A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Feast - non Baha'is

A similar approach to the administrative portion may be adopted when the Feast is celebrated in the home of a family with some members who are not Bahá’ís. As part of planning these occasions, careful thought must be given, on the one hand, to the requisites of hospitality and love, and, on the other, to those of confidentiality and unfettered discussion on important and sensitive subjects. The Local Assembly, in consultation with the believers who have such relatives, should endeavour to find a satisfactory way to resolve each situation that arises.
(Universal House of Justice, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 17 May 2009)


Although it is generally understood that only members of the Bahá’í community and visiting Bahá’ís from other localities may attend Nineteen Day Feasts, the question is frequently asked whether persons close to the Faith and non-Bahá’í members of Bahá’í families might not be permitted to attend if they leave the room during the consultation period. It is sometimes argued that this privilege will bring these persons closer to the Faith and will dispel any feeling that there are “secrets” in the Faith. Bahá’ís should be able to take the necessary time to consult about plans and activities within their community. When visitors are excluded during consultation and are waiting to re-enter the room, the believers, from a sense of courtesy, feel obliged to hurry through the business and cut short the consultation so that their guests may not be kept waiting too long. Concentration on the essential aspects of the Feast is dissipated and sociability becomes the dominant factor. The friends should be sensitive to this and should refrain from inviting non-Bahá’í family members or seekers to any portion of the Feast.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Bahá’í communities have come to use the term “Unity Feast” to indicate events which resemble a Nineteen Day Feast but in which the administrative portion is not conducted due to the presence of non-Bahá’ís or because it is being jointly celebrated by more than one community. It is important to note that such an event is purely social and enjoys no special station in Bahá’í community life. A Unity Feast cannot take the place of a Nineteen Day Feast, an Institution of the Faith, which includes the administrative portion as an essential element. It is not quite correct to say that a Nineteen Day Feast is changed into a Unity Feast as a result of the presence of non-Bahá’ís. What can happen is that the consultative portion of the Feast has to be postponed… . If it is decided to postpone part or all of the consultative portion of the Feast, the House of Justice states that it is within the discretion of the Local Spiritual Assembly to decide whether another meeting should be held during the Bahá’í month to complete it, or whether it can be postponed until the following Nineteen Day Feast.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA-USA: Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Concerning your inquiry asking if children under fifteen of non- Bahá’í parents could attend Nineteen Day Feasts or other events held exclusively for Bahá’ís when the children consider themselves as Bahá’ís, such children may be permitted to attend Bahá’í functions provided their parents have given their consent. This applies only, of course, to children under the age of fifteen years.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


During the period of consultation the Bahá’ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá’u’lláh and who might, thereby, gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive non-Bahá’í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of the Bahá’í Community of which he is not a part.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 240)


If a non-Bahá’í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá’í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá’í to attend. From all of the foregoing it can be seen that, basically, the resolution of this difficulty is a matter of loving education.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 445)


In general, the believers are discouraged from inviting those who are not Bahá’ís to the commemoration of the Feast. However, friends of the Faith do sometimes appear unexpectedly, and they are not to be turned away. Courtesy and the spirit of fellowship require that they be warmly received. In this light, unanticipated visitors, who were by and large infrequent in the past, have been welcome to join the devotional and social portions of the Feast, but either they were asked to absent themselves during the administrative portion or that segment of the programme would be eliminated entirely.
(Universal House of Justice, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 17 May 2009)


It can be explained, in a friendly manner, that the Nineteen Day Feast is an entirely private religious and domestic occasion for the Bahá’í community when its internal affairs are discussed and its members meet for personal fellowship and worship. No great issue should be made of it for there is certainly nothing secret about the Feast but it is organized for Bahá’ís only.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 444)


Now, with the Plan’s framework for action well established in so many places, growing numbers enjoy ready access to Bahá’í community life through the core activities, and there is greatly increased likelihood that those who are close to the Faith will learn about the Nineteen Day Feast and appear at its celebration. The House of Justice has decided that, in such instances, rather than eliminating the administrative portion completely or asking the visitors to withdraw, those conducting the programme can modify this part of the Feast to accommodate the guests. The sharing of local and national news and information about social events, as well as consultation on topics of general interest, such as the teaching work, service projects, the Fund, and so on, can take place as usual, while discussion of sensitive or problematic issues related to these or other topics can be set aside for another time when the friends can express themselves freely without being inhibited by the presence of visitors.
(Universal House of Justice, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 17 May 2009)


Regarding the Nineteen Day Feast, the principle universally applicable is that non-Bahá’ís are not invited to attend, and if you are asked about this you can explain that the nature of the Feast is essentially domestic and administrative. During the period of consultation the Bahá’ís should be able to enjoy perfect freedom to express their views on the work of the Cause, unembarrassed by the feeling that all they are saying is being heard by someone who has not accepted Bahá’u’lláh and who might thereby gain a very distorted picture of the Faith. It would also be very embarrassing for any sensitive Bahá’í to find himself plunged into the midst of a discussion of the detailed affairs of a Bahá’í community of which he is not a part. A non-Bahá’í who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 444)


The Nineteen Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, which serves, in part, as a means for the Bahá’í community to address its affairs in a full and frank manner, without fear of creating misunderstandings among those unfamiliar with its purpose. It is for this reason that participation is limited to members of the Bahá’í community.
(Universal House of Justice, to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 17 May 2009)


The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, as published in your January-February Bahá’í News, that non-Bahá’ís may attend Nineteen Day Feasts if “the earnestness of their interest in the Faith” is vouched for by a declared believer. The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances. The Nineteen Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by the Báb, later confirmed by Bahá’u’lláh, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These Nineteen Day Feasts are for the Bahá’ís, and the Bahá’ís exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted. Thus the Guardian feels you should rescind the action taken by your Assembly in opening the Feasts to “near Bahá’ís", as it is not consistent with the spirit of the administrative order for non-Bahá’ís or near Bahá’ís to attend the Nineteen Day Feasts, particularly the administrative portion of the Feast. The Guardian realizes that the spirit which animated you in making the suggested proposal, in order that the teaching work might go forward more aggressively; but he feels in the long run it would be detrimental to the Faith, and therefore should be rescinded as indicated above.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 443)


The principle universally applicable is that non-Bahá’ís are not invited to the Nineteen Day Feast. If in Persia it has happened that non-Bahá’ís are present at a Nineteen Day Feast this is an exception and not a rule. It is well understood in Persia that if a non-Bahá’í should inadvertently attend a Nineteen Day Feast he would be treated courteously. However, it is equally important for the friends to understand that they should refrain from inviting non-Bahá’ís to these special gatherings, ordained by Bahá’u’lláh not only for spiritual refreshment and unity, but also for consultation between the Spiritual Assembly and the body of believers on the domestic affairs of the community.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 443)


The rule that only Bahá’ís may take part in Nineteen Day Feasts is not a new one, indeed it was often reiterated by the beloved Guardian. However, when a non-Bahá’í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá’í should be made welcome. Of course, if the non-Bahá’ís well known to the Bahá’ís and no hurt feelings would be caused, he might be asked to retire during the consultative part. In general, however, it is much better to avoid such problems where possible, and you seem to have taken the wisest course during your friends’ last visit by taking them out for the evening, so avoiding the problem.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 240)


When a non-Bahá’í does appear at a Feast he should not be asked to leave; rather the Assembly should omit the consultative part of the Feast, and the non-Bahá’í should be made welcome.... No doubt you are familiar with this instruction. Likewise, occasionally if the Feast is held in the home of the family where the spouse is not a Bahá’í, it would be discourteous not to allow the non-Bahá’í member of the family to attend at least the social and spiritual parts of the Feast.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 444)


With regard to the attendance of non-Bahá’ís at a Nineteen Day Feast, you can explain to ... the essentially domestic, administrative nature of the Nineteen Day ‘Feast‘... The Guardians secretary wrote on his behalf on 21 September, 1946: “As regards your question concerning Nineteen Day Feasts ... as to non-Bahá’ís attending, this should by all means be avoided, but if non-believers come to a Nineteen Day Feast, they should not be put out, as this might hurt their feelings.’ This is why, if a non-Bahá’í does appear at a Nineteen Day Feast he should be made to feel welcome, but a Bahá’í should certainly not invite a non-Bahá’í to attend. “A non-Bahá’í, who asks to be invited to a Feast will usually understand if this matter is explained to him.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 240)