A new version of the Bahá’í Reference Library is now available. This ‘old version’ of the Bahá’í Reference Library will be replaced at a later date.

The new version of the Bahá’i Reference Library can be accessed here »

Unfolding Destiny

  • Author:
  • Shoghi Effendi

  • Source:
  • UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1981 edition
  • Pages:
  • 490
Go to printed page GO
Pages 348-356

Letter of 5 August 1955

5 August 1955
Dear Bahá’í Brother,
Your letters of July 7, 13 and 15, August 19, 20 (three) and 31, September 17 (two) and 27, October 13, 16 (two) and 26, November 4, 15, 16 and 20, and December 8 (four) and 18, 349 1954, and January 6 (two), 10 and 25, February 7, 11, 14, 21 and 28, March 11 (two), 16 and 23, April 4, 7, 15, 19, 22 and 27, May 9, 12 and 27, June 8 and 9, July 5 (four), 11 and 14, 1955, with enclosures, also the material sent separately, have been received by the beloved Guardian, and he has instructed me to answer you on his behalf.
The matters taken up by cable I will not go into again here in detail.
It has been a great source of satisfaction to him to receive here last winter two members of the National Body, Mr. and Mrs. John Ferraby, as well as more than one believer from England. The contact with the British Bahá’ís always pleases him greatly. As you know, he admires many of the staunch British qualities very much, and is proud of the accomplishments of this community during recent years.
He has been pleased over the progress made in the teaching field abroad and at home; in the publication of Bahá’í literature in African languages; and, above all, by the purchase of the National Headquarters in London, and the formal dedication of the building, recently held. He feels sure that, now that the National Assembly has a befitting seat for its national affairs—a building which at the same time will solve the problem of the London Spiritual Assembly, through giving them a meeting-place—the work in both London and throughout the country will receive a new impetus. With every important step forward there is a new release of spiritual energy; and the founding of the National Hazíratu’l-Quds is certainly a most important milestone in the progress of the Cause in the British Isles.
As regards various questions raised in your correspondence with him, he sees no reason why the Publishing Trust should have a separate legal status, as long as it is not essential for it to do so.
He approves of returning to Ronga as one of the languages into which Bahá’í literature should be translated, according to the provisions of the Ten Year Plan, and giving up Shangaan.
He would like very much to receive photostats of the actual Certificates of Incorporation issued to the London and Manchester and Liverpool Assemblies, to be placed in the Mansion of Bahá’u’lláh.
He does not think your Assembly need take any action about 350 removing archives or other material from London. If, at a future date, the world situation reaches the point where it is obvious that things in London are in great danger, then your Assembly should consider the matter. Fortunately, that is not the case at present.
Any monies received from the sale of the property bequeathed by Mrs. B … can be used by your Assembly as it sees fit.
As he already pointed out to the Secretary, when he was in Haifa, a National Endowment is at the present time to be considered more in the nature of a token endowment. It need not be in the capital, and can represent a very small investment; indeed as little as one thousand dollars, if a suitable piece of property for that price should be found, would be acceptable.
He was very sorry to hear of the tragic death of Mrs. Langdon-Davies. She was a capable, staunch and devoted member of the community and of the National Assembly as well; and her services will be missed by her co-workers, and particularly the friends in Oxford. He prays for the progress of her soul in the Abhá kingdom, and that she may be rewarded for her labours in this world, performed with so much zeal and steadfastness.
He hopes that Mr. John Mitchell’s condition has improved. He was very sorry indeed to hear that he had been forced to leave Malta. Please assure him of the Guardian’s loving and fervent prayers on his behalf.
As regards the question of Bahá’ís belonging to churches, synagogues, Freemasonry, etc., the friends must realise that now that the Faith is over a hundred years old, and its own institutions arising, so to speak, rapidly above-ground, the distinctions are becoming ever sharper, and the necessity for them to support whole-heartedly their own institutions and cut themselves off entirely from those of the past, is now clearer than ever before. The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focussed on us; and, as humanity’s plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Bahá’ís, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions whole-heartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary.
There is another aspect to this question which the friends should seriously ponder, and that is that, whereas organisations 351 such as Freemasonry may have been in the past entirely free from any political taint, in the state of flux the world is in at present, and the extraordinary way in which things become corrupted and tainted by political thought and influences, there is no guarantee that such an association might not gradually or suddenly become a political instrument. The less Bahá’ís have to do, therefore, with such things, the better.
He wishes you to thank … on his behalf for the spirit of devotion to the Faith which he has shown in connection with this matter. He feels sure that he will see the necessity to sever himself from his previous association with Freemasonry. The older Bahá’ís, through their example in such matters, form rallying points around which the younger Bahá’ís, not so steady yet on their spiritual legs, so to speak, can cluster.
If you send him five copies of everything published in the British Isles, it will be sufficient for the libraries here at the World Centre….
The Africa Committee should carefully consider such problems as that of the Negro pioneers being too long apart from their wives; and, if no other solution is feasible, the pioneer will have to return to his family. In the case of some of the very distinguished servants of the Faith who have arisen and gone forth from Uganda to pioneer, this would indeed be a loss to the work. If their wives could go and join them, it would naturally be preferable. This is a matter for the committee in consultation with your Assembly and the Hand of the Cause, Músá Banání, to decide.
Undoubtedly the most important task facing the British community at the present time, is to increase its membership. It has performed miracles during the past ten years, through shifting around devoted volunteers from one centre to another, in order to maintain or to create Spiritual Assemblies; but, efficacious as this has been in the past, it is certainly not a permanent solution to the problem. The only solution is to bring in more Bahá’ís. This requires patient, prayerful, ceaseless efforts on the part of, not only the Bahá’í teachers and pioneers, but every single member of the community. The British people are traditionally slow to move. Fortunately, once they do move, it’s almost impossible to stop them; but to overcome the inertia requires great effort. In bringing new people into the Faith, the 352 friends always come up against this problem. He urges all the Bahá’ís, however, not to become discouraged, but to persevere and redouble their efforts, knowing that they can and must succeed in the end. He, on his part, will reinforce their efforts with his prayers in the Holy Shrines….
As regards your question about depleted Assemblies, as there is nothing in the constitution of the National Spiritual Assembly covering these matters, every National Body is free to make its own decision as to what the status of an Assembly is from one annual election to the next, if they fall below nine for any reason.
As regards certain matters raised in your recent letters:
Your Assembly is free to choose the place for the endowment for the East and Central N.S.A. if you feel Uganda inadvisable.
The delegates reaching the Conventions in Africa is a matter for each N.S.A., from whose area of jurisdiction they are elected, to arrange and provide financial help if needed.
A prisoner, showing sincere faith in the Cause, may be accepted as a Bahá’í on the same basis of investigating his qualifications as to belief as any other individual outside prison. Each case should be carefully considered on its own merits. Naturally, a person in confinement cannot be active in any community and administrative work. When he gets out, he becomes part of the community in which he resides. No new ruling is required in this matter. All other details in relation to prisoners can be decided by the N.S.A. concerned as they arise.
The Guardian feels that, though it is naturally preferable, it is not essential for consolidation territories to have a group by Riḍván, 1956….
[From the Guardian:]
Dear and valued co-workers,
The contribution made, since the inception of the world-wide Bahá’í Crusade, severally as well as collectively, by the assiduously striving, clear-visioned, inflexibly resolved, and unswervingly faithful members of the British Bahá’í community to the progress and development of the Ten Year Plan, inaugurated on the morrow of the centenary celebration of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh’s Mission, has been such as to excite the heartfelt admiration of their fellow-workers in every continent of the globe. The prestige of this valiant community has soared rapidly, its annals have been notably enriched, the foundations on which its fortunes now rest have been considerably reinforced, 353 whilst the variety and solidity of its administrative achievements have won the unstinted praise of its sister communities in both the East and the West. My own feelings of unqualified admiration for the tenacity of the faith of its members, for their unrelaxing vigilance, their unfailing sense of responsibility and their willingness to sacrifice in order to meet any challenges that confront them, have deepened with every advance they have made, and every victory they have won along the path leading them towards the fulfilment of their destiny.
The historic triumph achieved as a result of the successful prosecution of the Six Year Plan, spontaneously embarked upon by this numerically small yet richly endowed, spiritually resourceful community, on the morrow of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, followed immediately by the initiation of a Two Year Plan which marked the inauguration of this community’s Mission beyond the confines of its homeland, culminated in the formal association of its members with their brethren in every continent of the globe for the launching and prosecution of a decade-long world-embracing crusade, destined to carry that same community through yet another stage, of the utmost significance, in the fulfilment of its world-wide and glorious mission among the widely scattered territories of the British Crown in no less than three continents of the globe.
The extension and consolidation, in the course of more than a decade, of the administrative base established so painstakingly for the prosecution of this community’s far-flung mission, through the formation and multiplication of isolated centres, groups and local assemblies throughout the length and breadth of England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire; the opening of the virgin islands lying in the neighbourhood of these territories and forming a part of the British Isles, constituting a most welcome and much needed reinforcement of the Administrative Structure raised so valiantly and patiently by its members in their island home; the magnificent success surpassing, in its quality and scope, the fondest expectations of the elected representatives of this community, which attended the spiritual conquest of a number of African territories, situated along the Western and Eastern shores of that continent and its very heart; the settlement of pioneers in two Mediterranean islands; the selection and purchase of a befitting national administrative headquarters situated close to the heart of the capital city of the British Empire; the acquisition of a plot in the outskirts of the capital city of Uganda, situated in the heart of the African continent, to serve as the site for a future Bahá’í House of 354 Worship; the rapid advancement in the translation and publication of Bahá’í literature in the thirty-one African languages, allotted, under the Ten Year Plan to the elected national representatives of this same community; the steady progress made more recently in the incorporation of firmly established local assemblies; the formation of the Israel Branch of the British National Assembly at the world centre of the Faith in Israel—these stand out as the most prominent and significant evidences of the uninterrupted development of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh under the wise leadership, and through the assiduous and incessant exertions, of the elected national representatives of this virile community.
The year that has recently opened, constituting the second and last year of the second phase of a Ten-Year global crusade, must witness a development and consolidation of the activities already initiated, in both the teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá’í endeavour, as swift and as notable as the progress already achieved in recent years. Time is indeed short. The responsibilities shouldered by the members of this community are manifold, pressing, sacred and inescapable. The eyes of the entire Bahá’í world are upon them, eager and expectant to witness feats as superb as those that have marked the birth and establishment of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the British Isles, and exploits as meritorious and significant as those that have accompanied the inception and progress of the mission entrusted to His British followers, on the morrow of the emergence of that Administrative Order in their homeland.
The process aiming at the rapid increase in the number of the avowed and active supporters of the Faith must continue unabated in the months immediately ahead. A simultaneous multiplication in the number of isolated centres, groups and local assemblies must be ensured in order to reinforce the agencies on which the rising administrative structure of the Faith must ultimately rest. The process of incorporation must likewise be strenuously stimulated for the purpose of strengthening legally, and enhancing the prestige of, these rising institutions. The newly opened territories forming part of the British Isles, situated in the Mediterranean, in the Atlantic Ocean, along the western and eastern coasts of Africa, and in its very heart, must be continually reinforced, and the prizes won in those distant fields safeguarded, however great the sacrifice involved. The establishment of national Bahá’í endowments in the British Isles is yet another task which, ere the termination of the current year, must be accomplished, as a prelude 355 to the establishment of a similar endowment in the continent of Africa following the emergence of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Central and East Africa.
Above all, the most careful consideration should be given to the measures required to ensure the emergence of the afore-mentioned National Assembly in the heart of the African continent, marking the culmination of the efforts so diligently exerted, and the fruition of the enterprises so painstakingly inaugurated, since the formation of the Two Year Plan by the British Bahá’í community.
The emergence of this institution, signalising the erection of yet another pillar of the Universal House of Justice in the African continent, and constituting the first fruit, yielded on foreign soil, of the Mission entrusted to the British followers of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and which may be hailed as a worthy counterpart of the central Administrative Institution established, on the morrow of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Passing, in the heart of the British Isles, will be acclaimed by posterity as a milestone of far-reaching significance in British Bahá’í history. It will proclaim to the entire Bahá’í world the maturity of the swiftly rising, highly promising, steadily consolidating British Bahá’í community. Every British follower of the Faith, whether in his home islands or overseas, must feel proud and deeply grateful for the impending consummation of so superb and momentous a victory. Every energy must be lent to ensure a befitting celebration of such an enduring and magnificent achievement.
The efforts of the members of this community must indeed be redoubled, nay trebled, as they view with afflicted hearts the tragic trend of events transpiring with such dramatic and sudden swiftness in Bahá’u’lláh’s native land. The tribulations suffered, over so wide a field, by so many of their co-religionists, under circumstances so appalling and harrowing in their nature, at the hands of redoubtable, pitiless, barbarous adversaries, should spur them on to still greater endeavours in a land blessed with freedom of religion and tolerance, and occupying so conspicuous a position among its sister nations.
Theirs is an opportunity which they must instantly grasp. Theirs is a responsibility which they cannot escape. Theirs is the duty to offset, by the quality of their achievements, the dire losses which are now being sustained in the cradle of the Faith. That they may in every field and at all times discharge their heavy responsibilities is my constant prayer and dearest hope.
Shoghi 356