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Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
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Pages 247-252

Letter of 15 June 1950

15 June 1950
Dear Bahá’í Brother,
Your many communications dated August 20, 26; September 30; October 6, 7, 10, 26; November 7, 9, 14, 23, 25; December 8, 18, 22, 23 (two of this date), 24, all of 1949, and January 4, 20, 30; February 2, 22; March 1, 6, 18, 29 (two of this date); April 7, 18, 19 (two of this date), 24, 27; and May 2, 4, 8, 16 (three of this date) of 1950, have been received as well as their enclosures and other material, and our beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
He regrets very much the long delay in not only answering your Assembly’s letters but those of other N.S.A.s’ as well. The past winter, owing to the fact that large excavations had to be carried out behind the Shrine in order to permit construction to continue, was a particularly busy gruelling one for him. On top of this, at the beginning of April, Mr. Maxwell became dangerously ill and the constant worry and preoccupation of us all with doctors, nurses, etc., forced the Guardian to put aside his letters entirely for the time being. Thanks to the mercy of God Mr. Maxwell is now recovering slowly; but the past months were very difficult ones for everyone.
To now take up the various matters referred to in your letters.
The Guardian does not feel that a quorum of delegates is necessary in any sense for the convention. Under unusual circumstances National bodies can be elected by mailed votes of all the delegates; the primary function of the delegates is to elect 248 the N.S.A. Suggestions from the Convention floor can be made by a majority of those present.
The Guardian is very pleased to see that Peter Esslemont is growing closer to the Faith. A friendly contact with him should always be maintained.
Regarding his cable concerning Hussein: he has been very surprised to note that the terms “low-born Christian girl” and “disgraceful alliance” should arouse any question: it seems to him that the friends should realise it is not befitting for the Guardian’s own brother, the grandchild of the Master, an Afnán and Aghsán mentioned in the Will and Testament of the Master, and of whom so much was expected because of his relation to the Family of the Prophet, to marry an unknown girl, according to goodness knows what rite, who is not a believer at all. Surely, every Bahá’í must realise that the terms low-born and Christian are definitions of a situation and in no way imply any condemnation of a person’s birth or the religion they belong to as such. We have no snobbery and no religious prejudice in our Faith. But the members of the Master’s family have contracted marriages which cannot be considered in any other light than disgraceful, in view of what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wished for them.
Recently the Court of First Instance, in Kárkúk, ‘Iráq, has accepted to register a Bahá’í marriage certificate. This is the first time in the East (except for the British Mandate authorities and the Israeli Government), that a Bahá’í marriage has been recognised as being legal. The Guardian feels that this can form a very important precedent for the other Oriental countries, and he suggests you inform the Egyptian N.S.A. of his view and urge them to press for due recognition in Egypt, using this precedent as a lever.
There is nothing in our teachings about Freud and his method. Psychiatric treatment in general is no doubt an important contribution to medicine, but we must believe it is still a growing rather than a perfected science. As Bahá’u’lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Bahá’ís are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when available, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right, it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us.
The Guardian thanks you and the friends for your eagerness 249 to contribute to the cost of the Shrine through the special edition of “Prescription for Living”; also he thanks the friends at Convention for the copy they sent him.
I need not tell you how immensely relieved, proud and gratified the beloved Guardian was when he knew the British community had achieved their Plan so successfully. During the last year he was often anxious as he shared with your Assembly and the National Teaching Committee the news of how acute the position was, and how great the obstacles still remaining to be overcome.
From the beginning, however, he felt confident that this dedicated and courageous community could and would drive through to victory, and his joy was very great when it did. He firmly believes this will exert a great influence on the future of the Bahá’í community there, and indirectly on the history of that country in the days to come. It is not possible, at close range, to understand the implications of what we do; but when we see things in historical perspective, we realise that what seemed small at the time was really a turning point in destiny.
The Guardian was delighted to receive the Welsh pamphlet, also the map you sent him. He is planning to have the map published in the next edition of “Bahá’í World”, and he placed the pamphlet in the Mansion of Bahá’u’lláh.
He approves of the Investment Scheme of the Publishing Trust, and he trusts that the members of the community will respond and thus enable your Assembly to expand its publishing activities. He leaves the question of approaching Bahá’ís overseas, should the Trust be in need of further capital, to your Assembly’s discretion.
The Guardian does not approve of your placing a condition upon recognition of local assemblies (mentioned in your letter of January 20); and he wishes in this connection to emphasise the fact that every possible care should be taken not to add to existing rules and regulations in the form of statements or otherwise. He has already advised the American and other National Assemblies to beware of adding more rules and regulations.
The death of Mrs. Hall, such a faithful and devoted servant of the Faith, is a great loss to the British community. The Guardian appreciated receiving a copy of her Will, which mirrors her 250 solicitude for the interests of the Cause in England. He trusts that a Bahá’í Ceremony could take place at the graveside, which certainly would have been her own wish.
Regarding …, if the financial response of the friends to the needs of the Faith there is not sufficient for your Assembly to continue to defray his expenses as a teacher and pioneer, then it seems inevitable that he will have to make some other plans. His services have been of real value, and his intimate knowledge of the teachings and steadfastness in the Covenant have enabled him to contribute much to the understanding of the friends.
The Guardian approves your resolution to keep Mr. Ferraby (see endnote) as paid secretary of the Assembly. He deeply appreciates Mr. Ferraby’s devoted services.
The Guardian wishes to assure you, one and all, of his prayers for the success of the new work your Assembly will be undertaking, and for the consolidation of all the recent goals achieved.
P.S. Also just received are a receipt for the Guardian’s contribution, dated May 15th and your letter, with enclosure, of May 28th and May 24th. A photo of the Shrine will be mailed you very soon.
P.P.S. The Guardian will certainly pray for the progress and happiness of the soul of Mr. Manton. No doubt the selfless services his son has rendered the Cause of God, in an hour of great need, will be accepted and enable him to influence the state of his father through his own prayers.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers,
On the occasion of the victorious consummation of the first historic Plan undertaken by the British Bahá’í community, I feel moved to reaffirm my feelings of exultation, joy and gratitude for the superb triumph that marks such a great turning point in British Bahá’í history. No single event, in the course of its half-a-century existence, with the exception of the twice repeated visit of the Centre of the Covenant to the British Isles, has proved as significant and momentous as this unique collective achievement, which may, in a sense, be regarded as the first and long-awaited fruit of that intimate and personal contact, established both in private and in public, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with its members as well as with various representatives of the country to which it belongs. 251
So magnificent an achievement has, no doubt, endowed the entire community, now representative of the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, with tremendous potentialities, empowering it to launch on the first stage of its historic overseas mission destined to bring that community into closer and more concrete association with its sister communities in North America and Egypt, for the purpose of promoting the Faith in the vast virgin territories where its banner is still unraised and which constitute an integral part of the territories of the British Crown beyond the confines of that community’s homeland.
To the races and tribes inhabiting these territories throughout the vast African Continent ‘Abdu’l-Bahá when His life was in imminent danger, specifically referred in a Tablet, addressed by Him to the cousin of the Báb and chief builder of the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Bahá’í world, in which He predicts, in moving terms, the awakening of the peoples of that dark continent and the ultimate triumph of His Father’s Faith among its backward peoples as well as among the great masses inhabiting China and India.
To the accomplishment of the initial stages of this colossal task, envisaged by our beloved Master, the Bahá’í community of the British Isles, now greatly reinforced, resting on a far broader foundation, galvanised into action, qualified through its initial signal victory in its homeland—the base of its future operations overseas, is now summoned to direct its attention and its energies.
While, in the current and two succeeding years which separate us from the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s prophetic mission, close and sustained attention should be directed by the elected representatives, as well as by the rank and file, of that community towards the safeguarding of the prizes won throughout the length and breadth of the British Isles, and the consolidation of the newly born institutions, the preliminary steps, constituting the prelude to this prodigious systemic labour and soul-thrilling enterprise, destined to extend its ramifications, in the years that lie ahead, to the fringe and within the very heart of a vast continent, must be carefully and prayerfully taken.
Though the members of this community are still restricted in number, though its resources are as yet meagre, though its recent victories are as yet unconsolidated, though it has hardly recuperated from its recent labours, undertaken during a period of great national exhaustion and severe austerity, the mere act of launching upon so glorious, so fateful an enterprise, will, of necessity, create at this 252 propitious hour the receptivity which will enable a swiftly marching, stout-hearted, virile community, now standing on the threshold of its mission beyond the seas, to attract a fresh measure of celestial potency adequate to its growing needs and its ever expanding responsibilities. The miracle its members have performed over so vast a territory, in so short a time, and under such adverse circumstances, cannot but augur well for the initial success of an enterprise infinitely more meritorious, of far greater promise, and endowed with vastly superior spiritual potentialities.
How great the honour with which the Bahá’í pioneers of the present generation of the subjects of the British Crown will be invested in the eyes of posterity within their island home and abroad! How great the debt of gratitude of those who will labour after them and garner the fruit of their present day assiduous exertions to those whose privilege is to blaze the trail and break the soil in the virgin territories destined, as prophesied by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to acclaim the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and establish the institutions of His embryonic World Order!
This community, laden with the trophies of so recent and splendid a victory, and summoned to brace itself for another exertion, so fate-laden in its consequences, stands too near the structure which its hands are now rearing to visualise the dimensions of its task, appraise its value, and appreciate its future glory. Alive to its inherent capacity, conscious of its high responsibility, aware of the sacredness of its mission, emboldened by its recent exploits, trusting fully in that reinforcing Power that guided and sustained it unfailingly in the past, this community can do no better than to gird up afresh its loins, turn its back upon the clamour of the age, its fears, confusion and strife, step resolutely forward on its chosen path, unshakably confident that with every step it takes, should it remain undeflected in its purpose and undimmed in its vision, a fresh outpouring of Divine grace will reinforce and guide its march on the highroad of its destiny.
Your true brother,