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Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
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Pages 307-314

Letter of 25 June 1953

25 June 1953
Dear Bahá’í Brother,
Your letters of July 8, 12 and 16, August 5 and 13, September 16, 20 and 26, October 13, 14 and 26, December 12 (3) and 17, 1952, and January 4, 6, 13, 15, 20, 27 (2) and 29, February 3 and 6, March 12, 17, 22, 23 and 26, April 1, 17, 20, 24 and 29, May 5, 11, 14, 15 (2), 28 and 30, 1953, with their enclosures, have been received by the beloved Guardian, as well as material sent under separate cover, and he has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
As you are all aware, the pressure of work is constantly increasing all over the Bahá’í world, and of course the heaviest load falls upon the Guardian. That is why he is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with his letters, not only to individuals, but also to national bodies, important as they are. He regrets this delay, but sees no remedy for it.
It was a source of great pride to him that the British Bahá’ís succeeded with their Plan, in spite of the fact that it was a long, hard struggle, and in some instances the odds seemed very much against them. He feels sure that their qualities of tenacity of purpose, fidelity and initiative will carry them on to even greater distinction during the coming ten years, as they execute their portion of the Global Crusade, an important portion.
It was very nice to have dear Dr. Mitchell (see endnote) here; the Guardian hopes that gradually more British Bahá’ís will be able to make the pilgrimage.
He was very relieved to hear that dear Mr. Townshend has recovered his health to such an extent that he will be attending 308 the Stockholm Conference, where his presence will be welcomed by all the other Hands attending, and the believers as well….
The letters which your Assembly wrote at the request of the … Bahá’ís to certain officials there, he thought were excellent. What he did not think was excellent was the almost insulting reply you received as regards … from the authorities in London and signed by…. The letter was a mass of contradictions, and the excuses transparent, to say the least. It shows that there is no doubt going to be a stiffening opposition from certain colonial governments, as the Bahá’í work progresses.
Your Assembly will undoubtedly continue to press the matter as best you can with the authorities, without causing too much opposition….
The question of impressing upon the Africans who are seeking enrolment the necessity of not drinking is a delicate one. When enrolling new believers, we must be wise and gentle, and not place so many obstacles in their way that they feel it impossible to accept the Faith. On the other hand, once accorded membership in the community of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, it must be brought home to them that they are expected to live up to His teachings, and to show forth the signs of a noble character in conformity with His laws. This can often be done gradually, after the new believer is enrolled.
Now that the African work has entered upon an entirely new phase, indeed the work all over the world, the position your Assembly held as the more or less co-ordinating body for the work in Africa has been changed. However, the closest co-operation will be necessary between all the National Assemblies concerned with the Africa teaching work, if the Plan is to go ahead swiftly; and exchange of information, especially as regards pioneer possibilities and posts, is essential, in order to get the believers out to the goal countries during this year, which is the Guardian’s ardent hope, and to which he attaches the greatest possible importance. There is no objection to British pioneers going into the territories of other Assemblies, or believers under other jurisdiction being used by your Assembly. The most important thing is to open up the virgin countries; and of course whoever works in a country under the jurisdiction of a specific Assembly, no matter where their origin may have been, would be under the orders of that Assembly. 309
As he has cabled, he considers that, at this stage in the development of the Faith in Africa, it is not necessary for so many people to congregate in one centre, such as Kampala, when there is such a tremendous need in neighbouring territories for pioneers, whether native or European.
He considers that the formation of a school at this time is premature. It would involve us in heavy responsibilities which for the sake of public opinion would have to be discharged efficiently and in an exemplary manner, and he does not consider that we have the resources or the facilities at present to embark on such a project. There is no reason why the subject cannot be reconsidered at a future date.
He considers that the attitude of your Assembly regarding police service which might be required of the Bahá’ís in Kenya at this time is correct, and that it is not war, so far. As it seems that … situation with his employer, for the present at least, prevented him from having to do police duty, the subject does not arise for the moment. He does not think that any general rule can be laid down in such matters. Events must be watched, and, when situations such as these arise, fresh consultation with him will be necessary….
As he has already informed you, and the National Spiritual Assembly of America as well, there is no objection to your receiving co-operation from them and financial assistance which they might be able to give you in publishing some of the literature in the African languages.
He thinks your Assembly’s decision regarding spiritual healing being demonstrated at a Bahá’í meeting was quite sound. We should try not to have the Faith identified with such things in the eyes of the public, officially. What the believers do privately, which in no way contravenes the Teachings, is their own affair.
As regards the Obligatory Prayers, the friends in the West should continue to use them exactly as they have been doing, and as is set forth in the remarks in parentheses which accompany the prayers in the book “Prayers and Meditations”. The Guardian himself will, whenever he sees fit, and considers the time is ripe, inform the friends in such matters in greater detail.
Of all the work being undertaken by the believers, East and West, at the present time, undoubtedly the most urgent is that of getting the pioneers out to the goal countries during this year, if 310 possible. Not only will spiritual strength accrue from this settlement of so many new lands, but the prestige it gives us in the eyes of the non-Bahá’ís is great. He fully realises heavy burdens have been placed upon the shoulders of all the Bahá’ís, and particularly upon the members of the twelve N.S.A.s directing this great crusade. But who else except the believers can do the work of Bahá’u’lláh? And short of accomplishing His work, where else lies hope for this confused and sorely-tried world?
In spite of your many problems, he feels confident that you will find amongst the valiant members of the British Bahá’í community sufficient volunteers to enable you to fill your virgin territories and islands with at least one pioneer per place. As he has already pointed out, there can be exchange; in other words, one Assembly can make use of volunteers for its goals from amongst believers under the jurisdiction of another N.S.A. if such are available.
In spite of your financial position and the work that lies ahead, the Guardian has felt it wise and necessary for you to take steps to purchase a national headquarters. When we remember that England is one of the oldest Bahá’í countries, so to speak, in the West, and that in spite of her distinction she is still without a suitable seat for her national Bahá’í administration, we see how important it is for her, on the eve of this great period of expansion, to have a National Centre. France, without any N.S.A. as yet, now has one, and it is high time England had one too. You will receive aid from others in this undertaking, as well as from the Guardian. He was pleased that Mr. Joseph took the first step in enabling you to fulfil this objective.
His loving thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you, as you face your great responsibilities and rise to meet your priceless opportunities….
P.S. The Guardian wishes your Assembly to express to Mr. Albert Joseph his deep appreciation of the assistance he is giving you in connection with the purchase of a National Headquarters.
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers,
The successive victories won, in recent years, by the British Bahá’í community, proclaiming, on the one hand, the triumphant conclusion of the first collective enterprise undertaken in British Bahá’í history on 311 the morrow of the centenary celebrations of the Founding of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and on the other, the successful termination of the Two Year Plan, marking the inauguration of the community’s historic Mission beyond the confines of its homeland, have immensely enhanced its prestige throughout the entire Bahá’í world, have won for it the abiding gratitude and profound admiration of all who labour for our beloved Faith, and entitled it to assume a prominent share in the conduct of the world spiritual Crusade launched amidst the festivities signalising the climax of the celebrations of this Holy Year commemorating the centenary of the birth of the Mission of the Author of the Bahá’í Dispensation.
Much has been achieved in the course of the past nine years, both within the borders of this community’s island home, and throughout the widely scattered Dependencies of the British Crown, on the shores as well as within the heart of the vast and far-off African Continent, to merit the pride that fills the hearts of its staunch and stalwart members, to deserve the applause of the Concourse on High, to evoke the fondest hopes for the steady unfoldment and ultimate consummation of the historic Mission entrusted to the care of the British followers of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, and to befittingly usher in a new Era in British Bahá’í history—an Era that will for ever remain associated with the systematic introduction of God’s triumphant Faith, through the concerted efforts of the heroic band of Bahá’í pioneers, dwelling within the British Isles, into the Chief Dependencies of the British Crown scattered throughout the European and Asiatic continents and the islands and archipelagos of the Seven Seas.
The entire community, now firmly entrenched within the Administrative strongholds, recently and so laboriously established in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, must rise as one man to the occasion that now presents itself. With hearts brimming with the love of Bahá’u’lláh, with souls entirely dedicated to His Cause, with minds attuned to the laws and precepts underlying His teachings, steeled with an inflexible determination to utilise, to the fullest extent, the administrative agencies which their hands have fashioned since the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and deriving fresh hope and sustenance from the rapid and remarkable victories won in both the teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá’í activity, both at home and abroad, the members of this high-minded, tenacious and spiritually alive community must gird up their loins, intensify their efforts a hundredfold and, through their combined and sustained efforts, write yet another 312 chapter in British Bahá’í history that will illuminate the annals of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh and eclipse the splendour of the feats already accomplished in the past fifty years by the adherents of His Cause in their native land.
The twofold process, already set in motion, which has been attended by such conspicuous success, must, in the course of the coming decade, be not only fully maintained but steadily accelerated. While the structure of the Administrative Order of the Faith within the British Isles is being steadily reinforced and enlarged, through the multiplication of the administrative institutions of the Faith in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and the consolidation of the newly-fledged assemblies already established, an effort, unprecedented in scope and intensity, must be continually and determinedly exerted to lay the administrative basis of this Order not only in the islands bordering the British Isles, but in the Dependencies of the British Crown in the Mediterranean, and in the African and Asiatic Continents.
This vital aspect of the Mission committed to the care of the British Bahá’í community, must, in the course of the Crusade upon which it has embarked, receive a tremendous impetus, and gather such momentum as to justify the trust ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so confidently placed in this community and the distinctive functions with which its members have been invested since His passing. The development of the institutions of the Faith on the home front must be supplemented by, and afford a constant stimulus to, the rise of similar institutions, first in the limited number of territories and islands assigned to the elected representatives of this community, and eventually throughout the colonies and protectorates comprising the British Empire.
The opening phase of the Ten Year Plan so auspiciously inaugurated on the morrow of the memorable victories already achieved, covering a period of no less than two years, must be distinguished by the opening, in rapid succession, of the eleven virgin territories in Europe and Africa and the laying of a firm foundation for the future erection of a rapidly rising Administrative Order whose ramifications are destined to encircle within the coming ten years the entire planet.
The exertions required to consummate the first stage of this Ten Year Plan are admittedly arduous, and demand the utmost attentiveness, and a degree of sacrifice and consecration unequalled in the entire course of British Bahá’í history. In spite of the smallness of their numbers, and the limited resources at their disposal, the members 313 of the community living in the British Isles, including administrators and teachers, as well as the band of self-sacrificing pioneers who have already forsaken their homes and are labouring in distant fields in the African Continent, must, at whatever cost, disperse more widely and direct their footsteps to the virgin territories and islands assigned to their National Assembly, contributing thereby, directly and effectively, to the speedy and successful termination of the initial phase of a Crusade on which the immediate destinies of the entire community so largely depend.
While this supreme effort is being exerted special and immediate attention must, likewise, be directed to two other objectives which constitute a vital part of the work now confronting the members of this community. The selection of the site of the Hazíratu’l-Quds in the city of London, the heart of the British Empire, and the national administrative seat of the Bahá’ís of the British Isles, and the adoption of effective measures for its immediate purchase, as well as the preparation of a suitable pamphlet and its prompt translation and publication in the thirty-one languages assigned to the British Bahá’í National Assembly, are matters of such urgency as to be given precedence, during the coming two years, over all the other objectives of the Ten Year Plan.
The Plan on which the British Bahá’í community has embarked, unique in its significance, unprecedented in its scope, so vast in its potentialities, so meritorious in its objectives, so challenging in its features, will, if consummated, at the appointed time, open a further vista, before the eyes of its victorious prosecutors, of such transcendent glory as none of them can as yet even dimly imagine. The path leading to the discovery of this brilliant yet at present distant goal, at which a triumphant community will be enabled to catch a glimpse of its ultimate destiny, revealed in the plenitude of its splendour, is long, steep and thorny. The prizes to be won by those who must tread this path, in the years immediately ahead, are not to be easily secured. The challenge will be prolonged and severe. The opportunities they now have to scale loftier heights of heroism, and achieve still mightier victories during the interval separating the Great and Most Great Jubilees, will if missed never again recur.
He Who, in His infinite love and mercy, called into being this community, more than fifty years ago, at the time of the inception of His Father’s Faith in the West, Who tenderly and vigilantly nursed it and guided its footsteps in the early years of its infancy, Who twice 314 conferred upon it the inestimable blessings of personal contact with its members, Who sustained, from His station on high, its development in the course of no less than two decades, within the framework of a rising Administrative Order, Who enabled it to expand and consolidate itself within its island home, Who launched it, subsequently, on its mission overseas, will, if its members prove themselves worthy of His trust, continue to shower His manifold blessings upon them, at this hour of their greatest need, and will enable them to traverse, speedily and successfully, the second and momentous stage in the progressive unfoldment of that same Mission.
That they may, guided and assisted by the vigilance, the wisdom and devotion of their elected national representatives, forge ahead with undiminished vigour, with exemplary fidelity, and with inflexible determination, along the path of their high destiny, overcome every obstacle that stands in their way, achieve signal success in the course of the opening phase of this world-girdling Crusade, and crown eventually their Ten Year Plan with a victory unexampled in the annals of the Faith in the British Isles, is my cherished hope for them and my fervent and constant prayer.