…answers to questions submitted by individual believers and institutions – posted in chronological order

31 December 1972: Believer should ensure that he will be buried according to Bahá'í law

The friends should certainly be informed of the Bahá'í laws relating to burial and encouraged to do all they can to ensure after their passing they are buried according to Bahá'í law. It is not always possible to ensure this by stating it in a will and assemblies should consult upon the matter, taking legal advice if necessary, and make the best arrangements possible. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, December 31, 1972; compilations, ‘Lights of Guidance’)

21 December 1972: Prohibition on drinking

Under no circumstances should Bahá'ís drink. It is unambiguously forbidden in the Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh, that there is no excuse for them even touching it in the form of a toast, or in a burning plum pudding; in fact, in any way. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 3, 1957: Cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to the National Assembly of Ecuador, December 21, 1972; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

3 December 1972: Portrayal of any Manifestation of God Forbidden

Your understanding that the portrayal of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh in works of art is forbidden, is correct. The Guardian made it clear that this prohibition refers to all Manifestations of God; photographs, or reproductions of portraits, of the Master may be used in books, but no attempt should be made to portray Him in dramatic or other works where He would be one of the 'dramatic personae'. However, there can be no objection to symbolic representation of such Holy Figures, provided it does not become a ritual and that the symbol used is not irreverent." 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice, December 3, 1972; compilation: Lights of Guidance)

3 December 1972: Portrayals of Holy Figures

With reference to your question whether the Figures of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh should be made to appear as characters in dramatic works written by the believers, Shoghi Effendi's opinion is that such an attempt to dramatize the Manifestations would be highly disrespectful, and hence should be avoided by the friends, even in the case of the Master. Besides it would be practically impossible to carry out such a plan faithfully, and in a dignified and befitting manner. (Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, January 27, 1935, in Bahá'í News, #90, March 1935)

However, there can be no objection to symbolic representation of such Holy Figures, provided it does not become a ritual and that the symbol used is not irreverent. (Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated December 3, 1972; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

6 November 1972: When parents of a youth who has accepted Baha’u’llah, oppose his/her withdrawal from the Church

We fully appreciate the problem, posed in the case of youth who accept Bahá'u'lláh but whose parents strongly oppose their withdrawal from the Church. In such cases where the parents oppose their withdrawal and insistence upon it by the youth would undermine the unity of the family it is permissible for the withdrawal to be postponed until the youth attains the age of 21. This would not, of course, in any way affect his acceptance into the Bahá'í community. As you mention, this is the very time at which such a newly-declared believer needs all the deepening and confirmation he can receive. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 6 November 1972; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

15 October 1972: Use of the Persian writings of the Guardian during the devotional portion of Nineteen Day Feasts

Concerning the permissibility of reading selections from the writings of the beloved Guardian at Nineteen Day Feasts in Persia: it is true, as you rightly point out, that the beloved Guardian in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States stated that only the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá should be read during the devotional part of the Nineteen Day Feast...

... it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From letter dated 15 October 1972 to an individual believer, October 15, 1972; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

15 October 1972: Writings of the Guardian at Nineteen Day Feasts – can be used following devotional readings, and not “part of an arranged devotional programme”

Concerning the matter of the devotions at Nineteen Day Feasts. We see no contradiction in the three statements of the beloved Guardian. In essence they all describe exactly the same procedure, namely, that the Feast is opened with devotional readings, that is to say prayers and meditations, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb and the Master. Following this passages may be read from other Tablets, from the Holy Scriptures of previous Dispensations, and from the writings of the Guardian. It is clear, however, that the beloved Guardian would not wish his own words to be read as part of an arranged devotional programme in which they would be interspersed among words of Holy Scripture. In other words, at the Nineteen Day Feast, where words of the Guardian are to be read they should follow any selections from the Scriptures and not be mixed with them. This does not mean, however, that subsequently in the Feast, any of these types of writings may not be read as suitable during the consultation. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From letter dated August 25, 1965 to the Hands of the Cause of God; cited in a letter from the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer dated October 15, 1972; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

October 31, 1972: “A group… is not an administrative body”

A group, of course, is not an administrative body and there is no objection to the members of a group making decisions within their scope on any occasion when all of them happen to be together, even if this should be at a Nineteen Day Feast. The Nineteen Day Feast can only be an official administrative occasion where there is a Local Spiritual Assembly to take charge of it, present reports to the friends, and receive their recommendations. But groups, spontaneous gatherings of the friends, and even isolated believers should certainly remember the day and say prayers together. In the case of a group, it may well hold the Feast in the manner in which a Local Spiritual Assembly would do so, recognizing of course that it has no official administrative standing. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 31 October 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland; The Compilation of Compilations vol. I)

October 15, 1972: Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi during spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts

Moreover, it should be borne in mind that the Persian writings of Shoghi Effendi are unique in nature, and many of them, unlike his English letters and messages addressed to the western believers, are interspersed with supplications, prayers and homilies of a devotional character which are suitable for the spiritual part of Bahá'í Feasts. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 15 October 1972 to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations vol. I)

September 26, 1972 – Setting retroactively the date for the beginning of the year of waiting

The Spiritual Assembly may, if it is satisfied that there is sufficient reason for doing so, establish the date for the beginning of the year of waiting retroactively. Whether established retroactively or not the date set for the beginning of the year of waiting cannot be prior to the last date when the couple actually separated for the purpose of obtaining a divorce. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated September 26, 1972; published in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada's Assembly Resource Compilation, Reconciliation and Divorce, p. DIV-16; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

August 21, 1972 – Holding Nineteen Day Feasts in larger communities

Your letter of August 9th posing the problem of holding Nineteen Day Feasts and other Bahá'í activities in the two communities ... which have grown so large that it is impossible to conduct such activities in homes is welcomed by us, and we hope you will meet this problem before long in other communities.

We leave it to your discretion as to whether these large communities should purchase adequate facilities to accommodate the believers at Feasts and other Bahá'í activities, rent facilities, or hold several simultaneous Feasts, still utilizing homes. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 21 August 1972 written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska; The Compilation of Compilations vol. I)

August 18, 1972 – To specify in one’s will about Baha’i funeral

The friends should be strongly advised to make wills specifying that they want their funerals to be conducted under the auspices of the Bahá'í Faith, or at least in conformity with its requirements and they should make this known both to the Local Spiritual Assembly and to their own relatives, while they are still alive. In this way it is quite possible that agreements may be reached with non Bahá'í relatives before death takes place. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter from dated August 18, 1972; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

July 30, 1972: LSA’s are “as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His writings”

Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His writings. . . . 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated July 30, 1972, to a National Spiritual Assembly; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

July 30, 1972 Duties of Assembly members

In its own meetings it must endeavor to develop skill in the difficult but highly rewarding art of Bahá'í consultation, a process which will require great self-discipline on the part of all members and complete reliance on the power of Bahá'u'lláh. It should hold regular meetings and ensure that all its members are currently informed of the activities of the assembly, that its Secretary carries out his duties, and its Treasurer holds and disburses the funds of the Faith to its satisfaction, keeping proper accounts and issuing receipts for all contributions. Many Assemblies find that some of their activities such as teaching, observance of Feasts and Anniversaries, solution of personal problems, and other duties are best dealt with by committees appointed by the Assembly and responsible to it... 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972; compilations: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

July 30, 1972 - What is "a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly"?

In reply to your letter of July 14th asking guidance as to what is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly, we offer you the following comments:

Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings This is also true of National Spiritual Assemblies. In the following passage written by the Secretary of the Guardian on his behalf this point is elucidated:

The Bahá'í Administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only just beginning to grasp and practise it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful -- how to live together as a community of Bahá'ís, according to the glorious teachings."

July 30, 1972 – LSA must “uphold the standard of justice”, and “strive to evince the equalities of leadership”

In all cases submitted for its consideration the Assembly must uphold the standard of justice in delivering its verdict, and in all its dealings with the community and the outside world, it must strive to evince the equalities of leadership. The following quotation from a letter of the Guardian summarizes in simple terms the immediate goal every Assembly should set for itself in its efforts to pursue the exalted standard of perfection inculcated in our writings:

The first quality for leadership both among individuals and Assemblies is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the groups will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy.

Shoghi Effendi hopes that the Assemblies will do their utmost in planning such teaching activities that every single soul will be kept busy'. (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, dated August 30, 1930) 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated July 30, 1972 to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia; compilation: Lights of Guidance)

July 19, 1972: Parental marriage consent

You will note that the aspect of protecting the child from making the wrong decision is not mentioned in any . . . quotations as a reason for the law, [concerning parental consent] although it may well play a part in the parents' decision as they have the obligation to consider the welfare and happiness of their children at all times. However limited our understanding of this and other laws given us by Bahá'u'lláh, we are assured that the divine blessings await those who place their reliance in Him and obey His commandments. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated July 19, 1972 , to two believers; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)

July 12, 1972: Payment of Huququ’llah

Payment of Huququ'lláh has not yet been applied to the western world. It will undoubtedly be universal at some future time but at present the believers in the West are able to discharge their material obligations to the Cause by contribution to the Funds. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 12 July 1972; compilation on ‘Huququ’llah, The Right of God’, prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

July 4, 1972: Breaking a tie vote in LSA election

Regarding your question about the breaking of tie votes, a balloting to break such a tie vote for members of a Spiritual Assembly may be held after the first day of Ridvan if necessary, but obviously the day of balloting should not be delayed too long. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated July 4, 1972, to a National Spiritual Assembly; Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities, NSA of USA, 1998 edition)