He would also urge you to attach no importance to the stories told about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá or to those attributed to Him by the friends. These should be regarded in the same light as the notes and impressions of visiting pilgrims. They need not be suppressed, but they should not also be given prominent or official recognition.
For Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í News#96, November 1935
As to the three aims which Shoghi Effendi has stated in his America and the Most Great Peace to have been the chief objectives of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s ministry, it should be pointed out that the first was: The establishment of the Cause in America; the erection of the Bahá’í Temple in Ishqábád, and the building on Mt. Carmel of a mausoleum marking the resting-place of the Báb, were the two remaining ones.
He also wishes me to express his approval of your statement in the November issue of the Bahá’í News to the effect of creating within the Assemblies and individual believers a more positive and active attitude towards the Administration. The need for positive action seems, indeed, to be one of the most urgent needs of the Cause at present.
The various rulings and regulations recorded in the ‘Bahá’í Administration’, and the supplementary statements already issued by the National Assembly, he feels, are for the present sufficiently detailed to guide the friends in their present-day activities… The American believers, as well as their National representatives, must henceforth direct their attention to the greater and vital issues which an already established Administration is called upon to face and handle, rather than allow their energies to be expended in the consideration of purely secondary administrative matters.
Without the study and application of the administration the teaching of the Cause becomes not only meaningless, but loses in effectiveness and scope.
Now that they (the American believers) have erected the administrative machinery of the Cause they must put it to its real use— serving only as an instrument to facilitate the flow of the spirit of the Faith out into the world. Just as the muscles enable the body to carry out the will of the individual, all Assemblies and committees must enable the believers to carry forth the Message of God to the waiting public, the love of Bahá’u’lláh, and the healing laws and principles of the Faith to all men.
He hopes that wherever it is possible the believers will make every effort to contact African students and visitors, and to show them kindness and hospitality. This may not only lead to the conversion of some while in America, but will also make friends for the Faith in Africa.
The Faith is divided into three Ages: the Heroic, the Formative, the Golden Age, as has been outlined in His Writings. The Heroic Age closed with the Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Formative Age is divided into epochs. The first epoch lasted 25 years. We are now actually in the second epoch of the Formative Age. How long the Formative Age will last is not known, and there will probably be a number of epochs in it.
The Divine Plan of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is divided into epochs. The first Seven-Year Plan constituted the first stage of the first epoch; the second Seven-Year Plan constitutes the second stage; while the Ten-Year Crusade will constitute the third stage of the first epoch of the Divine Plan. The first epoch of the Divine Plan will conclude with the conclusion of the Ten-Year Crusade.
The Bahá’ís are free to greet each other with Alláh–u–Abhá when they meet, if they want to, but they should avoid anything which to outsiders, in a western country, might seem like some strange Oriental password. We must be very firm on principles and laws, but very normal and natural in our ways, so as to attract strangers.
I am deeply convinced that if the Annual Convention of the friends in America, as well as the National Spiritual Assembly, desire to become potent instruments for the speedy realization of the Beloved’s fondest hopes for the future of that country, they should endeavor, first and foremost, to exemplify, in an increasing degree, to all Bahá’ís and to the world at large the high ideals of fellowship and service which Bahá’u’lláh and the beloved Master repeatedly set before them.
In view of the importance of such a statement, he feels it is his duty to explain that the Laws revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in the Aqdas are, whenever practical and not in direct conflict with the Civil laws of the land, absolutely binding on every believer or Bahá’í institution whether in the East or in the West. Certain laws, such as fasting, obligatory prayers, the consent of the parents before marriage, avoidance of alcoholic drinks, monogamy, should be regarded by all believers as universally and vitally applicable at the present time. Others have been formulated in anticipation of a state of society destined to emerge from the chaotic conditions that prevail today.
When the Aqdas is published, this matter will be further explained and elucidated. What has not been formulated in the Aqdas, in addition to matters of detail and of secondary importance arising out of the application of the laws already formulated by Bahá’u’lláh, will have to be enacted by the Universal House of Justice. This body can supplement but never invalidate or modify in the least degree what has already been formulated by Bahá’u’lláh. Nor has the Guardian any right whatsoever to lessen the binding effect much less to abrogate the provisions of so fundamental and sacred a Book…
The importance of the institution of Bahá’í Archives is not due only to the many teaching facilities it procures, but is especially to be found in the vast amount of historical data and information it offers both to the present-day administrators of the Cause, and to the Bahá’í historians of the future. The institution of Bahá’í Archives is indeed a most valuable storehouse of information regarding all the aspects of the Faith, administrative as well as doctrinal. Future generations of believers will be surely in a better position than we are to truly and adequately appreciate the many advantages and facilities which the institution of the Archives offers to individual believers and also to the community at large. Now that the Cause is rapidly passing through so many different phases of its evolution, is the time for the friends to exert their utmost in order to preserve as much as they can of the sacred relics and various other precious objects that are associated with the lives of the Founders of the Faith, and particularly the Tablets They have revealed. Every believer should realize that he has a definite responsibility to shoulder in this matter, and to help, to whatever extent he can, in rendering successful and valuable work which National and local Bahá’í Archives committees are so devotedly accomplishing for the Faith in America.
The general principle should be that any object used by Him in person should be preserved for posterity, whether in the local or National Archives. It is the duty and responsibility of the Bahá’í Assemblies to ascertain carefully whether such objects are genuine or not, and to exercise the utmost caution in the matter.
Bahá’u’lláh has given the promise that in every Assembly where unity and harmony prevail, there His glorious spirit will not only be present, but will animate, sustain and guide all the friends in all their deliberations.
It is to unity that the Guardian has been continually calling the friends: For where a united will exists, nothing can effectively oppose and hamper the forces of constructive development.
The Spiritual Assembly must decide how often it should meet in order to properly handle the affairs of the Cause under its jurisdiction. Twice a week or twice a month is not the point, the point is that it should be alert and carry on the work adequately.
It is establishing a dangerous precedent to allow Assemblies to put a time limit on non-attendance of their members at meetings of the S.A., beyond which that person is automatically dropped from the Assembly and a vacancy declared… there should be no time limit fixed by Assemblies beyond which a person is dropped. Every case of prolonged absence from the sessions of the Assembly should be considered separately by that Assembly, and if the person is seen to not want to attend meetings or to be held away from them indefinitely because of illness or travel, then a vacancy could legitimately be declared and a new member be elected.
The Guardian wishes your Assembly to abandon the practice of appointing associate members to some of the committees… Such a practice, he feels, tends to create confusion and misunderstanding.