April 1, 2010

A talk given by Mr. Ali Nakhjavani to Local Spiritual Assembly Members of Southern Ontario, Canada

5 September 1986

Beloved friends, the fall I had was unexpected, but these meetings I have had with the friends, although unexpected, have been extremely inspiring to me -- but not this (referring to broken wrist) -- particularly when I went to Quebec. I found the friends there on fire with the teaching work and I must have met over that weekend something like 15 to 16 friends who are close to the Faith, and some of them came to me personally to express their love and appreciation for Baha'u'llah. They don't have too may proclamation activities there. They are not rich on the whole. They have far distances to traverse. But there is something which I cannot describe. Jalal is my brother. He visited Quebec and he used to write me letters about the Quebecois. He used to tell me, 'You should come here and see them and talk to them. They are a different people. They seem to understand the Faith and appreciate it. They respond to the truth enshrined in the Faith.' And one reason why I went to Quebec was to undertake this travel on behalf and in the name of my brother who loved the Quebecois so much. And the Quebecois told me that they loved him very much. In fact some of their children have been named Jalal because of him. It is really my wish that the spirit which is in Quebec will permeate the entire community in Canada. And if this is done, if you make an analysis of what has happened in Quebec, what is it that these friends are doing that, for example, we in this part of Canada are not doing -- why is that they are successful -- if you make a study of this, maybe we can get some excellent results and methods.

As to the question for tonight. The Local Spiritual Assembly members of this area are here. You are all experienced Baha'is. You are elected by the communities. You are among the select. You are deepened, experienced, mature Baha'is. So what can I say that would be useful to you?

When I was teaching in Africa, the friends in Africa found it extremely difficult to understand the institution of the Local Spiritual Assembly. And we found a way of explaining it to them which I think was effective. Now, I'll tell you what we used to say there as pioneers. We referred to the parable of the lord of the vineyard. You recall that parable of Jesus Christ when He says there was a man who had a vineyard and he planted it and rented it to a number of husbandmen, to a number of farmers. And he went off to a far land. After a while, he sent one of his servants for the harvest, for the fruits. The farmers decided that they were not going to give anything to this representative. So they sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant. They treated him likewise. And a third; this time, they stoned him. And a fourth; this time, they killed him. Finally he decided, Christ says, to send his one and beloved son. He said, "They will respect him." When the son went there, the husbandmen got together and decided the best thing is to own this vineyard for all time. He is the heir, and we will kill him, and so they did. And then Christ having reached this point in His story, asks of the question, "What then, shall the lord of the vineyard do?" He answers. He says, he himself shall go to the vineyard, and he will do two things: he will destroy -- notice the verb 'destroy' -- he will destroy the husbandmen for failing to produce the fruits, and he will turn over the vineyard to other husbandmen. And that is the end of the story. The true meaning of this parable is, of course, the coming of Baha'u'llah, the Father. The vineyard is God's Holy Cause.

Shoghi Effendi, in his early letters to the friends in the west, would write, "Fellow labourers in the Divine vineyard". In other words he was saying, 'you members of National Assemblies' -- he was addressing National Assemblies at that time -- 'and I are fellow labourers in this Divine Vineyard handed over to us by Baha'u'llah. We are the new farmers. We are the new custodians. We, now, have to produce the fruits that the other husbandmen did not produce and were punished because of it.' I don't want to put the fear of God in your hearts, but there is an element of fear in that God will wait, but if He does not see the results, the expected results, the desired results, then He will take action. He has entrusted this Cause to us.

The system of husbandmen that He has entrusted the Cause of God to, is the Administrative Order of His Faith. That's what it is. You and I are the new husbandmen. That's what we are. The stars have fallen. The stars were the leaders, the leaders of religions, of churches, they fell; they lost their light; they fell in that sense. We, you and I, have been chosen by the Hand of destiny to be the custodians of His Cause.

You recall The Priceless Pearl, and also an article written by Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the Guardianship. In both these documents, Ruhiyyih Khanum refers to the early, the very early months after the passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha and depicts for us the attitude of the Holy Family, of the family of 'Abdu'l-Baha towards this young twenty-four year old Guardian. They, the uncles of Shoghi Effendi, surely, they thought, knew better, and this is a fact. They thought they knew better. They went to Shoghi Effendi and said, 'Well, Shoghi Effendi, you are young. How can you accomplish all these things? BahBa’u'llah has provided for the Universal House of Justice. 'Abdu'l-Baha has written and given us the way, the method whereby the Universal House of Justice has to be formed. Go ahead and convene the first meeting for the election of the House of Justice. They will be your helpers.'

Now, what was Shoghi Effendi's attitude? He said, 'How can we elect the Universal House of Justice which is like a dome? We need pillars to support the dome, and we need foundations to support the pillars. How can we have, in suspense, in mid-air, a dome?' That was his answer. In order to pave the way and to provide the means for the formation of the Universal House of Justice, Shoghi Effendi laboured for thirty-six years in order to raise up the Local Spiritual Assemblies first, and on their strength, raise up National Spiritual Assemblies and enough of them to enable the dome to be erected, supported by these pillars. When the Greatest Holy Leaf passed away, he explained that the monument of the Greatest Holy Leaf was the symbol of the Administrative Order. He said that the three slabs of marble at the very base of the monument were the Local Spiritual Assemblies, that the pillars were the National Spiritual Assemblies, and the dome the Universal House of Justice. So everything rests on the strength and solidity of these Local Spiritual Assemblies. The solidity of the pillars, the stability of the dome all depend upon the strength of the Local Spiritual Assemblies, of which you are the members in this part of Canada. So it is, I think, a very important thing to consider. It is not just that the friends have been nice to you, or have found in you some qualities that they appreciate and it just happened that they elected you, and then you say, 'Well, all things being equal, I'll see what I can do about this, and if I have time I’ll attend the meeting.' This would not be the correct attitude. It is a sacred responsibility and I am sure that all of us appreciate this.

Now, Dr. Danesh referred to the message of the House of Justice concerning the fourth epoch of the Formative age (1) I would like to say a few words about that. There is a message from the beloved Guardian written in November of 1954 in which he speaks about the far-flung arc on Mount Carmel, the erection of the Archives Building, the first, he says, of the stately edifices to be erected round that arc. In that message, the penultimate paragraph is, I think, one of the most momentous passages in the writings of Shoghi Effendi, the penultimate paragraph of his message of November of 1954, and it refers to you and to me. What does the Guardian say? I am not using his words, I don't even have the passage to read here but it's published in the messages of Shoghi Effendi 1947-1957 -- the last volume of messages to the Baha'is of the world. (2) The point he is making there is this, that there are three processes at work in the world, three processes. The first process, he says, is the process of the establishment of the Lesser Peace. The second process, he says, is the process of the completion of the buildings round the arc on Mount Carmel at the World Centre of our Faith. The third process, he describes as the evolution of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies. Two of these processes, he says, are within the Faith; one is without the Faith. So far, so good; no problem. The problem comes when he goes on to say that the consummation of these three processes will synchronize. That is the problem. That is the challenge: "will synchronize". It is as if he was talking to us with his voice of prophecy. It is as if he was looking into the future in 1954, looking forty-five years ahead, seeing what was to take place in the world and setting it in writing for our guidance.

Why am I saying these things? I have to be more specific. The reason I am saying these things is obvious, I think. What I am saying, friends, is that if the political unification of the world which we call the beginning of the Lesser Peace, because the Lesser Peace is itself an entire process which will extend into the future, into the twenty-first century and maybe many, many other centuries, we don't know. But it has a beginning, it has a point of inception. That point of inception is the political unification of mankind, of the nations of the world, the political. That, according to our writings, will take place by the end of this century. In other words, if we are in 1986, we have 14 years to go. Now, what Shoghi Effendi wants from us, he is telling us in so many words, 'I want, now that I am in the Abha Kingdom and now that I am looking at you from the Abha Kingdom, I am expecting the National Spiritual Assemblies of the world and the Local Spiritual Assemblies of the world to mature at about that time, while the world is establishing its political unification. And I want, also, those who are responsible at the World Centre to do everything they can to complete the buildings round the arc.' And you can be sure that this is uppermost in the minds of the members of the Universal House of Justice, to carry out this wish of Shoghi Effendi. But as far as we are concerned the maturation of National Spiritual Assemblies and Local Spiritual Assemblies should have reached a respectable stage by the end of the century. This is the objective. This is the goal. Now if we know where we are in this process, then we know how to direct our efforts. We don't have much time, frankly.

Now coming back to the message of the House about the fourth epoch. What is the House saying exactly? The House of Justice, I believe, is saying that as far as National Spiritual Assemblies are concerned, we see a degree of maturation for the most part throughout the Baha’i world which justifies the Supreme Body of our Faith to give new responsibilities' to those National Spiritual Assemblies by telling them, 'Instead of the World Centre fixing your goals, we will give you a framework of some 70 to 75 items as suggestions, as general objectives, as possible goals, and let each National Spiritual Assembly sit down and choose what is suitable for its own national community and add any new projects they feel they can accomplish not included in the list.' In other words, the House of Justice has reached a point of confidence in the 143 National Spiritual Assemblies in the world to tell them, 'Now you can go ahead. Let's see what you can do for the next six years, but send your goals to us and we will review them.' That is the degree of maturation that the House of Justice has sensed, and based on this conclusion it has taken this major step in the evolution of our Faith.

Now having said that, we come to Local Assemblies. The House of Justice has not said that Local Spiritual Assemblies have reached a degree of maturation; this is yet ahead of us. In other words, it is now the duty of National Spiritual Assemblies, in their turn, to see that their Local Spiritual Assemblies -- not 20% of them, not 10% of them, but all their Local Spiritual Assemblies -- would reach this stage of maturity by the end of the century. And if, in Canada, the National Assembly will see that for the most part its Local Assemblies are mature, they can now, for example, set their own local goals which is a wonderful sign of maturity -- in one of its letters the House of Justice expressed the wish about ten or twelve years ago that every Local Spiritual Assembly would either adopt its own goals or that local goals would be assigned to it by the National Spiritual Assembly -- if, in Canada, this free country, this blessed country, blessed by the footsteps of the beloved Master and upon which nation and community Shoghi Effendi showered so much love and bounty, I don't need to enumerate from here. Read the letters to Canada from the Guardian and come to your own conclusions. I repeat then that if Canada is able to reach that stage before other national communities and then would tell the Universal House of Justice, 'Part of our army of light is ready to go out to help other Local Assemblies in needy countries to help them attain this necessary goal, this necessary standard of maturation,' that would be worthy of the Canadian community. Not to leave everything to the last year and to win such a victory, but to think how to repay the blessings of Baha'u’llah. Now this, I thought, would be of importance to you, for you to have an idea of where we are and in which direction are we moving and how our daily efforts in consolidating our Local Spiritual Assemblies -- that is the very foundation of the Cause. I can tell you friends with deep grief in my heart that, alas alas, the weakest level of Baha'i administration is on the local level. It's the weakest level of Baha'i administration. The national level is pretty respectable throughout the world but the local level is very weak. And it depends on us, we members, we custodians of this divine vineyard, chosen by God, chosen by Destiny.

Now I don't know how long I should go on talking about things like this; you may be tired, but I'm going to have some water first. And if you have questions to ask me please feel free to ask them. I cannot promise that I will answer them, but I can promise that I will try, that's all.

What are the signs of maturity? I would like to pose this question. How could an Assembly gauge the degree of its maturity or how could the National Assembly? By what yardstick could they determine whether their Local Spiritual Assemblies are mature, have evolved along healthy lines? There are quantitative ways, statistics, that can determine this, and there are qualitative ways that determine the maturity. I think both are important, but I will not trust only the quantitative aspect of the picture. By that I mean what we had during the year in our annual report we sent to the National Assembly, during the year we had x number of meetings of the Local Assembly. Alright, this is something, some indication. We had x number of firesides. Okay, it's not so bad. We had x number of visitors from outside and we can give the number. This is also not bad. We have so many committees and we named them. That's alright. We have children's classes, very important, x number of children's classes. Now that I'll raise my hat to, with numbers, without numbers, even one is a good sign. We have youth activities; so many conferences, x number. We even went as far as counting the number of contacts we have had, we have had two hundred and so many contacts. Okay, this is another sign; fine. We have distributed so many leaflets, so many pamphlets through the mail and through this and through personal contacts and so on. Now, you can go on enumerating these numbers. It's not impressive to me. Results, results is: how many new Baha’is do you have? That's a result, that's a concrete result. Now, you may have had 2,000 firesides but no Baha’is. There's something wrong with the firesides. So you have to know what type of statistics you want to really look for, something meaningful.

Now, when we leave statistics, you come to the qualitative aspect of Baha'i life. If you read the writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi about Local Spiritual Assemblies, you'll see that the first quality, which is the most important of them all and you cannot computerize it and produce it in a statistical list, is the degree of love among the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly. I think that comes first. I have often said -- and I don't mind being quoted – that the degree of love that exists among the members of the Universal House of Justice is something so profound, so real, so all-pervasive that to say that this is an additional reason for the attraction of the divine confirmations of Baha'u'llah upon that body, I think would be a correct statement. If one member is ill, it is as if we are all ill. If there is a problem for any one of us, it is a problem for all of us. If there is a cause for joy for one of us, it is a source of joy for all of us. We are nine brothers, true brothers. And I can assure you it's like that; I'm not exaggerating. Now add to that the guarantee that Baha'u'llah has given that from His realm of glory He will inspire the members of the House of Justice with whatsoever He willeth, then you have a complete picture. Now, love among the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly is something you cannot measure, you cannot computerize, but you have to have it. Without it the Assembly does not exist. It becomes an Assembly on paper. It does not become a foundation stone of the Administrative Order upon whose strength the pillars and the dome must rest. This is the foundation. If you don't have the foundation we have nothing.

Another, I think, indicator of the maturity of a Local Assembly is the degree to which it succeeds in promoting unity and love in the community. And only a united body can emanate unity and unify. And without unity, which is the foundation of our Faith, how can we hope to conquer the world? It is in little things that we must win victories. And these little things add up and they become great achievements.

Shoghi Effendi gives another indicator: the degree to which a Local Spiritual Assembly is able to use the talents and competence of every member of its community so that these nine members will not only be just the nine of them, and sometimes it's usually the five of them or sometimes less, but they should see to it that the whole community is humming, is breathing, is at one with the Local Assembly. That is the degree of activity that the beloved Guardian expected to see (3) as a result of the awareness and consciousness of the Assembly itself, so that everybody is busy doing something. But it should not be done artificially. It should not be done in a way that you are as Assemblies imposing yourselves on others. It should come in a natural way: They should obey you, yes; the community should obey the Local Assembly. But the Local Assembly should be very careful how it gives its instructions to the community. If it's done in an authoritarian way, it will have no effect. There will be no unity. It should be done with love. It should be done with wisdom. It should be explained, the background should be explained. The Assembly should take the friends into its own confidence. They should consult with them. Shoghi Effendi said even the individual member should be aware of this so that he will not only come to his Local Assembly meeting, but he will be fully aware and informed of what is going on in his local community because he is in touch, he is in touch with the friends.

These are some of the indicators that we find in the writings. One can go on enumerating them but I have tried to confine myself to the very essential things. I have come to the end of my, as we say in Persian, arizeh, my humble presentation. May God bless you all. May He open the way for you to achieve your highest aspirations as members of these vital and essential institutions of our Faith which lie at the very bedrock of the Administrative Order.

Following his talk, Mr. Nakhjavani answered a number of questions. Several which were of particular use to Local Spiritual Assembly members are included below:

Question: How, in the face of the reality of a very busy and difficult life in our society, can Local Assembly members fulfill those qualities and responsibilities, vis-a-vis maturity, that you outlined?

Answer: That's a very good question. To me the answer is very clear in the Writings. You see, someone wrote to Shoghi Effendi saying, 'I would like to devote my full time to the service of the Cause. I love the Cause so deeply, but I have my work to do.' -- your very question -- 'I have my responsibilities; what can I do?' Shoghi Effendi's answer was this. (4) He said that in the Kitabi- Aqdas, the Founder of our Faith has written that work is worship. In that same book He has written and called upon the Baha'is to arise and serve this Cause. He expects us, individually as Baha'is, to find a balance between the two. It is my opinion that a healthy Baha'i is he who is able to keep this equilibrium between his two wings, his material wing and his spiritual wing. And that's where we become well-balanced Baha'is, mature Baha'is, by making the effort. This is one point.

I have a second point if I may add to that. The second point is this. You have your concerns about your children, your jobs, etc., yet look at the facilities that you have: your car, public transportation maybe, all kinds of government assistance and social securities. Compare yourselves with the poor Baha'is, poor Baha'is who do not have enough to live on for more than one week. I have seen these Baha'is. I have slept in the homes of such Baha’is in Africa. You have all these facilities and your jobs. They don't have any of these facilities but they are Baha'is. They are Baha'is, and God knows they are. And they are members of Local Spiritual Assemblies that we expect to see becoming mature. Do you know what one of them told me? One of them told me -- they used to call me Mr. Ali -- he said, 'Mr. Ali, to the extent that I serve the Faith, to the extent that I sacrifice for Baha'u'llah, I see that Baha'u'llah takes over my life and solves my problems in a miraculous way.' That's what he told me. And I believe in this and I'm ready to pass this message on to all the Baha'is of the world. If you have problems, the way to solve them is not to avoid the Faith. The way to solve them is to immerse yourself, to the extent that you can, in the Faith, so that Baha’u'llah will enter your life. He will bless your life. He will reduce your problems. -You'll be surprised. You will say to yourself, 'How was I able to do all these things for the Faith this month, and at the same time I have been attending to my farm?' He comes in and interferes and blesses our lives. That's what happens. He takes over.

But we are afraid. There is an essential fear in man. This fear, I'm sorry to say, is because of a weakness in our faith. I don't mean you [referring to the person who asked the question]. We don't have enough faith. We look up to God when we have a problem, and we say, 'It's me again. Why always me?' We grumble with God, that's what we do. We put all the blame on Him whereas we should be radiant, radiantly acquiescent. We should, if there are problems, accept them, face them, consult about the problems. Never cut down on the time that you want to give to the Faith, within reason. This is where the balance comes. And then, as I said and will repeat, He will bless your affairs in a miraculous way. You will be surprised; your friends will be surprised.

Question: In our semi-annual report for Local Assemblies, we are asked by the Universal House of Justice to report on women's activities. What does "women's activities" mean in the western world?

Answer: The goal of having activities for women has, of course, varying degrees of emphasis, depending on each country. In Canada it may be totally different from what it was in India or in the Pacific. However, I think there is room for activity for women, first of all in connection with their duties as mothers. I was having a consultation with some members here about Baha'i education and I think there may be an idea in the West that, as there is an equality of sexes, there is an equality of responsibility about the education of children as well. Well, I'm going to shock you by saying this is not so. There is sharing of the responsibilities, but there is no absolute equality in that sharing. The weight of that responsibility, if you read the Writings very carefully, particularly those of 'Abdu'l-Baha, the weight is on the shoulders of the mother first. Sometimes I think that women tend to forget this. So this is one area. Another area, I would think, would be to be in contact with non-Baha'i associations for women who have a great deal of interest in the equality of men and women, and would like to have the Baha'i opinion about it. It's better for women to discuss such things with women, to read their literature, to understand what they are talking about, what they are thinking, and to be able to mix with them and in that way to teach them the Faith. Of course, when you are talking about a different part of Canada, such as the Eskimos, the Indians, -- these are parts of Canada too -- you've got another kind of emphasis there for women. They should be encouraged and not suppressed and downtrodden.

Question: In the Six Year Plan there is great emphasis on the application of Baha’i law to our individual lives, and also emphasis on the maturation of the Baha'i community. In the Peace Statement the world has been invited to study the experience of the Baha'i community. Putting these two together, can we conclude that there will be a greater emphasis on the enforcement of these laws during the Six Year Plan?

Answer: It is a two-way process. One is the duty of Local Assemblies and of course the National Assembly, and of course the Counsellors and Auxiliary Board Members and their assistants – the entire structure of the Administrative Order – to try continuously to emphasize the importance of personal conduct, rectitude of conduct. By that I mean moral conduct. We cannot overemphasize this. The institutions of the Faith should remember that while they are not central ornaments of the Faith, while they are not inherently superior to the rank and file of the friends, whichever way you look at it, these people are being looked at, these people are being watched. Even those who are members of the National Centre, the National staff, although they may not be members of any Local Spiritual Assembly, the fact that they are known to be members of the Baha'i staff in Toronto, that itself has some kind of effect in the eyes of the public, and in the eyes of the Baha'is as well. They expect more from us because we happen to occupy a certain position.

Now, I'd like to take some of your time because this is a very important thing. In Some Answered Questions, 'Abdu'l-Baha quotes a passage. (5) I'm not quoting you the exact words but I'm conveying to you the thought. He says that the virtues of the believers or the good deeds of the believers are misdeeds of the near ones. I want you to think about this. Maybe it is not clear. What does this mean? It means that everything is relative. A believer of the rank and file may do something that, as far as his station, if you'd like to say, is concerned, is a good deed. It is a perfectly good thing to do. However if that same deed is performed by someone who is considered to be among the near ones, in other words, who occupies a position of responsibility before God, then that same act which was a virtue is evaluated as a vice, as a misdeed. Why? Because as a maturer Baha'i you shouldn't be doing this. A new Baha'i could do that, but an older Baha'i should not do this. There is a letter to Shoghi Effendi from a pioneer. He was at the point of divorcing his wife. Shoghi Effendi writes to him and says, 'You as a pioneer, because in the eyes of the native friends you are the representative of the Faith, you should do everything in your power to avoid divorce. You will be giving a bad example to the local friends.' Do you see the difference? There is nothing wrong with divorce let us say. But someone, because he has a higher position or a responsibility or a function, then man and God expect greater things from him. Now with this standard in mind we have to weigh carefully our own deeds, our own acts as Baha'is.

There is a Tablet revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha where He says in so many words, 'It is not easy to be a Baha’i’ (6) He knows it. He knows very well that it is not easy, but He is expecting us to rise to that level. He is expecting our love for Baha'u'llah to be so great that we will overcome these hurdles, that we will sacrifice, that we will be ready to sacrifice, to be detached, to overcome our failings and failures and weaknesses for the sake of Baha'u'llah, particularly, as the question has rightly said, at this time when the House of Justice has written a Peace Statement and sent it to the world. The House of Justice consulted a great deal whether to include this paragraph, 'Come and examine the Baha'i experience.' But it was included because even if we had not included it any intelligent person would have wanted to see what the Baha'is are like. He would not be satisfied with what is on the shelf. Shoghi Effendi himself writes, 'the world is full of words.' To a non-Baha'i, the Peace Statement is more beautiful words, and that's all. What the world is after is the influence of the words, the degree of transformation these words have had in our personal lives, in our collective lives. That's what the world is interested in.

Question: Sometimes the concept of mass enrollment is frightening. Will you comment on mass enrollment?

Answer: Unfortunately I don't have my Baha'i library here to refer to and quote the exact words. In one of his letters, written just prior to the beginning of the Ten Year Crusade, Shoghi Effendi wrote the American friends and described the teaching process, (7) and said (I'm using my words) that there are three stages in that process. The first is the recruitment of individuals to the Army of Light. The second stage he described as the entry by troops in the Army of Light. And the third stage he described as mass conversion. Now, we have had throughout our Baha'i life, our Baha'i history, individuals become Baha’is -- the first stage. It happens all the time, at firesides, etc., at least we hope it's happening. That's the first stage. Now, the second stage is when you have not mass conversion -- Shoghi Effendi defines it very clearly -- but something between the two: entry by troops. That's when the Faith began enrolling in Third World countries, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, a hundred, two hundred, three hundred, four hundred. It began in Africa. It spread to Bolivia. It traversed to India and then to other parts of the world as you well know.

This is not mass conversion. This is entry by troops. This second stage, he said, would continue and the number of countries that will enter this stage will increase. This is his forecast. Then he says perhaps through calamitous and catastrophic events that will take place, world commotion, ordeals and sufferings of the human race, there will be sudden -- he uses the word 'sudden' -- increases in the numerical strength of the Baha'is. This sudden increase he describes as a thousandfold increase. Not only in the numerical strength, he goes on to say, but in the material resources and in the prestige and fair name of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. He envisages this to be a thousandfold increase, happening mysteriously. It has not yet happened anywhere in the world. We are still in the second stage grappling with the problem of entry by troops, endeavouring to master it, trying to find the flaws in such teaching activities and minimizing the risks and assuring ourselves of the integrity and the sincerity of the seekers. The second stage, entry by troops, Shoghi Effendi likened to the history of the Christian Dispensation, to the acts of the apostles after Christ, to when Saint Peter would stand and give a talk about Jesus to the people of Jerusalem or elsewhere, to where Saint Paul or others of the disciples would do likewise. And then it goes on to say in the New Testament, 'And on that day a thousand were baptized.' We haven't fully reached that stage, but we are approaching that high standard that Shoghi Effendi had in mind. The Baha'i world is moving. We should not be afraid of entry by troops.

(1) Letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world, 2 January 1986, published in Baha'i Canada, Volume 8, No. 2, April 1986.
(2) Messages to the Baha'i World, pp. 74-75
(3) The compilation on the Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 18-19, from a letter dated 30 August 1930 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada
(4) The Baha'i Life, pp. 4-5 includes an extract from a letter to this effect, dated 21 February, 1933, which the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf to an individual believer
(5) Some Answered Questions, p. 126
(6) We do not know which specific Tablet Mr. Nakhjavani had in mind. Two letters which express the thought, however, may be found in Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, #19 on pp. 238-9, and #198 on p. 240.
(7) Citadel of Faith, p. 117