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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 296-306

Letter of 14 August 1957

14 August 1957
Dear Bahá’í Brother:
Your Assembly’s communications with their enclosures and material sent under separate cover have all arrived safely, and the beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf, and to acknowledge receipt of the letters dated as follows: June 14, August 8 and 28, September 2, October 27, November 19 and 22 and December 4 and 26, 1956; and January 1 and 15, February 4, March 1, 2 and 9, April 2, 16 and 25, June 14, 19 (two) and July 3, 8 and 19.
As a number of questions raised in your letters have been answered by cable, or through the Secretary, I will not go into them again here.
He thanks your Assembly for the trouble you took in sending him the samples of tiles in connection with the Archives floor. A rubber tile has now been ordered from England, which he considers will be satisfactory.
As a member of your National Assembly has so recently visited Haifa, namely, dear Mrs. Anna Grossmann, and many of the points concerning the Temple land were discussed with her, she has no doubt by now conveyed to you the Guardian’s views.
He feels that the German National Assembly must be extremely practical in handling this matter and expedite the purchase of a site for the Temple as soon as possible, and without strings attached, such as the necessity to build a road at our expense, or to raise loans from other National Bodies, which is extremely impracticable and very unwise. The German friends have money for their land and the beginning of their Temple on hand, and should conserve this money for the purpose stipulated, and neither ask other 297 National Bodies for loans, nor become involved with municipal or state authorities, who want to get as much out of the Bahá’ís as possible, while, at the same time, it would seem, giving them as little help as possible.
He also discussed with Mrs. Grossmann certain matters she brought up as regards the Temple design and size. She has no doubt reported his views to your Assembly.
He was shocked and indignant to hear of the conduct of certain of the Persian Bahá’í students in Germany which had been so criminal as to lead to their imprisonment. He feels that your Assembly must keep before its eyes the balance specified by Bahá’u’lláh, Himself, in other words, justice, reward and retribution. Although the Cause is still young and tender, and many of the believers inexperienced, and therefore loving forbearance is often called for in the place of harsh measures, this does not mean that a National Spiritual Assembly can under any circumstances tolerate disgraceful conduct, flagrantly contrary to our Teachings, on the part of any of its members, whoever they may be and from wherever they may come. You should vigilantly watch over and protect the interests of the Bahá’í Community, and the moment you see that any of the Persian residents in Germany, or, for that matter, German Bahá’ís themselves, are acting in a way to bring disgrace upon the name of the Faith, warn them, and, if necessary, deprive them immediately of their voting rights if they refuse to change their ways. Only in this way can the purity of the Faith be preserved. Compromise and weak measures will obscure the vision of its followers, sap its strength, lower it in the eyes of the public and prevent it from making any progress.
The National Assembly is the guardian of the welfare of the Faith, a most sacred and heavy responsibility and one which is inescapable. They must be ever vigilant, ever on the 298 lookout, ever ready to take action, and, on all matters of fundamental principle, refuse to compromise for an instant. Only in this way can the body of the Faith be free of disease.
He feels that you should investigate the situation in …, find out who is and who is not a Bahá’í, and insist that its affairs be conducted in a Bahá’í manner by registered Bahá’ís, and that those who have not yet gotten credentials from Persia should be placed in a different category, entirely, from those who are registered by your Assembly as voting members, and accepted as believers. The Persian Bahá’ís in many cases, who have either gone to Germany to study or to assist in the work of the Faith with a pure motive, have rendered the German Community inestimable services, and everyone should be duly grateful to them for both their spirit and their example. However, we should not confuse the true believers with those who are not quickened with the spirit of faith, have some ulterior motive, or are indifferent to the reputation they have personally, and the damage they may do the Cause in the eyes of the public. There is all the difference in the world between these two categories, and your Assembly must be ever watchful and ready to take action when necessary.
It is not a normal condition for one-quarter of a community to be composed of a foreign, and therefore floating, element. In spite of the fact that in such countries as England and Germany, in particular, the Persian friends have been of great help in maintaining, and indeed in establishing, new Assemblies and Centres, the National Body must bear in mind that this is not a normal state of affairs. It is the German people in Germany, and the English people in England, who must be the back-bone and the vast majority of the Community. Otherwise, if for some reason the foreign element returns to its home or is forced to leave 299 the country, the Communities dependent on it disintegrate for lack of numbers.
Every effort should be made to encourage the German Bahá’ís, who are so numerous in some of the cities in Germany, particularly in Stuttgart, to go out and take part in the establishment of new Spiritual Assemblies in their own country. This is both their duty and their privilege. The Guardian has pointed out, over and over again, that it is sufficient for fifteen active believers to remain in any one city, even such cities as New York, Chicago and San Francisco. This also applies to Germany, and the Bahá’ís should be encouraged to pioneer on their Home Front, and establish new Spiritual Assemblies, new Groups and new isolated centres. In this way the affairs of the Faith will attract the blessings of Bahá’u’lláh and the believers will be rewarded by Him for doing their duty and accepting the challenge of the present hour. If and when another upheaval takes place in Europe, it will be the big cities that are the danger points. Why then do the Bahá’ís cling to them so tenaciously, when they would be much safer, and serving the interests of the Faith, if they moved away to smaller places?
He does not want the friends to be fearful, or to dwell upon the unpleasant possibilities of the future. They must have the attitude that, if they do their part, which is to accomplish the goals of the Ten Year Plan, they can be sure that God will do His part and watch over them….
He has been very happy over the formation of the first historic Spiritual Assembly in Athens, an achievement made possible this year through the direct efforts of German pioneers. He greatly appreciates their spirit, and he hopes that, in spite of the departure of some of the American pioneers, the Community will grow in numbers, and the 300 Assembly be preserved next April. Your Assembly should devote particular attention to this matter.
He hopes also that reinforcements can be sent to Crete, as well as to Frisian Islands, where the first results of the devoted labours of the pioneer are beginning to be shown through the enrollment of some natives of those islands….
He has also been greatly encouraged to see the progress made in Austria during the past year. The formation of four Assemblies marks a tremendous step forward in the work in that country, which has too long lagged behind the progress made in Germany. At last, Austria is beginning to bear fruit, and he hopes, through the activities of the Austrian believers and the pioneers who have rallied to their support, as well as through the wise guidance of your Assembly, that the centres will be increased very rapidly and the Spiritual Assemblies multiplied to such a point that he can fix a date for Austria to have her independent National Body. The achievement of this goal rests entirely upon the teaching work and is dependent on the creation of more Assemblies.
He was glad to see that there is great need in Germany for more publications, for more of the literature to be made available in German. Naturally these things are dependent on financial means. However, he was happy to know that a News Letter had been consistently published in Frankfurt, and had been of help to the friends, especially in connection with their Nineteen Day Feasts. Such activities should be stimulated and encouraged by your Assembly. The Bahá’ís are widely spread over the whole country, many of them far from well-to-do, and, however humble the instrument that reaches them, it nevertheless fulfils a great purpose in stimulating and encouraging them. Travelling teachers should be sent out more regularly to visit the different centres, as the two Hands of the Cause in Germany are so 301 overburdened as to make it impossible for them to travel as much as they would like to or should do in the interests of the Faith. Therefore your Assembly should encourage itinerant teachers or teaching trips by any of the friends who are able to offer a certain amount of time to such activities.
He has also been very pleased during the past year to see from the press clipping book he received, how much publicity the Faith has received free of charge, not only in the press but generally in some of Germany’s best-known newspapers. Were it not for the violent opposition met with in connection with the purchase of the Temple land, this would not have been possible, and the friends can clearly see that our activities, when we carry them on persistently and energetically, arouse opposition, which has an extremely salutary effect. In fact, some of the reports in the German newspapers about the opposition the Bahá’ís were meeting with in connection with their Temple site were published in leading French newspapers. The friends should be very encouraged by these evidences of the rising fame of the Faith. They should welcome opposition, and stand firm on all questions of principle. By doing so, they will attract new people to the Faith and encourage the skeptical to embrace our Teachings.
He appreciated receiving the photo of the new N.S.A. and hopes it will accomplish great things during the coming months.
It is not necessary for anyone who wishes to make the pilgrimage to Haifa to ask through your Assembly; they may ask the Guardian direct. The reason this was done in Persia is because the number of the friends is so great that the work involved is too much of a demand on the Guardian’s time, and so is handled by the Persian N.S.A. who refer long lists of names to him. 302
He feels sure the passing of dear Mrs. Reyhani is not without significance and that her devotion, and that of her family, will be the instrument for attracting many hearts to our beloved Faith.
The Guardian assures you one and all of his most loving prayers for the success of your work and that you may be given the strength to carry out burden of responsibility for the prosecution of the Ten Year Plan in your area….
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The year that has just elapsed, though not one in which the fond hopes entertained for the German Bahá’í Community have been entirely fulfilled, has, none the less, witnessed certain achievements in both the administrative and teaching fields, for which we can feel truly grateful.
There can be no doubt that the problems, obstacles and challenges which have faced the well-tried, long suffering, swiftly maturing community have been formidable, and in some instances, such as to daunt their spirit and discourage their efforts.
The continued and most lamentable division of the German nation, setting up an almost insurmountable barrier between the vast majority of the German followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and their isolated brethren in the eastern territories of their country; … the prolonged existence of ideological and political barriers impeding contact between the believers residing in the western Zone of Germany and the inhabitants of the territories lying beyond the Iron Curtain and particularly the Baltic States, Moldavia, White Russia, Albania and Rumania, assigned to them according to the provisions of the Ten-Year Plan; the intense conservatism and religious orthodoxy of the people inhabiting the Frisian Islands, Crete and Greece, 303 constituting yet another barrier and raising yet another obstacle in the path of the pioneers who have consecrated themselves to the task of implanting the banner of the Faith in those islands in that historic land, in pursuance of the objectives of the World Spiritual Crusade; the limitations placed upon them by their restricted numbers and modest resources; the temptations and distractions to which a swift return to material prosperity continually and increasingly exposes them—these, no doubt, militate against the speedy and effectual accomplishment of their manifold and sacred tasks.
No need, however, to dwell on the trials, problems and the inherent difficulties with which the community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh and, to a lesser extent, their sister community in Austria, are beset during these critical years in the unfoldment of the Ten-Year Plan.
However severe their trials, and disheartening the present situation may appear, they must remember that the Faith to which they owe allegiance has weathered, not so very long ago, storms of a far greater severity that seemed, at times, capable of engulfing and of obliterating its nascent institutions. The newly planted sapling of a divinely conceived administrative order, having driven deep its roots in German soil, bent momentarily under the hurricane which so violently swept over it, and no sooner had the tempest spent its force than it righted itself, and, growing with a fresh vigour, put forth branches and offshoots that now overshadow the entire land, and even stretch out as far as the heart of Austria.
The experience of so miraculous a recovery from so devastating an ordeal should, alone, prove sufficient to infuse an invigorating spirit into those who have been subjected to it, as well as into the new generation who are 304 still close enough to those events to appreciate its extreme violence, such as will not only enable them to withstand onslaughts of still greater severity, but impel them, both young and old, men and women alike, to struggle, with redoubled vigour and deeper consecration, to meet the pressing and the manifold requirements of the present hour.
To answer decisively the charges levelled against them, and the Faith which they represent, by their adversaries and critics, they can do no better than to determine—nay to ensure—that their numerical strength will rapidly increase throughout the length and breadth of their homeland; that the isolated centres, groups and local assemblies will multiply to an unprecedented degree; that every firmly grounded local spiritual assembly is duly incorporated; that the Bahá’í Marriage Certificate and the Bahá’í Holy Days are recognized by the Civil authorities; that the literature of the Faith in German, Russian and those languages spoken in the Baltic States, is not only translated to an unprecedented extent, but broadcast far and wide; and, above all that their zeal, whatever betide them, will remain unquenchable, their spirit indomitable, their loyalty inflexible, their determination to succeed unshakable.
Whilst efforts in this direction are being strenuously exerted by the rank and file of the faithful, a no less energetic action must be taken to ensure that the pioneers in the newly opened virgin territories, in the North as well as in the South will continue to receive adequate guidance and assistance, which will enable them to establish new centres and reinforce the foundation which they have so patiently and devotedly laid. The institution of the National Fund, so indispensable to the vigorous functioning of the multiplying institutions of the Faith, must be generously and systematically supported by the rank and file of the 305 believers, however great the financial sacrifice involved, it is through such sacrifice that these institutions can exert their maximum spiritual influence, and contribute their full share to the expansion and consolidation of the Faith. To their brethren in the Eastern Zone, so gravely handicapped by the unfortunate disabilities which they have, so long and so patiently suffered, consistent support, in whatever way possible, should be extended, and every avenue should be explored to ensure that the flame burning in those valiant hearts, so heavily burdened by cares and anxieties, will not be extinguished. The no less vital obligation to introduce, however tentatively, the Faith in the territories lying beyond the eastern confines of their homeland, and particularly in the Baltic States, must be promptly and seriously considered, for upon it will, to a very great measure, depend the success of the Mission envisaged for them by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and now confirmed through the provisions of the Ten-Year Plan. The assistance extended to their brethren and co-partners in Austria, who have lately succeeded in enlarging the scope of their beneficent activities, should, moreover be maintained, nay reinforced, for the purpose of multiplying the local spiritual assemblies, and of hastening thereby the emergence of an independent National Spiritual Assembly in that land. Above all, the burning issue of the purchase of the site and of the construction of the Mother Temple of Europe must be resolutely faced, and, once and for all, definitely settled, even if it becomes necessary to abandon Frankfurt, situated in the heart of their country, and the national administrative headquarters of their Faith, and substitute for it Stuttgart, as a site, for their first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár. Whatever is to be done should be expeditiously carried out, for time is fast running out and the Ten-Year Crusade is rapidly and inexorably 306 approaching its midway-point. All eyes, in every continent of the globe where Bahá’ís reside, are eagerly and anxiously watching, expecting the early and definite settlement of these prolonged negotiations, and prayerfully hoping to witness the first evidences of the rise of the noble Structure, the erection of which has been entrusted to the largest and one of the oldest national Bahá’í communities in the European continent.
The divers and formidable obstacles, challenging the spirit and resources of this long-suffering, firmly based, highly-endowed, much admired community, have been considered and enumerated. The vital and inescapable obligations, calling for immediate resolute action, on the part of all of its privileged members, have been touched upon and sufficiently emphasized. Now, if ever, is the time for action, with practically half of the period alloted for the prosecution of a decadelong Crusade already behind us. The German Bahá’í Community, the leading stronghold of the Faith on the European mainland, must not, cannot fail. All its resources, spiritual as well as material, must be mobilized at this hour to ensure the speedy attainment of some of the most glorious objectives of a glorious Crusade.
I fervently plead with its members, particularly with its watchful, painstaking, devoted national elected representatives, to arise as one man and carry to a successful conclusion yet another stage in the unfoldment of their historic Mission.
May He Who through His power called this community into being, nurtured and bestowed upon it His special blessings, crown their present and future efforts with a success that will resound throughout the Bahá’í world.