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The Light of Divine Guidance (Volume 1)

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Germany (Bahá’í-Verlag), 1982 edition
  • Pages:
  • 311
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Pages 165-172

Letter of 2 March 1951

2 March 1951
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Your letters dated June 12th, October 23rd and December 14th, 1950, and February 12th and 13th, 1951, as well as your latest dated 2.3.51, together with their enclosures, have been received, and our beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf. The material sent under separate cover has also been received.
In regard to the various questions you have raised in your letters, the Guardian does not feel that we are justified in removing a Bahá’í from the voting list just because they resign from the Spiritual Assembly. Although it is considered a moral responsibility on the part of the believers to serve on Spiritual Assemblies if they are elected, if for 166 some reason, they feel they must resign from that body—in other words for some really weighty reason—it certainly does not mean that they have lost their Bahá’í voting rights. The friends should be encouraged to shoulder the burdens of the administrative work—on the other hand, they cannot be forced to do so if they have any valid reason to support their refusal.
The Guardian was pleased to note that the Bahá’ís figured on the census for the first time. He hopes that, in the future, your Assembly will be able to establish itself legally in such a manner as to be the absolute owner and the administrator of Bahá’í endowments. If you already have this status, he would like to be informed of it.
A Bahá’í can certainly be an Esperantist. The Guardian does not think that in the case you mention, it is right to ask this old man to resign from his Masonic Lodge. Generally speaking, the friends should not enter secret societies. It is certainly much better for the believers to dissociate themselves from such organizations; but as I said, it would seem unnecessary, in this particular case, to ask a very old man to break this connection at the end of his life.
…It is most unfortunate that just as the believers in the eastern zone were beginning to be more active and able to keep in contact with your Assembly and with the Bahá’í in other parts of the world, they should now be suddenly entirely cut off and their activities banned. He feels, however, that your Assembly has taken the wise decision in regard to connection with them. If, through any personal letters, it is possible to assure them of his prayers, he would like you to please do so.
He is very glad to hear that the National Headquarters is now practically finished; and assures your Assembly that he approves of your raising a first mortgage on it, provided this 167 is absolutely necessary, and you are sure that you can handle the repayment of it in the future. He would prefer, naturally, that this building which is of such importance to your national activities, and of which the believers are all so proud, should be free of any incumbency.
The desire of the German believers to participate in the construction of the Holy Tomb of the Báb touches him very much; and he would suggest that, as it is not feasible at present for any funds to be sent out of that country, you accept contributions for this Fund and spend them at present in Germany, until such future time as it will be possible to remit the sum to Haifa.
Naw-Rúz and Riḍván are celebrated all over the Bahá’í world according to the solar calendar—there is no difference in the dates in the east or the west.
In regard to your publishing work: It is most unfortunate that, through the delay in printing “God Passes By”, you now require such an exorbitant sum to be expended on it, if it is gotten out in England. The Guardian has explained to Mr. Hofman that he feels that unless some arrangement can be made with your Assembly to get out this book with the sum already forwarded by him for this purpose, that it is not possible to go on with the publication at this time, as the funds of the Cause, limited as they are, must now be concentrated on building the upper parts of the Shrine of the Báb. If there is any way that your Assembly can arrange with Mr. Hofman to receive a certain number of copies—perhaps unbound—at this time, and have them bound in Germany, he would approve of this, and suggests you look into the matter. Of course, if there was any way Mr. Hofman could transmit to you the money he has received, and you could publish the book in Germany, the Guardian would approve of this. 168
He thinks that “Some Answered Questions” is more important in the teaching work than “Paris Talks”, and recommends to get “Some Answered Questions” out first.
The Guardian has already written to …, asking him to reconcile himself with your Assembly and to entirely forget this episode, which he considers to have been due to a misunderstanding, and certainly not worth the amount of feeling that was expended upon it on all sides. He hopes that your Assembly will accept any overtures he and his dear Father may make, and assist them to put the whole thing behind them, and go on with their active service in the Cause to which we know they are both so attached at heart.
In this connection, the Guardian would like to point out to your Assembly that, although it is sometimes necessary to take away the voting rights of a believer for purposes of discipline, that this prerogative of the National Assembly should be used only in extreme cases. It is very bad for the believers to have the feeling that their Assembly will deal too harshly with them, and the net result can only be that a feeling of fear or alienation or resentment may grow up in their hearts towards the body that they should look to as being, not only their elected representatives, but their helper,—one might almost say their father—and the one to whom they can confidently take their problem, and whose wishes and decrees they will respect and obey unhesitatingly.
The Guardian has never heard of any ruling by which a believer who does not attend three consecutive 19 Day Feasts can be deprived of his voting rights. He does not consider that such action is justifiable at all. The whole question is whether a person considers himself a Bahá’í or not, and is willing to adhere to the principles of the Faith and accept the authority of the Guardian and the 169 Administration,—whether that individual is able, or always in a condition psychologically to attend Feasts and Bahá’í meetings is an entirely different subject. If a person makes it quite clear that they do not wish to be considered an active member of the Bahá’í Community and be affiliated with it and exert their voting right, then their name should be removed from the voting list; but if a person considers himself or herself a Bahá’í, and for various reasons is not able to be active in the affairs of the Community, then they should certainly not be removed from our voting list, least of all at present, when the number of the Bahá’í Community is so small.
Our beloved Guardian regrets extremely the delay in answering many of these questions. This has been, and still is, an extremely difficult period for him. He has so much work to do—there are so many things to be attended to here in Haifa—with the construction of the Shrine and the administration of the many Bahá’í properties here, and also through the formation of this first International Bahá’í Council, that he is finding it extremely difficult to attend to his correspondence—even such important letters as those he receives from the national bodies.
We are all hoping that this is merely a transitional and difficult phase, and that soon he will be able to find some respite from his heavy duties, and devote more time to taking care of his precious health. If he were not so overburdened with details which, alas, are often very insignificant, he would be able to give out so much more to the believers all over the world. The friends should pray that God will lift some of these burdens from their Guardian, and enable them to receive the full bounties of his mind and spirit, which he could pour forth into the body of the Faith if he were only not so exhausted and preoccupied. 170
The increased activity of your Assembly, the increased unity amongst the believers and their evident sense of growing responsibilities, the work already achieved in constructing the national Hazírat—all these things augur well for the expansion of our glorious Faith in Germany and Austria, and undoubtedly are hastening the day when this Community will play a more important role in the international affairs of the Faith, and be able to carry out its own final duties in neighbouring countries, and thus enrich the record of its services to the Cause of God.
He assures you, one and all, of his loving prayers for the success of your work; and deeply appreciates the spirit of dedication which animates your Body….
Post Script (March 8)
In regard to the matter you raised in your latest letter, the Guardian does not see how, under present circumstances, he can arrange to transfer any more funds to Germany. He regrets this very much; but, as you know, nothing can be sent out of this country, and the International Fund cannot support any additional work on this national headquarters at the present time. He will pray that this obstacle may be swiftly removed from your path.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The progress achieved in recent months, in both the teaching field and the consolidation of national and local administrative institutions, by the German Bahá’í community is highly exhilarating and has served to deepen my feelings of admiration for its members who have so faithfully arisen to compensate for the years of enforced inactivity resulting from the repressive policy followed 171 during the last world conflict. The one dark cloud on an otherwise bright horizon has been the disabilities suffered by their brethren and compatriots in the Eastern zone of their divided land and their virtual separation from them at a time when their close association and collaboration would have greatly reinforced the foundations of their common Faith and redounded to its fame and glory.
The field now stretching before the believers constituting the major part of a sundered community is, however, still so vast, its needs so great and its spiritual receptivity so pronounced that they cannot afford to either relax for a moment in their efforts or hesitate in the prosecution of their sacred task. To publicize the Faith and disseminate its literature; to lend an ever-increasing impetus to the multiplication and consolidation of its nascent institutions; to accelerate the incorporations of firmly established assemblies; to overcome by any means in their power the obstacles obstructing the completion of their national administrative headquarters; to persevere in their efforts to guide, encourage and strengthen the community of their brethren in Austria; to prosecute with diligence and determination the Plan they have initiated; to remove, once and for all, every trace of inharmony and of misunderstanding which may linger among some of the members of the community; to forge fresh links with the newly fledged assemblies in the goal countries of the European continent and their subsidiary institutions; to reinforce the ties binding them in particular, to their sole sister national assembly in Europe and other Bahá’í national assemblies in general—these may be regarded as the outstanding and immediate obligations devolving upon the national elected representatives of a community which in the concluding period of the Heroic Age of the Faith has 172 been made the recipient of such marked blessings and favours from the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, which on the morrow of His ascension played so notable a part in preserving the integrity of the Cause of God and in establishing the agencies of its rising Administrative Order, which demonstrated in the course of the prolonged ordeal it subsequently experienced, its tenacity, fidelity and exemplary devotion, and which is now preparing itself for the gigantic tasks that await to be accomplished by its valiant members in so large a section of the European and Asiatic continents.
The record of service stretching behind them is indeed highly inspiring. The vision of future victories at home and in distant fields now unfolding before them is even more glorious and highly challenging. The more they consecrate themselves to their present tasks, the more faithfully and promptly they fulfil the requirements of the Plan to which they stand committed, the sooner will they acquire the spiritual potentialities that will empower them to qualify for the successful conduct and the ultimate consummation of so colossal an enterprise destined to shed so great and imperishable a lustre on both their community and nation.
That they may be vouchsafed by Providence all the strength and guidance they require for the attainment of their immediate goal, that they may prove themselves worthy of receiving a still greater measure of celestial strength and Divine sustenance for the achievement of their ultimate objective is the dearest wish of my heart and constant prayer.