PROFOUND SORROW PREOCCUPATIONS OCCASIONED BY UNEXPECTED PASSING OF ABU’L-QÁSIM CUSTODIAN INTERNATIONAL ARCHIVES AND CARETAKER GARDENS BÁB’S HOLY SHRINE CAUSING UNAVOIDABLE DELAY PREPARATION MANUSCRIPT “BAHÁ’Í WORLD.”1 URGE EMPHASIZE IN “BAHÁ’Í NEWS” HIS MARVELOUS SELF-ABNEGATION AND TRUSTWORTHINESS AS OUTSTANDING QUALITIES OF A REMARKABLE CHARACTER.2 WRITING.
FEEL IMPELLED APPEAL ENTIRE BODY AMERICAN BELIEVERS HENCEFORTH REGARD NABÍL’S SOUL-STIRRING NARRATIVE3 AS ESSENTIAL ADJUNCT TO RECONSTRUCTED TEACHING PROGRAM, AS UNCHALLENGEABLE TEXTBOOK IN THEIR SUMMER SCHOOLS, AS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION IN ALL LITERARY ARTISTIC PURSUITS, AS AN INVALUABLE COMPANION IN TIMES OF LEISURE, AS INDISPENSABLE PRELIMINARY TO FUTURE PILGRIMAGE BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S NATIVE LAND AND AS UNFAILING INSTRUMENT TO ALLAY DISTRESS AND RESIST ATTACKS OF CRITICAL DISILLUSIONED HUMANITY.
GREATEST HOLY LEAF’S IMMORTAL SPIRIT WINGED ITS FLIGHT GREAT BEYOND COUNTLESS LOVERS HER SAINTLY LIFE IN EAST AND WEST SEIZED WITH PANGS OF ANGUISH, PLUNGED IN UNUTTERABLE SORROW. HUMANITY SHALL ERE LONG RECOGNIZE ITS IRREPARABLE LOSS. OUR BELOVED FAITH, WELL-NIGH CRUSHED BY DEVASTATING BLOW OF ‘ABDU’L‑BAHÁ’S UNEXPECTED ASCENSION,4 NOW LAMENTS PASSING LAST REMNANT OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH ITS MOST EXALTED MEMBER. HOLY FAMILY CRUELLY DIVESTED ITS MOST PRECIOUS MOST GREAT ADORNING. I, FOR MY PART, BEWAIL SUDDEN REMOVAL MY SOLE EARTHLY SUSTAINER THE JOY AND SOLACE OF MY LIFE. HER SACRED REMAINS WILL REPOSE VICINITY HOLY SHRINES. SO GRIEVOUS A BEREAVEMENT NECESSITATES SUSPENSION FOR NINE MONTHS THROUGHOUT BAHÁ’Í WORLD EVERY MANNER RELIGIOUS FESTIVITY. INFORM LOCAL ASSEMBLIES AND GROUPS HOLD BEFITTING MANNER MEMORIAL GATHERINGS EXTOL A LIFE SO LADEN SACRED EXPERIENCES, SO RICH IMPERISHABLE MEMORIES. ADVISE HOLDING ADDITIONAL COMMEMORATION SERVICE OF STRICTLY DEVOTIONAL CHARACTER AUDITORIUM MASHRIQU’L-ADHKÁR.5
PRAY ASSURE AMERICAN BELIEVERS BEHALF HOLY FAMILY MYSELF ABIDING APPRECIATION NUMEROUS EVIDENCES THEIR VALUED SYMPATHY. OUR SORROW-LADEN HEARTS MUCH RELIEVED FILLED WITH GRATITUDE. OUT OF PANGS OF ANGUISH WHICH BEREAVED AMERICA EXPERIENCED IN HER SUDDEN SEPARATION FROM ‘ABDU’L‑BAHÁ ADMINISTRATION GOD’S INVINCIBLE FAITH WAS BORN. MIGHT NOT HER PRESENT GRIEF AT LOSS BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S PRECIOUS DAUGHTER RELEASE SUCH FORCES AS WILL ENSURE SPEEDY COMPLETION MASHRIQU’L-ADHKÁR—ADMINISTRATION’S MIGHTY BULWARK SYMBOL OF ITS STRENGTH AND HARBINGER ITS PROMISED GLORY?
I am deeply conscious of the many obstacles that stand in the path of the American believers in their stupendous endeavor to attain their goal—a goal on which our dearly beloved Greatest Holy Leaf had set her fondest hopes. I cannot, however, overlook, much as I sympathize with them in their financial tribulation and anxieties, the mysterious power which resides in the united will and concerted action of all the members of that self-sacrificing community—a community which, since the passing of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, has lent an impetus to the advancement of the Cause out of all proportion to its numerical strength, its youthfulness, and experience of the powers latent in this sacred Faith. What an untold wealth of blessings will flow out of a renewed, an irrevocable resolution, representing the combined will of the steadfast lovers of the Cause of God in that land, to carry out, in its entirety, during the few remaining months, a Plan on which so much that is vital to its worldwide interests depends! The American believers, the stouthearted supporters of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, have already given too many evidences of their preponderating influence in the direction of its affairs to allow the slightest disappointment to mar the radiance of their past achievements. Their will to succeed must eventually triumph.
REPEATED EVIDENCES AMERICAN BELIEVERS’ SLEEPLESS VIGILANCE COURAGEOUS LOYALTY EXEMPLARY SELF-SACRIFICE ESTABLISHED THEM IN EVERY BAHÁ’Í HEART AS CHAMPION-BUILDERS WORLD ORDER BAHÁ’U’LLÁH. FOUNDER OF OUR FAITH WELL PLEASED TOKENS THEIR WISE STEWARDSHIP ‘ABDU’L‑BAHÁ PROUD OF THEIR VALOR GREATEST HOLY LEAF RADIANT WITH JOY AT THEIR FIDELITY.
The handling of this delicate and vital problem regarding non-participation by Bahá’ís of East and West in political affairs calls for the utmost circumspection, tact, patience and vigilance on the part of those whose function and privilege is to guard, promote and administer the activities of a worldwide ever-advancing Cause. The misgivings and apprehensions of individual Bahá’ís should be allayed and eventually completely dispelled. Any misconception of the sane and genuine patriotism that animates every Bahá’í heart, if it ever obscures or perplexes the minds of responsible government officials, should be instantly and courageously dissipated. Any deliberate misrepresentation, by the enemies of the Cause of God, of the aims, the tenets and methods of the administrators of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh should be vigorously faced and its fallacy pitilessly exposed. The Cause, to which we belong, stands on the threshold of an era of unprecedented expansion. Its problems are many, divers and challenging. Our methods and ways of approach must likewise be characterized by unusual sagacity, consummate skill and wisdom. He will surely never fail us in meeting the needs of a critical hour.
I greatly value the Tablets addressed to Sarah Farmer6 and I thank you for having sent them to me. Will you kindly send me a few more copies of the Study Guide to Nabíl’s narrative7 and of the reprint of the Declaration of Trust,8 copies of both of which I wish to distribute among those who are deeply interested. Your letters of March 31 and 30th, written on behalf of the assembly have just reached me. Concerning the removal of believers I feel that such a vitally important matter should be given the most serious consideration and preferably be referred to the National Assembly for further consideration and final decision. We should be slow to accept and reluctant to remove. I fully approve and wholeheartedly and unreservedly uphold the principle to which you refer that personalities should not be made centers around which the community may revolve, but that they should be subordinated under all conditions and however great their merits to the properly constituted Assemblies. You and your co-workers can never overestimate or overemphasize this cardinal principle of Bahá’í Administration.
ENTIRE BAHÁ’Í WORLD STIRRED WITH EXPECTATION WITNESS RESULTS AMERICAN BELIEVERS’ MOMENTOUS CONVENTION. ON ITS PROCEEDINGS HANG ISSUES OF INCALCULABLE BENEFIT WORLDWIDE FAITH BAHÁ’U’LLÁH. TO ITS DELEGATES GIVEN GREAT OPPORTUNITY RELEASE FORCES WHICH WILL USHER IN ERA WHOSE SPLENDOR MUST OUTSHINE HEROIC AGE OUR BELOVED CAUSE. SUPREME CONCOURSE WAITING FOR THEM TO SEIZE IT.
KEITH’S9 PRECIOUS LIFE OFFERED UP SACRIFICE BELOVED CAUSE IN BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S NATIVE LAND. ON PERSIAN SOIL FOR PERSIA’S SAKE SHE ENCOUNTERED CHALLENGED AND FOUGHT FORCES OF DARKNESS WITH HIGH DISTINCTION, INDOMITABLE WILL, UNSWERVING EXEMPLARY LOYALTY. MASS OF HER HELPLESS PERSIAN BRETHREN MOURN SUDDEN LOSS THEIR VALIANT EMANCIPATOR. AMERICAN BELIEVERS GRATEFUL AND PROUD MEMORY THEIR FIRST AND DISTINGUISHED MARTYR. SORROW-STRICKEN I LAMENT EARTHLY SEPARATION INVALUABLE COLLABORATOR UNFAILING COUNSELOR ESTEEMED AND FAITHFUL FRIEND. URGE LOCAL ASSEMBLIES BEFITTINGLY ORGANIZE MEMORIAL GATHERINGS IN MEMORY ONE WHOSE INTERNATIONAL SERVICES ENTITLE HER EMINENT RANK AMONG HANDS OF CAUSE OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH.
BAHÁ’Í COMMUNITIES EAST AND WEST ACCLAIM WITH ONE VOICE STUPENDOUS ACCOMPLISHMENTS THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS LATEST MANIFESTATION OF AMERICA’S SUPERB SUSTAINED SELF-SACRIFICE. SUPREME CONCOURSE ECHO PRAISES THOSE WHOSE SHINING DEEDS ARE SHEDDING ON BAHÁ’Í NAME A GREAT IMPERISHABLE LUSTER. MY HEART SWELLS WITH ADMIRATION GRATITUDE AS I CONTEMPLATE INCREASING EVIDENCES AMERICAN BELIEVERS’ WELL-DESERVED STEADILY ADVANCING FAME. HOUR OF VICTORY IS AT HAND. AMERICA’S INVINCIBLE HEROISM MUST AND WILL ACHIEVE IT.10
AMERICAN BELIEVERS’ INSPIRED LEADERSHIP STEADILY UNFOLDING TO BAHÁ’ÍS WORLD OVER POTENTIALITIES MAJESTIC EDIFICE HERALDING FORMATIVE PERIOD FAITH OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH. THEIR UNERRING VISION CONCEIVED ITS MATCHLESS DESIGN. ‘ABDU’L‑BAHÁ’S OWN HANDS LAID ITS CORNERSTONE. THEIR DYNAMIC FAITH REARED ITS STRUCTURE. THEIR SUSTAINED SELF-SACRIFICE CROWNED IT WITH IMMORTAL GLORY. MAY FLAME THEIR UNCONQUERABLE ENTHUSIASM CONTINUE GLOWING UNDIMMED IN THEIR HEARTS TILL ITS NAKED FLAME IS ENVELOPED IN ITS SHINING MANTLE.
PASSING DEARLY BELOVED SUSAN MOODY DEPRIVES BAHÁ’Í WORLD FAR-FAMED PIONEER WHO THROUGH HER INDOMITABLE SPIRIT CEASELESS SERVICES EARNED UNIQUE DISTINCTION FORGE FIRST LINK IN CHAIN UNITING SPIRITUAL DESTINIES CRADLE OF OUR FAITH AND COMMUNITY OF ITS STALWART DEFENDERS IN GREAT AMERICAN REPUBLIC. INSTRUCTING PERSIA REAR MONUMENT PERPETUATE MEMORY HER NOBLE MISSION AM GLADLY DEFRAYING WHATEVER EXPENSES INCURRED AS TOKEN MY ADMIRATION FOR COMMUNITY TO WHICH SHE ORIGINALLY BELONGED AND ON WHICH HER CONSECRATED LIFE SHED IMPERISHABLE LUSTER ADVISE HOLD MEMORIAL GATHERING TEMPLE FOUNDATION HALL.11
HEARTILY RECIPROCATE SENTIMENTS CONVEYED YOUR MESSAGE.12 APPEAL ASSEMBLED DELEGATES AND INCOMING NATIONAL ASSEMBLY EARNESTLY DELIBERATE MEASURES REQUIRED STIMULATE ALL LOCAL COMMUNITIES GROUPS LEND IMMEDIATE UNPRECEDENTED IMPETUS TEACHING ACTIVITIES THROUGHOUT STATES CANADA. SUSTAINED CONCENTRATION THIS PARAMOUNT ISSUE CAN ALONE REVEAL POTENTIALITIES BELOVED TEMPLE AND ENABLE SUPERB SELF-SACRIFICE ASSOCIATED WITH IT YIELD ITS FAIREST FRUIT.
I feel I must reaffirm the vital importance and necessity of the right of voting—a sacred responsibility of which no adult recognized believer should be deprived, unless he is associated with a community that has not as yet been in a position to establish a Local Assembly. This distinguishing right which the believer possesses, however, does not carry with it nor does it imply an obligation to cast his vote, if he feels that the circumstances under which he lives do not justify or allow him to exercise that right intelligently and with understanding. This is a matter which should be left to the individual to decide for himself according to his own conscience and discretion. Praying for your success in the maintenance and application of this principle.
The separation that has set in between the institutions of the Bahá’í Faith and the Islamic ecclesiastical organizations that oppose it—a movement that has originated in Egypt and is now spreading steadily throughout the Middle East, and will in time communicate its influence to the West—imposes upon every loyal upholder of the Cause the obligation of refraining from any word or action that might prejudice the position which our enemies have, in recent years and of their own accord, proclaimed and established.13 This historic development, the beginnings of which could neither be recognized nor even anticipated in the years immediately preceding ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s passing, may be said to have signalized the Formative Period of our Faith and to have paved the way for the consolidation of its Administrative Order. As this movement gains momentum, as it receives added impetus from the attitude and future action of the civil authorities in Persia, it will inevitably manifest its repercussions in the West and will rouse the leaders of the Church and finally the civil authorities to challenge the claims and eventually to recognize the independent status of the Religion of Bahá’u’lláh. Nothing whatever in the mean time should be said or done by any one of us, whether in the political field or in our relations with ecclesiastical organizations, that would tend to confuse the issues with which our struggling Cause will sooner or later be confronted. We should accept no position, should avoid any affiliations or commitments that could in any way harm our future position or provide our potential enemies with weapons with which they can resist the complete emancipation of our Cause or retard its ultimate recognition and victory. Though our Cause unreservedly recognizes the Divine origin of all the religions that preceded it and upholds the spiritual truths which lie at their very core and are common to them all, its institutions, whether administrative, religious or humanitarian, must, if their distinctive character is to be maintained and recognized, be increasingly divorced from the outworn creeds, the meaningless ceremonials and man-made institutions with which these religions are at present identified. Our adversaries in the East have initiated the struggle. Our future opponents in the West will, in their turn, arise and carry it a stage further. Ours is the duty, in anticipation of this inevitable contest, to uphold unequivocally and with undivided loyalty the integrity of our Faith and demonstrate the distinguishing features of its divinely appointed institutions.
As the activities of the American Bahá’í community expand, and its worldwide prestige correspondingly increases, the institution of the national Fund, the bedrock on which all other institutions must necessarily rest and be established, acquires added importance, and should be increasingly supported by the entire body of the believers, both in their individual capacities, and through their collective efforts, whether organized as groups or as Local Assemblies. The supply of funds, in support of the national Treasury, constitutes, at the present time, the lifeblood of these nascent institutions which you are laboring to erect. Its importance cannot surely be overestimated. Untold blessings shall no doubt crown every effort directed to that end. I am eagerly and prayerfully awaiting the news of an unprecedented expansion in so vital an organ of the Administrative Order of our Faith.
CONVEY ASSEMBLED BELIEVERS CELEBRATING TERMINATION ENTIRE DOME UNIT MASHRIQU’L-ADHKÁR HEARTFELT CONGRATULATIONS TRIUMPHANT PROGRESS THEIR UNDENIABLY GLORIOUS ENTERPRISE. TO PRAYERS TESTIMONIES ASCENDING TO THRONE OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH AM MOVED ADD VERY FERVENT THOUGH INADEQUATE TRIBUTE TO SOLIDARITY SELF-SACRIFICE RESPONSIBLE FOR SO DAZZLING AN ACHIEVEMENT. FORCES WHICH PROGRESSIVE REVELATION OF THIS MIGHTY SYMBOL OF OUR FAITH IS FAST RELEASING IN HEART OF A SORELY TRIED CONTINENT NO ONE OF THIS GENERATION CAN CORRECTLY APPRAISE. A NEW HOUR HAS STRUCK IN HISTORY OUR BELOVED CAUSE CALLING FOR NATIONWIDE, SYSTEMATIC, SUSTAINED EFFORT IN TEACHING FIELD, ENABLING THEREBY THESE FORCES TO BE DIRECTED INTO SUCH CHANNELS AS SHALL REDOUND TO GLORY OF OUR FAITH AND HONOR OF ITS INSTITUTIONS.
This new stage in the gradual unfoldment of the Formative Period of our Faith into which we have just entered—the phase of concentrated teaching activity—synchronizes with a period of deepening gloom, of universal impotence, of ever-increasing destitution and widespread disillusionment in the fortunes of a declining age. This is truly providential and its significance and the opportunities it offers us should be fully apprehended and utilized. Now that the administrative Organs of a firmly established Faith are vigorously and harmoniously functioning, and now that the Symbol14 of its invincible might is lending unprecedented impetus to its spread, an effort unexampled in its scope and sustained vitality is urgently required so that the moving spirit of its Founder may permeate and transform the lives of the countless multitudes that hunger for its teachings. That the beloved friends in America, who have carried triumphantly the banner of His Cause through the initial stages of its development, will in a still greater measure prove themselves capable of meeting the challenge of the present hour I for one can never doubt. Of the evidences of their inexhaustible vitality I am sufficiently and continually conscious. My fervent plea will not, I feel certain, remain unanswered. For them I shall continue to pray from all my heart.
CONVEY AMERICAN BELIEVERS ABIDING GRATITUDE EFFORTS UNITEDLY EXERTED TEACHING FIELD. INAUGURATED CAMPAIGN SHOULD BE VIGOROUSLY PURSUED SYSTEMATICALLY EXTENDED. APPEAL ASSEMBLED DELEGATES POWER HISTORIC APPEAL VOICED BY ‘ABDU’L‑BAHÁ TABLETS DIVINE PLAN. URGE EARNEST DELIBERATION WITH INCOMING NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ENSURE ITS COMPLETE FULFILLMENT. FIRST CENTURY BAHÁ’Í ERA DRAWING TO A CLOSE. HUMANITY ENTERING OUTER FRINGES MOST PERILOUS STAGE ITS EXISTENCE. OPPORTUNITIES PRESENT HOUR UNIMAGINABLY PRECIOUS. WOULD TO GOD EVERY STATE WITHIN AMERICAN REPUBLIC AND EVERY REPUBLIC IN AMERICAN CONTINENT MIGHT ERE TERMINATION THIS GLORIOUS CENTURY15 EMBRACE LIGHT FAITH BAHÁ’U’LLÁH AND ESTABLISH STRUCTURAL BASIS OF HIS WORLD ORDER.
I fervently hope and pray that the year into which we have just entered may be signalized by fresh conquests and unprecedented triumphs in the teaching field within the United States and beyond its confines. A systematic, carefully conceived, and well-established plan should be devised, vigorously pursued and continuously extended. Initiated by the national representatives of the American believers, the vanguard and standard-bearers of the valiant army of Bahá’u’lláh, this plan should receive the wholehearted, the sustained and ever-increasing support, both moral and financial, of the entire body of His followers in that continent. Its supreme immediate objective should be the permanent establishment of at least one center in every state of the American Republic and in every Republic of the American continent not yet enlisted under the banner of His Faith. Its ramifications should gradually be extended to the European continent, and its scope should be made to include those countries, such as the Baltic states, Poland, Greece, Spain and Portugal, where no avowed believer has established any definite residence. The field is immense, the task gigantic, the privilege immeasurably precious. Time is short, and the obligation sacred, paramount and urgent. The American community must muster all its force, concentrate its resources, summon to its aid all the faith, the determination and energies of which it is capable, and set out single-minded and undaunted, to attain still greater heights in its mighty exertions for the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.
I am eagerly awaiting the news of the progress of the activities initiated to promote the teaching work within, and beyond the confines of, the American continent. The American believers, if they wish to carry out, in the spirit and the letter, the parting wishes of their beloved Master, must intensify their teaching work a thousandfold and extend its ramifications beyond the confines of their native land and as far as the most distant outposts of their far-flung Faith. The Tablets of the Divine Plan invest your Assembly with unique and grave responsibilities, and confer upon it privileges which your sister Assemblies might well envy and admire. The present opportunity is unutterably precious. It may not recur again. Undaunted by the perils and the uncertainties of the present hour, the American believers must press on and prosecute in its entirety the task which now confronts them. I pray for their success from the depths of my heart.
[circa 30 July 1936]16
ENTREAT AMERICAN BELIEVERS PONDER AFRESH URGENCY REDEDICATE THEMSELVES TASK COMPLETE FULFILLMENT DIVINE PLAN. NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S ENERGETIC LEADERSHIP CAREFUL PLANNING INEFFECTUAL UNLESS SUPPLEMENTED BY VIGOROUS ACTION BY EVERY BELIEVER HOWEVER HUMBLE HOWEVER INEXPERIENCED. TIME IS SHORT. SANDS CHAOTIC DESPAIRING CIVILIZATION STEADILY RUNNING OUT. FOUNDED ON UNITY UNDERSTANDING SO SPLENDIDLY ACHIEVED, FUNCTIONING WITHIN FRAMEWORK ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER LABORIOUSLY ERECTED, INSPIRED VISION TEMPLE EDIFICE NOBLY REARED, GALVANIZED INTO ACTION REALIZATION RAPIDLY DETERIORATING WORLD SITUATION, AMERICAN BAHÁ’Í COMMUNITY SHOULD RISE AS NEVER BEFORE HEIGHT OPPORTUNITY NOW CONFRONTING IT. AUDACITY, RESOLUTION, SELF-ABNEGATION IMPERATIVELY DEMANDED. IMPATIENTLY PRAYERFULLY WAITING.
[circa 29 October 1936]17
OVERJOYED UNSPEAKABLY GRATEFUL AMERICAN BELIEVERS’ SIGNAL RESPONSE MY REITERATED APPEALS. INAUGURATED CAMPAIGN FRAUGHT CONSEQUENCES INVOLVING IMMEDIATE DESTINIES AMERICAN COMMUNITY. SHADOWS ENCIRCLING SORE-TRIED HUMAN SOCIETY NOTICEABLY DEEPENING. WORLD CRISIS INEXORABLY MOVING TOWARDS CLIMAX CHALLENGING TORCHBEARERS BAHÁ’Í CIVILIZATION SCALE NOBLER HEIGHTS INDIVIDUAL HEROISM SCATTER MORE WIDELY THROUGHOUT LENGTH BREADTH AMERICAN CONTINENTS PARTICIPATE MORE STRENUOUSLY CONCERTED EFFORT ORGANIZED BY NATIONAL REGIONAL LOCAL AGENCIES DEDICATED PROSECUTION NOBLE ENTERPRISE POUR FORTH MORE ABUNDANTLY RESOURCES IN SUPPORT FUND CREATED FOR ITS FURTHERANCE RESOLVE MORE DETERMINEDLY CONQUER WHATEVER OBSTACLES MIGHT RETARD ITS ULTIMATE FRUITION. DAWN-BREAKERS PREVIOUS AGE HAVE ON PERSIAN SOIL SIGNALIZED BY THEIR ACTS BIRTH FAITH BAHÁ’U’LLÁH. MIGHT NOT AMERICAN BELIEVERS THEIR SPIRITUAL DESCENDANTS PROVE THEMSELVES IN TURN CAPABLE USHERING IN ON WORLD SCALE THE CIVILIZATION OF WHICH THAT FAITH IS DIRECT SOURCE AND SOLE BEGETTER?
I cannot allow this communication to be sent without adding a few words in person and stressing afresh the significance of the undertaking in which the entire Bahá’í community has embarked. The promulgation of the Divine Plan, unveiled by our departed Master in the darkest days of one of the severest ordeals which humanity has ever experienced,18 is the Key which Providence has placed in the hands of the American believers whereby to unlock the doors leading them to fulfill their unimaginably glorious Destiny. As the proclamation of the Message reverberates throughout the land, as its resistless march gathers momentum, as the field of its operation widens and the numbers of its upholders and champions multiply, its potentialities will correspondingly unfold, exerting a most beneficent influence, not only on every community throughout the Bahá’í world, but on the immediate fortunes of a travailing society. The repercussions of this campaign are already apparent in Europe, India, Egypt, Iraq and even among the sorely tried communities in Persia and Russia. The Faith of God is gaining in stature, effectiveness and power. Not until, however, the great enterprise which you are now conducting runs its full course and attains its final objective, at its appointed time, can its world-encompassing benefits be fully apprehended or revealed. The perseverance of the American believers will, no doubt, ensure the ultimate realization of these benefits. Praying with undiminished fervor for you all.
Pressure of work in connection with my recent translation of the prayers and meditations of Bahá’u’lláh19 has been responsible for the unfortunate delay in acknowledging the receipt of your communications, all of which testify most strikingly to the vigor, the efficiency, and the exemplary loyalty with which you are conducting and coordinating the manifold teaching and administrative activities of our beloved Faith. The progress of the teaching campaign is most remarkable and reassuring. The uninterrupted prosecution of this holy enterprise and its extension to the South American continent and the islands of the Pacific will no doubt attract unimaginable blessings and must entail far-reaching consequences. In the course of this year, when the American believers are commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s visit to America, a mighty impetus should be lent to this campaign which you have so splendidly initiated. A complete rededication to its ideals, its purposes and requirements, on the part of all individuals and Assemblies, can alone befit such a nationwide celebration. I pray that you may all fulfill your high destiny.
DEEPLY MOVED YOUR MESSAGE. INSTITUTION GUARDIANSHIP HEAD CORNERSTONE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER CAUSE BAHÁ’U’LLÁH ALREADY ENNOBLED THROUGH ITS ORGANIC CONNECTION WITH PERSONS OF TWIN FOUNDERS BAHÁ’Í FAITH IS NOW FURTHER REINFORCED THROUGH DIRECT ASSOCIATION WITH WEST AND PARTICULARLY WITH AMERICAN BELIEVERS WHOSE SPIRITUAL DESTINY IS TO USHER IN WORLD ORDER BAHÁ’U’LLAH. FOR MY PART DESIRE CONGRATULATE COMMUNITY AMERICAN BELIEVERS ON ACQUISITION TIE VITALLY BINDING THEM TO SO WEIGHTY AN ORGAN OF THEIR FAITH.20
DISTRESSED SUDDEN PASSING DEARLY BELOVED DR. BAGHDÁDÍ. LOSS INFLICTED NATIONAL INTERESTS FAITH IRREPARABLE. HIS EXEMPLARY FAITH AUDACITY UNQUESTIONING LOYALTY INDEFATIGABLE EXERTION UNFORGETTABLE. ADVISE BAHÁ’Í COMMUNITIES CHICAGO SURROUNDING REGIONS HOLD BEFITTING MEMORIAL GATHERING TEMPLE FOR WHICH HE SO VALIANTLY AND DEVOTEDLY LABORED. ARDENTLY PRAYING FOR HIM AND BEREAVED FAMILY.
DUAL GIFT PROVIDENTIALLY CONFERRED AMERICAN BAHÁ’Í COMMUNITY INVESTS RECIPIENTS WITH DUAL RESPONSIBILITY FULFILL HISTORIC MISSION. FIRST PROSECUTE UNINTERRUPTEDLY TEACHING CAMPAIGN INAUGURATED LAST CONVENTION IN ACCORDANCE DIVINE PLAN. SECOND RESUME WITH INFLEXIBLE DETERMINATION EXTERIOR ORNAMENTATION ENTIRE STRUCTURE TEMPLE. ADVISE PONDER MESSAGE CONVEYED DELEGATES ESTEEMED CO-WORKER FRED SCHOPFLOCHER.21 NO TRIUMPH CAN MORE BEFITTINGLY SIGNALIZE TERMINATION FIRST CENTURY BAHÁ’Í ERA THAN ACCOMPLISHMENT THIS TWOFOLD TASK. ADVISE PROLONGATION CONVENTION SESSIONS ENABLE DELEGATES CONSULT NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO FORMULATE FEASIBLE SEVEN YEAR PLAN ENSURE SUCCESS TEMPLE ENTERPRISE. NO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT FOR COMMUNITY SO ABUNDANTLY BLESSED REPEATEDLY HONORED.22
The responsibilities which, under your direction and in response to my plea, the American community is now assuming, over and above the task they have already undertaken in connection with the Divine Plan, proclaim in unmistakable terms their unswerving determination to prove themselves worthy of the sublimity of their mission, and of their privileged position among their sister communities in both the East and the West. The twofold task they have arisen to perform will, if carried out in time, release the potentialities with which the community of the Greatest Name has been so generously and mysteriously endowed by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá.23 To carry out in its entirety and to its final consummation this dual enterprise would shed on the closing years of this first century of the Bahá’í Era a luster no less brilliant than the immortal deeds which have signalized its birth in the Heroic Age of our Faith. To the American believers, the spiritual descendants of the heroes of God’s Cause, I again address my plea, to arise as one soul and to prosecute, with unrelaxing resolve, the high mission with which their immediate destinies are inextricably interwoven. The call has gone forth, the path is clear, the goal manifest and within their reach. Though their responsibilities be pressing and heavy and the obstacles formidable and manifold, yet the spirit of our invincible Faith will enable them to conquer if they arise unitedly and determinedly and persevere till the very end.
[circa 4 August 1937]24
MUCH HEARTENED COMPELLING EVIDENCES ACCELERATED SPEED WITH WHICH TEACHING CAMPAIGN INAUGURATED THROUGHOUT AMERICAS NOW PROGRESSING. GREATLY CHEERED REALIZATION NO MORE THAN FIVE STATES AND THREE CANADIAN PROVINCES REMAIN STILL DEPRIVED RADIANT LIGHT WHICH UNFOLDING DIVINELY CONCEIVED PLAN IS RAPIDLY DIFFUSING. IN A WORLD PERILOUSLY NEAR CATACLYSMIC CONVULSIONS DESTINED EXPERIENCE AT A TIME WHEN FORCES OF REPRESSION ARE LAUNCHING THEIR ASSAULTS AND CONSPIRING UNDERMINE FOUNDATION MOST POWERFUL STRONGHOLDS FAITH BAHÁ’U’LLÁH IN LAND OF ITS BIRTH AND IN HEART OF BOTH ASIATIC EUROPEAN CONTINENTS AN INESCAPABLE WELL-NIGH STAGGERING RESPONSIBILITY RESTS ON AMERICA ITS ONE CHIEF REMAINING CITADEL. WHO AMONG ITS STALWART DEFENDERS WILL ARISE UNTRAMMELED UNAFRAID TO IMPLANT ITS BANNER IN THOSE STATES PROVINCES COUNTRIES WHERE ITS STANDARD IS STILL UNHOISTED? ENTREAT AFRESH AMERICAN COMMUNITY HEED VITAL URGENCY MY IMPASSIONED PLEA SPUR EFFORTS BRING SPEEDY TERMINATION FIRST STAGE IN EVOLUTION SO IMPORTANT PHASE OF DUAL TASK THEY HAVE NOBLY ENTHUSIASTICALLY SHOULDERED.25
SHOCKED DISTRESSED PREMATURE PASSING ESTEEMED WELL-LOVED LUNT. FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL APPRAISE HIS MANIFOLD OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTIONS TO RISE AND ESTABLISHMENT FAITH BAHÁ’U’LLÁH AMERICAN CONTINENT. COMMUNITY HIS BEREAVED CO-WORKERS COULD ILL AFFORD LOSE SUCH CRITICAL PERIOD SO FEARLESS CHAMPION THEIR CAUSE. REQUEST ENTIRE BODY THEIR NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES ASSEMBLE HIS GRAVE PAY TRIBUTE MY BEHALF TO HIM WHO SO LONG AND SINCE INCEPTION ACTED AS PILLAR INSTITUTION THEY REPRESENT. CONVEY BOSTON COMMUNITY ASSURANCE PRAYERS DEEPEST BROTHERLY SYMPATHY THEIR CRUEL IRREPARABLE LOSS.
ELECTION OF HUNDRED SEVENTY-ONE DELEGATES FOR THIS YEAR’S AND FUTURE CONVENTIONS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. ADMITTED EXPANSION AMERICAN COMMUNITY VITALLY DEMANDS IT. APPEAL DELEGATES UNABLE ATTEND IN PERSON EXERCISE CONSCIENTIOUSLY BALLOT RIGHT BY MAIL. INCREASED PARTICIPATION BY BELIEVERS IN CONVENTION PROCEEDINGS REINFORCES AUTHORITY AND BROADENS BASIS BODY NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES AND KNITS THEM CLOSER TO ENTIRE BODY ELECTORATE. ADVISE SHARE MESSAGE AMERICAN BELIEVERS.
To this letter, dealing chiefly with the day-to-day administration of your Assembly’s activities, I wish to add a few observations connected with the wider and more challenging issues with which the American believers as a body are now being confronted. As I lift up my gaze beyond the strain and stresses which a struggling Faith must necessarily experience, and view the wider scene which the indomitable will of the American Bahá’í community is steadily unfolding, I cannot but marvel at the range which the driving force of their ceaseless labors has acquired and the heights which the sublimity of their faith has attained. The outposts of a Faith, already persecuted in both Europe and Asia, are in the American continent steadily advancing, the visible symbols of its undoubted sovereignty are receiving fresh luster every day and its manifold institutions are driving their roots deeper and deeper into its soil. Blest and honored as none among its sister communities has been in recent years, preserved through the inscrutable dispensations of Divine Providence for a destiny which no mind can as yet imagine, such a community cannot for a moment afford to be content with or rest on the laurels it has so deservedly won. It must go on, continually go on, exploring fresh fields, scaling nobler heights, laying firmer foundations, shedding added splendor and achieving further renown in the service and for the glory of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. The Seven Year Plan,26 which it has sponsored and with which its destiny is so closely interwoven, must at all costs be prosecuted with increasing force and added consecration. All should arise and participate. Upon the measure of such a participation will no doubt depend the welfare and progress of those distant communities which are now battling for their emancipation. To such a priceless privilege the inheritors of the shining grace of Bahá’u’lláh cannot surely be indifferent. The American believers must gird up the loins of endeavor and step into the arena of service with such heroism as shall astound the entire Bahá’í world. Let them be assured that my prayers will continue to be offered on their behalf.
HAND OMNIPOTENCE REMOVED ARCHBREAKER BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S COVENANT.27 HIS HOPES SHATTERED HIS PLOTTINGS FRUSTRATED SOCIETY HIS FELLOW CONSPIRATORS EXTINGUISHED. GOD’S TRIUMPHANT FAITH FORGES ON ITS UNITY UNIMPAIRED ITS PURITY UNSULLIED ITS STABILITY UNSHAKEN. SUCH DEATH CALLS FOR NEITHER EXULTATION NOR RECRIMINATION BUT EVOKES OVERWHELMING PITY SO TRAGIC DOWNFALL UNPARALLELED IN RELIGIOUS HISTORY.
The Seven Year Plan, with which the immediate fortunes of the American Bahá’í community are so closely interwoven, demands, at this critical stage in its development, serious and prayerful consideration of certain vital requirements, without which such a stupendous task can never be brought to a successful completion. The evolution of the Plan imposes a threefold obligation, which all individual believers, all Local Assemblies, as well as the National Assembly itself, must respectively recognize and conscientiously fulfill. Each and every believer, undaunted by the uncertainties, the perils and the financial stringency afflicting the nation, must arise and ensure, to the full measure of his or her capacity, that continuous and abundant flow of funds into the national Treasury, on which the successful prosecution of the Plan must chiefly depend. Upon the Local Assemblies, whose special function and high privilege is to facilitate the admission of new believers into the community, and thereby stimulate the infusion of fresh blood into its organic institutions, a duty no less binding in character devolves. To them I wish particularly to appeal, at this present hour, when the call of God is being raised throughout the length and breadth of both continents in the New World, to desist from insisting too rigidly on the minor observances and beliefs, which might prove a stumbling-block in the way of any sincere applicant, whose eager desire is to enlist under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh. While conscientiously adhering to the fundamental qualifications already laid down, the members of each and every Assembly should endeavor, by their patience, their love, their tact and wisdom, to nurse, subsequent to his admission, the newcomer into Bahá’í maturity, and win him over gradually to the unreserved acceptance of whatever has been ordained in the teachings. As to the National Assembly, whose inescapable responsibility is to guard the integrity, coordinate the activities, and stimulate the life, of the entire community, its chief concern, at the present moment, should be to anxiously deliberate on how best to enable both individual believers and Local Assemblies to fulfill their respective tasks. Through their repeated appeals, through their readiness to dispel all misunderstandings and remove all obstacles, through the example of their lives, their unrelaxing vigilance, their high sense of justice, their humility, consecration and courage, they must demonstrate to those whom they represent their capacity to play their part in the progress of the Plan in which they, no less than the rest of the community, are involved. May the all-conquering Spirit of Bahá’u’lláh be so infused into each component part of this harmoniously functioning System as to enable it to contribute its proper share to the consummation of the Plan.
A year has almost elapsed since the Seven Year Plan has been launched with characteristic vigor and noble enthusiasm by the American Bahá’í community. For no less than six consecutive years this twofold and stupendous enterprise, which has been set in operation, must, if the American believers are to prove themselves worthy of their high calling, be wisely conducted, continually reinforced and energetically prosecuted to its very end. Severe and unprecedented as may be the internal tests and ordeals which the members of this community may yet experience, however tragic and momentous the external happenings which might well disrupt the fabric of the society in which they live, they must not, throughout these six remaining years, allow themselves to be deflected from the course they are now steadily pursuing. Nay rather, as the impelling forces which have set in motion this mighty undertaking acquire added momentum and its potentialities are more fully manifested, they who are responsible for its success must as time goes on evince a more burning enthusiasm, demonstrate a higher sense of solidarity, reveal greater depths of consecration to their task, and display a more unyielding determination to achieve its purpose. Then and only then will the pleas, the hopes and the wishes of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, eternally enshrined in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, be worthily acknowledged and fulfilled. “Let your exertions henceforth increase a thousandfold” is the earnest appeal voiced by Him in those Tablets. “Summon the people,” He exhorts them, “in these countries, capitals, islands, assemblies and churches to enter the Abhá Kingdom. The scope of your exertions must needs be extended. The wider its range, the more striking will be the evidence of divine assistance.” “The moment,” He solemnly affirms, “this divine Message is carried forward by the American believers from the shores of America and is propagated through the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa and of Australasia … this community will find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.… Then will the whole earth resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness.” The Seven Year Plan, to which every American believer is fully and irrevocably pledged, during the closing years of the First century of the Bahá’í Era, is in itself but an initial stage in the unfoldment of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s vision of America’s spiritual destiny—a destiny which only those who will have successfully accomplished this preliminary task can enable the rising generations who will labor after them to fulfill in the course of the succeeding century.
ON THIS AUSPICIOUS OCCASION WHEN NUMBER ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES AMERICAN BAHÁ’Í COMMUNITY IS WELL-NIGH DOUBLY REINFORCED MOVED CONVEY ON EVE CONVENTION TO ALL DELEGATES FRIENDS EXPRESSION MOST LOVING WELCOME. GATHERED WITHIN HOUSE OF WORSHIP WHICH ENTERPRISE PERSEVERING LOYALTY SELF-ABNEGATION AMERICAN BELIEVERS REARED AND ADORNED SUMMONING THEIR AID VITALIZING INFLUENCE PRAYERS MEDITATIONS WHICH AUTHOR THEIR FAITH HIMSELF REVEALED LET THEM DELEGATES VISITORS ALIKE DRAW NIGH UNTO BAHÁ’U’LLÁH THAT HE MAY DRAW NIGH UNTO THEM. COMMUNITY AMERICAN BELIEVERS WHOSE HEARTS HAVE BEEN STIRRED BY TRAGIC TALE EVENTS IMMORTALIZING EARLY HISTORY THEIR FAITH WHOSE MINDS HAVE BEEN ENRICHED BY FURTHER MEASURE FUNDAMENTAL BAHÁ’Í TEACHINGS WHOSE HANDS HAVE BEEN FORTIFIED BY FASHIONING INSTRUMENTS WHEREIN EMBRYONIC WORLD ORDER CAN MATURE MUST AT SO CRITICAL STAGE IN FORTUNES DECLINING CIVILIZATION SEEK PURGE GALVANIZE THEIR SOULS THROUGH DAILY PRAYER MEDITATION THAT CAN BEST SUSTAIN THEM IN DISCHARGE TASK STILL INITIAL STAGE DEVELOPMENT. AS TOKEN MY GRATITUDE TO SUCH COMMUNITY ENTRUSTED BELOVED CO-WORKER MRS. COLLINS28 LOCKS BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S MOST PRECIOUS HAIR ARRANGED PRESERVED BY LOVING HANDS GREATEST HOLY LEAF TO REST BENEATH DOME OF TEMPLE NOBLY RAISED BY DEARLY LOVED BELIEVERS IN AMERICA.
HOLY MOTHER MUNÍRIH KHÁNUM29 ASCENDED ABHÁ KINGDOM. WITH SORROWFUL HEARTS BAHÁ’ÍS WORLD OVER RECALL DIVERS PHASES HER RICH EVENTFUL LIFE MARKED BY UNIQUE SERVICES WHICH BY VIRTUE HER EXALTED POSITION SHE RENDERED DURING DARKEST DAYS ‘ABDU’L‑BAHÁ’S LIFE. ALL RIDVÁN FESTIVITIES SUSPENDED. ADVISE CONVENTION DELEGATES DEVOTE SPECIAL SESSION HER MEMORY HOLD BEFITTING GATHERING AUDITORIUM MASHRIQU’L-ADHKÁR.
REJOICED THANKFUL INITIATIVE RESOURCEFULNESS NEWLY ELECTED NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PROMPTING THEM SIGNALIZE INAUGURATION PERIOD STEWARDSHIP BY LAUNCHING THIRD STAGE IN PROGRESSIVE UNFOLDMENT SEVEN YEAR PLAN.30 SUCH FAR-SIGHTED ACTION EVOKES IN ME DEEPEST LONGING THAT THEY WILL NOT ALONE ACCOMPLISH PLACING FINAL CONTRACT BUT WILL HAVE ALSO ERE EXPIRY ALLOTTED YEAR EMBARKED ON CONCLUDING STAGE BY ENSURING UNINTERRUPTED PROSECUTION OF CLOSING PHASE OF AN ENTERPRISE WHICH FOR NO LESS THAN THIRTY YEARS HAS ENGAGED ATTENTION AND CHALLENGED RESOURCES OF ENTIRE AMERICAN BAHÁ’Í COMMUNITY. PRAYING INSTANTANEOUS RESPONSE SUSTAINED SUPPORT ALL THOSE WHOM DESTINY HAS PRIMARILY ASSOCIATED WITH REVELATION IN SO GLOOMY EPOCH OF THIS LUMINOUS SYMBOL OF BAHÁ’U’LLÁH’S TRANSCENDENT SOVEREIGNTY.
I wish to reaffirm in person my sense of joy and gratitude, as expressed in my last cable to your Assembly, at the new spirit of alertness and determination which you have so clearly demonstrated while yet on the threshold of your year of stewardship in the service of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. I am filled with fresh hopes, and yearn to witness, ere the present year draws to a close, not only the fulfillment of an unexampled record of service but the revelation of such depths of consecration as will astonish, nay thrill, both the members of your own community and the rest of the Bahá’í world. Pregnant indeed are the years looming ahead of us all. The twin processes of internal disintegration and external chaos are being accelerated every day and are inexorably moving towards a climax. The rumblings that must precede the eruption of those forces that must cause “the limbs of humanity to quake” can already be heard. “The time of the end,” “the latter years,” as foretold in the Scriptures, are at long last upon us. The Pen of Bahá’u’lláh, the voice of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, have time and again, insistently and in terms unmistakable, warned an unheeding humanity of impending disaster. The Community of the Most Great Name, the leaven that must leaven the lump, the chosen remnant that must survive the rolling up of the old, discredited, tottering Order and assist in the unfoldment of a new one in its stead, is standing ready, alert, clear-visioned, and resolute. The American believers, standard-bearers of this worldwide community and torchbearers of an as yet unborn civilization, have girt up their loins, unfurled their banners and stepped into the arena of service. Their Plan has been formulated. Their forces are mobilized. They are steadfastly marching towards their goal. They cannot afford either to turn back or hesitate. The hosts of the Abhá Kingdom are rushing forth, as promised, to direct their steps and reinforce their power. Through their initial victories they have provided the impulse that must now surge and, with relentless force, sweep over their sister-communities and eventually overpower the entire human race. The generality of mankind, blind and enslaved, is wholly unaware of the healing power with which this community has been endowed, nor can it as yet suspect the role which this same community is destined to play in its redemption. Fierce and manifold will be the assaults with which governments, races, classes and religions, jealous of its rising prestige and fearful of its consolidating strength, will seek to silence its voice and sap its foundations. Unmoved by the relative obscurity that surrounds it at the present time, and undaunted by the forces that will be arrayed against it in the future, this community, I cannot but feel confident, will, no matter how afflictive the agonies of a travailing age, pursue its destiny, undeflected in its course, undimmed in its serenity, unyielding in its resolve, unshaken in its convictions.
I feel truly exhilarated as I witness the ever-recurrent manifestations of unbroken solidarity and unquenchable enthusiasm that distinguish every stage in the progressive development of the nationwide enterprise which is being so unflinchingly pursued by the whole American Bahá’í community. The marked deterioration in world affairs, the steadily deepening gloom that envelops the storm-tossed peoples and nations of the Old World, invest the Seven Year Plan, now operating in both the North and South American continents, with a significance and urgency that cannot be overestimated. Conceived as the supreme agency for the establishment, in the opening century of the Bahá’í Era, of what is but the initial stage in the progressive realization of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá’s Plan for the American believers, this enterprise, as it extends its ramifications throughout the entire New World, is demonstrating its power to command all the resources and utilize all the facilities which the machinery of a laboriously evolved Administrative Order can place at its disposal. However we view its aspects, it offers in its functioning a sharp contrast to the workings of the moribund and obsolescent institutions to which a perverse generation is desperately clinging. Tempestuous are the winds that buffet and will, as the days go by, fiercely assail the very structure of the Order through the agency of which this twofold task is being performed. The potentialities with which an almighty Providence has endowed it will no doubt enable its promoters to achieve their purpose. Much, however, will depend upon the spirit and manner in which that task will be conducted. Through the clearness and steadiness of their vision, through the unvitiated vitality of their belief, through the incorruptibility of their character, through the adamantine force of their resolve, the matchless superiority of their aims and purpose, and the unsurpassed range of their accomplishments, they who labor for the glory of the Most Great Name throughout both Americas can best demonstrate to the visionless, faithless, and restless society to which they belong their power to proffer a haven of refuge to its members in the hour of their realized doom. Then and only then will this tender sapling, embedded in the fertile soil of a Divinely appointed Administrative Order, and energized by the dynamic processes of its institutions, yield its richest and destined fruit. That the community of the American believers, to whose keeping so vast, so delicate and precious a trust has been committed, will, severally and collectively, prove themselves worthy of their high calling, I for one, who in my association with them have been privileged to observe more closely than perhaps anyone else the nature of their reactions to the momentous issues that have confronted them in the past, will refuse to doubt.