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 Mashriqu’l-Adhkár 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
world” and the
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.