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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 214-222

Letter of 25 June 1954

25 June 1954
Dear Bahá’í Sister:
The letters of your Assembly dated June 18, August 11, September 2 (4), 13, October 14, November 9 and 24, 1953, and January 16 (2), February 3, 5 (2), 7, 11, March 7, April 19, May 12 and June 19, 1954, with their enclosures, as well as the material forwarded under separate cover, have all been received by the beloved Guardian, and he has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
He is sorry that pressure of work prevented him from writing more frequently to the National Spiritual Assemblies, including your own. Indeed, he is beginning to wonder how much longer he can go on attending to the multiplying affairs of the Cause of today, and keeping up correspondence as well.
He is very pleased to see that the work in Germany is really going forward at a visibly more rapid rate. The German friends, one of the oldest Communities in Europe, so devoted and loyal, and who have suffered so much 215 during two wars, are beginning at last to see the institutions of their Faith emerging in their native land in a more concrete form than the realm of hope and dreams.
The national Hazíratu’l-Quds, which was purchased so shortly after the end of the last world conflagration, has now been followed by the plan for the first Bahá’í Temple on European soil, a truly noble and inspiring undertaking.
In this connection he wishes to say that he is very sorry he could not agree to the proposals you sent him so far. As your Assembly is aware, the Bahá’ís all over the world are building up national institutions and purchasing, in various areas, Temple sites, etc. It is only natural that each Assembly should feel justified in making an initial suitable investment for its Temple site or its national Hazíratu’l-Quds. However, the Guardian, to whom all the news comes from all over the world, is forced to face the fact that if your Assembly, the Canadian Assembly, the British Community, the Italian-Swiss Assembly etc. etc. each pays as heavy sums for its Bahá’í Temple site or national headquarters as they propose to in these reports, which they send him, the Bahá’í world would never be able to get out of debt. Desirable as each place is, when considered from a local standpoint, it becomes on an international scale, a program that is financially impossible. That is why he urged your Assembly to drastically curtail the area and the price. He has done the same thing in many other parts of the world. He hopes that you will shortly be able to purchase the land required.
There now remains the important consideration of a design for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. It does not matter whether it is executed by a Bahá’í or a non-Bahá’í architect, but the essential thing is that it must be beautiful and dignified. There must be none of this hideous, exaggerated, bizarre style, which one sees in many modern buildings. It is 216 not befitting for our House of Worship. He thinks that you should impress this on any architects wishing to submit drawings. The essentials of the design, as stipulated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are that the building should be nine-sided, and circular in shape. Aside from this, the architect is not restricted in any way in choosing his style of design.
Whenever you have a sufficient collection of drawings, he would be pleased to receive them, and give you his advice.
A very large building at this time is not necessary, as the expense would overtax our resources too heavily; and the Persian Bahá’ís, who are so much more numerous, will have to, during the coming nine years, build a much larger and more pretentious structure in Ṭihrán, and consequently a more expensive one.
Regarding the matter of …: individual Bahá’ís are always encouraged to travel and teach, and no doubt he has been of much assistance in Germany. The Guardian, however, feels your Assembly was quite right in considering that your limited financial resources should be spent supporting pioneers, rather than a travelling teacher in Germany.
The eagerness of the friends to serve, often carries them away, and they forget that a sound sense of business management is also much needed, if we are to harbour our resources and accomplish all our goals.
He was delighted to see that so many of the Bahá’ís from Germany were present at the Stockholm Conference, and that they were able to meet with their colleagues from Austria. He hopes that your teaching work in Austria will make marked progress during the present year. The Cause there has been too long neglected, and undoubtedly there is a very fertile field, waiting only to be cultivated, in order to yield a rich harvest. 217
It has indeed been a great blessing to the German Community to receive the visits of so many Hands of the Cause of God from abroad during the past year.
He hopes that the auxiliary Board for Europe recently established, will be of great help in the work to be carried out by the administrative bodies throughout Europe.
The most important thing is to keep the pioneer territories which have been settled open. There must be no lapse. The friends must be urged to remain at their posts at all costs. They must remember the glorious example of Marion Jack, who recently passed away in Bulgaria, after almost 30 years of devoting her life to teaching the Faith in that country of her choice. As many of you who knew her personally will recall, her health was very bad, as far back as 1935, when she attended the Esslingen Summer School. It certainly never improved. She was bombed, evacuated, she slept in some drafty, cold room in a school in the country, was often, we have reason to believe, almost hungry, and insufficiently clad after the war, due to difficulties in getting money through to her in an Soviet-dominated territory. She never mastered the language, and was without friends of her own country; and yet, she persevered, and, in spite of even the Guardian’s pleas that she leave the country during the worst years of the war, remained at her post, and won for herself imperishable fame, her resting-place becoming a shrine in Bulgaria, which the people of that country will increasingly honour and cherish.
It is to this glorious soul that the present generation of pioneers must look for inspiration and example.
He is very happy that the German Bahá’ís have been able to settle in Crete and the Frisian Islands, a great step forward, when one realizes how much their activities have 218 been circumscribed, during the past thirty years, by circumstances over which they had no control.
He thanks you for sending him ten copies of each of your new publications, and would like you to continue doing so, as any new literature comes out.
So far he has not received any copies of “God Passes By” in German, but is hoping to do so.
He appreciates very much the sentiments you expressed to him in connection with the loss of our dear Hands of the Cause, Mr. Schopflocher and Mrs. Baker. The friends everywhere must try and make up for the work these devoted and consecrated souls would have done, had they not passed to the Abhá Kingdom. In this way they can best express their admiration and gratitude.
He is very happy to see that your National Convention has been so successful, and that the influence of the future Temple is already being felt, and attracting the hearts of the believers, including many previously inactive. It shows what these Bahá’í institutions are going to do as they develop.
You may be sure that he remembers all the members of your Assembly in his loving prayers in the holy Shrines, and supplicates that the German and Austrian Bahá’í Communities may exceed all their past records of achievement during this present Bahá’í year….
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The achievements of the German and Austrian Bahá’í communities, since the launching of the Ten-Year Global Crusade, embarked upon by the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, mark a notable advancement in the progress and consolidation of the Faith in the heart of the European continent. The weighty and historic task so valiantly shouldered by both of these communities has been 219 splendidly initiated, and must, as the Plan unfolds, be prosecuted with increasing vigilance, unswerving resolve, whole-hearted consecration, complete unity, and exemplary steadfastness.
The greatest, most pressing and sacred enterprise, challenging the spirit and resources of all the members of both of these communities—the purchase of the land, for the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Europe and the prompt initiation of measures for its construction—demands, during this present phase of the Crusade, the utmost concentration of effort, and the most sublime sacrifice on the part of the German and Austrian believers—an effort and sacrifice in which their brethren, in both the East, and the West, will gladly participate, as a token of their appreciation of the historic significance of this mighty institution destined to be firmly established and radiate its beneficent influence in the very heart of that continent.
The purchase of the site must be expedited, the selection of a befitting design for so glorious an edifice must be made with as little delay as possible, and the preliminary steps for the excavation of the foundations must be undertaken with care, promptitude and determination.
The rise of this symbol and harbinger of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, as yet in the embryonic stage of its development, amidst the confusion, the anxieties, the rivalries and the recurrent crises that mark the decline of a moribund civilization, will, no doubt, lend a tremendous impetus to the onward march of the Faith in all the continents of the Globe, and will, more than any other single act, direct the attention of the spiritually impoverished, the economically afflicted, the socially disturbed, and the morally disoriented masses of a sorely tried continent to its nascent institutions. 220
Parallel with these measures, destined to contribute so effectively to the rise and establishment of the Administrative Order of the Faith in both Germany and Austria, a systematic effort must be exerted by the national elected representatives of the Bahá’í communities in these two countries to multiply, as speedily as possible, the assemblies, groups and isolated centres, through a wider dispersal on the part of the believers, and the launching of an intensive campaign of teaching designed to increase, swiftly and steadily the number of the active supporters of the Faith.
The pioneers who have so valiantly settled in the virgin areas assigned to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Germany and Austria, must, however great the sacrifice, safeguard the prizes so laboriously won, and strive, by every means in their power, to consolidate, through extensive teaching work, their splendid and unforgettable achievements.
While this double process of multiplication of Bahá’í centres, and development of the newly opened areas, is being assiduously carried out, a no less notable progress must be made in the consolidation of these two communities, through the initiation of local incorporations which will pave the way for the establishment of local Bahá’í endowments, and will serve to reinforce the foundations of all local Bahá’í communities.
The establishment of a national Hazíratu’l-Quds in the capital city of Austria, as well as of national endowments in that country—measures that will herald the formation of an independent National Spiritual Assembly, and the erection of yet another pillar of the Universal House of Justice, in the heart of the European continent—should be 221 regarded as the paramount objectives of this second phase of the Ten-Year Crusade which we are now entering.
No less vital and urgent is the task of establishing, in the course of this second stage in the unfoldment of this world spiritual Crusade, of a Bahá’í Publishing Trust, similar, in its essentials, to the one already functioning in the British Isles, and of lending a fresh impetus to the translation, the publication and dissemination of Bahá’í literature in the German language—a task which will greatly accelerate the all-important teaching work, and enhance the prestige of the Faith, and promote the vital interests of its institutions.
The Community of the German and Austrian believers, the recipient of such signal honours from the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant in the past; born and nurtured in its infancy under His fostering care in the course of the concluding decades of the Apostolic Age of the Faith; eminently successful in laying the foundations of its Administrative Order in the years immediately following His Ascension; emerging, purified and strengthened, from the fire of a severe and prolonged ordeal after the conclusion of the second world war; demonstrating its capacity and resilience through the initiation and prosecution of a carefully designed Plan, despite the exhaustion of a terrible and harrowing conflict that endangered its life and shook it to its foundations,—such a community has now risen to assume its rightful place in the world-encompassing Crusade launched by the followers of Bahá’u’lláh; has splendidly initiated its Ten-Year Plan through the inauguration of its glorious Mission in foreign fields, and is now forging ahead, with magnificent courage, resolution, thoroughness, and fidelity, in its endeavour to win fresh laurels in the course of this second and newly opened stage in the unfoldment of the Plan to which it stands committed. 222
May the vision of its members remain undimmed, their resolution never flag, their steps never falter. May they, as the years go by, demonstrate afresh the solidity of their faith, the nobility of their motives, the sublimity of their devotion, the tenacity of their resolution, in the service of a Faith they have served so devotedly in the past and which they will, undoubtedly, promote with unabated zeal, in the future,
Your true brother,