To the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada.
I have on two recent occasions given expression to the profound sense of inspiring confidence and joyous gratitude which recent happenings in the Cause—evident manifestations of the steady evolution of a living Faith—must needs evoke in the heart of every thoughtful and observing believer. And as I contemplate the far-reaching possibilities involved in a careful handling of those forces which Bahá’u’lláh’s almighty arm has now released, I cannot help reflecting upon the dominant share which the American friends, at home as well as in distant lands, have contributed to this rejuvenation of the Cause of God, and the decisive part it is theirs to play in its eventual victory.
Your letters, dated June 17, July 11, July 20, August 3 and 16, and October 2, 1926, all of which have been forwarded during my days of retirement and rest, have proved an added source of thankfulness, of joy and strength to me. They have clearly revealed by their spirit, as well as by the nature and variety of their contents, the sustained devotion, the unabated confidence, and the increasing vigor and efficiency with which you are initiating, coordinating, and consolidating the manifold activities of the Cause in North America.
The range and character of the problems confronting you, as revealed by the careful perusal of the minutes of your meetings, the steady increase in the number and effectiveness of vigorously functioning Centers in Central and Northern Europe, and the growing significance and complexity of the work that has to be necessarily conducted from the Holy Land, have all served to strengthen the feeling of absolute necessity for the formation in Haifa of some sort of an International Bahá’í Secretariat, which both in an advisory and executive capacity will have to aid and assist me in my vast and exacting labors. I have anxiously considered this important matter in all its bearings during the past few months, and have accordingly requested three well-informed, capable representatives from America, Europe and the East to visit the Holy Land this fall, that we may lay down the foundation of this vitally needed institution. We shall take counsel together and decide, not only upon the measures that have to be promptly undertaken to meet the pressing demands of the present hour, but upon the wider issues that on one hand will strengthen the ties that should bind the International Center of the Cause with the world at large, and on the other provide for the preliminary steps that will eventually lead to the proper establishment of the First International House of Justice.
It is my earnest hope and prayer that this exchange of thought and close cooperation in the work that has henceforth to be internationally and vigorously conducted, will enable me to participate more minutely and effectively in the labors of the various administrative departments of your Assembly, and thus reinforce the splendid efforts you are exerting for the extension of its influence and the widening of its scope.
From the report of the National Treasurer, setting forth the account of the progress of the contributions of the American believers for the support of the Plan of Unified Action, up to June 30, 1926, I gather that the result has by no means exceeded our expectations, nay has considerably fallen below what I confidently expected it to achieve. I earnestly renew my plea and appeal to you, and through you to every true and faithful lover of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, to realize, while there is yet time, the far-reaching possibilities with which the present situation is fraught. I am firmly convinced that this Plan combines, embodies, and serves the twofold purpose of the present-day Bahá’í administration in the United States and Canada, namely the promotion of the vitally needed teaching work, and the provision for the gradual completion of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, both wishes so near and dear to our beloved Master’s heart. It is the only effective, feasible, and practical instrument placed in our hands for the speedy accomplishment of our ends. So much that is vital to the future welfare, the effectiveness, and the fair name of our beloved Cause depends, I assure you, upon the success or failure of this nobly-conceived, this sound and befitting enterprise. The eyes of all Bahá’ís and of many sympathizers throughout the world are turned towards you, eager to reinforce your accomplishments in this field, expectant to witness what measure of success you are capable of achieving.
In connection with the series of World Unity Conferences which you have initiated and so laboriously organized, I feel that in order to reap the fullest advantage and benefit from this laudable effort, it is absolutely essential to follow up with the aid of enlightened, experienced and capable teachers the interest which has been aroused. Such a group of teachers should judiciously select those few among the many interested, and endeavor with patience and sympathy and by constant intimate personal intercourse, to prepare them gradually for the entire and unreserved acceptance of the fundamentals of the Bahá’í Revelation. If the results be meagre, if the attendance be small, let us not despair, nor relax in our efforts. Let us remember that this sound method will eventually triumph, if we only consistently support it, and persevere in undertaking those subsequent steps that can alone produce full and permanent benefit.
I have already expressed my grateful appreciation of the prompt and wise measures you have taken in behalf of our oppressed and down-trodden brethren in Persia. The noble appeal which you were moved to address to His Majesty the Sháh, so illuminating, so courteous, so powerful, and the wide range of publicity you have undertaken, were truly providential in character, and will undoubtedly prove an inspiration and solace to those who still continue to be trampled under the heel of an odious and inveterate enemy. I have had your appeal translated into Persian and sent to all Centers throughout the Orient that the suffering in Persia may learn of your bold and courageous intervention, and witness the signs of their promised redemption which, as foretold by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, must first be made manifest through the efforts of their brethren in that great freedom-loving Republic of the West.
It is sad and distressing to reflect that, notwithstanding the repeated appeals addressed to the authorities concerned, and so powerfully reinforced by the spontaneous action of some of the leading Governments of the West, Persia, still heedless and unaware of the spiritual forces that are at work, continues to treat with indifference and contempt the most loyal, innocent and law-abiding subjects of its realm. The chronic instability of its affairs, the changing fortunes of factions and shadowy personalities that sap its vitality and tarnish its name, the acute and widespread economic depression that is now prevailing, and the grave discontent of the masses of the people, all tend to aggravate a situation already highly threatening to the security of its sorely tried children. What else can we do but pray most fervently that the almighty power of Bahá’u’lláh may soon triumph over this petty strife, this age-long tyranny, and make, as He prophesied, of the land of His birth, “the most honored of all governments, the pride, the admiration and the envy of the peoples of the world.”
The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the United States and Canada.
The progress of various events, both within and outside the Bahá’í world, as well as the perusal of the able and illuminating report recently submitted by the Committee of the Persian National Spiritual Assembly in charge of the Tarbíyat School in Ṭihrán, have served to reinforce a gradually growing idea as to the desirability of arranging for the settlement in the capital of that country of one or two American believers who, having the means, the freedom and the capacity, can adequately meet the pressing requirements of a responsible position. Judging from their report, the situation in Ṭihrán though much confused and perplexing, is fraught with rich possibilities for the future of the Cause, both as affecting the national fortunes of Persia, as well as its influence upon the international development of the Cause.
The situation as I see it calls for the devoted efforts of one or two capable workers who, untrammelled and with independent means, can quietly, tenaciously and tactfully, pursue over a considerable length of time the meritorious work of fostering the cause of Bahá’í education, for both boys and girls, in the swiftly changing capital of a promising country. It should be their primary duty to extend the scope and enhance the prestige of these twin Bahá’í educational institutions, and to initiate by sound and well-considered methods such measures as will consolidate the work already achieved. It would be highly gratifying if they could also endeavor, by keeping in close and constant touch with the Persian and American National Spiritual Assemblies, to fortify those vital bonds that spiritually unite the cradle of the Bahá’í Faith with the great American Republic—the foremost standard-bearer of the Cause in the Western field. Such efforts will extremely facilitate cooperation between these two countries, whose common destiny is to provide, each in its own typical manner, the essential elements in the foundation of the world order ushered in by Bahá’u’lláh.
The gradual expansion of foreign as well as officially subsidized educational schools in Ṭihrán, the prolonged absence of competent teachers and organizers that can revive the declining influence of a hitherto renowned Bahá’í educational institution, and the critical and vigilant attitude which the growing influence of the Cause has induced in its malignant and envious enemies, are today subjects of gravest concern to the elected representatives of our suffering brethren and sisters in Persia. I would therefore request those who feel the urge and have the means to undertake this task to communicate with the National Spiritual Assembly who, after mature deliberation, will select one or two who, in their judgment, can best render this service, and decide upon the exact time and manner which would be most suitable for its execution. I would strongly urge the friends to consult most earnestly with that devoted, experienced and indefatigable handmaid of Bahá’u’lláh, Dr. Moody, whose past services have ennobled the record of collaboration of East and West for the furtherance of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. It would be highly satisfactory and immensely helpful if our beloved sister could find it possible and convenient to accompany such a carefully-chosen person on the way to Ṭihrán, and, by her unrivaled experience and loving-kindness, assist personally in the fulfillment of this pressing need.
Whoever steps into this field will find, as he settles down to his work, that the environment is extremely disheartening, that restrictions are oppressive, that the amenities of social life are lacking, that the forces of opposition are determined and organized. But let him realize also that, however tedious and exacting his labors, however precarious and thankless his task, the pioneer services it is his unique privilege to render in this time of stress will forever live in the annals of God’s living Faith, and will prove a source of inspiration to the countless workers who, in happier times and with better means at their disposal, will consummate the spiritual regeneration and material rehabilitation of Bahá’u’lláh’s native land.
To the beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the West.
Dearly-beloved brothers and sisters in ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá:
The trend of various events, affecting directly and indirectly the interests of the Bahá’í Cause, have of late served to bring into further prominence the character as well as the significance of a Faith destined to regenerate the world.
Of all the diverse issues which today are gradually tending to consolidate and extend the bounds of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, the decision of Egypt’s religious Tribunal regarding the Bahá’ís under its jurisdiction appears at the present moment to be the most powerful in its challenge, the most startling in its character, and the most perplexing in the consequences it may entail. I have already alluded in my letter of January 10, 1926, addressed to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, to a particular feature of this momentous verdict, which after mature deliberation has obtained the sanction of Egypt’s highest ecclesiastical authorities, has been communicated and printed, and is regarded as final and binding. I have stressed in my last reference to this far-reaching pronouncement the negative aspect of this document which condemns in most unequivocal and emphatic language the followers of Bahá’u’lláh as the believers in heresy, offensive and injurious to Islám, and wholly incompatible with the accepted doctrines and practice of its orthodox adherents.
Bahá’í Cause Recognized as Independent Religion
A closer study of the text of the decision will, however, reveal the fact that coupled with this strong denunciation is the positive assertion of a truth which the recognized opponents of the Bahá’í Faith in other Muhammadan countries have up to the present time either sedulously ignored or maliciously endeavored to disprove. Not content with this harsh and unjustifiable repudiation of the so-called menacing and heretical doctrines of the adherents of the Bahá’í Faith, they proceed in a formal manner to declare in the text of that very decision their belief, that the Bahá’í Faith is a “new religion,” “entirely independent” and, by reason of the magnitude of its claim and the character of its “laws, principles and beliefs,” worthy to be reckoned as one of the established religious systems of the world. Quoting various passages judiciously gleaned from a number of Bahá’í sacred Books as an evidence to their splendid testimony, they proceed in a notable statement to deduce the fact that henceforth it shall be regarded as impossible for the followers of such a Faith to be designated as Muslim, just as it would be incorrect and erroneous to call a Muhammadan either Christian or Jew.
It cannot be denied that in the course of the inevitable developments of this present situation the resident Bahá’ís of Egypt, originally belonging to the Muslim Faith, will be placed in a most humiliating and embarrassing position. They, however, cannot but rejoice in the knowledge that whereas in various Muhammadan countries and particularly in Persia the overwhelming majority of the leaders of Islám are utterly opposed to any form of declaration that would facilitate the universal recognition of the Cause, the authorized heads of their co-religionists in one of the most advanced communities in the Muhammadan world have, of their own initiative, published to the world a document that may justly be termed as the first chapter of liberty emancipating the Bahá’í Faith from the fetters of orthodox Islám. And in order to insure the complete rupture of Bahá’í official relations with Muslim Courts they lay down in unmistakable terms the condition that under no circumstances can the marriage of those Bahá’ís who have been required to divorce their Muslim wives be renewed by the Muslim Court unless and until the husbands formally recant their faith by solemnly declaring that the Qur’án is the “last” Book of God revealed to man, that no law can abrogate the Prophet’s Law, no faith can succeed His Faith, no revelation can claim to fulfill His Revelation.
While unwavering in their belief in the Divine station of the Author of the Qur’án and profoundly convinced of the necessity and worldwide influence of His Divine mission, Bahá’ís in every land stand undeterred and unabashed in the face of the strong condemnation pronounced against their brethren in Egypt. Indeed, they together with their fellow-workers in all Muslim countries welcome with gladness and pride every opportunity for further emancipation that they may set forth in a truer light the sublime mission of Bahá’u’lláh.
In the face of such an outspoken and challenging declaration, the Bahá’í of the West cannot but feel the deepest sympathy with their Egyptian brethren who, for the sake of our beloved Cause and its deliverance, have to face all the embarrassments and vexations which the severance of old-established ties must necessarily entail. They will, however, most certainly expect every staunch and loyal believer in the Faith who resides in that land to refrain in view of the grave warning uttered expressly by our opponents, from any practice that would in any manner constitute in the eyes of a critical and vigilant enemy a repudiation of the fundamental beliefs of the people of Bahá. They will most assuredly, whenever the moment is opportune, step forth with eager hearts to offer every support in their power to their fellow-workers who, with stout hearts and irreproachable loyalty, will continue to hold aloft the standard of God’s struggling Faith. They will not fail to come to the rescue of those who with joyous confidence will endure to the very end such vicissitudes as this New Day of God, now in its birth-throes, must needs suffer and surmount.
We cannot believe that as the Movement grows in strength, in authority and in influence, the perplexities and the sufferings it has had to contend with in the past will correspondingly decrease and vanish. Nay, as it grows from strength to strength, the fanatical defendants of the strongholds of orthodoxy, whatever be their denomination, realizing the penetrating influence of this growing Faith, will arise and strain every nerve to extinguish its light and discredit its name. For has not our beloved ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá sent forth His glowing prophecy from behind the prison walls of the citadel of ‘Akká—words so significant in their forecast of the coming world turmoil, yet so rich in their promise of eventual victory:—
“How great, how very great is the Cause; how very fierce the onslaught of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth! Erelong shall the clamor of the multitude throughout Africa, throughout America, the cry of the European and of the Turk, the groaning of India and China be heard from far and near. One and all they shall arise with all their power to resist His Cause. Then shall the Knights of the Lord, assisted by grace from on high, strengthened by faith, aided by the power of understanding and reinforced by the legions of the Covenant, arise and make manifest the truth of the verse: ‘Behold the confusion that hath befallen the tribes of the defeated!’”
Dearly beloved friends, upon us devolves the supreme obligation to stand by His side, to fight His battles and to win His victory. May we prove ourselves worthy of this trust.
To the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada.
Dear and precious fellow-workers in the Vineyard of God:—
The communications addressed to me by your indefatigable and distinguished secretary, dated October 28, November 8, 11, 18, December 4, 16 and January 27th, have been received, and together with their enclosures read and carefully noted. I cannot but admire the spirit of unrelaxing resolve and harmonious cooperation with which you are conducting the ever-expanding activities of the Cause in a land upon which our Beloved has lavished His richest blessings, and for the spiritual potentialities of which He cherished the brightest hopes. The vigorous efforts you are exerting to consolidate the forces which the Almighty has placed in your hands; the resourcefulness you display by the measures you have initiated for the furtherance of the Cause; the magnificent response with which you have met the piteous call of your suffering brethren of the East—all proclaim your worthiness of the unexampled efforts which, in your country more than in any other land, ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá has exerted for the spread of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh.
In connection with the World Unity Conferences, which you have organized, I desire to assure you of my heartfelt appreciation of such a splendid conception. I am profoundly impressed by the generous assistance spontaneously offered by those who, faithful to their other obligations, have risen to insure the financial success of such a noble Plan. I am grateful to those local Assemblies and individuals who have given it their whole-hearted support in their respective fields.
As to the policy that should be adopted with regard to these Conferences and other Bahá’í activities in general, it appears increasingly evident that as the Movement grows in strength and power the National Spiritual Assemblies should be encouraged, if circumstances permit and the means at their disposal justify, to resort to the twofold method of directly and indirectly winning the enlightened public to the unqualified acceptance of the Bahá’í Faith. The one method would assume an open, decisive and challenging tone. The other, without implying in any manner the slightest departure from strict loyalty to the Cause of God, would be progressive and cautious. Experience will reveal the fact that each of the methods in its own special way might suit a particular temperament and class of people, and that each in the present state of a constantly fluctuating society, should be judiciously attempted and utilized.
It is, I feel, for the National representatives of the believers in every land to utilize and combine both methods, the outspoken as well as the gradual, in such a manner as to secure the greatest benefits and the fullest advantage for this steadily-growing Cause. Every staunch and high-minded believer is thoroughly convinced of the unfailing efficacy of every humanitarian undertaking which boldly and unreservedly proclaims the source of its motive power to be the consciousness of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Yet, if we but call to mind the practice generally adopted by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, we cannot fail to perceive the wisdom, nay the necessity, of gradually and cautiously disclosing to the eyes of an unbelieving world the implications of a Truth which, by its own challenging nature, it is so difficult for it to comprehend and embrace.
It was He, our beloved ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, our true and shining Exemplar, who with infinite tact and patience, whether in His public utterances or in private converse, adapted the presentation of the fundamentals of the Cause to the varying capacities and the spiritual receptiveness of His hearers. He never hesitated, however, to tear the veil asunder and reveal to the spiritually ripened those challenging verities that set forth in its true light the relationship of this Supreme Revelation with the Dispensations of the past. Unashamed and unafraid when challenged to assert in its entirety the stupendous claim of Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’ís, whether laboring as individuals or functioning as an organized community, feel certain that in the face of the apathy, the gross materialism, and the superficiality of society today, a progressive disclosure of the magnitude of the claim of Bahá’u’lláh would constitute the most effective means for the attainment of the end so greatly desired by even the staunchest and most zealous advocate of the Faith.
Fully aware of the repeated statements of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá that universality is of God, Bahá’ís in every land are ready, nay anxious, to associate themselves by word and deed with any association of men which, after careful scrutiny, they feel satisfied is free from every tinge of partisanship and politics and is wholly devoted to the interests of all mankind. In their collaboration with such associations they would extend any moral and material assistance they can afford, after having fulfilled their share of support to those institutions that affect directly the interests of the Cause. They should always bear in mind, however, the dominating purpose of such a collaboration which is to secure in time the recognition by those with whom they are associated of the paramount necessity and the true significance of the Bahá’í Revelation in this day.
As the Movement extends the bounds of its influence and its opportunities for fuller recognition multiply, the twofold character of the obligations imposed on its National elected representatives should, I feel, be increasingly emphasized. Whilst chiefly engaged in the pursuit of their major task, consisting chiefly in the formation and the consolidation of Bahá’í administrative institutions, they should endeavor to participate, within recognized limits, in the work of institutions which though unaware of the claim of the Bahá’í Cause are prompted by a sincere desire to promote the spirit that animates the Faith. In the pursuit of their major task their function is to preserve the identity of the Cause and the purity of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh. In their minor undertaking their purpose should be to imbue with the spirit of power and strength such movements as in their restricted scope are endeavoring to achieve what is near and dear to the heart of every true Bahá’í. It would even appear at times to be advisable and helpful as a supplement to their work for the Bahá’ís to initiate any undertaking, not specifically designated as Bahá’í, provided they have ascertained that such an undertaking would constitute the best way of approach to those whose minds and hearts are as yet unprepared for a full acceptance of the claim of Bahá’u’lláh. These twofold obligations devolving upon organized Bahá’í communities, far from neutralizing the effects of one another or of appearing antagonistic in their aims, should be regarded as complementary and fulfilling, each in its way, a vital and necessary function.
It is for the National representatives of the Bahá’í Cause to observe the conditions under which they labor, to estimate the forces that are at work in their own surroundings, to weigh carefully and prayerfully the merits of either procedure, and to form a correct judgment as to the degree of emphasis that should be placed upon these twofold methods. Then and only then will they be enabled to protect and stimulate on one hand the independent growth of the Bahá’í Faith, and on the other vindicate the claim of its universal principles to the doubtful and unbelieving.
I have already considered these delicate and complex issues with the Bahá’í representatives whom I have requested to gather in the Holy Land in the hope of arriving at the best possible solution of the pressing and intricate problems that confront the development of the Bahá’í Cause. I have asked our dearly-beloved brother, Mr. Mountfort Mills, whose services to the Cause only future generations can estimate, to acquaint you with these and other considerations, the delicacy and scope of which only a verbal explanation can adequately reveal. He will fully and authoritatively inform you regarding the policy that should govern the conduct of the Star of the West, the character and the range of the Bahá’í Bibliography to be inserted in the next edition of the Bahá’í Year Book, the present position of Bahá’u’lláh’s House in Baghdád, the hopes and desires I cherish for the successful conclusion of the Plan of Unified Action, and the consequences and possibilities involved in the decision of Egypt’s religious Tribunal regarding the Muslim Bahá’ís in that land.
The splendid record of the action taken by the national and local representatives of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, embodied in the compilation of newspaper cuttings which you have recently sent me, will be forwarded to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Persia. I will request them to pass it on from hand to hand, that the rank and file of the sufferers in that distracted country may obtain the strength and solace which the perusal of such a noble record of service is bound to produce.
Regarding the publicity campaign, recently launched, with your consent and under your general supervision, by a group of devoted friends, I desire to express my earnest hope that it may be richly blessed by our Beloved and yield abundant fruit. I am gratified to learn that those who have conceived such a comprehensive plan and have generously supported it by every means in their power have refrained from any action that would involve the imposing of a fresh burden upon those who have incurred the financial obligations connected with the Budget Plan. I earnestly hope that those who have undertaken to finance this project with such spontaneous generosity have already fulfilled their sacred obligations in connection with the Plan, and will not allow any pledges they have made for publicity to interfere with their regular contributions to the National Fund, the paramount importance of which has already been emphasized.
It is the duty and privilege of the National and Local Assemblies if they find that the pressing requirements of their local and national budgets have been adequately met, to encourage individuals and groups to initiate and conduct, with their knowledge and consent, any undertaking that would serve to enhance the work which they have set themselves to achieve. Not content with appeals addressed to each and every believer to offer any constructive suggestions or plan that would remedy an existing grievance, they should, by every means in their power, stimulate the spirit of enterprise among the believers in order to further the teaching as well as the administrative work of the Cause. They should endeavor by personal contact and written appeals, to imbue the body of the faithful with a deep sense of personal responsibility, and urge every believer, whether high or low, poor or wealthy, to conceive, formulate and execute such measures and projects as would redound, in the eyes of their representatives, to the power and the fair name of this sacred Cause.
In my hours of prayer at the holy Shrines, I will supplicate that the light of Divine Guidance may illumine your path, and enable you to utilize in the most effective manner that spirit of individual enterprise which, once kindled in the breasts of each and every believer and directed by the discipline of the majestic Law of Bahá’u’lláh, imposed upon us, will carry our beloved Cause forward to achieve its glorious destiny.
To the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada:
Your recent communications, dated February 17 and March 2, 17 and 21, have been received, and their perusal has served to heighten my admiration for the unflinching determination which characterizes the concerted efforts which you are exerting for the spread and consolidation of the Bahá’í Faith.
I have also received and read with the keenest interest and appreciation a copy of that splendid document formulated by the National Committee on inter-racial amity and addressed to all the Spiritual Assemblies throughout the United States and Canada. This moving appeal, so admirable in its conception, so sound and sober in its language, has struck a responsive chord in my heart. Sent forth at a highly opportune moment in the evolution of our sacred Faith, it has served as a potent reminder of these challenging issues which still confront in a peculiar manner the American believers.
As this problem, in the inevitable course of events, grows in acuteness and complexity, and as the number of the faithful from both races multiplies, it will become increasingly evident that the future growth and prestige of the Cause are bound to be influenced to a very considerable degree by the manner in which the adherents of the Bahá’í Faith carry out, first among themselves and in their relations with their fellow-men, those high standards of inter-racial amity so widely proclaimed and so fearlessly exemplified to the American people by our Master ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá.
I direct my appeal with all the earnestness and urgency that this pressing problem calls for to every conscientious upholder of the universal principles of Bahá’u’lláh to face this extremely delicate situation with the boldness, the decisiveness and wisdom it demands. I cannot believe that those whose hearts have been touched by the regenerating influence of God’s creative Faith in His day will find it difficult to cleanse their souls from every lingering trace of racial animosity so subversive of the Faith they profess. How can hearts that throb with the love of God fail to respond to all the implications of this supreme injunction of Bahá’u’lláh, the unreserved acceptance of which, under the circumstances now prevailing in America, constitutes the hall-mark of a true Bahá’í character?
Let every believer, desirous to witness the swift and healthy progress of the Cause of God, realize the twofold nature of his task. Let him first turn his eyes inwardly and search his own heart and satisfy himself that in his relations with his fellow-believers, irrespective of color and class, he is proving himself increasingly loyal to the spirit of his beloved Faith. Assured and content that he is exerting his utmost in a conscious effort to approach nearer every day the lofty station to which his gracious Master summons him, let him turn to his second task, and, with befitting confidence and vigor, assail the devastating power of those forces which in his own heart he has already succeeded in subduing. Fully alive to the unfailing efficacy of the power of Bahá’u’lláh, and armed with the essential weapons of wise restraint and inflexible resolve, let him wage a constant fight against the inherited tendencies, the corruptive instincts, the fluctuating fashions, the false pretences of the society in which he lives and moves.
In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá’u’lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear, the community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh should satisfy themselves that in the eyes of the world at large and in the sight of their vigilant Master they are the living witnesses of those truths which He fondly cherished and tirelessly championed to the very end of His days. If we relax in our purpose, if we falter in our faith, if we neglect the varied opportunities given us from time to time by an all-wise and gracious Master, we are not merely failing in what is our most vital and conspicuous obligation, but are thereby insensibly retarding the flow of those quickening energies which can alone insure the vigorous and speedy development of God’s struggling Faith.
I would particularly address my appeal to you, as the Trustees of God’s sacred Faith, to reaffirm by word and deed the spirit and character of the insistent admonitions of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, so solemnly and so explicitly uttered in the course of His journeys through your land—a trust which it is your privilege and function to preserve and fortify.
May the varied opportunities presented by the forthcoming assembly of the friends at Green Acre this summer—a place so admirably suited to the realization of such a noble ideal—be fully utilized to further this noble end. May it, on one hand, serve to banish once and for all every misgiving and mistrust as to the attitude that should characterize the conduct of the members of the Bahá’í family, and, on the other, serve to familiarize the invited public with that aspect of our Faith which, owing to the pressure of circumstances, a few have inclined to belittle or ignore.
It is my earnest hope and prayer that the forthcoming gathering at Green Acre, the program for which has been so carefully and judiciously prepared, may serve as a testing ground for the application of those ideals and standards that are the distinguishing features of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. May the assembled believers—now but a tiny nucleus of the Bahá’í Commonwealth of the future—so exemplify that spirit of universal love and fellowship as to evoke in the minds of their associates the vision of that future City of God which the almighty arm of Bahá’u’lláh can alone establish.
Not by merely imitating the excesses and laxity of the extravagant age they live in; not by the idle neglect of the sacred responsibilities it is their privilege to shoulder; not by the silent compromise of the principles dearly cherished by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá; not by their fear or unpopularity or their dread of censure can they hope to rouse society from its spiritual lethargy, and serve as a model to a civilization the foundations of which the corrosion of prejudice has well-nigh undermined. By the sublimity of their principles, the warmth of their love, the spotless purity of their character, and the depth of their devoutness and piety, let them demonstrate to their fellow-countrymen the ennobling reality of a power that shall weld a disrupted world.
We can prove ourselves worthy of our Cause only if in our individual conduct and corporate life we sedulously imitate the example of our beloved Master, Whom the terrors of tyranny, the storms of incessant abuse, the oppressiveness of humiliation, never caused to deviate a hair’s breadth from the revealed Law of Bahá’u’lláh.
Such is the path of servitude, such is the way of holiness He chose to tread to the very end of His life. Nothing short of the strictest adherence to His glorious example can safely steer our course amid the pitfalls of this perilous age, and lead us on to fulfill our high destiny.