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Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
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Pages 257-263

Letter of 25 February 1951

25 February 1951
Dear Bahá’í Brother,
Your letters of June 19th, June 22nd, July 18th, July 21st, July 26th, August 17th, August 29th, August 30th, September 6th, September 8th, September 27th (2 letters), October 3rd (2 258 letters), October 5th, October 17th, October 26th, October 30th (2 letters), October 31st, November 13th, November 24th (2 letters), December 10th, December 22nd, 1950, and January 2nd, January 25th and February 2nd, 20th, 1951, together with enclosures as well as photographs, have been received, and our beloved Guardian has instructed me to answer you on his behalf. (A postscript dated March 18th adds: “Your letters (two) dated March 8th have also been received with enclosures.”)
He regrets that, due to pressure of work, he is not able to write more frequently, but feels that the cable communications between himself and your assembly attend to the essential work in between letters….
Regarding your question about the communication with the King, as mentioned in Minutes 292 and 344, he feels that both contemplated approaches should be dropped for the present. By undertaking such action we call attention to ourselves in a very conspicuous manner, and investigation of who the senders are of such petitions would only expose the weakness of our numbers and detract from the prestige which the Cause is slowly beginning to acquire in the eyes of the world.
He thanks you very much for the map, showing the British Bahá’í community at the end of the Six Year Plan. He has placed it on a wall of the Mansion of Bahjí, where visitors and believers can enjoy it. It certainly marks the scene of one of the most historic victories of the Faith.
In regard to the question of the African campaign, the Guardian is immensely pleased with the way your assembly and the special committee you have appointed, have seized this project and are vigorously prosecuting it. He admires the evidences of careful planning and staunch determination which all the data regarding this important campaign, which you have forwarded to him, bear witness to.
He was very happy to receive the Chinyanza pamphlets which you sent to him, and also likes very much the “Africa News” which the committee is getting out and which is so alive with plans and news.
He is also delighted to see that the Persian National Assembly is vigorously co-operating with your Assembly and facilitating settlement of some devoted Persian pioneer there who no doubt will be of great help to the work…. 259
He feels that, although it is preferable that the three pioneers to each virgin country should be in one town or at least as near each other as possible, it should not be considered the essential point at this juncture.
The most important thing of all is to get the pioneers out there and established if possible in some self-supporting work. Once this has been done, the work within the country itself can be gradually organised and plans made to consolidate it in a more practical manner.
He used the word “tribes” loosely to mean the peoples of Africa and not necessarily individuals still living under tribal system.
The Guardian does not feel that it is necessary to specify any particular prayer to be said for the Africa work. The main thing is that the Bahá’ís should pray for its success.
He approves of your getting out the edition of the “New Era” which you now have in the press; but feels very strongly that any future editions should strictly conform to the 1937 American edition, in order to preserve uniformity in this very important Bahá’í publication.
Regarding your question about military service, the Guardian sees no reason why the Bahá’í in question should not bring a test case, and press the matter. It is now, since he has become a follower of Bahá’u’lláh, against his conscience to kill his fellow-men; and he should have the right to explain his position and ask to be exempted from combatant service. During the hearing of such cases the Bahá’ís should make it absolutely clear that we do not fear being placed in danger, and are not asking to be given a safe berth in hours of national crisis—quite the contrary—any dangerous service the Bahá’ís can render their fellow-men during the agonies of war, they should be anxious to accept.
The work that the British Bahá’ís are accomplishing is very dear to his heart; and he wishes your Assembly to constantly encourage the friends (as of course they are doing) to go on with all phases of their Bahá’í work and maintain the tempo they achieved during the past few years. They have distinguished themselves so much that now their fellow Bahá’ís in other lands expect them to lead the way in new fields, and to continue being the pace setters for at least the British Empire, if not other countries as well! Success brings burdens; and the British Bahá’ís 260 who were so miraculously successful at the last moment of their Six Year Plan, now find themselves in the sometimes difficult position of being a cynosure for all eyes.
He assures you, one and all, of his loving prayers for the work you are so faithfully carrying out on behalf of the believers in the British Isles….
P.S.—I wish to call your attention to certain things in “Principles of Bahá’í Administration” which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text. This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá’u’lláh’s Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá’u’lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers,
The magnificent spirit of devotion and the initiative and resourcefulness demonstrated in recent months by a triumphant community, in its eagerness to launch, ahead of the appointed time, the enterprise destined to carry the fame of its members and establish its outposts as far afield as the African Continent, merit the highest praise. By their organising ability, by their zeal in enlisting the collaboration of their sister communities in the African, the American and Asiatic continents for the effective prosecution of this epoch-making enterprise; by the tenacity, sagacity and fidelity which they have displayed in the course of its opening phase; by their utter consecration and their complete reliance on the One Who watches over their destiny, they have set an example worthy of emulation by the members of Bahá’í communities in both the East and the West.
The despatch of the first pioneer to Tanganyika, signalising the inauguration of the African campaign, following so closely upon the successful termination of the Six Year Plan, will be recognised by 261 posterity as the initial move in an undertaking designed to supplement and enrich the record of signal collective services rendered by the members of this community within the confines and throughout the length and breadth of its homeland. On it, however great the support it will receive from its sister communities in the days to come, will devolve the chief responsibility of guiding the destinies, of supplying the motive power, and of contributing to the resources of a crusade which, for the first time in Bahá’í history, involves the collaboration, and affects the fortunes, of no less than four National Assemblies, in both Hemispheres and within four continents of the globe.
On the success of this enterprise, unprecedented in its scope, unique in its character and immense in its spiritual potentialities, must depend the initiation, at a later period in the Formative Age of the Faith, of undertakings embracing within their range all National Assemblies functioning throughout the Bahá’í World, undertakings constituting in themselves a prelude to the launching of world-wide enterprises destined to be embarked upon, in future epochs of that same Age, by the Universal House of Justice, that will symbolise the unity and coordinate and unify the activities of these National Assemblies.
Indeed the birth of this African enterprise, in the opening decade of the second Bahá’í century, coinciding as it does with the formation of the International Bahá’í Council, should be acclaimed as an event of peculiar significance in the evolution of our beloved Faith. Both events will, no doubt, be hailed by posterity as simultaneous and compelling evidences of the irresistible unfoldment of a divinely appointed Administrative Order and of the development, on an international scale, of its subsidiary agencies, heralding the establishment of the Supreme Legislative Body designed to crown the Administrative Edifice now being laboriously erected by the privileged builders of a Divine Order, whose features have been delineated by the Centre of the Covenant in His Will and Testament, whose fundamental laws have been revealed by the Founder of our Faith in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and Whose advent has been foreshadowed by the Herald of the Bahá’í Dispensation in the Bayán, His most weighty Book.
To be singled out as the chief agency in the prosecution of a task of such dimensions, such significance, and the harbinger of events so glorious, is indeed at once an inestimable blessing and a staggering responsibility with which the British Bahá’í community, emerging triumphantly and in rapid succession from the ordeal of a world war and the struggles involved in the prosecution of an historic Plan, has 262 been honoured at so critical and challenging an hour in the fortunes of mankind.
To labour assiduously for the despatch, in the coming year marking the official opening of the Two Year Plan, of pioneers to the chosen Territories of the African Continent; to ensure that its three sister National Assemblies will steadily reinforce its work through financial assistance as well as through the increase in the number of pioneers; to expedite the translation, publication and dissemination of Bahá’í literature in the three selected languages throughout these Territories; to enlarge the scope of the contacts established with representatives of the African peoples and with institutions designed to foster their interests; to cultivate cordial relations with, and secure the goodwill and support of, the civil authorities in the goal countries where the pioneers will reside; to maintain steady correspondence with, fan the zeal, seek the counsel and secure the assistance of the budding and scattered communities in the North, the South and the Heart of that vast, that promising and slowly awakening continent; to prepare for the eventual convocation, under its own auspices and following the example set, and the procedure adopted, by its sister American Assembly on the European Continent, of the First African Teaching Conference, representative of both the white and black races, constituting an epoch-making landmark in the evolution of the Faith among the African races and possibly synchronising with the centenary celebrations of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission, and adding another victor’s crown to the laurels already won by the British followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in their own homeland—these stand out as the paramount and inescapable duties confronting the British National Spiritual Assembly as it stands on the threshold of a new and glorious epoch in British Bahá’í history.
Though the prospect of this new venture is indeed enthralling, though it demands careful planning, the allocation of substantial sums for its prosecution, and the exertion of strenuous efforts for its systematic development, the prizes so laboriously won at home must under no circumstances be jeopardised. The twofold obligation of preserving the status of the newly-fledged Assemblies in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and of propagating the Faith among the people dwelling in the British Isles through active teaching and the wide circulation of Bahá’í literature must be faithfully discharged. The necessary foundation for the proclamation of the Faith, at a later stage in the development of the British Bahá’í community, amidst the 263 British people and in the very heart of the British Empire must be carefully laid. Whatever measures will facilitate the future recognition of the Faith by the civil authorities in the localities where its followers reside, and eventually by the central government in Westminster, must, within the means at their disposal, and however tentatively, be adopted.
Then and only then will this community, carrying out faithfully the twofold duty incumbent upon it, both at home and abroad, be vouchsafed by Bahá’u’lláh the full measure of His grace which will enable it to traverse, speedily and successfully, the present stage in its evolution, and acquire still greater potentialities for the revelation of a still brighter aspect of its mission designed to illuminate with the light of Divine Guidance and in the course of the Formative and Golden Ages of the Faith all the Dependencies of the British Crown, and erect the administrative structure within these Territories, of an Order, incomparably mightier and more enduring than any which that Crown has ever established.