. NEARLY 70 OF THESE WERE DETAINED BETWEEN 31 DECEMBER 1983 AND 3 JANUARY 1984.

387.3 OTHER DESPICABLE ACTS AGAINST BAHA'IS INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS PERMITTED ENTER BAHA'I HOMES WITHOUT WARRANTS, CONFISCATE VALUABLE PERSONAL POSSESSIONS. COMPLAINTS TO AUTHORITIES UNAVAILING. <p618> SOME IMPRISONED BAHA'IS WHO WERE EXPELLED FROM THEIR JOBS HAVE BEEN PROMISED RELEASE IF THEY REPAY ALL SALARIES PAID TO THEM FROM BEGINNING THEIR EMPLOYMENT, SOMETIMES UP TO 30 YEARS. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

388

Passing of Ethel Revell, Member of the International Baha'i, Council

9 February 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

388.1 DEEPLY GRIEVED ANNOUNCE PASSING ETHEL REVELL SAINTLY STEADFAST SELF-SACRIFICING PROMOTER CAUSE GOD.+F700 BLESSED BY ASSOCIATION 'ABDU'L-BAHA COURSE HIS VISIT AMERICA AND RECEIPT TABLETS FROM HIM. HER TIRELESS LABOURS STERLING QUALITIES EARNED ADMIRATION SHOGHI EFFENDI WHO APPOINTED HER INTERNATIONAL BAHA'I COUNCIL AS ITS WESTERN ASSISTANT SECRETARY. THIS CROWN HER SERVICES CONTINUED MEMBERSHIP ELECTED COUNCIL SUBSEQUENT SERVICES MANY CAPACITIES WORLD CENTRE INCLUDING SECRETARY HANDS HOLY LAND. URGE NATIONAL ASSEMBLIES HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL GATHERINGS HER HONOUR IN ALL MASHRIQU'L-ADHKARS OTHER CENTRES. PRAYING HOLY SHRINES PROGRESS HER RADIANT SOUL ABHA KINGDOM.

[F700. For an account of the life and services of Ethel Revell, see BW 19:626-33.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

389

Message to National Baha'i Women's Conference, Kenya

26 March 1984

To the National Baha'i Women's conference, Nairobi, Kenya

389.10 OCCASION NATIONAL WOMEN'S CONFERENCE WE GREET PARTICIPANTS EXPRESSING HOPE DELIBERATIONS WILL GIVE DIRECTION AND STIMULATION TO EFFORTS BAHA'I WOMEN THROUGHOUT COUNTRY TO EXEMPLIFY BAHA'I WAY OF LIFE, TO STEP FORWARD AS SUSTAINING AND DRIVING FORCE COMMUNITY AND TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP THEIR PEERS. PRAYING HOLY SHRINES BOUNTIFUL BLESSING, FULFILMENT HIGHEST ASPIRATIONS.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p619>

390

Persecution of Baha'is in Morocco

29 March 1984

To National Spiritual Assemblies

390.1 FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE FOLLOWING DEVELOPMENTS HAVE OCCURRED RE MOROCCAN SITUATION:

1. COURT OF APPEAL CASABLANCA POSTPONED HEARING UNTIL 12 APRIL.

2. INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, A NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION BASED IN PARIS WHICH HAD SENT ITS REPRESENTATIVE TO MOROCCO FOR FIRST HAND COVERAGE DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING BAHA'I CASES, HAS JUST ISSUED PRESS RELEASE IN PARIS OPENLY REPORTING SENTENCES, DECLARING THESE INCOMPATIBLE WITH STANDARD TOLERANCE PRACTISED IN MOROCCO AS WELL AS INCORPORATED ITS CONSTITUTION, AND WARNING THAT IF JUSTICE IS NOT DONE, FEDERATION IS PREPARED CALL ON OTHER INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES TAKE ACTION BEHALF BAHA'IS.

3. IF YOU ARE APPROACHED BY MEDIA YOU SHOULD STATE THAT ACTION TAKEN BY FEDERATION ARISES FROM FINDINGS ITS OWN REPRESENTATIVE; HOWEVER BAHA'IS THEMSELVES HAVE SO FAR REFRAINED FROM PUBLICITY AS THEY HOPE HEARINGS COURTS OF APPEAL WILL REDRESS WRONGS AND UPHOLD JUSTICE.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

391

Inaugural Broadcast of Radio Baha'i Bolivia

2 April 1984

To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Bolivia HAPPY

391.1 NEWS INITIAL BROADCAST RADIO BAHA'I CARACOLLO MARKED BY FAVOURABLE LOCAL RECOGNITION SIGNIFICANCE EVENT ENTIRE REGION. ASSURE PRAYERS AMPLE REWARDS YOUR LONG EFFORTS. ARDUOUS DAYS DEVELOPMENT FULL POTENTIALS POWERFUL INSTRUMENT TEACHING DEEPENING UPLIFTMENT PEOPLES ALTIPLANO NOW BEFORE YOU. MAY GUIDANCE BLESSED BEAUTY BE YOURS WIN LAURELS IN SERVICE BELOVED FAITH.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p620>

392

Insidious Turn of Persecution of Iranian Baha'is

10 April 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

392.1 PERSECUTION FRIENDS CRADLE FAITH PERSISTS, TAKING EVEN MORE INSIDIOUS TURN. IN MARCH AT LEAST THREE PRISONERS DIED UNDER MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES, TWO IN TIHRAN AND ONE IN BAFT, KIRMAN, BODY OF MUHSIN RADAVI, 55 YEARS OLD, SHOWED EVIDENCE OF HANGING. OTHER TWO, GHULAM- HUSAYN HASANZADIH-SHAKIRI, 80, AND NUSRATU'LLAH DIYA'I, 61, WERE BURIED WITHOUT FRIENDS RELATIVES BEING INFORMED.

392.2 ARRESTS CONTINUE WITH LEAST AMOUNT PUBLICITY. SINCE LAST REPORT 17 JANUARY ALTHOUGH SOME BAHA'I PRISONERS RELEASED, 111 HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, MOST OF WHOM WERE MEMBERS OF SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES BEFORE THEIR DISSOLUTION LAST YEAR. NUMBER BAHA'IS KNOWN TO BE IN PRISONS IN IRAN TOTALS 704.

392.3 ACCURATE INFORMATION IN HAND DESCRIBES TORTURES PERPETRATED AGAINST SOME VERY PROMINENT BAHA'IS. FOR EXAMPLE ONE BAHA'I SEVERELY TORTURED UNDER EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES FORCED CONFESS TO FALSE CHARGES. OTHERS SIMILARLY TORTURED RESISTED PRESSURES EXERTED ON THEM TO MAKE FALSE PUBLIC CONFESSIONS FOR BENEFIT RADIO TELEVISION. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

393

Execution of Three by Firing Squad

13 April 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

393.1 FURTHER OUR MESSAGE 10/11 APRIL JUST RECEIVED DISTRESSING NEWS EXECUTION BY FIRING SQUAD IN EVIN PRISON TIHRAN FOLLOWING BELIEVERS:

393.2 MR KAMRAN LUTFI, 32 YEAR OLD UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, IMPRISONED 5 MAY 1983

393.3 MR RAHIM RAHIMIYAN, 52 YEAR OLD BUSINESSMAN, IMPRISONED 5 MAY 1983

393.4 MR YADU'LLAH SABIRIYAN, 60 YEAR OLD PRINTING PRESS MANAGER, IMPRISONED 9 FEBRUARY 1982

393.5 SINCE EXECUTIONS NOT ANNOUNCED AND BODIES UNCEREMONIOUSLY BURIED WITHOUT FAMILIES RELATIVES BEING INFORMED, EXACT DATE EXECUTIONS UNKNOWN. FEARFUL OTHER BAHA'I PRISONERS RECEIVED SAME FATE.

393.6 NOW ESTABLISHED FACT THAT GHULAM-HUSAYN HASANZADIH-SHAKIRI WAS ALSO EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD INSTEAD OF DYING MYSTERIOUSLY IN PRISON AS REPORTED. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p621>

394

Ridvan Message 1984

Ridvan 1984

To the Baha'is of the world

Dearly loved friends,

394.1 The emergence from obscurity, which has been so marked a feature of the Cause of God during the first five years of the Seven Year Plan, has been attended by changes, both external and internal, affecting the Baha'i world community. Externally, there are signs of a crystallization of a public image of the Cause -- largely uninformed, however friendly -- while internally growing maturity and confidence are indicated by increased administrative ability, a desire for Baha'i communities to render service to the larger body of mankind and a deepening understanding of the relevance of the divine Message to modern problems. Both these aspects of change must be taken into consideration as we enter the third and final phase of the Seven Year Plan.

The Baha'is of Iran

394.2 The year just closing has been overshadowed by the continued persecution of the friends in Iran. They have been forced to disband their administrative structure, they have been harassed, dispossessed, dismissed from employment, made homeless and their children are refused education. Some six hundred men, women and children are now in prison, some denied any contact with their friends and relatives, some subjected to torture and all under pressure to recant their faith. Their heroic and exemplary steadfastness has been the mainspring in bringing the Cause out of obscurity, and it is the consolation of their hearts that their suffering results in unprecedented advances in teaching and proclaiming the divine Message to a world so desperately in need of its healing power. For this they embrace the final service of martyrdom. Our obligation is crystal clear. We cannot fail them now. Sacrificial action in teaching and promoting the Cause of God must follow every new instance of publicity arising from their persecution. Let this be our message to them of love and spiritual union.

Developments in the International Sphere

394.3 In the international sphere, the beloved Hands of the Cause, ever-growing in our love and admiration, have, whenever their health has permitted, continued to uplift and encourage the friends and to promote the unity and onward march of the army of life. The International Teaching Centre, operating from its world seat, has provided loving and wise leadership and direction to the Boards of Counsellors.+F701 Its sphere of service has been immensely <p622> extended by the assignment of new responsibilities and by raising the number of its Counsellor members to seven. The dedicated services of the Counsellors in all the continents, ably supported by the Auxiliary Board members, have been invaluable in fostering the spiritual health and integrity of the world-wide community. To develop further this vital organ of the Administrative Order, it has been decided to establish a term of five years' service for those appointed to the Auxiliary Boards, commencing 26 November 1986. The work of the Baha'i International Community in relationship with the United Nations has brought increasing appreciation of our social attitudes and principles, and in some instances -- notably the sessions on human rights -- the Baha'i participation has been spectacular, again resulting from the heroism of the Persian friends. The Geneva office has been consolidated and additional staff engaged to deal with its expanding activities. In spite of severe problems the construction of the Indian and Samoan Houses of Worship has progressed satisfactorily, and the latter will be dedicated and opened to public worship between 30 August and 3 September 1984, when the Universal House of Justice will be represented by the Hand of the Cause Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum. Immediately following the International Convention last Ridvan, two new National Spiritual Assemblies were formed -- in St. Lucia and Dominica. Two new radio stations will make their inaugural broadcasts this year, namely Radio Baha'i of Bolivia, at Caracollo, and WLGI, the Baha'i radio station at the Louis Gregory Institute, in the United States.+F702 Baha'i membership in eleven countries, all in the Third World and nine of them island communities, have reached or surpassed one per cent of the total population.

[F702. The Louis Gregory Baha'i Institute is a permanent Baha'i teaching institute near Hemingway, South Carolina, that operates under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States.]

[F701. For messages concerning the establishment and duties of the International Teaching Centre, see messages dated 5 June 1973 (no. 130, 8 June 1973 (no. 132), and 19 May 1983 (no. 361).]

394.4 During the final months of the second phase of the Seven Year Plan a generous response has been made by believers and institutions alike to an appeal which set out the increasing needs of the International Fund. We are confident that sustained and regular contributions during the final phase of the Plan will enable its aims and objectives to be fully accomplished.

Entrance of the Cause onto the World Scene

394.5 The entrance of the Cause onto the world scene is apparent from a number of public statements in which we have been characterized as "model citizens," "gentle," "law- abiding," "not guilty of any political offence or crime" -- all excellent but utterly inadequate insofar as the reality of the Faith and its aims and purposes are concerned. Nevertheless people are willing to hear about the Faith, and the opportunity must be seized. Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with <p623> the true nature of Baha'u'llah's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world. Simultaneous with such a programme must be unabated, vigorous pursuit of the teaching work, so that we may be seen to be a growing community, while universal observance by the friends of the Baha'i laws of personal living will assert the fullness of, and arouse a desire to share in, the Baha'i way of life. By all these means the public image of the Faith will become, gradually but constantly, nearer to its true character.

Social and Economic Development

394.6 The upsurge of zeal throughout the Baha world for exploration of the new dimension of social and economic development is both heart-warming and uplifting to all our hopes. This energy within the community, carefully and wisely directed, will undoubtedly bring about a new era of consolidation and expansion, which in turn will attract further widespread attention, so that both aspects of change in the Baha'i world community will be interactive and mutually propelling.

Consolidation of the Community

394.7 A prime element in the careful and wise direction needed is the achievement of victory in the Seven Year Plan, paying great attention to the development and strengthening of Local Assemblies. Great efforts must be made to encourage them to discharge their primary duties of meeting regularly, holding the Nineteen Day Feasts and observing Holy Days, organizing children's classes, encouraging the practice of family prayers, undertaking extension teaching projects, administering the Baha'i Fund and constantly encouraging and leading their communities in all Baha'i activities. The equality of men and women is not, at the present time, universally applied. In those areas where traditional inequality still hampers its progress we must take the lead in practising this Baha'i principle. Baha'i women and girls must be encouraged to take part in the social, spiritual and administrative activities of their communities. Baha'i youth, now rendering exemplary and devoted service in the forefront of the army of life, must be encouraged, even while equipping themselves for future service, to devise and execute their own teaching plans among their contemporaries.

New National Spiritual Assemblies

394.8 Now, as we enter the final, two-year phase of the Seven Year Plan, we rejoice in the addition of nine new National Spiritual Assemblies; three in Africa, three in the Americas, two in Asia, one in Europe, bringing the total number to 143. Five more are to be established in Ridvan 1985. They are Ciskei, Mali and Mozambique in Africa and the Cook Islands and the West Caroline Islands in Australasia. Thus the Plan will end with a minimum of 148 National Spiritual Assemblies. By that time plans must be approved for the completion <p624> of the Arc around the Monument Gardens on Mount Carmel, including the siting and designs of the three remaining buildings to be constructed around that Arc.

An Increasing Relationship to the Non-Baha'i World

394.9 There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Baha'i world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for and response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world.

Goals for the Final Phase of the Plan

394.10 Accompanying this Ridvan message are a call for 298 pioneers to settle in 79 national communities, and specific messages addressed to each of the present 143 national communities. They are the fruit of intensive study and consultation by the Universal House of Justice and the International Teaching Centre, and set out the goals to be won and the objectives to be pursued by each national community so that Ridvan 1986 may witness the completion in glorious victory of this highly significant Plan. It will have run its course through a period of unprecedented world confusion, bearing witness to the vitality, the irresistible advance and socially creative power of the Cause of God, standing out in sharp contrast to the accelerating decline in the fortunes of the generality of mankind.

394.11 Beloved friends, the bounties and protection with which the Blessed Beauty is nurturing and sheltering the infant organism of His new world order through this violent period of transition and trial, give ample assurance of victories to come if we but follow the path of His guidance. He rewards our humble efforts with effusions of grace which bring not only advancement to the Cause but assurance and happiness to our hearts, so that we may indeed look upon our neighbours with bright and shining faces, confident that from our services now will eventuate that blissful future which our descendants will inherit, glorifying Baha'u'llah, the Prince of Peace, the Redeemer of Mankind.

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

<p625>

395

Use of Torture to Extract False Confessions from Iranian Baha'is

10 May 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Baha'i friends,

395.1 ON THURSDAY, 10 MAY 1984, THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE INSTRUCTED THE BAHA'I INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IN NEW YORK TO ISSUE THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE AND TO KEEP THE APPROPRIATE UNITED NATIONS AGENCIES INFORMED OF THE CONTINUING PERSECUTION OF THE BAHA'IS IN IRAN.

395.2 THE PERSECUTION OF THE BAHA'IS OF IRAN HAS TAKEN AN EXTREMELY SEVERE AND CRITICAL TURN.

395.3 OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS ABDUCTIONS, EXECUTIONS, THE IMPRISONMENT OF HUNDREDS, DISMISSAL FROM JOBS, EXPULSION OF BAHA'I CHILDREN FROM SCHOOLS, DESTRUCTION OF HOMES HAVE BEEN THE COMMON LOT OF THIS OPPRESSED COMMUNITY. NOW, HOWEVER, THE AUTHORITIES IN IRAN SEEM TO HAVE DECIDED TO SUBJECT PROMINENT BAHA'IS TO BARBARIC METHODS OF TORTURE TO EXTRACT FROM THEM CONFESSIONS TO THE FALSE CHARGES LEVELLED AGAINST THEM.

395.4 TORTURE HAS BEEN USED ON BAHA'I PRISONERS BEFORE, BUT HITHERTO THE PURPOSE HAS BEEN TO FORCE THEM TO RECANT THEIR FAITH OR REVEAL INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR FELLOW BELIEVERS. ALL BUT A FEW OF THE BAHA'IS REMAINED FIRM AND PREFERRED IMPRISONMENT AND DEATH TO RECANTATION OF THEIR FAITH. RECENTLY AN ADDED OBJECTIVE SEEMS TO INSPIRE THE GOVERNMENT'S TORTURE-MONGERS.

395.5 ALTHOUGH IN ALL THESE YEARS, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION, THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN IN POSSESSION, THROUGH CONFISCATION, OF ALL THE RECORDS AND FILES OF THE ENTIRE BAHA'I ADMINISTRATIVE SYSTEM IN IRAN, IT HAS FAILED TO PRODUCE A SINGLE SHRED OF EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT ITS REITERATED ACCUSATION THAT THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY IN IRAN IS A NETWORK OF FOREIGN SPIES AND AGENTS. IT WOULD SEEM THAT NOW IT HAS DETERMINED TO MANUFACTURE BAYAN MEANS OF FALSE CONFESSIONS EXTRACTED UNDER TORTURE, EVIDENCE TO ENABLE IT TO PUBLICLY JUSTIFY ITS INHUMAN PERSECUTION OF THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY OF IRAN. WE KNOW OF THREE BAHA'IS WHOSE WILLS HAVE BEEN BROKEN UNDER THIS BARBARIC TORTURE AND WHO HAVE SUBMITTED TO THE DEMANDS OF THE AUTHORITIES, MAKING STATEMENTS ADMITTING TO A SERIES OF CRIMES. DOUBTLESS THE AUTHORITIES HOPE TO PUBLISH SIMILAR "CONFESSIONS" IN THE DAYS TO COME, MADE BY OTHER HAPLESS VICTIMS OF THIS FLAGITIOUS TREATMENT

<p626>

395.6 WE KNOW THE NAMES OF MANY BAHA'IS WHO ARE NOW BEING TORTURED,

AND ALTHOUGH, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS, THESE CANNOT BE PUBLICIZED, THEY HAVE

BEEN GIVEN TO SOME INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS.

395.7 In addition to the above press release, supplementary information was telexed to

the Baha'i International Community and selected National Spiritual Assemblies:

395.7A FOLLOWING IS SOME DESCRIPTION TORTURES TO ENABLE YOU ANSWER QUESTIONS GIVE FURTHER BACKGROUND AS NECESSARY. THIS INFORMATION OBTAINED FROM RELIABLE SOURCES INCLUDING EYEWITNESSES.

395.7B REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS, USUALLY LATE AT NIGHT, WILL SUDDENLY CONVERGE UPON HOME BAHA'I FAMILY. AFTER ENGAGING IN VARIETY VERBALLY AND PHYSICALLY ABUSIVE ACTIONS INVOLVING THREATS AND RANSACKING HOUSEHOLD IN GUISE OF CONDUCTING SEARCH, THEY SEIZE ALL BAHA'I BOOKS AND PAPERS AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS AND TAKE AS PRISONER WHOMEVER THEY ARE INTERESTED IN APPREHENDING.

395.7C INTERROGATIONS OFTEN TAKE PLACE WHILE VICTIM SITS FACING WALL OR IS BLINDFOLDED SO THAT HE OR SHE MAY NOT IDENTIFY INTERROGATORS. USUALLY SUCH VICTIMS ARE CURSED, REVILED, BEATEN AND SUBJECTED TO EXTREME PSYCHOLOGICAL PRESSURES DURING COURSE THESE INTERROGATIONS.

395.7D THERE ARE INSTANCES OF PRISONERS BEING PLACED IN TOTAL SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN ISOLATED CELL 1.70 METRES BY 2 METRES AND HELD THERE FOR WEEKS OR EVEN MONTHS WITHOUT BEING ABLE TO SPEAK TO ANYONE WHATEVER, NOT EVEN PRISON GUARD.

395.7E IN OTHER INSTANCES BAHA'I PRISONER, MAN OR WOMAN, WILL BE TIED FIRMLY TO SPECIALLY DESIGNED TABLE AND WHIPPED MERCILESSLY ON ALL PARTS BODY, BUT PARTICULARLY ON SOLES FEET. PERIODICALLY PRISONER WILL BE CHECKED AS TO WHETHER HIS WILL HAS BEEN BROKEN AND HE IS WILLING EMBRACE PURPOSES PRISON AUTHORITIES. AS LONG AS HE RESISTS, THIS PHYSICAL ASSAULT IS REPEATED MORNING AND EVENING, RESULTING IN SWELLING PRISONER'S LEGS ON WHICH HE IS COMPELLED TO WALK. PRISONER EXPERIENCES GREAT THIRST IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES AND IS FORCED IN THIS CONDITION TO WALK UNAIDED TO SLAKE THIRST WITH GLASS WATER ALLURINGLY DISPLAYED SOME DISTANCE FROM HIM. INTERNAL BODILY INJURY ALSO RESULTS FROM SEVERE BEATINGS -- INVARIABLY PRISONER PASSES BLOOD IN URINE. TO KEEP PRISONER ALIVE SOMETIMES DOCTOR WILL BE SUMMONED TO APPLY SUPERFICIAL TREATMENT.

395.7F IN CASES WHEN BOTH WIFE AND HUSBAND ARE PRISONERS, ONE WILL BE SHOWN DAMAGED BODY OF THE OTHER DURING COURSE OF INTERROGATION. CRIES AND MOANS OF TORTURED PRISONERS REVERBERATE THROUGH PRISON AND ARE HEARD BY INMATES WHOSE TURN WILL SOON COME.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p627>

395.8 Kindly share this information with the believers in your community, and use it

as a basis for answering inquiries which you may receive from news media or government

officials.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

396

Summary of the Situation in Iran

21 May 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

396.1 FURTHER TO OUR MESSAGE OF 10 MAY REGARDING TORTURE BEING INFLICTED BAHA'IS IRAN WE SEND FOLLOWING SUMMARY OVERALL SITUATION THAT COUNTRY FROM MOST RECENT INFORMATION PROVIDED BY RELIABLE SOURCES.

396.2 1. SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION MORE THAN 300 RESIDENCES OF BAHA'IS HAVE BEEN PLUNDERED OR SET ON FIRE.

396.3 2. SOME 170 BAHA'IS, MOST OF THEM PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE BAHA'I COMMUNITY, HAVE BEEN KILLED BY A VARIETY OF METHODS, BUT PRINCIPALLY THROUGH EXECUTION BY FIRING SQUADS AND BY HANGING.

396.4 3. IN URBAN AREAS PROPERTIES BELONGING TO SEVERAL HUNDRED FAMILIES HAVE BEEN SEIZED, WHILE IN RURAL AREAS MANY ORCHARDS HAVE BEEN DESTROYED AND FARMS AND ARABLE LANDS CONFISCATED. PETITIONS TO THE AUTHORITIES FOR REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES HAVE BEEN IGNORED.

396.5 4. THE MINISTRY OF WORKS AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS FORMALLY INSTRUCTED INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL INSTITUTIONS NOT TO PAY THEIR BAHA'I STAFF.

396.6 5. MORE THAN 10,000 BAHA'IS EMPLOYED IN GOVERNMENT OFFICES OR IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR HAVE BEEN SUMMARILY DISCHARGED, THEIR RIGHTS TO PENSIONS AND OTHER EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS REVOKED. DEMANDS WERE MADE OF A NUMBER OF THEM TO REFUND THE SALARIES THEY HAD RECEIVED FOR THE DURATION OF THEIR EMPLOYMENT.

396.7 6. BAHA'I STUDENTS HAVE BEEN DISMISSED FROM ALL UNIVERSITIES AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING.

396.8 7. IN MOST CITIES AND PROVINCES, BAHA'I CHILDREN HAVE BEEN DENIED ENTRY TO SCHOOLS AND THEREFORE HAVE NO ACCESS TO BASIC EDUCATION.

396.9 8. SOME 700 BAHA'IS, INCLUDING MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN, ARE BEING HELD IN VARIOUS PRISONS THROUGHOUT IRAN.

396.10 9. FOR MORE THAN NINE MONTHS VISITS TO 40 BAHA'I PRISONERS HAVE BEEN STRICTLY PROHIBITED BY THE AUTHORITIES. THEIR FATE IS THEREFORE UNKNOWN.

396.11 10. IN EVIN AND GAWHAR-DASHT PRISONS A NUMBER OF BAHA'I PRISONERS ARE UNDERGOING RELENTLESS TORTURE IN AN EFFORT ON THE PART OF THE AUTHORITIES TO FORCE THEM TO ADMIT TO FALSE CHARGES OF ENGAGING IN ESPIONAGE AND ACTING AGAINST THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN. FOR A PERIOD <p628> OF MONTHS THEY HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO FLOGGINGS OF ALL PARTS OF THE BODY, PARTICULARLY THE LEGS AND FEET. SOMETIMES UP TO 400 STROKES BY WIRE CABLES HAVE BEEN ADMINISTERED TO ONE PRISONER, THEN HE OR SHE HAS BEEN MADE TO WALK. FINDING THIS IMPOSSIBLE, THE UNFORTUNATE PRISONER HAS BEEN FORCED TO CRAWL ON HANDS AND KNEES BACK TO A DARK CELL. IN MASHHAD AND YAZD BAHA'I PRISONERS ARE REGULARLY WHIPPED ON THE HEAD AND FACE WITH THICK PLASTIC TUBES, SIMILAR PROCEDURES ARE USED TO A LESSER DEGREE IN OTHER PRISONS. A NUMBER OF THESE VICTIMS OF TORTURE HAVE LOST THEIR SIGHT AND HEARING, OTHERS THEIR MENTAL COMPETENCE. THE BODIES OF FOUR PRISONERS SUBJECTED TO SUCH TREATMENT WERE SEEN BEFORE BEING, BURIED IN UNKNOWN GRAVES. IT IS THEREFORE FEARED THAT OTHER PRISONERS WHOSE BODIES HAVE BEEN SIMILARLY BURIED WITHOUT THEIR FAMILIES BEING NOTIFIED SUFFERED THE SAME FATE.

396.12 11. BAHA'IS ARE UNSAFE IN THEIR OWN HOMES, WHICH ARE ENTERED AT WILL, DAY OR NIGHT, BY REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS, WHO HARASS THE INHABITANTS BY INSULTING, THREATENING AND BEATING THEM. WHEN THE REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS INVADE A HOME WITH THE INTENTION OF ARRESTING A PARTICULAR BAHA'I, IF THAT PERSON HAPPENS TO BE ABSENT, THEIR PRACTICE IS TO SEIZE AS HOSTAGES OTHER MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD, EVEN CHILDREN, AND TO RANSACK THE PLACE, CONFISCATING WHATEVER THEY PLEASE.

396.13 12. WHENEVER THE HEAD OR SOME OTHER IMPORTANT MEMBER OF THE FAMILY HAS BEEN KILLED, AND OFTEN WHEN SUCH A PERSON HAS BEEN IMPRISONED, THOSE REMAINING BEHIND HAVE BEEN FORCED FROM THEIR HOMES AND NOT PERMITTED TO TAKE ANY BELONGINGS, EVEN IN THE DEAD OF WINTER. THE VICTIMS OF SUCH TREATMENT HAVE NO RECOURSE TO JUSTICE SINCE THEIR PETITIONS TO THE AUTHORITIES ARE IGNORED. BAHA'I FAMILIES IN ISFAHAN, MASHHAD, TIHRAN, URUMIYYIH AND YAZD IN PARTICULAR ARE AFFECTED BY THESE CONDITIONS. ...

396.14 FOLLOWING INFORMATION JUST RECEIVED: EXECUTION FOUR MORE COURAGEOUS BRETHREN IRAN

TABRIZ, 5 MAY - MR JALAL PAYRAVI, IMPRISONED 22 OCTOBER 1981 MR MAQSUD 'ALIZADIH, IMPRISONED 27 JANUARY 1982

TIHRAN, 15 MAY - MR 'ALI-MUHAMMAD ZAMANI, 45 YEARS OLD MR JAHANGIR HIDAYATI, 61 YEAR OLD CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER, MEMBER NOW DISSOLVED NATIONAL ASSEMBLY KIDNAPPED JUNE 1983

396.15 BOTH TORTURED DURING IMPRISONMENT

396.16 IN ADDITION, MR ASADU'LLAH KAMIL-MUQADDAM DIED IN PRISON 2 MAY, CIRCUMSTANCES UNKNOWN.

396.17 FRIENDS IRAN FEEL SITUATION DANGEROUS GREAT NUMBER OTHER BAHA'I PRISONERS. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p629>

397

The Development of the Soul and the Reconstruction of Society

12 June 1984

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

397.1 Your letter of 18 October 1983 was received by the Universal House of Justice and it was very glad to note that many of the problems seemed to have been resolved. It regrets the delay in replying to you, but, as you will understand, the pressure of work has been very heavy and, as the additional clarification that you requested did not seem to be a matter of urgency, a reply has been postponed until now. On the points you raised we have now been instructed to convey the following comments.

The purpose of Religion -- The Development of the Soul

397.2 As you quite correctly appreciate, the fundamental purpose of all religion is the spiritual development of the souls of human beings. This is expressed in the Short Obligatory Prayer, and also there is the following very clear statement written on behalf of the beloved Guardian to an individual believer on 8 December 1935:

397.2a How to attain spirituality is, indeed, a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory reply has been given or found, that modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundation of man's moral and spiritual life.

397.2b Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is a lack of spirituality. The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind, that people in general no longer feel the necessity of raising themselves above the forces and conditions of their daily material existence. There is not sufficient demand for things that we should call spiritual to differentiate them from the needs and requirements of our physical existence. The universal crisis affecting mankind is, therefore, essentially spiritual in its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man's outlook upon life is too crude and materialistic to enable him to elevate himself into the higher realms of the spirit.

397.2c It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has that fallen, religion seeks to improve and transform. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of <p630> meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Baha'u'llah has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Baha'i Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Baha'u'llah, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and become a dead thing.

397.2d The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore realize fully the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, [as] already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the religion of God. (Published in US Baha'i News, No. 102, August 1936, p. 3)

The Central Purpose of Baha'u'llah's Dispensation

397.3 In addition to this fundamental purpose underlying all Revelation, there is a particular central purpose for each Dispensation. The one for this Dispensation is the establishment of the oneness of the world of humanity, and it is a Baha'i teaching that the spiritual development of the soul requires not merely prayer and meditation, but also active service to one's fellowmen in accordance with the laws and principles of the Revelation of God. The reconstruction of human society and the spiritual advancement of individual souls go hand in hand.

Attaining Unity in Spirit and Action

397.4 People are in many different conditions, come from many different backgrounds, and face many different problems in attaining unity in spirit and practice. Our guiding light is the Message of Baha'u'llah. The Administrative Order is the strong framework within which we work and the channel for the out-flowing of the spirit into the world.

397.5 All Baha'is are fallible human beings, each one has his own insights, enthusiasms and degree of wisdom and understanding. Differences of viewpoint could cause the community to fragment into a thousand pieces, if it were not cemented together by the strong bond of the Covenant, and if the friends were not willing to subordinate their own ideas to the considered decisions that issue from the divinely ordained process of consultation and, at the same time, exercise the utmost forbearance towards their fellow believers, their individual characteristics and their shortcomings. One of the most potent statements of the Guardian, which illuminates many issues, is:

<p631>

397.5a Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority, but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Baha'i can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion and prudence on the one hand and fellowship, candour, and courage on the other.+F703

[F703. BA, pp. 63-64. Italics added.]

397.6 Since we are all imperfect and have to learn the perfect standard which Baha'u'llah has unveiled, there are often things in the Teachings themselves which individual believers find difficult, and which they have to strive to learn and understand. All the believers are growing and this is a gradual process. Each one, as you say, must develop wisdom, and with this must realize the fundamental importance of the unity of the community and the bond of love and affection among the believers, for the sake of which he will sacrifice many things. ...

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

398

Message to Baha'i Women's Conference in Cotonou, Benin

28 June 1984

To the Baha'i Women's Conference in Cotonou, Benin

398.1 AS FINAL YEAR UNITED NATIONS DECADE WOMEN APPROACHES BEFITTING YOU GATHER THIS HISTORIC CONFERENCE REVIEW ACHIEVEMENTS PLAN ENLARGE SCOPE ACTIVITIES FULFIL NOBLE ROLE WOMANKIND ENVISAGED BAHA'U'LLAH.+F704 PRAYING HOLY SHRINES DIVINE CONFIRMATIONS NOBLE ASPIRATIONS FRUITFUL DELIBERATIONS.

[F704. The conference was held 6-9 July 1984.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p632>

399

Execution of Nusratu'llah Vahdat in Mashhad

3 July 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

399.1 FURTHER DISTRESSING NEWS RECEIVED FROM IRAN OF EXECUTION BY HANGING OF NUSRATU'LLAH VAHDAT IN MASHHAD 17 JUNE. AN ADDITIONAL 51 BELIEVERS NOW HELD IN PRISONS IRAN, MAKING TOTAL OF 751, SOME OF WHOM ARE SUBJECTED TO CRUEL TORTURE. A NUMBER OF FRIENDS ARE NOW IN PARTICULAR DANGER. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

400

Execution of Ihsanu'llah Kathiri in Tihran

5 July 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

400.1 FURTHER OUR TELEX DATED 3 JULY WE HAVE JUST RECEIVED DISTRESSING NEWS OF EXECUTION IN TIHRAN ON 27 JUNE OF IHSANU'LLAH KATHIRI, 40 YEARS OLD, AFTER 11 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT HIS BODY UNCEREMONIOUSLY BURIED BY AUTHORITIES WITHOUT INFORMING FAMILY. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

 

401

Results of Baha'i Women's Conference in Cotonou, Benin

20 July 1984

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

401.1 HEARTS UPLIFTED NEWS FIRST INTER-REGIONAL WOMEN'S CONFERENCE. OFFERING PRAYERS THANKSGIVING FOR BOUNTIFUL CONFIRMATIONS. CONFIDENT SPIRIT GENERATED WILL BENEFIT BAHA'I WOMEN BENIN, INDEED ENTIRE REGION. PRAYING ADDED BLESSINGS BRILLIANT VICTORIES.

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p633>

402

Relationship Between Husband and Wife -- Further Comments

25 July 1984

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friend,

402.1 The Universal House of Justice received your letter which raised questions concerning the status of men and women especially within the family setting. We are requested by the House of Justice to convey to you the following points.

402.2 The Universal House of Justice invites you once again to carefully read the letter written on its behalf and addressed to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, dated 28 December 1980.+F705 This letter is published in the compilation Baha'i Marriage and Family Life, pp. 57-61.

[F705. See message no. 272.]

402.3 Authoritative interpretation of the Writings was the exclusive domain of 'Abdu'l- Baha and Shoghi Effendi. When the House of Justice stated that the "father can be regarded as the 'head' of the family," it was giving expression to its own inference as you indicate. This inference, as the letter to New Zealand points out, is based on the clear and primary responsibility of the husband to provide for the financial support of the wife and family, and on the provisions of the law of intestacy, which assigns special functions and rights to the eldest son.

402.4 The description of the husband as "head" of the family does not confer superiority upon the husband nor does it give him special rights to undermine the rights of the other members of his family. 'Abdu'l-Baha says:

402.4a The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered, and the rights of the individual members must not be transgressed. The rights of the son, the father, the mother -- none of them must be transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. ...+F706

[F706. PUP, p. 168.]

402.5 The relationship between family members represents a complex of mutual and complementary duties and responsibilities that are implemented within the framework of the Baha'i ideal of family life and are conducive to its unity. The concept of a Baha'i family is based on the principle that the man is charged with the responsibility of supporting the entire family financially, and the woman is the chief and primary educator of the children. This does not mean that these functions are inflexibly fixed and cannot be changed and <p634> adjusted to suit particular family situations. Furthermore, while primary responsibility is assigned, it is anticipated that fathers would play a significant role in the education of the children and women would be breadwinners. (See pages 59-60 of Baha'i Marriage and Family Life)+F707

[F707. See message dated 28 December 1980 (no. 272).]

402.6 The principle of the equality between women and men, like the other teachings of the Faith, can be effectively and universally established among the friends when it is pursued in conjunction with all the other aspects of Baha'i life. Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one's self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.

402.7 There are a number of Tablets on marriage. You are referred, for example, to Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 117-22, and Baha'i Prayers (United States, 1982 Edition), pp. 104-08.

402.8 In relation to the particular "Marriage Tablet" to which you refer, we provide, for your information, an extract from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly on 4 April 1976, which deals with the use of this "Tablet":

402.8a The so-called "Marriage Tablet" ... is not a Tablet at all but is an unauthenticated record by Ahmad Sohrab of a talk by 'Abdu'l-Baha. The friends may use it, but it should be made clear that this is not Scripture ...

402.9 The Promulgation of Universal Peace (1982 Edition) provides much useful source material on the subject of the equality of men and women. For talks of 'Abdu'l- Baha citing historical examples, see particularly:

- Talk to the Federation of Women's Clubs, pp. 74-77

- Talk to a woman's suffrage meeting, pp. 133-37

- Talk at Franklin Square House, pp. 280-84

402.10 We trust that the foregoing information will resolve your concerns and help to reinforce your sense of certitude.

With loving Baha'i greetings, Department of the Secretariat

<p635>

403

Dedication of the Mother Temple of the Pacific Islands, Apia, Western Samoa

August 1984

To the friends gathered in Apia, Western Samoa on the occasion of the dedication of the Mother Temple of the Pacific Islands+F708

[F708. The Mother Temple of the Pacific Islands was dedicated on 1 September 1984.]

Dearly loved friends,

403.1 In these historic days we are witnessing a major triumph in the development of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. Not only is the raising up of this House of Worship a further significant fulfilment of the Blessed Beauty's promise,+F709 it also presages a brilliant future in the Pacific for His Faith, whose quickening light is casting its rays on the peoples of this vast ocean. In his message to the Baha'i world in April 1957 the beloved Guardian, referring to the Pacific, wrote, "... Baha'i exploits bid fair to outshine the feats achieved in any other ocean, and indeed in every continent of the globe ..."+F710

[F710. MBW, p. 111.]

[F709. The promise referred to is the following statement from Baha'u'llah: "Should they attempt to conceal its [His Revelation's] light on the continent, it will assuredly rear its head in the midmost heart of the ocean, and, raising its voice, proclaim: 'I am the life-giver of the world!'" (WOB, p. 79)]

403.2 In reviewing the religious history of the Pacific during the Baha'i Dispensation we recall that it was only a short time prior to the Declaration of the Bab that the Teachings of Christ spread throughout these islands;+F711 that the Teachings of Baha'u'llah were first proclaimed there when the Hand of the Cause Agnes Alexander arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in December 1901;+F712 that at the beginning of the World Crusade in 1953 only a handful of islands had had any contact with the Faith; and that at Ridvan 1959 when the first regional National Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific was established in Suva there were in its area but twelve Local Spiritual Assemblies in nine island groups. Witness now what has happened in the quarter century since 1959.

[F712. For information on Miss Alexander's life, see footnote 98-4.]

[F711. The Bab declared His Mission on 23 May 1844. According to information obtained from the public library of Wilmette, Illinois, the first Christian mission in Samoa was established in 1830 by the London Missionary Society on the island of Savai'i.]

403.2a - The first reigning monarch in the world to embrace the Faith of Baha'u'llah is the Head of State of Western Samoa whose official residence is near the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar.+F713

[F713. The Head of State of Western Samoa referred to is Malietoa Tamunafili II. For announcements of his acceptance of the Baha'i Faith, his visit to the resting-place of Shoghi Effendi, and his participation in the dedication of the Samoan House of Worship, see messages dated 7 May 1973, and 5 October 1976 (nos 130 and 177).]

<p636>

403.2b - There are now a total of thirteen National Spiritual Assemblies in the homelands of the Polynesians, the Melanesians and the Micronesians.

The Caroline Islands

Fiji

The Hawaiian Islands

Kiribati

The Mariana Islands

The Marshall Islands

New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands

Papua New Guinea

Samoa

The Solomon Islands

Tonga

Tuvalu

Vanuatu

403.2c - Two additional National Spiritual Assemblies are to be formed at Ridvan

1985: those of The Cook Islands and the Western Caroline Islands.

403.2d - Nearly five hundred Local Spiritual Assemblies are established.

403.2e - Baha'is reside in nearly 2,000 localities.

403.2f - There are more than 31,000 believers in the Pacific.

403.2g - Baha'is constitute more than one percent of the total population in eight national communities in the Pacific.

403.2h - The seventh Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the world stands in all its glory on the mountainside at Tiapapata.+F714 This spot has now become the spiritual heart of the Baha'i communities in the Pacific basin.

[F714. The six other Mashriqu'l-Adhkars that have been constructed are found in Wilmette, near Chicago, USA; Kampala, Uganda; Ingleside, near Sydney, Australia; Langenhain, near Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Panama City, Panama; and New Delhi, India.]

403.3 The new Temple of light is the outward expression of the illumination of hearts and minds by the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, that process initiated in these islands at the turn of the century and now reaching a mighty crescendo. The effulgent light of His Teachings has aroused stirrings in the friends, impelling them to apply these heavenly principles in their personal lives and in the daily activities of their communities. Just as the spiritual illumination of the Baha'is is symbolized in the Temple, so the development of local community life in all its aspects, whether administrative or social, which flow from the fountainhead of faith in God's Revelation, will reach a fuller expression in the form of various dependencies around this edifice -- dependencies which the Guardian described as "institutions of social service as shall afford relief <p637> to the suffering, sustenance to the poor, shelter to the wayfarer, solace to the bereaved, and education to the ignorant."+F715

[F715. BA, p. 184.]

403.4 The dedication of this noble edifice will undoubtedly mark the beginning of a new phase in the growth of the Faith in this hemisphere. The portents of success are many and varied. The friendliness and spiritual perceptiveness of the people of the Pacific, the freedom enjoyed by the friends in travelling and sharing their faith with others, the absence hitherto of organized and concerted opposition to the Faith, the relatively low level of infection by the forces of materialism so rapidly invading every part of the world, and the genuine simplicity of the mode of life of the peoples of these islands -- all combine to make of the Pacific a region rich with promise for the further dramatic spread of the Faith and for the efflorescence of its community life.

403.5 Let the joyous spirit generated at this conference, reinforced by your common endeavours and crowned by your participation in the dedicatory ceremony, be the generating impulse for a mighty surge of teaching activity which will yield a vast increase in the number of followers of Baha'u'llah throughout the far-flung islands of the Pacific. As the Seven Year Plan hastens towards its conclusion, you have a priceless opportunity to take advantage of the favourable conditions in your region to win victories in the Plan which will astonish the world and will fulfil the great promises enshrined in our Writings. Our prayers ascend at the Holy Threshold for the success of your selfless endeavours in the path of His Cause.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

The Universal House of Justice

 

404

Introduction of the Law of Huququ'llah to the West

6 August 1984

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

Dear Baha'i friends,

404.1 We are requested by the Universal House of Justice to thank you for your letter of 10 July 1984 recounting the electrifying events which took place at the closing session of your last National Convention. The House of Justice was deeply moved to learn of the enthusiastic response that the delegates and others present made to the inspiring talk given by the Hand of the Cause of God Dhikru'llah Khadem, and by their desire, expressed on the scroll which <p638> you have forwarded to the World Centre, for the Law of Huququ'llah to be applied to all believers in the United States.+F716

[F716. At the Ridvan 1984 National Convention the Hand of the Cause of God Dhikru'llah Khadem spoke of the spiritual bounties that accrue when one obeys the law of Huququ'llah (Right of God). Delegates to the convention were moved to recommend that the National Spiritual Assembly ask the Universal House of Justice to make the law of Huququ'llah binding upon the Baha'is of the United States. The delegates, together with hundreds of visitors attending the convention, expressed the ardour of their request by signing their names to a scroll. For information on Huququ'llah, see the Glossary.]

404.2 In response to this petition the Universal House of Justice has decided that, although it is not yet timely to apply this mighty law in the West, it will send to the believers in the United States and other Western countries a translation into English of a compilation of texts so that they will be able to familiarize themselves with this subject. This translation is now being prepared and when it is complete an appropriate announcement will be made which will constitute the first step in the process of applying this law of God to the Western Baha'i communities.+F717

[F717. The compilation was sent to selected National Spiritual Assemblies with the 4 July 1985 letter (no. 430). For a copy of the compilation, see CC I:489-527.]

404.3 Kindly share this letter with the friends in your area of jurisdiction.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

 

405

Understanding the Laws of the Faith

12 August 1984

To an individual Baha'i

405.1 ... We are very glad to see that the Assembly is taking steps to educate the friends in the laws of the Faith and to emphasize the importance of obedience to them. ...

405.2 1. It would seem to be important to make clear to the friends that the "laws" of the Faith must be regarded in various lights. There are laws, ordinances, exhortations and principles, all of which are sometimes loosely referred to as "laws." All are very important for the life of the community and the spiritual life of the individual, but they are applied differently. Some affect the society and the social relationships, and the Spiritual Assemblies are responsible for their enforcement. If a believer breaks such a law, he is subject to the imposition of sanctions. Others, <p639> although of very great importance, are not sanctionable, because their observance is a matter of conscience between the individual and God; among these fall the laws of prayer and fasting and the law of Huququ'llah. Then there are those high ethical standards to which Baha'u'llah calls His followers, such as trustworthiness, abstention from backbiting, and so on; generally speaking, obedience to these is a matter for individual conscience, and the Assemblies should not pry into people's lives to see whether or not they are following them; nevertheless, if a believer's conduct falls so far below the standard set by Baha'u'llah that it becomes a flagrant disgrace and brings the name of the Faith into disrepute, the Assembly would have to intervene, to encourage the believer to correct his ways, to warn him of the consequences of continued misconduct, and possibly, if he does not respond, to deprive him of his administrative rights.

405.3 In other words, the friends should realize the importance of following all the teachings and not assume that merely because an offence is not punishable it is therefore less grave. Assemblies, on the other hand, should distinguish clearly between those laws which it is their duty to enforce, those which should be left strictly to the conscience of the individual, and those in which it may have to intervene if the misbehaviour is blatant and injurious to the good name of the Faith. ...

The Universal House of Justice

 

406

Execution of Manuchihr Ruhi

22 August 1984

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

406.1 MANUCHIHR RUHI, WELL-RESPECTED 52 YEAR OLD PHARMACIST, EXECUTED BY FIRING SQUAD ON 16 AUGUST, IN BUJNURD, KHURASAN PROVINCE, IRAN, AFTER SPENDING ELEVEN MONTHS IN PRISON. ALL HIS PROPERTIES CONFISCATED. LIVES TWENTY-FIVE OTHER BAHA'IS IMPRISONED IN DIFFERENT PARTS COUNTRY AT STAKE AS DEATH SENTENCES ALREADY PRONOUNCED AGAINST THEM. ...

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

<p640>

407

Roles of Parents Within the Baha'i Family

23 August 1984

To an individual Baha'i

Dear Baha'i friends

407.1 The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 29 July 1984 and has instructed us to send you the following reply.

407.2 The seeker to whom you refer seems to have misconstrued the Baha'i teachings about the responsibility of the parents for the education of their children. The father certainly has a very important role to play. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas itself, Baha'u'llah revealed:

407.2a Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. ... He that bringeth up his son or the son of another, it is as though he hath brought up a son of Mine; upon him rest My Glory, My loving-kindness, My Mercy, that have compassed the world.+F718

[F718. KA P48.]

407.3 The great importance attached to the mother's role derives from the fact that she is the first educator of the child. Her attitude, her prayers, even what she eats and her physical condition have a great influence on the child when it is still in the womb. When the child is born, it is she who has been endowed by God with the milk which is the first food designed for it, and it is intended that, if possible, she should be with the baby to train and nurture it in its earliest days and months. This does not mean that the father does not also love, pray for, and care for his baby, but as he has the primary responsibility of providing for the family, his time to be with his child is usually limited, while the mother is usually closely associated with the baby during this intensely formative time when it is growing and developing faster than it ever will again during the whole of its life. As the child grows older and more independent, the relative nature of its relationship with its mother and father modifies and the father can play a greater role.

407.4 It may be helpful to stress to your seeker that the Baha'i principle of the equality of men and women is clearly stated in the teachings, and the fact that there is diversity of function between them in certain areas does not negate this principle.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

<p641>

408

Message to Youth Conference, London, Ontario

23 August 1984

To the Baha'i Youth Conference in London, Ontario

408.1 WE HAIL WITH JOY AND HOPE THE ENNOBLING PURPOSES OF YOUR CONFERENCE IN LONDON, ONTARIO. YOU ARE GATHERED AT A MOMENT WHICH RESOUNDS WITH THE SIGNIFICANCES AND CHALLENGES POSED BY THE WORLD-SHAKING EVENTS ENVELOPING THE COMMUNITY OF THE GREATEST NAME IN BAHA'U'LLAH'S NATIVE LAND. THE OUTPOURING GRACE PROVIDENTIALLY VOUCHSAFED THE ONWARD MARCH OF OUR HOLY CAUSE AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THESE EVENTS IS CLEARLY EVIDENT.

408.2 OUR HEARTS LEAP AT THE INNUMERABLE IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FURTHER UNFOLDMENT OF THE ORDER OF BAHA'U'LLAH TO WHICH UNDOUBTEDLY, YOU CAN AND WILL APPLY YOUR ABUNDANT TALENTS, YOUR ZEST FOR ACTION AND, ABOVE ALL, THE ENTHUSIASM OF YOUR DEVOTION. SURELY, YOU WILL SEE THAT THE HEROIC DEEDS OF SACRIFICE ON THE PART OF YOUR IRANIAN BRETHREN ARE MATCHED WITH CORRESPONDING EFFORTS ON YOUR PART IN THE VAST FIELDS OF TEACHING AND SERVICE LYING OPEN BEFORE YOU.

408.3 THE EXHORTATIONS ESPECIALLY ADDRESSED TO YOUTH BY OUR BELOVED MASTER AND THE GALVANIZING INFLUENCE OF THE GUARDIAN'S GUIDANCE WILL ECHO EVEN MORE LOUDLY IN YOUR HEARTS NOW. INDEED, WE WILL PRAY ARDENTLY AT THE HOLY SHRINES THAT YOU MAY REALIZE IN YOUR LIVES THE IDEALS THEY SO PERSISTENTLY UPHELD, THAT YOU MAY THUS "ACQUIRE BOTH INNER AND OUTER PERFECTIONS" AS YOU INCREASE YOUR STUDY OF THE HEAVENLY WRITINGS, STRIVE TOWARDS EXCELLENCE IN THE SCIENCES AND ARTS AND BECOME KNOWN FOR YOUR INDEPENDENCE OF SPIRIT, YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND YOUR SELF-CONTROL.+F719 MAY YOU, AS 'ABDU'L-BAHA WISHED, BE "FIRST AMONG THE PURE, THE FREE AND THE WISE."+F720

[F720. SWAB, p. 150.]

[F719. See CC I:247.]

UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE