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Messages to the Bahá’í World: 1950–1957

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1971 edition
  • Pages:
  • 175
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Pages 30-39

The Summons of the Lord of Hosts

The steady expansion of the activities conducted so devotedly and so efficiently, during the last twelve months, by the members of the valiant and exemplary American Bahá’í Community, under the aegis of their elected national representatives, is such as to evoke feelings of deep and sincere admiration in my heart, and will serve to heighten the esteem in which they are held by their brethren in every continent of the globe.
The completion of the interior ornamentation of the holiest House of Worship ever to be raised by the followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, the initiation of the landscaping of the immediate approaches of this sacred and majestic Edifice, the actual launching of the highly promising, profoundly significant African Campaign, through the arrival and settlement of American pioneers in both East and West Africa; the energetic efforts exerted for the multiplication of Bahá’í administrative institutions and the stimulation and consolidation of the all-important teaching work throughout the States of the American Union; the generous, the unhesitating and effectual support extended to the newly fledged communities in Latin America in their efforts for the consolidation of the administrative structure so laboriously erected in recent years; the ready and enthusiastic response to the world-wide call for a befitting celebration by the entire Bahá’í world of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophetic Mission; the magnificent services already rendered by the recently elevated American Hands of the Cause of God, in diversified spheres of Bahá’í activity, at the World Center of the Faith, in the triple function of hastening the 31 construction of the Báb’s Sepulcher, of consolidating the ties binding the International Bahá’í Council to the civil authorities of Israel, and of completing the design of the projected Mashriqu’l-Adhkár on Mt. Carmel, as well as in Latin America; the repeated contributions made for the erection of that Sepulcher, for the extension of Bahá’í international endowments and the institution of the Hazíratu’l-Quds in Kampala; the marvellous loyalty demonstrated in connection with the repeated defection of members of the Holy Family and the nefarious activities of Covenant-breakers, both old and new; as well as the share a number of these Hands have had in administering a stunning defeat to the enemies of the Faith who, so boldly and shamelessly sought, through legal action, to challenge the authority of the Guardian of the Faith, and to publicly humiliate, the institution created through the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Testament; the further unfoldment of the European project through the initiation of the two historic Conferences held in the Low Countries and in the Iberian Peninsula, and the convocation of the fateful Conference in Rome, heralding the formation of the Italo-Swiss National Assembly—the fairest fruit of that mighty Project—these stand out as the distinctive, the unforgettable, the infinitely meritorious achievements which posterity will record as the noblest exploits immortalizing the concluding years of the Second Seven Year Plan, and conferring untold benefits on its executors throughout the length and breadth of the Great Republic of the West.
So notable a record, such splendid achievements, investing, as they inevitably must, the American Bahá’í Community, with the potentialities so essential for the adequate conduct of the impending Ten Year Plan, that will constitute the third and last stage in the initial epoch, in the unfoldment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Plan, and auguring well for the triumphant conclusion of the present Seven Year Plan, can, and must, if the star of this enviable community is to continue to rise, rapidly and uninterruptedly, to its meridian, be converted into a stepping-stone for the achievements of such feats as will not only outshine the splendor of the services already enumerated, but constitute a befitting termination to the second collective enterprise undertaken in American Bahá’í history, in the service of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, and for the execution of the grand Design conceived by the Center of His Covenant.
The support extended by a self-sacrificing, high-minded, ever alert community, for the erection of the Drum of the Sepulcher of 32 the Báb and the raising of its crowning unit—the Dome itself—must, in the course of this current year, be consistently maintained, both by the individual members of this community, and the body of its elected representatives. The assistance required for the acquisition of extensive properties, comprising both lands and houses, in the immediate neighborhood of the Most Holy Tomb in Bahjí, and for the embellishment of the approaches of that hallowed Shrine—the Qiblih of the Bahá’í world—as a necessary prelude to the ultimate erection of a befitting Mausoleum to enshrine the remains of God’s Supreme Manifestation on earth, must be generously and systematically extended. The scheme of landscaping the area surrounding the recently completed Mother Temple of the West, in time for its consecration and formal opening for public Bahá’í worship, must be rapidly and carefully carried out. The subsidiary Plan, formulated for the intensification of the Campaign of internal expansion and consolidation in every State of the American Republic, must be assiduously executed, and under no circumstances, be allowed to deteriorate or to fall into abeyance. The flow of pioneers to the African continent, to Liberia, North Africa, West and East Africa, must, at whatever cost, and while there is yet time, be substantially accelerated, as the essential prerequisite to the Ten Year crusade to be launched by no less than five National Assemblies in the African continent, on the morrow of the celebrations of the impending Holy Year. The process of multiplication of Bahá’í local Assemblies in the ten goal countries of Europe, and particularly in Italy and Switzerland, and the preparatory measures required to ensure the success of the twin historic assemblages destined to commemorate the last year of the Seven Year enterprise launched in the European continent—the European Teaching Conference in Luxemburg and the Italo-Swiss Convention in Florence—must be pushed forward with extreme care, vigilance and vigor. The utmost help and the necessary guidance must be vouchsafed to the newly emerged sister communities, in both Central and South America, to enable them to consummate their spontaneously undertaken Plans, so vital to their future association with the organized communities, in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, in the prosecution of the world-wide undertaking destined to be launched on the morrow of the celebration of the approaching Great Jubilee. Above all, the most careful, prayerful, concentrated attention should be given by your Assembly, in conjunction with the several national committees, appointed for this purpose, to the adequate celebration of the fast approaching Holy 33 Year, both locally, nationally and internationally, with particular emphasis on the three outstanding functions which the members of this Assembly must discharge, namely, the solemn consecration of the completed House of Worship and the commemoration of its Jubilee, the formal convocation of the Inter-continental Conference, and the holding of the Annual Convention in Wilmette, and the effective participation of the members of the American Bahá’í Community, both officially and unofficially, in the three other historic Inter-continental Conferences to be convened successively in Kampala, Stockholm and New Delhi.
The tasks ahead, calling for the expenditure of every ounce of energy on the part of the members of the indefatigable irresistably advancing, majestically unfolding American Bahá’í community and for the unrelaxing vigilance of its national elected representatives, are immense, highly diversified, truly challenging, sacred in character, undreamt of in their potentialities, urgent by their very nature, and inescapable in the responsibilities they involve. At the World Center of the Faith, where, at long last the machinery of its highest institutions has been erected, and around whose most holy shrines the supreme organs of its unfolding Order, are, in their embryonic form, unfolding; amidst the diversified tribes and races, peopling the Dependencies and Principalities of the Dark Continent of Africa; in the far-flung territories of Central and South America so alien in culture, temperament, habits, language and outlook; in the capital cities and traditional strongholds of a materially highly advanced yet spiritually famished, much tormented, fear-ridden, hopelessly-sundered, heterogeneous conglomeration of races, nations, sects and classes overspreading the continent of Europe; in the heart of the African continent, in the capital city of the Indian sub-continent; in one of the leading capitals of the Scandinavian countries in Northern Europe; in the very heart of the leading Republic of the Western Hemisphere, the standard-bearers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, the champion-builders of the Administrative Order, the vanguard of the Heralds of His World Order, and the Chief and appointed executors of the Master Plan of the Center of His Covenant, have, in the course of the few, fast-fleeting months ahead, separating them from the grandest crusade thus far launched in Bahá’í history, been assigned tasks, obligations and responsibilities that they can afford to neither minimize, neglect or shirk for a moment.
Within only a few weeks the Bahá’í World will enter upon 34 the centenary of that fateful day of August the fifteenth, when a dastardly act, fraught with such terrible consequences, unleashed a series of tragic events that stained the annals of the Faith, that precipitated calamities on a scale unprecedented since its inception and unsurpassed in their tragic character by any event except the martyrdom of its Herald, which culminated in an holocaust reminiscent of the direst tribulations undergone by the persecuted followers of any previous religion, and which, in turn, paved the way, even as the darkest hour of the night precedes the dawn, for the first glimmerings that were to proclaim, to an unsuspecting world, and amidst the gloom and stench of the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán, the birth of the Mission of the Founder of our Faith. Less than four months separate us from the centenary celebrations designed to befittingly commemorate that glorious event in Bahá’í history, an event even more potent in its implications than the birth of the Bábí Dispensation, and yielding in sacredness to none other except the memorable occasion when the Founder of the Faith Himself ascended the throne of His spiritual sovereignty and formally assumed in the City of Baghdád, His Prophetic Office. The radiance of God’s infant light shining within the walls of that pestilential Pit—a radiance, an infinitesimal glimmer of which, as the Founder of the Faith, Himself, later testified, caused the dwellers of Sinai to swoon away—seemed, as it were, to be intermingled, whilst Bahá’u’lláh lay in chains and fetters in that subterranean dungeon, and, for many months after, with the somberness of the tragedy which enveloped the members of a persecuted community in almost every province of that hapless land. The dawning-light of the Revelation promised and lauded by the Báb marks the termination of the second and darker crisis in the annals of the Bábí Dispensation, and signalizes the commencement of a ten-year long crisis, the first of the three successive ones that left their lasting imprint on His Ministry.
Little wonder that, in the months immediately ahead, when our thoughts are fixed upon those days which heralded the outbreak of this reign of unprecedented terror, and the outburst of a light of such inconceivable brightness and in the twelve-month period immediately following when we commemorate the centenary of that reign of terror as well as throughout the succeeding decade, constituting the hundredth anniversary of the period following the birth of so glorious a Mission—little wonder that the followers of the Author of such a Revelation should be called upon to pour forth, as a 35 ransom for so much suffering, and in thanksgiving for such priceless benefits conferred upon mankind, their substance, exert themselves to the utmost, scale the summits of self-sacrifice, accomplish the most valorous feats, and, through a concerted, determined, consecrated ten-year-long effort, achieve their greatest victories in honor of the Founder of their Faith, in grateful memory of His unnumbered slaughtered servants, and for the world establishment, and ultimate triumph, of His embryonic World Order.
The four inter-continental Conferences, constituting the highlights of the centenary celebrations commemorating this unique period in Bahá’í history, commingling so much tragedy and glory, as well as the public consecration of the Most Holy House of Worship ever to be raised for the glory of the Most Great Name, must alike proclaim, in no uncertain voice, the significance of the happenings which, a hundred years ago, endowed mankind with a potency unapproached at any period in the world’s spiritual history, and signalize the inauguration of what may yet come to be regarded as a period of collective administrative and teaching accomplishments distinguishing the Formative Age of our Faith and endowed with a fertility comparable to that which marked the spiritual feats of the dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age which preceded it.
To the members of the valorous American Bahá’í Community, the chosen trustees and principal executors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, who, by virtue of the mission entrusted to them by the Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant, have been empowered, and are fully qualified, to assume a preponderating role in the conduct of this world-encompassing crusade; to the long-suffering, the unflinching, the much loved and steadfast members of the venerable and still persecuted community of Bahá’u’lláh’s followers laboring in His native land, whose spiritual ancestors have left a legacy of unsurpassed heroism and saintliness to the rising generation in both the East and the West; to the members of the small, yet intensely alive, community dwelling in the heart and center of the far-flung British Commonwealth of Nations, whose destiny is to lend a notable impetus to the progress of this world Crusade; through awakening the vast and heterogeneous multitudes that owe allegiance to the British Crown, and are dispersed throughout the five continents of the globe; to the members of the equally small yet virile and highly promising community, planted in the heart of the European continent, whose mission is to spread the light of the Faith throughout the regions that lie in its neighborhood and project 36 its radiance as far as the heart of the Asiatic continent; to the members of the newly emerged yet swiftly advancing community established in the Dominion of Canada, worthy allies of the American Bahá’í Community in the furtherance of the Grand Design delineated in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s immortal Tablets; to the members of the loyal, the assiduously laboring and highly diversified community in the Indian sub-continent, whose geographic position entitles them to extend substantial assistance to the prodigious task of awakening the peoples of South East Asia to the redemptive Message of Bahá’u’lláh; to the members of the second most persecuted yet resolute community established in the heart of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, who, by virtue of the position they occupy, must play a distinctive part in the emancipation of a proscribed Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy; to the members of the youthful yet vigorously functioning community, championing the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh in the Antipodes who, by reason of their close proximity, are expected to contribute a substantial share to the establishment of the institutions of the Faith in the numerous and widely scattered islands and archipelagos of the South Pacific Ocean; to the members of a long-established yet still persecuted community dwelling in a territory which may well rank, next to the Holy Land and the Cradle of our Faith, as the most holy in the entire Bahá’í world, who are destined to share with their brethren in Persia, Egypt and Pakistan in the task of achieving the recognition of a down-trodden Faith, by the ecclesiastical leaders of Islám; to the newly-fledged, spiritually alert communities of Central and South America, who, by virtue of the responsibilities invested in the inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere through the ringing call of Bahá’u’lláh in the Aqdas and the utterances of the Center of His Covenant, are expected by their brethren, in both the East and the West, to worthily play their part as associates of the chief executors of the Plan bequeathed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; to the members of the communities in Italy and Switzerland, as yet in the embryonic stage of their development, and who will soon take their place as an independent entity in the international Bahá’í community, and must assume their share in planting the banner of a triumphant Faith in the heart of a continent regarded as the cradle of Western civilization as well as in the stronghold and nerve-center of the most powerful church in Christendom; indeed, to each and every believer, whether isolated, or associated with any local Assembly or group, who, though as yet unidentified with any specific national Plan for the 37 systematic prosecution of this Crusade, can still, and indeed must, lend his particular assistance in this gigantic enterprise—to all, without distinction of race, nation, class, color, age or sex, I feel moved, as the fateful hour of a memorable centenary approaches, to address my plea, with all the fervor that my soul can command and all the love that my heart contains, to rededicate themselves, collectively, and individually, to the task that lies ahead of them.
Under whatever conditions, the dearly loved, the divinely sustained, the onward marching legions of the army of Bahá’u’lláh may be laboring, in whatever theatre they may operate, in whatever climes they may struggle, whether in the cold and inhospitable territories beyond the Arctic Circle, or in the torrid zones of both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres; on the borders of the jungles of Burma, Malaya and India; on the fringes of the deserts of Africa and of the Arabian Peninsula; in the lonely, far-away, backward and sparsely populated islands dotting the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans and the North Sea; amidst the diversified tribes of the Negroes of Africa, the Eskimos and the Lapps of the Arctic regions, the Mongolians of East and South East Asia, the Polynesians of the South Pacific Islands, the reservations of the Red Indians in both American continents, the Maoris of New Zealand, and the aborigines of Australia; within the time-honored strongholds of both Christianity and Islám, whether it be in Mecca, Rome, Cairo, Najaf or Karbilá; or in towns and cities whose inhabitants are either immersed in crass materialism, or breathe the fetid air of an aggressive racialism, or find themselves bound by the chains and fetters of a haughty intellectualism, or have fallen a prey to the forces of a blind and militant nationalism, or are steeped in the atmosphere of a narrow and intolerant ecclesiasticism—to them all, as well as to those who, as the fortunes of this fate-laden Crusade prosper, will be called upon to unfurl the standard of an all-conquering Faith in the strongholds of Hinduism, and assist in the breaking up of a rigid age-long caste system, who will replace the seminaries and monasteries acting as the nurseries of the Buddhist Faith with the divinely-ordained institutions of Bahá’u’lláh’s victorious Order, who will penetrate the jungles of the Amazon, scale the mountain-fastnesses of Tibet, establish direct contact with the teeming and hapless multitudes in the interior of China, Mongolia and Japan, sit with the leprous, consort with the outcasts in their penal colonies, traverse the steppes of Russia or scatter throughout the wastes of Siberia, I 38 direct my impassioned appeal to obey, as befits His warriors, the summons of the Lord of Hosts, and prepare for that Day of Days when His victorious battalions will, to the accompaniment of hozannas from the invisible angels in the Abhá Kingdom, celebrate the hour of final victory.
“O, that I could travel,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, crying out from the depths of His soul, gives utterance to His longing, in a memorable passage, in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, addressed to the North American believers, “even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and raising the call of ‘Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the Divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it!”
“Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Bahá,” the Author of our Faith, Himself, admonishes His followers, “….for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds…. Should any one arise for the triumph of Our Cause, him will God render victorious though tens of thousands of enemies be leagued against him.” “They that have forsaken their country,” He assures them, “for the purpose of teaching Our Cause—these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through its power…. Such a service is, indeed, the prince of all goodly deeds, and the ornament of every goodly act.” “When the hour cometh that this wronged and broken-winged bird will have taken its flight unto the celestial Concourse,” is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s last poignant call to the entire body of the followers of His Father’s Faith, as recorded in His Will and Testament, “it is incumbent upon … the friends and loved ones, one and all, to bestir themselves and arise, with heart and soul, and in one accord … to teach His Cause and promote His Faith. It behoveth them not to rest for a moment…. They must disperse themselves in every land … and travel throughout all regions. Bestirred, without rest, and steadfast to the end, they must raise in every land the cry of ‘Yá-Bahá’u’l-Abhá … that throughout the East and the West a vast concourse may gather under the shadow of the Word of God, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted, that men’s faces may be illumined, that their hearts may be filled with the Divine Spirit and their souls become heavenly.”
No matter how long the period that separates them from ultimate victory; however arduous the task; however formidable the exertions demanded of them; however dark the days which mankind, 39 perplexed and sorely-tried, must, in its hour of travail, traverse; however severe the tests with which they who are to redeem its fortunes will be confronted; however afflictive the darts which their present enemies, as well as those whom Providence, will, through His mysterious dispensations raise up from within or from without, may rain upon them, however grievous the ordeal of temporary separation from the heart and nerve-center of their Faith which future unforeseeable disturbances may impose upon them, I adjure them, by the precious blood that flowed in such great profusion, by the lives of the unnumbered saints and heroes who were immolated, by the supreme, the glorious sacrifice of the Prophet-Herald of our Faith, by the tribulations which its Founder, Himself, willingly underwent, so that His Cause might live, His Order might redeem a shattered world and its glory might suffuse the entire planet—I adjure them, as this solemn hour draws nigh, to resolve never to flinch, never to hesitate, never to relax, until each and every objective in the Plans to be proclaimed, at a later date, has been fully consummated.
Your true brother

[June 30, 1952]