A new version of the Bahá’í Reference Library is now available. This ‘old version’ of the Bahá’í Reference Library will be replaced at a later date.

The new version of the Bahá’i Reference Library can be accessed here »

The Light of Divine Guidance (Volume 1)

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Germany (Bahá’í-Verlag), 1982 edition
  • Pages:
  • 311
Go to printed page GO
Pages 148-156

Letter of 30 June 1949

30 June 1949
Dear Bahá’í Friends:
Your letters to our beloved Guardian, dated Oct. 17, 22, Dec. 19—two of this date—Nov. 21, 23, 1948 and Jan. 9, 23, Feb. 28 and May 4, 15, of 1949, as well as their numerous enclosures, have all been received and I am instructed on his behalf to answer them. He regrets the long delay in replying to you, but he is very busy, and he was also anxious to receive as complete a picture of the situation as possible in order to better advise you on the difficult situation which has arisen.
Before going into this matter he wishes to assure you that he was delighted with the 5 Year Plan your assembly has formulated, to which he attaches great importance.
Likewise, he was very pleased that the annual convention, though not a very happy one, unfortunately, was held in Frankfurt.
He was, likewise, very happy to learn that the N.S.A. is now in full accord with … about the work on the National Hazírá in Frankfurt, and to hear that the transfer of funds from Ṭihrán via Switzerland to your assembly had been worked out in the way most advantageous for you.
The good news that the much needed Esslemont books are now in Germany, and the “Hidden Words” being printed there, was also very welcome. He cabled you in answer to your letter about the “Hidden Words”. But wishes to make it quite clear that the “Anmerkungen” is not correct. The genuflections and washing of hands and face (as clearly put down in “Prayers and Meditations of Bahá’u’lláh”, which he himself translated,) associated with the two longer daily prayers (obligatory prayers) are laws of 149 Bahá’u’lláh, applicable to any Bahá’í whether of Muslim background, Christian background, or otherwise. It is blasphemy to suggest otherwise. However, the Bahá’ís have been left free by Bahá’u’lláh to choose one of the 3 obligatory prayers, and those who prefer not to perform these acts can say the very short one. He would like to add, however, that he deeply appreciates the work done on this translation by … and other of the friends, and is delighted it has been published.
He very deeply appreciates your assembly’s assurance of its abiding loyalty to him and to the Master’s Will and Testament. As you can well imagine this disaffection of the Master’s Family has been a very sad and heavy blow to him; but, although for many years he shielded them with his silence, in the end he was forced to speak out in order to protect the Faith. For a hundred years our beloved Cause has suffered from these internal afflictions, and the way the believers, generation after generation, have met this test with steadfast faith, loyalty and devotion, is one of the signs that this is the Cause of God, divinely protected through the Covenants of Bahá’u’lláh and the Master.
Regarding the crisis which has arisen among the believers because of the charges made by … and others, the circular letter issued by your body, etc, etc.
The Guardian feels that although there is no doubt this has produced a very grave situation, threatening the stability and the unity of the entire community, it can be successfully overcome and lead to a new stage of unity and progress in the Faith in Germany. We Bahá’ís can always, with the aid of Bahá’u’lláh, Who is ever ready to strengthen and assist us, turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and utilize the often violent forces released by sincere but perhaps misguided friends, as a positive stream 150 of power by turning them into productive channels instead of destructive ones.
Fundamentally he feels that the cause of this present crisis arises from the fact that the German community so long suppressed, disorganized, deprived of literature, and the visits of friends from countries where the believers have always been free to be Bahá’ís and have, consequently, evolved their administration of the Faith’s affairs to a higher point of efficiency,—has had no opportunity to develop the administration of its Bahá’í affairs, and also, no opportunity of maturing as Bahá’ís living within a smoothly-working Administrative Order. Consequently the troubles experienced at present may be said to be largely caused by immaturity in their understanding of the administration.
Linked with this is the fact, which he mentioned in his cable, that the Bahá’ís need to be deepened in their knowledge and understanding of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They should study this, and the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh, for it is obvious that they do not—for the most part—fully visualize the greatness, the glory, the power and the protection which have been conferred on this Faith through the Institutions provided for in the Master’s Will.
In going over the correspondence and documents forwarded by your Assembly (which he appreciated receiving as it gave him a clearer picture of the entire situation) he was struck by the actions and statements, of both individuals and assemblies, showing a complete lack of knowledge of how to function administratively. In view of this it may, if the friends make an effort and sincerely seek to unite and progress, prove providential that this whole thing has occurred. He was impressed, in this connection, with the wisdom and tolerance of the remarks of Mr. Oskar 151 Schmitt in his letter to your Assembly, and he hopes that all of the believers will take this kindly and tolerant view, for the friends, in their desire to do the right thing, and undoubtedly out of their genuine devotion to the Cause, seem to have gone to every extreme in their reactions. In doing this they have paradoxically demonstrated both their devotion to the Cause and their complete lack of a profound understanding of the administration.
Quite frankly, the Guardian feels that the circular letter of your Assembly was unfortunate. You were entirely within your right, as the National Body, to issue such a letter and the violent reactions of the secretaries of various assemblies, and some of the assemblies themselves, and many individual believers as well, showed a complete lack of understanding of administrative procedure. The friends should realize that the National Body has authority over the local assemblies and the believers in administrative matters. One of the fundamentals involved in our administrative order, which we must remember will become the pattern for our World Order, is that even if an assembly makes an ill-advised decision it must be upheld in order to preserve the unity of the community. Appeal can be made from the Local Assembly’s decision to the National Assembly, and from the National Assembly’s decision to the Guardian. But the principle of authority invested in our elected bodies must be upheld. This is not something which can be learned without trial and test. The Bahá’ís in other countries often have their difficulties in learning to live as believers in an orderly community, governed by the administrative principles laid down by the Master. But, having been free, they have, for the most part, reached a more mature understanding than their German brothers and sisters have up until the present time. He hopes this whole episode will stimulate the 152 German assemblies and believers to really study the Bahá’í administration.
He wrote the … Assembly urging upon them the necessity of cooperating with the National Assembly. He also pointed out to them that the attitude of “all for one and one for all” was very incorrect. An assembly constitutes within its area of jurisdiction the Trustees of the Faith. Its members must at all times put the interests of the Faith above personality and impartially go into any matter brought to its attention. Theoretically it is always possible for a member of an assembly to be unworthy or insincere. To take the attitude that any blame cast upon or any charge made against an assembly member is a charge against the body itself is very wrong. An assembly must protect the Faith and neither blindly accuse nor blindly defend one of its members. The … Assembly has taken the attitude that the remarks referring to … are an insult to the entire Assembly; at the same time it accuses the National Body of being dominated by one individual, an accusation which because of its own attitude could equally well be aimed at itself! The Guardian feels that all this is only evidence of the immaturity of the friends in relation to their Administrative Order.
The Bahá’ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire—so natural in people—to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the 19 Day Feasts for the Community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise the Assembly members should fully consult, and in their decisions put the interests of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing. 153
Over and over, in going through the correspondence he received from your Assembly, he was struck by the fact that the friends acted so unadministratively. Instead of taking up their accusations and problems and unhappy feelings with their local Assembly, or the National Assembly, they referred to individuals or individual members of the Assembly, or they refused to meet with the Assembly. The first thing a believer should do is to turn to an Assembly—That is why we have assemblies! He feels this trouble would never have arisen if the Bahá’ís utilized their assemblies as they should. One of the healing remedies Bahá’u’lláh has given to a sick world is the Assembly (which in future will become a House of Justice); its members have very sacred and heavy responsibilities, its power to steer the Community, to protect and assist its members is likewise very great.
…, a most loyal and devoted believer has assured the Guardian she will fully support and cooperate with the N.S.A. He hopes you will give her every assistance in this resolve and, indeed, encourage her to stimulate the believers in their support of their administrative bodies and teach them to turn to them and make better use of them.
In this connection he would like to point out that any Bahá’í can write to him directly. This is the privilege of everyone.
He feels that …, a most loyal and devoted servant of the Cause, communicated with … in her ardent, and very wise desire, to promote closer unity among the German friends. He feels your Assembly should over-look this, as the motive was undoubtedly a very noble one.
He was very glad to receive the letter of … and he feels sure he will do all in his power do dispel the impression of 154 his attitude towards the Covenant, which has been spread about among some of the friends….
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers:
The course of recent developments in the life of the German Bahá’í community has given rise to considerable anxiety and caused me grave concern, in view of the eminent position which the collective achievements of its members have enabled it to obtain on the morrow of the severest crisis which it has experienced in its history.
The spiritual vitality which the individual lives of its members have so abundantly demonstrated, the resilience of which it has, as an organized body, shown itself to be capable, the soundness of the foundation on which its collective life has been built in the years preceding the great ordeal which it has survived; the remarkable rapidity with which it has rehabilitated its fortunes since the cessation of hostilities, have evoked in every Bahá’í heart feelings of profound affection and admiration for both the representatives of that community and the mass of believers constituting the body of the faithful in that land.
The hopes that have been raised must never be allowed by those who actively participate in the life of so virile a community to be disappointed. The structure now being reared so laboriously on so solid a foundation must, under no circumstances, be jeopardized through neglect, dissension or deviation from established principles whether spiritual or administrative in character. The process that has been set in motion, after so long a period of forced inactivity, which is lending so great an impetus to the multiplication of the institutions of the Faith and their consolidation, must, in no wise be arrested or even retarded through any misunderstanding, insubordination or 155 contention between the voting members of the community and its elected representatives whether local or national.
A strict and undeviating adherence to the spiritual laws and administrative principles constituting the bedrock of the Faith; a constant and complete awareness of the nature, the sacredness and vital importance of the Covenants established successively by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; an immediate cessation of every controversy agitating the life of that community in the present and critical stage in its development; close cooperation, complete harmony and continued understanding between the various agencies, whether assemblies or communities participating in its evolution; concentration on the immediate measures required to ensure the total success of the newly launched Five Year Plan, on the part of all its members and their elected representatives; constant vigilance on the part of each and every one of the adherents of the Faith to avoid any act, word or association that would violate its integrity, break its laws, subvert its administrative order, or retard its progress and consolidation—these stand out as the urgent, the sacred and inescapable obligations and responsibilities facing its promoters at this fateful hour in their history.
The immediate past, with all its confused issues and unpleasant memories must be entirely forgotten, if the task that lies ahead is to be efficiently prosecuted. Personal animosities, suspicions, accusations, wounded pride, controversial issues must all be laid aside. Members of assemblies, national and local, must be the first to set a worthy example to their fellow-believers. All thought and discussion must henceforth centre around the measures required to stimulate the growth of the Faith, to deepen and enrich the spiritual life of its members, to familiarize them more intimately with the character and workings of the 156 Administrative Order, and enable them to participate more actively in the prosecution of the Plan to which they are committed.
I appeal to them, with all my heart, to close their ranks, purge their hearts, broaden their vision, renew their determination, rededicate themselves to their glorious task, march resolutely forward along the road traced for them by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, beat down every barrier obstructing their path, and press on, confidently, unitedly and uncompromisingly, until their goal is attained, and the first stage in the evolution of their collective task is brought to a victorious conclusion.
May the Beloved Who loved them so dearly, Who participated personally in the initial stage of their evolution, Who cherished such bright hopes for their future and uttered such noble prophecies concerning the greatness of that future, guide their steps, bless their endeavours and fulfil their dearest hopes.
Your true brother,