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Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
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Pages 128-129

Letter of 4 June 1939

4 June 1939
Dear Bahá’í Brother,
I am charged by our beloved Guardian to inform you of the receipt of your letter of May 9th written on behalf of the British N.S.A. on the subject of the Bahá’í attitude towards war.
His instructions on this matter, conveyed in a letter addressed to your Assembly during last November, were not intended for that particular occasion, but were meant for present conditions, and for any such emergency as may arise in the immediate future.
It is still his firm conviction that the believers, while expressing their readiness to unreservedly obey any directions that the authorities may issue concerning national service in time of war, should also, and while there is yet no outbreak of hostilities, appeal to the government for exemption from active military service in a combatant capacity, stressing the fact that in doing so they are not prompted by any selfish considerations but by the sole and supreme motive of upholding the Teachings of their Faith, which make it a moral obligation for them to desist from any act that would involve them in direct warfare with their fellow-humans of any other race or nation. The Bahá’í Teachings, indeed, condemn, emphatically and unequivocally, any form of physical violence, and warfare in the battlefield is obviously a form, and perhaps the worst form which such violence can assume. 129
There are many other avenues through which the believers can assist in times of war by enlisting in services of a non-combatant nature—services that do not involve the direct shedding of blood—such as ambulance work, anti-air raid precaution service, office and administrative works, and it is for such types of national service that they should volunteer.
It is immaterial whether such activities would still expose them to dangers, either at home or in the front, since their desire is not to protect their lives, but to desist from any acts of wilful murder.
The friends should consider it their conscientious duty, as loyal members of the Faith, to apply for such exemption, even though there may be slight prospect of their obtaining the consent and approval of the authorities to their petition. It is most essential that in times of such national excitement and emergency as those through which so many countries in the world are now passing that the believers should not allow themselves to be carried away by the passions agitating the masses, and act in a manner that would make them deviate from the path of wisdom and moderation, and lead them to violate, however reluctantly and indirectly, the spirit as well as the letter of the Teachings.
The N.S.A., in this and similar issues that may arise in future, should act with firmness and vigilance and with such wisdom and tact as would make them an example worthy of the confidence and admiration of all the believers….
[From the Guardian:]
May the beloved bless and guide you in collaboration with your fellow members, to uphold the integrity, vindicate the truth, demonstrate the power, and promote the spirit of the exalted teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
Your true and grateful brother,