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Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Australia, 1971 reprint
  • Pages:
  • 140
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Pages 54-57

Letter of May 13th, 1945

Haifa, May 13th, 1945.
Dear Bahá’í Sister:
The beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer your letters dated April 12th, 13th (two) and 14th, and to acknowledge receipt of the enclosures forwarded with them.
Regarding the matter of Mrs. … and the inharmony that seems to exist among certain of the friends in …: when Bahá’ís permit the dark forces of the world to enter into their own relationships within the Faith they gravely jeopardise its progress; it is the paramount duty of the believers, the local assemblies, and particularly the N.S.A. to foster harmony, understanding 55 and love amongst the friends. All should be ready and willing to set aside every personal sense of grievance—justified or unjustified—for the good of the Cause, because the people will never embrace it until they see in its community life mirrored what is so conspicuously lacking in the world: love and unity.
The Bahá’ís are fully entitled to address criticisms to their assemblies; they can freely air their views about policies or individual members of elected bodies to the assembly, local or national, but then they must whole-heartedly accept the advice or decision of the assembly, according to the principles already laid down for such matters in Bahá’í administration.
Shoghi Effendi has repeatedly stated, to believers in every part of the world, that the individual Bahá’ís are entirely free to write to him on any matter they please; naturally he is equally free to answer in any manner he pleases. At the present time, when the institutions of the Cause are just beginning to function, he considers it essential to keep up this large correspondence, much as it adds to his many other burdens. It is sometimes the case that the very first intimation he receives of some important step influencing the interests of the Faith, one way or another, comes from an individual’s letter instead of from an assembly; it would naturally be preferable for the information to come from an administrative body, but whatever the source, the Guardian is solely concerned with the welfare of the Faith, and when he deems a certain step detrimental he states his views in his reply. This he is at entire liberty to do.
Just as the National Assembly has full jurisdiction over all its local Assemblies, the Guardian has full jurisdiction over all National Assemblies; he is not required to consult them, if he believes a certain decision is advisable in the interests of the Cause. He is the judge of the wisdom and advisability of the decisions made by these bodies, and not they of the wisdom and advisability of his decisions. A perusal of the Will and Testament makes this principle quite clear.
He is the Guardian of the Cause in the very fullness of that term, and the appointed interpreter of its teachings, and is guided in his decisions to do that which protects it and fosters its growth and highest interests.
He always has the right to step in and countermand the decisions of a national assembly; if he did not possess this right 56 he would be absolutely impotent to protect the Faith, just as the N.S.A., if it were divested of the right to countermand the decisions of a local assembly, would be incapable of watching over and guiding the national welfare of the Bahá’í Community.
It very seldom happens—but it nevertheless does happen—that he feels impelled to change a major (as you put it) decision of an N.S.A.; but he always unhesitatingly does so when necessary, and the N.S.A. in question should gladly and unhesitatingly accept this as a measure designed for the good of the Faith which its elected representatives are so devotedly seeking to serve.
Regarding the position of Summer Schools in Australia: much of what you are at present going through has already been experienced by the American Bahá’í Community, and he sympathises with your views and problems; however he wishes to state the following:
Whatever the history of the Yerrinbool School may be, the fact remains it is now in existence, is owned by believers ready to have it used as such, and is known as a Bahá’í Summer School all over the world. The Guardian is not the least concerned with personalities in this matter, but with principles. He feels at the present time that one Bahá’í Summer School is enough for the believers of Australia to maintain. In the future, as assemblies and groups multiply, the question will naturally have to be reconsidered.
Bahá’í Summer Schools in the United States originated in the same informal manner as Yerrinbool; they were (and some still are) the property of individual believers who resided on them, but they are administered by Committees appointed by the N.S.A. and which usually include, out of courtesy and consideration, the owners. The American friends also desired to have many more Summer Schools, but the Guardian has so far not permitted them to add to the number, as it dissipates the energy and funds of the believers and would at present weaken those already existing.
He feels that the duty of your Assembly is to not give up Yerrinbool because of any inharmony over it, but to administer and support it properly and remove the inharmony. You should appoint a Committee for the School, purchase any extra equipment needed for the comfort and accommodation of the attendants, 57 and he feels sure the Boltons will cooperate with you in this matter, as they are eager to have the property be used by the believers.
Generally speaking he does not encourage the erection of buildings in memory to individual believers at the present time. But as those at Yerrinbool serve a useful purpose and that the memory of dear Father Dunn commemorates the life of the man who brought the Faith to the Continent of Australia, we may welcome it in the spirit it was given.
As to what uses should be made of the building purchased by the S.A. of Adelaide, he leaves the decision to your body and that Assembly. He hopes that at a future date it can be used as a Summer School.
It is the duty of the N.S.A. to exercise the greatest wisdom, forbearance and tact in handling the affairs of the Cause. Many of the differences which arise between the believers are due to their immaturity, their extreme zeal and sincerity.
He will pray for you all in the Holy Shrines, that the Beloved may assist and strengthen you in the discharge of your sacred duties to the Faith and its adherents in Australia and New Zealand.
With Bahá’í love,
R. Rabbani.
[From the Guardian:]
Read and approved,