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

Writers

Generally speaking, works of fiction which the writers hope will help to promote knowledge of the Cause of God will fulfill this purpose better if they are set against the background of particular events or developing processes in the Cause of God, and not used to portray the actual historical events themselves and the figures taking part in them. The reality of the actual events and the actual personages is so much more convincing than any fictional account.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 102)


He would not recommend fiction as a means of teaching; the condition of the world is too acute to permit of delay in giving them the direct teachings, associated with the name of Bahá’u’lláh. But any suitable approach to the Faith, which appeals to this or that group, is certainly worthy of effort, as we wish to bring the Cause to all men, in all walks of life, of all mentalities. [This advice was given to a believer who sought the counsel of the Guardian on ways one might use writing skills to teach the Faith. The believer proposed writing a novel in which the Bahá’í teachings and their source would be presented indirectly and in such a way as to stimulate curiosity and search by the reader].
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 412)


Regarding the advice you asked him for, he feels that to devote all one’s studies with the object of becoming a Bahá’í author, is rather risky. We need Bahá’í authors badly, but you have to be assured that you have the talent to earn your living in that field, and also serve the Faith in it. He feels that the best thing for you to do is to devote your studies to acquiring a sound education, if you like along literary lines, and then see what develops.
(Shoghi Effendi, Extracts From The Bahá’í Writings On The Subject Of Writers And Writing)


Shoghi Effendi was very much interested to learn of the success of the ‘Pageant of Nations’ you reproduced.... It is through such presentations that we can arouse the interest of the greatest number of peoples in the spirit of the Cause. That day will the Cause spread like wild fire when its spirit and teachings will be presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing especially among the mass of the people.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 98)


The Universal House of Justice has considered your letter of 6 December 1979 concerning the novel you are writing involving a romantic relationship and asking whether you should continue this project in light of the advice of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that curricula of schools should avoid tales of love. We have been asked to say that what should be avoided are stories that arouse the passions. From what you say, the purpose of your story is to appeal to higher motivations in life and, in fact, to spread the spirit and teachings of the Cause.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 413-414)


The document on blogging from 2006 has not been updated. We can offer a few observations, though, that might supplement some of the ideas presented in that background paper:
1) While responsibility for providing authoritative information about the Faith, its history, and the activities of its community clearly falls to relevant Bahá’í institutions, a growing number of individual believers are finding spaces in which they can appropriately offer insights drawn from their understanding of the teachings on a wide range of issues, thus enriching the Faith’s presence online. Individual initiatives on the Internet that are modest and informal in character are therefore encouraged, but undertakings that have significant scope and scale should receive institutional input before being pursued.
2) Since 2006, the growth of various social media platforms has in some respects eclipsed the role of the blogosphere. Typically, now, blogs and popular sites use services such as Twitter and Facebook to increase traffic to posted content. Blogs and social media feeds, then, can be viewed as complementary tools. But it is not uncommon to see individuals and organizations gain visibility and influence through their social media feeds alone, as the feeds facilitate networking among those with similar interests. It is also useful to note that while written content is still central to Internet activity, other forms of creative endeavor such as video production and photography have emerged as popular vehicles for sharing ideas, experiences or promoting constructive action. It is interesting that the photographic social service, Instagram, has recently experienced greater mobile growth than Twitter. New blogging services such as Tumblr also have less of a focus on written content. Of course, what matters most is that the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings animates an endeavor, whether it be a blog, video, or social media feed.
3) Based on experience from the global Plan of the Faith, it is apparent that individual activity bears the greatest fruit when undertaken within a framework for action. Consequently, online initiatives of individuals might have greater impact if they can more directly complement and augment collective or institutional efforts in the areas of teaching and social betterment. As an example, more focused expressions of individual participation on the Internet might emerge in relation to our efforts to contribute to various themes of public discourse. So, for instance, some discourse theme might be chosen or may emerge at the international, national or cluster level, and perhaps some official content is developed and then individuals can endeavor to amplify or share personal perspectives about official content through blogs, multimedia, social networking pages/feeds/events.
4) While it is appreciated that for many the online world is being integrated into the activities of everyday life, one should seek to maintain balance when considering the relative merit of potential Internet undertakings. As with other areas of service to the Cause, this often can be achieved through a process of reflection, action and adjustment (Bahá’í Internet Agency)


The fact that the Faith, as the Guardian states, “enjoins upon its followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after truth", should reassure any aspiring Bahá’í historian that there can be no question of any requirement to distort history in the so-called “interests” of the Faith. On the contrary, the combination of profound faith and freedom of thought is one of the great strengths of the Bahá’í religion. It does, however, place a great responsibility upon Bahá’í historians to put forward their views and conclusions with moderation and due humility. In this connection one of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh states: Thou hast written that one of the friends hath composed a treatise. This was mentioned in the Holy Presence, and this is what was revealed in response: Great care should be exercised that whatever is written in these days doth not cause dissension, and invite the objection of the people. Whatever the friends of the one true God say in these days is listened to by the people of the world. It hath been revealed in the Lawh-i-Hikmat: “The unbelievers have inclined their ears towards Us in order to hear that which might enable them to cavil against God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.” Whatever is written should not transgress the bounds of tact and wisdom, and in the words used there should lie hid the property of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith, and attain maturity. We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people.
(Universal House of Justice, Scholarship, p. 24)


The medium of a novel offers a great deal of latitude for an author to elaborate ideas and areas of thought hitherto unexplored. You should be careful, however, not to ... give interpretations that may not be correct if the Faith and its Teachings are to be explicit in the novel. If, on the other hand, there is no clear connection to the Faith in the novel, you would be free to use your imagination in exploring any ideas which have as their source the principles of the Faith.
(Universal House of Justice, The Importance of the Arts in Promoting the Faith)


There is a great need for teaching the Cause at present; every Bahá’í should teach, and each one has his own capacities and can expect to reach certain souls who respond to his efforts. Your gift of writing should by all means be utilized in serving the Cause. Every one is perforce only an instrument in giving the Message which is more or less coloured by his own capacities and approach to life. There is no harm in this. You should write freely what you feel, what you wish to convey to the mind of the reader; afterwards you yourself, and those who pass upon Bahá’í manuscripts and publications, can make sure that all your points conform to the teachings. The way you give them out and present them is an individual matter and there is no objection to this at all.
(Shoghi Effendi, Extracts From The Bahá’í Writings On The Subject Of Writers And Writing)


There is no objection to your being a journalist as long as you try to keep off political issues; especially the big East-West issue. You have a talent for writing, and it might be of help to you financially and in making contacts for the Faith.
(Shoghi Effendi, Extracts From The Bahá’í Writings On The Subject Of Writers And Writing)


There is no objection to Bahá’ís writing novels portraying historical events and figures of the Faith. However, in view of the impossibility of ever portraying adequately the Manifestation of God as a character in a novel, and of the disrespect implicit in such an attempt, the House of Justice feels that no such portrayal should be attempted. Of course, His sayings and the events of His life may be recounted, but in this case care should be taken to quote His exact words as we have them in authorized translations, and events in Bahá’í history should not be distorted.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 102)


What Bahá’u’lláh meant primarily with ’sciences that begin and end in words’ are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain no where. Bahá’u’lláh surely never meant to include story writing under such a category; and shorthand and typewriting are both most useful talents very necessary in our present social and economic life.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 479)


What you could do, and should do, is to use your stories to become a source of inspiration and guidance for those who read them. With such a means at your disposal you can spread the spirit and teachings of the Cause you can show the evils that exist in society, as well as the way they can be remedied. If you possess a real talent in writing you should consider it as given by God and exert your efforts to use it for the betterment of society.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 103)


Your suggestion regarding a book for the general public is a good one. The question is not only have we Bahá’ís competent to present this subject in a way which would catch the attention of the public, but also even if such a book existed would it achieve its end? We have, unfortunately, not very many capable Bahá’í writers, and the condition of confusion in the World is such that it seems doubtful if such a work would arrest the attention of distracted mankind. However, we need more and better Bahá’í books, and he suggests you present your idea to the German, British and American N.S.A.’s.
(Shoghi Effendi,
Extracts From The Bahá’í Writings On The Subject Of Writers And Writing)


The Guardian wishes me to assure you also of his prayers for the success of your efforts in connection with the novel you are proposing to write, and to express the hope that it may serve as a medium for the spread of the ideals and teachings of the Cause throughout Alaska.
(Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Studies Bulletin Vol. 5: 1-2 January 1991, p.109)


Your gift of writing should by all means be utilized in serving the Cause. Every one is perforce only an instrument in giving the Message which is more or less coloured by his own capacities and approach to life. There is no harm in this. You should write freely what you feel, what you wish to convey to the mind of the reader; afterwards you yourself, and those who pass upon Bahá’í manuscripts and publications, can make sure that all your points conform to the teachings. The way you give them out and present them is an individual matter and there is no objection to this at all.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 412)