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Title: The Advent of Divine Justice
Author: Shoghi Effendi, 1897-1957
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The Advent of Divine Justice


by Shoghi Effendi



Edition 1, (September 2006)



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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
“To the beloved of God and the handmaids of the Merciful ...”
“Dearly beloved friends! Great as is my love and admiration ...”
“Dearly beloved friends! I have attempted, in the beginning ...”
“Such, dearly beloved friends, is the vista that stretches ...”
“One more word in conclusion. Among some of the ...”



“TO THE BELOVED OF GOD AND THE HANDMAIDS OF THE MERCIFUL ...”


To the beloved of God and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the
United States and Canada.

Best-beloved brothers and sisters in the love of Bahá’u’lláh:

It would be difficult indeed to adequately express the feelings of
irrepressible joy and exultation that flood my heart every time I pause to
contemplate the ceaseless evidences of the dynamic energy which animates
the stalwart pioneers of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh in the execution
of the Plan committed to their charge. The signature of the contract, by
your elected national representatives, signalizing the opening of the
final phase of the greatest enterprise ever launched by the followers of
the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in the West, no less than the extremely
heartening progress recorded in the successive reports of their National
Teaching Committee, attest, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the fidelity,
the vigor, and the thoroughness with which you are conducting the manifold
operations which the evolution of the Seven Year Plan must necessarily
involve. In both of its aspects, and in all its details, it is being
prosecuted with exemplary regularity and precision, with undiminished
efficiency, and commendable dispatch.

The resourcefulness which the national representatives of the American
believers have, in recent months, so strikingly demonstrated, as evidenced
by the successive measures they have adopted, has been matched by the
loyal, the unquestioning and generous support accorded them by all those
whom they represent, at every critical stage, and with every fresh
advance, in the discharge of their sacred duties. Such close interaction,
such complete cohesion, such continual harmony and fellowship between the
various agencies that contribute to the organic life, and constitute the
basic framework, of every properly functioning Bahá’í community, is a
phenomenon which offers a striking contrast to the disruptive tendencies
which the discordant elements of present-day society so tragically
manifest. Whereas every apparent trial with which the unfathomable wisdom
of the Almighty deems it necessary to afflict His chosen community serves
only to demonstrate afresh its essential solidarity and to consolidate its
inward strength, each of the successive crises in the fortunes of a
decadent age exposes more convincingly than the one preceding it the
corrosive influences that are fast sapping the vitality and undermining
the basis of its declining institutions.

For such demonstrations of the interpositions of an ever-watchful
Providence they who stand identified with the Community of the Most Great
Name must feel eternally grateful. From every fresh token of His unfailing
blessing on the one hand, and of His visitation on the other, they cannot
but derive immense hope and courage. Alert to seize every opportunity
which the revolutions of the wheel of destiny within their Faith offers
them, and undismayed by the prospect of spasmodic convulsions that must
sooner or later fatally affect those who have refused to embrace its
light, they, and those who will labor after them, must press forward until
the processes now set in motion will have each spent its force and
contributed its share towards the birth of the Order now stirring in the
womb of a travailing age.

These recurrent crises which, with ominous frequency and resistless force,
are afflicting an ever-increasing portion of the human race must of
necessity continue, however impermanently, to exercise, in a certain
measure, their baleful influence upon a world community which has spread
its ramifications to the uttermost ends of the earth. How can the
beginnings of a world upheaval, unleashing forces that are so gravely
deranging the social, the religious, the political, and the economic
equilibrium of organized society, throwing into chaos and confusion
political systems, racial doctrines, social conceptions, cultural
standards, religious associations, and trade relationships—how can such
agitations, on a scale so vast, so unprecedented, fail to produce any
repercussions on the institutions of a Faith of such tender age whose
teachings have a direct and vital bearing on each of these spheres of
human life and conduct?

Little wonder, therefore, if they who are holding aloft the banner of so
pervasive a Faith, so challenging a Cause, find themselves affected by the
impact of these world-shaking forces. Little wonder if they find that in
the midst of this whirlpool of contending passions their freedom has been
curtailed, their tenets contemned, their institutions assaulted, their
motives maligned, their authority jeopardized, their claim rejected.

In the heart of the European continent a community which, as predicted by
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, is destined, by virtue of its spiritual potentialities and
geographical situation, to radiate the splendor of the light of the Faith
on the countries that surround it, has been momentarily eclipsed through
the restrictions which a regime that has sorely misapprehended its purpose
and function has chosen to impose upon it. Its voice, alas, is now
silenced, its institutions dissolved, its literature banned, its archives
confiscated, and its meetings suspended.

In central Asia, in the city enjoying the unique distinction of having
been chosen by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the home of the first Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár
of the Bahá’í world, as well as in the towns and villages of the province
to which it belongs, the sore-pressed Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, as a result of
the extraordinary and unique vitality which, in the course of several
decades, it has consistently manifested, finds itself at the mercy of
forces which, alarmed at its rising power, are now bent on reducing it to
utter impotence. Its Temple, though still used for purposes of Bahá’í
worship, has been expropriated, its Assemblies and committees disbanded,
its teaching activities crippled, its chief promoters deported, and not a
few of its most enthusiastic supporters, both men and women, imprisoned.

In the land of its birth, wherein reside the immense majority of its
followers—a country whose capital has been hailed by Bahá’u’lláh as the
“mother of the world” and the “dayspring of the joy of mankind”—a civil
authority, as yet undivorced officially from the paralyzing influences of
an antiquated, a fanatical, and outrageously corrupt clergy, pursues
relentlessly its campaign of repression against the adherents of a Faith
which it has for well-nigh a century striven unsuccessfully to suppress.
Indifferent to the truth that the members of this innocent and proscribed
community can justly claim to rank as among the most disinterested, the
most competent, and the most ardent lovers of their native land,
contemptuous of their high sense of world citizenship which the advocates
of an excessive and narrow nationalism can never hope to appreciate, such
an authority refuses to grant to a Faith which extends its spiritual
jurisdiction over well-nigh six hundred local communities, and which
numerically outnumbers the adherents of either the Christian, the Jewish,
or the Zoroastrian Faiths in that land, the necessary legal right to
enforce its laws, to administer its affairs, to conduct its schools, to
celebrate its festivals, to circulate its literature, to solemnize its
rites, to erect its edifices, and to safeguard its endowments.

And now recently in the Holy Land itself, the heart and nerve-center of a
world-embracing Faith, the fires of racial animosity, of fratricidal
strife, of unabashed terrorism, have lit a conflagration that gravely
interferes, on the one hand, with that flow of pilgrims that constitutes
the lifeblood of that center, and suspends, on the other, the various
projects that had been initiated in connection with the preservation and
extension of the areas surrounding the sacred Spots it enshrines. The
safety of the small community of resident believers, faced by the rising
tide of lawlessness, has been imperiled, its status as a neutral and
distinct community indirectly challenged, and its freedom to carry out
certain of its observances curtailed. A series of murderous assaults,
alternating with outbursts of bitter fanaticism, both racial and
religious, involving the leaders as well as the followers of the three
leading Faiths in that distracted country, have, at times, threatened to
sever all normal communications both within its confines as well as with
the outside world. Perilous though the situation has been, the Bahá’í Holy
Places, the object of the adoration of a world-encircling Faith, have,
notwithstanding their number and exposed position, and though to outward
seeming deprived of any means of protection, been vouchsafed a
preservation little short of miraculous.

A world, torn with conflicting passions, and perilously disintegrating
from within, finds itself confronted, at so crucial an epoch in its
history, by the rising fortunes of an infant Faith, a Faith that, at
times, seems to be drawn into its controversies, entangled by its
conflicts, eclipsed by its gathering shadows, and overpowered by the
mounting tide of its passions. In its very heart, within its cradle, at
the seat of its first and venerable Temple, in one of its hitherto
flourishing and potentially powerful centers, the as-yet unemancipated
Faith of Bahá’u’lláh seems indeed to have retreated before the onrushing
forces of violence and disorder to which humanity is steadily falling a
victim. The strongholds of such a Faith, one by one and day after day, are
to outward seeming being successively isolated, assaulted and captured. As
the lights of liberty flicker and go out, as the din of discord grows
louder and louder every day, as the fires of fanaticism flame with
increasing fierceness in the breasts of men, as the chill of irreligion
creeps relentlessly over the soul of mankind, the limbs and organs that
constitute the body of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh appear, in varying
measure, to have become afflicted with the crippling influences that now
hold in their grip the whole of the civilized world.

How clearly and strikingly the following words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are being
demonstrated at this hour: “The darkness of error that has enveloped the
East and the West is, in this most great cycle, battling with the light of
Divine Guidance. Its swords and its spears are very sharp and pointed; its
army keenly bloodthirsty.” “This day,” He, in another passage has written,
“the powers of all the leaders of religion are directed towards the
dispersion of the congregation of the All-Merciful, and the shattering of
the Divine Edifice. The hosts of the world, whether material, cultural or
political are from every side launching their assault, for the Cause is
great, very great. Its greatness is, in this day, clear and manifest to
men’s eyes.”

The one chief remaining citadel, the mighty arm which still raises aloft
the standard of an unconquerable Faith, is none other than the blessed
community of the followers of the Most Great Name in the North American
continent. By its works, and through the unfailing protection vouchsafed
to it by an almighty Providence, this distinguished member of the body of
the constantly interacting Bahá’í communities of East and West, bids fair
to be universally regarded as the cradle, as well as the stronghold, of
that future New World Order, which is at once the promise and the glory of
the Dispensation associated with the name of Bahá’u’lláh.

Let anyone inclined to either belittle the unique station conferred upon
this community, or to question the role it will be called upon to play in
the days to come, ponder the implication of these pregnant and highly
illuminating words uttered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and addressed to it at a time
when the fortunes of a world groaning beneath the burden of a devastating
war had reached their lowest ebb. “The continent of America,” He so
significantly wrote, “is, in the eyes of the one true God, the land
wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, where the mysteries
of His Faith shall be unveiled, where the righteous will abide, and the
free assemble.”

Already, the community of the believers of the North American continent—at
once the prime mover and pattern of the future communities which the Faith
of Bahá’u’lláh is destined to raise up throughout the length and breadth
of the Western Hemisphere—has, despite the prevailing gloom, shown its
capacity to be recognized as the torchbearer of that light, the repository
of those mysteries, the exponent of that righteousness and the sanctuary
of that freedom. To what other light can these above-quoted words possibly
allude, if not to the light of the glory of the Golden Age of the Faith of
Bahá’u’lláh? What mysteries could ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have contemplated except
the mysteries of that embryonic World Order now evolving within the matrix
of His Administration? What righteousness if not the righteousness whose
reign that Age and that Order can alone establish? What freedom but the
freedom which the proclamation of His sovereignty in the fullness of time
must bestow?

The community of the organized promoters of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in
the American continent—the spiritual descendants of the dawn-breakers of
an heroic Age, who by their death proclaimed the birth of that Faith—must,
in turn, usher in, not by their death but through living sacrifice, that
promised World Order, the shell ordained to enshrine that priceless jewel,
the world civilization, of which the Faith itself is the sole begetter.
While its sister communities are bending beneath the tempestuous winds
that beat upon them from every side, this community, preserved by the
immutable decrees of the omnipotent Ordainer and deriving continual
sustenance from the mandate with which the Tablets of the Divine Plan have
invested it, is now busily engaged in laying the foundations and in
fostering the growth of those institutions which are to herald the
approach of the Age destined to witness the birth and rise of the World
Order of Bahá’u’lláh.

A community, relatively negligible in its numerical strength; separated by
vast distances from both the focal-center of its Faith and the land
wherein the preponderating mass of its fellow-believers reside; bereft in
the main of material resources and lacking in experience and in
prominence; ignorant of the beliefs, concepts and habits of those peoples
and races from which its spiritual Founders have sprung; wholly unfamiliar
with the languages in which its sacred Books were originally revealed;
constrained to place its sole reliance upon an inadequate rendering of
only a fragmentary portion of the literature embodying its laws, its
tenets, and its history; subjected from its infancy to tests of extreme
severity, involving, at times, the defection of some of its most prominent
members; having to contend, ever since its inception, and in an
ever-increasing measure, with the forces of corruption, of moral laxity,
and ingrained prejudice—such a community, in less than half a century, and
unaided by any of its sister communities, whether in the East or in the
West, has, by virtue of the celestial potency with which an all-loving
Master has abundantly endowed it, lent an impetus to the onward march of
the Cause it has espoused which the combined achievements of its
coreligionists in the West have failed to rival.

What other community, it can confidently be asked, has been instrumental
in fixing the pattern, and in imparting the original impulse, to those
administrative institutions that constitute the vanguard of the World
Order of Bahá’u’lláh? What other community has been capable of
demonstrating, with such consistency, the resourcefulness, the discipline,
the iron determination, the zeal and perseverance, the devotion and
fidelity, so indispensable to the erection and the continued extension of
the framework within which those nascent institutions can alone multiply
and mature? What other community has proved itself to be fired by so noble
a vision, or willing to rise to such heights of self-sacrifice, or ready
to achieve so great a measure of solidarity, as to be able to raise, in so
short a time and in the course of such crucial years, an edifice that can
well deserve to be regarded as the greatest contribution ever made by the
West to the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh? What other community can justifiably lay
claim to have succeeded, through the unsupported efforts of one of its
humble members, in securing the spontaneous allegiance of Royalty to its
Cause, and in winning such marvelous and written testimonies to its truth?
What other community has shown the foresight, the organizing ability, the
enthusiastic eagerness, that have been responsible for the establishment
and multiplication, throughout its territory, of those initial schools
which, as time goes by, will, on the one hand, evolve into powerful
centers of Bahá’í learning, and, on the other, provide a fertile
recruiting ground for the enrichment and consolidation of its teaching
force? What other community has produced pioneers combining to such a
degree the essential qualities of audacity, of consecration, of tenacity,
of self-renunciation, and unstinted devotion, that have prompted them to
abandon their homes, and forsake their all, and scatter over the surface
of the globe, and hoist in its uttermost corners the triumphant banner of
Bahá’u’lláh? Who else but the members of this community have won the
eternal distinction of being the first to raise the call of Yá
Bahá’u’l-Abhá in such highly important and widely scattered centers and
territories as the hearts of both the British and French empires, Germany,
the Far East, the Balkan States, the Scandinavian countries, Latin
America, the Islands of the Pacific, South Africa, Australia and New
Zealand, and now more recently the Baltic States? Who else but those same
pioneers have shown themselves ready to undertake the labor, to exercise
the patience, and to provide the funds, required for the translation and
publication, in no less than forty languages, of their sacred literature,
the dissemination of which is an essential prerequisite to any effectively
organized campaign of teaching? What other community can lay claim to have
had a decisive share in the worldwide efforts that have been exerted for
the safeguarding and the extension of the immediate surroundings of its
holy shrines, as well as for the preliminary acquisition of the future
sites of its international institutions at its world center? What other
community can to its eternal credit claim to have been the first to frame
its national and local constitutions, thereby laying down the fundamental
lines of the twin charters designed to regulate the activities, define the
functions, and safeguard the rights, of its institutions? What other
community can boast of having simultaneously acquired and legally secured
the basis of its national endowments, thus paving the way for a similar
action on the part of its local communities? What other community has
achieved the supreme distinction of having obtained, long before any of
its sister communities had envisaged such a possibility, the necessary
documents assuring the recognition, by both the federal and state
authorities, of its Spiritual Assemblies and national endowments? And
finally what other community has had the privilege, and been granted the
means, to succor the needy, to plead the cause of the downtrodden, and to
intervene so energetically for the safeguarding of Bahá’í edifices and
institutions in countries such as Persia, Egypt, ‘Iráq, Russia, and
Germany, where, at various times, its fellow-believers have had to suffer
the rigors of both religious and racial persecution?

Such a matchless and brilliant record of service, extending over a period
of well-nigh twenty years, and so closely interwoven with the interest and
fortunes of such a large section of the worldwide Bahá’í community,
deserves to rank as a memorable chapter in the history of the Formative
Period of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Reinforced and enriched as it is by
the memory of the American believers’ earlier achievements, such a record
is in itself convincing testimony to their ability to befittingly shoulder
the responsibilities which any task may impose upon them in the future. To
overrate the significance of these manifold services would be well-nigh
impossible. To appraise correctly their value, and dilate on their merits
and immediate consequences, is a task which only a future Bahá’í historian
can properly discharge. I can only for the present place on record my
profound conviction that a community capable of showing forth such deeds,
of evincing such a spirit, of rising to such heights, cannot but be
already possessed of such potentialities as will enable it to vindicate,
in the fullness of time, its right to be acclaimed as the chief creator
and champion of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh.

Magnificent as has been this record, reminiscent as it is, in some of its
aspects, of the exploits with which the dawn-breakers of an heroic Age
have proclaimed the birth of the Faith itself, the task associated with
the name of this privileged community is, far from approaching its climax,
only beginning to unfold. What the American believers have, within the
space of almost fifty years, achieved is infinitesimal when compared to
the magnitude of the tasks ahead of them. The rumblings of that
catastrophic upheaval, which is to proclaim, at one and the same time, the
death-pangs of the old order and the birth-pangs of the new, indicate both
the steady approach, as well as the awe-inspiring character, of those
tasks.

The virtual establishment of the Administrative Order of their Faith, the
erection of its framework, the fashioning of its instruments, and the
consolidation of its subsidiary institutions, was the first task committed
to their charge, as an organized community called into being by the Will,
and under the instructions, of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Of this initial task they
have acquitted themselves with marvelous promptitude, fidelity, and vigor.
No sooner had they created and correlated the various and necessary
agencies for the efficient conduct of any policy they might subsequently
wish to initiate, than they addressed themselves, with equal zest and
consecration, to the next more arduous task of erecting the superstructure
of an edifice the cornerstone of which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself had laid. And
when that feat was achieved, this community, alive to the passionate
pleas, exhortations, and promises recorded in the Tablets of the Divine
Plan, resolved to undertake yet another task, which in its scope and
spiritual potentialities is sure to outshine any of the works they have
already accomplished. Launching with unquenchable enthusiasm and dauntless
courage the Seven Year Plan, as the first and practical step towards the
fulfillment of the mission prescribed in those epoch-making Tablets, they
entered, with a spirit of renewed consecration, upon their dual task, the
consummation of which, it is hoped, will synchronize with the celebration
of the centenary of the birth of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Well aware that
every advance made in the external ornamentation of their majestic edifice
would directly react on the progress of the teaching campaign initiated by
them in both the northern and southern American continents, and realizing
that every victory gained in the teaching field would, in its turn,
facilitate the work, and hasten the completion, of their Temple, they are
now pressing on, with courage and faith, in their efforts to discharge, in
both of its phases, their obligations under the Plan they have dedicated
themselves to execute.

Let them not, however, imagine that the carrying out of the Seven Year
Plan, coinciding as it does with the termination of the first century of
the Bahá’í era, signifies either the termination of, or even an
interruption in, the work which the unerring Hand of the Almighty is
directing them to perform. The opening of the second century of the Bahá’í
era must needs disclose greater vistas, usher in further stages, and
witness the initiation of plans more far-reaching than any as yet
conceived. The Plan on which is now focused the attention, the
aspirations, and the resources of the entire community of the American
believers should be viewed as a mere beginning, as a trial of strength, a
stepping-stone to a crusade of still greater magnitude, if the duties and
responsibilities with which the Author of the Divine Plan has invested
them are to be honorably and entirely fulfilled.

For the consummation of the present Plan can result in no more than the
formation of at least one center in each of the Republics of the Western
Hemisphere, whereas the duties prescribed in those Tablets call for a
wider diffusion, and imply the scattering of a far greater and more
representative number of the members of the North American Bahá’í
community over the entire surface of the New World. It is the undoubted
mission of the American believers, therefore, to carry forward into the
second century the glorious work initiated in the closing years of the
first. Not until they have played their part in guiding the activities of
these isolated and newly fledged centers, and in fostering their capacity
to initiate in their turn institutions, both local and national, modeled
on their own, can they be satisfied to have adequately discharged their
immediate obligations under ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s divinely revealed Plan.

Nor should it for a moment be supposed that the completion of a task which
aims at the multiplication of Bahá’í centers and the provision of the
assistance and guidance necessary for the establishment of the
Administrative Order of the Bahá’í Faith in the countries of Latin America
realizes in its entirety the scheme visualized for them by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. A
perusal, however perfunctory, of those Tablets embodying His Plan will
instantly reveal a scope for their activities that stretches far beyond
the confines of the Western Hemisphere. With their inter-American tasks
and responsibilities virtually discharged, their intercontinental mission
enters upon its most glorious and decisive phase. “The moment this Divine
Message,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself has written, “is carried forward by the
American believers from the shores of America and is propagated through
the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa, and of Australasia, and as
far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will find itself
securely established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.”

And who knows but that when this colossal task has been accomplished a
greater, a still more superb mission, incomparable in its splendor, and
foreordained for them by Bahá’u’lláh, may not be thrust upon them? The
glories of such a mission are of such dazzling splendor, the circumstances
attending it so remote, and the contemporary events with the culmination
of which it is so closely knit in such a state of flux, that it would be
premature to attempt, at the present time, any accurate delineation of its
features. Suffice it to say that out of the turmoil and tribulations of
these “latter years” opportunities undreamt of will be born, and
circumstances unpredictable created, that will enable, nay impel, the
victorious prosecutors of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Plan, to add, through the part
they will play in the unrolling of the New World Order, fresh laurels to
the crown of their servitude to the threshold of Bahá’u’lláh.

Nor should any of the manifold opportunities, of a totally different
order, be allowed to pass unnoticed which the evolution of the Faith
itself, whether at its world center, or in the North American continent,
or even in the most outlying regions of the earth, must create, calling
once again upon the American believers to play a part, no less conspicuous
than the share they have previously had in their collective contributions
to the propagation of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh. I can only for the moment
cite at random certain of these opportunities which stand out
preeminently, in any attempt to survey the possibilities of the future:
The election of the International House of Justice and its establishment
in the Holy Land, the spiritual and administrative center of the Bahá’í
world, together with the formation of its auxiliary branches and
subsidiary institutions; the gradual erection of the various dependencies
of the first Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár of the West, and the intricate issues
involving the establishment and the extension of the structural basis of
Bahá’í community life; the codification and promulgation of the ordinances
of the Most Holy Book, necessitating the formation, in certain countries
of the East, of properly constituted and officially recognized courts of
Bahá’í law; the building of the third Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár of the Bahá’í
world in the outskirts of the city of Ṭihrán, to be followed by the rise
of a similar House of Worship in the Holy Land itself; the deliverance of
Bahá’í communities from the fetters of religious orthodoxy in such Islamic
countries as Persia, ‘Iráq, and Egypt, and the consequent recognition, by
the civil authorities in those states, of the independent status and
religious character of Bahá’í National and Local Assemblies; the
precautionary and defensive measures to be devised, coordinated, and
carried out to counteract the full force of the inescapable attacks which
the organized efforts of ecclesiastical organizations of various
denominations will progressively launch and relentlessly pursue; and, last
but not least, the multitudinous issues that must be faced, the obstacles
that must be overcome, and the responsibilities that must be assumed, to
enable a sore-tried Faith to pass through the successive stages of
unmitigated obscurity, of active repression, and of complete emancipation,
leading in turn to its being acknowledged as an independent Faith,
enjoying the status of full equality with its sister religions, to be
followed by its establishment and recognition as a State religion, which
in turn must give way to its assumption of the rights and prerogatives
associated with the Bahá’í state, functioning in the plenitude of its
powers, a stage which must ultimately culminate in the emergence of the
worldwide Bahá’í Commonwealth, animated wholly by the spirit, and
operating solely in direct conformity with the laws and principles of
Bahá’u’lláh.

The challenge offered by these opportunities the American believers, I
feel confident, will, in addition to their answer to the teaching call
voiced by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His Tablets, unhesitatingly take up, and will,
with their traditional fearlessness, tenacity, and efficiency, so respond
to it as to confirm, before all the world, their title and rank as the
champion-builders of the mightiest institutions of the Faith of
Bahá’u’lláh.

Dearly beloved friends! Though the task be long and arduous, yet the prize
which the All-Bountiful Bestower has chosen to confer upon you is of such
preciousness that neither tongue nor pen can befittingly appraise it.
Though the goal towards which you are now so strenuously striving be
distant, and as yet undisclosed to men’s eyes, yet its promise lies firmly
embedded in the authoritative and unalterable utterances of Bahá’u’lláh.
Though the course He has traced for you seems, at times, lost in the
threatening shadows with which a stricken humanity is now enveloped, yet
the unfailing light He has caused to shine continually upon you is of such
brightness that no earthly dusk can ever eclipse its splendor. Though
small in numbers, and circumscribed as yet in your experiences, powers,
and resources, yet the Force which energizes your mission is limitless in
its range and incalculable in its potency. Though the enemies which every
acceleration in the progress of your mission must raise up be fierce,
numerous, and unrelenting, yet the invisible Hosts which, if you
persevere, must, as promised, rush forth to your aid, will, in the end,
enable you to vanquish their hopes and annihilate their forces. Though the
ultimate blessings that must crown the consummation of your mission be
undoubted, and the Divine promises given you firm and irrevocable, yet the
measure of the goodly reward which every one of you is to reap must depend
on the extent to which your daily exertions will have contributed to the
expansion of that mission and the hastening of its triumph.



“DEARLY BELOVED FRIENDS! GREAT AS IS MY LOVE AND ADMIRATION ...”


Dearly beloved friends! Great as is my love and admiration for you,
convinced as I am of the paramount share which you can, and will,
undoubtedly have in both the continental and international spheres of
future Bahá’í activity and service, I feel it nevertheless incumbent upon
me to utter, at this juncture, a word of warning. The glowing tributes, so
repeatedly and deservedly paid to the capacity, the spirit, the conduct,
and the high rank, of the American believers, both individually and as an
organic community, must, under no circumstances, be confounded with the
characteristics and nature of the people from which God has raised them
up. A sharp distinction between that community and that people must be
made, and resolutely and fearlessly upheld, if we wish to give due
recognition to the transmuting power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, in its
impact on the lives and standards of those who have chosen to enlist under
His banner. Otherwise, the supreme and distinguishing function of His
Revelation, which is none other than the calling into being of a new race
of men, will remain wholly unrecognized and completely obscured.

How often have the Prophets of God, not excepting Bahá’u’lláh Himself,
chosen to appear, and deliver their Message in countries and amidst
peoples and races, at a time when they were either fast declining, or had
already touched the lowest depths of moral and spiritual degradation. The
appalling misery and wretchedness to which the Israelites had sunk, under
the debasing and tyrannical rule of the Pharaohs, in the days preceding
their exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses; the decline that
had set in in the religious, the spiritual, the cultural, and the moral
life of the Jewish people, at the time of the appearance of Jesus Christ;
the barbarous cruelty, the gross idolatry and immorality, which had for so
long been the most distressing features of the tribes of Arabia and
brought such shame upon them when Muḥammad arose to proclaim His Message
in their midst; the indescribable state of decadence, with its attendant
corruption, confusion, intolerance, and oppression, in both the civil and
religious life of Persia, so graphically portrayed by the pen of a
considerable number of scholars, diplomats, and travelers, at the hour of
the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh—all demonstrate this basic and inescapable
fact. To contend that the innate worthiness, the high moral standard, the
political aptitude, and social attainments of any race or nation is the
reason for the appearance in its midst of any of these Divine Luminaries
would be an absolute perversion of historical facts, and would amount to a
complete repudiation of the undoubted interpretation placed upon them, so
clearly and emphatically, by both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

How great, then, must be the challenge to those who, belonging to such
races and nations, and having responded to the call which these Prophets
have raised, to unreservedly recognize and courageously testify to this
indubitable truth, that not by reason of any racial superiority, political
capacity, or spiritual virtue which a race or nation might possess, but
rather as a direct consequence of its crying needs, its lamentable
degeneracy, and irremediable perversity, has the Prophet of God chosen to
appear in its midst, and with it as a lever has lifted the entire human
race to a higher and nobler plane of life and conduct. For it is precisely
under such circumstances, and by such means that the Prophets have, from
time immemorial, chosen and were able to demonstrate their redemptive
power to raise from the depths of abasement and of misery, the people of
their own race and nation, empowering them to transmit in turn to other
races and nations the saving grace and the energizing influence of their
Revelation.

In the light of this fundamental principle it should always be borne in
mind, nor can it be sufficiently emphasized, that the primary reason why
the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh chose to appear in Persia, and to make it the
first repository of their Revelation, was because, of all the peoples and
nations of the civilized world, that race and nation had, as so often
depicted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, sunk to such ignominious depths, and manifested
so great a perversity, as to find no parallel among its contemporaries.
For no more convincing proof could be adduced demonstrating the
regenerating spirit animating the Revelations proclaimed by the Báb and
Bahá’u’lláh than their power to transform what can be truly regarded as
one of the most backward, the most cowardly, and perverse of peoples into
a race of heroes, fit to effect in turn a similar revolution in the life
of mankind. To have appeared among a race or nation which by its intrinsic
worth and high attainments seemed to warrant the inestimable privilege of
being made the receptacle of such a Revelation would in the eyes of an
unbelieving world greatly reduce the efficacy of that Message, and detract
from the self-sufficiency of its omnipotent power. The contrast so
strikingly presented in the pages of Nabíl’s Narrative between the heroism
that immortalized the life and deeds of the Dawn-Breakers and the
degeneracy and cowardice of their defamers and persecutors is in itself a
most impressive testimony to the truth of the Message of Him Who had
instilled such a spirit into the breasts of His disciples. For any
believer of that race to maintain that the excellence of his country and
the innate nobility of its people were the fundamental reasons for its
being singled out as the primary receptacle of the Revelations of the Báb
and Bahá’u’lláh would be untenable in the face of the overwhelming
evidence afforded so convincingly by that Narrative.

To a lesser degree this principle must of necessity apply to the country
which has vindicated its right to be regarded as the cradle of the World
Order of Bahá’u’lláh. So great a function, so noble a role, can be
regarded as no less inferior to the part played by those immortal souls
who, through their sublime renunciation and unparalleled deeds, have been
responsible for the birth of the Faith itself. Let not, therefore, those
who are to participate so predominantly in the birth of that world
civilization, which is the direct offspring of their Faith, imagine for a
moment that for some mysterious purpose or by any reason of inherent
excellence or special merit Bahá’u’lláh has chosen to confer upon their
country and people so great and lasting a distinction. It is precisely by
reason of the patent evils which, notwithstanding its other admittedly
great characteristics and achievements, an excessive and binding
materialism has unfortunately engendered within it that the Author of
their Faith and the Center of His Covenant have singled it out to become
the standard-bearer of the New World Order envisaged in their writings. It
is by such means as this that Bahá’u’lláh can best demonstrate to a
heedless generation His almighty power to raise up from the very midst of
a people, immersed in a sea of materialism, a prey to one of the most
virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice, and notorious for
its political corruption, lawlessness and laxity in moral standards, men
and women who, as time goes by, will increasingly exemplify those
essential virtues of self-renunciation, of moral rectitude, of chastity,
of indiscriminating fellowship, of holy discipline, and of spiritual
insight that will fit them for the preponderating share they will have in
calling into being that World Order and that World Civilization of which
their country, no less than the entire human race, stands in desperate
need. Theirs will be the duty and privilege, in their capacity first as
the establishers of one of the most powerful pillars sustaining the
edifice of the Universal House of Justice, and then as the
champion-builders of that New World Order of which that House is to be the
nucleus and forerunner, to inculcate, demonstrate, and apply those twin
and sorely needed principles of Divine justice and order—principles to
which the political corruption and the moral license, increasingly
staining the society to which they belong, offer so sad and striking a
contrast.

Observations such as these, however distasteful and depressing they may
be, should not, in the least, blind us to those virtues and qualities of
high intelligence, of youthfulness, of unbounded initiative, and
enterprise which the nation as a whole so conspicuously displays, and
which are being increasingly reflected by the community of the believers
within it. Upon these virtues and qualities, no less than upon the
elimination of the evils referred to, must depend, to a very great extent,
the ability of that community to lay a firm foundation for the country’s
future role in ushering in the Golden Age of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.

How great, therefore, how staggering the responsibility that must weigh
upon the present generation of the American believers, at this early stage
in their spiritual and administrative evolution, to weed out, by every
means in their power, those faults, habits, and tendencies which they have
inherited from their own nation, and to cultivate, patiently and
prayerfully, those distinctive qualities and characteristics that are so
indispensable to their effective participation in the great redemptive
work of their Faith. Incapable as yet, in view of the restricted size of
their community and the limited influence it now wields, of producing any
marked effect on the great mass of their countrymen, let them focus their
attention, for the present, on their own selves, their own individual
needs, their own personal deficiencies and weaknesses, ever mindful that
every intensification of effort on their part will better equip them for
the time when they will be called upon to eradicate in their turn such
evil tendencies from the lives and the hearts of the entire body of their
fellow-citizens. Nor must they overlook the fact that the World Order,
whose basis they, as the advance-guard of the future Bahá’í generations of
their countrymen, are now laboring to establish, can never be reared
unless and until the generality of the people to which they belong has
been already purged from the divers ills, whether social or political,
that now so severely afflict it.

Surveying as a whole the most pressing needs of this community, attempting
to estimate the more serious deficiencies by which it is being handicapped
in the discharge of its task, and ever bearing in mind the nature of that
still greater task with which it will be forced to wrestle in the future,
I feel it my duty to lay special stress upon, and draw the special and
urgent attention of the entire body of the American believers, be they
young or old, white or colored, teachers or administrators, veterans or
newcomers, to what I firmly believe are the essential requirements for the
success of the tasks which are now claiming their undivided attention.
Great as is the importance of fashioning the outward instruments, and of
perfecting the administrative agencies, which they can utilize for the
prosecution of their dual task under the Seven Year Plan; vital and urgent
as are the campaigns which they are initiating, the schemes and projects
which they are devising, and the funds which they are raising, for the
efficient conduct of both the Teaching and Temple work, the imponderable,
the spiritual, factors, which are bound up with their own individual and
inner lives, and with which are associated their human and social
relationships, are no less urgent and vital, and demand constant scrutiny,
continual self-examination and heart-searching on their part, lest their
value be impaired or their vital necessity be obscured or forgotten.

Of these spiritual prerequisites of success, which constitute the bedrock
on which the security of all teaching plans, Temple projects, and
financial schemes, must ultimately rest, the following stand out as
preeminent and vital, which the members of the American Bahá’í community
will do well to ponder. Upon the extent to which these basic requirements
are met, and the manner in which the American believers fulfill them in
their individual lives, administrative activities, and social
relationships, must depend the measure of the manifold blessings which the
All-Bountiful Possessor can vouchsafe to them all. These requirements are
none other than a high sense of moral rectitude in their social and
administrative activities, absolute chastity in their individual lives,
and complete freedom from prejudice in their dealings with peoples of a
different race, class, creed, or color.

The first is specially, though not exclusively, directed to their elected
representatives, whether local, regional, or national, who, in their
capacity as the custodians and members of the nascent institutions of the
Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, are shouldering the chief responsibility in laying
an unassailable foundation for that Universal House of Justice which, as
its title implies, is to be the exponent and guardian of that Divine
Justice which can alone insure the security of, and establish the reign of
law and order in, a strangely disordered world. The second is mainly and
directly concerned with the Bahá’í youth, who can contribute so decisively
to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the
Bahá’í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its
destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God
has endowed it. The third should be the immediate, the universal, and the
chief concern of all and sundry members of the Bahá’í community, of
whatever age, rank, experience, class, or color, as all, with no
exception, must face its challenging implications, and none can claim,
however much he may have progressed along this line, to have completely
discharged the stern responsibilities which it inculcates.

A rectitude of conduct, an abiding sense of undeviating justice,
unobscured by the demoralizing influences which a corruption-ridden
political life so strikingly manifests; a chaste, pure, and holy life,
unsullied and unclouded by the indecencies, the vices, the false
standards, which an inherently deficient moral code tolerates,
perpetuates, and fosters; a fraternity freed from that cancerous growth of
racial prejudice, which is eating into the vitals of an already
debilitated society—these are the ideals which the American believers
must, from now on, individually and through concerted action, strive to
promote, in both their private and public lives, ideals which are the
chief propelling forces that can most effectively accelerate the march of
their institutions, plans, and enterprises, that can guard the honor and
integrity of their Faith, and subdue any obstacles that may confront it in
the future.

This rectitude of conduct, with its implications of justice, equity,
truthfulness, honesty, fair-mindedness, reliability, and trustworthiness,
must distinguish every phase of the life of the Bahá’í community. “The
companions of God,” Bahá’u’lláh Himself has declared, “are, in this day,
the lump that must leaven the peoples of the world. They must show forth
such trustworthiness, such truthfulness and perseverance, such deeds and
character that all mankind may profit by their example.” “I swear by Him
Who is the Most Great Ocean!” He again affirms, “Within the very breath of
such souls as are pure and sanctified far-reaching potentialities are
hidden. So great are these potentialities that they exercise their
influence upon all created things.” “He is the true servant of God,” He,
in another passage has written, “who, in this day, were he to pass through
cities of silver and gold, would not deign to look upon them, and whose
heart would remain pure and undefiled from whatever things can be seen in
this world, be they its goods or its treasures. I swear by the Sun of
Truth! The breath of such a man is endowed with potency, and his words
with attraction.” “By Him Who shineth above the Dayspring of sanctity!”
He, still more emphatically, has revealed, “If the whole earth were to be
converted into silver and gold, no man who can be said to have truly
ascended into the heaven of faith and certitude would deign to regard it,
much less to seize and keep it.... They who dwell within the Tabernacle of
God, and are established upon the seats of everlasting glory, will refuse,
though they be dying of hunger, to stretch their hands, and seize
unlawfully the property of their neighbor, however vile and worthless he
may be. The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to
summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and
trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the will of God, to
forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom. His object is to
array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, and to adorn him
with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds.” “We have admonished all the
loved ones of God,” He insists, “to take heed lest the hem of Our sacred
vesture be smirched with the mire of unlawful deeds, or be stained with
the dust of reprehensible conduct.” “Cleave unto righteousness, O people
of Bahá,” He thus exhorts them, “This, verily, is the commandment which
this wronged One hath given unto you, and the first choice of His
unrestrained will for every one of you.” “A good character,” He explains,
“is, verily, the best mantle for men from God. With it He adorneth the
temples of His loved ones. By My life! The light of a good character
surpasseth the light of the sun and the radiance thereof.” “One righteous
act,” He, again, has written, “is endowed with a potency that can so
elevate the dust as to cause it to pass beyond the heaven of heavens. It
can tear every bond asunder, and hath the power to restore the force that
hath spent itself and vanished.... Be pure, O people of God, be pure; be
righteous, be righteous.... Say: O people of God! That which can insure
the victory of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, His hosts and helpers on
earth, have been set down in the sacred Books and Scriptures, and are as
clear and manifest as the sun. These hosts are such righteous deeds, such
conduct and character, as are acceptable in His sight. Whoso ariseth, in
this Day, to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the hosts of a
praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence from such an
action will, most certainly, be diffused throughout the whole world.” “The
betterment of the world,” is yet another statement, “can be accomplished
through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.”
“Be fair to yourselves and to others,” He thus counseleth them, “that the
evidences of justice may be revealed through your deeds among Our faithful
servants.” “Equity,” He also has written, “is the most fundamental among
human virtues. The evaluation of all things must needs depend upon it.”
And again, “Observe equity in your judgment, ye men of understanding
heart! He that is unjust in his judgment is destitute of the
characteristics that distinguish man’s station.” “Beautify your tongues, O
people,” He further admonishes them, “with truthfulness, and adorn your
souls with the ornament of honesty. Beware, O people, that ye deal not
treacherously with anyone. Be ye the trustees of God amongst His
creatures, and the emblems of His generosity amidst His people.” “Let your
eye be chaste,” is yet another counsel, “your hand faithful, your tongue
truthful, and your heart enlightened.” “Be an ornament to the countenance
of truth,” is yet another admonition, “a crown to the brow of fidelity, a
pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of
mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon
of virtue.” “Let truthfulness and courtesy be your adorning,” is still
another admonition; “suffer not yourselves to be deprived of the robe of
forbearance and justice, that the sweet savors of holiness may be wafted
from your hearts upon all created things. Say: Beware, O people of Bahá,
lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.
Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the
signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts be a
guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they high or
low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can
distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of your
light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My
counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the
All-Knowing, the All-Wise.”

“O army of God!” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Through the protection and help
vouchsafed by the Blessed Beauty—may my life be a sacrifice to His loved
ones—ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out
distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one
of you enter a city, he should become a center of attraction by reason of
his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his
truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so
that the people of that city may cry out and say: ‘This man is
unquestionably a Bahá’í, for his manners, his behavior, his conduct, his
morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the
Bahá’ís.’ Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been
faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God.” “The most vital duty, in
this day,” He, moreover, has written, “is to purify your characters, to
correct your manners, and improve your conduct. The beloved of the
Merciful must show forth such character and conduct among His creatures,
that the fragrance of their holiness may be shed upon the whole world, and
may quicken the dead, inasmuch as the purpose of the Manifestation of God
and the dawning of the limitless lights of the Invisible is to educate the
souls of men, and refine the character of every living man....”
“Truthfulness,” He asserts, “is the foundation of all human virtues.
Without truthfulness progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are
impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man,
all the divine qualities will also be acquired.”

Such a rectitude of conduct must manifest itself, with ever-increasing
potency, in every verdict which the elected representatives of the Bahá’í
community, in whatever capacity they may find themselves, may be called
upon to pronounce. It must be constantly reflected in the business
dealings of all its members, in their domestic lives, in all manner of
employment, and in any service they may, in the future, render their
government or people. It must be exemplified in the conduct of all Bahá’í
electors, when exercising their sacred rights and functions. It must
characterize the attitude of every loyal believer towards nonacceptance of
political posts, nonidentification with political parties,
nonparticipation in political controversies, and nonmembership in
political organizations and ecclesiastical institutions. It must reveal
itself in the uncompromising adherence of all, whether young or old, to
the clearly enunciated and fundamental principles laid down by
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His addresses, and to the laws and ordinances revealed by
Bahá’u’lláh in His Most Holy Book. It must be demonstrated in the
impartiality of every defender of the Faith against its enemies, in his
fair-mindedness in recognizing any merits that enemy may possess, and in
his honesty in discharging any obligations he may have towards him. It
must constitute the brightest ornament of the life, the pursuits, the
exertions, and the utterances of every Bahá’í teacher, whether laboring at
home or abroad, whether in the front ranks of the teaching force, or
occupying a less active and responsible position. It must be made the
hallmark of that numerically small, yet intensely dynamic and highly
responsible body of the elected national representatives of every Bahá’í
community, which constitutes the sustaining pillar, and the sole
instrument for the election, in every community, of that Universal House
whose very name and title, as ordained by Bahá’u’lláh, symbolizes that
rectitude of conduct which is its highest mission to safeguard and
enforce.

So great and transcendental is this principle of Divine justice, a
principle that must be regarded as the crowning distinction of all Local
and National Assemblies, in their capacity as forerunners of the Universal
House of Justice, that Bahá’u’lláh Himself subordinates His personal
inclination and wish to the all-compelling force of its demands and
implications. “God is My witness!” He thus explains, “were it not contrary
to the Law of God, I would have kissed the hand of My would-be murderer,
and would cause him to inherit My earthly goods. I am restrained, however,
by the binding Law laid down in the Book, and am Myself bereft of all
worldly possessions.” “Know thou, of a truth,” He significantly affirms,
“these great oppressions that have befallen the world are preparing it for
the advent of the Most Great Justice.” “Say,” He again asserts, “He hath
appeared with that Justice wherewith mankind hath been adorned, and yet
the people are, for the most part, asleep.” “The light of men is Justice,”
He moreover states, “Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression
and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men.”
“No radiance,” He declares, “can compare with that of justice. The
organization of the world and the tranquillity of mankind depend upon it.”
“O people of God!” He exclaims, “That which traineth the world is Justice,
for it is upheld by two pillars, reward and punishment. These two pillars
are the sources of life to the world.” “Justice and equity,” is yet
another assertion, “are two guardians for the protection of man. They have
appeared arrayed in their mighty and sacred names to maintain the world in
uprightness and protect the nations.” “Bestir yourselves, O people,” is
His emphatic warning, “in anticipation of the days of Divine justice, for
the promised hour is now come. Beware lest ye fail to apprehend its
import, and be accounted among the erring.” “The day is approaching,” He
similarly has written, “when the faithful will behold the daystar of
justice shining in its full splendor from the dayspring of glory.” “The
shame I was made to bear,” He significantly remarks, “hath uncovered the
glory with which the whole of creation had been invested, and through the
cruelties I have endured, the daystar of justice hath manifested itself,
and shed its splendor upon men.” “The world,” He again has written, “is in
great turmoil, and the minds of its people are in a state of utter
confusion. We entreat the Almighty that He may graciously illuminate them
with the glory of His Justice, and enable them to discover that which will
be profitable unto them at all times and under all conditions.” And again,
“There can be no doubt whatever that if the daystar of justice, which the
clouds of tyranny have obscured, were to shed its light upon men, the face
of the earth would be completely transformed.”

“God be praised!” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in His turn, exclaims, “The sun of justice
hath risen above the horizon of Bahá’u’lláh. For in His Tablets the
foundations of such a justice have been laid as no mind hath, from the
beginning of creation, conceived.” “The canopy of existence,” He further
explains, “resteth upon the pole of justice, and not of forgiveness, and
the life of mankind dependeth on justice and not on forgiveness.”

Small wonder, therefore, that the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation should
have chosen to associate the name and title of that House, which is to be
the crowning glory of His administrative institutions, not with
forgiveness but with justice, to have made justice the only basis and the
permanent foundation of His Most Great Peace, and to have proclaimed it in
His Hidden Words as “the best beloved of all things” in His sight. It is
to the American believers, particularly, that I feel urged to direct this
fervent plea to ponder in their hearts the implications of this moral
rectitude, and to uphold, with heart and soul and uncompromisingly, both
individually and collectively, this sublime standard—a standard of which
justice is so essential and potent an element.

As to a chaste and holy life, it should be regarded as no less essential a
factor that must contribute its proper share to the strengthening and
vitalization of the Bahá’í community, upon which must in turn depend the
success of any Bahá’í plan or enterprise. In these days when the forces of
irreligion are weakening the moral fiber, and undermining the foundations
of individual morality, the obligation of chastity and holiness must claim
an increasing share of the attention of the American believers, both in
their individual capacities and as the responsible custodians of the
interests of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. In the discharge of such an
obligation, to which the special circumstances resulting from an excessive
and enervating materialism now prevailing in their country lend particular
significance, they must play a conspicuous and predominant role. All of
them, be they men or women, must, at this threatening hour when the lights
of religion are fading out, and its restraints are one by one being
abolished, pause to examine themselves, scrutinize their conduct, and with
characteristic resolution arise to purge the life of their community of
every trace of moral laxity that might stain the name, or impair the
integrity, of so holy and precious a Faith.

A chaste and holy life must be made the controlling principle in the
behavior and conduct of all Bahá’ís, both in their social relations with
the members of their own community, and in their contact with the world at
large. It must adorn and reinforce the ceaseless labors and meritorious
exertions of those whose enviable position is to propagate the Message,
and to administer the affairs, of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It must be
upheld, in all its integrity and implications, in every phase of the life
of those who fill the ranks of that Faith, whether in their homes, their
travels, their clubs, their societies, their entertainments, their
schools, and their universities. It must be accorded special consideration
in the conduct of the social activities of every Bahá’í summer school and
any other occasions on which Bahá’í community life is organized and
fostered. It must be closely and continually identified with the mission
of the Bahá’í youth, both as an element in the life of the Bahá’í
community, and as a factor in the future progress and orientation of the
youth of their own country.

Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity,
temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the
exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language,
amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily
vigilance in the control of one’s carnal desires and corrupt inclinations.
It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive
attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures. It requires total
abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar
habit-forming drugs. It condemns the prostitution of art and of
literature, the practices of nudism and of companionate marriage,
infidelity in marital relationships, and all manner of promiscuity, of
easy familiarity, and of sexual vices. It can tolerate no compromise with
the theories, the standards, the habits, and the excesses of a decadent
age. Nay rather it seeks to demonstrate, through the dynamic force of its
example, the pernicious character of such theories, the falsity of such
standards, the hollowness of such claims, the perversity of such habits,
and the sacrilegious character of such excesses.

“By the righteousness of God!” writes Bahá’u’lláh, “The world, its
vanities and its glory, and whatever delights it can offer, are all, in
the sight of God, as worthless as, nay even more contemptible than, dust
and ashes. Would that the hearts of men could comprehend it. Wash
yourselves thoroughly, O people of Bahá, from the defilement of the world,
and of all that pertaineth unto it. God Himself beareth Me witness! The
things of the earth ill beseem you. Cast them away unto such as may desire
them, and fasten your eyes upon this most holy and effulgent Vision.” “O
ye My loved ones!” He thus exhorts His followers, “Suffer not the hem of
My sacred vesture to be smirched and mired with the things of this world,
and follow not the promptings of your evil and corrupt desires.” And
again, “O ye the beloved of the one true God! Pass beyond the narrow
retreats of your evil and corrupt desires, and advance into the vast
immensity of the realm of God, and abide ye in the meads of sanctity and
of detachment, that the fragrance of your deeds may lead the whole of
mankind to the ocean of God’s unfading glory.” “Disencumber yourselves,”
He thus commands them, “of all attachment to this world and the vanities
thereof. Beware that ye approach them not, inasmuch as they prompt you to
walk after your own lusts and covetous desires, and hinder you from
entering the straight and glorious Path.” “Eschew all manner of
wickedness,” is His commandment, “for such things are forbidden unto you
in the Book which none touch except such as God hath cleansed from every
taint of guilt, and numbered among the purified.” “A race of men,” is His
written promise, “incomparable in character, shall be raised up which,
with the feet of detachment, will tread under all who are in heaven and on
earth, and will cast the sleeve of holiness over all that hath been
created from water and clay.” “The civilization,” is His grave warning,
“so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if
allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon
men.... If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source
of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of
moderation.” “He hath chosen out of the whole world the hearts of His
servants,” He explains, “and made them each a seat for the revelation of
His glory. Wherefore, sanctify them from every defilement, that the things
for which they were created may be engraven upon them. This indeed is a
token of God’s bountiful favor.” “Say,” He proclaims, “He is not to be
numbered with the people of Bahá who followeth his mundane desires, or
fixeth his heart on things of the earth. He is My true follower who, if he
come to a valley of pure gold will pass straight through it aloof as a
cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is assuredly of
Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of
sanctity.... And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would
not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty.
Such an one indeed is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth
you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty,
the All-Bountiful.” “They that follow their lusts and corrupt
inclinations,” is yet another warning, “have erred and dissipated their
efforts. They indeed are of the lost.” “It behooveth the people of Bahá,”
He also has written, “to die to the world and all that is therein, to be
so detached from all earthly things that the inmates of Paradise may
inhale from their garment the sweet smelling savor of sanctity.... They
that have tarnished the fair name of the Cause of God by following the
things of the flesh—these are in palpable error!” “Purity and chastity,”
He particularly admonishes, “have been, and still are, the most great
ornaments for the handmaidens of God. God is My Witness! The brightness of
the light of chastity sheddeth its illumination upon the worlds of the
spirit, and its fragrance is wafted even unto the Most Exalted Paradise.”
“God,” He again affirms, “hath verily made chastity to be a crown for the
heads of His handmaidens. Great is the blessedness of that handmaiden that
hath attained unto this great station.” “We, verily, have decreed in Our
Book,” is His assurance, “a goodly and bountiful reward to whosoever will
turn away from wickedness, and lead a chaste and godly life. He, in truth,
is the Great Giver, the All-Bountiful.” “We have sustained the weight of
all calamities,” He testifies, “to sanctify you from all earthly
corruption and ye are yet indifferent.... We, verily, behold your actions.
If We perceive from them the sweet smelling savor of purity and holiness,
We will most certainly bless you. Then will the tongues of the inmates of
Paradise utter your praise and magnify your names amidst them who have
drawn nigh unto God.”

“The drinking of wine,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “is, according to the text of
the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases,
weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind.” “Drink ye, O handmaidens of
God,” Bahá’u’lláh Himself has affirmed, “the Mystic Wine from the cup of
My words. Cast away, then, from you that which your minds abhor, for it
hath been forbidden unto you in His Tablets and His Scriptures. Beware
lest ye barter away the River that is life indeed for that which the souls
of the pure-hearted detest. Become ye intoxicated with the wine of the
love of God, and not with that which deadeneth your minds, O ye that adore
Him! Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or
woman. Thus hath the sun of My commandment shone forth above the horizon
of My utterance, that the handmaidens who believe in Me may be illumined.”

It must be remembered, however, that the maintenance of such a high
standard of moral conduct is not to be associated or confused with any
form of asceticism, or of excessive and bigoted puritanism. The standard
inculcated by Bahá’u’lláh seeks, under no circumstances, to deny anyone
the legitimate right and privilege to derive the fullest advantage and
benefit from the manifold joys, beauties, and pleasures with which the
world has been so plentifully enriched by an All-Loving Creator. “Should a
man,” Bahá’u’lláh Himself reassures us, “wish to adorn himself with the
ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits
it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to
intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing,
whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants
as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God
hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties.
Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly
thankful.”

As to racial prejudice, the corrosion of which, for well-nigh a century,
has bitten into the fiber, and attacked the whole social structure of
American society, it should be regarded as constituting the most vital and
challenging issue confronting the Bahá’í community at the present stage of
its evolution. The ceaseless exertions which this issue of paramount
importance calls for, the sacrifices it must impose, the care and
vigilance it demands, the moral courage and fortitude it requires, the
tact and sympathy it necessitates, invest this problem, which the American
believers are still far from having satisfactorily resolved, with an
urgency and importance that cannot be overestimated. White and Negro, high
and low, young and old, whether newly converted to the Faith or not, all
who stand identified with it must participate in, and lend their
assistance, each according to his or her capacity, experience, and
opportunities, to the common task of fulfilling the instructions,
realizing the hopes, and following the example, of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Whether
colored or noncolored, neither race has the right, or can conscientiously
claim, to be regarded as absolved from such an obligation, as having
realized such hopes, or having faithfully followed such an example. A long
and thorny road, beset with pitfalls, still remains untraveled, both by
the white and the Negro exponents of the redeeming Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
On the distance they cover, and the manner in which they travel that road,
must depend, to an extent which few among them can imagine, the operation
of those intangible influences which are indispensable to the spiritual
triumph of the American believers and the material success of their newly
launched enterprise.

Let them call to mind, fearlessly and determinedly, the example and
conduct of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá while in their midst. Let them remember His
courage, His genuine love, His informal and indiscriminating fellowship,
His contempt for and impatience of criticism, tempered by His tact and
wisdom. Let them revive and perpetuate the memory of those unforgettable
and historic episodes and occasions on which He so strikingly demonstrated
His keen sense of justice, His spontaneous sympathy for the downtrodden,
His ever-abiding sense of the oneness of the human race, His overflowing
love for its members, and His displeasure with those who dared to flout
His wishes, to deride His methods, to challenge His principles, or to
nullify His acts.

To discriminate against any race, on the ground of its being socially
backward, politically immature, and numerically in a minority, is a
flagrant violation of the spirit that animates the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.
The consciousness of any division or cleavage in its ranks is alien to its
very purpose, principles, and ideals. Once its members have fully
recognized the claim of its Author, and, by identifying themselves with
its Administrative Order, accepted unreservedly the principles and laws
embodied in its teachings, every differentiation of class, creed, or color
must automatically be obliterated, and never be allowed, under any
pretext, and however great the pressure of events or of public opinion, to
reassert itself. If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated, it
should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favor of the
minority, be it racial or otherwise. Unlike the nations and peoples of the
earth, be they of the East or of the West, democratic or authoritarian,
communist or capitalist, whether belonging to the Old World or the New,
who either ignore, trample upon, or extirpate, the racial, religious, or
political minorities within the sphere of their jurisdiction, every
organized community enlisted under the banner of Bahá’u’lláh should feel
it to be its first and inescapable obligation to nurture, encourage, and
safeguard every minority belonging to any faith, race, class, or nation
within it. So great and vital is this principle that in such
circumstances, as when an equal number of ballots have been cast in an
election, or where the qualifications for any office are balanced as
between the various races, faiths or nationalities within the community,
priority should unhesitatingly be accorded the party representing the
minority, and this for no other reason except to stimulate and encourage
it, and afford it an opportunity to further the interests of the
community. In the light of this principle, and bearing in mind the extreme
desirability of having the minority elements participate and share
responsibility in the conduct of Bahá’í activity, it should be the duty of
every Bahá’í community so to arrange its affairs that in cases where
individuals belonging to the divers minority elements within it are
already qualified and fulfill the necessary requirements, Bahá’í
representative institutions, be they Assemblies, conventions, conferences,
or committees, may have represented on them as many of these divers
elements, racial or otherwise, as possible. The adoption of such a course,
and faithful adherence to it, would not only be a source of inspiration
and encouragement to those elements that are numerically small and
inadequately represented, but would demonstrate to the world at large the
universality and representative character of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and
the freedom of His followers from the taint of those prejudices which have
already wrought such havoc in the domestic affairs, as well as the foreign
relationships, of the nations.

Freedom from racial prejudice, in any of its forms, should, at such a time
as this when an increasingly large section of the human race is falling a
victim to its devastating ferocity, be adopted as the watchword of the
entire body of the American believers, in whichever state they reside, in
whatever circles they move, whatever their age, traditions, tastes, and
habits. It should be consistently demonstrated in every phase of their
activity and life, whether in the Bahá’í community or outside it, in
public or in private, formally as well as informally, individually as well
as in their official capacity as organized groups, committees and
Assemblies. It should be deliberately cultivated through the various and
everyday opportunities, no matter how insignificant, that present
themselves, whether in their homes, their business offices, their schools
and colleges, their social parties and recreation grounds, their Bahá’í
meetings, conferences, conventions, summer schools and Assemblies. It
should, above all else, become the keynote of the policy of that august
body which, in its capacity as the national representative, and the
director and coordinator of the affairs of the community, must set the
example, and facilitate the application of such a vital principle to the
lives and activities of those whose interests it safeguards and
represents.

“O ye discerning ones!” Bahá’u’lláh has written, “Verily, the words which
have descended from the heaven of the Will of God are the source of unity
and harmony for the world. Close your eyes to racial differences, and
welcome all with the light of oneness.” “We desire but the good of the
world and the happiness of the nations,” He proclaims, “...that all
nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds
of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened;
that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be
annulled.” “Bahá’u’lláh hath said,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “that the various
races of humankind lend a composite harmony and beauty of color to the
whole. Let all associate, therefore, in this great human garden even as
flowers grow and blend together side by side without discord or
disagreement between them.” “Bahá’u’lláh,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá moreover has said,
“once compared the colored people to the black pupil of the eye surrounded
by the white. In this black pupil is seen the reflection of that which is
before it, and through it the light of the spirit shineth forth.”

“God,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself declares, “maketh no distinction between the
white and the black. If the hearts are pure both are acceptable unto Him.
God is no respecter of persons on account of either color or race. All
colors are acceptable unto Him, be they white, black, or yellow. Inasmuch
as all were created in the image of God, we must bring ourselves to
realize that all embody divine possibilities.” “In the estimation of God,”
He states, “all men are equal. There is no distinction or preference for
any soul, in the realm of His justice and equity.” “God did not make these
divisions,” He affirms; “these divisions have had their origin in man
himself. Therefore, as they are against the plan and purpose of God they
are false and imaginary.” “In the estimation of God,” He again affirms,
“there is no distinction of color; all are one in the color and beauty of
servitude to Him. Color is not important; the heart is all-important. It
mattereth not what the exterior may be if the heart is pure and white
within. God doth not behold differences of hue and complexion. He looketh
at the hearts. He whose morals and virtues are praiseworthy is preferred
in the presence of God; he who is devoted to the Kingdom is most beloved.
In the realm of genesis and creation the question of color is of least
importance.” “Throughout the animal kingdom,” He explains, “we do not find
the creatures separated because of color. They recognize unity of species
and oneness of kind. If we do not find color distinction drawn in a
kingdom of lower intelligence and reason, how can it be justified among
human beings, especially when we know that all have come from the same
source and belong to the same household? In origin and intention of
creation mankind is one. Distinctions of race and color have arisen
afterward.” “Man is endowed with superior reasoning power and the faculty
of perception”; He further explains, “he is the manifestation of divine
bestowals. Shall racial ideas prevail and obscure the creative purpose of
unity in his kingdom?” “One of the important questions,” He significantly
remarks, “which affect the unity and the solidarity of mankind is the
fellowship and equality of the white and colored races. Between these two
races certain points of agreement and points of distinction exist which
warrant just and mutual consideration. The points of contact are many....
In this country, the United States of America, patriotism is common to
both races; all have equal rights to citizenship, speak one language,
receive the blessings of the same civilization, and follow the precepts of
the same religion. In fact numerous points of partnership and agreement
exist between the two races, whereas the one point of distinction is that
of color. Shall this, the least of all distinctions, be allowed to
separate you as races and individuals?” “This variety in forms and
coloring,” He stresses, “which is manifest in all the kingdoms is
according to creative Wisdom and hath a divine purpose.” “The diversity in
the human family,” He claims, “should be the cause of love and harmony, as
it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of
a perfect chord.” “If you meet,” is His admonition, “those of a different
race and color from yourself, do not mistrust them, and withdraw yourself
into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them
kindness.” “In the world of being,” He testifies, “the meeting is blessed
when the white and colored races meet together with infinite spiritual
love and heavenly harmony. When such meetings are established, and the
participants associate with each other with perfect love, unity and
kindness, the angels of the Kingdom praise them, and the Beauty of
Bahá’u’lláh addresseth them, ‘Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye!’” “When a
gathering of these two races is brought about,” He likewise asserts, “that
assemblage will become the magnet of the Concourse on high, and the
confirmation of the Blessed Beauty will surround it.” “Strive earnestly,”
He again exhorts both races, “and put forth your greatest endeavor toward
the accomplishment of this fellowship and the cementing of this bond of
brotherhood between you. Such an attainment is not possible without will
and effort on the part of each; from one, expressions of gratitude and
appreciation; from the other, kindliness and recognition of equality. Each
one should endeavor to develop and assist the other toward mutual
advancement.... Love and unity will be fostered between you, thereby
bringing about the oneness of mankind. For the accomplishment of unity
between the colored and white will be an assurance of the world’s peace.”
“I hope,” He thus addresses members of the white race, “that ye may cause
that downtrodden race to become glorious, and to be joined with the white
race, to serve the world of man with the utmost sincerity, faithfulness,
love, and purity. This opposition, enmity, and prejudice among the white
race and the colored cannot be effaced except through faith, assurance,
and the teachings of the Blessed Beauty.” “This question of the union of
the white and the black is very important,” He warns, “for if it is not
realized, erelong great difficulties will arise, and harmful results will
follow.” “If this matter remaineth without change,” is yet another
warning, “enmity will be increased day by day, and the final result will
be hardship and may end in bloodshed.”

A tremendous effort is required by both races if their outlook, their
manners, and conduct are to reflect, in this darkened age, the spirit and
teachings of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. Casting away once and for all the
fallacious doctrine of racial superiority, with all its attendant evils,
confusion, and miseries, and welcoming and encouraging the intermixture of
races, and tearing down the barriers that now divide them, they should
each endeavor, day and night, to fulfill their particular responsibilities
in the common task which so urgently faces them. Let them, while each is
attempting to contribute its share to the solution of this perplexing
problem, call to mind the warnings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and visualize, while
there is yet time, the dire consequences that must follow if this
challenging and unhappy situation that faces the entire American nation is
not definitely remedied.

Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their
share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their
usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to
correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards
the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate,
spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their
friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their
impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have
received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds. Let
the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every
means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to
forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion
that may still linger in their hearts and minds. Let neither think that
the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns
the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or
immediately be resolved. Let neither think that they can wait confidently
for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and
the favorable circumstances created, by agencies that stand outside the
orbit of their Faith. Let neither think that anything short of genuine
love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative,
mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can
succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the
fair name of their common country. Let them rather believe, and be firmly
convinced, that on their mutual understanding, their amity, and sustained
cooperation, must depend, more than on any other force or organization
operating outside the circle of their Faith, the deflection of that
dangerous course so greatly feared by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the
materialization of the hopes He cherished for their joint contribution to
the fulfillment of that country’s glorious destiny.

Dearly beloved friends! A rectitude of conduct which, in all its
manifestations, offers a striking contrast to the deceitfulness and
corruption that characterize the political life of the nation and of the
parties and factions that compose it; a holiness and chastity that are
diametrically opposed to the moral laxity and licentiousness which defile
the character of a not inconsiderable proportion of its citizens; an
interracial fellowship completely purged from the curse of racial
prejudice which stigmatizes the vast majority of its people—these are the
weapons which the American believers can and must wield in their double
crusade, first to regenerate the inward life of their own community, and
next to assail the long-standing evils that have entrenched themselves in
the life of their nation. The perfection of such weapons, the wise and
effective utilization of every one of them, more than the furtherance of
any particular plan, or the devising of any special scheme, or the
accumulation of any amount of material resources, can prepare them for the
time when the Hand of Destiny will have directed them to assist in
creating and in bringing into operation that World Order which is now
incubating within the worldwide administrative institutions of their
Faith.

In the conduct of this twofold crusade the valiant warriors struggling in
the name and for the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh must, of necessity, encounter
stiff resistance, and suffer many a setback. Their own instincts, no less
than the fury of conservative forces, the opposition of vested interests,
and the objections of a corrupt and pleasure-seeking generation, must be
reckoned with, resolutely resisted, and completely overcome. As their
defensive measures for the impending struggle are organized and extended,
storms of abuse and ridicule, and campaigns of condemnation and
misrepresentation, may be unloosed against them. Their Faith, they may
soon find, has been assaulted, their motives misconstrued, their aims
defamed, their aspirations derided, their institutions scorned, their
influence belittled, their authority undermined, and their Cause, at
times, deserted by a few who will either be incapable of appreciating the
nature of their ideals, or unwilling to bear the brunt of the mounting
criticisms which such a contest is sure to involve. “Because of
‘Abdu’l-Bahá,” the beloved Master has prophesied, “many a test will be
visited upon you. Troubles will befall you, and suffering afflict you.”

Let not, however, the invincible army of Bahá’u’lláh, who in the West, and
at one of its potential storm centers is to fight, in His name and for His
sake, one of its fiercest and most glorious battles, be afraid of any
criticism that might be directed against it. Let it not be deterred by any
condemnation with which the tongue of the slanderer may seek to debase its
motives. Let it not recoil before the threatening advance of the forces of
fanaticism, of orthodoxy, of corruption, and of prejudice that may be
leagued against it. The voice of criticism is a voice that indirectly
reinforces the proclamation of its Cause. Unpopularity but serves to throw
into greater relief the contrast between it and its adversaries, while
ostracism is itself the magnetic power that must eventually win over to
its camp the most vociferous and inveterate amongst its foes. Already in
the land where the greatest battles of the Faith have been fought, and its
most rapacious enemies have lived, the march of events, the slow yet
steady infiltration of its ideals, and the fulfillment of its prophecies,
have resulted not only in disarming and in transforming the character of
some of its most redoubtable enemies, but also in securing their firm and
unreserved allegiance to its Founders. So complete a transformation, so
startling a reversal of attitude, can only be effected if that chosen
vehicle which is designed to carry the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to the
hungry, the restless, and unshepherded multitudes is itself thoroughly
cleansed from the defilements which it seeks to remove.

It is upon you, therefore, my best-beloved friends, that I wish to impress
not only the urgency and imperative necessity of your holy task, but also
the limitless possibilities which it possesses of raising to such an
exalted level not only the life and activities of your own community, but
the motives and standards that govern the relationships existing among the
people to which you belong. Undismayed by the formidable nature of this
task, you will, I am confident, meet as befits you the challenge of these
times, so fraught with peril, so full of corruption, and yet so pregnant
with the promise of a future so bright that no previous age in the annals
of mankind can rival its glory.



“DEARLY BELOVED FRIENDS! I HAVE ATTEMPTED, IN THE BEGINNING ...”


Dearly beloved friends! I have attempted, in the beginning of these pages,
to convey an idea of the glorious opportunities as well as the tremendous
responsibilities which, as a result of the persecution of the far-flung
Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, now face the community of the American believers, at
so critical a stage in the Formative Period of their Faith, and in so
crucial an epoch in the world’s history. I have dwelt sufficiently upon
the character of the mission which in a not too distant future that
community must, through the impelling force of circumstances, arise and
carry out. I have uttered the warning which I felt would be necessary to a
clearer understanding, and a better discharge, of the tasks lying ahead of
it. I have set forth, and stressed as far as it was in my power, those
exalted and dynamic virtues, those lofty standards, which, difficult as
they are to attain, constitute nonetheless the essential requirements for
the success of those tasks. A word, I believe, should now be said in
connection with the material aspect of their immediate task, upon the
termination of which, at its appointed time, must depend not only the
unfoldment of the subsequent stages in the Divine Plan envisaged by
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, but also the acquisition of those capacities which will
qualify them to discharge, in the fullness of time, the duties and
responsibilities demanded by that greater mission which it is their
privilege to perform.

The Seven Year Plan, with its twofold aspects of Temple ornamentation and
extension of teaching activity, embracing both the Northern and Southern
American continents, is now well advanced into its second year, and offers
to anyone who has observed its progress in recent months signs that are
extremely heartening and which augur well for the attainment of its
objectives within the allotted time. The successive steps designed to
facilitate, and covering the entire field of, the work to be achieved in
connection with the exterior ornamentation of the Temple have for the most
part been taken. The final phase which is to mark the triumphant
conclusion of a thirty-year old enterprise has at long last been entered.
The initial contract connected with the first and main story of that
historic edifice has been signed. The Fund associated with the beloved
name of the Greatest Holy Leaf has been launched. The uninterrupted
continuation to its very end of so laudable an enterprise is now assured.
The poignant memories of one whose heart so greatly rejoiced at the
rearing of the superstructure of this sacred House will so energize the
final exertions required to complete it as to dissipate any doubt that may
yet linger in any mind as to the capacity of its builders to worthily
consummate their task.

The teaching aspect of the Plan must now be pondered. Its challenge must
be met, and its requirements studied, weighed, and fulfilled. Superb and
irresistible as is the beauty of the first Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár of the
West, majestic as are its dimensions, unique as is its architecture, and
priceless as are the ideals and the aspirations which it symbolizes, it
should be regarded, at the present time, as no more than an instrument for
a more effective propagation of the Cause and a wider diffusion of its
teachings. In this respect it should be viewed in the same light as the
administrative institutions of the Faith which are designed as vehicles
for the proper dissemination of its ideals, its tenets, and its verities.

It is, therefore, to the teaching requirements of the Seven Year Plan that
the community of the American believers must henceforth direct their
careful and sustained attention. The entire community must, as one man,
arise to fulfill them. To teach the Cause of God, to proclaim its truths,
to defend its interests, to demonstrate, by words as well as by deeds, its
indispensability, its potency, and universality, should at no time be
regarded as the exclusive concern or sole privilege of Bahá’í
administrative institutions, be they Assemblies, or committees. All must
participate, however humble their origin, however limited their
experience, however restricted their means, however deficient their
education, however pressing their cares and preoccupations, however
unfavorable the environment in which they live. “God,” Bahá’u’lláh,
Himself, has unmistakably revealed, “hath prescribed unto everyone the
duty of teaching His Cause.” “Say,” He further has written, “Teach ye the
Cause of God, O people of Bahá, for God hath prescribed unto everyone the
duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious
of all deeds.”

A high and exalted position in the ranks of the community, conferring as
it does on its holder certain privileges and prerogatives, no doubt
invests him with a responsibility that he cannot honorably shirk in his
duty to teach and promote the Faith of God. It may, at times, though not
invariably, create greater opportunities and furnish better facilities to
spread the knowledge of that Faith, and to win supporters to its
institutions. It does not, however, under any circumstances, necessarily
carry with it the power of exercising greater influence on the minds and
hearts of those to whom that Faith is presented. How often—and the early
history of the Faith in the land of its birth offers many a striking
testimony—have the lowliest adherents of the Faith, unschooled and utterly
inexperienced, and with no standing whatever, and in some cases devoid of
intelligence, been capable of winning victories for their Cause, before
which the most brilliant achievements of the learned, the wise, and the
experienced have paled.

“Peter,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has testified, “according to the history of the
Church, was also incapable of keeping count of the days of the week.
Whenever he decided to go fishing, he would tie up his weekly food into
seven parcels, and every day he would eat one of them, and when he had
reached the seventh, he would know that the Sabbath had arrived, and
thereupon would observe it.” If the Son of Man was capable of infusing
into apparently so crude and helpless an instrument such potency as to
cause, in the words of Bahá’u’lláh, “the mysteries of wisdom and of
utterance to flow out of his mouth,” and to exalt him above the rest of
His disciples, and render him fit to become His successor and the founder
of His Church, how much more can the Father, Who is Bahá’u’lláh, empower
the most puny and insignificant among His followers to achieve, for the
execution of His purpose, such wonders as would dwarf the mightiest
achievements of even the first apostle of Jesus Christ!

“The Báb,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, moreover, has written, “hath said: ‘Should a tiny
ant desire, in this day, to be possessed of such power as to be able to
unravel the abstrusest and most bewildering passages of the Qur’án, its
wish will no doubt be fulfilled, inasmuch as the mystery of eternal might
vibrates within the innermost being of all created things.’ If so helpless
a creature can be endowed with so subtle a capacity, how much more
efficacious must be the power released through the liberal effusions of
the grace of Bahá’u’lláh!”

The field is indeed so immense, the period so critical, the Cause so
great, the workers so few, the time so short, the privilege so priceless,
that no follower of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, worthy to bear His name, can
afford a moment’s hesitation. That God-born Force, irresistible in its
sweeping power, incalculable in its potency, unpredictable in its course,
mysterious in its workings, and awe-inspiring in its manifestations—a
Force which, as the Báb has written, “vibrates within the innermost being
of all created things,” and which, according to Bahá’u’lláh, has through
its “vibrating influence,” “upset the equilibrium of the world and
revolutionized its ordered life”—such a Force, acting even as a two-edged
sword, is, under our very eyes, sundering, on the one hand, the age-old
ties which for centuries have held together the fabric of civilized
society, and is unloosing, on the other, the bonds that still fetter the
infant and as yet unemancipated Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. The undreamt-of
opportunities offered through the operation of this Force—the American
believers must now rise, and fully and courageously exploit them. “The
holy realities of the Concourse on high,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “yearn, in
this day, in the Most Exalted Paradise, to return unto this world, so that
they may be aided to render some service to the threshold of the Abhá
Beauty, and arise to demonstrate their servitude to His sacred Threshold.”

A world, dimmed by the steadily dying-out light of religion, heaving with
the explosive forces of a blind and triumphant nationalism; scorched with
the fires of pitiless persecution, whether racial or religious; deluded by
the false theories and doctrines that threaten to supplant the worship of
God and the sanctification of His laws; enervated by a rampant and brutal
materialism; disintegrating through the corrosive influence of moral and
spiritual decadence; and enmeshed in the coils of economic anarchy and
strife—such is the spectacle presented to men’s eyes, as a result of the
sweeping changes which this revolutionizing Force, as yet in the initial
stage of its operation, is now producing in the life of the entire planet.

So sad and moving a spectacle, bewildering as it must be to every observer
unaware of the purposes, the prophecies, and promises of Bahá’u’lláh, far
from casting dismay into the hearts of His followers, or paralyzing their
efforts, cannot but deepen their faith, and excite their enthusiastic
eagerness to arise and display, in the vast field traced for them by the
pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, their capacity to play their part in the work of
universal redemption proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. Every instrument in the
administrative machinery which, in the course of several years, they have
so laboriously erected must be fully utilized, and subordinated to the end
for which it was created. The Temple, that proud embodiment of so rare a
spirit of self-sacrifice, must likewise be made to play its part, and
contribute its share to the teaching campaign designed to embrace the
entire Western Hemisphere.

The opportunities which the turmoil of the present age presents, with all
the sorrows which it evokes, the fears which it excites, the
disillusionment which it produces, the perplexities which it creates, the
indignation which it arouses, the revolt which it provokes, the grievances
it engenders, the spirit of restless search which it awakens, must, in
like manner, be exploited for the purpose of spreading far and wide the
knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for
enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers. So
precious an opportunity, so rare a conjunction of favorable circumstances,
may never again recur. Now is the time, the appointed time, for the
American believers, the vanguard of the hosts of the Most Great Name, to
proclaim, through the agencies and channels of a specially designed
Administrative Order, their capacity and readiness to rescue a fallen and
sore-tried generation that has rebelled against its God and ignored His
warnings, and to offer it that complete security which only the
strongholds of their Faith can provide.

The teaching campaign, inaugurated throughout the states of the North
American Republic and the Dominion of Canada, acquires, therefore, an
importance, and is invested with an urgency, that cannot be overestimated.
Launched on its course through the creative energies released by the Will
of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and sweeping across the Western Hemisphere through the
propelling force which it is generating, it must, I feel, be carried out
in conformity with certain principles, designed to insure its efficient
conduct, and to hasten the attainment of its objective.

Those who participate in such a campaign, whether in an organizing
capacity, or as workers to whose care the execution of the task itself has
been committed, must, as an essential preliminary to the discharge of
their duties, thoroughly familiarize themselves with the various aspects
of the history and teachings of their Faith. In their efforts to achieve
this purpose they must study for themselves, conscientiously and
painstakingly, the literature of their Faith, delve into its teachings,
assimilate its laws and principles, ponder its admonitions, tenets and
purposes, commit to memory certain of its exhortations and prayers, master
the essentials of its administration, and keep abreast of its current
affairs and latest developments. They must strive to obtain, from sources
that are authoritative and unbiased, a sound knowledge of the history and
tenets of Islám—the source and background of their Faith—and approach
reverently and with a mind purged from preconceived ideas the study of the
Qur’án which, apart from the sacred scriptures of the Bábí and Bahá’í
Revelations, constitutes the only Book which can be regarded as an
absolutely authenticated Repository of the Word of God. They must devote
special attention to the investigation of those institutions and
circumstances that are directly connected with the origin and birth of
their Faith, with the station claimed by its Forerunner, and with the laws
revealed by its Author.

Having acquired, in their essentials, these prerequisites of success in
the teaching field, they must, whenever they contemplate undertaking any
specific mission in the countries of Latin America, endeavor, whenever
feasible, to acquire a certain proficiency in the languages spoken by the
inhabitants of those countries, and a knowledge of their customs, habits,
and outlook. “The teachers going to those parts,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, referring
in one of the Tablets of the Divine Plan to the Central American
Republics, has written, “must also be familiar with the Spanish language.”
“A party speaking their languages ...,” He, in another Tablet, has
written, “must turn their faces to and travel through the three great
Island groups of the Pacific Ocean.” “The teachers traveling in different
directions,” He further states, “must know the language of the country in
which they will enter. For example, a person being proficient in the
Japanese language may travel to Japan, or a person knowing the Chinese
language may hasten to China, and so forth.”

No participator in this inter-American campaign of teaching must feel that
the initiative for any particular activity connected with this work must
rest solely with those agencies, whether Assemblies or committees, whose
special concern is to promote and facilitate the attainment of this vital
objective of the Seven Year Plan. It is the bounden duty of every American
believer, as the faithful trustee of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Divine Plan, to
initiate, promote, and consolidate, within the limits fixed by the
administrative principles of the Faith, any activity he or she deems fit
to undertake for the furtherance of the Plan. Neither the threatening
world situation, nor any consideration of lack of material resources, of
mental equipment, of knowledge, or of experience—desirable as they
are—should deter any prospective pioneer teacher from arising
independently, and from setting in motion the forces which, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
has repeatedly assured us, will, once released, attract even as a magnet
the promised and infallible aid of Bahá’u’lláh. Let him not wait for any
directions, or expect any special encouragement, from the elected
representatives of his community, nor be deterred by any obstacles which
his relatives, or fellow-citizens may be inclined to place in his path,
nor mind the censure of his critics or enemies. “Be unrestrained as the
wind,” is Bahá’u’lláh’s counsel to every would-be teacher of His Cause,
“while carrying the Message of Him Who hath caused the dawn of Divine
Guidance to break. Consider how the wind, faithful to that which God hath
ordained, bloweth upon all regions of the earth, be they inhabited or
desolate. Neither the sight of desolation, nor the evidences of
prosperity, can either pain or please it. It bloweth in every direction,
as bidden by its Creator.” “And when he determineth to leave his home, for
the sake of the Cause of his Lord,” Bahá’u’lláh, in another passage,
referring to such a teacher, has revealed, “let him put his whole trust in
God, as the best provision for his journey, and array himself with the
robe of virtue.... If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he
forgoeth all created things, the words he uttereth shall set on fire them
that hear him.”

Having on his own initiative, and undaunted by any hindrances with which
either friend or foe may, unwittingly or deliberately, obstruct his path,
resolved to arise and respond to the call of teaching, let him carefully
consider every avenue of approach which he might utilize in his personal
attempts to capture the attention, maintain the interest, and deepen the
faith, of those whom he seeks to bring into the fold of his Faith. Let him
survey the possibilities which the particular circumstances in which he
lives offer him, evaluate their advantages, and proceed intelligently and
systematically to utilize them for the achievement of the object he has in
mind. Let him also attempt to devise such methods as association with
clubs, exhibitions, and societies, lectures on subjects akin to the
teachings and ideals of his Cause such as temperance, morality, social
welfare, religious and racial tolerance, economic cooperation, Islám, and
Comparative Religion, or participation in social, cultural, humanitarian,
charitable, and educational organizations and enterprises which, while
safeguarding the integrity of his Faith, will open up to him a multitude
of ways and means whereby he can enlist successively the sympathy, the
support, and ultimately the allegiance of those with whom he comes in
contact. Let him, while such contacts are being made, bear in mind the
claims which his Faith is constantly making upon him to preserve its
dignity, and station, to safeguard the integrity of its laws and
principles, to demonstrate its comprehensiveness and universality, and to
defend fearlessly its manifold and vital interests. Let him consider the
degree of his hearer’s receptivity, and decide for himself the suitability
of either the direct or indirect method of teaching, whereby he can
impress upon the seeker the vital importance of the Divine Message, and
persuade him to throw in his lot with those who have already embraced it.
Let him remember the example set by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and His constant
admonition to shower such kindness upon the seeker, and exemplify to such
a degree the spirit of the teachings he hopes to instill into him, that
the recipient will be spontaneously impelled to identify himself with the
Cause embodying such teachings. Let him refrain, at the outset, from
insisting on such laws and observances as might impose too severe a strain
on the seeker’s newly awakened faith, and endeavor to nurse him,
patiently, tactfully, and yet determinedly, into full maturity, and aid
him to proclaim his unqualified acceptance of whatever has been ordained
by Bahá’u’lláh. Let him, as soon as that stage has been attained,
introduce him to the body of his fellow-believers, and seek, through
constant fellowship and active participation in the local activities of
his community, to enable him to contribute his share to the enrichment of
its life, the furtherance of its tasks, the consolidations of its
interests, and the coordination of its activities with those of its sister
communities. Let him not be content until he has infused into his
spiritual child so deep a longing as to impel him to arise independently,
in his turn, and devote his energies to the quickening of other souls, and
the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly adopted
Faith.

Let every participator in the continent-wide campaign initiated by the
American believers, and particularly those engaged in pioneer work in
virgin territories, bear in mind the necessity of keeping in close and
constant touch with those responsible agencies designed to direct,
coordinate, and facilitate the teaching activities of the entire
community. Whether it be the body of their elected national
representatives, or its chief auxiliary institution, the National Teaching
Committee, or its subsidiary organs, the regional teaching committees, or
the local Spiritual Assemblies and their respective teaching committees,
they who labor for the spread of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh should, through
constant interchange of ideas, through letters, circulars, reports,
bulletins and other means of communication with these established
instruments designed for the propagation of the Faith, insure the smooth
and speedy functioning of the teaching machinery of their Administrative
Order. Confusion, delay, duplication of efforts, dissipation of energy
will, thereby, be completely avoided, and the mighty flood of the grace of
Bahá’u’lláh, flowing abundantly and without the least obstruction through
these essential channels will so inundate the hearts and souls of men as
to enable them to bring forth the harvest repeatedly predicted by
‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Upon every participator in this concerted effort, unprecedented in the
annals of the American Bahá’í community, rests the spiritual obligation to
make of the mandate of teaching, so vitally binding upon all, the
all-pervading concern of his life. In his daily activities and contacts,
in all his journeys, whether for business or otherwise, on his holidays
and outings, and on any mission he may be called upon to undertake, every
bearer of the Message of Bahá’u’lláh should consider it not only an
obligation but a privilege to scatter far and wide the seeds of His Faith,
and to rest content in the abiding knowledge that whatever be the
immediate response to that Message, and however inadequate the vehicle
that conveyed it, the power of its Author will, as He sees fit, enable
those seeds to germinate, and in circumstances which no one can foresee
enrich the harvest which the labor of His followers will gather. If he be
member of any Spiritual Assembly let him encourage his Assembly to
consecrate a certain part of its time, at each of its sessions, to the
earnest and prayerful consideration of such ways and means as may foster
the campaign of teaching, or may furnish whatever resources are available
for its progress, extension, and consolidation. If he attends his summer
school—and everyone without exception is urged to take advantage of
attending it—let him consider such an occasion as a welcome and precious
opportunity so to enrich, through lectures, study, and discussion, his
knowledge of the fundamentals of his Faith as to be able to transmit, with
greater confidence and effectiveness, the Message that has been entrusted
to his care. Let him, moreover, seek, whenever feasible, through
intercommunity visits to stimulate the zeal for teaching, and to
demonstrate to outsiders the zest and alertness of the promoters of his
Cause and the organic unity of its institutions.

Let anyone who feels the urge among the participators in this crusade,
which embraces all the races, all the republics, classes and denominations
of the entire Western Hemisphere, arise, and, circumstances permitting,
direct in particular the attention, and win eventually the unqualified
adherence, of the Negro, the Indian, the Eskimo, and Jewish races to his
Faith. No more laudable and meritorious service can be rendered the Cause
of God, at the present hour, than a successful effort to enhance the
diversity of the members of the American Bahá’í community by swelling the
ranks of the Faith through the enrollment of the members of these races. A
blending of these highly differentiated elements of the human race,
harmoniously interwoven into the fabric of an all-embracing Bahá’í
fraternity, and assimilated through the dynamic processes of a divinely
appointed Administrative Order, and contributing each its share to the
enrichment and glory of Bahá’í community life, is surely an achievement
the contemplation of which must warm and thrill every Bahá’í heart.
“Consider the flowers of a garden,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written, “though
differing in kind, color, form, and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are
refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind,
invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm,
and addeth unto their beauty. How unpleasing to the eye if all the flowers
and plants, the leaves and blossoms, the fruits, the branches and the
trees of that garden were all of the same shape and color! Diversity of
hues, form and shape, enricheth and adorneth the garden, and heighteneth
the effect thereof. In like manner, when divers shades of thought,
temperament and character, are brought together under the power and
influence of one central agency, the beauty and glory of human perfection
will be revealed and made manifest. Naught but the celestial potency of
the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all
things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments,
ideas, and convictions of the children of men.” “I hope,” is the wish
expressed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “that ye may cause that downtrodden race
[Negro] to become glorious, and to be joined with the white race to serve
the world of man with the utmost sincerity, faithfulness, love and
purity.” “One of the important questions,” He also has written, “which
affect the unity and the solidarity of mankind is the fellowship and
equality of the white and colored races.” “You must attach great
importance,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, “to
the Indians, the original inhabitants of America. For these souls may be
likened unto the ancient inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula, who, prior
to the Revelation of Muḥammad, were like savages. When the Muḥammadan
Light shone forth in their midst, they became so enkindled that they shed
illumination upon the world. Likewise, should these Indians be educated
and properly guided, there can be no doubt that through the Divine
teachings they will become so enlightened that the whole earth will be
illumined.” “If it is possible,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has also written, “send ye
teachers to other portions of Canada; likewise, dispatch ye teachers to
Greenland and the home of the Eskimos.” “God willing,” He further has
written in those same Tablets, “the call of the Kingdom may reach the ears
of the Eskimos.... Should you display an effort, so that the fragrances of
God may be diffused among the Eskimos, its effect will be very great and
far-reaching.” “Praise be to God,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “that whatsoever
hath been announced in the Blessed Tablets unto the Israelites, and the
things explicitly written in the letters of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, are all being
fulfilled. Some have come to pass; others will be revealed in the future.
The Ancient Beauty hath in His sacred Tablets explicitly written that the
day of their abasement is over. His bounty will overshadow them, and this
race will day by day progress, and be delivered from its age-long
obscurity and degradation.”

Let those who are holding administrative positions in their capacity as
members of either the National Spiritual Assembly, or of the national, the
regional, or local teaching committees, continually bear in mind the vital
and urgent necessity of insuring, within as short a time as possible, the
formation, in the few remaining states of the North American Republic and
the provinces of the Dominion of Canada, of groups, however small and
rudimentary, and of providing every facility within their power to enable
these newly formed nuclei to evolve, swiftly and along sound lines, into
properly functioning, self-sufficient, and recognized Assemblies. To the
laying of such foundations, the erection of such outposts—a work
admittedly arduous, yet sorely needed and highly inspiring—the individual
members of the American Bahá’í community must lend their unstinted,
continual, and enthusiastic support. Wise as may be the measures which
their elected representatives may devise, however practical and well
conceived the plans they formulate, such measures and plans can never
yield any satisfactory results unless a sufficient number of pioneers have
determined to make the necessary sacrifices, and to volunteer to carry
these projects into effect. To implant, once and for all, the banner of
Bahá’u’lláh in the heart of these virgin territories, to erect the
structural basis of His Administrative Order in their cities and villages,
and to establish a firm and permanent anchorage for its institutions in
the minds and hearts of their inhabitants, constitute, I firmly believe,
the first and most significant step in the successive stages through which
the teaching campaign, inaugurated under the Seven Year Plan, must pass.
Whereas the external ornamentation of the Ma_sh_riqu’l-A_dh_kár, under
this same Plan, has now entered the final phase in its development, the
teaching campaign is still in its initial stages, and is far from having
extended effectively its ramifications to either these virgin territories,
or to those Republics that are situated in the South American continent.
The effort required is prodigious, the conditions under which these
preliminary establishments are to be made are often unattractive and
unfavorable, the workers who are in a position to undertake such tasks
limited, and the resources they can command meager and inadequate. And
yet, how often has the pen of Bahá’u’lláh assured us that “should a man,
all alone, arise in the name of Bahá, and put on the armor of His love,
him will the Almighty cause to be victorious, though the forces of earth
and heaven be arrayed against him.” Has He not written: “By God, besides
Whom is none other God! Should anyone arise for the triumph of our Cause,
him will God render victorious though tens of thousands of enemies be
leagued against him. And if his love for me wax stronger, God will
establish his ascendancy over all the powers of earth and heaven.”
“Consider the work of former generations,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written;
“During the lifetime of Jesus Christ the believing, firm souls were few
and numbered, but the heavenly blessings descended so plentifully that in
a number of years countless souls entered beneath the shadow of the
Gospel. God has said in the Qur’án: ‘One grain will bring forth seven
sheaves, and every sheaf shall contain one hundred grains.’ In other
words, one grain will become seven hundred; and if God so wills He will
double these also. It has often happened that one blessed soul has become
the cause of the guidance of a nation. Now we must not consider our
ability and capacity, nay rather we must fix our gaze upon the favors and
bounties of God, in these days, Who has made of the drop a sea, and of the
atom a sun.” Let those who resolve to be the first to hoist the standard
of such a Cause, under such conditions, and in such territories, nourish
their souls with the sustaining power of these words, and, “putting on the
armor of His love,” a love which must “wax stronger” as they persevere in
their lonesome task, arise to adorn with the tale of their deeds the most
brilliant pages ever written in their country’s spiritual history.

“Although,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, has written,
“in most of the states and cities of the United States, praise be to God,
His fragrances are diffused, and souls unnumbered are turning their faces
and advancing toward the Kingdom of God, yet in some of the states the
Standard of Unity is not yet upraised as it should be, nor are the
mysteries of the Holy Books, such as the Bible, the Gospel, and the
Qur’án, unraveled. Through the concerted efforts of all the friends the
Standard of Unity must needs be unfurled in those states, and the Divine
teachings promoted, so that these states may also receive their portion of
the heavenly bestowals and a share of the Most Great Guidance.” “The
future of the Dominion of Canada,” He, in another Tablet of the Divine
Plan, has asserted, “is very great, and the events connected with it
infinitely glorious. The eye of God’s loving-kindness will be turned
towards it, and it shall become the manifestation of the favors of the
All-Glorious.” “Again I repeat,” He, in that same Tablet reaffirms His
previous statement, “that the future of Canada, whether from a material or
a spiritual standpoint, is very great.”

No sooner is this initial step taken, involving as it does the formation
of at least one nucleus in each of these virgin states and provinces in
the North American continent, than the machinery for a tremendous
intensification of Bahá’í concerted effort must be set in motion, the
purpose of which should be the reinforcement of the noble exertions which
only a few isolated believers are now making for the awakening of the
nations of Latin America to the Call of Bahá’u’lláh. Not until this second
phase of the teaching campaign, under the Seven Year Plan, has been
entered can the campaign be regarded as fully launched, or the Plan itself
as having attained the most decisive stage in its evolution. So powerful
will be the effusions of Divine grace that will be poured forth upon a
valiant community that has already in the administrative sphere erected,
in all the glory of its exterior ornamentation, its chief Edifice, and in
the teaching field raised aloft, in every state and province, in the North
American continent the banner of its Faith—so great will be these
effusions that its members will find themselves overpowered by the
evidences of their regenerative power.

The Inter-America Committee must, at such a stage, nay even before it is
entered, rise to the level of its opportunities, and display a vigor, a
consecration, and enterprise as will be commensurate with the
responsibilities it has shouldered. It should not, for a moment, be
forgotten that Central and Southern America embrace no less than twenty
independent nations, constituting approximately one-third of the entire
number of the world’s sovereign states, and are destined to play an
increasingly important part in the shaping of the world’s future destiny.
With the world contracting into a neighborhood, and the fortunes of its
races, nations and peoples becoming inextricably interwoven, the
remoteness of these states of the Western Hemisphere is vanishing, and the
latent possibilities in each of them are becoming increasingly apparent.

When this second stage in the progressive unfoldment of teaching
activities and enterprises, under the Seven Year Plan, is reached, and the
machinery required for its prosecution begins to operate, the American
believers, the stout-hearted pioneers of this mighty movement, must,
guided by the unfailing light of Bahá’u’lláh, and in strict accordance
with the Plan laid out by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and acting under the direction of
their National Spiritual Assembly, and assured of the aid of the
Inter-America Committee, launch an offensive against the powers of
darkness, of corruption, and of ignorance, an offensive that must extend
to the uttermost end of the Southern continent, and embrace within its
scope each of the twenty nations that compose it.

Let some, at this very moment, gird up the loins of their endeavor, flee
their native towns, cities, and states, forsake their country, and,
“putting their whole trust in God as the best provision for their
journey,” set their faces, and direct their steps towards those distant
climes, those virgin fields, those unsurrendered cities, and bend their
energies to capture the citadels of men’s hearts—hearts, which, as
Bahá’u’lláh has written, “the hosts of Revelation and of utterance can
subdue.” Let them not tarry until such time as their fellow-laborers will
have passed the first stage in their campaign of teaching, but let them
rather, from this very hour, arise to usher in the opening phase of what
will come to be regarded as one of the most glorious chapters in the
international history of their Faith. Let them, at the very outset, “teach
their own selves, that their speech may attract the hearts of their
hearers.” Let them regard the triumph of their Faith as their “supreme
objective.” Let them not “consider the largeness or smallness of the
receptacle” that carries the measure of grace that God poureth forth in
this age. Let them “disencumber themselves of all attachment to this world
and the vanities thereof,” and, with that spirit of detachment which
‘Abdu’l-Bahá exemplified and wished them to emulate, bring these
diversified peoples and countries to the remembrance of God and His
supreme Manifestation. Let His love be a “storehouse of treasure for their
souls,” on the day when “every pillar shall tremble, when the very skins
of men shall creep, when all eyes shall stare up with terror.” Let their
“souls be aglow with the flame of the undying Fire that burneth in the
midmost heart of the world, in such wise that the waters of the universe
shall be powerless to cool down its ardor.” Let them be “unrestrained as
the wind” which “neither the sight of desolation nor the evidences of
prosperity can either pain or please.” Let them “unloose their tongues and
proclaim unceasingly His Cause.” Let them “proclaim that which the Most
Great Spirit will inspire them to utter in the service of the Cause of
their Lord.” Let them “beware lest they contend with anyone, nay strive to
make him aware of the truth with kindly manner and most convincing
exhortation.” Let them “wholly for the sake of God proclaim His Message,
and with that same spirit accept whatever response their words may evoke
in their hearers.” Let them not, for one moment, forget that the “Faithful
Spirit shall strengthen them through its power,” and that “a company of
His chosen angels shall go forth with them, as bidden by Him Who is the
Almighty, the All-Wise.” Let them ever bear in mind “how great is the
blessedness that awaiteth them that have attained the honor of serving the
Almighty,” and remember that “such a service is indeed the prince of all
goodly deeds, and the ornament of every goodly act.”

And, finally, let these soul-stirring words of Bahá’u’lláh, as they pursue
their course throughout the length and breadth of the southern American
continent, be ever ready on their lips, a solace to their hearts, a light
on their path, a companion in their loneliness, and a daily sustenance in
their journeys: “O wayfarer in the path of God! Take thou thy portion of
the ocean of His grace, and deprive not thyself of the things that lie
hidden in its depths.... A dewdrop out of this ocean would, if shed upon
all that are in the heavens and on earth, suffice to enrich them with the
bounty of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. With the hands
of renunciation draw forth from its life-giving waters, and sprinkle
therewith all created things, that they may be cleansed from all man-made
limitations, and may approach the mighty seat of God, this hallowed and
resplendent Spot. Be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone. Let
God be all-sufficient for thee.... Proclaim the Cause of thy Lord unto all
who are in the heavens and on the earth. Should any man respond to thy
call, lay bare before him the pearls of the wisdom of the Lord, thy God,
which His Spirit hath sent down upon thee, and be thou of them that truly
believe. And should anyone reject thy offer, turn thou away from him, and
put thy trust and confidence in the Lord of all worlds. By the
righteousness of God! Whoso openeth his lips in this day, and maketh
mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine inspiration shall
descend upon him from the heaven of my name, the All-Knowing, the
All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse on high, each bearing
aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus hath it been foreordained in the realm
of God’s Revelation, by the behest of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the
Most Powerful.”

Let these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, gleaned from the Tablets of the Divine
Plan, ring likewise in their ears, as they go forth, assured and unafraid,
on His mission: “O ye apostles of Bahá’u’lláh! May my life be sacrificed
for you!... Behold the portals which Bahá’u’lláh hath opened before you!
Consider how exalted and lofty is the station you are destined to attain;
how unique the favors with which you have been endowed.” “My thoughts are
turned towards you, and my heart leaps within me at your mention. Could ye
know how my soul gloweth with your love, so great a happiness would flood
your hearts as to cause you to become enamored with each other.” “The full
measure of your success is as yet unrevealed, its significance still
unapprehended. Erelong ye will, with your own eyes, witness how
brilliantly every one of you, even as a shining star, will radiate in the
firmament of your country the light of Divine Guidance, and will bestow
upon its people the glory of an everlasting life.” “I fervently hope that
in the near future the whole earth may be stirred and shaken by the
results of your achievements.” “The Almighty will no doubt grant you the
help of His grace, will invest you with the tokens of His might, and will
endue your souls with the sustaining power of His holy Spirit.” “Be not
concerned with the smallness of your numbers, neither be oppressed by the
multitude of an unbelieving world.... Exert yourselves; your mission is
unspeakably glorious. Should success crown your enterprise, America will
assuredly evolve into a center from which waves of spiritual power will
emanate, and the throne of the Kingdom of God will, in the plenitude of
its majesty and glory, be firmly established.”

It should be remembered that the carrying out of the Seven Year Plan
involves, insofar as the teaching work is concerned, no more than the
formation of at least one center in each of the Central and South American
Republics. The hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Faith of
Bahá’u’lláh should witness, if the Plan already launched is to meet with
success, the laying, in each of these countries, of a foundation, however
rudimentary, on which the rising generation of the American believers may,
in the opening years of the second century of the Bahá’í era, be able to
build. Theirs will be the task, in the course of successive decades, to
extend and reinforce those foundations, and to supply the necessary
guidance, assistance, and encouragement that will enable the widely
scattered groups of believers in those countries to establish independent
and properly constituted local Assemblies, and thereby erect the framework
of the Administrative Order of their Faith. The erection of such a
framework is primarily the responsibility of those whom the community of
the North American believers have converted to the Divine Message. It is a
task which must involve, apart from the immediate obligation of enabling
every group to evolve into a local Assembly, the setting up of the entire
machinery of the Administrative Order in conformity with the spiritual and
administrative principles governing the life and activities of every
established Bahá’í community throughout the world. No departure from these
cardinal and clearly enunciated principles, embodied and preserved in
Bahá’í national and local constitutions, common to all Bahá’í communities,
can under any circumstances be tolerated. This, however, is a task that
concerns those who, at a later period, must arise to further a work which,
to all intents and purposes, has not yet been effectively started.

To pave the way, in a more systematic manner, for the laying of the
necessary foundation on which such permanent national and local
institutions can be reared and securely established is a task that will
very soon demand the concentrated attention of the prosecutors of the
Seven Year Plan. No sooner has their immediate obligation in connection
with the opening up of the few remaining territories in the United States
and Canada been discharged, than a carefully laid-out plan should be
conceived, aiming at the establishment of such a foundation. As already
stated, the provision for these vast, preliminary undertakings, the scope
of which must embrace the entire area occupied by the Central and South
American Republics, constitutes the very core, and must ultimately decide
the fate, of the teaching campaign conducted under the Seven Year Plan.
Upon this campaign must depend not only the effectual discharge of the
solemn obligations undertaken in connection with the present Plan, but
also the progressive unfoldment of the subsequent stages essential to the
realization of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s vision of the part the American believers
are to play in the worldwide propagation of their Cause.

These undertakings, preliminary as they are to the strenuous and organized
labors by which future generations of believers in the Latin countries
must distinguish themselves, require, in turn, without a moment’s delay,
on the part of the National Spiritual Assembly and of both the National
Teaching and Inter-America Committees, painstaking investigations
preparatory to the sending of settlers and itinerant teachers, whose
privilege will be to raise the call of the New Day in a new continent.

I can only, in my desire to be of some service to those who are to assume
such tremendous responsibilities, and to suffer such self-denial, attempt
to offer a few helpful suggestions which, I trust, will facilitate the
accomplishment of the great work to be achieved in the very near future.
To this work, that must constitute an historical landmark of first-class
importance when completed, the energies of the entire community must be
resolutely consecrated. The number of Bahá’í teachers, be they settlers or
travelers, must be substantially increased. The material resources to be
placed at their disposal must be multiplied, and efficiently administered.
The literature with which they should be equipped must be vastly
augmented. The publicity that should aid them in the distribution of such
literature should be extended, centrally organized, and vigorously
conducted. The possibilities latent in these countries should be
diligently exploited, and systematically developed. The various obstacles
raised by the widely varying political and social conditions obtaining in
these countries should be closely surveyed and determinedly surmounted. In
a word, no opportunity should be neglected, and no effort spared, to lay
as broad and solid a basis as possible for the progress and development of
the greatest teaching enterprise ever launched by the American Bahá’í
community.

The careful translation of such important Bahá’í writings as are related
to the history, the teachings, or the Administrative Order of the Faith,
and their wide and systematic dissemination, in vast quantities, and
throughout as many of these Republics as possible, and in languages that
are most suitable and needed, would appear to be the chief and most urgent
measure to be taken simultaneously with the arrival of the pioneer workers
in those fields. “Books and pamphlets,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in one of the
Tablets of the Divine Plan, “must be either translated or composed in the
languages of these countries and islands, to be circulated in every part
and in all directions.” In countries where no objections can be raised by
the civil authorities or any influential circles, this measure should be
reinforced by the publication, in various organs of the Press, of
carefully worded articles and letters, designed to impress upon the
general public certain features of the stirring history of the Faith, and
the range and character of its teachings.

Every laborer in those fields, whether as traveling teacher or settler,
should, I feel, make it his chief and constant concern to mix, in a
friendly manner, with all sections of the population, irrespective of
class, creed, nationality, or color, to familiarize himself with their
ideas, tastes, and habits, to study the approach best suited to them, to
concentrate, patiently and tactfully, on a few who have shown marked
capacity and receptivity, and to endeavor, with extreme kindness, to
implant such love, zeal, and devotion in their hearts as to enable them to
become in turn self-sufficient and independent promoters of the Faith in
their respective localities. “Consort with all men, O people of Bahá,” is
Bahá’u’lláh’s admonition, “in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If
ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are
deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and
goodwill. If it be accepted, if it fulfill its purpose, your object is
attained. If anyone should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech
God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue
is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it
clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom
and understanding.”

An effort, moreover, can and should be made, not only by representative
Bahá’í bodies, but also by prospective teachers, as well as by other
individual believers, deprived of the privilege of visiting those shores
or of settling on that continent, to seize every opportunity that presents
itself to make the acquaintance, and awaken the genuine interest, of such
people who are either citizens of these countries, or are in any way
connected with them, whatever be their interests or profession. Through
the kindness shown them, or any literature which may be given them, or any
connection which they may establish with them, the American believers can
thereby sow such seeds in their hearts as might, in future circumstances,
germinate and yield the most unexpected results. Care, however, should, at
all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the
international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and
turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to
proselytize and bring undue pressure upon them, those whom they wish to
win over to their Cause.

I would particularly direct my appeal to those American believers,
sore-pressed as they are by the manifold, the urgent, and ever-increasing
issues that confront them at the present hour, who may find it possible,
whatever be their calling or employment, whether as businessmen, school
teachers, lawyers, doctors, writers, office workers, and the like, to
establish permanently their residence in such countries as may offer them
a reasonable prospect of earning the means of livelihood. They will by
their action be relieving the continually increasing pressure on their
Teaching Fund, which in view of its restricted dimensions must provide,
when not otherwise available, the traveling and other expenses to be
incurred in connection with the development of this vast undertaking.
Should they find it impossible to take advantage of so rare and sacred a
privilege, let them, mindful of the words of Bahá’u’lláh, determine, each
according to the means at his or her disposal, to appoint a deputy who, on
that believer’s behalf, will arise and carry out so noble an enterprise.
“Center your energies,” are Bahá’u’lláh’s words, “in the propagation of
the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and
promote it. Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in
his stead, proclaim this Revelation, whose power hath caused the
foundations of the mightiest structures to quake, every mountain to be
crushed into dust, and every soul to be dumbfounded.”

As to those who have been able to leave their homes and country, and to
serve in those regions, whether temporarily or permanently, a special
duty, which must continually be borne in mind, devolves upon them. It
should be one of their chief aims to keep, on the one hand, in constant
touch with the National Committee specifically entrusted with the
promotion of their work, and to cooperate, on the other, by every possible
means and in the utmost harmony, with their fellow-believers in those
countries, whatever the field in which they labor, whatever their
standing, ability, or experience. Through the performance of their first
duty they will derive the necessary stimulus and obtain the necessary
guidance that will enable them to prosecute effectively their mission, and
will also, through their regular reports to that committee, be imparting
to the general body of their fellow-believers the news of the latest
developments in their activities. By fulfilling their other duty, they
will insure the smooth efficiency, facilitate the progress, and avert any
untoward incidents that might handicap the development of their common
enterprise. The maintenance of close contact and harmonious relationships
between the Inter-America Committee, entrusted with the immediate
responsibility of organizing such a far-reaching enterprise, and the
privileged pioneers who are actually executing that enterprise, and
extending its ramifications far and wide, as well as among these pioneers
themselves, would set, apart from its immediate advantages, a worthy and
inspiring example to generations still yet to be born who are to carry on,
with all its increasing complexities, the work which is being initiated at
present.

It would, no doubt, be of exceptional importance and value, particularly
in these times when the various restrictions imposed in those countries
make it difficult for a considerable number of Bahá’í pioneers to
establish their residence and earn their livelihood in those states, if
certain ones among the believers, whose income, however slender, provides
them with the means of an independent existence, would so arrange their
affairs as to be able to reside indefinitely in those countries. The
sacrifices involved, the courage, faith, and perseverance it demands, are
no doubt very great. Their value, however, can never be properly assessed
at the present time, and the limitless reward which they who demonstrate
them will receive can never be adequately depicted. “They that have
forsaken their country,” is Bahá’u’lláh’s own testimony, “for the purpose
of teaching Our Cause—these shall the Faithful Spirit strengthen through
its power.... By My life! No act, however great, can compare with it,
except such deeds as have been ordained by God, the All-Powerful, the Most
Mighty. Such a service is indeed the prince of all goodly deeds, and the
ornament of every goodly act.” Such a reward, it should be noted, is not
to be regarded as purely an abstract blessing confined to the future life,
but also as a tangible benefit which such courage, faith and perseverance
can alone confer in this material world. The solid achievements, spiritual
as well as administrative, which in the far-away continent of Australasia,
and more recently in Bulgaria, representative believers from both Canada
and the United States have accomplished, proclaim in terms unmistakable
the nature of those prizes which, even in this world, such sterling
heroism is bound to win. “Whoso,” Bahá’u’lláh, in a memorable passage,
extolling those of His loved ones who have “journeyed through the
countries in His Name and for His praise,” has written, “hath attained
their presence will glory in their meeting, and all that dwell in every
land will be illumined by their memory.”

I am moved, at this juncture, as I am reminded of the share which, ever
since the inception of the Faith in the West, the handmaidens of
Bahá’u’lláh, as distinguished from the men, have had in opening up,
single-handed, so many, such diversified, and widely scattered countries
over the whole surface of the globe, not only to pay a tribute to such
apostolic fervor as is truly reminiscent of those heroic men who were
responsible for the birth of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, but also to stress
the significance of such a preponderating share which the women of the
West have had and are having in the establishment of His Faith throughout
the whole world. “Among the miracles,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself has testified,
“which distinguish this sacred Dispensation is this, that women have
evinced a greater boldness than men when enlisted in the ranks of the
Faith.” So great and splendid a testimony applies in particular to the
West, and though it has received thus far abundant and convincing
confirmation must, as the years roll away, be further reinforced, as the
American believers usher in the most glorious phase of their teaching
activities under the Seven Year Plan. The “boldness” which, in the words
of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, has characterized their accomplishments in the past must
suffer no eclipse as they stand on the threshold of still greater and
nobler accomplishments. Nay rather, it must, in the course of time and
throughout the length and breadth of the vast and virgin territories of
Latin America, be more convincingly demonstrated, and win for the beloved
Cause victories more stirring than any it has as yet achieved.

To the Bahá’í youth of America, moreover, I feel a word should be
addressed in particular, as I survey the possibilities which a campaign of
such gigantic proportions has to offer to the eager and enterprising
spirit that so powerfully animates them in the service of the Cause of
Bahá’u’lláh. Though lacking in experience and faced with insufficient
resources, yet the adventurous spirit which they possess, and the vigor,
the alertness, and optimism they have thus far so consistently shown,
qualify them to play an active part in arousing the interest, and in
securing the allegiance, of their fellow youth in those countries. No
greater demonstration can be given to the peoples of both continents of
the youthful vitality and the vibrant power animating the life, and the
institutions of the nascent Faith of Bahá’u’lláh than an intelligent,
persistent, and effective participation of the Bahá’í youth, of every
race, nationality, and class, in both the teaching and administrative
spheres of Bahá’í activity. Through such a participation the critics and
enemies of the Faith, watching with varying degrees of skepticism and
resentment, the evolutionary processes of the Cause of God and its
institutions, can best be convinced of the indubitable truth that such a
Cause is intensely alive, is sound to its very core, and its destinies in
safe keeping. I hope, and indeed pray, that such a participation may not
only redound to the glory, the power, and the prestige of the Faith, but
may also react so powerfully on the spiritual lives, and galvanize to such
an extent the energies of the youthful members of the Bahá’í community, as
to empower them to display, in a fuller measure, their inherent
capacities, and to unfold a further stage in their spiritual evolution
under the shadow of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh.

Faithful to the provisions of the Charter laid down by the pen of
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I feel it my duty to draw the special attention of those to
whom it has been entrusted to the urgent needs of, and the special
position enjoyed by, the Republic of Panama, both in view of its relative
proximity to the heart and center of the Faith in North America, and of
its geographical position as the link between two continents. “All the
above countries,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, referring to the Latin States in one of
the Tablets of the Divine Plan, has written, “have importance, but
especially the Republic of Panama, wherein the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
come together through the Panama Canal. It is a center for travel and
passage from America to other continents of the world, and in the future
it will gain most great importance.” “Likewise,” He again has written, “ye
must give great attention to the Republic of Panama, for in that point the
Occident and the Orient find each other united through the Panama Canal,
and it is also situated between the two great oceans. That place will
become very important in the future. The teachings, once established
there, will unite the East and the West, the North and the South.” So
privileged a position surely demands the special and prompt attention of
the American Bahá’í community. With the Republic of Mexico already opened
up to the Faith, and with a Spiritual Assembly properly constituted in its
capital city, the southward penetration of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh into a
neighboring country is but a natural and logical step, and should, it is
to be hoped, prove to be not a difficult one. No efforts should be spared,
and no sacrifice be deemed too great, to establish even though it be a
very small group in a Republic occupying, both spiritually and
geographically, so strategic a position—a group which, in view of the
potency with which the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have already endowed it,
cannot but draw to itself, as soon as it is formed, the outpouring grace
of the Abhá Kingdom, and evolve with such marvelous swiftness as to excite
the wonder and the admiration of even those who have already witnessed
such stirring evidences of the force and power of the Faith of
Bahá’u’lláh. Preference, no doubt, should be given by all would-be
pioneers, as well as by the members of the Inter-America Committee, to the
spiritual needs of this privileged Republic, though every effort should,
at the same time, be exerted to introduce the Faith, however tentatively,
to the Republics of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa
Rica which would link it, in an unbroken chain, with its mother Assemblies
in the North American continent. Obstacles, however formidable, should be
surmounted, the resources of the Bahá’í treasury should be liberally
expended on its behalf, and the ablest and most precious exertions should
be consecrated to the cause of its awakening. The erection of yet another
outpost of the Faith, in its heart, will constitute, I firmly believe, a
landmark in the history of the Formative Period of the Faith of
Bahá’u’lláh in the New World. It will create limitless opportunities,
galvanize the efforts, and reinvigorate the life, of those who will have
accomplished this feat, and infuse immense courage and boundless joy into
the hearts of the isolated groups and individuals in the neighboring and
distant Republics, and exert intangible yet powerful spiritual influences
on the life and future development of its people.



“SUCH, DEARLY BELOVED FRIENDS, IS THE VISTA THAT STRETCHES ...”


Such, dearly beloved friends, is the vista that stretches before the eyes,
and challenges the resources, of the American Bahá’í community in these,
the concluding years of the First Century of the Bahá’í Era. Such are the
qualities and qualifications demanded of them for the proper discharge of
their responsibilities and duties. Such are the requirements, the
possibilities, and the objectives of the Plan that claims every ounce of
their energy. Who knows but that these few remaining, fast-fleeting years,
may not be pregnant with events of unimaginable magnitude, with ordeals
more severe than any that humanity has as yet experienced, with conflicts
more devastating than any which have preceded them. Dangers, however
sinister, must, at no time, dim the radiance of their new-born faith.
Strife and confusion, however bewildering, must never befog their vision.
Tribulations, however afflictive, must never shatter their resolve.
Denunciations, however clamorous, must never sap their loyalty. Upheavals,
however cataclysmic, must never deflect their course. The present Plan,
embodying the budding hopes of a departed Master, must be pursued,
relentlessly pursued, whatever may befall them in the future, however
distracting the crises that may agitate their country or the world. Far
from yielding in their resolve, far from growing oblivious of their task,
they should, at no time, however much buffeted by circumstances, forget
that the synchronization of such world-shaking crises with the progressive
unfoldment and fruition of their divinely appointed task is itself the
work of Providence, the design of an inscrutable Wisdom, and the purpose
of an all-compelling Will, a Will that directs and controls, in its own
mysterious way, both the fortunes of the Faith and the destinies of men.
Such simultaneous processes of rise and of fall, of integration and of
disintegration, of order and chaos, with their continuous and reciprocal
reactions on each other, are but aspects of a greater Plan, one and
indivisible, whose Source is God, whose author is Bahá’u’lláh, the theater
of whose operations is the entire planet, and whose ultimate objectives
are the unity of the human race and the peace of all mankind.

Reflections such as these should steel the resolve of the entire Bahá’í
community, should dissipate their forebodings, and arouse them to
rededicate themselves to every single provision of that Divine Charter
whose outline has been delineated for them by the pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The
Seven Year Plan, as already stated, is but the initial stage, a
stepping-stone to the unfoldment of the implications of this Charter. The
impulse, originally generated through the movement of that pen, and which
is now driving forward, with increasing momentum, the machinery of the
Seven Year Plan, must, in the opening years of the next century, be
further accelerated, and impel the American Bahá’í community to launch
further stages in the unfoldment of the Divine Plan, stages that will
carry it far beyond the shores of the Northern Hemisphere, into lands and
among peoples where that community’s noblest acts of heroism are to be
performed.

Let anyone inclined to doubt the course which this enviable community is
destined to follow, turn to and meditate upon these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá,
enshrined, for all time, in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, and addressed
to the entire community of the believers of the United States and Canada:
“The full measure of your success,” He informs them, “is as yet
unrevealed, its significance still unapprehended. Erelong, ye will, with
your own eyes, witness how brilliantly every one of you, even as a shining
star, will radiate, in the firmament of your country, the light of Divine
Guidance, and will bestow upon its people the glory of an everlasting
life.... The range of your future achievements still remains undisclosed.
I fervently hope that in the near future the whole earth may be stirred
and shaken by the results of your achievements. The hope, therefore, which
‘Abdu’l-Bahá cherishes for you is that the same success which has attended
your efforts in America may crown your endeavors in other parts of the
world, that through you the fame of the Cause of God may be diffused
throughout the East and the West, and the advent of the Kingdom of the
Lord of Hosts be proclaimed in all the five continents of the globe.” “The
moment,” He most significantly adds, “this Divine Message is carried
forward by the American believers from the shores of America, and is
propagated throughout the continents of Europe, of Asia, of Africa, and of
Australasia, and as far as the islands of the Pacific, this community will
find itself securely established upon the throne of an everlasting
dominion. Then will all the peoples of the world witness that this
community is spiritually illumined and divinely guided. Then will the
whole earth resound with the praises of its majesty and greatness.”

No reader of these words, so vibrant with promises that not even the
triumphant consummation of the Seven Year Plan can fulfill, can expect a
community that has been raised so high, and endowed so richly, to remain
content with any laurels it may win in the immediate future. To rest upon
such laurels would indeed be tantamount to a betrayal of the trust placed
in that community by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. To cut short the chain of victories
that must lead it on to that supreme triumph when “the whole earth may be
stirred and shaken” by the results of its achievements would shatter His
hopes. To vacillate, and fail to “propagate through the continents of
Europe, of Asia, of Africa, and of Australasia, and as far as the islands
of the Pacific” a Message so magnificently proclaimed by it in the
American continent would deprive it of the privilege of being “securely
established upon the throne of an everlasting dominion.” To forfeit the
honor of proclaiming “the advent of the Kingdom of the Lord of Hosts” in
“all the five continents of the globe” would silence those “praises of its
majesty and greatness” that otherwise would echo throughout “the whole
earth.”

Such vacillation, failure, or neglect, the American believers, the
ambassadors of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, will, I am firmly convinced,
never permit. Such a trust will never be betrayed, such hopes can never be
shattered, such a privilege will never be forfeited, nor will such praises
remain unuttered. Nay rather the present generation of this blessed, this
repeatedly blessed, community will go from strength to strength, and will
hand on, as the first century draws to a close, to the generations that
must succeed it in the second the torch of Divine Guidance, undimmed by
the tempestuous winds that must blow upon it, that they in turn, faithful
to the wish and mandate of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, may carry that torch, with that
self-same vigor, fidelity, and enthusiasm, to the darkest and remotest
corners of the earth.

Dearly beloved friends! I can do no better, eager as I am to extend to
every one of you any assistance in my power that may enable you to
discharge more effectively your divinely appointed, continually
multiplying duties, than to direct your special attention, at this
decisive hour, to these immortal passages, gleaned in part from the great
mass of Bahá’u’lláh’s unpublished and untranslated writings. Whether in
His revelation of the station and functions of His loved ones, or His
eulogies of the greatness of His Cause, or His emphasis on the paramount
importance of teaching, or the dangers which He foreshadows, the counsels
He imparts, the warnings He utters, the vistas He discloses, and the
assurances and promises He gives, these dynamic and typical examples of
Bahá’u’lláh’s sublime utterance, each having a direct bearing on the tasks
which actually face or lie ahead of the American Bahá’í community, cannot
fail to produce on the minds and hearts of any one of its members, who
approaches them with befitting humility and detachment, such powerful
reactions as to illuminate his entire being and intensify tremendously his
daily exertions.

“O friends! Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been
endowed, neither be neglectful of your high destiny.... Ye are the stars
of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of
day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all
men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll.” “O people of Bahá! Ye
are the breezes of spring that are wafted over the world. Through you We
have adorned the world of being with the ornament of the knowledge of the
Most Merciful. Through you the countenance of the world hath been wreathed
in smiles, and the brightness of His light shone forth. Cling ye to the
Cord of steadfastness, in such wise that all vain imaginings may utterly
vanish. Speed ye forth from the horizon of power, in the name of your
Lord, the Unconstrained, and announce unto His servants, with wisdom and
eloquence, the tidings of this Cause, whose splendor hath been shed upon
the world of being. Beware lest anything withhold you from observing the
things prescribed unto you by the Pen of Glory, as it moved over His
Tablet with sovereign majesty and might. Great is the blessedness of him
that hath hearkened to its shrill voice, as it was raised, through the
power of truth, before all who are in heaven and all who are on earth....
O people of Bahá! The river that is Life indeed hath flowed for your
sakes. Quaff ye in My name, despite them that have disbelieved in God, the
Lord of Revelation. We have made you to be the hands of Our Cause. Render
ye victorious this Wronged One, Who hath been sore-tried in the hands of
the workers of iniquity. He, verily, will aid everyone that aideth Him,
and will remember everyone that remembereth Him. To this beareth witness
this Tablet that hath shed the splendor of the loving-kindness of your
Lord, the All-Glorious, the All-Compelling.” “Blessed are the people of
Bahá! God beareth Me witness! They are the solace of the eye of creation.
Through them the universes have been adorned, and the Preserved Tablet
embellished. They are the ones who have sailed on the ark of complete
independence, with their faces set towards the Dayspring of Beauty. How
great is their blessedness that they have attained unto what their Lord,
the Omniscient, the All-Wise, hath willed. Through their light the heavens
have been adorned, and the faces of those that have drawn nigh unto Him
made to shine.” “By the sorrows which afflict the beauty of the
All-Glorious! Such is the station ordained for the true believer that if
to an extent smaller than a needle’s eye the glory of that station were to
be unveiled to mankind, every beholder would be consumed away in his
longing to attain it. For this reason it hath been decreed that in this
earthly life the full measure of the glory of his own station should
remain concealed from the eyes of such a believer.” “If the veil be
lifted, and the full glory of the station of those who have turned wholly
towards God, and in their love for Him renounced the world, be made
manifest, the entire creation would be dumbfounded.”

“Verily I say! No one hath apprehended the root of this Cause. It is
incumbent upon everyone, in this day, to perceive with the eye of God, and
to hearken with His ear. Whoso beholdeth Me with an eye besides Mine own
will never be able to know Me. None among the Manifestations of old,
except to a prescribed degree, hath ever completely apprehended the nature
of this Revelation.” “I testify before God to the greatness, the
inconceivable greatness of this Revelation. Again and again have We, in
most of Our Tablets, borne witness to this truth, that mankind may be
roused from its heedlessness.” “How great is the Cause, how staggering the
weight of its Message!” “In this most mighty Revelation all the
Dispensations of the past have attained their highest, their final
consummation.” “That which hath been made manifest in this preeminent,
this most exalted Revelation, stands unparalleled in the annals of the
past, nor will future ages witness its like.” “The purpose underlying all
creation is the revelation of this most sublime, this most holy Day, the
Day known as the Day of God, in His Books and Scriptures—the Day which all
the Prophets, and the Chosen Ones, and the holy ones, have wished to
witness.” “The highest essence and most perfect expression of whatsoever
the peoples of old have either said or written hath, through this most
potent Revelation, been sent down from the heaven of the Will of the
All-Possessing, the Ever-Abiding God.” “This is the Day in which God’s
most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His
most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things.” “This is the
Day whereon the Ocean of God’s mercy hath been manifested unto men, the
Day in which the Daystar of His loving-kindness hath shed its radiance
upon them, the Day in which the clouds of His bountiful favor have
overshadowed the whole of mankind.” “By the righteousness of Mine own
Self! Great, immeasurably great is this Cause! Mighty, inconceivably
mighty is this Day!” “Every Prophet hath announced the coming of this Day,
and every Messenger hath groaned in His yearning for this Revelation—a
revelation which, no sooner had it been revealed than all created things
cried out saying, ‘The earth is God’s, the Most Exalted, the Most Great!’”
“The Day of the Promise is come, and He Who is the Promised One loudly
proclaimeth before all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, ‘Verily
there is none other God but He, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting!’ I
swear by God! That which had been enshrined from eternity in the knowledge
of God, the Knower of the seen and unseen, is revealed. Happy is the eye
that seeth, and the face that turneth towards, the Countenance of God, the
Lord of all being.” “Great indeed is this Day! The allusions made to it in
all the sacred Scriptures as the Day of God attest its greatness. The soul
of every Prophet of God, of every Divine Messenger, hath thirsted for this
wondrous Day. All the divers kindreds of the earth have, likewise, yearned
to attain it.” “This Day a door is open wider than both heaven and earth.
The eye of the mercy of Him Who is the Desire of the worlds is turned
towards all men. An act, however infinitesimal, is, when viewed in the
mirror of the knowledge of God, mightier than a mountain. Every drop
proffered in His path is as the sea in that mirror. For this is the Day
which the one true God, glorified be He, hath announced in all His Books,
unto His Prophets and His Messengers.” “This is a Revelation, under which,
if a man shed for its sake one drop of blood, myriads of oceans will be
his recompense.” “A fleeting moment, in this Day, excelleth centuries of a
bygone age.... Neither sun nor moon hath witnessed a day such as this
Day.” “This is the Day whereon the unseen world crieth out, ‘Great is thy
blessedness, O earth, for thou hast been made the footstool of thy God,
and been chosen as the seat of His mighty throne.’” “The world of being
shineth, in this Day, with the resplendency of this Divine Revelation. All
created things extol its saving grace, and sing its praises. The universe
is wrapt in an ecstasy of joy and gladness. The Scriptures of past
Dispensations celebrate the great Jubilee that must needs greet this most
great Day of God. Well is it with him that hath lived to see this Day, and
hath recognized its station.” “This Day a different Sun hath arisen, and a
different Heaven hath been adorned with its stars and its planets. The
world is another world, and the Cause another Cause.” “This is the Day
which past ages and centuries can never rival. Know this, and be not of
the ignorant.” “This is the Day whereon human ears have been privileged to
hear what He Who conversed with God [Moses] heard upon Sinai, what He Who
is the Friend of God [Muḥammad] heard when lifted up towards Him, what He
Who is the Spirit of God [Jesus] heard as He ascended unto Him, the Help
in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.” “This Day is God’s Day, and this Cause His
Cause. Happy is he who hath renounced this world, and clung to Him Who is
the Dayspring of God’s Revelation.” “This is the King of Days, the Day
that hath seen the coming of the Best Beloved, He Who through all eternity
hath been acclaimed the Desire of the World.” “This is the Chief of all
days and the King thereof. Great is the blessedness of him who hath
attained, through the sweet savor of these days, unto everlasting life,
and who, with the most great steadfastness, hath arisen to aid the Cause
of Him Who is the King of Names. Such a man is as the eye to the body of
mankind.” “Peerless is this Day, for it is as the eye to past ages and
centuries, and as a light unto the darkness of the times.” “This Day is
different from other days, and this Cause different from other causes.
Entreat ye the one true God that He may deprive not the eyes of men from
beholding His signs, nor their ears from hearkening unto the shrill voice
of the Pen of Glory.” “These days are God’s days, a moment of which ages
and centuries can never rival. An atom, in these days, is as the sun, a
drop as the ocean. One single breath exhaled in the love of God and for
His service is written down by the Pen of Glory as a princely deed. Were
the virtues of this Day to be recounted, all would be thunderstruck,
except those whom thy Lord hath exempted.” “By the righteousness of God!
These are the days in which God hath proved the hearts of the entire
company of His Messengers and Prophets, and beyond them those that stand
guard over His sacred and inviolable Sanctuary, the inmates of the
celestial Pavilion and dwellers of the Tabernacle of Glory.” “Should the
greatness of this Day be revealed in its fulness, every man would forsake
a myriad lives in his longing to partake, though it be for one moment, of
its great glory—how much more this world and its corruptible treasures!”
“God the true One is My Witness! This is the Day whereon it is incumbent
upon everyone that seeth to behold, and every ear that hearkeneth to hear,
and every heart that understandeth to perceive, and every tongue that
speaketh to proclaim unto all who are in heaven and on earth, this holy,
this exalted, and all-highest Name.” “Say, O men! This is a matchless Day.
Matchless must, likewise, be the tongue that celebrateth the praise of the
Desire of all nations, and matchless the deed that aspireth to be
acceptable in His sight. The whole human race hath longed for this Day,
that perchance it may fulfill that which well beseemeth its station and is
worthy of its destiny.”

“Through the movement of Our Pen of Glory We have, at the bidding of the
Omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and
instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the
evidences of this worldwide regeneration.” “O people! I swear by the one
true God! This is the Ocean out of which all Seas have proceeded, and with
which every one of them will ultimately be united. From Him all the Suns
have been generated, and unto Him they will all return. Through His
potency the Trees of Divine Revelation have yielded their fruits, every
one of which hath been sent down in the form of a Prophet, bearing a
Message to God’s creatures in each of the worlds whose number God, alone,
in His all-encompassing knowledge, can reckon. This He hath accomplished
through the agency of but one Letter of His Word, revealed by His Pen—a
Pen moved by His directing Finger—His Finger itself sustained by the power
of God’s Truth.” “By the righteousness of the one true God! If one speck
of a jewel be lost and buried beneath a mountain of stones, and lie hidden
beyond the seven seas, the Hand of Omnipotence would assuredly reveal it
in this Day, pure and cleansed from dross.” “Every single letter
proceeding from Our mouth is endowed with such regenerative power as to
enable it to bring into existence a new creation—a creation the magnitude
of which is inscrutable to all save God. He verily hath knowledge of all
things.” “It is in Our power, should We wish it, to enable a speck of
floating dust to generate, in less than the twinkling of an eye, suns of
infinite, of unimaginable splendor, to cause a dewdrop to develop into
vast and numberless oceans, to infuse into every letter such a force as to
empower it to unfold all the knowledge of past and future ages.” “We are
possessed of such power which, if brought to light, will transmute the
most deadly of poisons into a panacea of unfailing efficacy.”

“The days are approaching their end, and yet the peoples of the earth are
seen sunk in grievous heedlessness, and lost in manifest error.” “Great,
great is the Cause! The hour is approaching when the most great convulsion
will have appeared. I swear by Him Who is the Truth! It shall cause
separation to afflict everyone, even those who circle around Me.” “Say: O
concourse of the heedless! I swear by God! The promised day is come, the
day when tormenting trials will have surged above your heads, and beneath
your feet, saying: ‘Taste ye what your hands have wrought!’” “The time for
the destruction of the world and its people hath arrived. He Who is the
Pre-Existent is come, that He may bestow everlasting life, and grant
eternal preservation, and confer that which is conducive to true living.”
“The day is approaching when its [civilization’s] flame will devour the
cities, when the Tongue of Grandeur will proclaim: ‘The Kingdom is God’s,
the Almighty, the All-Praised!’” “O ye that are bereft of understanding! A
severe trial pursueth you, and will suddenly overtake you. Bestir
yourselves, that haply it may pass and inflict no harm upon you.” “O ye
peoples of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity is
following you, and that grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not the
deeds ye have committed have been blotted from My sight.” “O heedless
ones! Though the wonders of My mercy have encompassed all created things,
both visible and invisible, and though the revelations of My grace and
bounty have permeated every atom of the universe, yet the rod with which I
can chastise the wicked is grievous, and the fierceness of Mine anger
against them terrible.” “Grieve thou not over those that have busied
themselves with the things of this world, and have forgotten the
remembrance of God, the Most Great. By Him Who is the Eternal Truth! The
day is approaching when the wrathful anger of the Almighty will have taken
hold of them. He, verily, is the Omnipotent, the All-Subduing, the Most
Powerful. He shall cleanse the earth from the defilement of their
corruption, and shall give it for an heritage unto such of His servants as
are nigh unto Him.” “Soon will the cry, ‘Yea, yea, here am I, here am I’
be heard from every land. For there hath never been, nor can there ever
be, any other refuge to fly to for anyone.” “And when the appointed hour
is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of
mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be
unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.”

“In the beginning of every Revelation adversities have prevailed, which
later on have been turned into great prosperity.” “Say: O people of God!
Beware lest the powers of the earth alarm you, or the might of the nations
weaken you, or the tumult of the people of discord deter you, or the
exponents of earthly glory sadden you. Be ye as a mountain in the Cause of
your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained.” “Say:
Beware, O people of Bahá, lest the strong ones of the earth rob you of
your strength, or they who rule the world fill you with fear. Put your
trust in God, and commit your affairs to His keeping. He, verily, will,
through the power of truth, render you victorious, and He, verily, is
powerful to do what He willeth, and in His grasp are the reins of
omnipotent might.” “I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth
them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth the Pen of God, the Most
Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved.” “Let not the happenings of
the world sadden you. I swear by God! The sea of joy yearneth to attain
your presence, for every good thing hath been created for you, and will,
according to the needs of the times, be revealed unto you.” “O my
servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things
contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days
of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you.
Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You
are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their
benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their
sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt,
attain.”

“This is the day in which to speak. It is incumbent upon the people of
Bahá to strive, with the utmost patience and forbearance, to guide the
peoples of the world to the Most Great Horizon. Every body calleth aloud
for a soul. Heavenly souls must needs quicken, with the breath of the Word
of God, the dead bodies with a fresh spirit. Within every word a new
spirit is hidden. Happy is the man that attaineth thereunto, and hath
arisen to teach the Cause of Him Who is the King of Eternity.” “Say: O
servants! The triumph of this Cause hath depended, and will continue to
depend, upon the appearance of holy souls, upon the showing forth of
goodly deeds, and the revelation of words of consummate wisdom.” “Center
your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of
so high a calling, let him arise and promote it. Whoso is unable, it is
his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation,
whose power hath caused the foundations of the mightiest structures to
quake, every mountain to be crushed into dust, and every soul to be
dumbfounded.” “Let your principal concern be to rescue the fallen from the
slough of impending extinction, and to help him embrace the ancient Faith
of God. Your behavior towards your neighbor should be such as to manifest
clearly the signs of the one true God, for ye are the first among men to
be re-created by His Spirit, the first to adore and bow the knee before
Him, the first to circle round His throne of glory.” “O ye beloved of God!
Repose not yourselves on your couches, nay, bestir yourselves as soon as
ye recognize your Lord, the Creator, and hear of the things which have
befallen Him, and hasten to His assistance. Unloose your tongues, and
proclaim unceasingly His Cause. This shall be better for you than all the
treasures of the past and of the future, if ye be of them that comprehend
this truth.” “I swear by Him Who is the Truth! Erelong will God adorn the
beginning of the Book of Existence with the mention of His loved ones who
have suffered tribulation in His path, and journeyed through the countries
in His name and for His praise. Whoso hath attained their presence will
glory in their meeting, and all that dwell in every land will be illumined
by their memory.” “Vie ye with each other in the service of God and of His
Cause. This is indeed what profiteth you in this world, and in that which
is to come. Your Lord, the God of Mercy, is the All-Informed, the
All-Knowing. Grieve not at the things ye witness in this day. The day
shall come whereon the tongues of the nations will proclaim: ‘The earth is
God’s, the Almighty, the Single, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing!’”
“Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the
heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and
the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God
hath been made, and His praise glorified.” “The movement itself from place
to place, when undertaken for the sake of God, hath always exerted, and
can now exert, its influence in the world. In the Books of old the station
of them that have voyaged far and near in order to guide the servants of
God hath been set forth and written down.” “I swear by God! So great are
the things ordained for the steadfast that were they, so much as the eye
of a needle, to be disclosed, all who are in heaven and on earth would be
dumbfounded, except such as God, the Lord of all worlds, hath willed to
exempt.” “I swear by God! That which hath been destined for him who aideth
My Cause excelleth the treasures of the earth.” “Whoso openeth his lips in
this day, and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine
inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name, the
All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse on
high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus hath it been
foreordained in the realm of God’s Revelation, by the behest of Him Who is
the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.” “By the righteousness of Him Who, in
this day, crieth within the inmost heart of all created things, ‘God,
there is none other God besides Me!’ If any man were to arise to defend,
in his writings, the Cause of God against its assailants, such a man,
however inconsiderable his share, shall be so honored in the world to come
that the Concourse on high would envy his glory. No pen can depict the
loftiness of his station, neither can any tongue describe its splendor.”
“Please God ye may all be strengthened to carry out that which is the Will
of God, and may be graciously assisted to appreciate the rank conferred
upon such of His loved ones as have arisen to serve Him and magnify His
name. Upon them be the glory of God, the glory of all that is in the
heavens and all that is on earth, and the glory of the inmates of the most
exalted Paradise, the heaven of heavens.” “O people of Bahá! That there is
none to rival you is a sign of mercy. Quaff ye of the Cup of Bounty the
wine of immortality, despite them that have repudiated God, the Lord of
names and Maker of the heavens.”

“I swear by the one true God! This is the day of those who have detached
themselves from all but Him, the day of those who have recognized His
unity, the day whereon God createth, with the hands of His power, divine
beings and imperishable essences, every one of whom will cast the world
and all that is therein behind him, and will wax so steadfast in the Cause
of God that every wise and understanding heart will marvel.” “There lay
concealed within the Holy Veil, and prepared for the service of God, a
company of His chosen ones who shall be manifested unto men, who shall aid
His Cause, who shall be afraid of no one, though the entire human race
rise up and war against them. These are the ones who, before the gaze of
the dwellers on earth and the denizens of heaven, shall arise and,
shouting aloud, acclaim the name of the Almighty, and summon the children
of men to the path of God, the All-Glorious, the All-Praised.” “The day is
approaching when God will have, by an act of His Will, raised up a race of
men the nature of which is inscrutable to all save God, the All-Powerful,
the Self-Subsisting.” “He will, erelong, out of the Bosom of Power, draw
forth the Hands of Ascendancy and Might—Hands who will arise to win
victory for this Youth, and who will purge mankind from the defilement of
the outcast and the ungodly. These Hands will gird up their loins to
champion the Faith of God, and will, in My name, the Self-Subsistent, the
Mighty, subdue the peoples and kindreds of the earth. They will enter the
cities, and will inspire with fear the hearts of all their inhabitants.
Such are the evidences of the might of God; how fearful, how vehement is
His might!”



“ONE MORE WORD IN CONCLUSION. AMONG SOME OF THE ...”


One more word in conclusion. Among some of the most momentous and
thought-provoking pronouncements ever made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in the course
of His epoch-making travels in the North American continent, are the
following: “May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish
the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to
proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the Standard
of the Most Great Peace.” And again: “The American people are indeed
worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Great Peace, and
proclaim the oneness of mankind.... For America hath developed powers and
capacities greater and more wonderful than other nations.... The American
nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the
pages of history, to become the envy of the world, and be blest in both
the East and the West for the triumph of its people. ...The American
continent gives signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future
is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are
far-reaching. It will lead all nations spiritually.”

The creative energies, mysteriously generated by the first stirrings of
the embryonic World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, have, as soon as released within
a nation destined to become its cradle and champion, endowed that nation
with the worthiness, and invested it with the powers and capacities, and
equipped it spiritually, to play the part foreshadowed in these prophetic
words. The potencies which this God-given mission has infused into its
people are, on the one hand, beginning to be manifested through the
conscious efforts and the nationwide accomplishments, in both the teaching
and administrative spheres of Bahá’í activity, of the organized community
of the followers of Bahá’u’lláh in the North American continent. These
same potencies, apart from, yet collateral with these efforts and
accomplishments, are, on the other hand, insensibly shaping, under the
impact of the world political and economic forces, the destiny of that
nation, and are influencing the lives and actions of both its government
and its people.

To the efforts and accomplishments of those who, aware of the Revelation
of Bahá’u’lláh, are now laboring in that continent, to their present and
future course of activity, I have, in the foregoing pages sufficiently
referred. A word, if the destiny of the American people, in its entirety,
is to be correctly apprehended, should now be said regarding the
orientation of that nation as a whole, and the trend of the affairs of its
people. For no matter how ignorant of the Source from which those
directing energies proceed, and however slow and laborious the process, it
is becoming increasingly evident that the nation as a whole, whether
through the agency of its government or otherwise, is gravitating, under
the influence of forces that it can neither comprehend nor control,
towards such associations and policies, wherein, as indicated by
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, her true destiny must lie. Both the community of the
American believers, who are aware of that Source, and the great mass of
their countrymen, who have not as yet recognized the Hand that directs
their destiny, are contributing, each in its own way, to the realization
of the hopes, and the fulfillment of the promises, voiced in the
above-quoted words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

The world is moving on. Its events are unfolding ominously and with
bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and
alarmingly violent. The New World is being insensibly drawn into its
vortex. The potential storm centers of the earth are already casting their
shadows upon its shores. Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, threaten
it both from within and from without. Its governments and peoples are
being gradually enmeshed in the coils of the world’s recurrent crises and
fierce controversies. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans are, with every
acceleration in the march of science, steadily shrinking into mere
channels. The Great Republic of the West finds itself particularly and
increasingly involved. Distant rumblings echo menacingly in the
ebullitions of its people. On its flanks are ranged the potential storm
centers of the European continent and of the Far East. On its southern
horizon there looms what might conceivably develop into another center of
agitation and danger. The world is contracting into a neighborhood.
America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new
situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian
motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created
neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating
herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in
that very web of international association which the Hand of an
inscrutable Providence is weaving. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s counsel to a highly
placed official in its government comes to mind, with peculiar
appropriateness and force: You can best serve your country if you strive,
in your capacity as a citizen of the world, to assist in the eventual
application of the principle of federalism, underlying the government of
your own country, to the relationships now existing between the peoples
and nations of the world. The ideals that fired the imagination of
America’s tragically unappreciated President, whose high endeavors,
however much nullified by a visionless generation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, through
His own pen, acclaimed as signalizing the dawn of the Most Great Peace,
though now lying in the dust, bitterly reproach a heedless generation for
having so cruelly abandoned them.

That the world is beset with perils, that dangers are now accumulating and
are actually threatening the American nation, no clear-eyed observer can
possibly deny. The earth is now transformed into an armed camp. As much as
fifty million men are either under arms or in reserve. No less than the
sum of three billion pounds is being spent, in one year, on its armaments.
The light of religion is dimmed and moral authority disintegrating. The
nations of the world have, for the most part, fallen a prey to battling
ideologies that threaten to disrupt the very foundations of their dearly
won political unity. Agitated multitudes in these countries seethe with
discontent, are armed to the teeth, are stampeded with fear, and groan
beneath the yoke of tribulations engendered by political strife, racial
fanaticism, national hatreds, and religious animosities. “The winds of
despair,” Bahá’u’lláh has unmistakably affirmed, “are, alas, blowing from
every direction, and the strife that divides and afflicts the human race
is daily increasing. The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now
be discerned....” “The ills,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, writing as far back as two
decades ago, has prophesied, “from which the world now suffers will
multiply; the gloom which envelops it will deepen. The Balkans will remain
discontented. Its restlessness will increase. The vanquished Powers will
continue to agitate. They will resort to every measure that may rekindle
the flame of war. Movements, newly born and worldwide in their range, will
exert their utmost for the advancement of their designs. The Movement of
the Left will acquire great importance. Its influence will spread.” As to
the American nation itself, the voice of its own President, emphatic and
clear, warns his people that a possible attack upon their country has been
brought infinitely closer by the development of aircraft and by other
factors. Its Secretary of State, addressing at a recent Conference the
assembled representatives of all the American Republics, utters no less
ominous a warning. “These resurgent forces loom threateningly throughout
the world—their ominous shadow falls athwart our own Hemisphere.” As to
its Press, the same note of warning and of alarm at an approaching danger
is struck. “We must be prepared to defend ourselves both from within and
without.... Our defensive frontier is long. It reaches from Alaska’s Point
Barrow to Cape Horn, and ranges the Atlantic and the Pacific. When or
where Europe’s and Asia’s aggressors may strike at us no one can say. It
could be anywhere, any time.... We have no option save to go armed
ourselves.... We must mount vigilant guard over the Western Hemisphere.”

The distance that the American nation has traveled since its formal and
categoric repudiation of the Wilsonian ideal, the changes that have
unexpectedly overtaken it in recent years, the direction in which world
events are moving, with their inevitable impact on the policies and the
economy of that nation, are to every Bahá’í observer, viewing the
developments in the international situation, in the light of the
prophecies of both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, most significant, and
highly instructive and encouraging. To trace the exact course which, in
these troubled times and pregnant years, this nation will follow would be
impossible. We can only, judging from the direction its affairs are now
taking, anticipate the course she will most likely choose to pursue in her
relationships with both the Republics of America and the countries of the
remaining continents.

A closer association with these Republics, on the one hand, and an
increased participation, in varying degrees, on the other, in the affairs
of the whole world, as a result of recurrent international crises, appear
as the most likely developments which the future has in store for that
country. Delays must inevitably arise, setbacks must be suffered, in the
course of that country’s evolution towards its ultimate destiny. Nothing,
however, can alter eventually that course, ordained for it by the unerring
pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Its federal unity having already been achieved and
its internal institutions consolidated—a stage that marked its coming of
age as a political entity—its further evolution, as a member of the family
of nations, must, under circumstances that cannot at present be
visualized, steadily continue. Such an evolution must persist until such
time when that nation will, through the active and decisive part it will
have played in the organization and the peaceful settlement of the affairs
of mankind, have attained the plenitude of its powers and functions as an
outstanding member, and component part, of a federated world.

The immediate future must, as a result of this steady, this gradual, and
inevitable absorption in the manifold perplexities and problems afflicting
humanity, be dark and oppressive for that nation. The world-shaking ordeal
which Bahá’u’lláh, as quoted in the foregoing pages, has so graphically
prophesied, may find it swept, to an unprecedented degree, into its
vortex. Out of it it will probably emerge, unlike its reactions to the
last world conflict, consciously determined to seize its opportunity, to
bring the full weight of its influence to bear upon the gigantic problems
that such an ordeal must leave in its wake, and to exorcise forever, in
conjunction with its sister nations of both the East and the West, the
greatest curse which, from time immemorial, has afflicted and degraded the
human race.

Then, and only then, will the American nation, molded and purified in the
crucible of a common war, inured to its rigors, and disciplined by its
lessons, be in a position to raise its voice in the councils of the
nations, itself lay the cornerstone of a universal and enduring peace,
proclaim the solidarity, the unity, and maturity of mankind, and assist in
the establishment of the promised reign of righteousness on earth. Then,
and only then, will the American nation, while the community of the
American believers within its heart is consummating its divinely appointed
mission, be able to fulfill the unspeakably glorious destiny ordained for
it by the Almighty, and immortally enshrined in the writings of
‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Then, and only then, will the American nation accomplish
“that which will adorn the pages of history,” “become the envy of the
world and be blest in both the East and the West.”

SHOGHI

December 25, 1938





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