Why is obedience to the Covenant so important?
Abdu'l-Baha has repeatedly emphasized the fundamental importance of firmness in the Covenant: Today the most important principle of faith is firmness in the Covenant, because firmness in the Covenant wards off differences. Therefore, you must be firm as mountains. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 381) The first condition is firmness in the Covenant of God. For the power of the Covenant will protect the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh from the doubts of the people of error. It is the fortified fortress of the Cause of God and the firm pillar of the religion of God. Today no power can conserve the oneness of the Bahá'í world save the Covenant of God; otherwise differences like unto a most great tempest will encompass the Bahá'í world. It is evident that the axis of the oneness of the world of humanity is the power of the Covenant and nothing else. ... Therefore, in the beginning the believers must make their steps firm in the Covenant so that the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh may encircle them from all sides, the cohorts of the Supreme Concourse may become their supporters and helpers, and the exhortations and advices of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, like unto the pictures engraved on stone, may remain permanent and ineffaceable in the tablets of all hearts. (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 51) What is this Covenant? The “Covenant” we are talking about is the Covenant of Succession – who is the authorized Head of the Baha'i Faith. It is essential that the people of the world know where to turn for divine guidance; and also important to know that others who falsely claim that leadership, entirely lack that divine guidance. Since Baha'u'llah wrote the “Book of the Covenant,” which directs the Baha'is to turn to Abdu'l-Baha; if a person has turned to Abdu'l-Baha, how can he or she be deemed a Covenant-breaker?Covenant-breakers sometimes violate the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, sometimes the Covenant of Abdu'l-Baha It is accurate to state that a person who follows the Kitab-i-`Ahd, the Book of the Covenant, by turning to Abdu'l-Baha, has been faithful to the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. However, Abdu'l-Baha also wrote a Covenant; and today, the Covenant-breakers are generally those who have broken the Covenant of Abdu'l-Baha, not the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. As Shoghi Effendi wrote, some Covenant-breakers have violated the Master's Covenant: It is a pity that some of the Western friends, with remarkable naivete, do not grasp the fact that there is absolutely nothing keeping those who have broken the Covenant, whether Bahá'u'lláh's or the Master's out of the Cause of God except their own inner spiritually sick condition.... Unfortunately a man who is ill is not made well just by asserting there is nothing wrong with him! (From a letter on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States dated April 11, 1949, Lights of Guidance, Second Edition, Page 188, #618) Shoghi Effendi emphasized firmness in both of these Covenants, as essential to all other progress in the Cause: Firmness in the Covenants of both Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha is the foundation of the Baha'i Administration and the teaching work “The Guardian has been considerably disturbed by the inharmony that has arisen in Germany. He feels that what the German Bahá'ís need--and must have--more than anything else in the world is a far deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. This is the rock foundation without which no sound super-structure can be built. Neither the administration, nor the general teaching work of the Cause in Germany, will progress, or be able to accomplish anything, unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Bahá'ís.” (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance, Volume 2, p. 83)) Firmness in the Covenants of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha is the spiritual foundation of the Cause of God “ . . . [K]nowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá ... the spiritual foundation upon which the whole Cause of God rests. . . " (Extract from a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer dated April 15, 1949, Lights of Guidance, 2nd edition, p. 182, Paragraph 597) Firmness in the Covenants of Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha is the stronghold of all the Baha'is, the point of unity and strength, and will strengthen the Baha'is in service to the Cause "The Youth must ponder deeply over the significance and implications of the Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá, for these form the hub of the Bahá'í wheel, so to speak, the point of unity and strength for all the believers all over the world. Without these Covenants the Divine Protection of God over this new world Faith would not exist. Obedience to these Covenants is the stronghold of all the Bahá'ís, everywhere. The Youth must grasp this fundamental truth, for this will strengthen them in their service to the Cause, as nothing else can or will." (From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the National Youth Committee of the Baha'is of Germany and Austria dated 20 October 1949, The Light of Divine Guidance, Vol. 2, p. 89.)
Abdu'l-Baha The eldest son of Baha'u'llah, `Abdu'l-Baha was appointed by his Father to lead the Baha'i Faith after His passing. Known as "the Master," Abdu'l-Baha played a crucial role in ensuring that the Baha'i Faith would not fragment into different sects. Please click on photograph for larger image. Copyright 2006 Baha'i International Community. Photograph reproduced with permission of the Baha'i International Community.