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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 133-139

Letter of 11 May 1948

11 May 1948
Dear Bahá’í Brother:
Your communications, addressed to our beloved Guardian, and dated January 11th, February 14th, and March 31st, have been received, and he has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
The progress the Faith is making in Germany is a source 134 of great happiness to him, and the list you sent him, showing the large increase in the number of assemblies, groups and isolated Bahá’ís, greatly encouraged him, and he hastened to share this good news with the friends in other countries.
He was, likewise, very pleased to see that the Esslingen School is going to be so well attended, and that your assembly is so wisely making this spot a rallying point for Bahá’í Youth and their friends. Upon receipt of your letter he cabled Mr. Holley to send the food parcels you required for the Summer School, and he hopes that these reach you safely.
He is delighted over the signs of maturity which are becoming increasingly evident in the German Bahá’í Community. Not only is your membership steadily increasing and the number of your assemblies multiplying, but also the fact that most of the believers are realizing the need for breaking off their church membership and standing forth as members of an independent Faith; all these are welcome signs of progress and maturity. And in view of this expansion in Bahá’í membership, and the consequent rapid increase in the number of Spiritual Assemblies, he feels that from now on you should increase the number of delegates, apportioned to the German and Austrian Bahá’í Community, from 19 to 38, (which is of course, twice nineteen.) This will ensure a fairer representation of the numerical strength of the Bahá’ís at their annual Convention, and enable the assemblies having a large community to receive more proportioned representation.
The Cause of God must be protected from the enemies of the Faith, and from those who sow seeds of doubt in the hearts of the believers, and the greatest of all protections is knowledge: there is no doubt that the silliest of all charges 135 ever made is that the “Will and Testament” of the Master is a forgery! It is all in His own hand, sealed in more than one place with His own seal, and was opened after His death by some members of His own family, who took it from His own safe, in this house, and from that day it has been kept in the safe under lock and key. The charges of Mrs. White were the result of an unbalanced mind. No other enemy, even those who were shrewd and clever, made this foolish accusation! The case of Aḥmad Sohrab is, for one who has had any experience of orientals and of psychology, easily understandable. He was, for some years the secretary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and enjoyed, as a result of this and the fact that he accompanied Him to America, (to be sure with a number of other Persians), a great deal of attention from the Bahá’ís who looked up to him and admired him. However, since the Master’s Will was read, and the administrative order, under the Guardianship, began to be developed, he became cognizant of the fact that his personal ambition for leadership would have to be subordinated to some degree of supervision; that he would have to obey the National and local assemblies—just like every other Bahá’í, and could not be free to teach wholly independent of any advice or supervision. This was the beginning of the defection which in the end took him outside the pale of the Faith: he refused not to be handled always as an exception, a privileged exception. In fact, if we keenly analyse it, it is almost invariably the soaring ambition and deep self-love of people that has led them to leave the Faith. Towards the end Sohrab used, in the course of his lectures, to incorporate quotation after quotation of Bahá’u’lláh’s words in his lectures, without once stating they were Bahá’u’lláh’s, and when the believers remonstrated with him over this plagiarism, it had no effect. After he had, of his own accord, 136 left the organized body of the Faith and refused to be reconciled with it, he began to attack the administrators of it, first the American N.S.A., then the entire administrative order, and in the end the Guardian. What he teaches at present is so far divorced from our beloved Faith, and so tinged with the doctrines of many “cults” which we see thriving at present, as to be almost unrecognizable. Sohrab’s influence and activities in America have waned greatly, and he seems to now feel his only chance of causing mischief is to be active with his “caravan” movement abroad. The books and articles he published attacking the Guardian and, in fact, everything established in the Master’s Will, had no effect, and far from succeeding in causing any breach in the Faith in America, some of the very few who followed him out of the Cause, gave him up, and returned to serve the Cause with redoubled enthusiasm!
The Guardian feels that one of the best antidotes to those—Sohrab or others—who seek to undermine the faith of the believers, especially by harping on the subject of excommunication, is to place in their hands a German edition of “God Passes By”. For in that book he (the Guardian) has clearly pointed out that the Cause of God has always been attacked from within, and that, beginning in the days of the Báb, the “Sea of Truth” has over and over cast out its spiritually dead. It must do this, even as the body seeks to rid itself of poisons so as to preserve the health of the entire organism.
Your assembly should do all it can to protect and educate the believers so that they will understand that it is not personal ill-will, or lack of love, which leads to the excommunication of a person, but rather the fact that he has become like a cancer which must be removed before the entire body is destroyed. 137
He is very anxious to have the work on the National Headquarters in Frankfurt a.M. reported to him, and to receive pictures of the building purchased, for publication in “Bahá’í World”.
The way the work your Assembly is doing is progressing, pleases him greatly, and he assures you all of his loving prayers on your behalf, for your protection and your success….
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The marvellous progress achieved in recent months by the virile, steadfast and dearly beloved German Bahá’í community has rejoiced my heart, and deepened the admiration of the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in every land, for the qualities of mind and heart that distinguish the adherents of this Cause in your country.
The marvellous increase in the number of newly-enrolled believers, the multiplication of groups and assemblies throughout the length and breadth of your land, the purchase and projected restoration of the national Hazíratu’l-Quds in the city of Frankfurt, the impetus lent to the translation and publication of Bahá’í Literature, the receptivity shown by your country-men to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, the consolidation of the various agencies of a steadily expanding Administrative Order in the various zones of your country—all these augur well for the complete fulfilment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s glorious prophecies regarding its future.
The doubling of the number of delegates to the next Bahá’í national convention will eloquently testify to this remarkable growth and rapid consolidation of the community you are privileged to serve and direct. The interests of the Austrian Bahá’í community should, while 138 the work is steadily progressing in Germany, be vigilantly and determinedly promoted. Through guidance, assistance, encouragement, frequent visits when ever possible, the community of the believers in Austria should be nursed and prepared to discharge befittingly its sacred responsibilities, until such time, as has been the case with Canada, as it can elect its own national assembly and assume independent existence within the world-wide Bahá’í community.
At this propitious moment in the evolution of the Faith in your country, at a time when the American, the British, the Indian, the Persian, the Australian, the Canadian and Iráqí national Bahá’í communities are busily engaged in prosecuting specially conceived Plans for the systematic propagation of the Faith within their respective countries and beyond their confines, it is only fitting for a community as old and honoured as yours, which has survived such cruel blows, which occupies so enviable a position in the heart of Europe, the recipient of so great a measure of bounty and loving-kindness from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to formulate its own Plan, preferably a five year Plan, destined to culminate in 1953, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán.
As to the objectives of the Plan, in both Germany and Austria, I feel that your assembly should carefully consider them, and after mature deliberation announce them to the believers and ensure, by every means in its power, the attainment of every goal you set yourselves to achieve.
The launching of such a Plan, after the consolidation of the institutions of the Faith, during the three years that have elapsed since the termination of the war, will constitute a landmark in the history of the Faith in that country, and will, no doubt act as a tremendous magnet, drawing the blessings of Bahá’u’lláh, and contributing, to an 139 unprecedented degree, to the establishment of His Cause in the heart of Europe.
I long to hear the joyful tidings announcing the formulation and inauguration of such a Plan, which will greatly stimulate the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in East and West, and enrich the annals of His Faith during the opening decade of the second Bahá’í century.
May the Spirit of our beloved Master, watching from on high over the destinies of this highly promising, this richly endowed community, enable it to usher in this new phase of internal development of His Father’s Faith in that country, in a manner that will redound to the fame and glory of His German-speaking followers.