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Bahá’í Administration

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1974 edition
  • Pages:
  • 196
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Pages 180-184

Gift from Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh

Moved by an impulse that I could not resist, I have felt impelled to forego what may be regarded as the most valuable and sacred possession in the Holy Land for the furthering of that noble enterprise which you have set your hearts to achieve. With the hearty concurrence of our dear Bahá’í brother, Zíáoulláh Asgarzadeh, who years ago donated it to the Most Holy Shrine, this precious ornament 181 of the Tomb of Bahá’u’lláh has been already shipped to your shores, with our fondest hope that the proceeds from its sale may at once ennoble and reinforce the unnumbered offerings of the American believers already accumulated on the altar of Bahá’í sacrifice. I have longed ever since to witness such evidences of spontaneous and generous response on your part as would tend to fortify within me a confidence that has never wavered in the inexhaustible vitality of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in that land.
I need not stress at this moment the high hopes which so startling a display of unsparing devotion to our sacred Temple has already aroused in the breasts of the multitude of our brethren throughout the East. Nor is it I feel necessary to impress upon those who are primarily concerned with its erection the gradual change of outlook which the early prospect of the construction of the far-famed Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in America has unmistakably occasioned in high places among the hitherto sceptical and indifferent towards the merits and the practicability of the Faith proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. Neither do I need to expatiate upon the hopes and fears of the Greatest Holy Leaf, now in the evening of her life, with deepening shadows caused by failing eye-sight and declining strength swiftly gathering about her, yearning to hear as the one remaining solace in her swiftly ebbing life the news of the resumption of work on an Edifice, the glories of which she has, from the lips of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Himself, learned to admire. I cannot surely overrate at the present juncture in the progress of our task the challenging character of these remaining months of the year as a swiftly passing opportunity which it is in our power to seize and utilize, ere it is too late, for the edification of our expectant brethren throughout the East, for the vindication in the eyes of the world at large of the realities of our Faith, and last but not least for the realization of what is the Greatest Holy Leaf’s fondest desire.
As I have already intimated in the course of my conversations with visiting pilgrims, so vast and significant an enterprise as the construction of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the West should be supported, not by the munificence of a few but by the joint contributions of the entire mass of the convinced followers of the Faith. It cannot be denied that the emanations of spiritual power and inspiration destined to radiate from the central Edifice of the 182 Mashriqu’l-Adhkár will to a very large extent depend upon the range and variety of the contributing believers, as well as upon the nature and degree of self-abnegation which their unsolicited offerings will entail. Moreover, we should, I feel, regard it as an axiom and guiding principle of Bahá’í administration that in the conduct of every specific Bahá’í activity, as different from undertakings of a humanitarian, philanthropic or charitable character, which may in future be conducted under Bahá’í auspices, only those who have already identified themselves with the Faith and are regarded as its avowed and unreserved supporters should be invited to join and collaborate. For apart from the consideration of embarrassing complications which the association of non-believers in the financing of institutions of a strictly Bahá’í character may conceivably engender in the administration of the Bahá’í community of the future, it should be remembered that these specific Bahá’í institutions, which should be viewed in the light of Bahá’u’lláh’s gifts bestowed upon the world, can best function and most powerfully exert their influence in the world only if reared and maintained solely by the support of those who are fully conscious of, and are unreservedly submissive to, the claims inherent in the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. In cases, however, when a friend or sympathizer of the Faith eagerly insists on a monetary contribution for the promotion of the Faith, such gifts should be accepted and duly acknowledged by the elected representatives of the believers with the express understanding that they would be utilized by them only to reinforce that section of the Bahá’í Fund exclusively devoted to philanthropic or charitable purposes. For, as the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh extends in scope and in influence, and the resources of Bahá’í communities correspondingly multiply, it will become increasingly desirable to differentiate between such departments of the Bahá’í treasury as minister to the needs of the world at large, and those that are specifically designed to promote the direct interests of the Faith itself. From this apparent divorce between Bahá’í and humanitarian activities it must not, however, be inferred that the animating purpose of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh stands at variance with the aims and objects of the humanitarian and philanthropic institutions of the day. Nay, it should be realized by every judicious promoter of the Faith that at such an early stage in the evolution and crystallization of the Cause 183 such discriminating and precautionary measures are inevitable and even necessary if the nascent institutions of the Faith are to emerge triumphant and unimpaired from the present welter of confused and often conflicting interests with which they are surrounded. This note of warning may not be thought inappropriate at a time when, inflamed by a consuming passion to witness the early completion of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, we may not only be apt to acquiesce in the desire of those who, as yet uninitiated into the Cause, are willing to lend financial assistance to its institutions, but may even feel inclined to solicit from them such aid as it is in their power to render. Ours surely is the paramount duty so to acquit ourselves in the discharge of our most sacred task that in the days to come neither the tongue of the slanderer nor the pen of the malevolent may dare to insinuate that so beauteous, so significant an Edifice has been reared by anything short of the unanimous, the exclusive, and the self-sacrificing strivings of the small yet determined body of the convinced supporters of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. How delicate our task, how pressing the responsibility that weighs upon us, who are called upon on one hand to preserve inviolate the integrity and the identity of the regenerating Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and to vindicate on the other its broad, its humanitarian, its all-embracing principles!
True, we cannot fail to realize at the present stage of our work the extremely limited number of contributors qualified to lend financial support to such a vast, such an elaborate and costly enterprise. We are fully aware of the many issues and varied Bahá’í activities that are unavoidably held in abeyance pending the successful conclusion of the Plan of Unified Action. We are only too conscious of the pressing need of some sort of befitting and concrete embodiment of the spirit animating the Cause that would stand in the heart of the American Continent both as a witness and as a rallying center to the manifold activities of a fast growing Faith. But spurred by those reflections may we not bestir ourselves and resolve as we have never resolved before to hasten by every means in our power the consummation of this all-absorbing yet so meritorious a task? I beseech you, dear friends, not to allow considerations of numbers, or the consciousness of the limitations of our resources, or even the experience of inevitable setbacks which every mighty 184 undertaking is bound to encounter, to blur your vision, to dim your hopes, or to paralyze your efforts in the prosecution of your divinely appointed task. Neither, do I entreat you, to suffer the least deviation into the paths of expediency and compromise to obstruct those channels of vivifying grace that can alone provide the inspiration and strength vital not only to the successful conduct of its material construction, but to the fulfilment of its high destiny.
And while we bend our efforts and strain our nerves in a feverish pursuit to provide the necessary means for the speedy construction of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, may we not pause for a moment to examine those statements which set forth the purpose as well as the functions of this symbolical yet so spiritually potent Edifice? It will be readily admitted that at a time when the tenets of a Faith, not yet fully emerged from the fires of repression, are as yet improperly defined and imperfectly understood, the utmost caution should be exercised in revealing the true nature of those institutions which are indissolubly associated with its name.