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Citadel of Faith

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1980 third printing
  • Pages:
  • 171
Go to printed page GO
Pages 98-134

First American Pioneer to Africa

Rejoice at departure of first pioneer to Africa; urge acceleration of historic process now set in motion. Time is short, tasks ahead manifold, pressing, momentous. Praying ardently for increasing response and 99 befitting discharge of mighty supplementary task shouldered by valorous community.

[October 19, 1951]

Message to 1951 State Conventions

Advise assembled friends to focus attention on vital, pressing, paramount needs of National Fund at this critical juncture. Hour is ripe to recall unnumbered tribulations, sacrifices heroically endured by the dawn-breakers, culminating in Bahá’u’lláh’s afflictive imprisonment in Síyáh Chál, Centennial of which is now approaching. Urge deepening realization of sacredness, preeminent importance of twin purposes which individual resolves serve. Appeal for immediate, unanimous, sustained, decisive response, safeguard thereby American Community’s share in tribute to memory of Founder of Faith on occasion of forthcoming Jubilee of Birth of glorious Mission. Praying for befitting answer to heartfelt plea.

[November 4, 1951]

The Last and Irretrievable Chance

The brief interval separating the hard-pressed, valiantly struggling, resistlessly expanding American Bahá’í Community from the anticipated consummation of the second, fate-laden collective enterprise launched so auspiciously by its national elected representatives is speedily drawing to a close. The sixteen months that still lie ahead constitute in view of the tasks that still remain to be achieved, and the sacrifices still to be made, a period at once critical and challenging. This memorable period commemorates, if we pause and call to mind the stirring events and bloody episodes linking the Dispensation of the Báb with the dawning Mission of the Founder of our Faith, the centenary of what may be truly regarded as the darkest, the most tragic, the most heroic, period in the annals of a hundred-year-old Revelation. This period, moreover, affords the last and irretrievable chance to a ceaselessly striving, repeatedly victorious community of setting the seal of triumph upon a momentous undertaking, on whose fate hinges the launching of yet another glorious Crusade, the consummation of which 100 will mark the successful conclusion of the initial epoch in the unfoldment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan—an evolution that must continue to blossom and fructify in the course of successive epochs of the Formative Ages of the Faith, and yield its fairest fruit in the Golden Age that is yet to come.

A PERIOD OF HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE

The historic significance of this period cannot indeed be overestimated. For it was a hundred years ago that a Faith, which had already been oppressed by a staggering weight of untold tribulations; which had sustained shattering blows in Mázindarán, Nayríz, Ṭihrán and Zanján, and indeed throughout every province in the land of its birth; which had lost its greatest exponents through the tragic martyrdom of most of the Letters of the Living, and particularly of the valiant Mullá Ḥusayn and of the erudite Vahíd and which had been afflicted with the supreme calamity of losing its Divine Founder; was being subjected to still more painful ordeals—ordeals which robbed it of both the heroic Hujjat and of the far-famed Táhirih; which caused it to pass through a reign of terror, and to experience a blood-bath of unprecedented severity, which inflicted on it one of the greatest humiliations it has ever suffered through the attempted assassination of the sovereign himself, and which unloosed a veritable deluge of barbarous atrocities in Ṭihrán, Mázindarán, Nayríz and Shíráz before which paled the horrors of the siege of Zanján, and which swept no less a figure than Bahá’u’lláh Himself—the last remaining pillar of a Faith that had been so rudely shaken, so ruthlessly denuded of its chief buttresses—into the subterranean dungeon of Ṭihrán, an imprisonment that was soon followed by His cruel banishment, in the depths of an exceptionally severe winter, from His native land to ‘Iráq. To these tribulations He Himself has referred as “afflictions” that “rained” upon Him, whilst the blood shed by His companions and lovers He characterized as the blood which “impregnated” the earth with the “wondrous revelation” of God’s “might.”
Nor should the momentous character of the unique event, that may be regarded as the climax and consummation of this tragic period, be overlooked or underestimated, inasmuch as its centenary synchronizes with the termination of the sixteen-month interval separating the American Bahá’í Community from the conclusion of its present Plan. 101 This unique event, the centenary of which is to be befittingly celebrated, not only in the American continent but throughout the Bahá’í world, and is destined to be regarded as the culmination of the Second Seven Year Plan, is none other than the “Year Nine,” anticipated 2,000 years ago as the “third woe” by St. John the Divine, alluded to by both Shaykh Aḥmad and Siyyid Kázim—the twin luminaries that heralded the advent of the Faith of the Báb—specifically mentioned and extolled by the Herald of the Bahá’í Dispensation in His Writings, and eulogized by both the Founder of our Faith and the Center of His Covenant. In that year, the year “after Hin” (68), mentioned by Shaykh Aḥmad, the year that witnessed the birth of the Mission of the promised “Qayyúm,” specifically referred to by Siyyid Kázim, the “requisite number” in the words of Bahá’u’lláh “of pure, of wholly consecrated and sanctified souls” had been “most secretly consummated.” In that year, as testified by the pen of the Báb, the “realities of the created things” were “made manifest,” “a new creation was born” and the seed of His Faith revealed its “ultimate perfection.” In that year, as borne witness by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a hitherto “embryonic Faith” was born. In that year, while the Blessed Beauty lay in chains and fetters, in that dark and pestilential pit, “the breezes of the All-Glorious,” as He Himself described it, “were wafted” over Him. There, whilst His neck was weighted down by the Qará-Guhar, His feet in stocks, breathing the fetid air of the Síyáh-Chál, He dreamed His dream and heard, “on every side,” “exalted words,” and His “tongue recited” words that “no man could bear to hear.”
There, as He Himself has recorded, under the impact of this dream, He experienced the onrushing force of His newly revealed Mission, that “flowed” even as “a mighty torrent” from His “head” to His “breast,” whereupon “every limb” of His body “would be set afire.” There, in a vision, the “Most Great Spirit,” as He Himself has again testified, appeared to Him, in the guise of a “Maiden” “calling” with “a most wondrous, a most sweet voice” above His Head, whilst “suspended in the air” before Him and, “pointing with her finger” unto His head, imparted “tidings which rejoiced” His “soul.” There appeared above the horizon of that dungeon in the city of Ṭihrán, the rim of the Orb of His Faith, whose dawning light had, nine years previously, broken upon the city of Shíráz—an Orb which, after suffering an eclipse of ten years, was destined to burst forth, with its resplendent 102 rays, upon the city of Baghdád, to mount its zenith in Adrianople, and to set eventually in the prison-fortress of ‘Akká.
Such is the year we are steadily approaching. Such is the year with which the fortunes of the Second Seven Year Plan have been linked. As the tribulations, humiliations and trials inflicted on the Cause of God in Persia, a century ago, moved inexorably towards a climax, so must the present austerity period, inaugurated a hundred years later, in the continent of America, to reflect the privations and sacrifices endured so stoically by the dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age of the Faith witness, as it approaches its culmination, a self-abnegation on the part of the champion-builders of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, laboring in the present Formative Age of His Faith, which, at its best, can be regarded as but a faint reflection of the self-sacrifice so gloriously evinced by their spiritual forbears.

OBJECTIVES OF SECOND SEVEN YEAR PLAN LARGELY ATTAINED

The objectives of the Second Seven Year Plan, the concluding phase of which has synchronized with this period of nation-wide austerity, have, it must be recognized, been in the main, attained. The pillars which must needs add their strength in supporting the future House of Justice have, according to the schedule laid down, been successively erected in the Dominion of Canada and in Latin America. The European Teaching Campaign—the second outstanding enterprise launched, beyond the confines of the North American continent, in pursuance of the Mandate, issued by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Bahá’u’lláh’s valiant “Apostles”—has not only achieved its original aims, but exceeded all expectations through the formation of a local spiritual assembly in the capital city of each of the ten goal countries included within its scope. The interior ornamentation of the Mother Temple of the West has, before its appointed time, been completed. Other tasks, no less vital, still remain to be carried, in the course of a fast shrinking period, to a successful conclusion. The landscaping of the area surrounding a structure whose foundations and exterior and interior ornamentation have demanded, for so many years, so much effort and such constant sacrifice, must, under no circumstances, and while there is yet time, be neglected, lest failure to achieve this final task mar the beauty of the approaches of a national shrine which provide so suitable 103 a setting for an edifice at once so sacred and noble. The responsibilities solemnly undertaken to consolidate and multiply the administrative institutions throughout all the states of the Union—a task that has of late been allowed to fall into abeyance, and has been eclipsed by the spectacular success attending the shining exploits of the American Bahá’í Community in foreign fields—must be speedily and seriously reconsidered, for upon the constant broadening and the steady reinforcement of this internal administrative structure, which provides the essential base for future operations in all the continents of the globe, must depend the vigor, the rapidity and the soundness of the future crusades which must needs be launched in the service, and for the glory of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and in obedience to the stirring summons issued by the Center of His Covenant in some of His most weighty Tablets. Above all, the accumulating deficit which has lately again thrown its somber shadow on an otherwise resplendent record of service, must, through a renewed display of self-abnegation, which, though not commensurate with the sacrifice of so many souls immolated on the altar of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, may at least faintly reflect its poignant heroism, be obliterated, once and for all, from the record of a splendid stewardship to His Faith.
There can be no doubt—and I am the first to proudly acknowledge it—that, ever since the launching of the Second Seven Year Plan, and in consequence of unexpected developments both in the Holy Land and elsewhere, the American Bahá’í Community, ever ready to bear the brunt of responsibility, under the stress of unforeseen circumstances, has considerably widened the scope of its original undertakings and augmented the weight shouldered by its stalwart members. At the World Center of the Faith, in response to the urgent call for action, necessitated by the imperative needs of the rising Sepulcher of the Báb, the formation of the Bahá’í International Council, and the establishment of the State of Israel, as well as in the continent of Africa, where the appointed, the chief trustees of a divinely conceived, world-encompassing Plan could not well remain unmoved by the sight of the first attempts being made to introduce systematically the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and to implant its banner amongst its tribes and races, the American Bahá’í Community have assumed responsibilities well exceeding the original duties they had undertaken to discharge. This twofold opportunity that providentially presented itself to them, to contribute 104 to the rise and consolidation of the World Center of their Faith, and to the spiritual re-awakening of a long-neglected continent, must, however, be exploited to the fullest extent, if the early completion of the most sacred edifice, next to the Qiblih of the Bahá’í world, is to be assured, and if the executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Plan are to retain untarnished the primacy conferred upon them by its Author.
That primacy will be demonstrated and re-emphasized as the representatives of this privileged community take their place, and assume their functions, at each of the four Intercontinental Bahá’í Teaching Conferences which are to be convened in the course of, and which must signalize, the world-wide celebrations of the Centenary of the Year Nine. Playing a preponderating role, as the custodians of a Divine Plan, in the global crusade which all the Bahá’í national spiritual assemblies, without exception, must, in various degrees and combinations, launch on the morrow of the forthcoming Centenary, and during the entire course of the ten-year interval separating them from the Most Great Jubilee, they must, upon the consummation of their present Plan, deliberate, together with their ally the Canadian National Assembly, and their associates, the newly formed National Spiritual Assemblies of Central and South America, on the occasion of the convocation of the approaching All-American Teaching Conference, on ways and means whereby they can best contribute to the establishment of the Faith, not only throughout the Americas and their neighboring islands, but in the chief sovereign states and dependencies of the remaining continents of the globe.

SCOPE OF THIRD SEVEN YEAR PLAN WIDENED

For unlike the First and Second Seven Year Plans, inaugurated by the American Bahá’í Community, the scope of the Third Seven Year Plan, the termination of which will mark the conclusion of the first epoch in the evolution of the Master Plan designed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, will embrace all the continents of the earth, and will bring the central body directing these widely ramified operations into direct contact with all the national assemblies of the Bahá’í world, which, in varying degrees, will have to contribute their share to the world establishment of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, as prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and envisioned by Daniel—a consummation that, God willing, will be befittingly celebrated on the occasion of the Most Great Jubilee 105 commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the formal assumption by Bahá’u’lláh of His Prophetic Office.
The vision now disclosed to the eyes of this community is indeed enthralling. The tasks which, if that vision is to be fulfilled, must be valiantly shouldered by its members are staggering. The time during which so herculean a task is to be performed is alarmingly brief. The period during which so gigantic an operation must be set in motion, prosecuted and consummated, coincides with the critical, and perhaps the darkest and most tragic, stage in human affairs. The opportunities presenting themselves to them are now close at hand. The invisible battalions of the Concourse on High are mustered, in serried ranks, ready to rush their reinforcements to the aid of the vanguard of Bahá’u’lláh’s crusaders in the hour of their greatest need, and in anticipation of that Most Great, that Wondrous Jubilee in the joyfulness of which both heaven and earth will partake. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Founder of this community and the Author of the Plan which constitutes its birthright, to Whose last wishes its members so marvelously responded; the Báb, the Centenary of Whose Revelation this same community so magnificently celebrated, and to the building of whose Sepulcher it has given so fervent a support; Bahá’u’lláh Himself, to the glory of Whose Name so stately an edifice it has raised, will amply bless and repay its members if they but persevere on the long road they have so steadfastly trodden, and pursue, with undimmed vision, with unrelaxing resolve and unshakable faith, their onward march towards their chosen goal.
That this community, so young in years, yet withal so rich in exploits, may, in the months immediately ahead, as well as in the years immediately following this coming Jubilee, maintain, untarnished and unimpaired, its record of service to our beloved Faith, that it may further embellish, through still nobler feats, its annals, is the dearest wish of my heart, and the object of my constant supplications at the Holy Threshold.

[November 23, 1951]

Funds for International Center

Deeply touched by reconsecration and readiness to sacrifice. Praying for fulfilment of your hopes. Advise allocate substantial portion of 106 budget to meet continual needs arising at International Center of Faith.

[May 3, 1952]

Forty-Fifth Annual Convention: U.S. Tasks in World Crusade

My soul is uplifted in joy and thanksgiving at the triumphant conclusion of the Second Seven Year Plan immortalized by the brilliant victories simultaneously won by the vanguard of the hosts of Bahá’u’lláh in Latin America, in Europe and in Africa—victories befittingly crowned through the consummation of a fifty year old enterprise, the completion of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the western world. The signal success that has attended the second collective enterprise undertaken in the course of American Bahá’í history climaxes a term of stewardship to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, of almost three score years’ duration—a period which has enriched the annals of the concluding epoch of the Heroic, and shed luster on the first thirty years of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation. So fecund a period has been marked by teaching activities unexcelled throughout the western world and has been distinguished by administrative exploits unparalleled in the annals of any Bahá’í national community whether in the East or in the West. I am impelled, on the occasion of the anniversary of the Most Great Festival, coinciding with a triple celebration—the dedication of the Mother Temple of the West, the launching of a World Spiritual Crusade and the commemoration of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission—to pay warmest tribute to the preeminent share which the American Bahá’í Community has had in the course of over half a century in proclaiming His Revelation, in shielding His Cause, in championing His Covenant, in erecting the administrative machinery of His embryonic World Order, in expounding His teachings, in translating and disseminating His Holy Word, in dispatching the messengers of His Glad Tidings, in awakening royalty to His Call, in succoring His oppressed followers, in routing His enemies, in upholding His Law, in asserting the independence of His Faith, in multiplying the financial resources of its nascent institutions and, last but not least, in rearing its greatest House of Worship—the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the western world. 107
The hour is now ripe for this greatly gifted, richly blessed community to arise and reaffirm, through the launching of yet another enterprise, its primacy, enhance its spiritual heritage, plumb greater depths of consecration and capture loftier heights in the course of its strenuous and ceaseless labors for the exaltation of God’s Cause.
The Ten Year Plan, constituting the third and final stage of the initial epoch in the evolution of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Master Plan, which, God willing, will raise to greater heights the fame of the stalwart American Bahá’í Community, and seat it upon “the throne of an everlasting dominion,” envisaged by the Author of the Tablets of this same Plan, involves:
First, the opening of the following virgin territories, eleven in Africa: Cape Verde Islands, Canary Islands, French Somaliland, French Togoland, Mauritius, Northern Territories Protectorate, Portuguese Guinea, Reunion Island, Spanish Guinea, St. Helena and St. Thomas Island; eight in Asia: Caroline Islands, Dutch New Guinea, Hainan Island, Kazakhstan, Macao Island, Sakhalin Island, Tibet and Tonga Islands; six in Europe: Andorra, Azores, Balearic Islands, Lofoten Islands, Spitzbergen and Ukraine; and four in America: Aleutian Islands, Falkland Islands, Key West and Kodiak Island.
Second, the consolidation of the Faith in the following territories, six in Asia: China, Formosa, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, Philippine Islands; two in Africa: Liberia and South Africa; twelve in Europe: the ten goal countries, Finland and France; three in America: the Hawaiian Islands, Alaska and Puerto Rico.
Third, the extension of assistance to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bahá’ís of Central and South America, as well as to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Italy and Switzerland in forming twenty national spiritual assemblies in the republics of Latin America and two in Europe, namely in Italy and Switzerland; the extension of assistance for the establishment of a national Hazíratu’l-Quds in the capital of each of the aforementioned countries as well as of national Bahá’í endowments in these same countries.
Fourth, the establishment of ten national spiritual assemblies in the following European countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal, France and Finland.
Fifth, the establishment of a national spiritual assembly in Japan and one in the South Pacific Islands. 108
Sixth, the establishment of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Alaska.
Seventh, the establishment of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of South and West Africa.
Eighth, the incorporation of each of the fourteen above-mentioned national spiritual assemblies.
Ninth, the establishment of national Bahá’í endowments by these same national spiritual assemblies.
Tenth, the establishment of a national Hazíratu’l-Quds in the capital city of each of the eleven of the aforementioned countries, as well as one in Anchorage, one in Suva, and one in Johannesburg.
Eleventh, the erection of the first dependency of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the western world.
Twelfth, the extension of assistance for the purchase of land for four future Temples, two in Europe: in Stockholm and Rome; one in Central America, in Panama City; and one in Africa, in Johannesburg.
Thirteenth, the completion of the landscaping of the grounds of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Wilmette.
Fourteenth, the raising to one hundred of the number of incorporated local assemblies within the American Union.
Fifteenth, the raising to three hundred of the number of local spiritual assemblies in that same country.
Sixteenth, the incorporation of spiritual assemblies in the leading cities of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal, as well as of the Spiritual Assemblies of Paris, of Helsingfors, of Tokyo, of Suva and of Johannesburg.
Seventeenth, the quadrupling of the number of local spiritual assemblies and the trebling of the number of localities in the aforementioned countries.
Eighteenth, the translation of Bahá’í literature into ten languages in Europe, (Basque, Estonian, Flemish, Lapp, Maltese, Piedmontese, Romani, Romansch, Yiddish and Ziryen; ten in America: Aguaruna, Arawak, Blackfoot, Cherokee, Iroquois, Lengua, Mataco, Maya, Mexican and Yahgan.
Nineteenth, the conversion to the Faith of members of the leading Indian tribes. 109
Twentieth, the conversion to the Faith of representatives of the Basque and Gypsy races.
Twenty-first, the establishment of summer schools in each of the Scandinavian and Benelux countries, as well as those of the Iberian Peninsula.
Twenty-second, the proclamation of the Faith through the press and radio throughout the United States of America.
Twenty-third, the establishment of a Bahá’í Publishing Trust in Wilmette, Illinois.
Twenty-fourth, the formation of an Asian teaching committee designed to stimulate and coordinate the teaching activities initiated by the Plan.
May this community—the spiritual descendants of the dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age of the Bahá’í Faith, the chief repository of the immortal Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, the foremost executors of the Mandate issued by the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, the champion-builders of a divinely conceived Administrative Order, the standard-bearers of the all-conquering army of the Lord of Hosts, the torchbearers of a future divinely inspired world civilization—arise, in the course of the momentous decade separating the Great from the Most Great Jubilee to secure, as befits its rank, the lion’s share in the prosecution of a global crusade designed to diffuse the light of God’s revelation over the surface of the entire planet.

[April 29, 1953]

Intending Pioneers Urged to Scatter

Strongly urge intending pioneers to scatter as widely as possible, settle even territories, islands not specifically assigned to United States. Prompt opening of virgin territories is highly meritorious, extremely urgent, vital prerequisite to insure triumphant conclusion of opening phase of Global Crusade, prerogative of chief executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Plan. May enrolled pioneers arise and confirm primacy of American Bahá’í Community playing preponderating role in initial stage of spiritual conquest of unopened territories and islands of the planet. 110

[May 13, 1953]

A Turning Point in American Bahá’í History

My soul is thrilled and my heart is filled with gratitude as I contemplate—looking back upon six decades of eventful American Bahá’í history—the chain of magnificent achievements which, from the dawn of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the West until the present day, have signalized the birth, marked the rise and distinguished the unfoldment of the glorious mission of the American Bahá’í Community. Of all Bahá’í communities in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, with the sole exception of its venerable sister community in Bahá’u’lláh’s native land, it alone may well claim to have released forces, and set in motion events, which stand unparalleled in the annals of the Faith; while in the course of the last fifty years, comprising the concluding years of the Heroic and the opening epochs of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation, it can confidently boast of a record of stewardship which, for its scope, effectiveness and splendor, is unmatched by that of any other community in the entire Bahá’í world.
The first to awaken to the call of the New Day in the western world; the first to spontaneously arise to befittingly erect the Mother Temple of the West; the first to grasp the implications, evolve the pattern and lay the basis of the structure of the Bahá’í Administrative Order in the entire Bahá’í world; the first to openly and systematically proclaim the fundamental principles of the Faith, to adopt effectual measures for its defense, to invite the attention of royalty to its teachings, to devise an adequate machinery for the translation, the publication and the dissemination of its literature and to provide the means for the creation of its subsidiary institutions; the first to champion the cause of the oppressed and to generously contribute to the alleviation of the sufferings of the needy and persecuted among the followers of Bahá’u’lláh; the first to inaugurate collective enterprises for the propagation of His Cause; the first to assert its independence in the West; the first to lay an unassailable foundation for the erection of auxiliary institutions designed to multiply its financial resources; and, more recently, the first to achieve, as befits its primacy, the initial task devolving upon it in pursuance of the newly launched World Spiritual 111 Crusade, this community has abundantly merited, by the quality of its deeds and the magnitude of its exploits, the distinctive titles of the cradle of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, of the vanguard of His world-conquering host, of the standard-bearers of the oneness of mankind, of the chief trustees of the Plan devised by the Center of the Covenant and of the torch-bearers of an as yet unborn world civilization.

RECENT SERVICES DESERVING MENTION

The services rendered by this same community in recent years, in its capacity as the chief executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, in the course of the second stage of the initial epoch in its evolution, are of such importance and significance as to deserve particular mention at this time. In the North American continent, throughout the republics of Latin America, in the ten goal countries of Europe, on the shores and in the heart of the African continent, the members of this community have, in conformity with the provisions of the Second Seven Year Plan, performed feats of such noble and enduring heroism as to enhance immensely their prestige, demonstrate unmistakably the caliber of their faith and qualify them to assume a preponderating share in the prosecution of the Ten Year Plan whose operations are to extend over the entire surface of the globe.
In the multiplication and consolidation of Bahá’í administrative institutions and their auxiliary agencies throughout Central America, the Antilles and every South American republic—a task supplementing the initial enterprise undertaken, in pursuance of the first Seven Year Plan, in connection with the introduction of the Faith into the republics of Latin America; in the even more rapid development of nascent institutions of the Faith in Scandinavia, in the Benelux countries, in Switzerland, in the Italian and Iberian Peninsulas; in the laying of the administrative basis of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh in the capital and in some of the major cities of each of the ten European sovereign states included within the scope of the Plan; in the convocation of a series of historic teaching conferences in the north and in the heart of the European continent—heralding the convocation of the recently held, epoch-making Intercontinental Teaching Conferences; in the translation, the publication and dissemination of Bahá’í literature in various European languages; in the still more dramatic evolution 112 of the Faith in the African continent, culminating in the convocation of the first Intercontinental Teaching Conference of the Holy Year in the heart of Africa; in the tremendous sacrifices spontaneously and repeatedly made to broaden and reinforce the foundations of the Faith in the North American continent, to sustain the campaigns undertaken in Latin America, Europe and Africa, and to meet the many demands of the Bahá’í Temple, rapidly nearing completion in Wilmette; in the successive emergence of three national spiritual assemblies in the Western Hemisphere—an outstanding contribution to the evolution and consolidation of the structure of the world Administrative Order of the Faith; in the completion of the interior ornamentation of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the West, the provision of its accessories and the initiation of the landscaping of its grounds; in the support extended to the development of the institutions of the World Center of the Faith; in the role played by its representatives, whether as Hands of the Cause or members of the International Bahá’í Council; in the financial aid unhesitatingly given to hasten the construction, and insure the completion, of the superstructure of the Báb’s Sepulcher on Mt. Carmel—above all, in the share its national elected representatives have assumed in providing the means for the convocation of the second Intercontinental Teaching Conference of the Holy Year; in commemorating worthily the dedication to public worship of the Mother Temple of the West, on the occasion of its Jubilee; in befittingly inaugurating the launching of the World Spiritual Crusade, and in celebrating the climax of the Holy Year marking the centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission—in all these the American Bahá’í Community has fully deserved the praise and gratitude of posterity, has merited the applause of the Concourse on High and earned a full measure of the divine blessings and of the celestial sustenance of which it will stand in such great need in the course of the prosecution of still mightier and more glorious enterprises in the days to come.

ADDED RESPONSIBILITIES IN PROPAGATING THE DIVINE PLAN

The stage is now set, and the hour propitious, for a deployment of forces, and for the revelation of the indomitable spirit animating this community, on a scale and to a degree unprecedented in the entire course of American Bahá’í history. To the Antilles and the seventeen republics of Central and of South America—the scene of the initial 113 exploits of a community inaugurating the opening phase of its world-girding mission—to the ten sovereign states of Europe which, at a subsequent stage in the unfoldment of that mission, the members of this community enthusiastically and determinedly arose to open up and conquer; to the African territories which, in addition to their allocated task under the Second Seven Year Plan, they spontaneously endeavored to win to the all-conquering Cause of Bahá’u’lláh—to these numerous islands and archipelagos, bordering the American, the European and African continents; dependencies extensive, well-nigh inaccessible, and remote from the base of their operations throughout the Asiatic continent; lastly, the South Pacific area, the home of the one remaining race not as yet adequately represented in the Bahá’í world community, occupying spiritually so strategic a position owing to its proximity to the Bahá’í communities already firmly entrenched in South America, in the Indian subcontinent and in Australasia, at once challenging the resources of no less than eight national spiritual assemblies, and the theater destined to witness the noblest and the most resounding victories which the chosen executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan have been called upon to win in the service of the Cause of God—all these have now, in accordance with the requirements of an irresistibly unfolding Plan, been added, completing thereby the full circle of the world-wide obligations devolving upon a community invested with spiritual primacy by the Author of the immortal Tablets constituting the Charter of the Master Plan of the appointed Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant.
“The moment this Divine Message,” He Who penned these Tablets and conferred this primacy has most significantly affirmed, “is propagated through the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa and of Australasia, and as far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.” Then, and only then, will, as He Himself has so remarkably prophesied, “the whole earth” “resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness.”
Now, indeed, is the time, after the lapse of two score years; following the triumphant conclusion of two successive historic Plans, marking the opening stages of the first epoch in the unfoldment of that same Master Plan; on the morrow of the brilliant celebrations climaxing the world-wide festivities of a memorable Holy Year; and while a 114 triumphant community, in the first flush of enthusiasm, has just garnered the first fruits of its campaigns in four continents of the globe and is laden with its freshly won trophies, for this community to bestir itself, and, assuming its rightful preponderating share in the conduct of a newly launched World Spiritual Crusade, to demonstrate, through a supreme and sustained effort embracing the entire surface of the planet, its ability to safeguard that primacy, to enrich immeasurably the record of its stewardship and to bring to a majestic conclusion the opening epoch in the evolution of a Plan destined to reveal the full measure of its potentialities, not only throughout the successive epochs of the Formative Age of the Faith, but in the course of the vast reaches of time stretching into the Golden, the last Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation.

A LASTING INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN COMMUNITY AND NATION

This decade-long global Crusade must mark a veritable turning point in American Bahá’í history. It must prove itself to be, as it develops, a force so pervasive and revolutionary in its character as to leave a lasting imprint not only on the destinies of the American Bahá’í Community but on the fortunes of the American nation as well. It must, even as a baptismal fire, so purge its members from self as to enable them to scale heights never as yet attained. It must, in its initial stages, witness a dispersal, combined with a consecration, reminiscent of the dawn of the Heroic Age in Bahá’u’lláh’s native land. It must, as it gathers momentum, awaken the select and gather the spiritually hungry amongst the peoples of the world, as well as create an awareness of the Faith not only among the political leaders of present-day society but also among the thoughtful, the erudite in other spheres of human activity. It must, as it approaches its climax, carry the torch of the Faith to regions so remote, so backward, so inhospitable that neither the light of Christianity or Islám has, after the revolution of centuries, as yet penetrated. It must, as it approaches its conclusion, pave the way for the laying, on an unassailable foundation, of the structural basis of an Administrative Order whose fabric must, in the course of successive crusades, be laboriously erected throughout the entire globe and which must assemble beneath its sheltering shadow peoples of every race, tongue, creed, color and nation.
Seconded by the neighboring fully fledged Canadian Bahá’í Community 115 flourishing beyond the northern frontier of its homeland; supported by the newly emerged Latin American communities established in the Antilles and in each of the central and southern republics of the Western Hemisphere; ably aided by its sister community vigorously functioning in the heart of a far-flung empire, and destined to lend its inestimable assistance in the spiritual conquest of the numerous and widely scattered dependencies of the British Crown; reinforced by the oldest and youngest national Bahá’í communities on the European mainland which are to play a prominent part in the eastern and southern regions, and across the frontiers of Europe, along the shores and in the islands of the Mediterranean; assisted by its venerable sister community in the cradle of the Faith and by the second oldest national community in the Bahá’í world actively engaged in the propagation of the Faith in the Asiatic continent; confident of the help of its Egyptian and Indian sister communities, whose destiny is closely linked with the African continent and southeast Asia respectively, and, lastly, assured of the unfailing cooperation of yet another national community in the Antipodes which, owing to its geographical position, is bound to assume a notable share in the introduction of the Faith in the islands of the South Pacific Ocean, the American Bahá’í Community must, as befits its rank as the chief executor of the Divine Plan, play a dominant and decisive role in the direction and control of the manifold operations involved in the prosecution of the North American, the Latin American, the European, the African, the Asian and the South Pacific campaigns of this World Crusade, and insure, by every means at its disposal and in conjunction with its junior partners, its ultimate and total success.
Within its own sphere, extending to every continent of the globe, embracing no less than twenty-nine virgin territories and islands, the members of this stalwart and preeminent community are called upon, among other things and within the relatively brief span of a single decade, to create nuclei, around which will crystallize future assemblies, in no less than eleven territories and islands of Africa, eight of Asia, six of Europe, four of America; to inaugurate the establishment of the future dependencies of the Mother Temple of the West, and to terminate the landscaping of its grounds; to consolidate and broaden the basis of the Administrative Order already laid in twenty-three territories and islands distributed in four continents of the globe and 116 situated in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; to assist in the erection of no less than thirty-six pillars, twenty in Latin America, twelve in Europe, two in Asia, one in the North American continent and one in Africa, designed to help in sustaining the weight of the crowning unit of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, and in the establishment of national Bahá’í headquarters, of national endowments, and of national incorporations in all of these continents; to lend its aid for the acquisition of land in anticipation of the erection of four Temples, two in Europe, one in Africa and one in Central America; to lend an impetus to the progress of the Faith in its homeland through raising to three hundred the number of local spiritual assemblies and to one hundred the number of incorporated assemblies, as well as through the founding of a Bahá’í Publishing Trust and the proclamation of the Faith through the press and radio; to enroll in the ranks of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh members of the Indian, of the Basque and Gypsy races; to assume responsibility for the translation and publication of Bahá’í literature in twenty languages, ten in the Americas and ten in Europe; and to contribute to the consolidation of the Faith in eight of the European goal countries through the establishment of local incorporations, as well as through the quadrupling of the number of local assemblies and the trebling of the number of local Bahá’í centers in each one of them.
While this colossal task, which in its magnitude and potentialities transcends any previous collective enterprise launched in the course of American Bahá’í history, is being energetically carried out, it should be constantly borne in mind—and this applies to all communities without exception participating in this World Crusade—that the twofold task of extension and consolidation must be supplemented by continuous and strenuous efforts to increase speedily not only the number of the avowed followers of the Faith in both the virgin and opened territories and islands included within the scope of the Ten Year Plan, but also to swell the ranks of its active supporters who will consecrate their time, resources and energy to the effectual spread of its teachings and the multiplication and consolidation of its administrative institutions.
The movement of pioneers, the opening of virgin territories, the initiation of Houses of Worship and of administrative headquarters, the incorporation of local and national elective bodies, the multiplication of assemblies, groups and isolated centers, the increase in the 117 number of races represented in the world Bahá’í fellowship, the translation, publication and dissemination of Bahá’í literature, the consolidation of administrative agencies and the creation of auxiliary bodies designed to support them, however valuable, essential and meritorious, will in the long run amount to little and fail to achieve their supreme purpose if not supplemented by the equally vital task—which is one that primarily concerns continually and challenges each single individual believer whatever his rank, capacity or origin—of winning to the Faith fresh recruits to the slowly yet steadily advancing army of the Lord of Hosts, whose reinforcing strength is so essential to the safeguarding of the victories which the band of heroic Bahá’í conquerors are winning in the course of their several campaigns in all the continents of the globe.
Such a steady flow of reinforcements is absolutely vital and is of extreme urgency, for nothing short of the vitalizing influx of new blood that will reanimate the world Bahá’í community can safeguard the prizes which, at so great a sacrifice involving the expenditure of so much time, effort and treasure, are now being won in virgin territories by Bahá’u’lláh’s valiant Knights, whose privilege is to constitute the spearhead of the onrushing battalions which, in diverse theaters and in circumstances often adverse and extremely challenging, are vying with each other for the spiritual conquest of the unsurrendered territories and islands on the surface of the globe.
This flow, moreover, will presage and hasten the advent of the day which, as prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, will witness the entry by troops of peoples of divers nations and races into the Bahá’í world—a day which, viewed in its proper perspective, will be the prelude to that long-awaited hour when a mass conversion on the part of these same nations and races, and as a direct result of a chain of events, momentous and possibly catastrophic in nature, and which cannot as yet be even dimly visualized, will suddenly revolutionize the fortunes of the Faith, derange the equilibrium of the world, and reinforce a thousandfold the numerical strength as well as the material power and the spiritual authority of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.

MOST VITAL OBJECTIVE IN THE CRUSADE’S OPENING YEAR

Of all the objectives enumerated in my message to the representatives of this community, assembled on the occasion of the celebration 118 of the climax of the Holy Year, of the convocation of the second Intercontinental Teaching Conference, of the inauguration of the Mother Temple of the West and of the launching of the World Spiritual Crusade, the most vital, urgent and meritorious, in this the opening year of the initial phase of this world-embracing enterprise, is, without doubt, the settlement of pioneers in all the virgin territories and islands assigned to this community in all the continents of the globe, with the exception of the few which, owing to present political obstacles, cannot as yet be opened to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. This process already so auspiciously inaugurated, which, in the course of the first eight months of the Holy Year has gathered such splendid momentum, and which bids fair to astonish, stimulate and inspire the entire Bahá’í world, must, during the concluding months of this same year and the one succeeding it, be so accelerated as to insure the attainment of this paramount objective before the lapse of two years from the official launching of this World Crusade.
While this goal is being vigorously pursued, close attention must be directed to the preliminary measures for the establishment of the first dependency of the Mother Temple of the West, as well as to the completion of the landscaping of its grounds, a double task that will, on the one hand, mark the termination of the fifty-year-old process of the construction of the central Bahá’í House of Worship, and proclaim, on the other, the commencement of another designed to culminate in the establishment in its plenitude of the institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár as conceived by Bahá’u’lláh and envisaged by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Moreover, immediate consideration should be given to two other issues of prime importance, namely the purchase of land, which need not exceed for the present one acre, in anticipation of the construction of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of South Africa, and the prompt translation of a suitable Bahá’í pamphlet into the American and European languages allocated to your assembly, and its publication and wide dissemination among the peoples and tribes for whom it has been primarily designed.
The followers of the Most Great Name, citizens of the great republic of the West; constituting the majority and the oldest followers of His Faith in a continent wherein, in the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “the splendors of His (Bahá’u’lláh’s) Light shall be revealed” and “the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled,” addressed by Him in His 119 Tablets of the Divine Plan as the “Apostles” of His Father; the recipients of the overwhelming majority of these same Tablets constituting the Charter of that Plan; conquerors of most of the territories, whether sovereign states or dependencies, already included within the pale of the Faith; the champion-builders of a world administrative system which posterity will regard as the harbinger of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, must, if they wish to retain their primacy and enrich their heritage, insure that, ere the opening of the second phase of this World Crusade, the names of the first American Bahá’í conquerors to settle in virgin territories and islands will, as befits their primacy, be inscribed on the Scroll of Honor, now in process of preparation, and designed to be permanently deposited at the entrance door of the Inner Sanctuary of Bahá’u’lláh’s Most Holy Tomb, that the limited area of land required for the erection of four future Bahá’í Temples, in Rome, Stockholm, Panama City and Johannesburg, will be bought, that the landscaping of the grounds of the Temple in Wilmette will be completed, and that the translation and the publication of the aforementioned pamphlet in the specified languages will be accomplished.
The two years that lie ahead, three months of which have already elapsed, will swiftly and imperceptibly draw to a close. Tasks even more onerous, equally weighty and requiring in a still greater measure the expenditure of effort and substance, lie ahead, which will brook no delay, which will carry the Faith to still higher levels of achievement and renown, which will enlarge, through the forging of fresh instruments, the framework of a steadily rising world Administrative Order, and which will eventually, if worthily discharged, seal the triumph of the most prodigious, the most sublime, the most sacred collective enterprise launched by the adherents of the Cause of God in both hemispheres since the early days of the Heroic Age of the Faith—an enterprise which in its vastness, organization and unifying power, has no parallel in the world’s spiritual history.

AN APPEAL TO ALL ENGAGED IN THE CRUSADE

To them, and indeed to the entire body of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, engaged in this global Crusade, I direct my appeal to arise and, in the course of these fast-fleeting years, in every phase of the campaigns that are to be fought in all the continents of the globe, prove 120 their worth as gallant warriors battling for the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. Indeed, from this very hour until the eve of the Most Great Jubilee, each and every one of those enrolled in the Army of Light must seek no rest, must take no thought of self, must sacrifice to the uttermost, must allow nothing whatsoever to deflect him or her from meeting the pressing, the manifold, the paramount needs of this preeminent Crusade.
“Light as the spirit,” “pure as air,” “blazing as fire,” “unrestrained as the wind”—for such is Bahá’u’lláh’s own admonition to His loved ones in His Tablets, and directed not to a select few but to the entire congregation of the faithful—let them scatter far and wide, proclaim the glory of God’s Revelation in this Day, quicken the souls of men and ignite in their hearts the love of the One Who alone is their omnipotent and divinely appointed Redeemer.
Bracing the fearful cold of the Arctic regions and the enervating heat of the torrid zone; heedless of the hazards, the loneliness and the austerity of the deserts, the far-away islands and mountains wherein they will be called upon to dwell; undeterred by the clamor which the exponents of religious orthodoxy are sure to raise, or by the restrictive measures which political leaders may impose; undismayed by the smallness of their numbers and the multitude of their potential adversaries; armed with the efficacious weapons their own hands have slowly and laboriously forged in anticipation of this glorious and inevitable encounter with the organized forces of superstition, of corruption and of unbelief; placing their whole trust in the matchless potency of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings, in the all-conquering power of His might and the infallibility of His glorious and oft-repeated promises, let them press forward, each according to his strength and resources, into the vast arena now lying before them, and which, God willing, will witness, in the years immediately lying ahead, such exhibitions of prowess and of heroic self-sacrifice as may well recall the superb feats achieved by that immortal band of God-intoxicated heroes who have so immeasurably enriched the annals of the Christian, the Islamic and Bábí Dispensations.
On the members of the American Bahá’í Community, the envied custodians of a Divine Plan, the principal builders and defenders of a mighty Order and the recognized champions of an unspeakably glorious and precious Faith, a peculiar and inescapable responsibility must 121 necessarily rest. Through their courage, their self-abnegation, their fortitude and their perseverance; through the range and quality of their achievements, the depth of their consecration, their initiative and resourcefulness, their organizing ability, their readiness and capacity to lend their assistance to less privileged sister communities struggling against heavy odds; through their generous and sustained response to the enormous and ever-increasing financial needs of a world-encompassing, decade-long and admittedly strenuous enterprise, they must, beyond the shadow of a doubt, vindicate their right to the leadership of this World Crusade.
Now is the time for the hope voiced by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that from their homeland “heavenly illumination” may “stream to all the peoples of the world” to be realized. Now is the time for the truth of His remarkable assertion that that same homeland is “equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world and be blest in both the East and the West,” to be strikingly and unmistakably demonstrated. “Should success crown” their “enterprise,” He, moreover, has assured them, “the throne of the Kingdom of God will, in the plenitude of its majesty and glory, be firmly established.”
Would to God that this community, boasting already of so superb a record of achievements both at home and overseas, and elevated to such dazzling heights by the hopes cherished and the assurance given by the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, may prove itself capable of performing deeds of such distinction, in the course of the opening, as well as the succeeding phases of this World Spiritual Crusade, as will outshine the dedicated acts which have already left their indelible mark on the Apostolic Age of the Faith in the West; will excel the enduring, the historic achievements associated, at a later period, with this community’s memorable contribution to the rise and establishment of the world Administrative Order of Bahá’u’lláh; will surpass the magnificent accomplishments which, subsequently, as the result of the operation of the first Seven Year Plan, illuminated the annals of the Faith in both the North American continent and throughout Latin America and will eclipse the even more dramatic exploits which, during the opening years of the second epoch of the Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of the prosecution of the Second Seven Year Plan, have exerted so lasting an influence on the fortunes of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the 122 Antilles, throughout the republics of Central America, in each of the ten republics of South America, in no less than ten sovereign states in the continent of Europe, and in various dependencies on the eastern and western shores, as well as in the heart of the African continent.

[July 18, 1953]

Safeguarding American Primacy

Overjoyed by remarkable achievements of American Bahá’í Community, safeguarding primacy, enhancing prestige, setting magnificent example to sister communities East and West. Assure three Assembly members, also Lofoten valiant pioneer of abiding appreciation, fervent loving prayers.

[September 5, 1953]

Temple Site Purchased in Panama

Heartfelt congratulations on acquisition of Temple site; notable achievement of World Crusade.

[Circa May 1954]

Assemblies Must Be Maintained

Information incorrect. Maintenance of all assemblies vital.

[July 23, 1954] (NOTE: Reply to National Spiritual Assembly request for advice concerning a statement which the Guardian was alleged to have made to the effect that all Bahá’ís should scatter. Many felt, therefore, that assembly status need not be maintained.)

American Bahá’ís in the Time of World Peril

The American Bahá’í Community, in this, the opening year of the second phase of the World Spiritual Crusade upon which it has 123 embarked, finds itself standing on the threshold of the seventh decade of its existence. It leaves behind it, as it enters the second decade of the second Bahá’í century, sixty years crowded with events and marked by exploits so stirring and momentous that they stand unsurpassed in the annals of any other national Bahá’í community with the sole exception of its venerable sister community in Bahá’u’lláh’s native land.

CHIEF EXECUTOR OF DIVINE PLAN

The first to respond to the call of the New Day in the western world; for many years, in concert with the small band of Canadian believers residing in its immediate neighborhood, the sole champion of the newly proclaimed Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh; foremost in its decisive contribution to the creation of the pattern, the erection of the fabric, the enlargement of the limits, and the consolidation of the institutions of the embryonic World Order, the child of that same Covenant and the harbinger of a still unborn world civilization; singled out by the pen of the Center of that same Covenant for a unique and imperishable bounty as the principal custodian and chief executor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan; doubly honored in the course of His extensive visit to the shores of its homeland through the distinction conferred by Him on the community’s two leading centers, the one as the site where He laid the cornerstone of the holiest House of Worship in the Bahá’í world, and the other the scene of the proclamation of His Father’s Covenant; the triumphant prosecutor of two successive historic Plans, boldly initiated by its elected national representatives for the propagation of the Faith it has espoused in the land of its birth, in the Dominion of Canada, in Central and South America and in the continent of Europe and for the erection of its own House of Worship, the Mother Temple of the West; outstanding in its role as the defender of the Faith, as the supporter of its down-trodden, long-persecuted sister communities in both the Asiatic and African continents, and as the formulator of the national Bahá’í constitution, embodying the by-laws regulating the internal affairs of the members of the Bahá’í communities; incomparable throughout the Bahá’í world as the dynamic agent responsible for the opening of the vast majority of the over two hundred sovereign states and chief dependencies of the globe to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh; surpassing even its over a hundred-year old sister community in the cradle of that Faith in the number and variety of isolated centers, 124 groups and local assemblies it has succeeded in establishing over the face of the Union stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific seaboards and from Alaska to Mexico; noteworthy in the rapid accumulation and wise expenditure of material resources, often involving a self-abnegation reminiscent of the self-sacrifice of the dawn-breakers of the Apostolic Age of the Faith, for the sole purpose of systematically propagating the Faith it has pledged itself to serve, of enhancing its prestige, of multiplying and perfecting its administrative agencies, of enriching its literature, of erecting its edifices, of launching its manifold enterprises, of succoring the needy among the members of its sister communities, of warding off the dangers confronting it from time to time through the malice of its enemies—the American Bahá’í Community, boasting of such a record of exalted service, can well afford to contemplate the immediate future, with its severe challenge, its complex problems, its hazards, tests and trials, with equanimity and confidence.
For there can be no doubt that the entire community, limited as is its numerical strength and circumscribed as are its meager resources, in comparison with the vastness of the field stretching before it, the prodigious efforts demanded of it, and the complexity of the problems it must resolve, stands at a most critical juncture in its history.

AMERICA PASSING THROUGH CRISIS

Moreover, the country of which it forms a part is passing through a crisis which, in its spiritual, moral, social and political aspects, is of extreme seriousness—a seriousness which to a superficial observer is liable to be dangerously underestimated.
The steady and alarming deterioration in the standard of morality as exemplified by the appalling increase of crime, by political corruption in ever widening and ever higher circles, by the loosening of the sacred ties of marriage, by the inordinate craving for pleasure and diversion, and by the marked and progressive slackening of parental control, is no doubt the most arresting and distressing aspect of the decline that has set in, and can be clearly perceived, in the fortunes of the entire nation.
Parallel with this, and pervading all departments of life—an evil which the nation, and indeed all those within the capitalist system, though to a lesser degree, share with that state and its satellites regarded 125 as the sworn enemies of that system—is the crass materialism, which lays excessive and ever-increasing emphasis on material well-being, forgetful of those things of the spirit on which alone a sure and stable foundation can be laid for human society. It is this same cancerous materialism, born originally in Europe, carried to excess in the North American continent, contaminating the Asiatic peoples and nations, spreading its ominous tentacles to the borders of Africa, and now invading its very heart, which Bahá’u’lláh in unequivocal and emphatic language denounced in His Writings, comparing it to a devouring flame and regarding it as the chief factor in precipitating the dire ordeals and world-shaking crises that must necessarily involve the burning of cities and the spread of terror and consternation in the hearts of men. Indeed a foretaste of the devastation which this consuming fire will wreak upon the world, and with which it will lay waste the cities of the nations participating in this tragic world-engulfing contest, has been afforded by the last World War, marking the second stage in the global havoc which humanity, forgetful of its God and heedless of the clear warnings uttered by His appointed Messenger for this day, must, alas, inevitably experience. It is this same all-pervasive, pernicious materialism against which the voice of the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant was raised, with pathetic persistence, from platform and pulpit, in His addresses to the heedless multitudes, which, on the morrow of His fateful visit to both Europe and America, found themselves suddenly swept into the vortex of a tempest which in its range and severity was unsurpassed in the world’s history.
Collateral with this ominous laxity in morals, and this progressive stress laid on man’s material pursuits and well-being, is the darkening of the political horizon, as witnessed by the widening of the gulf separating the protagonists of two antagonistic schools of thought which, however divergent in their ideologies, are to be commonly condemned by the upholders of the standard of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh for their materialistic philosophies and their neglect of those spiritual values and eternal verities on which alone a stable and flourishing civilization can be ultimately established. The multiplication, the diversity and the increasing destructive power of armaments to which both sides, in this world contest, caught in a whirlpool of fear, suspicion and hatred, are rapidly contributing; the outbreak of two successive bloody conflicts, entangling still further the American nation in the affairs of 126 a distracted world, entailing a considerable loss in blood and treasure, swelling the national budget and progressively depreciating the currency of the state; the confusion, the vacillation, the suspicions besetting the European and Asiatic nations in their attitude to the American nation; the overwhelming accretion of strength to the arch enemy of the system championed by the American Union in consequence of the re-alignment of the powers in the Asiatic continent and particularly in the Far East—these have, moreover, contributed their share, in recent years, to the deterioration of a situation which, if not remedied, is bound to involve the American nation in a catastrophe of undreamed-of dimensions and of untold consequences to the social structure, the standard and conception of the American people and government.
No less serious is the stress and strain imposed on the fabric of American society through the fundamental and persistent neglect, by the governed and governors alike, of the supreme, the inescapable and urgent duty—so repeatedly and graphically represented and stressed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His arraignment of the basic weaknesses in the social fabric of the nation—of remedying, while there is yet time, through a revolutionary change in the concept and attitude of the average white American toward his Negro fellow citizen, a situation which, if allowed to drift, will, in the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, cause the streets of American cities to run with blood, aggravating thereby the havoc which the fearful weapons of destruction, raining from the air, and amassed by a ruthless, a vigilant, a powerful and inveterate enemy, will wreak upon those same cities.
The American nation, of which the community of the Most Great Name forms as yet a negligible and infinitesimal part, stands, indeed, from whichever angle one observes its immediate fortunes, in grave peril. The woes and tribulations which threaten it are partly avoidable, but mostly inevitable and God-sent, for by reason of them a government and people clinging tenaciously to the obsolescent doctrine of absolute sovereignty and upholding a political system, manifestly at variance with the needs of a world already contracted into a neighborhood and crying out for unity, will find itself purged of its anachronistic conceptions, and prepared to play a preponderating role, as foretold by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in the hoisting of the standard of the Lesser Peace, in the unification of mankind, and in the establishment of a world federal government on this planet. These same fiery tribulations will not only 127 firmly weld the American nation to its sister nations in both hemispheres, but will through their cleansing effect, purge it thoroughly of the accumulated dross which ingrained racial prejudice, rampant materialism, widespread ungodliness and moral laxity have combined, in the course of successive generations, to produce, and which have prevented her thus far from assuming the role of world spiritual leadership forecast by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s unerring pen—a role which she is bound to fulfill through travail and sorrow.

AMERICAN BAHÁ’ÍS STAND AT CROSSROADS

The American Bahá’í Community, the leaven destined to leaven the whole, cannot hope, at this critical juncture in the fortunes of a struggling, perilously situated, spiritually moribund nation, to either escape the trials with which this nation is confronted, nor claim to be wholly immune from the evils that stain its character.
At so critical a period, at so challenging an hour, the members of a community, invested by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with a primacy which can, through neglect and apathy, be allowed to lose its vital power and driving force, are immersed in a task, and are faced with responsibilities, which a World Spiritual Crusade, the third and greatest collective enterprise embarked upon in American Bahá’í history, has thrust upon them before the eyes of their admiring and expectant sister communities throughout the world. They now stand at the crossroads, unable to relax for a moment, or hesitate as to which road they should tread, or to allow any decline in the high standard they have, for no less than six decades, undeviatingly upheld. Nay, if this primacy is to be safeguarded and enhanced, a consecration, not only on the part of a chosen few, to every single objective of the Ten-Year Plan to which they are now pledged, and a pouring out of substance, not only by those of limited means, but by the richest and wealthiest, in a degree involving the truest sacrifice, for the purpose of insuring the attainment of the aims and purposes of the Plan in its present phase of development, are imperative and can brook no delay.
The mighty and laudable effort exerted, by a considerable number of pioneers, in the course of the opening phase of this world-encircling Crusade, in the virgin territories of the globe, must, if this primacy is to remain unimpaired, be increased, doubled, nay trebled, and must manifest itself not only in foreign fields where the prizes so laboriously 128 won during the last twelve months must, at whatever sacrifice, be meticulously preserved, but throughout the entire length and breadth of the American Union, and particularly in the goal cities, where hitherto the work has stagnated, and which must, in the year now entered, become the scene of the finest exploits which the home front has yet seen. A veritable exodus from the large cities where a considerable number of believers have, over a period of years, congregated, both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as well as in the heart of the country, and where, owing to the tempo and the distractions of city life, the progress of the Faith has been retarded, must signalize the inauguration of this most intensive and challenging phase of the Crusade on the home front. Most certainly and emphatically must the lead be given by the two focal centers of Bahá’í activity which rank among the oldest of and occupy the most honored position among, the cities throughout the American Union, the one as the mother city of the North American continent, the other named by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the City of the Covenant. Indeed, so grave are the exigencies of the present hour, and so critical the political position of the country, that were a bare fifteen adult Bahá’ís to be left in each of these cities, over which unsuspected dangers are hanging, it would still be regarded as adequate for the maintenance of their local spiritual assemblies.

WORLD CRUSADE TASKS

While this vital process of multiplication of Bahá’í isolated centers, groups and local assemblies is being accelerated, through a rapid and unprecedented dispersion of believers, and as the result of the initiation of vigorous teaching activities, through individuals as well as administrative agencies, the incorporation of full-fledged local assemblies—a process which has been noticeably slackening in recent years—must be given immediate attention by the community’s elected national representatives, reinforcing, thereby, the foundations of local Bahá’í communities, and paving the way for the establishment, in a not too distant future, of local Bahá’í endowments.
The inauguration of the first dependency of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, the first link to be forged destined to bind the Community of the Most Great Name to the general public, expectant to witness the first evidences of direct Bahá’í service to humanity as a complement to Bahá’í worship, is yet another task which must be conscientiously 129 tackled and fulfilled in the course of the second phase of this Ten-Year Plan. The consummation of this project must synchronize with the termination of the landscaping of the area surrounding the Temple—a double achievement that will mark yet another stage in the materialization of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s often expressed and cherished hopes for this holiest House of Worship in the Bahá’í world.
Yet another task, of extreme urgency and of great spiritual significance, is the selection and purchase of the site of the future Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Sweden, as well as the appropriation of sufficient funds during the coming two years, for the establishment, on however modest a scale, of a national Hazíratu’l-Quds in Anchorage, Alaska, in Panama City and in the capital of Peru, in Suva, in Tokyo and in Johannesburg, and the lending of financial assistance to the Italo-Swiss National Assembly, the proud daughter of the American Bahá’í Community, for the erection of a similar national center in the Italian and Swiss capitals.
Of no less importance, though involving a smaller outlay of funds, is the establishment of token national endowments in the aforementioned cities, in anticipation of the formation of an independent national spiritual assembly in each of them, at a later stage in the execution of this stupendous Plan.
The translation and publication of Bahá’í literature in the European and American Indian languages, allocated to your Assembly and its European Teaching Committee under the provisions of the Ten-Year Plan, is yet another objective of this second phase of this World Crusade, a task that must be resolutely pursued and speedily consummated in order to facilitate the intensive teaching activity which, at a later stage, must be conducted for the purpose of converting a considerable number of the minority races in both Europe and America to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
The all-important teaching enterprises in France and Finland, designed to broaden the basis of the infant Administrative Order in both countries, and extend the ramifications of the Faith to their chief towns and cities, is yet another responsibility which should be promptly discharged, as an indispensable preliminary to the establishment in each of these two countries of an independent national assembly.
Finally, the establishment of a Bahá’í Publishing Trust, similar in its essentials to the institution already functioning in the British Isles, 130 and which must serve as a model for other national assemblies in both the East and the West, is a matter to which prompt and earnest attention must be directed in the course of the second phase of the Plan, and which will require full and speedy consultation with the national elected representatives of the British Bahá’í Community.
A systematic campaign designed to proclaim the Faith to the masses through the press and radio must moreover be launched and maintained with vigilance, persistence and vigor.
The American Bahá’í Community—the champion-builders of an Order which posterity will hail as the harbinger of a civilization to be regarded as the fairest fruit of the Revelation proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh; the principal trustees of a Plan which future generations will acclaim as one of the two greatest legacies left by the Center of His Covenant; marching in the van of a Crusade which history will recognize as the most momentous spiritual enterprise launched in modern times; beset by the same anxieties and perils by which the nation of which it forms a part finds itself, to an unprecedented degree, afflicted and surrounded—such a community is, at this hour, experiencing the impact of a challenge unique in its sixty years of existence.

CHALLENGE TO EACH INDIVIDUAL BAHÁ’Í

In its meteoric career its fortunes have risen so swiftly, its exploits have so greatly multiplied, its spirit in times of emergency has swelled and risen so high, it has earned on such occasions the applause and excited the admiration of its sister communities throughout both hemispheres to such a degree, that it cannot, at this critical hour in its destinies, suffer this golden opportunity to slip from its grasp, or this priceless privilege to be irretrievably forfeited.
This challenge, so severe and insistent, and yet so glorious, faces no doubt primarily the individual believer on whom, in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community. He it is who constitutes the warp and woof on which the quality and pattern of the whole fabric must depend. He it is who acts as one of the countless links in the mighty chain that now girdles the globe. He it is who serves as one of the multitude of bricks which support the structure and insure the stability of the administrative edifice now being raised in every part of the world. Without his support, at once whole-hearted, continuous and 131 generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs, is foredoomed to failure. The World Center of the Faith itself is paralyzed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking. The sustaining strength of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, the Founder of the Faith, will be withheld from every and each individual who fails in the long run to arise and play his part.
The administrative agencies of a divinely conceived Administrative Order at long last erected and relatively perfected stand in dire need of the individual believer to come forward and utilize them with undeviating purpose, serene confidence and exemplary dedication. The heart of the Guardian cannot but leap with joy, and his mind derive fresh inspiration, at every evidence testifying to the response of the individual to his allotted task. The unseen legions, standing rank upon rank, and eager to pour forth from the Kingdom on high the full measure of their celestial strength on the individual participants of this incomparably glorious Crusade, are powerless unless and until each potential crusader decides for himself, and perseveres in his determination, to rush into the arena of service ready to sacrifice his all for the Cause he is called upon to champion.

APPEAL FOR DEDICATION

It is therefore imperative for the individual American believer, and particularly for the affluent, the independent, the comfort-loving and those obsessed by material pursuits, to step forward, and dedicate their resources, their time, their very lives to a Cause of such transcendence that no human eye can even dimly perceive its glory. Let them resolve, instantly and unhesitatingly, to place, each according to his circumstances, his share on the altar of Bahá’í sacrifice, lest, on a sudden, unforeseen calamities rob them of a considerable portion of the earthly things they have amassed.
Now if ever is the time to tread the path which the dawn-breakers of a previous age have so magnificently trodden. Now is the time to carry out, in the spirit and in the letter, the fervent wish so pathetically voiced by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who longed, as attested in the Tablets of the 132 Divine Plan, to “travel though on foot and in the utmost poverty” and raise “in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans” “the call of Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá!”
Then, and only then, can the members of this community hasten the advent of the day when, as prophesied by His pen, “heavenly illumination” will “stream” from their country “to all the peoples of the world.” Then, and only then will they find themselves “securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.”
That the members of this community, of either sex and of every age, of whatever race or background, however limited in experience, capacity and knowledge, may arise as one man, and seize with both hands the God-given opportunities now presented to them through the dispensations of an all-loving, ever-watchful, ever-sustaining Providence, and lend thereby a tremendous impetus to the propelling forces mysteriously guiding the operations of this newly launched, unspeakably potent, world-encompassing Crusade, is one of the dearest wishes which a loving and longing heart holds for them at this great turning point in the fortunes of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the American continent.

[July 28, 1954]

Nine-Pointed Star for Headstone

Approve star for graves.

[October 22, 1954] (NOTE: The Guardian considered the Greatest Name too sacred for use on tombstones.)

Send Appeals to President Eisenhower

Owing to aggravation of the situation, the hacking to pieces of the bodies of seven believers in the vicinity of Yazd, and the likelihood of worse massacre in the approaching months, advise all groups and assemblies in the United States to address telegraphically President Eisenhower, appealing for his intervention for protection from further 133 massacres of our offenseless, law-abiding co-religionists in Írán and the safeguard of their human rights. Include brief reference to the worst atrocities. National Assembly should address him similar message both in writing and telegraphically. Include list of atrocities in accompanying memorandum…

[August 15, 1955]

A Mysterious Dispensation of Providence

PERSECUTION OF THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF ÍRÁN

A crisis in the fortunes of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, of exceptional severity, extensive in its ramifications, unpredictable in its immediate consequences, directly involving the overwhelming majority of His followers in the land of His birth, and confronting with a major challenge Bahá’í communities in both hemispheres, has plunged the Bahá’í world, whilst engaged in the prosecution of a world-wide spiritual crusade, into intense sorrow and profound anxiety.
More grievous than any of the intermittent crises which have more or less acutely afflicted the Faith since the inception, over thirty years ago, of the Formative Age of the Bahá’í Dispensation, such as a seizure of the keys of the foremost Shrine of the Bahá’í world by the covenant-breakers residing in the Holy Land; the occupation of the House of Bahá’u’lláh by His traditional enemies in Baghdád; the expropriation of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Bahá’í world in Turkistán and the virtual extinction of the Ishqábád Bahá’í Community; the disabilities suffered by the Egyptian Bahá’í Community as a result of the verdict of the Egyptian ecclesiastical court and the historic pronouncements of the highest dignitaries of Sunní Islám in Egypt; the defection of the members of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s family and the machinations and eventual deviation of various recognized yet highly ambitious leaders, teachers, as well as administrators, in Persia, Egypt, Germany and the United States—more grievous than any of these, this latest manifestation of the implacable hatred, and relentless opposition, of the as yet firmly entrenched, politically influential avowed adversaries of God’s infant Faith, threatens to become more uncontrollable with every passing day.
Indeed in many of its aspects this crisis bears a striking resemblance to the wave of persecutions which periodically swept the cradle of the 134 Faith in the course of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ministry, and is tragically reminiscent of the tribulations experienced by the dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age of the Faith at the hour of its birth in that sorely tried, long-agitated land.
With dramatic suddenness, a situation, which had been slowly and secretly developing, came to a head, as the result of the ceaseless intrigue of the fanatical and determined ecclesiastical opponents of the Faith, ever ready to seize their chance, in times of confusion, and to strike mercilessly, at an opportune hour, at the very root of that Faith and of its swiftly developing, steadily consolidating administrative institutions.
The launching of the Crusade itself, with the celebrations and ceremonials which accompanied it; the repercussions of the widely reported proceedings of four successive Intercontinental Teaching Conferences, which heralded its inauguration; the public dedication of the Mother Temple of the West in Wilmette; the systematic intensification of teaching activities in the Arabian Peninsula, enshrining the Qiblih of the entire Islamic world; and, in particular, the opening to the Faith of the twin holy cities of Mecca and Medina—all these may be said to have precipitated this crisis, and alarmed the jealous exponents and guardians of an antiquated religious orthodoxy in the strongholds of both Shí’ah and Sunní Islám.