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Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Australia, 1971 reprint
  • Pages:
  • 140
Go to printed page GO
Pages 89-94

Letter of March 1, 1951

Haifa, Israel,
March 1, 1951
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Australia and New Zealand
C/- Mrs. Mariette G. Bolton, Secretary
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Your letters addressed to our beloved Guardian, and dated June 22, August 4 and 22, November 10 and December 5 and 11, of 1950 and January 30 and Feb. 20, 22, 26, of 1951, together with their enclosures, have been received; and he has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
In regard to the various matters raised in your letters:
It is indeed a great tragedy that … should have such an utterly despicable character, and the ability to be a teacher. He has undoubtedly dealt with the greatest injustice with the friends in Fiji who wrote to Mr. Blum; and the Guardian was 90 extremely sorry to hear that this man, attracted to the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and evidently a sincere and decent person, should have been duped by the very man who gave him this glorious Message. It was very wise to send Mr. Blum out there; and he hopes that your Assembly will keep in close contact with the friends who were attracted, it would seem almost miraculously under the circumstances, to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh in those distant islands.
It might interest your Assembly to know that since leaving Fiji, … went to the United States, and himself admitted in a letter to the Guardian that he had seen Ahmad Sohrab.
The Guardian assures your Assembly, and, through you, all the believers throughout Australasia, that he has been deeply touched by the spirit of loyalty which you have all shown at this difficult time for him, and also the devotion to every work which is undertaken here at the International Center of the Faith.
The support you have given to the construction of the Shrine of the Báb has been deeply appreciated; and he hopes that in the not distant future it will be possible for the doors of pilgrimage to be opened once more; and then the believers can see with their own eyes what their sacrificial contributions have helped to erect, on Mount Carmel. It will interest the friends to hear that we are at present busy with the preliminary work required prior to the erection of the second story of the Holy Tomb, in other words, the octagonal portion, which will be built on top of the roof of the original Shrine building erected by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself. The stones have been ordered from Italy for this next stage in our undertaking, and soon will be coming to Haifa another 300 tons of granite, some of it with beautiful carved ornamentation.
The Guardian would like you to please convey to the Adelaide Spiritual Assembly his deep appreciation of the contribution they made through your Body to the Shrine Fund here in Haifa, a contribution which represents the sum of their Property Fund. They showed in this matter an exemplary spirit, and placed the major issue in its true perspective, forgetting their local hopes and aspirations in order that the work on the glorious Shrine of the Báb might be carried forward more speedily.
In regard to your question concerning the Centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission: The Guardian, at a later date, 91 will give instructions concerning this commemoration to the entire Bahá’í world.
He has been particularly pleased to note, during the past year, the increase in pioneer activity going on under your jurisdiction. As you know, he attaches the greatest importance to this type of Bahá’í service; and he hopes that more of the believers will arise and go forth into the field, establishing new centers and groups, and broadcasting the Message of Bahá’u’lláh over the face of that vast continent.
This is at once their greatest duty and privilege, and one which will attract the blessings of Bahá’u’lláh, and enrich, not only each individual who arises to serve, but the entire Community of which he forms a part.
Whenever the friends feel that they are small in number, and the effort required, truly colossal, they should remember what the British Bahá’ís accomplished during the Six Year Plan; and how, after the long and exhaustive years of the war and all its restrictions, they succeeded, at the point of utter exhaustion, one might say, in achieving every single goal gloriously. The Australian and New Zealand friends, who have not been subjected to such rigors during the last decade, who are a young and fresh nation, so to speak, can surely accomplish as much, and one would imagine more, than their British brethren, who labored under such great handicaps.
He assures you all that he will remember you in his prayers at the Holy Threshold, and supplicate that your Assembly, and the Community of believers whom you represent, may achieve great things during the coming Bahá’í year and arise to new heights of self-sacrifice and service.
With warm Bahá’í love,
R. Rabbani.
P.S. I would like to add that the Guardian does not consider that it is advisable for New Zealand to be separated in the near future from Australia, and come under the jurisdiction of an independent National Assembly. He considers that the present arrangement is the best one until such time as there are more assemblies flourishing in New Zealand, and he would consider the basis for a National Assembly strong enough there to support such an institution. 92
Regarding the question of Mr. …, the Guardian was considerably surprised at his temerity in getting in touch with the Bahá’ís. He belongs to an old family of Covenant-breakers from the days of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, was later pardoned by the Guardian, and a number of years ago, flagrantly disobeyed the Guardian, and was put out of our local Community here. We all know that he has been in constant association with the Covenant-breakers ever since, and he even admits it in his own letter! Needless to say, the Bahá’ís should consider him a Covenant-breaker, and shun him entirely. The harm that he could do a Community if treated otherwise, would be very great indeed.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The manifold and ever multiplying activities in which the Australian, New Zealand and Tasmanian Bahá’í communities are so devotedly and unitedly engaged are the object of my constant solicitude, and evoke, as they steadily expand, feelings of gratitude and admiration in my heart. Though unavoidably prevented from communicating more frequently with their elected national representatives, who are directing with exemplary loyalty, unrelaxing vigilance, inflexible resolve, unsparing devotion and commendable foresight, the course of these highly meritorious and promising activities, I follow, through the perusal of the various reports and news letters I receive from them, every development in the unfoldment of their work, and surround them as they labour so assiduously for their Cause, with my fervent prayers, offered on their behalf in the holy Shrines.
The assistance they have so spontaneously and enthusiastically extended to the newly established centre in the Fiji Islands, constituting the opening phase of the crusade destined to be systematically launched by them in the Pacific Islands—a territory with which their spiritual destiny is irrevocably linked—has been particularly gratifying and merits unstinted praise. To have undertaken this additional task, with such determination and fervour, while immersed in the labours associated with the prosecution of their Plan, is surely an evidence of their youthful vitality, their unbounded devotion to the interests of the Faith, and their eager desire to emulate the example of their sister-communities which have initiated, over and above their prescribed 93 tasks, enterprises beyond the confines of their respective homelands.
While this historic undertaking is being carried forward by their elected national representatives, these communities must concentrate their attention on the pressing and inescapable requirements of the Plan to which they stand committed. The process of extending the range of their administrative activities through the formation of groups and the multiplication of assemblies must continue unabated until this particular objective of the Plan is fully achieved. The proper incorporation of the national and local assemblies, so vital and urgent at the present stage of their evolution, must be hastened by every means in their power. The measures required to ensure the recognition of the Faith, of its laws regarding matters of personal status, as well as its Holy Days, by the civil authorities, in both Australia and New Zealand, must be carefully considered, and promptly adopted. The institutions of summer and winter schools, so vital and beneficial at the present stage in the development of the Faith must be continually expanded enriched and consolidated. The national and local Funds, on which the prosperity and unfoldment of a rising Administrative System must ultimately depend, should be assured of an ever-increasing measure of support, whilst the contributions of the believers for the raising of the superstructure of the Báb’s Holy Sepulchre, constituting a sacred and added responsibility at this present critical hour, should be constantly borne in mind and steadily maintained. The deepening and enrichment of the spiritual life of the individual believer, his increasing comprehension of the essential verities underlying this Faith, his training in its administrative processes, his understanding of the fundamentals of the Covenants established by its Author and the authorised Interpreter of its teachings should be made the supreme objectives of the national representatives responsible for the edification, the progress and consolidation of these communities.
This two fold task, both at home and abroad, confronting the members of these communities, labouring so valiantly, and holding aloft so courageously the banner of the Most Great Name in the Antipodes, at so crucial a stage in the evolution of the human race on this planet, can neither be shirked nor be treated lightly for one moment. The hour is too critical, time is 94 too short, the requirements of an infant Faith are too pressing, the resources at the disposal of the few into whose hands its care has been entrusted are too circumscribed to suffer any time to be lost in procrastination or through complacency or neglect. The prizes destined for the heroic warriors, battling for the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh throughout the Southern Hemisphere, and particularly Australasia, are glorious beyond compare. The assistance to be vouchsafed to them from on high in their struggle for its establishment to recognition and triumph is ready to be poured forth in astonishing abundance. Action immediate and whole-hearted, coupled with unswerving fidelity and dogged perseverance, will no doubt enable those who participate in this double crusade, to attract the full measure of these blessings and to attain these glorious goals.
Your true brother,